What kind of ark should we build?

Jul 7, 2016 by

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“God saw that the earth had become corrupt and was filled with violence.” — Genesis 6:11 NLT

According to the Biblical account in Genesis, it took Noah 120 years to build the original ark, one designed to provide refuge for himself, his family and a remnant of every kind of living creature on earth. In one of the grimmest narrative in all of Scripture, everything and everyone else perishes.

Near Williamstown, Ky., a replica of that massive vessel has been completed in less than two years, thanks to the ambitious dream of entrepreneur Ken Ham. Set to open today, it was constructed at a cost of more than $100 million, and occupies 200 acres of what will be an 800-acre theme park that will include a zoo, among other attractions. The Creation Museum, just 50 miles away, is run by the same organization, Answers in Genesis.

The 510-foot-long replica of the Biblical ark, made mostly of timber and not designed to actually be seaworthy, is supported by three 70-foot concrete towers, and is expected to draw thousands of visitors annually who are willing to pay an admission fee of $41 per adult to see its many exhibits, including some featuring life-size dinosaurs.

I find it interesting that well-known Mennonite architect LeRoy Troyer of Mishawaka, Ind., was hired to head up the construction, employing, among others, some experienced Amish timber framers from various surrounding communities. The project is requiring 3 million board feet of lumber, mostly imported from New Zealand then specially treated in the Netherlands before being shipped to the Kentucky site.

But is this really the kind of massive project followers of Jesus should be supporting?

That question is sure to be a subject of debate, but if God were to speak to modern-day Noahs, I’m wondering if he might propose one or more of the following alternatives:

A. Provide for the resettlement and care of millions of refugees around the world who have been displaced by war and famine. Many of these desperate men, women and children may languish in makeshift tent cities for decades if nothing is done to relieve their plight.

B. Provide an embrace of welcome for marginalized people all around us, people discriminated against because of their race, ethnicity, nationality or for any other reason. Urge whole communities of God’s people to provide arks of safety for ex-offenders, for the disabled, for the unemployed, for those born with differing gender orientations, and for the homeless and orphaned everywhere.

C. Invest in creation care projects that preserve rain forests, save endangered species, clean up waterways and oceans, protect unspoiled wilderness areas, and which treat all of God’s creatures with decency and mercy. This could involve investing in means of food production that avoid as much suffering as possible for many animals now confined in factory farms where they are often exploited for maximum profits with little regard for their welfare or wellbeing.

How might the above kinds of ark building projects help an unbelieving world better understand and reverence the God of the Bible?

Harvey Yoder is an ordained pastor and member of Family of Hope, a small Virginia Mennonite Conference house church congregation. He blogs at Harvspot, where this first appeared.


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  • Mary Borntrager Rufenacht

    I’m just curious Harvey, if you have firsthand knowledge of what Ken Ham has chosen to do with his charitable giving or what causes he has championed. Maybe he has done something to help every one of the things you listed (A, B, & C). I’ve discovered over the years that it never works to sit afar off and make assumptions about something let alone write about it in a published periodical. Now if you say you have firsthand knowledge because you’ve talked to Ken personally and know details about what you’ve written here, I’ll back off and say that you know what you’re talking about.

    • Harvey Yoder

      Good question, but I’m assuming this is enterprise is not something any individual would be making any personal profit from, other than from the salary that Answers in Genesis, the not-for profit religious organization, pays, so I would not see his personal charitable giving as having any relevance. Or am I missing something?

    • Harvey Yoder

      Good question, but I’m assuming this enterprise is not one in which any individual would be making any personal profit, other than from the salary that Answers in Genesis, the not-for profit religious organization, pays, so I wouldn’t see his personal charitable giving as having any relevance. Or am I missing something?

      • Mary Borntrager Rufenacht

        Like I said, unless you have some personal knowledge of his income and means and what he is able to do, it never works to assume anything.

      • Mary Borntrager Rufenacht

        Yes, you would be missing something.

      • Mary Borntrager Rufenacht

        If it were me, I would never presume to know what his means are and what he chooses to do with them. I feel strongly that assuming anything never works. Especially if I’m being judgmental.

      • Keith Wiebe

        Harvey, Ken Ham pays himself about half of what Franklin Graham gets paid for part time work at Samaritan’s Purse. But, Ken has family members working there for a total of around 500k in salaries. He pays himself about 190k. Answers in Genesis lost a half a mil a couple yrs ago. Wonder how this will end up?

  • Keith Wiebe

    I’ve been told that if he gets another 40 million in donations he will “try” and make it float! Somehow though, Ken appears to me as making his interpretation less believable-not more so.

  • Harvey Yoder

    Not sure I like the fact that an atheist website is putting this out, but it sounds like something someone needs to be doing some more research on. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2015/11/11/what-ken-ham-isnt-telling-you-about-ark-encounter-funding/

    • Keith Wiebe

      We had a similiar thing happen in Wichita a few yrs ago. A local overtly religious person raised funds for a western theme park and it lasted a couple of months. People got hurt in the long run. People lost money (including his pastor-an ultra conservative flag waving etc.). Blamed the low turnout numbers on terrible weather that produced the tornado in Greensburg. Maybe God was trying to tell him something! http://www.kansas.com/news/article1119561.html

  • Wilbur H Entz

    In Luke 10:38-42 Jesus gives a surprise answer to Martha (who is in the process of being a dogooder): “But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Therefore Ken Ham has chosen the good part. BTW who really cares if Ken Ham makes $190k or his family $500k? I certainly do not. I am anticipating a discussion firestorm since I am coming down squarely on the side of a six-day Creation.

  • Craig and Karen Long

    A while back, (sometime during our stay in Costa Rica/Ecuador) we learned the beauty of Proverbs 22:2: “The rich and the poor have this in common: YHVH is the Maker of them all.” Yes, we are to be stewards of that which is entrusted to us, but one must never underestimate the value of a soul and the Price of Blood that was paid, wherein there really is no monetary amount that can compare, nor should it. If just one person is touched through this amazing endeavor, for we are “in the days of Noah, so shall the coming of the Son of man be,” it was not too high of a sacrifice! “Wherever the Gospel is preached, it shall be told what this woman has done, as a memorial to her,” Yahshua reminded the stringent, conflicted disciple, Judas Iscariot, who felt that a year’s worth of money for the purchase of the ointment poured onto the feet of the Messiah was not worthy of Him.

  • Dale Welty

    Harvey, I note you said nothing in paragraph B about millions of innocent American babies murdered in their mother’s womb. Do these babies lives not matter? Further, LBJ implemented the War on Poverty. We now have more poverty than ever and is costing taxpayers millions. How much will your proposals cost us? Dale Welty

  • Gene Mast

    Scrutiny of expenditures by charitable organizations, particularly Christian ones, should never be verboten, but one suspects that in this case the theologically conservative views promoted by Mr. Ham are what provokes Mr. Yoder’s ire as much as anything. Forgive me for wondering if EMU comes in for the same sort of moral criticism of its spending practices.