Pentecostals and Creation

According of AOG USA’s ‘Enrichment Journal’ the following stats show what percentage of students and faculty at Assemblies of God colleges and universities hold to various views of creation:

  • Young Earth Creationism: 35%
  • Old Earth Creationism/Progressive Creationism: 31%
  • Evolutionary Creationism: 16% (i)

Pentecostalism arose in the early 20th Century within the fundamentalist movement. Fundamentalists from many different denominations were united around traditional Christian doctrines such as the divinity of Christ, the virgin birth, historicity of miracles, the resurrection and the reality of heaven etc. Between 1910 and 1915 a set of ninety essays were published by the Testimony Publishing Company of Chicago entitled The Fundamentals: A Testimony To The Truth (generally referred to simply as The Fundamentals). The Christians who affirmed “The Fundamentals” saw themselves as fundamentalists.

It must be said however that some of the authors of “The Fundamentals” accepted biological evolution and an Old Earth. The article “Science and Christian Faith by James Orr” in Vol IV says “no violence done to the narrative in substituting in thought “aeonic” days—vast cosmic periods—for “days” on our narrower, sun-measured scale. Then the last trace of apparent “conflict” disappears.” And “Evolution,” in short, is coming to be recognized as but a new name for “creation,”

Whilst united on the deity of Christ and the virgin birth the Fundamentalists were not united on the age of the earth or evolution. It should be noted that by the mid-19th century most bible-believing Christians thanks to modern geology had concluded that Noah’s flood was local in nature covering only a part of the Middle East.

Early Pentecostals due to the wide popularity of the Scofield Reference Bible accepted dispensationalism, premillennialism and Gap Theory Creationism. Gap Theory Creationism was again popularised by the AOG minister Finis Jennings Dake in his “The Dake Annotated Reference Bible” (1963) which was the first widely published study bible produced by someone from within the Pentecostal tradition.

Gap Theory Creationism suggests that God created the Earth a long time ago and filled it with plants, animals and even pre-Adamic races of humans (the fossils we now dig up). This whole created order fits between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. According to the Gap Theory, Satan rebelled and all of creation was brought into ruin and so 6,000 years ago God re-created the world in seven days. This view is also expressed in “The Dawn of World Redemption” by Erich Sauer a book again popular with early Pentecostals.

The modern Young Earth Creationist Movement arose within Seventh-Day Adventism. Ellen White supposedly had a vision of a global flood that caused the fossils to be deposited in layers. George McCready Price (1870-1963) a Seventh-Day Adventist promoted this new view of flood geology in his book “The New Geology”. The book remained obscure until two fundamentalists John Whitcomb and Henry Morris reworked George McCready Price’s arguments into their own book “The Genesis Flood”. This book catapulted Young Earth Creationism out of Seventh-Day Adventism and into Fundamentalism.

Many Pentecostals having abandoned Gap Theory Creationism have adopted Young Earth Creationism because of their fundamentalist origins and desire for a “plain” reading of scripture.

Today the three main strands of creationism can be further explored by looking up the following ministries: