Recently my family and I joined a small church plant pastored by a former student of mine at Christian Heritage College—a man of real wisdom and integrity.
A church constitution was being written, which, of course, included a Statement of Faith. A solid creation and young-earth plank appeared in the first draft.
Although there was no disagreement among the members (many of whom were young Christians) as to the doctrine of special, recent creation, there was concern in making this a requirement for membership. I was asked to comment.
Given the fact that most of America's Bible colleges and seminaries would not even agree with the content of the plank, I acknowledged my own hesitancy about being so exclusive, but I proceeded to demonstrate how beliefs in creation and a young earth are integral parts of Christianity.
The doctrine of God is at stake. for example, is the God of the Bible a gracious, purposeful God of wisdom, or does He resort to trial and error in His deeds, testing His creation by survival of the fittest and delighting in the extinction of the weaker? Is God long ago and far away—only occasionally involved, or is He near and intimately concerned with the affairs of life?
The doctrine of Scripture comes into play. There are few Biblical teachings as clear as that of creation in six days and the companion doctrine of the global flood. Yet these two teachings are denied and ridiculed in many Christian churches today. Can the Scriptures be trusted? Can God say what He means? If a Christian can distort Scripture to teach such beliefs as evolution, progressive creation, an old earth, or a local flood, can that Christian be trusted with other doctrines?
The doctrine of man becomes skewed. Can man, with a brain and reasoning powers distorted by the curse, evaluating only a portion of the evidence, accurately reconstruct the history of the universe? Should his historical reconstructions be put on a higher plane than Scripture? Or is man and his mind locked in the effects of the curse—a poor reflection of the once glorious "image of God"—now blinded by sin and the god of this world, seeing things through a glass darkly?"
The doctrine of sin becomes questionable. If death and bloodshed preceded Adam's rebellion against God, then what are "the ways of sin?" How did the entrance of sin change things?
The doctrine of salvation likewise falls, for if death preceded sin, then death is not the penalty for sin, and Christ's death on the cross—accomplished nothing. Any form of evolution and old-earth thinking is incompatible with the work of Christ.
I still am uncertain about young-earth creationism being a requirement for church membership; perhaps it would be proper to give new members time to grow and mature under good teaching.
But I do know one thing: Creationism should be a requirement for Christian leadership! No church should sanction a pastor, Sunday school teacher, deacon, elder, or Bible-study leader who knowledgeably and purposefully errs on this crucial doctrine.
*Dr. John Morris is the President of ICR.