Ronald White III
"Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone, everywhere..." These simple words spoken by the Lord Jesus in Mark 16:15 have pricked the hearts of believers for more than two millennia. In that time, untold multitudes have taken up this command as their banner and have ventured to the ends of the earth as missionaries of the One God and His Messiah. But it hasn't been an easy road to travel. Many have faced hardship, resistance, even death. This dissertation is offered to those who feel the same devotion and calling to spread the Good News to the people of Europe.
For too long, millions have suffered in darkness, many of them possessing a form of godliness while having denied the power of God Himself (II Timothy 3:5). What do we mean by this? We mean to refer to the current spiritual state one finds in Western Europe in which millions of people readily identify themselves as being Christians, even baptizing their children and attending church on certain special occasions (one is reminded of the tragically true statement that many enter a church only three times in their life: for their own baptism, marriage, and funeral), while by and large remaining either ignorant of, or actually in opposition to, most of the most foundational teachings of Christianity.
Our purpose then, is to be understood in clear terms: firstly, we wish to understand the reasons behind the resistance and apathy towards the Gospel experienced by those aspiring missionaries and evangelists who have been sent to the ancient cities which at one time were filled with the faithful who, despite their limited education, truly sought to honor God with their simple faith. Our journey of understanding the background and reasons for today's climate of spiritual darkness in Europe will lead the reader past the works and stories of scientists, theologians, educators, and clergymen spanning the last few centuries. Having come to an understanding of how “yesterday” has lead to “today”, we shall next seek to offer a solution to this spiritual zeitgeist in which contemporary missionaries and ministers find themselves. We shall explore the hypothesis that the reason for today's spiritual state in Western Europe lies in an evolutionary cosmology. From whence has such a worldview come? Our presupposition, as we shall argue in this dissertation, is that it has come from a western education system heavily impacted by the thoughts and fashions of the same men we will look at in our historical review. If one accepts this, then what is to be done? This is where our second goal in this dissertation is found in proposing a strategy for missions known as Creation Evangelism, or Pioneer Evangelism. A more clearly stated hypothesis and explanation of this concept shall be offered in a later section of the paper. Let the reader understand: while we readily acknowledge the influences of humanism, genocidal war, and so forth on the populations of Europe, we must yet insist that many if not all of these “symptoms” find at their root an evolutionary understanding of reality—an evolutionary cosmology.
As concerning the methodology utilized in this dissertation, we have elected to draw our research from a varied pool of information including contemporary journal articles, pertinent books, and statistical reports. In addition to these, conversations with a retired missionary and current pastor have been included as a supplement to the information already gleaned from the written sources. All of this is presented in the form of a two-part dissertation. The first section shall be called the Problem, and will encompass the overview and history of the situation in question. The second section, called the Answer, will express our proposed solution and a conclusion of final thoughts.
The importance of this work is not to be underestimated. Within the following pages we have sought to provide answers to those who have struggled to bring the people of Europe to a saving knowledge of Jesus as Messiah, only to find their efforts resulting in little or no success.
As was mentioned in the introduction, things are not going as well in Western Europe as many might have hoped, or may yet expect for a continent which in the last few centuries has produced such spiritual giants as John Wesley, Martin Luther, and Jean Calvin. No, indeed, things have turned for the worse. Today's Western Europe is one of largely empty cathedrals (many have already been converted into discos, restaurants, and even mosques due to a lack of use), rampant moral decay, and spiritual darkness. Michelle Vu, foreign missions journalist for the Christian Post, puts it plainly in a recent article, “As many know, Christianity is declining in Europe to the extent that it has been called ‘the least evangelized spot on earth' when looking at all of Europe's population.” As the report continues, Vu points out that Europe's evangelical believers have fallen to less than 4% of the total population, with less than 1% calling themselves evangelical in some countries.
Some may point out here that evangelicals do not constitute the only “Christians” within a country, and that while a country may have only a small percentage of evangelical believers, it may be overwhelmingly “Christian” in terms of its Roman Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant representation. The problem with this argument is that while the percentage of evangelicals in Europe is startlingly low, the decline is not reserved only for this segment of Christianity. On the contrary, large proportions of the “traditional” populations of Christians in Western Europe are experiencing a decay and atrophy without precedent since the days of Muslim conquests in North Africa and the Middle East brought Christianity's center from Jerusalem and Antioch to Rome and Central Europe. Vu goes on, “In Europe, it is not unusual for a person to describe themself as a Catholic-Atheist, or someone born and raised in a Catholic family but who does not personally believe in God. Typically, the person would be baptized, married, and have their funeral held in a church, but not be able to explain the meaning of Easter.” The reader might remember a similar lamentation outlined in the Introduction with reference to the average European “Christian's” form of “godliness”.
But is this report from the Christian Post merely an alarmist attempt at rousing fears of Europe falling away from “Christendom”? The numbers would seem to argue otherwise. In fact, Dr. Johnson of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in the Unites States would suggest that things are much worse than some fear. He notes that in 1900, 80% of the world's Christians lived in Europe and North America. By the year 2005, that percentage had fallen to barely 40%. To make this more clear, let the reader consider some of the countries of Western Europe on an individual basis. According to the most recent census estimates, 16% of respondents in the United Kingdom claimed no religion or religious affiliation. Germany faired even worse with 28.3% claiming no religion, and the Netherlands beat both with an incredible 41% claiming no religion as of 2002. Vu's statement about “Catholic” atheists appears plausible when one notes that France only listed 4% as claiming no religious affiliation.
