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Back in the 16th century, William Tyndale was persecuted, imprisoned, strangled, and his body burned at the stake. Why? Because he worked to translate the Scriptures into English and get copies of the Bible to the average person. Influenced by Luther and others, Tyndale was an integral part of the Reformation that spread God’s written Word throughout the world—particularly to the Western world.
At that time, many church leaders believed the Bible should not be in the hands of the common person and that only appointed and scholarly church leaders should tell the public what they should believe. But the spread of God’s written Word in the 1500s changed all that as it permeated many nations. It resulted in what we called the “Christian West.” However, today we see the Christian influence in our Western world waning—Europe (especially the United Kingdom) is nearly dead spiritually. Right here in America, the Christian worldview is collapsing before our very eyes.
So What is Happening?
First, let me point out that we need to be like the men of Issachar, who had “understanding of the times” (1 Chronicles 12:32). Today, we are seeing an undoing of the Reformation, as society is not honoring some great people of God who were martyred for proclaiming the truths of the Bible.
The Reformation was a movement to call people to the authority of the Word of God. Almost 500 years later, we believe the teaching of millions of years and evolution has been the major tool in this era to undo the work of the Reformation.
To understand the times in which we live, we need to know how this sad transformation has come about—including how people view the Bible:
- The majority of church leaders have adopted the secular religion (i.e., millions of years/evolution) of the age and have compromised God’s Word—thus undermining its authority to coming generations.
- Statistics are clear that most people in churches do not study their Bibles as they should. Frankly, we have a very biblically illiterate church today. We also observe church academics of our age beginning to impose a similar philosophy to that seen in Tyndale’s time—that it is these learned leaders (most of whom have compromised God’s Word) who determine what the public should believe. Increasingly, churchgoers are not like the Bereans who “searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).
I want to give you two specific examples of this dramatic change—and I believe you will be quite shocked.
The first is of Dr. James F. McGrath, who holds the Clarence L. Goodwin Chair in New Testament Language and Literature at Butler University in Indianapolis. Recently, Dr. McGrath wrote a blog item concerning AiG’s stand on a literal Genesis:
First, he quoted another writer:
“Some may excuse Mr. Ham on the ground that he has no theological or biblical training (he has a bachelor’s degree in applied science). I am not so inclined for one reason: by assuming the pulpit of churches and declaring he intends to interpret the Bible, he de facto sets himself up as a Bible teacher, and should be held accountable to know not only the relevant facts, but the proper way to exegete and teach a passage of scripture.
“If he does not want to give up seven years of his life and tens of thousands of dollars to get training in the Bible, theology, and the ancient languages (the standard degree program for clergy) then that is perfectly understandable. What is not so understandable is his desire to set himself up as a Bible teacher without getting Bible training.”
Then, Dr. McGrath followed with his own comments about the above statements:
“Amen! . . . I think that the best course of action is for those who are well-informed about the Bible to debunk, refute and if necessary ‘refudiate’ the statements of those who have no expertise in any field of scholarship related to the Bible, and yet believe that without any real knowledge of the original languages, historical context, and other relevant factors, their pontifications will do anything but harm the souls of believers and the Christian faith itself.”
Well, it is true that I personally don’t have formal theological training—but there are those at Answers in Genesis who do (e.g., Dr. Terry Mortenson, Steve Fazekas, and some of our board members). And we do have quite a number of other highly qualified theologians whose counsel we seek to ensure we are accurate in handling God’s Word.
By the way, I’m so glad I have not been theologically trained in the way Dr. McGrath has (and sadly like many who are now being trained in Bible colleges and seminaries). Otherwise, I might have ended up believing what he wrote below:
“So why am I a Christian? . . . given that I do not espouse Biblical literalism and inerrancy, some might ask whether I am still a Christian . . . I am a Christian in much the same way that I am an American . . . the tradition that gave birth to my faith and nurtured it is one that has great riches (as well as much else beside . . . Why am I a Christian? Because I prefer to keep the tradition I have, rather than discarding it with the bathwater and then trying to make something new from scratch.”
The second sad example is from Dr. William Dembski, a professor at what is known as a conservative seminary in the South. What he proposes in his book The End of Christianity is an undermining of biblical authority, and it’s an unfortunate example of the sort of compromise often being taught to our future pastors. Here are a few excerpts from his book:
“. . . For the theodicy I am proposing to be compatible with evolution, God must not merely introduce existing human-like beings from outside the Garden. In addition, when they enter the Garden, God must transform their consciousness so that they become rational moral agents made in God’s image” (page 159).
“Moreover, once God breathes the breath of life into them, we may assume that the first humans experienced an amnesia of their former animal life: Operating on a higher plane of consciousness once infused with the breath of life, they would transcend the lower plane of animal consciousness on which they had previously operated—though, after the Fall, they might be tempted to resort to that lower consciousness” (pages 154–155).
Dr. Dembski also states:
“The young-earth solution to reconciling the order of creation with natural history makes good exegetical and theological sense. Indeed, the overwhelming consensus of theologians up through the Reformation held to this view. I myself would adopt it in a heartbeat except that nature seems to present such a strong evidence against it” (page 55).
By “nature” he is in essence accepting fallible scientists’ interpretations of evidence (such as fossils, geologic layers, and so on). His statement concerning “good exegetical and theological sense” is the point exactly! In other words, we know what the clear teaching of Scripture is—and what the great Reformers knew. But Dembski rejects it.
We would say that Dr. Dembski (who may be a fine Christian man) is taking the belief in billions of years (obtained by man’s fallible interpretations of the present in an attempt to connect to the past) as infallible, and in reality making God’s Word fallible.
A “Genesis 3 Attack”
This is the “Genesis 3 attack” (“Did God Really Say?”) in our era—undoing what the Reformation accomplished. We need a new Reformation to call our church (and culture) back to the authority of the Word of God. This is why the ministry of Answers in Genesis is so vital today—please pray for us!
Thank you for supporting Answers in Genesis . . . and for helping to bring a new, and much-needed, Reformation to our church and culture. The battle before us is one about authority: is God’s Word the authority, or is it man’s words?
We will continue (despite the opposition we receive) to hold compromising church leaders accountable, and stand unashamedly and uncompromisingly on the authority of the Word of God. That’s what the AiG and Creation Museum outreaches are all about.