A tale of two theologians
Our ministry has long pointed out that belief in a literal creation is not essential for salvation.1 But we have also affirmed that there are many glaring inconsistencies between evolution and biblical Christianity. So when people learn more biblical truth, there are only three main alternatives:
- Just live with the inconsistencies, as some manage to do, suffering cognitive dissonance. We can be thankful for ‘blessed inconsistency’ in those infrequent cases where it does not overtly affect a believer’s walk of faith.
- Affirm the Bible and throw out evolution (and its prerequisite, billions of years).
- Reject even more of the Bible, including even Christ’s own words.
The two theologians in this tale illustrate choices
The question of origins is no side issue—even the explicit teachings of Christ are rejected!
The first is Pastor Esa Hukkinen (see interview p. 49). He was already a Pastor with a fine Christian testimony, but had also swallowed evolutionary ‘science’. Fortunately, a young man in his congregation challenged him to read our little booklet 15 Reasons to Take Genesis as History. This led him to research this issue, both biblically and scientifically.
Pastor Hukkinen realized that evolution impacts even the Gospel itself, and as a result, he now has a more consistent Christianity. He is more confident about sharing his faith, and says it has even helped him counsel people about the biblical teachings on other issues such as marriage, which began in Genesis. Indeed, when Jesus Himself was asked about marriage, He cited Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 as real history, to justify marriage as a union between one man and one woman (Matthew 19:3–6, Mark 10:3–6).
The second theologian, who went down the opposite track, is Rev. Keith Mascord. Until 2006, he taught at the renowned Sydney Anglican Moore College, which was once sound on its teachings on Genesis. It still has a reputation of being soundly evangelical, but is now hostile to biblical creation. They would claim that the Bible doesn’t really teach a young earth and a global flood, as hard as that is to believe. Mascord is actually far more consistent, but in the wrong direction.
He recently wrote a column in the Sydney Morning Herald advocating that Christians should accept gay ‘marriage’.2 Of course, he realizes that the Bible opposes this. But no matter: we can just ‘re-think’ (code for ‘disbelieve’) these clear passages. And his justification? We don’t believe Noah’s Flood any more either. He points out (contrary to what many compromising evangelicals teach) that it was not meant to be local or allegorical:
“Moreover, whenever the story is referred to elsewhere in the Bible, the writers appear to take the story as factual. Jesus appears to have accepted the story in this way (Luke 17:26–27). Jewish and Christian interpreters have also mostly taken it that way as well, until the past few hundred years.”
So, because we shouldn’t believe Jesus on the Flood, we shouldn’t believe Him on marriage either:
“There is good reason to think we will need to do the same [i.e. overturn ‘the plain (and church-history-long) reading’ of the Bible’s words] with the issue of marriage equality.”3
Thus the question of origins is no side issue—even the explicit teachings of Christ are rejected!
Fortunately, in Creation magazine, we always have articles to show why we can trust the Bible, and that real science supports it with regard to the Flood. For the Flood, we have evidence that granites formed very quickly, not over millions of years (p. 20). We feature revived bacteria allegedly 100 million years old (p. 35). And with regard to science in general, every issue has an interview with a top Bible-believing scientist (in this issue, a theoretical physicist, p. 16). On matters of morality, we have a surprising hostile witness to the value of the Bible—‘Darwin’s bulldog’ T.H. Huxley (p. 40).
So, by spreading this magazine, we can help to produce more theologians/theology of Type 1 (choice 2) and fewer of Type 2 (choice 3)!
References and notes
- E.g. Moritz, K., Can Christians believe evolution?, 21 October 2010. Return to text.
- Mascord, K., Beliefs must be tempered by facts, smh.com.au, 18 June 2012. Return to text.
- For more information, see Sarfati, J., Gay ‘marriage’ and the consistent outcome of Genesis compromise, creation.com/gay, June 2012. Return to text.
“Suffering cognitive dissonance”—that hits the nail on the head. When you get the foundations right all the other pieces fall into place nicely.
