Are Bible believing churches mostly filled with YEC?


(Heather Wentzel) #1

My husband and I always seem to have difficulty finding a church. It seems like when we find one we like that is doctrinally sound, the issue of young earth is brought up. Not only mentioned, but so heavily endorsed and preached on that my husband doesn’t feel like he can attend anymore. We have both gotten to the point of not wanting to attend small groups, Bible studies or even fellowship times because of the “science bashing” that takes place at these things, and the devotion to Ken Ham and AiG. I have several questions.

Is this normal in Bible churches? Or do we just happen to go into the ones that teach this?

I keep hearing young earthers sorrowfully say that too many Christians are believing in an old earth. I want want to know where these Christians are so I can visit with them. Where are they?

How can we lovingly address these issues in church without leaving the church if possible?

Is this a more recent occurrence in churches or has it always been like this and I’ve only noticed it more in the past 10 years?


(Jay Johnson) #2

I feel your pain.


(Christy Hemphill) #3

Do you mean churches with “Bible” in their name, or just Evangelical churches in general? I know “Bible Church” is not an organized denomination, but lots of them have a fairly conservative, literal approach to things like Bible prophesy and Genesis.

I have attended Evangelical churches since I was born (BGC, Anglican, Vineyard, SBC). I have never heard YEC preached from a pulpit. Yes, there have been some ardent followers among the congregation, but it was never pushed as official Christian belief by anyone in leadership. I also have lived in urban or semi-urban areas, though, so maybe things are different in more rural or suburban areas.

I wouldn’t be able to attend a church that made YEC a main thing either. But as for people bringing it up, wanting to lend me their Jonathan Park DVDs for my kids, gushing over their vacation to the Creation Museum, complaining that Taylor University teaches evolution, using AIG curricula in kids programs my children attend, I’ve been there. Mostly I just smile and nod, and when pressed, I say I prefer a different interpretation of Genesis and try to change the subject.

Good question. It seems to me that everything has become more divisive and “whose team?” focused over the last decade or so. I blame the internet and all those Christian websites that blacklist people and books because they have “let go of the gospel” or some such nonsense. I also think the overwhelming amount of evidence in favor of common descent that has been made available recently (since genomes have been sequenced) has put Creationist groups on the offensive because their positions are less tenable than ever.

If I were looking for a church, I would try to figure out what books they have been reading in small groups and look at what recent sermon series have been, and who has been the speaker at retreats or special events they have promoted. If they are promoting books/events by authors/speaker I consider militantly conservative politically or anti-science, that would be a deal breaker. If the sermon topics are more focused on railing against the culture or weeding out “false doctrines” than they are on inspiring people to get out in the world and love and serve their neighbor, that would be a huge red flag. I would also check to see what VBS and children’s Sunday School curricula had been used recently and who published it. Choosing materials published by AIG or some other publishers I would recognize as too Fundamentalist for my family would be a deal breaker.

Personally, I wouldn’t look for a church that showed evidence of promoting Old Earth or talking about science, I would look for a church that was actively promoting the parts of Christianity that matter the most to me and seemed like it had healthy leadership- What is their attitude/service toward immigrants and refugees? Does the pastor seem like a humble person who is still learning and growing in life or does he/she already know everything? How do they approach missions and global awareness? How transparent are they about finances and how much influence does the congregation have on the leadership’s decisions? What are they doing to serve the community? What do they offer singles and single moms and working women? How engaged are teens with the youth ministry? How does the church do in terms of generational, ethnic, and economic diversity and how is diversity reflected in leadership? These are the things that would help me evaluate how healthy I thought the church was. I would rather be in a healthy church where I disagreed with people on some stuff sometimes than in a church where most people saw things my way on Genesis, but we weren’t really living out what I think is the important stuff.


#4

You can come to mine…


(Thanh Chung) #5

When you say “Bible believing churches”, I’m assuming you mean churches that have biblical inerrancy in their statement of faith or something like that. My Evangelical denomination is the Christian & Missionary Alliance, and they have that too.

I think my particular church is pretty ambivalent overall about YEC and OEC. I do remember some evolution bashing, but most people in my church seem more interested in other topics. Although one of my pastors is kind of YEC, my church leadership prefers Stand to Reason (AiG doesn’t like StR).

So to answer your question, there is a lot of variety of churches, and I think it depends on their make-up of people


#6

I hadn’t heard of StR so I visited their website. What is their general stance on origins issues?

