Salad bar Christianity!
You can’t just pick and choose what you want.
Illustration by Keaton Halley
Published: 14 November 2013 (GMT+10)
Originally published in August 2013 Prayer News Update.
Sometimes Christians treat the Bible’s doctrines like a ‘salad bar’, where they can choose the nice doctrines, like loving one another, but avoiding controversial or tough issues like Genesis creation. One of the major reasons CMI exists is to overcome objections raised by the world that the Bible is not trustworthy in its historical account. And not just in the area of origins and Genesis creation, but even whether the miracles recorded by the Old Testament writers, and those attributed to the Lord Jesus Christ, could actually have occurred. All of this history was recording the fact that God was separating a nation for Himself, from which, ultimately, the Savior of the world would come.
And this skepticism of the Bible’s history is on the increase. The skeptics try to find holes wherever they can. But if we can demonstrate that the foundation for their skepticism—their interpretations of facts and data—are wrong, what does that do to their ‘faith’?
Alarmingly, it is not just the skeptics. An increasing number of militant professing Christians are aligning themselves with the atheists. When we receive their emails they are often citing ‘evidence’ produced on the specifically anticreationist sites like Talk Origins etc. A major and growing compromised view is that of theistic evolution. That is, actually believing that God used evolution over billions of years. This is worrying because this view accepts virtually all of the interpretations of secular science including the view that the geologic column is not only a record of slow gradual deposition of sediments on the earth, but that it represents a record of the biological evolution of organisms from a common ancestor (turning bacteria into biologists). It’s odd that this view is growing, despite this being a time when believers have more access to good solid creation teaching than ever before. It would be fair to say we now have a wealth of resources in virtually every scientific discipline and theology.
One wonders why any Christian would want to take part in, and glean from, an openly atheistic website. It’s because so many people have simply never heard a decent, clear explanation of a biblical interpretation of the facts all around us. Thus, they have been misled into thinking that there is more overwhelming evidence for evolution and millions of years than for biblical creation.
It doesn’t help
Yes, we would agree that the origins issue is a potentially divisive one, but biblical creationists are not the ones being divisive. We simply believe what the Bible says, and anyone who can read (if being honest) would have to confess that a plain understanding of Genesis 1 indicates six 24 hour days of creation. To do otherwise, is to defer to a secular (read: ‘non-Christian’) interpretation if one adds millions of years, which does violence to Gospel doctrine in the process. Taking advantage of the old adage “The squeaky wheel gets the grease”, these often militant Christians deliberately burn the pastors’ ears in churches, so much so that the pastor might become reluctant to host a creation event for fear of dealing with any aftermath of dissent. But is this the reality?
We can speak from experience that, overwhelmingly, the answer is NO. Very little opposition is ever raised at events, and if so, it is actually dealt with (graciously and appropriately) by the visiting speaker anyway. Also, the ensuing ‘feeding frenzies’ at the book tables is proof that confused people are in need of answers, and have been switched on by the powerful biblical presentation of the evidence. No doubt, this creates angst for the theistic evolutionist sitting in the pews; after all, they think that creation ‘is antiscience’ (as our detractors often claim). Again, NO; it’s anti secular ‘science’, really secular worldviews and philosophies. Dianne D. confirmed her realization of this when she wrote:
“I was a theistic evolutionist because evolution was the only thing taught in school. I never thought too deeply about whether it was logical because the church taught me it was a matter of faith. When I found CMI and began reading their wonderful articles, a weight was lifted from my heart. Now, at last, I can embrace God’s Word without reservation and know that science doesn’t contradict the Bible, but supports it. I thank God for CMI in my prayers daily. May God continue to bless this ministry.”
A victim of our own success?
Now here’s the ironic problem. Because pastors are somewhat cautious or at best uninformed about raising the creation/evolution issue in church, they avoid the subject altogether. So, people in church never get to hear the evidence for creation. Then, because most are raised in the public education system, they only get to hear the secular view. So, the idea that it might be a contentious issue actually becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy!
I recall speaking at a large church recently. My itinerary had a note from the pastor: “Be sensitive to those in the church who might hold a different view about Genesis.” Good! That’s no problem, as our aim is to win people over with a logical presentation—not to beat them to death from the pulpit! The response from congregants was overwhelming, and so many people just thanked me for attending the church and for helping them clear up the confusion and doubts they had. This is consistently and overwhelmingly the feedback from the majority of folks in the church. But on occasions (like this one) there will be some detractor who will comment to the leadership after the speaker has left the church, when he can continue the ‘termite’ process.
