Creation-Evolution Teaching Statement (article)
Article 5 of 6 from the Special Documents series
November 1997 –
The Bible begins with these simple words: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). From the very first verse we are faced with the critical importance of the biblical doctrine of creation. Among other things, that verse tells us that the universe had a definite beginning, that God and God alone is the Creator, and that everything in the universe comes ultimately from him.
The doctrine of God as the Creator is central to all biblical truth. Genesis 1-11 tells us who God is, how and why he created the universe, and in what order he created everything. We also learn about the creation of man as male and female made in his image. It is no exaggeration to say that the events of Genesis 1-11 foundational to all Christian doctrine. Here we learn who God is, who man is, why he was created, what marriage is meant to be, how sin entered the human race, the central importance of the family in society, the origin of physical death, and why a Redeemer for sin would eventually be necessary. Virtually every biblical doctrine we believe has its roots in these early chapters of the Bible. If Genesis is only myth, allegory or symbolic speech, then the very foundation of our faith is destroyed.
The following guidelines are offered in an attempt to deal with the question of creation and evolution from the standpoint of a belief in the literal truth of the early chapters of Genesis.
1. For over one hundred years evangelical Christians have differed on how to reconcile the teachings of Genesis regarding the origin of the universe and the origin of human life with certain scientific theories regarding human evolution.
2. We recognize that at times Christians have honestly disagreed on how to handle these issues. We also understand that believers in this congregation may have differing perspectives on these questions.
3. However, we also believe that the church is well-served when all our teachers and pastors operate under the same general policy in dealing with controversial issues.
4. Therefore, we favor teaching positions that take Genesis 1-11 as literally true in all its details. We believe in the direct creation of the universe by God, that the order of creation took place as detailed in Genesis 1, that the “days” of Genesis 1 should be understood as normal, consecutive 24-hour days unless there is evidence in the biblical text that points in another direction, that Adam and Eve were literal people who were in fact the first human beings (Genesis 2), that the whole human race descended from Adam and Eve, that Adam and Eve were made in God’s image and were given dominion over all the earth, that Adam was made from the dust and Eve created from Adam’s rib, that the Garden of Eden is not a symbol but was indeed a literal place, that Adam and Eve did not evolve from primate ancestors, that the serpent tempted Eve, and that sin entered the human race through Adam’s sin as recorded in Genesis 3. We believe that sin brought the judgment of death into the world (Romans 5:12) and introduced a principle of decay and deterioration into the physical universe (Genesis 3:17-18; Romans 8:20). We believe that the genealogies of Genesis 5 & 11 should be regarded as historically accurate, including the long life spans of the patriarchs. We also believe the flood of Genesis 6-9 was a universal, literal flood that covered the entire earth. We believe that after the flood the only humans left alive on the earth were Noah and his family. We further believe that the human race was scattered and separated into its various parts as a result of the Tower of Babel recorded in Genesis 11. We affirm that all these events actually happened in history and are not merely symbols or legends or myths meant to teach spiritual truth. We affirm that the methods God used to create the universe were miraculous and cannot be duplicated solely through scientific research (Hebrews 11:3). This means that science can teach us a great deal about the universe as it presently exists, but cannot offer a full and final account regarding how the universe came into existence.
5. We also acknowledge the importance of exposing Christians to opposing views (including the various theories of human evolution) so long as that exposure is done in the context of affirming the literal truthfulness of Genesis 1-11. Where scientific theory is used to cast doubt on the Scriptures, we choose to affirm the truthfulness of God’s Word.
6. Since the theories of modern science are in constant development, we recognize that some theories of human origins will be far removed from the facts of Genesis 1-11. But we also recognize that many highly-trained scientists join us in affirming that there is no final conflict between the Bible rightly interpreted and the facts of science rightly understood.
7. We specifically reject the theory called “theistic evolution,” which proposes that God created the universe over a period of billions of years through the processes of naturalistic evolution. While many sincere Christians hold this view, we believe it is an unnecessary compromise and that nothing is gained by reinterpreting the Bible in the light of evolutionary speculation.
8. We applaud every effort made to show the weaknesses of naturalistic evolution and the overwhelming evidence in favor of God as the Creator of the universe. While we do not look to science to “prove” the Bible, we do affirm that good science and good biblical interpretation are allies and not enemies.
9. We believe that well-trained Christians have nothing to fear from the various scientific theories put forth to explain human origins. We also believe it is appropriate to approach these issues with humility because no human explanation can fully comprehend what God did when he created the universe ex nihilo—that is, out of nothing.
10. We desire to see our young people deeply grounded in the truth of the Word of God. Once that foundation is laid, we support those students who feel called of God to seek training at the highest levels to work in the earth sciences, life sciences and in astronomy.
11. We desire to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15), knowing that only the Holy Spirit can change the hearts of those around us (Proverbs 21:1). We pray for boldness, humility, and a truly winsome spirit that will cause others to listen to our witness on behalf of God the Creator.
12. We take seriously the biblical commands regarding unity in the body of Christ. Therefore, we urge all believers to refrain from unkind criticism of others who may see things differently.
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