It is always heartbreaking to see someone reject the truth of God’s Word. But it’s doubly so when those rejecting the truth profess to know and love the Lord.
The sad truth—revealed again in recent weeks through some of the comments we’ve received—is that the creation account in Genesis is at least as controversial and contested inside the church as it is in the world. We’ve seen a flurry of arguments against the literal interpretation of Genesis 1—most of them from people who profess to know and love the Lord. Personally, I’ve got no reason to doubt their salvation. But I am nonetheless grieved to see them compromising with the world regarding what the Lord Himself said about His creative work.
Perhaps what troubles me most is the reasoning behind their compromise. In broad terms, the idea is that the church will have an easier time winning the world to Christ if our view of creation accommodates the theories and assertions of secular science. The modern world is simply too scientifically savvy to believe in a six-day creation, a global flood, or anything else Genesis teaches us about the shaping of the world and how we got here. If we want people to listen to what we have to say about Christ and salvation, we need to be less rigid about the literal reading of Genesis. Otherwise, they’ll be intellectually insulted and turned off to the Bible altogether.
If anything, Christians who compromise the clear meaning of Scripture give the unbelieving world license to not take it seriously either. It’s an encouragement to those who already want to read the Bible as nothing more than wisdom literature and allegorical fables. It certainly doesn’t promote any confidence or dependence on God’s truth if we’re encouraging the unbelieving world to disregard the very first claims His Word makes.
Put simply, I reject the notion that accommodating secular science has any positive evangelistic impact whatsoever.
The gospel is not a reasonable proposition to begin with. Paul says the preaching of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing (1 Corinthians 1:18). In this cynical, skeptical world, believing in any of God’s miraculous works—from the creation of the world to the resurrection of His Son, and everything between—qualifies as laughable foolishness. A gospel devoid of such offending foolishness is no gospel at all.
Add to that what we know about the nature of unbelief from Romans 1:18-22. The world is still waging its ancient campaign to suppress the truth. They have rejected the evidence of God’s character that shines through His creative work, and refuse to give Him the honor or thanks He deserves. Paul describes the results in verse 21: “they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”
The way to bring the gospel to people lost in that desperate condition is not to accommodate their “futile speculations.” If the gospel you preach is nothing but an academic, intellectual appeal built on compromise with the wisdom of this world, it will invariably fail. No one has ever been debated into the kingdom.
Instead, as Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:2, we must “[commend] ourselves to every man’s conscience.” Creation speaks to the character and nature of God, so that unrepentant man is without excuse (Romans 1:20). No amount of data or theories can truly assuage the naturalists’ nagging consciences—frankly, that accusing conscience is why some of them are so aggressive in their assaults on the Genesis account.
If we want to penetrate the darkness of their unrepentant hearts, we’re not going to do it with half-measure compromises about the veracity of God’s Word, or the nature of His creative work. We can’t hope to illuminate darkened hearts with the light of God’s Word if we’re busy making concessions to the flawed theories and blind assertions of unrepentant men.
Instead, we must hold fast to the truth of Scripture, trust in the sufficiency of God’s Word and the work of His Spirit through it, and boldly proclaim the foolishness of the gospel to a world in desperate need of it. Nothing we do can make the seed of the gospel more believable, or more powerful—our job is simply to sow it faithfully.