Does Modern Science Make Jesus a Liar?


(Colin Eakin) #47

In answer to your question, one cannot improve on what God says through Paul on this exact topic (Romans 5:12-19):

"Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men[e] because all sinned— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

18 Therefore, as one trespass[f] led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness[g] leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous."

If that is not clear enough, here is how I explain it in “God’s Glorious Story” (pp. 82-84):

To question the historicity of these events of creation, including
the instantaneous and unique creation of Adam and Eve by God as the first
humans, is to challenge the very essence of Christianity. Why is that? Because
to do so completely undermines the biblical doctrine of justification of the
sinner by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone (from R. Albert Mohler, Jr., “Adam and Eve: Clarifying Again What Is at Stake.”
Blog post from http://www.albertmohler.com/2011/08/22/false-start-thecontroversy-
over-adam-and-eve-heats-up/, August 22, 2011.) In the post,
Mohler references his article, “False Start? The Controversy Over Adam and
Eve Heats Up,” Monday, August 22, 2011.

Paul’s presentation of the doctrine of original sin and what God has
done about it in Romans 5 absolutely depends upon a historical Adam and
a literal interpretation of the account in Genesis. Everything Paul has to say
about justification of the sinner by faith depends on a literal interpretation
of Genesis.

Paul writes, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one
man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because
all sinned” (Romans 5:12). He reinforces this in his first letter to the
Corinthians: “For as by a man came death, by a Man has come also the
resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall
all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:21-22). Clearly Paul regarded both
the creation and fall of Adam as history, not allegory. In these verses, Paul
is explaining that when Adam and Eve sinned, it caused the whole human
race to be born “dead.” This means that the entire human race is born into
condemnation because of the sin of Adam (cf. Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 3:10;
Ephesians 2:1-3; 5:6; 1 John 5:19).

And the manner by which Paul describes how the death of one man—
Jesus Christ—could save so many is this: the death of one perfect Person, one
perfect Sacrifice, is sufficient to cover all the atonement necessary because all
that which requires atonement derives from an original disobedience. Paul explains this
in Romans 5:18-19: “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation
for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life
for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were
made sinners, so by the one Man’s obedience the many will be made
righteous.”

Here’s the point: because one sin had such a comprehensively
damning effect on the whole human race, one sacrifice can have an equally
comprehensive rescuing effect on the whole human race. That is why Christ
is called the “last Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:45).

But here’s the flip-side: if sin did not derive from an original disobedience
in an actual pair of original humans, then the sacrifice of Christ cannot have
obtained God’s desired effect of atoning for all sin. If there is somehow
sin in the world not deriving from Adam, then the Bible’s own logic would
conclude that such sin has not been redeemed by Christ. And if that is true,
then there is a deficiency in how that sin might be justified before God,
because that sin has not been properly addressed. That sin has not had
adequate atonement. That sin has not been covered by the “precious blood
of Christ” (cf. 1 Peter 1:19). That sin still needs some saving act other than
what Christ accomplished with His death and resurrection—the pinnacle
events in God’s glorious story.

The conclusion? The evolutionary concept that sin did not necessarily
derive from a historical Adam and Eve is completely inconsistent with the
biblical account of how God justifies the sinner. As such, for those who hold
to the authority of Scripture, it must be discarded.

I hope this helps. It really is crucial in understanding exactly why Christ’s sacrifice has the effect that it does in providing a way of forgiveness.

Colin


(Richard Wright) #48

Hi Colin,

Thanks for you response.

Your view of scientific uniformity seems to be informed by your literal interpretation of Genesis 1.

You and I have different interpretations of 2 Peter 3:1-10 and of 1 Corinthians 1:18-2. In the former, the context is clearly, “to stimulate you to wholesome thinking.” (v1) in considering that Jesus will come back and destroy the elements. The passages on creation are incidental to the message. The 1 Corinthians 1:18- contrasts the message of the cross vs. the, “wisdom” of the age. Paul says in 2:13, “This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.” It’s about living a pure, faithful life in a world of humanistic degradation (especially in Corinth), and has nothing to do with knowledge of the science of creation.

