If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? (John 3:12)
Westminster Abbey will probably survive, at least for a while. While other churches in England are being converted and bulldozed by the dozens, this stunning and sprawling cathedral will continue to stand tall. It was first built to house a group of Benedictine monks in A.D. 1065. For the last 900-plus years it has been attacked, renovated, desecrated, and consecrated over and over, earning it a permanent place in history. Century after century, architects and craftsman have been adding to its grandeur. When I walk through the corridors beneath the breathtaking expanses of Gothic and Romanesque architecture, I get an entirely different feel than I did in the nearby church where only a few gray-haired parishioners sat in the dusty front rows. Westminster Abbey is alive with people and activity. Yes, it will survive—but not necessarily for the right reasons.
Westminster is part monastery. Its religious life revolves around a daily pattern of worship, prayer, song, and the Eucharist. Until the 19th century, Westminster was the third seat of learning in England, surpassed only by Oxford and Cambridge. It was here that the first third of the King James Old Testament and the last half of the New Testament were translated. But the thousands of people who come to visit every day rarely stop to pray, worship, or contemplate the Scriptures, because the Abbey is also part museum. The architecture, artwork, and icons are timeless and priceless; the architecture is unsurpassed. The cathedral is also part mausoleum. The throngs of camera-clad, backpack-toting tourists that flock here come to see the graves of leaders in the fields of religion, literature, and science. It is a pilgrimage of sorts—people coming from around the globe to pay homage before the graves of the likes of Geoffrey Chaucer, David Livingstone, Charles Dickens, Sir Isaac Newton, and Charles Darwin.
Charles Darwin? The founder of modern evolutionary theory? Buried in the floor of Westminster Abby? It’s hard to believe, but I have stood there and looked at the grave myself. Isn’t this the man who popularized the philosophy of evolution taking place over millions of years? What is he doing in here? He not only abandoned his church, but he strategically introduced ideas that were contrary to God’s Word. Isn’t it strange that the man credited with founding modern evolutionary theory should be buried in the same place that the King James Version of the Bible was translated?
No, that’s more than strange; it’s symbolic—a powerful example of the short road that the Church has followed into irrelevance. A man who popularized a philosophy that hit at the very foundation of the Church (the Word of God) is honored by the Church and buried in the foundation of the Church. It is symbolic indeed.
The Short Road1
The root of the word “relevance” comes from the word “relate.” In order for something to be relevant, it has to connect (or relate) to something that is real and important. The problem we are studying, of course, is that 60 percent of the students who grow up in the Church have lost that connection. As we said in the last chapter, they fall into two groups: Group 1 believes that the Bible is irrelevant; Group 2 believes that the Church is irrelevant (unless it’s a holiday or it’s time to take the kids).
What happened? How did we get here? I believe it all started when the Church gave us “millions of reasons” to doubt the Bible. The Book of Genesis gives us a clear account of the creation of the universe, of the world, and of everything that lives, including humanity. A simple, literal interpretation of these passages makes it clear that this creation took place in six days, with God resting on the seventh, just a few thousand years ago. This history, as it is written concerning the creation of the universe and life, including the first two humans, Adam and Eve, and their fall into sin with the consequence of death—is foundational to all biblical doctrines. This is the foundational history for the gospel.
In the late 18th century and in the early 19th century, however, the idea that the earth is millions and billions of years old (rather than about 10,000) began to emerge in the scientific community of Europe. It wasn’t a new idea, actually. Throughout human history, numerous cultures from different points of the globe have considered the universe to be old or even eternal. Dr. Terry Mortenson’s excellent book, The Great Turning Point,2 chronicles what happened next. At that time, many church leaders in England led their churches to adopt the millions of years and add them into the Scriptures. Some did this by reinterpreting the days of creation as long periods of time; others adopted ideas such as the “gap theory,” attempting to fit millions of years into a supposed gap between the first two verses of Genesis. The shift was not arbitrary; it was calculated—particularly by deists who were looking for a so-called scientific justification for rejecting the Flood of Noah’s day as an explanation for the fossil-bearing sediments, and for rejecting biblical authority in total, as advocates of this millions-of-years age for the earth. They saw this as devastating to the Bible’s account of creation and the Flood and its connection to fossil layers.
