Evangelising Christians

That is a good reminder that the church service is primarily for the building up of believers for works of service and evangelism in the world. However, if we assume that the mission field is only outside the church, we would be mistaken.

Unbiblical Christians
Engage in conversation with some of the members of your local church and you may be surprised, probably even shocked. So far this year, I have spoken to a number of church-going people, who describe themselves as Christians, yet believe in strange and unbiblical new-age concepts such as re-incarnation and universalism.

People who have described themselves as “a good person”, and “a dedicated Christian”, have, in all seriousness, told me that “everyone will go to Heaven, because God is all-forgiving”; “all religions lead to God” and “people are basically good!” One man claimed that he had not sinned for over 30 years! One woman claimed that she had prayed and God had guided her to abort her child!

Subverted by the world
Looking out over a congregation on Sunday morning and assuming that everyone there is in a right relationship with the Lord and diligently following in His steps, would be gross presumption. Those of us who are involved in personal, one-on-one evangelism and counselling, are left with no such illusions. In many ways the world is evangelising, or subverting, the Church. This should not actually surprise us. When you consider that the average Christian spends far more time reading the newspaper than reading the Bible, reading secular magazines, rather than Christian magazines, secular books rather than Christian books, it is no wonder that “their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Rom 1:21.

Conformed to Hollywood
In households with television, the average child has seen some 30 000 hours of television before leaving school. During their teenage years, the average student will listen to over 10 000 hours of music, much of it filled with sensual, immoral and occultic lyrics.

Filling the void
The influence of parents and churches in the upbringing of most children today is declining at an alarming rate. The disintegration of many families, absentee parents and a general absence of discipline have created a vacuum.

Violent and immoral films and videos, aggressive, pulsating noise masquerading as music and pornographic magazines and websites are filling the void in the aimless and meaningless lives of all too many young people. “Since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, He gave them over to a depraved mind…” Rom 1:28.

Everything has consequences
What we see influences what we think, and what we think influences what we become and what we do. Ideas have consequences. Actions flow from thought patterns. So the question is: what form of education has moulded your thought patterns? What entertainment and news media is filling your mind, on a daily basis?

“Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” Eph 5:15-16.

Biblical illiteracy
At camps and courses, and during surveys in shopping malls, we have found that the vast majority of church-goers have no idea what the Biblical worldview is. If you ask: what is the Biblical position on economics, most say they don’t know, some say to pay tithes. Very few have any understanding of Biblical principles for economics.
When asked: what is the Biblical worldview on crime and punishment, most say the government should forgive. Few church-goers understand the distinction between the ministry of grace entrusted to the Church, and the ministry of justice entrusted to the State.

When asked if evolution can be reconciled to the Bible, most say, Yes!
When we have asked church-goers who they think are the greatest people who have ever lived, many mention the same political and Hollywood idols that would be promoted in the secular media. When we have asked what books and publications they read, it is extraordinary how few church-goers are actually reading Christian publications. Most would cite scandal rags and secular tabloids. It is evident that many church-goers have become antinomian (believing that the Law of God no longer applies).

Disastrous consequences
Blatant lying, breach of contracts, breaking of promises, stealing, even from churches and ministries, have become no longer a rare exception, but pervasive. Christian bookshops have to deal with shoplifting. Christian churches are no longer open for those wanting to come in and seek the Lord in quietness in the sanctuary. Most churches today have to be barred and bolted with security gates, burglar bars and alarms. There was a time that a mere verbal agreement, or handshake was sufficient. Now even signed contracts are violated by people who claim to be Christian.

Jesus taught “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’, shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the Will of My Father in Heaven.” Matt 7:21.

It is not so much what we say, but what we do that counts. Actions speak much more eloquently than words. We are commanded in Scripture: “Walk in love…but fornication and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.” Eph 5:2-6.

Superficial spirituality
The root of the problem is the shallow experience and superficial message proclaimed by all too many Christians today. Shortcut methods and over-simplified formulas have just failed to work. It is as though the devil himself has advocated another gospel (Gal 1:6-9), polluting the Christian message, adulterating its contents and confusing the issues. The enemy has reduced the greatest

message of all time to a cheap, over-simplified formula, or to a dead, over-complicated theology. All too many Christians, apparently ignorant of these wiles of the devil, have accepted these corruptions.

