One of the most persistent narratives being passed around modern Evangelicalism is that one must deny evolution in order to really be a true “Bible-believing” Evangelical. If one does not believe in six-day young earth creationism, then obviously one is inconsistent in interpreting Scripture and does not really believe in the God of the Bible. It has been a powerful narrative for that particular group, in particular because it allows those who believe in six-day young earth creationism to shut off those who do not. After all, if they do not really believe what God says, then they really may not be full Christians, and why listen to them?
In passing, since many Evangelicals in Great Britain do not believe in six-day young earth creationism, I have heard and read more than one comment sadly bewailing how European Evangelicalism has been tainted by European liberalism. As an example of how leading European Evangelicals interpret Genesis, The Rev. John Stott says:
Not many Christians today find it necessary to defend the concept of a literal six-day creation, for the text does not demand it, and scientific discovery appears to contradict it. The biblical text presents itself not as a scientific treatise but as a highly stylized literary statement (deliberately framed in three pairs, the fourth “day” corresponding to the first, the fifth to the second, and the sixth to the third)…
“It is most unfortunate that some who debate this issue (evolution) begin by assuming that the words “creation” and “evolution” are mutually exclusive. If everything has come into existence through evolution, they say, then biblical creation has been disproved, whereas if God has created all things, then evolution must be false. It is, rather, this naïve alternative which is false. It presupposes a very narrow definition of the two terms, both of which in fact have a wide range of meanings, and both of which are being freshly discussed today…
If you were to Google© “J.I. Packer AND six-day creationism,” you would find various blog entries that bewail his stance that the best way to interpret Genesis is simply to consider it a framework story. (You can read further into it if you are interested.)
The attitudes towards the first two chapters of Genesis of two main European Evangelicals whose theological writings are consistently read in American seminaries are nevertheless bewailed. At the end of the arguments, it becomes obvious that it is only that Evangelicalism that is founded on a particular American interpretation that is the only fully true Christianity. Mind you, this argument blithely papers over the strong theological divisions even among conservative “Bible-believing” Evangelicalism, but it papers them over on the assumption that everyone is working out of the same base, it is only the details on which they differ. And that base is a particular definition of what it means to “literally” interpret Scripture. Any other interpretation is said to be corrupted by liberalism.
When all is said and done, even The Rev. John Stott and The Rev. J.I. Packer are not really Evangelical. Sad, is it not? Hmm, guess what, in this case I am on the side of Revs. Stott and Packer. Note that The Rev. John Stott comments, “Not many Christians today find it necessary to defend the concept of a literal six-day creation …” Most world Evangelicals (or Orthodox or Roman Catholic) really do not feel it necessary to defend six-day creation. Neither do I.