Why make a non-issue an issue!
In a recent visit with two associate pastors we discussed the possibility of me teaching a course entitled, “In the Beginning” which is a thorough literal teaching of Genesis 1-11 at their church. I did this many years ago at the same church with great success. The leadership of the church changed over the years including the senior pastor and his associates. A concerned long time member of the church wanted to revisit Genesis to insure that passages of scriptures were being interpreted correctly and was instrumental in setting up this meeting. This concerned member is one of our ministry’s key leaders and passionately believes that the Genesis Account is foundational to all the chief doctrines of the church including the Gospel. Many churches have drifted to a more liberal interpretation of the creation account, slipping in evolution, long ages, a local flood versus a world-wide flood and/or believing the Genesis account is allegorical rather than a true narrative. The purpose of the meeting was basically to see if there was an interest in this course of study as I assumed that they would be in favor because it had a large impact in the past. To my surprise, one of the pastors in the beginning of the meeting expressed hesitancy stating, “Why make a non-issue an issue?” His concern was that this class would lead to controversy within the church body causing division. He confessed that he was a six day creationist but felt that the Creation-Evolution debate is not a church matter and therefore why should we should enter the debate?
After the meeting, the same pastor was hesitant to introduce me to a church intern—a young man about six-feet-tall, with a nicely-trimmed beard, who was neatly dressed in jeans. He was a fairly new graduate of a secular college with outstanding grades and appeared pensive and serious. The pastor mentioned that he was doing exemplary leadership work in the church outreach to the poor, giving unselfishly of himself and far surpassing the program’s goals. The pastor then asked this confident young man, “In your mind do you think creation/evolution is a non-issue or an issue.” With a shrug of his shoulders he quickly replied, “It’s a non-issue,” and said he was formally a six-day creationist and that college had changed his mind. He now felt that it was okay to accept the long ages of evolution and was a theistic evolutionist. I asked him if he read any creationist literature and mentioned some well-known authors. He stated that he was not familiar with any and really didn’t have an interest in pursuing the topic. It was a revealing moment that virtually took my breath away. How could I be upset with this young man’s view of Genesis, when he apparently had accepted Christ as His Savior and was obviously willing to give so much of himself to help the poor? After all, isn’t that the very sort of thing we are called to as Christians? Maybe, when the church needs to be preaching the Gospel and providing food and shelter to the poor, the pastor was right about not making an issue of the creation/evolution debate. When I left the church that day a whole range of emotions was rushing through me. Everything from feeling compassion for that young man to frustration over seeing the church’s biblical foundations crumbling away right in front of my eyes. The historic Christian doctrines that are firmly rooted in the Word of God and give the church its uniqueness are either being ignored or distorted and compromised today, but church leadership doesn’t seem aware of it. But all biblical doctrine starts with Genesis 1-11, so I ask you, for the sake of unity in Christ should the creation/evolution debate be avoided because it may cause controversy and/or division within the church?
Avoiding Issues Leads to Compromise
This appears to be the case, since very few churches in this country seem to take the creation/evolution debate seriously. For the most part, church leadership fails to see the importance of the biblical doctrine of origins or is afraid to address it, which opens the door to compromise. An AP posting by Travis Loller from July 18, 2012, titled, Scientists, Seminarians Debate Evolution Online, stated: “Many Roman Catholic and mainline Protestant Christians today see parts of the Bible such as the creation as metaphorical, but for many evangelical Christians such a belief is untenable.” However, while many evangelical churches do hold to a literal interpretation of Genesis, the current debate is seldom mentioned from their pulpits, again leaving a great void. Many pastors and church leaders complain that they are not experts in this area and so just don’t address it. Yet, every day evolution is being taught as a fact in our schools, universities, films, TV programs, radio shows, music, websites, social media—in virtually all secular literature. This is a great disconnect!
Perhaps if the church intern I met had received the type of creation-based training that taught Genesis 1-11, presenting the classic timeline of several thousands of years of human history and the evidence that supports it, he would have recognized the serious flaws in the evolutionary ideas he was exposed to in college. Of course, attempting to replace God’s Word with man’s vain ideas is nothing new in the church. Consider the Apostle Paul’s warning in 2 Timothy 2:14-16 to his aspiring, young disciple, Timothy, to be careful to preserve the truth of God’s Word by diligent study:
Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness (NKJV).
