One of the most dangerous doctrines taught in many evangelical churches

~ by NTD

This is not to defend or attack any understanding of creation. There are two basic views of creation held by evangelical Christians: One, and apparently the majority, is young earth creation (YEC) which holds that God created the universe 6-10,000 years ago and the other is old earth creation (OEC) which generally accepts the age data from secular science. Both have splinter variations, with the OEC having two major splits: one believes God intervened at various points to introduce new species while the other believes God created all through the mechanism of evolution. Each viewpoint has its strengths and weaknesses. All are within the Christian fold.

One of the things that marked the early church as “remarkable” and drew the attention of outsiders was the way the love of Christ and the gospel message brought Jews and gentiles together — actually loving and respecting each other. Granted, it took some time and some strong teaching. That was grace and love at work and on display. Today it is noticed when liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, can get together, be civil and have loving fellowship in church. Facebook needs such grace. This paper says, so does the church.

Paul dealt with people who had strained relationships because of different convictions, opinions, and heritage. Read Romans 14-15.

Issues of serious convictions can be a major stumbling block to fellowship, friendship — even family relations. Such things eschatology, eternal security, methods of baptism, music, etc. Such is often the case with convictions about “creation”.

Some don’t think much about the creation act or believe whatever the viewpoint one might hold is very critical, many evangelicals are deeply concerned about the creation issue and consider it a major concern.

A big danger in the church might be called “friendly fire”. Friendly fire is when you want to shoot down “the enemy”, and you accidentally shoot your own people. ~ Dr. Cabal, Professor of Christian Apologetics at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (His whole lecture on the issue:

Creation is such a hot issue with some that many won’t discuss it or even share what they believe. Many are afraid of estrangement. Others are so sketchy about the issues, they don’t want to admit their ignorance. Still others consider it is too deep and involved and they don’t want to put out the effort to get more information. Most of us cannot even give a good defense of what and why we believe about salvation, let alone creation.

For some, however, the creation has become an essential part of the gospel story and is critical to understanding salvation itself.

Why should we bother with the issue? Because this divisive issue is hurting the body of Christ and hindering evangelism.

The dangerous doctrine is not how creation happened, but the viewpoint that holding any other viewpoint than the “correct one” is tantamount to being a back-sliden, uninformed student of the Word. For some it is tantamount to rejecting the Bible. That is a dangerous belief.

Many OEC folks lament the “ignorance” and “unscientific” claims of the YEC crowd, but we have not read any who said YECers were not in the faith, nor backsliden, etc. However, many advocates of YEC, both in person and in literature, state that any who hold OEC viewpoints are “compromisers”, under the influence of liberals and atheists, and a serious discredit to the faith. Implied, if not out-right stated many times is the general thought, “One can either believer the 6000 year creation of 6 consecutive, 24-hour days or can reject the Bible.”

That “either/or” position brings a stumbling block into the lives of others who hold a variant view, limiting evangelistic opportunities, and potentially causing many of our young people into incredible faith crises. Barna surveys and many Christian college professors concur that is a reality.

Although we may encourage our children and friends to accept our view, we need to inform people, especially our school age children, that they can still be a loyal follower of Jesus and believe something other than young earth creation — or any other particular view.

This paper may sound like a promotion of old earth creation (OEC) because many of the quotes of experiences come from literature written by believers who are only old earth creationists. I will include their testimonies in the background paper. Everyone of them seems to have an experience of derision.

All Christians believe that God is the creator and the sustainer

Until the past few decades one’s belief in how and when God created was never a critical part of the gospel. It was a matter of personal conviction and understanding of the Bible. It was never in any of the creeds — and, yes, there were a variety of ideas and opinions. No one was ever declared to be a heretic for their view of creation.

I. God is creator. Creation displays his glory. He has revealed enough of himself in his creation so that though those who know him recognize his atributes. Science and Scripture should align.

II. God’s word is true. God’s attributes revealed in creation are true. His works declare his glory. Whatever is true in creation tells us something about God. If it is true, it is about him. Truth from the Word will match up with truth from creation. They are both authored by God. They should not be pitted against one another. Again, when they don’t seem to match, we either don’t see creation correctly — or we don’t interpret Scripture correctly. If it is true, it will correspond

We are not saved by what we believe about creation:

My hope is built on nothing less Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

III. Here is the point of grace. When there is a disagreement is a matter of personal conviction, not specific biblical teaching, we are to love each other. The problem is that many YECs don’t see it as a personal conviction, but a basic part of the gospel.

IV. Reality: When we present the gospel and Bible and only allowing one idea of creation and that took place only 6000 years ago, we are making our convictions an obstacle of evangelism. We may want our kids and friends to understand and accept our view. But if they don’t, and are convinced that the earth is much older, do we reject them — or, are we willing to accept and share with them the fact that solid, Bible-believing Christians and scholars have a variety of opinions about this issue?

The church family loses countless young people who go off to college and they are presented with science evidence that convinces them that the world is very old. One may not agree with that conclusion of old age age, but it is very powerful and it is presented very persuasively to our young people and people who have done study in science. We need to stop telling people that scientists only teach such material because they are anti-God. That is not true. Your child could come to the conclusion that if the “truth” about creation/earth they had been taught in home and church is wrong, maybe what they heard about the rest of the Bible is questionable, too.

Many parents and churches have pitted their children against science and scientists. They have told their children that every teacher and scientist talking about old earth and evolution is wrong, no matter how well-known, how well-schooled — even if he is a Christian. Any such teacher is a dangerous person who wants to lead people away from the faith.

God could have created any way he chose. He could have created all in a blink of an eye. Think about this: He could have created it all it yesterday and given us memories that make us think we are much older. There is no way to prove that wrong. We are sure he didn’t, because he is a God of truth, so whatever he did should match up with any and all truth we discover. This is not a question of what God could have done, but what he did do.

We have created a stumbling block for reaching any science educated person. We have made it hard for scientists or believers in any old earth creation view to feel comfortable in church. If they stay, most just remain quiet. You will never likely know who they are because they are fearful of sharing their thoughts.

• …, it is not always easy to be a biologist in a Bible-believing church. I think it would even be harder to become a Christian if you were a biologist confronted with such an environment. … when I went off to college, I wasn’t prepared for the onslaught of new ideas that would challenge my faith. ~ Kathryn Applegate, How I Changed My Mind About Evolution

Believe what you are convinced of about creation. Become educated in it — and other views. Don’t be a blind follower of anyone or any view. I have found that most YECers only read YEC material — and believe it implicitly. Study it for yourself. I know the topic can be confusing and massive subject, but are you willing to lose you children because you are too lazy? Learn enough from various viewpoints. You are not educated in it if you only read from one viewpoint. You may be surprised why reasonable some who believe differently than you.

