Thursday, June 16, 2011
Evolution and Apostasy
While the church continually finds nourishment from the streets, the prisons, and from among the poor – for some reason they can hear the Gospel – many of our educated leaders apostatize, abandoning our institutions to unbelief. What has happened to the mainline denominations, the Ivy League schools – Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Brown, Columbia – so that they now heap abuse upon the Gospel? It is as if we can’t give away our institutions quickly enough.
We also find apostasy among Christian publications. For instance, Christianity Today (CT, June 2011, 61) “counsel[s] patience” in regards to the question of the historicity of Adam. According to CT, we can no longer know that Adam and Eve were historical people. Although this magazine had been committed to the Gospel, it now feels that the Christian faith needs to wait until the prevailing scientific consensus can rule with one voice on the question of the existence of Adam and Eve. However, CT’s gospel of patience and moderation fails to provide the substance, certainty and excitement to support the Christian faith and those who derive nurture from it.
Meanwhile, we need to know about the advent of sin and death, the Fall, the 1st Adam, and consequently the work of the 2nd Adam, Jesus. We need to know whether or not God’s original and perfect plan entailed the survival-of-the-fittest or whether instead it had been humankind who screwed things up. If our theological foundation isn’t sound, any life built upon it will wobble. It will be characterized by confusion, doubt, uncertainty, indecisiveness and a lack of joy in believing. I need to know whether I am responsible for my sins or if they are a product of God’s original design of the survival-of-the-fittest, and I need to know if God has truly taken away these sins.
This raises the question of the source of our life script: “What source of revelation should be most authoritative for us? Must our faith and life rest uncertainly upon the changing theories of the prevailing scientific consensus, or can we find some measure of certainty and confidence in Scripture?” (2 Cor. 10:4-5) In regards to certainty, Paul strenuously labored for his church,
• that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Col. 2:2-3)
CT is concerned about “another fundamentalist reaction against science.” I am too, but I’m more concerned about the denigration of Scripture, condemning it into the nether-world of uncertainly in the face of the claims of evolution. Of course, the theistic evolutionists (Christians who believe in evolution) insist that they hold to a high view of Scripture. However, they often claim that the Bible isn’t an historical or a scientific textbook, and therefore its message isn’t about the physical world, but the spiritual. CT sites one theologian who affirms the “inerrancy of the Bible, but not of interpretations.” In other words, we can be certain that the Bible is inerrant, but we can’t be certain about anything that it teaches. If this is the case, then how can these theologians insist that it’s inerrant apart from their interpretation of Scripture? They can’t have it both ways. If we can’t be certain how to interpret the Bible, then we can’t be certain about inerrancy!
While they often claim that we have to be humble about how we interpret the Bible, they are anything but humble about how they interpret the scientific facts in favor of evolution. Clearly, the prevailing scientific consensus has become their leading authority.
Besides, as Pastor Richard Phillips has rhetorically asked:
• Can the Bible’s theology be true if the historical events on which the theology is based [like the Fall of Genesis 3] are false? (p.27)
Of course, the theology can’t be true without its historical foundation. The theology of the Cross is nothing without the history of the Cross – likewise of the theology based upon the first several chapters of Genesis, as illuminated in the New Testament.
Should this departure, this apostasy, be a cause of alarm? Jude had taught us to “contend earnestly for the faith” (Jude 3). Should we contend earnestly against theistic evolution? Phillips continues:
• The hermeneutics behind theistic evolution are a Trojan horse that, once inside our gates, must cause the entire fortress of Christian belief to fall.
This is precisely what we see happening, and no wonder. If we can’t take seriously what the Bible teaches about the physical world, why should anyone place any weight upon what it teaches about the spiritual!