What Would You Think?
Published: 9 September 2013 (GMT+10)
What would you think about someone who claimed to hold to a certain set of rules, ethics or morals, but then clearly displayed by their own actions that they didn’t truly believe those claims? What would you think of a policeman who promised to uphold the law and protect the innocent, but then stood idly by, watching one of those innocent people being robbed by a thief? Or a soldier who took an oath to defend his homeland with his life, but then stepped aside and refused to oppose an invading enemy? But let’s make it a bit more personal. What about the husband who promised to always be faithful to his wife, only to leave her for another woman? Or the child told by a parent how much they are loved, except that the parent never seems able to set aside any quality time to spend with the child.
Maybe you might say some of these people acted traitorously, some uncaringly. Perhaps you might say they can’t be trusted or that they are liars. You might even say that they have been hypocritical.
Now how do you think people look upon those who call themselves Christians, who proclaim to be followers of Jesus Christ, followers of His Word written in the Scriptures, men and woman who, the Bible says, should be the “light of the world”1 and the “salt of the earth”?2 What do they expect to see? I suggest that most of them would expect those Christians to be people who adhere to what is written in the Bible, that they would hope Christians actually believe what they claim to follow.
Larry Alex Taunton, executive director of a non-profit Christian group called Fixed Point Foundation,3 conducted a study in 2012 to understand why people became atheists. The target group were college students who were also members of Secular Student Alliances (SSA) or Freethought Societies (FS). What led to their journey of unbelief? Taunton discovered that the answers were not at all what he expected.
In an article4 he wrote on the outcomes of the study, Taunton describes how these were not people who had grown up in a culture devoid of any mention of God, but actually, many were initially churchgoers. Indeed, they “had not chosen their worldview from ideologically neutral positions at all, but in reaction to Christianity. Not Islam. Not Buddhism. Christianity.” They believed that the “mission and messages of their churches was vague.” When asked what they found unconvincing about the Christian faith, they spoke of such topics as “evolution vs. creation, sexuality, the reliability of the biblical text, Jesus as the only way, etc.” These were serious-minded people who had gone to church looking for answers on these topics, yet “often concluded that church services were largely shallow, harmless, and ultimately irrelevant.”
On 2 September 2013, the then Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, five days prior to an election in which his party was convincingly defeated, was the subject of a question and answer forum on national television in that country. Rudd, a professing Christian (Anglican) whose background includes student involvement with a prominent evangelical movement, was challenged by a pastor in the audience on why he had changed his mind recently to now support ‘gay marriage’. Specifically, the pastor asked why he did not believe the words of Jesus in the Bible regarding the definition of marriage. The PM dismissively claimed that the Bible also said that ‘slavery was the natural human condition’, and thus perhaps we should all have supported the proslavery side in the US Civil War. In fact, this notion (as CMI’s One Human Family book explains) was actually from Aristotle, not the Bible. This was also pointed out to the Australian media by the then-recently-appointed evangelical Anglican Archbishop Glen Davies. (For the facts on what the Bible actually does say about slavery, see The Bible vs slavery: response to critics.)
There is an increasing acceptance of ‘gay marriage’ among society as a whole. Yet on most indicators, it seems that the spectacle of a professing Christian ‘dissing’ the Bible, in effect, did not cause unbelievers to increase their respect for either Rudd or the faith he purports to hold.
However these same students consistently “expressed their respect for those ministers who took the Bible seriously.” Taunton recounted a conversation he had with the late Christopher Hitchens, the well-known misotheist, after a debate conducted in Billings, Montana during 2010. Hitchens was asked why he hadn’t tried to verbally savage Taunton on stage the way he had so many others. The reply given was immediate and emphatic, “Because you believe it”, which was in reference to the Bible. These “former church-attending students expressed similar feelings for those Christians who unashamedly embraced biblical teaching.”
Do you see what has occurred here? These students were looking for truth and authenticity, but “having failed to find it in their churches, they settled for a non-belief that, while less grand in its promises, felt more genuine and attainable.” They were looking for those men and women who were willing to take an uncompromising stand on their biblical belief.
All of this reinforces the message Creation Ministries International has been equipping Christians and churches with. In general, people simply do not respect anyone who is willing to compromise their biblical stand. God’s Word demonstrates its power when it’s preached with conviction, not when it has been weakened and watered down. How can you trust someone is telling you the truth, when they proclaim that Jesus Christ is the only way to be saved, if they are also willing to say that the interpretation of a universe created by God in six days is not as straightforward as it appears in the Bible? That it needs to be compromised or ‘explained away’ in order to align with the views of the secular world? The moment the foundation you’re standing upon becomes unstable, everything that has been built upon it is in danger of collapse.
