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

Three questions come to my mind.
1. What are they teaching at Calvin Theological Seminary?
2. What was Rev. Walhout preaching and teaching from the pulpit for years, and what have been the consequences to the hearers?
3. What was the Editor of the Banner thinking, when Rev. Walhout's article was accepted?

 

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.” 

Hi Arnold . . just to be clear, when you say that a day-age reading of Genesis doesn't "represent a clear reading of scripture," what you mean is a literal reading . . there are many places where scripture isn't to be read literally . . and i'm also not sure that it's "seldom questioned" that Genesis 1 is written as historical narrative . . that is questioned and it's a vital question . . if the author of those passages didn't mean them primarily as literal historical narrative, our reading must adapt . . if your reading of early Genesis is as historical narrative to be taken 100% literally, that's fine -- i just want to point out that there are other faithful readings . . please see my original post above for some authors on the topic

as for your citing of answersingenesis.org, see what you think of this article that ran at the Huffington Post the other day . . http://www.huffingtonpost.com/charles-j-reid-jr/christians-must-confront-scientific-illiteracy_b_3307516.html . . please note: i don't want to argue against a particular view that you have, but i do want to point out how certain views are seen in terms of scientific consensus and the broader culture . . and while we shouldn't base our theology wholly on these things, they should be considerations, especially in terms of evangelism and in terms of how to interpret scripture when it's not 100% clear . . thanks, brother

While we are at it, science also says that men who are beaten, crucified, die, and are buried do not later rise from the dead.  Perhaps we should "adjust" our theology to reflect that as well. 

Very well put, Mark. I was thinking exactly that as I read the article - none of those beliefs cited were ever rooted in scripture, and the Reformation sought to remove these false beliefs, not change what scripture *does* say.

Matt, you seem to argue even when you say you are not.  Here is a quote from Wikipedia (they say 15,000 instead of 10,000 population bottleneck, but the point is the same, and earlier they use numbers like 10,000 people or 10,000 breeding pairs, so the numbers are not consistent):  "

"The Toba catastrophe theory suggests that a bottleneck of the human population occurred c. 70,000 years ago, reducing the total human population to c. 15,000 individuals[44] when Toba erupted and triggered a major environmental change, including a volcanic winter. The theory is based on geological evidence for sudden climate change at that time and for coalescence of some genes (including mitochondrial DNA, Y-chromosome and some nuclear genes)[45] as well as the relatively low level of genetic variation among present-day humans.[44] For example, according to one hypothesis, human mitochondrial DNA (which is maternally inherited) and Y chromosome DNA (paternally inherited) coalesce at around 140,000 and 60,000 years ago, respectively. This suggests that the female line ancestry of all present-day humans traces back to a single female (Mitochondrial Eve) at around 140,000 years ago, and the male line to a single male (Y-chromosomal Adam) at 60,000 to 90,000 years ago.[46]

So Andy Luchies has a valid point.

(Re: John Zylstra’s Post of June 10, 2013 - 8:23 pm)

 Amen John! I too was under the impression that this disastrous article was only posted online where it could be critiqued via the blog posting setup. I would say that posting it online constituted very poor judgement but to add it to the print version shows a complete breakdown of reason. I was trying to reply directly to your post but that doesn’t seem to work. I’ve tried before, but when you hit save, the page reloads and gives an error message that I haven’t written anything in the text body window. Possibly the site master could look into this.

I’m disappointed that so many of the people posting are so often only recommending others to read, books, articles, etc., by those who are Christian, but nevertheless hold to one of the various Biblically compromising positions. Many of the theologians and scientists listed are part of the organization BioLogos www.biologos.org who teach basically what Walhout is suggesting in the article we are discussing. The new president of BioLogos is none other than Deborah Haarsma, former professor at Calvin College and whose husband Loren still works at Calvin. (This should be a brow raiser in itself.) Hugh Ross of Reasons to Believe www.reasonstobelieve.org has even been mentioned as a person who can show us an alternate way to read the Scriptures.

I would say that it is important for us to be aware of all the angles that are suggested, but in doing so we must not discount Christian apologists and scientists who hold to what is often called a young earth creationist worldview, or for some a Biblical creationist worldview. Along with all the other suggested readings, please visit the sites of www.creation.com and www.icr.org and www.answersingenesis.org   These sites have thousands of articles as well many videos, etc by scientists with PhD’s in a wide variety of scientific fields. I would like to state again, that a person’s starting point will determine their destination. This is not a science vs faith issue, but rather a faith vs faith one. The facts are the same but the interpretations are different. We only have one written account by the One who was there. 

Matt, I had quoted a piece from Wikipedia which discussed both the 10,000-15,000 human bottleneck population, as well as the single male and female ancestor (re mitocondrial DNA).  Apparently it was moderated, and is not showing up.  Assumptions for the mitocondrial DNA inheritance was flawed for both being thought to be only maternal (when it also includes paternal influence), and for rates of mutations (which are at least 18 times faster than originally thought). 

