by Richard Peachey
[Featured as an advertorial in Cascade News, University of the Fraser Valley student newspaper, Oct. 1, 2009]
Perhaps you were raised as a Christian and now you’re having to wrestle with seemingly anti-biblical concepts being taught in a biology course (or physics, or sociology, or anthropology, or . . .). You’re unsure how best to deal with the “cognitive dissonance” you’re experiencing. Or maybe it’s a friend who’s going through such a trial. You might be pondering, “What would Jesus do?”
The word “Christian,” according to its original definition found in Acts 11:26, is a disciple of Christ. The word “disciple” (Greek μαθητης, mathētēs) is related to the verb “to learn” (Greek μανθανω, manthano). (Greek was the original language of all the New Testament documents.)
A Christian is therefore, by definition, a “learner” of Christ, a person who acknowledges Jesus as the unique “Teacher and Lord” (John 13:13) “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3). Christians understand Jesus as the prophet foretold by Moses with the warning “you must listen to everything he tells you” (Deuteronomy 18:15-19; cf. Acts 3:22f.). Christians accept Jesus as the one authenticated by God the Father with the words “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him” (Luke 9:35).
So for serious Christians (as distinct from merely “nominal” or “cultural” Christians), it is crucial to ask regarding any issue: What would Jesus do or teach in this situation or on this topic? If we look into what this Master Teacher would do with the origins debate, we are immediately challenged by the following key statement, in which Jesus responds to a question from the Pharisees concerning marriage and divorce:
“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined, let man not separate” (Matthew 19:4-6).
We observe that when he is questioned on his views concerning male-female relationships, Jesus goes straight to the Bible, using the challenge, “Haven’t you read. . . ?” Obviously, he viewed the Scriptures as the authoritative place to start when dealing with this crucial moral/ethical question.
To address this hot contemporary issue, Jesus points specifically to the book of Genesis, where marriage was first instituted by God.
Even a quick reading of Jesus’s words leads us to conclude that he is clearly a creationist of some sort, since he affirms the existence of a “Creator.”
Next, we see that since Jesus quotes prooftexts (two of them) from Scripture, he is clearly a Biblical creationist. (Unlike some of today’s “Intelligent Design” advocates, Jesus is willing to identify exactly who this “Creator” is: the God of the Bible.)
Furthermore, since Jesus refers to Genesis as if it were the historical, authoritative Word of God, he is clearly a Genesis literalist. In fact, his two quotations (spoken virtually within the same breath) are taken from each of the first two chapters of Genesis — those chapters which are alleged by unbelieving scholars to contradict each other!
In addition, since Jesus states that the creation of humans took place “at the beginning” (compare Mark 10:6, “at the beginning of creation”), he is clearly a young-Earth creationist. (In the evolutionary scenario, humans don’t arrive until almost the end of the history of the universe.)
Thus we are faced with the fact that the Master Teacher, the one to whom Christians are required to listen, appears to strongly affirm creation.
E. O. Wilson, the noted Harvard biologist, recognized that the Bible as a whole makes “no provision for evolution.” As a young student, Wilson found this quite disconcerting: “The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all!” (Consilience. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1998, p. 6).
But what if the Bible is actually a true and sufficient guide for faith and life (as Jesus held)? The fact that it doesn’t refer to evolution (or even allow for it) then becomes strong evidence against evolution!
Could Jesus have simply been “accommodating” himself to the beliefs of his contemporaries? (I.e., did he quote Scripture to them just because they believed it?) This seems very unlikely, based on his high regard for truth, and in light of his unwillingness to kowtow to popular opinions on other issues.
Jesus quoted Scripture not only to his fellow Jews, but also to his heavenly Father (Mark 15:34; John 17:12) and even to Satan (Luke 4:8). He cited Scripture during times of temptation, trial, and intense suffering. He understood his own ministry in terms of biblical prophecies, and he continued to do this even after his resurrection (Luke 24:25-27, 44).
Jesus plainly regarded the early chapters of Genesis as historical. This is evident in his references to Abel (Luke 11:50f.), Noah, the Ark, and the Flood (Matthew 24:37-39; Luke 17:26f.), and Sodom and Gomorrah (Matthew 10:15).
Beyond all such arguments, the New Testament emphasizes that Jesus (as the Son of God) was an eyewitness of the creation because he was personally present — as the Creator! (John 1:1-3, 14; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2, 10-12). Unbelievers may mock at this, but it is the historic (orthodox) Christian teaching, and it dovetails with many of the amazing claims that Jesus made about himself — such as his claim that our eternal destinies depend on our relationship to him (John 5:24-27).
For a variety of reasons, many Canadians would like to call themselves “Christian,” but are nervous about putting their full confidence in the Scriptures that Jesus upheld. The Master Teacher had an adjective to describe such people: “foolish.” “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” (Luke 24:25).
Are you a professed Christian but not a committed creationist? It is urgent that you rethink your position! Jesus said, “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38).