Back in 1975, I was teaching biology and general science in the public (government) school system in Australia. At that time, some of the older teachers were complaining that the students weren’t as easy to control as they were in years past. These young people didn’t seem to have the same respect or show the required courtesy as previous generations had. No-one seemed able to put their finger on it—but all agreed that the behavior of the students reflected an overall change that had occurred in the culture.
Some pastors still taught regular religious education classes in public schools. I was a young, inexperienced teacher, but as a Christian, I had a zeal to reach the students with the truth of God’s Word. One day, a group of pastors came to me and explained that they were having great difficulty with their religious education program in the school. They were becoming increasingly frustrated because the students didn’t behave themselves very well, and most seemed disinterested in what was being taught.
Pondering what they were telling me as they poured out their hearts, I asked them to explain to me the nature of the curriculum they were teaching these students. These pastors explained that they were teaching such things as Paul’s missionary journeys, the gospel of Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection, the new heaven and earth, and other New Testament teachings.
Many of the students, however, were openly disrespectful and showed little if any interest in this Bible teaching. What were these pastors to do? They so wanted these young people to believe and understand the Bible and trust the Lord. How were they to reach them? An older, more experienced pastor commented that the students weren’t like this in years past. He had noticed this trend for some time now—but it was getting worse. Why was it increasingly difficult to communicate to this generation of students?
The pastors asked me if I could shed any light on this dilemma. The more I thought about it, the more it hit me like a lightning bolt. I had noticed that the biology and general science textbooks were permeated by evolutionary philosophy. Evolution (in the ‘microbe-to-man’ sense) was presented as fact. But it wasn’t just in science—evolutionary ideas permeated most courses.
I said to these pastors, ‘Do you know what these students are being taught in most of their classes? They are being told that they’re just animals that evolved from some primeval soup millions of years ago. These young people are being indoctrinated to believe that evolution is science. Because they are growing up in a world full of wonderful technology that is an outgrowth of real science, they have a great respect for what is called science. Sadly, they don’t realize that evolution is not science. But, because of the way they are being taught, to them the Bible is just an outdated religious book. After all, in astronomy they learn how the solar system formed by itself from a dust cloud over millions of years. In geology, they are taught that the earth is billions of years old, and the fossil record is the history of the evolution of life. In biology, they are shown pictures of apemen, considered to be their ancestors. In history, primitive man is presented as going through a Stone Age in an onward, upward evolutionary process.’
In other words, I explained to the pastors that day after day, in class after class, these students were being indoctrinated against believing what the Bible has to say about our origins. Even if the teachers didn’t specifically mention the Bible, the point was that these students were being taught a way of thinking that inoculates them against the Bible.
For instance, I vividly recall one of my students blurting out, ‘Sir, how can you believe the Bible when it tells us we came from Adam and Eve—and we know from science that this is not true?’
I told this story to the pastors and concluded, ‘Here’s the problem. During their school hours, students are being taught more and more that evolution is fact and science has proved the Bible wrong. They don’t believe that God created everything. The textbooks tell them that the universe and life arose by chance, random processes. The students know that evolution and its teachings about apemen contradict the Bible’s teaching about Adam and Eve. Increasingly, some teachers are beginning to be vocal about attacking the Bible. Now these same students are coming to your religious education classes to hear you teach from the Bible. However, many of them don’t even believe now that you can trust the Bible. They don’t have a respect for the Bible’s teachings. They think that in this scientific age, the Bible is an outdated book. So why should they be interested in listening to what you have to say?’
The pastors had not thought about it in this way before. It made sense. So what were they to do? I suggested that before they could really teach about things like Paul’s missionary journeys, or the life of Jesus, and the power of the gospel, they really needed to get the students’ attention that the Bible really could be trusted, and it really is the infallible Word of God.
I suggested that they develop a series of lessons to counteract the anti-Christian teaching the students were receiving each day at school. We would look at the textbooks, and then take this erroneous material and critique it—but at the same time show that what the Bible states explained the evidence correctly.
To me, it was vital that the pastors defend the Book of Genesis to the students. After all, if the first book in the Bible can’t be trusted in their eyes, why should any other? As one lady put it to me 20 years later, ‘When my church told me that I had to accept evolution, and that Genesis couldn’t be believed as written, I asked, “When does God start telling the truth then?”’
I had enough interaction with the students to know that this was how their thinking went as well. If in their religious education classes they were being told to believe the New Testament—but they knew from science that the first book in the Bible wasn’t true—why should they trust any of it?