Shallow doctrine
The emphasis of feelings and blessings to the exclusions of commitment, obedience and discipleship is a sure way to failure and disappointment (Matt 7:15-23). The notion of a, “once and for all”, token gesture of commitment to God, being sufficient to effect eternal salvation and inner fulfilment, is to invite utter disillusionment (Luke 14:27). These concepts are all unworthy of our great God and hopelessly inadequate in conveying the Biblical message, or in promoting true spiritual life and discipleship.

Counterfeit Christianity
The devil has a counterfeit for everything the Lord offers. He has fake fruit to offer – it’s not the real thing, although it can look the same. When you taste it, you find it’s plastic fruit. It looks real, but it isn’t! It doesn’t give the peace that passes all understanding, true joy, or real love. It’s false!

Now why is it that so many who try a counterfeit product, and taste its synthetic flavour, try to hide their disappointment, thinking that perhaps this is all that the Lord has to give? How can we ever think that God’s ways are unsatisfying? If the way is disappointing, then its not God’s way! If the fruit is unsatisfying – you need a new spiritual diet.

Don’t settle for less
God’s way is not easy, but it is fulfilling. His way is not cheap, but it is the best. His way is not trouble free, but it is the way of peace of heart and mind. His way is not all blessings, but it is all joy. His way does not keep us from trials, but it does involve God’s constant love.

If you are content with a superficial, lukewarm, stagnant, defeated, mundane, mediocre existence, then God cannot give you a deep, on-fire, over-flowing, fulfilling, victorious, supernatural life.

By settling for less, we rob ourselves of the best. Good is the enemy of best. If you are content with your present spiritual state, then the Lord can do no more for you. Complacency is the deadly enemy of advancement and progress.

The trouble is that all too many Christians are in a spiritual desert, frustrated and bewildered by emptiness and dissatisfaction with their life and faith. To many, Jesus is not really Lord, but He is just a constitutional monarch. Have you made Him the impersonal figurehead of your religious convictions? You want His help, but not His interference. Jesus can save you, He can answer your prayers, but He must not tell you what career to choose, what friends to have, what clothes to wear, what language to use and what kind of life to live and what films to watch. You don’t  really believe that God gives the very best to those who leave the choice to Him.

Total transformation
Do you have a superficial commitment? Have you settled for the counterfeit? Are you missing out on real Christianity: with a daily discipline of discipleship. Do not let the label fool you. You cannot expect maximum blessing from minimum commitment. There is no shortcut method, no four-point programme, no cut and dried, canned salvation. There is no alternative to full surrender to the Lordship of Christ (Col 2:6-7), and wholeheartedly seeking (Jer 29:13), and following God’s way (1 Pet 2:21). You have to forsake the world (1 John 2:15-17), and you must give up living for selfish reasons and motivations (Matt 16:24). Repent of your past sinful way of life (Isaiah 55:7), and put all your energies, time, strength, talents, money and abilities under God’s control. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind and live wholeheartedly for Him (Rom 12:1-2).

Full surrender to Christ requires that Jesus is Lord of all
You give up your sins and your strengths, your lusts and your loves, your ambitions and your failures, your talents and your wasted opportunities, your abilities and your hurts. God gives you forgiveness, eternal life, abundant life, love, joy, peace, guidance, fulfilment, companionship, direction, meaning and purpose in life.

You give up everything you have, and gain everything God gives. Missionary pilot Jim Elliot, noted: “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, to gain that which he cannot lose.”

The adventure of discipleship
The way of salvation in the Bible is described as a search (Jer 29:13), a journey (Matt 7:13-14), a war (2 Cor 10:3-5), and a marathon race (1 Tim 6:12). Christians are described as pilgrims, disciples, soldiers, long distance runners. The Bible is full of words describing fighting, overcoming, advancing, conquering, struggling, suffering and succeeding.

