Nice theologians leading the church away from the truth
Nice church folk can destroy a person’s faith
Published: 16 January 2018 (GMT+10)
Previously published in a CMI newsletter, May 2017
I recently heard a conservative (biblical creationist) theologian sadly relating his experiences of various theologians who are leading the charge to get church leaders to accept a non-historical Genesis that is compatible with evolution/long ages.
He repeatedly said how pleasant and nice these men are, even while at the same time he exposed the anti-biblical nature of their teaching (mainly that Genesis is some ‘other genre of literature’ that can be ‘interpreted’ however they like—usually to accede to secular evolutionary, long-age beliefs).
The words of the Apostle Paul came to mind; about angels of light bringing error into the church at Corinth. These men presented themselves as Gospel workers like the Apostle Paul:
“for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness” (2 Corinthians 11:14–15).
This indicates that people who appear to be genuine workers in the Christian community can, in reality, be dupes of Satan (although they are almost certainly not aware of this). They must obviously be doing winsome things, otherwise they would not be able to lead people astray. But deception is often like that. It appears to be nice and reasonable on the surface, otherwise it would not be convincing (just ask Adam and Eve!).
How do we tell the genuine workers from the agents of Satan? Clearly it is not by how ‘nice’ they are, or even what good works they are doing. Angels of light by nature are beautiful beings (they are not called ‘angels of darkness’). Lucifer indeed means ‘bearer of light’; Scripture says that “he masquerades as an angel of light” and that his servants “disguise themselves as servants of righteousness” (2 Corinthians 11:14, 15), so they look like they are faithful workers in the church.
Since these angels of light are doing Satan’s bidding, we need only to look to Satan’s activities to see what his unwitting servants might get up to. Some major ones are:
- As the “father of lies” (John 8:44) Satan hates the truth, so he opposes God’s Word, encouraging people to doubt the Bible. Note that at Satan’s first appearance in the Bible he questions God’s word, saying to Eve, “Did God really say?” (Genesis 3). He uses deception to undermine the faith of God’s people.
- He questions the goodness of God. When Satan tempted Eve in the Garden (Genesis 3:1–5), he not only questioned the honesty of God, but also His benevolence regarding Adam and Eve. The number one refrain from the unbeliever today is, ‘How can you believe in a loving God when there is so much suffering in the world?’ The theologians who advocate melding the Bible with secularism’s long ages, also must say that God created a world of death and suffering from the beginning (that’s what the fossil record entails if you accept that the fossils were formed over hundreds of millions of years before the first people appeared). Thus, the creation was not “very good” and so God is not good; He is robbed of his goodness.
- He robs Christ of the worship that is His due because of his creating (Romans 1). He does this by getting people to accept evolution, ascribing to Nature (capital N) the credit for the creation of everything. Cosmic evolution entails nothing exploding and becoming everything, with no cause whatsoever! Many evolutionists will talk of incredible ‘design’ in living things, but do not give God the glory that He deserves as the Designer. Through Jesus all things were made, but attributing the making to a purely natural process robs Jesus of the worship that is His due. Science was once about ‘revealing the thoughts of God’ to bring Him glory. Now it is ‘denying any thought of God’, no matter what the evidence. As SUNY professor Richard Lewontin said, they “cannot allow a divine foot in the door”.1
- Satan hinders the effective preaching of the Gospel (Acts 13:8–9). If people cease to believe in a real, ‘hands on’ Creator, then there is no one in charge and they can do whatever they please with no eternal consequences. There is no moral law to break and no Judge, no judgment and no need for a Saviour.
Furthermore, because evolutionary dogma totally undermines the Bible’s history, then it undermines the whole message. As Jesus said to Nicodemus, if people won’t believe the earthly things, how are they going to believe the heavenly (theological) things? (John 3:12). A Bible that is thought unbelievable in matters that can be tested will hardly be heeded in things that are not testable.
Also, the evolutionary story means that Adam was not a real person who actually rebelled against his Creator and brought death and suffering into the world because of his sin. Why then did Jesus, who is called the “Last Adam” in the New Testament, suffer and die? How could the actions of the ‘son of Adam’ (Luke 3), Jesus, be efficacious for us, the rebellious lost sons and daughters of Adam?
- These apparent ‘servants of righteousness’ might even appear to be faithfully preaching the Gospel, but in opposing the basis of the Gospel in Genesis, they render the preaching largely ineffective. Think about it. Why would anyone convert to Christ by believing that evolution is God’s method? It’s like saying “You mean I don’t have to trust what the Bible clearly says? Sure, I’ll become a Christian then.” He blinds the minds of unbelievers (2 Cor. 4:4). There is no doubt that evolution is a lie that has deluded many into thinking that they can safely ignore what Christians say. As the atheist biology professor, William Provine said, “evolution is the greatest engine of atheism ever invented.”2 Evangelist Mark Cahill says that the most common ‘intellectual’ reason given for not believing in God is evolution,3 so when church leaders say that evolution is OK, this just reinforces the unbelief of the unbeliever.