The main questions I had for you, you did not answer... how do you get an original 10,000 ancestral population without that population coming from somewhere?  What is the point of saying that we had an original ancestral population of 10,000, when we know for sure that it has been larger than that at one time, and must of necessity been smaller than that at one time.   How do you get such a population from ancestors who were not human, and then all of a sudden one day you have 10,000 humans?   So scientifically, such a statement is poorly worded.   It would make more sense to say that you had a small human population(as few as two)  which later became more genetically diverse through mutations.  In other words, the requirement for 10,000 ancestors to cover the genetic diversity in the existing human population, does not disprove the possibility of a single pair being the primary origin of the human race. 

hey John . . yes, i'm having posts moderated too . . i think it has to do with links being checked first . . as to your questions, i'm not super interested in thinking about those or answering them . . as i said: don't want to debate about evolution . . the one-and-only reason i responded to Andy at all was to correct the idea that dna evidence has proven there was a literal Adam and Eve (which is what he said and has since retracted) . . as i said previously, i believe Adam and Eve existed, it's just not the case that dna evidence has proven this is all i said . .

John Vandonk (June 3) asked if this article had led to and movement toward God. When I read it my reaction was one of excitement - I relish new insights that would lead to a closer walk with God. I even felt called by the line 'Who knows but that God has brought us into the world for such a time as this...'

Mark VanderPol commented that the Reformation went back to the church fathers. Maybe we need to do the same. I know that in my own search to improve my understanding of God, some of what is quoted from these early theologians has been helpful. I wonder if, when we read the Bible, our theological understandings sometimes get in the way of getting to know God himself more deeply.

I do think that this is a discussion that needs to take place, and that by listening to each other, the Bible, and creation with open hearts, God can lead us to a closer walk with Him. 

I am grieving...

This, as well as several past articles, demonstrate so clearly the disconnect between the larger body and those who style themselves as leaders in our denomination. Couple this with the nakedly blatant power play made by some via the bot to sneak the Belhar into the Covenant for Officerbearers at  synod and it becomes obvious that we are quickly losing our idenity as a church.  We are an oligarchy whose propaganda is propogated through the Banner and

whose direction is being determined and driven by a select few who have the ear of the board and are savvy politicians. I sense my congregation grow more concerned for our church with every Banner they read. I pray for mercy and renewal.

Hey Matt, haven’t heard from you in a while.  I know others kept pushing your concern aside as to how does the Christian engage the evolutionist who may have questions or some sympathy toward God or even Christ.  And I seem to hear from many others that there is little engagement that is possible, if any, because naturalist evolution and a creationist view are totally incompatible.  It’s almost to say it would be fruitless.  Don’t even start.

But I wonder if that is what Christ, himself, would say.  I would think he would be very interested in engaging such a person, and I think he would be gracious and caring in the way he interacted with him/her.  In some sense, it seems as though the original article by Edwin Walhout gets at this in a backhanded or backdoor way.  Many of our comments in response to his article seems to demonstrate our horror at his openness and it seems to demonstrate how we would attempt to dialogue with an unbeliever.

As to an honest dialogue, I don’t know if many Christians, especially of a Reformed leaning, could allow themselves to have such a dialogue (unless it’s with another believer and then let’s tear the evolutionist’s view apart).  Reformed Christians most often hold to a presuppostional apologetic.  Their beginning point and ending point is that the entire Scripture is true.  It’s like all their arguments have to come from within their own box of truth.  And outside their box is no ultimate truth at all.  The Reformed Christian will only argue on their own terms.  You can’t mix a presuppositionalist’s reasoning with a nonchristian reasoning.  This seems to make Reformed Christiasn poor listeners, as you, Matt, have experienced on this dialogue format. 

It would seem that an honest engagement with the unbeliever has to begin with an honest listening to his/her perspective, maybe even finding some common points of agreement. But it would also have to involve some honest listening of the unbeliever to your point.  And even though the Christian has no intention of changing his own view, the attempt to give the unbeliever some credibility seems to be important.  Unless you hold to an evidentialist apologetic (not too Reformed), it’s not the soundness of your own point of view that will win this unbeliever over, but rather the Holy Spirit.

So it seems to me that such an engagement must start with mutual esteem (or at least your own esteem of the other person) allowing a sharing of ideas and viewpoints.  The point, I would think, is not to win an argument (which I hear a lot of in these comments), but to get your own view out in a non-offensive way.  And then allow the Holy Spirit to do his work.

Of course the dialogue in these comments is not meant to be a dialogue between believer and unbeliever, so if the comments become a little volatile that may be alright.  But you never know who may be listening in.

Roger, in complete agreement that the Holy Spirit will do his work.  Which leads to the fact that mutual esteem will not do it. 

Roger . . hello again . . couldn't agree with you more . . thanks for sharing your thoughts and esp. your perception of the discussion that's been happening in this forum on this particular topic . . it helps to have one's sense of things confirmed . . 

Just to clarify, I think Matt was merely saying that science does not necessarily validate one adam one eve, contrary to my belief. I don't think he's arguing for or against evolution.

All of your concerns mentioned in this response are dealt with at length in Hugh Ross' teachings and books. I don't believe you are representing his beliefs fairly, but to say that these views don't represent a "clear" view of scripture is simply not true. Maybe you have been reading the Bible too much in English? What I think you mean by your statement above is that they don't represent a literal interpretation of the common English translations we have today.

As Hugh Ross points out, Christians would do well to read the rest of the Bible, not just Genesis 1 and 2 in regards to creation. There are additions to the creation story throughout the bible that would enlighten your view. Also, there are 4 literal (read:clear) meanings of the Hebrew word Yom (in addition to 80 other metaphorical ones), one of which is a long, finite period of time. OT Hebrew only has about 3000 words in their vocabulary, we have over 3 million. Every Hebrew word is nuanced in multiple ways. Intro courses to OT Hebrew will show you that it's not at simple as you make it out to be.