These Biblical descriptions speak of progress, advancement and movement. They speak of a continuous ongoing experience and way of life. Not of a once for all gesture, or technical theory, or mere theological understanding.
A restored relationship with God. The heart of the Gospel is a restored relationship with God through Jesus Christ, where communication and contact is established and maintained with God, where your character is developed and God’s eternal purposes are accomplished in and through your life. You must realise that God has so very much more to give you, to show you and to teach you. He has so much more for you to achieve.

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus, to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Eph 3:20-21.

Trust the Lord; change your ways
If you read this article and feel convicted about your walk with God, repent now. Ask for His forgiveness and change your ways. Find a Christian mentor to help disciple you or call our offices. 

Condoleezza Rice: For God and Country

Stanford Professor, National Security Advisor, and 66th US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice is no ordinary woman, but then again, she serves no ordinary God. The term ‘Warrior Princess’ was coined during George W. Bush’s term in office where Condoleezza served as National Security Advisor managing foreign policy during not just one, but two, wars raging in Afghanistan and Iraq. No one thought she could do it. A woman? A black woman? She proved the world wrong and jaws dropped as she handled the growing tensions with a cool, calm demeanour.
But what the rest of the world doesn’t know about is the simple, sincere prayers Condoleezza was raising to the throne of our Heavenly Father, for guidance and a solution.
Humble beginnings
Condoleezza was born in 1954 in the South during the heart of American racial turmoil and riots. The movement was fuelled by ‘Jim Crow’ laws which were intended to keep blacks and whites separate in all spheres of society. In the Southern States, hate crimes and violence only added to the growing flame of oppression as the struggle for racial equality surged. In 1963, just a few blocks from her home, the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church was bombed and two of Condoleezza’s school mates were murdered. This anguished battle ground was her daily life. But with a Presbyterian Minister for a father, Condoleezza’s foundations from childhood were rooted deeper than her circumstances. She became active in her father’s church at a young age, playing the piano alongside her mother on the organ, attending youth groups, and shadowing her parents as they gave her a tangible example of faith, trust in God, and good morals.

Her parents always encouraged her to strive for greater, because the power behind her was most certainly stronger than the forces opposing her. It was this instilling of God’s truth that made living in the war zone of Alabama bearable. It was her parent’s constant encouragement that challenged Condoleezza to aim for the moon, and land amongst the stars.

A woman of achievement
Education was the God-given key granted to Condoleezza to unlock the doors of destiny set before her. With Bachelor, Master, and Doctorate degrees under her belt, Condoleezza has taken the world by storm. An intended Music major at the University of Denver, God had different plans that eventful day when Condoleezza attended a Political Science class by famed diplomat, teacher and mentor to several politicans, Josef Korbel. Unknowingly, the Lord was carving a path for her, headed straight towards the white house.
The White House
Nominated for Secretary of State by George W. Bush in 2004, Condoleezza initiated ‘Transformational Diplomacy’ a programme focused on building stronger infrastructure, and decreasing foreign nations’ dependence on American aid. The September 2001 acts of terrorism left Condoleezza with a strong burden of the world’s suffering and oppression. By relocating American diplomats to countries such as China, India, and even South Africa, Condoleezza was intent on exploring internal domestic solutions to problems.

Breaking ground in initiating peace agreements in the Middle East, reopening nuclear negotiations with North Korea, and pressing the United Nations to investigate war crimes in Sudan, it is no surprise that Condoleezza has been declared four times by Time Magazine as one of the most influential people in the world.

God guided
Condoleezza’s speech at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington several years ago expressed her purpose: “We are living through a time of testing and consequence – and praying that our wisdom and will are equal to the work before us. And it is at times like these that we are reminded of a paradox: that it is a privilege to struggle.  A privilege to struggle for what is right and true. A privilege to struggle for freedom over tyranny. A privilege, even, to struggle with the most difficult and profound moral choices.”

Seeking God’s guidance
“American slaves used to sing, ‘Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen – Glory, Hallelujah!’ Growing up, I would often wonder at the seeming contradiction contained in this line. But as I grew older, I came to learn that there is no contradiction at all.

I believe this same message is found in the Bible in Romans 5, where we are told to “rejoice in sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.”

