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KEN HAM’S MISGUIDED BOOK

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, September 13, 2009

“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life” (John 5:39-40).


Please keep your Bible open to John 5. I remember C. S. Lewis’ wise statement that the only way you can escape from the errors of your own generation is to read books from the past. Winston Churchill said something similar. When his grandson asked him how to understand the problems of the future, Churchill told him, “Study history! Study history!”

For most of us, history “began” with D. L. Moody. We know little before Moody, so we are trapped in a twentieth-century mindset, from which we seem incapable of freeing ourselves. Thus, the evangelical churches go from one “modern” fad to another in an attempt to hold on to our young people. We know by now that we are failing to hold them. The polls tell us that about 90% of our young people fall away from church by the time they are in their mid twenties. We know that we are not bringing in young people from the outside world. We read frightening news stories about the “death of Christianity.” So, our leaders go from one “modern” fad to another in an attempt to solve this problem.

I very much fear that Ken Ham has given us yet another such “fad” in his book Already Gone: Why Your Kids Will Quit Church and What You Can Do to Stop It (Master Books, 2009). Ham’s answer is to defend the Bible, particularly the Book of Genesis. This is not to say that I disagree with him concerning the reliability and infallibility of the Scriptures. I don’t disagree with him at all on that. In fact, I applaud and admire the work that Ken Ham has done to uphold the Book of Genesis.  I myself hold a literal view of the Book of Genesis. I also believe that the Genesis account should be defended in the pulpit. And I think that Ken Ham is saying many things we need to hear in his book. There’s a lot of good in it.

But I’m saying that if we do what he says, as vigorously as he proposes, it will not fix the problem. Young people may find it interesting at first, but will Ham’s method actually reverse the trend of most young people leaving the church? I say it will not. I say that twenty years from now the churches that embrace Ham’s method will be even more barren than they are now – because the fad will wear out and, in the end, the young people will leave the church anyway – with their heads filled with apologetics and arguments in favor of the Genesis account!

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones pointed out the popularity of apologetics in 18th century England. But apologetics and arguments for Biblical Christianity did not stop the flow of people from the churches into Deism and Unitarianism in those days. Dr. Lloyd-Jones said it was the great evangelistic preaching of Howell Harris, George Whitefield, John Wesley, Jonathan Edwards and others that brought conviction of sin and real conversions to masses of people in the First Great Awakening. It was the real conversion of “nominal” Christians that stopped people from leaving, and brought into the churches tens of thousands of unchurched young people, who also experienced the reality of the new birth.

In the early twentieth century men, like Ken Ham, thought that apologetics and “defence of the Bible” would save the churches. These good men started Bible institutes to “defend” the faith. They published a series of books called “The Fundamentals,” and sent them out to nearly every pastor in America. But these attempts at correcting the situation by apologetics did not stop the downward slide from the churches. Dr. Woodrow Kroll, director of Back to the Bible, in his book, The Vanishing Ministry (Kregel Publications, 1991, pp. 31-33) said,

In 1900 there were 27 churches for every 10,000 Americans. In 1985 this figure had declined so drastically that it is painful to report. There are now only 12 churches for every 10,000 Americans, less than half the former amount…In 1900, 66 percent of the American population belonged to Bible-believing…churches… Yet it is predicted that by 2000 there will be only 33 percent of the American population that belong to [any] church.

These statistics from Dr. Kroll show us two things: (1) that young people leaving their churches is not a new phenomenon at all; (2) that the apologetics and defence of the Bible by good fundamentalists in the early twentieth century did not stop this trend.

Churchill said to his grandson, “Study history! Study history!” If apologetics and defence of the Bible didn’t work in 18th century England, or in twentieth century America, why should we think that Ken Ham’s use of this method will work today? I say it will not! Here is why I say that.

I. First, knowledge of the Bible, in itself, does not save.

Jesus said,

“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life” (John 5:39-40).