Furthermore, perspective is ALWAYS a part of interpretation. Hugh merely suggests that the gen. 1 creation perspective is told to us blatantly in 1:2 - God's spirit hovering over the waters.

When the Bible says the sun stood still over Joshua in battle, it is 100% true...from Joshua's perspective. If it were LITERALLY true that the sun stood still, it wouldn't have changed the amount of sunlight because the earth would still be spinning regardless of what the sun was doing. I believe my way of reading the bible is more consistent (read: clear) than a literal 6 day creation. 

Although I don't think you mean it in this fashion, I am saddened by the lack of any mention of God and his working in your response here. He is not powerless and does not leave his children to the wolves. The Banner and its articles will not be overpowering God anytime soon. Identity as a church is not found in anything we write, only in the outworking and presence of the Lord in our lives.

God left the pagan tribes in Canaan to teach his children to fight....perhaps He's the one bringing up these issues to teach us weak CRCers to fight. All of this is preparation for a far better life than the one we have now and I'd rather get my training here. Bring it on Banner!

Well said Roger. Wisdom beyond your years, regardless of your age.

It is odd to me that reformed believers (and I include myself here most of the time) are so certain of their correctness and yet so hesitant to test their beliefs in other forums (e.g. scientific study, philosophy, historical analysis, etc.). In all other cases I've come across, people that are certain of their beliefs jump at the opportunity to prove themselves. Perhaps it's a testament to our underlying insecurity of belief that we aren't willing to venture outside of our playpen and see if our God really IS out there in the real world. I wonder what would happen if we were a little more like Elijah. Would our God show up to validate our offering?

At 5pm today, my ears pricked because Hank Hanegraaf of the Bible Answer Man and Bott Radio Network, sounded the alarm that the Editors of and the Oracle of a respected denomination would publish en masse this particular Banner article.  He grew up in this denomination/tradition.  In short, he finds this article very dangerous to the testimony. I am very concerned as a whole, that pastors and professors representing us are discrediting the word of God, the confessions we profess, and are confusing our children.  Is it really so hard to believe that without the foundational belief of our created and designed origins firmly established, that our disillusioned children are leaving the church? If they believe we're just storytelling, well isn't that boring, uninspiring, and lukewarm?  Are we the crown of creation, or is there a better model in the works?  One look at my children and I know that they are masterpieces and image bearers, unique in all the earth. 

Honestly, I've had with CRC ministers and members who have said, not publically, that they do not believe Jesus will return very soon. What?!?!  2 Peter 3 says, "They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”   In other words, I don't like the long ages belief because following that thinking would necessarily follow that Jesus "could" a wait few more millennia before returning.  What a drag to think that way!  
 
I am not in denial.  I am certainly not apathetic. I am not immature or jumping to conclusions if I state my biblically based beliefs. "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy."  Fellow Readers, what do we do about the Banner?  It isn't always negotiating, but it is often not representative of the reformed, rock-solid teaching that I hear from the pulpit.  A comment thread can't undo all the damage.  

Andy . . what you write in your post above (6:13 today) is spot on  . . i also wrote something very similar in response to what Arnold had written (regarding his conflation of "clear" and "literal") earlier, but it's being moderated (i guess) and hasn't appeared .. perhaps it will . . . in any case, this issue of how to interpret the Bible (esp. early Genesis in this case) is vital to the question of how faith and science fit together . . so: well put and kudos . . 

Holly . . thanks for your post . . i used to listen to Hanegraff all the time . . i share your dismay that this Banner article is being shared around . . 

i also agree that this issue of evolution and faith is perhaps most important for reasons having to do with evangelism and how it impacts children particularly, as they are in educational systems that will inevitably have something to say on the topic of evolution . . i was a schoolteacher for years, and i can tell you that the issue often came up . . 

however, as i've been saying on this forum, i disagree that believing in some kind of evolution necessarily counts out believing that we are also created and designed and the crown of creation, to use your words . . if you don't believe in evolution, that's fine, but i agree with Walhout in that evolution and faith can co-exist . . 

also, as to children leaving the church due to some kind of caving on the issue of evolution, i think the opposite is true . . as this forum will attest, American evangelicals, by and large, don't accept evolution . . and yet, as you say, church attendance (particularly among young people) declines . . in my opinion, other things are more likely the culprit, including this non-acceptance of evolution . . i'll refer you to an article from the Atlantic i posted here the other day for some info on this . . (i'd give you the link here, but i'm pretty sure my comment will be held up if i do) . . 

thanks for posting  . . here's to hoping the Banner will deal with this issue more carefully moving forward . .

I agree with Holly in that the magazine print is not the place for this article, unless as part of a series on creation belief to balance this perspective with other more 'conservative' views.

However, I do not believe this is part of the primary reason for the CRC losing a generation. From my own view point, it is not information that's going to change that trend, unless information is all you have (and then what's the point of being a Christian). When children see in their parents a living faith that impacts their life, when they see a relationship with God that is undeniable, then matters of science, creation and 'fact' take a back seat.