In an interview with Christianity Today, Condoleezza states: “I just ask for guidance. I can remember in difficult times, like when things were really bad in Iraq, I would not say, ‘Lord, can you help me figure out this problem?’ but, ‘Can you somehow show us a way out of this?’ That’s how I think about it, not specific answers to specific questions.”

A woman of faith in Christ
Who would have thought that in this global ‘progressive’ society where religion and faith are considered archaic by the world’s standards, that one of the most influential women of our time believes and places her faith in Jesus Christ?

Yes, our Lord is still at work raising people and anointing them to positions of authority! 

Ancient Oils – A Fragrant Journey

And they went out…and they anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them.” Mark 6:12-13

Essential oil history
Scripture mentions 33 species of essential oils. Each has a significant meaning and can be applied to our life, encouraging unity and relationship with the Lord.
God is not a God of random chance, and the Bible does not specifically describe something in detail unless there is deep significance and meaning to the reference. Much confusion has developed in the Church because of the application of various aromatic oils in the use of New Age practices. Counterfeits of potentially beneficial uses of Biblical anointing oils will invariably arise, and it is important to understand the true potential uses of anointing oils.
Aromatherapy is the therapeutic use of plant-derived, aromatic essential oils, often used in massage, beauty and skin products. Combining the use and meaning of each essential oil in anointing and prayer,under the guidance of the Holy Spirit can enhance our faith and revelation of Jesus.

The significance of oils
There are no mystical healing properties or powers in the oil themselves, and they should never be the focus of faith, but a symbolic reminder of God’s healing power through the Holy Spirit. However understanding the deeper meaning of specific oils like frankincense, myrrh, and spikenard can richly enhance our walk of faith similar to understanding any Biblical symbolism and truth.
Due to laboratory research, we now know something about the chemistry and action of plant fragrances, which come from the unique and mysterious aromatic liquids hidden in various parts of plants – their leaves, petals, roots, seeds, bark, stem and even fruit.

What are the oils used for?
Typically, essential oils are light to the touch and evaporate slowly, releasing their aromas into the air. Their function in nature is to keep plants healthy, free of infection, to repel harmful insects, and to communicate to each other, to insects, to animals and to us! Essential oils also have an effect on our immune systems, muscle, internal organs, skin, and even our emotions.
The power of smell must never be underestimated. It is one of many powerful tools the Holy Spirit will use to begin the healing process of memories hidden deep into the subconscious.
“The word ‘anoint’ according to Harper’s Bible Dictionary means to cover, rub, or smear the head or body with oil. A commonly used word for anoint was ‘misach’, similar to the English word ‘massage’ both in meaning and pronunciation”.
The Old Testament is full of examples of specific oils used in specific ways and understanding more about why God mentioned a particular oil in particular circumstance reveals incredible truth about His character and moves us to greater worship and intimacy with our King. Why did Aaron anoint the instruments in the tabernacle? Why did Esther anoint herself with Myrrh for six months prior to presenting herself before King Ahasuerus? Why did God give a specific recipe for certain oils in certain places (Exodus 30:22-25; Psalms 45:7-8)?

Anointing oil in Scripture
These truths should not be ignored or relegated to the Old Testament, but rather one should understand all of God’s Word and His truth. In the New Testament as well oils are mentioned at various times, such as gifts (frankincense and myrrh) at Jesus’ birth, and spikenard used by Mary prior to Jesus’ death, and Jesus being anointed with myrrh and aloe at his burial. Investigating the deeper meaning of why God chose these specific oils can enriched one’s understanding of Scripture.

Important things to remember
In Luke 4 Jesus quotes the Old Testament and applies the passage to His mission on earth: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me because He has anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor, He has sent Me to heal the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captive and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”
Is this not the mandate of the Church? Are not we under this same anointing? Are we (the Body of Christ) not to do the work Jesus did in greater measure?
The Lord spoke to me about bringing a new understanding into the beauty industry concerning Biblical oils. I felt the Lord’s desire for His fragrance of love to go forth in places beyond the Church. My hope is that a greater understanding of Biblical oils will reveal Jesus and His love and grace to you. 
By- Naomi Sheneberger

5 Myths About Living Together Before Marriage

So you think there are advantages to living together rather than getting married? Before you close your mind any tighter on the issue, check out these five myths:

Living together first will tell us if we are right for one another.
No it won’t. You are comparing apples to oranges. Just because one tastes good or bad to you doesn’t mean the other will taste the same. Marriage is a totally different proposition than simply living together. Marriage is built upon a promise before God to remain faithful to one another. Living together involves no such promise. You could fail at living together with someone that you may have succeeded with in marriage. It all depends upon how much both people are relying on God for assistance and love. By the way, the divorce rate of couples who live together first is significantly higher than for those who do not.