I’m always looking for thought-provoking Christian podcasts, so I looked to the PODCASTS page. Among the archived topics was this one:

“Greg talks about Valentine’s Day and why neo-Darwinsim [sic] is dead,”

I’ve never heard of this “Greg” or any other of the STR staff. The ABOUT page didn’t reveal anything about their funding source, etc. Could you perhaps summarize how they stand in the “origins-ministry” mix (although it is clear that their focus is discipleship in general, I assume)?

I’m always a little concerned when Christian ministries make strong claims about science topics—unless they have a lot of actual scientists on the staff.


(Thanh Chung) #7

I don’t actually know much about StR because I don’t really read apologetics stuff anymore after I started reading BioLogos in 2016. I just know that StR is OEC though.

I also know that AiG doesn’t like StR because Ken Ham thinks Gregory Koukl is “compromising” too much https://answersingenesis.org/blogs/ken-ham/2012/05/08/compromise-being-spread/

Maybe I will ask my pastor for more information later, but I agree with you. That is why I now choose BioLogos

Edit: I looked at the podcast you mentioned, and I guess that tells us that StR is probably against EC (I see Stephen Meyer, the ID advocate, in the related links).


#8

From my memory, having listened to his podcast many times.

Greg doesn’t like BioLogos He speaks against the organization. In terms of evolutionary creation he doesn’t like it. He is old earth, believes in historical Adam and Eve, Inerrantist and is a Calvinist (not there there is anything wrong about any of that :slight_smile: )

He is philosophically trained and a very very gracious moderator and has a sharp brain in his head.

Larry


#9

Socratic Fanatic - I’ve been enjoying your posts

in my opinion the Unbelievable Podcast (Premier Radio) available to me via iTunes is something you would find very interesting. The Moderator is very balanced. He hosts debates between Christians/Atheists on many topics. I’ve been listening to it for the last few years. Topics debated include early earth creationism, evolution, theodicy and pretty much everything else.

Best of all, it is from England and offers a wonderful less cantankerous way of having theological discussions then is often found in the USA. As a Canadian I deeply appreciate the format (plus the English accents are nice).

Justin the moderator is brilliant

https://www.premierchristianradio.com/Shows/Saturday/Unbelievable


(Jay Nelsestuen) #10

Right now, I’m in California for college. I’m pursuing membership at a “Bible Church” (yes, that’s actually in the name). The pastor, at least one of the elders, and the worship leader are all professors at my college, which is very heavily YEC (The Master’s University; John MacArthur is the president). In fact, TMU is having a conference later today on the importance of the historical Adam.

I don’t make my opinions on origins a criterion for choosing a church. The reason I absolutely love the church that I’m at is because of their loving attitudes toward one another, the solid preaching, the heartfelt and Christ-centered worship, and the general atmosphere of a growing Christian community. It is a smaller church, which I prefer as well. These are people who are willing to do life with one another and love one another regardless.

So I don’t think it’s an issue that the eldership is YEC, or that the majority of the congregation is YEC. When it comes to preaching, they major on the majors and minor on the minors. The gospel is central, and that’s what matters.

In contrast, my church back home is vehemently YEC. The children’s ministry uses AiG materials all the time. Our VBS this last year was AiG’s “Ocean Commotion: Diving into the World of Noah’s Flood.” I was a crew leader, and let me tell you, it was one of the worst VBS programs I’d ever done. The strawmen were burning everywhere. I was just learning about all the evidence for an old earth at that time, but even I could point out the fallacies. Of course, I had to keep my mouth shut, which is fine. But it pains me to think that a number of those kids are going to have the rug pulled out from under them when they’re older and learn about these things. Having tied the gospel to the young earth view of creation, they’ll likely reject Christianity along with YEC. I was fortunate, in that I gladly accepted the evidence without jettisoning my faith.

Again, I just keep quiet most of the time because I don’t want to stir up dissension. My pastor back home rarely preaches on creation, because he usually preaches through one book of the Bible at a time, verse by verse. Nevertheless, I am saddened by the overt promotion of YEC materials. C’est la vie.

So, yes, in my experience, a great majority of evangelical churches (especially those with “Bible” in their name) are YEC. But this issue shouldn’t prevent you from joining a loving community of fellow believers who are willing to grow with you. The most important issues to look for in a church are the gospel, a high view of Scripture, and a love for one another and for the lost.

I hope that helps, somewhat.