I have a friend who was recently in Mozambique where he witnessed a miracle on the mission field--he literally saw one garbage bag of bread feed hundreds of children. To him, this article is laughable because it's simply irrelevant to the living faith he's seen in its dramatic outworking. I love to discuss subjects like evolution, but I think to assign it a responsibility that it shouldn't have clouds the issue. If they found Jesus' coffin in a tomb, the banner could write all the articles it wanted on it but it hardly affects my faith because my relationship with God renders these 'facts' laughable...just like a blind man trying to convince me that the colour red does not exist. 

While I'm saddened to hear some of these alleged comments from leaders in the CRC, I'm not surprised. But I suspect the thief in this house is a lack of true relationship with God, not lack of clear theology.

Andy, I agree that personal witness is crucial to carrying faith to children.  I think the apostle Paul was happy to suffer for his faith, because every time he did so, the church grew by leaps and boundings.  That was his greatest personal witness. 

But, he also addressed the Athenians intellectually with regard to their many gods, as well as the "unknown god".   Sometimes (not always), our rational outlook can impact our personal witness, and thus eventually also impacts our witness to our children and neighbors.   In the book of Jude, for example, it talks about people who "turned the grace of God into a license for immorality".   Their intellect told them that they were saved by grace and could not save themselves by their works, so therefore how they lived did not really matter (a license for immorality).   Of course, immoral living also is a testimony to the lack of grace and spirit in one's heart, and this impacted the transfer of the gospel of Christ to children and others.  

If accepting evolution as a temporary tool for development of some species from basic kinds was the issue, perhaps faith would not be impacted too much.   But if the entire raw theory of evolution is accepted, then the only logical conclusion is that the fall of Adam and Eve (who the theory usually says didn't exist) didn't cause sin and death and a curse on creation and on man.  Then murder and adultery and lying and coveting are merely natural evolutionistic tendencies of the still-evolving man.  Then loving your fellow man is either contrary to evolution, or is a tool of evolution to be used only when useful, as in loving those whom you need to survive, and disregarding or hating those who are useless or who threaten you.  Christ then died for a foolish ideal, and couldn't really have risen from death, because that is unscientific. 

When we use the term evolution, and think that God used it to create, then we ought to put it in its proper boundaries every single time, which means that God used mutations to diversify "kinds" into more species, and that man is somehow outside of evolution.   And scientists would argue that this is not really evolution as proposed.  Which is a real quandary for us when we discuss this issue. 

I appreciate your perspective that those who believe that evolution on the scale of mud to man did not really happen, that their perspective ought to be genuinely considered as part of a valid scientific discussion. 

There you go again John.  I find that often in debating an (any) issue, an opponent will try to make the opposing side look as bad as possible (even if misrepresenting the other side) to make their own perspective look more logical or true.  I suppose those arguing for evolution often do the same (myself included).  But such arguments have a pretty thin veneer and can be seen through easily.  They don’t promote honest dialogue.

The Extravagance of God

"More sky than man can see,

More seas than he can sail,

More sun than he can bear to watch,

More stars than he can scale.

 

More breath than he can breathe,

More yield than he can sow,

More grace than he can comprehend,

More love than he can know."

----Ralph W. Seager

 

I think this is a discussion that needs to take place. One of the values for me is that I have gleaned some sources for further reading. I am sad that this is such a polarizing issue, and that it seems unsafe to discuss in so many venues (inside the church). For me, it is not an important issue, except as it relates to our ability to dialogue with many members of our society, for whom this is an unnecessary stumbling block. They accept evolution (as far as they understand it) as a given. However, I would like to understand more clearly how science and faith can be integrated, and I believe that would lead to a richer faith. If we can listen to the Bible, each other, and creation/science with open hearts, God will lead us to a closer walk with Him.

Andy, I thought I was being fairly gracious in my reply post regarding Hugh Ross. I’m curious if you read the articles in the link(s) I provided. You used Ross as an example of someone who can blend a literal reading of the Bible with a big bang and billions of year’s theory. Since this requires that long ages be added somewhere in the text of Genesis 1, and since Ross uses an incorrect meaning of the Hebrew word “yom” as a catalyst I wanted to point out that his views simply don’t stand up to scrutiny.

Obviously I would read the Bible in my native tongue of English, but I think what you were inferring is that I don’t read or understand Hebrew and that would be true. One might get the impression that Ross is an expert in Hebrew but that isn’t the case. That’s exactly why I provided links to articles by those who do read, write & understand Hebrew and who quote those who indeed are experts in Hebrew. I am familiar with the theories of Hugh Ross and his colleagues at RTB.

My point was that it seems many are eager to reference authors who try to fit things into the opening chapter of Genesis that simply aren’t there in the hope that this will provide a nice harmony between a traditional rendering of Scripture and popular views in contemporary science.  The age of the earth, or whether evolution happened or not often doesn’t even factor into the equation. However, since many of the models that are presented absolutely require millions/billions of years, the first order is to devise a way to fit long ages into the narrative of Genesis 1 where God is describing His work in creation. Your somewhat condescending remarks regarding how I read the Bible or how the Hebrew word “yom” has more than one meaning really make little sense in context of what I was saying.  I said basically the same thing, as did the links, but I also pointed out that in the narrative of Genesis 1, the meaning of the word is indisputable. This wasn’t derived from my vast knowledge in Hebrew but from some of the world’s leading experts in Hebrew. Check the quotes in the this link under the heading “Time for Investigation” http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/am/v7/n2/24-hours The only way that long ages can be attributed to the creation week is to suggest that the text does not mean what it clearly says. This is what I mean by clear and literal, so I was not being untruthful when I stated that Ross’ views do not represent a clear reading of scripture. It bothers me that many will not even allow the possibility that God created in the way He described in His Word.  We are talking about an all powerful, all knowing God who could have spoken the entire world and universe into being in an instant.  Why take a whole week? Because He is a God of order and among many other patterns, He gave us a 7 day pattern to live by. A good proof text of this is Exodus 20:8-11 (4th commandment)