Yes, I can see how an evolutionist Christian leader can lead people to commit more sin than say a creationist Christian. However, we all sin so I don't think one can use creationist arguments to say all the people who follow the first leader are not saved and all those of the second leader are saved. In other words, we all sin to some degree, and the penalty of sin is death under the old covenant. Fortunately, Jesus came down to earth and replaced the old one with the new covenant. All we need to do is accept his free gift of forgiveness to embark on the road to righteousness that leads ultimately to salvation. This is regardless of any sins we still commit to the end of the lives in this world. This is indeed the Good News. So, does one have to be a creationist Christian to be saved? Of course not. Otherwise, the Kingdom of God will be a very lonely place. I don't think it was your intention to make that point but I thought I would mention all this just in case others are confused to thinking the article was alluding to that point.
The article already makes this clear in the first paragraph and in footnote 1. It was even clearer in the initial version which needed to be reduced to fit on the single editorial page, because the following was the initial beginning:
Our ministry has long pointed out that belief in a literal creation is not essential for salvation. For one thing, the content of the Gospel required for saving faith is quite minimal (see p. 48 [Gospel message]), and new Christians don’t magically have all biblical data implanted in the brain—much learning comes along with spiritual maturity [ref. 1]. For another, our founding chairman, Prof. John Rendle-Short (1919–2010), was a saved theistic evolutionist for four decades.
But we have also affirmed that there are many glaring inconsistencies between evolution and biblical Christianity. So when people learn more biblical truth, there are only three main alternatives:
- Just live with them, suffering cognitive dissonance (as with Prof. Rendle-Short’s own father Arthur, a leading Christian surgeon in the UK). We can be thankful for such ‘blessed inconsistency’ in those infrequent cases where it does not overtly affect a believer’s walk of faith. …
It Has just struck me. Can one disbelieve Jesus and still be a Christian?! I am NOT convinced that is in any way a possibility. So I guess the answer has to be a big fat … NO one can not disbelieve Jesus and be a Christian. … For that would following the same path as Judas who clearly did not accept that Jesus knew best and should believed as truth outright as the final WORD. Any one else care to comment??? Cheers to all. Col
Yes, the solution in such cases is understanding Gottlob Frege’s distinction between sense and reference. I explain this in the section Sense and Reference in my paper Logic and creation, applied to this very question.
Most of the pastors at my church came through Sydney Anglican Moore College, and I can sadly attest that they seem adamant about an old earth (though they at least reject evolution). There are times where it can be difficult to sit through sermons or participate in outreach activities on those occasions where the pastors preach old earth ideas.
In an email exchange that I had with one several months ago, I shared a number of articles from CMI, but he repeatedly raised some odd arguments to support his view.
He claimed that the early church fathers believed in an old earth, and that this wasn’t a new idea that started a couple of hundred years ago in response to secular science (for some reason, he kept citing Augustine as evidence of this). He claimed Genesis 1 and 2 somehow contradict each other, and that this means it is not to be taken literally. He doubted that Adam could name all the animals in a day. He has also claimed that Genesis 1 was nothing more than a counter to the creation myths of other ancient peoples.
I emailed him several CMI articles that refute all these arguments (though I’m unsure if he read them).
The thing that gets me is that this fellow is so passionate for Jesus, and zealous for the gospel—he mostly gives great, challenging, bible-based sermons (as do my other pastors). He has even claimed to hold the Bible above all other teachings.
On the other hand, he criticised some of the CMI articles for having ‘weak exegesis’, and seemed dismissive of them (which is why I’m unsure if he read them fully).
Closer to home, my brother-in-law has just finished a ministry course at Moore College. While I'm overjoyed for him, I can't help wondering what he was actually taught there.
I've inserted hyperlinks in relevant articles for the benefit of other readers. One must wonder what sort of Gospel he preaches. The unabridged version of my editorial read:
Pastor Hukkinen realized that evolution impacts even the Gospel itself, and now has a consistent Christianity. He is more confident about sharing his faith, and says it as Paul connects the Resurrection of “the last Adam”, Christ, with the death brought by the sin of “the first man, Adam” (1 Corinthians 15). As a result, his Christianity is consistent. As he says, he has “a fuller appreciation of God and his entire plan of salvation,” and is much more confident about sharing his faith “without worrying whether he can answer challenges from evolution or ‘science’.”
