Where Do We Draw the Line?

Which theological and scientific issues Answers in Genesis addresses (ex. creation, evolution) and where we do not take a formal position

by Bodie Hodge on October 19, 2009; last featured October 5, 2021
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Answers in Genesis (AiG) is a unique ministry for this age—a biblical authority ministry. Many people see us as just a creation and evolution ministry diving into scientific aspects of creation. Many others view us as a worldview ministry, while others see us as an evangelical ministry stressing the gospel (which should be the focus of any ministry), and so on. Although these things may seem to make the AiG ministry unusual, it is something else that makes us unique.

AiG is a parachurch ministry. It could also be called a non-denominational ministry. AiG is not a church and does not claim any particular denominational statement of faith; therefore, it is staffed by church members from various denominations (e.g., Baptist, Christian, Lutheran, Reformed, etc.) to focus on specific issues and challenges of today’s culture.

Biblical Authority

AiG is made up of Christians who unite to defend the authority of the Bible in today’s secular culture. The secular world has been teaching that the earth is billions of years old. The Bible, based on genealogies recorded throughout the Scriptures and the context of the Hebrew word yom (day) in Genesis 1, reveal that the earth is thousands of years old. So, this question becomes a biblical authority issue. Is one going to trust a perfect God who created all things (Genesis 1:1), has always been there (Revelation 22:13), knows all things (Colossians 2:1–3), and cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18), or trust imperfect and fallible humankind who was not there and speculates on the past?

Also, take note that many of these issues ultimately overlap with worldview issues (biblical Christianity vs. secular humanism in this instance). Of course, this subject also gets into the character of Jesus Christ, his deity and, hence, the gospel. For a few other examples of biblical authority issues that AiG defends, see Table 1.

Table 1: A sampling of biblical authority topics that AiG actively deals with.
Topic A biblical authority issue? Does AiG involve itself?
Millions of years Yes. The Bible does not teach millions of years; this idea comes from a source outside the Bible. Yes
Evolution Yes. The Bible teaches man was specially created from dust, and the woman specially created from the man (Genesis 3), but in an evolutionary worldview, humanity came from an ape-like ancestor. Yes
A local flood Yes. Genesis 6–8 makes it clear that the Flood was global with the water over the highest mountain by over 15 cubits (Genesis 7:20). Those appealing to a local Flood trust secular authorities who say that the rock layers are evidence of millions of years instead of mostly Noah’s Flood sediment. Yes
The Trinity Yes. The Bible clearly teaches that God is triune. So, sources outside the Bible are going against the Bible (e.g., the Watchtower organization, Koran, etc.) Yes
Racism Yes. The Bible teaches there is one race that began with Adam and Eve, whereas the world had been teaching that there are perhaps four races (Caucasoid, Mongoloid, Negroid, and Australoid). Yes

This is, of course, only a small list of topics. AiG is involved in any issue that impacts the authority of Scripture—especially when human claims run counter to what God teaches.

Are Some Controversial Topics Battles Over Biblical Authority?

Christians from various denominations can and should be able to come together to defend the authority of the Bible against claims that the Bible—and ultimately God—are wrong. But there are many who do not fully understand (or may have simply missed) what we mean by biblical authority—even within the various denominations from which we all come. Some want us to dive into issues that are not biblical authority issues. And although these issues are important and may be worthy of careful thought and cordial debate, they are not a topic in which AiG will get involved.

Both sides of this particular debate see the Bible as the authoritative Word of God and draw from its passages to make cases for their positions.

One of these is Calvinism vs. Arminianism. Although we encourage people to know what they believe and why biblically, this is not a biblical authority debate. Both sides of this particular debate see the Bible as the authoritative Word of God and draw from its passages to make cases for their positions. Neither position is appealing to the Koran, autonomous human reason, or others for interpretation.

Another example is eschatology. For the most part, each position in this debate readily views the Bible, including the Book of Revelation, as authoritative. So, the debate is about Scripture interpreting Scripture regarding various passages. For this reason, AiG does not comment on this debate or maintain a formal position. A few other examples can be seen in Table 2 below.

