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The Origins War, Part 2

Combatting the two extremes: When “literal” and “liberal” theologies compromise the gospel.

Back to the pending question: Does evolution complement, compromise, or contradict what Scripture testifies about creation? Unfortunately, the blanket condemnation of evolution has made this discussion a hot, dense mess. To reject evolution is precarious–––which thesis? No one is rejecting them all, and everyone is rejecting the naturalistic presuppositions that attempt to overturn Christian values and theology (admittedly, to differing degrees). So, where do we sit? According to YECs, to reject Evolution (capital E) is to reject the synthesis of all five theses, not each thesis distinctly. After all, there is strong evidence for natural selection and descent with modification, and a synthesis of said two theses does not necessarily contradict YEC views. YECs also adamantly oppose common ancestry (the spinal cord of evolution), ancient earth (billions of years), and the progress thesis (favouring genetic entropy). In fact, to bring more clarity on the differing views of OEC, unlike theistic evolutionists many Old Earthers and Intelligent Design advocates reject the universal common ancestry and progress thesis of ape-like hominins to modern humans, like Young Earthers do, on theological ground – humanity is a special and personal creation made in the image of God[1] – but see no theological issue with either thesis regarding animals.

Again, this is very nuanced discussion and hasty assumptions should not be made on either side. The over-simplification of this complex dialogue has only intensified crossfire between brethren. The Church as a whole – laymen, teachers, and scientists alike – is chock-full of believers progressively growing in their faith and knowledge in Christ. Everyone is grappling with the natural data they see and were raised to believe, having been raised in a scientific age. OECs believe they see an overwhelming amount of observable evidence for Evolution and will not abandon evidence on a whim if there is no alternative explanation for the positive evidence plain to them that does not contradict Genesis, the gospel of Jesus Christ, or their conscience, however hardened or incorrect one may think it is[2]. We would be wise not to reject those who are not rejecting Christ. And if in Christ: offer thoughtful responses, not brash denunciation. Let’s not be guilty of worldly thinking who reject those who reject Evolution and reject those who believe God did it! Have confidence and patience in the truth–––it will prevail.

Understanding the compatibility (or synthesis) of Evolution with Genesis boils down to the explicit priority structure taught in Scripture. So, before we can address the compatibility issue, what we should first ask, then, is: Does Evolution complement, compromise, or contradict what Scripture testifies about new creation–––the gospel? On that, I think Evolution can compromise the gospel. But so can radicalizing young earth views. Here’s why.

Scope of the Gospel

When expositing the text, the gospel is composed of a triad of belief – personal (now), historical (past), and eschatological (future) – all of which must affirm actual events did and will take place. Theologians and commentators tend to emphasize different Messianic prongs of this triad, focusing on the historical and eschatological portions of the gospel that are necessary for doctrine, especially systematic theology. All necessary doctrine is underpinned by spiritual, theological, and prophetic truths, particularly in Messianic fulfilment. In broad sweeping terms, everyone agrees on the eschatological anchor points necessary for the gospel – second coming, consummation, new creation, et cetera – and are content to disagree on the nitty gritty details, so I will not discuss future things here.

The historical portion of the gospel varies in volume, so to speak, between YECs and OECs. OECs largely affirm the essential anchor points of the historical gospel are indeed rooted in Genesis, chiefly the historical Adam and Eve (sometimes as sole progenitors, sometimes not), the Fall, and the genealogies, but typically maintain there is wiggle room for understanding its historical content, given its ancient literary context. Whereas YECs largely, if not, solely affirm the historical portion of the gospel in every respect, that not a jot or tittle of Genesis is not literal. The historical gospel to YECs, then, directly depends on the plain sense reading of Scripture. By contrast, OECs argue the plain sense reading is limited to its ancient cultural and literary context[3]. Both agree that Genesis 1-11 is anchored by history but disagree on to what extent of it is plainly historical, with one prime exception: death before the Fall. YECs argue there was no historical death at all before the Fall, and that the world, not just Eden, was manifestly perfect. OECs who affirm Scriptural authority and Biblical inerrancy tend to argue there was or may have been animal death before the Fall outside the Garden of Eden, but not human death (albeit some attempt to argue that there was human death, and that the Fall speaks of spiritual death and not physical death, but I’ll breach that in a later entry). The theology that underpins the historical gospel, therefore, hinges on the fact of this verse: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

“If further progress in the search of truth justly undermines this position, we too fall with it.