What we are seeing is that the percentage of Christians has not only shifted away from Western Europe, but that the numbers of those who not only are familiar with the foundational teachings of their stated religion, but also profess a true faith in such have also fallen drastically in these countries. Johnson illustrates this by comparing a list of the top ten Christian countries (based on percentage of believers in respective populations) from 1900 with the same list compiled in 2005. The results are staggering. For example, in 1900, according to Johnson's report, France, Germany, and The United Kingdom each held solid positions among the top ten “Christian” countries. By 2005, however, both France and the United Kingdom had fallen off the list entirely, being instead replaced by such countries as India and Nigeria.
The decay is especially poignant in Great Britain, once the center of mission-sending activity in the western world. Consider the fact that from the years 1979 until 2005, a full 50% of “Christians” stopped going to church all together, with some reports listing church attendance as being as low as 30% in one survey, and even as low as 6.3% in another conducted by the British think tank, Christian Research. A survey in 2003 additionally found that a majority of Britons (55%) were unable to name even one of the four Gospels found in the New Testament.
All of this serves to confirm that the shift of Christianity's center from Europe to the Southern Hemisphere is not merely the result of increased Christian populations in Africa and Asia, but of decreased numbers of believers in Western Europe as well. Johnson concludes that while Europe was 95% Christian in 1900 (compared to a mere 9% in Africa), it has since seen this percentage fall to an official estimate of 76%, while Africa's Christian population has soared to 46% as of 2005.
How could any of this have happened? Where are the Wycliffes, the Luthers, to bring Europe back to her knees before the sovereign God of the Bible? How could such a continent have fallen so far, and what can be done to reverse this trend? In short, what happened to bring about such a falling away? To answer these and other questions, we should like to offer to the reader an historical overview of the last few centuries to demonstrate how the ideologies and teachings of a rather small group of thinkers have managed to drive a true faith in the God of the Bible to such disappointing levels in Europe.
We shall begin our overview of the historical factors resulting in today's state of being in Western Europe with a general summarization by Sylvia Baker, “Our whole society has in fact been influenced by the evolutionist outlook that there is no Creator, that man is continually progressing, and that his bad behavior is simply the remnant of his animal past.” While we accept this assessment as an accurate explanation for the situation described in the previous section, we acknowledge that there are many who would disagree. Thus, we here present an explanation of how things have come to be in the hearts and minds of men and women in Europe over the last few centuries.
While evolutionary ideas are nothing new (the earliest records of such lay in the ancient Greek Anaximander's theory of man's ascent from fish), we find the first foundational stones being laid for the coming evolutionary monolith in the publishing of Nicolaus Steno's Forerunner in the 17th century. In it, the Dutch anatomist first postulated that the earth's strata could be viewed as a progressive record of geologic history with the oldest layers to be found below the newest, an idea he called “Superposition”. This seemed an obvious observation to Steno, who believed that the fossil record to be found in the earth's strata had been laid down by none other than the flood of Noah, and through his geologic calculations, considered the earth to be approximately 6,000 years old.
Although this publication might seem a positive thing for those who argue in defense of Biblical authority, the effect was a rigorous interest in determining the age of the Earth and the causes for its current state. This is evident in Comte de Buffon's Epochs of Nature published in 1779. By this point, the majesties of earth's geologic formations being discovered and explored around the world seemed altogether impossible in such a short time frame as suggested by Steno, and so de Buffon offered his own calculation of an extremely ancient planet, one having “cooled” only approximately 75,000 years ago. These were brave times of discovery and postulation about the nature of nature itself, and so it was that men began to venture, not only outside of the realm of the familiar in terms of geography, but also (under the influence of the Enlightenment) in terms of cosmology. Men began to explore the possibility that there existed entire regions of the world and eons of time which the Bible had simply failed to mention. Such was suggested in Hutton's 1795 History of the Earth in which history is presented as being cyclical in nature, and the history of earth itself indefinite.
But why should one see such geologic postulations as some sort of threat? Why bother mentioning the forgotten manuscripts of writers long since dead? Because it is not the theories suggested in these works that has brought us to where we are today, but rather the attitude behind them which is the true danger. As society became increasingly comfortable offering ideas about the nature of the earth and time itself outside of scriptural revelation, men's hearts and minds became increasingly comfortable with rejecting the Bible all together. Such is evident in Charles Lyell's three-volume Principles of Geology published in 1830-1833. These times saw in effect a dismissal of the Biblical record in exchange for an embracing of Science as the sole source of truth in matters of origin.
Here for the first time, we see a direct and shameless assault on the authority of scripture with Lyell's theory of “Uniformitarianism” and his direct rejection of a global flood.
In short, Lyell stated that, “only present-day processes of sedimentation and erosion at present-day rates of intensity and magnitude should be used to interpret the rock record of past geologic activity.” The idea which Lyell hoped to plant in the minds of his readers was essentially that the earth had behaved in the same manner throughout history as it currently does, and that no notions of any sort of global deluge ought to enter into the mind of anyone seeking to understand the world around them. In other words, the Bible is incorrect, and therefore should be rejected as a source of revealed truth when constructing one's worldview!
