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The Rise of Gnosticism through Evolutionary Creationism


“The idea that the current scientific consensus on any topic deserves slavish deference betrays stunning ignorance of the history of science. Time and again, scientists have shown themselves just as capable of being blinded by fanaticism, prejudice, and error as anyone else. Perhaps the most egregious example in American history was the eugenics movement, the ill-considered crusade to breed better human beings. During the first decades of the 20th century, the nation’s leading biologists at Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, and Stanford, as well by members of America’s leading scientific organizations such as the National Academy of Sciences, the American Museum of Natural History, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science were all devoted eugenicists. By the time the crusade had run its course, some 60,000 Americans had been sterilized against their will in an effort to keep us from sinning against Darwin’s law of natural selection, which Princeton biologist Edwin Conklin dubbed “the great law of evolution and progress.” Today, science is typically portrayed as self-correcting, but it took decades for most evolutionary biologists to disassociate themselves from the junk science of eugenics. For years, the most consistent critics of eugenics were traditionalist Roman Catholics, who were denounced by scientists for letting their religion stand in the way of scientific progress. The implication was that religious people had no right to speak out on public issues involving science.”

 

-John G West

 

Several months ago I wrote my first blog post on the rise of Gnosticism in the North American Church here:

 

 

I have spent a fair bit of time recently studying the blending of Darwinism with Christianity. In recent years notable and trusted theologians have promoted or given platform to the teaching that there was never a literal Adam and Eve and creation overall is the result of random mutations as described by Darwin.

 

Those who espouse this belief would say that the evidence is undeniable and that the Church should lay aside the belief that God intentionally created the Earth and all we see through direct intentional means. Many influential figures, such as Denis Lamoureux and Francis Collins believe God was largely hands off throughout the creation process. Some claim that the creation was “front loaded” to create the universe and all it contains. Others claim that there was no directed process. William Lane Craig, one of the most respected Theologians of the modern Church says this in an interview with Melissa Cain Travis:

 

“Similarly, the primordial history of Genesis 1–11 includes elements which, if taken literally, would be so extraordinary as to be clearly false. Take, for example, magical trees with fruit that, if eaten, would impart the knowledge of good and evil or immortality, or the presence of a talking snake that tempts the man and woman to sin. Now, these are different from supernatural or miraculous elements, which concern events Godbrings about directly. Given the existence of a transcendent creator and designer who established the universe and its laws, it’s perfectly plausible that such a person could work in ways unexplainable by natural causes.”

 

Having read a fair number of articles and currently reading Denis Lamoureux’s book “Evolution and Scripture Say Yes” I see consistency in how these teachers approach the scriptures. When current science or Darwinistic theory challenges scripture… it is scripture that gets a makeover. As well it appears that the promoters of this mix of Theism with Darwinian Evolutionary theory believe we are more enlightened than the early Church.

 

Is this true? Are we enlightened more than the apostles were? What were their beliefs on Gods hand in creation? What was the prevailing cultural belief on Creation? How did that differ from the Church?

 

There were a number of religious and cultural beliefs in Rome during the first century. One belief in particular was epicurean materialism, which believed that the universe was just material things doing things without any intervention from a God or Gods. Already some of you are seeing a correlation between the claims of modern Darwinian theory and this belief.

 

The early Church fathers spent a fair bit of time and energy combating a mix of this epicurean materialism with Christianity which was called Gnosticism. Most Gnostics shared two key theories about God and the natural world:

 

  1. They denied that nature was created good. In their view matter was evil and the material world was flawed from the start.

  2. Because the world was evil they believed that God never created it. Instead they believed that the world was created by a third party called the Demiurge. This belief was meant to deny God of any part of the creation process.

 

Irenaeus was a first century Church leader who was taught by Polycarp, who was taught by John the apostle. He writes that the gospel of John was at least partly written to combat the teachings of the Gnostics. John G West writes this in the book “God and Evolution”:

 

"the Gospel of John was written in part to counter these teachings of the Gnostics, especially of an early Gnostic known as Cerinthus: “Cerinthus ... taught that the world was not made by the primary God, but by a certain Power far separated from him, and at a distance from that Principality who is supreme over the universe, and ignorant of him who is above all.” It was to counter this claim that John 1: 3 insists that “all things were made through” Christ who was God himself—not through a secondary entity like the Demiurge. Those today who intimate that Christians can dispense with the doctrine of God as Creator so long as they affirm Christ, run into a problem with John 1: 3. The Apostle John couldn’t be any clearer: If one denies that God was the direct agent of creation, one is also denying Christ. The same teaching is articulated by the Apostle Paul in Colossians (Col. 1: 16) and by the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews (Heb. 1: 2).”

 

Today many Bible Colleges teach that God did not create man specifically but that our entire universe and all life evolved as part of a natural process… undirected and natural. Much like those first century Christians who embraced the demiurge, todays theistic evolutionists disassociate God from the creative process and assign that creativity to Darwinian evolution.

 

Juxtapose that thinking with Romans 1 where Paul says this:

 

“since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made”

 

Then of course there is Jesus words in Matthew 5 where he speaks of God caring for the lilies in the field and the birds in the air. Psalm 19 speaks out “the heavens declare the glory of God”.

 

Another similarity between early gnostics and modern theistic evolutionists is the belief that there was never a perfect and sinless creation. Adam and Eve did not exist  and as such they did not sin. The world was always sinful (see how that compares to the Gnostic belief that all material is sinful). If there was no original sin, no original perfect world… if there was no Adam and Eve, no fall from grace… why do we need saving?

 

Lastly there is one more similarity… like the Christians who embraced the Gnostic beliefs, many of todays theistic evolutionists take the Bible as a secondary text. In the first century it was the demiurge and today it is Darwinism. If scripture and science are in conflict, the assumption is that it is scripture that must be reinterpreted.

 

What we believe matters. It is not just a “different interpretation” as many theistic evolutionists claim. It is a different definition of entire words and phrases. It is a forest clear cutting that is required to make Darwin’s theories fit into the scriptural texts. We are not just speaking of old earth versus young earth here. I don’t have an issue with leaders who believe in an older earth and question whether the days in creation are figurative… even though we do see a few other parts of scripture that we need to deal with theologically when we do that. What I have an issue with is when a teacher “redefines” scriptures that affect large swaths of old and New Testament passages. I have real issue when Christians make claims that mean theological changes to thousands of years of Christian doctrine to uphold a modern philosophical cultural view.

 

Many Theistic Evolutionists make these claims:

 

  • Adam and Eve were not real people

  • Adam and Eve we not specifically formed by God in His image

  • There was no creation that was created good.

  • There was no fall - no original sin

  • The Flood did not happen

  • God did not direct creation and has no hand in maintaining it now

 

I can’t even list all the scriptures here that need redefining when we take any of these beliefs above into our philosophical world view.

 

When we hear a prominent Bible teacher diminish and redefine large swaths of Biblical text for the purpose of “fitting” into their philosophical world view… we should reject that teaching or at least diminish the platform that teacher has in our lives and if you are a pastor the lives of your congregants. I’m not talking about whether we can debate or discuss teachings that oppose scripture here. We should discuss those teachings and research truth claims together. What I am referring to is giving such leaders “the keys” to the Church… that is dangerous!

 

If your Pastor is teaching these so called indisputable “truths”… run don’t walk away from that Church. They have lost their foundation of truth. I’m done with this obsession of redefining truth to meet philosophical ideals… I hope there is a revival of truth seekers who begin to stand fast on evidential faith founded firstly on scripture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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