Augustine

As far as the personal portion of the gospel is concerned – our immediate belief and faithful servitude in the power of Christ’s atoning work – there is soft outward agreement, but not really. Both YECs and OECs agree that the personal gospel is God’s territory, and rightfully so, it’s about the condition of one’s heart and only God has the power to forgive[4]. YECs largely believe that compromising the historical gospel in Genesis can override one’s personal belief in Jesus Christ, OECs do not seem to believe that. This is what I meant last entry when I said YECs mostly agree that evolutionary beliefs do not a compromise salvation[5] – repentance and belief in Christ’s resurrection and ascension and full devotion thereof – but they backdoor it as a salvation issue by claiming evolutionary beliefs compromise the gospel, likening the matter to the apostle Paul’s stern warning (Galatians 1:8). Strong YEC proponents, such as Ken Ham, do not consider it a direct salvation issue in itself (Romans 10:9), but they do believe it is an indirect salvation issue, which “can encourage others toward unbelief” concerning the authority of Scripture and then, by consequence, the gospel – “can” is the operative word, here[6]. In other words, Evolution may be a stumbling block for some, and I agree. But some push too far when they liken all OECs to “false teachers” as “shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep” (Jeremiah 23:1) for affirming/teaching Evolution, likening it to “unbelieving thought”[7]. This is confusing. If to teach the compatibility of Evolution with Genesis is a false teaching, then the teacher who teaches it is, categorically, false–––a liar, a fraud, willful and conscious of their apostasy against God, beyond recovery even. And if it is condemnable to teach, then it follows that it is condemnable to believe.

So, here we are – we’ll start simply by charting the boundary lines and work our way up: Is a loose view of the historical gospel in conflict with the salvation call and one’s belief in the personal gospel of Jesus Christ? Or to flip it: Is one’s full belief in a rigid literal interpretation of Genesis 1-11 essential to the personal gospel? That is, if you repent of your sins, confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, then you will be saved by grace through faith (Romans 5:2, 10:9; Ephesians 2:8). Or to put it even more sharply: Must I believe in young earth to be truly saved? No, no, and no.

Radicalizing Young Earth Belief

I would hesitate to take the judgment seat of God so assuredly. It is one thing to sharply oppose earthly ways of thinking and firmly stand for truth, it is another thing to condemn all Evolutionists as heretics, particularly teachers, in one fell swoop. This is a growing attitude I keep witnessing within Evangelical churches and ministries, videos and blogs, that there are “Evolutionists” and there are “Christians”. It’s the main reason why I started this series. It is impetuous and self-gratifying to dismiss all Evolutionists (and OECs) as “liars”, “swindlers” and false teachers “leading many astray”[8], as one’s who will not inherit the kingdom of heaven, as some YECs have done (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11). The gospel hangs on the power of Christ, not on our understanding of the sequential order and physical exactitude of creation, such as 24-hour days, the surgical removal of Adam’s rib, or the serpent had vocal cords and legs before the Fall. For YECs who so ardently stand for the truth of Scripture, some have come to inadvertently oppose the grace of God and the truth of the gospel by making young earth necessary foundational belief and disqualifying other possible views of Genesis (not just Evolution) as faithless, unbiblical, even anti-Christian. Even so far as to throw emotive, belittling rhetoric at differing conservative and Biblical interpretations of Genesis as “pagan” or “philosophy”, calling themselves the only “Biblical Creationists” and all others compromised[9]. Or have we forgotten that humility is essential to the faith? For what does God say to the prophet Job, who likely knew the Genesis account: “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it?” (Job 38:4-7) This biting cynicism echoes the comment Ken Ham made years ago against dogmatic mainstream science: “You weren’t there”. Come Judgment Day, are we going to tell God all He did in the beginning by condemning those who do not believe in an exclusive physical interpretation of Genesis? That is the charge, is it not? It is graceless to implicate someone who so much as disagrees in literalistic young earth model of creation as less faithful, pagan, or apostate–––if, indeed, that is where you sit.

