Is Young-Earth Creationism Another Gospel?


But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.


Depositphotos Image ID: 36608313 Copyright: lexskopje

The Ham/Nye debates were my introduction to Ken Ham (and to Bill Nye for that matter). I wanted Ken Ham to be my champion of a biblical view of science, but I just came away unsettled. (See Debriefing the Nye v. Ham Debate)

As I’ve admitted before, I am decidedly not a science guy. I tend to put these things on my back burner and let them simmer, and that is what I did with the debates. Quite some later I came across Hugh Ross and Reasons to Believe.  He made sense of the science and the biblical creation account in Genesis. He still does to me, though I tend to take all of these things with a grain of salt because I still don’t know what I don’t know.

I have consciously avoided criticizing Ken Ham because so many Christians love him. And again, I don’t know what I don’t know about the science. But, I am changing on that score too. It isn’t the science that I am chiefly focused on at this point, but something far more fundamental to the Christian faith – the Gospel.

Reading through An Extended Analysis of Ken Ham’s Book “Six Days” (Part 1: Blame the Satanic Christian Academics) by Joel Edmund Anderson on his blog, resurrecting orthodoxy, I came to a realization – Ken Ham is anchoring his faith on something other than the Gospel. In Paul’s words, he is preaching a different gospel.

This realization follows a recent conversation I had with a person who told me that everything else falls apart if we don’t believe in a literal six (24 hour) day creation. His assertion laid heavy on me, not because I feared that not believing it might doom my faith, but that he believes his faith rests on such a tenuous basis. This particular interpretation and application of the Hebrew word, yom (day), is apparently the cornerstone on which Christianity and faith rests, according to this man.

I didn’t realize it then, but now I know that this is the position asserted by Ken Ham and fellow young-earth creationists. To the extent that people are asserting that Christian faith depends entirely on whether yom is to be interpreted as a single 24-hour day, we have to take note. This is not the Gospel that Paul preached. Resting all of Christian doctrine on a singular (and very modern) interpretation of Genesis 1:1-11 seems like an extreme position to me – one that might be akin to some of the 1st Century heresies that Paul battled when he first emphasized the central importance of the Gospel.

Paul was dealing with heretical teachers when he proclaimed to know nothing to the Corinthians but “Jesus Christ and him crucified”[1]. His point to them was that everything else is peripheral.

Paul implored in many of his letters for believers not to get caught up in “vain discussions” over peripheral issues.[2] And Paul was very clear on what the Gospel is. The Gospel, which is of first importance[3], is this:

“that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures….”[4]

Paul’s warning against those preaching “another gospel” was strong and often repeated.

“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.”[5]

And Paul highlighted how easily people were led astray, even people in the 1st Century who lived within a generation of Christ.

“But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.”[6]

I didn’t realize what bothered me about Ken Ham until I read the article by Joel Edmund Anderson. And then it struck me – Ken Ham is preaching another gospel!

His gospel is based on a particular understanding of Genesis. It isn’t based on Jesus Christ and him crucified – the death (for our sins), burial and resurrection of Jesus (for our salvation). Anderson says this:

“Ken Ham—he truly thinks that if the origin of sin isn’t found in two historical people who lived 6,000 years ago, then nothing in the Bible is trustworthy and the very gospel of Jesus Christ is undermined.

“One of the things that the New Testament writers often did was quote and reference countless passages in the Old Testament and show how they ultimately pointed to the fulfillment of God’s covenant in Christ. What one sees with Ken Ham and AiG, though, is backward to this very thing. Ham makes it a point to quote and reference countless passages in both the Old and New Testaments and show, not how they apply to and find fulfillment in Christ, but rather how they supposedly ‘prove’ Genesis 1-11 is literal history.

“Anyone who has taken the time to read Ken Ham’s books knows this to be true. What that tells me, therefore, is that if Ken Ham was honest, he’d admit that his ‘Bible’ really is The Genesis Flood and its literalistic interpretation of Genesis 1-11. For him, the answer to the world’s troubles isn’t Jesus—it’s believing in a young earth.”

