For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding; Proverbs 2:6 NKJV
If followers of Christ have been paying attention, they will note that many Church leaders, speakers, authors, and Christian media spokespersons have yielded to alternative views of Genesis which support an ancient Universe. In general, Christians seem to be unaware of the importance of understanding Genesis 1-11 as history. The idea that "science" has presented proofs that are compatible with both the Biblical narrative and various versions of evolution "seems to make sense." The real story, however, is that "Old Earth science" and godless "evolutionary science" have not been proven. When discussing the controversy of a historic Genesis, the response of many Christians is: "Why is that important and what does it have to do with my faith?."
Church history is replete with denominations and individuals who were once soul winners and held firmly to Biblical inerrancy, but have since become "liberalized." There are indications that a loss of confidence in a 6-day Creation, a real Adam, the Fall, the Flood, and other details of the Biblical historic account preceded a downward spiritual spiral.
Charles Templeton (1915-2001), co-founder of Youth for Christ and fellow evangelist with Billy Graham in the 1940's, was considered one of the outstanding preachers of his day. Templeton did not end that way! The final chapter of his life is encapsulated in his book, Farewell to God. Belief in an evolutionary process for the material world was a key factor in his drifting from the faith.
Lest we view Charles Templeton as an isolated case, Christian society today has also drifted from the faith with one of the primary factors being a mistrust of the Bible, beginning with the early chapters of Genesis. If the history of Creation cannot be trusted, why should other chapters and Books of the Bible not be subjected to revision based on modern attitudes and the ever-evolving morals of contemporary society? Ken Ham (AiG) and Britt Beemer have co-authored Already Gone; presenting statistics that upwards of 60% of young people raised in the Church will leave their faith before age thirty, many of whom will never return. A significant driving force behind the downward spiral of faith, according to the book's polling of 1,000 participants, is the belief that Genesis was not written to recount actual history.
It may be informative to examine two examples of denominations that have previously held to Biblical inerrancy, but have become increasingly more tolerant of varying options for Creation and the age of the material world. The leadership of these groups should be asking:
Is the acceptance of a symbolic Genesis and a billions of years old Earth
contributing to the slow drift from the faith observed in other
-- and --
Are church leaders standing firm on Biblical truths, including those that clearly state that the Universe, the Solar System, and life were created in six 24 hour days?
The Assemblies of God (AG) has always been held in high regard for their acceptance of the entire Bible as being "God breathed." The fellowship grew out of the Azusa St. Revival in the early 1900,'s and now includes over 1 million churches worldwide with over 67 million adherents. Unfortunately, there has been a not so subtle movement away from a literal understanding of Genesis 1-11, as seen in the writings of several contributors to AG journals and papers. The compromise is also noted in those who teach at the AG Colleges and Universities as they express a growing acceptance in an OEC/EC belief.
Embedded in the five pages of the AG's Doctrine of Creation: Creation is Purposeful is the statement:
"Order is seen in the careful structuring of the various stages of creative
activity in a six-day format, evening to morning."
Doctrine of Creation, Creation and Science , The Assemblies of God
Although this may seem as unfairly focusing on semantics, it is what is not said that leaves a loophole to interpret a young Universe as one of several options. A doctrinal paper should take great care when conveying its message. The debate within the AG would have been settled by stating: "a six 24-hour day format."
Statements in the AG doctrinal paper in the section "Creation and Science" suggest that a review by the denominations leadership might be in order to clarify their stand.
The discoveries of science had been utilized by skeptics to question the
of the biblical accounts. In response, believing scientists and biblical scholars
consider no fundamental conflict to exist between God's Word and His works.
Ultimately, then, when God's word and God's work are properly understood and taught by reverent scholarship, there is no disunity.
