A Review of Hill Roberts
"It was wonderful!" "I almost didn't go but I am so glad I did!" "Our children will never doubt the existence of God!" It was really good!" "It was awesome!"
These and other comments were made by different Christians in Tampa, Birmingham and Florence describing a seminar on evidences called "Lord, I Believe." This seminar is presented by Hill Roberts and others, most who are members of Weatherly Heights church of Christ, in Huntsville, AL. During the seminar, they present much good material demonstrating the impossibility of evolution, evidence of special design in creation which requires a Designer, evidence of the historical accuracy of the Bible and the resurrection of Jesus.
If this was a complete description of the seminar, it could be recommended for any congregation of God's people. When I first heard of them, I thought it would be good for them to present their material at East Florence, and I called the Roberts' to learn more about the seminar and possibly get one scheduled in Florence. It was soon apparent that some of the material presented in the seminar is not worthy of the praise it received.
I was surprised to learn that the "Lord, I Believe" seminar had already been conducted in Florence in November 1998. After watching the videos, examining other material and asking questions, it became obvious that Hill Roberts generally accepts the teaching of Hugh Ross. During the seminar he quoted Hugh Ross and recommended his material, including his book "Creation and Time." Also, in the printed handouts, he recommends Davis Young's "Christianity and the Age of the Earth". These men are "progressive creationists." They do not believe in Darwinian evolution. They claim to believe the Bible, but they also teach the earth is around 4.5 billion years old and the universe formed out of a "big-bang" around 15 billion years ago.
During the first of his four lectures at the 1999 Florida College Lectures, Hill Roberts plainly said he is not a scientific creationist. He then defined a scientific creationist as one who believes in a young earth and flood geology. He accepts the theory that the earth took billions of years to form and the geologic column, as presented by the evolutionists, accurately represents the appearance of life on earth. He believes the six creation days were not six successive days in which God completed His work, but were six days or times in which God spoke. After God spoke, He took millions of years to fulfill what was spoken.
According to Hill, death, natural disasters, and suffering have existed from the beginning of creation and are not the result of sin. Man was created in the image of God after millions of years of life, death and extinctions on earth had already taken place. Hill has written, "Physical death is inherently Good, not Evil. Satan misuses death and pain for evil purposes just as he misuses all other 'right' things". This statement is gross error. Death is not "inherently Good" or "right", but is the enemy (1 Cor. 15:25-26).
Jesus said, "He who made them at the beginning made them male and female" (Matt. 19:4). Hill's concept of "the beginning" includes billions of years for the development of earth and the appearance of life before the creation of Adam and Eve.
Hill claims the Flood in Genesis 6-9 was probably only a local flood, although it did kill all humans outside the ark. He does accept the possibility that if it was global, it was miraculous and left no evidence that it ever occurred.
A key tactic of progressive creationists is to claim the age of the earth is "a trivial doctrinal point." Hugh Ross wrote,
"The battle line has been drawn over a peripheral point the age of the universe and our earth... It appears ill-advised, then, to make an issue out of such a trivial doctrinal point" (Creation and Time, pg. 9, 11).
Hill Roberts follows this teaching and is so successful in presenting this idea that every single Christian I have talked to who has attended the seminar in three different states, have stated their acceptance of his teaching! When we, as a people, are this ignorant or this apathetic towards the teachings of the Bible, then we are not far behind the Israelites who accepted the use of Jeroboam's golden calves in their worship of Jehovah.
The age of the earth is NOT a trivial doctrinal point! Genesis gives us a simple, straightforward account of creation. We can all agree there is much we are not told, but throughout the ages, it was obvious to all that Jehovah claimed to have created the world within a week. This view was seriously questioned only after men began to place more faith in evolutionary theories than in God's Word.
Can God clearly communicate to us? Is the Bible understandable? If God intended to communicate the idea of a creation that took billions of years, then how can we expect to accurately understand any other teaching in the Bible? If God cannot reveal information any clearer than that, then why bother studying the rest of the Bible? If God used long ages, how hard would that have been for Him to explain to us? Why didn't He just tell us?
The doctrine of an ancient earth perverts the Biblical teaching of the origin of death and the consequences of sin. According to the progressive creationists, instead of being vegetarians (Genesis 1:29-30), animals were tearing each other apart for millions of years before Adam and Eve were created. Death, suffering and disease were all part of God's original creation which He called "very good" (Gen. 1:31).
When studying Genesis, it is critical to understand the meaning of "yom," which is the Hebrew word translated "day". Most progressive creationists teach the "day-age" theory, but Hill acknowledges the possibility that Genesis 1 is describing 24 hour days. He thinks if the creation days are literal 24 hour days, they are merely the days on which God spoke, but their fulfillment took millions of years.