Silence is not ‘golden!’
Quite simply, if the church avoids dealing with Genesis, then the world will fill the void, and respond to the doubts, with its information. And when they do, it can and often does lead to a crisis of faith. We have testimony after testimony of people who have come back to the Lord or have been strengthened in their faith by realizing there is no conflict between the Bible and real science. But how many of those ‘lost’ will we never hear from again (the statistics say up to 88% of our youth)? When we link people to our resources during our presentations, it fills that void. For instance Philip B.’s case was symptomatic of this issue not being addressed properly:
“I was a young science student who was challenged in my faith while attending university. Though I would have considered myself a strong Christian, I had probably drifted along in my faith for two to three years and was certainly not a particularly effective Christian by the time I reached Uni. … I had so many questions that no one had ever addressed, particularly about origins. A Christian youth leader put me onto your organization; I began subscribing to Creation magazine and reading as many of the books in your catalogue as I could get. It was only after this that the Bible suddenly became alive, all because I could see its trustworthiness not only regarding creation, but in all other aspects as well. It was your material that turned me into an effective Christian. Not surprisingly I have used many of CMI’s materials when teaching young adults in Bible study groups over the last few years, with great effect. Your ministry truly was a blessing to me … . Keep up the amazing work.”
Note that it did not just help his faith, but also turned him into an “effective Christian” and increased his desire to reach others. Now what pastor doesn’t want that from his congregation?
Why the doubts?
Many think (including the theistic evolutionists) that we simply don’t have to deal with Genesis. “Just preach the Gospel”, or “It doesn’t really matter what one thinks about Genesis”, or “The Gospel starts in the New Testament anyway”, are all common statements we hear.
Modified from 123rf.com/amasterpics123
But the biggest problem is that the very Gospel itself emanates from the events in the Garden of Eden, so if Genesis does not mean what it says, then where does the truth begin? According to evolutionists (and of course theistic evolutionists) the fossil record puts millions of years of death before the first appearance of man (which some theistic evolutionists say could be some pre-human hominid, not Adam and Eve). If death was on the earth before the first man, then what does the rebellion of man mean (sin), and the subsequent comment from God to Adam, “You shall surely die”?
Because the idea of millions of years is an interpretation of the geologic record, a naturalistic acceptance of that record destroys the very reason that God established the nation of Israel from which the Messiah came. Or that death will be eliminated in the future Restoration due to the removal of the Genesis Curse. Like falling dominoes the rest of the Bible’s historical narrative comes tumbling down, and everything in Scripture is fair game! If naturalism is really one’s ‘Bible’ then one is also likely to attribute miraculous events like the parting of the Red Sea as some unseasonal high winds over a shallow sand bank. Or Jesus’ turning water into wine as a cheap party trick with some food coloring. If a materialistic view of the world eliminates miracles then it cannot be possible for someone to rise from the dead!
This is why we cannot cherry-pick the Bible and leave out passages that we don’t like or feel we cannot explain. Even our understanding of miracles comes from the straightforward belief that God is the Creator of the universe, and therefore he is not bound by the physical laws that govern our universe. As our own Dr Jonathan Sarfati often points out, part of the usefulness of science is that it can demonstrate when a miracle has actually occurred.
Powerful Christian witnesses
And just think how much more effective Christians will be if they can demonstrate to questioning skeptics that the Bible’s history is really true, by having a logical defense when there are claims that science has invalidated it. This is exactly what happened to Suzanne W. who wrote:
First, thank you all for the wonderful work that you do that provides such blessing for so many. I personally was led to the Lord a number of years ago now via a creation science publication, and have since become an avid reader of all the materials. … My husband has also since become a Christian, something I feel that the logic and sensible reasoning provided by the field of creation science has greatly aided. We now have four wonderful, small children, who will grow to love the Lord and know without doubt that all God’s Word is just that! God’s Word … totally true and trustworthy. Again, many thanks for all that you do. You are continually in our prayers.
So, please consider talking to your church leaders about having CMI at your church to present this faith-equipping and life-changing information. You can contact us for more information.
(Also available in Russian.)
We always called it cafeteria Christianity. It's a tradgedy when Christians pick and choose a little bit here, a little bit there when there's a whole banquet on offer. They miss so much!
This article is pure insanity. The premise of the article - that you can't pick and choose which Christian doctrines to believe - must surely apply to scientific theory too. Implying that scientific consensus regarding the earths geological record is incorrect is a pretty big claim, offering a shred of evidence to support this view would make you seem less hysterical. Eventually the church will have to accept that Christianity is an outdated system of control that has no place in an age of free information. Anybody who argues that the entire bible should be interpreted literally shouldn't be telling people how to live their lives.
