The QIRC-er Must Be Right

Recovering the Reformed Confession-FeaturedQIRC is an acronym: Quest for Illegitimate Religious Certainty. It has at least two aspects. The first is the ancient, sinful desire to know what God knows, the way he knows it. That is what the Evil One offered to us in the garden (Gen 3). He suggested to us that our kind, holy, and righteous Creator God was afraid of us, that, if we would only trust him, the devil, we could know what God knows the way he knows it. As you may know, that sale went horribly wrong because it was horribly wrong from the beginning. It was a lie and we signed that contract with our own blood.

As always, there was a measure of truth in the lie. God was holding out on us but not in the way the evil one suggested. He wasn’t withholding something from us that was to our harm but that was for our good. We were made to be image bearers, to love, serve, and honor our Creator. We were made to keep covenant with him and, when that obedience was completed, to enter into blessed fellowship with him. We only had to trust his Word and obey his law. We didn’t. We disbelieved and we disobeyed. We were, however, intended to live in fellowship with God. In that state we would be completely satisfied. Until then, we had to wait a bit.

The evil one said that by making us wait, God was denying to us something that was ours by right. That was a lie. God wasn’t withholding something that was ours. He had created an opportunity for us to glorify him and to fulfill our nature. We were good. We were righteous. We were holy. We weren’t lacking anything and yet, God freely offered us more, an even more intimate fellowship and consummation of the creation.

The first aspect of the QIRC is that it is not satisfied with being a mere image-bearer, an analogue of God. It wants more. It wants to know what God knows, the way he knows it. It seeks to bend the line of analogy into a line of intersection with God’s intellect. It effectively denies Isaiah 55:8–9:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

If we know what God knows, the way he knows it, then his thoughts are our thoughts and his ways are no longer higher than ours, at least not always. Intersection is not analogy.

A second aspect of the QIRC is the desire to be “right.” This is to be distinguished from the desire to “get it right.” The latter knows that he may be wrong, that being wrong isn’t a theory, it’s a reality. The question isn’t whether he is wrong but rather where he is wrong and how frequently. The fellow who knows he is right knows that because he must be right. He cannot be right. You’ve had discussions and arguments with such folks. If you say the sky is blue they will tell you that it isn’t really. Even when they’re demonstrably wrong, they will doggedly insist that they are right even if they cannot demonstrate quite how they are right.

The QIRC-er must be right because his faith and confidence do not really rest in another (Christ) outside himself. Rather, his confidence is in himself, that he is right. Because the locus of authority is within (intrinsic) he can move about from one confession to another and at every point be cocksure the he is right, because he is the definition of right. He’s a Narcissist.

  • I am right.
  • I think x
  • Ergo x is right.

In a culture that has made a virtue of being wrong and of uncertainty and that regards as arrogant anyone who claims as true even the most obviously true things, there is a certain attraction to this aspect of the QIRC. When no one seems to know anything any longer, when every enterprise is subject to deconstruction—I recently had an electronic correspondence with a (presumably young) person who said to me, “What is this nature you keep talking about?” I: “Jump off a building. What happens next, that’s nature.” This led to an interjection from a (presumably young) person who wrote something to the effect because of sub-atomic physics we can no longer speak of natural laws. I suggested that, particle physics or no, were he standing in the street and should a bus be heading directly at him, the nature of things is such that, he would move out of the way and that sense experience tells us that buses headed on a certain trajectory continue thus until inertia kicks in again.

In such a deconstructed world, in reaction to the prevailing Gnosticism (“the world doesn’t work the way your senses tell you it does. The way it really works is a secret known only by the illuminati.”) and skepticism (“who really knows anything?”), some Christian folk react by embracing this second aspect of QIRC.

Except the the fellow is who right a priori (before he knows anything else) has cut off his creaturely nose to spite his skeptical face. The fellow who must be right, whether he really is right, has substituted himself for the Creator and his own need to be certain for faith that rests in God’s Word and which reads God’s Word with the church.

In distinction from the QIRC-er, the mere orthodox Christian seeks to get it right. Where the QIRC-er has arrived (even though he’s still moving!), the mere orthodox Christian is conscious of being a pilgrim. Some things he knows with resolve and firm confidence. God is. Christ is Savior. He knows the catholic verities and he believes the Reformed confession. Typically, however, the QIRC-er isn’t satisfied with that. For him, mere Reformed orthodoxy is for sissies. Without fail, the QIRC-er “knows” esoteric truths that are not obviously taught in Scripture, that are not “good and necessary inferences” from Scripture, and that are not confessed in the catholic creeds or Reformed confessions. That’s one of the prime clues that you’re dealing with QIRC: it’s a secret that only he and he group know. You can fill in the blank but the list could be quite long of examples of the QIRC.

Confessionalists, however, should be content to muddle through, to be wrong, repent, learn, and grow. That’s the spirit of “getting it right.” It’s a process, not a destination. The destination is the glory promised us in the beginning. Until then, we put one foot in front of the other. Thus, for my part, I’ve resolved not to argue with QIRC-ers (though I fall from this resolve occasionally). Who can argue with someone who knows what God knows, the way he knows it? How futile is it to argue with the guy who is “right” even when he isn’t, whose identity and sense of self-worth is staked upon his being right? The QIRC-er isn’t interested in learning or helping you. He’s interested in winning.

