What’s in a Name?
“I’m a young-earth creationist.”
To evolutionists, a person claiming this title is akin to saying, “I’m an anti-science mystic.” To Christians who have compromised with naturalistic presuppositions, young-earth creation implies just one more opinion on the earth’s beginning.
Many Christians have conceded to uniformitarian dogma by imposing theories on Genesis like the day-age view, gap theory, and the framework hypothesis. Christians taking on names—progressive creationist, theistic evolutionist, or even young-earth creationist—implies Genesis 1–11 does not have one clear interpretation.
By making our primary title “young-earth creationists,” we seem to agree that the debate is merely over the scientific evidence of the age of the earth. We get caught up in arguments over whether the fossil record, radiometric dating, and celestial bodies are evidence for a young or old earth. While examining the evidence is valuable, the issue is not the evidence itself. The main issue is our starting point for interpreting the evidence—either fallible human opinions or infallible Scripture (Psalm 119:160; 2 Timothy 3:16). Therefore, the title of those who hold to biblical authority should identify their starting point.
What’s Your Starting Point?
“I’m a biblical creationist.”
This title accurately conveys the biblical Christian’s starting point. Two starting points exist: man’s opinion or God’s Word. Creation compromise positions come about when Christians start with man’s opinion of long ages and then reinterpret Scripture to fit the uniformitarian beliefs of God-rejecting naturalists.
Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, points out how uniformitarianism and evolution don’t mix with the Bible:
The entire intellectual enterprise of evolution is based on naturalistic assumptions, and I do not share those presuppositions. Indeed, the entire enterprise of Christianity is based on supernaturalistic, rather than merely naturalistic, assumptions. There is absolutely no reason that a Christian theologian should accept the uniformitarian assumptions of evolution. In fact, given a plain reading of Scripture, there is every reason that Christians should reject a uniformitarian presupposition.1
One must be an exegetical contortionist to stretch the six days of Genesis into millions and billions of years. Such a twisted hermeneutic undermines the authority of the entire Bible by placing what the interpreter wants the text to say above God’s Word. In the beginning, death and destruction came about through Adam and Eve’s doubt and rebellion against God’s command. God imposes severe consequences for those who meddle with His Word (Proverbs 30:5–6; Revelation 22:18–19).
One must be an exegetical contortionist to stretch the six days of Genesis into millions and billions of years.
In contrast, the biblical creationist starts with “the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). He humbly approaches Scripture, trusting its account, even on the beginning of the universe. “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible” (Hebrews 11:3). As Pastor John MacArthur said, “The conflict is not between science and Scripture, but between the biblicist’s confident faith and the naturalist’s willful skepticism.”2
Trusting God’s Word leads to a position of young-earth creationism. The young-earth position is clearly presented throughout the Bible, even in the words of Jesus. As Ken Ham said, “Once I accept the plain words of Scripture in context, the fact of ordinary[-length] days, no death before sin, the Bible’s genealogies, etc., all make it clear that I cannot accept millions or billions of years of history.”3
While the young-earth view is clear from Scripture, we must be careful about labeling ourselves as young-earth creationists. Such a title is accurate, but we must never forget we hold to young-earth position because a straightforward interpretation of the Bible reveals a young earth.
Although it is helpful to show how the evidence supports the young-earth view, our ultimate goal is not to persuade someone through the evidence that the earth is young. Our goal is to demonstrate the authority of God’s Word from its first, foundational chapters because Genesis sets the stage for life-giving truths the rest of Scripture expounds.
What’s the Point?
Biblical creationists hold to a young-earth view because Genesis 1–11 is historical narrative, and interpreting it correctly establishes the theme of Scripture: the gospel. MacArthur stated, “Everything Scripture teaches about sin and redemption assumes the literal truth of the first three chapters of Genesis. If we wobble to any degree on the truth of this passage, we undermine the very foundations of our faith.”2
Genesis lays the foundation for the gospel. The first chapters teach about God’s perfect creation, man’s rebellious Fall, God’s just punishment of death for sin, and God’s gracious promise of the Seed, Jesus Christ. By forcing long ages into Genesis, we tarnish the gospel. We trivialize God by suggesting the Almighty needed billions of years of natural processes. We tamper with Scripture by making it say what man’s fallible opinion dictates. We twist death into a means of evolution—not the punishment for sin. And so we taint the truth of the Lord Jesus, our Creator and the Last Adam (John 1:3; Romans 5:12–21; 1 Corinthians 15:21–22, 45–49).
In order to uphold the gospel, our starting point must be Scripture. That’s why Ken Ham has a ready response to someone who labels him:
When someone says to me, “Oh, so you’re one of those fundamentalist, young-earth creationists,” I reply, “Actually, I’m a revelationist, no-death-before-Adam redemptionist!” (which means I’m a young-earth creationist!).3
Instead of compromising the truth, let’s “contend earnestly for the faith” (Jude 3) that is founded on Genesis. This means reminding ourselves and others that our young-earth beliefs stem from who we are—biblical creationists.