Compromises and Consequences - The Genesis Account
by Fred Willson, M.S.
The world of unbelievers expects that those who call themselves Christians will believe that the Genesis account is literally and historically true. This is seen in their writings. These writers clearly understand the plain meaning of these chapters, and most of them have little respect for those who compromise on them.
Some readers may ask whether a non-Christian is really able to understand what God wrote in Genesis One. After all, we read in I Corinthians 2:14 that, "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." However, this Scripture must be compared to Romans 1:20: "The invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse." This verse teaches that all men should know that God exists. The very fact that God states that all are "without excuse" means that they can understand Genesis One. This concept is confirmed by statements of many non-Christians.
Another good reason why unbelievers can understand the Genesis narrative is based on the goodness of God. A good God would communicate to His creatures. Thus, they could know where they came from, who they are, why they are here, and how to live. God created language for communicating content that could be understood. If people were unable to understand what God has written, it would mean that God was neither sovereign nor omniscient, and thus not good. Therefore, we should expect the unbeliever to understand the creation account. We also should not be surprised when they are somewhat dumbfounded to find many Christians accepting viewpoints contrary to the plainest understanding of what God has written. This attitude is seen in a sarcastic rebuke of Christians by T. H. Huxley, a man who actively labored for evolutionism and against creationism. "If we listen to many expositors of no mean authority, we must believe that what seems so clearly defined in Genesis . . . as if great pains had been taken that there should be no possibility of mistake . . . is not the meaning of the text at all . . . A person who is not a Hebrew scholar can only stand aside and admire the marvelous flexibility of a language which admits of such diverse interpretations."  Scriptural language allows only one correct interpretation (though many applications). For Christians to allow the Genesis account more than one interpretation makes it meaningless. Huxley understood this and reproached us for not being honest in our exegesis.
We can observe this attitude from other non-believers. Marcus Dods, an evolutionist and Hebrew scholar, stated: "If, for example, the word 'day' in these chapters does not mean a period of twenty-four hours, the interpretation of scripture is hopeless."  If sense cannot be made of the creation account, which is the basis of all the rest, then believing the rest of Scripture becomes unrealistic at best.
Note the question raised by Frank Cassel: "I still wonder whether he [the Christian who compromises with long ages] has given me more time [in the genealogies of Genesis] because I demand it, or because it's really there. The same question applies to the days of Genesis and to the universality of the Noachian Flood."  Are Christians compromising the truth merely to win a hearing? Unbelievers are sharp enough to perceive this deceit. As Scripture states, "Cursed is the man that doeth the work of the LORD deceitfully"( Jeremiah 48:10).
Tom McIver, writer of anti-creationist articles and books, raps Christians for trying to make Genesis fit evolutionary science. In a lengthy article (in which it appears he must have read everything written by Christians on the day-age theory and gap-theory) he has this to say: "Each ('day-age' or 'gap-theory'). . . involves critical compromises with the plainest, most literal reading of the Bible to force Scripture into concordance with scientific evidence regarding the age of the earth." 
Dr. McIver is perceptive enough, as are many unbelievers, to see inconsistencies in Christian thinking. Therefore when we say we believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, we must show it by our words and works. Otherwise the world will treat Christianity as just another belief system in the smorgasbord of religions, and not as the only true one.
For contrast we have a secular evolutionist who gives "three cheers" for non-compromising creationists. He says: "Many creationists have taken the dishonest way of lengthening the days into millions of years, but the creationists make it clear that such an approach is nothing but a makeshift and is unacceptable Biblically and scientifically. . . ." 
These quotes by non-Christians show us the following: they understand what Genesis means, even though they don't believe it; they do not respect Christians who compromise on what it plainly states; and they want Christians to be honest with the text. Obviously, then, we who call ourselves Christians must stand firm for the truth of a literal and historical Genesis.
Having now considered what non-believers think of compromising Christians, let us consider the effects that compromising has produced. Ideas have consequences. As surely as effect follows cause, compromising produces bad fruit.
Princeton Theological Seminary's road to liberalism began when some of its stalwart Christian leaders compromised Scripture with evolutionary science. It began with Charles Hodge, American Calvinist theologian, who opposed evolution but accepted the great age of the earth required by evolutionists. His compromise position was assumed by his son when he succeeded his father at the seminary. "Like his father, Alexander Hodge . . . admitted the evidence for a vast antiquity of the earth and that man may have been introduced upon it much earlier than the Genesis record seemed to allow. . . . Warfield, who succeeded him, accepted this judgment. . . . Warfield assured his readers that evolution . . . could 'supply a theory of the method of divine providence.' . . . The thin edge of the evolutionary wedge was to prove disastrous—not only for Princeton Theological Seminary, but for many other seminaries on the American continent and in other English speaking countries." 
Consider also the sad results of the compromise position taken by Augustus H. Strong (famous author of Systematic Theology). He wrote: "We concede that man has a brute ancestry." Then in his less well-known Christ in Creation, he frankly admitted that as man received his body from an ape-like ancestor, there was no reason why we might not admit that this was how he also received his spirit. When Professor Strong completed this manuscript, he requested that his son Charles proofread it for him. Charles was perceptive enough to see that his father was misleading his readers. The end result was that Charles abandoned his position as a Christian, becoming one of the most militant proponents of atheism until the day of his death.