Many YECs falsely assume that if everyone just affirmed Young Earth Creationism at face value, all would be well. But this is not so. Adam and Eve did fall, did they not? Through moral and spiritual disobedience. And they believed in a young earth, too, according to Young Earth Creationism. Did not the Jews during the time of Christ largely believe in a literal creation, that the cosmos was made roughly 4,000-years-ago in seven 24-hour days, and yet God rejected them because of their hardened hearts? They also believed in the authority of Scripture and ardently stood to preserve it (cf. John 5:39). How, then, does believing in a literal young earth justify or secure obedience toward God? God saved Nineveh, for goodness’ sake, an Assyrian city devoted to polytheistic worship and some of the cruellest, most gratuitous forms of torture in history (cf. Jonah 3:6-10; Matthew 12:41). Was the gospel hindered there? Were they less forgiven? By contrast, if you so much as skim the surface of Church history, most of whom presumably believed the earth was young, it very quickly becomes evident that belief in a young earth carries no practical or personal convictions to resist our sin nature, which effects our immediate moral behaviour and spiritual understanding of Scripture. And understanding Genesis 1-11 is no exception.

People have sincerely wrestled with understanding Genesis 1:1–2:3 for centuries, long before Darwin and the age of Enlightenment, namely the early Church fathers Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Cyprian, and Augustine, because of key characteristics within the Text, not because of Evolution or some unbeknown devotion to another religion. The Bible did not convince many Christians before the rise of modern science in the 16th century that Genesis was a mutually exclusive, verbatim, historical account of creation, yet they were still considered Christian, nonetheless–––not heretics, not pagan, not half-Christians, just Christian. Granted, they may have been wrong, but the point still stands, if not, strengthened. Everyone has stumbled one way or another, to put it gently, nor does everyone firmly apply sound doctrine in all facets of their life. Granted again, the Church fathers generally did not impose new models onto the Text or undermine its historical record in the way we see today and remained largely agnostic about the intimate details of physical creation, prioritizing humility over knowledge (this is the right approach to Genesis 1-11, in my view). Their position on the obligatory belief of the doctrine of creation, then, is (virtually) the same as OECs today, sans the additional input from Evolution and mainstream science. Augustine who sharply opposed a natural process of creation but emphasized God’s power of instantaneous creation, said this: “[W]e should not rush in headlong and so firmly take our stand on one side that, if further progress in the search of truth justly undermines this position, we too fall with it. That would be to battle not for the teaching of Holy Scripture but for our own, wishing its teaching to conform to ours, whereas we ought to wish ours to conform to that of Sacred Scripture.”[10]

Now consider some notable conservative theologians of the 20th century, such as B.B. Warfield, Karl Barth, John Stott, C.S. Lewis, and even Billy Graham, all of whom upheld Biblical inerrancy and the authority of Scripture yet believed that Evolution could be compatible with Scripture[11]. Why? Genesis (as well as inerrancy, authority, and the plain sense reading of Scripture) has always completely depended on the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ, not the other way around. It is a contingent belief, not a foundational one. A person need not believe in a literal (physical) interpretation of Genesis exclusively before they affirm Jesus Christ as Lord. Especially if someone is new to the faith and needs “spiritual milk” before they can have “solid food”, having been raised in a naturalistic culture (cf. 1 Peter 2:1-3; Hebrews 5:11-14, 6:1-3, 11). What does this mean? It means this Genesis debate is an in-house dispute and does not necessarily obstruct the repentance of sin and confession of Christ’s testimony in the face of our immediate sinful experiences and fallen reality–––evil, futility, suffering, and death. Nor does one does simply fall away from faith by their (mis)understanding of how the sequence of physical creation occurred, especially if they maintain a strong doctrinal reverence for the value structure and truth of Scripture.

Again, this issue runs much deeper than mere science. The average person is, quite frankly, unaffected by the scientific details that are required to understand the debate, nor should a person feel compelled or pressured to believe in something they do not understand that is not necessary to believe. That would be to teach a false pattern of blindly following the “traditions of men” through popular scientific consensus (cf. Mark 7:8). But the average person’s theological framework for understanding the intention of Scripture is affected by moral tone and hasty judgment as well as inconsistent foundational patterns necessary for Christian living and spiritual maturity (cf. NIV 2 Timothy 1:13-14; Romans 6:17-18, 12:2). For what does James tell us? “Mercy triumphs over judgment.” Speak and act toward those as one’s who have been shown mercy, for “judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy.” (James 2:12-13) Our behaviour reflects what we believe. As God has shown us grace, there needs to be grace for spiritual growth[12]. It may not be easy or comfortable, but when did God say it would be? If you show no grace, then, perhaps, you do not truly believe in the power of God’s grace. Let’s not be guilty of leaning on our own understanding.