The AG conducted a 2014 Faith & Science Conference: Genesis & Genetics, ostensibly to help pastors and teachers navigate through the "Creation/science debate." The Conference speakers list clearly reveals support for an ancient Earth "option" by the inclusion of those from the EC Biologos Forum and OEC's who are in the Progressive Creation camp of Reasons to Believe. The not so subtle message stands in opposition to the AG doctrinal statement that "no fundamental conflict exists" between Biblical scholars and scientists when considering the Creation options. There is a very fundamental conflict when the Creation account can be optionally interpreted and there is disunity, no matter how "reverent" the scholarship.
The nine conference speakers listed did not include representation by YEC organizations such as the Institute for Creation Research or Answers in Genesis.
Two of the speakers at the 2014 Conference, Drs. Mike Tenneson and Steve Badger, also co-authored an article entitled, A Brief Overview of Pentecostal Views on Origins for the AG Enrichment Journal, Spring 2015. Although generally addressing the AG community, the article describes what may qualify as an epidemic condition among churches that once trusted the historic truth of the early chapters of Genesis. Rather than holding to a singular belief in a literal six day Creation, three "optional" views are presented: YEC (Young Earth Creationism), OEC (Old Earth Creationism), and EC (Evolutionary Creationism). A mix of these positions are claimed by students and educators within the AG institutes of higher learning according to the article.
As educators, we have been investigating the views of
Pentecostals on origins for several years. Over the past five years we have seen a
significant trend toward a decrease in the numbers of recent creation
adherents and a simultaneous increase in those favoring an ancient creation
i.e. (old earth creation,
evolutionary creation.) op. cit.
Comment: A trend is not necessarily an indication of a sudden revelation of "truth." Nor is the fact that well known theologians and educators are in agreement with the trend a determinant of "truth." God's Word in Genesis 1-11 is truth, described by a historic narrative and based on the observational evidence interpreted through the proven method of objective science.
Another publication by Drs. Tenneson and Badger, the CyberJournal for Pentecostal-Charismatic Research #20 includes a poll conducted to determine the distribution of the AG academic community within the three "creationist" areas. The results indicate a trend toward OEC/EC positions and away from the YEC belief held for many years by the AG. Tellingly, the article does not seem to express a sense of concern over the movement away from the fundamental belief in a literal six day Creation. The 2009 survey results show the following for Faculty & Students at AG universities:
Once the leadership and scholars of a church or denomination cast doubt on the validity of any portion of the Bible and present alternate interpretations as options, the journey into disbelief follows.The following is a quote from an early Church leader:
In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, love.
Are we then at liberty to believe that the origin options (YEC, OEC, EC) are all simply acceptable and personal choices? And, has it been concluded that the Genesis 1-11 chapters are non-essential liberties that can be adopted in total or even selected "à la carte"? The fact is that only one version of the origin of the material world, including life, is true. The believing Church would do well to hear the words of Jesus, when He said:
Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or
house divided against itself will not stand. Matt. 12:25 NKJV
Continuing with the aforementioned article:
As science teachers, we believe pastors need to seek coherence between these
two realms and provide ways for their congregations to see truth in both
general revelation (the world) and special
revelation (the word). Pastors can
use the origins debate to help people more thoroughly integrate the two divine
A Brief Overview of Pentecostal Views on Origins op.cit.
Comment: General Revelation, defined as what is seen in nature or the material world, has no Biblical precedent when being proposed as one of "two divine revelations."
For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle? 1 Cor. 14:8 NKJV
Dr. Kenneth Keathley, Director of the L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture and Professor of Theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary contributed an article for BIOLOGOS as a guest author on February 28, 2012.
