Here Is Dr. Hugh Ross December Letter To His Supporters
It Is Followed By A Response By Ross Olson
This fall has been a heart-rending time for our nation and for others around the globe. At a time when so many people are suffering catastrophic losses, my own pain experiences seem trivial by comparison. But, I'd like to share with you what's in my heart.
Watching an eight-hour, prime-time PBS special on evolution tied me in knots and brought me to tears. Night after night the series painted viewers into an impossible corner, forcing them to choose between taking the Bible seriously and taking science seriously. It portrayed anguished Christians, including students and faculty at Wheaton College, our nation's most prestigious Christian campus, painfully pinned between denying the Bible (interpreted as young-earth creationism) and denying science (interpreted as evolution).
Despite more than fifteen years of writing, broadcasting, and public speaking-sometimes at or near Wheaton-Reasons To Believe seems to have made no dent. The vast majority of Christians-not to mention media moguls-still haven't gotten the message that the words of the Bible and facts of nature agree. They still don't (or won't) acknowledge that a biblically and scientifically testable creation model can and does exist. About a week after that PBS series aired, I was in northern California, sharing the platform of a large church with Duane Gish, from the Institute for Creation Research, and Eugenic Scott, from the National Center for Science Education. There I stood like a midget between two giants, people backed by wealthy and powerful institutions, each ironically thundering the same message: "Science is impotent to investigate creation." Dr. Gish cut science loose on the basis of "no human witnesses to the creation of the universe." Dr. Scott cut creation loose on the grounds that science "is restricted to explaining natural causes" and that one "cannot put God in a test tube."
Hundreds of Gish and Scott followers came to cheer their champions. Only a handful in the crowd of about 1,200 had ever even heard of me. But God gave me favor. He opened people's ears and minds to hear the alternative I presented, and the feedback afterward was wonderfully positive. The most frequently asked question (even from some of the cheerleaders): "How can I find out more about this testable creation model?" The most frequent comment: "I wish I'd heard about you and RTB before." One skeptic exclaimed, "My life will never be the same!"
As clearly as I see my weakness and limitation, I see the might of the Almighty. He has worked miracles to provide RTB with a building, a superb staff, fantastic friends, and opportunities too numerous to count. My frustration and grief turn to joy as I think about what He has done. And my painful experiences remind me daily of my utter dependence on God for everything I need to fulfill His call on my life-the prayer support, the scholars, the RTB chapters, the communication tools, and the financial support.
As you know, these are difficult days for most ministries. With the economy wavering and the needs of relief organizations surging, donation to evangelistic endeavors has waned. Nonetheless, I am encouraged. The number of people supporting Reasons To Believe continues to increase. God has helped us cut some costs. And while stock market declines have squeezed our resources, commitment to our vision and mission has steadily grown.
This is no time to pull back. It is definitely time to pray, and that's what Kathy and I and the rest of the staff are doing, more than ever. In these prayer times, God has reminded me to specifically invite you to invest in Reasons To Believe. I ask you today, before this fateful year ends, to "buy stock" guaranteed to appreciate-and to be appreciated-for all eternity.
Gratefully yours in Christ's Calling,
P.O. BOX 5978, PASADENA, CA 91117 -TEL 626.335.1480 -FAX 626.963.6504 WWW.REASONS.ORG
Dr. Hugh Ross
Reasons to Believe
PO Box 5978
Pasadena CA 91117
Dear Dr. Ross,
Your December letter to supporters speaks of pain, and I want to again share with you, as I have done for several years, the pain I feel when reading your material. It is the ache of knowing that although God has used your ministry by His grace in the lives of some, your ideas have also become a stumbling block for many more.
I admonish you as a brother believer and fellow fallible vessel to open your heart to all that the Lord wants to say to you. Please have the courage to re-examine those assumptions you made as a teenager - that the Big Bang was correct and is our best evidence for creation. Be bold enough to turn to your followers and say, "I now see more clearly and I need to change."
Please do not "circle the wagons" mentally or spiritually. Do not say, "but God is using us," because God is gracious. Some who have been used by God for the sake of His kingdom will still have many tears to be wiped away. Some, sadly and frighteningly, will be told, "Depart from me for I never knew you." I am not accusing you of falling in the latter category but want to remind us both that we are not serving a fool. He cannot be deceived, as we so often are.
There are clues to the problem in your December 7, 2001 letter to supporters, mostly in the subtle ways you shade the truth as you speak of your opponents.
