Before His return to heaven, after His resurrection, the Lord Jesus Christ gave the great commission to all His disciples: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15).
In order to obey this most important commandment, it is essential that believers understand exactly what the gospel is. The word itself (Greek euaggelion) as applied to the true Gospel, occurs 74 times in the New Testament, and a related word (euaggelizo) is translated "preach the gospel" 22 times and "bring glad (or good) tidings" 5 times. The word means "the good news," and in all 101 of the above occurrences is applied to the good news concerning the Lord Jesus Christ.
It seems very significant that, of these 101 references to the gospel of Christ, the central reference is I Corinthians 15:1. The passage (I Corinthians 15:1-4) is, above all others, the definition passage for the gospel. It is here defined as the good news "that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures." Thus, the central focus of the true gospel is the substitutionary death, physical burial and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Note also four vital facts concerning this gospel: (1) it is something to be "received" and "believed" by faith, once for all; (2) it is the means by which we are "saved," continually and forever; (3) it is the fact upon which we firmly "stand;" (4) it is emphatically to be defined, understood and preached "according to the scriptures."
Although this is the central and key verse for the gospel, all other 100 occurrences are likewise important, if it is truly to be preached "according to the scriptures." It is especially important to study its first and last occurrences.
The first occurrence is in Matthew 4:23, which speaks of Jesus Himself "preaching the gospel of the kingdom." Thus, at the "beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God" (Mark 1:1), it was vital that those who believed and preached the gospel stress its final consummation, when Jesus Christ would finally be acknowledged by every creature to be "King of Kings and Lord of Lords" (Revelation 19:6).
The last occurrence of the word is in Revelation 14:6, which says the gospel is "the everlasting gospel" that must be preached to all nations and furthermore, that its greatest emphasis must be to "worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters" (Revelation 14:7). Thus, the first occurrence of "gospel" looks ahead to the consummation of all things and the last occurrence stresses the initial creation of all things. As the consummation approaches, it is increasingly important that men look back to the creation. But the creation was saved and the consummation assured when the great Creator and Consummator paid the infinite price for the world's redemption, when He died on the cross and rose again.
The gospel thus entails the full scope of the work of Jesus Christ, from creation to consummation, involving the whole sweep of His redemptive purpose in history. Only this is the gospel "according to the scriptures." One does not truly preach the gospel without emphasizing both the final consummation of God's purpose in creation and also the great fact of His marvelous creation itself, as well as the central core of the gospel, the atoning death and triumphant victory over death achieved by the incarnate Creator and Redeemer.
The same threefold work of Christ is expounded in Colossians 1:16-20. "By Him were all things created." Then, "by Him all things are being conserved (or saved)." Finally, "by Him all things are reconciled." Similarly, in Hebrews 1:2, He "made the worlds," then "upholds all things," and ultimately becomes "heir of all things." "For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen." (Romans 11:36).
The gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ therefore encompasses the threefold work of Christ — Creation, Conservation, Consummation — past, present and future. One preaches a gospel with no foundation if he neglects or distorts the creation, a gospel with no power if he omits the cross, and a gospel with no hope if he ignores or denies the coming kingdom. He preaches the gospel "according to the scriptures" only if all three are preached in fullness.
In light of these facts, how sadly mistaken are the great numbers of "evangelicals" (a word meaning "those who preach the gospel") who oppose or neglect the doctrine of creation. They tell us not to "waste time on peripheral controversies such as the evolution-creation question — just preach the gospel," not realizing that the gospel includes creation and precludes evolution! They say we should simply "emphasize saving faith, not faith in creation," forgetting that the greatest chapter on faith in the Bible (Hebrews 11) begins by stressing faith in the ex nihilo creation of all things by God's Word (verse 3) as preliminary to meaningful faith in any of His promises (verse 13). They advise us merely to "preach Christ," but ignore the fact that Christ was Creator before He became the Saviour, and that His finished work of salvation is meaningful only in light of His finished work of creation (Hebrews 4:3-10). They may wish, in order to avoid the offense of the true gospel, to regard creation as an unimportant matter, but God considered it so important that it was the subject of His first revelation. The first chapter of Genesis is the foundation of the Bible; if the foundation is undermined, the superstructure soon collapses.
Furthermore, in light of Revelation 14:6, 7, it becomes more important to emphasize creation with every day that passes. Satanic opposition intensifies as the end approaches. The anti-Gospel of anti-Christ can be effectively corrected only by the true gospel of the true Christ.
The Anti-Gospel of Evolution
In contrast to the gospel according to the scriptures, the evolutionary system is a religion diametrically in contrast to Christianity. The true gospel is "good news:" evolution is "bad news." Christ offers purpose and hope for eternity; evolution proffers randomness and uncertainty forever.
In the true gospel, the Lord Jesus Christ is the omniscient Creator. In evolution, God is replaced by natural selection.