Many feel even to study anything but YEC might ruin their faith. They need to know there are sincere believers who hold a wide variety of beliefs about creation.

Practice grace: We need to allow others to have their convictions about creation. The church, sadly, often has little grace in this area.

The church doesn’t need to be unified in its view of creation, but it must be unified in Christ. ~ Kathryn Applegate, How I Changed My Mind About Evolution

• Why do Christians divide themselves so strongly on the issue of science and faith? Why do we “Bible-believers” oppose each other with animosity and heated rhetoric when it comes to the first three chapters of the Bible? ~ Mark Whorton, Peril in Paradise: Theology, Science, and the Age of the Earth

Our kids should know what they believe and why, but they should not fear reprisal and rejection if they come to believe their teachers and college professors about a very old creation.

They do need to be alert enough when a teacher is talking “science” and when the teacher is talking “philosophy” or “religion”. That is clearly an issue when a few scientists try to impose their philosophy on science. That is another major concern beyond this paper.

WARNING to parents, youth leaders and pastors: If we do not equip our children about the various interpretations of creation that believers hold, but insist on only the young earth creation interpretation, we become part of the problem. Jesus warned about his displeasure when we cause our children to fall. This just might fit that warning. Failure to clarify the issues, give opportunity for differences of convictions in this confusing and difficult area will likely mean the loss of some to the faith. That is the proven, shocking record.

Go back occasionally and re-read Romans 14-15.

I shared some of my concerns with a relative. As we discussed this and other items about creation, he paused and said, “I bet this was the reason my son left the faith after he went to college. He has never come back to faith and doesn’t want to discuss it.”

Consider the words of Paul to the Ephesian church. Though our situation is different, and far removed from that of the Ephesians, Paul’s admonition is no less relevant to us.

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Eph. 4:1-6 (NIV)

Do read the background collection:


An addendum to Dangerous doctrine:

________ _____

These are notes from my recent readings. Even if you don’t like to read books from another viewpoint, even think that OEC books are of the devil, read these books to find out what the other side is saying. Many of the paragraphs are from scattered sections in a book and you may need to get and read the book to know the context. Most should be clear enough.

I became aware of this problem when I read about a Bible teacher, Joel Anderson, who had taught for many years, but was dismissed when it became known he was leaning toward evolutionary creationism. He wrote a book called The Heresy of [Ken] Ham. I cannot remember I heard about this book, but I was a little shocked and then I was intrigued, so bought and read it.

He starts out in his prologue:

“… I want to confess a bit of trepidation in putting this book out there, for I pull no punches in this book: I believe young earth creationism is not only unscientific, but is actually a dangerous heresy that is gaining influence within Evangelicalism. I know that as soon as I say that, there will be many Evangelicals who will think that I am attacking the Bible, attacking God, and attacking them. Some will automatically assume that I am a liberal, a leftist, and a secularist. Simply put, there are some who think that anyone who questions or challenges young earth creationism is questioning Christianity itself.”

“… I am not saying that merely believing the earth is young is “heretical,” and I’m obviously not saying believing in a historical Adam and Eve or a literal worldwide flood is “heretical.” …The heresy that I am warning about is the claim of young earth creationists like Ken Ham that a literal/ historical interpretation of Genesis 1-11 is the foundation to the Gospel itself.

He goes on to say:

“Daring to say that Ken Ham’s claims aren’t convincing gets you into hot water with young earth creationists who think questioning Ken Ham is the equivalent of undermining biblical authority. … [Many follow lock-step with] Ham [who] routinely disparages, criticizes, and condemns any Christian or Christian organization that doesn’t agree with his young earth creationist claims. He accuses them of undermining the authority of God’s Word and actually helping the devil lead children away from God.

“Some of the people and groups he has criticized are Timothy Keller, NT Wright, Peter Enns, Karl Giberson, the BioLogos Foundation, Calvin College, Wheaton College, …, conservative theologian Millard Erickson, the Pope… and yes, even some of the original Fundamentalists who came out with the “Five Fundamentals” in the early 20th Century. Who would have thought that the original Fundamentalists were too liberal for Ken Ham? … Ken Ham clearly states that belief in a young universe is the foundation of the Church. That has never been claimed in Church history, ever.” …

“My concern is for everyone who has grown up in the Evangelical world and who is struggling with their faith because they have been told that if they doubt the universe is 6,000 years old, then they are questioning the Bible and calling God a liar.” ~ Joel Anderson, The Heresy of Ham

… Richard Colling, a former biology professor at Olivet Nazarene University    talks about how sad it is that children are taught by their parents and pastors that “believing in evolution is sort of like denying the Christian faith. And so then they come to college and in that setting they learn that evolution is real, and that it’s part of God’s grand design. It literally broke my heart to see so many young students sometimes in my office in tears because their parents are telling them and their pastors are telling them that you’ve got to reject the science to be a Christian. And I just didn’t see that that was necessary.”

many do not understand what great peril they put fellow Christians … They also do not realize how this destroys their credibility with the non-Christian world, or how it hamstrings their attempts to bring the lost back to the fold. … We must remember that Christianity is always just one generation away from dying out. … This may sound like alarmist rhetoric, but most Christians are acutely aware that many young people are going away to college and leaving God behind. … The second prong of the dangerous creationism/ID idea deals with the fact that it disenfranchises current Christians. When apologists and others assert that we are required to choose between evolution and God, they marginalize the large minority (22%–46%, according to surveys) of Christians who find no rivalry between the two.

I tell you truthfully that I have lost friends over this debate and have been castigated and derided as a “liberal” or “watered-down” Christian by others. When I voiced my concerns about this topic in my own faith community, I was met with warmth by some but was not well received by all. Though my faith is burgeoning, and I feel connected to God more than ever, there is still a part of me that feels alienated and estranged from my fellow Christians, due to the hostility and shunning I have occasionally experienced. … It is regrettable that those who embrace viewpoints other than creationism/ID are often disparaged as apostates instead of brothers and sisters in Christ. ~ Aaron Yilmaz, Deliver Us From Evolution?

