Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.
C. S. Lewis
Much to the doubtless disgruntlement of some of my commenters I am taking on an important subject that I believe is the next one to face. It is the dichotomy that must exist in the mind of someone who is willing to give his mind to both Christ and Darwin. My hope is to persuade people that Darwinism and Christianity cannot coexist and in fact repel each other like two positive or two negative magnets. Perhaps as a child you used to play with magnets and observe their ability to grab onto metal but you probably also discovered that two magnets with the same charge would repel each other and it could be quite difficult to force two of them together. Christianity and Darwinism are like this. Late in life, the great writer and apologist C.S. Lewis expressed one regret, one thing that made him wish he could go back to his younger life and change - his belief in the possibility of Theistic Evolution. Lewis changed his mind and became a strict Creationist in his later years. Why? Because they are opposing points of view from beginning to end.
I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.
C. S. Lewis
I urge you all to consider the next few posts on this subject and then choose your side, just as Joshua urged the Children of Israel as they prepared to finally claim their homeland in Joshua 24:14 & 15 -
"Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."
I hope you choose wisely and I hope you choose God. But I do intend to make it clear that a belief in salvation through Jesus Christ depends upon a belief in a literal Genesis and, without that belief, is sheer nonsense.
If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.
C. S. Lewis
Allow me to turn now to the INSECTMAN, Karl Priest. This is a soliloquy delivered to both school board members and the public during a textbook dispute. I appreciate the eloquence, so with no further ado:
Thank you, Karl. A full description of the events is available here.
If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.
C. S. Lewis
Now I would like to present a post concerning a well-known Big Dog of Christianity, RC Sproul:
RC Sproul says he is now a six-day, young-earth creationist
Recently RC Sproul published a three-volume layman’s guide to the Westminster Confession of Faith entitled Truths We Confess.1
His treatment of creation within the first volume especially caught my attention because he says he has changed his position from what he held for most of his teaching career. He says that he is now a six-day, young-earth creationist.
Creation is vitalCreation is foundational for the Christian church with every major Christian doctrine coming out of the events recorded in the first chapters of Genesis. Among these are: 1) the nature of God, including his power and goodness, 2) the nature of man, created in the image of God but fallen because of his sin, 3) the nature and consequences of sin, 4) the nature of marriage, 5) the origin of death as a penalty for sin, and an enemy, 6) the need for a Saviour to redeem man from sin, 7) the origin and meaning of work and the weekly day of rest, and 8) the relationship between man and the rest of creation, which is now cursed because of sin, 9) and much more.
This is why the doctrine of creation is vital, but unfortunately this doctrine is denied today, both outside and inside the church.
Dominant scientific view denies creationSproul is clear about the reason for this. He says that evangelical academics have denied six-day creation, as Genesis describes, because of ‘science’:
In our time a considerable number of theories have arisen denying that the creation, as we know it, took place in six twenty-four-hour days. Common to these theories is the acceptance of the dominant scientific view that the earth and life on it are very old. Many consider the biblical account to be primitive, mythological, and untenable in light of modern scientific knowledge. (p. 120)I like his term ‘dominant scientific view’. I also like his graphic use of the word ‘denying’.
Sproul discusses the four main approaches that evangelical academics have taken concerning Genesis: 1) the gap theory, 2) the day-age theory, 3) the framework hypothesis, and 4) six-day creation. (p. 122)
Creation compromisesConcerning the gap theory Sproul says:
However, Scripture nowhere explicitly teaches that the original creation was marred and then after many years, reconstituted. The broader context of the whole of Scripture militates against the gap theory. (p. 123)Neither does it solve the conflict with ‘science’. He also dismisses the day-age theory:
However, the day-age theory, like the gap theory, ignores the immediate context, as well as the larger biblical context. … From a literary, exegetical, and linguistic perspective, the day-age theory is weak. As a Christian apologist, I would not want to defend it. (p. 123)The day-age theory does not resolve the conflict with ‘science’ either. Regarding the framework hypothesis, Sproul says:
[T]he framework hypothesis allows one to step into a Big Bang cosmology while maintaining the credibility and inspiration of Genesis 1–2. This is not history, but drama. The days are simply artistic literary devices to create a framework for a lengthy period of development. (p. 127)
For most of my teaching career, I considered the framework hypothesis to be a possibility. But I have now changed my mind. I now hold to a literal six-day creation, the fourth alternative and the traditional one. Genesis says that God created the universe and everything in it in six twenty-four–hour periods. According to the Reformation hermeneutic, the first option is to follow the plain sense of the text. One must do a great deal of hermeneutical gymnastics to escape the plain meaning of Genesis 1–2. The confession makes it a point of faith that God created the world in the space of six days. [emphasis in original, indicating these words are part of the Confession] (pp. 127–128)Note his use of the words ‘traditional’ and ‘escape’. Why try to escape the plain meaning of Scripture as traditionally accepted? As Sproul previously indicated, it is to avoid conflict with the dominant scientific view of evolution over millions of years, which is mistakenly regarded as fact. Significantly, Sproul includes some important scientific evidence for a young earth to dispel this misconception.