Be gracious to the QIRC-er. Pray for him and let him win and spend your time talking with fellow image-bearing pilgrims who know they are pilgrims on the way.

    Post authored by:

  • R. Scott Clark
    Author Image

    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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43 comments

  1. Excellent, Dr. Clark. Part of my frustrations as an elder is a large segment of our younger generation are so certain of their rightness–whether it has to do with the “rightness” of presuppositionalism, or the “rightness” of 6-24 hr creation, or the “rightness” of theonomy, anything contrary to their QIRC is a matter of constant argument and a desire to “win,” since Bahnsen appears to be a real hero. “Let him win” is terrific advice. It removes a lot of the frustration.

  2. Scott, did you mean “Knowledge” or “Certainty” in the first line of your post?

    • QIRC-er: I meant to do that. Everyone knows that the C in QIRC stands for Knowledge!

      Inquirer: Uh, “knowledge” starts with a “k.” I think you meant “certainty.”

      Thanks Greg!

      I knew there was something wrong with that line but I couldn’t see what it was.

  3. ???/huh (raised eyebrows here)
    Where do we want to go with this?
    (Though even as we ask, the possibility of being a wicked QIRCer ever rises before us.)
    Do we know that David was the king of Israel?
    Because the Bible tells us so?
    Does God know this even as we know it – and then some and even before we knew it?

    IOW can there not be some kind of intersection, even in part between God’s knowledge and ours, though not wholly, intuitively, immediately and from eternity as God knows it?

    Everybody talks about the baby and the bathwater, but if there is absolutely no intersection between the baby and the bathwater, then it ain’t bathwater, no?

    Thank you.

    • Bob,

      See the chapter(s) on this in RRC.

      We know what God reveals to us. There’s an essential qualifier, “the way God knows it.” This is just the old-fashioned Creator/creature distinction. We can’t know anything the way God knows it without being God.

      God is a consuming fire. We were to see him as he is in himself, we would be consumed (Deut 4:24).

      No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

      and

      No one has ever seen God…

      and

      Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.

      Our knowledge of God is always accommodated. It is always analogical. This is why the old Reformed writers said that the “finite is not capable of the infinite.” God knows everything perfectly, at once, from all eternity. We know successively and imperfectly, and in time. The difference between our knowing and God’s is radical.

  4. I’m an admirer of Dr. Clark and the Heidelblog – not quite a senior citizen “fanboy,” but a real fan. Yet for hours I’ve tossed and turned mentally to try to figure out why this article bothers me so much. I finally came to a conclusion. So here goes, for what it’s worth.

    For me to identify someone else as a “QIRC-er” requires in some measure that I look into his heart and read his motives, or make a judgment call about his state of mind. But the nagging problem is, How do I conclude that someone else has crossed the line from humble pilgrim to self-confident jerk? What is the objective standard by which I make this conclusion? I cannot peer into someone else’s psyche. Most of the time I barely understand myself. I can only assess someone’s words and outward behavior, according to the biblical standard. I can observe that someone is being uncharitable, unkind, unfair, or harsh. I can hardly psychoanalyze him to the extent required to affix the label “QIRC-er” to him, though.

    I agree wholeheartedly with Dr. Clark that “Reformed” should be defined by the Reformed confessions and catechisms. (I don’t get much worked up over the phrase “Reformed Baptist,” though, and think that it’s generally more useful than confusing when explained. That’s a topic for another discussion.) I am known as a strong conservative and “confessional” Ruling Elder in the PCA. I hope that this has been my consistent witness for over forty years. But commitment to the Reformed Confession (as in Dr. Clark’s superb book RRC) does not mean that I can’t believe in the “rightness” of presuppositional apologetics (I do) or the “rightness” of 6-24 YEC (I do), or the “rightness” of theonomy (I do NOT share the theonomist’s conclusions, though I am sympathetic with his zeal for God’s law).

    Each of us believes in the “rightness” of certain things – let’s call them what they are, doctrines – because we are sincerely convinced that the Bible teaches them. I will not make them a test for confessional orthodoxy if they are not clearly taught in the Reformed confessions. But I can, on the basis of biblical exegesis, argue that they are true, and that every Christian should believe them, precisely because I’m convinced by Scripture and plain reason (thank you, Dr. Luther) that they are true. This is not “QIRC”; it is conviction. Of course the Bible exhorts me to hold my convictions in love, to be gracious in my dealings with others, and to be a model of Christian charity at all times. I cannot abandon the passion of my convictions in certain matters, however, just because there are overbearing jerks out there who have the same beliefs.

    Please correct me if I’ve missed something important here. I am really concerned, though, that we may discourage healthy debate by labelling others as “QIRC-y” when they are simply zealous for the truth as they understand it. Is not the same judgment of charity required of us that we demand in others?

    • Frank,

      Many thanks for this thoughtful response and the spirit in which it is made.

      This is an important question: what can we know about the intent and attitudes of others. We have to say two things at the same time, don’t we? First, that we don’t know the hearts of other people, certainly not the way God knows them. Yet, it must be possible to discern whether a person is humble or proud. Consider Ps 16:

      1The plans of the heart belong to man,
      but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.
      2All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes,
      but the Lord weighs the spirit.

