Are We Wrong to Call Out Compromise?
I recently posted on Facebook about two individuals who are well known within Christian circles—popular apologist William Lane Craig and creator of VeggieTales Phil Vischer. Both of these men recently posted videos that rejected a literal, historical Genesis, so naturally, given the nature of our ministry, I responded.
Now, many of the comments we received were very encouraging, but some were very negative, attacking me for calling out Dr. Craig and Vischer on their compromise—claiming it’s unloving to publicly dispute their teaching and claims. After all, these commenters argued, I’m not perfect and neither is AiG, and these men have done much for the church (this was in particular applied to Dr. Craig, as he is well known for his defense of the resurrection of Christ). So are these commenters right—should we not speak out when we see professing believers teaching doctrine that is opposed to Scripture?
No—doctrine matters. What we believe about the Word of God matters. What we believe about Genesis—the foundation of all our major Christian doctrine—matters. Whether or not the Bible is our ultimate authority matters. As soon as biblical authority begins to erode, compromise follows. So Answers in Genesis, and I, will continue to urge Christian leaders who compromise on God’s Word to repent of their compromise because it is dangerous and leads to a slippery slope of more compromise in their teaching—and in subsequent generations!
Now let me tell you what I don’t mean by this.
I don’t mean that those who do not take Genesis as written are not believers—in the decades that I’ve been defending biblical authority, I’ve never said that. This is not a salvation issue per se—this is a biblical-authority issue and a gospel issue because the gospel is grounded in the history in Genesis. (See, for example, my article “Millions of Years—Are Souls at Stake?”)
I also don’t mean that those who compromise God’s Word with millions of years and evolution aren’t doing or haven’t done anything for the Lord or the gospel (although they, like any believer, may have “lost their saltiness” as they continue to compromise God’s Word with secular ideas).
This whole question reminds me of 2 Chronicles 25, which features the account of Amaziah, one of the kings of Judah, who “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, yet not with a whole heart” (2 Chronicles 25:2). He loved God, and God gave him a great military victory, but then he drifted into compromise with pagan gods.
Many Christians love the Word of God, teach the Word of God, equip, edify, and encourage believers, share the gospel, and point people to Jesus—they “do what is right in the eyes of Lord.” Yet these believers, intentionally or not, haven’t done so “with a whole heart.” They’ve allowed some compromise to creep in, and it undermines biblical authority in their own teaching and in those they serve—and it nearly always gets worse with the next generation!
Actually, I’m sure we are all inconsistent in various ways, which is why we always need to judge what we believe against Scripture and challenge ourselves as to whether we are taking ideas outside the Bible to God’s Word and undermining its authority.
But is calling the addition of long ages and evolutionary ideas into the Genesis text “compromise” too strong? Not at all—those ideas don’t come from Scripture. The history of such ideas can easily be followed. And they’re secular, pagan ideas—they originally came from people who rejected God’s Word and sought to explain history apart from God and his Word. Therefore, those who add these ideas into Scripture are compromising with godless, “pagan” ideas.
Take, for example, Charles Spurgeon—we feature over three thousand of Spurgeon’s sermons on our website. Yet in a couple of his thousands of sermons, he allowed for long ages when it came to Genesis. Did he do much good for the church, expound on God’s Word, and share the gospel? Yes! Is there encouragement and depth we can get from his sermons today? Yes! (That’s why we feature them!). But when it came to the age-of-the-earth issue, we disagree with what Spurgeon said on certain points. Although I think if we were able to give Spurgeon the arguments biblically and scientifically against an old earth today, he would immediately see that believing in an old earth was compromising God’s Word. This issue is so important, for compromise in one generation generally gets worse in the next generation.
And should we judge what other Christian leaders believe? Yes, we should always judge what we or others believe against Scripture. And yes, we can and should judge.
In summary, we love the Creator, his Word, and his church (our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ) too much to allow believers to unknowingly or knowingly compromise God’s Word. So we will follow the admonitions in Scripture to call out false teaching, even when it is taught by someone who appears to be a genuine believer. It is loving . . . and it is the right thing to do.