Young earth creationism (YEC) is one of the more peculiar manifestations of broader evangelical culture. It continues to be the most common view of the relationship between science and Scripture held in the evangelical community and, unfortunately but understandably, the view of science most non-Christians associate with evangelicalism. For scientifically literate non-Christians, it presents an obstacle to Christian faith, and for young Christians who have been raised to equate YEC with the teaching of Scripture, it can destroy their faith altogether when its falsity is discovered. ~ Bruce Gordon, Scandal of the Evangelical Mind: A Biblical and Scientific Critique of YoungEarth Creationism

There is acrimony coming from all sides. The acrimony needs to stop. Currently, it seems to be a basic part of the message used many advocating the Young Earth Creationism. Some recent samples:

Answers In Genesis … (concludes) that (these following) leaders “unknowingly compromised with error” and led many Christians astray. Their list of “compromised” evangelical leaders includes not only William Bryan, but many other highly respected names past and present: Charles Spurgeon, Charles Hodge, B. B. Warfield, James Montgomery Boice, Gleason Archer, Bill Bright, Norman Geisler, William Lane Craig, J. P. Moreland, Billy Graham, Bruce Waltke, and Tim Keller. Those leaders all made the enormous mistake of interpreting Genesis differently than AiG. They did not “uncompromisingly contend for the literal historical truth of Genesis 1–11, which is absolutely fundamental to all other doctrines in the Bible.”

… the late Henry Morris … put it, “none of the expedients proposed for accommodating evolution and the geological ages in the Bible will work. All of them dishonor the Scriptures while seeking to satisfy majority scientific opinion, wresting them from their intended meaning in the hope of gaining a more sympathetic hearing for Christianity from the intellectual community.” His tone only deteriorated from there. Ultimately, since “nothing short of total atheism will ever satisfy” the “evolutionists,” those Christians who take this route “are in grave danger, for the compromise mentality is reluctant ever to take a firm stand against the pressures and temptations of the world. The compromise road eventually ends in a precipice,” leading to “apostasy or oblivion” for their ministry. “In short, Christians ought to decide either to believe God’s Word all the way, or not at all,” citing Revelation 3:15-16 (The Modern Creation Trilogy, vol. 1, p. 95).

Morris’ contempt for those “compromising Christians” who accept evolution went even further, when he compared them to “a Christian thief, or a Christian adulterer, or a Christian liar!” He went on to disparage the “progressive creationist” view espoused by Hugh Ross, lamenting the warm reception Ross has received from many prominent evangelical parachurch organizations and concluding that Ross is “leading many unwary Christians down the same wide path to liberal unbelief that has been followed by multitudes of professing Christians in previous generations” (vol. 3, pp. 183 and 194).

Ken Ham has recently echoed Morris’ sentiment: “Hugh Ross twists the Bible to fit man’s fallible opinions about origins, embracing cosmological evolution and geological evolution. While he does not accept biological evolution as such (though he still accepts the basic evolutionary progression over millions of years, but claims God kept stepping in to create the millions of species, over time), he is enamored with whatever else evolutionary secular scientists have to say. For example, his “Adam and Eve” were created in a world already bloody with many years of death and suffering — even the death and suffering of soulless pre-Adamic human-like people. Dr. Ross has the wrong starting point!”

More than just accusing old-earth creationists of compromising biblical truth, proponents of the young earth creationism worldview raise the ante and claim that an ancient earth is inconsistent with the gospel. … Because I had dared to consider the possibility of an old earth, I had compromised biblical authority, insulted the character of God, destroyed the basis of the gospel message, and therefore became a heretic.  ~ Mark Whorton, Peril in Paradise: Theology, Science, and the Age of the Earth

Professors at some Christian institutions risk professional suicide if they come as evolutionary creationists — as I know from personal experience.… Because the rhetoric from anti-evolution voices in our culture has done a masterful job of bundling evolution together with all manner of evils, we cannot convince people of evolutionary creation by merely laying out the scientific evidence.  ~ Kathryn Applegate, How I Changed My Mind About Evolution

A pastor wrote: While the topic of evolution still wasn’t deemed appropriate for church, I started to worry that the college students in the university congregation I served struggled with the same dissonance.

Historian Barton says “Between 71-88% of our Christian kids who go to college are renouncing their faith at college…”

Unfortunately, some Christians have challenged my personal faith, or have assumed that I am not a serious Christian because of my views on science, and I often feel the need to have such a disclaimer. …I can scarcely read YouTube comments, scientific articles, or listen to the radio without being inundated by abrasive and inflammatory voices at opposite ends of the spectrum, screeching about our origins. …Both sides are becoming more entrenched, and the debates are rapidly shifting from polite discourse to bombastic and polarizing condemnation of one side toward the other…The addled Christian empire is at war with itself and with culture at large. ~ Deliver us from Evolution?

Why Are Young People Leaving the Church? (blog article)

For the past 25 years or so, the percentage of Americans who believe that God created without evolution has held steady at about 42 to 45%.

What else has happened during this time, particularly in the last 5-10 years? The Expelled movie, Truth Project, Ark Encounter, Ken Ham vs. Bill Nye Debate, Ray Comfort’s “Evolution vs. God” movie, the list goes on. All of these ministries claim that there is an unbridgeable chasm between the modern scientific method (in some cases, in numerous branches of science, not just biology) and God. You have to choose, one or the other.

What this tells me is that all of the creation science / intelligent design propaganda and political posturing by companies such as Answers in Genesis (Ken Ham, Creation Museum), Discovery Institute (Truth Project, Expelled Movie, and numerous anti-science political Web sites), and Living Waters Ministries (“Evolution vs. God” movie) have done nothing to increase the number of Christians who believe in a literal interpretation of Genesis as God’s method of creating. Rather, they have contributed to the increase in the number of atheists (mostly student-age). A study by the Barna Group, a respected Christian research organization, cited churches’ antagonism to science as a reason why many Christians are leaving the faith.

it’s these Christian organizations who are making up and selling this false dichotomy who are creating the atheists.

There is nothing inherently atheistic about evolution or accepting the results of modern biology, genetics, paleontology, and so forth. It is not the purpose of Genesis, or Romans, or any other book in the Bible to teach us the mechanism of our origins. It’s to teach us about our relationship to God. And conversely, it’s not the purpose of science to prove or disprove anything about God. In fact, it’s not the purpose of science to prove anything at all. Proofs are for mathematics.

“… to force such a choice on our youth (or anyone for that matter) misrepresents the Bible and has worked great harm.”