      Here is a limit. We don’t even know our own hearts, certainly not as the Lord knows them but we do know the tongue, i.e., the effect of the heart.

      The same pattern appears in 16:9

      The heart of man plans his way,
      but the Lord establishes his steps.

      16:18–19:

      Pride goes before destruction,
      and a haughty spirit before a fall.
      It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor
      than to divide the spoil with the proud.

      The last part of v. 19 is instructive. Evidently the writer expects us to be able to perceive the difference between the proud and the humble. There are marks, evidences of the proud and of the humble.

      I suppose I’m arguing that there are marks of a QIRC-er, that he cannot be wrong. Like the proud he is incorrigible.

      Haven’t you ever had a long discussion with someone who never conceded anything or known someone who always has to be right, even when he’s clearly wrong?

      Can we know another’s state of mind? The law requires that juries determine the mens rea, whether there existed in the mind of the defendant at the time of the crime a “guilty mind,” i.e., a criminal intent. How do juries determine such things? By making inferences from the evidence. Are those inferences infallible? No, that’s why we have appeals, to correct bad inferences (among other things).

      As to what what we may believe outside of the confessions, I’m not saying that one cannot believe in 6/24 creation or presuppositional apologetics. I’ve believed the former (and may again) and have believed the latter for 30 years but because the churches arguably confess neither (I understand that there is a case that the WCF confesses 6/24 creation) neither are good standards for determining Reformed orthodoxy.

      The argument here, however, isn’t the truth or falsity of these extra-confessional views but about why some people find them so compelling, why these extra-confessional views become so important, do defining, and about why some folk are so dogmatic about them (sometimes to the rejection of confessional truth, as in the case of theonomy (defined as the abiding validity of the Mosaic civil laws/punishments) which flatly contradicts what the churches confess in WCF 19.4.

      There are limits to what we can know about intent and state of mind but surely we can infer something about them on the basis of what folk say and do. When folk set up extra-confessional tests, when they confuse their knowledge with God’s (the way he knows it), when they are incorrigible about such extra-confessional convictions, when their whole theology, piety, and practice teeters upon being right about this or that extra-confessional point (and when their faith collapses when that extra-confessional upside-down pyramid crashes), I say those things are evidence of the QIRC.

  5. Dr Clark,

    I just had a thought: would you characterize the view that our knowledge and God’s knowledge is univocal (ala Gordon Clark) as a form of QIRC?

  6. Dr. Clark,

    Thanks especially for your final paragraph beginning “There are limits . . .” Very helpful summary.

    Along with “incorrigible,” I would add “insufferable.” What a toxic combination!

  7. Thanks for your reply, Dr. Clark.

    We know what God reveals to us.

    This, my point being in all the talk of analogy and not knowing as God knows, we still can and do truly know some things. That seems to get left out for all practical purposes in the discussion at times.

    IOW while it is agreed that “The difference between our knowing and God’s is radical.” our knowing is still a true knowing and our knowledge is still true knowledge. For if we can’t know anything because we don’t know as God does, then the proposition that “the finite is not capable of the infinite” is meaningless, as well this discussion, never mind any attempt to discuss anything.

    And while I have RRC and on the whole appreciate it, as others have essentially pointed out in reviewing it, Murray’s Maj. Report on the Free Offer does not have confessional status in the OPC (or anywhere else for that matter). The official (?) OPC website on the FO Reports does say:

    Note: General Assembly reports (whether from a committee or its minority) are thoughtful treatises but they do not have the force of constitutional documents—the Westminster Standards or the Book of Church Order. They should not be construed as the official position of the OPC.

    Neither of course does Young’s Minority Report contra Murray have confessional status, but then the crux becomes determining whether recovering Murray’s view of the FO is to recover the confessional FO.

    Which is to say, not all who oppose the former, Murray’s “highly detailed exegesis” (PoSD, p.174) of 2 Pet. 3:9 notwithstanding, also oppose the latter.

    Thanks again for yours, as well as for the HB in the first place.

  8. I found QIRC and QIRE very helpful categories when I read RRC some years ago. Certainly so when I read Dr Mohlers 2010 essay recently republished on the 24hr/6day understanding on creation.

    If evangelical acceptance of homosexuality demonstrates one distressing trend among some who promote their biblical/evangelical credentials, then in my view equally distressing is the espousal of the 24hr/6day understanding in a reaction to broader cultural trends in the opposite reaction, part of defining just how separate and orthodox we are. Frankly I’m astonished to see people arguing for such a view when the evidence for an old earth is so overwhelming, while the certainty that ‘day’ in Gen 1 must, without equivocation or the slighest hint iof uncertainty always = 24hr, whilst, on the other hand, taking no notice that God’s use of such language just might arise from accommodating in understandable language matched to our feeble understanding – certainly that of his original audience.