If your partner will not commit to you for life, don’t deceive yourself into thinking that he or she will be willing to make that commitment at some later point. Marriage is a promise to stay together. Living together for many couples lasts approximately 18 months, on average.

At the end of that year and a half, you still have no idea how your partner might have done if you both had taken the plunge and made a lifetime commitment to one another. Now you will never know. You settled for the easy way in and the easy way out. Your shot at true love with that person gets blown away with the wind if you decide to shack up first. Living together prepares people to find reasons not to get married. Marriage, on the other hand, is based on unconditional love and a lifetime commitment. It is not an ‘audition’ for marriage like you have with cohabitation.

All of us are imperfect and bound to slip up at various times during the audition. Living together is conditional ‘love’. It’s “I love you” now…and “I will really love you” once you prove you are worthy. You better walk on eggshells in that situation. It gets pretty dicey in a hurry…and awkward.

Living together will show us if we are sexually compatible.
No it won’t. That would be true if you were animals – say dogs for example. You are human beings. You both have a soul. Sex between dogs is only physical. Sex between human beings was designed to be physical, emotional and spiritual. God designed it in such a way that sex outside of marriage will never produce true intimacy. That is why it leaves you still feeling empty after the physical high has gone away. Without a spiritual union through Christ, sexual compatibility is only measured in a superficial way. If you have not yet had sex in marriage while both of you are born-again and living for Christ, then you have no idea what you are missing. It is the total package…body, soul, and spirit. No wonder people without that union are often drawn to continue experimenting sexually to try to satisfy their hunger for a spiritual union in sex. That hunger can be satisfied, but only in marriage and only when both the husband and the wife are believers in Christ.

We are just as committed to each other as a married couple.
No you’re not! Neither of you are ‘all in’. You are both ‘hedging your bets’. You are both still ‘kicking the tyres’. Your commitment is conditional. It’s not ‘for better or worse’. Instead, it’s “for better or…see ya, wouldn’t wanna be ya.” Anyone in that situation must surely feel the pressure to perform. You have been given a trial run by your partner. Aren’t you lucky!

Deep down, you know in your heart that marriage is far more than a piece of paper. It is a promise before God to love and cherish your spouse for life. People who only shack up also make a promise, sort of. “I promise to do my best…and to watch you very closely to determine if you are worth it. If it doesn’t work out…oh well. It’s not like we were married or anything.”

Our friendship won’t suffer by moving in together.
That’s what you think! Your friendship will soon become tense and uncomfortable. You went from courtship to ‘no man’s land’. You’re not married, but you’re not really dating either. How boring…and unnatural. No wonder the comfortable feelings of friendship soon turn into the awkward feelings that come with shacking up. It’s ‘friends with benefits…minus the unconditional friendship’.

There is always the fear of being kicked to the curb if you don’t measure up. No security. No deep peace. Hence, you end up with a strained relationship that is fraught with angst. Not exactly the ingredients of a healthy friendship.

We can love one another just as much without marriage.
No you can’t! God says so. It would be true if you had evolved from a monkey. In that case, the Bible would only be a storybook filled with fantasies. As it is, you did not evolve from a monkey. You were created by God in His image. He consists of three Persons in One God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

You too are a being that is three in one…body, soul and spirit. Monkeys are not three in one. God did not institute marriage between monkeys. God did not promise to bless a union of monkeys. You have no idea how much love can fill your heart for your partner until you receive God’s love in Christ and get on the ‘marriage train’ for life. Comparing living together to marriage is comparing apples to oranges…and maybe even to bananas…you know – the kind monkeys eat. 

