John C. Whitcomb

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John Clement Whitcomb, Jr. (born 22 June 1924 in Washington, D.C.) is an American theologian and young earth creationist. He is well known as the co-author with Henry M. Morris of The Genesis Flood, which influenced many conservative American fundamentalist Christians to adopt the flood geology of George McCready Price.

Biography[edit]

Whitcomb was the son of an army officer. He lived in northern China between the ages of 3 and 6, and later attended the McCallie School in Chattanooga, Tennessee.[1] His education at Princeton University was interrupted in 1944 when he was drafted into the United States Army and served in Europe during World War II.[1] While at Princeton, he converted to evangelical Christianity through the ministry of Donald B. Fullerton and the Princeton Evangelical Fellowship.[2] He studied historical geology and paleontology for a year and graduated in 1948 with honors in ancient and European history. Thereafter he enrolled at Grace Theological Seminary in Winona Lake, Indiana, where he earned a B.D. degree in 1951, and remained at the seminary, teaching Old Testament and Hebrew, along with Gap creationism.[3]

In 1953, the American Scientific Affiliation (ASA) held its annual conference at Grace. Whitcomb was especially impressed by Morris' presentation defending flood geology against day-age, ruin-restoration and pictorial-day views, although these views held little sway with the ASA. The two found that they shared a belief in a literal six-day creation and a global flood. Bernard Ramm's book The Christian View of Science and Scripture, which was published in 1954 and led to ASA rejection of flood geology, impelled Whitcomb to devote his doctoral dissertation to rebutting Ramm and defending George McCready Price's position. Whitcomb polled Old Testament, archeology and apologetics scholars at evangelical schools, but although he found a wide range of viewpoints, he found little support for flood geology and hostility to his enquiries. Whitcomb completed his dissertation on 'The Genesis Flood' in 1957.[3]

Whitcomb set about preparing his dissertation for publication, and sought somebody with a PhD in science to check or write the chapters on the scientific aspects of the flood, but found himself unable to find any "Ph.D.s in geology today who take Genesis 6-9 seriously." His work was viewed with disfavour even by Douglas A. Block, reputedly the only scientist at Wheaton College who held to the idea a global flood, who stated:

It would seem that somewhere along the line there would have been a genuinely well-trained geologist who would have seen the implications of flood-geology and, if tenable, would have worked them into a reasonable system that was positive rather than negative in character.

Whitcomb sought the advice of a number of prominent creationists, including Morris and Price. The 87-year old Price could only offer moral support. Morris, who had befriended Whitcomb since their 1953 meeting offered more support. Morris was concerned about Whitcomb's reliance on Price and Immanuel Velikovsky on geological matters, as both were in his opinion "considered generally as crackpots, although no one ever takes the trouble to answer their arguments save by ridicule and summary dismissal."[3]

Whitcomb accepted this criticism, being already aware that his inability to deal effectively with objections raised to flood geology by ASA scientists was his "greatest weakness". They agreed to put off publication of the book to allow Morris to co-author chapters on scientific issues (including radioactivity, stratification and uniformitarianism).[3]

The Genesis Flood, published by Whitcomb and Morris in 1961, "became a best-seller in the Fundamantalist world and polarized Evangelical opinion", though it was ignored by university scientists and liberal Christians.[4] It was followed by the launch of the Creation Research Society in 1963 and of Morris' Institute for Creation Research in 1972. Ken Ham, the founder of Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum near Cincinnati, credited The Genesis Flood for "really launch[ing] the modern creationist movement around the world.” [5]

Whitcomb taught at Grace Theological Seminary's Old Testament and Christian Theology departments from 1951 to 1990. He was dismissed from his position amid several theological controversies and complaints about his strong personality. (Note: Dr. John Whitcomb attributes his dismissal from Grace Seminary to Dr. Dave Plaster prohibiting him to go to Conservative Grace Brethren Association meeting in Orville, OH in January 1990. Whitcomb was a member of this organization. After returning from the meeting, he was fired. He had shared concerns about theological drifts within the Seminary, especially in regards to Genesis 1).[6] In 1992, he led a split from the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, the denominational home both of himself and Grace Seminary, forming the Conservative Grace Brethren Churches, International.[7] Whitcomb and his wife Norma reside in Indianapolis. Correction: John C. Whitcomb did not lead the split from the FGBC. The split took place after the Conservative Grace Brethren Association (CGBA) had asked to be a recognized as a Cooperating Agency with the FGBC at National Conference. This request was denied. Early members of the CGBA were Dr. Herman A. Hoyt, Dr. James Boyer, Dr. John Whitcomb, John Fahrback, Ike Graham, Mick Funderberg, Keith Merriman, Scott Liby and others. John Whitcomb held no official title within the organization.[6] He serves as president of Whitcomb Ministries, Inc. and as a speaker for Answers in Genesis.[8]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Dr. Whitcomb's Biosketch, WhitcombMinistries.org. Accessed 2012-01-23.
  2. ^ Sharp, Doug (31 July 2008). Persuaded by the Evidence. Master Books. ISBN 9780890515457. 
  3. ^ a b c d Numbers(2006) p212-217
  4. ^ Arthur McCalla, The Creationist Debate: The Encounter Between the Bible and the Historical Mind (London: Continuum International, 2006), 172.
  5. ^ Henry Morris obituary, Baptist Press News
  6. ^ a b Personal interview with Dr. John C. Whitcomb in Indianapolis, IN on April 18, 2013 by Dan Pritchett
  7. ^ Clouse, Robert G. (Sum–Fall 1997). "Changes and Partings: Division in the Progressive/Grace Brethren Church". Brethren Life and Thought 42 (3–4): 187–9. 
  8. ^ "John C. Whitcomb". Answers in Genesis. 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-15. 

References[edit]

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