Re: [asa] Youth leaving churches because of old earth OFFLINE

From: Bill Powers <>
Date: Sun Aug 09 2009 - 14:33:30 EDT


You have a lot to say here, and while our positions on these issues may
not be in agreement, some of your sentiments reflect mine.

I have to leave shortly for a Baseball Tournament, but briefly I agree
with your assessment that salvation in not contingent upon one's view of
the age of the earth or manner of life's origin. Indeed, it is founded
simply on one thing: faith in Christ's atoning work on the Cross.

It seems to me that we all, or most of us, ought to and do agree with
that much.

That said, it is not easy, or perhaps even possible, to stop there. Our
lives and circumstances are too complex for it. It is difficult, if not
impossible, to extricate Scripture from some of these issues. Adam and
Eve, for example, is too often referred to, as is the Flood. These are
interwoven into our understanding of God's relationship with us. As has
been discussed on this list, there are substantial implications to our
views of evolution, science, and the nature of the world. They reflect
on God's relationship with His creation.

We could, nonetheless, be wrong, seriously wrong, about all of this
(indeed, I think it's likely) and yet still be saved, miraculously be
saved. I can think of salvation in no other way. It would do us all
good to at least ponder how impossible our salvation is, even if we've
got origins and the age of the earth, etc. completely correct.

The foundations of salvation are simple, almost too simple. We think it
easy, until we begin to wonder what faith is and what sustains it or
upon what it is founded. The rest, all the rest, the nuances while not
essential, cannot, I think, be said to be irrelevant. They play, at the
very least, a supportive role, just as reason and evidence plays a
supportive role.

Well, I've got to go. Later, I'd like to comment on your saying that
you have entirely left the church.


On Sat, 8 Aug 2009, David Clounch wrote:

