What happened to the church to make it so accommodating to sinful behavior?
While there are certainly exceptions, the American church seems to have gone the way of the mainstream media: pandering to a specific group which touts a very clear progressive ideology. Today’s churchgoer is likely to hear sermons about love and acceptance minus repentance and transformation. They are sure to hear that sacrifice is something God did for the world but there is hardly ever a mention of Christ’s admonition to anyone who would be His follower to “deny himself and take up his cross daily…” (Luke 9:23). They are sure to hear social justice mantras demanding equality and rights for all but never will they hear of John the Baptist’s words “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).
How did things get so messed up that the “prosperity gospel” is now embraced by four in ten evangelicals? “Holiness” has become synonymous with silly, God’s “wrath” has almost completely been deleted from the modern church lexicon, and “grace” is now God’s permissive character. The rainbow now has nothing to do with a promise God made, obedience of any kind is touted as an unfortunate remnant of patriarchal cultures, and neither the Holy Spirit nor the Devil actually exists according to many Christians.
How and why have so many churchgoers turned away from “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3)? I believe the answer is quite obvious:
Christians willingly gave up on the very first sentence of the Bible:
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
Spinoza and Kant laid the groundwork for doubting anything that could not be explained by reason in the late 17th (Spinoza) and 18th (Kant) centuries. Darwin published On the Origin of Species in the mid-19th century and Rudolf Bultmann capped it all off in the early 1940’s with his “demythologization” of the Bible. Because these men were “scholars” their word was considered gospel. Seminaries adopted their views and began to train the clergy according to “higher criticism.”
In my 32 years of pastoral ministry, I can’t tell you how many times I have preached on or mentioned creationism only to have a parishioner come to say afterward, “Well, I believe God used evolution as the mechanism of creation.” They hardly realize what they’ve bought into.
To begin with, reason cannot explain a lot of things, but we seem to have little trouble believing those things are real. Reason cannot explain self-awareness. It cannot explain morality (why is murder wrong?). Reason can’t even prove the human mind exists. Do we not know that we have those things? Reason is a good thing but it is not the be all and end all of what is either knowable or true.
Second, higher criticism turned to demythologizing the Bible because there was little archeological evidence for most of the biblical narrative. Well that has sure changed! There is mounting (recent) evidence for King David’s kingdom. The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls correlates to almost every book of the Old Testament. Archeological discoveries that confirm people, places, and events in the Bible are occurring in and around the Holy Land at an astonishing pace. There is simply less and less reason to doubt the veracity of the texts of both the Old and New Testaments.
Then there is Darwinian evolution. In On the Origin of Species Darwin himself acknowledges some rather insurmountable difficulties to his theory: “To the question why we do not find records of these vast primordial periods, I can give no satisfactory answer.” He goes on to admit that he also cannot explain “our not finding in the successive formations infinitely numerous transitional links between the many species which now exist or have existed.” As if that weren’t bad enough he also admits not being able to explain “the sudden manner in which whole groups of species appear in our European formations…” He was certain that, given enough time, transitional fossils would be found pervasively. Well, they haven’t. As a matter of fact, not a single one has ever been found! Piltdown Man, Nebraska Man, and archaeoraptor were all supposed to be transitional fossils. All were fakes.
Christians were intimidated by scholars and scientists into forsaking creationism for evolution. Every kid was taught in school that Christians condemned Galileo as a heretic for proclaiming that the Earth orbits the Sun. At least that is how it was put. I’m not exactly sure that “church inquisitors” of the medieval Roman Catholic Church were truly Christians but the accusation that Christians have always been hostile to science has been around since. And to hear today’s evolutionists tell it, evolution is a long ago proven fact. If you don’t believe it you must be stupid. Except that it is not a proven fact. Thirty minutes of actual research would reveal to anyone interested that almost nobody believes in Darwinian evolution today. His theory never was able to pass intellectual muster and so numerous other theories have “evolved.”
