A New Theology?

Vantage Point

One of the first principles I learned when I came into the Reformed family of churches was that we are “Reformed and ever reforming according to the Word of God.” It would seem that we ought to adapt to the challenges of our contemporary culture and society. But this thought bothers me.

First, the numerous areas mentioned in the article “Tomorrow’s Theology” June 2013) that need reforming, from origins to worldview, cannot be based on evolutionary theory informing orthodox theology. I’m all in favor of scientific exploration and am constantly amazed by the boundaries of modern physics and astrophysics. I regularly engage in discussion regarding science and its new discoveries with a good friend who’s a professor of astrophysics at the University of Wisconsin. I do not however, inform my theology based on scientific theories or discoveries. In fact, scientific discoveries reinforce my understanding of our Sovereign God and his creation.

Second, theology ought to be done with humility, as should science. Humility dictates that principles and theories are subjected to rigorous testing and analysis to verify the truth of the hypothesis. Based on a couple of works by Dr. Michael Behe, a significant number of people in the scientific community withhold support for a universal theory of evolution. With humility then, we ought to carefully consider the consequences of switching to a “Tomorrow’s Theology” solution based on unverifiable and theoretical science.

Third, if the stated purpose for printing this article was to provide hope for college-age young people, perhaps we ought to ask how this will help them deal effectively with their doubts about Scripture, the gospel, and Reformed theology. Redefining the nature of origins, sin, the sovereignty of God, the Trinity and Jesus in particular, salvation, and a Christian worldview based on evolution can only create new doubts and fears, built as it can only be on the shaky ground of knowledge based on our own history, reason, and ability.

Finally, such thinking leads to heresy. By going down this path based on evolutionary theory, we are no better than the Gnostics, Christian scientists, Scientologists, and a host of other religious thinkers who have led the church in a direction other than the good news of Jesus Christ. It’s hard to maintain our understanding of the Old and New Testament when we take out of our confession the phrases “maker of the heavens and the earth” and “by whom all things are created.”

If we accept Mark 1:15 as a compact statement of the gospel, we ought to reject all speculation that grounds our theology in anything less than the Word of God. The gospel tells us that we are sinful by nature and points to Jesus as the only solution to our condition. All of Scripture points to this simple and significant fact. This view of the gospel gives meaning to who we are as individuals and as a covenant family of God. It equips us to understand that to be “Reformed and ever reforming” means we are being reformed and ever reforming according to the Word of God, not that Scripture itself is being reformed and ever reforming according to each new generation’s human understanding of it.

About the Author

Rev. Paul Hansen is pastor of First Christian Reformed Church, Artesia, California.

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