Now, it must be remembered that the rise of evolutionary thinking as an accepted cosmology did not occur over night, but rather developed very slowly over the course of many long years, helped along by sympathetic thinkers and leaders in society. This is painfully obvious when one realizes that in many cases, theologians and church leaders were in the forefront!
An early example of this is the “Gap Theory” first pushed by the Presbyterian pastor Thomas Chalmers in 1804. Here we have a first example of a blatant surrendering of scriptural authority in a desperate attempt to compromise with the ideas of fallible men, and thereby avoid conflict. The trend continued with the Anglican theologian George Stanley advocating a “Day-Age” interpretation of the Creation Account in the first chapters of Genesis in 1823. Despite clear linguistic evidence to the contrary, Stanley sought to abandon the Biblical account of creation occurring in seven 24-hour periods in favor of interpreting each “day” as an un-defined “age”, thereby allowing the old-earth crowd to stuff Genesis with as much wild speculation as they pleased. To make things worse, by 1909, C. I. Scofield had placed Chalmers' Gap Theory within the notes of his Scofield Reference Bible. With clergy advocating an abandonment of any notion that the Bible should mean what it says, is it any wonder that the average Christian began to feel his faith crumble?
As Dr. Mortenson explains, “The liberals considered Genesis 1-11 to be as historically unreliable and unscientific as the creation and flood myths of the ancient Babylonians, Sumerians, and Egyptians.” The retreat and surrender was so complete that by 1845, all commentaries on Genesis had completely abandoned the Biblical chronology and the notion of a global flood. Even the great Charles Spurgeon began preaching in favor of the long-age liberal interpretation of Genesis, considering previous understandings of what the scriptures said to be scientifically un-informed in his sermon entitled “Election” in 1855. Baker summarizes this retreat of the church away from scriptural integrity, “A large part of the Christian church immediately and tragically compromised their position and began to insist that it was quite consistent to believe both Genesis and evolution.”
All of this served to set the stage for Darwin and his theory of natural selection. As Breese puts it, “It is almost as if the scientists were waiting for such a view [Darwinism]” to be offered. Evolution was indeed needed for ideological reasons. Dawkins confirms this view,
An atheist before Darwin could have said, following Hume: "I have no explanation for complex biological design. All I know is that God isn't a good explanation, so we must wait and hope that somebody comes up with a better one." I can't help feeling that such a position, though logically sound, would have left one feeling pretty unsatisfied, and that although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.
Having been heavily influenced by Lyell's writings, Darwin presented nothing new, but rather offered the most coherent presentation to date of the evolutionary ideas Lamarck had unsuccessfully tried to preach in Paris half a century before. Now, however, things were different. Men such as Lyell, Chalmers, and Huxley (Darwin's “bulldog”) had now set the stage by preparing the world to accept what would become a new cosmology, Social Darwinism. The result? As Mortenson puts is, “As a whole, these nations [North America and Europe] have become more resistant to the gospel and the Bible's authority—and more atheistic in their education and media...” As evolutionary thinking, and its outward expression in Social Darwinism, became increasingly foundational to society, the “intellectual ferment” of the 18th century now led to a “revolution” of cosmologies with the “old” ideas requiring a re-thinking. As Moore describes it, “his [Darwin's] theory also created unavoidable conflicts for those who proposed to uphold a Christian conception of the purposes and character of God.” In short, evolutionary teaching had so powerfully eroded the credibility of the Bible that its cultural influence had begun to fall apart, and new answers were now needed to fill in the gaps left behind.
Enter Julius Wellhausen and his anti-revelational Prolegomena to the History of Israel. Whatever faith in the credibility and authority of the Bible which might have remained in the hearts and minds of the faithful in Europe was shaken to its core by Wellhausen and his liberal interpretations of scripture. By rejecting Moses' authorship of the Pentateuch and the account of Adam and Eve in Genesis as nothing more than a “lovely myth”, Wellhausen brought about a shift “so dramatic, so fundamental, so far-reaching that it can be said that because of it the Christian religion, though retaining its external form, became a fundamentally different thing on the inside.” His message? Trust not in the Bible (nothing more than an example of religious evolution filled throughout with myths and allegories), but in human reason. As a result, “...a new wind began to blow through the churches, the schools, and the homes of Germany and Europe. It was the cold wind of doubt, distrust of God, and spiritual disquiet [which has blown from them until now].” Breese concludes, “The logical consequence of all of this speculation was a defection from sound doctrine by the church and its leadership, as well as a fundamental shift in religious allegiance from Christianity to an empty humanist religion.” Ham has taken this a step further by asking, “If you can't trust the Bible when it talks about geology, biology, and astronomy, then how can you trust the Bible when it talks about morality and salvation?” The real question becomes, if the Bible is wrong here, here, and here, then where does it become authoritative? Thus Causton laments, “...much of the cultural and moral authority once reserved for the pulpit now resides with experts in the natural and social sciences.”
