(Jon’s posts can be seen on the Regular Columns page under the title “God Desires Mercy, Not Sarcasm…)
In February of this year, I took a rare Friday off. “Where are you going?” my colleagues asked. “To Cincinnati, ah Kentucky actually,” I replied. “We are going to a museum.”
“What kind of museum is in Kentucky?” some asked.
“Well, uh, the Creation Museum actually.”
Some eyes rolled. Some showed no interest. Others, just said, “Townsend, tsk tsk.” No one was that interested. No one wanted to really debate it or discuss it; the avoidance was palpable. It was like I came out of the closet. The response was something akin to a twist on the famous “Seinfeld” phrase on the subject of homosexuality, “Oh so you are a creationist, (pause, nervous twitching) Not that there is anything wrong with that!” I went on to tell them of my plans to put my six year old in the back of the car at 6am, still sleeping, have my wife do the navigating and be at the museum that is a testament to the Biblical account of creation by 11am. I cemented my reputation as an eccentric, or kook, depending on how charitable my acquaintances/friends/colleagues are. (The bartender at my regular pub was by far the most charitable of all – the next Friday he asked if it was nice and if we had a good time! The vocation of the bartender is at times one of mercy!)
I often heard of the Creation Museum on Issues, Etc., either during commercial spots or when a guest from the Creation Museum was on the show. One of the things that struck me during the commercials for it was how the founder of the museum, Ken Ham, always made the connection between some type of sin or modern day sociological phenomena back to either the fall, or linked a modern day issue to the fact that society has rejected the Biblical account of creation.
The drive took us 5 hours and for me it was like going to an amusement park. There were dinosaur animatronics, there was a giant replica of Noah building the ark, and there were fossils and skeletons. My son enjoyed these things. There was a petting zoo with a Zonkey (half zebra, half donkey) and a Zorse (half zebra, half horse). My son was slightly disappointed that there not more dinosaur fossils, but near the end he saw a triceratops skeleton and was quite pleased. The museum is still in its early stages as I see it, but it gave us a chance to show our oldest boy a multi media presentation on a biblical worldview and to discuss it with him. We are very fortunate that he is taught a biblical worldview every day at school, but this was a family event to reinforce what we believe.
In all honesty the trip was not for my son, it was for me. Seeing an artistic representation of the Fall was good, especially one that actually taught the Protoevangelium and showed Christ’s atoning death as the solution to the mess of sin, death and the devil. They even got the details in the typology right, with a representation of God taking skins from animals to cover Adam and Eve, showing that sin must always result in payment through death. I had a chance to attend a lecture given by Dr. David Menton, the lone Lutheran on staff at the Creation Museum, on the flaws in Darwinian Evolution. It was the lecture I wish someone had given me in college! After the lecture he and I talked in the book store about all things confessional Lutheran for about 45 minutes. It was a lot of, “Hey you know him, I know him too! What do you think of this or that?” I am always astounded by personal conversations between confessional Lutherans. There is a substantial age difference between us and he is light years beyond me in intellect, but it was just an easy conversation that could have continued for hours if I neglected my vocation as father and husband.
The twisting of the famous “Seinfeld” quote was foreshadowing for this……..
Romans 1:20-27 (King James Version)
For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
One of the points that was repeated often at the Creation Museum was the idea that the increasing depravity we see in the world is magnified by an Evolutionist worldview. One can’t look at the evidence in natural science and come to Evolutionist conclusion unless one first suspends belief in a creator. If one approaches the natural world from a position that does not suspend belief, one cannot ignore the very finger prints of God.
St. Paul’s writings are prophetic in Romans chapter 1. Evolution is idolatry. A common non-human ancestor is our idol. The dust of the earth is given life by matter and energy itself rather than by the infinite. The idolatry of our age has less logic than the idolatry of any age to precede it, because idols of wood and stone represented something supernatural and transcendent. Now we idolize a theory that has nothing more than an eternal dirt nap to offer.
The willful disregard of the Creator leads to perversion of the design He called good. In matters of procreation under this delusion, the sign, symbol and union in marriage that gives us a glimpse of the mystery of the relation between Christ and His bride must also be open to crass perversion when one embraces a worldview in which material takes on life without an influence outside of itself. This worldview could never logically see that an intimate union between two persons should by nature lead to incarnation. Union is random and there is no natural law that governs it, much less a Creator that created the order and Law behind it.
Other Christians, who do not embrace Genesis as literal, such as the Roman Church, also see St. Paul’s first chapter of Romans as prophetic to our day. But rather than making the explicit link between “creation” and the present depravity of our age, they make the link between “procreation” and the rise and acceptance of homosexuality. Pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae accurately predicts the outcome of the sexual revolution and widespread use of contraception: Increase in divorce, infidelity, breakdown of the family, acceptance of abortion and an increase in homosexuality.
While taking a very strong stand on procreation, the Roman Church takes a very nuanced stance on the Biblical account of creation. The Catechism of the Catholic Church takes up the question of evolution with an extreme diplomacy that it does not give procreation:
The question about the origins of the world and of man has been the object of many scientific studies that have splendidly enriched our knowledge of the age and dimensions of the cosmos, the development of life-forms and the appearance of man. These discoveries invite us to even greater admiration for the greatness of the Creator, prompting us to give him thanks for all his works and for the understanding and wisdom he gives to scholars and researchers” (CCC 283).
I will paint with a broad brush for the sake of brevity: One would find the most “creationists” amongst the more conservative Evangelicals in North America. One would find the most “anti-contraceptive” people amongst conservative Roman Catholics in North America. Both would look at Romans 1 and see it as prophetic. The Roman Catholic would look at Genesis 1:28 and take it literally. The same Roman Catholic would take verses 1 through 27 in some kind of poetic sense. The Evangelical looks at verses 1 through 27 and sees creation in six 24 hour days. Verse 28? “Great idea, but the pill is ok.”
Where does this leave Lutherans, or in this case Evangelical Catholics?
I believe that theistic evolution holds sway amongst the vast majority of conservative Lutherans. How many times have you heard these words from a Lutheran mouth, “Oh, but we do not know how long a day is in the sense it is used in Genesis 1.” Evening and morning must be mistranslated from the original Hebrew, I guess (sarcasm).
I believe artificial contraception is also the practice of choice amongst conservative Lutherans. Rehwinkel paved the way in the 1950’s.
I am afraid dear friends that confessional Lutherans do not have the luxury of picking and choosing what we like from our Christian neighbors for our doctrine and approaches to issues of both creation and procreation. We have to swallow verses 1 through 28 of Genesis whole and use the lens of Christ and His Incarnation, Death and Resurrection to figure out what it means.
As concerns creation: The second article of the Nicene Creed tells us that “Through Him all things were made.” In the beginning was the Word and God’s inerrant word tells us that God created everything in six days. You can no more deconstruct it than you can deconstruct or explain that God died on Good Friday. This is really where the rubber hits the road. Ask yourself, which takes more faith to believe: The Almighty and Holy Trinity created everything in 6 days or that God Incarnate died? It is much more logical that the Eternal God made heaven and earth and all that is within it in 6 days than that God from God, Light from Light died within 3 hours of a human designed crucifixion – yet somehow we allow the separation of the two doctrines.
As concerns procreation: I believe the time has come for serious confessional Lutherans to admit that we have selectively read the Bible, the Fathers and Luther himself and ignored all of the admonitions against contraception in the face of the idol of sexual freedom.
Lutherans are not halfway between Evangelicals and Catholics. We are not the “best of” either choices either. We are challenged and called to be more honest than we have allowed the greater body of Lutheranism and ourselves to become.