Evidences of Faith
Concern in the "Age of the Earth" Discussion
While I have great problems with any teaching that tries to reinterpret Genesis 1 to fit into "scientific natural observation" concerning the age of the earth, there is another issue that enters into this discussion that I find disturbing. I have read much material in this discussion on several web sites, and one argument that seems to come up time and again is the supposed effect that teaching the Bible doctrine of a young earth has on those who we may be trying to reach. We are told by some that if we insist on teaching that Genesis 1 teaches literal 24 hour days (and I think it does), that there will be people that will not listen to the gospel message.1 In other words, if I want people to believe the gospel, then I have to change the message of some of the Bible. On Hill Roberts' web site, he has material in which he talks of Todd Green who is said to have lost his faith and left the church because brethren insisted on teaching the Bible doctrine of the young earth, something he could not reconcile with his "scientific knowledge" and observation.2 Roberts has other such stories that imply that we are doing great harm to the faith of others by insisting that the earth is young and rejecting what "science" tells us.
This is a dangerous line of thinking and a dangerous argument that has been often used to defend modifying Bible teaching. Through the years we have been told by some that we need to tone down our teaching on many things so as not to offend or cause people not to listen to gospel preaching. Some say we must not let people know we are from the Lord's church when we teach them, because that may prejudice them against us. Others say don't tell them what the Bible says about the hardships and sufferings that they must face after becoming Christians because this may cause them not to obey. I guess we just spring it on them after we get them wet.
By the arguments made, those who defend teaching the flawed scientific teachings of the age of the earth contrary to Bible teaching, seem to want to pull out this same line of reasoning. The consequences of such reasoning, however, extend far beyond the teachings of Genesis 1. What of those, who because of their scientific knowledge of biology and reproduction, cannot bring themselves to accept the virgin birth of Jesus? Sure the Bible says that He was born of a virgin, but we know through science that this is impossible. It is not "good biology". Are we then to stop teaching this Bible teaching or find some figurative explanation for it so as not to cause someone to not obey the gospel, lose his "faith", or quit the church, because he cannot reconcile the teaching of the Bible with known observed and "proven science"? It is also true that it is not scientifically viable to believe that a man could be raised up from the dead after 3 days. On and on we could go.
Brethren, we must teach the "whole counsel of God", not just what we decide to emphasize. Some think that since "the apostolic message gives a special position ('first importance') to the incarnation, death, burial, resurrection, baptismal submission to and disciplinary imitation of Christ"1. That other Bible doctrines are not that important to the faith and therefore must be abandoned when they offend others or when others cannot reconcile them with human wisdom. I'm sorry but "all scripture is given by the inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." (2 Tim. 3:16) and "has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?" (1 Cor. 1:20).
(1) Tom Couchman, "A Response to 'The Creation Account & Florida College'", http://www.geocities.com/dmathew1/gen12/response.htm
(2) Hill Roberts, "Todd Green: Why all this matters", http://lordibelieve.org/tgreen.html