Dr. McGee said,

This…verse [John 5:39] is so frequently misunderstood. It is not imperative but is an indicative. Let me put it like this: “You search the scriptures” [You are doing it]. He’s making a statement; He’s not urging them to do [it]. He tells them that they search the Scriptures thinking that in them they will find eternal life, but they don’t understand that the Scriptures testify of Jesus. Friend, you had better be careful that you find Jesus…they were unwilling to come to Him (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson, 1983, volume IV, p. 399; notes on John 5:39, 40).

“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life” (John 5:39-40).

And that is the same today. And it’s a problem that Ken Ham only aggravates by telling us that kids need to study Genesis more deeply. My friend, no one ever studied Genesis more deeply than the religious rulers to whom Jesus spoke. He said in effect, You are searching the Scriptures. You think you have eternal life by studying the Scriptures, but those Scriptures speak of me,

“And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life”
      (John 5:40).

That is the same thing we read in I John 5:11,

“And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son” (I John 5:11).

The “record” is the Bible. But “life is in his Son” (I John 5:11). We must come to the Son of God to be converted.

Young people can study Genesis until the earth wobbles on its poles. They can study apologetics and a defence of Genesis until the stars “fall from their sockets.” But if they do not come to Jesus Christ in a real conversion they will burn eternally in Hell, in “the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15). Even if Ken Ham’s method keeps some of them “in” church, Christ will one day say to most of them,

“Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire”
      (Matthew 25:41).

“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life” (John 5:39-40).

II. Second, we ought to be studying more about conversion rather
than just more apologetics.

Young people have been taught the Bible in Sunday School and church since they were born. Ken Ham says that hasn’t worked because we need more answers to evolution and deeper Bible study in Genesis. Well, Dr. Harry Rimmer gave all that back in the 1930s and it didn’t seem to stop the churches from losing people. If it didn’t work then with Dr. Rimmer, why should we think it will work now with Ken Ham? Don’t get me wrong. What Dr. Rimmer said was good and helpful, to those who were already converted! By the way, Dr. Henry M. Morris also did a marvelous job teaching apologetics and Genesis, beginning back in the early 1960s. But Dr. Morris’ wonderful efforts did not stop the churches from losing people. If it didn’t work with Dr. Rimmer in the 1930s or Dr. Henry M. Morris in the 1960s, why should we think it will work now with Ken Ham? “Study history! Study history! Study history!” History shows that Ken Ham is wrong! We have had these tools for 75 years and they have not kept young people from leaving the churches! The answer lies in an entirely different place – in real conversions.

“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life” (John 5:39-40).

In his book, Ken Ham repeatedly tells us that we “have lost an entire generation of believers” (back jacket). He says that those who leave “are still genuine believers” (ibid., p. 60). He says that these “genuine believers” just don’t believe in Genesis. But isn’t that exactly why the religious leaders in Jesus’ day didn’t believe in Christ? Look at John 5:46,

“For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me” (John 5:46).

Moses wrote Genesis under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The religious leaders studied Genesis. They memorized it! They believed the words of it. They believed the Creation account. They believed in the Flood. But they did not believe in the Christ Moses wrote about!

“For had [they] believed Moses, [they] would have believed me: for he wrote of me” (John 5:46).

“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life” (John 5:39-40).

I say you can believe every word Moses wrote in Genesis, but if you do not have a real conversion in Christ you will go into the eternal flames of Hell with those Pharisees.

We need to stop calling those who leave the church and don’t believe the book of Genesis “genuine believers.” They are not “genuine believers.” No! They are genuine unbelievers!

They “raised their hands” in Sunday School. They said the “sinner’s prayer.” They went forward at “decision time.” But they still don’t believe Moses – and they still don’t believe Christ! That’s why they leave the church. They are genuine unbelievers! And the Bible says

“The…unbelieving…shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).

