“In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth” Genesis 1:1
Gary Bates, a member of Eastside Baptist Church in Marietta, GA, “believes that Creation Ministries International could be the best kept secret in Christendom”. If this is true, Bates should know; it’s his ministry organization. Bates is the CEO of Creation Ministries USA and Worldwide. Employing a “staff of theologians and scientists” Bates’ organization claims to have “developed an apologetics ministry that answers the challenges wrought by the theory of evolution.” In Georgia, Bates’ secret is out. His organization was recently featured in the Georgia Christian Index entitled “Got Questions? CMI Has Answers” and hosted by Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta. On March 15, 2015, CMI presented a morning presentation entitled “Creation: Why it Matters” which was followed up by afternoon and evening presentations entitled “Creation Declares the Glory of God – Incredible Design in Nature” and “Dinosaurs & the Most-Asked Questions – Answered!”
“…stop making My Father’s house a place of business.” Jesus
CMI has produced a number of books, DVDs, and other materials that communicate its message. This morning approximately 15 minutes of the 11 AM worship service at Roswell Street Baptist Church were dedicated to CMI staff offering their products for sale from the pulpit. Perhaps a quick announcement that CMI materials were available for sale on its website would have been appropriate. However, CMI did not provide a simple announcement but a pointed sales pitch. Special “today-only” package deals were offered to the congregation of Roswell Street Baptist Church. Why offer a “today only” deal during a Sunday morning service? On March 15, 2015, was one of Georgia’s largest Baptist churches turned into a place of business during the morning worship time? Regardless of the merits of the merchandise being sold, it should not be advertised from the pulpit during a Sunday service.
Augustine and Everything After
“There is present in us the eternal light of reason, in which light the immutable truths are seen.” Augustine
Gerald Harris, editor of the Christian Index, wrote the article that featured CMI. In his article, Harris quoted venerable 4th-Century theologian Augustine to support the idea CMI’s work is needed. Yet CMI’s scriptural views, that the days of Genesis are literal, contradict views published by Augustine. Non-literal interpretations of Genesis predate modern science. Augustine proposed allegorical interpretations of the days of Genesis. He didn’t do so as a reaction to the Darwinist theory of Darwinist evolution or under pressures from secularists. Darwinist evolutionary theory was over a 1,000 years away from being proposed in Augustine’s day! Secularism wasn’t the force in his time that it today is. Augustine proposed allegorical interpretations of Genesis because he thought they were correct. This doesn’t mean that they were or that they are. However, such proposals were hardly as controversial in Augustine’s time as they are at present. The controversy around the age of the earth and the interpretation of Genesis has largely grown out of progressive-era fundamentalism; organizations such as CMI are staging their own preset-day Scopes Money Trials. Given that CMI sells materials from church pulpits, one is left to wonder if their presentations are, like the Scopes monkey trial, money-making publicity stunts designed to capitalize on certain prejudices and fears. It seems to make no difference to advertisers like Harris whether or not a consistent appeal to authority is made. Augustine would apparently be for CMI’s work by Harris’ inference. Yet, CMI criticizes those who hold to a non-literal of Genesis’ creation days on its website.
There Must Be Some Misunderstanding
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” Romans 1:18-20
Theologians differ and sometimes bicker over the age of the Earth. Scripture does not provide an exact dating of the Earth’s age nor was it written to provide such. Scripture was written, in the opinion of this author, to provide special revelation of God’s ultimate plan for creation, a plan which culminates in the victory of Jesus Christ over sin and death. Scripture is clear that God’s attributes, not just His existence, are evident from general revelation. The Apostle Paul stated very clearly to Timothy that the entire Old Testament is inspired by God and useful for teaching. Ex Nihlio creation happened. The flood of Noah’s day happened. This is plainly taught in scripture. So what’s the controversy? CMI and its supporters claim the controversy is evolution. Gerald Harris wrote in his Christian Index article, “The secular world bombards an unsuspecting and gullible populace with a plethora of humanistic teachings and philosophies. Their goals are to deify man and humanize God as well as exalt their false doctrine and demean biblical truth. The bedrock of the humanist worldview is the concept of evolution. This worldview is a comprehensive view from a materialistic, naturalistic standpoint in which man is the measure of all things. There is no place in this worldview for either immortality or a Creator God in the valid meaning of those terms. Without the concept of evolution the humanist worldview falls like a stack of cards.”
Being a Georgia Baptist leader, Harris likely knows a thing or two about “an unsuspecting and gullible populace”. Such a populace blindly funds his wayward convention every Sunday. Yet Harris couldn’t be more wrong about evolution. Evolution does not provide a “comprehensive view” for humanism because it cannot and does not explain the origin of the universe. Furthermore, humanism existed before Darwinist evolution was conceived. It’s true that notable atheist and evolutionary scientist Richard Dawkins has famously claimed that “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.” However, Darwin is considered to be an imbecile by philosophers (and has largely shied away from debates with Christians after being publicly embarrassed by Christian apologist John Lenox in a formal debate). There are atheists who reject Darwinism. In fact, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False is a recently published book denying Darwinism and written by a respected atheist scholar. Harris’ claim that evolutionists seek to deify man is a false one. Quite the opposite, evolutionists place man on the same plane as animals. They hardly consider man to be anything special. They deny, as an outworking of their own sin, that man was made in the image of God; as much is apparent from a cursory reading of Romans 1. Evolution didn’t exist when Paul wrote Romans 1. Sin did. It still does. Sin is still the problem. A denial of original sin may be a bigger problem in the Georgia Baptist Convention than evolutionary theory, given that the state’s baptist circles are infested with Connect 316 decisionists.
UFOs May Be Coming to a Pulpit Near You
There is a fear among Christian fundamentalists that their children will go to college and be taught that the bible is not true because evolution proves it false. The arguments of creation scientists hawking DVDs at Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta will likely be laughed out of the academic halls of the University of Georgia in Athens. How prepared CMI makes young people for the world is questionable. To be sure, it would be more profitable to prepare young people with a defense against the textual critics who claim 2 Timothy is a forgery than to teach creation science. Like shifting sand, scientific theories are always changing. Philosophy and Theology remain the same. If CMI is the best the GBC has to prepare its young people for a doubting world, it’s better if CMI stays a secret. CMI will be teaching about “UFOs, Aliens, and the Evolution Connection” at Mission for Community Church in Acworth on the 29th at 11:10 AM. It’s unknown to the Pulpit & Pen if they’ll offer books about UFOs for sale from the pulpit of that church. It’s true that the co-discovering of DNA, Francis Crick, postulated that terran life was seeded from outer-space because even an old Earth wasn’t old enough to give extant species time to evolve. However, to talk about UFOs from the pulpit instead of exegeting scripture is questionable…at best. It’s hard to imagine a talk about UFOs being given the secular science classrooms that Gerald Harris and CMI demagogue,
[Contributed by Seth Dunn]
*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use. For the record, I don’t believe in Darwinist evolution. I believe in the Biblical account of creation.