“Newspeak” from the Assemblies of God?

Last year I wrote a blog post about the revised Assemblies of God position paper on creation, evolution, millions of years, and the book of Genesis. I began that blog this way:

The general presbytery of the Assemblies of God (AG) denomination, in session August 9–11, 2010, adopted a revised statement on “The Doctrine of Creation.” Here is an excerpt from the official AG position paper, that opens the door to evolution and millions of years, and the various compromise positions on Genesis held by some in the church (such as gap theory, day age, progressive creation, theistic evolution, etc.)

I then wrote a follow-up blog entitled, ‘Assemblies of God Denomination Responds . . . but What Does It Really Mean?’

At Answers in Genesis, we heard of many Assembly of God pastors who were extremely upset that the denomination, known for taking a strong stand on a literal Genesis, had changed its position.

Well, recently the Assemblies of God adopted yet another position paper on creation. I have provided a link for this paper below. As I read through this new position, I was reminded of what we stated in the book Already Compromised (a book that deals with compromise in Christian Colleges) concerning what we called “Christian newspeak.” What we meant by this term was that Christian leaders used words that sounded good, but they really meant something else.

In a way, the important thing is not as much of what this position paper does say, but rather what it doesn’t say! Let me first of all tell you what this new position paper from the Assemblies of God on Genesis does not say:

It does not:

  • require a stand on six literal days
  • require belief that Adam was made from dust and Eve from his side
  • stand on a young earth
  • take a stand against millions of years
  • require no death, disease, thorns, suffering before sin
  • require belief in a global Flood

In other words, this new position paper does not get specific about what to believe concerning many details in Genesis. It seems to me it is written cleverly to sound orthodox, yet not require specific details, and thus in essence it allows for whatever position one wants to take on Genesis—as long as a person believes God created.

Because we have seen general statements like this new position paper used by pastors and Christian academics to justify their compromise with evolution and millions of years, Answers in Genesis is very specific in its Statement of Faith.

As I read this paper, “red flags” went up in regard to certain wording. For instance, the introduction states the following:

The Bible makes no claim to be a scientific textbook, nor should it be understood as such.

What is meant by this statement? In one sense I agree that the Bible is not written like a biology textbook or physics textbook, etc. In fact, I’m glad it is not like the textbooks written by fallible humans, since they change year after year as wrong information in them is fixed. However, this sort of statement is often used by those who claim the Bible is strictly “theological,” and therefore one has to let scientists (fallible humans) make declarations concerning biology, geology, etc. Thus, when scientists make proclamations about evolution or millions of years, we are told we need to change our interpretation of Scripture to adjust for what the scientists say.

Answers in Genesis has many articles on the difference between operational science (the kind of science that builds our technology, which is based on repeatable tests), and historical science (knowledge gained from circumstantial evidence in the present to reconstruct the unobserved past). Certainly the Bible is primarily a book of history, but the Bible also touches on biology (created kinds), astronomy (creation of Sun, Moon, stars), geology (Flood of Noah’s day), and anthropology (creation of Adam from dust and Eve from his side). And where the Bible touches on biology, geology, etc., it can and should be trusted. Now the next statement:

The discoveries of science had been utilized by skeptics to question the accuracy of the biblical accounts. In response, believing scientists and biblical scholars consider no fundamental conflict to exist between God’s Word and His works. The theories of the scientists are constantly changing with the introduction of new evidence. By contrast, the Scriptures are always the final, unchanging authority for Christian faith.

This statement sounds good, but I have seen statements like this, “In response, believing scientists and biblical scholars consider no fundamental conflict to exist between God’s Word and His works,” used time and time again by Christian academics to claim there is no conflict between Genesis and evolutionary ideas. They claim that evolution corresponds to God’s “works,” and Genesis gives us the theological teaching that God is behind it all. Thus, they say, there is no conflict!

The point I want to make again is that this new paper does not outline any specific position in regard to Genesis—except that God is the Creator and He is behind it all. Actually, I believe this cleverly and vaguely written paper is very dangerous. It will sound orthodox to many, but in reality it does not exclude theistic evolution, the gap theory, millions of years, the day-age theory, progressive creation, the framework hypothesis, or any other compromise position on Genesis.

It’s not so much what this new position paper says, but what it doesn’t say. And what it doesn’t say makes the case that what it does say is really “Christian newspeak.” What is extremely telling (which I believe confirms this), is that in the AG’s 1977 position paper on “The Doctrine of Creation, ” we read these specific statements:

This Bible record of creation thus rules out the evolutionary philosophy which states that all forms of life have come into being by gradual, progressive evolution carried on by resident forces. It also rules out any evolutionary origin for the human race, since no theory of evolution, including theistic evolution, can explain the origin of the male before thefemale, nor can it explain how a man could evolve into a woman. (“The Doctrine of Creation,” 1977, http://ministers.ag.org/pdf/Creation.pdf, accessed 11/8/10)

Such specific statements are no longer a part of this new and very general position paper that unlocks the door to whatever position a person wants to hold on Genesis, as long as he believes God created.

You can see the newly revised creation position paper on the Assembly of God website.

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,

Ken