Baker's accusation that evolution's triumph owes a debt of gratitude to the Christian church and her abandonment of scriptural authority in the area of origins and the foundation of the Gospel is made all the more clear in Wieland's assessment of contemporary European society's views of those Christians who do still insist on a credible and literal understanding of Genesis and its teachings: “[they], far from being seen as upholding some immutable standard of righteousness that transcends our feeble human opinion, are now actually seen as evil people, not standing for right, but for intolerance, forcing “their opinion” down another's throat.” And who can blame society for seeing things this way? Even the Archbishop of Canterbury has rejected a literal interpretation of Genesis as a “category mistake”!
In effect, the Church's response over the last few centuries to increasing rejection of the Bible as authoritative, and ultimately as even remotely applicable to daily life, has opened the doors to the wide-scale rejection of the Christian faith and its primary tenets observed in Western Europe today. Wieland describes the Church in this sense of having with-drawn from the “fray” many decades ago. He blames an “incessant undermining of biblical authority via ‘science'” in combination with a church refusing to stand up and insist on a credible and authoritative interpretation of scripture, particularly as relates to the origin of all things, as being the reason why the West has found itself in its current state, and why evangelistic methods which worked wonders 100, or even 50 years ago seem utterly impotent in today's West. Such behavior has been compared, with reason, to the ignoring of Goliath by the armies of Saul. Why face battle when one can hide in a tent?
What then must be done? Causton suggests that, “If theology is to maintain its claim to public relevance, it must contest science's current cultural prestige and authority—especially regarding the increasingly aggressive polemics of those who think Darwinism can explain the nature of human life.” Simply ignoring the discussion as un-important, or surrendering it all together is simply not good enough.
After hundreds of years of avoiding the “hard questions”, or capitulating altogether to those who seek to undermine and remove the foundation of scripture from society in the West, Christians simply must recognize the immense task set before them, and seek to re-claim scriptural credibility and authority in society. Kupelian would here agree: “The spiritual power of evolution, the immense public seduction it has facilitated, and its primary societal role over the last century has been to remove God from the daily life and mind of mankind.” He explains this as the reason behind the intensity of the debate, and the imperative of Christian involvement from a Bible-believing standpoint. “It's all about freedom from accountability to God, it's about free will, it's about free sex, it's about pride, it's about being your own god.” We will here conclude by giving the last word, as it were, to G.R. Bozarth of American Atheist:
Christianity has fought, still fights, and will fight science to the desperate end over evolution, because evolution destroys utterly and finally the very reason Jesus' earthly life was supposedly made necessary. Destroy Adam and Eve and the original sin, and in the rubble you will find the SORRY REMAINS of the SON OF GOD. If Jesus was not the redeemer who died for our sins, and this is what evolution means, the Christianity is NOTHING.
In the following section we shall shift our attention to what we consider to be the antidote to this problem which has been allowed to grow and fester in the hearts of men and women in the West for far too long. Make no mistake, this problem required many long years and an up-hill fight to reach its current place in society, and the struggle to rest control from the fortress of Darwin and his ilk will require equal struggle and patience on the part of those who seek to re-claim the territory others were only too happy to surrender. Nonetheless, the alternative is unacceptable.
At this point, we have endeavored to make our case regarding what we see as a present crisis in western Christianity and an explanation for how things have come to this. However, we would not rush too hastily into our own ideas for resolving the crisis without out first laying down a foundation, as it were, for how any solution will need to be implemented. To do so, we have decided to provide a simple recollection of a discussion this writer recently had with a retired school teacher and former missionary to Africa from south-east Sweden:
While driving along the coast, it came to our attention that the fields on either side of the road were very clearly divided into their respective sections by simply constructed stone fences. When asked about this, our missionary guide stated that this was the result of two contributing factors: the historical poverty of the local population, and the extreme rockiness of the soil. He went on to explain that, due to the great variation in climate from freezing winter to mild summer, the solid stone below the surface would be broken into smaller rocks and boulders each year, and, as the soil froze and thawed, these stones would be pushed to the surface! In a sense, the fields were producing a natural “crop” of stone! In light of this, if a local family wished to sow a crop, they first had to make their way through a field, meticulously digging out the stones and boulders lying just below the surface (or sometimes jutting out quite intimidatingly!) in order to create a terrain which would be conducive to producing a harvest. In short, they would need to prepare the soil by seeing that a good “foundation” for sowing was laid.
This was an arduous task, he went on, and one which had to be repeated from time to time as the rocks would keep rising to the surface each year. If some poor farmer decided that he did not want to take the time to pull up the stones and boulders on a given year, he could rest assured that any harvest he might expect would be pitifully small and weak, to say the least.
What is it we are trying to relate in this story? A very simple, and yet profound truth which we feel has, unfortunately, been lost on far too many “workers” in European missions: the need to prepare the soil. There was a time, long ago, when pioneers of the faith came to the continent of Europe and began working to convert the heathen to Christianity. While one may debate the virtues of the methods used in some instances, the point is that a foundation was laid. Hearts were turned to the Lord, and men and women came to know of the holy God who, as Creator of the universe, had the right to dictate right from wrong, and to require repentance from sinners. As the centuries passed this message was spread until, even in Darwin's day, one could approach any man on the street and expect him to be at least minimally familiar with the concepts of sin, repentance, and a holy God. The soil had been prepared and was ready to be sown.
