‘War Cry’? Or whimper?
Is the ‘Army’ unwittingly surrendering to anti-God forces?
Raised in a family that did not attend church, I rarely encountered churchgoers when I was growing up—at least, as far as I could tell.
But once each year, an instantly-recognisable bunch of churchgoers, much respected by the community at large, passed in a big group down our street. Most sat in a band on the back of a truck, with their musical instruments, playing stirring Christian hymns and songs every time the truck stopped (at every tenth house or so). Meanwhile, ‘foot-soldiers’ wearing the same neatly-pressed uniforms as their band musicians, went from door to door along each side of the street collecting donations for the poor—orphans, widows, and the like.
I am of course referring to the Salvation Army.
I remember being impressed at the readiness of the adults in my family to willingly donate to the ‘Salvos’—whereas I’d observed that when representatives of other ‘religious’ entities came to the door, they got very short shrift indeed!
‘The Salvos are different’, my family said. ‘They use the money we give to help the down-and-outs; they really care for people.’
However, their charitable example did not translate into my becoming charitable. As I have previously explained in an earlier article, I used to blithely ignore charity volunteers collecting donations for the poor—better to let dog-eat-dog natural selection take care of (i.e. cull) the down-and-outs quickly, rather than prolonging their misery, I reasoned. The basis for my reasoning was what I had been taught in science (and other) classes at school/university about our origins; namely, evolution. Evolution says that we’ve evolved through a process of millions-of-years of death-and-suffering removing the weak and favouring the strong. So, from my (evolutionary) perspective at that time, why should we bother to ‘love’ the weak?
But now, as a Christian, I know full well that the One who made us calls us to love our fellow man. And I can see that it’s no coincidence that charitable organisations have by-and-large been established and funded by committed Christians—it’s a logical outcome of a biblical worldview (Galatians 2:10).
So it grieves me to discover that editorial commentary in a recent UK edition of the Salvation Army’s The War Cry1 undermines that biblical worldview and, in so doing, the foundational basis for caring for the weak. Commenting on the recent media reports of the unearthing of ‘the skull and bones of a three-year-old girl who died 3.3 million years ago in an Ethiopian desert’ [identified as Australopithecus afarensis and nicknamed ‘Selam’ by her discoverers], The War Cry says:
‘How Selam will change our thinking on evolution remains to be seen. What she is not, however, is a challenge to mainstream Christian belief that God is the creator, preserver and governor of all things.
‘In the 17th century Archbishop James Ussher calculated the age of the world. The first day of Creation, he painstakingly concluded, was Sunday 23 October 4004 BC. God, he said, expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden in November that year.
‘With the benefit of subsequent science, we now know that Ussher’s findings are hopelessly wrong. Anyone trying to uphold them would be laughed into embarrassed silence.
‘Some people think that believing that God is the Creator means having to accept a literal 6x24 hours operation as suggested in Genesis 1. Others see the purpose of the Genesis Creation story as a way of answering the question ‘Who brought the universe into being?’ rather than ‘How did the universe come into being?’
‘The truth is, trying to fathom an infinite Almighty is like trying to count the grains of sand in an Ethiopian desert. And if God doesn’t laugh at our risible conclusions—much as we might treat Ussher—then maybe he affords himself the wriest of smiles.’
On the contrary, the truth is, ‘trying to fathom an infinite Almighty’ is not ‘like trying to count the grains of sand in an Ethiopian desert.’ This is because God has spoken through His prophets (Hebrews 1:1), He never lies (Titus 1:2), and He uses language that the likes of fishermen (Mark 1:16–21) and tax collectors (Luke 5:27) can understand—‘making wise the simple’ (Psalm 19:7)—especially when it comes to history, which is what Genesis is.
