Warning! Rampant Compromise—But Isn’t It Really Heresy?

“Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away disciples after them.” (Acts 20:28–30)

The article I link to below is an extension of what has been going on at Calvin College in Michigan. In previous blog posts and articles I have quoted professors from Calvin College who no longer believe in a literal Adam and literal Eve—or a literal Fall. Calvin professors have been teaching evolution as fact for years. Now, why would any Christian parent spend thousands of dollars to send their kids to a college that attacks and undermines the authority of God’s Word? Calvin College, by the way, is a college of the Christian Reformed Church of North America.

The Banner is the magazine of the Christian Reformed Church and is also located in Grand Rapids. The article I link to below references a 1991 Agenda for Synod document by the Committee on Creation and Science. This was a response to Howard Van Till’s The Fourth Day (1986) and the teachings of Clarence Mennigna and Davis Young, which kicked open the door all the way (partly opened by others) to accepting theistic evolution in the CRC denomination. (Van Till, Mennigna, and Davis were professors at Calvin College.)

The document actually traces this slide into evolution acceptance! The document is 71 pages long, so it’s not easy to summarize. But in brief, it seems to call for a literal Adam and Eve and a literal Fall, but the authors of the document accept the standard evolutionary timescale and seem to accept human evolution. As we have seen time and time again, once the door of compromise with evolution and millions of years is opened, the slide into unbelief will increase—as is seen in this article written by a retired Christian Reformed pastor.

Just one interesting but sad side note that pertains to this issue: John Loftus, a pastor turned atheist, credits Van Till’s book as turning him away from Christianity. He has written the following:

Howard Van Till wrote the book The Fourth Day, which was one of the books that put me on a course of study that eventually led me away from the Christian faith. On page 79 in a footnote he listed several works on Genesis 1-11 that I proceeded to read. These initial books led me to still others, and others. After reading them I came to deny Genesis 1-11 was historical. I concluded these chapters were mythical. Anyway, Van Till has now been led down the same path as I. He has moved away from his Calvinism, and taken a much more ambiguous position on religion [http://www.freethoughtassociation.org/images/uploads/pdf/ODoRs.pdf ]. That too is where I was for a time in my intellectual journey. But it eventually led me to atheism. (http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2007/02/howard-van-tills-intellectual-journey.html)

I have excerpted sections from this article for you to read and link to the entire article for you. As you read this article, think of the students in colleges and people in churches who will become the John Loftus types in the future because shepherds departed from the truth of God’s Word and exalted the teachings of fallible man.

Sadly, this is the sort of shocking compromise and undermining of God’s Word that is happening to one degree or another at Christian colleges, churches, and other Christian institutions across the nation. This article is a warning on where compromise with man’s religion of evolution and millions of years leads—ultimately a rejection of the basic doctrines of the Christian faith.

Well, here are excerpts from The Banner article:

I suspect that a thousand years from now Christians will look back at the 21st century and say, “How could Christians have let themselves think that?” They’d have in mind our theology—some of the doctrines that are so precious to us and that we consider to be the backbone of Christianity. . . .

So I wouldn’t be surprised if a thousand years from now, or even in 500 years, people look back at our cherished doctrines and exclaim, “How could they believe all that?”

Why do I say this? . . .

It’s an insight that began as a hypothesis in 1859, gradually developed into a scientific theory, and is fast becoming recognized as established fact. I refer to what we have been calling “the theory of evolution.”

Scientists recognize generally that the universe began with an enormous explosion—the “big bang.” They provide various scientific avenues to demonstrate the great age of the universe, perhaps as old as 15 billion years. The varied scientific disciplines provide convincing demonstrations of the continuous development of the universe since its beginning, such as producing over billions of years the vast reaches of space and the seemingly infinite number of stars and planets and galaxies that dot the heavens. . . .

Implications for Theology . . .

Creation: We have traditionally accepted the words of Genesis 1—that God created the world as we know it today in seven literal 24-hour days. . . . But there is no way we can possibly continue to hold that doctrine any more than we can hold the doctrines of a flat earth and a geocentric universe. . . .  So we have to find a better way of understanding Genesis 1, a way that embraces scientific insights. . . .

Adam and Eve: Traditionally we’ve been taught that Adam and Eve were the first human pair, Adam made out of dust and Eve from one of Adam’s ribs. But sustaining this doctrine is extremely difficult when we take seriously the human race as we know it today sharing ancestry with other primates such as chimpanzees. Where in the slow evolution of homo erectus and homo habilis and homo sapiens do Adam and Eve fit? We will have to find a better way of understanding what Genesis tells us about Adam and Eve. . . .

Fall into sin: We have traditionally understood Genesis to show the first human beings, in a state of innocence, living sinlessly in the Garden of Eden. They are then tempted. They yield to temptation and God sends them out of Eden. But if we take the discoveries of historical science seriously, where could we fit that story in? . . . We will have to find a much better way of understanding what sin is, where it comes from, and what its consequences are. . . .

Original sin: According to this doctrine, the fall of Adam and Eve is an actual historical event that plunged the entire human race into sin. . . . But if Adam and Eve are not understood as real historical people, then there can hardly be an inheritance of sinfulness from parent to child all the way back to Adam—in which case the entire doctrine of original sin falls by the wayside. We will have to find a better way of understanding not only what sin is . . .

Salvation: We have traditionally understood the work of Jesus as dealing with the two aspects of original sin: guilt and pollution.  Jesus removes our guilt by dying for our sins on the cross; he removes our pollution by sending us his Holy Spirit. This makes good sense, but if the doctrine of original sin needs to be revisited, theologians need to consider whether our understanding of Jesus also needs to be revised.

After reading this article from a church magazine, I thought, “Is it any wonder that two-thirds of young people are departing the church?” (See my book Already Gone.)

You can read the entire article from The Banner at this link.

I can’t see how any Christian reading this article would not call its beliefs heresy.

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,

Ken