Darwin, based on his own writings, was never a believer, and of course readily accepted the millions-of-years ideas. This actually paved the way for Darwin to present his ideas on biological evolution. After all, one needs an incomprehensible amount of time to postulate the idea that small changes observed in animals will somehow add up to the needed big changes for Darwinian evolution—for reptiles to change into birds, for ape-like creatures to change into human beings, etc. Not only did the old-earth idea contradict what the Bible says, but because it is ultimately an attack on biblical authority, it paved the way for the conclusion that the Bible cannot be trusted, and our existence is the result of natural processes.
As the Church compromised on the issue of millions of years, subsequent generations were put on a slippery slide of unbelief. The millions-of-years idea not only undermined the creation account, but it began to undermine the historical account of the Genesis Flood as well. Soon the idea of a local flood rather than a global flood was popularized.
In 1859, Darwin published his major influential work, On the Origin of Species, and 12 years later The Descent of Man, popularizing the idea of the evolution of animals and the evolution of ape-like creatures into humans. Much of the Church in England (and then across the United Kingdom and Europe) began to also adopt Darwin’s ideas, reinterpreting the Genesis account of creation and proposing views such as “theistic evolution” (that God used evolution to bring the different life-forms into being).
Such views also spread to America, where various church leaders also adopted such positions to add millions of years and evolutionary ideas to the Bible’s account of origins, thus reinterpreting the days of creation, the creation account of Adam and Eve, and so on. Even many conservative churches adopted the gap theory—seeing this as a way of rejecting evolution but allowing for millions of years.
Many conservative churches, which did not know how to handle the millions of years and evolutionary teaching, basically sidestepped the issues. They would (as they do today) teach Genesis as true, not dealing with the teachings of the secular world that contradicted the account (such as millions of years, evolution, etc.)—but teaching the account of creation, the Flood, the Tower of Babel, and so on as a wonderful story. They may claim it to be true—but, nonetheless, it is just taught to the students as a story.
The Church began to make a disconnection at this point. It was the beginning of the road to irrelevancy: the Church gave up the earthly things (e.g., the biological, anthropological, astronomical, geological history as recorded in Genesis 1–11) and focused on heavenly things (spiritual matters, relationships, the gospel). When it came to science, the Church gave in to human notions. It was now acceptable to use man’s ideas to re-interpret the Bible, rather than to use the Bible to judge man’s ideas. At times, the Church has tried to introduce hybrid theories that accommodate both secular science’s interpretations and biblical accounts. The day-age theory and the gap theory are two examples. Unfortunately, they hold true to neither the scientific evidence nor the Bible!
The real consequence of such compromise can be seen in this quote from Ron Numbers, a modern scholar who stated the following in answer to a question for the media:
For creationists, history is based on the Bible and the belief that God created the world 6,000–10,000 ago. . . . We humans were perfect because we were created in the image of God. And then there was the fall. Death appears and the whole account [in the Bible] becomes one of deterioration and degeneration. So we then have Jesus in the New Testament, who promises redemption. Evolution completely flips that. With evolution, you don’t start out with anything perfect, you start with primitive little wiggly things, which evolve into apes and, finally, humans. There’s no perfect state from which to fall. This makes the whole plan of salvation silly because there never was a fall. What you have then is a theory of progress from single-celled animals to humans and a very, very different take on history, and not just human history.3
In the past, the most highly recognized and progressive scientists in the field were also highly trained theologians (including Pascal, Newton, and Galileo). They helped maintain the connection between the Bible and science, between the laboratory and the sanctuary. We still have progressive scientists who are strong believers, but when someone comes to church today, they expect to hear about theology (the study of God). Do they expect to hear about biology, geology, and anthropology? The answer is no, of course. This is a major problem. Certainly the Church would not see itself as a research institution teaching people how to use microscopes or develop new electronics and so on. But this is where people have been confused. Observational science, which builds our technology, is very different to historical or origins science, which is concerned with the origin of what we observe in the present. It was the historical or origins science that the Church gave up to the world—and thus disconnected the Bible from the real world.
