Assemblies of God Journal Takes a Dogmatic Position Against Those Who Insist on a Literal Genesis

Now of course I could understand the editor of the Assemblies of God Enrichment Journal and the hierarchy of the Assemblies of God denomination vehemently disagreeing with the heading of this blog post. But let me explain why I stand by it.

At AiG, we take a dogmatic stand on marriage being that of one man and one woman (male and female), because that is obviously what the Bible teaches. Any other definition of marriage is unbiblical (and there are many Scriptures we have cited in articles to justify this; e.g., Matthew 19:4–7; Romans 1, and so on).

Now, there are people in the church that call us intolerant because of our stand on biblical marriage. They claim we are dogmatic and that we should be more tolerant and allow all views. But in making this statement they are being intolerant of our view, which, in essence, states that there is only one correct biblical view. And those that claim we are intolerant are very dogmatic about their intolerance of our view, which says that their view of allowing different positions is incorrect! [Please note: The example of marriage has nothing to do with the Assemblies of God denomination. This is just an example used to explain tolerance and intolerance.]

In other words, when it comes to claims on truth, there really is no such thing as a “neutral” position!

In this new issue of a journal from the Assemblies of God denomination, the editors have tried to be “neutral” in presenting different views of Genesis. I’m sure they see this as a balanced approach and believe they are showing tolerance in allowing different views.

However, we at Answers in Genesis believe there is only one correct view regarding how one takes Genesis—it must be taken as literal history (it is written as a historical narrative). And we must as God’s people stand against the compromise of reinterpreting Genesis to fit in evolution and millions of years, which undermines biblical authority. We are often called intolerant for our stand. There are church leaders who claim they are tolerant in allowing different views regarding Genesis, but in doing so they are intolerant of the view AiG takes, which we adamantly insist is the correct biblical view.

So, in reality, in the journal of this denomination, by allowing different authors to present different views, by not coming out and clearly stating which is the correct view, and by not giving reasons why compromise views are in error, I submit that the journal is taking a dogmatic, intolerant stand against those who take the position we do at AiG.

And as we have said over and over again, it is the compromise of evolution and millions of years with Genesis. This is the Genesis 3 attack (“Did God Really Say?”) that is undermining biblical authority in our day, and it is a great contributing factor as to why coming generations are leaving the church.

I submit that this journal would probably never take the same approach with the Resurrection or Virgin Birth. They wouldn’t (I would hope) allow people with many different views about whether it was a real physical resurrection or real virgin birth give their opinions and let people make up their own minds! I’m sure they would want to point out error and stand on the authority of God’s Word.

So I stand by my title to this blog post.

There is no doubt the church in our Western world is in a sad state. Many Christian leaders today just do not seem to understand the foundational importance of Genesis to the rest of Scripture and to the gospel. I recently learned that this fall 2012 issue of the Assemblies of God Enrichment Journal is themed around the “conflict” between what they see as religion and science—but what we would see as really a conflict between God’s Word (the historical science of the Bible—the history in Genesis) and man’s word (the historical science—belief—of the secularists concerning origins).

Of course, they try to act “neutrally” and present differing views, but what they end up communicating is that “neutrality” is better than standing on what God’s Word clearly says in Genesis (and is confirmed throughout the Bible).

In one of the opening articles, Amos Yong, a professor of theology at Regent University in Virginia, writes about pastors who teach that there is only one acceptable view of the creation account in Genesis:

But [college- and university-educated members] do know there are a variety of views about scientific theories. A pastor’s insistence that there is only one way to see things says to these members: “Leave your mind at the door before you come into church.” This may not be the intended message, but it is implicit in the way pastors sometimes talk about the 7 days of creation when our audience has come to understand the ancient Hebrews did not interpret these as literally as we do. (Faith and Science: Friend or Foe?)

Thus, Yong confirms what I said earlier: he is intolerant of those who say there is only one view and dogmatically speaks against this position!

