The relevance of creationism to evangelism (part 2)
How does a belief in creation or evolution influence evangelism?
I began answering this question in an earlier column. I quoted Frances Schaeffer who said, "that if he had an hour with a person on a plane who did not know the Lord, he would spend the first fifty-five minutes talking about creation in the image of God and where that man came from, and the last five minutes on the presentation of the gospel of salvation." The issue of origin, where we came from, is not only foundational to understanding the Bible but it is central and of primary importance to the gospel.
I also pointed out that most churches have dismissed the creation issue or replaced it with a more palatable version of the truth like theistic evolution. This has resulted in (or perhaps is the result of) a general disrespect for Scripture. Forgive the sarcasm, but instead of starting with the boring task of diligent, consistent Bible study many American Christians choose quicker and easier ways to arrive at the truth. Microwavable truth comes in many forms: tape series by Christian celebrities, Christian books on anything that ails you, Christian music, Christian videos and even study notes in Bibles. In and of themselves there is nothing wrong with these things but many times they have come to replace the Bible as the starting point for truth. Instead of spending time with the Creator of the universe dwelling on the truth of His word many find study aids, books and tapes and easy substitute. Knowledge has come to replace wisdom.
This mentality has produced a church that chooses to turn to other places to find the truth about origin. Today, the three most common arguments used to discredit the biblical view of young earth creation are the gap theory, theistic evolution and progressive creation. None of these three theories start with the Bible but with so-called evidence outside the Bible. Ironically, in an attempt to accommodate science these compromise positions must manipulate science and the Bible in order to work. Like a bomb being dropped from a B-52 these compromise positions are a direct hit on the central mission of the church--evangelism. Instead of finding truth within the pages of Scripture these compromise views teach that Scripture is not enough. Finding the answer about origin outside the Bible then cramming it between the pages of Scripture becomes the proper way to interpret the Bible.
This is where the answer is found to your question. If we surrender the integrity of Scripture in the foundational area of origin then Scripture loses its power in evangelism. The result is a shift in focus from a gospel rooted in the word of God to a gospel centered on the opinions of man. So, in America what do opinion polls say about selling Christianity? Evangelism becomes merely a marketing plan for Christianity with the following dictum: Avoid using Scripture. You can't trust it. Consider the first book. It does not agree with science and underevolved people wrote it. Besides that, it's too offensive.
Much of modern evangelism has settled for this cheapened gospel message. Salesmanship on the benefits of being a Christian has replaced the message that we are sinners deserving the judgment of God and it is only through Jesus Christ that we can be saved from that judgment. Evolution and the compromise positions all remove the meaning of God's first judgment--death. In order for them to be true there must be death before Adam. Therefore, weakening the significance of death as a judgment for sin is an attack on the very foundation of the gospel. Without the wrath of God judging sin through sure and certain death there is nothing to be saved from.
Although many churches do not see the importance of creation to the gospel message atheist Richard Bozarth understands it completely. He said, "…evolution destroys utterly and finally the very reason for Jesus' earthly life was supposedly made necessary. Destroy Adam and Eve and the original sin, and in the rubble you will find the sorry remains of the son of god. Take away the meaning of his death. If Jesus was not the redeemer who died for our sins, and this is what evolution means, then Christianity is nothing!"
So how do we use creation in evangelism? I will address this question in the next column.
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Originally published in the Rockdale/Newton Citizen