Working with the pastors, we devised a series of lessons that showed the students that evolution was just a belief—there weren’t any apemen, evolutionists had not proved the earth was billions of years old, there were major problems with their theories about the origin of the solar system, and so on.
When the pastors presented these lessons, they were astonished. The students sat up and listened. They were extremely interested—and they had lots of questions. ‘What about carbon dating then? Where do dinosaurs fit in? Why don’t our teachers tell us this information?’
Once the pastors had clearly illustrated that real science had not disproved the Bible and that the Bible can be used to explain the world around us, what a difference it made! Many of the students showed intense interest in spiritual things. Later on, when the pastors began teaching about Jesus in the New Testament, they had much more success in getting these young people to listen and take note.
At the time, I didn’t realize that I was involved in developing a method of evangelism that later came to be called ‘creation evangelism.’ Not only is this method of evangelism based on the Bible, but it is one of the most powerful methods for reaching today’s world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
This incident with the pastors and the school students came to mind when I went to Japan to speak across the country. The first meeting scheduled was one in which I had the pleasure of meeting with my Japanese translator, Nathan, a man who was born in Japan and who grew up in the culture, and who was the son of an American missionary.
I met his father at one of the meetings. He told me that he and his wife realized that as American missionaries they wouldn’t be able to effectively communicate to the Japanese culture. Therefore, they determined that the son they had in Japan was to be their gift to the Japanese people. ‘We gave our son to Japan,’ they told me.
Because Nathan grew up in the Japanese culture, not only could he speak their language flawlessly, but he understood the thinking of the Japanese people. In fact, he makes his living as a translator.
The first thing Nathan explained to me was that whenever I used the word ‘God’ he could not just translate this as ‘God.’ Because of the prevalence of the Shinto religion in this country, and thus their belief in many gods, the people would just add this ‘God’ I was talking about to all their other gods.
So, whenever I used the word ‘God,’ Nathan would define who this God is—the God who created and upholds all things. He is the God who is separate from His creation.
You can tell people they’re sinners, but unless they understand what sin is, they will not comprehend the message.
Nathan then went on to relate something else that I had not thought about. Up until the last world war, Christians were persecuted and even killed in Japan. The Japanese culture had no Christian basis whatsoever. In a population of over 150 million people, less than 0.1 percent are considered to be born-again Christians. If I were to tell the average Japanese person that they were sinners and needed to trust in what Christ did on the Cross for them, they wouldn’t have any idea what I was talking about.
Without the foundational basis of the account of the Fall in Genesis, and the fact that we all are traced back to one man, Adam, whom God created, how would they understand the gospel? You can tell people they’re sinners, but unless they understand what sin is, they will not comprehend the message.
Nathan explained to me that if I was to communicate the message of the gospel to the average Japanese, I would first need to lay the foundation of the gospel from Genesis, before they would really have much understanding.
He then said that atheistic evolution is taught as fact through the education system in Japan. Probably everyone in Japan had heard of evolution—but not many heard that the Bible can be trusted. Thus, he explained, evolution is considered to be fact, because it is the supposed scientific view of origins. From a human perspective, evolution would have to be counteracted before people would even be willing to listen to the Bible’s account of origins on which the plan of salvation is actually based.
And then there is one more problem. Because of the education system and the influence of compromising missionaries from countries like America, many of the Christians in the small conservative churches in Japan believed in evolution, or various aspects of evolutionary philosophy. They themselves did not understand the foundational importance of a literal Adam and a literal Fall. Could this be part of the reason why the church in Japan was not successful in reaching the culture at large? For this and other reasons (costs, for example), missionaries have been pulling out of Japan. Some now call it a ‘missionary graveyard.’
Much of the church throughout the world is missing out on using what I know to be one of the most successful means of reaching people with the gospel of Jesus Christ. This technique is useful, even in cultures that have become increasingly devoid of the knowledge of God and His Word—or cultures that have no Christian basis whatsoever.
It’s called ‘creation evangelism.’
This is a highly successful method of evangelism that could change entire nations, if only the church understood it and used it in today’s skeptical world.
There’s no doubt that our once-Christianized Western nations are not only becoming more secularized, but that an anti-Christian element is growing with increasing fervor. Other nations that have never had a major Christian influence seem so closed to the gospel. How can we reach all these people with the saving message of Jesus Christ?
There is an answer—a powerful answer!