Aside from a series of articles arguing for various views on the age of the earth by Hugh Ross, Kurt Wise, and Davis Young, the issue is devoted to topics such as how to create a “safe haven” for youth to question beliefs. The author of that article writes that youth leaders should avoid advocating any views in particular—again an illustration that they are really intolerant of those who teach as we do at AiG that we must take Genesis as written and not compromise it in any way with man’s historical science (beliefs about the past):

One way to get out of the line of fire is to avoid championing one view over another. Let the proponents of aposition share its strengths, and then have the detractors present the weaknesses of that position. (Preparing Young People for a Life of Faith)

The above statement (and a number of others like it in this journal) tells me that these authors do not value what Genesis has to say about the age of the earth more than they value the regularly changing opinions of men. If they’re unwilling to teach what the Bible says about our origins and the age of the earth—and if they’re willing to tell other leaders, the people who are in a position to teach and disciple believers, to remain supposedly “neutral” (which in reality is an intolerant and dogmatic position) and not teach a young earth (as the Bible clearly teaches)—then they are communicating to believers that what God’s Word actually says is not important—and that God’s Word can be reinterpreted to fit in man’s fallible beliefs. Ironically, these authors think that remaining “neutral” means they aren’t taking a stand, but in remaining neutral they are actually taking a stand against a straightforward reading of God’s Word!

We have written many articles about the consequences of fitting the belief of millions of years into the Bible. Not only does this set the example that man’s fallible beliefs can be in authority over the infallible Word of God, but it also contradicts the Bible’s obvious teaching that death, disease, suffering, thorns, carnivory, etc. came after sin. For instance, read this article on the AiG website by Dr. Terry Mortenson, AiG–U.S., on the problems with death and suffering before the Fall.

Yong also makes the same assertion that many others have about Genesis, namely, that belief in a literal Genesis is a “second-tier issue”:

Let us instead distinguish what is nonnegotiable, like the existence of God as Creator, from issues of second-tier import, and then allow our believing scientists and our faithful theologians to keep doing their work at this level. (Faith and Science: Friend or Foe?)

But what should be being taught to people through these articles is that fallible man cannot take ideas outside of Scripture and reinterpret the clear words of Scripture to fit them in—this is the compromise that runs rampant in the church today.

Isaiah 2:22 tells us to stop trusting in man, and Psalm 118:8 states, “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.”

God warns us in Proverbs 30:5–6, “Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.”

In my talks on the relevance of Genesis, I often use an illustration showing how the church mistakenly ignores these attacks on theWord of God, saying, “It’s only a side issue. They aren’t attacking the Cross.” But what many of these churches fail to realize is that these attacks on Genesis are attacking the very foundation of the message of the Gospel—because they are attacks on the very Word of God itself. And it is from the Word of God that we get the gospel!

Ultimately there is no conflict between Scripture and observational (or operational) science. The conflict regarding origins is really one between the historical science of the Bible (the account of history in Genesis) and the historical science of the secularists (their account of supposed evolutionary millions of years history). Since the true history of our universe is recorded in the Bible, scientific research should confirm the authenticity and accuracy of the biblical text—and it does. When one introduces ideas that stem from an ungodly worldview (the anti-God religion of evolution or millions of years) into their thinking they are bound to reach faulty conclusions at odds with God’s Word.  So to make this fit with God’s Word, sadly, they have to change (reinterpret) the Word of God. This means that God’s Word is fallible and can’t really be trusted—and the infinite Creator God could not even get the first part of the Bible right. So how can we trust the rest? Thus generations taught such compromise are put on a slippery slide of unbelief through the whole of Scripture resulting in them walking away from the church. This is what is happening before our very eyes in our culture today.

I encourage you to read Dr. Liz Mitchell’s analysis of one the Enrichment Journal articles in today’s News to Note (an article series featured each Saturday on the AiG website).

As believers, we have to take God at His word. There’s a reason God asks Job, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding” (Job 38:4).

As the Scripture states, “let God be true but every man a liar” (Romans 3:4).

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,

Ken