The American Vision: A Biblical Worldview Ministry

The Recovery of Biblical Creationism

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Dr. Henry Morris, president and founder of the Institute for Creation Research, died on February 25, 2006 at the advanced age of 87. Never willing to “retire,” Dr. Morris was a man who was active in prolifically defending the Christian faith until the very end. He led a life of stalwart Christian character and careful scientific inquiry seasoned with a heart for evangelism. Dr. Morris is rightfully credited for spawning the modern Creationist movement with the publication of his landmark book, The Genesis Flood, which he co-authored with theologian Dr. John Whitcomb in 1960. The Genesis Flood was the first major publication in modern times to make a scientific and theological case for 6 literal days of Creation, a young earth, and a global flood.

Morris and Whitcomb were also some of the first modern writers to connect one’s view of God as “Creator” and God as “Redeemer.” For the next 50+ years, the Creationist movement began calling Christians to task for their views of Genesis and slowing the cancer of liberalism. For this fact alone, Church historians should remember this movement well. After all, if we can’t trust the first 11 chapters of Genesis, then how can we trust the Gospel and the rest of the Bible? If Genesis is myth, then when does the Bible begin to be revealed truth?

Dr. Morris was willing to put his academic reputation on the line to expose the wolf in the sheep pen. Higher criticism, modernism, theological liberalism and compromise views on the days of creation were beginning to make conservative Bible-believers a thing of the past. But Morris and Whitcomb had a few things to say in the Bible’s defense. So far, so good.

Unfortunately, however, their Dispensationalism was becoming inextricably linked with the emerging “young-earth creation (YEC)” movement. While Morris and Whitcomb wisely rejected Darbyism and Scofieldism in their compromise “gap theory” views of Genesis 1, they retained the idea of a “gap” in their eschatology (Daniel’s seventy weeks). We believe that it was this strange and inconsistent association that led most non-dispensationalist and/or Reformed Protestants to question (or ignore) the tenets of 6-day creation. Apparently, they viewed these tenets as a dispensational distinctive.

This unfortunate linkage is very ironic as it was several members of the Reformed community that originally saw the potential of the fledgling YEC movement. In his book, A History of Modern Creationism, Dr. Morris reveals a little-known secret about the publishing of The Genesis Flood.

[W]e began to have second thoughts about the publisher. The Moody Press editors had originally seemed enthusiastic about the book, but then gradually they seemed to become more and more doubtful…they let it be known they didn’t agree with our “literal-day” view of the Genesis creation week…they indicated that the main reason they were willing to publish the book was to be “fair.” Since the American Scientific Affiliation and Moody Institute of Science people had received such wide promotion of their progressive-creation and local-flood views, the “other side deserved a hearing.”

            One of the reviewers had been Rev. Rousas J. Rushdoony, an Orthodox Presbyterian Church pastor in California. He was quite enthusiastic about the book and wanted us to get it published in its entirety as soon as possible. He was a friend of Charles Craig, owner of a small, non-profit publishing concern called the Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., in Philadelphia.[1]

Rushdoony’s connection at P&R paid off for Morris and Whitcomb and The Genesis Flood was released in 1961. Rushdoony was able to see through the Dispensationalism of the authors and see the value of the book that they had written. Charles Craig agreed:

He took a special interest in our book, even though he had never before published a scientific book. His own background was among the Presbyterians, and all his authors heretofore had been strong Calvinists. Both Dr. Whitcomb (Grace Brethren) and I (Baptist) seemed a little out of place among these Reformed and Presbyterian writers, but we all shared an absolute commitment to Biblical inerrancy and authority. In eschatology, all the P&R authors were either amillennial or postmillennial, whereas both John Whitcomb and I were (and are) “pretribulation” premillennialists, but we nevertheless had much in common with Craig and got along very well with him.[2]

Rushdoony and Craig both understood that much of the battle for biblical authority is won or lost in the first several chapters of the Bible. Morris’s scientific expertise made the Flood much more than a simple theological concept. It had far-reaching implications and the shock waves are still being felt today. While Dispensational publisher Moody was dragging its feet and playing politics, P&R was willing to take the risk and cast their eschatological differences to the wind. In an era of church history that finds Christians more fragmented and isolated than ever before due to weekly church splits over doctrinal minutiae; Morris, Whitcomb, Rushdoony and Craig have a few things to teach us.

While we don’t agree with Dr. Morris’ position on eschatology, we hold him in very high regard as a man who stood unswervingly on the Word of God. The YEC movement which he inaugurated has accomplished much in the almost 50 years since the publication of The Genesis Flood. YEC has inspired renewed confidence in the historical accuracy of Genesis and the whole of the Bible. It has encouraged Christians to enter science fields and demonstrate that one can be a Bible-believing Christian and a capable scientist without compromise. Thankfully, it has even led a number of families to exit the atheist factories known as public schools in search of a Bible-based educational alternative.

Just as Morris and Whitcomb brought Biblical sanity to the origins debate, the time has come to bring sanity to the issue of Biblical prophecy. The parallels are striking: just as evolutionary humanism has undermined the Gospel by casting doubt on the accuracy of Genesis, Dispensationalism has paralyzed the Church with what Gary DeMar rightly calls, “Last Days Madness.”

We can only imagine what the Church could accomplish if more and more Christians were to rightly interpret the whole of the Bible (not just Genesis). From Creation to Revelation, the Bible tells one unfolding story of purpose, redemption, and victory. Conversely, dispensationalism has cut the Bible up into isolated pieces and rendered much of modern Christianity “privately engaging but socially irrelevant.” (Read Gary DeMar’s Book, Myths. Lies, and Half-truths: How Misreading the Bible Neutralizes Christians, for an in-depth analysis of this phenomena.) This is a reminder of why American Vision exists—to equip Christians with a comprehensive Biblical Worldview and empower them to reclaim every square inch of Creation for the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom. We’re at the very beginning of another very important movement in Church history. Will you join us?

Endnotes:

[1] Henry M. Morris, History of Modern Creationism (San Diego, CA: Master Books, 1984), 154.
[2] Morris, History, 155-156.

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