#11

Jay, since, as you say, you are ‘pursuing membership’ in a church whose senior leadership are professors at the institution you mentioned have you carefully reviewed the church’s statement of faith? If so, can you sign, affirm that statement whole heartedly - without any equivocation?

If these gentlemen are professors of the institution you mention I’d bet in order to become a member you must agree with/adhere to and otherwise support the statement which will be quite extensive and will expressly deal with Adam/Eve and much, much more.


(Jay Nelsestuen) #12

Actually, creation is hardly mentioned at all in either the statement of faith, by-laws, or addendum to the statement of faith (non-essential theological positions that are not a cause for breaking fellowship). The only thing in the statement of faith that has to do with creation is the belief that we are fallen “in Adam,” and that the fall happened in a garden. I have no qualms affirming that.

Like I said, they major on the majors and minor on the minors. I find them to be very well-balanced.


(Jay Nelsestuen) #13

If you’d like to read the church documents, they can be found here: http://oakhillbible.com/identity/our-membership


(Christy Hemphill) #14

There had to be a meme for that.


(Jay Nelsestuen) #15

Well amen. :laughing:


(Heather Wentzel) #16

Thank you all for your responses. I didn’t give a lot of explanation in my questions because there is so much background to them that it would take forever for a reader to sort through.

For a Bible churches I mean churches that are evangelical in nature and hold to inerrency of scripture. I came from a pretty conservative background growing up where my churches claimed to be centered on biblical teaching. I didn’t hear much about the age of the earth, it was never an issue. As I got older, when I talked about it with friends, it was always something we discussed and a “I have my view you have yours”, but the conversations were at least pleasant.

I never really formed a strong opinion either way because I didn’t feel like I knew enough of any of the camps to declare who was right or wrong. My husband, however, is very scientific and old earth. I didn’t think much about how that affected our church attendance until we got married and I heard what church members would tell him: “You don’t really believe the Bible” “scientists can’t prove anything” “scientist believe in an old earth because they are atheists and blinded without the Holy Spirit” etc.

I know we do live in a politically charged, politically conservative area so that might be a reason why. I was just curious if it was normal. In the last decade it seems like it is more of a divisive issue than before.

I just really miss the days years ago when I could have these conversations with friends and not be written off as a compromising atheist bringing liberalism into the church.

It is a good idea, as some of you have mentioned, not to base our attendance at a church based on what they believe about Genesis. I agree with that, but I also wish there were churches that wouldn’t base their acceptance of us based on our views, or even have it be an argumentative issue. It not central for us, but for many other Christians, it is central, maybe because of the emphasis of AiG puts on it. I don’t know.


(Christy Hemphill) #17

For everyone who writes you off as a compromising liberal there is probably someone else who says to themselves, “Hey, wait a minute! I know her. She is a quality Christian woman. Maybe I need to expand my categories.” You don’t always get positive feedback in the moment, but character counts in these situations. It is much harder to write off someone you know and like and have a history with than some unknown college professor who wrote a book or runs a website.


#18

Jay, the Anthropology Section of the Doctrinal Document assumes a literal Adam. I’d say that section and the Inerrantist Section assumes an early earth. Further, I would say with all respect that anyone not fully affirming an early earth is either disingenuous or naive if they join such a church. Either that or they are in for a world of hurt.


#19

Thanks so much for that Christy. I saved the picture and will send it to some of my friends. And perhaps post it on my FB page.

Thanks. Larry Schmidt


(Phil) #20

Interesting that this topic should come up, as I just returned from an apologetics conference featuring Lee Stobel and Mark Wittenberg, held at Austin Baptist Church, which is pretty conservative, even though in Austin. They had several talks mentioning science, and favorably presented Francis Collins as a Christian who Is a scientist a half dozen times, They quoted a Pew study as saying 42% were YEG, about 50 % old earth or EC/TE, and 8 undecided (there have been several studies, could not find the one they quoted but Google can give you the actual results)
They tended to put forth views that were most often used to describe ID, but did not push it outside if the usual watchmaker example. They had a breakout session on evolution, led by a young biochemist, who presented evolution and the other world views, but when it got down to questions, 4 or 5 YEC guys dominated the questions with the usual AIG derivatives, and the moderator was either not wanting to be devisive or just was not prepared, and said he did not not know the answers to most. Unfortunately, that wasted most of the time and very little was said about actually integrating the gospel message with science for those who felt it an issue. Sigh.
However, it was refreshing to see a program presented by the state Baptist organization be openly supportive of prominent known evolutionists, so there is hope.