The Lutheran Church on Creationism

The Lutheran Church on Creationism

A few months ago, I found myself perusing the most recent issue of the Lutheran Magazine The Lutheran Witness. I stumbled upon an impressive article called “Concerning the Six-Day Creation” by Matthew C. Harrison, the president of the entire denomination, and I was dumbfounded.

Today I want to do an in-depth response to that article. You can follow along at the link above, and enjoy!

“Creation is a mystery.”

Not really. What is mysterious to me, however, is how you are still capable of being a young-earth creationist in the twenty-first century. I think that if you took the time to learn about evolution by those who understand what they are, you would know that we have, indeed, figured out “creation” with near certainty.

“Just as science will forever have a problem with Jesus being God and man, with his virgin birth, or with His resurrection, so science will forever scoff at, or, at best, view the creation account in Genesis as mythology. Though I’m no scientist, I’ve had challenges myself believing that the creation accounts are history. When will a talking snake appear believable to reason? How, in the face of the dominant theory of evolution, will the special creation of Adam out of dust and in a flash appear reasonable? And what of Eve from a rib? How can I possibly hold on to an actual creation of all things in six natural days?”

You can’t. Unless you close your eyes, stick your fingers in your ears, and try really really hard not to think about it. But at least you’re getting there.

“We reject every doctrine which denies or limits the work of creation as taught in Scripture.”


“. . . a process of evolution: [the world] has, in immense periods of time, developed more or less of itself.”

Who told you that that is what evolution is!? A Google search takes 10 seconds. It took me only seconds to find the definition of evolution (I already knew, but I like to be positive before making a claim): “the process by which different kinds of living organisms are thought to have developed and diversified from earlier forms during the history of the earth.” The development of living organisms is not equal to the development of the world as a whole, by which I assume you mean the earth or the universe, as “world” is a somewhat vague term. Biological evolution did not cause the universe to originate. No one believes that. And the straw man doesn’t make you look any better.

“Since no man was present when it pleased God to create the world, we must look for a reliable account of creation to God’s own record, found in God’s own book, the Bible. We believe God’s own record with full confidence . . . “

Why? How do you know he was there? Because he said so? If I said the Flying Spaghetti Monster was there, which I claim to know because he told me, would you believe me? You can’t blame us for being less than dissatisfied for that pitiful excuse for an answer and using science to discover one that is more in line with reality.

“Over the centuries, there have been a plethora of attempts to alleviate the ‘scandal’ of the creation accounts and to understand them in a way that is less offensive to human reason.”

You just admitted that your beliefs are offensive to human reason. Think about it…take all the time you need.

“. . . suggesting that the earth is somehow millions or billions of years old actually [compounds] the scandal in my view. Can we somehow stretch the meaning of a ‘day’ in Genesis 1 into an eon or long period of time? If so, then how is it that light is created prior to the sun? How is it that vegetation is created prior to the sun? How is it that God created fish and birds prior to the other animals?”

Again… your arguments are self-defeating. This is still the Genesis account’s order of things no matter how long the days are. Elongating the days doesn’t change the order. And these are the questions asked by skeptics all the time. Pastor Harrison, I think you are more of a skeptic than you think you are.

“You simply cannot stretch the days of Genesis 1 into eons in order to somehow accommodate science or evolutionary theory in any meaningful or coherent way.”

No, no you cannot. Therefore you reject Genesis as a plausible account of origins. Because they contradict fields of study with tangible evidence.

“Why do I believe that the creation accounts are historical? I believe them because I believe in Jesus Christ as my Savior. And I hear the words of Jesus that He Himself believes that the creation accounts are historical . . . And both He and the Scriptures bear witness to their absolute inerrancy and infallibility.”

Around and around and around we go… I’m starting to feel a bit dizzy.

“There will always be a struggle between faith and reason.”


“As Lutherans, we are not anti-science.”

But you just said…

“A recent study of the human genome concluded, by tracing markers on the male chromosome, that all human beings have one common male ancestor. That’s phenomenal to consider!”

Yep! He’s known as the Y-chromosomal Adam and he lived approximately 275,000 years ago.

“Christians should not be against science, but only against philosophies which would eliminate God from creation, deny his existence or attack the veracity of His Word.”

Ah, I see. You like science if it gives the answers that align with your preconceived beliefs. And when it doesn’t, you regard it as one big mystery. I think that living that way would give me headaches.

“. . . the recognition of the soteriological purpose of Scripture in no sense permits us to call into question or deny the historicity or factuality of matters recorded in the Bible.

We therefore reject the following views . . .

That recognition of the primary purpose of Scripture makes it irrelevant whether such questions of fact as the following are answered in the affirmative: Were Adam and Eve real historical individuals? Did Israel cross the Red Sea on dry land? Did the brazen serpent miracle actually take place? Was Jesus really born of a virgin? Did Jesus perform miracles attributed to Him? Did Jesus’ resurrection actually involve the return to life of His dead body?”

