I suspect that a thousand years from now Christians will look back at the 21st century and say, “How could Christians have let themselves think that?” They’d have in mind our theology—some of the doctrines that are so precious to us and that we consider to be the backbone of Christianity.

And we do the same thing, don’t we? Of the people who lived 500 years ago we say, “How could they really have believed those things to be so important in their Christian faith?” We have in mind such doctrines as purgatory, indulgences, relics, the authority of the pope, apostolic succession, transubstantiation, the Inquisition, the sacramental system, Mariolatry, and so much more.

So I wouldn’t be surprised if a thousand years from now, or even in 500 years, people look back at our cherished doctrines and exclaim, “How could they believe all that?”

Why do I say this?

Because something is happening in our world that is likely to shake our systematic theology to its foundations when we better understand its implications. It won’t change the Bible or the theism that shapes our way of thinking. But as future theologians work at uncovering the implications of this discovery, they may find that some of the doctrines that form the essential structure of our creeds and confessions miss the mark. New insights and new doctrinal formulations will replace those we now treasure. People in the future will study the same Bible but understand it differently. Something is happening in our world right now that will bring vigorous theological revision for generations to come.

What is that “something”?

It’s an insight that began as a hypothesis in 1859, gradually developed into a scientific theory, and is fast becoming recognized as established fact. I refer to what we have been calling “the theory of evolution.”

Scientists recognize generally that the universe began with an enormous explosion—the “big bang.” They provide various scientific avenues to demonstrate the great age of the universe, perhaps as old as 15 billion years. The varied scientific disciplines provide convincing demonstrations of the continuous development of the universe since its beginning, such as producing over billions of years the vast reaches of space and the seemingly infinite number of stars and planets and galaxies that dot the heavens.

Our planet, Earth, has been part of this development. The scientists who study these things demonstrate how life appeared and how it has matured and diversified over millennia. They see this process of development producing a form of life called homo sapiens, and they trace this development from its common ancestry with other forms of life.

There may, of course, be areas of disagreement among scientists about certain items. But very few competent scientists will challenge the underlying process of development. These scientific discoveries can all be subsumed under the rubric of evolution—or, if one cannot get past the negative connotations of that term, we can use the alternative term development.

Implications for Theology
The question facing Christian thinkers is this: What effect does this process of evolution have on Christian theology? Do modern scientific discoveries have any implications for the way we understand the purpose of Christianity? If so, what are they? I am not going to argue whether or not evolution is true; I accept that the findings of modern science are reliable and must be taken as established fact. I also accept that the Bible’s basic teachings are just as definitive as those of science. So what might the implications for our theology be? If evolution is the catalyst for change, in what areas might we need to reconsider our traditional theological understanding?

Creation: We have traditionally accepted the words of Genesis 1—that God created the world as we know it today in seven literal 24-hour days—at face value. Bishop Ussher’s chronology even suggests the exact year when that that happened: 4004 bc. But there is no way we can possibly continue to hold that doctrine any more than we can hold the doctrines of a flat earth and a geocentric universe. One week for God to create the vast universe as we know it? That just doesn’t comport at all with the reality of a universe billions of years old. So we have to find a better way of understanding Genesis 1, a way that embraces scientific insights honestly and a way that also embraces the reality of God’s creative activity.

Adam and Eve: Traditionally we’ve been taught that Adam and Eve were the first human pair, Adam made out of dust and Eve from one of Adam’s ribs. But sustaining this doctrine is extremely difficult when we take seriously the human race as we know it today sharing ancestry with other primates such as chimpanzees. Where in the slow evolution of homo erectus and homo habilis and homo sapiens do Adam and Eve fit? We will have to find a better way of understanding what Genesis tells us about Adam and Eve, one that does justice to Genesis and also to what the Bible teaches about their connection to Jesus.

Fall into sin: We have traditionally understood Genesis to show the first human beings, in a state of innocence, living sinlessly in the Garden of Eden. They are then tempted. They yield to temptation and God sends them out of Eden. But if we take the discoveries of historical science seriously, where could we fit that story in? It would be extremely difficult to locate any such Garden of Eden, and even if were able to do so in modern Iraq, where is the scientific and historical evidence of a pristine origin and expulsion from that Garden? Furthermore, at which stage in human development would we place this event? We will have to find a much better way of understanding what sin is, where it comes from, and what its consequences are. Theologians will have to find a new way of articulating a truly biblical doctrine of sin and what effect it has on us.

Original sin: According to this doctrine, the fall of Adam and Eve is an actual historical event that plunged the entire human race into sin. Ever since, both the guilt of sin and the pollution of sin, theologically speaking, have been passed on from parent to child in such a way that we all come into the world tainted by them. We say that our children are conceived and born in sin. But if Adam and Eve are not understood as real historical people, then there can hardly be an inheritance of sinfulness from parent to child all the way back to Adam—in which case the entire doctrine of original sin falls by the wayside. We will have to find a better way of understanding not only what sin is but its effect on the population in general—a way that does justice both to the Bible and to science and that helps us understand how sin works in our own lives under God.

Salvation: We have traditionally understood the work of Jesus as dealing with the two aspects of original sin: guilt and pollution. Jesus removes our guilt by dying for our sins on the cross; he removes our pollution by sending us his Holy Spirit. This makes good sense, but if the doctrine of original sin needs to be revisited, theologians need to consider whether our understanding of Jesus also needs to be revised. Does the theory of evolution have any implications for how we understand Jesus’ ministry, his death, his resurrection, and his ascension? How does Jesus fit into the ongoing process of evolution in the fullness of time? How does his ministry impact people in later generations? We’ll want our theologians to tackle this issue in a truly biblical way, preserving everything essential to the biblical story while fitting it into a new paradigm that defines meaningfully what Jesus Christ has done and what it means for us to be Christians.

God’s purpose in history: Evolution is a way of understanding history that describes a process of development taking place from the beginning of time. We, then, need to be asking questions like these: What is God’s purpose in all of this? If there is a meaningful process taking place in time and history, where is it going? What does God want the human race to become? What is our future over the long reach of time? Traditionally we have talked about an end of the world. But if we take evolution seriously—that is, the 15 billion years that already have passed—what are we to think about what the world will look like a billion years from now, or even a mere million? Can we see anything of God’s purpose for time and history, and can we get a glimpse from science of what that future might be—one that preserves what the Bible teaches but also is true to science? Our philosophical theologians will need to take a serious look at these questions. Major changes may well be in store for our eschatological doctrines.

I could go on and give my own insights about these doctrines, but this is sufficient to make the point that we need to take seriously in our theology the theory of evolution, now developed into established fact. Huge changes may well be taking place in tomorrow’s theological world, but we ought not be afraid of facing them. On the contrary! We should be excited and challenged by God’s grace to move onward and upward into more realistic insights into his Word and will. Who knows but that God has brought us into the world for such a time as this, to listen to what he has been saying and doing for billions of years and to take the lead in improving our understanding of biblical theology accordingly?

There are various ways we could respond. One option is denial—saying evolution can’t be true because it contradicts the Bible. Another option is inattention: who cares? Still another option is carelessness, or jumping to immature conclusions. The best option is prayerful attention, listening carefully to everything God is saying both in his original creation and in his redemptive gospel. If we can find the grace to do this humbly and obediently, surely we may trust the Lord to guide us into all the truth he wishes us to understand.

Committee on Creation and Science Report

E. The present apparent conflict between Christian faith and science over questions of origins cannot be easily resolved. Not only are there various interpretations of the evidence confronting natural science; there are also various plausible interpretations of Genesis 1. Thus all sides in the debates about origins should acknowledge that that they do not have a completely satisfactory solution to the problem and that therefore certain criticisms made by some of their opponents are at least partially justified. In the midst of such disputes, the church must firmly confess that which is the clear teaching of Scripture and central to the Christian faith; but cognizant of the legitimate freedom of science to examine the evidence and of the legitimate freedom of exegesis to interpret Scripture, the church must not bind consciences beyond that confession.

