Monday, September 24, 2012

01 - Introduction Of Compromise In The Church

2 Corinthians 10:4-6 "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience."

Since its inception in Acts chapter 2, the church has had to confront many different compromises to true doctrine. Even before the close of the New Testament, we can see two of these destructive heresies exposed - the Judaizers and the Nicolaitans. Throughout history other compromising doctrines have come and gone. Some have denied Jesus' humanity, others have denied His deity. Some have promoted legalism and tried to bring the church under bondage to the law. Others have promoted lawlessness and try to use the grace of God as an excuse for immorality.

One particularly dangerous compromise has snuck into the church relatively recently, within the last 300 years. It is a subtle attack on the very foundation of God's Word. I'm talking about the attack on the very first book of the Bible - Genesis. Secular views and man-made theories have been slowly infiltrating the church and corrupting the minds of simple believers. (I'm speaking of those who don't study to show themselves approved concerning God's Word.)

Lyell, Darwin, and the Church
In 1830, a geologist named Charles Lyell published a book called Principles of Geology. This book promoted His theory of an extremely old earth and the idea of long ages of time before mankind ever existed. He suggested that the different rock layers that we see around the world were formed by natural forces over vast amounts of time. This idea of an ancient world without man was clearly and completely opposed to what the Bible teaches, that the world was around 6,000 years old and that the first man and woman were made during its first week. When faced with this clear contradiction to the Word of God, how did the church respond?

To understand the reaction of the church to Lyell's book, one must first understand the climate that the book was published in. The 19th century was the golden age of science. New disciplines were founded and new discoveries were being published every year. New inventions were becoming commonplace. All-in-all, it seemed as if science was giving mankind a greater understanding and mastery of the natural world around him. Labeling any idea as scientific was quickly becoming the highest form of argument.

This is the atmosphere in which the church was faced with Lyell's opposition. Not wanting to appear backwards and ignorant, the church backed away from its stand on Genesis. Instead of holding to what God's Word says, the church compromised with the old-earth ideas of Lyell. Leading this compromise was a Scottish minister named Thomas Chalmers. His compromise is still prevalent in the church today - it is known as the Gap Theory (also called the ruin/reconstruction theory). We'll discuss this theory in more detail later, but it's important to understand that this theory began as a compromise with secular man's theories.

After Lyell's book was published, another attack on Genesis began to gain ground. In 1859, a close friend of Lyell's - a man named Charles Darwin - published a book promoting an even further separation from the Biblical doctrine of creation. Darwin used Lyell's ideas as a springboard into another idea: if the earth itself could slowly evolve and exist without a Creator, why couldn't the life on it do the same?

Darwin didn't actually create the idea of evolution, but his book was probably the most responsible for summarizing and promoting it. His book was entitled On The Origin Of Species By Means Of Natural Selection, Or The Preservation Of Favoured Races In The Struggle For Life. Even today, this book is considered to be the authority on biological evolution and the role of natural selection. He theorized that, given enough time, the little changes in plants and animals could amount to much larger changes - even to the point of changing one kind of animal into another.

Like Lyell's Theory, Darwin's book clearly opposed the plain reading of Genesis. Having already compromised on the age of the earth, how would the church respond to this new attack on the Bible? Sadly, they were once again more concerned about appearing ignorant than they were about holding to the authority of God's Word. The 19th century church compromised even further. Many preachers began to promote the idea of theistic evolution - the claim that Genesis was an allegory and that God simply used evolution during the process of creation.

This is the reality that is far removed from society's memory. Sadly, the majority of people believe that Darwin was embraced by the scientists while being oppressed and opposed by the church. If only this were true! In actuality, the religious and scientific reception of On The Origin Of Species was completely different from what is commonly believed today.

Far from being embraced by the scientific community, Darwin's work was rejected and criticized by scientists throughout the world.
Louis Pasteur, called the greatest scientist of the 19th century, was forcefully opposed to the theory of evolution.
Sir Richard Owen - the founder of modern paleontology and the man who coined the term "dinosaur" - also opposed Darwin and wrote him letter after letter to present scientific objections to Darwin's theory.
Even Darwin's own geology professor Adam Sedgewick wrote to him; "I have read your book with more pain than pleasure. Parts of it I admired greatly, parts I laughed at till by sides were almost sore; other parts I read with absolute sorrow, because I think them utterly false and grievously mischievous."
Sir John Herschel, a famous mathematician and astronomer, called Darwin's theory "the law of higgledy-pigglety."

So you see, the scientists of Darwin's day weren't exactly open-minded about this theory that they saw to be utterly un-scientific. If this was the response of the scientific world, how did the church respond?
An English priest named Charles Kingsley wrote a letter to Darwin to congratulate him on his book.
Josiah Strong, another famous preacher of the 19th century, wrote and distributed a pamphlet that stated that Christianity and evolution must go hand-in-hand.
During Darwin's funeral, preachers from around the world poured out compliments for him - emphasizing his "patience, calmness, ingenuity," and on and on...
Believe it or not, this promoter of a godless theory was even compared to the apostle Paul!
After all of this, his body was then buried in the floor of Westminster Abbey - the church of England.

As much as I hate to say this, Darwin would be long-forgotten by now if it weren't for the compromise of the church.

