The teaching of young earth creationism (YEC) to Christian kids in homeschooled environments causes many of them to doubt or lose their faith, especially if YEC is taught as being foundational to our faith. The blog posited that YEC was taught as a primary ‘salvation’ issue – that Heaven or Hell depends on it.
That was the major theme of a ‘Christian’ blog post I found recently. I actually joined the discussion. I learned some amazing things!
Part of the initial post discussed a research project in 1997 that was conducted by a half dozen PhDs of various sorts to study the age of the earth. It seems they were proponents of YEC and resourced other YEC proponents in their study. Because they didn’t use resources ‘outside’ the YEC camp, their work was just a lot of circular reasoning. That caused a young lady to begin to doubt her faith and she has never recovered.
There were other accounts in the comments section saying the same thing; that the teaching of YEC cause some to doubt/lose their faith, nearly all because of having been taught in a homeschooled environment that believing in YEC was a salvation/gospel issue, as if one could lose his/her faith if they didn’t believe in YEC. .
While I can understand why exposure to ‘Evolution as fact’ in school/college venues might cause some doubt (and it does), I couldn’t understand why exposure to YEC would cause anyone to doubt their faith. At the same time, I assumed that the subject of young people doubting/losing their faith might be an important one to address in response.
Therefore, I initially responded that I didn’t think that genuine faith would never tossed out the window, that one having doubts would not completely abandon their faith; because it was a gift from God and whom God saves He keeps by his power. That was considered off topic and one of those nasty Calvinism things.
I decided to bring it down a level and suggest that there might be an issue of not being solidly grounded in the faith once professed for these young people who doubt/abandon their faith. That lack of grounding. might come from a lack of individual Bible reading/study, or having sat under good Bible teaching. Well, That idea completely flabbergasted the site host, who thought the things I was suggesting as causes for doubting one’s faith were ‘works-based’ It took awhile to process that one! How else do we become stronger in our faith without being immersed in sound Biblically teaching?
After a couple more back-and-forth exchanges I think I finally got it – the prevailing ‘theology’ of the majority of this particular group of bloggers. They seem to be into the ‘just me and Jesus – don’t really need anything else’ demographic that is rather large these days. We just need our ‘personal relationship’ with Jesus and we can dispense with old dead guys/creeds/ and the foundational truths that we’ve been told are significant for our spiritual growth and maturity. Focusing on our ‘relationship’ is not works based like studying the Bible and therefore it’s the ‘relationship’ that’s ‘ real faith.
I never did get to the point of suggesting that I don’t know of any advocates of young earth creationism that would tell anyone that their very salvation depended on believing in a young earth, including the founders of Answers In Genesis and the Institute for Creation Research. What I did suggest, to no avail, was that the bigger issue at stake is the inerrancy and authority of scripture, and that the young v. old earth debate really points to that bigger issue. I did that while presenting the main issues that were addressed during the rise of the fundamentalist movement in America in the early 20th century, which had already been soundly bashed (fundamentalisms). That didn’t go well, maybe because believing in a young earth as essential for salvation wasn’t on the list.
So here I sit on a Sunday morning, still wondering just how far the ‘me and Jesus’ mantra has spread and just how badly young believers today have been deceived by other ‘Christians’ and are victims of very real ‘spiritual abuse’. How does any believer end up in the ‘me and Jesus is all we need’ camp? Maybe I’m just getting old, but for a lot of years now, my ‘relationship’ with my Savior has deepened through being immersed in His written word, and just believing it’s true going in. There are other things that have also helped deepen the relationship – studying church history and the creeds and thoughts of dead guys (and some living), but those are only secondary to being personally immersed in the written word.
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” – 2 Tim 3:16-17
If I don’t believe in the inspiration, inerrancy and authority of scripture, I might as well toss my faith out the door. Wasn’t the first lie that the serpent told Eve “Did God really say……?”