F. The Scripture clearly teaches that God is the Creator of all that is, that he created all things good, [and] that man and woman were made in his image to serve on God’s behalf as stewards of the world that he made. This biblical teaching of Creation stands in judgment over all naturalistic, evolutionistic worldviews.

J. . . . Some hold that this clear biblical teaching necessarily requires an explicit rejection of any theory which posits the existence of evolutionary forebears of the human race, that there is a clear clash of paradigms between prevailing evolutionary theories and the biblical account of origins. They argue that it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to see how a responsible exegesis of Genesis 1-3 does not rule out the evolutionary account of human origins. Others are not fully convinced that this clear biblical teaching requires such a rejection, for various reasons. . . . Some take Scripture (Job 38:4; 1 Cor. 13:8) to teach that God has no intention that we know all the answers in this area. Some believe that we are called to somehow take account of both of God’s revelations whether we currently know how to do that or not and that traditional conclusions would be compelling on scriptural grounds were it not that nature seems to be authoritatively telling us something else. That is not to say that the scientific theories are right, but only that neither we nor the church is presently in a position to state authoritatively that Scripture speaks definitively on this issue.

—from Report 28, Committee on Creation and Science, Section VIII: A Summary of Conclusions, Agenda for Synod 1991, pp. 408-9

 

 

Tomorrow’s Theology

  1. What is your gut reaction to Walhout’s statement “Something is happening in our world that is likely to shake our systematic theology to its foundations”?
  2. Is it possible to “not fear but face” these changes, as Walhout suggests? What is God’s purpose in all of this?
  3. How does Jesus fit into the ongoing process of evolution in the fullness of time? What does this mean for Christians?
  4. Walhout encourages theologians to take evolution seriously and also to tackle this issue in a truly biblical way. Describe the kind of faith needed to bridge the (seemingly dualistic) divide between these two realities.
  5. What is your prayer for theologians and scientists? What is your prayer for the church? What is your prayer for yourself as you meet new challenges to your understanding?


About the Author

Edwin Walhout is a retired minister of the Christian Reformed Church living in Grand Rapids, Mich. To read more by this author, visit Smashwords.com, where over two dozen of his e-books may be downloaded.

See comments (50)

Comments

My jaw dropped when I read Walhout's article. It expresses Dr. John Schneider's position so clearly and concisely that anyone with a high school education can understand it. Dr. Schneider, of course, was one of the two Calvin College religion professors who not so many years ago wrote scholarly articles in an academic journal which resulted in a huge and highly publicized controversy.

Schneider's article resulted in his subsequent departure from Calvin College, as well as an overture asking Synod to speak to the issue. Synod responded by turning the issue over to Calvin College for in-depth study, with the resulting study report submitted to Synod when the study is completed.

That study is still not completed, which is not surprising given the complexity of these issues. However, it is a virtual certainty, IMO, based on Calvin College's unequivocal and continuing commitment to the creeds and confessions of the CRCNA, that this report, when it appears, will clearly affirm the very same timeless scriptural truths contained in our creeds and confessions which Walhout so blithely assumes will soon be considered as obsolete as the belief that the earth is flat. I am also confident that Synod will concur in Calvin College’s affirmation of these creedal doctrines.

 

I strongly suspect that the editors of The Banner will rue the day when they gave Walhout's extreme views the credibility in the CRC that John Schieder, just a couple of years ago, wrongly calculated they might have.

That study is still not completed, which is not surprising given the complexity of these issues. However, it is a virtual certainty, IMO, based on Calvin College's unequivocal and continuing commitment to the creeds and confessions of the CRCNA, that this report, when it appears, will clearly affirm the very same timeless scriptural truths contained in our creeds and confessions which Walhout so blithely assumes will soon be considered as obsolete as the belief that the earth is flat. I am also confident that Synod will concur in Calvin College’s affirmation of these creedal doctrines.

 

I strongly suspect that the editors of The Banner will rue the day when they gave Walhout's extreme views the credibility in the CRC that John Schieder, just a couple of years ago, wrongly calculated they might have.

I strongly suspect that the editors of The Banner will rue the day when they gave Walhout's extreme views the credibility in the CRC that John Schieder, just a couple of years ago, wrongly calculated they might have.

I agree with you, Dan, that what Schneider and Walhout have written will in the end be rejected for the heresy that it is.  Based on my earlier submissions that shouldn't surprise anyone.  

The real question here is not a scientific one.  It is not a question of evolution or creationism.  While some, including me have a difficult time reconciling evolution with our theology, some who accept a form of theistic evolution also accept the basic Biblical beliefs of the fall and the atonement that are summarized in our Reformed confessions.  And I assume that this includes vast majority of biology and other science professor, theology professors, pastors and others who have signed either the Form of Subscription or the updated Covenant for Officebearers.   I would hope also that most would also accept a literal, rather than a figurative Adam and Eve.  Not to do so really is a denial of both of what Paul says in New Testament and  of what our confessions unequivocally teach.  And it opens the door to the denial of the doctrines that Harlow, Schneider, and Walhout are questioning and radically reinterpreting.

Matt, as to your point about relevance.  The truth is always relevant.  Two plus two always equals four no matter what age we are in.  As Orwell point out in his novel 1984, totalitarian governments can attempt to manipulate people's understanding of truth, but even they really cannot change reality itself.  As believers in Jesus, we are committed to the reality of what the scriptures teach, a reality that we in the Reformed tradition believe is accurately portrayed and well explained by our creeds and confessions.  

Granted, the creeds and confession are explanations of scripture and not scripture itself and hence they could be in error.  It is for that reason that we have a procedure that we have covenanted together to follow should any of us believe a portion of these documents to be in error.  Until that method is followed we have covenanted together not disseminate these ideas in a public forum. This promise was not kept by the authors of these articles and it has caused divison in our church as has been evidenced by the passions of the various blog writers. And that is a very relevant concern.  

Whether their views agree with the doctrines of the Christian Reformed Church is irrelevant to most scientists, including some Christian ones who belong to other fellowships or who are simply freethinkers.  But, unity in our fellowship is.   And while unity is not uniformity, it is always enhanced when people honor the promises they have made and follow the proper procedures and it is always harmed when they do not.

Greetings again to Matt and John.  I apologize for my continued antagonizing comments on this blog.  I’m not sure that this post is even meant for me, but more for people soundly grounded within a Christian framework, trying to honestly wrestle with the issue of evolution and creation.  If any other readers are tired of my ramblings, please skip over this comment.  And I apologize if my comments get too verbose.  They will.

I apologize, especially to you Matt, because I know you would like to see our comments head in a different direction.  But, maybe, with John (me too), our agendas get too firmly planted in our minds and hearts, and its difficult to abandon our own desired agenda for another.  I find that true in many kinds of arguments or firmly held beliefs.  Christians, or adherents of any religion, find it difficult to abandon their beliefs, even when (or especially when) some reasonable alternative is presented.  Maybe that is why Christian missionary work among the Muslims is so difficult, and makes such little headway.  They already have a religion that makes perfect sense to them, so why would they want to consider an alternative when the alternative will only bring chaos into their life.  The feeling is, “I’ll stay where I’m at; my faith and religion works well for me.”  I think this may also be part of the reason the Christian church finds it difficult to be unified and to speak with a single voice.  Most Christians and denominations find it difficult to give up any of their own cherished ground.  So with that in mind, I do not really think that I’ll change any minds or that you’ll change mine.  This is probably more an exercise in fine tuning our own thoughts and persuasions.  If you’re thinking of abandoning this comment, now is the time, because I really haven’t even started yet.

