Well, did I ever get myself into an interesting situation recently!
Now, I was actually talked into what turned out to be a debate by one of our speakers and researchers, Dr. Terry Mortenson. Yet because of what happened, many positive things occurred. For one, the event led us to formulate our new theme for the Answers in Genesis ministry for 2018.
First of all, let me introduce our 2018 theme. Next, I’ll explain what occurred that really has burdened us for the state of the church in the United States (and the whole Western world)—and why this new theme is so vital in today’s world:
Taking back the Bible’s clarity . . . from the very first verse.
One of the verses associated with our theme is “For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” (1 Corinthians 14:8, KJV).
Yes, we could sum it up this way: the Word of God is clear, and needs to be proclaimed to all. It’s for all people for all time, regardless of their level of education!
I was asked to engage in a “dialogue” with a seminary professor at a large apologetics conference in North Carolina. It really turned into an informal debate! Looking back on it, I believe the Lord orchestrated the event for a number of important reasons, including helping direct certain aspects of what we are doing at AiG and the Creation Museum.
This “debate” highlighted a major problem that permeates most Christian seminaries and Bible colleges and the thinking of many Christian academics. It’s a plague in the church.
This national apologetics conference was sponsored by Southern Evangelical Seminary (SES) and attended by about 1,500 people. Sadly, many old-earth creationists who compromise on Genesis (such as Dr. Hugh Ross) presented at this conference.
I “debated” Dr. Richard Howe, professor emeritus of philosophy at SES. Dr. Howe is a young-earth creationist, but to me he seemed rather weak in his convictions and not very knowledgeable of the biblical and scientific arguments in favor of young-earth creation. And he is very opposed to the way that I, and AiG in general, defend Genesis.
It was clear that Dr. Howe is not very familiar with our literature. I don’t think he really understands our approach to apologetics—as is true of many seminary professors.
Dr. Howe, unfortunately like the old-earth creationists, insisted that the issue over the teachings of Genesis was not the authority of Scripture, but the interpretation of Scripture. I kept hammering away that it was an authority issue—that the battle over the age of the earth came down to God’s infallible Word versus man’s fallible word.
I challenged Dr. Howe and the audience many times that if they accepted millions of years, God should be blamed for cancer, brain tumors, arthritis, and other diseases found in the fossil record—a record, they would say, of millions of years before man.
Now, Dr. Howe was very eloquent and spoke much about philosophical and hermeneutical issues. I just tried to be my usual self, using down-to-earth practical examples to help make the issues more clear. I also said that research we conducted (and published in the books Already Gone and Ready to Return) made it very obvious that the church is losing generations because so many young people doubt or disbelieve God’s Word because of issues like the supposed millions of years for the fossil record and the earth’s age.
The church is losing generations because so many young people doubt or disbelieve God’s Word because of issues like the supposed millions of years for the fossil record and the earth’s age.
At the end, I made sure that the audience understood once again that this was an authority issue. Afterwards many people (primarily young adults and teens) swarmed around to thank me for standing for the truth and the clarity with which the Scriptures present God’s Word to all. Overall, I believe the “debate” was a profitable time of planting seeds and encouraging those who do believe in Genesis to stand for the truth. A number of people told me and Dr. Mortenson (who also presented) they were glad that AiG was represented at this apologetics conference.
By the way, the conference had some good presentations about dealing with Jehovah’s Witnesses, Islam, the LGBTQ revolution, the sanctity of life, and other issues. But many sessions dealt with origins, and the speakers were “old-earthers”—those who have compromised God’s Word by trying to fit fallible man’s ideas about millions of years into the Bible’s clear history.
This conference was a mixture of defending the truth of Christianity and, in some ways, undermining Genesis—which ultimately chips away at the Bible’s authority.
After the “debate,” Dr. Mortenson and I discussed an issue that really dismayed us. The more we listened to many of these seminary professors (not all, of course, but certainly the majority), we witnessed them sending an unclear message to the church and to this seminary (which is training the future pastors and theologians) concerning God’s Word.
They made it confusing regarding how to read and understand God’s Word. My “opponent” kept emphasizing man’s interpretation of God’s Word. But under the premise that academics can interpret Genesis as teaching millions of years and that it is not an important issue, Dr. Howe stated that we can all agree to have different interpretations—and just dialogue together!