But that is not the end of the story, sadly enough. For the Strongs were well-to-do and moved in wealthy circles. Among their friends were such men as John D. Rockefeller, Chauncey Depew, and Andrew Carnegie. The first made his fortune in oil, the second in the railway business, and the third in steel. Each of them was totally ruthless in his business tactics, arguing that they were only acting according to evolutionary principles which were God's methods in nature. "They must have received no little comfort from the fact their evangelical friend and scholar, A. H. Strong, could be depended upon to support them in their philosophy." 
This account illustrates that when Christians try to make Scripture fit the so-called science of the day, the results can be devastating. The same sad decline happened in Western Europe, former bastion of Reformation doctrine. Josef Ton, pastor of the largest church in Romania, formerly living in exile in America but now back in Romania, came to the conclusion that there were two factors which destroyed Christianity in Western Europe. One was the theory of evolution, and the other, liberal theology.
It is tragic to realize that Western Europe rapidly changed from an area of strong Protestant faith to its present-day paganism. The cause was not evolution by itself, but Christians compromising to make Scripture fit evolution. Consider Great Britain, once a nation where Christianity had great influence. It produced such eminent Christians as John Wycliffe, Hudson Taylor, Charles Spurgeon, John Wesley, and others. It spawned notable mission societies. And yet today, according to a survey, "Britain emerges as one of the most irreligious countries in the western World. . . ."  What was the cause? Newman Watts, in compiling his book, Britain Without God, stated: "I had to read a great deal of anti-religious literature. Two things impressed me. One was the tremendous amount of this literature available, and the other was the fact that every attack on the Christian faith made today has as its basis, the doctrine of evolution." 
Evolutionary philosophy, coupled with compromise by Christians on the Genesis account, changed the course of these nations. And what about America? In its beginning, America was considered a Christian nation. Today its major religion is secular humanism. What produced this change? According to Oswald Skov, "Evolutionists use 'chance and millions of years' to explain the origin of all things, a theory set forth by Darwin in 1859. When he extended his hypothesis in his book, The Descent of Man, in 1871, the churches put up a storm of protest for a while, but by 1900 the liberals had made it acceptable. A failure to plug this hole caused the dam of conservative theology to burst with a flood of all kinds of denials of Biblical truth."  And what happens to the Church when certain Bible truths are denied? According to R. J. Rushdoony, it "begins to move in terms of humanistic and political power rather than the power of God." 
Causes have effects. As Ed Wharton notes, "Any view of these chapters in Genesis other than authentic history will necessarily regard the genealogies and the tracing of the messianic seed-line as unhistorical and unimportant. This will eat away at trust in God's Word and cause faith's fire to go out." 
We see the faith of many in churches today being eroded away. This is the result of too few pastors realizing the importance of the doctrine of strict creationism. Is it any wonder then that a writer stated: "More cases of loss of religious faith are to be traced to the theory of evolution . . . than to anything else?" 
To show how contemporary this issue is, consider the following letter sent to a staff member at the Institute for Creation Research: "A good friend of mine, formerly accepting the six-day literal creation, after reading Hugh Ross's book (Ross teaches the big bang, a 4.6 billion-year-old earth, and a local Noachian flood), Fingerprint of God, and some secular books, is now considering evolution and even doubting God. He also said that Christian men he admired endorsed the book . . . ." This tragic example is what happens when scientists and Christian leaders compromise on what Genesis says.
Let us summarize. We have considered the attitude of unbelievers toward compromising Christians. We have seen from its consequences that it affects nations and individuals, the Christian faith, and the credibility of Scripture. It is therefore imperative that the Christian Church once again return to the foundational beliefs it once held. This will require that it view the first chapters of Genesis as literally and historically true. It must not allow falsehood and truth to lie side by side. Tenderly and lovingly, yet earnestly and firmly, without apology, it must always be intensely bold for the truth.
Let's end where we began and be, as Albert Camus (a humanist) says we should be, where "not even the simplest man can have the slightest doubt about what they (we) are saying."
 T. H. Huxley, Quoted in "God Spoke by Moses," by O. T. Allis, 1951, p. 158.
 Marcus Dods, The Book of Genesis, Armstrong, NY, 1907, p. 4.
 J. Frank Cassel, "The Origin of Man and the Bible," Journal of American Affiliation, XII, No. 2, June, 1960, p. 15.
 "Formless and Void: Gap Theory Creationism," by Tom McIver. Creation/Evolution XXIV, Volume 8, Number 3, Amherst, NY, 1988.
 A. I. Mattill, Jr., "Three Cheers for the Creationists," Free Inquiry," (Vol. 2, Spring 1982), p. 17,18.
 Arthur Custance, Two Men Called Adam, Brockville, Ontario, Canada, 1983, p. 3.
 Our Daily Bread Radio Bible Class, Grand Rapids, MI, 1991, Vol. 36.
 Newman Watts, Why Be An Ape . . . ?, Marshall, Morgan & Scott, LTD., London, 1936, p. 97.
 Oswald Skov, What is Truth? p. 8.
[1l] R. J. Rushdoony, The Necessity of Creationism. A pamphlet. Jotham Productions, Inc., Pasadena, CA.
 Ed Wharton, quoted in "Genesis 1-11: Litral & Historical or Mythological and Allegorical," Reason and Revelation, September, 1982, Vol. II, No. 9, p. 40.
 Huston Smith, "Evolution and Evolutionism,"Christian Century, July 7-14, 1982, p. 755.
* Fred Wilson, M.S., is ICR's Extension Specialist in Science Education.