Making Young Earth Creationism and its supporting scientific evidence the necessary, exclusive foundation of the gospel, one that if not believed indicates unbelief, spiritual weakness, faithlessness, or compromises one’s personal belief in Jesus Christ as Lord, renders the whole gospel a matter of proof, not of faith: “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen….By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” (NKJV Hebrews 11:1-3) So that if a person differs on the all-encompassing, physical exactitude of Genesis 1-11, particularly 1:1–2:3, they are somehow a lesser Christian or more “liberal” or imposing pagan ideas or injecting “philosophy” into God’s Word, is to not take the gospel of grace through faith literally enough. Young Earth Creationism is a view, not a fact.

A tight, rigid, narrow dogmatic view of how the physical details of creation occurred, then, can discourage spiritual growth profitable for sanctification and undermine the priority structure of what’s theologically optimal: the Christ-centered gospel of grace. If the historical portion of the gospel depends on the personal gospel, then the gospel per se depends on why a person rejects the historical portion of the gospel and what parts they are rejecting as fully historical for sake of sustaining doctrine (and if they subsequently reject other doctrine as well, such as NT theology, Messianic prophecy, and so forth). In other words, why someone accepts or rejects the details of Genesis 1-11 as fully historical is more important than just affirming nitty gritty facts of how the physical sequence of Genesis occurred. Why? This is inherently a deep, nuanced personal and theological discussion. Is a view built on earthly status, social advantage or pressure, blind acceptance of tradition, or is it built on the central and essential values that God has established through Christ: love, hope, grace, mercy, forgiveness, justice, righteousness, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? (Galatians 5:22-23) Consider; if we are content to disagree on the intimate details of the future, can we not agree to disagree on the fine-tuning of the distant past, so long as the essentials are faithfully sustained? Like our Church fathers before us, we would be wise to have some humility, here.

When defending doctrine  

That said, Evolution is not out of the water: Can the compatibility of Evolution with Genesis discredit or disintegrate the necessary anchor points of the historical gospel? In other words, can affirming compatibility negatively affect doctrine and discipleship? On that, I think it has, and still can.

This fact/faith distinction is vitally important for understanding the gospel, given that believing facts about creation does not give you faith in Christ (a fact that comes after the fact through the inner witness of the Holy Spirit). Albeit our understanding of creation may not have a 1:1 effect on new creation, the historical gospel is still vitally important for sustaining doctrine profitable for teaching, correction, rebuke, and discipleship (2 Timothy 3:16-17). After all, the writings of Jesus Christ, apostle Paul, and ancient Judaic literature all reflect the belief in an actual, historical Adam who fell from grace whereby sin entered the world. And as Christians, we aim to be like Christ, to believe what he believed, to behave how he would behave, all-in-all, to be more like Him–––that is, sanctification through the Spirit. The personal gospel is the necessary heart by which the whole gospel hangs. While the historical gospel is contingent, it is still imperative ­– an obligation I cannot overstate – for optimizing discipleship and understanding theological doctrine necessary for strength and growth in spiritual maturity and mutual edification. Christ is the cornerstone, Genesis a keystone.

By contrast, YECs argue Christ is the gate, Genesis the keystone; by rejecting Genesis, faith falls part. And to be fair, they have a point, but they push too far. YECs are right to believe that Genesis is the foundation of doctrine, particularly, systematic theology and prophecy. We would be wise to caution ourselves against anyone who takes weight of the gospel lightly or is comfortable altering its historicity. Humility and the fear of God, not intellectual sufficiency, ought to be the heart of this discussion.

Now I hope it is clear not all YEC proponents believe or advocate that the historical gospel compromises one’s personal belief in Christ. I am contending a growing attitude I’ve seen in the Church due to many brash, off-hand comments. And to be fair, YECs do have a right to be concerned. Despite Church history and its broad stance on the doctrine of creation, Genesis has never really been challenged before in the way it has today, and Evolution can be a stumbling block for a lot of people coming to Christ, for by rejecting Genesis they reject the rest. And just because the doctrine of creation is not necessary for salvation, it still doesn’t give us permission to do whatever we want with it or add things that just don’t belong. The Church as a whole, from Abraham to now, is progressively growing in our knowledge of God, so we would do well to leave room for the progressive revelation of doctrinal understanding as new controversies and heresies rise to the surface, however subtle or saturated they may appear to be, especially if it violates essential and central doctrine to the faith, such when the early Church Fathers contended Arianism with the First Council of Nicaea – it was a direct response to heresy growing inside the Church. Subsequently, appealing to Church history as a qualifier for why Genesis 1-11 can be taken very loosely is just a silly argument, it has no bearing on this issue now because, simply put, the synthesis of Evolution with Genesis is a new discussion and potential doctrine, and the outcome will make history.

