We are seeing many more instances of conferences run by Christian academic institutions or by churches that have speakers who promote evolution or millions of years. We are also seeing more Christian leaders being identified with a particular compromised position on Genesis. For instance, Richard Dahlstrom, senior pastor of Bethany Community Church in Seattle, was featured on the theologically liberal BioLogos.org website over the weekend in their Saturday sermon series. Interestingly, his church’s statement of faith claims the church believes in the authority of the Bible, but he heavily promotes John Walton (professor at Wheaton College who believes in millions of years and rejects Genesis 1 as an account of material origins) in the sermon (not in this clip). BioLogos only features a clip from the sermon, which was delivered in November 2011.
Pastor Dahlstrom asserts that the word “create” in Genesis 1 does not mean to make something but rather to take something that’s already in existence and to make it “functional.” He claims that God is bringing the “dysfunctional universe” into something functional. While he says that God created all the universe, he claims Genesis 1 is only concerned with the “functional” aspect, not the material aspect. He says Genesis 1 is about bringing order out of chaos. (Earlier in the sermon, he recommends John Walton’s The Lost World of Genesis One.) He is obviously regurgitating the position taken by John Walton from Wheaton College, and we have written about this before (see this blog post).
John Walton in his book The Lost World of Genesis One writes the following about order and chaos in relation to the Flood:
It has already been suggested that the boat in Mesopotamian accounts may have served as a floating shrine. In its dimensions, the Genesis ark is much more realistic for a boat, though conceptually it may also represent a sanctuary where order is maintained floating on a sea of resurgent chaos. In this sense the Mesopotamian ark appears as a physical representation of a sanctuary, while the Genesis ark appears as a functional representation of a sanctuary. Creation both in the Bible and in the ancient Near East entailed deity bringing order while pushing back chaos. . . . The forces of chaos were most consistently represented in the cosmic waters. In this sense, the flood represents a reversal of creation. This is more the case in the biblical account than in the ancient Near Eastern accounts, for in the latter there is no textual representation of re-creation. (p. 322)
Read more about this issue at this blog post.
Pastor Dahlstrom, who promotes Walton’s ideas, is the author of The Colors of Hope: Becoming People of Mercy, Justice, and Love and 02: Breathing New Life into Faith, both of which deal with the Christian life and walk. Dahlstrom earned his MDiv at Talbot Seminary and runs a blog called Fibonacci Faith.
Regardless of what John Walton claims, I argue that after reading his book and other writings of his, there is no doubt in my mind he had developed his ideas about Genesis to accommodate the supposed millions of years of earth history. And as I often say, the teaching of millions of years is really the pagan religion of this age that attempts to explain life without God and that even Evangelical pastors can be caught up in this darkness.
Why do we continue to inform you about such pastors and academics who promote these ideas that we claim compromise God’s Word? Well, even though I don’t want to question the Christian leaders’ commitment to the Lord, to me the compromise with the secular world is really summed up in this verse of Scripture:
For you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them. (Ephesians 5:8–11)
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