Anchors Away? Confronting biblical drift among today's evangelicals
by Lawrence E. Ford, Sr. *
February 2009 was a hallmark month for those who communicate biblical truth--something the Institute for Creation Research has been involved in for the past 40 years. While the world lit candles for Charles Darwin's 200th birthday, ICR participated in a number of national events that addressed creation and evolution, biblical authority, church ministry, and Christian media.
ICR CEO Dr. Henry Morris III attended the annual Pastors Conference held at First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida. Senior Pastor Dr. Mac Brunson is both a friend to ICR and a man of God who refuses to compromise on biblical truth. ICR gave away some 6,000 books and magazines that deal with biblical creation and the fallacy of evolution.
One of the comments Dr. Morris shared with me after the conference was the emphasis of many of the speakers on the subject of integrity--as a person, as a minister, and as a conduit for biblical truth--communicating the Word of God clearly and authoritatively.
A Dangerous Drift
What a contrast to the national pastors conference I attended in California that same week, where pastors and Christian workers listened to high profile and emerging speakers who are known to take casual liberties with the text of Scripture in the process of ministering the gospel or "doing ministry." I was pleased to give out the same books and magazines to these leaders who need the truth.
On the last evening, a young ministerial student approached the ICR booth and listened to our description of ICR’s mission and ministry.
"Oh, I really don't see it that way," he stated. "My church teaches that the Bible may be inspired, but it's not inerrant. It's all about man's description of God."
I couldn't keep my jaw from dropping at this very matter-of-fact admission. This was supposed to be an "evangelical" pastors conference, sponsored by one of the largest Christian publishers in the world--a Bible publisher, no less.
After probing a bit about the contradictions inherent in his understanding of God and Scripture, I handed him several biblical commentaries for his study. I can only pray that he will learn to honor the Creator and His Word as supremely authoritative.
In Nashville the week before, I was privileged to represent ICR at the National Religious Broadcasters convention. ICR produces three radio programs--Science, Scripture & Salvation, Back to Genesis, and De Regreso a Genesis--airing on 1,500 radio outlets. While this was primarily a meeting of media professionals from around the world, I was blessed by many of the special preaching sessions, including the worship service taught by our friend Dr. John MacArthur. His sermon, emphasizing the absence of the word "slave" in many of the Bible translations, reminded me of a dangerous drift in the evangelical world, where the Bible is no longer taken at face value, and where the sensibilities of men are the primary interpreters of God's Word.
Fuzzy on the Details
At the NRB, I met with a number of industry representatives in Christian radio and television to discuss the future of issues such as the decline of talk and teaching programs on radio, the opportunities for ICR programs on television both here and abroad, and the explosion of Christian ministry through the medium of the Internet.
Passing out our special February "Darwin issue" of Acts & Facts along with my business card, the responses I received were telling. A few individuals actually understood the significance of February 2009. Others were fuzzy on the details, to say the least.
"Oh, yeah. Darwin's birthday, isn't it?"
"That's right! Isn't February the anniversary of his book on evolution?"
"I read something about it in the Nashville newspaper this morning."
"Really? I wasn't aware."
"We're really not doing anything on the subject in February."
At both conferences I attended were Christian news professionals who indicated that Darwin, evolution, and creation were not on the publishing schedule for February. One individual said that while an evolution article would be presented in his popular Christian magazine, it had not been decided "how to work creation in."
Contrast this with the numerous calls we received at ICR during January and February from U.S. News & World Report, The Guardian, Fox News, PBS, and other secular media outlets from around the world wanting interviews and articles dealing with the influence of Charles Darwin, the creation-evolution debate, etc.
The philosophy of evolution popularized by Charles Darwin in 1859 has literally transformed the thinking of societies around the world. And even though many honest scientists would distance themselves from much of the inadequate scientific conclusions of Darwin, they nonetheless cling to this origins-by-accident "theory" as the only alternative to man’s enduring belief in a Creator.
Why? Because evolution, though dogged by scientific weaknesses (admitted by evolutionists of every generation), is the most acceptable explanation of the origin of life for those who are running as far from God (and moral responsibility) as they can. Darwin is atheism's prophet and evolutionary science is its sacred book.
Prominent evolutionary biologist William Provine of Cornell University sees evolution as freedom:
Let me summarize my views on what modern evolutionary biology tells us loud and clear--and these are basically Darwin’s views. There are no gods, no purposes, and no goal-directed forces of any kind. There is no life after death. When I die, I am absolutely certain that I am going to be dead. That’s the end of me. There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning in life, and no free will for humans, either. What an unintelligible idea.1
Placing Task Over Text
The church today speaks of the priority of evangelism in ministry, and I would second this commitment. But I fear for those churches that place a ministry objective over doctrine, a task over the text of Scripture. Evangelism is not just any task--it is a priority command by Christ Himself. But Christ, the Creator of the entire world, did not expect His own Word to be diminished when His people carry out that commission. (See Psalm 138:2.)
And while prominent Christians publicly declare their deviation from the plain reading of the Bible (and even accuse Henry Morris and ICR of harming the work of evangelism), at least they are talking about the subject of the Creator. Too many ministers today don't even bring it up, remaining rather lukewarm in their stand on the very first book of the Bible.
Can you recall the last time your pastor or Sunday school leaders tackled the topic of creation and the book of Genesis? Do you even know for certain where your pastor stands on Genesis 1 and 2? Does he believe God created the world in six 24-hour days, or in millions and billions of years? Does he believe that the Flood covered the entire earth? Is your pastor one of the over 12,000 clergy who recently signed the pro-Darwin and pro-evolution statement?2 Ask your church leaders where they stand. I think you will be surprised and challenged by what you hear.
The Anchor of Scripture
This current drift from biblical truth was brought home to us recently in an appeal letter sent out by television personality John Ankerberg, parroting the views of astronomer Hugh Ross and his evolution-based day-age theory of creation.3
Those who claim that God sparked the Big Bang, that "evening and morning" in Genesis 1 really represent millions and billions of years, that there were too many events on "Day 6" for God to have accomplished them in 24 hours, etc., exalt the science of men over the Word of God. It's a drift from orthodoxy. And ICR is concerned about this in two fundamental areas.
First, the "science" of those who refuse to take God at His Word, opting rather to trust in naturalistically-based theories, is fundamentally flawed. And second, these same leaders suggest that God does not mean what He said; evidently, only Ph.D. scientists can interpret the Bible correctly. Both issues contribute to a growing lack of confidence in the Bible, as the young Bible college student I met illustrates.
I am reminded of the Apostle Paul's warning in 2 Corinthians 11:4: "But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ."
This March issue of Acts & Facts magazine will address many of the arguments that have contributed to the biblical drift now spreading in the evangelical church, particularly as it affects an understanding of God, the Creator, and the Genesis record. Paul warned us in Colossians 2:8 that we are to beware of those who would attempt to take us captive through various philosophical arguments and hollow deceptions that are based on the "traditions of men" rather than "according to Christ."
My prayer is that you will hold steadfast to the anchor of Scripture, which will never lead you astray.
- Provine, W.B. 1994. Origins Research. 16 (1): 9
- For more information, visit the Clergy Letter Project website at www.butler.edu/clergyproject/rel_evol_su
- Both Dr. Ankerberg's letter and ICR's response, "Science vs. Scripture," can be read at icr.org/article/4453.
* Mr. Ford is Executive Editor.
Cite this article: Ford, L. 2009. Anchors Away? Acts & Facts. 38 (3): 4.