Some Things Don’t Mix

A senator who switches parties can get press attention for weeks. While some will praise him for his bold move, others will criticize him for his spineless defection. When a popular evangelical pastor or apologist reverses his position on the creation account, there can be a similar response. Some will talk of his courage and intellectual honesty, while others speak of his foolish compromise.

February of 2009 marked the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of his book, Origin of Species. Darwin’s theory of evolution was celebrated not only by Christ-denying secular professors, but also by many pastors worldwide who lined up to eulogize this controversial man. Over ten thousand clergy have signed a document called “An Open Letter Concerning Religion and Science.” This letter betrays a disregard for the authority of the creation account while it champions the teaching of evolution as irrefragable fact.

“Within the community of Christian believers there are areas of dispute and disagreement, including the proper way to interpret Holy Scripture. While virtually all Christians take the Bible seriously and hold it to be authoritative in matters of faith and practice, the overwhelming majority do not read the Bible literally, as they would a science textbook. […] We the undersigned, Christian clergy from many different traditions, believe that the timeless truths of the Bible and the discoveries of modern science may comfortably coexist. We believe that the theory of evolution is a foundational scientific truth, one that has stood up to rigorous scrutiny and upon which much of human knowledge and achievement rests. To reject this truth or to treat it as ‘one theory among others’ is to deliberately embrace scientific ignorance and transmit such ignorance to our children. […] We urge school board members to preserve the integrity of the science curriculum by affirming the teaching of the theory of evolution as a core component of human knowledge.”

Thousands of pastors got up in the pulpit and lauded Darwin, giving the impression that biblical creation could somehow be harmonized with Darwinian biology and uniformitarian-geology evolution.

Almost as long as the evolutionary theory has been taught, theistic evolutionists have sought to dilute the truths of Genesis 1 and 2 by teaching that God used evolution to bring about life on earth. Actually, neither true creationists nor Darwinists were impressed by a hybrid theory that claimed God created matter and life and then the natural process which accounts for millions of years of evolution.

If we concede that the earth was made over long periods of time through natural processes instead of in six literal days by supernatural intervention, what difference does it make? At the heart of this debate is the critical matter of biblical authority.

Without explaining every detail, the inspired record, the Bible, tells that God spoke all matter and life into existence. Liberal theologians have historically aligned themselves with Darwin rather than with God’s statement of literal creation. But some evangelicals are embracing “progressive creationism”, a view that says God brought things into existence through millions of years. Darwin bought into Lyellian uniformitarianism, a theory that the geological ages account for long periods of adaptation. Like many pastors and educators today, he tried at first to reconcile the creation account with the scientific discoveries of his day. Had God actually created over millions of years instead of six days? Before long he put his faith in secular science that left no place for God or a supernatural creation.

How can one say they believe the Bible and yet conclude it is not accurate? Paul was adamant with the Athenians when he spoke of “God who made the world and everything in it” (Acts 17:24). But how long did this creative act take? There should be no confusion as what God meant when He wrote through Moses, “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them…” (Exod 20:11).

Some have defected from holding a young earth position because they claim the subject is too divisive. Others are convinced that the conclusions of secular scientists force us to reexamine and rethink our hermeneutic about a six-day creation. Some religious leaders even claim that holding to a six-day creation hurt our witness, and conceding truth somehow makes us more effective.

John Ankerberg, an apologist out of Chattanooga, Tennessee, is one of those who have changed their minds about the age of the earth. Mr. Ankerberg once wrote and argued for the young age of the earth and the literal six day creation. Now he hosts debates and writes in support of a 15 billion year history with “days” actually being millions of years. While claiming to believe in the biblical account about the origins of man and sin, Ankerberg is convinced that “the age of the earth is not a test of orthodoxy.” He is convinced that adopting a day-age theory will make it easier for unbelievers to accept creation and God.

But the Apostle Paul declared that unregenerate man “did not see fit to acknowledge God” (Rom 1:28) even though “what can be known about God is plain to them” (Rom 1:19). Man the creation did not honor or thank God the Creator. In his depravity man chose rather to “worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator…” (Rom 1:24). I’m troubled by the line of thinking which reasons that if we package creation so it is palatable to the unsaved, then they will finally accept it. Do people really say that though? Consider this statement made by a blogger: “When the secular world searches for truth, we must remember that they will be more impacted by evidence than by presuppositions.”
(www.jasscience.blogspot.com/2009/02/presuppositionalism.html)

I’m not surprised when the unsaved and the enemies of the cross reject the creation account or try to fit it into their system of belief. But I will never cease being disappointed that those who say they are disciples of Christ and Bible teachers pick and choose what they want to believe from the first three chapters of Genesis.

Today we need bold believers who refuse to let God-denying scientists shape and impact their faith. Let the Bible interpret itself and the clear meaning of Scripture prevail. Should the Lord tarry, we will see more and more popular evangelicals make senseless concessions to modern theories. The pressure to reconcile Biblical accounts with the attacks of popular opinion and seemingly scientific evidence has been used by the Devil to lure men from truth. Science, while interesting to study, is not God’s Word, and is fallible. The theories of man about the earth’s history and its future have changed and will change. The doomsday prognostications about a coming ice age soon gave way to the scare of global warming. Society will make policies based on “scientific” models only to reverse themselves later.

