J R R Tolkien wrote in the preface of a later edition of Lord of The Rings discussing criticism of the book, that some of his critics dismissed the book as being 'tedious and absurd'. He said he had no quarrel with them over that as he thought exactly the same about the books they wrote and enjoyed. So I must admit that there is mutual disagreement, to put it no stronger, between professed Christians who do and who do not accept molecules to man evolution. Of course we ought to disagree charitably if we must disagree at all, but as Paul wrote to the Corinthians, if some were in error (and some were) then division was inevitable as long as anyone refused to join the error. Better division with some right than unity with all wrong.
But where it gets nasty is where professed Christians either side of this divide accuse each other of discouraging people from accepting Christ by our stand. In particular, the accusation that biblical creationism turns people away from Christ WHO WOULD OTHERWISE FOLLOW HIM is being brought more and more often. We are accused of making creation to be 'A Salvation Issue'.
OK, so here is what I teach.
The first is John Stott who I heard preach once that I can remember and read a few of his books, and for whom I have the highest regard as a humble and effective servant of Jesus. The other is too well known for me to need to describe.
John Stott was a theistic evolutionist. Osama Bin Laden was a young earth creationist. Both men followed the teaching of their holy books as each saw fit and left a legacy.
I expect to meet one of these men in heaven, but not the other. Guess which, and on what grounds. And there is my answer to the question I pose in the title bar.
Do I make myself sufficiently clear?
Evolution is not a 'Salvation Issue' and I don't know any creationist who says it is. OK there are probably a few somewhere, maybe Westboro Baptist church, but not in mainstream creationism.
HOWEVER........many millions of people have rejected God and His Christ because evolution was powerfully instrumental in persuading them that there is no God or that if there is he is so laid back it doesn't matter. For them, evolution arguably will be a salvation issue.
I keep hearing about theoretical individuals who would allegedly have become Christians but were put off by creationism. Oh really? Which church did they hear the Gospel in? None that I have ever attended for sure. A majority of professing Christians in Britain do not accept the biblical creation story. Couldn't this theoretical person, if sincere about Jesus, have gone to one of the very many churches that don't teach creation? I think this is a very weak straw man argument. In any event, Jesus did not soften His message even when people walked away because of it, think of the story of the rich young ruler or the narrative in John's Gospel chapter 6 where many of His disciples left as they found His message too uncompromising and difficult. Jesus did not back down or beg them to stay.
Incidentally, the people who want to persuade the churches that we should accept practicing homosexuals as Christians in good standing, even leaders, use the same argument. See the recent Bishop's report on human sexuality which declares 'the church's attitude to homosexuals is seen as deeply off putting to many outside and is therefore an impediment to mission.' To which I say 'What mission?' The mission of calling sinners to repentance? Or the mission of downgrading Scripture so profoundly that there is no distinction between believers and unbelievers, developing a common 'spirituality' which is all about 'inclusion' and denies the cross of Christ.
Its no surprise that the Muslims are making so many converts in England. People are getting fed up with materialism and are looking for a faith that believes its holy book is true. They can look in vain to the Church of England, much as it pains me to say it.
Anyway, if any Christians for Darwin have actual examples of people who genuinely left Christianity because of the teaching of creation (and I don't mean someone who was never committed anyway who left citing creationism as an excuse) then post them here. I don't always respond to posts but I don't moderate or delete them either.
- (*) incidentally, David Anderson whose blog 'More than words' I have just added to the blogroll has written a thorough response to Alexander on his site.