    I find it interesting that in the one place in Calvin’s Institutes (Institutes 1.14) where Calvin references God’s work of creation “in six days” and an age of the world extending back 6,000 years, he also states that God “could have made (the world) very many millenniums earlier”. Also worth noting in Calvin is that he offers a very positive view of human competence in art and science: “…if the Lord has willed that we be helped in physics, dialectics, mathematics, and other like disciplines, by the work and ministry of the ungodly, let us use this assistance. For if we neglect God’s gift freely offered in these arts, we ought to suffer just punishment for our sloths”. (Institutes 2.2.16)

    (Having said this I hasten to assert historical Adam and Eve and in relation to evolution, at least at the macro level there are sound scientific/philosophical (eg David Stove’s Darwinian Fairytales) reasons for scepticism and rejection.)

  9. Well, whadya know. David Palmer has given us a perfect example of the problem I was referring to in an earlier post.

    To Mr. Palmer, the mere fact of “the espousal of the 24hr/6day understanding” of creation apparently is “in a reaction to broader cultural trends in the opposite reaction, part of defining just how separate and orthodox we are.” Here’s exactly what I warned about: The danger of judging motives, rejecting out of hand a view you don’t hold, and flirting with name-calling rather than engaging in serious discussion.

    Even worse, Mr. Palmer makes the astonishing admission that, to him, belief in young-earth creationism is as “equally distressing” as “evangelical acceptance of homosexuality.” I can’t comprehend how anyone who is orthodox, confessional, and Reformed could make such an outrageous statement. He may say that he’s only talking of those who hold the 24/6 as a reaction to “broader cultural trends,” but at that point he’d be back to judging the motives of the heart. In my opinion, the statement is inexcusable either way.

    At the Heidelblog over the years, I’ve read a number of comments that mocked and belittled what is surely the majority view throughout church history (which doesn’t prove it right, of course, just stating a fact). No consideration for great men in all periods of church history who have taught this view. No acknowledgement of serious exegetical work over the centuries. No careful engagement with the actual Biblical text. No respect at all, rather just an offhand dismissal, usually accompanied by words that sound uncomfortably close to “snide superiority.” Merely mention 24/6 creation, in any context, and the knives come out.

    Honestly, I don’t know where this attitude comes from. I can’t say whether it’s due to training at a particular seminary or to other factors. I just don’t know. But I do see it on the Heidelblog more than anywhere else (not from Dr. Clark himself, though).

    There is something wrong (upside down, topsy-turvy) when the “historic” view of creation comes in for such harsh treatment on a blog that could be called The Reformed of the Reformed. This is not good.

    I can try a little syllogism myself, to illustrate the point I made a couple of days ago:

    The 24/6 view of creation is bad.
    QIRC is bad.
    Therefore, the 24/6 view of creation is QIRC.

    Thanks to Mr. Palmer, we have a real live example as well.

    I wonder, are there PCA/OPC/URC/Insert other Reformed denom’s name here/, who would treat a “24/6” ministerial candidate so harshly? If so, things are in far worse shape than I ever imagined.

  10. Mr Aderholdt’s post in reaction to my post (btw why so much intemperate language, Mr Aderholdt?) only serves to demonstrate the unwillingness of the proponents of 24hr/6 day to acknowledge that they might in fact be mistaken. What is their fallback position in the event that the earth is really old with the evidence continuing to pile up much as it did in relation to the earth going around the sun and not vice versa?

    Whilst Mr Aderholdt might speak of being mocked and belittled for his 24hr/6 day views, even to experience knives coming out, I can assure him I have experienced some very aggressive YEC, so don’t let’s get too excited over who is the most belligerant.

    Rather than engaging in a personal attack on me, why not engage on the topic of where Calvin’s trajectory might have gone had he lived in the 20th C and not the 16th. Why not a serious discussion on the topic of “accommodation” in God’s Word or how we are to relate general and special creation?

    I can see how my expressed distress over both evangelical acceptance of homosexuality and the espousal of the 24hr/6day understanding could upset Mr Aderholdt’s evident tender conscience and for that I unreservedly apologise.

    Clearly evangelical acceptance of homosexuality goes beyond what is biblically defensible, in a way that the 24hr/6day understanding doesn’t. Nevertheless I find the 24hr/6day understanding (I’m not talking about evolution, different matter despite attempt of proponents of 24hr/6day understanding to link both together) insupportable given what we know today of geology, astronomy and cosmology and its espousal makes us foolish in respect of a matter that we don’t need to be foolish over. I’m happy to be foolish over the Gospel, sex only between man and women joined in lawful marriage but I’m not prepared to be foolish over holding on to the 24hr/6day understanding – not that I have ever actually held that view. I certainly never heard of that view growing up in Australia in the 1950/60’s, apart from the Seventh Day Adventists who were otherwise judged heretical on other scores.

    But I suppose I’d better say no more lest I offend someone else.