However, things have changed. As the previous section has noted, over time the “stones” have begun to sprout up once again, but, rather than working tirelessly to remove them and to preserve healthy soil, far too many Christian leaders have busied themselves with other matters (such as fighting the symptoms, like pebbles breaking the surface, rather than acknowledging the cause), or have ignored the problem altogether, and thus, one finds a stony field where once rich soil lay. The great harvests of the past simply are not being seen in the West as they once were! Stones of distrust in the accuracy of the Bible, and therefore its authority to speak into the lives of men and women have risen up into the hearts and minds of Europe. Whereas one might have before expected to be able to speak on sin and repentance and be understood by his audience, today this is no longer the case—the foundation has been lost! This is why, we propose, so many evangelistic attempts seems to fall on completely deaf, or at least indifferent ears in Western Europe. What then can we as evangelists, missionaries, teachers, pastors, Christians do to help? For the answer, we suggest a plan of action developed by Mr. Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis. A former Biology teacher and author from Australia, Mr. Ham has led a ministry for more than 30 years devoted to “defending the Bible, from the very first verse.” Below we shall present his “plan of action” and will then provide our own interpretation of this along with a practical application for ministry in Western Europe. Allow us to make one thing clear, however: the process presented below is one which we, through our own research and experience, is one of profound fruitfulness. Our presentation of it here is not, however, merely to be understood as a report of another's work, but is to be received as a suggestion which will be followed by our own interpretation, criticism, and application.
Firstly, for those seeking to evangelize un-believers in this context, it is important to remember one very important fact: evolution is not science; it is a belief! As such it can be challenged, and discredited. In our experience, far too many Christians have expressed intimidation with taking on the evolutionary cosmologies of those they encounter, believing themselves to be challenging “facts” with myths, or at best, blind faith. This is not so, for like any other belief system (and by this we mean to say religions of the world), it is subject to truth, and we as believers in the Word of God must present what Mr. Ham calls, “the whole truth and nothing but the truth...Genesis!”
Having established that evolution and its implicit cosmology can and ought to be challenged, where should one then begin? Mr. Ham would say that our work should begin firstly in the Church. He uses the term “repair” in relation to what the Church needs in this area. The argument goes that the Church must know, “what we believe, why we believe it, and what the evidence is to substantiate it.” Imagine the confusion and subsequent doubt the unbeliever must experience when meeting a seemingly united Church comprised of clergy and laymen alike who can not agree on the most important tenet of their faith? For if one can not accept that the Bible speaks authoritatively and with historical accuracy with regards to the creation and beginning of all things, how then can he or she ever hope to have full faith in the Bible's account of the ministry and sacrifice of Jesus—an event necessitated by the Fall described in Genesis? Where does myth and allegory end, and the truth begin? We as the Church must come to terms with what we believe from the scriptures, and then present a united front. As Mr. Ham concludes, “The Christian Church will have no influence upon the world unless it holds to this faith of the apostles and presents the truth [Genesis/creation].”
Coming back to evangelism, we are told that different approaches are necessary in different circumstances. This statement may at first glance appear patently obvious, or even trite, but it is nonetheless a crucial point which many have, unfortunately, missed altogether. Mr. Ham relates that, “The main reason, we believe, that the Church is so relatively ineffective [in reaching the lost in the West] is a direct result of not evangelizing correctly.” This is not to say that individual's methods of witnessing or ministering are incorrect or wrong, but that they are being used in the wrong way, and in the wrong context. For an illustration of this concept, allow us to guide the reader to two passages in the New Testament which relate to strategies for reaching the lost in different contexts.
Our first passage comes from Acts 17:22-31. Here we see Paul attempting to evangelize the Greeks at Athens. The Greeks were a people, the reader will remember from earlier in our discussion, who held to an evolutionary cosmology. Man, the gods, and all that filled the earth was said to have arisen (“evolved”, if you will, although without using that particular term) from something else, something lower. How then did Paul try to reach them? By first laying down a foundation conducive to the Gospel. He knew he had to lay this foundation down for a Creator before he could speak of a Redeemer. Mr. Ham states, “To establish a basis for the cross, he [Paul] knew that he had to eliminate their [the Greek's] incorrect foundational beliefs and replace them with the right foundation: Creation.” In essence, Paul needed to change the Greek's entire way of thinking from the ground up if he ever hoped to communicate with them effectively.
What does all of this mean? In short, that one can not hope to come into an area with no foundation for the Gospel of Jesus Christ crucified for the sins of the world and then having presented such, expect to have a strong or lasting harvest. Like the farmers described earlier, the foundation must be laid—the stones must be removed!
For our second passage, we will bring the reader to Acts 2:14-41. Here we see another apostle, Peter, addressing a crowd of Jews from around the known world gathered in Jerusalem for the feast of Shavuot (Pentecost). The scripture relates that Peter preached the Gospel to the men gathered there, and three thousand came to place their trust in the Lord. Why did Peter preach the Gospel straight away, and not go into discussing the creation of the world? Because these people already had a foundation conducive to his message! He could speak to them about a holy God establishing a means of forgiveness and salvation for repentant sinners, and the ones gathered would fully grasp such concepts.