To the issue of evolution.  My background is in the Reformed churches, and that’s probably why I picked up on this article by Walhout in the first place. I’ve noticed increasingly the struggle within our churches over creation and evolution.  Recently (within the last few years), I’ve learned of science professors at Calvin struggling with the denomination’s doctrinal standards.  These standards are prohibitive in letting their research lead to an honest conclusion.  These standards, at some points, seem to be like a wall that some of our scientists run into and prohibit them from going further.  Some of these professors seem to be willing to stop at the wall.  Others feel, to be honest with themselves and the work they are doing, they must leave their Christian college.  And its created an uproar.  And further, I hear that more than a few of the seminary professors at our seminaries are leaning more toward accepting the idea of evolution because increasingly the scientific research and evidence supports evolution.  And they cannot turn a blind eye toward the evidence that is staring them in the face.

I, too, have gotten on the evolutionary bandwagon.  I think if honest scientific research is increasingly supporting evolution, I, also, would be foolish to turn a blind eye.  But getting on that bandwagon does (or could) reek havoc with many of Christianity’s favorite (or core) teachings. 

You are right, Matt, that Christianity is unique among the world’s religions.  But the fact is, they are all unique.  Christianity’s uniqueness is the presentation of a Savior, Jesus Christ, to take care of the (supposed) humongous problem of sin that has that has infected the entire world, humans, as well as nature.  Other religions may not recognize the problem of sin as dramatically, but their goal, as much as with Christianity, is finding harmony with God, knowing his love and acceptance, and leading a life that pleases him. 

Now recognize that most of the world’s great religions were first formulated in the far distant past.  From the earliest written records there have been numerous religions.  The Old Testament addresses several of them.  The Jewish religion (Old Testament) spoke of them as being foolish.  But all these religions had many commonalities, including the Jewish religion.  Some believed in more than one god, and their were good gods and bad gods, who quarreled and fought amongst each other, but also carried out their blessing or anger against the human world.  And the earthly inhabitants were always trying to figure out a reality that seemed to played on the backstage behind the stage of earthly or human interaction.  It seemed to people of this earlier time in history that by displeasing the gods these gods were inflicting storms, draught, and calamity on them. ‘How do we explain the realities that we see happening around us and even within us?  There must be a greater reality going on beyond our own reality.  How do we please these gods and find reward and prevent punishments?’

The Jewish or Christian religions had a lot of the same dynamics.  There was a good God, the creator God.  But there was also the demi-god, Satan, who would try to thwart or prevent the good God from accomplishing his goals.  And Christians would say that although the demi-god is not as powerful as the good God, yet the demi-god’s influence has been felt throughout the world and history.  The Jewish and Christian view is not really that different than what other civilizations or people groups have dreamed up.  I don’t think these dreamers had reason or scientific research to help them to see the realities of life clearly.  But their religions were an attempt to explain what they could not understand. Much of their religions involved superstition which is also true of the Jewish religion and perhaps even Christianity. But the Jews had their own solutions to these problems and superstitions different from what the Christian religion would later introduce.

Now comes the contrast.  Evolution, in contrast, could introduce, very reasonably, a completely different scenario in regard to sin, that to me, is much more reasonable and sound.  If evolution is true, and humans have developed over time, coming from lower life forms, then the “survival of the fittest” instinct was part of the natural process that led to progress and development in the animal kingdom.  Only the strongest and smartest survive.  And to survive animals had to be cunning and fierce. Haven’t you seen the Jurassic Park movie? Just kidding.   I don’t think, even Christians, would deny the truth of this survival instinct within the animal kingdom.  This was true, even before the fall of Adam and Eve, because animals existed before them, even in a creational account of beginnings.  Although, the Bible promises that one day the lamb will lay down with the lion, that was not true in the animal kingdom of the past or the present.  Definitely a survival of the fittest instinct played a part in the evolutionary process, and this mentality goes beyond simply fighting and killing to survive.  If other means provided survival then this would have been used as well. 

With time (a lot of time), along comes the human race, and this involved development or evolution, as well.  This too seems to be historically documented, although denied by some Christians.  It only seems natural that this survival mentality would be part of the human makeup as it did in humanities’ predecessors.  But with the development of the human race (from lower forms) comes a greater capacity to reason.  And with reason comes better and more gentle means of survival.  I believe that this survival instinct is still there in human beings but now there is a buffer to that survival instinct, which is reason.  We can reasonably answer the question of how can I survive and still have the well being of others in mind.  But sometimes (maybe even often), the raw side of that survival instinct gets the better of us and puts reason aside.  It’s the struggle that the apostle Paul experienced in his own life, not necessarily as a Christian, but as a human being.  It’s the same struggle that Donald Duck, experiences in the cartoon, when he doesn’t know which duck to listen to sitting on his shoulders, the good white angelic duck or the bad black devilish duck.  Which instinct should I follow?  All people know the difference between making wise and unwise or unkind choices. 

Of course Christians want to reclassify this “survival instinct” among human beings and say it is a result of a fall, a listening to Satan rather than God, and obeying Satan rather than God which now has infected all human beings and has led to the damnation of the entire human race.  But yes, the Christian religion, does provide a way of escape for some (those chosen by God for deliverance).

The Christian perspective of a fall into sin is crucial to the message of Christianity, but it certainly sounds like it could play into the religious superstitions of other ancient religions.  And if other religions today don’t seem to make as big a deal over sin as Christians do, it’s because they don’t see the profound problem that Christians seem to see.  Perhaps the astounding problem of sin in the Christian’s mind is a manufactured problem along with a manufactured solution.  I know, that’s pretty blunt and harsh.

Does this mean that there isn’t a God involved in creation/evolution.  I, personally, don’t doubt it for a minute.  It’s in the natural world that God reveals himself clearly.  But when people (religions) come up with all kinds of further special revelations, I want to bunch them together and suggest that they are all falling prey to their great imaginations.  It’s obvious to me that God has made himself known in creation.  It doesn’t seem obvious that he needs a further revelation.  I don’t need to speculate or try to figure God out.  I may have some personal speculations as to how I may demonstrate my love for God, but I’m not going to advocate a religion based on my opinions.  I may be right, or I may be wrong.  On many points (not all) I think the Christian religion falls short.  So I wish Edwin Walhout a lot of luck.  (Oops, did I say that?)

Hi Rog.  I don't know if you remember me.  I served a summer under you in Fort Wayne.  I was so wrapped up with my own prattlings that I didn't think about who was writing.   I hope that you and your family are all doing well. 

It seems that you changed your theology a bit since I last knew you.  Is this all due to your being persuaded by evolutionary theorists?  While I do not share your confidence in their concluIsions, I would like to suggest that white paper I mentioned by Tim Keller.  It is on the Biologs website  http://biologos.org/uploads/projects/Keller_white_paper.pdf  He also seems to accept a form of theistic evolution, but does not think that it necessarily should result in our throwing out our beliefs in in a literal Adam and Eve.  Read it and let me know what you think.

Hi Rog.  I don't know if you remember me.  I served a summer under you in Fort Wayne.  I was so wrapped up with my own prattlings that I didn't think about who was writing.   I hope that you and your family are all doing well. 

It seems that you changed your theology a bit since I last knew you.  Is this all due to your being persuaded by evolutionary theorists?  While I do not share your confidence in their concluIsions, I would like to suggest that white paper I mentioned by Tim Keller.  It is on the Biologs website  http://biologos.org/uploads/projects/Keller_white_paper.pdf  He also seems to accept a form of theistic evolution, but does not think that it necessarily should result in our throwing out our beliefs in in a literal Adam and Eve.  Read it and let me know what you think.

Roger, we shouldn't attribute guilt by association... but I don't think you are helping Edwin's cause. 