In America today, where do you go to learn about the geological, biological, anthropological, or astronomical history of the universe? School. That’s where our kids learn what they perceive is the real stuff, the relevant stuff. In Sunday school they learn “Bible stories.” (By the way, if you look at the definition of story, it means “fairy tale.” The Bible has become so irrelevant in our culture today that that’s what most people think it is—just a spiritual “fairy tale.”) What has taken its place? Charles Darwin’s evolutionary ideas and the belief in millions of years for the age of the earth and universe are now, by and large, both welcomed and honored in the European church. And the Bible? It is seen as irrelevant when it comes to issues in the real world. The great disconnect between the Bible and “real” life has taken place. The Bible, God, and the Church became irrelevant in less than three generations. Generations have gone down this slippery slide of unbelief, until they have now basically rejected the entire Bible and its message of salvation.
What happened in Europe is happening on this side of the Atlantic today. We are on the same road—the same slippery slide—and we have traveled down it a long, long way. We may not be as far along as they are, but understand this: the exact same trend that took place in Europe is happening today. Our spirituality has become compartmentalized. Yes, we go to church, but only to get our emotional and spiritual needs met. Then we walk out the doors and face a pagan world where we have to live by a whole different set of assumptions. We might say this doesn’t matter, but let’s be honest: in the back of everyone’s mind is the question “If I can’t trust the Bible in the earthly things, why should I trust it in the spiritual things?” This was the same challenge Jesus Christ, our Creator and Savior, put to Nicodemus in John 3:12.
What really happened to the Church in the United Kingdom and Europe, and America—in fact, across the Western world—was that the Church basically disconnected the Bible from the real world.
Churches today in America are not a place where one talks about geology, dinosaurs, fossils, or the age of the earth—that is left up to the schools and colleges. Effectively, the Church basically hands over the history of the universe to the secular educational institutions, and concentrates on the spiritual and moral aspects of Christianity. The Church actually disconnects the Bible from the real world. The children (and everyone else, through Sunday school lessons, youth studies, etc.) in the churches are really taught that in church, one doesn’t deal with geology, biology, and so on—that is for school. In church, we talk about Jesus—we deal with doctrines and we study moral and spiritual matters—but anything pertaining to understanding geology, biology, astronomy, anthropology, and so forth is left for school.
If I asked you where students go to learn about geology, astronomy, biology, and anthropology, what would you say? The answer is always “school.” Please understand this! Ninety percent of children from church homes attend public/government schools.4 There, by and large, they are taught a biological, anthropological, geological, and astronomical history of the universe that totally contradicts the Bible’s account of creation, the Flood, and the Tower of Babel.
Yes, the epidemic has spread to our shores. Our current generation of children is leaving the church in droves. We are less than one generation away from being a nation of hollow, empty churches. It is more than possible that we will be the few, remnant gray-haired believers who sit in nearly vacant pews on Sunday.
President Obama summed it up in his autobiography, published just before his election as president of the United States of America:
Whatever we once were, we are no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers.5
Millions of Reasons to Doubt
A progression is taking place—a slow and steady decay of belief. I firmly believe that in this era of history the decay begins with the belief that the world is millions and billions of years old—because this is really where the major attack on biblical authority in this age began. Our survey reflects this trend in America.
- 77% believe in Noah’s ark and the global Flood
- 75% believe in Adam and Eve in the Garden
- 62% believe that Abraham fathered Isaac when he was a hundred years old
- 60% believe in the Tower of Babel
- yet only 20% believe that the earth is less than 10,000 years old
The number-one area of disbelief is the age of the earth. Because of the five major issues we studied, four of the five have strong majorities, but very few believe the earth is truly less than 10,000 years old.
The age of the earth is the single most misunderstood issue among those who have left the Church. (It is also the most misunderstood issue among those who are still there!)