This leads to another problem with the Moorite compromise: how do we preach the Gospel to the Australian Aboriginal people if they have been in Australia for 40,000 years, thus pre-dating Adam?—see Did the Australian Aborigines come from Adam and Eve? (See also A sorry day—with an unlikely twist).
Some of Moore’s leaders are theistic evolutionists, but they would say that of course they don’t believe in “atheistic evolution”.)
Dear John E OZ 2012,
I know that only the Holy Spirit can actually knock some sense into the heads of Old Earth thinkers. Just the same I did read a very interesting article in one of the Christian web sites the other day that recommended the following: Do not let the other party get away with making comment without back-up. And don’t let them go on to another subject until they have given that back-up and given you a chance to reply to that same issue until it is settled one way or the other. [See also Anyone for tennis?—Ed.]
I agree this sound oh so logical but it is surprising how seldom we employ this method for clarity sake on anything let lone for the sake of the truth of Scripture … including “Young Earth vs Old Earth” comparisons. Blessings and Shalom to you Bro. Go get them fish cobba. Colin L., Lismore NSW
When I have a discussion with a fellow Christian, I always ask first how 2 Timothy 3:16 reads in his Bible. Then I came to understand, that all differences come from this verse. I myself believe in the inerrancy of God’s Word, from Gen. 1:1 to Rev. 22:21.
God’s Word is meant to judge, guide, correct, teach, me to be a better disciple of Christ.
Matt. 4:11 tells me that the Bible is completely true. Why? After that the Lord corrected the Devil three times with the frase: … it is written … the Devil left Him … .
BUT, if the Bible contains that many mistakes (lies?), then the Devil was the first to know. He never would have left Jesus alone, but countered with something like:
Oke, You are the Sun of God, so You know best all the mistakes, lies in Your own Word. etc, etc. …
No,the Devil left Him. (= witness from the most hostile source)
To me this is proof, that even the devil, the most hostile creature to God’s Word, knows that God’s Word is the ultimate truth.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
In April 2010 I was watching an “Easter” Message presented by Bishop Peter Jensen and flabagasted to hear him say that God could create everything in seconds if He wanted to, but I believe it more likely took millions of years. I thought after having read Resurection, Truth and Reality, and The Truth about Jesus, that I was listening to one of the few real Christians in the Anglican Priesthood.
How can a person say they believe Jesus is the Christ and not believe the reason why He came. If the world was not created perfect in the first place how can it be restored to a state that suposedly never existed. I thank GOD that He did create everything perfect in the first place, it was Adam’s disobedience of God’s law that spoiled everything. I Thank God that He and His word are entirely trustworthy.
P.S. Life begets Life, Nothing begets Nothing and Evolution is BALONEY!!!
Sadly my story is the same as John’s. I have attended an Anglican church for years and loved the teaching, well 98% of it at least. It seems the congregation believes the Scriptures to be true and accurate from the very first verse, but the clergy believe what ever is socially acceptable. Very discouraging and I still wonder if evolution is not the great deception spoken of that would make the love of most grow cold. Now however I am contending with brothers and sisters in Christ who are searching for experiences of God, and sadly elevating experience to the same level as the Truth of the Scriptures.
Thanks for your ministry CMI as its a great encouragement.
Liberal theologians and wolves have this in common: They both enter the sheep pen through the “back door” to maim and destroy. But how do Christians (especially infant Christians), recognise these creatures that move by stealth? A liberal “shepherd” may have a good sprinkling of truth—this is the bait that hides their vicious barb. However the Truth is far from their heart! And here we find the answer to the above question: A good tree that bears good fruit will always love the Truth. Bad fruit will treat the truth with contempt.
Pastor Esa Hukkinen will protect his sheep, while Rev. Keith Mascord may well scatter the sheep.
Cognitive dissonance in one’s self talk (ie thinking or consciousness) is, from my personal experience, a mental pain like physical pain. Physical pain is a blessing in disguise in a sense that otherwise we would be diminishing our toes and fingers like lepers do. If we keep ignoring the physical pain, it becomes a bigger problem and we suffer greater consequence.
This reminds me of what Jesus said in Revelation 3:15–16:
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.
