On a recent trip to the UK, I had opportunity to speak in a church in Neath, Wales. When I walked inside the church, I could immediately tell there was a rich history associated with the building. It was one of those amazing old church buildings with the wooden balconies and beautiful stained glass windows.
When I’m in a situation like that, I often ask a little about the history. Many people have heard about the Welsh revival and its association with the preacher Evan Roberts. Two men who influenced Roberts were the brothers Frank and Seth Joshua. Frank Joshua was indeed the founder of the Welsh church that I spoke in. The connection was that Seth Joshua had offered a prayer that Evan Roberts had responded to in kind. Apparently, in 1904 Seth Joshua prayed, “Oh God, bend us,” to which Evan Roberts replied in prayer, “Oh God, bend me.” This prayer was the commencing influence of the famous Welsh revival.
A very short walk from this same church is a building with a plaque on the wall dedicated to another major influencer in the town of Neath. This man was Alfred Russel Wallace. Wallace was a contemporary of Charles Darwin and had, in fact, already developed his own thoughts on evolution prior to Darwin’s release of Origin of Species. Wallace and Darwin were at one time close associates as they shared thoughts with each other on evolutionary ideas, and Wallace’s contributions to evolutionary thought also prompted Darwin to publish his book On the Origin of Species.
It does seem, however, that Wallace and Darwin were at odds in one area. Wallace was a spiritualist. Wallace noticed a difference in humanity to the rest of the “natural world” he observed. Humans had wit and humor, an artistic genius and a moral conscience. Wallace believed there must be something in the unseen spiritual world associated with the differentiation between animals and what he had seen in humanity. Yet, Wallace remained an unbeliever. While he appreciated a religious sense in humanity (something Darwin and Huxley both disliked), Wallace believed Christianity to be nothing more than doctrines developed from childhood stories leading to blind faith rather than proceeding from truth.
If only Wallace had realized that his evolutionary philosophies were bounded in his own faith in naturalism. Wallace completely rejected the confirmable biblical history God has given us in His Word, and as a result he had no reason to account for the major differences he found between humans and animals—apart from some nebulous concept of spiritualism.
It was a privilege to speak in the church at Neath. In one respect I was just like the original founders of that church. I was preaching in Neath with a heart to see the men and women of Wales come back to the word of God and to know the saving reality of Jesus Christ. In another sense I was teaching everything that Alfred Russel Wallace had missed in the history of God’s Word while he was trying to understand aspects of speciation and the great variety in animal kinds. Because of the philosophies of people like Wallace and Darwin, millions of people all over the world have been misguided in their understanding of science and history and have been blinded to the truth of our Creator and Savior.
Until next time, pray for a new revival in Wales. Pray that the people of Wales will come back to the Word of God and to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Steve Ham, Senior Director