Now the Serpent was More Subtle . . .

It was Thursday evening, January 11. The chimes of a nearby chapel had just tolled eight bells. There was a mood of muffled excitement as the family gathered to watch “The Waltons.” Tonight’s film was intriguing because it had been advertised as one highlighting the creation-evolution conflict. Mom and Dad were expecting a resounding vindication of the Biblical truth of creation.

Barely had the film begun when we were introduced to Mr. Bascomb, the rough and cruel divorced father of a gentle teen-age daughter. Mr. Bascomb was a rude man obviously consumed by the ravages of alcoholism and bent on violence as the means of enforcing his outdated views of the Bible in general and creation by divine command in particular. As the drama unfolded, we found ourselves in a small country schoolroom where Miss Hunter, the teacher, was laying before her students proof position that prior to man as we know him today, there was a creature much like man from whom man descended, who existed 45,000–100,000 years ago. But a youthful voice responded in Southern drawl, “My paw says that the Bible teaches the world is only 8,000 years old.” “Oh, I believe the Bible too,” replied Miss Hunter. “But we must keep in mind that the Bible is full of symbolismr!” We were stunned when the gentle maiden arose from her desk, walked resolutely to the door, and in response to her teacher’s inquiry, said, “My paw told me to walk out of here when you started teaching such blasphemy and he told me to tell you that all who teach this will burn with hell-fire forever!”

What followed this was the apex of disrespect and irresponsibility. Mr. Bascomb, the girl’s father, came to school yelling like a madman at the teacher, scrawling REPENT across the blackboard, following which he stalked out, stole alcoholic beverage called “the recipe” from a home in the town, beat up his daughter until she was blue, proceeded finally in a drunken rage to the schoolhouse where he tore down all the sketches of man’s animal ancestors, wrenched the bookcase of science textbooks from the wall and set fire to the schoolhouse in which his own charred remains were later discovered.

The gentle daughter, first smitten with sorrow at her father’s death, struggling to maintain the beliefs in creation for which he unheroically died, finally succumbed to the flattery of her teacher who told her that she had a scientific mind and if she would bury her past beliefs, a brilliant future lay ahead for her. A narrator assured us that the gentle maiden is a woman now, married to a diplomat. And with this the curtain closed.

While the children were still dabbing tears over the maiden’s bruised body and denouncing the cruelty of Mr. Bascomb, Mom and Dad sat recalling with quiet and painful memory the verse in Genesis 3 which says, “Now the serpent was more subtle than any other creature . . . .”

The clever writer of this script scored a dramatic victory in making white appear black, and black appear white—a true “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” And before us as parents lay the difficult task of explaining to the children that, although Mr. Bascomb was himself a tragic example of human depravity, nevertheless the truth of “creation by divine command” and the unique creation of man in God’s own image,” for which Mr. Bascomb fought and died, is Biblical and precious. We as parents had the difficult task of explaining that the delightfully charming Miss Hunter, heroine of the townspeople and of the film, was indeed guilty of false teaching. We were struck by the fact that the deception which the unbelieving college professor achieves with difficulty in a week, this film achieves with ease in an hour: Creationists are fools. But the truth of Romans 1 comes with biting warning to all who would tamper with God’s truth (and there are far too many): “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth . . .” “They exchange the truth about God for a lie and worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen” (paraphrased in present tense). We recall too the verse which says, “whoever causes one of these little ones to stumble, it would be better for him that a great millstone be hung around his neck and he be cast to the bottom of the sea” (Matthew 18:6).

Television is the 20th century wonder that has been more influential than any other single factor in changing time-honored values and establishing new ones. It has become the world’s best baby-sitter and worst enemy of individual creativity. It is dominated almost entirely by the secular (and sometimes satanic) mind so that Christian parents have great difficulty in selecting programs for their children which are even acceptable, much less Christian. Even programs on national networks acclaimed “best” for children, often portray unnatural homes where children are reared by an uncle, a widower, a set of parents each of whom has been married before, homes were children sass their parents, tell “petty lies” and absorb totally materialistic goals. Afternoons often fill women’s minds with cheap contests and illicit love affairs and evenings often send millions to bed with infidelity or violence on their minds. We have “‘sowed to the wind” as a nation and we are “reaping the whirlwind.” Dare anyone deny it! What we need is a Christian television network, badly and NOW! Who will help us?

Laurie Vanden Heuvel is the wife of Rev. Thomas C. Vanden Heuvel, pastor of the Central Avenue Christian Reformed Church of Holland, Michigan.