Every year the church lose his children who go to college and find the evidence does seem quite sound for an old earth, and who conclude they must reject the Bible. ~ A New Look At An Old Earth

Gideon A. Dunkley (in a blog comment section) : I was a committed Christian and a Young Earth Creationist for many years. What turned me from a YEC to an Old Earth Creationist (and eventually from there to an agnostic when I couldn’t make it work out) was actually Creationists bickering amongst each other in their technical publications, principally Journal of Creation and Answers Research Journal over things like acceptance of the geologic column, radiometric dating, and resolutions to the distant starlight problem. Those are big issues, and the solutions offered were just so ridiculous I eventually abandoned the whole thing. Even worse was that many YECs argued they should accept those frameworks/methods, but add in a sufficient number of ad hoc rescue devices (like accelerated decay and relative ages for geologic strata compressed to a Biblical timeline). This only indirectly validated the naturalistic approach, and started me on a path that ended in agnosticism (in addition to various other things going on in my life at the time). So… thanks creationists!

Now I (Scot McKnight, popular biblical scholar and one of my favorite bloggers) am on the other side of the equation, teaching biology to undergraduates— many of whom, like me, come from an evangelical background. Like me, they’ve heard that evolution is evil and that they have to choose between the Bible and science. I wonder how many of their friends have already made that choice and aren’t in my class.   how many of the students that do come to learn biology, upon realizing that the Sunday-school flannel-board theology they learned as kids just isn’t up to the task, will abandon their faith, despite my best efforts to walk them through it with love and pastoral sensitivity? We as a community need to do better— for the future of the kingdom. One way for us to do better is to learn— to learn what modern evolutionary biology is really all about, not the caricature that I absorbed simply by being a Christian. ~ Scot McKnight, Dennis Venema, Adam and the Genome: Reading Scripture after Genetic Science

I have been teaching science to evangelical college students for more than 25 years, and all this rings true. The students in my classes have had hundreds of hours of religious education growing up before they came to college. Most of them attended Sunday School regularly, listened to sermons at least once a week, spent time at summer Bible camps and weekends away with their youth groups. They read religious books, watched religious videos and subscribed to religious magazines (or, as is more likely, were given gift subscriptions by relatives).

Many evangelicals grow up in a sort of “parallel culture,” running alongside and often at odds with the larger, secular culture. The educational component of this parallel culture, which Randall Stephens and I describe in detail in “The Anointed: Evangelical Truth in a Secular Age,” contains strategies and techniques for undermining and even challenging secular culture, particularly science.

Young earth creationist Ken Ham is the best and most influential example of this. In videos and writings that are widely consumed by evangelicals, he encourages students to ask their science teachers “Were you there?” when they talk about the past. The biology teacher says “Life first appeared on earth about 4 billion years ago,” and the student is to ask “Were you there?”  The physics teacher says “The universe originated in a Big Bang almost 14 billion years ago” and the students is to ask “Were you there?”

In a recent piece titled “Nine Year Old Challenges Nasa,” Ham blogged proudly about “Emma B” who, when told that a NASA moon rock was 3.75 billion years old, asked “Were you there?”

The suggestion that scientists cannot speak about the past unless “they were there” is a strange claim. The implication is that we cannot do something as simple as count tree rings and confidently declare “This great pine was standing here 2,000 years ago.” As a philosophy of science, such a restriction would completely rule out the scientific study of the past. This, of course, is precisely what the creationists want.

Many bright evangelical young people are, fortunately, not impressed with the suggestion that only “eyewitnesses” can speak about the past. Just this past spring I taught an honors seminar on science and religion at an evangelical college. The class included a couple of bright students who had grown up in fundamentalist churches that showed Ken Ham videos in their Sunday School class. Both of them recalled the encouragement to ask their teachers “Were you there?”  And both of them, a few years older and wiser than “Emma B,” thought this suggestion was ridiculous and wondered what kind of ideas required the embrace of such nonsense on their behalf.  These students — in fact, most of the students I have had over the years — will graduate from college accepting contemporary science and its various explanations for what has happened in the past.  But unless the leadership in their churches does a better job with its teaching ministry, such students will have a hard time returning to their home churches.

The dismissive and even hostile approach to science taken by evangelical leaders like Ken Ham accounts for the Barna finding above. In the name of protecting Christianity from a secularism perceived as corrosive to the faith, the creationists are unwittingly driving the best and brightest evangelicals out of the church — or at least into the arms of the compromising Episcopalians, whom they despise. What remains after their exodus is an even more intellectually impoverished parallel culture, with even fewer resources to think about complex issues.  ~ Stonehill professor, Creationists Drive Young People Out Of The Church

I have been upset for years over “biblical creationism” because of the bad fruit it produces…It keeps people from knowing God. Creationism breeds lies and liars. It trashes the church’s testimony. …

Why be so critical of these organizations? After all, they’re Christian, their focus is squarely on the Bible, they’re getting people to talk about God, and in many cases their hearts are in the right place. The problem is that they are working hand in hand with the most ardent of atheists to drive young people away from the faith in droves. These organizations actively promote a false dichotomy. Either accept their pseudoscientific interpretation of Genesis as correct, or accept modern science. Their message is: if you reject their teachings, you are rejecting God. Belief in creation science and the denouncement of real scientific discoveries are occasionally even presented as a belief that is core to the Christian faith and elevated to the level of the Gospel message and the Trinity. Usually starting around junior high school, and continuing into their college years, most students learn about the massive amount of evidence supporting an old Earth and evolution from all branches of science. In some Christian school settings, this evidence is ignored, downplayed, or put into doubt, but many enterprising students figure it out on their own.

Some creation science proponents will point to the thousands of people who come to a saving faith through ministries like Ray Comfort’s Way of the Master, through individual one-on-one Christian apologetics which, in some cases, use creation science as part of their argument. Many will indeed come to a saving faith, regardless of whether they believe in creation science, because their personal faith in Christ doesn’t actually rest on the creation science part of the argument. But many others will risk having that faith crumble if their faith was fortified largely by these weak arguments and they later discover the truth. But these aren’t even the worst casualties. What of the millions of people who never give the Bible a chance in the first place simply because they associate the gospel message, as a whole, with false scientific teachings? This is the saddest state of affairs for our evangelical communities and it is ultimately the reason why I am writing on this topic. Why do we needlessly place stumbling blocks in unreached people’s path to Christ? How can we be effective at reaching young people in our Christian teaching and in our ministries on pressing issues like the sanctity of life and sexual purity, and ultimately about the Gospel itself, when the world rejects the validity of the pseudoscientific balderdash that is coming out of the other side of our mouths, and rightfully so? Furthermore, is this how we are teaching our own children to defend their faith when they witness to unbelievers and are challenged by them? Creation science ministries are the blind leading the blind down into a hole, sometimes never to return.