Return to orthodoxyIt is very encouraging to learn that Sproul has accepted creation in six days as written. As well as the days of creation, he discusses the age of the earth and again he clearly identifies science as the problem:
We have a problem not only with a six-day creation, but also with the age of the earth. Is the earth a few thousand years old or billions of years old (as scientists today insist)? (p. 121)On a preliminary reading RC Sproul would appear to be non-committal about the age of the earth.
Although the Bible clearly says that the world was created in six days, it gives no date for the beginning of the work. It would be a mistake to become embroiled in too much controversy about the date of creation. (p. 121)However, he goes on to make it plain that he rejects the view that the earth is billions of years old.
If we take the genealogies that go back to Adam, however, and if we make allowances for certain gaps in them (which could certainly be there), it remains a big stretch from 4004 BC to 4.6 billion years ago. (pp. 121–122)‘A big stretch’! Yes, it would be a big stretch to take the genealogies back just 10,000 years, let alone one puny million. Even then we would be nowhere near 4.6 billion years. RC Sproul makes it clear from this statement that he believes in a young earth. (And there is a good biblical case that the genealogies are complete and without gaps.2)
Biblical authority in the churchWith the development of naturalistic science in the west and the acceptance of evolution and millions of years, evangelical scholars have generally stopped defending the historicity of the early chapters of Genesis. They have tended to distance themselves from six-ordinary-day young-earth creationists, perhaps not wanting their academic standing to be tainted.
Within the church it is rare to find an evangelical academic commentary that will take a stand on a six-day, recent creation.3 Many Bible timelines produced by biblical academics will avoid earth history prior to Abraham.4
We have seen the disastrous effect of such timidity and compromise as the church has lost much support in the west. Why should people listen when they think the church has no answers in this scientific age?
So it is particularly encouraging to see a scholar of the stature of RC Sproul prepared to take a stand on the Word of God as written—and defend it. I was especially impressed that he could admit he no longer believed what he had taught for most of his teaching career. He has set a courageous example of integrity, scholarship and commitment to biblical authority.
May RC Sproul’s example embolden more evangelical academics to seriously consider this controversial issue, examine the scientific evidence and refuse to be intimidated by the dominant, anti-biblical, scientific view within our culture that opposes the gospel. May our Bible colleges, seminaries and Christian universities be encouraged to declare together ‘In six days’—and give a reason for the foundation of our Christian faith.
- Crisis in the colleges
- Promoting ‘peace with evolution’
- Millions of years and the ‘doctrine of Balaam’
- ‘The treason of the intellectuals’ — R.C. Sproul
- Creation Compromises
- The slippery slide to unbelief: A famous evangelist goes from hope to hopelessness
- Davis Young: why he abandoned the day-age theory
- Sproul, R.C., Truths We Confess: A layman’s guide to the Westminster Confession of Faith, Volume I: The Triune God (Chapters 1–8 of the Confession), P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, NJ, 2006. Return to text.
- See Sarfati, J., Biblical chronogenealogies, Journal of Creation 17(3):14–18, 2003. This makes the case for an earth of about 6,000 years, as Archbishop Ussher calculated, very strong. Return to text.
- For example, the New Bible Commentary by InterVarsity Press (1994 edition) advocates the framework view and recommends avoiding issues of science. Previous editions of the IVP Bible Commentary in the 1950s advocated the gap theory and the day-age theory, but scholars now recognize these as untenable, as Sproul says. Arnold, B.T., in his book Encountering the Book of Genesis (Baker Books, 1998) recommends the day-age theory and also of avoiding questions of science. Return to text.
- For example, the chart of Old Testament scholar Payne, D., formerly of London Bible College, in his Bible Timeline (Candle Books, 2002 edition) begins at 2100 BC (about the time of Abraham) and shows nothing earlier. It’s almost as if it has been guillotined. Return to text.
Published: 21 May 2008(GMT+10)
Amended 22 May 2008
C. S. Lewis
Much, much more to come!