It is my heartfelt prayer for this nation that the church would at last begin to see that creation is no side issue. Its rejection lies at the heart of the desperate malaise of Western society, which has lost its way in a maze of man-centred relativistic thinking.
The church has ceased to ask ‘What saith the Scripture?’ and has fallen into a low view of the Book of books. Luther’s phrase was sola scriptura and unless we get back to a high view of the Word of God, we will not see revival.
Many Evangelicals who believe in ex nihilo creation, as recorded in Genesis 1, feel that we can nevertheless accommodate differences of view and concentrate on gospel preaching. I cannot agree.
While we are delighted that many are saved apart from a belief in the historicity of Genesis, it will soon become an issue with those who are saved. Young people are bombarded by evolution at school, while the media are ‘pushing’ it in no uncertain terms.
Even some evolutionists sounded warnings about the ridiculous fairy-tale acting in Walking with cavemen – the BBC’s multi-million pound series that was little more than science fiction and offered not a shred of evidence to support its claims.
Starting from square one
Those we seek to reach with the gospel have long ago abandoned the biblical concept of accountability to a Creator – and with it any idea of sin and judgement. So how do we reach these complete outsiders?
We have to define and declare these biblical concepts from square one. That is why creation becomes important, because it immediately declares God’s ownership of the world and ourselves.
This is why the Open Air Mission often uses creation as a theme in their evangelistic work.
When I went to the Czech Republic recently (see ET August 2003) I spoke about creation, since this is the big stumbling-block in the minds of many emerging from an atheistic humanist culture, left behind by 40 years of communism.
Though our own land is not so riddled with atheism, we need to wake up to the deep crisis that threatens Western cultures – the cancer of postmodernism, a materialism with no values.
I read recently a revealing address by Ravi Zacharias on the state of Western culture today. Here is an extract.
‘In the 1950s, kids lost their innocence. They were liberated from their parents by well-paying jobs, cars, lyrics and music that gave rise to a new term, “the generation gap”.
‘In the 1960s, kids lost their [view of] authority. It was the decade of protests. Church, state and parents were all called into question and found wanting. Their authority was rejected, yet nothing ever replaced it.
‘In the 1970s, kids lost their love. It was the decade of nihilism, dominated by hyphenated words beginning with ‘self’- self-image, self-esteem, self-assertion. It made for a lonely world.
‘Kids learned everything there was to know about sex and forgot everything there was to know about love, and few had the nerve to tell them that there was indeed a difference.
‘In the 1980s, kids lost their hope. Stripped of innocence, authority and love, and plagued by the horror of a nuclear nightmare, large and growing numbers of this generation stopped believing in the future.’
The ability to reason
Zacharias originally wrote that description at the end of the 1980s. Somebody asked him, as a philosopher, what he felt had been lost in the 1990s.
He replied: ‘We have lost our ability to reason. The power of critical thinking has gone … and very few are able to think clearly anymore … How do you reach a generation that listens with its eyes and thinks with its feelings?’
I was struck by the phrase ‘We have lost our ability to reason’. This was what Francis Schaeffer predicted in the 1970s in such books as Escape from Reason and Death in the City. We have lost the habit of thinking about the world in a rational way.
Remove creation and you have no reference point for thinking correctly, for you have no way of knowing whether the sensations we call our ‘mind’ are even rational!
Submitting to truth
If we are to reach our present society, we ourselves must have a firm grip on truth – on Christ who is himself the Truth, and on the Scriptures of truth that testify of him. The two are never in contradiction.
If we love Christ we love all his word – including the Genesis account of creation. We believe in its breadth, depth and authority in every age.
We must resist the scourge of unbelief, and repent of the sin that so often rejects God’s clear testimony concerning creation. The Lord told the churches in Revelation that he would remove their lamps if they did not repent.
Brian Edwards teaches a solemn truth in his excellent book on revival (Evangelical Press). God is sovereign in revival, which we sorely need in dark Britain – but only where there is a deep submission to the truth of Scripture within the church leadership will there ever be revival.
True revivals have always been associated with a deep love of the Word of God – with heart, soul and mind.