Since the scientists and science graduate students in our church didn’t have (or take) time to think about their work theologically, I started a small group to explore the intersection of science and theology, a discipline we whimsically called “theobiology.” Each week we’d ponder and pray over various aspects of genetics, molecular biology, and evolution— or at least we’d try. Most scientists who attended our church and small group had resigned themselves to compartmentalizing their faith,…

Most Sundays, people in churches don’t concern themselves with science any more than they worry about theological controversies. The same goes for pastors and preachers. We have so much on our plates and little stomach for controversies of our own making.

Christians have wrongly attacked data instead of the interpretation of data and their misuse. Science does stretch biblical interpretation sometimes. … Interpreting the Bible is not easy.

Years ago, after I gave a talk on science and faith, a young man approached and described his own loss of faith as a result of an encounter with biology. His theology and upbringing were not equipped to embrace what he heard as an onslaught of contrary scientific evidence. When push came to shove, he had to go with the science. As a pastor of a university church, I was accustomed to students getting slammed by biology and stumbling in wounded and needing reassurance that God still existed. I saw so much of this that I now insist on giving a talk on science and faith to our youth groups every year. ~ Scot McKnight, Dennis Venema, Adam and the Genome: Reading Scripture after Genetic Science

The number one reason young Christians leave the faith is the conflict between science and faith, and that conflict can be narrowed to the conflict between evolutionary theory and human origins as traditionally read in Genesis 1–2.32. It works like this: … many Christians grow up with a view of Scripture as inerrant, and that means for them—and I speak here of the popular impression—that it is not only true but also more or less magically true, true beyond its time, true when everything else says something else. Connected to this view of inerrancy is a view of Bible reading that takes a sound Christian idea (the perspicuity of Scripture, that the Bible’s message is clear to any able-minded Bible reader) and ratchets it up one notch so that the Bible reader thinks whatever I see in the Bible is what the Bible is saying—although there is no promise in the Bible that everything will be clear to every reader.

One’s interpretations of Scripture become as infallible as the Bible itself, and since everything interlocks, giving in one inch is the first step toward apostasy. One of those interpretations is that the Bible teaches science in Genesis 1–2.

When the evangelical student marches off to university, takes a biology class from an able-minded, rhetorically skilled, and atheistic/agnostic professor who makes it more than clear that the earth is not 6,000–10,000 years old but is in fact closer to 4.5 billion years old, tosses in some Gilgamesh Epic or some Atrahasis, and then loads into that the thoroughly vain notion that intelligent people don’t believe such things any longer, a student’s faith can be more than shaken. Many walk away or, more significant today, embrace an ironic faith. …

I give one more example of someone encountering science who had a rigid view of Scripture and a theory of human origins. Kenneth Daniels is not a scientist, but his own research into questions about the origins of life and the Genesis record convinced him that the Bible was either mythical or a falsehood. “I do not want to make myself out as being more qualified to judge the matter than the typical creationist,” he admits, “but I am disturbed by the flippant disregard and disdain on the part of many creationists for the patient investigation and analysis that have led most scientists in the past century to accept evolution.” One fact that persuaded Daniels was the latent but inactive remains of the Vitamin C–producing gene that is not needed by humans and primates. “This can be readily accounted for within an evolutionary framework, but is simply a puzzling curiosity from a creationist standpoint.”

His question has been asked by many: “Why would God allow so many apparent evidences for evolution to exist in the first place?” .~  Adam and the Genome

“I am so mad!” These words were cried out by a young woman after she stood up during the middle of a class in my college course on science and religion. I slowly sank down behind the lecture stand, quickly glancing at my notes, hoping to find what I had said that triggered her outburst. And she wasn’t finished. “I’m mad at my parents for putting me in an expensive Christian school where teachers taught me that Satan had concocted the so-called ‘theory’ of evolution. I am angry with my youth pastor for telling me that I had to choose between evolution and creation. And I’m furious with the senior pastor at my church. On Sunday mornings, he has preached that evolutionists cannot be true Christians!” Finally, she sat down. I relaxed, realizing that her rage was not directed at me. I said to her, “You must always remember that your parents love you and care for you. The fact that they paid a lot of money to send you to a private Christian school instead of public school shows they were giving you the opportunity for your faith to mature. I am also certain that the pastors in your church wanted the best for you. But many of them are taught in theology school that evolution can destroy our faith in Jesus.” I added, “I completely understand your frustration. I have lived your story of being forced into making a choice between evolution and creation, and this led me to pick science over my Christian faith. But as you are seeing in this course, there are a variety of different ways to embrace both God and modern science. My challenge to you and your classmates is this: You are the next generation of leaders in the church. What can you do to improve this situation?”

Like many Christians today, the parents and pastors of my students are fearful of evolution. They assume that if evolution is true, then God did not create the world and Christianity must be false. More specifically, if the universe and life were not made in six literal days about six thousand years ago, then the Bible is a lie, and we cannot trust anything it says about Jesus and our salvation. Some people go so far as to say that if life evolved, then God does not exist. I understand this type of thinking because I lost my faith as a freshman in college after taking just one course on evolution. I was trapped in the assumption that I had to choose between evolution and creation, and between modern science and Christian faith. By the time I left college, I was an atheist. ~ Deliver us from Evolution

Many Christian students have lost their faith over the issue of evolution. Today they are leaving Christianity in greater numbers and at a much earlier age. A 2011 Barna Group survey reveals that 59 percent of young people “disconnect either permanently or for an extended period of time from church life after age 15.” The issue of science is one of the reasons why they leave the church. This study records that 25 percent of them perceive that “Christianity is anti-science,” and 23 percent have “been turned off by the evolution-versus-creation debate.”1 Every Christian should be concerned with this shocking loss of faith among the younger generation. …

My (Christian) teachers also told me that theistic evolution is accepted only by so-called “liberal Christians.” I was given the distinct impression that theistic evolutionists are not Christians because they aren’t really committed to Jesus and they don’t fully trust the Bible. Attending Sunday school led me to believe that true Christians are six day creationists. …

Most of the Christian students who enter my class say that to embrace their faith and accept modern science, they have to place each of these in a separate compartment. On Sunday mornings at church they are warned in sermons and Sunday school lessons of the dangers of the evolutionary sciences. But from Monday through Friday in their science classes, they are shown overwhelming evidence that the world is billions of years old and living organisms have evolved. A number of my students are in pre-med, and they need to study genetics because this science is now becoming a central part of medicine. They soon learn that the genes in our body offer indisputable evidence for human evolution.

