Teaching and defending creation in the church
Thomas Jefferson said, ‘To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is both sinful and tyrannical.’ Yet today, Christians in the West pay taxes for schools that exclusively teach a theory of origins which is contrary to the teachings of the Bible.
Adult Christians are also barraged with the evolutionary worldview in nearly everything they see, read, and hear. Even worse, when young or old people ask their church for help, the answers they get are less than satisfactory. This leaves them with the feeling that the church has no good answers, so they stop trusting the Bible, God’s written Word. What can we do to change it?
The Bible tells us clearly the role of church leaders in Ephesians 4:11–14.
‘And truly He gave some to be apostles, and some to be prophets, and some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. And this until we all come into the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a full-grown man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; so that we no longer may be infants, tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine, in the dishonesty of men, in cunning craftiness, to the wiles of deceit.’
So that the saints (all true Christians) are not deceived by false doctrines, God has given us spiritual leaders (v. 11). Their job is to equip the congregation to do the work of the ministry. The Christians in the pews are the ones with contacts in the world, and who can best carry what they learn in Church to others. We are also all commanded to be ready to give answers, to defend our faith (1 Peter 3:15).
The typical pastor1 has a Bible-oriented education, and may have not studied much science since high school. Even this science is now out of date and was taught with an evolutionary bias. His college or seminary probably did not place great stress on the creation/evolution issue (or worse, taught him that the Bible should be re-interpreted to fit fallible human doctrines such as billions-of-years beliefs) so he may tend to avoid the subject.
In his congregation are people trained in scientific disciplines. They can grasp the deeper technical arguments, but they probably studied in secular institutions that taught science with an evolutionary bias. They may have accepted the arguments for evolution, and compromised via ‘theistic’ evolution, or with billions of years. Yet once we fail to take Genesis literally, we have no basis for knowing how we are to interpret the rest of the Bible.
A pastor should encourage each layperson to read these as the basis for a discussion group, pointing out that if we cannot correctly interpret the first chapter of the Bible without mid-19th century science, we can never know if we are interpreting anything in the Bible correctly. Is it likely that God could create man and the universe, but can’t tell us how He did it in a way that man would not misunderstand for several thousand years? If God says one thing and means another, what basis do we have for any moral values?
Once scientifically-minded laymen understand the importance of believing in Genesis creation, the pastor can direct them to books that explain the scientific evidence for Genesis creation (young world, global Flood).2 Then he can ask them to teach the issues to him (having at least read introductory scientific material such as Stones and Bones). In this way he can not only learn the more technical issues himself, but can get a good idea of their understanding of the subject. Our educational system has given these people years of evolutionary indoctrination, so the pastor must be patient, and teach them to continually ask for the evidence behind the many dogmatic statements made by evolutionists. Often there is precious little. The material available from creation ministries such as [Creation Ministries International] should answer most of the technical questions which might arise.
The next step is to ‘team teach’ with the laymen, remembering that, to some people, the most frightening thing they can do is speak to a group. If necessary, the pastor could begin by preparing a lesson himself, then call on various laymen to explain the more technical points. A study over several nights, using the Answers in Genesis video series and its associated study guide, is an invaluable ‘kick-off’ for this. This will soon raise up laymen from the congregation who are able to teach and answer questions on this vital subject.
The church book table needs to be kept well stocked with sound3 creationist literature, and regular recommendations on specific topics from the pulpit by the pastor (once familiar with them) would be very helpful.
A pastor can become very effective by learning good answers to a few questions, because the same ones usually recur. Whenever you are talking on creation, if you are stumped, admit it and then look up the answer, or point the questioner to an appropriate book.
If you are concerned that creation is not being given enough emphasis in your church, you can show your pastor this article and ask him to read one of the books mentioned earlier. If he is reluctant to teach and defend Genesis creation, it may be because he feels intimidated by scientific issues.
Show your pastor that the issues being debated are not beyond the grasp of the informed layman. Many issues are more philosophical than scientific, and pastoral training is as helpful as scientific training for these. Evolutionists claim to have the facts on their side, but this is spurious. The same facts are available to creationist scientists —only the way they are interpreted differs.
Remember that we Christians have incredible resources on our side — the written Word of God, the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the power of prayer. With these plus some study, how can we fail to have answers to our young people’s questions and win back the ground we have lost to evolution/long-ages?
A well-timed word, answer, book or magazine can save people from a lifetime of confusion. We have the truth. We must proclaim it.
- Hypothetical of course. No one is really typical.
- One of the best is Dr Jonathan Sarfati’s Refuting Evolution, Creation Ministries International, Brisbane, Australia, 1999.
- Stick to material from bona fide creation ministries which network with leading creation scientists worldwide.