I think it is important to talk about the subject of evolution and long ages as well because it has permeated our culture.  Christians need to provide solid Biblical answers and to discuss the subject with each other and with our unsaved neighbours. But we need to start with the Word of God and so there needs to be limits. If something doesn’t square with Scripture or distorts God’s plan of salvation for His people we need to question our “wisdom.”

There are times when we need to stop “engaging” and simply recognize that we may not understand everything, but go with what God has said to us. If the subject was whether or not Jesus was really God, or whether He truly rose from the dead, how much time would we spend talking about it? Here’s a couple other links to consider.

http://creation.com/jonathan-d-sarfati-physical-chemistry-in-six-days

 

http://creation.com/the-meaning-of-yom-in-genesis-1

Dianne, you indicated you would like to understand better how science and faith can be integrated.  An interesting subject, with many different angles to it.  Only a couple comments for your consideration:  first, we need to know that science and faith must be integrated, since we believe by faith that God created all the natural laws of the universe, and also created us with the ability to be affected by them, and ultimately to understand some of them.  Second, we need also to understand that theories are not equal to science;  they are associated with science.   Important distinction.   It was a scientific theory in the past that the earth was the center of the universe, and everything moved around it.  That was science, but incorrect conclusion, incorrect theory. 

Third, evolution should not be equated to science, although it is associated with science.  Science helps us to see and investigate fossils, gentics, earth layers, rock formation, radio activity and radio-active half lives.   Varying types and processes called evolution are ways of interpreting some of the "facts", but the theory of evolution (or various aspects of the theory) may not be the correct way of interpreting the facts. 

Fourth, since God created natural laws which we observe thru scientific method, God is above these laws and not subject to them. 

This is the beginning of how we integrate science with faith. 

Thanks for this Holly.  It is well worth listening to.

Roger, sometimes I think you would prefer if I was dishonest.   When you say, "honest dialogue" you are trying to shut me down.  The fact is that I simply would not be honest if I pretended that it didn't matter whether Adam and Eve were the first real people. 

John Z, your post made me realize a distinction. For me, there is a difference between theology and faith. My faith is deeper and foundational. It is my trust in God, and my relationship with God. Theology can enrich faith. But (again), for me, science can enrich faith as well. And I wonder if I should have said, ' I would like to more clearly integrate science and theology'.

I wonder if, when we read the Bible, our theological understandings sometimes get in the way of getting to know God himself more deeply. 

Rosemarie, thank you for your post. God is so much greater than our understanding.

Interesting, Dianne.  So you'd separate faith and theology.   Well yes, in one sense I would agree I suppose.  One could have a great theology and no faith, or at least no trust.   Where is it that it says that even Satan believes, but it doesn't help him;  it condemns him, because he rebels and hates God.  Thinks he is better than God. 

But for me faith is mostly inseparable from theology.   Theology is not just a formal discipline of debating and reading and discovering who God is through books and sermons.   Theology is reading and accepting the Bible, and then faith puts knowledge into action.  But "how can you believe in one of whom you have not heard, and how will you hear unless someone tells you" (scripture somewhere).  What I mean is that if your theology is all out of wack, then your faith will also be out of wack.   If your theology tells you that God is mean and without mercy, how will that affect your faith?  If your theology tells you that God is tolerant, and will never punish anyone, how does that affect your faith?   So it would seem that theology is foundational to your faith;  without theology (knowledge of who God is), your faith could be in a god of your own making. 

Can science enrich your faith?  Yes, I would think so, just as beautiful photography, or as beautiful music, science is after all merely a way of looking at God's creation, and when we see how marvelous it is, how amazing, then we can be in awe of God's majesty and power and omnipotence and omniscience.  Of course, we might be persuaded by some that creation is merely or mostly an accident of random activities and brute survival and mysterious uncontrollable cosmic forces, and then we would be missing God in it, wouldn't we.  

Rev. Walhout asked, "What is our future over the long reach of time?"  Here's a clue.  There was a beginning, as supernaturally recorded in Genesis and as naturally discovered by Einstein and Hubble.  Logically, that means that there will be an end.  The end  was predicted in the Bible, but historically rejected and now accepted by atheistic evolutionary naturalistic scientists.  Therefore, evolution’s supposed ever-improving process is taking place within a doomed self-destructing universe.  Evolutionist Neil deGrasse Tyson says, “we’re on a one-way trip to oblivion.” That’s the evolutionary naturalistic (Rev. Walhout) future.  I seem to recall another, predicted by God; … “we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved.”  Romans 8:23, 24

When we get to heaven (if we believe that Christ is the Way), He shall possibly reveal the beginnings of His creation.  Until then, this knowledge is not dependent upon my salvation!  Justified and redeemed!

Psalm 104:31-32.  ..."may the Lord rejoice in His works --he who looks at the earth, and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke."  (Let God enjoy His creation!)

