In response to the whole Flat Earth Debate, I’ve been seeing more and more “scholars” defaulting to the Doctrine of Accommodation
as a method to explain away the problem of what the Scriptures clearly describe concerning the shape and nature of our world. This is perhaps most notably true of people like those from Logos Bible Software, who while fully recognizing, acknowledging – and in fact, boldly proclaiming – the cosmology of the Biblical narrative in diagrams such as the one depicted below, will then turn around and fully endorse the modern “scientific” worldview and defend it against what they know
the Scriptures teach.
But as I see it, there are major problems with this doctrine. For starters…
Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?
Psalm 119:160 Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.
Psalm 8:1 O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.
Psalm 138:2 I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.
According to the above Scriptures, we are told that God does not lie. We are told that His word is “true from the beginning.” We are told that even though His name is excellent and His glory is above the heavens, He has magnified His word above His name. This leads to a massive problem for all of you who claim the Bible as your (literal) source for truth and yet still cling to the spinning, heliocentric, globular model of our world.
In response to this problem, “theologians” came up with the ridiculously absurd doctrine of “accommodation,” which states that YHWH accommodated the ignorance of man, and used it to get a “theological message” across, rather than deal with the lies they apparently believed. John Calvin is generally credited with coming up with this concept in response to the discoveries in the natural sciences of his day – most notably that of Copernicus’ theory of heliocentrism, which clearly conflicted with the obvious, geocentric model of Scripture. The concept of accommodation thus became an alternative method of Bible interpretation, in contrast to the tradition of literal Biblical interpretation. The rationale generally goes something like this:
Accommodation (or condescension) is the theological principle that God, while being in His nature unknowable and unreachable, has nevertheless communicated with humanity in a way which humans can understand and respond to. The concept is that scripture has accommodated, or made allowance for, the original audience’s language and general level of understanding. Thus, Divine accommodation means that the infinite God has accommodated various truths about Himself and the world in such a way that they can be comprehended by the finite human mind.
This makes YHWH an accomplice in those lies by not correcting them, but rather instead effectively endorsing them by describing His creation in the same exact terms upon which the alleged lies were based. This doctrine therefore puts YHWH in agreement with lies instead of being the alleged source for truth upon which we can and should place our trust to combat them.
So, here’s the problem: If the spinning, heliocentric, globular model of our world is true, then Divine inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture is demonstrably false and all such notions must therefore, of necessity, be forever abandoned. So, which “sacred cow” are we willing to let go of in order to maintain our beliefs? You can’t have both. A choice must be made.
And if you attempt to go the route that Scripture does in fact, somehow support a spinning, heliocentric, globular view of our world (as many are now trying to do), at best, you will only demonstrate the extreme levels of cognitive dissonance you are suffering from and telegraph how little research you have actually done on the subject for all to see (please don’t do that), or at worst, you will be blatantly lying through your teeth.
Biblical scholars who are being intellectually honest with themselves, the text and indeed the whole of ancient history recognize the indisputable fact that the Bible is, without a doubt, a flat Earth book. But if “accommodation” is true, then how can you trust anything you read? What if half (or more) of Scripture is based on the condescension of an allegedly Holy and truthful God accommodating in agreement with lies believed by ignorant sheep herders and fishermen? Could not statements that YHWH is true and He cannot lie also be an “accommodation” of the fallacious ideas of finite men about what an infinite, Holy and perfect God should be? How would you even know what is being “accommodated” and what is not?
The Apostle Peter said:
2 Peter 1:21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
Along similar lines, the Apostle Paul said:
2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
In Romans 3:4, Paul also said that we should “let God be true, but every man a liar.” Well, how can we do that if YHWH Himself accommodates the lies? If, as Peter states, “holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” and they wrote those words down, then how can we trust Yeshua when He said that the Holy Ghost leads us to all truth?
John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
The Apostle John said that we have no need of a (human) teacher, but that the Holy Spirit should be our teacher:
1 John 2:27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.
How can we trust the “anointing” (of the Holy Ghost) to teach us “all things” that are supposedly “truth,” wherein there “is NO lie” if the Holy Ghost of YHWH accommodates the lies of those who are inspired to write Scripture? Indeed, people like Dr. Michael Heiser
and others like him reduce Divine inspiration to little more than cosmic indigestion and promote ideologies that obliterate any notion of the inerrant nature of Scripture by advocating such insane doctrines as that of Accommodation.
The above is a screenshot of the opening lines of his blog concerning this subject. Later, he goes on to write…
What Mike Thinks
I’m appalled that people who follow Christ are this dumb (or so easily led astray into embracing beliefs that are demonstrably contrary to reality). This level of willful ignorance dishonors God. The stupidity of modern flat earth belief is transparent in today’s world. Space flight (really, flight between hemispheres), satellite communications, space photography (any photography showing the earth’s curvature), etc. show the idea to be utter nonsense. And that’s before getting into the nuts-and-bolts science. Yet some people think they need to believe it to have a “true” Bible. This is mindless, simplistic literalism at its worst. (Well, maybe it can get worse … keep reading).
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I can already hear the comeback. “Let God be true and every man a liar!” Let me just say God isn’t a liar. He knows (and knew) the earth is a globe. It just happens that the people he chose to produce this thing we call the Bible didn’t know that. And God couldn’t have cared less. The writers God used to produce the Bible were not inspired to write about things of the natural world that were beyond their own worldview and knowledge base. And to argue (as normal 24-hour day creationists do) that God gave them advanced scientific knowledge, or that such advanced knowledge is encrypted in the biblical text, means that what they wrote could never have communicated that important knowledge to their original audience (or any audience prior to recent centuries). These approaches are absurd and undermine the communicative purpose of the Bible. What we read in Genesis (and elsewhere) reflects a common ancient Near Eastern perspective about cosmology with one crucial difference: the credit for creation is given exclusively to the God of Israel against all other gods. That is its truth claim with respect to creation. That Israelite cosmology is quite consistent with wider ancient Near Eastern cosmology is easy to demonstrate. That God chose people of a certain time, a certain place, with a certain (limited) knowledge base was up to him. We dishonor His choices when we impose our questions and our context on the biblical writers. Precisely the same limitations would be in place if God chose a scientist today to write Genesis 1000 years from now people would chuckle at how primitive he/she was (“Can you believe this is what they thought?”). This is why the Bible intentionallytranscends science discourse — science always changes with new discovery and knowledge. Who the creator was never changes.
If the “Creator never changes,” then He continues to accommodate lies according to this absurd rationale. Furthermore, this whole idea of the Biblical explanation of Creation reflecting “a common ancient Near Eastern perspective about cosmology with one crucial difference: the credit for creation is given exclusively to the God of Israel against all other gods. That is its truth claim with respect to creation,” has YHWH effectively taking credit for being the cause of Creation, while simultaneously endorsing the (according to Mike) erroneous method for how He did so, which was apparently in perfect alignment with the “false” cosmology of the Ancient Near East.
Personally, I have never in my life been given any reason to doubt the truth of Scripture. Never. Time and time again, the Bible has proven to be a “living Word,” which has not once let me down. It has always proven itself to be 100% true in every detail and thus completely trustworthy to be my “compass” in a world filled with lies. Therefore, you are free to believe whatever you want, but for me, to imagine that the Scriptures would in any way accommodate those lies in an effort to convey truth is an unthinkable, logical fallacy and a patently absurd idea.
Let God be true and every man a liar.
– Rob Skiba