For it is by grace you have been saved...

Monday, July 21, 2008

Ham Hit It On The Head

I’ve been preaching through the book of Genesis since January of 2007. Since I’m not the world’s greatest expositor, it will take me less than two years to get through all 50 chapters. I know I should probably go slower, dig deeper, etc., but…

Anyway, one of the reasons we started this particular study is because of the foundational role Genesis plays in Scripture. Not only is it the first book, setting the stage for all the rest. Even more it contains the foundations of all our basic doctrines as God’s people. John MacArthur reminds us that in this book of Genesis, “Theological foundations are revealed which include God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, man, sin, redemption, covenant, promise, Satan and angels, kingdom, revelation, Israel, judgment, and blessing.” Name a concept, theme or doctrine, and chances are we find at least the seed of it in this first book of Moses.

I was reminded again during this past week’s family conference of the importance of this book. It would seem only natural that a conference sponsored by Answers in Genesis would place a heavy emphasis on that book. But it’s not so much that this ministry chooses to focus on this book, it’s that this book is the driving force behind this ministry.

Ken Ham, founder and director of AiG does a wonderful job of showing the vital nature of this book, and therefore why this book is the center of attack by our God-hating culture. Sure they can attack the Resurrection head on, but how much easier to go back and undermine the authority and authenticity of the very book that tells of the Resurrection. Christians will stand up and fight against a frontal attack on the cross, but we’ve largely rolled over and played dead when it comes to the attacks against Genesis; specifically, the six days of Creation.

The Southern Baptist Convention fought a battle in the recent past (some say we are still fighting it in some form) for the inerrancy of Scripture. At stake was not only the obvious issue, but also the authority, sufficiency, etc. of God’s Word. And, ironically, one of the key “sparks” that got it all going was not so much an attack from the world against the resurrection, the virgin birth, the deity of Christ, etc. It was a commentary, written by one of our own, on the book of Genesis.

Seminary Professor Ralph Elliott, influenced by the liberal theology that was rapidly growing all around us, wrote that “one must come to the place that he sees the parabolic and symbolic nature of much of the Old Testament Scriptures.” He then quotes Alan Richardson who says, “One must learn to think of the stories of Genesis – the Creation, the Fall, Noah’s Ark, the Tower of Babel…in the same way as we think of the parables of Jesus; they are profoundly symbolical stories, which aren’t to be taken as literally true…”

Therefore, Elliott concluded, Genesis 1-11 in particular is myth, not fact. Because we have been overrun with evolutionary thinking and a Secular Humanist worldview, many in the church saw no problem with this. After all, this allows us to claim the Bible and still give in to the “new” theories of science that said the earth was millions of years old, that man evolved from apes, and so on.

Much of what Ken Ham said during this past week focused on this same idea of dealing with the “millions of years.” Again, many people, blinded by bad science and un-founded theories, have bought into this idea and see no real problem trying to make the Bible “fit.” But, as Ham points out, the real issue is very basic: Is the Bible true? This is what our Convention was fighting over, and this is what we need to continue to fight for.

You see, once we throw out the creation narrative and the Noahic flood and so on, it becomes easier to then say: well, maybe Jonah wasn’t really swallowed by a big fish. Maybe David didn’t really kill a giant. Maybe Jesus wasn’t really virgin-born. Maybe he didn’t really do all those miracles. And maybe, the whole resurrection thing was just symbolic as well. Once the foundation is eroded, the whole building is at risk.

2 Corinthians 11:3 reminds us that our enemy will continue to use the same attacks that he’s always used. “…as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” And how did the serpent lead Eve astray? By simply saying, “Are you sure God said that? It’s not really true; you’ll not surely die if you eat the fruit.”

Today the serpent says, “Are you sure it was only six days of creation? Surely that can’t be true. The evidence says it was millions of years. Are you sure there was a real world-wide flood?” And so on.

The enemy is the same. The tactic is the same. Our response must be different. God’s Word is true. God’s Word is authoritative. God’s Word, from Genesis to “maps”, is sufficient for all things. 2 Peter 1:3 tells us that “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” Since our knowledge of him comes through the Word, we know that the Word supplies all we need.

I appreciate anew the ministry of Answers in Genesis. I encourage you to check out there website, view their materials, visit their creation museum. From a purely “scientific” standpoint it’s amazing to see some of the evidence that humanist science doesn’t want you to know about. We don’t need science to prove the Bible, but it’s nice to know that science does indeed confirm the Bible, not “disprove” it.

And the church needs to know this. We need to stand up and take notice. Ham hit it on the head: The attack on Genesis is an attack on God, and we can’t ignore it. Let’s be faithful in defending the faith from all attacks, and as the theme for the week reminds us, we should always be ready/prepared “to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” (1 Peter 3:15).

More conference reflections to come…..


Applied Christianity said...

In our congregation the elders are largely hither and yon as millions of years or six literal days. Much of this confusion (by their own admission) is because they haven't studied about it and it isn't a "salvation issue" (like grace). My husband and I are part of the creation science small group at church so we find this kind of indifference very frustrating at times.

I think that you are very right. The attack on Genesis is an attack on God.

Thanks for writing about the conference.

Scott said...

One of the points Ham kept coming back to was that very idea: oh, it's not a salvation issue, it's not about the cross. His point, however, was that it IS about the veracity of God's Word which is where we read about the cross. If we can't trust Genesis, how can we trust Matthew, Mark, etc.? However, I would say that your church is no different than most; most pulpits are silent on the issue of creation it seems. Hope you can gently influence those in your fellowship.