To the deeper points, you bring up concepts like biblical infallibility and inerrancy as if there is any broad consensus to their meanings. I (and probably many here but I don’t want to speak for them) don’t take Jesus saying, “If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside—” (John 10:25) as meaning that the bible contains no mistakes, contradictions or inconsistencies with modern science. I take it to mean that the message of redemption from OT to Jesus is consistent, what I consider to be biblical infallibility. In fact, every time Jesus uses the word, “scripture” (or anyone else in the gospels for that matter) he referred to an OT passage about himself. So if Jesus refers to Genesis 1 as an origins tradition for the purpose of stating that God is against divorce, then infallibility is intact. I personally don’t hold to most forms of biblical inerrancy (especially Chicago Statement-type, or anything beyond infallibility) since, IMO, they aren’t be supported by the data.


(Colin Eakin) #49

Hi Ted,

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I have been thinking of your comments and how best to address them since we first communicated.

Paul says the gospel is (Rom. 1:16) “the power of God for the salvation of all who believe, for the Jew first and then for the Greek.” That is as good as any pithy statement on what the gospel entails.

So as to understand more fully what Paul means, here is how I would unpack it:

The gospel starts with a righteous and holy God, whose standard for communion with Him is to be of the same glory. When God came to earth in the Person of Jesus Christ, His condition for acceptance by God was explicit: “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). Earlier in the same sermon, Jesus warns those who would hear, “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:20). The writer of Hebrews agrees, declaring that no one who is not holy will see the LORD (Heb. 12:14).

So the standard of God for those who would commune with Him is consistent throughout Scripture and unequivocally clear: holiness. Moral perfection. A life lived flawlessly before God, free of even the slightest taint of sin. That is the Bible’s daunting yet unambiguous requirement for fellowship and eternal life with God.

The gospel then moves to the condition of man, declaring that on one’s own, such perfection is impossible. According to the Bible, all humans sin as a result of following in Adam’s lineage, who through his first sin brought sinfulness into the very core of what it is to be human (Rom. 5:12,19). The upshot is that no one can live in perfect obedience before a righteous and holy God. David moans, “No one living is righteous before you” (Ps. 143:2). And in the New Testament, Paul concurs when he writes, “… all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23a). Therein lies the fundamental predicament of mankind: God demands holiness to match His glory, and everyone throughout all time falls short of this standard. As a result, mankind lives under the curse that God has promised upon all who fail to live in perfect accordance with His standards (Deut. 27:26; Gal. 3:10).

Most fortuitously for those who would be redeemed from this curse and the condemnation that it brings, the gospel then ascends to the highest height imaginable, where God has provided a means of redemption: through repentance and faith in His Son’s substitutionary atoning sacrifice. Through His righteous life, free of any sin, Christ is qualified to serve as the ultimate Atoning Lamb. Through His death, Christ places upon Himself the sins of all those who repent (Acts 11:18) and believe (John 11:25-26), and places upon them His righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 9:13-15). Through His resurrection, Christ proves that His Father is satisfied with the atonement made for repentant and believing sinners, as demonstrated by His Father’s justification of these believers (Rom. 4:25-26). These repentant and believing sinners now stand righteous before God, having acquired the righteous robe that only Christ can provide (Isa. 61:10; Job 29:14; Zech. 3:4) and by which alone we might stand accepted before God (Rom. 5:1-2; 8:1; Mt. 22:11-13). And this is vital to state: this righteousness of Christ is acquired only via grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone (Eph. 2:8-9).

All this is, as Paul stipulates, by the “power of God.” The rescue of sinners is all by God’s doing, and without human contribution. Salvation is only by His power. It is only by the purpose and influence of God that anyone is ever saved. This is what is meant when the Bible speaks of God’s sovereign election of sinners (Eph. 1:4-5; Rom. 8:28-30; 2 Tim.1:9; Tit. 1:1-2; 2 Thess.2:13-14).


From the above, you can probably ascertain that I have the following issues with your statement of the gospel:

(1) It is insufficient in its declaration of the need for a penal substitution to absorb the wrath of God that should rightfully fall on the sinner. You say: “Jesus… showed us the divine nature through his life, suffering (unto death), and resurrection, in order that we too might become more like him and share eternal communion with God.” All true, but woefully short of complete. This does not explain why Christ had to die. Jesus did not come to Earth simply to serve as a perfect moral example. He did not come to Earth simply to show us the divine nature through His life. He did not come to Earth to offer an example of suffering unto death. He certainly didn’t have to die to show us how to be more like Him and therefore have eternal life with God.

