My family and I watched with interest the debate last night between Ken Ham and Bill Nye (the self proclaimed “Science guy”). As debates go, it was entertaining. Unfortunately, as most debates also go, both sides gave little compelling information that would actually change people’s minds. So the winner is?
Nobody. But there are plenty of losers. One is the Christian witness.
The debate was over no more than 15 minutes when I thought I’d head to Facebook and catch some post-debate commentary. Unfortunately, what I found did not surprise me. While there was a good deal of civil discussion amongst Christians I follow on Facebook, I saw a many others ripping each other apart over being a “young earth creationist” or a “God directed evolutionist.” Each was convinced that the other was spreading heresy and destroying the good name of Christianity by their foolishness.
Really? Destroying the good name of Christianity? Sorry, but it is those who engage in this grade-school name calling who are destroying the good name of Christianity.
Ken Ham was the first to admit (multiple times) that the age of the earth is not scientifically provable – by either side. He bases his belief on the combination of observable science and the authority of Scripture. Could he be wrong? Yes. Does he have a compelling argument? While I don’t think he gave the best debate performance last night, the evidence I’ve seen at Answers In Genesis and other similar sites is as compelling as any other explanation out there.
For the record, I am a young earth creationist. But my Christianity does not live or die on that hill. I will not publicly rip another Christian for believing in God directed evolution. There is nowhere in Scripture where that type of behavior toward other brothers and sisters in Christ is commanded. Nowhere. In fact, we have very clear instructions when we believe someone is in error:
“that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ..” Ephesians 4:14-15
“For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this:“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another.” Galatians 5:13-15
“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.” Galatians 6:1
And I could list a dozen more verses where we are commanded to deal lovingly and gently with one another. Not out of our flesh, but through the Spirit. Scripture helps us recognize which we are walking in by examining the nature of our demeanor:
“Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self- control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.“ Galatians 5:18-26
I’m tired of it. You who publicly thrash other brothers and sisters in Christ with hatred, contentions, outbursts of wrath, dissensions, revelries, and the like are walking in the flesh. You are making a public spectacle of yourselves.
But most of all, you are destroying the witness of Jesus Christ. Christ above all commands us to “love one another.” Yet you who bite and devour your brethren when you disagree with them are hypocrites. You are demonstrating the leaven of the Pharisees for the world to see.
Jesus saved His harshest rebukes for the Pharisees, because hypocrisy is one of the, if not the sin that most damages our Christian witness. If Jesus were here today He would say…
If you haven’t noticed, this world is in a crisis. It needs to hear the gospel of Christ and see it lived out. If you must debate these things, do so with a spirit of humility and love. Gain understanding of what your “opponent” really is saying. If it begins to get heated, take it private – or better yet – spend some time in prayer until you can humbly enter into the debate again.
But do not continue in your public spectacle and destroy the message of the gospel in the process. For that, God will hold you accountable.