Review of Tom Couchman

by Maurice Barnett

July 20, 2000
Tom Couchman's Response to the "Open Letter"
Maurice Barnett's Articles on Fellowship

      There is nothing personal about this review. I had never heard of brother Couchman before this, much less have I met him. Seeing that I was one of those who signed the Open Letter under discussion, brother Couchman necessarily included me in his criticism of the Letter. That calls for this reply. I am not interested in any personal vindication. I have no pride that's been bruised nor an injured reputation that needs salvaging. I am interested only in truth.

      I care not at all what "pillars" of the past or present have said on this subject. They do not determine what truth is. The Open Letter is being tagged as a creed by its opponents and their supporters. They say this because so many men signed the letter to show their agreement with it. That is supposed to make it a creed. However, the very ones who are saying this are making up a list of "pillars" in the church, past and present, of those who are supposed to agree with them. Brother Couchman does some of that. Now, why is it that the Open Letter is a creed because it has several who signed it, but the other side's position is not a creed though they make up their list of men who agree with them? Watch your step, brethren, You're condemning yourselves. My decision to sign the Open Letter was because I, on my own, agreed with what was said. There was no collusion between the signators. I would have signed it even if no other had done so. Brother Caldwell sent a letter to all the signers of the Open Letter. He had a seven point inclosure with it titled "The President's Position On Teaching Divine Creation at Florida College." How many signatures would it have taken to make that inclosure a creed? If one other person signed it would it have been a creed, or would it have needed sixty-seven signatures to make it so? Or, just how many in between?

      It is granted that Bible words, like all language, have several meanings. In some places, "day" may mean an extended period of time, but not in every place. To even imply that because "day" may mean, in some passages, an extended period of time, then it may mean that in Genesis one, is to say something that is untrue. That's just throwing up a smoke screen.

      Again, the Bible must be the determining factor of our faith. As we shall see, though we don't know just how long it has been since creation, the Bible does place some limitations on what that period of time can be. And, lest anyone jump to the conclusion that I think Bishop Usshur's chronology is correct, just pass that by. Nothing definite can be determined by the genealogies of Genesis 5,11. It's the length of days of creation and the events of creation described in scripture that have a direct bearing on the age of the earth, not what some think they can see by the observation of nature.

The Faith

      (1) Brother Couchman insists that this issue "has nothing to do with obedience to the gospel message, the imitation of Christ or the ministry of the New Testament church," and, "the age of the earth has nothing to do with justification, sanctification or the work of the church," and is thus of no consequence and should disturb no one; just believe what you want about the days of creation. In another place, he says,

      "The apostolic message gives a special position ('first importance') to the incarnation, death, burial, resurrection, baptismal submission to and disciplinary imitation of Christ. It gives no such place to the creation account in Genesis 1-2, the creation account in Psalm 33 or the creation account in Job 38."

      To borrow one of his phrases, I beg to differ. As we will see shortly, there is much more to the initial steps to becoming a Christian than what he wants to admit. As we shall see, the creation account is interwoven, doctrinally, with both Old and New Testament teaching in some of the very areas brother Couchman says it has no place! He says that what we believe about creation has no bearing on our salvation. Well, I do know that what we believe is important wherever God says that it is and when God says we are to believe something, then it is important to our salvation. Look at II Timothy 2:16-18,

      "But shun profane babblings: for they will proceed further in ungodliness, and their word will eat as doth a gangrene: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; men who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already, and overthrow the faith of some."

      Our resurrection is future, coming at the time of the end. It is not a command to be obeyed but a promise of what is to come; it is a belief. Believing anything other than what the Bible says about our future resurrection is erring from the truth and departing from the faith. So, it does matter what we believe.

      I Timothy 4:1-4 warns of some who would fall away from the faith. That apostasy is characterized by celibacy and vegetarianism. Paul then gives proper instruction on eating meats "which God created to be received with thanksgiving by them that believe and know the truth." Timothy is then told:

      "If thou put the brethren in mind of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished in the words of the faith, and of the good doctrine which thou hast followed until now."

      The fact that God created meats for our consumption is a part of "the faith" that Timothy was to preach. That makes the information about both creation and what food we can consume of great importance. One does not have to marry or eat flesh in order to please God, Romans 14, but they are certainly authorized and the instruction about both items is part of The Faith.