The recent PBS Series on evolution is indeed an attack on truth, yet the counter-attack you envision betrays your misunderstanding of the problem. The choice is not between taking the Bible seriously or taking science seriously, it is between accepting or rejecting present interpretation of scientific evidence. This is a massive difference, but your failure to see or articulate it is related to your own unwillingness to question mainstream science on most basic questions. What mainstream scientists have done is what Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, writes about in Romans 1 - they are suppressing the truth.
The Big Bang is in big trouble scientifically - as I think you really know in the bottom of your heart - and hangs onto popularity only because, as they say, "we have no other theory." There is even a very credible case for a young earth and a recent creation, something that is censored by those who are keepers of the secular monopoly.
Those who hold out against the tide of overwhelming public opinion ought not to be criticized and ostracized on that basis alone, because it often turns out that they were right. In some Biblical-historical areas you are aware of this phenomenon, such as the controversy concerning whether the city of Jericho existed in the time of Joshua. That was a battle that the Biblical literalists won, despite being ridiculed by academia for decades. The problem was actually the interpretation of the scientific evidence, and illustrated how errors can become so woven into the fabric of a scientific paradigm that they seem to confirm themselves.
You bemoan the dilemma of Wheaton College students, wrestling with these issues, but give no hint of the fact that they are anguished precisely because they have been immersed in something close to your brand of long ages, progressive creation, death before sin and humanoid soul-less creatures co-existing with Adam. That is NOT compatible with the Bible and is the source of the difficulty. You are so familiar with your own views that you do not even see the inconsistencies, but your students and students of likeminded professors will often do so.
The problems, as so many have tried to tell you, are far beyond length of the days in Genesis chapter one. The whole fabric of Scripture is damaged, because the consequences of sin are blurred if physical death was present before The Fall. Death is treated as an intruder throughout the Old Testament and not just "part of life." The second Adam had to suffer and die physically to conquer death and sin together, something that does not quite fit together in your view. If human beings are the crown of creation, as indeed they are, then God took a long time and used a circuitous method to get to us. The picture of a God Who can be very patient but can also intervene swiftly and confirms His presence miraculously is hardly compatible with One Who takes eons and uses processes nearly indistinguishable from completely natural forces.
It may seem liberating to some, who are working in an academic environment and have not seen any evidence to oppose the prevailing views, to be told that they can accept it all and still believe the Bible. The problems may not become apparent until later, or may be suppressed and never acknowledged. Similarly, although on a different issue, a person trapped in homosexual behavior may be exhilarated to find a church that tells him, "God made you this way and it is to be celebrated!" Perhaps later he will see the destructiveness of that concept, or it may be that he goes to his death unaware that deception came disguised as affirmation.
What is missing in your analysis is any recognition of suppressed evidence and faulty construction of the elaborate intellectual superstructure that is passed off as unshakeable truth.
Also disturbing is your tendency to paint yourself as a poor persecuted minority opposed to rich and powerful opponents. Yes, Eugenia Scott and the Center for Science Education are not hurting for money or influence. The entire government-sponsored academic establishment and the mass media give abundant aid and comfort to her position. But Duane Gish has been more persecuted than you. The Institute for Creation Research is a donation based organization just as yours is, and without seeing balance sheets I would have to say that if they are better funded than you it is because they have been used by God to transform more grateful lives.
Finally, it is no credit to your integrity to imply that Duane Gish rejects science when he states that there were "no human witnesses to the creation of the universe." The point, as you well know, is that experimental science cannot deal with unique historical events, not that there are no scientific data bearing on the question. Dr. Gish in his writings and debates has time after time pointed out that life cannot arise by natural processes and that the fossil record does not support evolution (or even long ages.)
I have heard you tell your story and know that you are a sincere and sensitive man who truly wants to serve our wonderful Lord. Because your relationship with Jesus Christ is firm, it is not altered by the logical consequences of your ideas. But there is a problem with them, and it has a delayed fuse on it so that your followers, who will take the ideas to their logical conclusion, because of those ideas may reject the Lord we love.
Many great men have sown the seeds of later destruction. Luther, despondent over failure of the Jews to come to Christ by grace through faith, wrote some anti-Semitic things late in life that were used by others for evil. Kierkegaard, reacting to the impersonal "god of the philosophers," stressed experience of God as the most important element in our faith - which is true if it is the God of the Bible. But experience alone, unguided by disciplined adherence to the Scriptures, has led many down dead-end or dangerous paths.
May your legacy be pure gold unmixed with wood, hay and stubble.
Your Brother in Christ,
Ross S. Olson MD
5512 14th Ave. So.
Minneapolis MN 55417