Personal Chronology of Events Which Led to the Publication of the Open Letter
Introductory Note: "The following chronology of events regarding the current controversy over the creation account was prepared by Harry Osborne. It was not prepared for publication, but to answer questions as to whether or not the brethren addressed by the open letter had been approached individually first with the concerns stated in the open letter before its publication. Brother Osborne's chronology only speaks to his own experience because he has firsthand knowledge of the efforts in which he has engaged. The chronology is not meant to suggest he is the only one who has engaged in such efforts. However, since he lives in the Tampa area in close proximity to those at Florida College, his efforts to arrange open study may be of interest to those seeking the facts on this subject. To that end, we are publishing the chronology here so that all may see that extensive efforts were made to resolve this difference long before the publication of the open letter."
This is a chronology of the events leading up to the current issues regarding the interpretation of the creation account as I know them. Since I can only attest to the things I personally know from firsthand experience, I have limited the chronology to actions I can document. For this reason, the chronology centers on my actions in this matter. Please understand that this is not meant to suggest I am the only one who has spoken with the brethren addressed by the open letter. I know that many others have, but I lack any documentation of such. If you have documentation of other events which need to be included in this chronology, please give me that documentation and I will gladly add such to the record.
Chronology of Events
Scott defended the non-literal interpretation of the creation account on Markslist. Shane commended John Clayton and said Clayton was not a false teacher or theistic evolutionist. In the discussion, the following excerpts may be found:
(A) "If anyone is ineterested [sic], I am working on a booklet that will defend the day-age view in detail, which I do not intend to publish but which I would be glad to give to anyone who is interested. I hope to have it finished by June (I just finished the first chapter Monday)."
(B) "Astrophysics has measured stars millions of light years away. This implies that millions of years have gone by for those light particles to get here. Light is not a living organism and there is no essential reason for it to be created with the appearance of age. The universe is supposed to be a readable, reliable revelation (Ps. 19). Are we saying that God intentionally created certain features of the universe to make us think the universe was far older than it really is?"
(C) "The rate of the expansion of the universe could have only fallen within certain parameters for the creation of stars, etc. to have been possible, due to gravity. This is another way of measuring the age of the universe. Of course, God can do anything, but there is good evidence that He worked within certain laws of physics He designed and created. For further info, see Hugh Ross' The Creator and the Cosmos (it's in the CBD catalogue for about $7)."
(D) "My understanding is that during this fourth period God cleaned up the atmosphere to the point that the sun and stars would be vivible [sic] to the earth's surface."
(E) "I fear that because of the climate created by Henry Morris (among denominational people), and Bert Thompson (among brethren), anyone who denies the literal day theory of Gen. 1 is automatically assumed to be an evolutionists, Bible-bashing infidel."
- Later, Shane Scott had the exchange in Sentry Magazine with Greg Gwin wherein Shane said, "The Days Cannot Be Literal."
- All of this was done before Shane was hired to teach at Florida College.
College announced speakers and topics for the 1999 lecture program.
- In late Fall of 1998, several wrote to Colly Caldwell and Ferrell Jenkins seeking for them to reconsider the invitation to Hill Roberts.
(A) In correspondence, Colly admitted that Shane Scott taught the "Day/Age View" and the "Literary Day View" as acceptable interpretations of Genesis
1. Both views deny the literal interpretation of the passage.
(B) Colly was given information regarding the views of Hill Roberts.
(C) Those objecting to the use of Hill Roberts were assured that he would not be presenting material dealing with his views on the non-literal nature of creation account.
Roberts spoke at the Florida College Lectures at which time he handed out a CD-ROM with his material on it. Among the documents included on that CD-ROM, were the articles entitled A Harmonization of God's Genesis Revelation With His Natural Revelation and Genesis and The Time Thing dealing extensively with brother Roberts' support for a non-literal view of the creation account as well as his support for an evolutionary explanation for the inanimate world. This was done despite assurances to the contrary given in the preceding months.
- After the lectures, several brethren expressed grave concerns over Florida College's use of Hill Roberts and especially over the material he was allowed to pass out at his class. Harry Osborne was one of those who wrote to Colly and Ferrell expressing such concern and asking them to discuss the matter. No acceptance of that offer was ever received.
March & April 1999
Osborne agreed to edit a special issue of Watchman Magazine which reviewed the teaching of Hill Roberts, John Clayton & Hugh Ross regarding the creation account. In an effort to provide for open discussion of the issues, Harry Osborne corresponded with Hill Roberts. Hill was offered an opportunity to engage in a discussion of the issues raised in the special issue. He declined. He was offered an opportunity to respond in print to any article which named him. He declined. He was asked to recommend one of his persuasion who would engage in such discussion. He declined. In the end, Hill Roberts refused to continue the correspondence.
- Harry Osborne provided his correspondence with Hill Roberts to Colly and Ferrell and again requested an opportunity to meet with them regarding the matter. No acceptance of the offer was received. Harry repeated the request in person to Colly Caldwell when Harry spoke at chapel later in April offering to do so at Colly's convenience. Again, no acceptance of that offer was ever received.
hearing that both Colly Caldwell and Ferrell Jenkins affirmed a literal interpretation of the creation account in chapel talks at the beginning of the school year, Harry Osborne personally expressed his thanks for their efforts. In a brief exchange with Ferrell Jenkins, Harry again expressed his disagreement with the use of Hill Roberts and expressed a desire to discuss the matter in greater detail. No acceptance was ever received.