Yom may mean a period of time longer than 24 hours or it may mean a literal day. The only way we can know is to examine the context. There is nothing in the context of Genesis 1 that indicates a figurative meaning.
Yom is precisely defined when it is first used. "God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day" (Genesis 1:5).
When the word "day" is used with a number, such as "first day", "second day", etc., it always refers to a literal, 24 hour day. This holds true all 359 times that "day" is used with a number outside of Genesis 1.
In the Creation account, "days" is used in contrast to "years". "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years" (Genesis 1:14). If the days in Genesis were actually millions of years, what is meant by "years"?
The two words, "morning" and "evening", are combined with yom 19 times each outside of Genesis 1. Every time, without exception, the passage is referring to a 24 hour day.
When the phrase "evening and morning" is coupled with a number and the word yom at the end of each stage of creation, there is no stronger way of specifying a normal day. God saw each stage of creation was "good" as it was completed each day.
Exodus 20:11 says, "In six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day." A natural understanding of this passage is that God completed His creation within a week.
The following paragraph is from a letter written in 1984 by Professor James Barr, who was at the time Regius Professor of Hebrew at the University of Oxford. He does not believe that Genesis is literally true, but he is honest with the meaning of the language.
"Probably, so far as I know, there is no professor of Hebrew or Old Testament at any world-class university who does not believe that the writer(s) of Gen. 1-11 intended to convey to their readers the ideas that (a) creation took place in a series of six days which were the same as the days of 24 hours we now experience (b) the figures contained in the Genesis genealogies provided by simple addition a chronology from the beginning of the world up to later stages in the biblical story (c) Noah's flood was understood to be world-wide and extinguish all human and animal life except for those in the ark. Or, to put it negatively, the apologetic arguments which suppose the 'days' of creation to be long eras of time, the figures of years not to be chronological, and the flood to be a merely local Mesopotamian flood, are not taken seriously by any such professors, as far as I know."
Professor Barr also wrote: "If the word 'day' in this chapter does not mean the period of 24 hours, the interpretation of Scripture is hopeless" (Expositor's Bible, Vol. 1, pg. 45).
Hill Roberts' doctrine makes the curse on Adam meaningless. He thinks the world Adam and Eve were placed in was basically like the world we live in today. He accepts the fact that God planted a garden for them that was a pleasant place to live, but beyond its borders was a violent and dangerous world.
After Adam sinned, God told him, "Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you." (Genesis 3:17-18).
If we accept that the geologic column accurately represents the appearance of life on earth, then thorns and thistles existed for millions of years before Adam and Eve! What's the point of the curse?
Hill claims that scientists are objective searchers of truth, while in one article he charges those who accept a young earth with following Seventh Day Adventist theology rather than the Bible. He thinks most preachers defend the young earth position because: "It is what they were taught or have read in a few ICR books"; "It sounds strong: taking a stand against those scientists so-called"; "They would (now) be considered heretics, out of favor and out of support."
Much of Hill's teaching is subtle. He does not always plainly explain what he is teaching during his presentations. As an example, during a lecture at Florida College, he showed a picture that was produced by the COBE satellite, which was launched in 1989. The picture was a red and blue composite map of the universe. Hill did not say much about it except to quote George Smoot, the director of the COBE project, as saying it was like "looking at the face of God." Hill never explained why George Smoot made that statement. The red and blue colors represent temperature variations that supposedly existed around 100,000 years after the Big Bang. According to the theory, these temperature variations caused matter to condense into the galaxies we have today. Anyone who was not already familiar with the picture would have gone away without realizing what was being taught. This technique has caused some not to notice what Hill is teaching. According to the testimony of many witnesses, the presentations he gives in the seminar are not always plain enough to alert everyone to his position. He is much more open with his beliefs with those who remain for the question and answer period.
Christians must be aware of what they are inviting into their congregations. Hill Roberts does teach some information that is good and is well presented, but mixed in with the good material, is a compromise with simple teachings of the Word of God.
It is a sad time in the Israel of God today. Hill Roberts and others can present this perversion of God's Word for years, and instead of an outcry against their violence to the Scriptures, their popularity appears to be increasing. Ignorant and undiscerning brethren are dazzled by their multimedia presentation and fail to understand the consequences of the doctrine they are accepting. Hill was given more time to speak (four hours) at the 1999 Florida College Lectures than any other speaker. While describing Israel, Hosea wrote, "gray hairs are here and there on him, yet he does not know it" (Hosea 7:9). It is time for the Israel of God to start looking in a mirror.
Where are the children of Abraham, who have complete trust in the Word of God instead of the constantly changing theories of men? (Romans 4:16-22). True Christians, like Abraham, are willing to examine the physical evidence, but no matter what, their greatest faith is always in the Word of God.
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