No, Jesus came to Earth to die in the place of sinners, that they might be freed from the penalty of their sin, as God’s eternal sacrificial system had determined. Colossians 2:13-14 puts it this way: “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross.” God’s legal demands were established before the foundation of the world: the soul that sins shall die (Ez. 18:4,20). God has determined that every sin will be punished (Eccl. 12:14), either through the sinner’s eternal suffering or by Christ’s provision at the cross. The Bible clearly spells out the manner by which Christ came to save sinners, and it rests upon His provision of a penal substitutionary atonement. This is a vital component of the gospel, apart from which one does not have it in adequate form.

(2) It is insufficient in failing to state that sinners are saved only by God’s grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. This requirement follows from Paul’s purpose in writing Galatians: to defend the gospel by showing how it is marred by anyone seeking to add works to salvation. Paul wrote to the Galatians to show that there is no human contribution to salvation. Paul was so exercised by those who would add any human contribution to what saves the sinner that he used the harshest language in all his writings to anathematize them. Paul’s point is not to be missed (v. 16): “…we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” Here is where your Orthodox friends fall short (we might add those who are Roman Catholic and any others who would sully the gospel with their own worthless contributions). This (you probably know) was the material principle of the Reformation, Sola Fide, that man is only justified–declared righteous before God–through faith alone, and this coming only by God’s activity and thus by no human contribution. This also is fundamental to the gospel, apart from which it is incomplete.


Why be so exacting, and how does this relate to our differences over content at Biologos? I have witnessed over time several individuals professing to be mainstream in their Christian faith and featured on the Biologos website and/or filling official consulting positions there who deny by their own confession vital aspects the gospel as outlined above. And if this is true of some I know who are sponsored by Biologos, I have wondered how far that denial might extend within Biologos.

This has led to my suspicion that theological errors such as evolution ultimately derive from inexact understanding of and/or commitment to the gospel. When the biblical gospel is not understood and embraced as it is laid out in Scripture, then it becomes unlikely there will be any accord with those who do uphold the biblical gospel on derivative issues such as creation. Those to whom I am referring, who have been featured at Biologos and who deny all or part of what I have outlined as the gospel, not only err in their support of evolution; in their published works, statements and talks/sermons, they get most if not all other peripheral issues wrong as well: e.g. the purpose of Christian mission in the world; the future of this earth as it relates to climate change/creation care; the role of women in the church, the purpose of ethnic Israel and the future salvation of her people; God’s position on same gender sexual activity, eschatological considerations such as the Rapture and Millennium; the list goes on. While it is not my contention that those who embrace the gospel as outlined above will necessarily have perfect alignment on these derivative issues, it is my contention that failing to understand and embrace the true gospel will yield beliefs such as evolution and the corollary drift from sound doctrine necessary to undergird it.

What do you think? How many at Biologos do you think would affirm that which I have stated as the necessary elements of the gospel? Do you affirm them? If the majority at Biologos would not affirm these principles, do you agree that it is likely differences would extend beyond evolution vs. creationism to nearly every other derivative theological issue?

Colin


(Christy Hemphill) #50

That seems like a huge logical leap to me, and a contention that is blatantly contradicted by other portions of Scripture that talk about Jesus dealing with sin using explanations and metaphors other than Christ as the second Adam. (Like Hebrews and Christ as the high priest /fulfillment of the sacrificial system, or the Messiah motif of a conquering, liberating, Davidic king.) It seems to me like you are imposing arbitrary limits on God’s power and telling God exactly how the atonement has to work. The idea that Christ’s perfect sacrifice for all of humanity fails unless a certain human back in history did something exactly the way you and Al Mohler envision it is pretty repulsive to me.

I hope you can acknowledge that a huge percentage of Christians now and throughout history (pre-Augustine, and not in the Reformed tradition for example) didn’t and don’t share that understanding. Plenty of people have been saved by faith in the simple fact that Jesus’ sacrifice cleanses them from unrighteousness and reconciles them to God and it had absolutely nothing to do with making room for evolutionary biology.


(Dr. Ted Davis) #51

Colin,
Just as Robert Boyle found it edifying to worship God on Sunday in his laboratory, for me it is genuinely recreational to think about theology on Sundays. I hope it gives you no offense that I wrote most of this reply early this morning.