We live in an era where science has supposedly disproven the Bible in Genesis 1. What is the Church doing? Just like it did in Europe, it is sticking its head in the sand, compromising with the world.
Highly respected church leaders and theologians have given in. Many well-known Christian scholars, professors, evangelists, and the like have compromised the Bible with an old (millions-of-years) earth. You would probably be shocked if we placed a list of names here. Some of these Christian leaders have led many to Christ and have done a tremendous work in the spread of the gospel. Unquestionably, the ministry of these men has had a profound positive effect on multitudes of individual lives. Eternity has been changed because of their commitment and devotion to the gospel.
However, wittingly or unwittingly, they have been part of a vicious attack on biblical authority. Many would say that believing in millions of years is not important—as long as one accepts the gospel message about Jesus and His death and Resurrection. But as stated in chapter 2, the gospel message comes from the same book (the Bible) that records the Genesis account of history.
Recently a person was giving me an obvious dig at the ministry of AiG. He said, “The gospel doesn’t rise or fall on the days of creation.” My answer was, “That’s true—it doesn’t. But does the gospel rise or fall on the authority of Scripture? And does the authority of Scripture rise or fall on the days of creation?”
Faith in Christ alone saves—not whether a person believes in a young or old earth, or whether the days of creation are long periods of time. Romans 10:9 makes it very clear that salvation is tied to faith in Christ, not the days of creation or the age of the earth. There are many Christians (including many Christian leaders) who are truly saved, yet believe in millions of years and reinterpret the days of creation, or believe that God used evolution, or even that Noah’s Flood was just a local event.
However, when a person believes in millions of years (or Darwinian evolution), and then reinterprets the days of creation to be long periods of time, they are undermining the very authority from which they get the message of the gospel. They are undermining the authority of the Word of God by taking man’s fallible ideas on the age of the earth and using those ideas to change the clear meaning of the Word of God. It is an authority issue. Compromising Genesis has contributed to the loss of biblical authority in our nation and helped open the door to the secularization of the culture.
Here is a warning to any of us: if we teach such a compromised position to our children, be prepared for the great possibility they will open the door of compromise wider and get on that all-too-familiar slippery slide of unbelief. Believing in millions of years doesn’t affect one’s salvation, but it does affect how the next generation or those you influence view Scripture itself—and putting them on a slippery slide of unbelief has been the devastating consequence of such compromise.
It is interesting to note that many of these scholars who do compromise with millions of years agree that the obvious literal interpretation of Genesis shows that God created the earth in six approximately 24-hour days. Yet they adopt the interpretation of secular scientists regarding the age of the earth, rather than understanding that all dating methods are based on fallible assumptions and that it is God’s Word that should be used to judge man’s interpretation of the past—not the other way around. Whether we like to admit it or not, many of our contemporary champions of the faith are actually undermining the authority of the Bible (and thus the foundations of the Church) when they fail to defend what the Bible says about the age of the earth and the universe.
Our study showed that the majority of the people leaving the Church do not believe in evolution. This is actually the norm in our society as a whole. The universities and high schools are proclaiming evolution as an absolute fact. But after all their efforts, most people intuitively see it as false. Common sense tells them that something just doesn’t “appear” by itself. Instinctively, human beings know that any complex organisms or mechanism must have an outside designer and creator to put them together. Those who take the time to study biochemistry, geology, physics, anthropology, paleontology, and genetics find even deeper problems within the idea of evolution. Many, many scientists have concluded that evolution couldn’t have taken place, no matter how much time was available.
But the issue of the earth being millions of years old? This is the big stumbling block. When you go to zoos or museums, you see the issue of millions of years discussed (on signs, in videos, etc.) much more than you see the topic of evolution itself. History books, television programs, movie makers . . . everybody assumes that the earth and the universe are millions and billions of years old, so they interpret all the facts through that preconceived mindset. Then, when the Bible says that it happened in six days, they assume that the Bible is inaccurate, and that causes them to disbelieve the Bible more than any other single factor.
