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Is creation irrelevant?

Abandonment of biblical creation doesn’t help Christianity

by and 

Published: 1 December 2015 (GMT+10)
Originally published in a CMI newsletter, May 2012

Often called the ‘rock star’ of the Emergent Church movement, Brian McLaren declared in an interview that “Evolutionary Christianity has freed me.”1 Self-proclaimed evangelical, founder of the theistic evolutionary group BioLogos, and world-famous geneticist, Francis Collins has stated that our modern knowledge of genetics rules out a historical Adam.2 One of the largest Christian publications in the world, Christianity Today, published an article questioning whether Adam really existed as a historical individual.3

Even many evangelicals who make a stand on Adam being a real historical person unfortunately concede that Christians can disagree about the age of the earth. But it is a shame that all of them cannot see the real mixed messages they are conveying. For one thing, they are saying, ‘the Bible cannot be trusted to mean what it says’.

Such a philosophy clearly has its origins in the deceptive words of the evil one.

Although they think this alleged harmony of science and the Bible is doing Christianity a favor, such thinking is actually upside down. Their views imply that you can form your own conclusions and reinterpret the text based upon whatever discoveries (evolutionary) science reveals, including ever-changing views about the age of the earth and the universe. Their novel ways of interpreting Scripture attempt to preserve some kind of spiritual message, but that message becomes increasingly unrecognizable as the simple Gospel. Although such leaders are becoming increasingly popular and even famous because of their views, we think this reflects Romans 1:21–23:

“ … because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools … ”

Strong words we know, but they are not ours. These leaders are actually teaching people to question the authority of God’s Word. I.e. “Did God really say?” That sounds familiar! No wonder God’s Word has some strong things to say about such ideas.

Where does the truth begin?

Since it is patently obvious that evolution is a theoretical construct designed to explain the universe without God, such a philosophy clearly has its origins in the deceptive words of the evil one. It’s obvious, because the same ‘science’ that tells us that the earth is billions of years old, and that humans and chimps share a common ancestor, also claims to rule out virgin births and the resurrection of the dead. Liberal and mainline denominations have already abandoned these core Christian doctrines, for the same reason that many self-professed evangelicals reject the historical Adam and historicity of Genesis. No wonder there are many atheists in our pews, as a startling church survey recently revealed (see Does CMI ministry to churches reach unbelievers?). These ‘hip theology’ churches are producing atheists!

Are such preachers/teachers even saved?

The BBC reported on a Dutch reverend who offered his congregation no hope for life after death. He revealed that he was an atheist who believes that the Bible’s account of Jesus’ life and ministry is “a mythological story about a man who may have never existed.”4  The same article cited a university study which found that one in six Dutch clergy are either agnostic or atheist. Pastors are supposed to be shepherds of the flock, not wolves in sheep’s clothing sending people to hell by causing doubt about what God said. Although this is an extreme example, it demonstrates what can happen when one starts down the path of reinterpreting Scripture based upon man-made philosophies. Surely, if they don’t believe God’s Word, then they should be decent enough to stay out of the debate and not destroy the faith of many professing believers.

Who is the authority?

Many people think that to deny evolution is simply to bury one’s head in the sand and ignore reality. But the vast majority of science proceeds independent of evolution. The way the world works (operational science) has nothing to do with evolution. Gravity is real; at sea level atmospheric pressure, water boils at 100 degrees C (212◦ F). Evolution and Creation are both belief systems about events in the past that we were not there to observe happening. Even the former Harvard Professor and evolutionist E. O. Wilson recognized this distinction when he said:

“If a moving automobile were an organism, functional biology [i.e. real, ‘operational’ science] would explain how it is constructed and operates, while evolutionary biology would reconstruct its origin and history—how it came to be made and its journey thus far.”5

Science is constantly changing, and if the trend continues, most of today’s scientific knowledge will be overturned by new discoveries. You can’t find a 10-year-old science textbook that isn’t out of date—who wants to rest their theology on such a shaky foundation?

In contrast, the Bible is the most contested book on Earth. Yet its statements have been found to be accurate over and over again. Archaeology has shown that the Bible is an accurate historical record at least on par with other ancient documents—even non-Christian ancient historians admit that much. Part of what CMI does is help bring such Bible-affirming information to light and help Christians all over the world to discern the difference between real science and a belief system.

Creation is a Gospel issue, because it deals with the origin of the very reasons that Jesus came to die for us.

