5 Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. 6 Do not add to His words Or He will reprove you, and you will be proved a liar. (Proverbs 30:5-6)
By Frank Schoenbach, Director
February 9, 2013
For the purposes of this article, only inerrancy of Scripture of the five fundamentals will be discussed. The attacks on inerrancy, beginning in Genesis 1, brought doubt to the Creation account, which led to doubt on Biblical inspiration, doctrine and authority of not only Scripture but of God Himself.
After the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species, many theologians came to accepting evolution as truth. This thinking came into once very conservative seminaries as evolutionist thinking and more liberal seminary professors inched their way into these halls of theological training.
After holding several heresy trials involving liberal seminary professors, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in 1910 approved what are known as the Five Fundamentals. The document stated “that the following doctrines were essential and necessary to the Presbyterian system.” The five approved were:
- The inerrancy of Scripture
- The virgin birth of Christ
- The substitutionary atonement of Christ by His death on the cross
- The bodily resurrection of Christ
- The authenticity of miracles
Needless to say, a war broke out between the fundamentalists and the liberals. This led to the famous sermon by Harry Emerson Fosdick in 1922 titled “Shall The Fundamentalists Win?” Then, after the Scopes Trial of 1925, where Clarence Darrow made William Jennings Bryan, one of the stars of fundamentalism in his day, look like a complete idiot, the fundamentalist were defeated, but not down completely.
After the fundamentalist resurgence in the late 1970s, liberals were driven out of denominations such as the Southern Baptist Convention. One of the casualties was one Dr. C. Welton Gaddy. Gaddy. Gaddy’s reaction, according to an article in the Charleston City Paper (no year is given as to when the article was written, only the date of April 14) “What happened that day in 1981 was part of the fundamentalist takeover of the SBC as they led the nation’s largest Protestant denomination to secede from mainstream American Christianity. Through the 1970s and ’80s, fundamentalists conducted an almost Stalinesque purge of moderates from positions of authority in the convention, its churches and seminaries.” Obviously, Gaddy was not a happy camper.
Gaddy would go on to organize something called “Faith Shared, “which was an event on June 26, 2011 that took place in about sixty churches in the United States. This event brought in Muslim leaders who read from the koran and spoke on how islam really is a religion of peace.
This is the type of liberal thought that brought atheist college professor Michael Zimmerman and Christian (liberal) pastors together with the introduction of the Clergy Letter Project in 2006 and its annual event “Evolution Weekend.” This event will be held over the coming weekend, February 8-10 and will feature sermons and other activities on the “truths” of Darwinism and evolution.
How then does evolution undermine Scripture? Let us look at each of the Five Fundamentals to discover the damage done by the acceptance of evolution by various liberal Christian denominations.
The inerrancy of Scripture
Definition: Inerrancy means that when all facts are known, the Scriptures in their original autographs and properly interpreted will be shown to be wholly true in everything they affirm, whether it has to do with doctrine or morality or with the social, physical or life sciences.
At stake here when considering inerrancy is not only that idea, but that the authors of the Bible wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and that the Bible is the ultimate authority on all things. The best place to begin placing doubt is at the very beginning, the foundation of which everything following depends.
In the late 1700s, geology was becoming a part of science. The strata of geological layers were discovered and the theory was made that these strata needed a long period of time, possibly millions of years. This caused some to question the Genesis account of the Creation. How could these geological formations, the ages of which far exceeded the generally accepted belief that the Earth was barely 6,000 years old?
Christians began to accept the long ages needed for the geological record. Enter Thomas Chalmers, a Presbyterian pastor. In 1814, Chalmers proposed the Gap Theory which places a long period of time between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 in order to account for the geological record. He was well enough known and popular that many other pastors accepted the theory.
Even some of the great pastors and preachers of the second half of the nineteenth century came to accept the Gap Theory. One of these was Charles Spurgeon. Consider these two quotes by Spurgeon:
I will not venture upon any dogmatic theory of geology, but there seems to be every
probability that this world has been fitted up and destroyed, refitted and then
destroyed again, many times before the last arranging of it for the habitation of men.
