The end of a slippery slope
The consequences of abandoning biblical creation
“We have our own resources for dealing with this subject.” This was a reply from a Methodist minister whom I had approached about the possibility of speaking in the church he leads. I have found it quite typical of the type of response from ‘churchians’ who do not accept the clear teaching of the Bible regarding origins. I have come to understand that similar euphemisms such as, ‘We cover this subject in-house’ or, ‘We have no need of outside teaching in this regard’ are normally code for, ‘I believe God used evolution to create’.
It has surprised me that people apparently so enamoured with philosophical naturalism are not bolder in asserting their convictions. I know that if my pastor were approached by a proponent of theistic evolution or progressive creation, or one of the other attempts to squeeze naturalism into the Bible, he would unequivocally say that we take a biblical creation view on origins. Could it be that those that hold to various compromise views are insecure in their accommodation of evolution? In their hearts they very likely know it is completely at odds with the very authority upon which they can base their claim to ‘Christianity’—the Bible.
Normally it is quite difficult to get beyond the sorts of statements cited above. But on this occasion, when I thought the discussion was over, the minister volunteered that he had looked at our website and very quickly saw something that ensured we could not come and speak to his congregation. When I asked what that was he never gave any detail but stated that he could not believe that anyone was naïve enough to believe in biblical creation.
When I challenged him as to what specifically convinced him of the truth of evolution; he used typical ‘elephant hurling’ such as that most serious scientists accept evolution, and that the proofs of evolution were ‘obvious’. He further claimed that it was a side issue to the Gospel.
I gently tried to engage him and said that while we do not believe that an acceptance of the historicity of Genesis was essential for salvation, it set the very foundation for the Gospel of salvation by faith in Christ. When I went on to argue that a dismissal of the plain meaning of Genesis could (and often does) lead to a ‘slippery slope’ of unbelief, he took exception.
We spoke further about issues such as the meaning of the word ‘day’ (yôm) in Genesis Chapter 1. After a while he stated that all that matters is the “blood of Christ”. Thinking that I would challenge him about whether we can believe the biblical account of the shed blood of Christ if we cannot accept the historical account of creation, I asked him, “How do you know that the blood of Christ really was shed on the cross for our sins about 2000 years ago?” He hesitated slightly and then said, “I am not sure that I do”. I was shocked and saddened by this admission and wondered how many of his congregation knew how far down that ‘slippery slope’, to which I had alluded earlier, their preacher had descended?
He curtly ended our conversation shortly after that and I was left pondering the eternal implications to him and his flock, the blind leading the blind. Jesus said that:
“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” (Matthew 6:22–24).
In other words, if that which informs and directs our beliefs and actions, and which we believe to be our ‘light’ is in fact ‘darkness’, it is a darkness of terrible consequences. Jesus seemed to say this in the context of money, but the principle could equally be applied to the acceptance of ungodly “philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” (Colossians 2:8) The secular humanist religion of philosophical naturalism (evolution) is a terrible ‘darkness’ that leads many astray from the revealed truth of God’s Word. “Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” (Romans 1:22,23)
We do not believe that an individual that rejects the biblical account of creation will necessarily also ultimately reject other clear teachings of Scripture. We have found that a ‘blessed inconsistency’ is possible and that some are able to live their Christian faith in spite of that inconsistency. But a clear inconsistency it is. It is inconsistent with the Bible, and most often also with the very foundational beliefs of the Christian institution to which that individual belongs. A recent email I received in response to my seeking a ministry opportunity at a church stated:
“Thank you for the enquiry, but we would not be interested. Your theology [referring to CMI’s stance on creation] does not line up with Methodist or Wesleyan theology.”
I replied (graciously I pray) that although he is probably correct that CMI’s stance on biblical creation probably does not align with that of many current theologians, it certainly does align with the theology of the very founder of those movements, John Wesley. In the preface to his book on health precautions, Primitive Physic, Wesley stated:
“1. When man came first out of the hands of the great Creator, clothed in body as well as in soul, with immortality and incorruption, there was no place for physic, or the art of healing. As he knew no sin, so he knew no pain, no sickness, weakness, or bodily disorder. The habitation wherein the angelic mind, the Divinæ particula Auræ abode, though originally formed out of the dust of the earth, was liable to no decay. It had no seeds of corruption or dissolution within itself. And there was nothing without to injure it: Heaven and earth and all the hosts of them were mild, benign, and friendly to human nature. The entire creation was at peace with man, so long as man was at peace with his Creator. So that well might ‘the morning stars sing together, and all the sons of God shout for joy.’
“2. But since man rebelled against the Sovereign of heaven and earth, how entirely is the scene changed! The incorruptible frame hath put on corruption, the immortal has put on mortality. The seeds of weakness and pain, of sickness and death, are now lodged in our inmost substance; whence a thousand disorders continually spring, even without the aid of external violence. And how is the number of these increased by every thing round about us! The heavens, the earth, and all things contained therein, conspire to punish the rebels against their Creator. The sun and moon shed unwholesome influences from above; the earth exhales poisonous damps from beneath; the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, the fishes of the sea, are in a state of hostility: yea, the food we eat, daily saps the foundation of the life which cannot be sustained without it. So has the Lord of all secured the execution of his decrees,–‘Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.’”1
Any attempt to squeeze deep time (allegedly represented by the fossil record) into the Bible puts pain, disease, suffering and death prior to Adam and his sin and is therefore in contradiction of Wesley’s clear belief that sickness, suffering and death came as a result of the Fall. Not just Wesley’s, of course. Surveying evangelical commentaries and Bible-scholars near-universally reveals that before the rise of ‘deep time’ philosophy (well before Darwin and based on the rejection of Genesis and its global flood) there was simply no need for long discussion of the meaning of Genesis; it was too blindingly obvious.
Before putting down the phone after the conversation described at the beginning of this article, I expressed the hope that we could have a cup of coffee together one day if he ever wanted to revisit his beliefs on creation. I pray that this might yet happen, and that he might become one of a growing number of such clergy for whom the ‘lights go on’ . Not only is Genesis creation the foundation and core of the Gospel, it also happens to fit the facts of the real world, as tens of thousands of scientifically trained Christians worldwide can attest.
References and notes
- Pg iii, Primitive Physic, John Wesley, Thornton and Collie, Edinburgh, 1846. Return to text.