Why do so many sincere Christians compromise on the issue of six-day creation? The first eleven chapters of Genesis are so clear, that it would take a creative writing professor to misunderstand them. God lays out in straightforward manner how he created heaven and earth. He identifies the "days" as having morning and evening. He sets the seventh day as an eternal reminder of his rest. He even provides genealogies from Adam to Christ. How much clearer could he be?
The problem, of course, is that the controversy has nothing to do with the clarity of God's revelation, but the fact that it is embarrassing revelation. "Science" for the past 150 years has been utterly opposed to a Creator, and the church for the most part has simply knuckled under. But why did Christians surrender to the humanists on this one so quickly? Is the evidence for evolution, an ancient earth, local flood, etc., so overwhelming that we had to crawl back into our churches with our tails between our legs?
I am going to suggest that there are three main reasons why Christians compromise on this issue: because they are wimps, gimps or blackguards. The wimps are those who refuse to take a stand because they fear controversy. The gimps are those who are handicapped by an inadequate Christian worldview and find themselves compromised despite their sincere desire to be orthodox. The blackguards are those who hate God and are seeking to destroy the church by pretending to be something they are not. Together, these three groups amount to theological treason, for they sell out their church and their God for the mantle of academic respectability.
Nobody loves a wimp. Oh, you might not hate him either, but you don't respect him and you certainly cannot trust him. A man who refuses to take a stand, who fears controversy and will not roll up his sleeves and get down in the mud and the blood when necessary, is beneath contempt. Such men are by nature slaves and are useless to themselves, their families, their churches and their nation. Families and churches with wimpy men are soon run by women, quickly degenerating into heresy and irrelevance. Nations with wimpy men are soon conquered by their more aggressive neighbors.
However, seminaries and denominational colleges run by wimps get academic accreditation! Modern broad evangelical Christianity is largely composed of wimpy men who run like rabbits at the first sign of trouble. These individuals fear men more than God and constantly sell out the Faith. There is perhaps no more reprehensible evidence of this than the furor over six-day creation. Think about this: for 1800 years of church history, few Bible scholars, theologians, prophets or priests ever believed or taught anything except literal, six-day creation. Then, with the advancing technological power of science in the nineteenth century, leading men in the church suddenly discovered for the first time that a "day"was not really a day any longer but could mean millions and millions of years. Wow, amazing! But does anyone really believe that there would have been any incentive to reinterpret the Scriptures unless humanistic evolutionary presuppositions had infiltrated the church?
But to hold to six-day creation in a "scientific"age exposes one to endless ridicule, and that is the one thing a wimp fears most. I well remember the first historical geology class I took in a secular university. I took the class with an old friend who was known for his caustic sense of humor towards theological liberals. When the professor was explaining how fossils were dated by the strata of the rock, and that the rocks were dated by the kind of fossils found in them, I raised my hand and (believe it or not) innocently asked, "But isn't that circular reasoning?"The professor looked at me with dripping contempt, then went into an impromptu speech saying that every year he had at least one of these anti-intellectual fundamentalist nuts, but he soon whipped them into shape or ran them out of his class. I slowly rose to my feet and said, "Sarcasm and ridicule is a poor substitute for logic and sound reasoning"and was about to invite the professor to step outside for a private little tutorial of my own when my friend jabbed me in the ribs with his elbow. He quietly explained that this was his last class before graduation so I should sit down and shut up. You get the message? Don't make waves, because a degree is more important than truth. The problem was not the insulting behavior of the professor, nor the complete bankruptcy of his worldview, but the fact that I had the audacity to point out that the emperor had no clothes. There were a number of other Christians in that class; but not one of them stood up, not one of them disagreed. How much evolutionary humanism did each one absorb simply because each just wanted to get a good grade?
Perhaps I am being cruel in calling all those Christians who bow the knee to modern evolutionary "science" wimps. Maybe they are not afraid of controversy. Maybe instead, they are theological "gimps"handicapped by an inadequate worldview that is simply unable to stand against the humanist onslaught. B. B. Warfield springs to mind. Depending on Scottish rationalism, Warfield eventually compromised on the issue of creation and the age of the earth because the rational arguments of the day seemed unanswerable. His philosophical presuppositions were such that he believed that truth was determined by "brute facts." And when the supposed "facts" of science undercut the old Christian worldview regarding the age of the earth, he was then forced to reinterpret Scripture to fit those facts.
