“He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces.”—Isaiah 25:8
Recently, a father grieving at the sudden loss of his son indicated how he had been impacted by some reflections I had shared with supporters in a newsletter some 20 years ago. At that time I had to stand at the open grave of someone I called ‘Papa’, to whom I had grown closer than I ever was to my own father. In that funereal moment of tear-soaked pain I was struck full face with not only the horrifying reality of death, but the certainty that the only really meaningful thing in life is the Gospel of Christ. The sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life that true believers are heir to, was my only comfort then—and is, in fact, the ultimate true comfort for all of life’s stark realities.
Nearly 2,000 years ago, Jesus stood at a gravesite—that of His friend, Lazarus. We read in John 11:35 that “Jesus wept”. The word used there for ‘wept’ indicates more than sorrow. It expresses a deep, angry anguish of soul; almost certainly this included anger that His original good creation had to be cursed with this ugly thing called death because of Adam’s sin.
An unreliable Bible is ultimately the same as no Bible at all
I confess to feeling angry at that graveside, too. Angry, yes, about sin, death and the Curse, but also (dare one say it?) angry at the activities of those who are working to remove the Christian hope from the world. They act to destroy this simple Gospel, with its message of truth, reality, resurrection and victory over death, even though they sometimes claim some allegiance to it, by undermining the trustworthiness of the Bible in the name of evolutionary science. An unreliable revelation is ultimately no different from none at all, and without this source of true light in an incredibly dark world, there is indeed no hope. But anger partially gives way to pity, as one wonders what hope such evolution-inspired liberal theology could offer at a graveside? At such a moment such folk must truly be, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:19, “of all men most miserable”.
“What hope could evolution-inspired liberal theology offer at a graveside?”
Some use very subtle arguments to blunt the cutting edge of the creation ministry, such as saying that an inerrant Bible is not important; one’s faith should be in Christ, not in the Bible. I knew that Papa had come to saving faith. But how could he have done so, if not for hearing and believing the Word? Romans 10:17 teaches that “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (emphasis added). How can anyone be expected to trust, for their eternal life, a Saviour who is only revealed in a book riddled with error or ‘cultural misunderstandings’ in its opening verses?
Papa had been a physicist from the former USSR, then a Red Army officer (by conscription). Always a believer in God, he trained in theology and attained an extremely high position in the clergy. His was a very ‘formal’ type of church, in which the doctrinal backbone was mostly orthodox, technically, and the Bible was supposed to be the foundation. But as is true of many churches, the traditions of men can easily overpower things such that it becomes hard to see the simple Gospel.
A few years before his death he confided in me that whatever faith in God he had had was almost shipwrecked in a fog of neo-mystical, theistic evolutionary corruptions of biblical belief. The reason? He had become convinced as a ‘scientist’ that the evolutionary/geological ages scenario was probably true, and so his trust in the Bible became more and more eroded. Because I had involvement in creation ministry, he began to read our publications like Creation magazine. He came to realize that evolution was actually a religious belief system within which the facts were interpreted. He understood that, even though there will likely always be unsolved problems for both creationists and evolutionists, to take the Bible by faith as a starting point meant that the facts of science actually made more sense than before!
Even more wonderful; because our publications have always sought to ensure that the Gospel relevance of Genesis creation is interwoven with scientific evidences, he came to fully see what and why God had done in Christ, and the glory of His grace. How wonderful it was to recall, at that graveside, how his faith in the Word had been more than restored, and to contemplate his joy in the Lord and his newfound full assurance of salvation, knowing that I would fellowship with him once more.
We at CMI are privileged to hear of this sort of thing happening to many people all the time. This makes it all the more distressing to hear of those who use deliberate disinformation campaigns to try to undermine the upwelling surge of the modern creationist revival, even to stamp it out if they were able.
Destroying the hope
Evolution (both theistic and atheistic) works towards the destruction of belief in the Resurrection—the ultimate hope—by nibbling away at the foundations of the whole issue. If there was no real Adam who brought physical death (or if Adam’s predecessors were dying) then we cannot trust the resurrection passage in 1 Corinthians 15:21–22: “For since by [a] man came death, by [a] man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”
“We first need a turning around among God’s people, back to full confidence in the Bible.”
In fact, as death stared me in the face back then, I realized that the only ones who can give an answer to that so-common question: “How can there be a God of love with so much death and suffering in the world?” are those who accept that Genesis means what it says. Death was not there in the first place, and it will one day be done away with forever; it was neither God’s normality nor what He calls ‘good’. Evolution teaches that meaningless death and suffering are a part of how we got here, and death will end it all. The theistic evolutionist, trying to answer the question about death and suffering, must say that somehow this God of love used death and agony to create, which only makes the problem worse.
Agreeing with Dawkins
The evidence that evolution and its corollary, long ages, are the major causes of loss of faith in the Western world is simply overwhelming. Former Oxford Professor Richard Dawkins, widely known for his virulent public atheism, unhesitatingly states that the most important factor in his loss of belief in the Christian God as a teenager was “understanding evolution”. During a 2011 interview he stated that evangelical Bible-believers were correct about the incompatibility of evolution and Christianity, and that those he called “sophisticated theologians quite happy to live with evolution” were simply “deluded”.1
The majority of Bible Colleges and seminaries in the western world, intimidated by evolutionary/long-age thinking, have abandoned the normal historical-grammatical approach when it comes to Genesis 1–11. Sadly, they often lack an understanding of how historical sciences work. Interpretation is all-important and, unlike experimental/observational science, proof is impossible. Consequently, they have sold their evangelical birthright for a mess of pottage2 in an attempt to reach a workable compromise with the world. It is never enough, though, and as one sees in the history of many great Christian institutions of the past (and in many individuals), the slippery slope, once engaged upon, relentlessly erodes until there are no vestiges of “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” (Jude 1:3)
We shake our heads at what is happening around us in Western society, such as the August 2011 UK riots; but with the destruction of Christianity comes, inevitably, the destruction of most of what is good in a once-Christian culture. Should we be surprised at this, seeing that God tells us that believers are the salt of the world, the means by which the whole stew is flavoured? A church in retreat, unsure of its own foundations, unsure of the truth of its own revelation, and largely embarrassed or too timid to make a stand, has indeed lost a lot of its savour, so why be surprised if the stew (society) goes rotten?