I certainly had not expected a treatise in response to my own brief statement of the gospel message, but of course you responded as you saw fit. As I told you when I responded privately, I could have said much more myself, and I could have stated different definitions that would have been equally biblical. I could take that route now, but I won’t: BL isn’t about preaching a specific type of Reformation theology (as you did), even though all of us are devout Protestants, the president of BL is a strongly committed Calvinist, and I find much to admire in Calvinist theology myself. I attended the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology many times in the halcyon days when John Gerstner, R.C. Sproul, Roger Nicole, and James Montgomery Boice were the regulars. I wrote a paper about aspects of John Calvin’s theology for a graduate course on the Reformation. I’ve read the Institutes in their entirety, and many of Calvin’s commentaries as well. Indeed, I own the Institutes in Latin, French, and English, partly b/c I want to understand Calvin as well as I possibly can. I regard him as the greatest theologian of the sixteenth century, bar none, and I think he was very often right. Finally, most of the several churches I’ve been part of through various geographical moves have been Reformed, including my current membership, though I have also been involved with an Anabaptist congregation that upholds Wesleyan-Arminian theology. So, I could write a little treatise on Reformation theology myself.

But, as you surely know, there are many varieties of Protestant theology; nor (IMO) do Protestants have a monopoly on Christian truth, as if there will be no Catholics or Orthodox believers in the Holy City. BL is not a ministry whose primary focus is to refine and proclaim a very specific version of Christian theology, and you will look in vain for it in any of our official statements. You want BL to say a lot more than this about the gospel, and you place much import on how we might parse those words. That isn’t going to happen. It doesn’t mean that people who work for BL think that soteriology and other aspects of Christian theology don’t matter. Not at all. It means simply that, like C. S. Lewis, we have a gracious vision of Christianity, and we are committed to gracious dialogue. So, for example, we invite speakers like N. T. Wright and Tim Keller to speak at our events, even though (as you probably know) they hardly have identical views on very important theological questions, including soteriology. We believe we have much to learn from them, and perhaps they can also learn from us. We want to seek truth together with them and many other committed Christians whom I have not singled out here as specific examples.

By comparison, AiG condemns as “compromisers” a long list of Christian leaders from the past 150 years, including two I have mentioned here (Boice and Keller), simply because they do (or did) not agree with AiG’s interpretation of Genesis. Others on that list include Charles Spurgeon, Charles Hodge, B. B. Warfield, Gleason Archer, Bill Bright, Norman Geisler, William Lane Craig, J. P. Moreland, Billy Graham, and Bruce Waltke. (My own view is that to be consistent they should also include John Calvin, since I don’t think Calvin would have agreed with their specific view of inerrancy.) Perhaps you are right, Colin, that “theological errors such as evolution ultimately derive from inexact understanding of and/or commitment to the gospel.” However, I suspect that none of the people I just named would fall short of your own theological standard here: am I mistaken? If not, then there must be more to this issue than you seem to think.

But, you did not disagree with BL’s statement of the gospel (“We believe that all people have sinned against God and are in need of salvation”), as far as it goes. Neither do I. That’s good enough for me. I’m glad we share at least that much.

Beyond that, I cannot speak for anyone else at BL. I speak only for myself, with the understanding that others who work for BL might not necessarily agree with me on each and every point. Also, I will take care not to make this a treatise.
You took your definition from Paul in Romans–not a bad place to start, we surely agree on that.

The starting point for my statement was not (directly) Paul, but of course no Christian can just throw Paul out the window any more than they can throw out the gospels. My statement reflects my view that the best short summary of core Christian beliefs are the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds. I don’t know whether you hold the same opinion; perhaps you do, or perhaps you regard them as “insufficient,” a word you used to describe my brief statement of the gospel. The single sentence I offered reflects my great love for orthodox theology (not necessarily Orthodox with a capital O, though I obviously made favorable reference to that great tradition), as briefly summed up in those two pre-Reformational creeds. IMO, the gospel–the good news–is about the love of God made manifest to sinful creatures through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and also about how we ourselves should seek to imitate the love Christ showed us, turning our backs to sin and doing our best to follow the two great commandments about loving God and others that Jesus himself affirmed. Unlike Luther, I do not regard James as an epistle of straw.

