Greensboro—Charlie Liebert’s idea of a good time back in New Jersey was to drink beer with a bunch of buddies and mock Billy Graham on television.
A self-described “atheistic evolutionist,” Liebert would ridicule the fact that he and his friends were “sinners.” Despite the foolishness of the times and circumstances though, he says it still had an effect on him.
“The point was, I heard the Gospel go in,” he said.
The former chemist from Greensboro has repented to the point where he teaches creation science workshops for a living, contracting regularly with the ministry Answers in Genesis. He even looks scientific, with receding hairline, a full, neatly trimmed beard and rounded glasses. The name “Liebert” gives the impression that the stereotypical German laboratory accent might tumble from his lips, but his dialect is distinctly Long Island.
Liebert grew up in New York as the son of German immigrants. His father, who was half-Jewish, emigrated from his mother country at the age of 13 in 1928. Liebert’s grandfather was a German officer in World War I.
Attending public school on Long Island, Liebert said science teaching indoctrinated him into evolutionist beliefs. He followed his parents to Methodist church, but dropped out at age 16 when the pulpit preaching on the evils of alcohol contradicted what he knew about the lifestyles of much of the congregation.
Most of Liebert’s chemistry career covered his 27 years with Ciba-Geigy, whom he started with in 1967. Six years later the company relocated him to Greensboro, and by then he and his wife, Terry, had two small children under age three. Not long after arriving in North Carolina, Terry decided to become involved in church again after a long absence, mostly for the children’s sake. Terry’s upbringing had been solidly Catholic, but she started attending an Episcopal church, which she enjoyed for its social aspects.
“It was a good middle ground for an ex-Catholic and Methodist,” she said.
Charlie would have none of it, so Terry would leave the children home with him on Sunday mornings. A few months of child-care responsibilities, however, inspired Charlie to start going to church with Terry.
At the same time the Lieberts experienced serious marital strains. Charlie succumbed to temptations with alcohol, and in 1977 they started talking about divorce. By then, his worldview had progressed from atheist to agnostic—mild progress.
Nearing his low point, Charlie attended a retreat in Asheville in March 1977. It was there where a workshop speaker, and the Holy Spirit, confronted him with three questions that he couldn’t answer:
- What’s your purpose in life?
- What does life mean?
- Where are you going?
“I could see myself going down the tubes,” said Charlie. “So I said, ‘God, if you’re there, come in; I need some help.’”
At that point he said he was completely confused intellectually. Everything he had ever learned about science and evolution were a contradiction to what his new spiritual life represented. “I had to renew my mind,” he said.
Charlie returned home on fire for God, and immediately began engrossing himself in the Bible and other books in an effort to straighten out his scientific puzzlement. Meanwhile, Terry felt left in the dust. She was never interested in science and resented all his reading.
“It was an immediate change in him,” said Terry. “But he didn’t know how to share the gospel with me. I was in such darkness.”
It began almost two months of spiritual depression for Terry, with most of her time alone spent “constantly crying.” Her best friend moved away in April, and with her marriage in tatters, she felt desperately alone. Her Catholic background and recent Episcopalianism collided in her mind, with neither making sense. She said the Lord was working in her.
“Being a Catholic, you’re always in hell. I only saw flames in my mind,” she said. “And the Episcopal Church isn’t looking for you to be born again, but for spiritual renewal.”
Two months after Charlie’s conversion, Terry traveled to a women’s retreat. It also turned out to be a catalytic event for her turning to Christ. Instead of simply understanding that Christ died for the sins of the whole world, Terry realized that He was her personal savior.
Christ filled the void of the friend who moved away, and healed the Liebert’s near-broken marriage.
“Being in Christ truly made us one spiritually,” remembered Terry. “Because we were so excited about the Lord, it was instant.”
Charlie continued to toil for Ciba-Geigy and read, read, read. Three years passed before he could be peaceful with the creationist explanation for the origin of life. He calls himself a “pragmatic scientist,” and believes he is uniquely qualified to teach creation.
“I understand the other side of the issue,” he said.
He began teaching science in 1982 at the request of a homeschooling mother, and ended up developing creation workshops, which he taught as side work. His workshops even passed muster with Ken Ham, Answers in Genesis’s executive director, who began contracting Liebert to teach on their behalf in 1994. That year, Ciba-Geigy cut back on their workforce, and Liebert took early retirement so he could teach creation as his primary occupation.
The Lieberts now belong to Covenant Fellowship in Greensboro. His own ministry has excelled as well, with Charlie teaching his materials around the country and his own television show, “Creation Foundation Explanation,” on local cable access, and he speaks throughout the Carolinas and around the Southeast.
“The thing that is most frustrating as a creation scientist is the outright lying the evolutionists do to convince the public,” said Charlie. “It’s bad science and it’s lies.”
A long way from those beer-swilling, atheistic evolutionist days of mockery back in Jersey.