The beginning of the Reformation is generally considered to have taken place on October 31, 1517, after Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. By posting the theses, Luther was not only condemning the Roman Catholic Church for selling indulgences (supposedly for the forgiveness of sins and release from purgatory), but he was also calling for an examination of what the Scriptures taught about indulgences.
Luther was convinced that Scripture alone was the final arbiter of what we should believe. Today, Scripture’s authority has been reduced to areas of faith and practice. However, it is fallacious to limit Scripture’s authority only to these matters. Biblical doctrine is linked to history and science; therefore, whatever Scripture affirms on these matters is true. For example, the doctrine of the Resurrection understands that Jesus rose from the dead on the third day. However, naturalistic scientists would say that it is impossible for dead men to rise. Jesus also taught a recent creation (Mark 10:6) and believed in the historical account of the global Flood in Noah’s day (Matthew 24:37–38), but again, naturalistic scientists would not believe such things.
Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone)
Sola Scriptura has always been an issue for the people of God. In the Garden of Eden, God told Adam that if he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he would “surely die” (Genesis 2:17). Yet the Serpent told Eve, “You will not surely die” (3:4). How should they have decided the truth on this matter? Majority vote, subjective opinion, or some other way? No, they should have listened to the voice of their Creator. Instead, Eve was deceived by Satan to believe that God’s Word was not sufficient; instead of believing His Word as the standard for determining truth, she decided to take matters into her own hands (verse 6). There are only tragic consequences for rejecting God’s Word as our standard for life.
God’s Word has no higher or equal authority.
Because the Scriptures are the only example of God-breathed revelation for the church, they form the only infallible rule for the church. God’s Word has no higher or equal authority. It is the ultimate authority in all things, for God cannot refer to any higher authority than Himself to establish the truthfulness of what He says (Hebrews 6:13). Sola Scriptura denies that there is any other rule for the church. The church as the bride of Christ needs to listen to the Word of Christ, which is the God-breathed Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16).
Sadly, the vast majority of pastors and teachers today who teach theistic evolution or long-age creationism have jettisoned the principle of Sola Scriptura, perhaps unknowingly, in order to appease secular society by conceding real-world history and science to them. This has been disastrous for the church—the secularization of Western society is evidence of this.
In practice, many teachers today are abandoning Sola Scriptura in favor of interpreting Scripture in light of the alleged “facts of nature,” which is really a principle of Scriptura sub scienta (Scripture under science).
10 “Theses” for the Church Today Regarding Genesis 1–11
Because of the church’s acceptance of evolution and millions of years, a new reformation is needed to call the church back to trust in God’s Word where it is most under attack: the history of Genesis 1–11. Much of the Bible’s teaching on Creation, the Fall, sin, salvation, and redemption has been eroded by the acid of evolution and millions of years. Today, the church needs to take a stand on these biblical teachings that are under attack because of the influence of evolution:
- The belief that the Bible is the infallible, inerrant Word of the living God (Matthew 5:18; John 10:35, 17:17; 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21). Because of this, Scripture is trustworthy and authoritative when it comes to history, and therefore is trustworthy in the scientific inferences from that history.
- Genesis 1–11 is written as historical narrative and not as poetry, myth, or even theological history.
- The Word of God clearly teaches that God created everything in six 24-hour days about 6,000 years ago (Genesis 1:1–2:3; Exodus 20:11, 31:17; Genesis 5 and 11).
- There was no death of any kind before sin. The Bible states that God’s finished creation was “very good” (Genesis 1:31), a world without carnivorous activity in it (verses 29–30). Animal and human death, as well as physical and spiritual death, came about as a consequence of Adam’s sin (Genesis 3:7–8, 17–19; Romans 5:12–21, 8:19–22; 1 Corinthians 15:21–22; Revelation 21:4, 22:3).
- There were no pre-Adamites before God created Adam. Scripture plainly teaches that Adam was the first man and Eve was the first woman to be supernaturally created by God (Genesis 2:5, 7, 2:18, 21–22, 3:20; 1 Corinthians 15:45; 1 Timothy 2:13-14).
- The global Flood in Genesis 6–8 is key to understanding the age of the earth. The idea of the great age of the earth, which is based upon uniformitarian geology, came from the belief that the fossil record was laid down over millions of years. The fossil record is either the evidence of millions of years, or it is largely the evidence of Noah’s Flood. It cannot be both; we cannot logically believe in millions of years and a global Flood. For this reason, many old-earth creationists and theistic evolutionists believe that the Flood mentioned in Genesis 6–8 was either a local flood or a myth. However, the Genesis account of the Flood is clearly a historic global catastrophe in which only Noah and his family were saved (Genesis 6:13, 17; 7:11–12, 17–24; Matthew 24:37–39; Luke 17:26–27; 1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 3:5–6).
- At the tower of Babel, God judged the disobedience of the people by scattering them around the world (Genesis 11:1–9). This event helps explain the different people groups that we see around the world today.
- Because of the curse that God placed on creation (Genesis 3:17; Romans 8:20), which resulted in the way the natural world works (Romans 8:19–22), we look forward to the redemption of creation. The redemption and reconciliation of all things lie at the heart of the gospel message (see Romans 8:21; Colossians 1:20). Scripture gives us an eschatological hope that the curse that accompanied sin in Genesis 3 will be reversed and removed as death, sorrow, crying, and pain will be no longer (Revelation 21:4; 22:3).
- As Christians we are to “have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). Therefore, whatever our Lord Jesus believed concerning issues such as creation (Matthew 19:4–6; Mark 10:6) or the Flood (Matthew 24:37–39; Luke 17:26–27) should be what we believe.
- Understanding that the world was supernaturally created by God in six 24-hour days, that sin and death came about through Adam’s disobedience, and that God judged the world with a global Flood is essential for a coherent, logical, and internally consistent theological understanding of the biblical message of Creation, the Fall, and redemption. It is also foundational to the truthfulness and authority of the whole Bible. We cannot lose the historicity of the Bible without losing the theology; and we cannot lose the historicity without losing the message of salvation that comes from it. The Bible has linked them intimately together.
At the time of the Protestant Reformation, the church returned to the teaching of the Word of God and turned the world upside down. We once again need to see the church transformed by returning to the Scriptures. The church today needs to return to the principle of Sola Scriptura and to boldly preach and teach the Biblical account of creation and redemption set forth in Scripture.