Many believe that topics such as creation/evolution are a side issue, and should not be discussed because they are divisive. It seems the reality is that the people who are leaving the church, who are falling away, do not believe that to be the problem. In particular, young people are looking for answers to their questions. When we avoid those answers, or show in our responses that we are unwilling to stand on what the Bible plainly teaches, we make it far more likely that they will turn to others for those answers. Rest assured, the spiritual forces that oppose us are only too willing to oblige in providing answers that undermine confidence in the Gospel.
The message people are hearing is that the Bible is a book of stories that has no connection to the real world. When they constantly hear that message and no one appears able or willing to ”make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect”,5 why wouldn’t they turn away from a church they see as irrelevant?
The people of the world are generally not looking for those who “light a lamp and put it under a basket”6 but many are earnestly looking for those who will “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”7
Ironically, one of the reasons that people fail to take a stand on Genesis history is that they fear losing respect in the eyes of the world. Yet these results seem to show that the opposite is the case.
References and notes
- Matthew 5:14. Return to text.
- Matthew 5:13. Return to text.
- www.fixed-point.org. Return to text.
- Taunton, L.A., Listening to Young Atheists: Lessons for a Stronger Christianity, m.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/06/listening-to-young-atheists-lessons-for-a-stronger-christianity/276584/, 6 June 2013. Return to text.
- 1 Pet 3:15. Return to text.
- Matt 5:15. Return to text.
- Matt 5:16. Return to text.
I can honestly say that I professed to being an atheist when a teenager because I could see a LOT of hypocrisy in my church. I hated it. Also, Genesis was an issue that was not explained and it rankled me because what I was seeing around me did not fit with what my teachers and school were telling me! Praise God there was a Godly woman praying for all the kids at our church and God found me again. CMI gave me the courage to believe and I felt allowed to say that I can believe Genesis is 100% true, literally and actually. It certainly changes everything and I would never go back.
Jamie M says that evolution is not a belief based system. But surely it has to be doesn't it? No evolutionist was there when the universe was formed (created) or when the first animals and humans walked the earth. The one being who was there and has even told us what He did and when, they dismiss and don't believe. Yet they choose to believe atheist evolutionist scientists who can only make assumptions based on what they believe happened because they were not there.
Michael Ruse who was a prof of Philosophy & Zoology wrote: “Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion—a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality. I am an ardent evolutionist and an ex-Christian, but … the literalists are absolutely right. Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today… Evolution therefore came into being as a kind of secular ideology, an explicit substitute for Christianity".
Thanks for another great article.
[A lengthy personally authored poem titled, "GIVE US LOVE"
This unconditional love seen in a Texas Church was what drew me, a geologist, from a Theistic type of evolution to a young earth creationist, once I understood the Bible was true as Jesus said "in this shall all know that ye are my disciples in that ye have love one to another."
Jamie M., by implication, by stating CMI needs education, you indirectly claim that you are indeed educated yourself. Let us briefly examine your claim:
You claim that evolution is a fact yet offer no understanding of what evolution is, what your strongest opponents are saying, nor is evidence that you are correct offered apart from the assertion that it's been proven. The flat earth society states that a flat earth is fact, but would you believe them or challenge them? Without evidence/logic, we would have to blindly put faith in what you say as being true. At the same time, you operate under the impression that CMI's only argument is ' you must have faith'. Not only does this demonstrate a lack of research or understanding about CMI or the actual hard evidence on this site, it shows a hypocritical nature derived from ignorance, leading to false claims. Worse, you encourage CMI to believe what you say by blind faith, though you accuse your opponent of doing the same thing. Furthermore, CMI's staff comprises of PhD scientists from various fields who went through the same process of education as the evolutionary PhD scientists. The question is not "have you got a piece of paper that says PhD?" but "is what they say the truth?". And that's what it is ultimately about; not personal desire, but what the truth of reality is.
Rhetoric and no knowledge of what your strongest opponents believe proves nothing intellectually. You claim to be open minded, but limit yourself to only evolution; without an outside view point, you would be unaware that you're wrong. Using logic - our origin determines the history of reality, its purpose, life's value, and ultimately what happens to you when you die - what consequence will you face for not holding the correct view of reality?