Re: Arnold

(FYI, Ross has studied Hebrew and is an ordained pastor), but watching debates by Ken Ham et al, from answers in genesis has done more to convince me that they don't have much evidence of their position other than the english reading of the text.

I've looked at all their "evidence" and it's simply not convincing to me. The nature of the Hebrew language is such that context is the primary decider for what a word means. Scientific discovery has compelled us to look at the Bible and ask "Are there things here that we have wrongly assumed about the text, because of the distance between our cultures". (Just like we wrongly assumed the sun must rotate around the earth!) Like in the Joshua account I mentioned before, perspective must be taken into account as well as context. We've both read all the arguments for both sides of 24hr yom vs time period so no need to beat a dead horse or overturn the cart that it's pulling, but let me simply say this. Even if it were indisputable that "yom" meant 24hr period of time, I wouldn't be surprised. God is speaking to Israel in a language they understand. The Bible was a book to a largely illiterate people explaining the necessities of life which included the truth "God created everything, the pinnacle of which is YOU!" How he created everything is hardly the point. It is only God's genius that gives us so many clues to how it happened hidden in the text.

The creation story isn't primarily meant to be a scientific record because OT Israel wasn't a scientific community. BUT when a scientist picks up the Bible and says, "Wow, alot of this stuff makes scientific sense from the perspective of God hovering over the waters," it's worth looking into and asking "does this make sense or not?" And it's a pretty amazing coincidence that Ross's interpretation in my opinion is more consistent with proper Biblical exegesis (context, perspective, and consistency across the Bible) and more consistent with scientific discovery. 

You make it sound as if your reading has no issues (like how Adam could have done SO much in only 24 hours so that Eve was created on the same day, how the earth's orbit wasn't destroyed by the creation of the sun, etc.) while mine is a real stretch, simply not the case.

I'm tired of Christians looking at a lexicon without studying the original languages. They preach sermons on how the Hebrew word "butterfly" comes from roots "butter" and "fly" because....(insert satire here). It's just not the case (called an "etymological fallacy"). I'm not accusing you directly of doing this type of hermeneutic, just saying when people in general do this it muddies the waters of interpretation by trying to make one absolute interpretation correct when it's not that clear in regards to the adiaphora (things unessential to salvation).

My first intro to Hebrew was an undergrad independent study, teaching myself OT Hebrew under the occasional guidance of Al Wolters (one of the few priviledged to work on the dead sea scrolls) and since then I've gone further in graduate studies until for a while i was ONLY reading the OT in Hebrew (albeit with lexicon and slowly). (Un)fortunately, I felt God telling me it was more important to live the Bible than study it and over the last 4 years I promptly lost most of what i learned previously. I say that because from first hand perspective its just not as clear as we'd like at times. What I don't appreciate about Ken Ham et al. at AIG, is how they decide for themselves what is literal in the text and what is metaphorical (a la "sun standing still"). Scholars can claim certainty all they want but they are all cursed with a western idea of logic which hardly works in an ancient middle-eastern writing. The thought process is radically different (for example, Jesus wasn't in the tomb for 3 western days, he was in the tomb for 1.5 western days--at most!).

When you read the words of the Bible in context, with perspective both your reading and my reading are available. For me, the deciding factor as to which of these is more accurate (both have issues hard to figure out) is that science unanonymously affirms my reading and denies yours.

Thus said, I repeat what I've said earlier. This is a fun discussion for me between believers earnestly trying to give God the glory in their own way, but hardly relevant to my living faith and constant conversation with God each day. We both agree that he made it all and that's what's important.

 

John, I agree with most of what you wrote, and I think I have a different perspective on some of what you wrote. First, I agree that theology is not just a formal discipline, and that faith puts knowledge into action. I also think that sometimes that action causes us to 'tweak' our understanding. I also am concerned with the danger of a 'god of your own making', which is why I think it is so important that dialogue and mutual discernment needs to happen.

In pondering my response, I have come to realize that in the process of living my life in relationship with God, and growing in that relationship, that my theology has changed. I am sad to say that although I have been a member of the Christian Reformed Church all my life, I experience a disconnect between some of its theology and my relationship with God. It is not that I don't agree with the doctrines; I find they are not answering the questions our culture, and we ourselves (or at least, I myself) am asking.

For example, what does it mean that God is just? How is that justice being worked out in our world today, and how can we, as Christ's representatives in our world, be agents of justice as we live our daily lives?

I thought one of the principles of Reformed thought was to be 'always reforming'. I don't see much of that, theologically speaking.

Responding to your last example, could God not have used evolution to create? Does that necessarily change the essence of who he is for us? For myself, studying biology has made richer texts such as Psalm 139:13-14 '.. you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well'. And it doesn't affect God's commandment to love Him, and love others as myself.

The common teachings I encountered at Calivin College in the late 70s were a phantom Adam and Eve, long geological time periods, and a form of schizophrenia:  adhering to evolutionary perspective scientifically, and of coarse having religious faith in Biblical creation (on Sunday during Sunday school).  Therefore it is not suprising that The Banner published this article.  These are teachings that has been long entrenched in CRC educational institutions.