YECs are right to take a firm stance against false teaching, especially teachings that may undermine the historical Adam and Eve who were specially created in the image of God de novo as the sole progenitors of humanity, as well as the historical Fall when sin (and death) entered the world; theologians, teachers, pastors, and Church leaders ought to sustain sound doctrine by publicly calling out false teachings and teachers who likewise teach on a public level. Despite going too far in this instance, the motive is good.

For that purpose of sustaining sound doctrine, YECs believe Evolution (capital E) explicitly and implicitly violates the historical reality of Genesis 1-11 and its necessary anchor points – an actual Adam and Eve, an actual Fall, death before sin, Messianic genealogical record, et cetera – which are necessary for the historical gospel and, subsequently, renders God the author of evil and Jesus’ death on the cross in vain, as there is no sin to forgive. Evolution is totally incompatible with not only creation but the gospel, too, and it is just a matter of time before people realize how implicitly destructive it truly is. Evolution and its presuppositions completely strive against their faith, conscience, and theological framework; they don’t hide this, in fact, they state this very clearly. And frankly, I admire it. Regardless of YECs doctrinal parentage, whether Seventh Day Adventist or Judaism, YECs stand firm in their conscience over and above what’s said to be “almost certainly true” in mainstream science. This is biblical. I stand side-by-side with YECs who teach human reasoning and conscience were not designed by God independently of one another, and that our moral understanding and cognitive faculties overlap and unify necessarily as our way of discerning moral truth, so theories that teach the two were at one time distinct from one another run contrary to natural theology. That is, we need moral truth as an anchor, in our periphery, to keep reason in check.

My main contention was that at what point does standing firm turn into condemning or defaming others over the non-essentials? Especially if many OECs are not condemning or repudiating the traditional view (that said, since studying this topic, I’ve come across a growing trend of OECs who adamantly reject and stand against the YEC view, which pushes too far as well). OECs are typically asserting probabilistic alternatives, not universal certainties or necessities, in light of modern science that does not, in their view, contradict or compromise the essential and central doctrines of Christianity. The nature of scientific inquiry never sets out to prove or disprove anything with absolute truth or certain knowledge, it is always provisional based on evidence[13]. Science is an ongoing field of study, as new evidence comes to light, theories come and go, get improved or removed, which means that new creation theories synchronized with modern science are only probable and cannot compare in value to the truth of the gospel. When analyzing scientific data on the origins of life and cosmos, scientists aim to progressively understand the physical world and draw conclusions through focused, incremental efforts of inductive reasoning. That is, they follow the evidence where it leads them. Therefore, origins scientists cannot draw air-tight conclusions like in, say, mathematics[14]. For this reason, that OECs are not asserting or imposing new dogma or absolutisms onto the doctrine of creation, nor are they casting out the traditional view as immoral or incorrect but theorizing permissible options for non-believers (who typically affirm Evolution) based on what mainstream science is discovering, for this reason I do not believe this “placeholder” approach to the doctrine of creation, in personal application, is corrupt. The compatibility of Evolution and Genesis still hinges upon the personal gospel of Jesus Christ and is determined by Scripture and theology, not science or Evolution.

Since OECs largely consist of a gradient of individual viewpoints, each with their own subtle take on it, it requires a nuanced, personal understanding and response to each person’s view. For instance, Young Earth Creationist Danny Faulkner, professor of astronomy and physics, humbly and respectfully debated renowned Old Earth Creationist and astrophysicist Hugh Ross about the naturalistic assumptions and evidence for an old earth found in astronomy. Unlike essential Biblical doctrine that is universal, necessary, objective (independent of opinion), public, and obligatory for everyone to believe, Evolution requires a personal understanding of the natural sciences before a person can say one way or the other where they stand. Therefore, a synthesis of Evolution with Genesis can only amount to personal belief: private, subjective (personal opinion), contingent, and alterable. In short: God is immutable, science is not. True belief is obligatory. A belief in what’s plausible hardly passes as belief. A firm stance for this view only makes sense if personal faith and belief in Christ is the priority over proof and knowledge of the physical exactness of Genesis as well as Evolution. Therefore, Evolution can be compatible with the personal gospel as much as it can compromise it, so I hesitate to say it complements or contradicts it. It is not necessarily a salvation issue. Admittedly, I am open to being persuaded otherwise.