    • David P
      I sat on this a few days to see if a rereading would make it less offensive than it was on the first read. As it didn’t, I’m going to throw out a thought, feel free to do with it what most people do with free advice:)
      You made an outrageous assertion in equating those who believe Genesis literally means what it says with those who would throw out the authority of the Word of God on sexuality. You then say:
      “I can see how my expressed distress over both evangelical acceptance of homosexuality and the espousal of the 24hr/6day understanding could upset Mr Aderholdt’s evident tender conscience and for that I unreservedly apologise.”
      This is hardly an apology as you claim at least twice. If I were to state: An evangelical acceptance of child molestation is as equally distressing to me as an evangelical who would deny amillennialism, and then said; I can see how my expressed distress over both these issues could upset you, someone who is evidently “foolish” for holding a view only held in the 60’s by a cult in Australia, and for that I unreservedly apologise; would you think any better of me?
      I find your comments here ironic, as they seem to demonstrate the subject of the original post (those who are always right, even when they are wrong). I don’t know you, so forgive me if I have gained the wrong impression from your comments(perhaps I too, am a “gentle soul”, have “an evident tender conscience” or am “ready to take offence” or whatever thing you wish to label me). I actually tend to empathize with your rejection of macroevolution, acceptance of old earth view, so defending YEC is not my purpose in giving a little pushback, but rather to address the original post. I have to agree with Frank’s point about the problem of the practical outworking of labeling those with whom we disagree as QIRC (or anything else), as I see you doing exactly that, assuming that those who hold a 6/24 view are QIRC, or whatever label you wish to apply.

  11. David Palmer, so at the end of your last comment you basically admit you’re ignorant of the YEC position. Start with this: YEC proponents believe in supernaturalism and catastrophism in creation and how this world came to be as we see it now. They are also understandably skeptical of dating methods that seem to have only two modes: the right answer, and ‘noise.’ I love the story of the scientists who dated a valley in Washington state at millions of years when it was created in the 1980s by Mount St. Helens. If you believe the wine Jesus created from water was real wine with real age and history, and that Adam was created as a adult with real signs of history, developed muscles and what not, then why mock a supernatural creation? God created the heaven and the earth from nothing. Why did that have to be billions of years ago? Fear of the world vs. fear of God alone is also an interesting subject related to all this.

    • I admit nothing of the sought – I’ve read YEC literature, the most recent a couple of months ago, Andrew Kulikovsky’s “Creation, Fall Restoration”. I invite you to read John Lennox’s “Seven days that divide the world” to broaden your horizons.

      Why do you think because I reject as improbable the YEC position (I won’t say with 100% certainty, because who knows what further scientific fact may arise? – I am that open to being corrected contra YEC proponents) I don’t accept Jesus turned water into wine or indeed was raised physically from the dead? You go too far. Ultimately all is as God chooses it to be. God is as well able to have created the universe any way He chooses whether in thousands, millions or billions of years. Following the footprint left in nature it appears he did so in billions of years. What are you afraid of?

  12. Following the footprint left in nature it appears he did so in billions of years. What are you afraid of?

    Those who mistake appearances for reality/the truth and when questioned about it, are oblivious as to why people would ask.

    IOW to put it mildly, there appear to be discrepancies between special and general revelation; between what the Word of God says and what scientists/priesthood of experts – barring supernaturalism and catastrophism – tell us what nature tells us.

    Regardless that does not justify assuming that what nature appears to be telling us is necessarily true in that science can never tell us what is true, but only pragmatically and provisionally what works.
    And that only until more facts are discovered and a new theorem/hypothesis results.

    • Yes, but this is a circular argument – YEC look at the creation and say young earth!

      I need to say a little more about the separate roles of Scripture and General Revelation because this is where the fault line runs. Young earth Christians are trying to squeeze scientific answers out of Scripture when those answers lie in Nature.

      Against such an approach, the classical Reformed view is that the sufficiency of Scripture is for “faith and life” (WCF 1.6). More particularly regarding life in the world and its right understanding, Scripture establishes the general theological principles (e.g. the divine attributes, the Creator/creature distinction, the cultural mandate, love of God and neighbour) that become the lens through which we interpret and apply the knowledge found in general revelation. General revelation provides the scientific particulars that enable us to better understand the world in order that we might fulfil the cultural mandate of Genesis 1:26f. In other words, the Scriptures, while being the infallible and inerrant revelation of God’s saving work in human history, are not a textbook for the various disciplines of botany, zoology, geology, astronomy, mathematical computation nor a manual for architects, parents, mechanics or school teachers. To learn the age of the universe is properly the study of geology, astronomy and cosmology. The unequivocal testimony of such study is that the universe and the earth are very old, even billions of years old.

      To argue so, is not to acquiesce in the tenets of atheistic naturalism! God “speaks” through what he has created (Ps 19:1-4). For us to ignore or reject what the record of nature tells about the intricacy, fine tuning and age of all that God has fashioned out of nothing is as foolish as to ignore the Bible’s testimony concerning the way of salvation in Christ.

      Well, that’s my opinion!

      Thomas Burnet, chaplain to William III, wrote in Sacred History of the Earth (1681), “Tis a dangerous thing to engage the authority of Scripture in disputes about the natural world, in opposition to reason, lest time, which brings all things to light, should discover that to be evidently false which we have made Scripture to assert… We are not to suppose that any truth concerning the natural world can be an enemy of religion; for truth cannot be an enemy of truth. God is not divided against himself” .

  13. It was not the purpose of Dr. Clark’s original post to discuss the merits or demerits of YEC. I intend to stay focused on that topic as much as possible. We should be discussing the phenomenon of “QIRC,” how it manifests itself, and how we should evaluate it. My point was, and still is, that it is uncharitable and unhelpful to dismiss those who a hold long-established, historic, even majority view as “QIRC-y” just because you don’t hold that view yourself.