This is where the point about correct forms of evangelism in their appropriate circumstances is made clear: one can not hope to evangelize those without a foundation suitable for the Gospel without first laying such a foundation. And this is where we believe many have made the mistake in ministering to Europe; by attempting to evangelize a people who have lost their foundation as though they still retained the scriptural cosmologies of previous generations. In today's West, the foundation has been lost and replaced by an evolutionary cosmology which negates God, sin, and the idea of redemption and salvation. As Mr. Ham summarizes, “We have to come to grips with the fact that evolution has become one of the biggest barriers to today's people being receptive to the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
We as the Church must adopt this understanding and seek to combat the spread and entrenching of the evolutionary cosmology in the hearts and minds of men and women. If we do not, it will not be long before the ground plowed by previous generations disappears altogether beneath the rising stones of doubt and disbelief. Before moving on to our own criticism and application of Mr. Ham's strategy, we would like to allow him the chance to summarize his thoughts to this point, “The Lord has not just called us to tear down the barriers of evolution, but to help restore the foundation of the gospel in our society.”
So what can we say about Mr. Ham's plan for evangelizing the West once more? Firstly, we must say that we find ourselves in agreement with the assertion that it is the theory of evolution and its implicit cosmological conclusions which have brought Christianity to its current state in Western Europe. This is the stated preconception of this paper, and therefore need have no further examination at this point.
While we are in agreement with Mr. Ham's suggestion for the causes of the current situation, there are elements of his plan for re-evangelization which we find rather weak. For example, in his article with Paul Taylor (“The Creation Evangelism Solution”), a seven-step plan of action is laid out including such steps as presenting “Evidences of the scientific emptiness of Evolution” and “Evidence that man has not evolved from a “lower” order.”
The problem here is that the average lay believer, or even clergyman for that matter, simply is not educated in one of the various scientific disciplines enough so as to speak authoritatively in such areas. We are completely in agreement with the idea that evolutionary theory can and ought to be challenged, and also with the idea of believers doing so. As Dr. DeYoung has pointed out, current science's authority is often over estimated. However, there is the risk that overly confident Christians may talk themselves into a corner should they ever encounter someone who has been educated in, say, Astronomy, and is therefore more familiar with that particular field than the well-meaning missionary or Bible-study leader. Not everyone in such fields gleans much information about God or His character by studying the created order of things, remarks one Christian evolutionist.
As a recommendation, therefore, we would encourage believers to familiarize themselves with those arguments used most frequently by evolutionists, and the challenges to them so that in a discussion, they may speak on subjects familiar to most of those present, and, should they be met by one who is more educated than they in a particular field, not be afraid to admit the limitations of their own education, without giving any sense of surrender or defeat. In short, the believer should know the boundaries of his own knowledge, and not be afraid or ashamed to admit when he or she has come to it.
Additionally, we would encourage the Christian who seeks to over turn the evolutionary foundation of those he or she is seeking to reach with the Gospel to expect to be met with a degree of resistance and emotion not otherwise experienced by evangelists or missionaries in other regions of the world. The reason is that questioning the unbeliever's cosmology is nothing short of shaking the very foundation of his reality. Witvoet calls this one's “perceptual framework”, or the way one sees reality. Is that not the very nature and definition of “cosmology”? Remember, for the evolutionist to accept the authority of scripture in Genesis is to accept his own condemnation, something he finds totally unacceptable. Mary Anne Pirie, director of Children's Ministries at CEF (Ontario, Canada) has laid this out simply in her article “Tackling the Evolution Issue”: A Creator means accountability. Accountability means sin. Sin implies condemnation, and condemnation leads to the need for a savior!
As a means of applying these ideas, allow us to recount our own experience with Pioneer Evangelism in the setting of a local church. Here, the pastor has established a “confirmation school” for young men and women who are preparing for their confirmations in the Lutheran Church. The young people who come to this preparatory class are voluntarily planning to be confirmed as Lutherans, but are, overwhelmingly, completely ignorant of Church doctrines and beliefs. They have no Biblical foundation! The pastor could very easily list doctrines and force the students to memorize the names of saints, but instead, he works primarily to show these students that the Bible does have something relevant to say, and that they can trust it!
Beginning with Genesis, he demonstrates that what the Bible says is true, and that as Christians, they can believe in the Bible's explanations for what the Church teaches. In other words, they are taught to believe something because the Bible says it, and not just because their pastor said so! Such a concept is a powerful new idea to some, but as Dr. DeYoung reminds us, ideas do have consequences. So what are the results (consequences) of this class in its context? Although this class is less than a year running, already many students have expressed genuine interest in what the Bible has to say about creation, and have been drawn into a true faith whereas they were previously planning to join merely out of tradition or family pressure.
This may seem a small thing to some, but it illustrates our point: that to reverse the effects of evolution on the hearts and minds of men and women in Europe, the Church must join together in unity against such, and work to re-build foundations receptive to the Gospel. As we have said before, this will be a slow work, and one requiring great patience, love, and trust in God to finish what He has begun, but it is a work worth doing, and one which will yield great returns! We can not allow the foundation for our Gospel to be erased in Europe, or we will surely see our message erased as well.