- He is proud (1 Tim. 3:6). Pandering to the evolutionary mindset (secular academia) appeals to the pride of mankind, whereas submission to the Word of God requires humility. Universities are steeped in elitism and academic pride. There are huge rewards for being part of the prideful system and huge disincentives for not conforming. Thus, sadly, many Christians succumb to the temptations and blend into the scenery, never standing against the God-less indoctrination. They find ways of melding their ‘faith’ with the prevailing secular way of thinking. I was once in that situation; thankfully I was confronted about my unbelief and repented of it (although it was a process that took some time).
- He foments division in the church (Romans 16:17–20). The only basis of unity in the church is the Bible. Anything else is a recipe for division. The Bible links disbelief regarding Genesis chapters 1-9 with disunity in the church.4 Most larger churches have some members who belong to the academic set described above. Because of their academic credentials they are often respected and looked up to as leaders in the church. These same people will quickly let a pastor know if he steps out of line by encouraging people to humbly submit to what the Bible teaches about the real history of the world beginning in Genesis. The academic will say that ‘such teaching is divisive’. However, such teaching honours God’s Word and it is only ‘divisive’ because the academic member is offended because it challenges his/her prideful unbelief. Sadly, there are even pastors who themselves have never submitted fully to God’s Word and come under its authority in all that it teaches. Rather, they wield their elitist training in theology at the academic theological college/university/seminary to twist it to say what they wish it to say.
Church leaders who compromise the Word of God can be far more effective at destroying faith than an atheist professor railing against God. This is because one can easily recognize the wiles of the enemy when it comes from self-professed opposition. It is not as obvious when the deception comes from within. Veterinarian Dr Jean Lightner shared how destructive this was to her:
“When I was having doubts, one of the most damaging things for my faith was when I read a respected Christian teacher who basically said that the Bible does not really mean what it says, particularly the creation account. That was probably more detrimental to me than the evolutionary teachers insisting that they were right. It was devastating to hear a Christian leader basically say, ‘God doesn’t mean that; you don’t have to believe that’.”
We need to be careful that we do not allow ‘nice’ people to influence us not to believe God’s Word. Anyone who does that is doing Satan’s work, no matter how nice they might appear to be.
1 Peter 5:8 warns: Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Yes, Satan can be like a roaring lion, but he can also be like a subtle serpent with his ‘angels of light’. One day Satan will no longer be able to destroy, but for now we also need to be alert to the subtle ways that he tries to undermine the Gospel.
Thank you for standing with us against deception.
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References and notes
- Amazing admission, Creation 20(3):24, June 1998; creation.com/lewontin. Return to text.
- Source: Slide from W.B. Provine’s 1998 “Darwin Day” address, “Darwin Day” website, University of Tennessee Knoxville TN, 1998. Return to text.
- Bates, G., and Gillis, S., A watchman for the Lord, Creation 35(3):41–43, July 2013; creation.com/cahill. Return to text.
- Batten, D., ‘But it’s divisive!’, CMI Prayer News–Australia October–December 2004; creation.com/but-its-divisive. Return to text.
I owe you an apology Don, I was too quick to judge you to be judgmental. I reread the article a little more carefully and maintained what I wrote till I got to point 7 to the end, which clarified it, I think. Would be interesting to have you explain your previous beliefs in the inerrancy's inaccuracies, I mean of course, you said you thought you genuinely believed in inerrancy before repenting.
I subscribed to the standard evangelical definitions of inerrancy (without error in the original autographs, etc.). However, in practise I didn't, because I treated Scripture as something open to my personal interpretations. That is, the Bible was to be almost forced to conform to my grand scheme of interpretation. It was to be dissected rather than obeyed. It was the biblical creation message that shocked me out of that. It took a while, but in the end I was challenged, in my 'quiet time': 'Do you believe me, or do you believe the words of men?' I realized that I was only regarding the Word of God to be obeyed where I found it fitted my ideas. I repented of that and prayed, "Help me God, to believe and obey" and I have not been the same since. Now, if I find something difficult to understand it is my problem, not a problem with the Bible. Previously, I would try to find a convenient interpretation that I was comfortable with, even if it violated the text (e.g. the days of Genesis 1 were long periods of time). It was a humbling experience. Who reigns?
