‘If I have told you earthly things, and you believe not, how shall you believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?’ John 3:12.
Billy Graham is a man who had a great impact on mankind throughout most of the 20th century. The number of Christian conversions under the preaching of Graham is unknown, but may exceed any Christian preacher of any other time or place. A man you may not have heard as much about was a friend of Graham’s named Charles Templeton. He, also, has impacted men of the 20th century, but in an opposite manner.
Templeton began a career that seemed to be following a similar direction as Graham’s, however, there came a time when he chose a completely different path.
Charles Templeton was born in 1915 in Canada. He became an evangelist, soon rose to prominence, and the numbers drawn to his crusades surpassed those of Graham. In 1946, he was listed among those best used of God by the National Association of Evangelicals.
Templeton became a vice-president for ‘Youth for Christ International’ in 1945.
Unfortunately, things began to change in Templeton’s life.
The movie, “Billy”, tells the story of how Charles Templeton began to question God by first questioning creation. He once said to Billy Graham:
‘But, Billy, it’s simply not possible any longer to believe, for instance, the biblical account of creation. The world wasn’t created over a period of days a few thousand years ago; it has evolved over millions of years. It’s not a matter of speculation; it’s demonstrable fact.
Charles Templeton left the ministry, left his faith, and ultimately left God when he failed to believe that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. It did not happen instantly, however, he began the slide down the slippery slope when he chose to disbelieve that ‘in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.’
During a speaking trip to England, Professor John Rendle-Short (Chairman emeritus, Answers in Genesis Australia) told a group of pastors that if they rejected a literal Genesis in favour of evolutionary ideas (or even just millions of years), this would put them on a slippery slide of unbelief. If we re-interpret God’s Word in Genesis to fit man’s fallible opinion, then ultimately, it would only be consistent to apply this same hermeneutic (method of interpretation) elsewhere — even to Christ’s Resurrection.
Billy Graham found himself facing a similar decision. Would he believe what the world, what those who claimed to ‘know’, were teaching, or would he believe God?
Will a person believe scientist or the Bible? Many today are struggling with this same issue.
There is a battle being fought, a drama being played out if you will, and the stakes are the same with each of us. Will we choose to believe God or man? Many are trying to fit the Biblical account into the scientific account that is being taught today because there are those who are teaching that the Biblical account cannot be accepted literally.
When the educational institutions and the most educated around us seem to agree and are teaching that the seven-day creation story cannot be true, how many will begin to agree with P.Z. Myers who believes?
P.Z. Myers – “Religious people believe the most ridiculous things.”
It is as Ken Ham and Stacia Byers discussed, a slippery slope when one begins to question creation. So slippery, in fact, that most end up at the bottom, as did Charles Templeton, who eventually wrote a book entitled, Farewell to God, in which he supposedly made his final ‘arguments’. His arguments were actually questions, not arguments – questions that he could not reconcile in his human frailty so he rejected the One who does have the answers.
He, like P.Z. Myers, and others who have chosen this path continued to ‘argue’. While these men, and others like them, claim to ‘know’ the truth, it seems that they were (are) still seeking. Templeton wasn’t able to ‘arrive’ at his conclusion and be at peace enough to live his life as an atheist without continuing to search for evidence that he was right. He must not have been satisfied with his conclusion because in the end, with tears in his eyes, he stated that he missed Jesus.
It isn’t hard to find the reasons for this unrest. The Bible introduces mankind to his Creator. It is in the pages of the Bible that we find not only an account of creation, but we meet the Creator:
‘Have you not known? Have you not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, does not grow weak nor weary? There is no searching of His understanding.’ Isaiah 48:28
The pagan world has always worshiped some god. However, it is in Christ we come to know the Creator God as Paul taught:
I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth,…Acts 17:23-24
It is the God of the Bible who not only creates, but it is He who redeems:
…for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ …He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” Acts 17:28 & 31
Satan seeks to destroy man’s faith in the Creator God because when we begin to question the Creator we are also questioning the Redeemer. When we allow any man to destroy this hope, we destroy the person as well.
Dr. John Rendle Short has called this trip that Templeton took a “slippery slope”. In other words, one cannot reject creation without also rejecting the resurrection. I have seen this sad slide in lives of people around me.
How is this to be avoided? How do Christians prevent their children from becoming the victims of this age?
“It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me. John 6 :45
The answer will not be found in a science book, but in the pages of the Bible. It is by faith and having been taught by God that children will be able to overcome. Searching the pages of a science text did not reveal what Templeton needed to know. In the end, he stated that he missed Jesus.