In any case, I have two questions:  1.  It seems you believe in evolution, but don't want to defend it.  I wonder if you have examined some of wazooloo's objections or creation.com objections to evolution on scientific grounds?  2.  I also wonder if you have ever asked yourself whether you rejected Christianity because of your belief in evolution, or whether you find it easy to believe in evolution because you first rejected christianity?  I'm interested in your reply.  JZ

hey again to all,

quickly, to David . . not sure if you mistook my point about cultural relevance, but it was purely regarding how the gospel is presented in terms of what cultural issues it addresses . . in this culture, evolution is one of those issues that needs to be addressed . . of course, truth doesn't change . .and i agree that it's also always relevant .. i was just saying that the Bible makes a clear call to fit our evangelism to our audience (see the verses i cited originally)  .

Roger . . i'll let you get to John and David's ?s . . (if protracted forum debating is your thing :)) . . like i said: i won't get into a big contentious reply to your last post . .needless to say, though we agree about faith and science needing to reconcile, we diverge a bit from there . .

sir, i pray you will (again?) believe that the gospel is indeed wholly unique -- in your words, the only one that offers "a Savior" to the world . . i pray that you will (again?) come to the conclusion that evolution alone -- even adding God and natural revelation -- doesn't equal an adequate worldview . . like David, i again recommend Keller to you . . along with the authors i mentioned in my original post who have accepted evolution (like you) and yet still have faith in Christ -- like plenty others . . i'd be glad to offer more suggestions as well . . my prayer for you is that you may find yourself saying the words of Mark 9:24 and go from there . . 

Thanks for your comments, Dave. Just for the record, and in affirmation of your reminder that not all Christian people who affirm some form of evolution are closet heretics, I want to say that Daniel Harlow's views are much closer to the orthodox ballpark than Schneider's, and that's why he is still, to my knowledge, teaching at Calvin. IMO some of Harlow's views are in far left field, but he raises issues that demand a careful survey of exactly where the foul line needs to be drawn. In all fairness to him, I want to say that my son had Dr. Harlow for a religion class last year, and thought he was a good teacher, from whom he learned a lot of good things. He also didn't hear anything he thought was out of the ballpark (and he is something of a bloodhound where that kind of thing is concerned).

I've been impressed that the Calvin College faculty is going about this in a fair and competent way that will truly respect the scientific enterprise while holding fast to core confessional truth. No easy assignment. We just need to be patient.

Hi David and John, It’s good to hear your written voice David.  All is well at my end of the world.  Wife is doing well, as are the kids and the 12 grandchildren and one great grandchild.  We have truly been blessed.  Thanks for asking.  I take it, all is well at your end of the world.

I guess this comment is in response to the question posed by both of you, David and John.  Which came first, the chicken or the egg?  Was it the evolution debate or something else that set me to wandering.  It wasn’t the evolution issue.  That is perhaps just one of the kinks that frustrates me with the Christian view.  It probably began with all the conflicting views within our denomination and the changing positions that have been promoted, all of which claim to have the Bible on their side of an issue.  As I have said previously, a historic view of the first chapters of Genesis has been held from the time of Moses.  Augustine, may have been an exception.  But among orthodox Bible believing Christians a literal interpretation has been the norm (creation.com presents such a view - thanks John).  It’s only in the last 60 years or so that there has been any serious debate on the issue, not even that within our denomination.  The problem for me is that it seems so easy for Christians to change their mind and simply disregard the view that was held as sacred for thousands of years.  Did not the Holy Spirit teach or give discernment to all those past generations in the view they held?  Is it just a simple matter to say that all those generations got the genre wrong. This is just one example of views that change in our denomination.  There’s the women in office issue.  Increasing we are doing a radical turn around on the role of women in office.  Were those holding a limited role for women, as to authority, all wrong since the beginning of the church?  And what about the principle of headship in the family?  I haven’t heard a sermon on that in years. Did the Holy Spirit lead them astray in the older interpretation of Scripture?  What about children at the Lord’s Supper, or worldly amusements, or Christian education. And there are many other Bible related issues that could be added to the list.  I’m not saying that the individual issues bother me.  It’s all the flux that I see, while all claim the Bible as their authority.  Can all the differing views really claim their view as being supported by the Bible?  But they do.

And if we expand this further to include the multitude of denominations that there are within the Christian church it becomes mind boggling the differences there are within the Christian church as to what the Bible teaches.  We could take Berhofs systematic theology and find almost every point of doctrine disputed by another Christian theologian somewhere in the Christian church. Hence the multitude of systematic theology books.  Getting a doctorate in theology qualifies a person to be a “spin” doctor.  Now, as a doctor, you can put your own spin on what they Bible teaches.  And all these doctors, churches, and individual Christians claim an inerrant or infallible Scripture that guides them to the truth.  They claim that the Holy Spirit gives them guidance and discernment to understand the true interpretation of God’s word.  If the Holy Spirit is our teacher, how can he lead to such a diversity of beliefs that even contradict the beliefs of other Christians?  Has the Holy Spirit fallen down on his job?  Or maybe the Holy Spirit isn’t the guide and teacher that the Bible makes him out to be.  Of course there is a huge diversity belief as to the person and work of the Holy Spirit and what we can expect of him.  All are grounded in the Bible.  That’s just part of the diversity of beliefs and teachings within the Christian church.  It’s seems as if very little can get nailed down as to Biblical truth.  And this blog that we all comment on with our differing views supports my opinion.

That, John and David, is just the beginning of my wayward journey. That’s where it began.  I also think there are some fundamental inconsistencies or contradictions within the Bible.  But I’ll not get into them or this will become another book.  I hope this answers your question to some extent as to the chicken or the egg.  Thanks for the suggested reading material.  I looked at most of it. Blessings to all.

Thanks for your reply, Roger.   You raise some very valid concerns.  I suggest there are some books who get to the basics such as by Lee Strobel, Case for faith and Case for Christ.  But I understand your plight.  Sayonara.   JZ

David in several posts above mentions a very crucial point: there is open teaching whichg violates the form of subscription. In that document pastors promise (an oath before men and God) to teach and defend our doctrines, which many are doing in these posts. There are means to go about expressing disagreement with our confessions, and the Banner is not one of the forums.

I think more of the responsiblity for this falls on The Banner, whose editors likely asked for this article and made the decision to publish this. As a woman on page 2 of this discussion noted, her son read this and was deeply disturbed by the article.

So there is a violation of trust here between the Banner and the the readers. The readers should trust that the Banner upholds the FOS and teaches Reformed theology. By in large it does, and I am grateful for much of what The Banner does.  This article, however, because of the deviation from the FOS, harms the trust between orginization and reader. I hope next month the Banner says something more than simply printing an article that expresses a "balanced view." Do they need an apology piece? Or maybe I way out in left field? I am just raising questions.

I am all about honest exploration and discussion. But as David noted earlier, there are proper ways to do this.

 

Rog, Nice to hear from you and thank you for sharing your faith journey.  As one who became part of the CRC by choice rather than by birth, you offer an interesting perspective.  Yet, I trust you would agree that you are only at one stop in your faith journey.  God is not through with any of us yet, including me.  To answer your question, I am very happily married and we have blessed with three wonderful daughters.   

I certainly can see how some of the changes and seeming inconsistencies can challenge our faith.  While we may have come to different conclusion, most of us who are serious about our fatih have pondered such issues.  I am thankful to hear that at the end of the day, you still are clinging to Jesus.  Of course, it is an even greater comfort that he continues to cling to all of us.

I think, not only because of the importance of truth, but also because of the responsibility we have to build one another up in the faith, we as leaders need be very careful about making public challenges to foundation of our faith as I think Walhout did in his article.  Yes, love for truth and for Jesus demands that at times we may need to challenge the status quo.  But, it is so important that we in humility also realize that no one of us has a corner on truth and that God call us to mutual accountablity.  And that's why I strongly believe that we need keep the promises that we made when were given our responsible positions and that must first bring our concerns to the church to be prayerfully and carefully examined.  While this is not a perfect system, I believe that it does respect the faith of our brothers and sisters and it fosters our unity in Christ.

