Is Denying a Six-Day Creation Equivalent to Compromising the Gospel?

 

I am currently preparing for a four-part sermon series on “Creationism v. Darwinism: Can The Bible Be Trusted?” in light of Charles Darwin’s (1809-1883) 200th birthday and the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s magnum opus, On the Origin of Species.

What has amazed me most in the research on this is not the inconsistencies of Darwinism (nothing on a macro-evolution level has yet to be proven or substantiated), but on how many Christians want to wed Darwin’s theory with the biblical account and impose Darwinian science on the clear text of Scripture.

The most popular way to do this is to take the six days of creation and turn them into “millions of years.” What many want to say is that the word ‘day’ doesn’t mean ‘day’ in the 24-hour sense, but that ‘day’ really means an era or an extended amount of time. Ken Ham on his Answers in Genesis podcast has a whole list of ministers who fail to hold to a literal six days (James Dobson, James Montgomery Boice, to name some), and I would regretfully add Tim Keller to the list as you examine his otherwise fine work The Reason for God (pp. 89-92).

A.E. Wilder-Smith in his wonderful work Man’s Origin, Man’s Destiny says, “An effort has been made to overcome some of the difficulties of harmonization by reckoning the seven creative days of Genesis as seven geological ages. It is in our own view, however, that the attempt to overcome some difficulties by this method often introduces even greater problems” (43). Wilder-Smith notes the absurdity of having plant life (Day 3) exist for millions of years prior to the sunlight being created (Day Four)–especially with the necessity of coal mixtures needing a good dose of sunlight. Plus, did God really rest millions of years? It just doesn’t fit.

But the question is: does this really compromise the Gospel? I believe it can because we risk being inconsistent in taking the gospel found in the Scriptures literally, yet taking the Genesis 1 account which is laid out like history (not poetry) non-literally. It compromises our witness. Just look at the transcripts of the Scopes “Monkey” Trial where Clarence Darrow called prosecuter William Jennings Bryan to the stand. Bryan compromised on the literal nature of the Bible, and Darrow took advantage.

Scientists who embrace Darwinism out of hatred for the possibility of biblical creationism go for this aspect. If they can get us denying the literal nature of the very first chapter of the Bible, then they will not worry about going after other items such as the resurrection. We have already shown the inconsistency–and they have won the day.

What say you?

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5 thoughts on “Is Denying a Six-Day Creation Equivalent to Compromising the Gospel?

  1. John Moody

    Matt, it is simply not correct to say that a Darwinian influence is why some Christians believe in an old-earth creation. Darwinism is a (bad) biological theory. My scientific reasons for believing in an old universe come from astrophysics, not biology. I totally respect your views (and God certainly could have created a universe that appears to have been expanding for 13 billion years), but please do not misrepresent Boice, Keller, et al. by saying they're influenced by Darwin.

  2. co0ihand

    The notion that not believing in a young Earth compromises the Gospel seems a bit incomplete and somewhat close minded. The problem is, and something that answersingenesis fails to admit, is that their reasoning is just as inconsistent, if not more, than the old earth view. If we are going to use shallow arguments such as "Did God really rest for millions of years", why not counter that with more shallow arguments such as, "Why would God create a old looking Earth just to throw us off."

    This ongoing argument between whether it was created in six "literal" days (whatever that means) or 6 "in the days" is juvenile, and I believe it divides us as Christians. Is not the critical truth in this passage the fact that GOD CREATED THE WORLD. Who cares how it happened? If the original Hebrew text was explicit in its translation it would be one thing; however, numerous scholars have pointed out that it is not; that is why everyone debates the issue. As a good friend of mine puts it, in order to gain absolute understanding of this issue, one would have to consult virtually all fields of science, in which no human has time for nor the mental capacity. I will admit that I tend to lean more towards the Old Earth view, but I will not admit absolute certainty, nor do I think anyone honestly can.

    As mentioned above by John, just because some Christians believe in an Old Earth does not mean that they subscribe to Darwinism. Something that I find somewhat troubling with answersingenesis is that they of course acknowledge that God created the Earth, but largely refuse to acknowledge God's truths through creation (truths revealed through the study of geology, anthropology, etc). As Frances Schaeffer once wrote: "The Bible is true truth, but certainly not exhaustive truth." One thing I do feel is certain, is that the opinion on the method in which the Earth was created does not compromise the Gospel. By that logic, we have all "compromised the Gospel.' What Christian has absolute consistency in their hermeneutics? The answer is none.

