Why Christians should not divide over the age of the earth

Tags 

Meh

I think Christians shouldn't pretend that this is a secondary issue. It isn't. It goes to the issue of hermeneutics and the entire early Genesis chronology. There is a pervasive drive to minimize everything in favor of a Gospel center. There are Christians who actually believe these issues are important enough to care about . . .

TylerR is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs here.

Very important issue, yes, but...

Tyler, would you say that someone who believes in an old earth is not saved?

To me, that is what defines a primary issue. And if the answer is yes, then it is a primary issue.

If the answer is no, then it isn't primary which would make it what? The next two choices are secondary and tertiary. So...

But don't get me wrong, I think it is a very important issue. Its just that sometimes you might have people come into your local church fellowship who are real believers in the Lord but have not gotten this point yet. Are we prepared to simply brush them off or insist they change? One of the problems with matters like this is that people can become emotionally attached to the ideas they hold and persist in a wrong position for some time. As long as they are not divisive about it in the local church, I am willing to try to help them along, though I wouldn't put them into leadership.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Don

There are issues Christians disagree over. What I think we should avoid is a deliberate minimization of those issues as if they're secondary. This doesn't mean we should hurl accusations of apostasy around or fashion voodoo dolls and begin sticking them with pins. But, it does mean we should actually explain what we think is important and why, instead of a deliberate minimization.

TylerR is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs here.

Who are the grantees?

Steve Newman wrote:

This is a program to promote the accepting of evolution by Christians. The $$ will be too much for many to pass up.

Do we know who the grantees will be who are doing being funded for these various projects (which are mentioned in the info-graphic at the link you provided)?

Thomas Overmiller
Pastor | www.studygodsword.com
Blog & Podcast | www.shepherdthoughts.com

TylerR wrote:

TylerR wrote:

There are issues Christians disagree over. What I think we should avoid is a deliberate minimization of those issues as if they're secondary. This doesn't mean we should hurl accusations of apostasy around or fashion voodoo dolls and begin sticking them with pins. But, it does mean we should actually explain what we think is important and why, instead of a deliberate minimization.

I don't disagree with what you say. I'm just quibbling with terminology.

To me, if someone won't accept the deity of Christ (for instance), he/she is not a Christian. That would seem to be primary. But old earth/young earth? I don't think its the same.

I agree that it is important and we should not minimize it.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Don Johnson wrote:

Don Johnson wrote:

But don't get me wrong, I think it is a very important issue. Its just that sometimes you might have people come into your local church fellowship who are real believers in the Lord but have not gotten this point yet. Are we prepared to simply brush them off or insist they change? One of the problems with matters like this is that people can become emotionally attached to the ideas they hold and persist in a wrong position for some time. As long as they are not divisive about it in the local church, I am willing to try to help them along, though I wouldn't put them into leadership.

I would agree.  But in many cases (maybe most), of my interaction with current old-earth believers, is that there is a whole host of other problematic theological leanings of this individual.  While it may or may not affect their salvation, a correct view of sin and Christ is critical to both salvation and growth.  We continue to have articles that are increasingly popping up encouraging us to diminish the belief in a literal creation.  And I see this as a continuing attack by Satan to slowly minimize Scripture.  To me that is the more critical issue.  The slow deterioration of the institutes of Scripture (marriage, womanhood/manhood, the Church....) and the slow deterioration of Scripture by science is problematic.  We have entered an age where man's Science and Knowledge reign supreme.  And it eats at the very heart of the Gospel.  While it may not be a primary issue in and of itself, it is definitely an approach to slowly knock away at primary issues.

Yup

We continue to have articles that are increasingly popping up encouraging us to diminish the belief in a literal creation.  And I see this as a continuing attack by Satan to slowly minimize Scripture.  To me that is the more critical issue.  The slow deterioration of the institutes of Scripture (marriage, womanhood/manhood, the Church....) and the slow deterioration of Scripture by science is problematic. 

I wouldn't separate from someone who insisted that the Earth is millions of years old, but it's always the accompanying ideas and principles that come along with it - especially the adoption of evolution in some form - that I absolutely would separate over.  We've had this discussion on SI before, although it's been a long time.

This position may be similar to a theological AIDS - it won't kill you itself, but all the other baggage that comes along with that certainly will destroy your faith and you.

 

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Primary/secondary

Don Johnson wrote:

TylerR wrote:

There are issues Christians disagree over. What I think we should avoid is a deliberate minimization of those issues as if they're secondary. This doesn't mean we should hurl accusations of apostasy around or fashion voodoo dolls and begin sticking them with pins. But, it does mean we should actually explain what we think is important and why, instead of a deliberate minimization.

I don't disagree with what you say. I'm just quibbling with terminology.

To me, if someone won't accept the deity of Christ (for instance), he/she is not a Christian. That would seem to be primary. But old earth/young earth? I don't think its the same.

