The end of a slippery slope
The consequences of abandoning biblical creation
Published: 29 April 2014 (GMT+10)
“We have our own resources for dealing with this subject.” This was a reply from a Methodist minister whom I had approached about the possibility of speaking in the church he leads. I have found it quite typical of the type of response from ‘churchians’ who do not accept the clear teaching of the Bible regarding origins. I have come to understand that similar euphemisms such as, ‘We cover this subject in-house’ or, ‘We have no need of outside teaching in this regard’ are normally code for, ‘I believe God used evolution to create’.
It has surprised me that people apparently so enamoured with philosophical naturalism are not bolder in asserting their convictions. I know that if my pastor were approached by a proponent of theistic evolution or progressive creation, or one of the other attempts to squeeze naturalism into the Bible, he would unequivocally say that we take a biblical creation view on origins. Could it be that those that hold to various compromise views are insecure in their accommodation of evolution? In their hearts they very likely know it is completely at odds with the very authority upon which they can base their claim to ‘Christianity’—the Bible.
Normally it is quite difficult to get beyond the sorts of statements cited above. But on this occasion, when I thought the discussion was over, the minister volunteered that he had looked at our website and very quickly saw something that ensured we could not come and speak to his congregation. When I asked what that was he never gave any detail but stated that he could not believe that anyone was naïve enough to believe in biblical creation.
When I challenged him as to what specifically convinced him of the truth of evolution; he used typical ‘elephant hurling’ such as that most serious scientists accept evolution, and that the proofs of evolution were ‘obvious’. He further claimed that it was a side issue to the Gospel.
I gently tried to engage him and said that while we do not believe that an acceptance of the historicity of Genesis was essential for salvation, it set the very foundation for the Gospel of salvation by faith in Christ. When I went on to argue that a dismissal of the plain meaning of Genesis could (and often does) lead to a ‘slippery slope’ of unbelief, he took exception.
We spoke further about issues such as the meaning of the word ‘day’ (yôm) in Genesis Chapter 1. After a while he stated that all that matters is the “blood of Christ”. Thinking that I would challenge him about whether we can believe the biblical account of the shed blood of Christ if we cannot accept the historical account of creation, I asked him, “How do you know that the blood of Christ really was shed on the cross for our sins about 2000 years ago?” He hesitated slightly and then said, “I am not sure that I do”. I was shocked and saddened by this admission and wondered how many of his congregation knew how far down that ‘slippery slope’, to which I had alluded earlier, their preacher had descended?
He curtly ended our conversation shortly after that and I was left pondering the eternal implications to him and his flock, the blind leading the blind. Jesus said that:
“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” (Matthew 6:22–24).
In other words, if that which informs and directs our beliefs and actions, and which we believe to be our ‘light’ is in fact ‘darkness’, it is a darkness of terrible consequences. Jesus seemed to say this in the context of money, but the principle could equally be applied to the acceptance of ungodly “philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” (Colossians 2:8) The secular humanist religion of philosophical naturalism (evolution) is a terrible ‘darkness’ that leads many astray from the revealed truth of God’s Word. “Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” (Romans 1:22,23)
We do not believe that an individual that rejects the biblical account of creation will necessarily also ultimately reject other clear teachings of Scripture. We have found that a ‘blessed inconsistency’ is possible and that some are able to live their Christian faith in spite of that inconsistency. But a clear inconsistency it is. It is inconsistent with the Bible, and most often also with the very foundational beliefs of the Christian institution to which that individual belongs. A recent email I received in response to my seeking a ministry opportunity at a church stated:
“Thank you for the enquiry, but we would not be interested. Your theology [referring to CMI’s stance on creation] does not line up with Methodist or Wesleyan theology.”
I replied (graciously I pray) that although he is probably correct that CMI’s stance on biblical creation probably does not align with that of many current theologians, it certainly does align with the theology of the very founder of those movements, John Wesley. In the preface to his book on health precautions, Primitive Physic, Wesley stated:
“1. When man came first out of the hands of the great Creator, clothed in body as well as in soul, with immortality and incorruption, there was no place for physic, or the art of healing. As he knew no sin, so he knew no pain, no sickness, weakness, or bodily disorder. The habitation wherein the angelic mind, the Divinæ particula Auræ abode, though originally formed out of the dust of the earth, was liable to no decay. It had no seeds of corruption or dissolution within itself. And there was nothing without to injure it: Heaven and earth and all the hosts of them were mild, benign, and friendly to human nature. The entire creation was at peace with man, so long as man was at peace with his Creator. So that well might ‘the morning stars sing together, and all the sons of God shout for joy.’
