19th century minister to colleague: Darwin will drag you down
Clergyman warns against compromise
Published: 8 July 2014 (GMT+10)
While many in the church warmed to Charles Darwin’s ideas, others spoke out against accepting his explanations of man’s origins.
Many think that creation-evolution is a side issue or that its effect on the church is overstated—or even that it’s only a ‘modern’ phenomenon.
So it’s instructive to understand there were strong, clear voices in the 19th century who recognised the problem.
One voice in England who spoke prophetically against compromise in the church was Rev. George Harrison.
In 1888, he challenged fellow minister Rev. Robert Bevan Hull’s acceptance of evolution and the path on which he was taking his fellowship.
Rev. Hull, the vicar of All Saints’ Church of England Northampton, Northamptonshire, gave an address about the ‘religious side of evolution’. Here, he praised the ‘wonderful speculations of Mr. Darwin’ while dismissing as legend the Genesis account of Adam and Eve, even though he said that was what was plainly written in the Bible.1
He appealed to Christians to set aside a straightforward understanding of Genesis as they would find that “a great deal of our belief and fancies about Paradise and the Fall of Man are not due to the Bible at all, but to Milton and those who preceded him”.2 He continued:
The Bible does not tell us that Adam and Eve were in a high state of holiness and purity, superior to our own. It represents them as being in a low state of purity. They wore no clothes, and had not learned to distinguish between right and wrong—a knowledge which came to them as it comes to many of us, by bitter and painful experience, as they learned the nature of sin, with its catalogue of suffering following in its train. This was what was really told of the origin of man in the Bible, if they would read it carefully.3
Rev. Harrison said that if the church accepted what Darwin said about human origins, it would have to give up the Creation account in Genesis. This included the fundamental teachings that man was made in God’s image and in ‘high moral and intellectual condition’; that God’s handiwork was ‘very good’; and, if there were no Fall, there was no need for Christ’s death. As well, God’s judgment on the world through Noah’s Flood did not happen; and ‘conversion’ must be entirely ignored.6 As the subsequent century and a half has shown time and again, compromising with Darwinism is a treacherous ‘slippery slope’—see e.g.:
- Justifying apostasy: A well-known Australian pastor goes off the rails, and tries to persuade others to follow,
- Death of an apostate: Charles Templeton,
- The slippery slope.
Photo: John Cummings
The book that led many to question God’s Word. And understandably so—see Darwin’s real message: have you missed it? Thankfully, Reverend George Harrison in 1888 was one who spotted the danger. (See main text.) As did Samuel Wilberforce, whose timely penmanship and passion is magnificently evident in his 1860 review of Darwin’s The Origin of Species. The alarm bells were being rung loudly, for all in the church to hear.
Rev. Harrison wasn’t alone in his day in recognising the implications of trying to marry Darwin’s ideas with the Bible, particularly in Genesis.
We owe much to the Rev. Harrisons of the 19th century who stood up for biblical truth. And those who claim today that it’s only ‘modern young-earth creationists’ who see any problem with trying to harmonize evolution with Scripture, are wrong.
And because of the rapid upsurge in scientific knowledge (much of it built on the Christian worldview that there must be a rational Creator), the increasing number of Rev. Harrisons in the church today have more and more scientific information that speaks of the masterful design of the Master Designer, and the straightforward truth of His Word. The more than 8,000 unique articles on this website are a testament to that—please use them in your armoury as you warn others of the dangers of evolutionary teaching.
What a great example Rev. George Harrison has left for others to follow.
References and notes
- British Library Board, The golden age that is coming. The religious side of evolution, Northampton Mercury, 28 January 1888. Return to text.
- Ref. 1. Return to text.
- Ref. 1. Return to text.
- 1891 census record, Class: RG12; Piece: 1199; Folio: 110; Page: 22; GSU Roll: 6096309, ancestry.co.uk. Return to text.
- British Library Board, The down grade in theology, Northampton Mercury, 11 February 1888. Return to text.
- Ref. 1. Return to text.
What you say is very true. Churches that tend to compromise on one area do so on others. Slowly they slide down into unbelief and sin. I have read testimonies of congregations in hell together with their pastors/leaders. At the end of the day God holds to account pastors/leaders who mislead their congregations and their punishment is severe. My advice to church members is always question your leaders and if in doubt go to the Bible for reference. At the end of the day, you don't want to go to hell because of your pastor.
Thank God for faithfull pastors like Rev. George Harrison. Rev. Hull would now know how wrong he was but it is far better if he had realised while he was still on this earth. Unfortunately people do not necessarily learn from the mistakes of history. Thank God for CMI and others like them. Unfortunately many mainstream churches have compromised with the resultant decline in membership and weakening of the church. In the end though God prevails. Compromisers ignore John's warning at the end of Revelation about taking from or adding to Scripture. Jesus tells us not everyone who says to Him "Lord, Lord" will enter the kingdom of heaven, and Peter tells us of the scoffers in our time. In one sense it is an exciting time to be a Christian with so much witness potential and prophesies being fulfilled before our eyes but we must pray God we are on the right side of prophesy and take God at His Word. It is not Genesis which is mythological but evolution and "deep" time- there is really no such thing as paleontology etc- it is built on myth and false philosophy, not science
So sad that we do not learn from past mistakes but I keep getting the old "do not confuse me with facts, I know what I believe!" And as they say ...anyone convinced against his will is of the same opinion still! I just pray for open minds!!!
Thank you CMI, who stands firm and provides us a lot more information that we need to get back on track to our Christ. I personally since I was a child had a hard time understanding Genesis, both my parents and my environment where I live doesn't have the intellectual capacity to explain about Genesis, let alone to discuss it. Silence is the best option here regarding to scientific explanation about the scripture. I'm not that smart too, I tried to learn myself but it seemed I was stuck from evolutionist point of view for all the time. I never believe in Evolution that much either, billion or million of years, or monkey, or from nothing to something, all are too weird in my sense. But yes, doubt was my friend for a long time before I met and explore your website. I thank God that He let me learn English (the only subject I am really familiar with) and directed me to this website. No more lies, no more doubt. Again, Thanks CMI God will always be with you all.
"The Bible does not tell us that Adam and Even were in a high state of holiness and purity, superior to our own."
Rev. Hull is in great error (not knowing the Scripture or the power of God).
"Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions." Ecclesiastes 7.29
Also, Paul infers that man would return (and exceed) his originally created state when saved in Christ. That state is described as "created in righteousness and true holiness" Ephesians 4.24
I would add as well that Romans 2 indicates that we are all created with the "works of the Law written on our hearts" so we are without excuse before God.
We are created in the image of God as moral beings. Scripture is clear.
Courage and Godspeed.
"You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, "He did not make me"; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, "He has no understanding"?
(Isa 29:16 ESV)
Amazing how history keeps repeating itself, and it's more amazing how we don't learn from history's lessons.