I disagree with these teachings.  More specifically I find the fossil evidence consistant with the biblical perspective and diametrically opposed to the evolutionary paradigm.  Just after this article was released I was scouring Western Kansas with finds of shark teeth, ammonite, inoceramus clams, and crinoid fossils.  These are all salt water creatures. Why would I be finding salt water creature in the middle of the land mass of the Unitied States?  Road cuts on the way to Monument Rocks chalk disposit reveal a 1 foot layer of vocanic ash (possibly from Yellowstone and/or the Long Valley Caldera in California). Why was this soft sandy layer not blown/eroded away by the long periods of time required to cover and preserve this layer.  Back in Kansas City one can find near the Interstate a thick layer composita of intact brachiopods in the Pennsylvanian Epoch layer. Fossilize shells intact are evidence of being burried quickly and alive. The reason you only find 1/2 a clam shell as you walk along the sea shore is that as it dies the muscle that keeps it closed decays, and it no longer remains shut. Thus you find 1/2 the shell as it washes on the shore into your reach. Then there is the enigmatic layer of loess soil on top of Pennsylvanian layer (north of the Missouri River). 300 million years of layering seems to be conspicuously absent.  Not only is it missing, loess being wind blown soil is very recent phenomenon.  Hmmm maybe the book of nature is telling us something else.

Re: Joel,

Very interesting. I know the YEC (young earth creationists) have done some neat work in dating through helium isotopes as well. Put simply, Helium being a very "slippery" atom will slip out of most materials, even granite, over time. The fact that we still find traces of Helium in diamonds, etc. lends credible belief to the fact that the oldest rocks on this planet are much younger than billions of years. If they were that old, the helium would have slipped out long ago. Definitely evidence on both sides of the debate. I'm excited to see where this goes in the next 50 years. The evidence (whatever it ends up being) is slowly going to become overpowering much like it was with Galileo and Copernicus.

John, I agree with most of what you wrote, and I think I have a different perspective on some of what you wrote. First, I agree that theology is not just a formal discipline, and that faith puts knowledge into action. I also think that sometimes that action causes us to 'tweak' our understanding. I also am concerned with the danger of a 'god of your own making', which is why I think it is so important that dialogue and mutual discernment needs to happen. 

For example, what does it mean that God is just? How is that justice being worked out in our world today, and how can we, as Christ's representatives in our world, be agents of justice as we live our daily lives?

Responding to your last example, could God not have used evolution to create? Does that necessarily change the essence of who he is for us? For myself, studying biology has made richer texts such as Psalm 139:13-14 '.. you knit...full well'. And it doesn't affect God's commandment to love Him, and love others as myself.

I am an 'ordinary' active member of the Christian Reformed Church with no great training in science or theology. I am, however, interested in both science and theology. I find many of the posts are focused on evolution per se: is it true, what understanding of it is true, etc. And to some extent that is interesting. But as Andy has written, it doesn't much affect my daily Christian walk.

I think there is a lot of resistance to accepting evolution because people realize that to do so would require a paradigm change in our theology. And I don't think it is between a Christian and not being a Christian (ie, a follower of Christ). It is how do we understand what God is saying to us at this time in history. And it is that I am most interested in exploring. To start with, what things do not change? God himself has not changed. Our relationship with him changes as we grow closer to Him. And our understanding (theology) may change to better reflect what we discover or experience as we live our lives, trying to do God's will and proclaim God's truth.

Dianne, nice to see we can agree on some stuff.  So, your question about justice;  what does it mean God is just.  I would think that first it is a faith statement about God.  That means that God is just no matter what people think about his justice.  Second, God's justice means that disobedience and sin requires a payment or restitution.  It cannot be ignored, because that would be unjust.  God therefore punishes people for disobedience, sometimes on earth, sometimes in eternity.   But, and this is a big BUT, God is also merciful.  How did God work out his mercy and still be just?  His son died for us, when we should have died.  And sin Jesus and the Father are one, in one sense, God paid for our sin himself.  But, God's mercy works through the portal of repentance.  OUr faith, also a gift from God, gives us the desire to repent, to be renewed.  OUr desire to change is a sign of our repentance.   So God changes us through our repentance, in his forgiveness through Christ's sacrifice, and by the Holy Spirit (God in our hearts). 

The Bible says, how do we know we love our neighbor?   answer:  "By loving God and obeying his commands."   So how does this work out in our daily lives?   Differently every day and in every situation.  But our guide for knowing is "loving God and obeying His commands." 

 

 

Could God have used evolution to create?  Dianne, sure God could use any method He wants.  But the question is not what God could have done.   He could have created beings on every planet in the solar system, but He didn't.  The question is what did God do, and how and why?   And what does the way God created the universe, our world, and us, tell us about who God is and what God is like? 

Therefore, we as christians can understand that survival of the fittest, "random" (but controlled by God) mutations, adaptations, environmental selections, extinctions, fossilizations, floods, famines, climate changes, and environmental disasters can, do, and have taken place.  But a theory that proposes that God is a blind watchmaker in terms of creation, does not fit with scripture.  It does not fit with what God told us.   A theory that proposes that a curse on creation and on man took place long before Adam and Eve were created, does not fit with scripture.  A theory that proposes that evolution is still happening today, also does not fit with what scripture gives us.  And of course, we don't see it happening today.  Is there a possibility of some partial evolution happening...?  maybe.  Maybe God allowed various created kinds to diversify and expand and develop new species.  Maybe the first three days were different lengths before the sun and moon either came into existence, or came into a position relative to the earth.   But to simply call this evolution is confusing and misleading, because it is vastly different than the common raw theory of evolution as generally proposed.  Therefore, these alternatives should not be called simply "evolution". 

