Especially over the last half century, one theory after another that denies the literal creation-record of Genesis has been introduced and gained popularity, also within evangelical, Reformed, and Presbyterian denominations. The period theory, the gap theory, the mythical theory, the allegorical theory, the poetical theory, the saga theory, and other views and variations that explain Genesis 1 as a doxology or as a teaching model, and in recent years the so-called Framework Hypothesis have all been put forth. All of these views have one thing in common—they deny the literal meaning of the creation record in Scripture. And, whether it is deliberate or not, they are an attack upon sacred Scripture and the very foundation of the Christian faith.
Many of those who deny a literal creation record argue that whether you believe a literal creation account of Genesis or whether you believe in the period-theory or the Framework Hypothesis really makes no difference as far as salvation is concerned. They insist that these matters have no bearing upon our salvation. They say thatGenesis 1 and its interpretation do not belong to the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ. “It’s not a salvation issue!” they insist. All of these views ought to be acceptable in the church. This shouldn’t be a divisive issue.
Be not deceived! Undermining the truth of creation brings about the collapse of the entire structure of the Christian religion. All of Scripture, from Genesis 1 through Revelation 22, is the gospel of Christ, the gospel of our salvation!
Seldom has this been more plain than it is with two articles featured in the September 2010 issue of Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, articles written by Dr. Daniel Harlow and Dr. John Schneider, Bible and Theology professors at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. These articles boldly demonstrate the theological implications of embracing evolution. These Calvin College professors propose that Adam and Eve are purely symbolic literary figures, that there was no historical fall into sin, and that the doctrines of original sin, Christ’s atonement, election, and eternal punishment need major revision.
Dr. John Byl, a professor emeritus of Mathematical Science at Trinity Western University, reports on this bold undermining of fundamental truths of the Reformed (biblical) faith in an excellent article in Christian Renewal(November 24, 2010, pp. 6-8) entitled, “The Evolution of Calvin College.” He writes:
Following mainstream science, Drs. Harlow and Schneider presume that humans did not originate from a single pair 6,000 years ago but, rather, from a population of about 10,000 interbreeding individuals living in Africa about 150,000 years ago.
Consequently, Dr. Harlow (and Dr. Schneider) favor the view that “Adam and Eve are strictly literary figures—characters in a divinely inspired story about the imagined past that intends to teach primarily theological, not historical, truths about God, creation, and humanity.”
Drs. Harlow and Schneider both grant that Paul and Luke regarded Adam as a historical person. However, Harlow asserts, “Paul had little reason not to regard Adam as a historical figure, whereas today we have many reasons for recognizing him as a strictly literary one.” Dr. Schneider conceded that denying an historical Adam and his fall means rejecting biblical inerrancy.
Drs. Harlow and Schneider also both conclude that, if humans evolved, they could not have been originally upright. Thus, our sinfulness cannot be due to an historical fall. Rather, all humans are united in sin because our evolutionary heritage predisposes us to selfishness and sin. The doctrine of original sin must therefore be reformulated accordingly.
This has implications also for Christ’s atonement, Harlow asserts:
Once the doctrine of original sin is reformulated, the doctrine of the atonement may likewise be deepened. But the new understanding of sin requires that we now favor theories of the atonement like the Christus victor model or the moral influence theory, instead of the theory of a ransom paid to the Devil or a satisfaction paid to God’s honor.
In other words, the Reformed notion of Christ’s atonement as a payment for human sin is no longer viable.
Dr. Schneider, who seems to be inclined towards a similar revision of Christ’s atonement, goes one step further. He writes, “These intuitions about grace have very important implications for Christian thinking on the matter of eternal damnation, which is very hard to integrate well into theology as integrated with evolutionary science, and is also very difficult, if not impossible, to sustain within successful Christian theodicy.” He seems to favor a universalism in which all humans will be saved.
Obviously these Calvin College professors blatantly and unashamedly contradict the truth of Scripture and the Reformed confessions with their belief in the theory of evolution. They clearly put to naught the argument that one’s belief regarding Genesis and creation does not involve a “salvation issue.” They make the consequences of teaching from their “evolutionary paradigm” very clear. We have always maintained that undermining the truth of the first chapters of Genesis brings about the collapse of the entire structure of the Christian faith. We insist that this is true simply because Scripture is one, an organism, a unity. Consider what we read in Luke 24:27, where Jesus, the risen Lord, was speaking to the travelers on the road to Emmaus: “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” Jesus Himself emphasized that Moses spoke of the Christ!
Denial of the historicity of the first chapter of Genesis abolishes the “mother-promise” ofGenesis 3:15, the beginning of the gospel of salvation in Christ. If Adam the first is but a symbolic literary figure, what happens to the second Adam, the Lord from heaven? We read in I Corinthians 15:21, 22: “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”
Do we understand? In Genesis we are dealing with the very foundation of our faith! If Adam and Eve are fiction, Christianity is fictitious. If the events revealed in the first chapters of Genesis never really happened, Christianity is just another mythical religion. There is no room for compromise here. For the spirit that would rob God of His glory in creating, will also ultimately seek to rob God of his glory in redeeming, as the articles by Drs. Harlow and Schneider so clearly demonstrate.
Clearly their teachings are in conflict with the truth of the infallible inspiration of the Bible. Dr. Schneider conceded that denying a historical Adam and his fall means rejecting biblical inerrancy. Once this truth is rejected, the Scriptures and their divine authority are lost. And, as has been shown, a flood of errors and heresies come gushing forth to inundate a church. For we need not heed the personal opinions of men. We need not follow ordinances that simply reflect the culture of a day long gone by. We need not obey the word of man. But regarding the Word of God, we must say with Samuel, “Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth.” And with the Lord Christ we testify, “Thy Word is truth” (John 17:17).
In Hebrews 11:3 we read, “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” And that, you see, really explains it. “Through faith weunderstand.” Not everyone understands, but wedo, by the grace of God. We understand and believe. These things are hid from the wise and prudent, and revealed unto babes. May God grant us that childlike faith.