It seems many of these academics are saying that the average person can’t fully understand the Word of God for themselves.
We are seeing a trend in which it seems many of these academics are saying that the average person can’t fully understand the Word of God for themselves, but has to listen to what these “learned” people are saying. In fact, during the “debate,” Dr. Howe made reference to the fact that “everyone should have a Hebrew scholar in their life” to help them fully understand Scripture!
That’s why during this “debate” I said that God’s Word is for all people for all time. And its message (even though there are difficult passages) is easy for anyone to understand—and that it’s not difficult to understand Genesis if we just read it and take it as written, as did Jesus, Peter, and Paul in the New Testament. That’s how most orthodox Christian scholars accepted Genesis up until the 19th century when the idea of millions of years (which came out of deistic and atheistic naturalism) began to infiltrate the church.
Compromise positions on Genesis are permeating our seminaries and other Christian institutions. Academics have come up with all sorts of fanciful ways to twist the Scriptures to try to fit in millions of years. It’s almost like the Gnostics who claimed some sort of special knowledge. Many of these academics are telling the average person, “Trust us. We’ve done in-depth theological study, and you need to reinterpret God’s Word as we tell you to.”
There’s so much compromise about Genesis today. And now we see compromise on marriage and gender, as people increasingly compromise other parts of the Bible. The message the church presents is not clear—it’s not certain. And as 1 Corinthians 14:8 tells us, when there’s an uncertain sound, people will not be prepared for the battle.
There’s a spiritual battle raging around us and many in the church are not prepared for that battle with a clear understanding of the Word of God.
So this is why we decided that in 2018, AiG is going to emphasize that God’s Word is clear for all to understand its basic messages, and is certainly clear in its history in Genesis.
And we’ve decided to take an important step to deal with this issue of the clarity of Scripture (the technical word is perspicuity). This next step is our Operation Upgrade.
The Creation Museum is now 10 years old. We want to make some major changes, not only to upgrade some technology, but also to install new exhibits that will open people’s eyes to the clarity of Scripture—and help overcome what many Christian institutions are teaching.
We will begin by totally upgrading the Creation Museum’s Special Effects Theater. This cutting-edge 3D theater will utilize the latest technology you can see at premier secular attractions. We’ll show a 3D film on Genesis that’s now available to us, and we’ll continue to show our popular Men in White program. Our talented staff will also produce a spectacular new program for this theater to proclaim the clarity of God’s Word beginning in Genesis.
In addition, for the first one-third of the museum’s walk-through exhibit area, we’re going to build new displays that explain why Genesis and biblical authority really matter. Based on my book The Lie, which, other than the Bible, is the “textbook” of the AiG ministry, this entire area will be renovated to have a new look. Striking exhibits will deal with the battle between God’s Word and man’s word, to help guests understand the true foundation of the authority of the Word of God and how it impacts the gospel message.
These significant changes are also needed to improve the guest experience as we widen the museum’s walk-through exhibit area and reduce the “choke points” that sometimes result. (We have seen a huge increase in attendance at the museum since the Ark Encounter opened, praise God.)
Let me outline for you the timing and the cost breakdown for this $2.9 million project. First, our fabricators would begin almost immediately to make changes at the Creation Museum: remove the “choke points” and install a much-needed restroom at the beginning of the 7 C’s walk through biblical history. This $250,000 upgrade will quickly help alleviate congestion and improve the guest experience.
Second, our 3D theater renovation will be a $1.5 million upgrade. It will transform the SFX theater into a new, advanced 3D experience, and we will produce a cutting-edge 3D program. If we can begin the construction in January, this fantastic upgrade would be operational by springtime.
Third, our designers and fabricators will begin the design and construction of new exhibits in early 2018 and install them in 2019. Our goal is to open the new exhibits by Memorial Day 2019. The cost for the exhibit upgrades is $1.15 million.
To kick-off this exciting “Operation Upgrade,” I’m thrilled to share with you that several generous supporters have made a $1 million year-end matching gift commitment to fund these Creation Museum upgrades! This means that any gift made before December 31, 2017 will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $1 million. Praise God!
These renovations will not only be an enormous upgrade for the museum and greatly help with traffic flow as we have an increased number of visitors (a great problem to have!), but they also help present to the church and world the clear teaching of God’s Word: “The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple” (Psalms 119:130).