Only a couple days after learning this principle, a student came up to me after class. Her face was flushed and her eyes were glassy. I sensed something significant had happened. She said, “You have no idea what the Metaphysics-Physics Principle has done for me.” I was a bit concerned and not sure what she meant. Then she added, “I no longer feel guilty when I study biology.” Wow! I knew exactly what this student was saying. She was being told in her church not to believe anything the university was teaching about the origin of living organisms. Many Christian students like her are instructed to learn about evolution in order to pass exams, but never to accept that evolution is true. What a terribly dysfunctional way to study biology! Even if a student discovers scientific evidence that supports evolution, they have to deny what they see with their own eyes. Freed from conflations and dichotomies, my student now praises, “I look forward to biology class because it is really exciting to learn about how the Lord created through evolution.”…

Challenging the literalist and concordist interpretations we learned in church and Sunday school is not at all comfortable. Let me give you an example of a student in my very first evening class. This young woman was a delightful Christian and a staunch young earth creationist. She was also a freshman who did not realize that she could drop a course and transfer into another one. She assumed she was stuck in my class for the entire term. After completing my course, she told me that in the first half of the term, she would walk home at night crying. Ugh! I felt awful. She was deeply troubled by the biblical evidence presented in class that challenged the literal reading of Genesis 1 she had learned in Sunday school. She also confessed that she had a mantra referring to me that she repeated on the way home: “I hate him! I hate him! I hate him!” However, everything changed dramatically in the middle of the term once she was introduced to Galileo and his views on biblical interpretation in the “Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina.” She realized that her issues with evolution and Scripture were no different than those regarding astronomy and the Bible in Galileo’s day. In particular, she discovered the problem with scientific concordism. It is impossible to align the ancient astronomy in Scripture with modern astronomy. …

Toward the end of my course, a student wrote me a note after a class discussion on origins.

 I think that the conflict between the Bible and modern science taught in Sunday school is part of the reason I lost my faith a long time ago. Maybe, if we had been taught principles of biblical interpretation in Sunday school, I would still have my faith today. As I am now, being raised in a mostly literal interpretation of the opening chapters of the Bible, I am too critical of Christian faith, and I don’t think I will return. ~ Evolution, Scripture and Nature say Yes

Inseparably linking the Perfect Paradise Paradigm to the heart of Christian doctrine and biblical authority is more than incorrect, it is potentially devastating. It is vitally important to teach our children that the Christian faith is objectively true and defensible. Science is not the final answer; certainly we must teach them to question the presumptions and conclusions of scientists. But if we dogmatically assert a simplistic and erroneous defense of our faith, then the substantive truth of our faith is marginalized and our children are at risk. If our children learn that we err on these matters, why would they believe us when we teach them of the death and resurrection of Christ? …

When Christians appeal to seekers and skeptics with a worldview that is contrary to common knowledge, we risk marginalizing the very truth on which their souls depend. This is a grave danger. Augustine astutely observes that it will bring shame and derision for a Christian to be heard speaking erroneously from the Scriptures about a matter of common knowledge. But more importantly, Augustine charges that the real evil is that the unbeliever will think that the Bible itself is in error “to the greatest possible misfortune of people whom we wish to save.” If a Christian makes erroneous arguments from Scripture on a matter that the unbelievers know perfectly well, we should not expect them to believe the Scriptures on the more important matters of sin and salvation.…

My story is actually quite typical. In evangelical churches around the world Christians are taught that the earth is young because the Bible says so. The message is consistent and clear: what one thinks about the age of the earth is a litmus test for how they regard the Bible and its Author. To even give thought to the notion that the earth is older than ten thousand years is to show disrespect for the authority of Scripture, insult the character of God, and undercut the gospel message. Young earth creationism leaders describe those who disagree with their view of a recent creation as compromisers. They claim that the compromise is motivated by a desire to find a middle ground in a misguided effort to convert atheistic evolutionists to a more palatable creation story. But that simply is not the case. An unwavering commitment to biblical authority, inerrancy, and the historical accuracy of the Genesis creation account simply does not require belief in six calendar days of creation a few thousand years ago.

If the church is to engage the marketplace of ideas in the twenty-first century, we must understand the times. Many skeptics and seekers alike see the Christian worldview as anti-intellectual and incompatible with modern life.

To bring people to a saving knowledge of Christ, we must first remove the roadblocks in their path. ~ Peril in Paradise

I was talking with some people in my church recently about a significant moment that occurred when their daughter came home from college. Raised in Christian schools her whole life, she’d taken a science course at her Christian university where she encountered, for the first time, a thoughtful and reasoned explanation of evolution—and how, far from being contradictory to the biblical accounts of creation, there were powerful markers pointing toward harmony. As internally coherent as all this might have been in a vacuum, the experience was devastating to her. She met with her parents one afternoon and explained what she was learning, all of which was in contradiction to her young earth, anti-evolution upbringing. Silence hung over the coffee until she asked, “What else did the church lie to me about?” Her parents are thankful she was willing to have the conversation. Among eighteen to thirty-year-olds—the most rapidly declining demographic in the American church—the contradiction between faith and science is one of the main reasons for departure from the faith. It’s as if the church has created a Y in the road: intellectual integrity one way; faith the other. Thousands stand at this crossroads that the church has unwittingly created and walk away from their faith. The greatest tragedy of this departure is that the Y in the road is a fabrication of religionists, not a construct of either God or the Bible.

When I was a professor at Calvin College, I invited Bernard Ramm to the college to speak. We spent several hours together, and after telling him how much the book had influenced me, I asked him—since this book was very controversial, and there were many attacks and many people questioning whether he was a real Christian—“Do you ever regret writing that book?” “Oh, no,” he said. I’ll never forget what he said next: “All the criticism I ever received was worth it, just to know that there would never be a student of mine who, after studying with me, went off to Harvard and lost his or her faith because I never allowed them to wrestle with the kinds of issues that I raised in that book.” We face a younger generation that’s wrestling with these issues, and we need to wrestle with them ourselves. ~ How I Changed my mind about Evolution

For scientifically literate non-Christians, YEC presents an obstacle to Christian faith, and for young Christians who have been raised to equate YEC with the teaching of Scripture, it can destroy their faith altogether when its falsity is discovered. With a view toward encouraging a culture of biblical and scientific literacy and overcoming the anti-intellectual legacy of fundamentalism that sustains this particular “scandal of the evangelical mind”, we offer a synoptic critique of young-earth creationism while developing and defending an evangelically acceptable alternative for understanding the relationship between God’s works and God’s words. ~ Bruce L. Gordon, History and Philosophy of Science, Houston Baptist University

Libby Anne on a blog: I grew up in an evangelical home and was raised on a steady diet of young earth creationist literature. Learning that young earth creationism was not true launched a spiritual crisis. It was as though I could no longer be sure anything I had been taught was true. Young earth creationism was that important, that central to my belief system and the worldview I had grown up learning—and it was a lie. What else was a lie?