Of course, since Van Til, we all ought to know that there are no "brute facts,"only interpreted ones. No one brings a clean slate to any issue. All of us interpret reality in the light of certain fundamental preconceptions. Nineteenth-century science rode on the crest of an Enlightenment dedicated to severing Christianity from civilization. Apostate men were looking for ways of overturning the Christian consensus and by attacking the historicity of Scripture, they were implicitly undermining its authority.
Take for example Lylle and his Uniformitarianism. Lylle was a geologist who postulated that all contemporary geological features were the result of ongoing geological processes. The very idea of "catastrophism,"that certain geological features were the result of disjunctive events, became heresy of the first degree. The philosophical appeal is obvious, e.g., if all canyons are formed by rivers eroding the banks, then one can measure the rate of annual erosion and project back approximately how long it took the banks to reach their present depth. Therefore, the age of the earth indeed must be very old for such geological features as the Grand Canyon to have formed. An ancient earth is fundamental to evolutionary theory; there must be massive amounts of time for one animal to turn into another. On the other hand, the Scriptures give a reliable time line of human events. If one can demonstrate that the earth is immeasurably older than the Scriptural record, it is held, one has therefore destroyed Biblical credibility.
Notice, though, that Lylle begins with an unverifiable assumption; i.e., how can he know that present processes can be extrapolated into the past? How can he know that rivers always ran at the same speed with the same amount of erosion? He cannot. But the assumption is necessary because he has to prove that the earth is incredibly more ancient than the Bible record teaches.
Furthermore, when that same uniformitarian assumption is used in other areas to demonstrate that the earth is NOT ancient, the results are simply ignored. Take, for example, meteorite dust. Scientists can estimate the amount of dust that falls every year. Extrapolating the same rate in the past (a "fundamental"axiom of uniformitarianism), if the earth is billions of years old, there ought to be incredible mountains of meteorite dust. But no such dust mountains are found. Well, maybe they all washed into the oceans or something. We need some place where there is no erosion. Remember the big pads the Apollo landers had? Those were designed to soften the landing on the incredibly deep levels of dust thought to have piled up in the billions of years since the moon was formed. Instead the astronauts found no more dust than would have collected over a few thousand years. But nobody talks about that because, you see, it doesn't fit the humanist picture. Therefore Lylle and men like him were not objective seekers of truth, but men with an agenda. They deliberately choose one set of presuppositions over another, and ignored the inconsistencies because they wanted to disprove the Biblical accounts.
It is interesting that catastrophism, so long out of vogue when it was necessary to destroy the credibility of the creation and flood accounts, has now returned with a vengeance in modern science. The nasty little secret of uniformitarianism was that there are certain geological features that DEMAND a world-wide catastrophe but until recently, nobody dared bring them up. For example, the disappearance of the dinosaurs was a great mystery until just a few years ago. Now it seems, an asteroid hit the earth 65 million years ago and essentially ended all life except some vermin, who surprise, surprise! crawled out of the smoldering carnage and evolved into certain seminary professors! But since the overwhelming majority of Christians have adopted the "scientific"view, creationism is no longer seen as the great enemy. Therefore, we can safely bring certain facts to light that were hidden or ignored for more than a century.
Theological wimps will not wrestle with this kind of information because they just want to be accepted and approved and get their degrees from prestigious universities and go merrily along their way. Theological gimps CANNOT wrestle with this kind of vigorous opposition because they lack the necessary philosophical and intellectual weapons to say why the enemy is wrong. Repeatedly, when I raised the scientific evidence for a young earth with professors who held to some form of theistic evolution in both Christian college and seminary, they replied, "I don't know about those things, I am only a Bible teacher."Pietism has robbed modern theologians of a comprehensive theology that ties all areas of life together. Therefore, they are handicapped in fighting humanism, simply ceding battlefield after battlefield to the enemy without firing a shot while they retreat into theological irrelevance. It needs to be remembered that it was R. J. Rushdoony who got Whitcomb and Morris's book The Genesis Flood into print. Broad evangelicalism simply didn't care about evidence that the Biblical view of creation and the great Flood had a scientific basis because it is simply irrelevant in their emasculated worldview.
Never mind that by compromising with the enemy on this issue, you destroy any validity to the Christian Faith (if you cannot trust God's account of creation, how can you trust him on anything else?). Never mind that by giving up on the first eleven chapters of Genesis you destroy salvation (if there was no literal first Adam, then Christ is simply irrelevant as the Second one). Never mind that by failing to believe, teach and defend the history of the Bible, you make its theology into existentialist nonsense (acceptable because the church has already retreated into pietism, existentialism's illegitimate half sister). No, we must accept the humanists' version because if we stand up in the accredited colleges, universities and graduate schools and affirm the Biblical account, then we will be laughed at, ridiculed, and we might not get that magic degree that promises to open every door.