      We could multiply such instances of teachings that are part and parcel of "the faith," truth, the doctrine according to godliness. Can we just believe anything we want to about such things as long as we are particular about the areas brother Couchman says are the important ones? Each area of truth has its own doctrinal importance, but all of it is the faith and the truth. The Holy Spirit guided the apostles into all the truth, John 16:13. On the one hand, this truth would make man free, John 8:32, and on the other it gave proper instruction about foods, I Timothy 4:3-4.

      (2) Brother Couchman asserts that what one believes about creation has no bearing on one's salvation. I very much disagree. Whatever the Bible says one must believe at each step of the way is what one must believe before the next step is open to him.

      Jesus said in John 8:24 that "except ye believe that I am he, ye shall die in your sins." This is a declaration of His Godhood, the "I Am." The pronoun "he" is in italics in translations because it is not in the original text but rather has been added by the translators. It is the same double nominative as in John 8:58, where Jesus says, "Before Abraham was born, I am." That takes us back to Exodus 3:14 where God says "I AM THAT I AM...tell them I AM hath sent me unto you." The person, Jesus, was in fact identified as Jehovah and God in the Old Testament. So, Jesus said that "except ye believe that I AM, ye shall die in your sins." One must believe in the Person, the Godhood, of Jesus in order to be saved. What does that involve? Well, look at Isaiah 48:12-13,

      "Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last. Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together."

      The Revelation identifies Jesus as the first and the last, the beginning and the end as well as I AM. There is no doubt that Isaiah is referring to Him as the I AM. And He is identified as the one who created all things. In addition, notice His statement that "when I call unto them, they stand up together." While creating it to begin with, He still has control of His creation to do what He will when He wills. He destroyed the world by flood, caused the sun to stand still for Joshua and "turned" the time backward for Hezekiah. The earth not only stood still in its rotation for Joshua, but stopped and turned backward for Hezekiah with no damage to the earth or anyone! And, he did it at an instant. God and Jesus are both characterized and defined by their power as demonstrated in Creation. One must believe that Jesus is I AM but cannot know what that means without knowing about Creation. To emphasize this, look at the following:

      "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him; and without him was not anything made that hath been made." John 1:1-3

      "...and to make all men see what is the dispensation of the mystery which for ages hath been hid in God who created all things." Ephesians 3:9

      "...who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all thing have been created through him, and unto him; and he is before all things, and in him all things consist." Colossians 1:15-17

      "...hath at the end of these days spoken unto us in his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom also he made the worlds..." Hebrews 1:2

      >"Thou, Lord, in the beginning didst lay the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of thy hands." Hebrews 1:10

      "By faith we understand that the worlds have been framed by the word of God, so that what is seen hath not been made out of things which appear." Hebrews 11:3

      "Worthy art thou, our Lord and our God, to receive the glory and honor and the power: for thou didst create all things, and because of thy will they were, and were created." Revelation 4:11.

      "...and sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created the heaven and the things that are therein, and the earth and the things that are therein, and the sea and the things that are therein, that there shall be delay no longer." Revelation 10:6

      "Thou, even thou, art Lord alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee." Nehemiah 9:6

      "When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man, that thou art mindful of him ... Thou made him a little lower than the angels ... Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands.." Psalm 8

      "Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God." Psalm 90:2

      "The Lord by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens." Proverbs 3:19

      "Thus saith God the Lord, he that created the heavens and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein." Isaiah 42:5

      "Thus saith Jehovah, thy Redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb: I am Jehovah, that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth (who is with me?)" Isaiah 44:24

      "For thus saith Jehovah that created the heavens, the God that formed the earth and made it, that established it and created it not a waste, that formed it to be inhabited: I am Jehovah; and there is none else." Isaiah 45:18

      There are many other passages in both the Old and New Testaments that can testify to the same facts. God, including Jesus, is defined by his creative power and one does not have a complete and proper view of God without knowing this. It is a part of preaching about God, a part of faith and truth. It even begins the prayer of the disciples in Acts 4:24,

      "And they, when they heard it, lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, O Lord, thou that didst make the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that in them is..."

