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If the Ark Encounter is to be a sign to the world, would that violate Matthew 12:39? Mark Looy, AiG—U.S., explains.
Dear Answers in Genesis,
Our family has been greatly blessed by the Answers in Genesis ministry. We have listened to your conference speeches (on tape and in person), enjoyed your magazines, watched your DVDs, and read your books. We have learned many valuable things from you that have strengthened our walk with Christ. Thank you so much for your faithful work!
But we must admit to being puzzled by your latest project, the building of the multi-million dollar replica of the ark. Here are some of our thoughts:
- Your ministry stresses many times and in many ways that none of us need to see physical evidences in order to believe the validity of God’s Word. Even if we did find the original ark, we believe the Word of God because of faith, not sight. This biblical idea is reiterated over and over in all your resources mentioned above.
- God has given us a clear prescription for evangelism: “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” (Romans 10:17) Why not spend those multi-millions to fund the translation of the Scriptures into different languages, or to support missionaries to foreign lands, or to encourage faithful pastors in our own land?
- Your most recent “Answers Update” lead article contains a case for this summary sentence: “Our world needs a sign that shows millions of souls that God’s Word is true and that He offers a free gift of salvation in Christ.” How does this align with Christ’s response to the Pharisees: “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign, and there shall no sign be given to it. …” (Matthew 12:39; Matthew 16:4; Mark 8:12; Luke 11:29) Christ said to the Jews that if they wouldn’t believe, having had all the signs in the Old Testament from the Law and prophets, how would they believe Him? Several people on earth witnessed Christ’s miracles and still did not believe. In the story of the rich man and Lazarus, (when the rich man asks that someone go back from the dead to warn his brethren) God reiterates, “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” (Luke 16:31) We believe, because God gives us faith to believe, not because we see some evidence in nature, let alone a man-made replica.
It is hard for us to understand why this project is important to you, when it seems so counter to the very core teaching of your ministry. We would welcome and consider your input!
The [M.] family
Thank you for your email and kind comments regarding how God has used AiG resources to assist you and your family in growing your Christian faith. It was very encouraging to read. We also appreciate how you shared your concerns about the Ark Encounter, and we would like to address them.
The word “sign,” as used by Christ in the passages you mentioned, was in reference to a miracle. During Christ’s ministry on earth, unbelieving people, in order to test Jesus, asked Him to perform a “
sign from heaven” (Luke 11:16), as if they needed an astronomical miracle as further reason to believe His message. Our Ark project is a different kind of sign to the world, for there is nothing miraculous about a 500-foot-long ship that has clearly been built by human hands.
Just as Joshua placed stones by the Jordan River as a sign or reminder that commemorated God’s provision to the children of Israel, a modern-day Ark will be a sign or reminder of God’s provision of an Ark for Noah and his family—and our need of salvation through the true Ark of salvation, Jesus Christ. That’s the very core (your word) of our ministry to the unsaved: evangelism. We wholeheartedly concur with your use of Romans 10:17. “
Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” It is God’s Word proclaimed at the Ark complex that will turn hearts toward Him. Passages from Scripture will be found throughout the Ark Encounter, and the gospel message will be clear. In fact, we think the Ark will provide us with even more opportunities to share the gospel than our Creation Museum (which is full of gospel teaching, and we rejoice when we hear of salvation testimonies from our museum visitors).
We have AiG materials in 77 languages (books, DVDs, and web articles) and continue to print more resources (including 150,000 right now, in a few languages, in preparation for distribution by several dozen volunteers at the London Olympics next summer). We also have been posting various translated articles on our website and other sites. Several million booklets and tracts have been distributed through our channels over the years both in America and abroad.
As an example of our financial stewardship, we will not print large runs of booklets until we know that there is an actual way to distribute them to foreign lands and that there is an established process to have the materials passed out and not languishing in some foreign warehouse. That would not be wise stewardship of our supporters’ donations. AiG will print more booklets when Christians in those lands ask us for more (complimentary) copies.
Likewise, here at home, the most effective way to distribute our witnessing booklets is through our supporters, who can purchase them in bulk (with a large discount) and pass them out in their communities. (Perhaps you have done so yourself.) We will print more of these booklets as people ask us for them.
Again, thank you for expressing your concerns. We trust our reply has been helpful. Meanwhile, would you please pray for the evangelistic Ark Encounter project?
Mark Looy, AiG–U.S.