Thus we trade our Christian heritage for a bowl of left-over humanist porridge. And the irony is, Christians who compromise on this issue are still not accepted by the academic community. They laugh at our naiveté and call us to be consistent with our own compromise. If the Bible affirms six-day creation and we reinterpret it to fit modern prejudices, then where else will we compromise? They do not respect us. We are wimps or gimps and moderns never will open their doors to us. But Christians seem to be happy riding in the back of the humanists' academic bus, just so long as they get a seat someplace.
Of course, there is a third category. There are those who are unprincipled blackguards: men who know perfectly well what the issues are, who hate and fear the truth but still choose to identify themselves with the church anyway (I am tempted to say it is because they are not smart or talented enough to succeed in the humanist camp, but then you'd think I was being nasty again!). These men utterly reject our Lord and King, but still make warm, encouraging noises that mislead the elect. They get jobs in our denominational colleges and seminaries and work quietly every year under the guise of "academic freedom"to destroy the Faith of entire generations of young people. And stupid Christian parents send their kids to these schools, join the alumni organization and send in their support checks every year to keep the dear old alma mater in business. And every year, the school becomes more and more apostate, the graduates less and less Biblical. Meanwhile, the deans and presidents tell the parents all sorts of nice, encouraging things about how well the basketball or football team is doing. And as long as they make the state championships, everyone is happy.
Meanwhile, the theological blackguards stay in the background, adopt a smiling face and a pleasant manner and actively seek to destroy the Faith, while Christians pay them a tenured salary to do so. The theological wimps don't have the guts to correct or stand up to them. The theological gimps don't have the tools to do so. And year by year, our best and brightest are brought to theological ruin.
Every age has its own issues where the culture demands one thing and the Scriptures another. Today, gnosticism is not a major problem, but it was a serious heresy afflicting the patristic church. Arianism is not a direct threat to the church in this age, but in the third and fourth centuries, it almost destroyed orthodoxy. The attacks vary from century to century, but the real heroes are those men who counter a culture at that one point where compromise is so tempting. In our age, I believe there are two issues which demand that we stare the enemy in the eye and say, "Here I stand, I can do no other."Those issues are six-day creation and the role of women in the church. In both cases, the prevailing cultural norms are diametrically opposed to Biblical truth. There is no room for compromise; you either believe the Bible or its adversaries. The temptation to reinterpret Scripture is no solution because reinterpretation destroys the heart of the Faith. And any man who compromises on these issues has just opened the door to heresy, apostasy and cultural irrelevance. It is where the battle is hottest that we must fight the hardest.
It is time for the church to clean house on this issue. We need to fire the wimps, equip the gimps and expose the blackguards for what they are. If a man compromises on the issue of six-day creation, then not only is he unfit for the ministry, but he is also certainly unfit to teach our future pastors in seminary. If one belongs to a church with a denominational college or seminary, then write to the headquarters and find out their official stance. If they weasel in any way, then get out of Dodge, making sure you take your check-book with you. If they cannot take a definitive stand on something as fundamental as six-day creation, then they are unworthy of God's tithe. Who knows where else they are compromising?
Treason is a hard word and not to be thrown out casually. But what do you call a man who sells out his country for personal gain? OK, up the moral ante a bit, a man who sincerely disagrees with his nation's policies and willingly gives aid and comfort to their enemies? Whether he is a self-serving SOB out to line his own pockets, or only an idealistic fool, he is still a traitor. Those who compromise on the issue of creation are selling out God's word. Maybe they are doing so for high and lofty motives, but they are still traitors. Maybe some of them can be won back before it is too late (let us give them every opportunity) but they are still traitors. The humanists have no love or respect for theological traitors. They may use them, but they don't like them.
Therefore, there is no reason for God's people to compromise on this issue. Let us stiffen some backbones, smack some courage into the cowards, and train and equip those who don't know any better. This is war, folks, and the peace and purity of the church are at stake. Here I stand, I can do no other.
- Brian M. Abshire
Rev. Brian Abshire, Ph.D. is currently a Teaching Elder associated with Hanover Presbytery. Along with his pastoral duties, he is also the director for the International Institute for Christian Culture, has served as an adjunct instructor in Religious Studies at Park University and is a visiting Professor of Comparative Religion at Whitefield College.