The Great Creation Debate

A dose of humility is needed
I am not a trained scientist and so I am not competent to comment significantly on the scientific aspects of the debate. I also do not claim to be a theological ‘expert’ on the subject. Despite both of these limitations, I do feel able to make some cautionary comments on the subject. Job 38:4 records God’s challenge when He asks Job, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?” I believe this applies equally to both scientists and theologians.

Human beings were not present when God created the Heavens and the earth. Scientists were not present at the creation to observe and analyse. They develop their hypotheses from the geological record and logical assumptions.

Theologians were not there either and we develop our doctrines from a logical understanding of the Scriptures. So an essential requirement in the evolution/creation debate, on both sides, is humility.

Lately, debate has heated up
A second preliminary consideration concerns who the parties are in the debate. On the one hand, Christians are engaged in debates with atheist or agnostic sceptics like Richard Dawkins, but it seems to me that the more heated debate is occurring between Christians themselves.
Evangelicals are taking issue with Liberals, but Bible-believing Christians are also fighting with other Bible-believing Evangelicals. I say ‘fighting’ because some of the debate is beyond robust.

Evolution vs Creation
The main ‘camps’ in the Christian debate over evolution and creation are the Young Earth Creationism camp, The Progressive Creationism camp, the Intelligent Design camp, and the Theistic Evolution camp. Bruce Waltke has written a paper on ‘Barriers to accepting the possibility of creation by means of an evolutionary process’ (http://biologos.org/uploads/project /Waltke_scholarly_essay.pdf) and as an appendix he attaches the findings of four surveys administered to Pentecostal seminary faculties between 2004 and 2009. The last of these surveys revealed that only 23% of the respondents were Young Earth Creationists and 19% were evolutionary creationists. So we need to note that neither of these positions enjoys majority support even among Pentecostals.

Be careful how we label others
I recently read comments by a scientist who described himself as a Christian Theistic Evolutionist claiming that a prominent Young Earth Creationist was implying that those Christians who do not agree with his views do not therefore believe in a real Adam or an actual Fall.

He then points out that as a Theistic Evolutionist he does believe in a real Adam and Eve, a Garden of Eden, a real Fall, and in the authority of the Bible. So we all need to be careful how we classify and characterise other sincere Christians.

Taking a deeper look at the issue
I believe that, instead of fighting each other over the ‘how’ of Creation, Christian scholars with a particular interest in this area of study should engage each other in a non-confrontational way on some of the underlying issues in the debate. For instance, we need to discuss what the various views say or imply concerning the character of God, the trustworthiness of the Scriptures, and key doctrines such as sin and salvation.

As an example, the idea that God created the earth some 6 000 years ago with the appearance of great age says something about God’s integrity and transparency. On the other hand, evolution through survival of the fittest perhaps says something [negative] about His standards of goodness and love. Disbelief in an actual Adam and original sin seriously affects the Evangelical understanding of salvation in and through the last Adam (1 Cor 15:45), the Lord Jesus Christ, and so on.

Considerate and careful debate is needed
These, and other serious doctrinal and faith issues, should be resolved through considerate and careful debate. I for one would certainly appreciate more of this kind of exchange and less polemic dogmatism in Christian circles.

What does the creation issue say about God’s character and the trustworthiness of the Bible?
My appeal to Christians is to air the underlying faith issues in the debate rather than the endless ideas on how God might have created, or when He created. As a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ I am far more interested in, and impacted by, what the creation issue has to say about God’s character, the trustworthiness of the Bible, and the key doctrines of the evangelical faith. My appeal is that we make the subject of creation a great debate rather than a great ‘barney’. 

Dear Editor
Why would some New Age atheists persist on clinging to Middle Age concepts? It seems to be in stark contrast to what they try to advocate – to be logical and truly analytical…If evolution can explain the origin of species, praise God for the way He did it as we can praise Him for the creation of Canis Majoris – a red hyper-giant star, currently the largest known star, located in the constellation Canis Major with a radius of 2.7 billion kms. The Hebrew word ‘yom’ translated into the English ‘day’ can mean more than one thing. It can refer to the 24 hour period of time that it takes for the earth to rotate on its axis (e.g., “there are 24 hours in a day”). It can refer to the period of daylight between dawn and dusk (e.g., “it gets pretty hot during the day but it cools down a bit at night”). And it can refer to an unspecified period of time (e.g., “back in my grandfather’s day…”).