As I dig deeper into the Ken Ham version of Genesis, I also find that its roots lie in a very curious place. The Genesis Flood cited by Anderson was co-authored by Henry M. Morris and John C. Whitcomb and published in 1961.[7] That book has been called “the founding document of the creationist movement.”[8]

The Genesis Flood isn’t written in the vein of orthodox Christianity, though. It is a modern (1961) take on The New Geology published in 1923[9] and written by George McCready Price, a Seventh-day Adventist.[10] Price’s source and inspiration for his book came from “prophetic visions” and writings of Ellen White, the founder of Seventh-day Adventism dating to 1910-1915.[11]

Not only is young-earth creationism as a litmus test for faith very modern (young); its root are found in the prophetic visions of Ellen White.

Price’s book was not well-known outside of Seventh-day Adventist circles until William Jennings Bryan quoted from it in the infamous Scopes Trial in which creationism (generally) and evolution were pitted against each other. Ironically, Williams Jennings Bryan, who was no friend of evolutionary theory, was a “day-age creationist”[12], meaning that he didn’t believe in a literal, 6-day creation. He would be classified as an “old-earth creationist” today.

Young-earth creationism as a litmus test for faith has questionable beginnings and is a very late development in the world of Christian thought, but most people (me included, until now) might have thought that its roots went back to Genesis itself. Not so. For almost two millennia, followers of Christ have accepted the Genesis creation story as Scripture without the need to resolve whether it happened in 6 twenty four hour days, 6 ages of time, 6 literal days after a large time gap between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2 (the “gap theory”), or other explanations.

Yes, many theories have been asserted over the years, but the Gospel has always remained the Gospel. “Origen outright mocked anyone who thought there was a literal Eden and a literal tree of knowledge of good and evil; Augustine thought the creation was instantaneous; Irenaeus expressly taught that Adam and Eve represented humanity, and that they were most certainly not perfect.” (See resurrecting orthodoxy)

Irenaeus taught that the idea that Adam and Eve and the creation were perfect was a gnostic heresy because nothing is perfect, except God. (See Back to an Early Church View of Genesis) Irenaeus was only two generations removed from Jesus. He learned from Polycarp who learned from John, the apostle. Irenaeus wrote the definitive text on heresies in the early church.

Though many views of Genesis have been expressed in church history, no particular view on the Genesis creation account has ever been a requirement of orthodox, traditional Christianity. None of the words of Jesus or New Testament letters require a particular interpretation of Genesis as a litmus test for faith.

The Ham gospel, however, is anchored to his interpretation of Genesis (which turns out to have its roots in questionable modern visions). Joel Edmund Anderson summarizes is this way:

Apparently though, Ham really thinks that interpreting the seven days of creation as seven literal 24-hour days that occurred in history is a matter of life and death for the gospel. To understand “day” any other way is to undermine the authority of God’s Word, and the result is that “the entire gospel message is undermined.” In fact, Ham even says that to interpret the “days” as “millions of years” is a “much more powerful attack” on the gospel than denying the resurrection of Christ. See resurrecting orthodoxy)

To be sure, the prevalent view of Christians going back many centuries has been to interpret the creation story as six (6) 24-hour days, but that view has never been the only one, and it has never been a litmus test for orthodoxy. No one was called a heretic for holding a different view. Until the Seventh Day Adventists and young–earth creationists no one has so intricately linked the Gospel and faith to the view that Ham asserts. Such an anchor for our faith rests on brittle ground. Paul warned us about anchoring our faith in anything other than Jesus and him crucified.

I am not holding myself out here as an expert on the science. I am not even necessarily saying that the young-earth creationists are all washed up. They could be right about some things. It’s possible that the earth (and universe) really is young after all, though the overwhelming evidence seems to suggest otherwise. The science here is not my focus. I am only looking at the Gospel, and the central message of the young-earth creationists, as I understand it, appears to me to be another gospel.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

[1] 1 Corinthians 2:2

[2] See Vain Discussions . Paul addressed the Colossians about “hollow and deceptive philosophy” (Col. 2:8) that have “an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body” (Col 2.23) which deny the efficacy and adequacy of Christ alone. (See The Colossian Heresy) Paul characterized false teachers to Timothy as people who “have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between people….” (1 Tim. 6:4-5)

[3] “Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance….” (1 Cor. 15:1-3)

[4] 1 Corinthians 15:3-5

[5] Galatians 1:8-9

[6] 2 Corinthians 11:3-4

[7] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Young_Earth_creationism

[8] Ibid. (Stephen J. Gould per (Schudel, Matt (March 5, 2006). “Obituary: Henry M. Morris, father of “creation science”)

[9] Adventist Origins of Young Earth Creationism by Karl Giberson at biologos.com

[10] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Young_Earth_creationism

[11] Adventist Origins of Young Earth Creationism by Karl Giberson at biologos.com

[12] See VIII: YOUNG EARTH CREATIONISM by Robert J. Schneider

17 thoughts on “Is Young-Earth Creationism Another Gospel?

