Carrying the Creation Torch1
An ongoing responsibility
Published: 4 December 2012 (GMT+10)
“Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you” (Isaiah 60:1).
For a while, during the early part of 2012, the focus of many people was on the London 2012 Olympic Games. It had been many years since Britain had hosted such a vast sporting event. In the run-up to the Games, the official London2012.com website stated:
“The Olympic Flame will come within 10 miles of 95% of people in the UK, Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey. It will enable local communities to shine a light on the best their area has to offer” (emphasis added).
In other words, millions of people were being encouraged to highlight the things that mattered to them and that characterised the sort of people they were. As was the case at the London Olympics, there are many other events which provide Christians with fantastic opportunities to ‘to shine a light on the best’ that Christianity has to offer—the challenge for us all is, are we making the most of the time (Eph. 5:16) and taking the opportunities we have to spread the truth. Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). There are special seasons (as with the Olympics) which afford biblical creationist Christians wonderful opportunities for personal witness and corporate evangelism—of course, we are not (and should not be) limited to those events. Since evolutionary philosophy has permeated education and culture worldwide, we all need to play our part in passing on the ‘Creation/Gospel Flame’—or if you prefer a different metaphor, in running with the ‘Creation baton’ (more on this later).
Compromise and decline in all around I see2
Those who are long-standing believers in the importance of biblical Creation may sometimes be tempted to take the foot off the accelerator (gas pedal). Let me explain. We have become very familiar with the vital importance of such scriptural imperatives as the Creation, the Fall and the Flood—as well as the many apologetic and scientific arguments which reinforce the creationist position. We know how vital these issues are for today’s Christian Church. We are well aware of the almost ‘evangelical zeal’ of leading humanists and atheists—especially as they work overtime to quell all dissent from evolution and millions-of-years, at all levels of education. We do what we can to expose the ongoing mendacity of the media who are busy aiding and abetting God-haters and ‘Christian compromisers’ in equal measure. Year on year, we try faithfully to fight in our corner and to influence where, when and who we can. Yet, to what end? It can often feel that the Christian Church takes one hesitant step forwards, only to be shoved two steps back by all the opposing forces arrayed against Bible truth.
But that is not all. We are increasingly aware that today’s younger generations are more likely to reject the teachings and traditions of Christianity (see here for example); many surveys in the last few years back this up. CNN reported in December 2011 that most people in their teens and twenties (so-called ‘millennials’3), from ostensibly evangelical churches, believe that the “creationists’ view on evolution is outdated.”4 Unsurprisingly, the great majority of these millennials also believe that extra-marital sex and having children out of wedlock is acceptable, are in support of same-sex marriages, and believe in legalising abortion. The author of the CNN article expressed her opinion that “These young dropouts value the sense of community their churches provide but are tired of being told how they should live their lives.”
The following perspective by esteemed author and Christian apologist Clive S. Lewis is very apt, albeit that he was writing about the “view called Life-Force philosophy, or Creative Evolution, or Emergent Evolution.” That is, molecules-to-man evolution is seen as due to a ‘life force’ rather than mere chance:
“One reason why many people find Creative Evolution so attractive is that it gives one much of the emotional comfort of believing in God and none of the less pleasant consequences. When you are feeling fit and the sun is shining and you do not want to believe that the whole universe is a mere mechanical dance of atoms, it is nice to be able to think of this great mysterious Force rolling on through the centuries and carrying you on its crest. If, on the other hand, you want to do something rather shabby, the Life Force, being only a blind force, with no morals and no mind, will never interfere with you like that troublesome God we learned about when we were children. The Life Force is a sort of tame God. You can switch it on when you want, but it will not bother you. All the thrills of religion and none of the cost.”5
Applying Lewis’ words, we see the clear link between belief in the ‘fuzzy God’ of evolution and immorality.
Don’t lose heart!
With all this in mind, our task is a daunting one, and it may seem that we’re fighting a losing battle. However, at times like these, the real Christian will slog it out, determined not to give way to the temptation to adopt a defeatist attitude. True, some people in our churches will run for a while, only to turn back from the cause. Others who initially show real promise and are apparently valiant for the Christian cause, later fall away and even appear to become spiritual defectors. Sad and disappointing though these things are, Christians are warned that these things will happen (1 John 2:19).