    Obviously, the issue is not whether one disagrees with a particular view. If I couldn’t co-exist with other brothers with different views, I would have left the PCA decades ago. (The “tipping point” may be perilously close for some of us, but that’s a topic for another day.) It’s the failure to engage others seriously, with exegesis first and foremost, that disappoints me so deeply. Yet, to Mr. Palmer, my pushback “only serves to demonstrate the unwillingness of the proponents of 24hr/6 day to acknowledge that they might in fact be mistaken.” I invite every reader to read my post earlier carefully. Can a reasonable person possibly draw Mr. Palmer’s conclusion from what I wrote?

    Please note again that Mr. Palmer said that “the evangelical acceptance of homosexuality” and “the espousal of the 24hr/6day understanding” are “equally distressing” to him. Call my reaction “intemperate” if you will, but to link these two views shows incredibly bad judgment, if not a total lack of discernment. And that’s the nicest thing I can say about it.

    • You seem determined to take offence Mr Aderholt.

      We can discuss what we like – the originating post is a starting point and subsequent posts can go any which way. As far as I know Dr Clark originated QIRC/QIRE and his first example for QIRC was this particular view of the creation account.

      It is simply no good saying the ancients believed a certain understanding when the ancients didn’t know everything (as we too don’t know everything). Their cosmology was simply wrong and no one now bothers to argue over it. This is not about liberal v conservative or slippery slopes, it is about being faithful to God’s Word but also taking account of scientific discovery like the earth does go around the sun and not vice versa. In this case many of us have concluded that the evidence for an old earth is irrefutable (but still open to proof for a young earth) whereas evolution is a far more questionable theory and I would say at loggerheads with Genesis 1,2, though again I note arguable by some otherwise orthodox Christians.

      As far as I can see the big story in Genesis 1, 2 is not arguing over the length of days (btw, in Gen 2:4 all God’s creative activity is said to be completed within “a day”) but rather to see and understand the God who is “majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders” calling creation into being, a magnificent creation with great potentiality with our first parents Adam and Eve placed within it with god like powers to guard and develop the rawness of the creation into a place of beauty and order, to be offered back with praise and delight to God.

      As others have pointed out (might have been Dr Clark but I think Henri Blocher) arguably, it is the establishment of a theology of the Sabbath which drives the placing of God’s creational activity within the structure of the six days of Genesis 1.

      Anyway for myself, what I do know is that I am filled with wonder, amazement and delight by the account of creation given in Genesis 1 &2 –it fills me with awe, praise and adoration of our great creator God of whom we must say, “Our help is in the name of our God, maker of heaven and earth”!

      Cheers for now. (PS for the record I am a PCA minister, the A as in Australia, not America)

  14. Frank, just curious, would you consider William Evans take on Mohler’s creation views to be “discerning motives”? He says:

    Having read Mohler’s lecture carefully several times, I’m driven to the conclusion that when all is said and done this debate is really not about exegesis or theology. He simply has not engaged the theological and exegetical state of the question. Rather, it is about the sociology of knowledge, and more specifically the cultural threat of Darwinism and the need that some conservative Christians feel to exclude it a priori via LSDYEC. [Literal Six Day Young Earth Creation]

    http://theecclesialcalvinist.wordpress.com/2013/07/02/al-mohlers-literal-six-day-young-earth-creationism-and-the-state-of-the-question/

    For my part, I think Evans nails it, and I don’t think it has anything to do with discerning motives but everything to do with discerning the times. Granted, it gives some in the LSDYEC camp who are less QIRC-ish a black eye, but when it comes to QIRC, it also seems that LSDYEC is more often wielded as a test of orthodoxy than any other view.

    • Unfortunately being YEC is as much a test of Orthodoxy as affirming the Gospel. Indeed some are perilously close to affirming salvation is faith in Christ plus adherence to the YEC position – though I don’t wish to say that of any here, not having that close a conversation.

  15. Science surpassed Darwinian theory long ago. Common sense surpassed it before that. Evolution is not a motive for YEC. Evolution remains a motive for billions of years.

  16. What we see in a single cell today should tell all of us that a trillion trillion years is not enough time for such a thing to evolve. Try to see the motive for billions of years. It was *needed* for the theory of evolution. That theory has been surpassed by science. All the gaming of dating methods, all the rearranging of blatant evidence against their theory (Cambrian Explosion), all the necessary hoaxes and propaganda is on the same level as the need for billions of years (which was never enough to begin with).

    When you look at a single cell and what is involved in a single cell you have to conclude it didn’t evolve, and it could have been created 6000 years ago as easily as 600 billion. It doesn’t matter. It is from our point-of-view miraculous. We and the world still haven’t mentally digested these new information and nano technology discoveries inside cells. We’re in the realm of the miraculous right now. It’s like looking directly at an angel and not being able to process that you are looking directly at an angel. You move along. Then forget.

    Creation is supernatural. Mature creation is common-sense.

    • We are more or less on the same page re evolution. I reiterate my earlier point that the age of earth and how we got to have all living creatures (the furniture in the house) are two separate issues.