When teaching doctrine

For this reason, I do not believe the compatibility/synthesis of Evolution and Genesis should be taught in the pulpit as corporate doctrine. The synthesis of Evolution and Creation is a permissible personal belief, not a corporate belief profitable for teaching, rebuke, correction, or discipleship. For one, its science, not Scripture. Rebuke what, exactly? Correct the science, how? We cannot force or commit pastors and Church leaders to a view outside the scope of Scripture, especially if they hardly understand the field. It is not helpful for mutual edification, “training up in righteousness”, or strengthening faith through sanctification. It is a placeholder doctrine, subject to change. Personal belief will come and go, and scientific theory is no different. Corporate belief is what we affirm to be true in Scripture, so marrying these two as equals will send deep reverberations into the next generation of believers and thinkers. Science is a handmaiden, not a helper (cf. Genesis 2:18). Biblical doctrine is anchored by how we harmonize a pattern of belief, the natural sciences do not harmonize data the same way. To rehash Paul in a different way, “So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves.” (Romans 14:22)

So, because it is not necessarily true, we should not teach it as truth or on par with truth, rather, as one who removes a steppingstone for a friend to come to Christ, if necessary–––but with the understanding that science is not more “factual” than their faith. That is, if you’re not willing to come to Christ because of Evolution, in face of the actual problems that the personal gospel confronts – sin, evil, futility, suffering, death – there’s a bigger problem afoot. Fulfilling what the Scriptures said long ago: “For those who find me find life and receive favor from the Lord. But those who fail to find me harm themselves; all who hate me love death.” (Proverbs 8:35-36)

However, if at any point OECs impose Evolution as obligatory belief, or even as an optimal theological framework, whether through social pressure, intellectual prowess or due to doctrinal/textual obscurities, or to save face among colleagues as not to commit “intellectual suicide”, then this new doctrine would most certainly be a problem, a dangerous one at that. Why? Because it becomes a matter of probability, not faith. And “everything that does not come from faith is sin.” (Romans 14:23) Therefore, to reiterate what I said before, to teach the belief in Evolution as complementary to Genesis can produce a false pattern of blindly following the “traditions of men” through popular scientific consensus because the average person is not a scientist, and they don’t need to be.

We would all do well, Young and Old, to remind ourselves of Paul’s words when affirming, teaching, and living out doctrine: “Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak…. So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.… “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.” (1 Corinthians 8:9-13; 10:23-24) Likewise, just because something’s permissible, doesn’t mean it’s profitable.

If, or when, Evolution (capital E) is proven false, or as merely possible, the Church can stand strong knowing its position: Free to think, firm in belief.

Next Entry

Suffice to say, I’ve run out of space to dig into details on the other extreme. Next entry, I will finish charting the doctrinal boundary lines of creation. I will mainly focus on why and how Evolution can compromise theology, and even discredit the integrity of Scripture through doctrine and discipleship as well as the necessary anchor points of the historical gospel.

Continue Reading >

 

Matlock Bobechko | Published on July 26, 2021 – 2:00 PM EST


[1] Can humans evolve and still be “created in God’s image”? Reason to Believe.
https://reasons.org/question/can-humans-evolve-and-still-be-created-in-gods-image
Stephen C. Meyer, An Introduction to the book Theistic Evolution: A Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Critique. Published on February 1, 2019.

Defining Theistic Evolution

[2] Consider the Distant Starlight Problem for Young Earth astronomers. Simply put; since we can measure the speed of light and the distance of stars lightyears away with observable and testable accuracy, and the speed of light is what determines when we can see an object, then when we look at a star in the night, we are not actually seeing that star in the immediate moment like we would a friend nearby, we are, in fact, looking at a star from a different point in time in the history of the universe (say, billions of years ago) because that’s how long it takes for that starlight to reach our eyes. In other words, when we look at our sun in the sky, it is not our sun from now but 8 minutes ago. The explanatory scope and power of this argument is extremely compelling. This is even corroborated by astronomer and physicist Danny Faulkner, a Young Earth Creationist. Faulkner agrees that it is a problem for YEC models and admits that YEC explanations do not necessarily suffice to explain the observable data in astronomy, appealing to supernatural agency for the appearance of an old Earth. In other words, it looks old but that does not mean it is old. And at that point, this debate goes beyond the scope of science.