Paul considered the Bible “the word of truth” that we can confidently trust in and depend upon, not something full of fairy tales or contractions, and he commands us to take it seriously. Notice that he didn’t say, “Except for the book of Genesis.” In fact, the Scriptures of his day were essentially the books of the Old Testament. Likewise, we are called to diligently study God’s Word and to “rightly divide” it—all of it. Church leaders are to clearly understand and faithfully teach biblical truth no matter how controversial the issue. Pastors, in particular, are called to proclaim the Word—especially in the face of popular ideas that contradict it—regardless of whether it makes some people uncomfortable or not. God’s Word is everything to our lives, and we should never be ashamed of it particularly when it goes against the “profane babblings” of men, like evolution and long ages, no matter how popular those ideas may be.
Instead, today we observe renowned Christian scientists and “biblical scholars” chanting the evolutionary mantras of natural selection and millions of years of time, which atheists then use to undermine believers’ faith. “See,” they say, “pastor or Christian leader so-and-so believes God used evolution to create everything, so there’s no harm in it.” However, as Paul warned Timothy, discerning the truth does not depend on the number of degrees one has, the eloquence of their words, the books they write, the number of journals they publish in or how popular they are. It is found in having a right understanding of the God’s holy Word. Christians are not to be swayed by man’s fanciful theories and “profane and idle babblings.” We are to discern when human ideas conflict with Scripture and be willing to defend the words of our sovereign, loving, all-powerful Creator, Who always speaks Truth. As the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, as Christians, we are to be about “pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…”
Unfortunately, as the church compromises on creation and other biblical doctrines, more and more young people are leaving the Faith, or, like that young intern, picking and choosing what they want to believe out of fear of being viewed as out of step with the times and compromising with the world. Is that the kind of Christianity we want to see in our churches?
A Direct Challenge to God’s Word
A good example of destructive evolutionary thinking, with its inherent assumption of long ages, is questioning the existence of Adam and Eve. An Old Testament professor, Dr. C. John Collins, wrote a book entitled, Did Adam and Eve Really Exist: Who Were They and Why Should You Care, published by Crossway in 2011. In it Dr. Collins challenges the historicity of Adam and Eve as the first two humans, who, according to Genesis 2:7, were directly created by God from the dust of the Earth. He expresses great admiration for the work of Dr. Francis Collins, who is famous for directing the National Human Genome Research Institute project that revealed the human genetic code, and states that Francis Collins “agrees with those biologists who contend that traditional beliefs about Adam and Eve are no longer viable” (p. 12). This Old Testament theologian also supports Francis Collins’ assumption that in order to begin the human race there had to be far more genetic diversity than just two individuals could provide. Such thinking is all based on the idea that man is a product of millions of years of evolution and descended from apes, as this quote from p. 118 indicates:
On the genetic side, there are two related conclusions that we must account for. One is the idea that the genetic similarities between humans and chimpanzees require that the species have some kind of common ancestor. A second conclusion is that the features of the human genome—particularly genetic diversity—imply that the human population needs to have thousands or more individuals, even at its beginning.
There are major problems with such a statement both on theological and scientific levels. Theologically, the word “Adam” appears 30 times in 26 verses in the Bible (NKJV), and always refers to a single person. More importantly, according to Jesus Christ, who in Matthew 19:4-6 blends the words of Genesis 1:26 and 2:24, the institution of marriage was established between one particular man and one particular woman in the persons of Adam and Eve.
Was Jesus, who the Bible tells us created “all things”—including human DNA—somehow wrong or mistaken about this, or is Dr. Collins perhaps the one in error? Starting with two individuals made in his image, God created mankind to multiply and cover the Earth with people like you and me who would love and glorify Him. Everything the Lord made in the beginning was perfect, as we are reminded by the use of the word “good” being repeated six times in Genesis 1. Then, as Genesis 3 informs us, Adam and Eve sinned bringing God’s judgment of death (a very “bad” thing) into the world, which is why Jesus Christ came to redeem us through His death on the Cross. Do you see how foundational the early chapters of Genesis are to understanding all of Scripture and God’s plan of redemption?
