Jesus and Creationism – Part 2

Category: Bible/Christian Worldview 27

In part 1 of this two part study, I showed that Jesus clearly believed that Adam and Eve lived at the beginning of creation, not billions of years afterwards like the theory of evolution teaches. This has major implications for the creation vs. evolution debate. In today’s world, young-earth creationists are mocked and seen as being idiotic. However, for the Christian, Jesus believing in a young earth is important. If Jesus believed in such things, then shouldn’t Christians?

Sadly, most Christian literature on the creation-evolution debate does not mention the teachings of Jesus in the passages that I mentioned in part 1 (Mark 10:6; Mark 13:19-20; Luke 11:50-51). In his study on this topic, Terry Mortenson, a writer for Answers in Genesis, analyzed 61 different old-earth Christian sources. Out of the 61, only three dealt with the three passages of Jesus and tried to rebuke the young-earth interpretation of them.[1]

Most books on the Gospels of Mark and Luke say nothing or very little about these passages and the books that do are so vague that it is very difficult to understand where the authors stand on this issue.[2] Almost all old-earth commentaries on the book of Genesis and theology textbooks that teach an old-earth do not examine the Jesus passages, or do not make the connection to the age of the earth.[3] In fact, most old-earth writers make no reference at all with the passages where Jesus talks about the age of the earth or make no connection with the age of the earth.[4]

Wayne Grudem

However, as mentioned above, there are three authors who do talk about Jesus’ teachings. The first is Wayne Grudem. He is the author of the best-selling theology textbook, Systematic Theology. This text is used by many Christian college students and has over 300,000 copies in print. Overall, it is a very conservative theology book.

However, when it comes to creation-evolution it is a different story. He does mention the passages where Jesus speaks about the beginning of the world but he tries to debunk them. He mentions Mark 10:6, but he ignores the other two passages (Mark 13:19-20 and Luke 11:50-51). He tries to refute the view that Jesus taught that Adam and Eve were created at the beginning of creation by saying: “This argument also has some force, but old-Earth advocates may respond that Jesus is just referring to the whole of Genesis 1-2 as ‘the beginning of creation,’ in contrast to the argument from the laws given by Moses that the Pharisees were depending on (v. 4).”[5]

This is a strange argument since it still confirms that Adam and Eve were created at the beginning of the world. Also, whatever the Pharisees were relying on does not make Jesus’ statement irrelevant concerning the belief concerning when Adam and Eve were created. It also seems that Grudem is imagining how someone may avoid the young earth argument. Mortenson mentions that he knows of no old-earth creationist who has argued this way.[6]

C. John Collins

C. John Collins, the second author, attempts to use Matthew 19:4, 8 to argue against young-earth creationism. Matthew 19:4, 8 reads: “Haven’t you read,” he [Jesus] replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female…Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.”

Collins argues that in these verses Jesus is referring to the beginning of the human race and not the world. He says that since there are places in Scripture that “the beginning” is used to refer to the beginning of the human race then it could mean the human race here. Collins concludes that Matthew 19 must not refer to the beginning of the world. He says, “If we apply this insight to the verses in Matthew 19, we find that they most naturally refer to ‘the beginning’ of the human race” (which is billions of years after the creation of the world in his thinking).[7]

Concerning Mark 10:6 and 13:19 he believes that an absolute beginning is irrelevant to Jesus’ point, thus they do not have any bearing on the age of the world.[8] He also believes that the young-earth argument “finds its credibility from the way the English ‘from the beginning’ seems so definite. He argues that the Greek “the” is not so fixed.”[9]

Although Collin’s arguments seem impressive, they are not very strong. First, young earth creationists do not make their argument from the English word “the” like Collins thinks. Also, the English “the” is no more definite than the Greek.[10] Second, just because some verses use “the beginning” to refer to the beginning of the human race does not mean that it cannot mean “the beginning of creation.” The meaning of “the beginning” needs to be understood in context. And I argued for the meaning of “the beginning of creation” in part 1.

