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A fair fight?

The Great Deceiver doesn’t want honest debates


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This is the 11th in a series of classic columns (edited for space) by Joel Belz. In this Aug. 27, 2005, column, Joel wrote about whether public debates were taking place on a level playing field.

Still another letter last week from a friend I know to be a solid evangelical believer took us to task for what the writer thinks is a negative tone in WORLD Magazine. I say “still another,” because ever since we started the magazine in 1986, we’ve heard folks ask: “Why can’t WORLD admit that for the most part America is simply engaged in a debate over legitimate issues? We’re not at war, for goodness’ sake.”

Oh yes, we are. We’re in a knock-down, drag-out ­battle for the heart and soul of our culture and society. And we didn’t start it.

In a sense, as I’ve suggested here before, the present war started in the Garden of Eden, when Satan first tried to foist the big lie on Adam and Eve. The lie from the beginning was that human wisdom is smarter than God’s wisdom. The lie has always been that we could reject God’s standards with impunity.

The war is between a God who says, “Defy me and die,” on the one hand, and the Great Deceiver who argues back on the other hand, “You shall not surely die.” To me, that sounds like a life-and-death disagreement.

To be sure, God has been gracious to provide extended periods in human history—especially in North America—when Christians’ message about this life-and-death choice could be propagated in a civil and even-handed manner. Even when we knew that we were the carriers of a minority gospel, we’ve had the freedom to spell it out vigorously in the public square.

But the Great Deceiver has never liked a level playing field. He knows he is a liar, and that the only way he can win his argument is to rig the game so perversely that God’s truth-tellers find themselves at a serious disadvantage just to carry on the discussion. So he works overtime to force us to play defense. He wants us in a battle where instead of reaching out winsomely to those who have never heard or understood Christ’s gospel, we find ourselves fighting just to preserve the platform from which we reach out. He wants the whole platform—the whole public square—all for himself.

In the current public dust-up over so-called “intelligent design,” for example, the evolutionists are stonewalling on every front in terms of a good discussion about the issues themselves. Instead, they insist that those who challenge Darwinism don’t even belong in the discussion. Essayist Roger Rosenblatt, a regular on PBS’ NewsHour With Jim Lehrer, put it this way: “Scientists would do better never to enter debate with creationists because the world of thought they represent lies in a wholly different galaxy. To say that, however, is not to say that God need remain out of the picture in such discussions. The fact that Darwin’s study removed God from the evolution of nature only freed people to think of God in another and far more interesting way.”

Then, in a breathtakingly sweeping manner, Rosenblatt presumes to take God out of the picture—at least in any significant role. “If God is not involved with the production of birds and plants,” he says, “one might wonder how God is involved with us.” And you guessed it right: God’s involvement with us, if He has nothing to do with creation, is considerably smaller and less important. For now, God is only a concept; His involvement with everything that’s real has been minimized and removed from any really important discussion.

But evolutionists should be ashamed of themselves. For most of a century now, they’ve controlled the media, the schools, the colleges and universities, the publishing world, the entertainment world, and even the mainline churches. And still, fewer than half of all Americans have bought their idea that God was extraneous to the process of where everything came from.

Makes you wonder what would happen with a level playing field or a game table that wasn’t rigged.


Joel Belz

Joel Belz (1941–2024) was WORLD’s founder and a regular contributor of commentary for WORLD Magazine and WORLD Radio. He served as editor, publisher, and CEO for more than three decades at WORLD and was the author of Consider These Things. Visit WORLD’s memorial tribute page.

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