      But, someone may say, "If that is so important, where is creation mentioned in the sermons in Acts?" We don't have all of Peter's sermon to the Jews in Acts 2, but his sermon and Paul's in Acts 13 were to Jews who already understood and believed in God the creator. They were also familiar with Genesis 1-2. Stephen did quote an Old Testament passage that mentions it in his address to the Jews in Jerusalem in Acts 7:48-50. Paul's defence in both Acts 24 and 26 was a personal defence but was made before men who were already familiar with the God of the Jews. But, in Acts 17, to the Gentile citizens of Athens who knew nothing about God, he said,

      "The God that made the world and all things therein, he being Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is he served by men's hands, as though he needed anything, seeing he himself giveth to all life and breath, and all things; and he made of one every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed seasons, and the bounds of their habitation..." Acts 17:23-26

      Man had to know about God's creative power, the creation itself, in order to know the God who was reaching out to change him. This was no god as they had known gods. This was the one who created them and everything they could see. When the people of Lystra sought to make sacrifice to Paul and Barnabas as gods, they were told,

      "Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and bring you good tidings, that ye should turn from these vain things unto a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that in them is...." Acts 14:11-16

      The phrase, "good tidings," is from euangelidzo, the verb form of the noun for "gospel" and means to "preach the gospel" and is so translated in Acts 14:6. The gospel that Paul brought them was that they should turn to the living God who created heaven and earth. The creation was and is a part of the gospel! It was to produce faith in God on the part of these heathens. Belief in God and Christ requires we understand their person and character and that includes the fact of being our creator, and that understanding is necessary to our salvation. Notice the following passages together,

      "By faith we understand that the worlds have been framed by the word of God, so that what is seen hath not been made out of things which appear ... and without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing unto him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek after him ... and he made of one every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed seasons, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek God ... " Hebrews 11:3,6, Acts 17:26-27

      I must conclude that one does not believe in God unless he believes in Him as our creator and one cannot even seek after Him unless he does believe that.

      We also might note in passing an interesting fact on the above passages that speak of God's creating or making the heavens and the earth and all that is in them. Two verbs in one passage, Hebrews 11:3, are perfect tense indicating an act in past time with existing result. The rest of the passages have Aorist verbs that identify punctiliar or point action rather than continuous or repeated action. Since it is the creative week that is identified in these passages, it is so identified as an act or event. If the creation week was spread over four billion years, a continuing, progressive process, a different form of the verb would be required. This will become even more apparent in the next section.

      (3) I have heard several times over the past nearly fifty years of preaching, someone saying something like, "I believe in Christ but I don't believe those stories in the O.T. such as the flood, Jonah and the fish, and the like." The answer to that is clear. One cannot believe in Christ and deny such things happened. You deny what Jesus said and you make Him a liar.

      Jesus said that the flood happened, Matthew 24:37-41, and Noah entered the ark, just as the Old Testament records. Jesus also insisted that the story of Johah was true, Matthew 12:39-41, Luke 11:29-32. But, we must go to the Old Testament, to Genesis and Jonah, in order to understand what the story of Noah and the flood and Jonah and the fish are all about. I predict we will find out in time that some of the leaders in this Bible/evolution compromise don't believe in a world wide flood, either.

      Jesus also put his stamp on the creation of Genesis 1. So much in the New Testament, The Truth, even redemption, is based on that miracle of God. Jesus said in Mark 10:6,

      "But from the beginning of the creation, male and female made he them."

      Brother Couchman says in regard to the point on this passage used in the Open Letter:

      "Most Bible students will probably remember that the 'literal truth' about the creation of man and woman is that it took place not at the beginning of the creation - on day one - but as the very last act of creation - on day six. If we can learn anything about the creation story from what Jesus said, it is that the Author of creation Himself made accurate statements about creation which were not literally the same as statements made in Genesis 1."

      I'm sorry but brother Couchman has missed it; there is no contradiction. The phrase, "from the beginning of the creation" places the creation of man and woman in the creation week. Notice II Peter 3:3-6,

      "...knowing this first, that in the last days mockers shall come with mockery, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for, from the day that the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they wilfully forget, that there were heavens from of old, and an earth compacted out of water and amidst water, by the word of God..."

      The phrase, "from the beginning of the creation" is exactly the same in both Greek and English as that in Mark 10:6. Here, Peter picks up with the claim of the mockers and applies it to the very first day of creation! Mark 13:19 says,

      "For those days shall be tribulation, such as there hath not been the like from the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never shall be."

      Notice how it is worded - "from the beginning of the creation which God created." That identifies creation week.

      One could as well have said that from the beginning of the creation God "brought forth grass and herb yielding seed," though that was the third day of creation week. The phrase is comparable to saying, as some passages do, "the beginning" or "in the beginning." The parallel of Mark 10:6 is Matthew 19:4 that just reads "from the beginning." So, "from the beginning of creation" and "from the beginning" mean the same thing. John 1:1-3 says, "In the beginning ... all things were made through him." Day six was the beginning just as day one was the beginning. And, we have not yet exhausted the passages on this subject.