What geneticists—even the famous Dr. Francis Collins—observe today apart from the light of Scripture, is a flawed DNA code with inherited genetic mistakes (or negative mutations), which are the result of sin. However, since Adam and Eve had a perfect genetic code their children and children’s children would easily have had enough diversity in their inherited genes to produce healthy and survivable offspring for generations, including us! Francis Collins fails to acknowledge this historical fact because he is a Darwinian evolutionist, who believes that upward change occurs through genetic modification and natural selection.
In other words, he believes that slow, accumulated changes (i.e., mutations) in the DNA code eventually develop things like bacteria into more and more complicated forms like human beings (aka: “goo to you”). His evolutionary thinking blinds him to the original perfection of Genesis 1 and 2, as well as the Apostle Paul’s teaching about all of creation being in bondage to decay and “waiting in eager expectation” for Christ’s return (Romans 8:18-22 ). Christians, whether they are scientists or scholarly Old Testament professors, need to know that God’s Word is perfect, as Psalm 18:30 states, “As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.” Indeed, perhaps the worst damage being done to Scripture today is not from the atheist camp, but from within the church itself through false or failed teaching that substitutes man’s ideas for God’s truths. But if the Bible requires us to “love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength,” as it says in Mark 12:30, then we demonstrate our love through a commitment to uphold God’s Word entirely from beginning to end—and in every detail.
What can we do?
As I trust you agree, the fact that the book of Genesis is being reinterpreted in our churches in order to accommodate man’s vain evolutionary agenda is not a “non-issue,” and that, instead of being avoided, it needs to be addressed. In order to strengthen our churches when it comes to these foundational truths of Scripture, this year we are developing a dynamic Creation Studies Leadership Program, including curriculum and resources. Since the inception of CSI over 25 years ago, I have been teaching this message in many different forms. Starting in the church of the late Dr. D. James Kennedy, who firmly believed in the importance of the Genesis account, our goal has always been to educate Christians about the reliability of the Bible’s teachings on creation. Now we are endeavoring to put this information in a workable, “discipleship” format to train up leaders with a faithful understanding of Genesis, who can then teach others in their local churches. It’s an enormous undertaking, and to make it happen we need you to partner with us.
This month, we are going to provide important personal tools that will affirm and grow your faith in Christ. In line with the theme of this letter, we are offering volume two of How Do We Know the Bible Is True? Edited by Ken Ham and Bodie Hodge. Its 352 pages are filled with factual information that answers 31 important questions about the Bible and affirms the reliability of God’s Word. Along with this excellent book, we will also send you the Ray Comfort DVD, Genius, which takes a look at the life and death of John Lennon of “The Beetles.” Comfort examines Lennon’s godless philosophy and the terrible moral conditions that result when young people believe they come from animals through evolutionary processes. Through compelling interviews with college-age students, Mr. Comfort, who is known for his face-to-face street preaching, demonstrates the horrifying lack of values that some of them possess. It will probably shock you and give you a new awareness of how important God’s Word is to a civilized society. (Spoiler alert: some of the students admit they would steal—and even commit murder—if they knew they wouldn’t be caught!)
In conclusion, I hope you agree that a creation science curriculum for church leaders is a crying need in our world today and with our plans to address it. As a donor-driven ministry, CSI can’t move forward with this project without your support. So please consider making a generous donation to help us get this message to our Savior’s church. Throughout our ministry’s 25-plus years, God has continually demonstrated His faithfulness to us through friends like you. Please hold us up in your prayers as we battle the forces of Satan, who roams the earth “like a roaring lion” to take young minds and souls captive. We need to break the spiritual blindness and bondage so many are trapped in today, and we are depending on your prayers and financial support. Will you help us? Thank you for your gracious partnership with our ministry. May God, our loving Creator, richly bless you!
In His service,
Executive Director & Founder of CSI