What we need today is not so much books on apologetics, but more books on conversion! Very little is written on the subject of conversion today. That is what we need to be thinking about! Conversion! One of the very few modern books on this subject is The Old Evangelicalism: Old Truths for a New Awakening, by Iain H. Murray (Banner of Truth Trust, 2005). It is a good book and it answers the question why kids don’t believe the Bible and, thus, leave our churches. Click here for my review. Click here to order it.

Christ said,

“Except ye be converted…ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).

Christ said,

“That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again” (John 3:6-7).

Christ said that to a man who did not believe in evolution! He said that to a man who believed every word of Genesis! He said to Nicodemus, the master Bible teacher of Israel,

“Art thou a master [‘the teacher,’ Scofield] of Israel, and knowest not these things?” (John 3:10).

“Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

Sing that chorus, “Ye Must Be Born Again.”

Ye must be born again,
   Ye must be born again.
I verily, verily, say unto thee,
   Ye must be born again.
(“Ye Must Be Born Again” by William T. Sleeper, 1819-1904).

That’s the main thing!  That’s what will keep you out of Hell!  That’s what will keep you in church.  That’s what will keep you coming “every time the door is open.”  And that is the only thing that will do it!  You must encounter the once crucified, now resurrected and ascended Christ.  You must come to Christ.  You must be cleansed from sin by His Blood!  That is the way to be born again. Otherwise, the Bible says, they will leave - because they were never converted!

“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us…”
     (I John 2:19).

Ken Ham has written this book, Already Gone: Why Your Kids Will Quit Church and What You Can Do to Stop It (Master Books, 2009). The back jacket of the book says, “If you look around in your church today, two-thirds of the young people who are sitting among us have already left in their hearts! Soon they will be gone for good.” Ham blames what is taught in the Sunday Schools.  But I think the problem lies elsewhere. 

Polls are given that show 80% of young people leave evangelical churches by the time they are in their late twenties. Other polls I have read indicate that the number who leave is closer to 88%. No one who has studied this subject can disagree. Evangelical churches lose about 90% of their young people by the time they are in their mid to late twenties. But to my mind what is just as bad is the fact that evangelical churches are not able to attract young people from the world. Since they are losing 90% of the kids raised in the church, and are not able to bring in any young people from the world, the conclusion seems obvious – evangelical Christianity is doomed! I am not the only one saying that by any means! A number of major articles and books are now telling us that the evangelical churches are dying. Ken Ham is saying the same thing. The facts and figures show that they are right – dead right! Evangelical Christianity is doomed because they cannot keep their own children and cannot attract young people from the outside world. Period! How can anyone studying the data disagree?

So, on that subject, I completely agree with Ken Ham. But here is where I disagree. I disagree with what they tell us we “can do to stop it.” They say – and this takes up 3/4 of their book – they say that the answer is to teach Biblical creation and refute Darwinian evolution! With no hesitation, I reply NONSENSE! Though probably for different reasons, I agree with Dr. Rick Shrader who said, “This book should be used with caution in the church” (Rick Shrader, D.D., review of Already Gone, in “Aletheia,” September, 2009, p. 3).

In the book Already Gone Ken Ham says that unbelief in the Genesis account of creation makes young people leave the church. I think that is an absolutely absurd conclusion. Nobody leaves their church because they don’t believe in Genesis! They all leave because they have never been converted! And that’s the same reason evangelical churches can’t bring in young people from the outside world! They don’t know how to convert them!

I know what the problem is – and it’s not Biblical creationism. Don’t get me wrong! I believe in a young earth and a literal interpretation of the Genesis account of creation. I believe it, and I preach it – as anyone can tell by reading my sermons.

But I talk to young people year in and year out. What’s more, I listen to them. I was called into the ministry 51 years ago. I have been listening to young people for over half a century. I have never found one who left the church because he believed in evolution! Not one! That is not to say that there may not be one, but I have never met one – out of the many hundreds I have listened to in counselling sessions. Not one! The universal reason young people leave their church is that they were never converted. That is the Biblical reason!

