In the next-to-last book of the Bible, the apostle Jude exhorts us to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3). His warning refers primarily to professing Christians who would dilute the faith instead of defending it.
I ran across the following exhortation from that great “prince of preachers,” Charles Haddon Spurgeon, and I would like to share it with you. I don’t know where it first appeared over a hundred years ago, but it is so relevant to the modern situation that it could have been written yesterday. Here it is:
We must defend the Faith, for what would have become of us if our fathers had not maintained it?…Must we not play the man as they did? If we do not, are we not censuring our Fathers? It is very pretty, is it not, to read of Luther and his brave deeds. Of course, everybody admires Luther! Yes, yes, but you do not want anyone else to do the same today….We admire a man who is firm in the Faith, say four hundred years ago;…but such a man today is a nuisance, and must be put down. Call him a narrow-minded bigot, or give him a worse name if you can think of one. Yet imagine that in those ages past Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, and their compeers had said, “The world is out of order; but if we try to set it right we shall only make a great row, and get ourselves into disgrace. Let us go to our chambers, put on our night-caps and sleep over the bad times, and perhaps when we wake up, things would have grown better.” Such conduct upon their part would have entailed upon us a heritage of error. These men loved the Faith and the name of Jesus too well to see them trampled on. Note that we owe them, and let us pay to our sons the debt we owe to our fathers.
To the same effect is that stirring statement from Martin Luther, which I have kept in the flyleaf of my Bible for about forty years.
If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest expression every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides, is mere flight and disgrace, if he flinches at that point.
The world and the devil are focusing their attack today on the great truth of biblical creation more than on any other doctrine. If we refuse to defend this component of God’s “everlasting gospel” (Revelation 14:6-7), it matters little what we do about the rest. Unbelievers attack all the Bible, of course, especially the miracles and prophecies, but they always direct their most passionate attacks against the truth of recent creation and its corollary doctrine, the global cataclysm of the Flood. If they can destroy these two doctrines, the rest will fall eventually. That is why the apostle Peter stresses these two great facts of history as the real antidote to the naturalistic worldview, the notion that “all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (see 2 Peter 3:3-6). He calls it “willful ignorance” to reject or ignore the two great biblical truths of special supernatural creation and the global cataclysm of the great Flood.
The sad aspect of this conflict is that so many “evangelicals” are trying to force the evolutionary ages of geology into the Genesis account of creation. Instead of defending our biblical Christian faith, they are trying to accommodate it to the unbelieving worldview of evolutionary naturalism. They will affirm their belief in the resurrection of Christ and His imminent return, and these are indeed vital doctrines, but they are not defending the true Christian faith when they dilute the historical authenticity of the foundational chapters of the Bible.
Some will even refute Darwinism and do an excellent job of it. But then they still try to accommodate the evolutionary ages of the naturalists, which in turn requires rejecting the worldwide cataclysm of the Flood. They seem indifferent to the fact that this means accepting a billion years of a suffering, dying biosphere before Adam’s fall brought sin and death into the world.
It is even sadder when they feel that this compromising approach will convince the scientific establishment to accept Christ and the gospel. They may use various terms to soften the concept—such terms as “intelligent design,” “process creation,” “theistic evolution,” and the like—but it will not make a dent in the worldview of the naturalists. They will continue smugly in their unbelief, regardless of the accommodations “some Christians” make to their system.
For example, an official policy statement of the National Association of Biology Teachers on teaching evolution said:
Explanations employing non-naturalistic or supernatural events, whether or not explicit reference is made to a supernatural being, are outside the realm of science and not part of a valid science curriculum.1
One of evolution’s most articulate and influential spokesmen, the late Dr. Stephen Jay Gould of Harvard, rejected one of the best-written books of the “intelligent design” school, in scathing words such as the following:
Johnson’s current incarnation of this false strategy, Darwin on Trial, hardly deserves to be called a book at all….The book, in short, is full of errors, badly argued, based on false criteria and abysmally written….Johnson is not a “scientific creationist” of Duane Gish’s ilk—the “young earth” Biblical literalists who have caused so much political trouble of late, but whom we beat in the Supreme Court in 1987. He accepts the earth’s great age and allows that God may have chosen to work via natural selection and other evolutionary principles….The book is scarcely more than an acrid little puff.2
Now Gould’s review is grossly unfair, and Phil Johnson wrote an excellent reply to it (which Scientific American refused to print), but it did not change Gould’s opinion at all.
The point is that no dilution of the creation/Flood record of God’s inspired Word, no matter how well-motivated and persuasively written, is going to budge the evolutionary establishment in science or education one iota. They hold their position for religious reasons, not scientific, and scientific arguments for “intelligent design” are rejected just as vigorously as arguments for recent creation or a global flood.
The American Scientific Affiliation has been advocating a compromise between evolution and creation for years. Their widely distributed book, Teaching Science in a Climate of Controversy, was a collection of well-planned essays designed to encourage such a middle-of-the-road system for classroom teaching. The result was a series of bitter attacks by the evolutionists. The Science Teacher magazine, for example, published a series of essays by leading scientists repudiating it, entitled “Scientists Decry a Slick New Packaging of Creationism.”3 One of the authors, Dr. Lynn Margulis, called it “treacherous,” a polemic designed “to coax us to believe in the ASA’s particular creation myth.”
The excellent book Of Pandas and People was written to present biology in terms of “intelligent design,” without any reference to God, the Bible, or creation, hoping that it could be adopted as a high school biology textbook. Again, nothing doing! It was merely a sneaky way of getting creationism into the schools, said its opponents, and they won. The Creation Research Society textbook Biology: A Search for Order in Complexity, published in 1970 with a similar goal, had already met the same fate.
I don’t believe any sort of compromise on this issue will ever get a fair hearing, let alone be adopted for public use, so why repeat the same old mistakes? Do we really believe the Bible to be the inspired Word of God? Do we believe that God speaks clearly? Do we really think that current scientific majority opinion is always right?
Another very popular advocate of compromise says that teaching recent creation and worldwide Flood views will keep people from coming to Christ. “Because of the implausibility of such a position,” says Dr. Hugh Ross, “many reject the Bible out of hand without seriously investigating its message or even reading for themselves the relevant passages.”4
Dr. Ross does not document this statement, and he is wrong. Many scientists do accept the biblical record at face value, and there are now thousands of scientists who have become young-earth creationists, not to mention multitudes of non-scientists.
What the compromise approach does, however, is not to bring the lost to Christ, but causes many who are already Christians to doubt their Faith as they go down the slippery path of compromise.
We do want urgently to win people to Christ (and many have come, through the biblical message of the great gospel of creation and redemption). But it is even more important to be true to God’s clear revelation.
In six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day. (Exodus 20:11)
By the word of the LORD were the heavens made;…For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast. (Psalm 33:6, 9)
But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. (Mark 10:6)
…by man came death. (1 Corinthians 15:21)
Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished. (2 Peter 3:6)
How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him. (1 Kings 18:21)
Yes, we must defend the faith; for what would have become of us if our fathers had not maintained it? Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved. (HM,ICR)
*** Will Myers