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth;” then came a long interval,
and at length, at the appointed time, during seven days, the Lord prepared the earth
for the human race.
We have the story of the fitting up of the world, during the seven days, for the
habitation of man; but we have not the history of the creation of the earth before that
time. To prepare for the seven days’ rapid furnishing of the earth for man, millions of
years may have elapsed.
After Darwin published his book, more clergy, seminary professors and lay people came to accept evolution as true. As evolution became popular, not to mention the very liberal German theologians with their writings, Genesis 1 became a target. Dinosaur bones were being discovered for the first time. They had to be accounted for in an even longer time span than the geological discoveries had been given. Never mind that fossils of alleged extinct hominids, i.e. human ancestors, had not been discovered. Evolution was now in vogue and Genesis became an even bigger target for the liberals in the church and the atheists outside the church.
To his credit, Spurgeon did not buy into evolution as he did the absurdity of the Gap Theory. He did make several comments about evolution:
- If God’s word be true, evolution is a lie.
- If those who believed in evolution said their prayers rightly, they would begin them
with, “Our Father, which art up a tree.”
- These men have such wonderful theories that it really seems surprising that they do
not themselves make a few worlds, since they profess to have found out so many
ways of making them.
In the early part of the twentieth century, two fundamentalist Christian laymen organized a group of Christian clergy and professors to write on the fundamentals of faith. Edited by R. A. Torrey, The Fundamentals, a “set of twelve books, each containing about 125 pages of articles written by dozens of prominent orthodox scholars from America, Canada and Great Britain.” Over 300,000 copies of the first nine volumes were sent to Protestant clergy, professors, etc in the English speaking world.
Of the ninety chapters, at least six are directly concerned with Genesis, Darwinism and evolution. Two were written by James Orr of the United Free Church College in Glasgow, Scotland: The Early Narratives of Genesis and Science and Christian Faith; Dyson Hague of Wycliffe College in Toronto, Canada: The Doctrinal Value of the First Chapters of Genesis; Henry H. Beach of Grand Junction, Colorado: The Decadence of Darwinism; one by George Frederick Wright of Oberlin College: The Passing of Evolution; and one by an anonymous person written under “An Occupant of the Pew,” titled Evolutionism in the Pulpit.
These men saw the threat from Darwinism and evolution. Both already being accepted by seminary professors and their students, who in turn would go to the churches and preach that Genesis is nothing but a myth, or symbolic or metaphoric. Consider quotes from the articles in The Fundamentals:
Here now are some quotes from these articles:
Beach: The teaching of Darwinism, as an approved science, to the children and youth, of the schools of the world is the most deplorable feature of the whole wretched propaganda.
Orr: In conclusion, it is clear that the narratives of Creation, the Fall, the Flood, are not myths, but narratives enshrining the knowledge or memory of real transactions. The creation of the world was certainly not a myth, but a fact, and the representation of the stages of creation dealt likewise in facts.
Hague: The Book of Genesis is the seed in which the plant of God’s Word is enfolded. It is the starting point of God’s gradually-unfolded plan of the ages. Genesis is the plinth of the Divine revelation. It is the root of the tree of the inspired Scriptures. It is the source of the stream of the holy writings of the Bible. If the base of the pillar is removed, the pillar falls. If the root of the tree is cut out, the tree will wither and die. If the fountain head of the stream is cut off, the stream will dry up. The Bible as a whole is like a chain hanging upon two staples. The Book of Genesis is the one staple; the Book of Revelation is the other. Take away either staple, the chain falls in confusion. If the first chapters of Genesis are unreliable, the revelation of the beginning of the universe, the origin of the race, and the reason of its redemption are gone. If the last chapters of Revelation are displaced the consummation of all things is unknown. If you take away Genesis, you have lost the explanation of the first heaven, the first earth, the first Adam, and the fall. If you take away Revelation you have lost the completed truth of the new heaven, and the new earth, man redeemed, and the second Adam in Paradise regained.