As I stated above, millions of years is really an incomprehensible amount of time—and you need an incomprehensible amount of time to even consider that evolution might have happened. When it comes to a major factor that has caused people to reject biblical authority, millions of years is the issue; it’s not really evolution. If you can’t believe in millions of years, you can’t believe in evolution. In the 18th century, it was the age of the earth that caused the Church to begin to compromise the Word of God. This is why you have the day age theory, why you have the gap theory, why you have progressive creation. Each of these compromise positions on Genesis (as well as others) that are widely held in the Church, have one factor in common—supposedly fitting the millions of years in some way into the Bible’s account of origins.
That’s why Answers in Genesis is so passionate about defending the biblical account of creation in six days. People really can’t believe, and don’t want to believe, that their ancestors were apes. They look at the complexity of life-forms and rhetorically ask, “How could we have come from a lifeless pile of slime . . . and where did the slime come from?!” But the issue of millions of years? That is so abstract and so incomprehensible that it’s easier to accept. And since we’ve been told that it takes millions of years for something to evolve, then, in people’s minds, it makes evolution plausible. Secular scientists need millions of years to make evolution happen. If they don’t have millions of years, then the only alternative to explain our existence is to admit that there is an intelligent, personal force that created it in a relatively shorter period of time. Because most secular scientists believe in materialism (that only matter exists), they cannot accept the idea of “God.” So, therefore, they must believe in millions of years—even though a proper interpretation of the evidence confirms that the earth is young, and that matter and life as we know it was created. Please visit our website if you haven’t already! At www.answersingenesis.org you will find a tremendous amount of information and resources about this topic.
A belief that the earth is millions of years old, therefore, has two profoundly negative effects on people’s beliefs:
- It undermines the authority of the Book of Genesis and therefore the Bible as a whole.
- It leaves open an excuse to justify that evolution could have occurred: given enough time, anything can happen.
Millions of years is the beginning of a slippery slope that slides down a predictable hill. When this happens, the authority of Scripture is compromised, and the authenticity of the Church is degraded. All across England—and now spreading from shore to shore in America—is an epidemic of unbelief with two major symptoms:
- The Bible is no longer relevant to the skeptic because he/she has not been taught convincing apologetics for its historical accuracy beginning at Genesis 1:1.
- The believer has found the Church to be irrelevant because of hypocrisy, a watering down of God’s Word, and an unwillingness to be flexible with cultural forms in order to stay true to the principles of God’s inerrant Word.
A major shift has already taken place in our culture. If we don’t recognize it, we will forever be wasting our time, energy, and resources as we try to maintain our churches and reach the world for Jesus Christ. The Church and the Bible are no longer the places we go to learn historical science. The Church gave up that responsibility and relegated it to the world. We kept the spiritual things, the moral things, and the relationships things. This is what most preachers will preach about, but is it relevant? Do young people today make a connection if it isn’t connected to physical reality? I don’t think so. We need to go back and rebuild the foundation of truth in God’s Word. We need to be willing to shift our strategies in order to meet the needs in this new era. By understanding the times in which we live, we will have much clearer wisdom as we work toward a plan to be effective in this new world.
To the Jews and to the Greeks
On the first Easter morning, Jesus showed the world that He had victory over sin, Satan, and death. During the 40 days after the Resurrection, He appeared to the Apostles from time to time to affirm them, encourage them, and to prove that He really was alive. During one of those meetings, He told them that the Holy Spirit would come upon them and that they would receive power to tell people about Him “in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8; NIV). Within hours of the Holy Spirit coming upon Peter and the Apostles, they were on the streets of Jerusalem witnessing to the Jews by explaining how the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah had come true—and 3,000 of the Jews believed what Peter said. They were baptized and joined the Church (Acts 2).
