Keep It Clean

Editorial
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In the grand scheme of God’s unfathomable work of creation, what’s a few billion years?

In the grand scheme of God’s unfathomable work of creation, what’s a few billion years? Nothing to get uptight about, according to “Creation and Science,” an excellent Christian Reformed Church study report whose recommendations were adopted by Synod 1991. It encourages Reformed believers to take their Bibles and their science books, place them side by side, and explore various scenarios for how and when God got our globe spinning. These all confess that it wasn’t eternal “stuff” roiled by mere chance that originated all things, including us. Our all-knowing, all-powerful, loving God created the whole shebang ex nihilo (out of nothing). The details are insignificant enough that we can engage in some fun discussions over those, as long as we keep it clean.

By “clean,” I mean that “young earthers” and “old earthers” need to be very careful not to start bad-mouthing each other. That unnecessarily breaks “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3), to which our risen Lord calls us. Our “young-earthers” are not flat-earth idiots. And our “old-earthers” are not evolutionistic liberals who carelessly place us on the slippery slope to denying Christ’s physical resurrection. Such scurrilous charges are direct violations of the ninth commandment.

So what does a respectful, useful conversation on this issue look like? We invited two Christian Reformed folks to have at it here in The Banner (“Speaking of Jurassic Ark” and  “We Need Not Fear the Dinosaur”). As Christians united by Christ’s Spirit, Scripture, and our creeds and confessions, we can do such things and do them well.

Our culture offers few good models for how to carry on this kind of conversation. Most public discussions these days are acrimonious, take-no-prisoners debates intended to annihilate the other side. That’s not how we ought to speak with each other on non-salvation issues.

Let’s keep things in perspective here. Because Scripture is God-revelation, it concerns itself primarily with telling us the Who and why of creation. Science concerns itself more with the how, where, and when. So let’s be a bit humble about our own interpretation of Scripture, just as we are about our scientific hypotheses. Like science, our biblical interpretation is not God’s Word itself. It is our fallible, human attempt at grasping what is too high, too wide, and too deep for us.

All this to say, when you read these articles, by all means have fun following their evidence and arguments—and I do mean, have fun with it. But more important, note the tone of their conversation. Especially in a day of blistering media attacks and bloggers’ rants, we need to learn to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15) in a way that builds up the Body. Du Mez and Buursma model that for us.

So if it’s not a salvation issue, then why discuss this stuff at all? We may cease this conversation only when we have arrived together at a solid, reasonable answer that we can offer to our science students who hit secular universities. When caught unprepared, so many of them needlessly experience a deep crisis of their faith.
We owe them much better than that. So let’s keep this conversation going—with all due respect. 
 

About the Author

Bob De Moor is a retired Christian Reformed pastor living in Edmonton, Alta.

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Comments

It is interesting how assumptions are made.  Bob says, "..because scripture is God-revelation, it concerns itself primarily with telling us the Who and Why of creation.  Science ...more with the how, where, and when."  But isn't that just an assumption?  Isn't that just a way of delegating authority and minimizing scriptural authority?  It doesn't seem to apply elsewhere, why here?  The who of Abraham, the trips he made (where), the land promised (where), the towns established (where), his age when Isaac was born (when), the age of Noah(when), the battles of Israel (how), the punishment of David (how), .. I could go on, but it seems making this presumptive distinction does no service to the discussion. 

The other presumption is that this is not  a salvation issue?   What is a salvation issue?  Six verses in the Bible?  Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and confess him with your mouth and you will be saved.  Is that it?  Isn't there a need to understand who Jesus is?  What he did?   Why we need him in the first place?  And that brings us back to Genesis, doesn't it.  Did Jesus only come to redeem people, or to redeem and renew the entire world?  Did God create the world with death and destruction as the main tool, or did God create it good?  Did God create man full of sin and selfishness, or not?  Are we being developed, or are we being renewed in the image of the creator? 

Is the struggle here only about data?  or is it about how that data is interpreted?  Is it only some "science" facts (or fiction), or is it about the anti-thesis between good and evil, between God directed and intelligently planned creation vs God initiated, random accidental valueless meaningless ageless development towards no particular goal or endpoint? 

Do people understand what is at stake?  Do people understand the difference between the evolutionary tree and an ancestral forest? Do people understand that saying God is involved is really not helpful at all?  Of the three or four  different ways that God could be involved in the creative process, each way says hugely different  things about who God is and how God relates to us. 

And for that reason, in the end, this issue is inseparable from salvation issues. 

Finally, because science and exploration of the natural universe involves theories, questions, challenges and testing of results, there is no reason not to challenge the prevailing assumptions and the prevailing faith of evolutionary theory.  Evolutionists do it so there is no reason why non-evolutionists should not do so.   Our students are challenged because they have no tools to challenge the evolutionists.  There are many scientific problems with evolution that they need to be aware of in order to realize that just because a scientist says it is so, doesn't make it so.  They are not alone when questioning evolution as there are hundreds and thousands of scientists, many of them PhDs who do not swallow the general neo-darwinian evolution scenario.  They need to know this.   

Sir...you want the truth...

Yes, we want the truth.  The truth is in the Word of God, not a science book written by fallible biased scientist(s).

Regarding what John said about the issue of creation/evolution/age of earth being salvation issue.  This is what our Lord and Savour Jesus Himself said:

Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels.

Be very careful about being ashamed of the Word of God, such as in Genesis.

 

 

" A deep crisis of faith?" Yes, do I trust the God who cannot tell a lie and was there at creation and told us how it happened. Or, do I deny the evidence that humans produce humans, and cows produce cows, and fish produce fish, and believe I came from an ape who before that was pond scum, without a shred of evidence to back it up. The Adversary always has an alternative plan to get one to doubt God's Word.- "Did God really say...?"

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