I do have an advocate before the Father

I was visiting with a young-Earth creationist (a dear brother in Christ whom I did not know) during a break at the Nathaniel Jeanson presentation earlier this month. In the course of the conversation, I mentioned that there are a good number of prominent, conservative Evangelical scholars and pastors who advocate acceptance of an old Earth, and who view this as perfectly compatible with Genesis. I don’t remember exactly who I listed, but probably men like J.I. Packer, Charles Spurgeon, Francis Schaeffer, and John Piper. These Bible teachers—all of whom hold to the inerrancy of the Scriptures—did not come to an old-Earth interpretation because they were compromisers or friends of the world, but because they looked closely at what the Word actually says and doesn’t say on the topic, and came to the conclusion that a 6000-year old Earth is simply not required.

This brother in Christ told me that I will not have any of these men standing next to me when I stand before God in the judgement; that I would have to give an account to God for my false teaching on the age of the Earth. My response was that if I am wrong on this topic, I have someone even better that Packer, Spurgeon, Schaeffer, or Piper who will stand next to me before the Father, and that is Jesus Christ.

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:1-2 NIV84)

I have no doubt that I don’t have all of my doctrines correct. I feel rather strongly about some doctrines—the Trinity, substitutionary atonement, the solas of the Reformation—but probably misunderstand some of the nuances of these core teachings of Christianity. There are a number of secondary doctrinal issues that I could be wrong on as well, such as in the areas of eschatology, ecclesiology, and pneumatology. But, praise be to God, Jesus died for my sin of false doctrine as well as for my sins of lust, greed, selfishness, indifference, and so forth. If not, I’m sunk. And so, most likely, are you.

Does this mean I think it doesn’t matter whether I get my doctrine correct? Not at all.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. (2 Tim 2:15 ESV)

Could I be wrong about what the Bible says about the age of the Earth? I really do believe the Bible is ambiguous on the topic, but I acknowledge that I could be mistaken.

Could young-Earth creationists be wrong about what the Bible says about the age of the Earth? I think they are guilty of hyper-literalism (e.g. thinking Genesis 3 is a story of how snakes lost their legs rather than being a story about Satan grovelling in the dust). I think they are guilty of reading things into the text that are not there, such as there being no animal death before Adam’s sin, or that Noah’s flood was global and created most of the geological record. Those things are not in the Bible. So the answer is “yes,” they certainly could be mistaken.

If I am wrong about the age of the Earth, some would say I will lose a reward in eternity. This is one of those doctrinal areas that I don’t understand; there are plenty of passages that seem to teach rewards for the good works of believers, but can we really claim any credit for our good works when whatever good we do is by the grace of God just as much our justification? In either case—rewards or equality—I will watch my life and doctrine closely as best as I can. I won’t get either of these perfect, but I will press ahead.

But the main point is that I will be with God forever—in a state of eternal joy—because of the finished and complete work of Christ.

Of course some YECs would say I won’t be in heaven at all, but those YECs have a much bigger problem with their understanding of the Gospel than whatever they think my age of the Earth problem is.

Grace and Peace

10 thoughts on “I do have an advocate before the Father

  1. Matt

    Very well written. I am a Young-Earther that reads your blog sometimes and I have to commend you for your response to that YEC’er. Theological Triage means that the age of the earth is not a primary doctrine and not essential for a correct understanding of the Gospel. Unfortunately, there will even be some YECs that do not enter the gates, passionate about the age of the Earth, but not understanding the Gospel for whatever the reason. If that man truly believes you will not be in heaven for your view of the age of the Earth, I worry for his soul because his view of the Gospel is inept. Possibly his view has taught him that it is impossible for you to believe the Bible is inerrant for your Old Earth view and that inerrancy means you don’t believe the Gospel. Once again, if that is what he believes, then his theological triage is not correct. Even errantists who believe on the Gospel will be saved. Anyways, back to my paper…quit distracting me with late night emails of blog updates! Grace and Peace.