BTW as a sign of good faith, you checked a box that agreed to use a real name. So, one should question your own integrity before pointing to that of others. Nonetheless, thanks for the fact free tirade as you didn't mention any bit of specific evidence where a creation science view has been falsified. Elephant hurls and ad hominem arguments only highlight your ignorance about what creationists actually believe. This site contains some 9,000+ articles, mostly of a scientific nature, that you could inform yourself about, but it is evident that you haven't read much or you would not have made such statements. And to quote you, all of the information we provide is free. So, if you think your science is so strong, or you are also well informed, perhaps start answering these 15 Questions for evolutionists, or perhaps 'ignorance is bliss' as the old saying goes. However, if you are wrong in your assertions, the Bible indicates the end result won't be so blissful, so I encourage you to put aside your ill-conceived prejudices and engage in an honest search for the truth about (your) origins.
Great article Gary. Apart from the creation evolution, other issues would include heaven and hell, miracles, salvation etc
I have studied Creation -v- evolution for years. ... [deleted per feedback rules] I was educated in secular Universities and was indoctrinated in evolution. At one time, I believed the gap theory, but now I know the earth is only around 6000 years old. Some of the preachers in these big churches still believe in information such as the gap theory, they obviously don't study what they preach. I have had to change peoples mind one at a time in order to get these misconceptions out of peoples minds.
To my knowledge both John and Matthew have quite a lot to say about everlasting life for those of us who have accepted Jesus. So reading the New Testament literally, as you seem to deem necessary, where are the 2000 year old Christians?
Every Christian I know believes firmly they will live forever and yet all of us know we will physically die? So why do you assume death means one thing in Genesis yet are happy to assume an alternative meaning elsewhere?
Have any of you ever stopped to consider you might actually be wrong and that the scientific evidence points the way it does for a reason?
By your phraseology 'scientific evidence' it is evident that you might need to do a bit more reading about why creationists believe what they do, before commenting that the 'evidence' is favorably on the side of millions of years, or evolution or whatever it is you are subscribing to. Would you mind reading a few articles please such as: It's not science? This demonstrates that the same facts can be interpreted differently by both evolutionists and creationists. So, in short, the facts don't speak for themselves.
In addition, it is worth pointing out that the very New Testament authors you defer to believed in a literal Genesis and the timeframes we subscribe to, including the Lord Jesus. Please read The use of Genesis in the New Testament.
Respectfully, if you don't believe what the NT authors believe then you would actually be making the point of the article you commented on, and that would be to treat the Bible like a salad bar where you pick and choose what you want.
All the best and I hope you take the time to read the links I've provided.
I have a question regarding the word "die" in Genesis 2:17. I have been told, that the word "die" there means "Begin to die", in order to be consistent with the knowledge that Adam lived another @900 years after eating the fruit for which he was warned that he would die on that day. If it does mean "begin to die", how does it mean that, and how would Adam know that he was beginning to die for 100s of years? He may have thought that Lucifer was right that he would "not surely die".
Andy, we are always glad to help but it's easy to use the search engine on our site per the feedback rules you agreed to, and it will reveal lots of articles on this subject. For example, see the following (and it's good to read the links contained within them). The Fall--a cosmic catastrophe,
and typing in 'nephesh' etc. will reveal lots more, including that we have a whole category on the issue of death and suffering under our 'Topics' section. See Death and suffering questions and answers.
Praise God for your ministry. This is a subject that has troubled me lately when I know it should not as God has control. Anyway, there is a TV promo for an upcoming show on one of the science/history channels with the lead-n that the virgin Mary is a mistranslation. I will not watch such nonsense, but it saddens me to imagine how many will be led astray. Also, it seems lately that a lot of theologians and pastors are being interviewed on various channels spouting world view compromising statements. It seems such an uphill battle to get the truth out.
Sadly few Christians realise the enormous implications of believing in the theory of Evolution. Abraham speaking to the rich man in Luke 16:31, made a statement of great significance: 'If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one should rise from the dead. Since the account of creation was recorded by Moses, we can infer from this that a failure to believe the creation account, he left for us, will effectively inhibit our ability to believe in Christ, the one who rose from the dead.
Thank you. Your work helps. It helps one explain what feels exasperating beyond words the blatant intelectual dishonesty of the evolutionary explanations. Keep up the good work!