      Brother Couchman's position says there could have been billions of years between the earth being compacted out of water and amidst water and the creation of man and woman; his "beginning" covers billions of years. While not telling us just how long it has been since creation, the Bible will not allow for that much time for the history of the universe. Modern evolution places the appearance of man billions of years after the formation of the universe and appearance of life on the earth; so do theistic evolutionists among us. However, the entire history of the earth, as is that of the Bible, is human history!

      Seeing Jesus referred to the creation, just like His reference to Noah and Jonah, we must go to the Old Testament to find out what that means. Let's begin with Exodus 20:9-11,

      "Six days shalt thou labour and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it thou shalt not do any work, thou nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it."

      "It (Sabbath) is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days Jehovah made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed." Exodus 31:17

      The six days of the Israelite's labor corresponds exactly with the six days of creation. They are all the same length. God rested on the seventh day and gave that weekly day as the day of rest from labor for Israel. The language is clear. Genesis 2:1-3 says,

      "Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made."

      Was this "day" that God blessed and sanctified five hundred million years in length, or longer? To ask the question is to answer it. This was a twenty-four hour day that God blessed and sanctified, and so His day of rest from creation was a twenty-four hour day as well. And, that being so, the six days of creation were of the same length. Let's add to these facts, the information in Genesis 1. Verses three to five say,

      "And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day."

      Whatever this condition was, and we have no way of visualizing conditions at this stage of creation, it is presented in language we can understand. Light and dark, night and day, evening and morning are all terms that relate to a twenty-four hour day. Notice that God spoke and it happened! Here is Psalm 148:4-5.

      "Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens. Let them praise the name of the Lord: for he commanded, and they were created."

      Look at the power of God. All he had to do, which he did, was to command it to be and it was created. No wonder then that God simply said, "let there be light and there was light." Now look at Psalm 33:6-9 that brother Couchman makes light of,

      "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. He gathered the waters of the sea together as an heap; he layeth up the depth in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. For he spake and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast."

      Note that last sentence; it is a fact repeated several times in Genesis 1. Brother Couchman asserts that verse 7 proves that a "literal-scientific" meaning is the only possibility and that counters the fact that God spoke things into existence, immediately. Now, who is getting dogmatic? That "He gathered the waters of the sea together as a heap; he layeth up the depth in storehouses" uses a couple of figures to say the oceans were settled in their own places. The Bible says that fact more than once. Where is any indication that God spoke and then it took five hundred million years to happen? Where does it indicate that God commanded something to be done and it took a billion years to be done? In warning the people He is not to be trifled with, the I AM reminds them of His power in Isaiah 48:3,

      "I have declared the former things from the beginning; and they went forth out of my mouth, and I shewed them; I did them suddenly, and they came to pass."

      He only had to speak ("went forth out of my mouth"). He said it and it came to pass just as He spake and it was done, and He commanded it and it stood fast, and He commanded and they were created, suddenly. Or as it is in Genesis 1, "God said" let there be and there was! Add to all this the fact that the plants were created on day three but the sun giving light onto the earth didn't appear until day four. Even "natural science" will not accept plant life thriving for millions of years without sunlight.

      Add to this information on how old Adam was. On the sixth day, God created animals, beasts, creeping things. He then created man and the garden of Eden where He placed man. He then created Eve, Genesis 1:24-2:25. That was the end of God's creation and He rested. Genesis 3 records the temptation and fall of man. Adam and Eve were then cast out of the garden. Let's assume it was midday on the sixth day that man was created. If that day was millions of years in length, we find another contradiction with scripture. Genesis 5:1-2,5 says,

      "This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him. Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created ... And the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died."

      The most of Adam's life was spent following creation. Yet, he lived to be 930 years old. The words "day," "days," and "years" in these passages mean solar days and solar years. If Adam was created even midday of the sixth day, it would make him millions of years old instead of what the Bible says of him. There is no way that the sixth day, and seventh day, could have been billions of years long!

      (4) Further, consider the important subjects noted in the New Testament that are based on Creation.

      I Corinthians 15:21-22, 45-49. Important facts that emphasize the position and accomplishments of Jesus are compared to Adam, his creation and experiences.

