Salesmen. We are truly surrounded by them—especially this time of year. They pitch their products on billboards, catalogs, infomercials, and through every form of available media. Their only objective is to push the product and make a sale. Men and women spend years in school to learn exactly what phrases to use, and what displays will work best to the market their merchandise. Good salesmen can take a lackluster product that performs well below any guarantee and convince individuals that they “need” one. Most people have experienced that queasy feeling of being sold a product by a slick salesman, only to later realize that the product did not live up to expectations. And so our closets and garages are filled to capacity with things that were sold by successful pitchmen.
While these products may make a dent into checking accounts or take up excessive storage space, they are, for the most part harmless. But consider products that individuals sell that possess a price much higher than any checking account balance. Have the “garages and closets” of our spiritual lives also become cluttered with material that is unneeded or unwanted—or worse, harmful? Not all of the products that Christians buy into are healthy. Sadly, many individuals are more selective of items that are worn outside the body, than spiritual information that they take inside the body. As a result, many individuals unknowingly compromise their relationship with Christ and their Almighty Creator. The salesmen often come with outstanding credentials, long resumes, and may be standing in your pulpit. However, the product that these men leave you with will not only erode away the foundation of your faith, it will eventually jeopardize your soul.
The product for sale is evolution. While most Christians would never openly consider accepting evolutionists’ teachings, the “product” offers a compromise that allows Christians to believe in God and an ancient Earth. In the face of what many believe is “overwhelming” scientific evidence, and not wanting to offend either “religious fanatics” or evolutionists (in the name of “political correctness”), many Christians feel intellectually intimidated, and therefore buy into concepts and theories which try to “marry” the two. There are many ways Christians have tried to incorporate millions of years (i.e. Day-Age Theory, Gap Theory). By compromising and fusing scientific allegations with the Scriptures, Christians believe they will find a safe “middle ground.” However, the ground on which they are standing is not only treacherous, but also soul threatening!
Christians who are willing to accept an Earth that is billions of years old see nothing wrong with children’s books on dinosaurs that discuss their extinction taking place millions of years ago. Neither do these individuals blink an eye when they read about the millions of years represented by the so-called geologic timetable. However, the damage caused by allowing this mindset of “millions of years for Creation” into their homes is nowhere near as catastrophic as the deathblow their views deliver to the rest of the Bible. By treating the Genesis account of Creation like a myth, every reference to that account must then be called into question. I invite you to read the fine print on these “products” in view of the Scriptures, in hopes that no one else will buy these tainted products.
In trying to pinpoint the core principles of Christianity in his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis took a great effort in presenting “an agreed, or common, or central,” view of “mere” Christianity (1996, p. 8). These common points were the minimum requirements that Lewis felt one must hold to be considered a Christian. In 1998, William Dembski published a book titled Mere Creation in which he tried to establish what issues “minimally must be included under a doctrine of creation” (p. 13). Instead of accepting the Bible as the literal word of God and evaluating the scientific evidence, however, Dembski suggests: “Rather than look for common ground on which all Christians can agree, propose a theory of creation that puts Christians in the strongest possible position to defeat the common enemy of creation, to wit, naturalism” (pp. 13,14). Thus, compromises are made in an effort to build a “strong” theory, and the accuracy of the Bible is forgotten. Progressive creation is a theory that wholly embraces many such compromises in an effort to strengthen itself in the eyes of men.
Progress is from the Latin progredi (pro-forward + gradi-to step) meaning to go forward, proceed, or advance (Traupman, 1981, p. 246). As the name contends, progressive creation affirms a creation by a supernatural intervention by God in natural history—it is a hybrid of the Day-Age Theory and Theistic Evolution. As such, this theory contends that God may have worked also through existing material and natural processes to come to the end result we see today. Progressive Creationists also believe that creation is progressive—that is, it proceeded forward in a step-like manner. The last defining characteristic of Progressive Creation is that it happened over unlimited time. Thus, believers speculate that creation could have occurred over six-literal solar days, or over billions of years. This lack of definition of time allows Progressive Creationists to embrace both the biblical account and scientific evidence, which alleges that the Earth is much older than 10,000 years.
While Gap Theorists insert millions of years between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2, progressive creationists take another approach. Millions of years are inserted by changing the meaning of “day” in the creation account from a single 24-hour rotation of the Earth, to a long, indefinite period of time and then having God step in and progress creation at various intervals. Historically speaking, the term “progressive creation” was first used by the Presbyterian theologian, Charles Hodge (1797-1878), a contemporary of Darwin. In his book Systematic Theology Hodge wrote: “There is, therefore, according to the Scriptures, not only an immediate, instantaneous creation ex nihilo by the simple word of God, but a mediate progressive creation; the power of God working in union with the second causes” (1892, Vol. 1, p. 557). While Hodge may not have advocated a position of “progressive creation,” he certainly breathed life into this new concept.
While there is little agreement among Progressive Creationists, they generally hold to the following beliefs:
- The “Big Bang” theory is interpreted as God’s way of producing stars and galaxies through billions-of-years of natural processes
- They believe that the Earth and Universe are billions of years old.
- They contend that the days of Creation were overlapping periods of millions or billions of years.
- They hold that bloodshed and death have existed from the very beginning of creation, and as such, were not the result of Adam’s sin. They believe man was created after the vast majority of Earth’s history of life and death had already taken place.
- They believe that the flood of Noah was local, not global, and therefore it had little effect on the Earth’s geology.
Experience has shown that those who accept, and defend, progressive creationism often come to believe more in evolution and less in creation as time passes. This does not seem to be the exception, but rather the rule. As Davidheiser has concluded:
“Threshold Evolution” leads to much real evolutionary belief. How much evolution do these people accept? One of the men says of his belief in progressive creationism that he encounters a primary difficulty—he must exercise faith to believe in a certain amount of creation! Others admit that their view requires considerably more evolutionary belief than they would have been willing to accept a few years previously. In other words, it leads to evolutionary beliefs and away from creation. It establishes another compromise which is injurious to the Christian faith… (1973, 3:52-53).
Is progressive creationism theistic evolution? Both call on God to start creation. Both accept evolution (in varying amounts). Both accept the validity of the geologic age system. Both postulate an old Earth. Where is the difference, except that progressive creationism allows God “a little more to do”? Both systems put God (theos) and evolution together. By any other standard that is theistic evolution. Friends, this compromise in beliefs may be appealing to the ears, but it is damning to the soul.
Salesmen abound. And while they may quickly point out that the only difference in their product and the Genesis account of creation is time, this is not a trivial point. By inserting millions of years into the creation account (whether it be before, during, or after the 6 days of creation), these conmen are discrediting the Word of God and calling the inspiration of the Bible into question. Pitchmen will come and go, but the products they leave behind can have lasting effects. Make sure you are familiar with the fine print before you bring anything these men are selling into your home.
Davidheiser, Bolton (1973), “Theistic Evolution,” And God Created, ed. Kelly L. Seagraves (Sand Diego, CA: Creation-Science Research Center), 3:49-53.
Dembski, William A. ed (1998), Mere Creation: Science, Faith, and Intelligent Design (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity).
Hodge, Charles (1892), Systematic Theology (London: James and Clark & Co.), three volumes, 1960 reprint.
Lewis, C.S. (1996), Mere Christianity (New York: Simon and Schuster).
Traupman, John C. (1981), The New College Latin and English Dictionary (New York: Bantam).