Those poor early believers who didn't have this brilliant insight... How sad that they believed God made them in His image, poor Adam that He thought God made him a helpmate, and poor Jesus that He died thinking He needed to take away sins and redeem His children! If only they had been taught evolution. If only someone had helped them "find a much better way of understanding what sin is." "Sustaining this doctrine [that Adam and eve were the first human pair] is extremely difficult" when we take seriously heresy. God has given us all we need in the Bible. What sustained Richard Wurmbrand? The living Word of God. Look all the other places you want, Banner, but I'm sticking with the Bible and want to burn this article as heresy. Shame on you for turning your back on a book that millions have rightly clung to and died, willing to uphold, protect and stand firm upon. The Word is God. Believe it if you want to "tackle this issue in a truly biblical way." Stop messing with it. Revelation 22:18

Angela, THANK YOU!! You've hit the nail on the head by calling this what it is, heresy. Obviously, all of these people who consider evolution should not at the same time identify themselves as Christians. You either believe the Word of God, or you don't, period.

"all of these people who consider evolution should not at the same time identify themselves as Christians" . . oy vey . . 

once more with feeling: learn the lessons of the following article, for example . . for the sake of the lost, we simply cannot keep thinking this way . . .

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/06/listening-to-young-atheists-lessons-for-a-stronger-christianity/276584/

Well, I see nothing in the article you referenced that contradicts my statement. Perhaps you should learn the lessons of The Bible.

sorry, John -- i should've been clearer about my comment's context as part of a larger discussion that's been happening on this forum . . i've been making the point that since evolution is an obstacle to belief for many today (which the article i linked to talks about), the church needs to find ways to overcome this obstacle, due to the Bible's call for our evangelism to be culturally relevant (a Bible lesson i learned in places like 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 and Acts 17:16-34) . . 

Matt, I read your link document.  It generally resonates, and a couple of points stand out for me.  "These students heard plenty of messages encouraging "social justice," community involvement, and "being good," but they seldom saw the relationship between that message, Jesus Christ, and the Bible. Listen to Stephanie, a student at Northwestern: "The connection between Jesus and a person's life was not clear." This is an incisive critique."   and then, "the atheist illusionist and comedian (said): "I don't respect people who don't proselytize. I don't respect that at all. If you believe that there's a heaven and hell...(and don't tell them?)"

Matt, don't you think there are two ways to be culturally relevant?   One is to simply follow the crowd, adopt the culture, whatever it is.   The other is  to understand its underpinnings, and to critique the culture from the base of knowledge.  

The danger of being culturally relevant by simply adopting and following and accepting, is that you may be culturally relevant, but not faith relevant.   I remember asking a sentenarian Rom Cath priest from Montreal why the predominantly Rom Cath province of Quebec had the highest common-law marriage rate, abortion rate, and divorce rate.   He said, "well, you know, that's the way society has gone."   He knew society had gone that way, but had removed the church from the scenario.  When the church is not culturally relevant, when it decides it has nothing to say about morality, or about the interpretation of creation, or when the scriptures and church become subordinate to "society" or culture, instead of the reverse, then it is meaningless to say it should be culturally relevant.  In order for the church and faith to be culturally relevant, it must influence culture.   If it does not influence culture, either because it ignores it, or because it simply "goes along" with it, or because culture is thought to be more significant and powerful, then it will become irrelevant.   As I see it.  And we know that God is more powerful than any existing culture. 

Furthermore, science is not culture.   Scientific discoveries may influence culture, but that will depend on the underlying values, which are often influenced by faith or beliefs.   For example, scientific process led to the discovery of nuclear power, but it is values that determine whether this nuclear potential is used for bombs or for electricity.   Science allows the discovery of the birth control pill, but it is values that determine whether it will be used or not.  Science by itself simply does not have the last say.  It is merely a tool of discovery. 

When it comes to evolution, I have discovered that the social fabric around the discussion of evolution is primarily a religious one, not a scientific one.   I have seen this in public debates, in on-line discussions.   Often, often the discussion does not concentrate on actual scientific points, but degenerates to a religious discussion.(on both sides).   So the question is why?   And the answer is because evolution is as much a philosophy and world-view as it is a scientific theory.   Any theory that is so emotionally defended, even when lives are not at stake, cannot merely be a scientific theory.  Thus when we think we can meld the two theories, we are often deluding ourselves as to what the real issue is. 

The real issue is whether God is permitted to interfere or not.  A christian would say that God can interfere, while an evolutionist says that God cannot interfere.  That is the starting assumption.  A christian evolutionist might say that God interefers sometimes, to varying degrees.  When a christian tries to meld evolution with faith and scripture, first he also has to change the language of Genesis somehow.   The extent to which he does this, will create problems either with his theology, or with  the a-priori assumptions of raw evolutionary theory.   As an example, if he says Adam and Eve never existed, then this creates problems with a number of scripture passages in old and new testament.   If he says that Adam and Eve did exist, then   God imposed a human spirit on an evolutionary process, creating some problems for both scripture (not made from dust) and evolution (man has characteristics separate from natural evolutionary processes).   Or, if evolution happened, but man was not a part of it, this would be  a problem for evolutionists to swallow, and so they would not call this condition evolution, nor "scientific".  

Creationists have not denied some of the main principles behind evolution, such as adaptation, mutations, selection, survival of most competitive or most adaptive.  But in spite of all these principles, evolution requires more evidence than what is available to prove that it actually happened.  Just as the principles of a vehicle accident require speed, vehicles, bad judgement, poor weather conditions, that does not prove that an accident will happen or has happened even when all these factors are there.  The final important criteria is that there needs to be two vehicles (or a tree) in the same place at the same time.  So with evolution, the basic principles are not enough.   There are huge genetic barriers to overcome for it to happen.  To say that it could maybe have happened, doesn't mean that it did.  To assume that only a naturalistic explanation is valid, is not provable.   

Sorry, I mispoke somewhat.  In the fourth paragraph I said, "when we think we can meld the two theories".  Obviously, scripture is not a theory.   I should have said when we think we can meld the theory with scripture....

hi again John . . 

that last post feels like a little bit of a step backwards . . however, re: cultural relevance . . i never said being culturally relevant meant caving to current culture . . look back at my posts . . i'm speaking of cultural relevance, mainly, in terms of the gospel having something to say about whatever a current culture sees as an issue . . . our culture sees evolution as an an issue, thus we must be able to speak to it . . that doesn't mean caving to it or not critiquing it . . it means engaging it . . the either-or stance on this issue precludes true engagement is the problem . . 

Matt, in the interest of understanding your definition of engagement.... I will explain how I see engagement.  To me, just listening and nodding your head noncommitally, is not engagement.   If I say that evolution just doesn't make sense scientifically, and you would say that's interesting... hmmm., then I would say you have not yet fully engaged.  Asking questions means you are halfway engaged, but it depends on whether you are just asking to be polite, or whether you are really asking significant questions where the answers are significant turning points.  Engagement means you are defending a decision you have made, or are seriously considering making a decision.  Now, that's me.  How do you see "engagement"? 

i feel like the point i'm making is clear . . going on your own understanding, do you disagree that "the either-or stance on this issue precludes true engagement" ? 

Matt, it seems we don't agree on what engagement is.  I think the either-or is as much true engagement as half and half.  The problem is that I don't really see you engaging at all, in the sense that you are not willing either to challenge or accept a challenge.  You seem more to accomodate and try to empathize; honorable motives, but from a scientific point of view, not very engaging.  Your motives are honorable in the sense that you don't want to "turn off" the discussion, but on the other hand, the link you gave and the quote from it, was clear that without proseletyzing, there is no respect, and also a connection between any message, Jesus Christ and the Bible needs to be made.  Are you making that connection?  