Evolution is not a belief based system. [URL deleted as per feedback rules] ... do some genuine research to educate yourselves on the topic. It isn't that these collect age students are mindlessly listening to adults who take a hard stance on the issue. It's that they are seeing the logic and reason and truth in the evidence presented. The fact it evolution happens in nature all around us and is already proven. "Theory" doesn't mean what you think it means in science. The same could be said for the 'Theory of Gravity' yet we know gravity to be a fact of life. It is a heading under which a massive amount of facts lay. The same as evolution. There are creatures you can study today, this very day and age, and see their evolution. See proof of it. That is why people are able to take such a hard stance on the issue and why the people of faith are not. People like Hitchens wouldn't debate or obliterate everyone who is merely faithful, but tend to go after those who make a good deal of money off of scamming others through religious belief, and in trying to educate and open minds. Which is never ever a bad thing. People who blindly say 'you just have to have faith' are misguided or lying. There is no instance in life where you need take anything on faith alone, especially in the face of evidence to the contrary. You can have certain expectations based on facts, evidence, and experience, but simply believing something alone without merit isn't necessary. And that's what these kids are learning. Good on them. The older generation would do well to educate themselves too. Open minds and read, experiment, learn. Not just from pro-Christians. Course they will wrap it in a pro-Christian package for you.
OF POTS AND KETTLES (couldn't resist the title :-)).
Actually I'm amazed that you would rush in and lecture a group of people on why they should do basic research when you yourself have clearly not bothered to do exactly the same in reverse--with embarrassing outcomes. Even the most cursory search on creation.com would have revealed that not only don't we use the 'evolution is only a theory' argument, but we actually advise against it! And you would have found lots of hard evidence that the idea that the idea that evolution "happens all around us" is simply not borne out by the facts. See e.g. the section on natural selection in our Q and A area, or this interview with one of the world's leading authorities on genetics, who says this notion has been thoroughly falsified. Things are changing, for sure, but the direction of change is overwhelmingly downhill, supporting not only biblical creation in general, but a recent creation in particular. In fact we were extremely keen to debate the leading atheists on evolution when they held their global convention in Melbourne in 2010. They refused, of course, but as a result we held a conference in that same city. One young scientist just completing his biological PhD was planning to attend the atheists' convention, and came to ours instead as the session was booked out. It was the evidence and answers he heard that now has him a convinced, converted Christian and a biblical creationist keen to enter the fray. We totally agree with you that blind faith is inappropriate, and that is not what the Bible has ever called us to. So please, learn, open your mind, experiment, read, and not just from anti-Christians. You may be surprised where a genuine search for truth will lead you.
I often find that the harshest critics against my position on the Bible are often those who say they are Christian.
Unfortunately, today that is often the case for those who hold to the same view of Genesis (as history) that Jesus and the NT writers so obviously shared. My own experience has been that they are often more emotional in their antagonism than even the unbelievers. I have sometimes said that there is a mission field for Bible-believing Christians in their own church circles; imagine how many more unbelievers would be converted if heaps more Christians were encouraged and motivated to believe that the Bible is true and trustworthy without apology--and in turn encouraged to use the resources available today for creation evangelism.
Marriage breakdown happens for many reasons, when my other half has joined Christadelphians after 40 + years togetherness , it became very difficult to be in one house when this sect says they alone hold the truth or can interpret the Bible verses correctly and Christians are astray from the Bible because we believe Jesus was\is God. Home became a battle ground, now we just share the house, our theological views are far apart. So it is not always someone leaving because they meet another person, there could be other factors.
And Mat, do you care to back up that assertion? I think that the reason evolution and atheism is so prominent is that people are letting other people do the thinking for them. Do you have any idea how ridiculously many times I've heard the argument "Most of the scientists are athiests, so atheism must be true?" People are just blindly believing what "authority figures" are saying. Are you sure you're speaking English, because that is not the definition of critical thinking. And every time they see the 'evidences' that are supposed to back evolution and atheism crumble beneath logical reasoning, they always fall back on "Well, most scientists are atheists, so atheism must be true," and then leave it at that. That is not critical thinking. That is blindly following what your superiors are telling you.
Got what you deserve Kevin. You claim to be a Christian, so you should've known God wouldn't allow you to mock him.
Biblical Creation is also the only real response to the atheists' favourite question: "If their is an omnipotent all-loving God, then why is there pain in the world? Either he is not omnipotent, or else he is not all-loving."
A Biblical creationist can say something like: "Pain and death was not an original part of God's creation. He created man about 6,000 years ago, and gave him (and her) free-will. Without freewill, love is impossible. That's why God gave it. Man decided to abuse his freewill by doing the one thing God told him not to do, the thing that God told man would result in death. Since it is impossible for God to lie, or break his promises, He was forced to lay the curse of death and pain on the world; God cannot break his promises anymore than we can defy the law of gravity. So in the end, pain is the result of mankind abusing his freewill, and not God deciding to put it there. God has unlimited power, but he decided to use that power to give us freewill so that we would have the capacity to choose between Him and sin, as well as between love and hate."