After Paul was converted, he began to take the message of Christ beyond Jerusalem and the Jewish community. As he took the gospel toward the “ends of earth” and into the Greek world, it was a different story:
A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. . . . “You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears. . . .” (Acts 17:18–20; NIV)
Life in Athens was different than it was in Jerusalem. Peter’s approach for sharing the gospel with the Jews didn’t work for Paul with the Greeks. So did Paul give up? Did he say, “There must be something wrong with these people. They are pagan unbelievers. They are resistant to the gospel. Their hearts are hardened and they are resistant to coming to church”? So he washed his hands and went back to Jerusalem. Right?
Paul must have realized that there was something wrong with his approach. We can see how he completely changed his strategy. He started out by actually complimenting these men for their religious fervor. He acknowledged their idols and then began to teach them about their own “unknown God” who was part of their culture. Where did he start teaching? He started at the beginning—first of all by defining God:
The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. (Acts 17:24–25; NIV)
The Greeks believed in many gods. Paul had to back up and explain to them that there was only one true God. He had to show that this one true God created all things and gave life to all things. Then, building from that foundation, Paul could finally explain the gospel, telling them about repentance, about judgment, and about the resurrection of the dead. How did they respond? Some of them sneered; others wanted to hear more; and a few men became followers of Jesus Christ. Yes, life was different in Athens compared to life in Jerusalem. But Paul was willing to recognize this and change his entire approach to ministry because of it. When Paul wrote to the Corinthians about his experience, he noted this important distinction:
But we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles. (1 Cor. 1:23; NIV)
In Jerusalem, the Jews had a firm foundation belief built on the Old Testament. They knew about the one true God and about sin; they knew about the Law and about blood sacrifices for sin . . . and they already knew about the coming Messiah. Although many refused to believe, thousands accepted the message about Jesus on the spot and joined the Church. “Christ crucified” was a stumbling block that momentarily tripped them up, but many of them quickly got over it and made it to the other side. To the Greek, however, all this talk about Jesus and the Resurrection was considered utter foolishness. They had no previous knowledge about the one true God, about sin, or about the Law. Paul had to go back and start at the very beginning.
It’s time to wake up and realize that a significant portion of the Western culture must now be considered “post-Christian.” The godly foundation that once existed in England is now almost totally gone. That same foundation is faltering in America. Basic Christian concepts can no longer be taken for granted. Our culture used to be like Jerusalem. People used to have a basic understanding of biblical concepts and terminology. Someone like Billy Graham is well known for his basic presentation of the gospel. Some might take issue with his theology or methods, but there is no doubt that he could come into town, gather the masses in stadiums, and share about the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Thousands would repent and receive Christ as their savior. Even Australia, my homeland, used to be this way. Students could recite the Lord’s Prayer; they knew the Ten Commandments; they had respect for the Bible. When evangelists came through town, people were converted en masse.
In the Western world of today, the crusade approach just doesn’t
shake a city like it used to. Our culture today is much more like Athens. Yes, there is a remnant of understanding and respect for the Bible
throughout this country, but in many ways, when you share the gospel
with someone today you need to know that you’re sharing with someone who is more like the “Greeks” and a lot less like the “Jews.” The basic foundation of the Judeo-Christian heritage in this country no longer
exists. It’s already gone. If you take someone to a crusade or you give
them a typical Christian tract, they are bound to say, “
What is this babbler trying to say? . . . You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears.”
Not so long ago, people used to say, “The Bible says it. I believe it. That settles it.” That’s not the case anymore. Today, the average guy on the street is more apt to say, “Who cares what the Bible says! I doubt it. That settles it!” Many Christians want to get the Ten Commandments back in school. But why should we expect the educators to post the Ten Commandments when they don’t believe the book that it came from! Or if you give them a tract that says, “God loves you and has a plan for your life,” they are likely to retort by asking, “Who is god anyway?” A generation or two ago there was at least a basic belief in the Christian God. Now you are likely to hear a slew of questions like this:
- How do you know God exists?
- Where did God come from?
- What about ape-men?
- How did Noah get all the animals on the ark?
- What about carbon dating?