A distinguishing mark of true disciples is the steadfast confidence in the revelation of God. Christians look Darwinists in the eye and say, “Let God be true, and every man a liar” (Rom 3:4). We stand apart from and against the compromise of men like Dr. Hugh Ross who try to pass off secular science as biblical fact. Ross is a popular speaker and author, but the truth is that his denying the young earth and global flood expose him to be just one more skeptic who does not believe Genesis means what it says. While what we know of God and His revelation determines our view of origins, Ross asserts that that one’s theology should be made to fit one’s cosmology. Ross is absolutely convinced that he can introduce the Big Bang Theory as fact, reduce the global flood to a local occurrence, discuss man-like, spiritless hominids that walked the earth four million years before man, and speak of death before the fall—all without there being any negative impact on Scriptural integrity.

John Calvin held to a six-day creation and he warned that holding the truth of a young earth would set us up for scoffing: “They will not refrain from guffaws when they are informed that but little more than five thousand years have passed since the creation of the universe.”

Scientists are able to look deeper into molecules and farther into space with every passing year. At a cost of ten billion dollars engineers built a 17-mile long tunnel in Geneva, Switzerland for a machine that would catapult particles into each other almost at the speed of light. The LHC—Large Hadron Collider—has been repaired, one year after it broke on its first testing. By exploding matter into matter scientists hope to study the new particles they believe will be produced. All this is to explain how a “Big Bang” that supposedly occurred 13.7 billion years ago sent matter spiraling in different directions, matter which in time, they are convinced, became planets and stars.

We need not be threatened over what they might find. The more we find out about the how amazing life is on this planet, and how vast the universe is, the more our faith should rejoice in God. No “discovery” should leave us scrambling to add 100 million years to the equation, but rather to marvel that the Almighty God created everything in less than a week and did so for His own glory (Rev 4:11).

Long before the first Adam, the last Adam (1 Cor 15:45), God’s Son, existed. In eternity past the Word was with God (John 1:1). All things were created by and for this preeminent Christ (Col 1:16). Christ was the Cause, the Creator. He had no beginning, but He brought all things into being that exist. Our faith is not to rest in an “intelligent design”, but in the Divine Designer. This same uncaused Jesus Christ who brought life into existence cited Moses’ record in Genesis about the creation of Adam and Eve (Matt 19:4). Christ did not question any part of Moses’ six-day creation account. Adam and Eve were not created millions of years after some big bang, but “from the beginning of creation” (Mark 10:6). Nowhere in Christ’s theology was there room for the first couple arriving millions of years after the earth had existed. He was not merely telling the origin of marriage, but of mankind. The Lord Jesus traces the history of Adam and Eve to the sixth day of creation as Moses accurately wrote. The six days of God’s creative work was the “beginning.” Moses was not in error or confused, nor was the Son of God.

Christians are accused of being in error because they won’t believe the postulations of scientists who deny God, but the Lord Himself said to the Sadducees, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God” (Matt 22:29).

The first chapters of Genesis were not written to answer all the scientific questions that could ever be asked, but what is recorded is without error and must be believed without doubt. To believe that God made everything in a week as He said takes faith. That faith, like faith to trust Christ as Savior, must come from God, not worked up by sinful man. “Without faith it is impossible to please God,” and by faith we can accept with finality that “in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them…” (Exod 20:11). Only “by faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God…” (Heb11:3). The person who does not believe God will never be convinced by any fact you can offer. Unbelievers “by their unrighteousness suppress the truth” (Rom 1:18). Believers put their faith in God and His Word, not in the latest finding and theory of some paleontologist. By faith I accept that creation was the act of God, not a clever myth. By faith I accept that in an amazingly short period of time all matter was brought into existence and formed in wonderful balance. Reason does not lead me to question God’s inspired record. To anyone who second-guesses the literal creation account God asks, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding” (Job 38:4).

The push by Hugh Ross and others to put millions of years where God puts twenty-four hour days is just another attempt to make faith reasonable and synthesize truth and error. Let God’s Word be the first and the last word—“in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed” (Exod 31:17). We would never stand for a compromised, re-worked position on the Virgin Birth or the inspiration of Scripture; why should we not be just as dogmatic about the creation of the world exactly as given to us by God Himself?

So what should we make of the defection of John Ankerberg, James Dobson, James Montgomery Boice, et al., who all say that creation likely took place over millions of years, not six twenty-four days, as recorded in Scripture? Martin Luther was aware that some of the early church fathers wavered on the authority of the Genesis creation account. They took an allegorical approach to the first two chapters of Genesis. Luther boldly proclaimed:

“The ‘Days’ of Creation were ordinary days in length. We must understand that these days were actual days (veros dies), contrary to the opinion of the holy fathers. Whenever we observe that the opinions of the fathers disagree with Scripture, we reverently bear with them and acknowledge them to be our elders. Nevertheless, we do not depart from the authority of Scripture for their sake.”

Some things don’t mix. Creation begins and ends with God. Evolution begins and ends with chance and change over billions of years. The polarization of these antithetical views is obvious. But there will always be men and women who chose to believe man’s latest theory rather than the proclamation of God’s truth. “Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, ‘That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged’” (Rom 3:4).

December 2009

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