Professors at the six Southern Baptist seminaries subscribe to the Baptist
Faith and Message (BF&M), the statement of faith adopted by the Southern Baptist
Convention. The BF&M provides a summary of Christian beliefs from a Baptist
perspective, but it is conspicuously silent on three subjects: Calvinism, the
nature of the millennial kingdom, and the age of the earth. Because Southern
to a spectrum of views on each of these hot-button items, no specific position is
taken. It is the third matter - creation, the age of the earth, and all the
attendant matters, that concern us now. The BF&M declares God to be the
the Universe and describes humans as the special creation of God, but the
confession has no section that deals specifically with the doctrine of
Southern Baptist Convention: Expressing Our Concerns, Part 1, Kenneth Keathley, BIOLOGOS, guest author, February 28, 2012,
Comment: The above quote appropriately identifies Creation as a "hot-button issue." All the more reason the SBC should take a position based on what is written in the Bible. They would do well to confer with YEC organizations such as AiG and ICR to help the denomination articulate to the membership how objective science is not in conflict with scripture. Unresolved problems (or positions) have a tendency to increase in severity. They might also explain that the "subjective science" of evolution (including the OEC position held by Progressive Creationists) is in conflict with both the Bible and science.Upon reading the entire article, it is clear that Dr. Keathley does not agree with the Evolutionary Creationist (EC) position for Genesis held by BIOLOGOS. Having once been a Young Earth Creationist (YEC), however, he is now more supportive of an Old Earth belief as indicated.
I think that it would be safe to say that most (but not all) Southern Baptists
hold to young-earth creationism (YEC). Among the faculty of our six seminaries
one would find a mix of YEC proponents and OEC (old-earth creationism)
sometimes describe myself as a "disappointed young-earther." By that I mean
that I started out holding to the young-earth position but the
shortcomings of most YEC arguments and the shenanigans of certain
YEC advocates forced me to move to the OEC position. I am not aware
of any SBC seminary faculty who advocates theistic evolution or evolutionary
creationism (EC). Many (including me) are involved with or express sympathy to the
intelligent design movement (ID). op.cit.
Comment: It would be informative to understand what the "shortcomimgs" of the YEC arguments were and was he looking in the right places to resolve the issues. And "shenanigans" unfortunately occur at many levels of Church interactions but the cause to change one's position may be more due to doctrinal insecurity emanating from the sound of an "uncertain trumpet." There is an abundance of research available to support a YEC position. As with the AG, the SBC's optional approach to Creation has spiritual consequences.
INERRANCY: exemption from error; Infallibility (merriam-webster.com)
There may have been a time when Biblical inerrancy had a straight-forward meaning: the scriptures were the conveyance of truth and they were infallible: (unerring, unfailing, faultless, flawless, impeccable, perfect, precise, accurate, and scrupulous. (Infallible definition from Google)
He has made the earth by His power; He has established the world by His wisdom, And stretched out the heaven by His understanding. Jeremiah 51:15 NKJV
Conflict can often be helpful for developing maturity and in learning how to discern truth from error. Unfortunately, unsettled conflict has found its way into Christian educational institutions where the early chapters of Genesis are being presented as matters of choice. The teaching of OEC/EC/ID and EV options is necessary for educational purposes, but the emphasis should be that science will always complement scripture and not that scripture is a complementary adjunct to science. The accusation from the evolutionary community that naiveté keeps YEC's from seeing the "truth" should not be cause to depart from justifiably long-held beliefs. This is especially true when the purported "science" is without merit.
The following is from the AG CYBERJOURNAL #20, Dr. Steve Badger:
I find the evidence for an ancient universe convincing, and find the
scriptures silent on this point. I think the zeal of the recent creationists far
surpasses their "supporting evidences", and I reject their
epistemological presuppositions. More specifically, I think the date of
creation cannot be determined by biblical studies in general or by a
surface reading of the GCA in particular (e.g. the genealogies).
