As old-earth creationists, what should our relationship be with the young-earth creationist? Can we get along together, in the same churches, without arguing?
As you can imagine, a lot of the email that Answers In Creation receives is from the young-earth person who takes issue with our position. They range from sincere to hostile; some “agreeing to disagree,” others flat out demanding that we delete the website. What should be the old-earth response to these demands?
Despite such negative reactions from young earth creationists, it is not only possible…it is imperative that we get along. We should be able to sit right beside each other in church and worship God together. We should “agree to disagree,” and have healthy discussions about our Creator.
The First Step
Our starting point for both old and young earth believers should always be one of humility and charity. The first step should always be prayer. Not only do I pray for the continued success of young-earth ministries, but I urge all my fellow old-earth believers to do the same. I don’t pray that people convert from young-earth belief to old-earth belief…that is not the purpose of Answers In Creation. Why? Because of my next section below (Fundamental Doctrines).
What do I pray for? When I pray, I pray that non-Christians would get the message that the young-earth ministries cannot preach… that it’s OK to be a Christian and believe in an old earth, with or without evolution… with or without a “Gap” between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. Fortunately these prayers are answered. In February 2006, over 12,000 people visited AIC. Over 500 of these visitors read the page describing old earth belief, claiming it is possible to be a Christian and believe in an old earth. Over 280 people read our Salvation page. The message is getting out there to the people that have been alienated by the “young-earth only” message that many churches proclaim.
Second, as long as the fundamentals of the faith are not changed, we should be at liberty to disagree, but with an air of civility.
Answers in Creation has taken this a step further, not only claiming that it is OK to believe in an old earth, but also claiming that it is OK to believe in a young earth. Why? Because when it comes to the fundamental doctrines (see footnote), especially salvation, there is no impact. We have taken this position because in the long run, we all get to heaven, so it doesn’t matter if you believe in young or old. There is no point in trying to convert a young-earth believer to old-earth belief (of course, there’s nothing wrong in having “healthy discussions” with people of the opposing viewpoint). Our main message is that of salvation in Jesus Christ, not salvation in the creation.
Why Answers In Creation?
If that’s the case, then you may ask why Answers In Creation even exists. It exists to provide outreach to the many people who are convinced that the earth is old. For years, they have been told by young-earth creationists that they are wrong, and thus have been alienated from the church. In providing this website, we are saying to them, “You are right, the earth is old…here’s the answers to the claims of young-earth creationists, which directly attack your old-earth belief.”
We cater to all old-earth beliefs, from progressive creationism, to the gap theory, to theistic evolution. An attack upon the validity of the Big Bang theory by young-earth ministries, is an attack upon progressive creationists. An attack upon the validity of evolution by young-earth ministries, is an attack upon old-earth theistic evolutionists. The young-earth claim that dinosaurs only lived 6,000 years ago, is an attack upon all old-earth creationists. All these attacks against the old-earth position need to be met head-on. Although Answers in Creation is mainly a progressive creationist website, we uphold the old-earth believer’s right to believe in any theory they choose.
We do not seek to destroy young-earth belief, but rather to provide a fair and balanced look at the issues. In doing so, many have claimed that this “mud-slinging” is unnecessary and divides the body of Christ. This depends on your attitude. As a creationist, it is your choice how you respond to opposing viewpoints. If you correctly recognize that both forms of creationist belief are acceptable, and the Bible can correctly be interpreted to support either viewpoint, then this is not mud-slinging, but healthy discussion. On the other hand, if a person is close-minded, and refuses to recognize old-earth belief as a viable alternative to young-earth belief, then they would view this as mud-slinging. It’s your choice, based on your attitude.
As an old-earth creationist, I prefer to view the negative articles on young-earth ministries, such as Answers In Genesis, the Institute for Creation Research, and Creation Science Evangelism, as “healthy discussion”, rather than mud-slinging. I could easily call their articles mud-slinging, but choose not to. It’s all about attitude, and how you choose to view it. Make it positive…whether you are old or young earth.
We at Answers In Creation say it’s OK to be a fully-energized Christian, no matter whether you believe in an old or young earth. In the same spirit of openness that Answers In Creation embodies, I encourage the young-earth ministries to make similar statements, saying that old-earth belief is acceptable for Christians, and to stop condemning old earth creationists as compromisers.
Footnote: Unfortunately, many fundamentalist churches have added “creation” as a doctrine. Historically speaking, when you examine doctrines before the 20th century, creation was not considered a doctrine. In fact, most church denominations today do not have creation as a doctrine (for more, see the Denomination list at http://www.answersincreation.org/denomination.htm). For some reason, the leaders of the young-earth movement have “created” the additional Doctrine of Creation for their followers. Just like God’s creation, which was “Exhilo” or “out of nothing,” they have created this doctrine out of nothing.