  1. Very intriguing post for one like me who has always adhered to the literal translation on six 24 hour days. This is something i neef to study further since I have never questioned it. I have alsi had a high respect for Ken Ham and his ministry. If he iz wrong, everything he has done is in vain.

    As far as preaching another gospel, I’m just not sute I’d take it that far. If you do, then anyone who preaches or teaches contrary to a petsons views is doing that. Church of Christ adds baptism as a requirement – is that anothet gospel? Catholics are all over the place – are they anothet gospel? There are other examples out there.

    I think this is Kem Hams ministry. He has been called to share what God has shown him about creation. Some are called for different reasons and purposes in the kingdom.

    But I certainly could be wrong. I am no scholar, that’s for sure.

    Be blessed

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really hesitated to put this out there. Thank you for the thoughtful response. I only mention it because I see a strict adherence to a young-earth view being a potentially divisive element in the church today, and it can be a very big (and maybe false) obstacle to people being open to the Gospel. I try to major on “mere Christianity” focusing on the critical components of faith, which I think is what Paul teaches us to do, but I certainly could be wrong as well, and also try to be mindful of that.

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      1. I think it is very important when we are witnessing to non-believers that was stick to the Christ only message. That is all they need to be saved and we should not get into the various I’ll give it to doctrines that even Christians get involved in. I think that is what Paul is talking about as well when he says he prefers to know only Jesus Christ and him crucified

        Liked by 1 person

  2. You have been duped by men with an agenda. If Elohim had intended Yom to be anything other than a literal day, He would not have included the identifiers, “evening and morning the first day.” You err when you seek the wisdom of those who promulgate portions or revisions of evolution into the Genesis and you err when you make the Bible say something it does not say. Anderson is a heretic and Ross attempts to make evolution’s millions and billions of years fit into the Genesis account. The God I worship does not require thousands, millions, billions of years to create…and if one actually studies the reasoning for our Creation in Time, there is absolutely NO reason for any other scenario than a literal 6-day Creation. I have written on why our Creator has created Time, the Universe, mankind and great spans of time for our creation is contrary to God’s purposes for our creation as well as His Omnipotence: https://rickeyholtsclaw.com/2017/09/27/in-the-beginning-god-why/

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    1. The greatest Hebrew scholar of the last century read Genesis the way I do, but we might both be working. At the end of the day, the thing that matters is Christ, the crucifixion and resurrection.

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      1. “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Psalm 11:3 “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, [h]rather than according to Christ.”

        You’re circumventing the Foundation for all of Scripture when you deny the literal interpretation of Genesis as God’s inerrant Word. You open the door to heresy and the ideology of evil men who seek, with cunning, to deceive and confuse. This is error.

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        1. You are elevating an interpretation of one passage of Scripture above Christ. Tell me how you interpret this:
          “These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.” Genesis 2:4
          These are the “generations” (plural) of the heavens and earth when they were created, “in the day” (singular) when they were created. You are reading Genesis through an English translation. The original text was in Hebrew. You are imposing a 20t Century, American view on an ancient Hebrew text. Frankly, if you look at the history of the church from beginning to now, no one (until the 20th Century) has ever interpreted Genesis as rigidly as what you are advocating. You are the one who is deviating from the Gospel, iin my opinion. Jesus told us to follow Him, not a particular interpretation of Scripture. The people who rigidly interpreted Scripture in the time of Jesus were the Pharisees.

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          1. I read the Genesis as it is written and provided me by the Holy Spirit of God. In the day, God did create the Heavens and the Earth. The Hebrew does not change the truth of the Genesis that has been laid before us, bare and clearly written, in our own language. If you spiritualize the Genesis and you listen to heretics like Anderson, where does it stop? God created in six-days and rested on the seventh. There are no contradictions except the one’s you allow to manifest through heresy. Jesus Christ-Yeshua is introduced to us in The Genesis along with God’s Plan to redeem mankind…God is NOT a God of confusion and when you permit men to confuse the Word of God through spiritualization, you open the door for Satan’s purposes in Time. Again, this is not wise.