- On the same day, Harry Osborne met with Shane Scott to discuss Shane's views. In that discussion Shane admitted:
(A) He was teaching that day a lecture which presented 4 acceptable interpretations of the creation account including the "Day/Age" and "Literary Day" views. Shane confirmed that he had expressed his views regarding the fact that he believed the non-literal view to be correct in the previous year. (A plurality of students later confirmed that he also stated his view that day when he was asked.) Shane also confirmed that he still believed the arguments he made in the exchange with Greg Gwin were correct.
(B) Shane stated that the doctrine of uniformitarianism was not in conflict with the biblical account of creation. Specific mention was made of Hill Roberts' teaching that the physical earth required vast ages to cool and stabilize by natural means before being suitable for life to be introduced. Shane saw no inherent conflict between such theories and the Bible account of creation.
(C) Shane denied that Psalm 33:6-9 demanded an instantaneous creation at the command of God.
(D) Shane denied that Jesus' words in Matthew 19:4 and Mark 10:6 necessitated that the creation of man and woman was very near the beginning of creation rather than nearer to our end of time.
- After that meeting, Harry Osborne and Shane Scott had some correspondence. Shane was offered a discussion in Truth Magazine and/or Watchman Magazine to allow open examination of both views. Shane declined. The following quotes are taken from that correspondence:
(A) "Finally, exactly how God created the sun, moon, and stars is not revealed. The Bible says He spoke it and it was so. But as to how long or by what manner He did what He spoke, we must respect the silence of the Bible. Evolution has to do with living organisms, not the sun, moon, and stars."
(B) "As to Ferrell's and Colly's comments. I got my copy of the mag today, and I believe close reading proves that my analysis of their intent is correct. The whole article is denying theistic evolution. I think if you asked either if they intended their comments to mean thar [sic] only the 24 hr day view is correct, they would say no. The point they were making is that Adam and Eve "did not evolve from lower life forms over a period of time" (to quote Ferrell's statement)."
(C) "Every definition of evolution I know of has to do with organic life. As far as Ps 33 goes, I don't know any other way to communicate this point which seems so obvious to me. When God says something is to be done -- it is done, pure and simple. But how long the time frame is for God's work is simply unknown to us."
(D) "If, in the formation of the universe, the way God did it took billions of years of time by our calculation, so what? That's not a long time for God. He is I AM. Those kinds of measures are irrelevant."
Florida College magazine ran an article by Colly Caldwell which denied any teaching of error regarding the evolution of botanical or zoological life was taking place at Florida College. Shane Scott was specified as an example of Florida College's firm commitment to truth regarding the creation account.
- Harry Osborne wrote Colly Caldwell about the article and asked him to discuss the fact that Colly had failed to address the real issue. Colly never responded.
- Harry Osborne and Shane Scott entered into renewed correspondence wherein Shane further detailed his arguments favoring a non-literal interpretation of the creation account and defending a uniformitarian explanation for the inanimate creation. During the correspondence, Harry noted the fact that Colly Caldwell and Ferrell Jenkins had affirmed a literal interpretation of the creation account. Harry cited his notes from a class under Colly in the Fall of 1975 wherein Matthew 19:4 and Mark 10:6 were used to sustain the literal account of creation. Shane claimed that Colly Caldwell and Ferrell Jenkins agreed with him in saying that the literal interpretation of the creation account was not demanded by passages Mark 10:6 and Psalm 33:6-9. Shane later cut the correspondence off.
- Harry Osborne provided copies of the correspondence with Shane Scott to Colly and Ferrell and asked if he had misunderstood their teaching in the 70's on this matter. Harry further expressed concern over Shane's views and asked to discuss the matter with them. Colly never replied. Ferrell replied saying he was busy and would get to it later. However, he has not responded to the material or the requests to date.
Jenkins' class on "Making Sense of the Days of Creation" made an appeal for tolerance among brethren for those advocating a non-literal view of the creation account.
- After Ferrell Jenkins' class and comments made by Colly Caldwell at the lectures, Harry Osborne again wrote each man asking them to discuss the issue just as they had urged others to do. The offer was not accepted.
of Shane Scott's teaching regarding the non-literal nature of the creation account continued as a result of private discussions and the effect of Shane's teaching on his website.
May & June 2000
King and Harry Osborne worked together on an open letter stating objection to the teaching of Hill Roberts and Shane Scott at Florida College which has advocated a false view of the creation account as well as the justification for tolerance of such views being advocated.
- When others were asked to verify the facts stated or evaluate the arguments made as urged regarding the wisdom of counsel (Prov. 11:14; 15:22; 24:6b; etc.), there was a suggestion that the open letter might be better received if other concerned individuals joined as co-signers.
- Request was made that the letter not be circulated beyond co-signers until after those addressed had received it and some time had been given for consideration of it.
- The open letter was mailed to those addressed on June 12. It is obvious that both Colly and Ferrell had read its contents soon thereafter.
- On June 18, Ferrell Jenkins sent out a general post announcing material posted on his website stating that he had been misrepresented by material regarding this issue and his class at the 2000 lectures. He later posted a response to the open letter although he has declined to post the open letter itself despite a request to do so by Harry Osborne. (Please note that a reference was added to Ferrell's class transcript at his request.)
- Since Ferrell's material misrepresenting the open letter was posted without allowing the open letter to be seen by the readers, the open letter was posted on Gospel Anchor and Watchman Magazine on June 30. This was the same day Colly Caldwell wrote his response to the open letter.
Please note that advance notice was given to these brethren before making public the letter objecting to their practice, but no such courtesy was shown before error was advanced at Florida College.
email this author at HarryO@ij.net
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