Stephanie at Northwestern said, "the connection between a person's life and Jesus Christ was not clear."  It seems to me that in your scenario of accepting evolution, you need to make that connection clear.  And you need to remember that intelligent people can see the problems even if no one else points it out for them.  The three possibilities which I presented, do you think there are possibilities that fit outside of those three?  (You didn't comment on them, you didn't engage...) 

I have just finished watching a speech by Dr. Carl Wieland who discussed the problems the theory of evolution has with producing new genetic information.  In every case of actual observed biological or genetic change, there is a loss of information, not a gain of information.   He highlighted the fact that all observed mutations, as well as all observed selection and speciation processes, actually are evidence that evolution does not happen, but rather that devolution, disintegration, and deterioration are ocurring.  Do you want to encourage people in accepting a theory which has scant evidence in favor, and much evidence against, with the possibility that you may be leading them away from the gospel rather than towards it?  

However you "engage", you do it on the basis of certain assumptions;  what if those assumptions are incorrect?  As a parallel, let's keep evolution out of it, and just deal with naturalism.   How would you engage someone who is a naturalist, convinced that God only ever works indirectly through natural means, and never through miraculous means.  How would you engage? 

John . . no, we do agree on engagement . . apparently, we disagree on who and what needs to be engaged though . . my point is (and has continued to be): the church must be able to engage a person who believes in evolution and who may also want to believe in Jesus . . consider the above commenter, who said "all of these people who consider evolution should not at the same time identify themselves as Christians" . . that precludes engagement . . in that case, we have no more talking to do -- and having no more talking to do when it comes to someone who isn't yet part of the kingdom is the direst problem i can think of . . this particular formulation of the either-or stance gets even worse, incidentally . . on it, even considering evolution makes you not a Christian apparently . . i mean, wow . . i guess i'm not a Christian, then? . . shameful . . 

the point is: it's the person for whom evolution is an issue that we need to engage . .

now, as far as your use of the article i referenced as some kind of "gotcha" against me . . i'm confused and disappointed . . i offered it as a help to the discussion, since it underlines that for people leaving the faith, evolution is often an issue . . you, on the other hand, saw it as an opportunity to try to "prove me wrong" . . come on, brother . . is that what you're here to do? prove fellow believers wrong? . .

as to the first quote you're "using" from it, that quote is about a believer not being willing to proselytize an unbeliever . . i think it's pretty clear (even from this forum) that i don't fall into that category . . did you mean i should be proselytizing you? . . aren't you a believer? (this is a rhetorical question -- please, no answer)

and the second quote you pull, as explained by the article's author itself, was intended to show that "the church does not exist simply to address social ills, but to proclaim the teachings of its founder, Jesus Christ, and their relevance to the world" . . it was about the gospel needing to be relevant to the world in terms of the full gospel (not just what's often called the "social gospel") . . this, of course, is what i'm in this forum about . . i'm here engaging on my view that reconciling evolution and faith is part of what it means for the gospel to be relevant to the world . .

but you're right: i'm not engaging you on the "is evolution true?" question because i'm not in here to engage on that issue . . i never was (as i keep saying) . . you say evolution has "scant evidence in favor" . . as a person who reads on this topic, i know that this statement is almost laughably untrue . . but again, i'm just not interested in arguing about this with you . . and to be clear, this is so for two reasons:  . first: any beliefs i hold about evolution itself are tentative (and, frankly, unimportant) enough that i really wouldn't want to argue about them with anyone . . especially with a fellow believer -- though you seem to want to score points and be contentious here, i do not . . i only want people to hear and consider my point about evolution and faith . . second and more importantly here (as i've noted): your mind is made up . . even now you're not hearing my point and continuing to return to your point . . which is that evolution isn't true . . as i've said: if you think that, that's fine with me . . others outside the kingdom feel differently and that's who i'm concerned with here . .

for the record, John, i've engaged with you every time you've brought up something relevant to what i'm actually here to engage about . . the problem isn't definitions of engagement, or my not engaging, the problem is that we're simply not here to talk about the same things . . so, please, let's stop talking . . 

Two observations - more later

The big bang theory does not claim that the universe began with an enormous explosion, it claims that the universe began with a rapid expansion, similiar to the difference between blowing up a balloon and shooting off a firecracker.

Scientists have not demonstrated how life appears. Mr Dawkins admitted as much on a radio talk show that I was listening to. Why would originlife.org offer $50,000 grants for plausible explanations of how life began if scientists were so certain about evolution.

David Kragt

 

 

Matt, maybe its a good thing there are two approaches to this engagement thing.  You want to engage evolutionists who are thinking about Christ, by kind of assuming that evolution will not impact their beliefs, or alternatively, that the bible can be accomodated to their belief in evolution.  Maybe you are right, but I don't think so.   I think that when an evolutionist comes to scripture, he will understand that his idea of evolution will have to be modified somehow.   He will not need a theologian to explain this to him.  He will at least have to come to a half and half position, adjusting evolution, and making some adjustments in the common understanding of scriptural words.  Maybe this is viable, and maybe he will be able to continue to understand original sin, the fall of man, and somehow accomodate the concept that God created everything good even though death and destruction took place before the fall.   But Edwin Walhout's article seems to suggest otherwise.

However, I believe you are not accepting totally the idea of a diversity of ways and means of engagement.  True the statement that "considering evolution means you are not a Christian" is a bit dramatic, and maybe overstated somewhat.   However, it is still a means of engagement of the issue, just perhaps not that pleasant.  And, if supposing that evolution was totally malarkey, then it would be more charitable to say that a christian could not really accept raw evolution as presented in the textbooks,  than to play along with it, since we know that some people have on their own, with no help from christians, totally rejected christianity based on its incompatibility with raw evolutionary theory.   And that would be contrary to your objective, wouldn't it. 

So, regardless of whether you accept evolution or not, it is simply important to be aware of the fact that mutations, selection, adaptation, are by themselves simply not evidence of evolution.  The observations of these phenomena have not by themselves demonstrated the necessary increase of information that would lead to a microbes to microbiologist, or a mud to man scenario. 

Your premise that reconciling evolution to scripture is important, is only true if evolution itself is true.  If it is not true, then reconciling the two is of no purpose, right.  I'm just starting the engagement process at an earlier point;  looking at whether the theory is really true at all, and if so, to what extent? 

As far as your comments on the quotes I mentioned, we are close on that.  But the quotes can be used also to support any discussion on the validity or verifiability of the evol theory as well.  I'm not sure you really realize how deeply your assumptions are imbedded in your vision of engagement? 

I am still curious how you would engage the pure naturalist who is interested in Christ?   Would you assume naturalism, and explain Christ's resurrection in naturalistic terms?  Or would you say that most things are naturalistic because God created it that way, but that God can interfere (miracles, flood, healings, feeding 10000 people, Holy Spirit power, etc.)  I'm really curious how you would do it. 

Thanks for being engaging.  :) 

Just reading this article on the advice from a friend and I’m surprised that these assertions on evolution made it into the Banner. My assumption is that this author has not attended an academic “Origins of Life” seminar recently—they still don’t have a clue.

There have been plenty of great responses to this article so I will only add that if you’re interested on a scientific theory that honors Biblical authority AND rejects evolution AND accepts all scientific discovery, check out astrophysicist Hugh Ross on youtube (an atheist who became Christian after reading the Bible and realizing God’s word outlined major laws of physics thousands of years before we found them). He has plenty of lectures and debates for free there outlining his testable scientific model of creation.

Incidentally as the evidence for macro evolution continues to weaken, more and more scientists are accepting Ross et. al and their theories at their organization “Reasons to Believe.” Truth always wins.

 

Re: literal Adam and Eve: Science has done a good enough job showing a literal Adam and Eve regardless of your theology. Y-Chromosomal tags have traced all male DNA back to one man, Mitochondrial genetics have traced all women back to one female. The only puzzle in the scientific community was why the Men bottlenecked to one individual over a thousand years later in history than the female bottleneck....a puzzle that only makes sense if you believe Genesis 6. Noah being the male genetic bottleneck, whereas Eve was the female bottleneck.