What our seminaries and congregants failed to take into account was that scholars and scientists are also human beings. Sinful human beings to be more specific. Just like the rest of us. They have bad attitudes, predispositions, and even prejudices. Some scientists were never interested in discovering truth. Just look at how ideology and politics have inundated the “science” of global warming. Remember the National Geographic image of the starving polar bear that was said to be the result of global warming? While it was a real starving polar bear, its condition had nothing to do with global warming or climate change or whatever you want to call it.
And so many in the church abandoned the first sentence in Scripture because they bought into the narrative that intelligent people don’t believe in myths. Here are some things they didn’t realize go hand in hand with embracing evolution:
1) They had to start ignoring much more than Genesis 1:1
The first three sentences in the Gospel of John claim that Jesus, not evolution, was the mechanism of creation. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3). It’s almost as if John were anticipating the evolutionary argument. The phrase “without him was not any thing made that was made” is stark and clear. There is no room for anything else as far as how what we see came into being. Add to that Colossians 1:15-17 and Hebrews 1:2-3.
2) If God is not a personal Creator then He is not “Our Father”
Think about it for a moment. If God used evolution to bring about humanity then He is not directly responsible for our being here. He just initiated a process and the process birthed mankind. That means there is really no familiarity or “likeness” with God. Today’s automobiles don’t have a relationship with Henry Ford.
Churchgoers who embrace evolution should also bear in mind these words from renowned evolutionist and Harvard paleontologist George Gaylord Simpson: “Man is the result of a purposeless and natural process that did not have him in mind.” Evolutionists don’t want Christians in their camp. Evolution has no room for God in any way, shape, form, or fashion. The hypocrisy of a churchgoing evolutionist as he begins to pray the Lord’s Prayer with “Our Father” is beyond the pale. There is simply no way to weld creation to evolution and have God as a Father who desires a relationship.
3) “Survival of the Fittest” replaces “The Golden Rule”
Evolution means we're just animals. We are not unique. All that biblical stuff about being created “a little lower than the angels” (Psalm 8:5) and being “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4) is just wishful thinking. If you bring evolution into the church you bring “might makes right.” You undermine sacrifice, humility, and selflessness. You won’t put the needs of others before your own (Philippians 2:3-4). Self-denial is replaced with narcissism. Marx and Engels relied heavily on Darwin as they brought communism into being.
4) Ethics and morality are for the weak
All that matters for those who embrace evolution is the end result. How you get there is of little or no consequence. For churchgoers who embrace evolution, sonship or daughterhood with God is replaced with happiness as the ultimate goal. God wants us happy and if cheating on my wife or using people to get what I want leads to happiness then so be it! After all, all that matters is making it to the top. If God created a process to bring forth mankind, it casts a dark shadow of waste over the cross of Christ.
Take a hard look at today’s church. Not just the really nice one you belong to. The bigger picture. You see the devaluation of human life, the eradication of civility, and the ‘my way or the highway’ mentality on proud display.
Rejecting biblical creation because you are too embarrassed to oppose evolution brings a lot of baggage with it. It doesn’t work. If God used evolution to bring us into being then He is not a loving Creator who knows us intimately and yearns to be called “Father.” Rather, we have a George Lucas cosmology wherein there is only a cosmic “force” which has a “dark side” to it. We have no obligation to prefer others before ourselves. And there is really no suitable explanation for Calvary and the resurrection (as well as Pentecost).
Purposelessness and despair have become entrenched in much of today’s church. It’s no wonder. They go hand in hand with “survival of the fittest.”
The Bible teaches that God created us. It says it repeatedly. Both Testaments. He is a loving Father who knows us intimately (if He knows the number of hairs on our heads that is intimate knowledge). He didn’t just create an assembly line putting evolution in charge. Perhaps the reason that today’s church is looking and behaving so much like culture is because it was kowtowed into giving up on creationism. Evolution doesn’t work with Christianity. Stick with the Bible. You’ll find it is the most logical and intelligent thing to do.
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them (Psalm 139:13-16).
This particle originally appeared on AFA's The Stand website.