But what can a theistic-evolutionist or a old-earth creationist say? According to their beliefs, God either used death to create new creatures, long before man abused his freewill, or else the creatures we see in the fossil record (who are obviously dead), died long before man chose to sin. If this God actually existed, he would be the type of God who really doesn't care about his creatures, and who is fine watching them die via pain, diseases, and getting ripped apart and eaten by predators. This "God" is certainly not all-loving. Either that, or he's too weak to stop the diseases, pain, and predatory actions of his own created creatures, in which case he is certainly not omnipotent.
Excellent article. I often wondered why so many people believe the Bible is a book of stories told thousands of years ago by old men. Therefore the Bible today does not apply to life today. This brings to mind one of the most terrifying verses in the Bible. One that tells us that of all the millions and billions of people who have lived and are now living [many] will not go to heaven.
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." (Matthew 7:13-14)
We have a mighty battle before us to save as many people as we can from that day of judgement before God. Having the right answer(s) for those that ask them about God and the Bible has never been more important. Creation Ministries has helped me to do that and I often refer to them for an answer to a question I may not have.
Atheists have Satan behind them ready to give an answer as to why the Bible is a lie. We Christians have God and the Bible as well as resources like CMI to help prove that Satan is a liar and then give an answer that can change where our friends and family will go when they die. Heaven or hell.
We are entering a dark time in history, probably the End Times. This I base on Israel being re-established in the Land and all the nations of the earth gathering against her. The book of Daniel has much to say regarding these Times. In 11:32 it says, "By smooth words he (the anti-christ) will turn to godlessness those who act wickedly toward the covenant, but the people who know their God will display strength and take action." (NASB) In the coming days many will be deceived to follow the anti-christ (as the article above indicates), but those who know their God will do great exploits by His power. Christians are to walk in the Light as He is in the Light, and be a beacon to men/women who are searching and responding to the Spirit of God's influence. We must expect God to work by His Spirit through us, as in the days of old. Then we can assist the sinner in turning back to God, for all men/women have a knowledge of God, and strenghthen the saint to perservere. CMI is one branch of evangelism to reach the lost and encourage the saint. Let each of commit to learn God's Word and to let God's Spirit work through us in a way that brings glory to Him.
Typically this article was written in a very loaded way, rather than a honest evaluation as to why people never have believed or have stopped believing. The author also equivocates the terms young Earth creationist and christian when in reality, the belief of YEC is a minority in the many denominations of the christian faith.
The simple answer to this is that many people when critically evaluating the bible see it to be very outdated in it's message and they choose the (what I would call) appropriate moral codes (which in many ways are more confining of the moral codes of the bible) for today and really think about their position on morality and ethics. In short, I think the reason why people are leaving religion is because people are beginning to think critically en mass.
I can only confirm Mr. Eggleton's viewpoint: in general it is not convinced, unwavering and equipped believers in Christ driving people to reject the Gospel, but rather the spineless breed which confess faith in Christ, but relativise and even outright deny the clear meaning of His words and the rest of Scripture.
At the close of a discussion with a respected Bible-critical Professor for N.T. studies at the Lutheran seminary in our city, I asked this theologian: "Honestly, now that you have heard how I view and apply the Bible and compare it to your attitude towards the Bible. Which do you think more closely corresponds to the way the apostles and Jesus Christ handled the scriptures?" His answer: "No question, you do! But I don't want to imitate them because I find it too primitive."
I have spoken with many Germans who have converted to Islam or are seriously considering it. When I point out upsetting attributes of Islam recorded in recognized islamic sources they are usually appalled. However they counter: "Where should I turn? The Christians don't believe their own book or statement of faith. In contrast Muslims resolutely stand up for their beliefs and that's what impresses me."
This article is very close to the bone for me. I have 4 children of which 3 are walking in the way of the Lord. One son appeared to be saved in his teens but then he went to college, found out the "cool" and "scientific" life. He told me recently that he contacted the head office of the denomination we then belonged to, and asked them their opinion on Evolution. He was given very vague answers about not wanting to take hard stands on this issue for it might cause division. So an opportunity to point a young man in the right way was lost. He has been captivated by the confidence that people like Mr Dawkins have in their belief. Thanks so much for your labour in taking a stand for the LORD.
Thank you for this very important message. Churches are closing all over the UK because many people see the church as weak and irrelevant. Congregations are growing where God's word is preached without compromise but, sadly, such churches are in a minority in this country.
Then Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, in another ABC program aired in the week before the election stated openly that he was a Darwinist.