  17. BTW, great post Dr Clark, especially,

    “Who can argue with someone who knows what God knows, the way he knows it?”

    Institutes I.XVII.13

    Maybe this is the time to withdraw, to follow your injunction to let him win, but does this help him in the long run? I guess the trouble with someone so certain is they are impervious to persuasion and argument. No room for humility, that maybe they have got it wrong. Christ plus something else.

  18. Observing the recent comments stream:
    David Palmer on The QIRC-er Must Be Right
    David Palmer on The QIRC-er Must Be Right
    David Palmer on The QIRC-er Must Be Right
    David Palmer on The QIRC-er Must Be Right
    mmmmm…….

  19. Zrim,

    Thanks for pointing me to Dr. Evans’ critique of Dr. Mohler’s lecture. No, I do not think Evans is “judging motives” improperly. He engaged carefully and calmly with Dr. Mohler. I was a little disappointed, though, with Evans’ statement that “on balance, I regard Dr. Mohler as a force for good in the SBC and beyond.” That strikes me as damning with faint praise, and too weak an endorsement of one of the greatest evangelical leaders of our generation (and one of the three or four greatest living minds I’ve ever encountered). But then, Dr. Evans has consistently shown a hearty antipathy to anything he thinks smacks of the “f” word (fundamentalism). I disagree with many of Dr. Evans’ conclusions, but “on balance” (to borrow his phrase), he was neither unfair nor unkind. Were Dr. Mohler so inclined, I am confident that he could answer Dr. Evans effectively, point by point.

    Perhaps it is time for me to withdraw as well. I only ask our readers to compare the last paragraph of Mr. Palmer’s post July 19 @ 2:18 p.m. with his previous statement that that “the evangelical acceptance of homosexuality” and “the espousal of the 24hr/6day understanding” are “equally distressing.” When discourse sinks to this low a level, we are indeed at an impasse.

    One final, general observation: Isn’t it interesting that some who scold others for “certainty” are quite certain that they are right in so doing? Our Lord spoke to this – something about eyes and specks and logs.

  20. Mr Aderholdt, we are not at an impasse because of your confected distress – I had already apologised for the upset I seemed to have caused you, a gentle soul, an action on my part you have failed to acknowledge.

    The reason that we might be at an impasse lies in a different direction – it is, I suggest, your failure to engage with any of my substantive arguments. Alas, no defence, no thrust and parry, just a victim of the terrible Mr Palmer!

  21. Mr. Palmer,

    If I missed something you wrote in an earlier post, I apologize as well. I will reread all comments carefully.

    I did not respond to anyone’s “substantive arguments” in this discussion because I was trying to stay on track with the intent of Dr. Clark’s original remarks. As I understood it, the subject was WHY certain Christians embark on the Quest for Illegitimate Religious Certainty. (As an aside, Dr. Clark’s distinction between “the need to be right” and “the spirit of getting it right” strikes me as unhelpful, because it is impossible to apply objectively in real life.) My anger (righteous or not) was directed toward harsh treatment of YEC advocates that is not based on exegesis, but is quick to declare someone “QIRC-y” just because he believes he is right. Surely the test of humility is not saying, “You know, I may be wrong about this.” I don’t expect that from my opponent in a debate, nor should he expect it of me. Certainty does not necessarily indicate arrogance. Certainty does not prevent one from listening to arguments on the other side. In the absence of clear (close to overwhelming) evidence to the contrary, Christian charity demands that we believe such certainty to be borne of careful study of all the evidence.

    In the realm of theology, as in all of life, assigning motives to others is a dangerous two-edged sword. For every claim that 24/6, YEC’ers are retreating into a cozy, safe harbor because of the onslaught of atheistic materialists, I could counter that “old earthers” are just cowardly accommodating themselves to the spirit of the age. On and on it goes, round and round and round, to no purpose. If the Scripture is indeed our only infallible rule of faith and practice, then all these questions must be settled finally by exegesis, and exegesis alone. To repeat, I did not believe that this discussion is the appropriate place for “substantive” biblical arguments. Besides, all the work on both sides is readily available elsewhere (practically everywhere!), in much better form and more effectively than we could do it here.

    For me, something surprising and totally unexpected came out of this discussion. For the first time in my life, I’ve been referred to as a “gentle soul.” (Tell that to the Session on which I serve!) I don’t know if Mr. Palmer intended this phrase as an euphemism for “overly sensitive” or “thin-skinned.” Love believes all things, however, so I’ll take it as a compliment. I may even inscribe it on parchment and hang it on my wall – or, better yet, wave it around at a Presbytery meeting.

  22. One last go – this is what has caused offence:

    “If evangelical acceptance of homosexuality demonstrates one distressing trend among some who promote their biblical/evangelical credentials, then in my view equally distressing is the espousal of the 24hr/6day understanding in a reaction to broader cultural trends in the opposite reaction, part of defining just how separate and orthodox we are.”

    The first statement concerns evangelicals going soft on homosexuality. This is a trend I would argue stems not from engagement with the Bible but from wilting under the broader biblically uninformed cultural acceptance of homosexuality – btw this subject was in the forefront of my mind having just read an article, which if my memory is correct appeared on the Aquila Report

    I say I’m distressed by this view, but note nobody else concurred with this part but I’ll take it posters might have nodded their heads in agreement.