Comment: The "proofs" of evolution and an old Earth have been challenged by highly qualified creation scientists on far too many points to be mentioned in this document (see Answers in Genesis (AiG) or the Institute for Creation Research (ICR)). Somehow, finding the "evidence for an ancient universe convincing" is a strong statement to be made (even in a limited publication), knowing that a generation of students may be listening. The objective interpretation of the evidence supporting a Young Earth is also convincing and does agree with God's word. To suggest that Biblical study finds "the scriptures silent on this point" would make one wonder why God allowed references to time to be recorded in the first place. The days of Genesis 1 and the Genesis 5 genealogies are specific references to time as we know it, which puts OEC/EC theology in conflict with the entire word of God. Old Earth philosophy may disagree with the meaning of "days", simply because it disagrees with what they construe as "science", but the suggestion that the "date of creation cannot be determined by information included in the bible" might cause some to believe that certain segments of God's word are not relevant.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Comment: The above words from 2 Timothy are included in every Bible version and translated into many languages. Are the verses somehow being misunderstood and that all scripture does not include Genesis 1-11? OEC/EC philosophy begs the question: Which parts of the Bible are relevant and which are not?
In our pursuit of knowledge and understanding, the desire to seek clarifying wisdom that only God can give seems to have been lost. Learning and comprehension become frail partners when not strengthened by insight from the Holy Spirit. The Creation of the world in six days was supernatural and lies well outside the scope of human understanding (read Job 38.) However, when the believer trusts in the simplicity of the historic account of Creation and a young Earth, Genesis 1-11 makes perfect scientific sense when viewed objectively. The evidence is readily available in the fossil record, in the study of the complexity of life, and as described within the observable laws and principles of thermodynamics and cell theory, to name only a few. Man was endowed by God to learn, to be inquisitive, to wonder, explore, and to have dominion over the Earth. But first and foremost, he was endowed with the knowledge of God and the desire to pursue Him.
Confusion finds its way into the Church when evolutionary beliefs attempt to gain "scientific" support from perceived new evidence, causing individuals to lose confidence in a straightforward reading of the Bible. The following quote from an informed educator/scientist gives an example that is not uncommon. (a citation is intentionally not provided)
I am a creationist who argues that we do not know how or when God
created. I cannot imagine that God would deceive us by creating the physical
realm to appear ancient if it were relatively young. Why would God have
created life to appear to have developed by an evolutionary process if it
Comment: The candor of the speaker is greatly appreciated. It does demonstrate, however, the confusion that occurs when origin theories are offered as options with the Biblical narrative being one of several alternatives. Acceptance of the Bible as written is an act of faith, just as belief in God is an act of faith. When the believer allows faith to work and views the natural world and the sciences as being aligned with God's word, objective science will be seen with clarity.
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. Hebrews 11:6 NKJV
Comment: The creationist quoted above may have become confused by the
when stating that, "we do not know how or when God created." There is
no uncertainty regarding the "when" as we count a day as we know it, and
the current chronological measure to calculate the elapsed number of years to
The "how" is also clearly described as the supernatural creation of "kinds", as observed today. There are many scientists who once considered themselves to be evolutionists but were persuaded when they made a decision to review the evidence in light of a literal acceptance of Genesis
The questions were also posed as to why God would create a "physical realm to appear ancient" and create the illusion that He created life "to appear to have developed by an evolutionary process if it didn't?" The writer's "confusion" may be the result of a lifetime of a subjective and learned (indoctrinated) view of age.
For additional details: In6Days.org: Biblical Creation: A Brief Overview
To further clarify, confusion exists only when Biblical "loopholes" replace the plain reading (and meaning) of the text. Genesis 1:2 and 1:9-10 serve as examples:
The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep.
And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Genesis 1:2
9 Then God said, 'Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.'; and it was so. 10 And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:9-10 NKJV
The above verses are among the few where an OEC/EC interpretation might look to validate an ancient Earth and an evolutionary progression from a single cell to all of life. It requires a literary contortion, however, to suggest that the text "without form, and void" even hints at an Earth that has cooled over eons and eventually coalesced into a primordial soup that gave birth to the first organism.
There is no question as to whether Christianity is in conflict with "evolutionary science." The source of that conflict, however, is not the information available by scientific inquiry, but rather to a loss of faith in God's word.
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