Creation Compromises
Since the publishing of Darwin's book, the church has had no fewer than four compromises concerning the very first chapter of Genesis. Although each of these compromises differ on content, they all have one thing in common - they view the secular ideas of man as being more important than the clearly revealed Word of God. Each of them demonstrate this fact when they alter the very account of the Creator to agree with the man-made idea of evolution.

Let's examine these four theories more closely. As we do, keep this question in mind: whose words are more important - fallen man's or the Creator who never lies?

The Gap Theory
As we've already learned, the gap theory was first developed by a man named Thomas Chalmers. Attempting to reconcile the long ages of time with the Genesis account of creation, Chalmers tried to cram the geologic ages between the first two verses of Genesis 1.

Genesis 1:1-2 "In the beginning God created the Heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and void (empty), and darkness covered the face of the deep..."

Declaring that God would never make something that is formless or empty, Chalmers suggested that verse 1 and verse 2 were separated by a vast amount of time. During this time, he proposed that the earth was filled with a pre-adamite race of beings who were ruled by the angel Lucifer. When Lucifer was lifted up in pride, he led this race of beings in a rebellion against God. The results were a fallen Lucifer and a world that was flooded in judgement.

Those who hold to this theory believe that the long ages of time that are supposedly found in the rock layers can be attributed to this flood that brought judgement to the world. They also believe that the disembodied souls of this pre-adamite race of beings are what we call demons today.

Later on, we'll discuss the number of problems with the gap theory, both scientific and Biblical. But for now, we can see the two main issues. First, "gappers" have to invent an entire mythology that has absolutely no scriptural record! Second, let's not forget that the whole purpose of the Gap Theory, once again, is to reconcile a godless theory with God's Word.

The Day-Age Theory
Like the Gap Theory, the day-age theory tries to find room in Genesis chapter 1 for the secular idea of millions of years. The key, they say, is found in 2 Peter 3:8 "But beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."

The day-age theory states that the long ages of time that are supposedly in the rock layers, were in fact laid down gradually during the creation "week." Using 2 Peter 3:8, they claim that the days of creation weren't actually days, but were vast periods of time. By claiming that the Hebrew word for day doesn't always mean a literal day, proponents of this theory claim that they can reconcile the secular ages of the earth with the biblical account of creation.

Theistic Evolution
The theory of theistic evolution is a much more drastic compromise than any we've seen yet. Instead of trying to harmonize secular theories with the Bible's account of creation, theistic evolution simply discards the record of Genesis 1 as a good story that isn't literally true. The entire first chapter (indeed, the entire first book) of the Bible is simply considered to be an allegory. The point, they say, is that God made the world - exactly how He did that seems to be less clear.

"God created," they say, "but He used evolution to do it." Essentially, the theory of theistic evolution embraces every evolutionary idea - from the age of the earth to the evolution of life - and then tack on the claim that it was guided by God. In this way, they seem to be able to accept the secular theory of evolution while still claiming to believe the Bible. Sadly, every time that the evolutionist and the Bible disagree, the theistic evolutionist is quick to alter God's Word to fit the man-made ideas.

We will further discuss the problems that theistic evolutionists face - but their largest problem is this; is God's Word authoritative or not?

Progressive Creation
In many ways, this theory is similar to theistic evolution. They both embrace the idea of long periods of time before man when the earth was inhabited by different plants and animal species. They also believe that each of the rock layers in the earth came from different geologic ages in its history. But rather than saying that God guided the process of evolution, progressive creationists claim that the rock layers show a progressive series of creations and the destruction of those creations.

Progressive creationists believe that at various times God filled the earth with the creatures we see in the fossils, allowed them to live for thousands of years, then wiped them out and replaced them with others. After creating and destroying successively for millions of years, God finally placed the first "real" humans in the Garden of Eden.

Progressive creationists, like Hugh Ross, even believe in races of "soul-less" apemen that were created by God and then wiped out and replaced by true humans!

This theory has many problems - not the least of which is the problem of turning God into a schizophrenic who can't make up His mind! The biggest problem they have though is the fact that they believe in millions of years of death before sin - something that the Bible disagrees with.

The Consequences Of Not Being Biblically Grounded
Psalm 11:3 "If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?"

None of these four compromises are Biblical, none of them are scientific, and none of them are necessary! We'll see later that the scientific evidence simply doesn't support the idea of millions of years. But what we need to realize now is that every believer should start from the Word Of God.

Sadly, Christians that don't know where they stand or the trustworthiness of the Bible are falling into these compromises. Most Christians don't know what God has told us about creation or how important Genesis is to our faith. Too many of us are willing to compromise on the age of the earth and the way it was created - just as long as we can hold on to Jesus. What these compromisers don't understand is that every doctrine we have is rooted in Genesis!

Think about this:
What gives God the right to set the rules?
Why is mankind different from the animals?
Why are we in charge of the earth and it's creatures?
Where did sin and death come from?
Why do we need to be redeemed?
Why is Jesus' blood sacrifice necessary?
What is the definition of marriage - and why?
The origin of every one of these doctrines is found in the first few chapters of Genesis. Any believer that doesn't know where he stands on the authority of the Bible is in danger of falling into compromise and losing their foundation.

We need to hold onto what the Word of God says and use that as the only starting point for the way we see the world. Every belief we have needs to be rooted in the Bible, not in a fallen man's ideas. Knowing this, let's take a look at what a believer should believe about the beginning of the world.

No comments:

Post a Comment