> Bill,
> I asked the question because what I don't know is whether the YEC movement
> is a doctrine held by some denominations, or whether it is a para-church
> movement. And thus a layman's movement. My exposure to the subject is
> limited to the Evangelical Free Church, the Baptist General Convention, the
> Conservative Baptist Convention, and various non-denominational churtches.
> My experience is that in all of these the subject is generally avoided as a
> doctrinal issue, but the members may individually may hold to a YEC
> position. The denomination avoids the issue because it inevitably leads to
> churches splitting, and the subject is considered to not be worthy of
> drawing that sort of line in the sand. Most protestant churches do not
> believe that a particular position about the age of the earth is a salvation
> related issue. Thus it is not deemed worthy of a potential church split.
> Ted Davis mentioned in First Things that many adherents to the Nicene
> Creed, for example, accept evolution. Supposedly a church that teaches the
> Nicene creed could have YEC's, OEC's TE's, and some other beliefs among its
> congregation. What becomes a problem, then, is whether these folks can
> tolerate each other holding different viewpoints.
> I asked about denominations taking doctrinal positions because around the
> world Christians tolerate other denominations. If there was a YEC
> denomination this perhaps could even be healthy. It would be legitimate to
> say "you go to a different church and have a different belief, so lets not
> bicker anymore." We do this daily on many doctrinal issues. Origins would
> be no different. We don't usually find churches willing to sue each other
> in court over a doctrinal disagreement. Yet the lawsuits seem to
> continue. My observation is this is generally Christians suing Christians.
> But it is not a denominational dispute. Christian positions on origins
> seems to be a lay movement that spans denominations and infects each
> denomination sort of like a virus.
> BTW, I have left the church entirely, primarily because of intolerance of my
> views by YEC's. Their attitude seems to be similar to Mike Steiner's:
> adherence to the Nicene creed is not enough for salvation, instead one must
> have the proper idea of the age of the earth. I think this sort of thinking
> is a heresy because it is the opposite of the true biblical teaching on
> justification and is an abomination - a false sort of Christianity.
> Perhaps I am overreacting here, but then again I am not the one constantly
> going around peppering other Christians with a salvation litmus test just
> because they aren't anti-evolution.
> I was harrassed last night by a YEC friend (a political friend who happens
> to be YEC) who brought up evolution once more. And she suggested I should go
> to BSF (Bible Study Fellowship). But she said I wouldn't like the study on
> Genesis.
> I told her I have no problem with Genesis. I have a problem with people who
> inject man-made doctrine into Genesis in order to distort its meaning, the
> way AIG does.
> My own idea is I'd rather take biblical studies courses at a local
> Christian liberal arts college instead of BSF. I don't trust the exegesis
> of a lay movement, and isn't BSF a lay movement? (I dont know much about
> BSF so I cannot judge). Somehow I don't think they are going to teach
> hermeneutics.
> The same person suggested last year I should go to The Truth Project. She
> is always talking about truth. Truth truth truth truth truth. That is what
> makes a lie by a movement so terrible. To tell a lie or a deception in the
> name of the truth...and never admit you could have made an error in your
> Just so you know, I myself think in terms of the teachings of Dwight
> Pentecost (Things Which Become Sound Doctrine, which is out of print).
> Doctrines like Justification, Positional Sanctification, Experiential
> Sanctification, etc. In the last 20 years I have never heard any of my
> Baptist friends mention these principles. But many of them are so very
> certain that AIG sure has the corner on truth. I don't trust anything
> they say about the Bible.
> So, I have come to appreciate the thousands of years of scholarly tradition
> in the Catholic Church...something protestantism seems like it struggles to
> recognize.
> On Fri, Aug 7, 2009 at 8:28 AM, Bill Powers <> wrote:
>> Just a question.
>> Jim and others indicate that "YEC" congregations somehow instigate and
>> emphasize this "debate" or tension between modern science and Scripture and
>> what constitutes the Christian faith.
>> I have been a member of two churches that were either officially or de
>> facto YEC churches, and yet the issue hardly ever came up. In the LCMS, at
>> least conservative LCMS, the church is doctrinally YEC, and yet the issue
>> never comes up. It is simply quietly presumed, and, as I said in a previous
>> post, there are much larger fish to fry. The other church was a E Free
>> church. Many members were individually much concerned with apologetics
>> related to YEC and evolution issues, but in the church per se the issue
>> hardly ever arose, again, for the same reasons given above.
>> So I suspect that by "YEC churches" something very different is meant than
>> that the members of the church generally espose a YEC and anti-evolutionary
>> view. Rather what is meant is that the church dedicates a significant
>> amount of its time and effort in espousing and defending this view against
>> contemporary criticism.
>> My question is: what is intended by and characterized by a "YEC church"?
>> bill
>> On Thu, 6 Aug 2009, James Patterson wrote:
>> John: Your bias with regard to anything RTB or Hugh Ross says is well
>>> known.if there is any arrogance anywhere, it is yours. I have never seen
>>> or
>>> heard arrogance from Hugh Ross, and don't believe you have either. Do you
>>> think your personal attacks are helpful? See point 2 below.
>>> As to this thread:
>>> 1. Ken Ham is being true to form.
>>> 2. I agree with previous authors that the division amongst camps and
>>> the general origins debate may help accelerate the exodus. However, I
>>> think
>>> it's clear that youth see division and lack of unity and use that as yet
>>> another reason to leave. There are many other reasons, however. They all
>>> sense the moral law written on their hearts, and sense that atheism is
>>> wrong. They all sense that the politics of religion, and the division of
>>> the
>>> origins debate are wrong, and get even more confused. Then the world
>>> provides the impetus to be diverted into any number of other possible
>>> answers that lack the fulfillment of Christ.and off they go. The most
>>> critical juncture is college. Easily convinced of whatever, and free to
>>> follow, and chagrined by the conflict in the church.
>>> 3. I see this every day in my work as in emergency psychiatry. It's
>>> been happening more and more since the 60s..and it's accelerating. We've
>>> had
>>> three generations now. See this PPT:
>>> The breakdown in the values of our society are overwhelming.
>>> James
>>> From: [] On
>>> Behalf Of John Walley
>>> Sent: Thursday, August 06, 2009 7:23 PM
>>> To: Schwarzwald;
>>> Subject: Re: [asa] Youth leaving churches because of old earth
>>> Incredibly, YEC's are not the only ones to fall to the tempation of this
>>> prideful self-delusion. When Dr. Ross visited FL a few years ago, he was
>>> interviewed by a local paper and made the comparison with Paul's statement
>>> that if the resurrection wasn't true then the gospel wasn't true, by
>>> saying