It is used to refer to a 24 hour period in Genesis 7:11. It is used to refer to the period of daylight between dawn and dusk in Genesis 1:16. And it is used to refer to an unspecified period of time in Genesis 2:4. It certainly seems logical with current knowledge that the days of Genesis 1 are unspecified periods of time. It is equally wrong and damaging for the religious fundamentalist to ignore the facts of science as it is for the science fundamentalist to ignore Biblical truth. The Bible is God inspired and science God created and our task is to figure out this oneness.
Dear Editor,
Your issue of May 2012 contains two articles that [in my opinion] unfortunately contain serious misinformation.

First, Ken Ham in his article ‘Battle over Genesis is Heating Up’, implies that those Christians who do not agree with his Young Earth Creationist views also do not believe in a real Adam and Eve or an actual Fall. I must point out that I am a Theistic Evolutionist who does believe in a real Adam and Eve and a real Fall, so Ken Ham would be well advised to acknowledge this viewpoint held by many Christians who have accepted the scientific evidence for the great age of our earth and who accept that various evolutionary processes have been used by the Creator in order to bring about His preordained outcomes.

Second, Tas Walker’s article on ’80 Whales Buried Mysteriously in the Chilean Desert’ suggests that this is evidence for a world-wide flood. This is amazing reasoning since whales often become beached and the fossils are located less than a kilometre from the shore. There are many ways that marine animals such as whales get fossilised, either by beaching themselves and then getting covered with sand from a flood or wind storm, or by being washed inland in a Tsunami. The article also tries to throw doubt on dating systems used by geologists. All scientists that I know will quote articles like this as further evidence that Creationists are unscientific in their reasoning.
 I know it is very unlikely that Joy! will publish letters such as mine but it is high time that you have articles from Christians such as myself who do believe in a real Adam and Eve, a real Garden of Eden and a Fall and do accept the Bible as my ultimate authority in all matters of faith, doctrine and practical Christian living. At the same time I am a scientist who rejoices that he can reconcile all this with the overwhelming evidence for our earth being billions of years old.

If Joy! magazine could have the courage to print such alternative viewpoints it would do the Gospel message a great favour and help remove a major ‘stumbling block’ placed by Creationists in the path of many millions of our generation taking the Bible seriously.

I hope you will realise the seriousness of this issue in our scientific and technological generation. At present Joy! Magazine has articles on creation that give the impression that the Young Earth Creationist viewpoint is the only legitimate one for Christians. Many non-believers who are presented with this as the only legitimate view of Christians, will often conclude that they will have to undertake some sort of ‘intellectual suicide’ if they become Christians. In my view the Creationist presentations are the greatest single hindrance to the Gospel message reaching our scientific generation.
I [recently presented a talk] at a Stellenbosch University debate on ‘Can Darwinism be reconciled with the Bible’. For the content of my talk at Stellenbosh or further insights into my Christian Theistic Evolution approach see www.factandfaith.co.za.
Dr Michael Jarvis

A Question of Biblical Authority
Time and time again I have found that in both Christian and secular worlds, those of us who are involved in the creation movement are characterised as ‘Young Earthers.’ The supposed battle-line is thus drawn between the “Old Earthers” (this group consists of anti-God evolutionists as well as many Christian Theistic evolutionists) who appeal to what they call “science,” versus the ‘Young Earthers,’ who are said to be ignoring the overwhelming supposed “scientific” evidence for an old Earth.

We are not ‘Young Earthers’
I want to make it clear that we don’t want to be known primarily as ‘young-Earth creationists.’ Answers in Genesis’ main thrust is NOT ‘young Earth’ as such; our emphasis is on Biblical authority. Believing in a relatively young Earth (i.e., only a few thousands of years old, which we accept) is a consequence of accepting the authority of the Word of God as an infallible revelation from our omniscient Creator.

What does the Word say?
Recently, one of our associates sat down with a highly respected world-class Hebrew scholar and asked him this question: “If you started with the Bible alone, without considering any outside influences whatsoever, could you ever come up with millions or billions of years of history for the Earth and universe?” The answer from this scholar? “Absolutely not!”