Good morning, John . . sorry, but i can't reply . . no offense, but you continue to break trust with me by circling back to things i've already addressed, misunderstanding and misstating what i'm saying and generally seeking contention . . please re-read some of my previous posts in response to your last

as to the naturalism thing, i think it'd be instructive to see: how do you think i'd engage a naturalist who's interested in Christ? . . i'll respond, but i'd like you to put your assumptions and agenda out there first . . it'll save us a step . . also, as much as possible, go for brevity . . 

In rereading my post I cringed at my assertion that Hugh Ross's theory accepts ALL scientific discovery. I should clarify that their theory accepts the bulk of information found today in astronomy, cosmology, biology, archaeology, geology ,paleontology, etc..

Hi Andy . . welcome . . 

quickly, what you've posted here re: a literal Adam and Eve isn't accurate . . take a look at a Christianity Today cover article from a couple years ago on this topic: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/june/historicaladam.html?paging=off . .. i'll also paste in a relevant paragraph below . . notice that it welcomes God as a posible participant in the evolutionary process, but the idea that science has proven a literal Adam or that all genetics can be traced to one man isn't accurate when it comes to the science of it . . .

please also note: i'm not saying that there wasn't an Adam and Eve . . since the Bible says there was, i believe there was . . the question, of course, is what that exactly means . . i'm just making sure we all understand what science has recently said on the topic . . 

btw: this article talks a lot about Francis Collins, a Christian who also accepts evolution . . not saying that you have to accept evolution, of course, but there are ways to accept it and still be a Christian who believes the Bible . . i'd recommend some of Collins' writing and could recommend other authors as well (see my original post above for a few)  . . 

 

"According to a consensus drawn from three independent avenues of research, he states, the history of human ancestry involved a population "bottleneck" around 150,000 years ago—and from this tiny group of hominids came everyone living today. But the size of the group was far larger than a lonely couple: it consisted of several thousand individuals at minimum, say the geneticists. Had humanity begun with only two individuals, without millions of years for development, says an ASA paper, it would have required God's miraculous intervention to increase the genetic diversity to what is observable today. A BioLogos paper by Venema and Falk declares it more flatly: The human population, they say, "was definitely never as small as two …. Our species diverged as a population. The data are absolutely clear on that."

Wouldn't "progressive revelation" throw a wrench into this reasoning? Perhaps God communicated in a language we understand regarding sin and creation. Much like Jesus refering to eyes as the lamp of the body (at the time, eyes were thought to emit light not receive it).

I believe old earth and yet still believe in a literal reading of Genesis 1-3.....(the biggest change being that I believe in telling the Genesis 1 creation, Moses used the only word that exists in the Hebrew language for a long, finite period of time "yom").

I won't reply to Matt's non-reply.  Have fun with your approach and hope God uses it. 

For information on supposed out of place fossils, you can check out :     

youtube.com/watch?v=lTWZJBXAZJA

I'm an obvious late-comer to this thread, but I want to express my appreciation to Rev. Walhout for his article.  I think he is correct in pointing out issues that need our creative and careful investigations.  Underlying them, however, is, I think, the matter of how we read (are to read) the Bible. That might turn out to be the thorniest issue of them all.

Harvey

So I subscribe to Richard Rohr's daily meditations, and today it occurred to me that Richard might be monitoring our discussion in this blog. What he said spoke to me. Perhaps others will find it relevant as well. To read what he said go to

http://myemail.constantcontact.com/Daily-Meditation--Everything-Belongs----Ecumenism----June-10--2013.html?soid=1103098668616&aid=qCjx7bUDxGc

John V:

I have read this article, and most every post.  To answer your question (From June 3).  I feel drained, I feel depressed after reading all of this.  I would suspect highly that there will be people from both sides of the issue in heaven.  So who is right?

I also feel like we rely on ourselves too much.  We quote a lot of books people wrote, but the authors are doing their best to base it on scripture, none of them know for certain.  Sure, some of them are much more credible than others, but they don't know for certain . . . . and to my simple mind that's the point.  We can't know for certain, so I think we are focusing on the wrong thing.

The demon possessed man always surfaces in my mind.  The man want's to stay with Jesus.  This would be the perfect time to teach him everything he needs to learn to be a good follower . . . but Jesus sends him off to tell others what has been done for him.  He doesn't know anything!  How can he possibly be a good representative! 

I have been raised in the CRC and I will continue to be interested in these issues (maybe).  Call me naive or simple, but I cannot let them weigh me down or cause me to abandon Loving God and Loving others.  

John V, to answer your question, this discussion has put a bad taste in my mouth, and for me at least, not pushed me in the direction of Matthew 22:36-40.

John VD, I thought it would be interesting to quote from your link to Rohr:  "Everything belongs and no one needs to be scapegoated or excluded. Evil and illusion only need to be named and exposed truthfully, and they die in exposure to the light (Ecumenism)."   Many generalizations and shibboleths need to be exposed, and this is one of them.  First of all, "everything"  and "everyone" cannot be synonymous, as this quote seems to suggest.  Everything does not belong.  But yes, people do not need to be scapegoated, however if they attach themselves to evil or error it is not so simple.   The statement also contradicts itself, since it says that everything belongs, while also saying that evil and illusion will die in exposure to light (presumably not belonging).  

Some of these generalizations are circular reasoning, and Rohr uses circular reasoning in a later statement, "People who have learned to live from their center in God know which boundaries or edges are worth maintaining and which can be surrendered".   In this generalization he seems to suggest that if you don't know which boundaries are worth maintaining you are not living from your center in God.  This boundary setting may give you some kind of "inner peace".  But this is not helpful when people are working or communicating with each other, since if different people are proposing different boundaries, are they then to accuse each other of not living from their center in God?   Or are they to say that we are all working from our individual centers, and therefore different boundaries for each christian is always acceptable? That kind of thinking caused major problems in the early NT church, and the epistles condemned it strongly.  How do we distinguish this from "and everyone did what was right in their own eyes." ? 

In order to come to a common understanding with each other, we as christians need to come back to scripture, rather than to some hypothetical and mysterious "center".   Scripture says to test the spirits, to see if they are of God.  The Bereans tested Paul's claims from scripture itself, and were named as being more honorable.  Yes, there are some disputable matters without clear solutions, and peace and love and patience are also fundamental christian virtues.   But blanket generalizations should not be used to automatically extinguish discussion and discovery of truth thru careful examination and application of scripture in our daily lives.  In the case of evolution discussions, the implications for the understanding of scripture cannot be scraped away.   Nor can we simply ignore all the empirical scientific problems with the theory of evolution on the basis of "center of life boundaries...", and pretend they do not exist. 

For information on supposed out of place fossils, you can check out :     

youtube.com/watch?v=lTWZJBXAZJA

This will give you an understanding of these fossils from a non-evolutionary perspective. 

I would like to respond to Andy Luchies posts. First off I want to be clear that I am not questioning whether Hugh Ross is a Christian. However it should be pointed out that his views do not represent a clear reading of scripture.  Although he rejects biological evolution, he does believe in the Big Bang and Billions of year’s mantra, as well as the evolutionary geological time scale. That said I think that it is worth noting that Hugh Ross, who holds a PhD in Astronomy, and his organization “Reasons to Believe” hold to a worldview that includes:  1

1.    The earth and the universe are billions of years old. (Ross claims 4.566 billion)

2.    The days of creation were really vast periods of time

3.    The sun and the stars were created before the earth and merely “appeared” to a hypothetical observer on earth on the fourth “day.”

4.    The seventh day is still continuing supported by the “fact” of no speciation in the last 10,000 years

5.    Animals were eating each other, dying from natural disasters, and suffering from many diseases, for millions of years before mankind existed.