Some of our brothers and sisters in Christ seem to have a problem believing Genesis as written because of the pressure to conform to the loud but erroneous voice of the world. I wonder how they would manage if asked (or told) to carry a cross.
I agree wholeheartedly with your comment. Many think (including the theistic evolutionists) that we simply don’t have to deal with Genesis. “Just preach the Gospel”, or “It doesn't really matter what one thinks about Genesis”, or “The Gospel starts in the New Testament anyway”, are all common statements we hear. I think it's fair to say that many people doubt the Genesis story because it conflicts with the evolution account of how we began. I also hear people saying that because there are so many different Bible versions out there, no two agreeing exactly, that no account of history from the bible can be trusted. To compound the problem some Bible footnotes tell us that certain passages and even half chapters in some cases shouldn't be there so why should we believe the Genesis account? Just my thoughts on the issue.
Very well written Gary. You clearly show the danger of 'salad bar picking.' For anyone who does that, they may as well disregard the entire Scriptures, because in doing that they are really playing 'God'. Either trust God's word(s), or play 'God' yourself. It's that simple.
It is also interesting what you say about the biblical miracles. A large part of modern day thinking is that "If I can't see it or wrap my (puny, compared to God's) brain around it, then it isn't true. Those people live many lies every day. How do they know the watchmaker has it right? They rely on a watch all day (they are not watchmakers). How do they know the design and mechanical engineers have the tracks, the maintenance and level crossing lights right (they are not engineers)? How do they know the aircraft designers and certifiers have it right? (they are none of those).
All of us place trust daily in thousands of others to get things right. Why in Heaven's name would someone not trust God to get it right?
Thanks for the work of CMI.
It's important to remember that all scripture is inspired by God. (2 Tim 3:16) and that we are not free to pick and choose what we should believe. It's also interesting to note that doctrine is always singular in the bible except when it refers to false doctrines.
The Lord is really using this apologetics of truth against this lie, I don;t know what you think about the book of Enoch, I know its not cannon, but it says in it, the evil angels revealed this deception of evolution to man. Anyone who believes they came from a monkey?? Isn't too bright.I thank God for your ministry and all the hard working people involved, your doing what Jude 3 says.. Defending the faith!!
David, thanks for the encouraging comment. It is much appreciated. But I have to sound a word of caution with your other comments. I have studied the book of Enoch for my book Alien Intrusion. Firstly, I am always concerned that Christians try to develop doctrine from non-canonical books. Although you say it is not part of the canon of Scripture, you tried to suggest that it teaches that angels taught humans evolution. Which seems to indicate that you accept it as truth. For what it is worth, I don't see in Enoch any indication of this. For a short treatise on why we believe the books we have in the Bible are inspired I recommend the booklet How did we get our Bible? And is it the Word of God.
Another article that hits the proverbial nail on the head. Thanks Gary.
I keep thinking about a Baptist church I visited. In passing, the pastor made the comment "I don't know how old the Earth is ..." All I could do was shake my head, wondering why he had not settled this in his heart and mind. OK, in fairness, if a person has no scientific training or ability, how can he judge good science from bad science? And I have met too many full time Christian workers who seem to have absolutely no understanding of any science whatsoever! So I suppose it's to be expected that they would run away from anything related to science, especially if they're in or near a college community where they have to deal with the "intelligentsia."
I wonder if our Bible schools shouldn't have mandatory courses in at least high school level chemistry, physics, and biology, not to mention apologetics. I think it's easy to get discouraged when you consider the enormity of the uphill battle. And it would all be impossible without groups like CMI, so thank you.
Reminds me so much of the meme "cafeteria Catholics" or "the Cafeteria is closed" from back under Benedict XVI ...
I am one Christian who occasionally gleans from openly atheistic sites like Talk Origins and the like. Jesus encouraged us to "be as "wise as serpents and as innocent lambs." I interpret that mostly in the sense of knowing our enemies. In our case, the enemy keeps trotting out the same lame arguments and objections to the Bible and the Gospel but once in a great while, there is something useful out there. Our Christian brethren, myself included, are so eager for that bit of "clincher" evidence that we occasionally embrace false things that only seem to back up the Bible. CMI has a list of arguments that you should NOT use that are examples of this phenomenon.
It was Talk Origins that exposed me to testimony from a fellow who saw the "whale-on-its-tail" fossil site and what he described wasn't like what I had read before. The fossil wasn't polystrate but completely confined to one strata and the whale wasn't standing on its tail but just inclining just a few degrees. Possibly this whale was killed by the flood but maybe not.