Several years ago, I wrote an e-mail to a local church pastor to inquire what they believed concerning Genesis. At first, he tried to brush me off but I persisted in a polite manner. His response was, "Our church does not hold to a singular position ... and I am assuming you are referring to the first 11 chapters of Genesis? The last 39 chapters are obviously historical narrative.
Within Evangelicalism there is a broad range of views on the first 11 chapters. We see science and faith through a complimentary and compatible lens and still take the text seriously, but we are not married to a 6 literal days of creation approach. Some of us hold to it and some don't. We don't let it define us."
So he had declared the latter 39 chapters to be historical narrative, but was deeming the first 11 chapters as open to interpretation.
I replied by reminding him that Adam introduced sin to the world and there was obviously no death prior to Adam sinning, since the Bible states that sin begat death. I mentioned that God would not declare creation to be "good" if it had involved millions of years of death to reach the formation of man. Finally, I raised John 5:45–47 to his attention, where Jesus says, “Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”
It was at this point that he never bothered to reply further. I believe, more than ever, that we have many wolves walking among the sheep. When we have a professing Bible-believing pastor telling me that Genesis 1-11 could be allegorical, we're in trouble. The fact he refused to discuss it further speaks volumes.
Some evolutionists will say that evolution humbles humanity because we “are like other lower animals and descend from them so we have no right to claim specialness in the universe. Whereas believing we are made in the image of God is arrogant.” I think this has got to be the most absurd statements even made by philosophers who are even agnostics. If we are really just bags of chemicals, but we happen to be the one species that conquered nature while the rest are still striving for survival and natural selection; this makes us seem we can become gods even through technology so it incites a lot more arrogance than believing we are made in the image of God and are corrupt and we are powerless against the wages of sin because of our undoing. Anyways now that that’s out of the way:
I think biblical creationists should step up and tip the scales harder in the academic world. Not saying you guys are not doing already, but I think if they want to counter more effectively they need to use “the elite’s” weapons against them, catch what I’m saying? Sure, be humble and not wave your credentials like some holy grail but rather show them you guys are not jokes. I am starting to see this happen slowly but this year in 2018 I hope it accelerates.
I agree with Jean Lightner; an atheist professor is already explicit and we can easily tell he/she will rail against God and we can deconstruct his/her arguments. But a compromiser is very unsuspecting and can be deceptive particularly in doctrinal terms. Theistic Evolutionists have got to be the worst in this camp. Because Old Earthers at least are sane enough to save essential doctrines in the Bible and avoid some weird blend of Deistic theology. TE’s sound so insecure in their affirmation of Christian faith.
Certainly TE is much worse than old earth creationism, but the latter still
- Undermines the goodness of God, because it says that God created a world of death and disease, which is what the fossils represent if they are accepted as being formed before Adam
- Undermines the Gospel, because it puts death, suffering, and disease before the Fall of Adam
- Undermines hermeneutics, because if 6 numbered days, each with an evening and a morning are actually long periods of time, then how can we know what anything means?
- Undermines eschatology (end times) because are we going to have a restoration to a world of death and disease?
And more could be said. I recommend the video of the lecture by theologian Dr Martin Williams, who shows that long ages thoroughly undermines the Gospel; if you think about it!
I have posted this page on my facebook page - I really wonder if it is time for us to quit calling those who accuse God of dishonesty in revealing the manner in which He created the heavens and the earth. Excellent article.
Very true! Matthew 12:34 says "...for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." V.37 - "For by thy words thou shall be justified, and by thy words thou shall be condemned."
In Matthew 15:6-9 - Jesus told the religious elite of His day - V. 8-9 - "This people draws near Me with their mouth, and honors Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me.
But in vain they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men."
In Matthew 7:15 - Jesus refers to these as wolves in sheep's clothing. And v's 21-23 tells us their demise. Paul also warned about false teachers; wolves in sheep's clothing in Acts 20:28-30 Note in v. 30 "Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after themselves." Colossians 2:8 says basically the same thing. cf. 2 Corinthians 4:4; 11:3,13-15. We need to have our daily armor on! Ephesians 6:10-18. I believe that the words these men speak reveals their true identity! Wolves in sheep's clothing. "Christian" universities with "theistic evolution" in my opinion, is one of the most deceptive and faith destroying forces in our world today! They undermine God's word and destroy the intended meaning and destroy the faith of those under their teaching. These are far more dangerous than an atheist! Psalm 119:160 - "The entirety of Your word is truth:and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever."
Proverbs 30:5-6; Deuteronomy 4:2; Revelation 22:18-19 warns regarding taking away and adding to God's word. cf. Isaiah 26:10.
Thanks for your faithfulness - In Christ - Bob Jones - Isaiah 8:20 - "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them."