Thankfully, this battle for the heart and soul of Europe has begun to gain strength and influence, and already the Creationist fervor of North America has begun to catch on in the churches of Western Europe. Society has noticed! And despite the desperate attempts by the Scientific or Academic élite to stifle our message, men and women are curious and eager to hear this “strange new teaching” that they can trust the Bible to mean what is says!
We should now like to conclude our discussion with Peter's words from I Peter 3:13b, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” We do have hope, and we do have answers! Ours is a message of encouragement. Things are bad, and have been for a very long time, but we have the weapons to win this battle for the hearts and minds of men and women if only we will hold true to the Truth which has been given us—beginning in Genesis! Therefore let us equip ourselves against the barriers which have been erected against the Gospel and keep before us that command given in the very beginning of this work, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone, everywhere...”
Alexander, Denis. Rebuilding the Matrix. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001.
Baker, Sylvia. Bone of Contention: Is Evolution True? Acacia Ridge D.C.: Answers in Genesis, 1999.
Bergman, Jerry. “Darwinism as a Factor in the Twentieth-Century Totalitarianism Holocausts” Creation Research Society Quarterly (June 2002) : 47-53.
Bozarth, G.R. “The Meaning of Evolution” American Atheist (September 1978) : 30.
Breese, Dave. 7 Men Who Rule the World from the Grave. Chicago: Moody Press, 1990.
Causton, Peter James. “Darwin's Ghost” Commonwealth (October 6, 2006): 12-15.
CIA World Fact Book. Available from https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/fields/2122.html; Internet. Accessed 24 April, 2007.
Custance, Arthur. Evolution or Creation? Vol. IV, The Doorway Papers. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Pub. House, 1976.
Davis, John J. “Is ‘Progressive Creation' Still a Helpful Concept?” Available from Internet. Accessed 20 February 2007.
DeYoung, Don B. “Theological Implications of Deep Time” Creation Research Society Quarterly (June 2002) : 22-24.
Ham, Ken and Paul Taylor. “The Creation Evangelism Solution”
________. Why Won't They Listen? Green Forest: Master Books, Inc., 2005.
________. Evolution, Creation & the Culture Wars. Green Forest: Master Books, Inc., 2005.
________. Genesis and the Decay of the Nations. Green Forest: Master Books, Inc., 1991.
________. The Lie: Evolution. Green Forest: Master Books, Inc., 2006.
________. “Biblical Authority and the Book of Genesis” When Christians Roamed the Earth. Green Forest: Master Books, Inc., 2002.
“In the beginning” The Economist (21st April-27th April 2007) : 23-26.
Johnson, Todd. “Christianity in Global Context: Trends and Statistics” .
Kupelian, David. “The emperor's new species” .
Mastropaolo, Joseph. “Evolution is Lethal Antiscience” Creation Research Society Quarterly (December 2001) : 151-158.
McCandless, Kevin. “Islam Could Become Europe's Dominant Religion, Experts Say”
Moore, James R. The Post-Darwin Controversies: A study of the Protestant struggle to come to terms with Darwin in Great Britain and America, 1870-1900. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981.
Mortenson, Terry. Millions of Years and & Downfall of the Christian West. Leicester: Answers in Genesis, 2005.
Pirie, Mary Anne. “Tackling the Evolution Issue” Teach Kids! (September-October 2006) : 13.
“Pope: Science ‘Too Narrow' to Explain Creation”
Safarti, Jonathan How Old is the Earth? Refuting Evolution, Chapter 8
Spurgeon, Charles. The New York Street Pulpit. Pasadena: Pilgrim Publishing, 1990.
The NIV Version Study Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002.
Wieland, Carl. “Culture Change: The Creation Background” When Christians Roamed the Earth. Green Forest: Master Books, Inc., 2002.
_____________. Origins in the Modern World: Why it Matters. 51 min. Answers in Genesis, 2004. DVD.
Witvoet, Bert. “Put on the Full Worldview of God!” Christian Educators Journal (February 2002) : 1-2.
www.vexen.co.uk/religion/rib.html#Ignorance; Internet. Accessed 24 April, 2007.
 - This was originally a paper submitted for the course Dissertation I (RE 301 WE) at Continental Theological Seminary Oct. 2007 Sint-Pieters-Leeuw, Belgium.
 All biblical references are from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.
 Kevin McCandless, “Islam Could Become Europe's Dominant Religion, Experts Say,” available from http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewForeignBureaus.asp?Page=/ForeignBureaus/archive/200703/INT20070302a.html; Internet. Accessed 25 April, 2007.
 Michelle Vu, “U.S. Christians Ignorant of Europe's Spiritual State, Says Mission Group Spokesman,” available from http://www.christianpost.com/article/20070408/26757_U.S._Christians_Ignorant_of_Europe's_Spiritual_State,_Says_Mission_Group_Spokesman.htm; Internet. Accessed 25 April, 2007.
 Vu, “U.S. Christians Ignorant of Europe's Spiritual State, Says Mission Group Spokesman”.
 Todd M. Johnson, “Christianity in Global Context: Trends and Statistics,” available from http://www.pewforum.org/events/051805/global-christianity.pdf; Internet. Accessed 25 April, 2007.
 These statistics are all taken from the CIA World Fact Book available from https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/fields/2122.html; Internet. Accessed 24 April, 2007.
 Johnson, “Christianity in Global Context: Trends and Statistics.”