A Statement of Biblical and Confessional Principles (1973), quoted in the article

WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T ASK QUESTIONS. Reading that made me feel sick. This is why the thought of coming out to a Lutheran family as an atheist made me feel sick as well. I asked the questions I wasn’t supposed to ask.

20 thoughts on “The Lutheran Church on Creationism

  • April 15, 2018 at 8:54 am

    If one can believe that the world was created 6000 years ago, including in it evidence that the universe was much, much older than that (I wonder why that was necessary, why not create a universe that looks 6000 years old?) … if this was done, by magic (there is no other way), then why not believe that the universe was created 15 years ago, or 15 minutes ago, with all of us given false memories, making us think the world was 6000 years old? There would be no way to tell which it was: 15 years, minutes, millennia, whatever.

    But God’s Creation (their description) bears a different witness. The Creation, that theists use to “prove” the existence of their god, in all of its complexity and beauty says the Earth and the Universe are billions of years old.

    So, what are you going to believe, the Bible or your lying eyes?

    • April 15, 2018 at 3:42 pm

      psst. My husband’s cousin said it’s because “god aged the rocks…to fool us…” and I think right there was when I pulled back another step from the entire business…

      • April 15, 2018 at 4:04 pm

        I’m always amused when creationists say this. They are, in effect, saying that God is a liar and only humans tell the truth.

        I sometimes point them to this web page, with the refrain “Humans wrote the Bible; God wrote the rocks.”

    • April 15, 2018 at 5:17 pm

      How very “Matrix” of you. Hmm…have we all been sleeping this whole time? The machines HAVE taken over, after all…

  • April 15, 2018 at 9:28 am

    My favorite attempt at reconciliation is Jesus riding a dinosaur. Disgusting. Good for you and yourself for asking the right questions. I’m sorry for the hurt it causes between you and your family

  • April 15, 2018 at 10:57 am

    Fightings battles that have already been won? There is still very little scholarship of any kind. Giving the Bible infallible license has continued faiths blinding effects to reality. Be patient. I think technology is going to make it very hard to believe these stories much longer.

  • April 15, 2018 at 11:20 am

    The obvious problem, in my mind: Is the bible really the word of god? It was not written by god, but by men. Did this god hang around telling the scribes what to write? In order to do so, did he supply the Hebrew alphabet with which to have it written? Did he provide all the parchment, the inks, the styluses that were used? If he did all these things, why did he even need scribes? He should have been able to instantly teach any person how to write his words. They didn’t even have to know how to read, all they needed was to know how to write. And that is almost absurd, because they would also have had to know how to spell, but I guess god taught them how to do that too.
    This, of course, all depended upon already having a complete language, in this case Hebrew, available for use. How long does it take to create a language, especially when there is no idea to base creating a language on. Language started as ugh and aghs, or whatever sounds the first hominids made. To go from that to a complete vocabulary did not happen overnight, yet in the bible Adam was able to speak to Eve. The bible suggests they were created with a ready-made language. But nowhere does the bible say, on such a day god created language. That can only be because by the time homo sapiens evolved enough to have achual languages, everyone took it for granted that languages existed, and no one ever had to invent them.
    I could go on, but why bother. The bible was written by men, not a god, and it had to wait until not only language had been invented, but until written words had been invented AND spellings had been normalized for each written alphabet. Which means the alphabets themselves had to be normalized, or the scriptures from which the bible came from would have been unreadable today. There are just too many assumptions made in the first chapter of Genesis for it to be thought of as the word of god.
    I guess I am just not wise enough to understand the power of faith in the unbelievable…

  • April 15, 2018 at 12:20 pm

    The one thing that always nagged at me when it came to belief and the Bible, when someone said “just read the Bible, the truth is in there,” is this very simple thing: The Bible as we know it is a heavily edited collection of documents.
    There’ve been a half dozen or more occasions when the Christian Bible has had books added to it or discarded for different reasons. I knew something was bothering me when I was about 8 (and just baptized) and noticed my Bible had the words “King James Version” printed on it. Version? What? Why would “the truth” need “versions?” That’s what got me doing some investigating on early Christianity and the books of the bible. Bart Ehrman is a great resource for early sects and books of the bible, the ecumenical counsels and whatnot. I finally started buying his books (instead of checking them out over and over) to do some comparisons.
    And to quote one of my fave lines (and films) of all time: Drummond tells Brady on the stand: “The Bible is a book. It’s a good book, but it’s not the only book.” (Inherit the Wind, Spencer Tracy and Frederic March).

  • April 15, 2018 at 2:12 pm

    Every time the Bible was transcribed the language changed a bit. It went from Ancient Hebrew to more modern Hebrew, to Greek and finally to Aramaic and Latin. You cannot tell me that there was never an error, a misprint, a mis-read among all of those hundreds of scribes and drippy quill pens or styli. And every mistake became part of the canon.