I've commended this site and its excellent articles before and I do so once again. Thank you for persistently holding to the Truth as revealed in Scripture. I agree wholeheartedly with your statement that the number one reason for non-believers to be unconvinced of the Genesis account of creation is because of intellectualism and pride which are currently rampant in our societies. Humility is almost always seen as weakness in many of our academic institutions and my puzzlement is why the Church is not engaging with this issue more effectively worldwide. I cannot remember the last time I heard a sermon on the Genesis creation account (probably Sunday School) and I've heard thousands of sermons! Why are church leaders not taking this more seriously? I understand their focus on church strategies to deal with societies' illnesses, for example homelessness, poverty, crime etc. (and these must surely continue) but if the truth of scripture is scorned or dismissed so easily because of the reasons you give then what impact are we really making on what people believe and how they live their lives? I consider myself to be reasonably educated and well informed. I constantly listen and engage with unbelievers and in spite of the ridicule that is often directed at those who accept the Genesis creation account I remain utterly convinced that the Bible is speaking the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Honestly, if it were not for God I'd worry about the church! Thanks once again for your brilliant articles.
Interesting that this article should appear today.
Only last night I was reading an extract in English of the life and times of Karl Schilder, a man who wrestled with liberal scholars and pastors in Holland between the two wars of the 20th Century in Europe and just after the second war.
The translator made comments and included quotes of Schilder expressing his dissatisfaction with the liberals. I restate akey part which identifies the same problems Biblical Creationists have with those who compromise the Word of God today:
“People called him hard and covetous—a man without feeling. Nothing could be further from the truth. People were confusing love as presented in the Scriptures with being 'nice'. But people who use beautiful and gentle words and streamlined language … who act in a 'loving' manner as it
appears—such people are often unmerciful, cruel and hard as stone”.
“Anyone who is tolerant towards heretics and false teachers will necessarily be intolerant towards those who wish to be faithful to principles”. 'The peace-loving brothers' “became raging lions towards all those who do not wish to sing along in their choir of peace”.
I didn't find any examples in this piece. I would agree with you 100% if you were talking about people/theologians who do not believe in the inerrancy of the scriptures, but I got the impression it was persons who disagree with you regarding scripture interpretation and whether or not everything was created a long time ago or a short time ago. Evolution is clearly farcical. With that said I can't claim someone who interprets scripture differently from me is a devil in sheep's clothing, since I have not been blessed with the perfect interpretation of scriptures. Have you?
Please read the article a little more carefully. I am not saying that anyone who disagrees with our understanding of Genesis as history that is foundational to the Gospel is an angel of light. If that were the case then I would have been such before I repented of my unbelief. I was untaught and had not thought about it much and there are a lot of people like that.
No, this is a person with a multi-faceted pattern of behaviour. There are seven tell-tale signs given that would indicate an angel of light is operating (more could be added).
BTW, when someone says that he believes in inerrancy but then will not believe what the Word clearly says, then the profession of belief in inerrancy is moot. When I repented of my unbelief I also realized that I didn't really believe in inerrancy, although I said I did (genuinely, I thought).
Sadly, there is nothing new in this theology. I am 64 years old and was brainwashed, not only at school and university but also by my Church, to believe that evolution was fact and that Genesis had to be moulded to fit 'the truth'.
“Nice theologians” can indeed strive to keep short accounts with God, shun sins of omission, seek to be radical disciples, and seek to have a high biblicity—desiring to seek the “whole counsel of God”, and “let God be true and every man a liar”. They can even aspire—and be successful—in thinking counter-culturally and proclaim biblical corrective truth to a surrounding mocking world. And in many areas, they can have success—honestly reporting how God has led and empowered them in ministry. (And thus be “nice theologians”.)
But then there are the blind-spot areas, where their level of functional theology dips far below their official-theology level. And related self-deception. (God released me from such self-deception, after I read “The Genesis Flood” just before I turned 18.)
While fear of the world, excessive desire for academic respectability, and even arrogance can play roles in this pivotal self-deception, the strongest factor in it probably is a wrong informing of conscience. Re. “but test everything, hold fast the good” (1 Th. 5:21): when holding fast is premature, without adequate testing, the conscience is inescapably captured to a false obligation. Intuition is defectively molded. Truth feels wrong. People (e.g., CMI) presenting truth seem to be people trying to get one to violate integrity. Paradoxically…
#1 The more spiritual the “nice theologian”, the more sensitized the wrongly-informed conscience. The stronger the rejection of blind-spot-area actual truth, and the stronger the clinging to a defective theological approach.
#2 The more the success of corrective-truth proclamation in other areas by the “nice theologian”, the more there is over-confidence that feeds the blind-spots blindness.
Please (spiritual-warfare) pray for their release.