Often dismissed as “alarmists” and “fearmongers,” these people are often the ones people reflect about later as the “ones we should have listened to.” One such person in the church was the famous theologian Francis Schaeffer. Another is Ken Ham, founder of Answers in Genesis. What was/is the difference between them?
Seeing What’s Coming
Schaeffer often predicted where he saw society inevitably arriving because he could draw a clear line in his mind from the abandonment of concepts, like belief in absolutes (derived from Scripture), to what that would look like as a logical outworking in the minds of the average persons.
For example, long before the West was even mildly comfortable with the idea of anything but heterosexual unions, in his book The God Who Is There (published in 1968), he wrote,
It is imperative that Christians realize the conclusions which are being drawn as a result of the death of absolutes.
From his observations in culture regarding the increasing denial of the idea that any absolute conclusions could be made, he was then able to say,
[M]odern homosexuality is an expression of the current denial of antithesis. It has led in this case to an obliteration of the distinction between man and woman. So the male and the female as complementary partners are finished.
And of course, he was right, just look at the society we live in today, where many even in the church do not condemn, and even show support for, sex before marriage, homosexual “marriage,” non-traditional gender status, etc. And Schaeffer often lamented what he deemed liberal outlooks in the evangelical church. In his 1970 book, The Church at the End of the Twentieth Century, he noted a problem “for those who did not leave the liberally controlled denominations is their natural tendency constantly to move back the line at which the final stand must be taken.”
Knowing Why It’s Coming
Similarly, in 1987, Ken Ham’s book, The Lie: Evolution, was published, and the words within it were also prophetic. Ken warned the church about the destructive effects of compromise with evolutionary/millions of years ideas. He warned that compromise in Genesis would undermine scriptural authority in the culture and erode confidence in the infallibility of God’s Word. And he also was correct.
Today, Christians themselves increasingly doubt the Bible’s reliability, and the compromising of Genesis has led to a generational loss of an acceptance of the absolute authority of the Word of God and to an exodus of young people from the church. Christians are not only confused when it comes to Genesis and the age of the earth but now they often even doubt the reality of hell, Adam as a real person, Christ’s own words about creation, belief in Jesus as the only way to heaven and much more. One compromise just leads to another—and it has to end if we want to leave a legacy of faith to future generations.
Both of these men pointed out the looming precipice too many church leaders are rushing towards: a denial of the full authority and accuracy of the Bible. Unfortunately, despite his warning that Christians were not holding the line on biblical authority, Schaeffer himself had already stepped over that “final line” because he had come to believe in the concept of “millions of years” of earth history, something he did not come to believe in because of the plain reading of Scripture.
Hold That Line!
You see the difference between Francis and Ken is the willingness to stand firmly on the Word of God in all areas. Millions of years is the line where the “final stand” must be taken. Once Christians mistakenly conceded that the Bible doesn’t have to mean what it says in regards to the age of the earth, accepted concepts like “death before sin” (the logical outworking of adding deep time to the Bible), and went so far as to say that what Jesus himself believed about creation was incorrect, biblical authority had been abandoned! And the sad thing is, Schaeffer understood the cost of compromise to the next generation.
To fail to exhibit that we take truth seriously at those points where there is a cost in our doing so is to push the next generation in the relative, dialectical millstream that surrounds us.
Contend for the Faith
Of course, we must not seem too uncharitable to a brother in the Lord, as we know we all have feet of clay and planks in our own eyes that we must deal with. But it is loving to call out our brethren in love back to the authority of God’s Word. And Schaeffer himself would have agreed I’m sure, as he himself wrote,
Truth always carries with it confrontation. Truth demands confrontation; loving confrontation nevertheless. If our reflex action is always accommodation regardless of the centrality of the truth involved, there is something wrong.
And indeed, Scripture encourages us to contend for the faith:
Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. (Jude 1:3)
So I encourage you who are perhaps struggling with these issues, dig in to God’s Word and the many resources on the www.AnswersinGenesis.ca so that you can stand boldly on the authority of God’s Word. And love those around you enough to confront them with the message that they can indeed trust the Word of God from the very first verse. As Ken put it,
I call on Christians everywhere to shut the door to this compromise that is undermining the church and culture. Indeed, we are seeing the collapse of biblical Christianity in the West as scriptural authority is questioned.
The idea of millions of years is like a disease in the church; biological evolution is just a symptom. Your support of AiG, with God’s blessing, will help prevent the disease from spreading further.