Most of what Walhout has said, simply is not what we would regard as scriptural, and it denies what God himself has told us. 

Greek and Roman gods were purely naturalistic, which is why they had a hierarchy and fought with each other, and had various sons and daughters, and sometimes half gods as progeny.  Buddhism  is a purely humanistic religion, which lives on advice and wise sayings, and accepts all religions, since they are deemed to be manifestations of human understandings. 

Islam makes almost everything about rules and rewards.

Christianity worships God as he is both just and merciful, loving and kind, but just.  God is creator, redeemer, sanctifier, (and just).  God indicated that man is responsible for sin and curse;  God did not create it this way, but God created it good.  Good.  GOOD. 

Nice to see you wrestling with this. 

Good theology, good summation John.

Nitpicking: I would only change the "but" to "and". Saying "BUT God is also merciful" might imply to some that God's mercy negates or lessens his justice. Of course, we both know that's not the case. Just as we cannot probe the depths of God's mercy here on earth, we also cannot probe the depths of his justice (eternal suffering in hell?...ouch!) and while his attributes may balance, they do not minimize each other.

As I like to say, God is a bit of an extremist. All his attributes are too extreme for us to comprehend- His love, mercy, patience AND his holiness, justice, intolerance of sin.  As Bobby Conner is fond of saying "we're waaaay too familiar with a God we barely know."

Darwin evolution? Think again.

"All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another...So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being", the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first but the natural...and just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven."(1 Corinthians 39,45-49)

Rebutal to Tomorrow’s Theology

 Edwin Walhout’s “Tomorrow’s Theology” in the June issue of the Banner clearly describes how our understanding of the Bible and Theology must change IF the proclamations of scientists is the ultimate source of truth, and IF evolution is a factual description of how everything came into existence. If these presuppositions are true; then, as he says, the major Christian theological doctrines must change to be consistent with science. But neither of his starting assumptions is true. Scientists study nature, both living and non-living in great detail, describe how they operate, and learn how to control some aspects of nature for the benefit of humans. The scientific method cannot be used to understand spiritual things or the origins of the universe or life, because they cannot be observed or studied scientifically. Scientists can only speculate about origins. Knowledge about origins comes from special revelation from the Creator via the Bible. Science cannot tell us how to interpret Scripture.

 Walhout accepts the widely taught claim that evolution is a fact because all scientists believe it. All life science professors in public institutions may believe it, since if they deviate from evolution dogma they are fired; but there are many scientists who reject evolution, especially those who have taken the time to compare the theory with the scientific data. Theories are validated by much irrefutable evidence and data, NOT by what scientist believe. For centuries scientists believed the earth was flat and the sun moved around the earth, but that did not make it true.

I am a scientist with a long career doing research and know how to evaluate theories with data. Also, I have studied the claimed evidences for evolution for over 50 years. I have found no creditable evidence that any natural process can convert inorganic matter into living cells. As scientists learn more about nature, particularly about living cells, it is becoming increasingly obvious that it is impossible for a living cells to have formed from non-living matter. And there is no fossil evidence that any kind of life ever evolved into a different kind of more complex life. I had a discussion with an ardent evolutionist for about a year via letters to our local newspaper. The only support for evolution that he could offer was the claim that all competent scientists believed evolution. He ridiculed Christians for naively believing creation which cannot be proved scientifically. My conclusion is that evolution is not a validated scientific theory, but is a belief developed by those who want to believe nature is the creator rather than God.

Walhout concludes that, 500 years from now, theology will have changed to be consistent with current evolution beliefs. Nothing could be further from the truth. God’s Word does not change. It will still be true that God created everything. The first humans, Adam and Eve, disobeyed God. Their descendants inherit a sinful human nature that separates them from God. Jesus Christ, God incarnate, provided the Way to restore a right relationship with God for all who put their faith in Him. As for evolution, it will be long gone due to lack of supporting evidence, just like the flat earth and sun going around it; however, those who deny God will have concocted other stories in their attempts to explain origins without God. Walhout and many others have been led astray into believing the claim that evolution is a proven fact that supersedes God’s word and can be used as the standard for interpreting the Bible. His position may be understandable since he is not qualified to evaluate a scientific theory, and the entire public school system teaches evolution as a fact and that science provides the ultimate source of truth. That simply is not true. God is the ultimate source of truth. Evolution fails the scientific test of validity, and the Bible repeatedly tell us that God created everything, and sinful human beings need Jesus Christ as their Savior.

 Dr. William Vanderkooi, scientist

 

Andy, "but" is a way of demonstrating contrast, but, I'll accept your "and" as a way of demonstrating unity and cohesion. 

There are brother's and sisters in Christ in the conversation thread "Tomrrow's Theology" who neither share your "particular take" on science and scripture. 

They desire, like you, to listen carefully to everything God is saying both in his original creation and his redemptive creation.

It's one thing to have a spirited discussion, and another to declare the author and publisher to be antathema needing strong discipline in a new conversation thread "How would the go about discipling a retired pastor who suggests and promotes changing many of the core CRC doctrines?"

If Walhout is to lose his ministerial credentials and DeMoor is to fired, what is to be done to those whose opinions differ from yours in "Tomorrow's Theology?"

Where is the charity? [1 Corinthians 13] This is what makes the conversation not fruitful.

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