Rather than lose heart, we are exhorted to continue to stand for the Truth (for the Lord Jesus Christ6) and to allow God’s Word—not human opinions or our feelings—to abide in us (see 1 John 2:24–25). The fact of the matter is that there is a high cost to Christian discipleship; no matter how faithfully and efficiently we proclaim the truth of this Creation/Gospel message, many will continue to reject it. No matter how great our knowledge of the Scriptures, how powerful our apologetic approach, or how winsome our Christian character, we do well to remember Jesus’ warning. Many will be found on the “broad … way that leads to destruction” (Matt. 7:13–14). On the other hand, while the alternative may be narrow and difficult and “there are few who find” the path to life in Christ, there is great joy in heaven over each person who does respond to the message.
The clear truth of Genesis creation7
In his book Hard to Believe, pastor and author John MacArthur doesn’t pull any punches when discussing people’s preference of evolution as over against special Creation. For instance, he asserts,
“You simply can’t look at the results of creation and doubt there’s a Creator. You’d have to commit intellectual suicide to deny there is a cause for the effect of the universe, that there is a supreme Maker. The end of [Romans 1] verse 20—‘His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse’—makes this so clear that people have absolutely no excuse for being evolutionists. None. It is absolute idiocy. Paul used moria, the Greek term for ‘moron,’ translated ‘fool’ or ‘foolish.’ Any rational, thinking person, who sees everything that exists, assumes somebody made it. And the universe certainly demands a Creator.”
Reason alone does not, as we know well, lead everyone to acknowledge God’s existence and creatorship. Rather, many “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18), refusing to give God honour or glory for the abundant evidence of His attributes in the Creation (v. 21)—“That’s how supposedly smart people come up with stupid lies like evolution” says MacArthur. In their depravity (v. 22), “They profess to be wise, give themselves Ph.D.s, put on royal and religious robes and cone hats, and march around as if they’re some great religious wise men. They are fools. They are morons.” This is fighting talk; not that MacArthur is decrying academic learning as such, rather the supercilious attitude that characterises so much that is written to contradict the straightforward meaning of Genesis 1–3—from professing believers at one end of the spectrum, to unbelievers and avowed God-haters at the other.
The supposed cleverness of the clever
Quoting from Isaiah 29:14, the Apostle Paul writes, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent” (1 Cor. 1:19, NKJV). The latter half of this verse is variously translated in other versions as ‘the intelligence of the intelligent’, ‘the discernment of their discerning men’, ‘the wisdom of the wise’, or ‘the cleverness of the clever’. However such worldly wisdom is described in human language, of one thing we can be sure. All who have rejected the Word of God will ultimately be unmasked as fools. Early on in his epistle to the Romans, Paul is at pains to spell out the ramifications of a society’s rejection of the Creator. Speaking to Christians in Corinth he says, “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe” (1 Cor. 1:21). All of this serves to underline the immense significance of God’s written Word. It is only as Christians embrace this perfect revelation ‘from above’ that their Spirit-enlivened minds can see the wood from the trees in the murky and bewildering forest of human opinions.
American historian, Eugene Genovese, before his conversion to Roman Catholicism in late 1996, made the following poignant remarks about compromised Christians: “If other religions offer equally valid ways to salvation and if Christianity itself may be understood solely as a code of morals and ethics, then we may as well all become Buddhists or, better, atheists. I intend no offense, but it takes one to know one. And when I read much Protestant theology and religious history today, I have the warm feeling that I am in the company of fellow unbelievers” (emphasis added).8 Christians must pray that admissions like this one will serve to wake up at least some of those who are slumbering in the ‘enchanted lands’ of popular opinion, currently enjoying the approval and praise of godless men and women. Personally, I place convinced theistic evolutionists in this category, however fine their Christian character might otherwise be.
