The recent debate between (Young Earth Creationist) Ken Ham and (Natural Evolutionist) Bill Nye (“the science guy”) has sparked much conversation, especially within the Christian community. There is diversity on the issue within Christendom as not everyone who believes the Scriptures to be the Word of God is a young earth creationist (YEC). Yet, there is an overwhelming tendency of YEC-ers to “bogart” the Bible. I have constantly been told things such as, “if it’s okay to throw out the first three chapters of Genesis because it doesn’t fit in our human understanding-we got a problem with the whole Bible.” or “If you throw out the first 3 chapters especially 1:1. If it alone is disposable, then the WHOLE of scripture is left to ones OWN interpretation.” The consistent thought is that since someone doesn’t interpret a portion of Scripture the same way they do, then that person is throwing it out. They assume that their interpretation of it is what God clearly said and all others just have a problem with God’s Word.
The truth of it all is that the YEC has no grounds on which to claim exclusivity of the creation account in Genesis. There are no irrefutable textual grounds, historical grounds, or scientific grounds. In other words: the original language doesn’t mandate one hold YEC nor does Scripture set itself up as attempting to give a precise lecture on how old the earth is or exactly how all things came into being, YEC was not mandated as orthodoxy by the church and there are some in early New Testament church history that admitted the language wasn’t specific enough to demand a belief in a 6 literal 24hr. day model, and the evidence of nature doesn’t lead one to conclude the position of YEC. Now, I am not taking away the right of one to hold the YEC view if they wish (the aim of this post isn’t to debate the validity of holding such a view). I am submitting that more charity needs to be displayed, as well as a desire to ensure we don’t misrepresent the other side. If they took time to understand the position of their Old Earth Creationist (OEC) brothers and sisters then perhaps they wouldn’t be making such charges of heresy against them. It shows a fundamental lack of understanding about what is and is not at stake when one thinks their view on an issue that is not central to the gospel is compromising the gospel. When we elevate issues to a greater importance than Scripture gives, then we actually degrade the truly important issues.
So here’s the rub. YEC-er’s, stop accusing me and the rest of your OEC siblings of throwing out portions of Scripture. Stop insinuating (sometimes outright accusing) us of denying that God created it all – because we don’t. Feel free to maintain your YEC view, but you shouldn’t feel the need to try to fight us over it (there is real error out there to fight). I was raised YEC, and regardless of how much I was told that believing in a literal 6/24 hr day creation was the foundation to the whole of Scripture and the gospel, it just isn’t so. Realize that there were others throughout church history that wrongly demonized scientific advances (and the men who discovered them) using what they thought was a “clear” teaching of Scripture (when they had merely elevated their own misunderstanding of the text); and the things they demonized are things you accept today as fact with no challenge to the veracity of Scripture. Realize that you too, could be in that mistaken camp. Realize that while there are some non-negotiables within Christianity, the “circle of orthodoxy” is much broader than you may be comfortable with; however we need not restrict Christianity anymore than the Scriptures do (for example, Paul doesn’t hang the veracity of Christianity on holding a YEC view, he hangs it on the historical event of the physical resurrection of Jesus the Messiah). Realize that proponents of the OEC view do not deny The Creator God, the inspiration of Scripture, or the veracity of Scripture.
Perhaps, as you realize this, you will stop bogarting the Bible.