Creation: Timely tool for today’s evangelist
As we begin the 21st century, Christian leaders are no doubt making many plans to advance the cause of Christ: ‘Where should we focus our ministry efforts?’ ‘To which projects should we allocate our funds?’ ‘How should we direct our most gifted young people?’ My intention here is to help these Christian leaders see the importance of Creation Evangelism1 (CE) as they seek to answer such strategic questions.
There are four primary conditions which suggest the need for CE-based strategies and methods for the 21st century.
The first is the state of modern culture and its prevailing evolutionary world-view.2 Until relatively recently, the evolutionary/materialistic worldview has met with little competition in public life and the media. Today, powerful images in school textbooks, documentaries, TV and newspaper ‘bites’ (devoid of real content), and even children’s cartoons wield a heavy influence for evolution. These influences capture the imagination as they depict evolutionary scenarios, often in a ‘soft sell’ format. While providing no substantial evidence for evolution and effectively bypassing reason and logic, they powerfully indoctrinate young and old alike. The grasp of evolution on the imagination, world-view and subsequent ethics of the culture affects individual responsiveness to the Word of God. The question is—how can Christians break into such a situation with the Gospel?
The second condition which invites CE methods helps answer this question. It is the weakness of the evolutionary position.
A recent book asks the probing question—‘What if “evolution”? is just a word that covers up scientific ignorance of how the wonders of the living world could have been created?’3
The modern creation movement has highlighted ample evidence that is in fact more consistent with Genesis Creation than with evolution.
Having a model which accounts for and helps explain data is crucial to the scientist. This is, no doubt, what led Drs Steven Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge to develop the ‘Punctuated Equilibrium’ model of evolutionary development (in ‘spurts’) as a ‘refinement’ of neo-Darwinism. The same is true for the increasing acceptance of neo-catastrophist views4 in geology (contradicting Lyell’s strict uniformitarianism—slow and gradual change—which held sway for many decades). Such theoretical refinements and realignments amount to ‘true confessions’ by the evolutionary establishment. In the first case, that the fossil record does not contain the transitional forms one would expect if evolution had occurred. In the second case, that millions of well-documented, high-quality fossils could never have even been formed in a uniformitarian (slow-and-gradual) scenario!5
Any CE strategy to reach unbelievers should take advantage of the scientific evidence mounting against evolution as Christians attempt to persuade them of ‘the things concerning Jesus’.6 Of course, such an approach moves the evangelist toward the role of apologist (defender of the Faith). It is up to the apologist/evangelist to incorporate the material into an approach and presentation he feels comfortable with.
The third condition which invites CE strategy in the 21st century is the foundational relationship of the doctrine of Creation to most other significant Bible doctrines. Some well-known and influential Christians insist that the details of Creation are not worth making an issue over. Others go so far as to claim that it is a hindrance to evangelism. Such is far from reality! If only the philosophical and scientific issues already addressed above were at stake, they alone would be enough to warrant a creation-based approach to evangelism. If the creation account cannot be trusted, doubt is cast on not only all the rest of Genesis, but also on the rest of the Bible. The book of Genesis forms the basis for doctrines concerning marriage, the Fall, judgment against sin, the origin and cause of death and suffering, and the immanence and sovereignty of God, to name a few. The remainder of the Bible stands or falls on Genesis, especially chapters 1–11. Opponents of Christianity have understood this better than Christians have.
Just taking the doctrine of Creation alone, however, we find in it the doctrine which the unregenerate man objects to most: moral accountability to God. It readily follows that if God created man, man is accountable to God.7 All men know in their hearts this implication of the Creator/creation relationship.8 Those who neglect or downplay the importance of the creation message in evangelism shake the very foundations of the Gospel. This is especially true in today’s secular minded, Biblically illiterate culture. But where creation-based methods have been employed, both evangelism9 and church planting ministries10 are proving successful in situations where other methods have failed
The fourth and final condition which calls for CE-based methods for evangelism is the opportunity it provides for evangelism of previously closed people groups, such as conservative Judaism and Islam. These groups hold to divine Creation in common with Biblical Christians. An important difference is that they do not recognize that Jesus, as well as being the Messiah (a prophet to Muslims), is also the Creator! Interaction with such groups over the issue of Creation can be expected to open doors of witness for Christ which have simply not existed in the past. Opportunities such as these have already arisen in Turkey and Saudi Arabia.11
As the Church faces the 21st century, forward-looking Christians are seeking ways to maximize their evangelistic impact. Creation Evangelism strategies and methods are already bearing fruit,12 and seem poised to bear even more fruit in the future, as the four conditions presented above will likely persist or even escalate.
Creation Evangelism challenges the secular world-view of lost people by informing them of the poverty of the theory of evolution (or any other pagan view of origins), and offers the Biblical worldview as the only coherent and supportable alternative. In this way, the prospective convert will be better able to understand and appreciate the ‘big picture’ of Christianity and respond positively to the claims of Jesus Christ.
References and notes
- For our purposes, Creation Evangelism (CE) will be broadly defined as a presentation which deals with modern origins issues as they relate to the Biblical doctrine of Creation. The CE practitioner should ideally be the tool employed by the Holy Spirit, laying the foundation, and removing stumbling blocks, in order to expound Christ as Creator and Saviour. The first step should be to weaken the foundation of the prospective convert’s worldview, influenced, as it is, by materialism and evolutionary teaching. Return to text.
- This is the primary way that Satan deceives the lost: he blinds their minds. This is another way of saying that he causes them to think wrongly about life and ultimate reality, i.e., God (2 Cor. 3:14, 4:4). Return to text.
- Johnson, P.E., Darwin on Trial, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois, front fly, 1993. Return to text.
- An interesting example may be found in Ager, D.V., The Nature of the Stratigraphical Record, John Wiley & Sons, New York, pp. 49, 100, 1973, where he writes: ‘The hurricane, the flood or tsunami may do more in an hour or a day than the ordinary processes of nature have achieved in a thousand years … . In other words, the history of any one part of the earth, like the life of a soldier, consists of long periods of boredom and short periods of terror.’ Return to text.
- See comments on some of the caveats of fossil formation by Behrensmeyer, A.K., Taphonomy and the Fossil Record, American Scientist, 72:558–566, 1984. Return to text.
- Acts 28:23. Return to text.
- Romans 9:17–23. Return to text.
- Romans 1:18–32. Return to text.
- In an email, Roger Richards describes his evangelistic outreach to white collar professionals at a Hyundai plant in Korea. He says his ministry became much more credible and effective when he used a creation-based approach. Return to text.
- New Tribes Mission has developed a new and highly successful evangelistic method which presents the Bible chronologically to pagan cultures. Using this approach, Creation is the foundation for the rest of the Bible. Their video Ee-taow graphically highlights the strategy. The method has proven successful in the USA as well. See also Grigg, R., The people who walk backwards into the future, Creation 22(1):15–17, 1999. Return to text.
- See, for example, Acts and Facts 28(1), 1999, Institute for Creation Research, California. Return to text.
- See, for example, the multiple testimonies in Ham, K., ‘The Victory Chapter’ in Creation Evangelism for the New Millennium, Master Books, Arizona, 1999. Return to text.