  3. Matthew R. Perry

    Hello, John. Good hearing from you. I did not intend to misrepresent Keller, Boice, et al. Each one of them acknowledged that the Scriptures in their language and meaning called for a literal six, 24-hour days, but always had the caveat of "but in light of science." And Darwin has informed us more and more (along with Carl Sagan in astrophysics –please correct me if I'm wrong) of millions of years.

    We all have the same evidence, but our interpretations and biases are what inform our conclusions of that evidence. I just hope we're not allowing our biases do the same thing when we approach Scripture. I fear that from the words of these men I greatly admire (Boice, Keller, etc.) that this may be the unintended case.

    And 'coolhand,' I do not accept your conclusions that accepting the Scriptures as they are written as juvenile. But if I did, taking a man-made theory and using it to inform the infallible Word of God where it is clear (Hebrew word for day is 'yom,' and everytime it is connected to a number as in Genesis 1, it always means 24-hour day). Plus, it is absolutely false to say they do not acknowledge truths revealed through geology, anthropology, etc.–they have men who have gotted PhDs at Brown, Princeton, and other tops notch schools. Maybe they allow the Creator's Word to inform them on how to look at creation. And if I compromise on God's Word in Genesis 1, I may compromise on God's clear teaching regarding, say, Christ's resurrection. If God is the author of all truth, I'll trust what He has clearly spoken of in His Word–"juvenile" or not.

  4. jakegoran

    I don't think 'coolhand' was using the term juvenile in reference to accepting the scriptures as they are written, just in reference to the argument between the "days" of Old and Young Earth creationists. Plus, why did you link the "On the Origin of Species" to an atheistic website (a little biased don't ya think?). You could have linked that work from a lot of other websites, mostly academic, some christian. Furthermore, Why are you calling it Creationism vs. Darwinism, and then linking evolution with darwinism. I mean, even theistic evolutionists are creationists. You have to take God out of the picture before it doesn't become creationism (they still believe in creation via ex nihilo). There are a lot of types of creationisms (Old earth, Young Earth, Gap theorists the restoration view, the literary framework view), as john moody pointed out in figures like boice, dobson ( you pointed out Tim Keller as another). What you are referring to (when god is taken out of the picture) is actually called materialistic naturalism (or Darwinism to use your connotations). You may want to check out "Science & Christianity: Four Views" by Richard F. Carlson (Editor). It is written by Christians; you don't have to agree with them, but it will give you a better perspective of how science and christianity are viewed by scientists.

    Also, don't worry about inconsistency, like you said:

    But the question is: does this really compromise the Gospel? I believe it can because we risk being inconsistent in taking the gospel found in the Scriptures literally, yet taking the Genesis 1 account which is laid out like history (not poetry) non-literally. It compromises our witness.

    Your witness is already compromised when you don't take other parts of the bible literally, like the Words of Jesus in John 6:53-58

    53Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. 57Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever."

    You don't believe in transubstantiation, but it seems pretty clear from these verses. This should serve as a good example of the difficulty of exegesis and hermeneutics.

    Final Comment: to answer your original question, NO. Denying a Six-Day Creation is not even close to Compromising the Gospel. the Gospel is the MAIN Point of the Bible. It is God's special revelation of how sinners like you and me can be reconciled back to God through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We are saved by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ. That is why so many Ken Ham on his Answers in Genesis podcast has a whole list of prominent ministers who fail to hold to a literal six days. They know it isn't close to being as important as the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Romans 10:9

    9That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

  5. Matthew R. Perry

    Jake:

    Thank you for your lengthy comment (I mean that in a good way).

    In regards to Creationism v. Darwinism. You need to listen to the sermon series in full to understand the angle from which I was approaching it.

    Secondly, I was not aware that I even addressed transubstantiation. Plus, connecting that passage with the practice of Roman Catholicism which says we can pull CHrist out of heaven by the mere recitation of words to make elements on a table 2,000 years later the body and blood of Christ is a far stretch in interpretation as well.

    Lastly, the Gospel may be compromised simply because those on the outside of the Kingdom look at those of us who are Christians and say, "See, they don't believe what the Scriptures clearly say at the beginning." And that's all they need for leverage. It is dangerous to separate the "Gospel" from the rest of the Word–it's all truth or it isn't.

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