My own Christian faith begins just as much from the empty tomb as from the cross. Without the former, we’d never have heard of Jesus: he’d have been nothing more than an insightful Jewish rabbi or just another false Messiah crucified by the Romans. For this reason, my very favorite modern book is Wright’s The Resurrection of the Son of God. If I had the ability and knowledge to write such a book–neither of which is true–I would not have changed one single word in the long section on “Easter and History.” That great moment in history underscored the validity of Jesus’ ministry. He preached salvation to the poor and the rich alike, and he surely meant repentance and loving God and neighbor when he spoke about salvation. We probably agree on this also.

So then, where ultimately do you and I differ, Colin? From where I sit, it’s probably spelled out in the final plank of AiG’s statement of faith: “By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the scriptural record. Of primary importance is the fact that evidence is always subject to interpretation by fallible people who do not possess all information.” I note what is not said–and is glaringly absent: “Of primary importance is the fact that the Bible is always subject to interpretation by fallible people who do not possess all information.” If this were not so, Colin, than all true Christians would agree on all of the many theological points you listed. If all of those things matter as much as you seem to think, then I fear the body of Christ is microscopically small and I am not part of it myself.

More to the point, if more Christians really did regard what I just said as being of primary importance, then perhaps religious wars would not have devastated much of Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Contrary to what many Protestants might want to say, that strife was a major cause of secularization, as was the Reformation itself. Why? The Reformation undermined traditional religious authority, thus leading to religious doubt and skepticism, and it encouraged every person to read and understand the Bible individually, rather than in the context of an authoritative faith community, leading to exactly the outcome that Rome feared: the fragmentation of the body of Christ, which had previously had one faith and one baptism. Forgive me if I use an archaic reference to fill out my point: I remember using the phone book to locate churches when we moved briefly to Nashville in the 1980s. There were literally half a dozen pages of just Baptist churches, each (except for the dominant SBC) with different adjectives carefully slotted in front of “Baptist,” let alone many more pages listing churches lacking the word Baptist entirely. I am a child of the Reformation myself, but I cannot accept at least one central aspect, the tendency to magnify differences of theological opinion to matters of life and death–and I mean that literally. I don’t mean to imply that you are doing that as literally as they did; you aren’t. But, please consider that what God knows is not so easily equated with what we think God knows.

II am not inclined to take this further on my end. Nevertheless, I will be sure to read any further thoughts of yours. I greet you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.


(Colin Eakin) #52

Christy,

(1) There is nothing I wrote to you that is contradicted by other portions of Scripture. Yes, the Bible does speak in several ways about what Christ’s death and resurrection accomplished, but none negate the idea that those who derive from the first Adam and his sin–and only those–can be forgiven by the last Adam and His atonement. Paul’s logic is clear and unassailable, and in fact melds perfectly with (as you note) the Davidic Covenant of 2 Sam. 7:12 or the High Priestly accomplishment of Christ as depicted in Hebrews 8-10. The extent of Christ’s atonement is explained and (as you say) limited only by what Paul writes in Romans 5. You can dispute Paul’s argument and his implications, but you are disputing Paul and not me. At some point, his words have to mean what he wrote them to mean.

(2) I am not sure about your comment on the “huge percentage” of Christians throughout history to the present who did not or do not agree with what I wrote to you about the extent of the atonement. I would hope they would agree by the time they got to Romans 5 and read Paul’s argument. I do know that those who are true Christians will have believed the gospel “in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:1-4), of which Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15 are a part. Luther’s comment seems applicable here: “Let miserable men, therefore, cease to impute, with blasphemous perverseness, the darkness and obscurity of their own hearts to the brilliantly clear Scriptures of God.”

I do acknowledge that people can demonstrate saving faith never having read Romans 5 or 1 Corinthians 15, and never having been exposed to Paul’s discussion of the relationship between Adam and Christ and how that relationship, in turn, applies to the extent of the atoning sacrifice. Sinners do not have to know how Christ’s atonement cleanses them of all unrighteousness and reconciles them to God. They just have to trust Christ when He says it is the only manner for that to occur. I tell our students commonly one doesn’t have to have perfect theology for entrance to heaven.

But on the other hand, it concerns me when that theology is presented in a straightforward manner and is further explained, and the reaction is to dismiss it by claiming that it is contradicted in other portions of Scripture–all to maintain a stranglehold on the idea that this Adam wasn’t a real person from whom all subsequent persons descend. At some point it does make me wonder if we are talking about the same Jesus and the same gospel. After all, Paul does say there will be presentations of “another Jesus” and “a different gospel” as the same serpent who conned Eve tries to exert his wiles upon the unsuspecting (2 Cor. 11:4).

