(First appeared in a CMI newsletter in September 2010)
Since my own conversion over 20 years ago, I’ve had to try to understand some of the terms used to define certain aspects of the Christian faith. For instance, we use various short labels (e.g. Calvinist, Arminian, premillenialist, postmillennialist, etc.) to provide an ‘instant snapshot’ of what someone believes in a certain defined area.
It’s no different in the creation debate. For example, there are Theistic Evolutionists, Progressive Creationists, Gap Theorists, Day-Age Creationists and so on. Although the above have different slants on interpreting Genesis, they all hold to the idea of ‘millions and billions of years’. And to distinguish ourselves from them, it’s been common for creationists to refer to themselves as a ‘Young-Earth Creationist’ (YEC). It’s immediately obvious that you believe in a world only thousands of years old. But is this the wisest course of action?
We need to consider that it is now often used as a term of disparagement—and unfortunately, it’s often effective. This is because we’ve allowed the old-Earthers to convince people that believing in a younger Earth means that somehow one is anti-science, extremist in our thinking or that we’ve left one’s brains outside the church door—like believing the earth is flat. So when witnessing to an unbeliever, or even to another Christian who is confused about the issue of origins, such a label can cause them to put the shutters up even before they’ve heard a defense.
However, we actually know from experience that the evidence for a young Earth is convincing—even compelling, and fits what we understand about the ability of science to judge such things. Virtually every church we go to, lives are transformed and turned around by hearing a reasonable defense that the earth is young (compared to the secular view). In short, people are immensely encouraged that the Bible can be trusted—as written!
So if we call ourselves YECs, it permits us to be marginalized by old-Earthers—even though they are the ones that should be marginalized, because ultimately, ‘creationists’ (in the sense now often called ‘YEC’) are the ones who ultimately are prepared to believe what the Bible says.
The term we should use for ourselves, I suggest, is ‘biblical creationists’. Because that is exactly what we are! Some other points in favor:
And it’s not just when talking about ourselves—but also the position we hold. Often people refer to ‘creationism’. But although, like YEC, the term may be ‘rusted in’, it could subtly suggest that believing in creation as per the Bible teaches is one more ‘ism’, an additional belief or even an oddity ‘tacked on’ to Christianity. In fact, believing in six days, recent creation and global Flood is really the time-honoured evangelical approach to Scripture—the historical-grammatical reading of what it means and believing what it says!
So perhaps we should try to stick to ‘biblical creation’ or ‘Genesis creation’. This reinforces what it’s really all about, just like the term ‘biblical creationists’. In short, let’s remember to do what we can to advance the cause!
Perhaps some who hold to compromise positions will be upset by this. But if it gets Christians to examine the evidence and what the Bible actually says—then that’s good! People need to be challenged to trust God at His Word when He said that He created the heavens and earth in six days. Such confidence in God’s Word can inspire the next generation of creation scientists too, like Jeremy S. who wrote:
Once again, thanks for your support of this ministry that allows us to advance the cause in so many ways.