  2. Christopher

    Getting our doctrines right is indeed a matter of salvation, and this is something false teachers do not lead us to (including men such as Spurgeon and Piper). I used to follow their like as well, the following pages lead me to re-evalute my stance: http://www.atruechurch.info


  3. Well said. I just answered a question from an online Bible study (on Judges) which asked how good I am at discerning truth and being able to tell it apart from error. Your post expresses my answer better than I could.

    I thank God that we are neither saved by works nor by right doctrine. If you study the evangelistic speeches in Acts, you will be surprised at how little “right doctrine” is required for salvation. The inerrant, revealed message from God is scripture, not subsequent human Christian writings. Therefore, there are errors in all Christian teaching. That is why we are called to be good Bereans and test what our teachers are telling us. That does not make these teachers “false teachers” whom the Bible characterizes by selfish, deceptive, and greedy intent.


  4. geochristian

    Christopher (#3) — I took a glance at atruechurch.info and am convinced it is the opposite of what you claim. It, too, contains much false teaching.

    We are not saved by having all our doctrine correct. It is not “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes all the right doctrines of atruechurch.info shall not perish but have eternal life.” Eternal life is found in Christ and in him alone. This is truly good news! What you are promoting is not good news, as one would always be concerned that they might not measure up in some tiny detail of doctrine. It is not good news, but bad news, promoted by this Darwin Fish man.

    As Carol pointed out in comment #5, the Gospel presentations in the book of Acts were usually quite brief. Even if there was more to it than what is written down in the pages of Scripture, the Gospel was something that could be presented briefly, without having to indoctrinate the hearers in the meaning of the four horses of Zechariah or whether or not Leviathan was a fire-breathing dragon or something different (these are both examples of “true doctrine” from the atruechurch site. Those things are not gospel issues. One could be wrong about their interpretations of these things and still be 100% a child of God through faith in Christ.


  5. S.J.

    Kevin, thank you for this beautiful post. I read your comments on Dr. Wile’s blog, and while I disagree with you on matters geological, I wholeheartedly agree with you on the necessity of ultimately trusting in Our Lord and not in our understanding.

    I myself try to make sure that my children understand all sides of the origins debate, so I have exposed them to many different sources on the subject, not just creationist ones. I also remind them that since we won’t know the full truth on this matter until we die, the most important thing is to treat all participants in this dialogue with respect and courtesy.


  6. WebMonk

    I’ve always seen a large variety in the importance of “secondary” issues to people. Aside from the bizarre (and, IMO, highly legalistic) view the guy seems to have of ‘heavenly gifts’, it seems like YEC-ism is a just-barely-not-salvation sort of issue for him.

    Some people treat it like a salvation issue. Thankfully, this is a pretty small group. Ken Ham has had to tone down a lot of his public statements in the past few years, but until recently he has been firmly in this group. I think he’s still in it, but is softening his rhetoric for public relations reasons. (but that could be my cynicism and my extremely low view of his character)

    The more common view which I experience is the view that while technically not a salvation issue, YEC is an issue of such import that it’s ALMOST impossible for people to not believe in YEC and still be Christians. Sort of like theoretically Hitler could have been saved at the last moment, but realistically stuff like that doesn’t happen. (this is almost a verbatim quote from an online statement by a YEC character)

    Fortunately this is not the majority of YEC people I meet, but they are such a loud and odious group that they tend to dominate the experience of interacting with YEC people in general.

    (and just to make it clear I’m not ripping exclusively on YEC-ers, there are equivalent situations in most theological groupings – TULIPers and LCMSers for examples)

    Personal opinion – it’s just a universal trait across all populations of people that a certain percentage is made up of assholes. So Christianity and the groups of believers within it all get their share.


  7. Klasie Kraalogies

    Webmonk – I’m getting the same vibe (i.e. the ALMOST idea) with a very large proportion of people – I’d even say they are slightly in the majority. Especially in my circle (you know what I mean). To say it bluntly, it is getting ruddy awful and irritating.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s