Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Does old-earth/old-universe creationism=Liberalism? Atheism?

Last night, I followed a few links . . . and links from links . . . from Tim Martin's paper, Homeschooling, the Genesis Debate, and Hypocrisy, and comments about the paper.

Tim, for example, included a link to a brief quotation from a sermon by Charles Haddon Spurgeon preached on June 17, 1855--four years before Darwin's On the Origin of Species saw the light of day. The title of Spurgeon's sermon: The Power of the Holy Ghost.

Tim preceded the quote from Spurgeon with this comment:
[O]rganizations like the Institute for Creation Research, Answers in Genesis, and Creation Ministries International, [promote the concept] that any belief in an old earth or universe is compromise with Bible-denying liberals and unbelieving atheistic Darwinists. For devoted young-earth advocates the situation is as simple as this: believe our interpretation of Genesis creation and Noah's flood, or side with the liberals and godless scientists. . . .

[But] the next time you witness this tactic, perhaps you can ask a very simple question. Was Charles Haddon Spurgeon a liberal evolutionist? Here is what he taught in one of his sermons:
. . . In the 2d verse of the first chapter of Genesis, we read, "And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." We know not how remote the period of the creation of this globe may be—certainly many millions of years before the time of Adam. Our planet has passed through various stages of existence, and different kinds of creatures have lived on its surface, all of which have been fashioned by God. But before that era came, wherein man should be its principal tenant and monarch, the Creator gave up the world to confusion.
I found it so hard to believe that Spurgeon would say such a thing (after all, I, myself, have been listening quite carefully to the declarations of the young-earth creationists, and they really do make the kinds of claims Tim ascribes to them: that anyone who disagrees with their perspective has been, at minimum, influenced by godless liberals (if not having become one outright))--that I decided I had to look up Spurgeon's original for myself. (You can find it at

What I found there astonished me even further, because it went beyond that which Tim quoted.


It sounds as if Spurgeon himself was preaching a view of providential creation very similar to what I have been hearing and writing about, here, that I have now heard from the Haarsmas, Glover, and, now, Miller and friends.

Immediately preceding the passage that Tim quotes, I found this:
[T]he Spirit has manifested the omnipotence of his power in creation works; for though not very frequently in Scripture, yet sometimes creation is ascribed to the Holy Ghost, as well as to the Father and the Son.

The creation of the heavens above us, is said to be the work of God's Spirit. This you will see at once by referring to the sacred Scriptures, Job 26, 13th verse, "By his Spirit he hath garnished the heavens; his hand hath formed the crooked serpent." All the stars of heaven are said to have been placed aloft by the Spirit, and one particular constellation called the "crooked serpent," is specially pointed out as his handiwork.

He looseth the bands of Orion; he bindeth the sweet influences of the Pleiades, and binds Arcturus with his suns.

He made all those stars that shine in heaven. The heavens were garnished by his hands, and he formed the crooked serpent by his might.

So, also, in those continued acts of creation which are still performed in the world; as the bringing forth of man and animals, their birth and generation. These are ascribed also to the Holy Ghost.

If you look at the 104th Psalm, at the 29th verse you will read, "Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled; thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. Thou sendest forth thy Spirit, they are created; and thou renewest the face of the earth." So that the creation of every man is the work of the Spirit; and the creation of all life, and all flesh-existence in this world, is as much to be ascribed to the power of the Spirit, as the first garnishing of the heavens, or the fashioning of the crooked serpent.
--I quote this latter passage because it seems to indicate that Spurgeon himself would have found little difficulty with the idea that God may have used "natural processes"--what I referred to, yesterday, as "proximate causes" (possibly, "even," "evolution"!)--to bring about His creation.

But back to the links I found from Tim's article.

"Virgil" commented:
When the folks at are disagreeing with Ken Ham, you know that he has gotten out of control and he is in fact falling out of favor with his followers. He has played the "heresy" card one time too many if you ask me. . . .
--And he provided a link to an article on, posted just yesterday, but referencing something Mr. Ham wrote some ten years ago: The god of an old earth: Does the Bible teach that disease, bloodshed, violence and pain have always been 'part of life'?

Writes the Free Republic author:
By declaring “the god of an old earth cannot be the God of the Bible” and “the god of an old earth destroys the Gospel,” he is accusing old-earth creationists of heresy.

Disagreements in the body of Christ are inevitable. And history has shown debate in the church can be edifying and unifying when it is conducted properly. This requires focusing on the things that unite us and avoid passing judgment on nonessential matters (Romans 14:1). But, that is not the spirit of Ham’s paper. By claiming old-earth creationism violates orthodox Christian teachings, he seeks to denigrate and marginalize it. That only serves to divide faithful Christians and prevent them from having fellowship together.
Ouch! --Kind of what I was referring to last night when I referenced Mark 9:40 and Luke 9:50 (where Jesus says, "he who is not against us is for us") v. Matthew 12:30 and Luke 11:23 (where Jesus says, "He who is not with Me is against Me"). While not denying the latter in any way, I noted that "my predilection is to seek, hope, and believe the best, and to pursue the former [a general sense of cooperation], rather than the latter [a general sense of opposition]."

What disturbs me most grievously in the ongoing creation/evolution wars is this: that most partisans seem to enjoy exactly what my friend Tracy warns against in her article on the finest practices Christians should adopt when they engage in sacred-cow tipping. Sadly, too many of us take joy in tipping others' cows. We don't put pillows down for other people's cows. We don't give them time and space to realize that their cows are down. [Please read her entire (short) article to place these comments in context!]

I hope my ongoing discussion of these issues, here, will not cause my young-earth brothers and sisters to feel that I am abandoning them or taking pleasure in attempting to tip their cows! That is not my intention at all.

Rather, I am attempting simply to share what is going through my mind pretty much as it is going through my mind . . . and hoping you'll accompany me on my journey . . . provide warnings and counter-balancing perspectives, if and as you see the need, and, perhaps, point out additional vistas that I might otherwise miss.


A postscript: I wrote to Tim, before I did my own search for Spurgeon's sermon, and commented, "He really said that in 1855--four years before Darwin's book came out?!?"

Tim replied: "The Spurgeon quote shocked me, too. A reader sent it in a few weeks ago. I thought it was funny because of the date. And, you probably haven't noticed, but AiG is releasing a 'modernized' version of Spurgeon's material. Jeff [Vaughn, Tim's co-author for Beyond Creation Science] investigated and found that they omitted that sermon!" Edited to Add, on 2/22/09 at 7:20 AM: I have now followed the link Jeff provided in his comment (Comment #2, below). At this moment, there is no evidence that AiG has omitted anything. If they are going to omit something, that should become obvious beginning on Thursday of this coming week--on February 26th--since that is the day on which, it appears, their Charles Spurgeon--Reloaded program should come to the particular sermon under question: Spurgeon's Sermon #30, The Power of the Holy Ghost.

If the charge is true, I go back to my original post that kind of sparked this entire discussion: Are you being treated like a child? Who controls what you get to hear? --Are we entering a new era of "Christian soviet thought-control" . . . in which one side attempts to control the debate by censoring what the majority of people can hear from those they view as opponents?
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