“How did it come to this?” Theoden, son of Thinger1
In my previous article on this topic, I addressed some of the ways that Christianity has been shooting itself in the foot for the past half-century or more. Many Christians reached out to me or left comments on the blog itself either thanking me for expressing what they thought or agreeing with my sentiments. Even a couple of evolutionists left gloating comments about how well their dogma is succeeding. It was easily my most popular blog post since I abandoned facebook advertisements. I believe this is because a lot of Christians are seeing the problems in the church, but church leadership seems unable or unwilling to address them. This article will delve deeper into the problems facing the church today along with proposing some potential solutions.
In a lot of churches today, there is a heavy focus on programs and growth. There is nothing wrong with either of these ideas, provided that doctrine is not compromised in the process. However, often doctrines are compromised in pursuit of increasing the size or the prosperity of a church. One of the most common doctrines compromised in this pursuit is that of creation. But what is the doctrine of creation? How would such a doctrine be defined?
Based on reading Genesis 1-3, a doctrine of creation will encompass a couple of key points. One major point is the origin of sin. The Biblical narrative makes it very clear that sin is a result of man’s choices in the Garden of Eden. Theologians refer to this as original sin. However, if Genesis 1-3 is regarded as allegorical, rather than narrative history, it becomes very difficult to explain the origin of sin. If sin is not inborn into all men, which it must be if the Genesis narrative is taken as it is written, then it is possible that all men are basically good. This mantra of basic goodness appears regularly in the secular world. When men act poorly, it is dismissed as being a product of their environment. If man is in the right environment, the argument goes, then he will behave in a basically moral manner.
This creates a massive problem for anyone not reading the Genesis account as it is written. If there is no original sin, then death is not the penalty for such sin. This makes a complete disaster of the entire Bible. The entire Bible hinges upon God giving mankind an opportunity to restore their relationship with Him that had existed in the beginning. The separating barrier that kept man from God was man’s sin. The entire method God gave for restoring the broken relationship revolved around death as the penalty for sin. In the Old Testament, it was the substitutionary death of an animal for the sin of man. In the New Testament it was the substitutionary death of the Lamb of God; God’s own Son Jesus Christ that paid for the sins of the world. If death is not the penalty for sin; if Genesis does not mean what it says on that topic, then the entire doctrine of redemption can be thrown away.
Of course, there are those who regard Adam and Eve as real, and original sin as real, but accept the millions of years of deep time proposed by evolutionary geologists. This still creates the same doctrinal problems. The reason is slightly different but related. If there were millions of years before sin, then, logically, there would have been a lot of death before man sinned. This again breaks the redemption narrative, as death is no longer the result of man’s sin. It is simply a natural part of life. This completely destroys the significance of death. If death is simply a natural part of life, then the significance of it being the penalty for sin is lost. After all, if everything else died around them, why would Adam and Eve have expected that they would not also do so eventually? How would they have seen dying as significant? To them, it would have been normal, not a punishment for disobedience.
Despite the damage that millions of years does to the redemption narrative of Christ, many churches have taught it unquestionably for years. This has led to the numerous problems mentioned in the previous article. Young people are not stupid. They often can see things more clearly than their elders. When they see the millions of years and see how their elders are attempting to put them in the Bible, they see the contradictions. When they ask about these contradictions, they are often told to be silent, or given non-answers like “Just trust Jesus”. So they internalize their concerns until they hit college and then they leave and never come back.
Compromise never works. Trying to mix secular ideas with the Bible merely dilutes the power of the Bible. It does not rescue the Bible from damage by the secularists. Instead, it simply tells young people that they don’t need to believe the whole Bible; merely the parts they like. Some of them end up rejecting the whole thing in the process. If we want to keep young people in the church and bring back ones that have left, we need to present the whole truth, not just the parts we like, or the parts we feel are supported by secular ideas. If we preach the whole counsel of God, people will come.