      Romans 5:12-14. Important instruction showing the relationship of law to sin and death is found in what Adam did and the condition of humanity since Adam's time.

      I Timothy 2:12-15. The fact that woman has a special place in the order of things and cannot teach nor have dominion over the man is founded on Adam and Eve.

      I Corinthians 6:16. Prohibition of some sexual relationships is founded on marriage rules established at the creation of Adam and Eve.

      I Corinthians 11:8. The woman was made for man, not man for the woman. This is the reason why, "for this cause," the woman who prayed and prophesied was to have her head covered.

      Ephesians 5:22-33. Rules of the marriage relationship are the result of the creation of man and woman and were established then.

      Matthew 19:1-12. The fact that rules governing acceptable marriage, the bond of husband and wife, the basis of divorce were all established when man was created. It has been common to the human race since then.

      Couple these passages with all of the teaching on the nature of man and the scheme of redemption and we see the pivotal and doctrinal place that creation has in the Bible. In order to understand the place creation has in these and other important doctrines, one must go back to the creation account in Genesis to know what that means. And, we must get the account in Genesis correct.

The Evidence of Nature?

      Brother Couchman reveals to us the real influence on his point of view. It isn't what the Bible says but rather trying to make the Bible more acceptable to those who want to hold on to evolution. Regardless of what final form it takes, it is looking at and interpreting the scriptures through the lens of modern evolution. The hypotheses of evolution become the determining factor in what the Bible says; the Bible must conform to evolution. Brother Couchman says,

      "I beg to differ, biblical hermeneutics and miraculous action are not at the center of this discussion. No breaking of fellowship would be threathened if the issue were merely whether the sun and stars were actually created on the first day or the fourth day. It is the matter of whether the Genesis account may be reconciled with billions of years of cosmic history which is at the very heart of this discussion, and surely the sixty-seven will be willing to admit as much."

      Science has no way of determining anything about creation and the conclusion of billions of years is an assertion based solely on atheistic evolution assumptions, a belief system. All evolutionary conclusions are based on assumptions mixed with a few facts. The facts alone cannot sustain the conclusions without the assumptions. Hebrews 11:3 says,

      "By faith we understand that the worlds have been framed by the word of God, so that what is seen hath not been made out of things which appear."

      Scientists think they can pinpoint, visually, mechanically, technologically or otherwise the origin of the Universe. They think they can see the leftovers of the cataclysm that caused it, the gasses and other matter from which our solar system and other objects came. All of this, they say, can be determined by natural sources and observation. Hebrews 11:3 says no! The words "framed" and "made" are perfect tense verbs, indicating a past act with existing results. On the other hand, the words "seen" and "appear" are present tense and mean just exactly as translated. They mean that what we observe in the universe has not been made out of things which appear to us. What is it again that Romans 1:20 says?

      "For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity."

      What we can observe in this universe about creation is the creator and his everlasting power and divinity and that's it. Natural "evidence" will tell us nothing about the process of creation and to allow a modern evolutionary hypothesis determine what we believe about the Bible puts us on dangerous ground.

      Remember the old question, "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?" When Adam was formed from the dust of the ground and the created spirit placed within him, he was a fully functioning adult human with all of his physical organs intact. It was as though he had been taken from the womb and grew to maturity. But, he did not; he never had a childhood. I don't know if God gave him a navel or not, but he wasn't born. God created the plant life on the third day fully matured. Trees were created with fruit on the limbs. The trees were as they would have been if a seed had been planted and they had grown to that stage of maturity. They had the fruit with seed in them to produce other trees just like them. Being created mature, they had growth rings as though they had grown from a seed to maturity, Just like Adam had an adult, fully functioning physical body; Adam appeared to be much older than he was.

      In the same way, when everything was put together that creation week, the universe was a fully functioning universe, which made it old in appearance only. Genesis 1:16 says,

      "And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also."

      The light from stars could be seen on earth at the time of their creation just like the sun. It did not take millions of years for the light to finally reach earth. Like Adam, like the trees, it was created as though the light had traveled millions of years to get here. It was a fully functioning universe set up for man and his future on the earth. The universe may appear to be billions of years old, but it is not.