"Darwin pointed out that no supernatural designer was needed; since natural selection could account for any known form of life, there was no room for a supernatural agency in its evolution."1
"For the devout of past centuries such perfection of adaptation seemed to provide irrefutable proof of the wisdom of the Creator. For the modern biologist it is evidence for the remarkable effectiveness of natural selection."2
Natural selection, however, is powerless to create or change anything by itself, serving only to "select" and "save" those features generated by the remarkable phenomenon known as genetic mutations.
"The process of mutation ultimately furnishes the materials for adaptation to changing environments. Genetic variations which increase the reproductive fitness of a population to its environment are preserved and multiplied by natural selection."3
However, mutations are not creative either. They have no purpose or program, but occur strictly at random.
"It remains true to say that we know of no way other than random mutation by which new hereditary variation comes into being."4
Natural selection is believed by evolutionists to have eliminated the need for an intelligent Creator, but natural selection must wait for mutations, and mutations depend on chance! The gospel of Christ is one of creative purpose; evolution bids us worship the great god Chance!
The gospel of Christ is "according to the scriptures," which were recorded as "holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (II Peter 1:21). The anti-gospel of evolution also has its scriptures, but instead of Moses, David and Paul, its prophets have names like Darwin, Huxley and Dobzhansky — against whom none in the academic world dare speak lest they be excommunicated.
The anti-gospel of evolution, while often professing to be strictly empirical and scientific, is in reality a full-fledged religious system, complete with cosmology, soteriology, ethics and eschatology.
Since man is believed to be the highest achievement of evolution to date, its leading proponents have even elevated man to the position of deity. Evolution has become "incarnate" in man, and thus man can now worship himself, in a formal system of religion called humanism. He not only is the product of evolution but can now even control his future evolution, so he believes.
"Humanism is the belief that man shapes his own destiny. It is a constructive philosophy, a non-theistic religion, a way of life."5
"Man created himself even as he created his culture and thereby he became dependent upon it."6
"In giving rise to man, the evolutionary process has, apparently for the first and only time in the history of the Cosmos, become conscious of itself."7
That humanism is nothing but evolutionism formalized as man-worship is indicated by one of the founders of the Humanist Association, leading evolutionist Julian Huxley:
"I use the word humanist to mean someone who believes that man is just as much a natural phenomenon as an animal or plant; that his body, mind and soul were not supernaturally created but are products of evolution, and that he is not under the control or guidance of any supernatural being or beings, but has to rely on himself and his own powers."8
Another founding father of the American Humanist Association was John Dewey, the man more responsible than any other single individual for the secularization and antitheistic bias of the American public education system. Dewey was an evolutionary pantheist, regarding man as the most highly evolved animal and thus as the personification of evolution.
"There are no doubt sufficiently profound distinctions between the ethical process and the cosmic process as it existed prior to man and to the formation of human society. So far as I know, however, all of these differences are summed up in the fact that the process and the forces bound up with the cosmic have come to consciousness in man"9
Evolution, or evolutionary humanism, is thus in effect a state-established religion in which the true God of creation has been replaced by random forces and natural selection and then by man himself. That this is essentially the philosophy of the coming anti-Christ and his world government is indicated by many of the prophetic Scriptures.
"Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen." (Romans 1: 25).
" — there shall come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed — who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God — ." (II Thessalonians 2:3,4).
"And he shall speak great words against the most High, — and think to change times and laws." (Daniel 7:25).
"Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all. But in his estate shall he honor the God of forces." (Daniel 11:37, 38).
"And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, — and all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him." (Revelation 13:6,7).
In addition to its deification of man, evolutionary humanism incorporates all the other attributes of a complete system of religion. Consider the following facts.
(1) It is not merely a theory of biology or anthropology, but rather is a complete cosmology, embracing everything in space and time in its system.
"Evolution comprises all the stages of the development of the universe: the cosmic, biological, and human or cultural developments."10
"Most enlightened persons now accept as a fact that everything in the cosmos — from heavenly bodies to human beings — has developed and continues to develop through evolutionary processes."11
"Our present knowledge indeed forces us to the view that the whole of reality is evolution — a single process of self-transformation."12
In this picture of total evolution, the eternal God is replaced by eternal matter, which has through billions of years evolved itself from primeval randomly-moving particles into complex particular people and cultures. The process of "creation" is replaced by random mutations and natural selection.
(2) Evolutionary humanism incorporates a system of soteriology — that is, a doctrine of salvation. In the gospel of Christ, salvation is obtained by grace through faith in the substitutionary death of Christ for man's sins. The anti-gospel, however, proposes that man must save himself.
