An Invitation to Pastors
WHY THE CHURCH MUST EMPHASIZE CREATION, continued|
If you are just joining us, start here.
Warning: This chapter puts italics around the word must in our title.
Christianity is warfare. Remember those old battle hymns: Stand Up for Jesus, Onward Christian Soldiers, Sound the Battle Cry, Lead On O King Eternal, and Soldiers of Christ, Arise? They dont seem to be politically correct these days. We want to be known as peace-loving, and avoid the old metaphors of warfare. Maybe its because we dont think we have a cause worth fighting for any more.
On September 11, 2001, Americans were jolted out of complacency and realized there were some evils worth fighting.
America is at war, yes, battling terrorism, but the churchs battle does not lie primarily in a country whose name ends in stan. Americans are not running off in droves to embrace Islam. We have some hoodlums to round up and bring to justice, thats all. Where is the real battle for the Third Millennium church?
While the war is against Satan, there are many battles. Undoubtedly you know of many battle fronts in America: abortion, homosexuality, freedom of religion and speech, bioethics, substance abuse, and family breakdown among them. In this chapter, we want to try to make the case:
Reason #5: Creation is: WHERE THE BATTLE IS TODAY.
It makes good sense in a war to know your enemy, and to have a strategy. The first thing President Bush did on September 11 was identify the enemy: terrorists and those who support them. As soon as military forces were mobilized, he took action on an important part of the strategy: bombing the infrastructure of terrorist camps and cutting off their supply lines. This opened doors for providing relief to captives and destroying the ability of terrorists to cause further harm.
Each of the cultural battles mentioned above is important, even urgent, but it is possible to spread yourself too thin. Instead of fighting on a dozen fronts simultaneously, would it not make better sense to find their supply lines and cut them off? The soldiers (missionaries, aid workers, evangelists) on each of these fronts could then be much more effective as their opponents weaken from want of ammunition. The captives (those needing to hear the gospel) could then be reached. Is there a common supply line for many of the serious issues in society and the church today?
The supply line for much of the evil in the world is not actions, but ideas. It is a battle for truth. Abortion, humanist bioethics, relativism, hostility to the gospel of Christ and the laws of God are surface manifestations of deeper belief systems (world views). What most of these surface manifestations have in common is a commitment to a world view called philosophical naturalism or materialism the view that nature is all there is, was, and ever will be: that there is nothing spiritual, supernatural, and moral; all is matter in motion, acted on by purposeless forces and natural laws. How pervasive is this world view? John MacArthur opens his new book The Battle for the Beginning without mincing words (p. 11):
Thanks to the theory of evolution, naturalism is now the dominant religion of modern society. Less than a century and a half ago, Charles Darwin popularized the credo for this secular religion with his book The Origin of Species. Although most of Darwins theories about the mechanisms of evolution were discarded long ago, the doctrine of evolution itself has managed to achieve the status of a fundamental article of faith in the popular modern mind. Naturalism has now replaced Christianity as the main religion of the Western world, and evolution has become naturalisms principal dogma.What does this mean in practical terms? MacArthur recounts the dark history of Darwinist philosophy social Darwinism, Nazism, communism, theological liberalism, and moral relativism, and states unequivocally (p. 15), Indeed, the rise of naturalism has meant moral catastrophe for modern society. The carnage of that catastrophe reaches the door of the church, leaving a wasteland behind it, then enters and continues its devastation inside. Like it or not, were at war.
Heres the battle map at the beginning of the Third Millennium:
These college students go on to become politicians, judges, university professors, lawyers, reporters, doctors, scientists, and all the movers and shakers of society. It may be true that Mr. and Mrs. John Doe in suburbia care more about their kids soccer team than scientific claims of evolution, but meanwhile, behind the scenes, the laws of the land, the curricula in the schools, the legal rights of citizens, and the propaganda in the media, increasingly saturated with naturalism, are affecting their lives, freedoms, and the culture around them. In The Long War Against God, Dr. Henry M. Morris, Jr. recounts how all the major institutions of society law, politics, economics, education, scientific research, medicine, ethics, civil rights and even the arts have bowed the knee to Darwinian evolution as accepted truth. They set policy accordingly.