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    2. I respectfully disagree, but I am open to considering whatever is true and am always seeking to know and understand God more completely. I stake my salvation on nothing but Christ, and him crucified. I am saved by grace through faith, and that isn’t dependent on my abilities. Peace in Christ

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I appreciate your venturing into this subject. A few logical fallacies ought to be avoided, however, which you used in your article. Fallacy of the source – doesn’t matter the source if the argument is valid. Brandt discovered ammonia by boiling toads in oil. Ammonia is still real and he was accurate about it’s chemistry. I don’t know if the particular writer you mention is the source of the source inspiring Henry Morris book, but to think the arguments in the book are invalid because of that is a logical fallacy. I won’t spend time to describe other logical fallacies but you might read ‘poking holes in faulty logic’ by Hoover. Some others in your article include guilt by association, straw man arguments, and false dichotomies, to name a few.

    My mentor at Simon Greenleaf School of law, after my bachelor degree at CWRU in polymer science where God found me and I gave my life to Christ, was John Warwick Montgomery and he didn’t think Genesis required a literal week either. I think maybe the premier Old Testament scholar you allude to could be Gleason Archer?
    I heard him speaking at Simon Greenleaf and at one point insisting Genesis days could be and most likely were long time periods. I pressed him and asked why he believed that, was it in the text and he said science has proved the earth to be very old, and so the text had to mean that. I was amazed, the Hebrew scholar interprets through the lense of science he is not the expert in but believes is true. He had no training in science, but his view of Genesis, as Montgomery’s, were based on trusting the ‘scientists’ not from the text.

    If you want a good discussion of the topic, from one of the brightest and most respected scientists in the world before his death, check out A.E.Wilder-Smith. I myself reading the Bible after becoming a Christian in 1979 at CWRU, found it pretty clear from the plain text, the explicit ‘evening then morning’ for each day, the basing of the Sabbath every seven days on God creating and resting on the seventh day, and no qualifiers on ‘yom’ in Genesis, the enumeration of the days, that these were plainly days as we understand them. In fact, if the author wanted to communicate days in the most naturally unqualified and understood manner, not long time periods, how could he have done so more clearly? Is there anything he could have said more clearly that would have made you believe they are 24 hour days? Minutes and 24 hours were not even used as time measures until like 1300 AD. I don’t know how the author could have more clearly communicated 24 hour days in his time than that.

    As for Hugh Ross, I’ve had interactions with him in the 80’s, and Wilder- Smith met with him once privately (about which Hugh never discussed). He seems to have contempt for young earth creationists. Hugh has to contend that death did not come through the fall, and death was good according to God because otherwise the earth would become overpopulated, and so death is only spiritual in the account. This requires making statements in the New Testament about the death from the fall and life to be only spiritual. But the resurrection has to then be taken as the exception which is both a physical death and resurrection.

    Perry Sherman

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    1. Well, I only cite to the Henry Morris book for the propositions that the argument is young, and it didn’t originate from Orthodox Christian thought. I don’t cite it as proof or disproof of the ultimate point. Gleason Archer is the scholar I refer to. Your story is interesting, and certainly takes a bit if the air out of my reliance on his scholarship if true. But, I don’t rest my view on Dr. Archer ‘s position. I have a healthy skepticism of scientists, but facts are facts. For all practical purposes, the universe and the earth appear very old. If science was wrong about that, it wouldn’t affect my trust in Scripture. The Bible isn’t a science textbook. It’s inspired by God for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. In Genesis, God tells Adam and Eve that THEY will die if they eat the fruit. It doesn’t address death generally. Genesis 2:4 speaks of the DAY God created the heavens and the earth. There are many other nuances like that to be considered. I lean toward old earth, but it doesn’t affect the Gospel, and that is the point of the article. The age of the earth s peripheral, and elevating it to a fundamental principal of faith is dangerous.

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  4. I correct myself. The Babylonians divided a day into 12 intervals and night into the same. So the first 24 hour day was around early, but the point stands that the author could scarcely have communicated 24hour days more clearly at the time. In fact, I don’t see why else he, Moses, would have repeated the details he did. Moses is the same writer who connects the Sabbath 7 day week, to the creation week.

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