      Now, brother Couchman asks us where the danger lies in his position, and he thinks we shouldn't reject something just because of where it might lead. The first danger is in going beyond the word of God. Whenever that happens, it then opens the door to more error. I have seen firsthand many instances of people opening the wrong door and never getting it closed again. But, just on the surface of the matter, the Bible warns that "bad companions corrupt good morals," and "make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof." That involves getting into the wrong company and going places that will get one into trouble. We warn our children about these very things because we know where they will lead. Never take up with the bad companions and stay away from some places because they are very likely to lead you astray. Likewise, I have seen apostasies begin with relatively innocuous things, but it just slowly changes to more serious things until there is total apostasy. Some preachers who were sound fifty years ago are now either atheists or in full fellowship with denominationalism. Others have gone back into the world of fleshly ungodliness. They started on their road to apostasy with only small changes in the wrong direction. One does not jump from soundness to apostasy overnight. Accepting an evolutionary model for the days of creation is not only departure from the truth, it dangerously leads to other denials of the Bible. Will the virgin birth be next?

      Brother Couchman thinks that a literal stand on Creation makes us look foolish to people in the world and keeps us from converting them. So, we need to compromise with evolution. Shall we compromise with homosexuality next, because they and their widespread defenders in our society think we are foolish to take a stand against their practices? How about fornication? drunkeness? When Paul preached the gospel to the Athenians in Acts 17, many ridiculed what he said. They thought he was foolish. Should he have softened the blow and compromised with pagan thought? Where will we stop if we take brother Couchman's philosophy?

      In the eighteen hundreds, and before, critics of the Bible claimed the Bible was wrong because it recorded people and places that just didn't exist. They said that Pilate never existed. They thought Bible believers were ignorant and foolish people. In every instance, the critics have been proven wrong. It just took time for the evidence to appear. Ferrell Jenkins used to tell his students, and all of us, that when someone proposes a conflict between the Bible and what they think they see, stay with the literal Bible text. It has always been proven to be true. That was good advice.

      Brother Couchman thinks that instead of spending time and effort on issues like this one, we should be converting people. He assumes that we are not doing that. But, the job of preachers goes beyond just reaching the alien sinner. Paul told Timothy, an evangelist, in II Timothy 4:1-4,

      "I charge thee in the sight of God, and of Christ Jesus, who shall judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be urgent in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering an teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine; but, having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside unto fables."

      Evolution is a fable, a fiction claiming to set forth facts, which defines what a fable is. We are doing our job, brother Couchman, on all levels.


      Brother Couchman has taken a unity in diversity position that opens the door to any position on any subject, whether he realizes that or not. He has tried to make the same distinctions that Ketcherside and others have made between "gospel" and "doctrine." Better leave that alone, brother Couchman. Start that and I know where you will wind up. There have been too many people before you who have done it. I'm convinced that when the surface is fully scratched that we will find the "new hermeneutic" is at the foundation of this present liberal tendency.

      No one who signed the Open Letter is attempting to cause division, which is why articles have been written and a call made for discussion of differences. Numerous attempts were made over the past year or more to resolve these matters privately. It didn't work. This is why the route of the Open Letter was taken, to force the issue into the open so it could be discussed. I'm sure brother Couchman doesn't want to stifle discussion nor opposition to error.

      I have been hearing from several witnessess that some influential men are saying that the Open Letter is just a creed, put together by men who have been opposed to FC all along and just looking for something to jump on to. That kind of slander is the first defense of those who have no defense and don't want to make one. But, it doesn't surprise me. Instead of meeting the issue and discussing it, they prefer to sit back and make false accusations and slander their brethren. If anyone is working to break fellowship, brother Couchman, you had better take a good look at these brethren.

      Three articles on fellowship are now posted elsewhere on this Gospel Anchor site. I will not take the space to repeat any of that here.

      I urge brother Couchman to take care in what he accepts from modern so-called science. What our natural senses perceive in the universe around us can be deceptive. It has happened before. The imaginative hypotheses palmed off as science by some scientists are not only unbiblical but contrary to fact. Paul said that the "foolishness of God is wiser than men." By creating a fully functioning universe in the way He did, it appears to those who don't want to accept the Bible record that evolution must be true. But, evolution is a lie. There are only two things in this matter from which to choose, God or evolution. You can't combine both into one. Contrary to what you think, brother Couchman, this is a faith issue - faith in God and faith in His word. And, I will caution you with what Jesus said to the Sadducees in Matthew 22:29, "You err, not knowing the scriptures nor the power of God." Don't fall into that trap.

by Maurice Barnett

Articles On Fellowship:
Fellowship - 1 | Fellowship - 2 | Fellowship - 3
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