Look at the battle map again. All the following territories are firmly in enemy hands (loyal to Darwinism):
Even high school students or elementary school students are sometimes forbidden to write on creation or do a science project that does not endorse evolution, sometimes reprimanded by the teacher in front of their peers for bringing religion into the science classroom.
Try to find fault with evolution in a science class, and the courts say it is against the law. Try to write a school board policy that evolution should not be taught dogmatically, and a mob of angry scientists, special-interest groups, scientific societies, mocking reporters and the ACLU descend on you with threats, ridicule, and chants of Separation of church and state! and Evolution is science! Creation is religion! Evolutionary material is well funded and supported by your tax dollars, while creation ministries struggle to subsist on private, individual donations. In September 2001, PBS aired an eight-hour $14 million TV series Evolution that included an interactive website and instructional materials for public schools across the U.S. (It specifically targeted Bible-believing Christians as the enemy.) At the same time, the staff of a reputable creation-oriented science film company, 90% ready to release a powerful new film undermining evolutionary theory, (just one hour, at a tiny fraction of the cost of the PBS series) teetered on the financial red line, struggling to find supporters, its staff personally sacrificing their own meager incomes to try to complete the project while several large Christian organizations that had promised support did not follow through, worried it would not sell.
The situation seems hopeless. But its not! We have Gods promise that The earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea (Hab. 2:14). God the Creator is still on the throne, and though the whole world lies in the hand of the wicked one, there are promising signs of a breakthrough on the horizon. Darwinism has weakened from within, and like Marxism and Freudianism before it, is poised for a monumental collapse. The dogmatism of the Darwinian control freaks may be a sign of desperation. The time for a major advance is right now!.
Aslan Is On the Move
Evolution is winning the propaganda war, but creation is winning the evidence war. The theory of evolution has become scientifically untenable. Evidence of an impending collapse of the Darwinian Goliath are all around:
Most important, the scientific case for Darwinism today is far worse than it was 30-40 years ago; evolutionary theory has run out of steam. It continues only because of its firm grip on the scientific institutions, while evidence piles up opposing its every claim. Phillip E. Johnson, former law professor at Berkeley, very much in touch with the leading evolutionary thinkers today, claims in his new book The Wedge of Truth (IVP, 2000, p. 150): If the situation is as I have described it, the intellectual bankruptcy of Darwinism cannot be concealed for very much longer. The Darwinists may delay the day of reckoning for a while by wielding the weapons of power, but more and more people are learning to press the right questions and to refuse to take bluff or evasion for an answer.
But the status quo will remain unless well-armed Christians seize the day, redeeming the time (Col. 4:4). This is no time to cower in retreat; its time to CHARGE!
This is what gets frustrating sometimes about being involved in creation ministries. We have a great cause here, and the opportunity is better than ever. The stakes are monumental: the glory of God, the salvation of souls, the culture and freedoms of our country. We have the marching orders from the Creator. We need reinforcements, but what are too many churches focusing on? Lets talk about Song of Solomon and how to have great Christian sex; lets invite celebrity so-and-so to sing at our big concert; lets finish our building program. Where are our priorities?
The only battle front I can think of that might outrank creation vs evolution is helping the persecuted church that should be a red alarm that shouts, Drop everything and rush to the rescue! But many churches spend precious little time talking about that, too. Where are our priorities?