“2. But since man rebelled against the Sovereign of heaven and earth, how entirely is the scene changed! The incorruptible frame hath put on corruption, the immortal has put on mortality. The seeds of weakness and pain, of sickness and death, are now lodged in our inmost substance; whence a thousand disorders continually spring, even without the aid of external violence. And how is the number of these increased by every thing round about us! The heavens, the earth, and all things contained therein, conspire to punish the rebels against their Creator. The sun and moon shed unwholesome influences from above; the earth exhales poisonous damps from beneath; the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, the fishes of the sea, are in a state of hostility: yea, the food we eat, daily saps the foundation of the life which cannot be sustained without it. So has the Lord of all secured the execution of his decrees,–‘Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.’”1
Any attempt to squeeze deep time (allegedly represented by the fossil record) into the Bible puts pain, disease, suffering and death prior to Adam and his sin and is therefore in contradiction of Wesley’s clear belief that sickness, suffering and death came as a result of the Fall. Not just Wesley’s, of course. Surveying evangelical commentaries and Bible-scholars near-universally reveals that before the rise of ‘deep time’ philosophy (well before Darwin and based on the rejection of Genesis and its global flood) there was simply no need for long discussion of the meaning of Genesis; it was too blindingly obvious.
Before putting down the phone after the conversation described at the beginning of this article, I expressed the hope that we could have a cup of coffee together one day if he ever wanted to revisit his beliefs on creation. I pray that this might yet happen, and that he might become one of a growing number of such clergy for whom the ‘lights go on’ . Not only is Genesis creation the foundation and core of the Gospel, it also happens to fit the facts of the real world, as tens of thousands of scientifically trained Christians worldwide can attest.
References and notes
- Pg iii, Primitive Physic, John Wesley, Thornton and Collie, Edinburgh, 1846. Return to text.
I have offered a number of responses in the past but they never seem to pass the screener. However, with the hopes that this group is really interested in the opinions of others that may differ with theirs, I will keep trying.
I also agree with many of the comments that express sadness at the “falling away” of many today over the issue as to whether the term “day” represents either 24 hours or an implied period of time that has a start and finish. The article clearly states that this is not a “salvation issue,” so why do all those in agreement with its message appear to make it out to be a salvation issue. People who represent this as a salvation issue run the risk of needlessly dividing the church and that is a salvation issue.
I like the irony of a leading statement in the article that says, “I have found it quite typical of the type of response from ‘churchians’ who do not accept the clear teaching of the Bible regarding origins. (emphasis mine)” If it were so “clear” than why is there so much controversy surrounding the subject? If one thinks it is “clear” it may by that they really aren’t aware of the problems.
One problem relates to the “firmament” that seperated the two bodies of water as described in Genesis 1:7. When you compare that with Genesis 1:16-17, you find that God set the Sun, Moon and stars “in the firmament,” which places them under the “waters which were above the firmament.”
If you do not realize what actually happened between day 2 and day 4 in accord with the Historical Geology model, you may actually believe that there are literal “waters” surrounding the universe (stars) that apparently “fell” in Noah’s day. According to this article, if you don’t believe that, apparently you have already started your descent down the “slippery slo
Nils, had you checked out our arguments before commenting (maybe the reason why few get published, as that is part of the feedback rules) you might have seen how Gospel-critical the whole issue is, and how it holds many from saving faith because of the blatant contradictions to the history in Genesis. The whole issue of sin and death and suffering long before sin, the negation of the entire Gospel big picture in the NT, a good world ruined by sin and to be restored in the future to its deathless condition is hardly some 'needless division'. In fact, you have encouraged me to consider writing an article soon showing how to say it is 'not a salvation issue' can mislead. Yes, one can be saved while holding a grossly inconsistent and wrong view of origins, but at the same time it may well be a salvation issue in that for those who ARE aware of the issues, and stubbornly refuse to believe God's Word, it may reflect an attitude of heart such that their salvation is indeed at stake. Believing in some nebulous 'Jesus' is one thing, but it is belief in His saving sacrifice 'according to the Scriptures' that is the issue, other. Saving faith is not some assent to a talisman, a content-less and context-less Jesus. Further, even where someone is able to still retain a semblance of the Gospel despite rejecting all of the history without which it makes no sense, the salvation of those they are in contact with is potentially at stake, because most people can't live with gross contradictions and logical inconsistencies. Most people can't be told on the one hand that the Bible does not mean what it so plainly says in such big picture areas, yet at the same time be told they should believe it when it says that Jesus rose from the dead. (See John 3:12) And yes, it is clear. The controversy has only arisen because of the pressure perceived from 'science', to people desperately try to pretzelize the Bible. Ask the average 10-year-old what the writer of Genesis was trying to say, then go to this quote from a top Hebrew scholar who does not even believe Genesis as history, but knows what the text means--what it can only mean. 6-day creation and global Flood are among the clearest parts of the Bible, in fact. God even affirmed that they were the same types of days as our working week in one of the 10 Commandments, in Exodus 20:11.
"For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ."