The Bible is not taken seriously by those outside of the Christian Church today. Most courts have given up asking someone to place their hand on a Bible while taking an oath of truthfulness. Now we just swear by ourselves. Due to the lack of Christian training and strong Sunday school programs, many young people come out of high school untrained and unequipped to face the challenges presented by other teachers and professors. Due to their lack of training in apologetics and defending their personal faith, we now see these types of answers:
- Nearly four out of five said they had instructors in school who taught them that the earth was obviously millions of years old.
- Three out of five said their school instructors taught that life definitely evolved from lower forms of life to more complex forms.
- About three in ten said they left high school believing that the Bible is less true.
- Four out of five felt like their college professors had an ungodly influence on the students and imposed their philosophy and moral agenda.
- One in three admitted that something that they were taught at an academic institution caused them to doubt the Bible. (We suspect this number is much higher—20-somethings like to think that they make their choices independently, but this is almost never the case!)
When you consider all of the cultural influences that affect our thinking (including television, movies, museums, magazines, textbooks, and teachers and professors), it becomes pretty obvious that we are living in Athens and not Jerusalem.
When Billy Graham retired, I saw that as symbolic. It was the end of the era of the “Jews” and the beginning of the era of the “Greeks.” We will not have another Billy Graham type of response in today’s present culture. His message can’t be heard the same way in this culture. If they won’t believe what the Bible teaches about earthly things, how will they believe about the heavenly things?
I believe that this is one of the core problems behind the epidemic and the exodus of young adults from the Church. We’ve really been teaching only half of the truth—and the other half we gave up. We preach the gospel of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. We preach about “trusting Jesus” and we preach about morality—but all the while, the attack on Genesis is raging, causing doubt, fueling unbelief, and undermining every single thing that we say.
In the wake, we are dealing with all sorts of peripheral issues, including homosexual behavior, abortion, relativism, school violence, and pornography. We are preaching about these things, but the truth is that the next generation doesn’t believe when these things are preached against and biblical morality is taught, because they don’t believe in the authority of Scripture. The Scriptures have become irrelevant to them; they don’t make the connection between the spiritual, scriptural things and real, practical things.
The authority of the Scriptures is the foundation. If that is not protected, everything will eventually crumble. In honesty, isn’t that where we already are? If we look at our schools, our churches, and our families we have to admit that the relevance of Scripture is already gone in this culture.
That’s the bad news. When it comes to the Bible and the Church, we’ve taken the short road to irrelevance. The good news is that we can do something about it. Answers in Genesis exists to deflect these incoming attacks on God’s Word so that when the life-changing messages of the Bible are proclaimed, they can be communicated with authority. When people believe what we say about the earthly things, they will be able to believe the things that we speak about the heavenly things. How do we do that? By defending the Word, living by the Word, and standing on the Word uncompromisingly. If we commit to doing these three things, relevance can be regained.
Britt’s Bit: The College Fix?
Christian colleges are woven into the fabric of western Christianity. Parents often send their kids to a Bible-believing college for a lot of different reasons. Sometimes it is the desire of the students themselves—they want to grow in their faith and receive a faith-based education. More often than not, though, I find that it is the parents who want to send their children to a safe Christian environment. Many of these parents are desperately hoping that the experience and the teaching will increase their children’s faith and make them align their lives along biblical principles. In some situations, parents insist that a Christian education is the only one that they will pay for. The kids don’t want to go, but the parents say they have no choice.
Do Christian colleges help? If parents knew the truth, they would, in most instances, probably put their money somewhere else. In the last ten years, I have read 35 to 40 studies done for Christian educators. The results were so deplorable that they never allowed them to be published in the marketplace. In one such study, a Christian college wanted to compare itself with a nearby secular school to show that the moral atmosphere on their campus was superior to their secular neighbors. There was just one problem: after all the data was accumulated, they found only a very small, marginal difference in the morality of the students during and after college.
If we are going to stop the epidemic, it needs to happen in the Church and in the home during the elementary, middle school, and high school years. A Christian college experience can be a very positive thing for a growing Christian’s faith. But the numbers indicate that parents must look at their children’s early years in elementary and middle school to make sure they are prepared to defend their faith. Because if they don’t, before they even get to college, they are already gone.