[3] Both YEC and OEC also affirm Biblical inerrancy, that the Bible “is without error or fault in all its teaching”, but OEC more strongly maintain that Biblical inerrancy is limited to its original manuscripts, rejecting a potential modern filter over interpretation.

[4] We as disciples, then, are charged with discerning false prophets and teachers, and their teachings of course, by the “fruit” of their ministry. This requires the fruits of patience and forbearance (Galatians 5:22-23), providing time for the “bad fruits” and “good fruits” to grow, and hopefully, God willing, be pruned (Matthew 7:15-19). Especially today, the fruits of the Holy Spirit produced by belief in the personal gospel have become difficult to discern due to technological advancements in how doctrine is distributed: printing press, broadcasts media and television, YouTube, blogs, et cetera. Given our impersonal, private lifestyles here in the West, false teachers can hide behind carefully edited work, veiled by may textbook sound doctrine that hides their true beliefs and behaviour. There’s an old saying in film that “you frame out more than you frame in”, and the same goes here.

[5] Ken Ham, Are We Wrong to Call Out Compromise? Answers in Genesis. Published on January 4, 2021.

https://answersingenesis.org/blogs/ken-ham/2021/01/04/are-we-wrong-to-call-out-compromise/

[6] Ken Ham, Millions of Years—Are Souls at Stake? When creationists take a strong stand that God created the earth six thousand years ago, they’re often accused of making this a salvation issue. Well, it isn’t a salvation issue—but it is! Answers in Genesis. Published on January 1, 2014.
https://answersingenesis.org/theory-of-evolution/millions-of-years/are-souls-at-stake/

[7] Creation, Answers in Genesis. https://answersingenesis.org/creation/

[8] The most notable instance of this is in a recent Twitter post by founder of AiG, Ken Ham, who accused, if not, condemned William Lane Craig, an evolutionary creationist, as a false teacher “one of the major problems with much of the church and most Christian institutions”. Ham says, “his pseudo-intellectual arrogance that mocks God and his Word and instead exalts the word of fallible, sinful man above God’s holy, infallible Word. He’s destructive to the church and will have to give account to God for his blatant compromise of God’s Word and for leading many astray….His main thrust is to compromise the pagan religion of evolution/millions of years with God’s Word. He is helping atheists undermine the Word of God and capture the minds of generations of people.” Ham ends the post by quoting Jeremiah against false prophets, “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 23:1).
S. Joshua Swamidass, William Lane Craig: An Exchange with Ken Ham. Peaceful Science. Published on February 15, 2021. https://peacefulscience.org/wlc-responds-ham/

[9] Bodie Hodge, for instance, says that to think the serpent did not have legs before the Fall is a “meaningless status” or “philosophy” imposed on Scripture. The word “philosophy” in a YEC social framework is predominately a negative description word used to distance pagan ideas from Christian theology.
https://answersingenesis.org/genesis/garden-of-eden/did-the-serpent-originally-have-legs/

[10] Augustine, On Genesis, Book 1, Chapter 18, no. 37.

[11] Brad Kramer, Famous Christians Who Believed Evolution is Compatible with Christian Faith. BioLogos. Published on August 8, 2018.
https://biologos.org/articles/famous-christians-who-believed-evolution-is-compatible-with-christian-faith

[12] Many young Evangelical Christians today have fallen away from the faith because they were given no grace or room to wrestle with this prevalent issue, even so far as to pit science against faith. Consider the youth, who already struggle with social acceptance, are now trapped between suppressing their beliefs out of fear of being seen as a heretic just for wrestling or rejecting a literal interpretation of Genesis, and their friends at school who are not Christian accept them “as they are”. It can hinder the open vulnerability that sanctification requires.

[13] Jerry A. Coyne, Faith versus Fact: Why Science and Religion are Incompatible (New York: Penguin, 2015), 29. Extracted from Natasha Crain, Talking with Your Kids about God: 30 Conversations Every Christian Parent Must Have (Michigan: Baker Books, 2017), 89.

[14] Pamela Gray, Research Professor from Southern Illinois University. Original footage from The John Ankerberg Show. Extracted from “Hugh Ross vs. Danny Faulkner – How Old Is The Universe?” Sentinel Apologetics YouTube channel. Published October 7, 2018.