I first met John Mackay almost 20 years ago at a little Methodist Church in the North of England. I’d heard he was ‘interesting’ and talked about Creation and Dinosaurs. Well, that was enough to get me there so I went to the evening meeting and sat and listened to this enthusiastic Aussie chew through facts and stats that had my head spinning, but, for me, it was the start of a fascinating journey into the scriptures, for which I am extremely thankful.
John was in NZ on a speaking tour earlier this year so we caught up for a chat.
Do you remember what you spoke about that night at Brookhouse Methodist Church?
Not quite, but I know it would have had three components: 1) The evidence God’s Word is true and I think that night was on the same bit that convinced me to trust the data in Genesis…The Living fossils. 2) There is always a Bible teaching component on how relevant the issue is, and 3) a must have open Q&A which helps people sort out anything I missed.
So, how many churches do you think you’ve spoken at over the years?
Well if we say 40 years of researching around the globe plus teaching and preaching in Churches 2-3 times a week makes for a big number even when we take off Christmas and breaks.
How did you initially become interested in creation?
First motivation: even though I don’t come from a Church family, the influence of one science teacher that spoke about how wonderful and true evolution was led to me thinking that if I was just an animal I could behave like one. Well, several years down from there it hadn’t made anyone happy, least of all me!
Second motivation: as a keen science student I read way beyond my years so one day I was reading a University Biology text when the author (an atheist) threw in a chapter on why there is no God and how the Bible is just myths. Since I knew that you can’t prove an absolute negative (no God) I soon realised that this high IQ guy was a philosophy dodo! But then it hit me that his argument ‘the appendix does nothing so it’s a left over from evolution’ was also an absolute negative..dodo science…KAZAAAM…it hit me.
He poked fun at the Bible, so I picked one up and read it in secret for the next few years starting with Genesis, I discovered several things: Chapter 1 – the world was deliberately made. Chapter 1 and 2 – we are accountable to our Maker. Chapter 3 – we blew it and had a problem called sin…and boy, did I understand that, seeing as I was behaving like an animal and working so hard to not get caught. Fast forward 4000 years or so from Genesis 3 to John 3, and the same Creator became our Saviour whom we could know! And it turned out to be true because I became a Christian by faith and found out for sure! Then I discovered so many other students were tethered to sin and dissatisfaction by the lie of evolution…and God took it from there.
At what point did you realise you would spend your days travelling around the world defending the biblical account of creation?
Just after I spoke to a missionary at a conference asking him to pray that God would raise up someone who could speak to students across the globe on this issue and he stared me hard in the eye and replied; WHY NOT YOU?
Wow, that’s so cool.
As a boy were you as excited about fossils and bones are you are today?
Always loved bashing rocks just to see what’s inside them. And now thousands of fossils later (including loads of dinosaur bones, fossil dogs and thorns) I think the answer is ‘yes’.
Tell us about how you came to put your faith and trust in Jesus?
Well, I’ve told you the first bit. The second bit is in John 14 where Jesus said, ‘if you love me and obey my commandments I will make myself known to you, and I and my Father will dwell in you’. Now that’s a ‘provable’ test if I ever heard one! So, I did and He did – and when people ask me how come I stayed strong as a Christian in such a tough ministry, where you get abused and accused…the reason is simple; Jesus within me is very real and absolutely worth it all, so I can see others saved from ‘false science which leads them astray’ as the word of God puts it.
What impact did your family have on your faith?
Three illustrations; my dad was an atheist who loved to argue…so my skill in debates probably owes a lot to that; secondly, when my mum found me reading the Bible and chewed me out for it, I was reading the passage in 1st Corinthians about how ‘the flesh can’t comprehend spiritual things’ and God’s Holy Spirit comforted me with power and peace; and thirdly, when Dad told me I would be cut out of the will, I really had to ‘choose this day who I would serve’ and I chose Jesus!
Why do you think people struggle with taking Genesis literally?
As King Solomon recorded 3000 years ago, ‘there is nothing new under the sun.’ Even the early Church fathers struggled with this issue and always for the same reason: the things influential world leaders said about history disagreed with what God’s Word recorded.
In AD 180, Theophilus, Bishop of Antioch, wrote: ‘Creation occurred 5529 BC plus or minus 200 years’, not tens of thousands as Plato and others have written. So, there’s a conflict between Greek thinking and Godly thinking
For everyone it’s a ‘choose this day whom you will serve’ decision.
Just the same as recorded in Genesis, where a wannabe world leader said to Eve “ Did God really say that?”
What do you say to those who believe the Bible is not to be taken as literal history and Genesis is simply idiom or allegory?
If they claim to be Christians you should ask them what the word ‘good’ means in Genesis.
Then ask what it meant when Jesus went around doing good and then ask if they are looking forward to Christ’s return and a good new heavens and earth where there is no more curse? It won’t take long to demolish their confidence in a God who used evolution or millions of years based on death and struggle which are not good.
Of all the things you have dug out of the earth, what got you the most excited?
The fossils that smack evolution in the teeth!
Thorns in the bottom layers of the Geological column. Seeing fossil marsupials with dinosaurs. And especially flood evidence such as trees buried with scallop shells embedded into them and horseshoe crabs, sea shells and vertical upright trees all in the one coal bed.
We featured your article about Neanderthals in issue 3. Why do you think people are so desperate to prove a ‘missing link’ that they mislead us with false evidence that, in many cases, gets proven false, but not widely reported?
Fake genus seem to be the most popular critters on the planet! And combined with the ‘tough love’ truth that ‘the heart of man is desperately wicked’ which news editor wants to admit they made a mistake, when doing so destroys their whole life philosophy, that God’s Word is wrong?
You’ve been travelling and speaking for many years now. Where’s the strangest place you’ve been?
In the South American jungle, on a dig when a bunch of mean, machine-gun armed soldiers appeared!
Whenever you teach you always seem excited about the evidence for Creation and how it reveals God and proves we can trust His Word – after all these years, what keeps you smiling?
Christ the Creator lives within me so He can do anything to help even the enemies of Truth, who are really skilled at hating the Truth. He’s kind with ‘weather prayers’ also, giving our outdoor Jurassic Ark Creation Museum 112 m of rain the first week of December in the middle of widespread drought.
You’ve visited Aotearoa many times to preach and to dig! What’s your favourite place in NZ and when are you next here?
I really ‘dig’ New Zealand (groan!) especially in the volcanic coal fields on the North Island. But I’ll see you Kiwis in late April 2020 according to the current schedule.
Tell us about Creation Research and the work that you’re involved in.
We run an outdoor Aussie Creation Museum, we run field trips and digs all over the world and organise debates – we get the great message of God’s Truth out there from Genesis to John and beyond.
How can we keep in touch with your ministry?
You can get on our mailing list via our website: www.creationresearch.net
But also check us out on YouTube, follow us on Facebook or Instagram or write your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
And if I can help your church or ministry by coming to speak, you can contact me at email@example.com.
Thanks John. What a great guy. The man I once described as a cross between Steve Irwin and Santa Claus – which is definitely a compliment to them both!
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By Dave Firth
About the author
Dave Firth is CEO of Authentic Christian Trust.
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