(II Corinthians 11:13) ;
"But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed."
Evolutionary dogma is preached with much certainty, resist & expect ridicule. Persisting with the layers of argument & peeling them back has enabled me to see the big leaps of faith that evolutionary thought has, but not in the God who made all things good out of nothing.
Only last week I was talking to a fellow Christian who was unable to recognise the difference & was happy to place both views on equal standing yet at the same time couldn’t help but let a pseudo science murmur fly my way. I pressed him on evidence then things got a bit vague. He seemed pretty impressed with (Am I my brothers keeper/ Pattemore) At least he was willing to check out the review & counter challenge on CMI.
In my local town I have asked at least 3 ministers from different evangelical/pentecostal denominations 2 straightforward questions followed by a third:
1. Do you believe that sin, disease and death came by the first man Adam
Answer by all 3: "Yes"
2. Do you believe that salvation, healing and life came by the last man "Adam" (Jesus)
Answer by all 3 "Yes"
Final question: When did the dinosaurs die?
Answer by one: Before Ad....er no that can't be right, er...I don't know.
Answer by the second: (head in hands) "You're doing my head in!" (Seriously!)
Answer by the third (slightly more coherent). "There must have been a previous form of creation" (It may have been a bit different but that's as best as I can remember it)
Personally I think you are too soft on this issue (Sorry!). In our town we have had two events in recent years both "scientific/biblical" both predominantly theistic evolutionist. At one, during a Q & A session the question was asked
"Where does Adam and Eve fit in all of this?"
Answer: "God chose a representative of each from the neanderthal race"
A dangerous doctrine in the early church was "gnosticism" part of which was that the body is evil but the spirit is pure, ergo Jesus could not have come in the flesh. This earnt the most serious rebuke from the apostle of love in 2 John 6-11. Theistic evolution is simply neo-gnosticism only worse: No literal Adam and Eve then no need of a literal Jesus. Neither in the flesh nor spirit!
Sometimes (as a minster) we can feel a little isolated. It would be great if there we an association of Bible believing churches!
CMI, you're doing a great job - keep it up!
Please refrain from publishing the name of the town. I'm in enough trouble as it is!
You characterise the admission that the preaher didn't "know for sure" that Christ died for his sins as a sad confession. On the contrary, it's an acknowledgement of that belief not being an incontestable fact. I'd like to remind you of the difference between believing something, and claiming to know it. To equivocate between the two is just sloppy thinking, and demanding that reasonable people either claim to know something or deny belief in it is ludicrous. This preacher should be applauded for his intellectual honesty, not shamed for it!
From my experience, the reason many evolutionist ministers are not "bolder in asserting their convictions" is that they are worried about the potential consequences should their congregations find out what they actually believe, especially in those denominational bodies in which individual members range widely along the conservative-liberal spectrum, such as the Methodist churches.
Once the door opens on millions of years of Earth history, the whole logic and coherence of the Gospel message is at stake, along with the very notion of the Bible’s truth and authority. The atheists, by the way, love compromising Christians. Eugenie Scott, who early this year retired from her position as the Executive Director of America’s National Center for Science Education, describes herself as “a humanist or non-theist” and that she has “…found that the most effective allies for evolution are people of the faith community…whereby…One clergyman with a backward collar is worth two biologists at a school board meeting any day!” She goes on to say, “What we (such compromising clergy and atheists) have in common is that we want to see evolution taught in the public schools.” For such compromising clergy, talk about shooting yourself in the foot! We are in the midst of an incredible spiritual battle between Christianity and secular humanism. Unfortunately the church, by and large, is aiding the side of secular humanism. The church has taken the pagan religion of the day to explain life without God and added it into God’s Word.
The atheists are comfortable with playing the ‘God could have used evolution’ card. They see this sort of compromise for what it is: helping the atheists undermine God’s Word, causing generations to doubt God’s Word, which, ultimately, leads to unbelief. And they are happy to use undiscerning and naive clergy to achieve their stated anti-God, anti-Christian agenda.
Similarly, theistic evolutionist Karl Giberson, has written that he has “found…after more than two decades as a faculty member at an evangelical college, that the most vigorous opposition to creationism comes from scholars in religion departments rather than in scientific disciplines.
While belief in a recent creation isn't "essential" to salvation and becoming a child of God, belief in a billions of year old Earth is "essential" to be an atheist. The old ager bible teachers may be facilitating people's loss of faith more than helping them find God.
What makes people like Hugh Ross tick? After all this time, he has argued with a lot creationists so it isn't a matter of ignorance of the facts.
Are we dealing with brethren in the Lord or are they people that have slipped in under the radar so to speak and whose purpose ultimately is to lie, kill and destroy?
I really want to understand.