“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us…”
      (I John 2:19).

Matthew Henry gives these comments on that verse,

They went out…from the church of Jerusalem, or some of the churches of Judea…they were hypocrites in religion…they are permitted thus to depart…that their insincerity may be detected (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Hendrickson Publishers, 1996 edition, volume 6, p. 863; note on I John 2:19).

Though I disagree with him on the Blood of Christ, John MacArthur was right in his comment on I John 2:19,

Those genuinely born again endure in faith and fellowship… The ultimate test of true Christianity is endurance. The departure of people from…the church is their unmasking (John MacArthur, D.D., The MacArthur Study Bible, Word Bibles, 1997, p. 1967; note on I John 2:19).

“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us…”
      (I John 2:19).

Dr. Henry M. Morris said that their departure “thereby proved [them] never to have had true saving faith in Christ at all” (Henry M. Morris, Ph.D., The Defender’s Study Bible, World Publishing, 1995, p. 1412; note on I John 2:19).  Dr. W. A. Criswell said of this verse,

Some departed from the churches.  John’s conclusion was [that] they…had never really been saved [or they] would have continued [in the churches].  Their departure [showed] that saving faith was absent (The Criswell Study Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1979, p. 1465; note on I John 2:19). 

An even greater tragedy happens when some of them come back years later and “rededicate” themselves. Since no one is converted by “rededication,” at best, they remain religious but lost church members. This is the sad condition of the evangelical churches today. They are doing everything they can think of to keep unconverted young people from leaving their churches. They bring in snare drums, musical orgies, and the atmosphere of a night club to keep unconverted kids from leaving. And now Ken Ham comes up with yet another “gimmick.” He thinks teaching them apologetics against evolution will keep them in church! More rubbish!

“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us…”
      (I John 2:19).

The only thing that will keep young people in the church is a real conversion! Christ said,

“Except ye be converted…ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).

Christ said,

“Ye must be born again” (John 3:7).

Sing it!

Ye must be born again,
   Ye must be born again.
I verily, verily, say unto thee,
   Ye must be born again.

I myself joined a Baptist church as a teenager. The pastor preached a series of sermons against evolution. What he said was well thought-out. He gave very clear proofs of creationism. But I thought he was nuts! It was not until I was born again, several years later, that I instantly believed the Bible instead of Darwin’s science fiction.

My own mother had taught me to believe evolution. But when she was converted, at the age of 80, she said to me, “Robert, I don’t know why we believed such a crazy thing.” When she was born again, in a real conversion, she instantly gave up evolution.

If young people are in fact leaving the churches because they believe Darwin instead of God, then I say to them, and to you,

“Ye must be born again” (John 3:7).

I could teach you creationism until the stars “fall from their sockets” but, if you are not born again, you will still fall away from the church, and go back to a heathen world! You must repent and be converted! You must encounter the once crucified, now resurrected and ascended Christ! You must be washed clean from your sin by His everlasting Blood!

“Ye must be born again” (John 3:7).

Sing it again!

Ye must be born again,
   Ye must be born again.
I verily, verily, say unto thee,
   Ye must be born again.

Come into the local church.  Come to Jesus Christ.  Be washed clean from your sin by the Blood He shed to redeem you on the Cross.  “Ye Must Be Born Again.”  And that is the way to become a real Christian. 

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: John 3:1-7; 5:39-46.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Ye Must Be Born Again” (by William T. Sleeper, 1819-1904).


THE OUTLINE OF

KEN HAM’S MISGUIDED BOOK

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life” (John 5:39-40).

I.   First, knowledge of the Bible, in itself, does not save, I John 5:11;
Revelation 20:15; Matthew 25:41.

II.   Second, we ought to be studying more about conversion rather than
just more apologetics, John 5:46; Revelation 21:8; Matthew 18:3;
John 3:6-7, 10, 3; I John 2:19.