The Templeton Connection

by Ken Ham on December 6, 2014

What’s the connection between the John Templeton Foundation and once-famous evangelist Charles Templeton, other than the last names?

John Templeton Foundation

Well, the John Templeton Foundation is a fund that seeks to be “a philanthropic catalyst for discoveries relating to the Big Questions of human purpose and ultimate reality.” In its mission statement, the organization says it supports “research on subjects ranging from complexity, evolution, and infinity to creativity, forgiveness, love, and free will . . . civil, informed dialogue among scientists, philosophers, and theologians and between such experts and the public at large, for the purposes of definitional clarity and new insights.”

Furthermore, according to WORLD, the Templeton Foundation has provided nine million dollars in funds for BioLogos, which will help support its many projects—one of which is the Evolution and Christian Faith program. BioLogos is an organization that actively promotes the idea of evolution amongst Christians. BioLogos’ Evolution and Christian Faith project provides grants to churches, parachurch groups, organizations, and academic leaders who do the same thing. Sadly, both the Templeton Foundation and BioLogos are undermining the authority of the word of God through their efforts. Rather than encouraging Christians to start their thinking with God’s Word, they compromise God’s Word with evolutionary/old-earth ideas. Ultimately, this does not point people toward placing their faith in God’s infallible Word, but instead it undermines the authority of the message of the Bible.

Charles Templeton

Well, this item reminded me of an exhibit we have here at the Creation Museum. This display gives the account of Charles Templeton, a prominent evangelist of the 20th century. Now, Charles Templeton is not the same man who started the Templeton Foundation, but his life highlights the disastrous effect that compromising with God’s Word in its beginning can have on faith in the rest of God’s Word. Charles Templeton was a friend and associate of evangelist Billy Graham. He was one of three vice-presidents of Youth for Christ, an organization that still disciples thousands of youth each year, and he was listed in 1946 as one of the greatest men used by God. His crusades brought in thousands of hungry listeners and many made professions of faith after he spoke—perhaps as many as 150 a night!

But Templeton had doubts about the accuracy of God’s Word in Genesis. He told his friend Billy Graham, “But, Billy, it’s simply not possible any longer to believe, for instance, the biblical account of creation. The world wasn’t created over a period of days a few thousand years ago; it has evolved over millions of years. It’s not a matter of speculation; it’s demonstrable fact.”

When Templeton attended Princeton Theological Seminary, he was told that he could accept man’s supposedly scientific ideas about the origins of the universe, but should accept God’s ideas in the gospels. He realized, however, how utterly inconsistent such an approach to the Scriptures was. After all, if you can’t trust that God got it right at the beginning of the Bible, then how can you accept the rest of it? Unable to reconcile what man taught about origins and what the Bible clearly taught, Templeton left the ministry and the Christian faith. His book Farewell to God details his reasons for his rejection of Christianity, and most of those reasons relate to Genesis and the authority of Scripture. He particularly realized that if a person believed in millions of years and added it to the Bible, then he also had to accept millions of years of death, disease, carnivory, and suffering before man sinned! He recognized that this was totally inconsistent with the God of the Bible. But instead of rejecting man’s fallible ideas of millions of years, Templeton rejected God’s infallible Word.

In such matters, it all comes down to the heart. What might have happened to Templeton’s shipwrecked faith if, instead of being told that he could compromise God’s words with man’s, he had been encouraged with real answers to stand on the authority of God’s Word from the beginning? What if someone had shown him the difference between observational science—science that is testable, repeatable, and observable—and historical science that deals with the past and is therefore not repeatable, testable, or observable? What if someone had taught him that the observable evidence doesn’t speak for itself about origins, but that it’s really your worldview—whether you start with man’s word or God’s Word—that determines the interpretation of the evidence? These are the kinds of things that people like Charles Templeton desperately need to be told. Christians need to be encouraged that they can trust the gospel message because the history that is foundational to the gospel (e.g., Genesis 3) is true. Sadly, BioLogos and the Templeton Foundation are spending millions of dollars to undermine the Word of God and lead people away from the Christian faith. They have a lot to answer for before our Creator God!

Accepting Man’s Word over God’s Word

Sadly, instead of pointing people to answers from God’s Word about history, organizations like BioLogos and the Templeton Foundation are actively discrediting the Bible’s history. Instead of encouraging people to start with God’s Word, they praise those who impose man’s ideas into the Bible. The sad thing is that many people will, like Templeton, realize the inconsistency of denying the truth of God’s Word in Genesis while choosing to believe in the gospels. And, often, thinking that the Bible can’t be trusted, they will also reject the gospel. As detailed in my coauthored book, Already Gone, the church is losing two-thirds of its youth by college age, and our study showed that they are leaving for many of the same reasons as Charles Templeton did. They have questions about the accuracy of the Bible, and they didn’t get answers that upheld the authority of the Bible from the very first verse. Instead of teaching the next generation to stand uncompromisingly on God’s Word, organizations like BioLogos are teaching our young people to accept man’s beliefs about Genesis but to trust God’s teachings in the gospels. But this is utterly inconsistent—if God didn’t get it right at the beginning, how can you trust the rest of what he says in the Bible? Our young people are seeing this inconsistency and, sadly, they are often leaving the church because of it.

Start at the Beginning

But God’s Word can be trusted from the very first verse. When seen through the lens of the Bible, observational science confirms the Bible’s history of a recent creation, reproduction according to kinds, the global Flood, and the Tower of Babel. We need to start with God’s infallible, unchanging Word, not man’s fallible and changing ideas. I encourage you to teach your children the truth of God’s Word and equip them to answer the attacks leveled against their faith and against the Word of God. And please warn them and others in the church about organizations like BioLogos that are actually out to undermine God’s Word and influence your children!

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,

This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.

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