Disconnected from reality
Published: 25 September 2007 (GMT+10)
I always want to get to the bottom of things and to discover what makes them ‘tick’. Many years ago I remember the confusion I felt as I tried to understand about God, church and the Bible. I was trying to be ‘spiritual’ by ‘having faith’ in a God that (in my mind) there was no evidence for and was not necessarily real—but worth believing in all the same! I had never heard of the idea of a young universe (the true and biblical history of the world), just millions of years of evolution. So, even though I had not thought about evolution much, it was the only foundation I had to build on. With a logical mind, I became very frustrated as there seemed little sense to it all!
Then, about 19 years ago ‘the lights came on in my head’ as I read my first book from CMI. The Lord showed me that it’s very reasonable to believe that His Word is speaking about actual historical facts in Genesis 1–11. It was a revelation I will never forget. Things fell into place and I could see ‘the big picture’ history of the world coming into focus once the real facts were presented to me. They made sense immediately.
Genesis is not a side issue
Over the last several years, I have been seeing a pattern emerge. It is partly the situation Andrew Calder describes about the four academics who lost their confidence in Scripture. The pattern I am seeing is the promotion of a faith that is disconnected from what is real and factual in favour of a faith that is based on emotions, feelings or experiences. The problem is that, like the four academics discovered, and me too, once the biblical historical facts are undermined, the Bible is then disconnected from being ‘real’. It is then but a short step to reject the Christian faith altogether.
David Williamson (an internationally renowned Australian playwright) had just that experience. He said, ‘I went to church in suburban Melbourne and had an intensely religious phase until I was 12, but then I heard the theory of evolution and it cured me of any idea we were God’s children.’
His experience confirms that the early history of the Bible (origins) is not a side issue! It’s foundational! Many, many people have had the foundations of their faith undermined by false teachings on origins, namely the idea of evolution and long ages, and there are many, many tragic examples of the personal consequences on this website.
However, not everyone who hears of evolution chooses to reject God. But if they are not informed, they are faced with the problem of reconciling evolution (which they think is ‘scientific’ and thus factual) with Scripture, which it so obviously contradicts. Not realizing that evolution is a false teaching, they often resort to playing, on a sub-conscious level, a spiritual game of belief in something that no longer makes sense.
Few would admit, or possibly even realize, this of course. Frequently, they convince themselves that this is somehow a ‘step forward’ in faith—after all, haven’t others seen the same problems in the Bible? Those who ask questions like, ‘where did Cain get his wife?’, ‘where did the races come from?’, ‘what about fossils and millions of years?’, ‘where do dinosaurs fit in the Bible?’ etc., are often seen as a problem, and may get a fob-off answer—a compromise that mixes the Bible and millions of years. Or they may be made to feel that they lack faith by asking such questions.
Atheist and humanist Dr Eugenie Scott takes advantage of this compromise in her campaign to promote evolution. She says, ‘I have found that the most effective allies for evolution are people of the faith community. One clergyman with a backward collar is worth two biologists at a school board meeting any day!’ She happily refers struggling Christians to those pastors that she knows support evolution and thus give compromising answers that undermine the Bible, thus doing her work for her. She knows that she will not have the same credibility with a Christian student as a pastor. And she knows too that those pastors who have compromised the biblical history with evolutionary ideas will be an effective ‘witness’ for her atheistic, evolutionary cause.
It’s foundational to the gospel
This loss of biblical authority is seriously affecting the way the Gospel is presented. In church today we often hear, ‘Christianity is about having a personal relationship with Jesus’. The problem is that there is rarely any mention of obedience, submission, scriptural authority, Christ’s Lordship etc. It seems that the message is about a nice, warm fuzzy friendship (like having a mate)—that’s all! There is virtually no talk of Jesus being Lord of our lives in a way that means submitting to Him and His word.
I experienced this recently in a men’s group that was focusing very much on ‘walking with God’. Although this sounded fine, Scripture was not mentioned, let alone treated as authoritative. We were encouraged to ‘hear his voice’, ‘sense’ what he was saying, and pray—but no Scripture! When the Bible was mentioned, one man said that he didn’t like reading and hardly reads the Bible. The leader said, ‘I give you permission not to read the Bible’. I was amazed. If we don’t know Scripture, then how will we ‘test the spirits’? He needed to be encouraged to ask the Lord to provide a desire and hunger to read the Word—not to be given permission not to read it.
I know of a 17–18 year old girl from a broken home, with non-believing parents and abuse, who became a Christian. Within a short time she asked a church leader if this meant she should give up sex (she was not married). He told her to ‘pray about it’! Again, I was astonished. Here was a new Christian still confused about things in her life, asking for guidance on a black-and-white issue in Scripture. She should have been given a clear biblical answer. When we lose our confidence in the reliability of God’s Word we are only left with wishy-washy answers!
This philosophy of placing ‘prayer’ as authoritative over Scripture seems to be popular in many parts of the church. Those who promote it may feel they need to because ‘the Word has parts that are too challenging’. But when we step away from the reason and logic of Scripture we float away like a boat ‘tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching’ (Ephesians 4:14). It opens the door for feelings, emotions and senses to take hold. We must not forget that we are fallen sinners whose feelings cannot be trusted without testing them against God’s Word.
What can be done?
People (Christians and unbelievers alike) want answers that make sense of the world around them. Many will open up quickly when shown that Christianity is built on truth, reason and good sense. They may not change their minds immediately as there are likely many false ideas to undo. But I make a point of telling them about Creation.com or giving them a Creation magazine to take home. We should ‘always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have’ (1 Peter 3:15). When we plant the seeds of truth from God’s Word in people’s minds then God will do the growing in their minds and hearts.
Christianity is based on the truth of God’s word—not emotions or feelings, which we know are fickle. As we learn the Word and keep it in our heart we can test what we are experiencing against Scripture to make sure that we are not deceiving ourselves.
We were created to love our God with all our mind. We can therefore stand boldly on God’s Word knowing that if He states something, then it is true (no matter what the popular idea of the day is). ‘Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.’ (Psalm 119:105).