So much for Sunday morning thoughts. This was more for my own clarity than trying to actually teach anyone anything. I had to wade through over a hundred comments that were all over the map, but mostly bashing fundamentalism, homeschooling, John Calvin and anyone who says that that when and how God created our planet impacts our ‘salvation theology’ (although they wouldn’t use the word ‘theology’ – too many syllables and who needs it?)
Thanks for being patient in reading my ramblings. If you have any thoughts, please share. If you are reading and from the above referenced blog site, feel free to share, but not if you are just importing your ‘bashing’. Intelligent, thoughtful discussion is always welcome here.
You are right again my brother. Many of these discussions really boil down to the matter of the inerrancy of Scripture. I quoted one guy the other day who boldly stated that Paul just got it wrong. I am not sure who appointed him the arbiter of truth but he seemed quite confident in claiming authority for himself. What we must understand is that if Paul got it wrong anywhere, he cannot be trusted anywhere. Additionally, since others like Peter accepted his writings as “Scripture, ” we could not trust Peter either. John stated that all teaching is to be compared to the teaching of the Apostles. I guess we can’t trust him either. Pretty soon, we are back to the Old Covenant.
Then there is the issue of biblical ignorance. We must study if we are to understand our inerrant Bible. We now have at least one generation that has little, if any, real understanding of Scripture. This is why we have to be diligent to pound away on the “faith once for all delivered to the saints.”
I didn’t mention that I suggested that there was a ‘literacy’ problem at that particular blog. That however was labeled as ‘condescending’, and saying something that might make the ‘abused by YEC’ feel bad not allowed. I think both ‘feelings’ and the sacrosanct ‘relationship’ have reached idolatry level.
Thanks for your response! I needed that. It was a bit difficult and it took a bit of time to get to what might be a central issue, having to wade through the hundred or so comments/uninformed drivel.
The teaching of young earth creationism (YEC) to Christian kids in homeschooled environments causes many of them to doubt or lose their faith, especially if YEC is taught as being foundational to our faith.
Heh. Let’s change a few words.
The teaching of Salvation By Grace Through Faith (SBGTF) to Christian kids in homeschooled environments causes many of them to doubt or lose their faith, especially if SBGTF is taught as being foundational to our faith.
What is concerning to me is this theme that I see over and over, from blogs even to Christianity Today (which I rarely read). The logic goes that if a person leaves the faith (which, as 1 John reckons, is evidence that such a person was never converted) and gives YEC (or whatever) as a reason, YEC (or whatever) is destructive.
The problem here is that these people are letting unbelievers -who were never converted in the first place- determine Christian doctrine. At the very least, they are allowing unbelievers’ unbelief to cloud their view of Christian doctrine. I do not find it surprising that an unbeliever stops professing Christ and does not believe His Word. That’s why he is an unbeliever.
No one is truly converted and then “leaves the faith.” Such is indicative of an unbeliever’s attitude. The question to be asked to such a person is, “at what point did you make yourself judge over Scripture?” A look at this question reveals that the “ex-Christian” never surrendered his autonomy.
To say that genuine saving faith (a gift from God) would ever be completely abandoned is to deny a LOT of scripture that tells us otherwise. You would have to read the Bible with blinders on, in my opinion. It was merely reading the Bible that caused me to change my views – getting ‘grounded’ in my faith via the written word. I didn’t need any other form of persuasion – just the Bible. One fellow who frequents the BB (Bashers Blog) referenced repeated in that post what he had said earlier – that there is no such thing as ‘saving faith’. That’s just something John Calvin made up.
Wow, Dan. We think so much alike. I agree with everything in this post. This is an excellent and well-written piece. I will have to re-blog this also though I think it may be difficult for some to finish as we live in a news-bite society. I enjoyed the entire post. It reminds me of the days when I used to dialog with the “high” Christians over at I-Monk. I learned a lot there but found that people were using sophisticated terms that meant simple things. There is nothing wrong with calling a trash collector and professional sanitationist. When they call him a public health specialist things get a bit messy.