And disparagingly quoting Archbishop Ussher’s suggested date, day and hour of the beginning of time overlooks the fact that (a) he was faithful to a straightforward reading of the Bible as God’s Word, using it as the framework for what he was endeavouring to do; and (b) that other Bible scholars prior to Darwin’s time also came up with similar ‘ballpark’ figures for the age of the earth. It was only in the face of long-age-of-the-earth and evolutionary claims in the name of ‘science’ that many theologians became intimidated and sought to downplay Genesis as literal history. But if we can’t take Genesis as literal history, then on what basis should we believe the rest of the history in the Bible? Maybe we should follow Dan Brown instead?!2
The War Cry is not the only publication of a mainstream denomination to apparently surrender to ‘worldly wisdom’ in the matter of our origins. Recently The Briefing, an Anglican publication in Australia, similarly shocked many of its Bible-believing readers for its call to make ‘peace with evolution’.
Although grieved at this, however, I’m not despairing, because I know of many Bible-believing Christians in Anglican congregations and Salvation Army Corps both in the UK and in Australia who are earnestly praying and working towards helping those around them let go of evolutionary falsehoods. They are boldly, but gently, pointing out the destructiveness of evolutionary theory in relation to the Gospel, and how it completely undermines the basis for ‘good works’ that Christians know they are called to do.3 In simple terms: A straightforward reading of science textbooks removes the need for a Creator. If no Creator; there’s no God of Love. If no God of Love; then why should we love? (1 John 4:19)
Thus if we surrender to the claimed evolutionary history in the name of ‘science’, there’s no universal basis for caring for the down-and-outs, other men’s widows, orphans, and the like. But if God be true, then true religion includes caring for such people:
‘Religion that is pure and faultless is this: to look after widows and orphans in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.’ (James 1:27)
Note that ‘true religion’ is not just caring for the weak but also ‘to keep oneself from being polluted by the world’. To keep oneself from accepting worldly false teaching such as evolutionary theory and a supposed history spanning many millions-of-years one must first be able to discern falsehood (Hebrews 5:12–14). Ideally, too, one should be able to refute it (Titus 1:9; 2 Corinthians 10:5).
And it’s actually getting easier for the ‘average’ Christian, irrespective of educational background, to refute evolutionists’ claims—by simply accessing the refutations and rebuttals prepared by knowledgeable and scientifically-trained creationists around the world.4 To show someone how the ‘Selam’ story, for example, doesn’t stand up under rational scrutiny, just give them a printout of (or direct them to) the same-day response by Creation Ministries International’s Dr Carl Wieland: The ‘Lucy child’—more good news for creationists.
Thus there’s no need for the The War Cry to become ‘The White Flag’ in the face of anti-God forces parading their attacks on God’s Word as so-called ‘science’.
There’s plenty of other ammunition available, too, from this website, to equip believers to ‘demolish arguments and every pretension which sets itself up against the knowledge of God’ (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Where is The War Cry of years gone by? The one that would have unashamedly told its readers such things as: Don’t fall for the lies of our enemy, the devil! Be ‘good soldiers of Christ Jesus’ (2 Timothy 2:3). Don’t surrender! Stand on the Word of God. To do that, we need to expose the dangerous and salvation-nullifying effects of evolutionary teaching. ‘For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle?’ (1 Corinthians 14:8)
- The Salvation Army, ‘The missing think’, The War Cry, 30 September 2006, p. 2. [Note that in the web version at http://www1.salvationarmy.org.uk/uki/www_uki.nsf/vw-issue/10C0B97021D174F7802571F700362524? opendocument&id=7F94D7A63B559FD1802571F7003461B8 the text (as at 31st October 2006) is identical except for the title which is given as ‘The missing link’.] Return to text.
- It’s interesting that many church leaders could see immediately that The Da Vinci Code was an attack on biblical history, and were stirred to action, but in fact the attacks on biblical history had started years earlier, which they either had not recognized or chose to ignore (as per The War Cry—Ref. 1). See Dr Tas Walker’s article The Da Vinci Code: The church is mobilizing! Let’s finish the job. Return to text.
- See, e.g., Armstrong, W., Marching on!—Interview with Salvation Army Commissioner Hillmon Buckingham, Creation 21(3):36–38, 1999. Return to text.
- See, e.g., ‘Young’ age of the Earth & Universe Q&A. Return to text.