My 15 year old son, Mark, is very involved in the debate world and is now adding speech competition to it.
This is the speech he has started delivering this month; I think it has some great wisdom for Christians wrestling with the questions of how to interact with other believers, especially with whom they disagree about age-of-the-Earth issues.
This original article and speech he developed seemed appropriate given the series that I have just finished on The Creation Debate.
Well done, Mark. You are my son and I am well pleased.
Minimizing the unnecessary conflict between old earth creationist and young earth creationists
The topic presented today is on a controversial issue that has arisen recently in the Christian church. Yet the way I shall present this subject should not offend, nor should sway you against one side of belief! The matter, is on old earth creationism. Which is the belief of some Christians that the earth is more than 10,000 years old. This speech is not about it directly, but how the church as a whole and its individual members should treat old earth creationists. I will not be defending the validity that the earth is older than 10,000 years old, only certain rights given to those who believe in it.
The reason I chose this topic is that generally when old earth creationists suppress the young earth creationists, they do so by insulting their intelligence. Whereas when young earth creationists insult the old earth creationists, they undermine their Christianity. One such example is when a leading old earth creationist was present at the annual creation conference in which Russel Akridge titled OECs as “high priests from a decade old cult” and as “persuasive speakers who have deceived an unsuspecting public.” (Ross, 15) Also, in a blog, a man named Brian had recently converted to Christianity after coming to the knowledge that OEC was accepted by some as a Christian belief. He received persecution in the form of an email. He writes:
“The sender [of the email] politely and succinctly informed me of my apostasy. According to this brother in Christ if I didn’t correct my views on the age of the universe, I was at risk of eternal damnation… the sender was actually concerned for my eternal wellbeing.”(Apologetics.com)
This problem actually exists. The first thing to point out is that it is by Jesus Christ’s grace that we are saved, not by a trivial theological or scientific belief. This is the message of the gospel, and many times in the scriptures it makes clear that Christ is the only way to heaven. For now, I shall only provide one: “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way and the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the father except through me.’” (Jn. 14.6). The offender in the email is ironically making a heretical statement against God, not defending a moral truth.
My second point is that in the community of a church, the members are in the wrong in outright rejecting the idea in hatred. Many churches create a hostile atmosphere, either unintentionally or intentionally, toward old earth believers. This idea creates an unnecessary disunion in churches. As proof of this overbearing rejection, suffer a story. My dad was once sitting around a campfire late at night with some other men. My dad lightly, and out of curiosity, asked the men around the fire what their thoughts were on old earth. They, one by one, the Christian brothers admitted to believing in it, if only slightly. This caught my dad by surprise. He had known some of these men for years! One dad mentioned that he had never said it because it’s something you stay away from in church, and that people are scared to admit it. They had a good laugh. But truly what they said that night ringed in my ears. This is not what the church is called to be. “…but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,“(Ephesians 4.15, 16 bold print added). And: 1 Corinthians 1:10 “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ…that there be no divisions among you…”
From this we can gather that we should all seek peace and truth with one another. I’m not asking you to avoid the subject, far from it. You should help create a community in which the discussion of it is welcomed, and not shunned. My friends and I enjoy partaking in lively discussion of the topic. The current Pope recently made this statement: “Evolution in nature is not opposed to the notion of Creation, because evolution presupposes the creation of beings that evolve.” (religionnews.com). He takes it a step beyond just old earth, but takes it to the idea of theistic evolution.
As it is now, most conservative Christians are afraid to even admit it, much less discuss their standing beliefs on the age of the earth, and be it over 10,000 years. To conclude, I will ensure its clear what you are agreeing to when you accept this speech. First of all, you’re not agreeing to old earth or young earth. I showed that we should speak the truth in love, whatever it be. To openly discuss any issues. And God forbid, claim that such an insignificant belief would justify excommunication or damnation. This applies to your daily life only when the topic arises in a conversation. And whatever your stance, please keep an open mind while still. In sight of scriptures, please stand with me today, to fight not old earth or young earth, but against the hatred and radicalism in this unnecessary division in the Church.
Apologetics.com: why OEC vs. YEC?, Brian, May 2011.
Ross, Hugh. A Matter of Days. Colorado Springs: Navpress, 2004. Print.
Religionnews.com: Pope Francis: ‘Evolution … is not inconsistent with the notion of
creation’, Josephine McKenna, October 27, 2014.