 “British Identity: Waning,” The Economist, January 27th-February 2nd, 2007, 32-33.
 McCandless, “Islam Could Become Europe's Dominant Religion, Experts Say”.
 Available from http://www.vexen.co.uk/religion/rib.html#Ignorance; Internet. Accessed 24 April, 2007.
 Johnson, “Christianity in Global Context: Trends and Statistics”.
 Sylvia Baker, Bone of Contention (Acacia Ridge D.C.: Triune Press PTY LTD, 1999), 3-4.
 Ibid., 4.
 Terry Mortenson, Ph.D., Millions of Years & the Downfall of the Christian West (Leicester: Answers in Genesis, 2005), 3.
 Mortenson, 3-4.
 Ibid., 4.
 Mortenson, 6.
 Ibid., 8-9.
 Ibid., 9.
 Ibid., 12.
 Mortenson, 12.
 Ibid., 10.
 Charles Spurgeon, The New York Street Pulpit (Pasadena: Pilgrim Publishing, 1990), 318.
 Baker, 6.
 Dave Breese, 7 Men Who Rule the World from the Grave (Chicago: Moody Press, 1990), 30.
 Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker (London: Norton, 1986), 5-6.
 Baker, 5.
 Ibid., 6.
 Breese, 47.
 Mortenson, 17.
 Breese, 47.
 Ibid., 90.
 James R. Moore, The Post-Darwin Controversies: A study of the Protestant struggle to come to terms with Darwin in Great Britain and America, 1870-1900 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), 346.
 Mortenson, 17.
 Ibid., 93.
 Breese, 92.
 Ibid., 91.
 Breese, 94-95.
 Ibid., 92.
 Ibid., 95.
 Ken Ham, “Biblical Authority and the Book of Genesis” When Christians Roamed the Earth (Green Forest: Master Books, Inc., 2002), 45.
 Peter James Causton, “Darwin's Ghost” Commonwealth (October 6, 2006): 12.
 Baker, 7.
 Carl Wieland, “Culture Change: The Creation Background” When Christians Roamed the Earth (Green Forest: Master Books, Inc., 2002), 149-150.
 “In the beginning” The Economist (April 21st-27th 2007), 23.
 Wieland, 161.
 Ibid., 158.
 Causton, 12.
 “The emperor's new species.”
 G.R. Bozarth, “The Meaning of Evolution” American Atheist (September 1978): 30. Emphasis made by original writer.
 Mr. Samuel Thunberg of Mönsterås, Sweden, to be precise.
 Ken Ham and Paul Taylor, “The Creation Evangelism Solution,” available from http://www.Christiananswers.net/evangelism/methods/creation.html; Internet. Accessed 03 October 2006.
 Ken Ham, Why Won't They Listen? (Green Forest: Master Books, Inc., 2005), 61.
 “The Creation Evangelism Solution.”
 For more on this please refer to www.answersingenesis.org.
 “The Creation Evangelism Solution. Evolution can thus be questioned both in scientific terms as well as in regard to it's philosophical claim to be scientific. For further discussion of this matter see Myths of Origin and the Theory of Evolution.”
 “The Creation Evangelism Solution.”
 Ken Ham, Genesis and the Decay of the Nations (Green Forest: Master Books, 1997), 73.
 Ibid., 74.
 Ken Ham, Evolution, Creation, & the Culture Wars (Green Forest: Master Books, Inc., 2005), 9.
 Ham, Genesis and the Decay of the Nations, 76. Bold emphasis made by original writer.
 Ken Ham, The Lie: Evolution (Green Forest: Master Books, Inc., 2006), 116.
 Ham, The Lie: Evolution, 116.
 Ibid., 117.
 “The Creation Evangelism Solution.”
 Ham, Why Won't They Listen?, 57.
 Ham, The Lie: Evolution, 117.
 Ham, Why Won't They Listen?, 61.
 Ham, The Lie: Evolution, 121.
 Don B. DeYoung, “Theological Implications of Deep Time” Creation Research Society Quarterly (June 2002): 23. Dr. DeYoung serves as the “Book Review Editor” of this journal.
 Denis Alexander, Rebuilding the Matrix (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001), 332.
 Bert Witvoet, “Put on the Full Worldview of God!” Christian Educators (February 2002): 1. Mr. Witvoet is the Editor of this publication.
 “The evolution debate [is] actually about the great fundamental questions of philosophy—where man and the world came from, and where they are going.” Taken from “Pope: Science ‘Too Narrow' to Explain Creation,” available at http://www.newsmax.com/archives/is/2007/4/11/125342.shtml?s=ic; Internet. Accessed 11 April 2002.
 Arthur C. Custance, Evolution or Creation? vol. IV, The Doorway Papers (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1976), 24.
 Mary Anne Pirie, “Tackling the Evolution Issue” Teach Kids! (September-October 2006): 13.
 This refers to Ramlösa Kyrka and Pastor Alex Gallardo of Helsingborg, Sweden.
 This was, incidentally, the State Church of Sweden until the year 2000.
 “Theological Implications of Deep Time”: 22.
 “In the beginning”, 23-26.
 Not unlike the confused Athenians who first heard Paul preaching his Gospel in Acts 17.
 Mark 16:15.