If we follow Jesus, shouldn’t we believe what He believed and taught? Jesus believed that Adam was a real historical person, and based His teaching about marriage on that foundation. He said that “from the beginning of creation” (Mark 10:6) God created humanity male and female, which rules out billions of years. He believed the Flood was a real global event, and said that His second coming will be analogous to it. Not only did He make statements about the history recorded in Genesis, but he also made theological points based on the truth of that history. That poses a problem for compromisers—because that means that if you take away the history, the theology goes, too.

If we have to reinterpret the Bible to fit in evolution today, what parts might we have to chop out tomorrow, especially as the science keeps changing? The good news is that we don’t have to resort to such novel interpretations. If we believe the Bible to be the very words of a transcendent Creator, then that’s where we should be placing our faith.

It’s a simple message—we can trust God at His Word!

CMI goes to churches all around the world to help ordinary people understand that real science supports the Bible as plainly written. Any person can read Scripture and understand God’s purposes for us and His Creation. Jesus came to us when we couldn’t do anything to save ourselves; just so, in His revelation of Scripture God came down to our level so that we could understand, otherwise there would be no point to revealing it at all.

Just think what an incredibly empowering and exciting message this is, when people realize that they don’t have to compromise their belief in Scripture. It means they can see what God has plainly done for them. For example, Jennifer emailed us to say (emphasis in original):

“I just wanted to drop you a note and say God Bless You! Over the years, I’ve bought many creation resources from this ministry, but I’ve never actually sent a personal note of thanks and encouragement. Recently, I had a health scare … but the thought that sustained me was that the Creator of the earth and the heavens was with me. There’s a lot of great passages in the Bible, but over and over, knowing that the Creator of everything was with me calmed my fears. In the past, God used your ministry to show me that I can trust His word and that every bit of it is true … we need a ministry like CMI to encourage us in our faith and show us that we can trust the Bible we have!”

We’ve often quoted statistics to highlight that the Church is losing the next generation of young adults. About 60–80% will leave the Church when they leave home, many of them never to return. But what is an acceptable loss? Even if it was only half this number, is that satisfactory? Our children are surrounded by evolutionism and don’t even know there are answers. But it doesn’t have to be this way. We have the information, but it simply needs to be disseminated more widely. Can it be that the message that can bring these people back to the Church is as simple as “You can believe the Bible—there are answers!”? Yes it can! Look what happened to Ben S. (He left a note on our Facebook page):

“[CMI-US’s] Dr Robert Carter came to speak at our church … It changed my life. He was amazing. He made me think about the Bible in a whole new way and about how important the book of Genesis is to the entire Gospel message. God Bless that man and God bless CMI. I pray for them daily.”

But this has a secondary effect as empowered believers now share their renewed faith with others—often using materials that CMI produces. Joseph B. wrote (emphasis ours):

“About a month ago, I gave a subscription of Creation to a co-worker. He was very impressed with the magazine, and it was an answer to prayer to hear him change his views from atheistic evolutionary dogma to truth from the Bible. A few short weeks after he got the subscription, we had a Bible study on his need for salvation. He believed that the Bible was God’s valid Word and received Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour. I know God used your magazine to dispel error and deception from his mind so that he could clearly see and understand the Bible. Thanks so much for standing firm and defending the eternal truth of the Bible.”

Creation—it’s a central Gospel issue

Many people think Creation is a side issue—certainly not as important as preaching the Gospel. But for many people, evolution is a barrier (humanly speaking) keeping them from saving faith in Christ. Creation is a Gospel issue, because it deals with the origin of sin, death, and humanity’s separation from God—the very reasons that Jesus came to die for us.

References and notes

  1. Katherine T. Phan, “Evolutionary Christianity has ‘freed me’, says Brian McLaren,” Christianity Today, 31 January 2011. Return to text.
  2. Francis Collins speaking at the Christian Scholars’ Conference at Pepperdine University, 2011. Return to text.
  3. Ostling, R., The Search for the Historical Adam, Christianity Today, June 2011. Return to text.
  4. R. Pigott, Dutch rethink Christianity for a doubtful world, bbc.co.uk, 5 August 2011. Return to text.
  5. Wilson, Dr. E. O. From so Simple a Beginning, Norton, 2006, pg. 12. Return to text.