"Through the unprecedented faculty of long-range foresight, jointly serviced and exercised by us, we can, in securing and advancing our position, increasingly avoid the missteps of blind nature, circumvent its cruelties, reform our own natures, and enhance our own values."13
"Evolutionary man can no longer take refuge from his loneliness by creeping for shelter into the arms of a divinized father figure whom he himself has created."14
"No deity will save us; we must save ourselves."15
(3) Evolution also proposes and endorses a system of "scientific" ethics. The ethical system of the Christian gospel is based on love for Christ and one's fellow men. That of evolutionary humanism is based on whatever is judged, by the scientific and political establishments, to be conducive to further evolutionary progress in human societies. Since these establishments vary in space and time, so do their particular evolutionary ethical systems.
"Suffice it to mention the so-called Social Darwinism, which often sought to justify the inhumanity of man to man, and the biological racism which furnished a fraudulent scientific sanction for the atrocities committed in Hitler's Germany and elsewhere."16
"The law of evolution, as formulated by Darwin, provides an explanation of wars between nations, the only reasonable explanation known to us."17
The evolutionary basis of racism, imperialism, and economic exploitation are not commonly defended by evolutionists today, but modern evolutionists are no less ready to formulate their own ethical systems, usually in terms of evolutionary socialism.
"The foregoing conclusions represent, I believe, an outgrowth of the thesis of modern humanism, as well as of the study of evolution, that the primary job for man is to promote his own welfare and advancement, both that of his members considered individually and that of the all-inclusive group in due awareness of the world as it is, and on the basis of a naturalistic, scientific ethics."18
Christian standards of ethical behavior are, of course, codified and explained in the Bible, and are given by divine revelation for man's guidance and benefit. Evolutionary ethics can never be absolute, but must themselves evolve.
"Thus, human 'goodness' and behavior considered ethical by many societies probably are evolutionary acquisitions of man and require fostering, — An ethical system that basis its premises on absolute pronouncements will not usually be acceptable to those who view human nature by evolutionary criteria."19
(4) Evolution even has an eschatology, a doctrine of future things. To considerable degree, of course, this merges with its soteriology, since salvation is not believed to apply to any future life but to this life and this world only. Humanists believe, however, that by manipulation of the evolutionary process, both genetically and sociologically, a glorious future awaits mankind.
"We no longer need be subject to blind external forces but can manipulate the environment and eventually may be able to manipulate our genes."20
"Man's unique characteristic among animals is his ability to direct and control his own evolution, and science is his most powerful tool for doing this."21
Thus, exactly as does the Christian gospel, the anti-gospel of evolution also has a doctrine of origins, a system of morals and ethics, a way of salvation, and a doctrine of consummation, all of which are polar opposites of the corresponding aspects of the true gospel. Evolution is nothing but a naturalistic religious system, erected in opposition to the gospel of supernatural creation, conservation, and consummation centered in Christ and revealed in Scripture.
Julian Huxley, in Issues in Evolution (Sol Tax, Editor; University of Chicago Press, 1960), p. 45.
Ernst Mayr, "Behaviour Programs and Evolutionary Strategies," American Scientist (Vol. 62, November-December, 1974), p. 650.
Francisco J. Ayala, "Genotype, Environment and Population Numbers," Science, Vol. 162, December 27, 1968, p. 1456.
C. H. Waddington, The Nature of Life (New York, Anthenium, 1962), p. 98.
Promotional brochure, American Humanist Association, distributed by Humanist Society of San Jose, California.
Rene Dubos, "Humanistic Biology," American Scientist, Vol. 53, March 1965, p. 8.
Theodosius Dobzhansky, "Changing Man," Science, Vol. 155, January 27, 1967, p. 409.
Julian Huxley, American Humanist Association promotional brochure, op cit.
John Dewey, "Evolution and Ethics," Scientific Monthly, Vol. 78, February, 1954, p. 66.
Theodosius Dobzhansky, "Changing Man," Science, Vol. 155, January 27, 1967, p. 409.
Rene Dubos, "Humanistic Biology," American Scientist, Vol. 53, March, 1965, p. 6.
Julian Huxley, "Evolution and Genetics," in What Is Man? (Ed. by J. R. Newman, New York, Simon and Schuster, 1955), p. 278.
H. J. Muller, "Human Values in Relation to Evolution," Science, Vol. 127, March 21, 1958, p. 629.
Julian Huxley, Keynote address at Darwin Centennial Convocation, University of Chicago, November 27, 1959.
1974 Manifesto of American Humanist Association.
Theodosius Dobzhansky, "Evolution at Work," Science, May 9, 1958, p. 1091.
Arthur Keith, Evolution and Ethics (New York, G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1947), p. 149.
H. J. Muller, "Human Values in Relation to Evolution," Science, Vol. 127, March 21, 1958, p. 629.
Arno G. Motulsky, "Brave New World?" Science, Vol. 185, August 23, 1974, p. 654.
Ibid, p. 653.
Hudson Hoagland, "Science and the New Humanism," Science, Vol. 143, January 10, 1964, p. 111.
*Dr. Morris is Founder and President Emeritus of ICR.