Given my involvement with and support for Answers in Genesis (“AiG”) and the Creation Museum, Christian friends occasionally ask me whether young-earth creationism is really so important. Does it really matter?
In the ultimate sense, the eternal sense, the answer is “no.” One’s belief on precisely how humanity came into existence is not going to open the doors of heaven or close the gates of hell for a person on the day of judgment. Of course, ultimately, only one thing matters for us. In the ultimate sense, the only question that really matters is whether one has accepted Jesus Christ as his or her Lord and personal savior.
Again, the creation-evolution-old earth-young earth debate is not even the most important issue directly facing the church today. Related to the first issue, the most important issue facing the church today is reaching the current generations with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Also of great importance is teaching the current and next generation about the truth and authority of scripture – to include its culturally unpopular teachings on the depravity of man, reality of an eternal hell and judgment, and the exclusivity of Christ. Also related directly to the authority of scripture is the importance of the church governing itself and its members according to the clear guidelines in the New Testament. In my opinion, these are all “more important” issues than the age of the Earth.
Yet, as the temporal church literally rests on the Earth, the above issues rest entirely on the authority of scripture. From where I sit, the church, at least in the West, is failing to reach the current generations with the truths of Jesus Christ because the church has lost confidence in the authority of scripture. The western church lacks the courage of its convictions that scripture is the inerrant word of God because the church is losing its convictions in that regard. And there is no more obvious and glaring example of this over the last fifty years than in what the church has been doing with the first eleven chapters of the book of Genesis, and in particular with the first two chapters of Genesis regarding creation and related creation passages.
Regarding creation, far too many in our churches and seminaries have invested countless hours and effort trying to figure out ever more clever ways to “fit” billions of years and evolutionary processes into the Bible’s revelation concerning God’s creation of the world and everything in it. As I’ve pointed out before, this is entirely unnecessary given the threadbare nature of evolutionary theory. See e.g. here and here. Regardless, the ongoing compromise is fact, in fact, it’s the dominant position within the western church. Sadly, as AiG discovered through its survey evidence published in Already Compromised, our theologians much more than our Christian scientists lead the charge with this unnecessary compromise. As Ken Ham repeats and repeats and repeats, this compromise of God’s word is not just a compromise, it also undermines fundamental doctrines of our faith. Most importantly, it undermines the foundations of the gospel. Not surprisingly and as a direct result, it undermines the faith of our children, again as researched and written about by AiG in Already Gone.
All of this is background for a recent and unplanned debate this past May 31 between Ken Ham, the face of AiG and the Creation Museum, and Dr. Hugh Ross, perhaps the most well-known old-earth creationist.
TBN invited these two men, as well as Ray Comfort, Dr. John A. Bloom, Sean McDowell, and Eric Hovind to be “interviewed” by host Matt Crouch. TBN said it was not a debate. Two minutes before the show started, Mr. Crouch announced to these guests that they’d all be interviewed “together” on the show. In making this decision, the disarming and charming Mr. Crouch set the groundwork for a great debate. In fact, that’s exactly what happened. With this background information, the first twenty minutes or so of the “interview” is amusing as these guests try to get their bearings and figure out what’s going on. Likely due to intelligent design and not blind chance, the guests were evenly divided between young earth (Ham, Comfort, Hovind) and old earth (Ross, Bloom, McDowell). After about a half-hour, the guests settled in for the exchange of conflicting ideas and the debate was thereafter fairly dominated by Ham and Ross, which is a good thing for the audience as each man is firmly in command of his beliefs and able to communicate them well. They’ve debated several times and it shows as they parry back and forth regarding what scripture reveals regarding how God created and its implications for believers.
This surprise debate has turned into a surprise hit. As of this posting, there have been over 35,000 views already on TBN’s website, and they haven’t yet released it to Youtube. Like the “surprise” debate itself, viewing it lures you in and doesn’t let you go. It’s the most engaging theological debate of recent memory.
Ken Ham states:
Many viewers have found that this debate has turned into a great teaching tool to help Christians understand how to defend the Christian faith, and to get them to realize that the age of the earth issue is not a side issue, but one that really is an authority issue about the Bible—a battle between the authority of the Word of God and the beliefs of fallible, sinful humans. I have heard of professors using this debate to teach students the real foundational issue over a lack of accepting biblical authority that is so destructive to the church and culture.
Pastor Don Landis, who serves as AiG’s chairman of the board and is the founder of Jackson Hole Bible College, recently explained that while the creation debate within the church is about the authority of scripture, it is also about the character and nature of Jesus Christ. The old-earth compromisers invariably have Christ as the author of death and disease, well before the fall of mankind. This has substantial theological implications.
If you are a Christian who takes the word of God seriously, please take the time to watch the debate, here. Please also listen to Pastor Landis’ important analysis here: 2012-06-08 Don Landis. You will be blessed by these messages.