Table 2: Non-biblical authority topics for which AiG has no formal position
Topic A biblical authority issue? Does AiG involve itself?
Calvinism vs. Arminianism No. Both positions view the Bible as the authority. No
Eschatology No. Each position views the Bible as the authority.1 No
Modes of baptism No. Each position views the Bible as the authority. No
Speaking in tongues today No. Both positions view the Bible as the authority. No
Church government No. Each position views the Bible as the authority. No
Saturday vs. Sunday worship No. Both positions view the Bible as the authority. No
Covenant vs. Dispensational theology No. Both positions view the Bible as the authority. No

This is a fairly short list, but it should give an idea of what we do not address and why. There may be instances when, even with these subjects, some try to insert an authority other than Scripture, so it may become a biblical authority issue. For example, if someone said that “no one ever spoke in tongues,” then the issue becomes a biblical authority topic, and that particular point could be dealt with because Scripture reveals that speaking in tongues has indeed taken place (Acts 2:4).

A Fine Line

The main reason we avoid some topics is that our focus is on biblical authority issues. Everything else would distract us from what we have been called to do. It can be a difficult task to draw a fine line between the items we address and those we do not because all doctrines of Christianity ultimately interconnect.

There are times when we tread a fine line. Of course, there are times when we may cross that line, especially when we work with others outside of our ministry. This is part of the reason why we have a Statement of Faith that reflects where we stand, and we try to remain within that.

Biblical Authority—How Far Does It Go?

There are other issues that we may take a big picture stance on but not focus on, such as recovery programs, counselling, and so forth.

While we address such issues from the perspective of biblical authority (as an educational ministry), we refrain from involving the ministry in the details of the process, thus allowing other ministries to take the lead, as they are often more specialized to deal with some of these conditions than Answers in Genesis. It is not that the topics are unimportant, but we defer to other ministries to tackle them in more detail so that we can stick to our mission.

As an example, let’s say that a Christian man openly cheated on his wife. Clearly this sinful action goes against what the Bible says about marriage! Is this man taking ideas from our culture that marriage is not sacred and to be honored and using that to supersede what God says about marriage in his Word? Yes. The ministry of Answers in Genesis will openly state that marriage should be honored between a husband and wife and the actions of the husband in this case are sinful and undermining the authority of God’s Word. But it is not the place for Answers in Genesis to offer counseling sessions to help this family.

And consider world religions. All other world religions have followed man’s ideas to reject, add, or remove from the 66 books of God’s Word as the ultimate authority! But does AiG involve itself in counseling a person who left Hinduism as to how to manage the details of a new understanding of reality? No. We provide books and other resources to delve into world religions from a big-picture, biblical-authority angle. There are other ministries who focus on helping people who came out of other religions.

Our focus is to assist the church in understanding foundational, worldview issues and producing resources to help Christians defend their faith. Consider some of these topics:

Table 3: Biblical authority: Yes; Heavily involved: No.
Topic Biblical authority issue? Does AiG consider this ultimately a biblical authority issue? Does AiG address details and processes? (e.g., counseling, detailed denominational discussion)
Marriage Yes Yes No
Immorality/Criminality Yes Yes No
Abortion Yes Yes No
Euthanasia Yes Yes No
Homosexuality Yes Yes No
Murder Yes Yes No
Counseling methods Yes Yes No
World Religions Yes Yes No
Substance abuse Yes Yes No

Conclusion

In reality, all doctrines are interconnected, making it difficult to remain silent in some areas and vocal in others. Some well-meaning Christians wish we would focus on some areas, and others wish that we not be involved in some areas at all. We draw the line on biblical authority—especially concerning origins, which is foundational to competing worldviews in today’s culture. By carefully guarding the areas we choose to become involved in, most denominations are readily open to working with and supporting AiG so that we can have a common goal of promoting biblical authority.

We encourage Christians to know what their denomination believes and to respect issues of emphasis and importance for their church or ministries that they’re involved in. After all, those doing ministry at AiG are Christians from various denominations.

Please pray for us to stay focused and to walk this line with kindness and respect.

Footnotes

  1. However, “Full” or “Hyper” Preterism (which teaches Christ has already returned and we are now living in a restored world where the curse has been removed) is rejected by AiG due to the denial that Christ will have a future return and that the curse is still in effect; this would imply death, thorns, suffering, pain, etc. before sin and other theological problems. This is not to be confused with “Orthodox” or “Partial” Preterism in which Christ has not yet returned and the Curse has not yet been removed.

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