Now many strong, solid churches do not fit this description and are taking the battle seriously. Our aim is not to be negative or critical, but to encourage pastors to see what is going on outside the stained glass windows and get excited about the cause. What can we expect if the supply lines of evolution are cut off? A new realization that Yes, there must be a God after all; we were being lied to! The justification for abortion, as just cutting up a non-person or evolutionary relic, will be gone. The justification for relativism will be gone. The justification for postmodernism will be gone. The justification for keeping prayer out of public life will be gone. The justification for communism will be gone. Imagine a new millennium with people realizing that instead of chance and futility, there is a Creator, we have a soul, and we were put here on this planet for a purpose. Sure, evil will not stop immediately; ultimately, it will proceed from bad to worse as Paul foretold (II Tim. 3), but the justification for so much 20th-century evil will be severely weakened, if not destroyed. And who knows but that God might bring revival in the short term, in our time?
With evolution debunked, you, as a pastor, will be able to stand in the pulpit with confidence to call people to reconciliation with their Creator. The pressure to compromise Genesis with evolutionary science will decrease. Christian colleges can be bold to teach science based on intelligent design, without all the discredited Darwinian baggage. Missionaries and evangelists can speak to a larger audience ripe for hearing about God. It happened in Russia after the fall of communism, remember? We thought communism was an impregnable fortress, an incorrigible ideology destined to be our eternal enemy. Then, to our shocked eyes, in 1989 we suddenly saw throngs of spiritually-starved people listening to the gospel, with the KGB not stopping them. It can happen here!
Yes, there will be new battles; the fall of Darwinism will not automatically turn people to the cross of Christ. It will be necessary to fight cults and pantheists and pseudoscience. We will have to convince people that Jesus Christ is the Intelligent Designer, the Creator and our personal Savior. But one of the biggest stumbling blocks to faith in the history of the world will have been removed. A giant tree loaded with poisonous fruit will have been felled. For the glory of God, for the advancement of the gospel, for the healing of the nations, it is a cause worth fighting for. Creation is where the battle is today!
Some Christian leaders may still have objections to emphasizing creation in the church:
An elder at a well-known, solid, Bible-preaching church once rebuffed my suggestion that the church should emphasize creation, saying he thought it was much more worthwhile to hold a Bible study on the gospel of John. As usual, it wasnt till later that I thought of the perfect comeback. Great! Lets open our Bibles to John, Chapter 1, Verse 1
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. (John 1:1-3)The gospel of John begins with creation! If I gloss over that introduction as unimportant, what have I done? I have just destroyed the gospel of John. The Word that made all things is the same Word that became flesh and dwelt among us (v. 14); if He is not the Creator, then who is he? Imagine a Star Trek scenario where some highly evolved alien lands on earth and says, Believe in me, and I will give you peace and abundant life. We would be justified in reacting like Captain Kirk; we would suspect an ulterior motive, and fight for our freedom. But if Christ is the Lord of Creation, our Maker, then we have an obligation by our very existence to worship and obey Him. He is our Creator. He is Lord. Without that, nothing else in the gospel of John matters.
Evolutionists dont mind if we admire Jesus (the man) and feel good singing songs about Him; they will be very patronizing about our freedom to be religious (too bad we arent smart enough to understand Darwin). But they will declare jihad against calling Him Creator and Lord of all. So while all the gospel of John is inspired and profitable, its John 1:3 that is under attack. Creation is what needs to be the focus of our defense. That is where the battle is today.
Martin Luther said,
If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every point of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil at that moment are attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I might be professing Christ.In more recent times (1913), J. Gresham Machen also understood the strategic importance of winning the battle for ideas. He said, in an address entitled The Scientific Preparation of the Minister,
False ideas are the greatest obstacles to the reception of the gospel. We may preach with all the fervor of a reformer and yet succeed only in winning a straggler here and there, if we permit the whole collective thought of the nation or of the world to be controlled by ideas which, by the resistless force of logic, prevent Christianity from being regarded as anything more than a harmless delusion. Under such circumstances, what God desires us to do is to destroy the obstacle at its root.... So as Christians we should try to mold the thought of the world in such a way as to make the acceptance of Christianity something more than a logical absurdity.(Read the whole article here.)
Will we learn from history? Can your church afford to be uninvolved in the creation-evolution battle? Please continue with the next sobering chapter: What Happens When the Church Neglects Creation.