Don Stoner

The third and last author is Don Stoner. He uses an argument that seems strong at first, but with a little bit of thinking they completely fail. Here is his argument: “Adam was created on the sixth day of creation, not the first. This was not the beginning of creation no matter how long or short the creation days were.”[11]

His argument is basically that only if mankind was created on Day 1 of creation week could you say that man was created “in the beginning.” Since Adam was made on Day 6 then it wasn’t “the beginning.” However, there is a huge problem with this kind of thinking. In Hebrews 4:3-4, “the beginning of creation” refers to the entire creation week, not just Day 1.

Stoner also argues that the Greek word translated “creation” in Mark 10:6 should be translated “institution” because Jesus was talking about the beginning of the institution of marriage and not the entire creation. He bases this translation on 1 Peter 2:13 where “creation” is translated as “authority instituted.” 1 Peter 2:13 says, “to every authority instituted among men.”[12] This verse is talking about human institutions.

In this phrase, the Greek word for “human” modifies the Greek word for “creation.” In this passage, Peter is talking about governors, kings, and slave masters which are human creations. In fact, the literal translation is “human creation,” not “authority instituted.” The context of this verse is very different from the context of Mark 10:6 and is speaking of things made by humans and not God.[13] Like I mentioned above, we need to interpret Bible passages on context. Thus, this argument of his does not debunk the young-earth interpretation of Jesus’ teachings.

One Last Thought

Before I finish this article I would like to briefly discuss one more topic and its relationship to Jesus’ teachings on the age of the world. Carl Wieland, managing director and writer at Creation Ministers International (creation.com), notes that the evolutionary timeline places man at the end of creation and not the beginning as Jesus teaches.[14] In his article, Wieland goes on to speak about a conversation that he had with a distinguished Christian professor over the topic of what Jesus taught.

This professor believed that God created the universe billions of years ago, and when Wieland spoke to him about the Jesus verses the professor said that “Jesus didn’t know as much science as we do today.” When Wieland responded that Jesus was the creator, God in the flesh; and that he does not lie and that he was present at creation, the professor responded: “Ah, but that’s where it gets very complex – it has to do with the theology of the incarnation, where Jesus deliberately laid aside many of the things that had to do with pre-incarnate divinity.”[15] To sum it up Jesus didn’t know what he was talking about.

This professor is not the only one who has believed that Jesus was mistaken. The website, BioLogos, a Christian site that is dedicated to teaching that God used evolution has stated:

“If Jesus as a finite human being erred from time to time, there is no reason at all to suppose that Moses, Paul, John wrote Scripture without error. Rather, we are wise to assume that the biblical authors expressed themselves as human beings writing from the perspectives of their own finite, broken horizons.”[16]

So, Jesus and the Bible authors were wrong at times. There are many problems with this view. First, let me examine the belief that Jesus laid aside part of his divinity at the incarnation (when he became a man). This teaching is called Kenotic Theology. Kenotic Theology is defined as “a theology that focuses on the person of Christ in terms of some form of self-limitation by the preexistent Son in his becoming man.” Critical scholarship was trying to understand Jesus in his cultural environment which, of course, was “prescientific.”[17]

Kenotic Theology has been around for a long while. It was rejected as heresy (false teaching) in the fourth century, but has revived in modern times to help understand Jesus living in a “prescientific” world. This belief is, of course, in error and those who accept it usually do not understand the passage it comes from. The idea of Kenotic Theology comes from Philippians 2:6-7:

[Jesus] Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped; rather, he emptied [kenosis] Himself by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

The word kenotic comes from the Greek word kenosis which is translated as “emptied.” Notice what the passage actually says, that Christ “emptied Himself by taking…” He didn’t empty out of himself anything; rather he emptied himself by taking.