Fred Clark on his blog: I grew up on material from Answers in Genesis. I read their books and attended their conferences. One thing they teach is that if young earth creationism is not true, none of Christianity is. This teaching is part of an intersect struggle—an attempt on the part of young earth creationists to convince liberal, moderate, or mainline Christians that they cannot be Christian and hold some other view about origins than theirs.

Young earth creationists tie young earth creationism to every other Christian belief as part of a battle against liberal, moderate, and mainline Christians who might otherwise ascribe to theistic evolution. But in so doing young earth creationists manufacture a spiritual crisis for any evangelical who sees through the pseudoscience they are selling.

A pastor’s experience:

How It Feels To Lose A Parent To Cancer: ‘I didn’t want to say the truth out loud’

Why Too Many Christians Fail To Love Their Neighbor

~ Daniel Darling

Who Is My Neighbor?

He approached the controversial, itinerant rabbi seeking validation. He’d lived an outwardly observant life, adhering strictly to the Torah, so his question to Jesus wasn’t really a question. What would it take for this seemingly righteous man to inherit eternal life, he queried. What he hoped Jesus would say or rather, assumed Jesus would say, is You’ve kept the law faithfully. You are in (Luke 10).

Jesus asked the lawyer a lawyerly question: “What’s in the law?” Jesus didn’t ask this because he was ignorant of Moses’ words. Jesus, the Son of God, was present at the writing down of the commandments and, through the Holy Spirit, inspired this Word of God.

No, Jesus was trying the lawyer by his own self-justifying grid. He was standing before a judgment seat and didn’t know it. The lawyer repeated what he repeated every morning: Love the Lord thy God with all of my heart, soul, and mind and love my neighbor as myself.

Good, Jesus commends, “do this and you will live.” But suddenly the lawyer began to tremble. Deep down he knew that as much as he followed the law externally, in his own heart he had violated the law. He had not always loved his neighbor as much as he loved himself. So he asked a qualifying, self-justifying question:  Who is my neighbor?

This question was not a question of curiosity, but a question in search of loopholes in the command to apply the law of God to our interactions with our neighbors. It’s a question that continues to be asked today. All of us know we haven’t loved our neighbors as ourselves. And, like the lawyer, we are exposed before a righteous God.

To Love Is to See Dignity

Why is this commandment so important? It’s important on two levels. Because every human being—every neighbor of ours—is an image-bearer knit and sculpted with care by a loving God, we demonstrate our love for God by our love for fellow humans in our world.

But this commandment is also important because it is the aspect of the law that reveals our inability, since Eden, to obey God. Righteousness before God is not just vertical piety. It is also horizontal love. But sin has corrupted our humanity, and we attempt to usurp God by preying upon, in big and small ways, our fellow humans.

To love people as ourselves is to see that other human being as . . . well, human. Not an obstacle. Not an animal. Not a god to be worshipped. Inherent in The Great Commandment is the Bible’s rich and unique vision for human dignity.

Your neighbor is not a mere object to be lusted after, murdered, or stolen from. He or she is your fellow image-bearer.  This lawyer thought he was okay until the piercing eyes of the only One who has ever fully and perfectly loved His neighbor revealed the depravity of his heart. Jesus does this to this outwardly religious man by telling a story about the vulnerable and the pious.

Jesus answers his question “Who is my neighbor” by saying that your neighbor is that person you are most likely to pass by on the road to Jericho, the person or people group that you, because of your tribal affiliations or personal biases, consider less than human.

The lawyer was not as righteous as he thought he was because he doesn’t always love his neighbor as himself. And neither are we. But there is good news for less-than-neighborly lawyers and 21st Century passers-by like me. Where we have violated God’s law of love, Jesus has perfectly fulfilled it.

Read more:


Everyone Isn’t Who They Seem to Be

~ Dr. Ray Rooney, Jr.Digital Media Editormore

I spent the first 11 years of my life in Memphis, Tennessee.  I’m in my mid 50’s now but four things will always stick out in my memories of that phase of my life: Overton Park, the Memphis Zoo, Memphis wrestling on Saturday mornings hosted by Lance Russell and Dave Brown, and Saturday night’s horror movie tucked neatly into a show called Fantastic Features (hosted by a guy dressed as a vampire named “Sivad” which was his last name spelled backward).  As a kid, I became pretty much obsessed with monsters and aliens because of Fantastic Features.

We all fear the unknown.  New schools, new jobs, marriage, parenting and all the rest of the things that at some point we aren’t familiar (comfortable) with are symbolized by monsters and aliens.  Perhaps my younger brother’s untimely death as an infant (6 months old), my parents subsequent divorce, moving over and over again which entailed changing schools, during mid-year quite often, and never knowing what I might walk into when I got home from school, made me a perfect candidate for being captivated by the unknown represented in the horror/sci-fi genre.

One of my favorite movies as a youngster was 1951’s The Thing from Another Worldstarring James Arness as the alien.  I was kind of a bookworm as a kid and was excited to find out the movie was based on a novella by John Campbell, Jr. titled Who Goes There?Imagine my surprise when I read the book and it was nothing like the movie [sarcasm].  John Carpenter’s 1982 adaptation was a good bit closer to the book.

In a nutshell, the alien imitates other forms of life (and in the process, destroys the host).  So in both the book and the Carpenter adaptation, the paramount issue becomes trust.  Who can you trust when someone among you may not be who they claim to be?  In the Carpenter movie, helicopter pilot R.J. MacReady is visiting the scientist Blair (who has been put in isolation for fear that he has been infected by the thing).  He asks Blair how he is doing.  Blair responds, “I don’t know who to trust.”  MacReady says, “I know what you mean Blair. Trust is a tough thing to come by these days. Tell you what, why don’t you just trust in the Lord.”  Bingo. I realize that Carpenter and his character weren’t being sincere about God in that scene, but truth is truth no matter who or what acts as the vehicle that transports it.