I have experienced first hand, the truth of Jesus' words when he said: "My sheep know my voice" Through this I feel we have a certain immunity to the lies of the devil. Knowing God and His Word is an anchor that saves us from being tossed about by every wind of doctrine.
Robert, while I appreciate your response I'm not sure I completely concur with the idea that most Christians can see through the lies of the enemy. Sites like Talk Origins churn out such massive weighty (yet deceptive) claims that we often receive emails from Christians concerned about the claims. At the end of the day the atheists have the megaphone to public education and Christians need to be equipped with Christian defenses lest they fall prey to such deceptive misinformation. We advise people that if they play in the gutter that is Talk Origins then they are likely to get 'dirty' doing so. Also, the weaker brethren principle could apply to some. Creationist sites deal with the arguments from the skeptics anyway, but at least people can hear a Christian defense at the same time, rather than a skeptic 'elephant hurl' in isolation. Just some thoughts for your consideration.
I believe that one of the reasons so many professing Christians are refusing biblical creation is because they have first turned away from belief in the supernatural. They may profess a belief in the miracles of the Bible but, when it gets down to it, they actually question whether those events really occurred as stated. Most probably don't even realize how they actually feel.
Thank you so much for this ministry. I am a biology student that will soon be graduating. Like most, I was brought up in public schools that taught the evolutionary worldview. There seemed to be no room for Genesis in it and so I began to doubt the Word of God. There were no answers to be found in my church and the Christians I knew just wanted to ignore my questions. Or they would tell me to just have faith. It didn't make sense to me. If it was all true then reality should reflect that. So I fell away from God. Then I got to college years later and by that time I was more discerning. Evolution didn't make sense and my professors couldn't answer the tough questions. The more I learned about science, the more nature pointed me to God. Then I discovered CMI and suddenly I had resources that confirmed my suspicions that atheistic naturalism could not be true. If only I had the answers when I first began to ask! God bless this ministry. I use a lot of the information to show people in my sphere of influence that, not only is trust in God's Word reasonable, but it is essential!
Thanks for your comment Kevin. Testimonies like yours make it all worthwhile. May I encourage you to get in touch with your local CMI office to develop a relationship with the team there? We are always after good people and particularly those with a science background. All the best.
A salad bar is a good example. However, when I tried it, too many unanswered questions kept rearing their ugly head.
So I went looking for another analogy and have settled on the use of a puzzle to answer the question of why there are so many ways to view the Bible truths. I came to this conclusion because of the way my JW neighbor presents his Church's message to me and to others.
Some do it this way on purpose to cut down on having to answer questions that they haven't studied for. This practice, in turn, leads people to conclude that the God of the OT is somehow different than His son is in the NT, even though His son said that they both behaved the same. An example.Who gets blamed for the 'typhoon' that just struck the Philippines a few days ago? Isn't it the God of the OT that gets the credit? So why do people, after having read Job, continue to blame our God? I believe it's Because people's "Spiritual" eye-
sight is myopic, and this causes them to place the 'blame' on their God, and not on Satan where it rightly belongs. Because the facts, i.e. sermons and lessons, are all stored away in our heads as small pieces of the overall picture, most are not capable of comprehending what the whole picture is about. And to compound the problem, few take the time to try and connect the "Message" pieces that they do have, together. And because of this, many of the dots that should be connected, aren't. They are excluded because they seemingly don't fit in with the topic at hand. One important aspect that has been left out is, what roll does 'feelings of Guilt' play in all this? But we'll have to talk about that some other time.
Hi Thomas, may I advocate using our search engine to help you find answers that you can easily share. For example, Understanding Death deals with the death and suffering issue. And a new upcoming article called Is God Inconsistent deals with the alleged differences between the character of God in the OT and NT. The search engine is your friend! :)
I grew up in Christian home and church. I have been saved for a long time, but really never thought too deeply about origins. Until 2 years back when I heard it for first time from a friend. I found CMI website and learned so much! THAT is when the Bible really also opened up to me. THAT is what made me start Bible study and getting excited about gospel again. "Getting it" (Biblical creation, young earth) changed my spiritual life for the best. Never stop your work CMI! Thank you and thank Jesus.
Hi Friends at CMI, Thank you for your ministry. I find it both amazing and comforting that every time I begin to put my thoughts on the defence of the Bible into essay form, somebody from CMI posts my thoughts on the web (probably in a more logical and easier reading format). Thank you and please don't stop. Regards Geoff.
Great article. So true. God bless your ministry. When CMI had a meeting at our church recently the interest was amazing. Many people blessed and encouraged in the Word of God.