A wake-up call
Musing on these things led me to a sermon that Charles H. Spurgeon once preached on the subject of ‘Enchanted ground’, drawing from part of John Bunyan’s A Pilgrim’s Progress. Spurgeon wrote of those who slumber spiritually as being insensitive to the real peril of their position and being vulnerable to ‘divers illusions’.9 I would not hesitate to place evolutionary belief in the latter category, even though it is often sincerely believed by true Christians.10 More and more, I am coming to the view that theistic evolution has a far more serious and insidious undermining influence in otherwise evangelical churches than atheistic evolution does. This is a key area where creationist Christians must not allow the cleverness of the clever to intimidate them into silence and inaction. Although Spurgeon’s flowery language makes him less accessible to many modern readers, his meaning in the following statement (about the sleepy, illusion-prone person) is clear, and worth repeating:
“ … perhaps … thou dreamest that thou art somebody, great and mighty, a special favourite of Heaven; pride puffs thee up; thou dreamest that thou art rich, and hast need of nothing, whilst thou art naked, poor, and miserable. Is this thy state, O Christian? If so, may God wake thee up from it!”11
Of course, all Christians do well to give themselves a spiritual check-up once in a while, dealing with any pride and self-righteousness they find. Nevertheless, there is also work to be done in helping our fellow believers to wake up to the dangers of evolutionary compromise. The fight for truth is not over until it’s over!
Equipped to compete
Coming back to where we began, we Christians must each carry the baton in this race for the souls of men and women. The crown of victory is not assured unless God’s people are primed and prepared. Running well requires training and a knowledge of what is required in the competition because “if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules” (2 Timothy 2:5). And we cannot afford to be quitters either. An obedient and profitable servant of God must run his leg of the race with all his might (2 Timothy 4:7). We have a pressing responsibility to shine the light (the ‘Creation Torch’ if you like) in a dark place—the truth that Christ Jesus is both the Creator of men and women, and the only Saviour. Are you ready for this sprint to the finish?
The following testimony of a British teenager, Debbie R., provides a fitting conclusion to what I’ve been saying. Debbie, who really is getting this message out onto the streets, recently e-mailed us,
“I live in South London and was shown these 15 questions12 by a friend who makes a lot of YouTube creation videos. After watching some of his videos I thought I would use the material to witness for Christ on the streets (which I often do). I am usually ignored by the rank and file although I occasionally get kind words from other blessed travellers who have found Christ. In particular is a kind gentleman whom I see most mornings and will often stop and chat with me.
I cop[ied] and pasted the 15 questions … and fashioned it into a pamphlet myself and went to witness as I usually do. Feeling empowered by these questions I proclaimed God’s love to all and sundry but those who took my pamphlet (usually politely throwing [it] in the bin around the corner)—can’t save everyone!) were far more hostile to the fact I was promoting [the idea of] evolution as a falsehood!
I had one woman who decided to make it her duty to tell me off in the street. She was quite rude and I felt very threatened as she knocked my pamphlets on to the ground (I am only 16 years old!). When I was stooped [over] to pick them up, the kindly gentlemen I spoke of earlier came past and was helping me until he noticed the subject. He suggested that it was MY fault! He said that evolution is a known fact and no one wants to hear differently.
I was gobsmacked! It has only strengthened my resolve and I will not stop.”
- A slightly abbreviated version of this article first appeared as CMI-UK/Europe Update newsletter, February 2012. Return to text.
- Modified after a line of the famous hymn, Abide with me, by Henry Francis Lyte (1793–1847): ‘Change and decay in all around I see.’ Return to text.
- Keeter, S. & Taylor, P., The Millennials, 11 December 2009, http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1437/millennials-profile, accessed 21 December 2011. Return to text.
- Stepp, L.S., Why young evangelicals are leaving church, 16 December 2011, www.cnn.com, accessed 21 December 2011. Return to text.
- Lewis, C.S., Mere Christianity, SGP, Chicago, 1990 [originally 1952], p. 33 (chapter 4 of the book). Return to text.
- Compare John 14:6. Return to text.
- The quotations in the following paragraph are from a section of the following book: MacArthur, J. Hard to believe: The high cost and infinite value of following Jesus, Thomas Nelson, 2003, p. 196-198. Return to text.
- Genovese, E.D., The Southern Front: History and politics in the cultural war, University of Missouri Press, 1995, p. 9–10. Return to text.
- Divers is old English and essentially means ‘many and various’. Return to text.
- Indeed, this was once my own position. Return to text.
- The Enchanted Ground, sermon by C. H. Spurgeon, February 3, 1856, available at www.biblebb.com. Return to text.
- CMI’s leaflet, 15 Questions for evolutionists, see creation.com/question-evolution. Return to text.