Probably three-fourths of the issues that have been and will continue to tear at the fabric of civilization in general and American culture in particular are somehow related to trust (or the lack thereof).  Modernity has discovered that the best way to bring institutions and even entire nations to their knees isn’t by facing off in easily identifiable uniforms in well-defined battle zones (like the Revolutionary and Civil Wars).  No, you can cause far more problems through infiltration and dressing, looking like, and even behaving as the enemy.  We found out just how effective (terrifying) that can be in the Vietnam and Gulf wars.  Israel has known it since its refounding in 1948.

The enemy within (see communism, Marxism, and Saul Alinsky) is like a cancer that spreads, weakening and ultimately destroying the host usually over a rather long span of time.  But if you are a well-read Christian, you know this isn’t new.

Evil has always been most effective when it dresses up as good and cavorts with the naïve or untested righteous.  Think of the Garden of Eden and the serpent.  Whatever the serpent was then it wasn’t as serpents are today since what we have today is a result of the curse for yielding itself for use by Satan.  The only descriptive reference in Genesis 3is that “the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made” (Genesis 3:1).  Invested within the serpent, Satan passed himself off as only being concerned for Eve’s status in life.  He was having a friendly conversation with her.  And look what he was able to accomplish by gaining her respect and trust.

Another good example from the Old Testament is found in the first chapter of the book of Job.  “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them” (Job 1:6).  God immediately recognized him and put him on the spot. But what is so interesting about that verse is that there is no hint whatsoever that any of the “sons of God” (i.e. angels) recognized Satan despite the fact that he “came among them.”  Not one.  When you consider that Revelation 12:7-9 reveals a pre-creation battle between God’s loyal angels and Satan and his fallen angels, it is pretty amazing that Satan’s presence wasn’t immediately sensed or recognized by the very beings who cast him out of heaven.  Only God noticed that he had come in among the righteous.

In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul had these words of warning for the Corinthians:

But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you received a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough…And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:2-4; 14).

He knew Satan would never succeed in defeating Christianity through outright persecution (though Satan gets great enjoyment from doing so).  He warned that the most obscene and destructive tactic would be to dress up other willing “serpents” and eat away at Christianity from within.

Paul wasn’t alone in recognizing that the greatest threat to the body of Christ would come dressed as a Christian.  Jude wrote:

I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ (vs. 3-4).

They didn’t come in wearing hooded black cloaks like Druidic priests touting allegiance to the Devil.  Rather, they “crept in unnoticed” looking and acting like all the rest of the Christians but with much different intent.

Have we in the church become so spiritually dull that we can no longer recognize the alien monsters in our midst?  Do we try to ferret them out?  Do we even realize that some in our midst are not what they claim to be?  Read the New Testament carefully.  Apostasy is one of the most warned about issues throughout.

Think about it.  Which did Jesus talk about more: baptism or apostasy?  Salvation or false teachers?  The triune nature of God or false christs?  And yet we are witnessing an exodus from church participation and think the reason is an inability to relate to people because we use a book from the past as our source and standard?  My friend, we don’t need an “update” from God in order to become relevant to today’s sin-sick culture.  We don’t need better visual aids and softer sermons from our pastors.  We don’t need to get rid of steeples, altars, and crosses in favor of multimedia, stages, and messages designed to make everyone feel better about themselves.  What we need is to stop being naïve.

What we need is to return to return to an unapologetic message of repentance and atonement and to start dealing with the enemy within that has long been the greatest danger to the vitality of our churches and the spread of the gospel.  You cannot house apostasy with holiness and expect spiritual prosperity.  If we’re becoming barren it’s not because the world has changed and has moved beyond Christianity.  It’s because we no longer recognize that “fierce wolves will come in among you” (Acts 20:29) and that we are required by Scripture “not to believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone into the world” (1 John 4:1).

The “falling away” from the church is not caused by an old story’s lack of relevance in a modernistic progressive culture.  It’s caused by a spiritual cancer within called apostasy which we seem not to care to address because either we are afraid of how it will make us look or we don’t even know it’s among us.

On the one hand, Jesus promised that the gates of hell would not be able to prevail against His church (Matthew 16:18).  On the other hand, He wondered aloud if when He returned would He find any faith on Earth (Luke 18:8).  No enemy can succeed in taking out the bride of Christ…except, perhaps, the enemy within that may look and talk like a Christian, but does nothing much other than spread doubt, caricature the truth, and promise there will be no consequence for disobeying what everyone knows God has said.

You know what I’m talking about.  There’s one in almost every church.  Prone to exaggeration.  Spreading little falsehoods just enough so that everyone begins to question another’s integrity.  Always looking for a speck of dirt on a wall-sized canvas of white.  Picking at the scabs of wounds that are trying to heal.  Whispering to whoever gives them an ear why the pastor doesn’t lead the church in the direction of progressivism like so many other churches are going. But rarely does anyone have the courage to step forward and confront them.  After all, “they’re God’s children too.”

Have we forgotten that Judas was an apostle chosen by Jesus Christ?

You can get the flu from the sweetest person you know who shows no signs of sickness.  That’s why we get flu shots.  During flu season you never know who is a carrier.  If you did, you’d quickly tell all your friends and loved one to steer clear of the infected person.

Holiness is God’s protection against the unseen enemy among us.  That’s why both testaments cry out “You shall be holy…” (Leviticus 20:26 and 1 Peter 1:16).  When we compromise on holiness it’s like walking into a roomful of people who have the flu but aren’t showing the symptoms.  Never ever compromise on holiness. That’s the test that will always expose the alien.

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The Principle of First: The Concept Too Many Christians Are Ignoring

In Matthew 6, Jesus shares some eternal and timeless truths about money: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21)

God’s not after your money. It’s not even yourmoney. He owns everything already. He doesn’t want your money, he wants your heart, and your heart follows your money. So if we can get the way we handle money right, we can affect change at the heart level and begin to truly experience the life God has for us. A few verses later, to finish that same teaching, Jesus gives us another timeless principle, and this is in Matthew 6:33, which says, Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).

This is all about priorities. If we seek God first, then everything else will fall into order. The primary context is the overarching conversation Jesus is having about money, but it applies to many other areas as well. Matthew 6:33 rephrased becomes the Principle of First, a concept too many Christians are ignoring:

Now go to:

How Churches Create Isolated Christians