I agree that it is important and we should not minimize it.

Don, 

I appreciate your reasonable response. Old earth/young earth debates are important but do not seem to be as important in church history or even early fundamentalism. 

I'm not sure when old earth/young earth became a separation issue for some. I suspect it might have begun around the time of Morris and Whitcomb and "The Genesis Flood" in the early 1960s but I stand to be corrected. I share the concerns over Biologos and would separate over the denial of the historicity of Adam and Eve and divine creation. I would not separate over the age of the earth or make it a test for leadership. I don't recall the question ever coming up in any churches I've been part of. 

The earth certainly "appears" to be old. Of course, as some advocate, God could've created the earth with the appearance of age. That's a subject of debate but not taught in Scripture. Old earth position has not in itself entailed denial of creation or of Adam and Eve. 

Steve

Follow the money

Answers in Genesis has some good breakdowns of where the money is going in their magazine. You can google some of the info. 

Simply pointing this out:

 

The Gap Theory (a variant of Old Earth Creationism) was what was taught at BJU (founded 1927) for the first few decades of its existence. 

It wasn't until sometime after Whitcomb and Morris published The Genesis Flood  (1961) that the school began to teach Young Earth Creationism

Steve Davis wrote:

Steve Davis wrote:

The earth certainly "appears" to be old. Of course, as some advocate, God could've created the earth with the appearance of age. That's a subject of debate but not taught in Scripture. Old earth position has not in itself entailed denial of creation or of Adam and Eve. 

Steve

The problem you have, and you clearly see it where Biologos has gone, is that the natural inclination is to question a historical Adam and Eve.  Sure the earth looks old, so the old earth hypothesis is examined, but you have the same issue with skeletons.  There are clearly skeletons (if you use the same aging mechanism as the earth) that are very old and non-human.  So how do you explain that.  And what you end up doing is going down a vicious cycle, and you begin to embrace hominids and other elements before an Adam and Adam was really the first chosen evolutionary character that God chose.  Every friend that I have that believes in old-earth has eventually embraced a non-historical or a death before Adam approach.

AIG: About 6,000 Years or 10,000 Years—Does It Matter?

https://answersingenesis.org/why-does-creation-matter/about-6000-years-o...

It is the issue of trying to stretch as much time out in the Bible as you can. Why? Is it because we are still influenced by the secular world inundating us with long ages? Do we really think that if we stretch out some dates in the Old Testament we will look better to the world? I suggest not. The world wants you to doubt God’s Word because they doubt God’s Word.

 

Bauder: Would You Rethink This, Please?

http://religiousaffections.org/articles/in-the-nick-of-time/would-you-re...

In comparison to the billions of years required by secular cosmogonies, the difference between 6,000 years and 10,000 years is only slightly longer than a millisecond—hardly worth quibbling over. Certainly creationists will gain no more respect, either in the culture or in the academy, by opting for 10,000 rather than 6,000. To put it the other way around, we will lose no respectability by going with 6,000 rather than 10,000. So why should I even bring it up?

The short answer is because AIG brings it up—repeatedly. Ham is echoed by such writers as Larry Pierce, Monty White, Rick Freeman, Paul S. Taylor, and Bodie Hodge. These individuals not only advocate a theory that the earth is only approximately 6,000 years old, but (as can be seen from the opening quotation) also freely castigate individuals who accept the possibility of even a slightly less-young earth.

Their position, however, has not been characteristic of young-earth creationism since its inception.

dgszweda wrote:

dgszweda wrote:

 

Steve Davis wrote:

 

The earth certainly "appears" to be old. Of course, as some advocate, God could've created the earth with the appearance of age. That's a subject of debate but not taught in Scripture. Old earth position has not in itself entailed denial of creation or of Adam and Eve. 

Steve

 

 

The problem you have, and you clearly see it where Biologos has gone, is that the natural inclination is to question a historical Adam and Eve.  Sure the earth looks old, so the old earth hypothesis is examined, but you have the same issue with skeletons.  There are clearly skeletons (if you use the same aging mechanism as the earth) that are very old and non-human.  So how do you explain that.  And what you end up doing is going down a vicious cycle, and you begin to embrace hominids and other elements before an Adam and Adam was really the first chosen evolutionary character that God chose.  Every friend that I have that believes in old-earth has eventually embraced a non-historical or a death before Adam approach.

Ok I'll take the bait.  You are using both an anecdotal fallacy and the slippery slope fallacy in your reasoning.    Also, I think there is a huge difference between death of a hominid species/human being before Adam (which is where the Biologos people land) and the death of plants and animals), as a healthy ecological system depends on a continuing cycle of life and death.  And many things that are important to human life–coal, oil, limestone, topsoil to name but a few–all come from the death and decay of animals.  Both Old Earth creationists and Young Earth creationists need to be careful not to go beyond what Scripture does and even doesn't say about death and the fall.  


▴ Top of page