Excellent article and a very timely one for me. For the past ten years both the Bible church our family attends and the Christian college prep school where I teach Biology have stood strong on the clear teachings of creation and the flood in Genesis. However, as both the church and the school have grown, many of the new people are already indoctrinated and intimidated by the world's ridicule of biblical His-story. Sadly, since the budget and buildings are dependent on the number of bodies that that belong, the risk that these people will leave or no longer give financially seems to be tempting the leadership to shy away from and at times compromise on these foundational doctrines. Like all slippery slopes, the farther down a group goes, the harder it is to stop the slide. May our Creator Christ have mercy on our "Christian" schools and churches as they are increasingly tempted to capitulate to the culturally conditioned peer pressure of the world's false, anti-biblical theories.
Good article, thanks Marc, keep up the good work.
The devil has not changed his tactics - he still says "Did God really say ...?" and I think the deception is starting in the seminaries, with some ministers (and later their congregations unfortunately) that are totally compromised, but thankfully others that are standing strong on the Word. This ministry challenges the former, and encourages the latter. God bless.
This is so sad. Trying to reach the secular world and fighting evolutionary propaganda and media is hard enough, but when we find ourselves pitted against those who are supposed to be our own brethren the weight sometimes seems unbearable.
I'm not a Methodist but I have come into a friendship with a Methodist minister who loves creation science as much as I do. In fact, she's even asked me to participate with her Church in running a children's holiday club this coming July in which we're going to focus on the true story of Noah and creation science.
Ministers should thus not generalise with what they think their denominations believe because, as in this case, one persons unbelief could be another person's passion.
I am training to be a local preacher in the Methodist Church. The teaching material is almost 100% pro evolution.
But that is not my point today. I was preaching a few months ago and I 'in passing' but deliberately dropped in that creation happened about 6000 years ago. I was picked up on this by the local preacher who was there to assess me. He conceded to say if I wanted to say such things I should always precede it by saying 'according to the Bible'! To be honest I was left rather speechless at the time.
Later in the week he emailed me with his report. The report itself did not mention the '6000 years' but he did refer to it in the email. So I emailed him back linking to a CMI page showing how the Bible clearly shows 6000 years by the genealogies, and then challenged him to read it and send me a link showing how his beliefs fitted the Bible. That was in January or February and still he has yet to reply. Last time I saw him he told me he hadn't found anything suitable yet! I have even tried looking stuff up but am unable to find anything.
I am not entirely sure what people believe around here, as my Tutor on the preaching course has stated several times that she is against the influx of both evolutionary and creation teaching in the church.
Marc Ambler, if you are ever in the area of (town name given by correspondent) then you are more than welcome at my Church, (church name given by correspondent)!
God bless you for taking a strong stand under these circumstances. It is very revealing that your assessor asked you to use the disclaimer 'according to the Bible'. It is an admission that this is what the Bible clearly teaches and any deviation from a recent, 6 day creation does not have the Bible as its authority, but the changing opinions of men. Thank you for the invite which I would love to take you up on but Cape Town is a bit of a distance from your shores. Our office in the UK will certainly be contacting you.
I now find it disturbing how easy it is to drift from biblical truths with the tide of acceptance of the constant dribble about evolution. That is until I connected to your site. The article epitomises the doubt around about creation. In fact it so subtle that many have become uncertain about what they believe. Thank you for the stark reminder that without Adam there is nothing to pin the understanding of the need of the shed blood of the saviour for sin.
I'm reminded of Matthew 24:24. The assault on faith in this country is escalating. While "atheists" (aka ignorant agnostics) deny the existence of a Creator, they focus their efforts on Christianity because one other religion that claims to worship the God of Abraham retaliates with violence and threats. While schools used to pray and say the Pledge Under God daily, now the focus is on shaming people for believing in a young earth. Never mind that it takes more faith to believe in a Big Bang than any intelligent designer of the universe.
It's important to note that the teaching system in our public schools starts teaching Greek and Roman mythology by the 7th grade, with significant emphasis on it through high school. I knew back then when I was in HS in the 1980s that one day there would be a push to make even Christianity a "myth". I take Matthew 24:24 as a promise.
It is sad that people have such difficultly accepting the very plain explanation of the creation story found in Genesis. Especially ministers, I have always believed that all of the Bible was inspired by God and is without error. How does a person trust anything in the Bible if they can't accept in the beginning God? It is even affirmed by Jesus in the new testament that Adam and Eve were at the beginning. People often say it's a side issue. If that's the case why do they always side with evolution? They say follow the evidence where it leads (unless it contradicts their presupposition) .
As sad as this revelation is we should not be surprised. Paul writes - "Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God." 2 Thessalonians 2:3,4.
Without getting into the eschatological implications of the text it is clear that Paul foresaw the time when apostasy would be the norm in the church.
If people would only read the Bible for themselves instead of accepting someone else s "opinion" they would be better off.
Those who are upholding Biblical truth should be encouraged.