“That is, it was a subtraction by means of adding—adding human nature to His divine nature, not taking away anything divine.” This is, in fact, what makes our salvation possible in the first place: Christ “shares our humanity” with us (Hebrews 2:14-17); is our “kinsman-redeemer” (Isaiah 59:20); is still fully divine so He can be our Savior (Isaiah 43:11); and can bear the wrath of God for our sins (Isaiah 53:10).[18]

“But on Earth, Jesus voluntarily surrendered the independent exercise of divine powers like omniscience without His Father’s authority. But Jesus never surrendered such absolute divine attributes as His perfect goodness, mercy, and (for our purposes), truth, so He would never teach something false. Furthermore, Jesus preached with the authority of God the Father (John 5:30, 8:28), who is always omniscient. So these theistic evolutionists [someone who believes that God used evolution] really must charge God the Father with error as well.”[19]

This means that Jesus could not have erred when he was teaching about Adam and Eve being created “at the beginning.” Wieland sums it up very well:

“OK, let’s assume for the sake of the argument that firstly, creation was by evolution, over millions of years of death and suffering—and that Jesus did perform some sort of lobotomy on Himself, so that He could no longer recall what really took place. So He just understood Genesis in the most natural straightforward way, not realizing what the real truth was. What you’re claiming in that case amounts to this: That God the Father, knowing the real truth, permitted not just the Apostles, but His beloved Son, while on Earth, to believe and teach things that were utter falsehoods. Furthermore, it means that the Father permitted these false teachings to appear—repeatedly—in His revealed Word. With the result that for some 2,000 years, the vast majority of Christians were seriously misled about such things as not just the time and manner of creation, but gospel-crucial matters such as the origin of sin, and of death and suffering.”[20]

Essentially, God the Father is a deceitful being who doesn’t care about falsehood. This goes against everything that the Bible teaches about God and his love. If Jesus and the Father erred in anything, then why should we believe anything that they say?

I’ll end this article with two Bible verses:

If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, they are conceited and understand nothing (1 Timothy 6:3-4).

But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set.If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say (John 5:45-47)?

To conclude, we can believe that God (who is perfect in everything) created mankind at the beginning of creation, or we can believe what modern humans (who are imperfect in everything) when it comes to the beginning of the world?

What side do you fall on? Leave a comment below.


[1] Terry Mortenson. 2008b. “Jesus’ View of the Age of the Earth” in Coming to Grips with Genesis. Green Forest: Master Books. Pg. 343.

[2] Ibid. 321-322, 324-325. Mortenson notes that C.E.N Cranfield, in his commentary on Mark, believes that Mark 10:6 does not support the young earth view but he gives no justification. The Gospel According to St Mark: The Cambridge Greek Testament Commentary (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1959). He makes no comment at all on Mark 13:19.

[3] Ibid. 328-331. Amazingly, many young-earth writers do not look at these verses either or only look at them in a very limited way (327, 329).

[4] Ibid. 331-333, 335-336, 339-342, 344.

[5] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994. Pg. 297.

[6] Mortenson, 331.

[7] C. John Collins, Science & Faith: friends or foes? Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2003. Pg. 107. For the record Collins does say that we are to gain insight from the context of a passage.

[8] Collins, 107.

[9] Ibid. 106.

[10] Mortenson, 337.

[11] Don Stoner, A new Look at an Old Earth. Eugene, Or.: Harvest House Publishers, 1997. Pg. 53.

[12] Stoner, 54.

[13] Mortenson, 339.

[14] Carl Wieland. “Jesus on the age of the earth.” Creation 32 (2): 51-54. http://creation.com/jesus-age-earth.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Sparks, K., “After Inerrancy, Evangelicals and the Bible in the Postmodern Age, part 4” Biologos Forum, 26 June 2010.

[17] S.M. Smith. “Kenosis, Kenotic Theology.” In Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. 2nd Edition. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 2001. Pg. 651.

[18] Sarfati in Wieland.

[19] Sarfati.

[20] Wieland.

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