The Bible does not offer any hint of a “millions of years” approach
Take out your Bible and look through it. – you can’t find any hint at all for millions or billions of years. For those of you who have kept up with our lectures and our articles, you will have heard or read quotes from many well-known and respected Christian leaders admitting that if you take Genesis in a straight-forward way, it clearly teaches six ordinary days of Creation.

Starting outside of the Bible…
However, the reason they don’t believe God created in six literal days is because they are convinced from so-called “science” that the world is billions of years old. In other words, they are admitting that they start outside the Bible to (re)interpret the Words of Scripture. When someone says to me, “Oh, so you’re one of those fundamentalist, young-Earth creationists,” I reply, “Actually, I’m a revelationist, no-death-before-Adam redemptionist!” (which means I’m a young-Earth creationist!).

Here’s what I mean: I understand that the Bible is a revelation from our infinite Creator, and it is self-authenticating and self-attesting. I must interpret Scripture with Scripture, not impose ideas from the outside! When I take the plain words of the Bible, it is obvious there was no death, bloodshed, disease or suffering of humans or animals before sin.

God instituted death and bloodshed because of sin – this is foundational to the Gospel. Therefore, one cannot allow a fossil record of millions of years of death, bloodshed, disease and suffering before sin (which is why the fossil record makes much more sense as the graveyard of the flood of Noah’s day).

Using man’s understanding
Also, the word for “day” in the context of Genesis can only mean an ordinary day for each of the six days of Creation [see www.answersingenesis.org for an explanation].

Thus, as a “revelationist,” I let God’s Word speak to me, with the words having meaning according to the context of the language they were written in. Once I accept the plain words of Scripture in context, the fact of ordinary days, no death before sin, the Bible’s genealogies, etc., all make it clear that I cannot accept millions or billions of years of history. Therefore, I would conclude there must be something wrong with man’s ideas about the age of the universe.

God’s Word is infallible
And the fact is, every single dating method (outside of Scripture) is based on fallible assumptions. There are literally hundreds of dating tools. However, whatever dating method one uses, assumptions must be made about the past. Not one dating method man devises is absolute!

Even though 90% of all dating methods give dates far younger than evolutionists require, none of these can be used in an absolute sense either. [See our website for articles on Radiometric Dating and Young Age Evidence for more.]

Why would any Christian want to take man’s fallible dating methods and use them to impose an idea on the infallible Word of God? Christians who accept billions of years are in essence saying that man’s word is infallible, but God’s Word is fallible! This is the crux of the issue.

Questioning God’s Word
When Christians have agreed with the world that they can accept man’s fallible dating methods to interpret God’s Word, they have agreed with the world that the Bible can’t be trusted. They have essentially sent out the message that man, by himself, independent of revelation, can determine truth and impose this on God’s Word. Once this “door” has been opened regarding Genesis, ultimately it can happen with the rest of the Bible.

Undermining God…
You see, if Christian leaders have told the next generation that one can accept the world’s teachings in geology, biology, astronomy, etc., and use these to (re)interpret God’s Word, then the door has been opened for this to happen in every area, including morality.

Yes, one can be a conservative Christian and preach authoritatively from God’s Word from Genesis 12 onwards. But once you have told people to accept man’s dating methods, and thus should not take the first chapters of Genesis as they are written, you have effectively undermined the Bible’s authority! This attitude is destroying the western Church.

Whose authority do you accept?
So, the issue is not ‘young Earth’ versus ‘old Earth’, but rather: Can fallible, sinful man be in authority over the Word of God?

A “young-Earth” view admittedly receives the scoffing from a majority of the scientists. But Paul warned us in 1 Corinthians 8:2 (KJV), “And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.”

Compared to what God knows, we know “next door to nothing!” This is why we should be so careful to let God speak to us through His Word, and not try to impose our ideas on God’s Word.

It’s also interesting to note that this verse is found in the same passage where Paul warns that “knowledge puffeth up.” Academic pride is found throughout our culture. Therefore, many Christian leaders would rather believe the world’s fallible academics, than the simple clear words of the Bible. 