If cognitive dissonance is continued to be ignored in one’s self talk, it is only a matter of time before its consequence is manifested.
Man is God’s creation. The rest is made for man. Is God Perfect? Yes. Did God create man perfect. Yes!
Dr Jonathan Sarfati responds: Yes, which is why God emphatically declared the creation to be “very good” after that. For more, see the section No actual evil in the finished creation.
DR: When? On the cross!
JS: That would properly be a re-creation, as in new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), with new hearts (Ezekiel 11:19). On the Cross, His perfect righteousness was imputed to believers, i.e. credited to our account, so we are justified, or declared legally righteous in God’s sight, or acquitted (Romans 5:16). New Testament scholar Douglas Moo writes in his famous Romans commentary:Paul is insisting that people were really “made” sinners through Adam’s act of disobedience just as they were really “made righteous” through Christ’s obedience. … To be righteous does not mean to be morally upright, but to be judged acquitted, cleared of all charges, in the heavenly judgment. Through Christ’s obedient act, people became really righteous; but “righteousness” itself is a legal, not a moral, term in this context.
To satisfy God’s perfect justice, our sins were imputed to Him, as Isaiah prophesied in 53:6:
the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
DR: The gap between the greatest and the least of sinners is so small is negligible, splitting hairs. The gap between God and the least of sinners is vast, as far as the east is from the west.
JS: CMI contributor Rev. Dr Peter Barnes wrote a helpful article Are All Sins Equal? which provides even more evidence. He concludes:
Rather than declare that all sins are equal—which violates both common sense and Scripture—we ought to recognise that any sin cuts us off from God. It is misleading to say that God is equally opposed to each of our sins, but it is true to say that He utterly opposes all of our sin.
DR: Jesus bridged the gap, the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world.
JS: That’s actually a bad translation. The phrase “from the foundation of the world” clearly refers to the writing of our names in the Book of this Lamb, not to His crucifixion over 4000 years later. See The Incarnation: Why did God become Man?
DR: We became new Creatures in Christ, immaculately conceived, born again of the Spirit.
JS: A small point: the “immaculate conception” is the Roman Catholic dogma that Mary was conceived without original sin. See The Virginal Conception of Christ.
DR: And it is finished! Man is spirit,
JS: Not entirely. Compare Luke 24:39:
for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I [Jesus] have.
DR: and by the work of the cross we can eat of the Tree of Life, Jesus, which Adam & Eve did not partake of in the garden. They were not Life. Life is Jesus.
JS: I’ve never heard the Tree of Life and Jesus equated before … Similar functions in one respect, yes.
They were not death. Death came by the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil,
JS: Actually we think that the tree itself didn’t have anything intrinsically wrong; it was their disobedience in eating that fruit.
DR: the Law and thereafter, were spiritually stillborn. Grace and Truth and Life came by Jesus Christ. Spiritual Life and death is a state of existence. We are the Bride of Christ, the intended purpose of His creation. The invitation to the wedding supper is extended to every man and the plan to freely choose is Perfect. And the Word of God IS GOD.
JS: Indeed, as shown in John 1 (see this discussion on the Word or Memra of God).
DR: To believe in God is not the same as to Believe God, just as knowing of God is the same as Knowing God.
JS: As above, there is no distinction. To believe Christ is also to believe correct propositions about Him, otherwise it is a false christ not the true One (cf. Matthew 24:24). Jesus tells us in John 3:16 and 12:44:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
“When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me.”
Jesus’ chosen apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4:
Now I would remind you, brothers,[a] of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,
Since there is only one Gospel through which we may be saved (as you say below, cf. 2 Corinthians 11:4, Galatians 1:9), clearly saving faith in Jesus is equated to believing correct propositions about Jesus.
DR: Old earth/ new earth is not a deal maker or breaker but there is One Gospel and will make or break every man. Amen.
JS: Yes and no. While one doesn’t have to believe in a young earth to be saved, as the article said in note 1, the one Gospel as explained in 1 Corinthians 15 goes on to explain its foundations in the early chapters of Genesis, in vv. 21–22, 45:
For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. … Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
Denying this Genesis foundation leaves the Gospel dangling rootlessly.