>>> that if the RTB Testable Creation Model wasn't true then the gospel wasn't
>>> true.
>>> I couldn't believe the arrogance of that and we took them to task on it on
>>> the apologists list but the response given was that he really didn't say
>>> that although that is exactly what the article printed him having said.
>>> John
>>> _____
>>> From: Schwarzwald <>
>>> To:
>>> Sent: Thursday, August 6, 2009 11:46:57 AM
>>> Subject: Re: [asa] Youth leaving churches because of old earth
>>> Heya Dave,
>>> I've seen that claim from some YECs (If a YEC interpretation of Genesis is
>>> wrong, then the whole bible is wrong!), and I consider it not only
>>> incorrect, but tremendously harmful. I also happen to think that
>>> addressing
>>> that view is the single most important goal in the entire inter-Christian
>>> origins debate. In other words: Whether or not an individual or
>>> congregation
>>> is YEC should be a secondary concern to their accepting that YEC simply is
>>> not the only rational and valid option. I've also encountered some who
>>> think
>>> that if humans are "just apes" then someone God doesn't exist, or doesn't
>>> love us, etc. That view is a strange one, and yet another that deserves a
>>> thoughtful response.
>>> Either way, I'm simply trying to point out that the reason for circling
>>> the
>>> wagons around a YEC position strikes me as multifaceted, and does not
>>> reduce
>>> to a single naive theological viewpoint. There really seems to be a
>>> greater
>>> fear of what accepting "evolution" inevitably leads to spiritually and
>>> intellectually - and that on a certain level, it's hard to fault them for
>>> making that association. My worry is that there's a tendency among many
>>> non-
>>> and ex-YECs to react to YECism by simply pounding on "You're wrong, wrong,
>>> wrong! about science!" when there are other dimensions to the issue, and
>>> the
>>> science (While in my view correct, or at least closer to the truth) isn't
>>> or
>>> shouldn't be the main focus besides. As you've noted, they think that if
>>> evolution is true, then that implies something necessarily degrading about
>>> humanity - that should be argued against. They think that if evolution is
>>> true, then a panoply of negative views are either justified or
>>> necessitated
>>> - that should be argued against.
>>> I'd also agree with Richard Blinne that "de-politicizing" faith is
>>> important. Though I'd also stress that "de-politicizing" (not that he
>>> implied otherwise) does not simply mean "moving left", but disentangling
>>> the
>>> Church from partisan politics. I'd also add that there are many cases
>>> where
>>> I agree with the "religious right" on a specific issue, but strongly
>>> disagree with their approach or even rationale on such issues. But
>>> questions
>>> of politics and approach is a larger, thornier question on the whole
>>> anyway.
>>> On Thu, Aug 6, 2009 at 9:03 AM, Dave Wallace <>
>>> wrote:
>>> Schwarzwald wrote:
>>> And take a look at the survey Ted linked to here. Notice that the concern
>>> isn't just that accepting an old earth (and I would assume evolution by
>>> extension) leads to young Christians leaving the church, but just what
>>> their
>>> social lives and outlooks on the world become as well. So I think it's a
>>> big
>>> mistake to think YECs and people like Ham are totally motivated by a
>>> simple
>>> theological difference of opinion. The perceived spiritual repercussions
>>> and
>>> effects of accepting evolution - even if the link is a contingent rather
>>> than a necessary one - is also a motivating factor, and not so simple to
>>> write off.
>>> It seems to me that part of the motivation is typical YECs belief that if
>>> any part of the Bible is not literally true then the whole reliability of
>>> scripture unravels. I read Francis Schaeffers "Genisus in Space and Time"
>>> quite a few years ago. Although Schaeffer took the view of scripture
>>> above
>>> he still found room for an old earth and a number of other options, as
>>> best
>>> I recall.
>>> Another issue for many YECs is that they have a horror of being descended
>>> from what they see as a banana eating jungle monkeys.
>>> In the survey it referenced conservative evangelical churches. I wonder
>>> how
>>> many of them were actually fundamentalists who years ago often rejected
>>> the
>>> label of evangelical. My experience was that such churches often
>>> absolutized what imo was clearly relative, frequently limited the
>>> application of Christianity to church meetings and Sunday and pretended to
>>> a
>>> perfection they did not live up to and were highly anti intellectual.
>>> After
>>> university my wife and I came close to packing it in with Christianity as
>>> what I describe above was frequently what we had been exposed to. I found
>>> Schaeffer's critique of fundies very much too the point and reading his
>>> (and
>>> his associates) books and visiting L'abri was the start of turning things
>>> around. IVCF and their books was also a huge help both in high school
>>> and
>>> university. In 1966 a year or so after finishing my masters in applied
>>> math we moved to New Jersey where I was employed by RCA. We bought a
>>> distressed house in a new subdivision next to a negro family. We ended up
>>> attending a liberal church as most of the more conservative churches
>>> enthusiastically supported missionaries to the African benighted, but had
>>> NO
>>> negros in the congregation and I could not stomach such organizations.
>>> Many
>>> similar churches exist today and I expect their young people have left at
>>> a
>>> very young age, even though they are forced to attend church till they
>>> leave
>>> home.
>>> Although my father was not YEC, the church's we attended were. Thankfully
>>> as
>>> part of a survival strategy, I had learned to keep some of my thoughts and
>>> beliefs to my self when I attended "Christian" boarding schools
>>> (kindergarten thro grade 11) so I just ignored the YEC part of their
>>> propaganda. At boarding school we were frequently forced to attend what
>>> in
>>> essence was a Sunday school held in the afternoon. I found that
>>> experience
>>> highly destructive as we were patronized, talked down to, fed pabulum and
>>> on
>>> and on. It does not surprise me that those who attended many Sunday
>>> schools are the first to leave as I expect they have already mentally and
>>> emotionally left by the end of elementary school. Fortunately, at least
>>> in
>>> Africa we were taken to a service Not run by people from the boarding
>>> school
>>> where the preaching was much better as the minister as it happened to be
>>> was a seminary trained Presbyterian. We also attended Sunday school
>>> there
>>> which was not destructive.
>>> Thus overall I think that an old earth view while it may be the proximate
>>> cause of someone leaving is often only the straw that breaks the camel's
>>> back.
>>> Being picayune over that is what is turning people from Christianity - not
>>> any one particular idea about origins. This is what Chuck Swindoll calls
>>> "peanut butter Christians" in his book The Grace Awakening.
>>> As I don't read Swindoll I have no idea what he means by "peanut butter
>>> Christians". I admit my lack of enthusiasm for Swindoll could well be a
>>> cultural reaction and others might find him helpful. I much prefer
>>> writers
>>> like Martin Lloyd Jones, CS Lewis, Carl Henry, Packer, Stott or Francis
>>> Schaeffer.
>>> Dave W
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Received on Sun Aug 9 14:34:32 2009

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