    The second cause of stress for me, and in this I’m running an argument off Dr Clark’s post, is the espousal of the 24hr/6day understanding –though both issues are quite different despite Mr Aderholdt’s effort to conflate them.

    I am distressed by both, but nowhere have I said or suggested that I find them distressing FOR THE SAME REASON. In this respect my opponents on this blog post do me harm!

    Thinking about the impact of culture, I say the 24hr/6 day view is a reaction in the opposite direction. I haven’t spelt it out, but it ought to be obvious – I see the 24hr/6 day view as counter cultural (i.e. opposite direction to the co-cultural direction taken by evangelicals accepting the homosexual lifestyle), i.e. a determined rejection of the culturally dominant (atheistic?) support given to ‘God denying’ evolution.

    The reasons I am distressed by the espousal of 24hr/6 day view are:

    1. the current state of geological, astronomical, cosmological evidence runs very strongly, even overwhelmingly in favour of an old earth

    2. it doesn’t do to denigrate scientists with such views as if they are all charlatans, ideologically driven never mind the science, fellow Christians share in this disapprobation

    3. it sets up young Christians brought up on a diet of YEC views for a fall (loss of faith) if they enrol in science faculties (how many examples do I need to quote?)

    4. I am in a denomination with a declaratory statement that leaves issue of age of earth open, yet many of my colleagues allow groups like Answers in Genesis free access to the congregations for the teaching of YEC views, with no attempt at acknowledging any other view other than to disparage – which is the point of my no humility comment (My point was if the science should indicate a young earth I’ll change my view, but what of YEC proponents – do they have a fallback position?)

    5. I have found these creation science teachers quite aggressive when challenged and doubts raised about the orthodoxy of old earth supporters such as myself – this is intolerable.

    I think Calvin is very helpful in assisting us to work through the issues, hence my quoting of him.

    However I will leave it at this.

    I think both Mr Aderholdt and now Mark B (July 21st post) both do me an injustice, but maybe I should have been clearer. However Mr Aderholdt was very quick to jump to an adverse judgment.

  23. Correction: the article on evangelical acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle was actually on this weblog: the Fuller Seminary story.

  24. “If the Scripture is indeed our only infallible rule of faith and practice, then all these questions must be settled finally by exegesis, and exegesis alone.”

    Where in Scripture is the exegetical support for a young earth?

  25. Yes, issues of faith and life, not issues of the age of the earth.

    I’ll leave your question to others to consider.

  26. Here are some good resources:

    The report of the PCA Creation Study Committee (2000), http://www.pcahistory.org/creation/report.html#d. A good basic overview of the various positions.

    The Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary statement on creation, “Six Days Are Six Days,” http://www.gpts.edu/resources/print/articles/creation.php. Focus on history rather than exegesis, to set the context of the statement. Note the endorsement by G. I. Williamson. I agree.

    The published version of the 1999 GPTS Spring Conference, “Did God Create in 6 Days?” Audio is available free at http://www.sermonaudio.com. Search “GPTS,” then “GPTS Conference 1999.”

    Dr. Douglas Kelly’s book “Creation and Change” is perhaps the finest extended exegetical defends of YEC.

    The above are good places to start. There are mountains of other material, of course.

    (NOTE: I am a Board member of Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.)

  27. Excuse the typo. (There’s really no such thing as multitasking. It just means you are doing two or more things poorly at once.)

    Which gives me a chance to say something about YEC advocates who disparage, belittle, or demean those who hold other views. I will never defend anyone who can’t seem to play well with others, no matter what view he teaches. If we wanted, we could all play the fruitless game of “dueling anecdotes” all day long. If this were a poker game, I could see your nasty YEC’s and raise you five mean evangelical “old-earthers.” Better to interact with specific statements, in public or private as appropriate, and resist the temptation to throw the whole can of paint against the wall.

  28. Yet again, Mr Aderholdt you engage with me only at the periphery.

    Regarding resources, I would add “The Genesis Debate” edited by David G Hapogian which has chapters on the 24 hr view, the day-age view and the framework view with mutual responses.

    Three views on “Creation and Evolution” edited by JP Moreland and John Mark Reynolds is a similar, earlier work, while Fowler and Kuebler is worth a look.

    There is a lot to be said for books and studies which bring opposing views together so that it becomes harder to be completely one eyed on the subject.

    In addition to Dr. Douglas Kelly’s book “Creation and Change” but arguing differently I would put up Henri Blocher’s “In the beginning” and C John Collins, “Genesis 1-4”.

    I also recommend the 2000 report of the PCA Creation Study Committee, though the section on Calvin fails to do justice to Calvin’s ambivalence and high view of the work of scientists in exploring the natural creation.

  29. “I also recommend the 2000 report of the PCA Creation Study Committee, though the section on Calvin fails to do justice to Calvin’s ambivalence and high view of the work of scientists in exploring the natural creation.”

    The term ‘scientist’ was coined in 1834. I get the same vibe from how you use the term as I do when atheists use the term. A high priesthood.

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