6.    God created almost all species separately.

7.    God created Adam about 10,000 – 60,000 years ago (after the Aboriginals arrived in Australia 40,000 years ago.) Neanderthals were not true humans but soulless hominids.

8.    The order in the fossils is a record of distinct ages with vastly different creatures existing, all the results of a separate creation by God.

9.    Noah’s flood was restricted to the Mesopotamian river valley.

10.God had to intervene supernaturally to produce the different racial characteristics, to help the people separate at Babel.

Also his interpretation of how the word “day” or “yom” is used in the context of Genesis 1, does not hold up to scrutiny.  See the links below for more detailed information.

http://creation.com/in-my-fathers-day

http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/am/v7/n2/24-hours

Dr. Ross on the surface seems to give Christians who do not want to be called evolutionists and want to stay true Scriptures a way to gain respectability in the “academic” arena.  However, when one digs deeper he does neither.

 

I’m always puzzled why credence is given to such a wide range of hypotheses as to what God was trying to tell the Israelites and subsequently us in Genesis 1. Often people will accept a specific one even though it conflicts with another, and more importantly the text itself, but reject the idea that we can take scripture just as it was written, in the genre it is written. That Genesis 1 is written in historical narrative is seldom questioned, but often it is said that it can’t mean what it says it does because of what is know from “science.” 

If this paragraph is indeed the case, I am surprised that Hugh Ross does not agree with this. Of course, it's hard to know where the evidence is clear and where scientists simply do not allow for another equally valid interpretation. Hugh Ross has a book on this issue "Who is Adam?" and I'll probably have to read it to understand this better. However, in one of his lectures he mentions the genetic bottleneck to individuals not groups of people. Of course from an evolutionary stand point it'd virtually HAVE to be one man and woman...unless genetics mutate identically simultaneously...which is pretty statistically impossible.

Hi Matt, Found the article I was looking for: the following is an excerpt from an article written Feb. 1st 2012 by Dr. Fazale Rana (cellular biochemist)

"Of particular interest are the results of Mt DNA and Y-chromosomal studies that trace humanity’s origin (through the maternal and paternal lineages, respectively) to single ancestral sequences referred to as “Mitochondrial Eve” and “Y-chromosomal Adam.”" (highlight word "single")

Of course we could argue something like a catastrophe killed all but 2 humans giving a genetic appearance of bottleneck but I would prefer to take a Christian biologists interpretation of data or secular scientists.

Thus said, you are right in that the science is not as clear as I thought, being that there are disagreements on what the findings mean, but certainly not enough information out there to warrant a disregard of one Adam, one Eve in my opinion.

Matt, I thought you didn't want to argue about evolution, and now you are defending it?  (re the claimed 10,000 ancestor theory).   You use the term "diverged".  What would a genetic population diverge from?   My understanding is that the theory of 10,000 ancestors is determined on the basis of present day genetic diversity.  No one debates present day genetic diversity, but the evolution theory itself depends on the existence and manifestation of mutations to create this diversity.  What is the evidence that these mutations happened before non-humans became humans?  Why is there not potential for these mutations happening after they became humans?   When we speak of a population of 10,000, where did they come from? Were the 2000 parents they came from then not human? 

 

I had been under the mistaken impression that this article would not appear in the written Banner.  Now, I just noticed that it is in there in the printed version.  I had thought that having it online was not great, but almost tolerable.   But in print to every household?   So now I am really upset.  Trying to be charitable and kind and patient obviously does not work.  I believe we would be totally justified in putting Edwin Walhout under discipline, with a loss of credentials, and putting in a new editor of the banner who actually believes the confessions and scripture.   With friends like these in our church, who needs any enemies?  Piling this on top of the mandatory "every house gets a banner" principle is simply disgusting.  I don't see this as a whole lot different than the former moderator of the United Church saying that Jesus really wasn't the son of God, or wasn't resurrected.   It's one thing to toy with the possibility of some degrees of evolutionary types of biology.   It's another thing entirely to advocate changes to basic scriptural Christian doctrines and beliefs.  It's obvious to me that Edwin Walhout is not really CRC at all in his beliefs, and that the editor who brought this in is now an accomplice. 

Edwin's advice to listen carefully to what God says in creation makes absolutely no sense if he or we are not going to listen to his even clearer message in scripture.  It is an absurd advice.   It's time something was done about this nonsense. 

John . . not defending evolution and for sure don't want to argue about it . . someone had posted that science had, in and of itself, confirmed a literal Adam and Eve via dna research . . all i did was explain that this was not the case and cite an article in reference . . also, i didn't use the term "diverged" and i don't know what the 10,000 ancestor theory is (no need to explain) . . 

Scott and John V . . i feel your pain . . i hope i haven't personally caused you any -- i apologize if i have . . 

Andy: i agree with you wholeheartedly: there's nothing in science that disproves (or could disprove) the existence of Adam and Eve . . it may, however -- as in the case of the dna evidence you're bringing up -- have some bearing on how we understand them . . 

John Z: i agree with you wholeheartedly: Walhout's article wasn't fit for the Banner . . as much as i think the project he calls for has merit, i was 100% shocked to see it broached in exactly that way, in the denomination magazine, by someone with his (lack of) credentials and a soft touch . . i'll leave discipline up to the polity people, but in general, shocked . . 

I do not have time to read every post so it is possible someone already mentioned this, but I would recommend everyone take time to read Tim Keller's paper entitled (Creation, Evolution and Christian Lay People). I think he does a pretty good job of sythesizing the possibility of holding to evolution as a biological mechanism without sacrificing foundational theological truths, such as the Adam and Eve as historic persons and their subsequant fall. I understand that for many that seems like a non-starter,  and maybe counter-intuitive, but the artical does address the relevant theological concerns. At bare minimum I believe he shows that this issue can and should be an in-house debate among fellow believers. Take a few moments out of your week and check this out.

Solid advice! That is exactly what this artical has prompted me to do. I want to hear from the best representative on all sides.

So if I understand Rev. Walhout correctly, the plan is to anchor the truth regarding who we are and how we got here on the changing theories of science and let current scientific understanding shape the interpretation of the Bible?   

Casual observations of the history of science show the folly of such a proposition.  Yes, something is evolving and that is the scientific understanding of the complexities of God’s creation.  Aristotle proposed that there were only four elements, earth, water, air and fire, and this view held for 1900 years.  Then it became known that there were many elements made up of atoms with differing numbers of protons, neutrons and electrons.  This theory changed when quarks were discovered as subatomic particles and who is to say that quarks are not made up of even more elementary particles.  

We are led to believe that a handful of scientific intellectuals at a given point in space and time looking at the vast universe from the planet earth, while making the assumption that God does not exist, are able to uncover “ truth” that we can anchor our life on?  And not only that, but we are to alter our understanding of God’s word based on this scientifically revealed “truth.”  Is this not the height of human arrogance?  What about the new discovery that has not been discovered, but when it is will change our current scientific view.  We are so easily impressed with what man knows, but the Bible tells us we have no clue about the mysteries of God, whom we can not even fully comprehend.

I am not impressed at all by Mr. Walhout’s proposition, but I will agree with him that man will be puzzled when he looks back on us 500 years from now.  Yes, if man is still here 500 years from now, the scientists will look back at this time and ask “How could we believe those elementary scientific theories that have long been altered?”  The Christians of this future time will have a similar reaction, wondering why some changed the Bible to suit outdated scientific theories, but will face the same temptation to change scripture based on the prevailing view of whatever the “enlightened” view of truth is in their generation.     

Sinful man desires a god of his own making – Science seems to be the one in vogue right now.  Adam and Eve were looking for the same thing – and doubted what God had said.  Let’s be clear – I side with what God says in the Bible and pay no attention to what changing scientific theories tell me about scripture.  The Bible warns us about the very idea’s put forth by Rev. Walhout. 

  2 Peter 1:16, Romans 1:18-23.

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