by John Livingston
The Apostle Paul said, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). His command is comprehensive. His point was that, even in the very mundane things we do every day, we should be bound by the desire to glorify God. Our redemption in Jesus is total: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17). This comprehensive redemption and transformation of our thoughts and actions does not occur instantly, though. We are to work out our salvation over time, in fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12).
In the last issue of this newsletter, I wrote about continually rising prices as an official government policy.
I used the Bible to evaluate inflation as an economic policy. If I were an economist, for example, would I recommend price inflation as a policy? Would making such a recommendation, in the words of Paul, be to the glory of God? I concluded in my analysis, along with the prophet Isaiah, that such a policy is immoral because it is simply a sophisticated form of theft. Intentional government-mandated inflation violates the 8th Commandment.
In this issue, I thought I would get back to basics and go to the beginning of the Bible to examine how it is that we can develop a Christian worldview that is informed by Scripture.
IN THE BEGINNING
I struggled for much of my early life understanding the Bible’s authority in my thinking because of a basic compromise that insidiously confronts children early on. The problem? Dinosaurs. Kids love dinosaurs. They love learning about them, they love talking about them, and they love watching TV shows that feature them. I was no different.
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Until high school, I did not consciously realize that my love of dinosaurs had put me into direct conflict with the Bible. But in a sharp and sudden moment during a discussion in a class on physical science, the conflict came into very clear and threatening focus: dinosaurs lived 65 million years ago, long after the so-called Big Bang which I had simply accepted uncritically for years as true since that’s what I had been taught.
But, uh-oh. This conflicts with the Bible’s story of creation in six days, which I had also accepted as true on faith.
Why had I never recognized the existence of this conflict before? Consequently, a serious battle for my heart and mind broke out. How would I resolve it, I wondered?
The solution was easy. Almost as quickly as the dilemma had appeared, I just pushed it to the back of my mind and return to it later. I recognized that it was a very serious issue that had potentially grave implications for my Christian faith. I also recognized that while I had much “training” in the “scientific” viewpoint of cosmology, I was completely lacking in any in-depth Biblical training. I knew all about the Big Bang story, the supposed evolution of the first stars that led to the creation of elements and eventually our sun and the planets. “We’re all stardust,” as they say.
But I did not know how to reconcile the Bible’s story of six-day creation with this “scientific” process. I was ill-equipped in the defense of the faith. I knew there were Christians out there who believed the Big Bang was compatible with the Bible, but I didn’t know enough to make a decision one way or another. So, I compartmentalized the issues.
Or so I thought. The dilemma created confusion in my mind. It made it very hard to think straight about certain topics, and this accelerated in college.
I attended an engineering school that also offered classes in Christian theology. Thinking I could get answers there, I instead graduated with even less faith in the authenticity of the Biblical text. Serious scholars taught me that the Old Testament Torah, claimed by Jesus to have been written by Moses, was in fact a series of forgeries written by imposters who were just claiming to be Moses. This undermined the Bible’s authority in my life, and why not? Was Jesus as duped as everyone else?
I took only two classes on Christianity in college: an Old Testament class my first semester; and a New Testament class in my senior year. But those two classes were like blows to my knees from a tire iron. It looked to me like the Christian intellectuals didn’t believe the Bible. “So that’s the secret,” I thought I had learned.
After going through that meat grinder, my faith had shrunk to a dim little candle flame, clinging to existence in a howling wind. Thankfully, several years later, the Lord ceased that wind and opened my eyes. As before, it happened in an instant.
Moving into my career, I studied these issues for some time. Then, one evening, in a flash, I realized a decision was being presented to me. I finally understood things very clearly: the Big Bang theory is incompatible with the Bible’s story of creation.
It is on Day 4 where God really confounds the humanists. The Bible teaches that God made the sun on the fourth day, after the plants, the fruit trees, and the earth. But the Big Bang teaches that the stars and the sun came before the earth and the trees.
These are contradictory and irreconcilable stories. They can’t both be right. Very smart (and some also Reformed) scholars have tried in various ways to compromise the first chapter of Genesis to make modern evolutionary science compatible with the Bible. Good Christians even today believe the Big Bang is compatible with our faith. Even our denomination, the PCA, allows a diversity of views. To a large extent, this is understandable since the modern revival of young earth creationism really didn’t get started until the publication of The Genesis Flood by Whitcomb and Morris in 1961.
But for me, the time had come to choose. The old question that I put away many years ago returned. The question presented was this: do you accept man’s version of creation, or do you accept God’s?
Not fully having the knowledge and the answers to refute man’s “scientific” version of the story, I stepped out in faith and chose God’s version.
THE FIRST CHOICE
In the garden, Adam and Eve were presented with a choice. They could eat from the Tree of Knowledge, or they could eat from the Tree of Life (Gen. 2:9, 16). Eating from the Tree of Life would be an act of faith and obedience to God. Eating from the Tree of Knowledge would be the opposite. They chose Knowledge because they valued it over communion with God. This set the stage for all the philosophical battles of history left to come. Can mankind sit in God’s chair and be like Him? Must men be judged by God, or can men judge God instead?
The pursuit of salvation by knowledge has plagued unbelieving mankind ever since that day, some six thousand years ago. It is so tempting that it has also led many Christian intellectual leaders over the millennia into compromise, too. The temptation is to believe that if we can just gain greater knowledge of what’s right and true, then all will be revealed. But that’s not the way God’s world works. Knowing what’s right does not automatically lead to doing what’s right. Ethical conformity to God’s laws and commandments requires more than just knowledge.
That’s because sin corrupts our minds as well as our hearts. Instead of worshipping the creator, we worship His creation. We have made idols out of nature, and we also make idols out of mankind itself. We turn inward and worship our own image. And because of this rebellion, God turns us over to our sins. This is what Paul means in the first chapter of Romans: “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things” (Rom. 1:21–23).
Who was there at the beginning to see what happened? Men, or God? Whose word will we take on this: man’s, or God’s? Should we let fallen men interpret the facts of the world with their crooked thought, or should we interpret the God-given facts of the world through the lens of Scripture?
The late reformed philosopher and apologetics professor at Westminster Theological Seminary, Cornelius Van Til, once said that the mind of the unbeliever is like a buzz saw set at an angle: no matter how sharp it is, it will never cut straight.
The Bible tells us that unbelievers are walking in the “futility of their minds” and “darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them” (Eph. 4:17–18). They cannot think straight because thinking straight would lead them to a deeper knowledge of God, which we all recoil against until we’ve been regenerated by the Spirit. “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14). Only once God has given us His Spirit are we able to discern spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:12).
Fallen mankind searches for truth and wisdom and knowledge. Many philosophies seek salvation through greater knowledge. But they cannot find it. They will never know the truth about creation until they confess with their mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in their heart that God raised him from the dead and so first be saved (Rom. 10:9).
Access to the pot of gold at the end of the humanist philosophical rainbow is forever blocked off to those who desire it most. For only in Christ “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3).
Trusting God and doing all things to His glory, whether we eat or drink, begins in Genesis 1. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge (Prov. 1:7; 9:10).
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