Hague has it correct. This is the attitude we must have today. Everything falls without foundation. Genesis is the foundation of the rest of Scripture, take it away, or refer to it as a myth, legend, symbolic or metaphoric, every doctrine of the Bible comes into question. There are Christians who claim they still believe the Virgin Birth, the miracles of Jesus, his death, resurrection and ascension and at the same time calling Genesis a “metaphor.” How can one obtain a total understanding of the Gospel message based on metaphors? How do they answer a person, to whom they are witnessing to the question “why do we need salvation?” Do they say, “well, based on metaphor…..?” It makes no sense. Beliefs, especially Christian beliefs, cannot be based on a foundation that so many label as myths, symbolism, metaphors or allegories.
Much has happened since the days of Spurgeon, the ratification of the Five Fundamentals and the publication of The Fundamentals. John Dewey brought liberal thinking into our school systems, presidents, deans and professors of once stark fundamentalist seminaries their liberal views and passed it on to their students, who then became professors and clergy themselves and passed those same views to their students. The Leakey’s and others discovered what they classified as pre-human fossils thus inventing a sequence of human evolution that is widely accepted as truth today. Edwin Hubble came up with the big bang, or nothing causing nothing to explode and become everything. Post Modernism ran amok. No longer were there any absolutes. Good and evil and right and wrong became relative; if something is good for you, it’s good for me even if it isn’t good for me. Such malarkey!
We had the “sex, drugs and rock-n-roll” attitude beginning in the 1960s. Free love, the summer of love. Nothing was wrong anymore. And all this swept into the church. Even a quick glance will tell a person that something is terribly wrong with Christianity, or what is passed off as Christianity, today. Yes, there are many good pastors out there, but the ones who have the sounding board are the wonks. What is being passed off as true doctrine is verging on or surpassing apostasy and heresy. Just look at what is on Christian television. Yes, there are a few good teachers and preachers, but they are badly outnumbered. Is it any wonder that the likes of Joel Osteen and Oprah are considered great Christian teachers? It is a sad state of affairs these days. Is it any wonder why events as “Evolution Weekend” even happen?
Read Matthew 24. It is very obvious that so much of what Christ said would happen at the end of the age is actually happening. We read 31 God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. (Genesis 1:31) Can anyone honestly say that things are “very good” today? If they do, they are a liar. We are in the days that Isaiah warmed Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!(Isaiah 5:20).
How did this present state come about? Adam sinned and sin and darkness entered the world. Paul wrote 12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.(Romans 5:12) Yes, one man, Adam, brought sin into the world, just as Genesis 3 says. Creation was no longer very good, in fact, it wasn’t even good. We are all born under the sentence of death thanks to sin. But there is hope. There is a Savior. Just as God first promised in Genesis 3:15, there is redemption from sin and our hopelessness. That is Jesus, God in the flesh. Despite what the liberals inside and outside say, it is the Truth that Christ was born of a virgin, and that He died on the cross with all the sins, including ours today, piled onto Him. His blood saved us. His wonderful Resurrection defeated death. He is our only true hope. All one needs to do is to repent of their sins and put their faith and trust in Christ. Then and only then do we have salvation and the promise of an eternal home in heaven with Him!
Inerrancy of Scripture has taken a thumping over the last century and a half. The result of that is what we see today—anything goes because morals are all relative. And that is hogwash. Only the saving grace of Christ will defeat the relativism that is so alive and well today.
Beale, David O. In Pursuit of Purity:American Fundamentalism Since 1850. Greenville, SC: Unusual Publications, 1986.
Beach, Henry. The Decadence of Darwinism. doi:fundamentalists.whybaptist.com/chaptersixty-eight.aspx (accessed February 9, 2013).
Feinberg, Paul D. “The Meaning of Inerrancy.” In Inerrancy, edited by Norman L. Geisler. Grand Rapids. MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1980.
Hauge, Dyson. “The Doctrinal Value of the First Chapters of Gensesi.” In The Fundamentals, edited by R. A. Torrey and A. C. Dixon and Others, 272-73. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2008.
Mortenson, Dr. Terry. “Where did the Idea of “Millions of Years” Come From?” In The New Answers Book 2, edited by Ken Ham. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2008.
Orr, James. “The Early Narratives of Genesis.” In The Fundamentals, edited by R. A. Torrey and A. C. Dixon and Others. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2008.