    And in all of that time, it’s barely noted that a Bible was not considered standard reading, because most people couldn’t read. Priests, scholars, and possibly teachers, but not the common man. The first English Bible didn’t happen until the 14th century.

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  • April 15, 2018 at 7:22 pm

    “…it is because you do not like its contents.”

    There is more to the Closet Atheist’s unbelief than a dislike of aspects of Scripture. Continuing to read her blog will make this clear.

    “…don’t embarrass yourself by saying the scriptures are not accurate.”

    Depends on what she means when she says “not accurate.”

    After all: Christians and non-Christians have their own interpretation of Scripture.

    For example: to Lutherans, Catholics’ interpretation of Scripture is “not accurate,” and vice versa.

    “There is no other reliable account of the beginning…”

    The Bible itself can’t teach a person anything.

    The proof? Put a Bible in front of you. You can wait as long as you want, but the book isn’t going to beam knowledge into your brain.

    You’ve got to open the book and come to your own conclusion about it, or have someone else teach you their interpretation of it.

    “You have many more important issues to deal with than what some synod says. ‘Biblical creation makes no sense’ eh?”

    And yet this is what the Closet Atheist chooses to focus on for the time being. Since this is her blog, she’s able to do that.

    “Pleeeeeze stop.”

    I won’t be surprised if your words don’t convince her to “stop.”

    Why? Because: your words lack love.

    And a follower of Christ should do all things with love. (1 John 4:8)

    • April 15, 2018 at 7:47 pm

      Btw, I do agree with your last sentence.

      Once again though, that would be subject to interpretation, just as I said, without doing violence to the text itself.

      ‘Let every man be persuaded in his own mind kind of thing.’ Certainly no ill will suggested toward you or anybody else.

  • April 15, 2018 at 7:56 pm

    “And you like so many others, assign a ‘lack of love,’ to things that are incriminating.”

    I wouldn’t call The Closet Atheist’s words “incriminating.”

    The Closet Atheist’s words are an honest expression of her current thoughts and feelings.

    “There is no error in the reading of ‘In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…”

    But there is error when it comes to interpreting how God made the heavens and the earth.

    Hence the existence of Christians who see creation as happening in 6 24-hour periods (Lutherans), and the existence of Christians who do not (Catholics).

    That error, if my interpretation of The Closet Atheist’s words is correct, is what she has an issue with.

    “…do not try to say there is weakness in the text.”

    Nowhere in my reply to you did I say “there is weakness in the text.”

    “I also think that atheism is the blackest of intellectual thought…”

    I believe the Bible disagrees.

    Doubt, not unbelief, is what is most frowned on:

    “So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”
    ~Revelation 3:16

  • April 16, 2018 at 11:09 am

    I am always amazed how every dinosaur was once vegetarian and then ”Shazzam!”
    Soon after Adam got his mojo on with Eve many of the dinosaurs became carnivorous and began eating meat.
    This much have come as a huge surprise – a WTF moment in fact – to such dinosaurs as Aptosaurous and Diplodocus when T-Rex and his buddy Allosaurous suddenly turned on them and thought, ”Yum, meat!”

  • April 19, 2018 at 3:22 am

    The confidence of evolutionists never ceases to amuse me. Intelligence makes information and organisation not random copying errors or selection pressures.

    • April 19, 2018 at 12:16 pm

      I like to use the example of an organ pipe.

      We blow wind into the organ pipe. And that wind is, pretty much, random noise. If you listed to wind blowing, you will hear what we call “white noise”. But what comes out of the organ pipe, is not white noise. We listen to the organ for its music. The random noise is transformed to music by the selection pressures of the resonance in the organ pipe.

      If your church uses an organ, then you should already know from experience that the creationist arguments about “random” are bogus.

      • April 19, 2018 at 4:07 pm

        Try using a machine in your analogy. This one’s dubious. Besides, the pipe doing the selection pressure was designed, not evolved.

        • April 19, 2018 at 11:05 pm

          I’m not sure of your point.

          I was only using that example to illustrate what randomness and selection can do. I was not suggesting that life can spring from an organ pipe.

  • April 23, 2018 at 12:29 am

    Wow that was interesting. I think Mr Harrison has a few doubts of his own on the creation account, also he seems to subtly praise science too (while also bashing it). I think he will find he can only shelve those doubts away for so long until they get loud enough to scream at his face. I wouldn’t be surprised if he later ends up abandoning his religion too, although as president of a whole denomination, that would be a BIG ask.

  • September 30, 2023 at 2:37 pm

    I really enjoyed your response to Harrison’s “article.” Your statement about the Y-chromosomal Adam is great. Harrison’s sentence in which he said that “all human beings have one common male ancestor” that shows his intellectual dishonesty. He even fails to identify the article to which he referred. He failed to mention, deliberately, I’m sure, that the “one common male ancestor” changed over time as races of humans died out.


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