Biblical creationists1 are often accused of causing division in the Church. It is claimed that their insistence on accepting Genesis as narrative history introduces dissension by majoring on a “minor” doctrine. However, as will be shown, quite the opposite it true.
Who Is Really Being Divisive?
Far too often, people have the wrong impression about what it means to be divisive. Those who are divisive are those who are against the clear teachings of the Bible. Paul made this clear in his letter to the Christians in Rome.
Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple (Romans 16:17–18).
Jude also confirmed that unbiblical beliefs cause divisions:
But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit (Jude 1:17–19).
Jude wrote that these divisions are caused by sensual, or worldly minded, beliefs. This should serve as a warning to those who accept man-made ideas that are opposed to the clear teachings of Scripture.
What are some of those clear teachings of Scripture?
- Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin (Genesis 2:17, 3:17; Romans 5:12).
- Man and animals were originally vegetarian (Genesis 1:29–30).
- The week is composed of seven normal-length days (Genesis 1:1–2:4; Exodus 20:11).
- All people are descendants of Adam and Eve (Genesis 1:26–28, 3:20).
- People began to wear clothing after sin entered the world (Genesis 3:7, 21).
- Thorns and thistles resulted from the curse God placed on His creation after sin entered the world (Genesis 3:18).
- The flood of Noah’s day was global in extent (Genesis 6–8).
These are not new doctrines—Paul, the other apostles, and Christ himself accepted these teachings. They (and biblical creationists today) understood that Genesis is a record of actual historical events. As a corollary of this, biblical creationists accept, based on careful study of the Bible, that the earth is thousands of years old (not billions).
The questioning of these teachings by many in the Church began in earnest around two hundred years ago. This was not due to a reexamination of Scripture, but rather because the culture had begun to teach an earth history of “millions of years.”2 The acceptance of the culture’s ideas about the past has led to the reinterpretation of Genesis to fit with these man-made ideas. Some of these reinterpretations are the framework hypotheses, gap theory, progressive creation, and theistic evolution.
Each of these views attempts to combine the secular/evolutionary view of millions of years with the biblical view of history. In doing so, these views reject one or more of the clear teachings listed above. For example, each view rejects that the Genesis flood was a global event. Whenever one combines a man-made view with the Bible, something has to give. In most cases, this something is the Scripture. When one mixes the Word of God with another belief system, the result is doctrines that deviate from the Bible’s clear teachings.
Sadly, these compromising beliefs have infiltrated many churches, Christian colleges, and seminaries. When a biblical creationist teaches people what the Bible plainly says, he is often told by adherents of these compromising views that he is being divisive. However, according to Paul, the ones causing division are those who deny the doctrines clearly taught in Scripture. The divisive ones are those who mix the Bible with secular views and refuse to heed the call to return to the clear teachings in the Bible.
Wasn’t Jesus Divisive?
Some have claimed, based on the following passages, that Jesus was divisive.
For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three. Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law (Luke 12:52–53; italics added).
So there was a division among the people because of Him (John 7:43; italics added).
Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to “set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-inlaw against her mother-in-law”; and “a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.” He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me (Matthew 10:34–38; italics in original).
Jesus was not divisive! The people were divided because of the message.
Carefully reread these passages and note that Jesus was not divisive! The people were divided because of the message. Jesus’ message conformed to the doctrines laid down in the Old Testament; He came to fulfill the Law, not abolish it (Matthew 5:17)! As the perfect God, He was the One who inspired the writings of the Old Testament in the first place. He wasn’t divisive; rather, those disagreeing with Him were causing divisions. Christ knew that His message would cause division among the people because many wouldn’t believe and wouldn’t adhere to the doctrines previously established.
The passages in Luke, John, and Matthew teach that the people were divided. There were those who received what Jesus taught (which is what the Scriptures taught, and thus was not divisive), and there were those who didn’t. The ones who were divisive were those not adhering to what Jesus taught.
How Should I Deal with Those Who Are Divisive?
Paul and Barnabas’s message divided the Jews. Some followed the apostle’s teachings and others didn’t. Remember, those being divisive were the ones opposed to the scriptural teachings.
Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands. But the multitude of the city was divided: part sided with the Jews, and part with the apostles. And when a violent attempt was made by both the Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to abuse and stone them (Acts 14:3–5).
But notice what happened—those who were divisive found like-minded Gentiles (nonbelievers) to oppose Paul! Did Paul compromise like they did? No. Paul continued teaching the same message.
This is similar to what is happening in today’s Church. Many readily adhere to secular millions-of-years teachings over the Bible’s teachings. They are opposing the Scriptures. They are being divisive. Biblical creationists will continue to defend the authority of the Bible in all areas, just like Paul did.
Paul instructs us regarding divisive people:
Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being selfcondemned (Titus 3:10–11).
We are to confront the divisive twice or answer them twice. If they refuse to heed the words of correction, we are to have nothing more to do with them. This confirms what Jesus taught to the disciples when they were ministering; they were to shake the dust from their feet as a testimony against those who refused to listen (Luke 9:5). They weren’t to get wrapped up in an argument for extended periods of time but were to continue preaching the truth.
This is an important message for us today. We need to be careful that we don’t get caught up in discussions with a divisive person for long periods of time (via e-mail, message boards, letters, phone calls, etc.). Instead, we need seek the millions waiting eagerly to hear the message that the Bible’s history is true and the message of the gospel is likewise true.
The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few (Matthew 9:37). And there are fewer still when the harvesters get caught up trying to harvest wheat from a thistle when ten heads of wheat are waiting. Answer a divisive person twice. If that person continues to be divisive, have nothing more to do with him/her. If that person is genuinely willing to learn, continue to answer him/her with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15).
Unity Comes by Uniting around What the Bible Clearly Teaches
Paul, as well as Jesus (John 17:22–23), makes it clear that there shouldn’t be divisions but unity.
Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment (1 Corinthians 1:10).
This unity should not come at the expense of compromising the Scriptures, but should come by adhering to what the Scriptures say. This is why Paul exhorted the Roman Christians to take note of those causing divisions and avoid them (Romans 16:17). In other words, don’t learn from those causing divisions (those who have accepted fallible man’s ideas), but learn from those who adhere to the doctrines that have been laid down by Scripture.
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ (Colossians 2:8; NIV).
Before Adam and Eve sinned, they were in complete unity with each other and with their Creator. After they sinned, disunity became the norm. Restoring that unity comes at a cost. Christ has paid the price. This is a call for all Christians to return to what the Bible clearly teaches, and obey Christ’s Word—starting in Genesis.
The following points provide some practical ways that we can encourage unity among our Christian brethren:
- Pray that the Lord would bring about unity among His people. Pray that He would turn the hearts of His children to the clear teachings in His Word and would keep them from being influenced by fallible man’s ideas (Ephesians 4:13).
- Respond to those who are divisive (going against Scripture) twice, with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15). If they are willing to learn, continue to help them. If they continue to be divisive, have nothing more to do with them.
- Avoid those who are openly divisive (going against Scripture). Encourage others to refrain from following their divisive example (Romans 16:17–18).
- Drop any pride of your own (Proverbs 16:18). Read and study the Word of God. Allow it to teach you, and be aware of bringing man-made ideas to it. Learn to love God’s Word, and ask the Lord to show you where you are being divisive. No one is perfect, and all are subject to the teachings of the Bible. When we make mistakes, we need to return to the authority of God’s Word with humility and a teachable spirit.