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Many things changed between 1977 to 2010, but the authority of God’s Word shouldn’t be in that list.
In 1977, the Assemblies of God denomination adopted a “Doctrine of Creation” report, which stated the following:
This Bible record of creation thus rules out the evolutionary philosophy which states that all forms of life have come into being by gradual, progressive evolution carried on by resident forces. It also rules out any evolutionary origin for the human race, since no theory of evolution, including theistic evolution, can explain the origin of the male before the female, nor can it explain how a man could evolve into a woman.
The account of creation is intended to be taken as factual and historical. Our understanding of God as Creator is rooted in a revelation that is historical in nature, just as our understanding of God as Redeemer is rooted in the revelation of God’s dealings with Israel in history and in the historical events of the life, death, and resurrection of His Son.1
But fast forward to 2010 and see what’s changed. A new “Doctrine of Creation” [PDF] was adopted by that same denomination’s governing body, the “general presbytery” last August. Here is the AG’s official view today:
The advance of scientific research, particularly in the last few centuries, has raised many questions about the interpretation of the Genesis accounts of creation. In attempting to reconcile the Bible and the theories and conclusions of contemporary scientists, it should be remembered that the creation accounts do not give precise details as to how God went about His creative activity. Nor do these accounts provide us with complete chronologies that enable us to date with precision the time of the various stages of creation. Similarly, the findings of science are constantly expanding; the accepted theories of one generation are often revised in the next.
As a result, equally devout Christian believers have formed very different opinions about the age of the earth, the age of humankind, and the ways in which God went about the creative processes. Given the limited information available in Scripture, it does not seem wise to be overly dogmatic about any particular creation theory. We urge all sincere and conscientious believers to adhere to what the Bible plainly teaches and to avoid divisiveness over debatable theories of creation.2
My heart was heavy as I read the statement: “The findings of science are constantly expanding; the accepted theories of one generation are often revised in the next.” Well, at least the Bible hasn’t changed in the past 33 years. But man’s ideas certainly have!
The message from this denomination is essentially this: because of “the theories and conclusions of contemporary scientists” regarding origins, then Christians must change their interpretation of the Bible in Genesis! This low view of Scripture and esteeming man’s ideas is a major problem within many denominations. In fact, the tragedy of reinterpreting God’s clear words to fit in man’s beliefs has always existed with God’s people. The same problem is recorded in Genesis when the serpent tempted Eve asking, “Did God really say?”
Creating doubt on God’s Word has greatly undermined biblical authority in society as a whole, even its churches.
We live in an era of great scientific advancement. But remember: science means “knowledge.” There is a big difference between knowledge gained by observation that builds our technology in the present (“operational science”) and knowledge concerning the past (“historical science”), which cannot be observed directly. “Historical science” is being used as the authority over God’s Word.
The AG denomination is insisting that fallible man’s historical science (beliefs about the past concerning origins) must be used to reinterpret God’s clear and infallible Word. (By the way, I thank God for the many pastors in Assembly of God churches who cringe at their denomination’s new position, and support AiG.)
Our mission statement declares that we are to be “a catalyst to bring reformation by reclaiming the foundations of our faith which are found in the Bible, from the very first verse.”
What can the righteous do as the foundations of Christianity are being destroyed? We need a new reformation in our churches. Christians need to be figuratively nailing Genesis chapters 1–11 on the doors of churches and Christian colleges/seminaries, challenging God’s people to return to the authority of the Bible.
We will continue to see a decline in our nation, churches, and families— unless God’s people repent of compromise and return to His Word!