Christian Leaders Trip with Canyon Ministries

I just got back from a seven-day trip down two thirds of the Grand Canyon with Canyon Ministries, William D. Barrick, Terry Mortenson, and (especially) knowledgeable Cedarville University geologist John Whitmore. I gained a much deeper understanding of the geology of the canyon, and I came to a more firm and educated faith about the straightforward teaching of Genesis 1–11. Whitmore is an expert in the Coconino sandstone layer, and his talks were fascinating. The many conversations with my 20+ fellow seminary professors, pastors, and assorted other Bible geeks from around the world were also fantastic—truly moving. (I have a cold right now because I stayed up so late talking every night I could!) Donors to Answers in Genesis and Canyon Ministries made our trip possible. I don’t know who they are, but I thank them sincerely. I believe their gifts have been put to good use for Christ’s kingdom, as I currently work on a sixth grade Biblical Worldview textbook for BJU Press. (If you wish to contribute to a worthy cause, help support future Christian Leader Trips through Canyon Ministries.)

I made several friendships I believe will be lasting, and I got to throw the frisbee in some idyllic spots… One was on a sandbar in six inches of water, where there was just enough space for me to throw the maximum distance I’m capable of. It was glorious—until someone tried to match me and threw my frisbee into the river, where it was swept away and lost! =)

A friend who went several years ago asked me what I thought. I wanted to take the opportunity to think more about what geologist John Whitmore’s work meant to me. This is what I said:

It really was excellent. I’m YEC; I’m a presuppositionalist; I think I know the biblical arguments fairly well (though I want to do some more reading in Poythress’ recent book, in particular). All of this has actually made me shy away from studying geology. I felt that, in the end, I’d still end up trusting someone whose work I couldn’t really evaluate. I was afraid to get into it lest I be confused. So I was glad to be sort of forced to listen to a geologist, and therefore to discover that there were some arguments that—it seems to me—I didn’t have to take his word for. He was able to show me the angle of the sand deposition in the Coconino sandstone—an angle clearly indicative of water deposition and not the wind deposition posited by conventional geology. I measured the angle myself. I also heard him talk in all the responsible ways a scholar/professional practitioner is supposed to talk. He talked about “models”; he was reserved and careful and clearly obsessed with his field; the way he described his interactions with conventional geologists rang very true to the way I know scholars think; he didn’t grandstand or boast.

Some of the leaders of the YEC are aging, and I actually found myself wondering if I could one day step into their shoes. Bill Barrick in particular impressed me greatly for his knowledge and piety. I’ll never be the Hebrew scholar he is, but there are other things I can do for the YEC cause. I care about that cause, and some people in the next generation will need to pick up its torch. I’m thinking for now that I will indeed look for angles I could use for an ETS paper at some point. I will give renewed attention to the possibility of writing again for Answers Magazine and Answers Research Journal.

Mark Ward

PhD in NT; theological writer for Faithlife; former high school Bible textbook author for BJU Press; husband; father; ultimate frisbee player; member of the body of Christ.

5 Comments

  1. joe on July 18, 2019 at 10:07 pm

    Mark,
    This post is very encouraging to me. It has been my experience that so many Christians believe in theistic evolution or deep time for the age of the earth/universe, that I’ve sort of taken a position to assume this about other Christians until they state otherwise. Sadly, my assumption isn’t proven wrong as often as I’d like!

    But it is encouraging to me that you do believe the Bible, starting from the very first verse!



  2. Paul on July 19, 2019 at 6:51 am

    Mark, the link to Poythress’ recent book seems to be broken.



  3. Mark Ward on July 19, 2019 at 7:41 am

    It’s Interpreting Eden. Will fix later.



  4. Stephen Brown on July 25, 2019 at 9:52 am

    For what it’s worth, I’d love to see you in particular write a book on YEC; I think you might be uniquely equipped by God for the task.



  5. Mark Ward on July 25, 2019 at 11:04 am

    Stephen, thank you for your kind words. I’d really need to read through the huge stack of books I just got from Answers in Genesis before I do that… And that will take a while!



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