Creation evangelism: cutting through the excess
It was not long after my conversion to Christ in college in the 1970’s that I dumped all my evolutionary baggage and was totally sold on Biblical creationism. I was even able to convince two of my biology professors to allow me to present a lecture to the class about what I had come to believe, which was completely contrary to what they were teaching. The one professor allowed a question and answer session afterward that went 45 minutes overtime with his approval. I was hooked on Creation Evangelism!
Fast-forward ten years or so, and the Lord is leading to the mission field. Europe, I am told, is spiritually dead, much in need of the true Gospel message, and, of course, ‘the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.’ Hooked again! But the focus of the battle would not be creation versus evolution; rather it was false religious systems versus the truth of Christianity. Amazingly, in the end, it turned out that the battle was the same. In the spiritual battle against false religion, you have to cut through all the excess and get right to the heart of the message: are you going to be saved by your works, or by Jesus Christ alone? Big cathedrals, almsgiving, lighting candles, saints, men in religious garb, helping your neighbor, Mary, the pope and Mohammed are not going to save you. Only faith in Christ could forgive sin.
Sin! Sin? What is sin? Why do I need to be forgiven of sin? God just takes my good works, puts them on a scale with my bad works on the other side, and whichever way the scale tips determines my ultimate destiny. It was not long before I realized that I was continually going back to the book of Genesis to explain all about Adam and Eve and original sin (rebellion) against a Holy God, and how man fell and tries to climb back up on his own strength but cannot. I would explain how Adam and Eve sewed fig leaves together to try to cover their own sin—the first religion of ‘works’—and how man hid from God and still tries to hide from his Creator by coming up with ideas like evolution.
Then the questions would come, and here I was having to now cut through all the excess of secular science to get right to the heart of the message: you were created by God and you will answer to Him one day. I found myself frequently turning to the first chapter of Romans, which clearly addresses the foolishness of attributing creation to material causes instead of an intelligent Creator, and frequently asserting the steadfast authority of the Bible over man’s continually changing ideas.
There is no question about it. Creation Evangelism is one of the most powerful missionary tools for proclaiming the Gospel because it answers the most practical questions in life. For example, in Italy I recall speaking with an older gentleman about evolution and death. ‘Why, death is natural!’ he asserted, bolstered by the idea that life cannot progress without it. Shortly after, with tears in his eyes, he recounted the story of his young daughter’s untimely death. ‘If there is a God, why would He allow that?’ he demanded. Back to the beginning: I explained from Genesis that our sin against, and separation from, the Creator and Giver of life is the true reason for suffering and death, and that evolution really has no logical answer for it, if survival is the goal.
Cross the Adriatic to Albania. Poverty like I had never seen. A people beaten down by 40 years of communist ideology. I had the opportunity to speak in a church. Convinced by then that Creation Evangelism was the way to go, I spoke on Genesis and Romans 1. I pointed out some of the fallacies of evolutionary teaching, including the peppered moth fraud.
Immediately afterward an excited young Albanian girl came running up to be the first to speak to me. ‘We just learned about the peppered moth in university this very week!’ she exclaimed, ‘and I was convinced that it really did demonstrate evolution in action until now.’ Her faith in the Creator and His Word was strengthened that day.
Continuing on our journey east, we come to Russia, steeped in evolutionary dogma. Class struggle. Atheism, or at best ritualistic formalism. You are nothing but a cog in the wheel; you serve the state and you die, or you just die. Statues of soldiers (including women) are everywhere, symbols of the survival of the strongest mentality.
A friend and I were given free rein to present the Gospel in eleven orphanages. Some were in areas where no American had ever set foot. What an incredible opportunity! I determined that, given the unlikelihood that I would ever be back to talk with these kids, I was going to leave them with something to remember. So I brought along a monkey mask. Before my friend (the main speaker) would talk, I would give a 10-minute presentation about the untrustworthiness of evolutionary doctrine. The mask served to graphically heighten the absurdity of the idea that humans came from apes.
A missionary reminded me of the fact that the kids’ teachers were also present, and might be offended because I was telling the kids that what they had learned was not true, so I adjusted my words accordingly, but not the message. I felt like I was killing two birds with one stone (teacher and student)! If nothing else, they would be left having to make a decision: trust God or trust man. Had their trust in man gotten them anywhere? Did the Lenin statue outside help them?
After one of the last presentations, one shy little girl dared (and I mean that given the circumstances) to come up to us. She held her head down as if afraid to tell us something. Amazingly, a teacher spoke for her. Even now, her words bring a tear to my eye: ‘This girl wants you to know she now believes in God.’
Back to the USA, on furlough and I am sitting at breakfast telling two friends about how the creation message has changed my focus. Their response catches me off guard: Why isn’t it enough to just tell people they need to trust Christ for their salvation—you know, John 3:16 and all that?
And why do we need a Savior? ‘Because we are sinners’, they respond. And why are we sinners? Because of Adam’s rebellion. And Adam’s rebellion in a perfect world explains our own rebellion in an imperfect world. In cultures where the concept of sin is not even understood, which in our day includes the USA, we need to go back to the beginning, to Genesis, to find the answers. Then I hit my friends a little closer to home. Both of them have growing daughters, so I have my Achilles heel. I ask them, ‘When your daughters get older and ask why they can’t go to the beach topless, or why they have to get married (after all, it’s just a piece of paper, isn’t it?) what are you going to tell them?’
They quickly got the idea. The answers are in Genesis. I can only hope that they were hooked on Creation Evangelism too!
About the author …
John Verderame, B.S. Biology, ThM Pastoral Ministries. John spent five years in Italy and Europe in church planting and evangelism.