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Readers’ comments

John F. K.
"Is Creation Irrelevant?" Good article. We have recently moved 250 miles north from where we lived to central Texas. Previous church had 5,000 in attendance on a given weekend, but wouldn't touch the creation issue. To them it was irrelevant. Have now found a Presbyterian church with 200 in attendance on a Sunday, but the Pastor thinks Genesis means what it says and is relevant. How perplexing, confusing, and distressing!
Dorin R.
I am one of the Christian that could not answer a question about the creation even to myself. I new it happened, that God is the Creator, but the education in a former communist country left marks in my mind. I thought that God could create trough long ages but it was not clear to me and I did not think about it and avoided the subject altogether. That until I listen to Dr. Emil Silvestru speaking on the subject ! I was an eye opener ! So clear exposition of the Gospel trough Genesis 1 ! I new most the geological/fossil data presented but it was always presented to me from the evolutionary position.
Thank you CMI an all world class scientists working there ! And thank you for the richness of resources you make available to us on your site and in the store
I needed to say this to encourage you this way to keep doing what you are doing

Reuben F.
In the "Are such preachers/teachers even saved?" section, why is it talking about people who profess to be atheist? The rest of the article is about Christians who believe in evolution.

Ultimately, faith in Christ is what determines if someone is saved, not their view of origins. That is not to say that their view of origins is not important - it is - but it probably would have made more sense to have the article discuss Christians who clearly love the Lord who happen to reject a literal interpretation of Genesis in this section.
Grahame G.
“Evolutionary Christianity has freed me.” is a very scary sentence. It reminds me of the scariest sentence that exists. Spoken by Jesus to those who trusted their own righteousness and their own religion, "I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!". What has Brian been freed from? Essentially the conflict between the plain reading of scripture and the proclamations of modern "scientific" claims about origins. And as CMI have often pointed out, what gives ground in this "harmony" between scripture and "science"? It is always scripture. And if you reject scripture for man's word, you have freed yourself (theoretically but not actually) from God. It's rebellion! And it certainly calls into question whether Brian is a child of God. We can't say with absolute certain regarding a single individual, but there is a lot of scriptural evidence that those reject the truth do not belong to God. And we need to sound the warning to those who are rejecting parts of God's word that they are are running an unacceptable risk. At the very least, he is doing a lot of damage to trust in God's word, as this article and many others on creation.com point out. Thank you again for standing for truth and providing relevant and accurate commentary.

May God continue to bless you and your ministry and the Body through your efforts.
Charles O.
The Word of God is clear the Spirit searches all things of God, even the deep revelations (1 Cor 2:10). We receive the deep meanings of God in the proper time the Father enables (John 6:65). In the "Word Of God"; He said in Mathew 10 and Luke 8 that He speaks in Parables for the proper time of knowledge to come. And He may cause differences (Mathew 10) yet we may unite (Col 2:2) in Christ. Praise god for Grace and Mercy.

Then accepting the Marriage of Science and Creation is relevant. As, yes we calculate Elohim allowed Adam an Eve to leave the Garden of Eden some 6,000 years ago. And we Believe the Earth is created by Elohim. In fact science reveals we must Believe in the existence of matter as noted for no one can prove a straight line exists, so we believe they do and may then formulate math. And then science validates man's math by Empirical evidence which is defined as "Believing" what we observe is the Truth. And Quantum mechanics also requires "Belief".
So God's omniscience does require "Belief" as (He tells us) we MUST Believe in GOD. And the parable of Creationism is believed to be the Truth!
And Creationism is relevant, as with it written, it demystifies a Skeptic's view of God's Jealous plan to reveal His omniscience.
Peter M.
The problem is not that these leaders are not saved. It is that we won't explain the problem in their terms. We keep talking about the authority of the Bible, but name me one NT book which does the same. Instead the NT books keep banging on about the gospel and Jesus. They follow the example set in the NT and treat the gospel as their ultimate authority. It is not enough to say YEC is needed for the gospel, (it is the 'foundation of the gospel'). We need to explain how long ages distorts the gospel. Matt 8:17 gives one clear example where long ages is incompatible with an apostolic understanding of the cross, but we never talk about that. Long ages is incompatible with this verse because long ages would mean the verse is telling us Jesus died because of how God made us and not because of our sin (1 Cor 15:3)

There are more chapters on the OT laws that we don't follow than there are in Romans. Does that make them more important than Romans?

Unless you can make the case that long ages distorts the gospel, YEC will always be treated as a secondary issue, something for people who like disputes.

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