Luke in his Gospel writes (Luke 3:38) that his Jesus descended backward from David to Abraham to Adam to God. In fact, he ends his Spirit-inspired genealogy with this wondrous statement: “the son of Adam, the son of God.” Luke believes Jesus is a real person. He believes David and Abraham are real. He believes God is real. Why in the world would he not believe Adam is real? What textual authorization gives one permission to take Adam from this genealogy and impose on this “term” the abstract, figurative idea that the nomenclature is used to represent God’s determination that His image will now rest upon this species? This is eisegesis, not exegesis. This is nothing less than the determination that when Scripture meets “science,” “science” wins, not withstanding all the genuflections to the authority and infallibility of Scripture in the BL
official statements.

(3) Why have I spent all these hours dialoging? Why not just throw up my hands and move on? As I have written elsewhere, it is not my contention that maintaining an evolutionary perspective about creation means one is not a Christian. What it does mean is that one is going to have an increasingly impossible time piecing together all the truth of God’s Word without spiritualizing, allegorizing, or otherwise discarding text after text after text. And if God says we are to be sanctified by His Word (cf. John 17:17), and time and again one is revising His Word to fit erroneous paradigms, then how is one going to be sanctified? How is one going to grow?

It is out of this concern that I have written all that I have to you and Ted and anyone else who would care to read our discussion. No Christian has any business interacting as we have unless one simultaneously solicits the blessing of God for the other, and especially for those believed to be wayward in their doctrine, that He might open their eyes and redirect them toward truth. That is my request from God.

Evolution is, simply stated, a lie from the enemy. Its underpinnings are founded upon unvalidated and therefore illegitimate presuppositions about how the world once worked in a manner which cannot be tested or proven today. It is thus faulty science leading to faulty speculations that then masquerade themselves as “facts.” Most importantly, its implications blatantly contradict what God has plainly written in Scripture, which then leads to a meretricious handling of Scripture ultimately designed to ask the old serpent’s question: “Did God really say…?” My denunciation of evolution and all it portends is solely that you and others who have interacted in these posts might acknowledge the above as true and might then elevate the sufficient, clear, authoritative and necessary Word of God to its rightful place.

At this point, it is my intent to disengage and turn to other tasks. As Ted writes elsewhere, I will read any further comments you might wish to convey. And as he ends elsewhere, I greet you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Colin


When Small-Town Faith Meets Big-City Science: A Personal Reflection
#53

It is nice to know that you are the keeper of True Christianity ™ and that all of those that disagree with your very human interpretation are doomed to what exactly?


(Christy Hemphill) #54

I agree. That is the crux of the issue. And I am disputing you, not Paul, because it is your interpretation of Paul that I think is too narrow and is framed and held hostage by a certain understanding of original sin that came after Paul. When I was talking about Christians throughout history who don’t share your view of the atonement, I was talking about this idea that we all bear the guilt for Adam’s sin and that it is this guilt that is atoned for on the cross. So without Adam’s guilt, Christ’s sacrifice is somehow not sufficient in atoning for the sins of all humanity. I think that is a misconception that Augustine had because Jerome’s Latin translation of the Bible mistranslated Romans 5:12 and implied that all sinned “in Adam.” The concept of federal headship and the biological transmission of a sin nature is heavily influenced by this Augustinian understanding of all of us being guilty of Adam’s sin. Hence the Puritan primers reading “In Adam’s fall, we sinned all.” I’m sure that as someone who has obviously studied and taught theology, this is something you are probably aware of already, I just wanted to remind you of the context I was talking about. I am not a theologian and have no formal seminary training, but I do try to understand where different Christians from different traditions are coming from and I know enough to know that “original guilt” is not a perspective on sin that is held by the entire Church.

I fully affirm the fact that we are all born into a sinful, Adam-human identity and that we need to be born again into a righteous Christ-human identity. As Adam-humans we will all inevitably rebel against God and live out our sinful identity by willfully choosing what is wrong. So, I think it is our own sins that condemn us and need atoning. Death came to everyone, because everyone sinned. No one is righteous not even one. I fully affirm that Christ is the second Adam, a recreation of humanity who was faithful in all the ways Adam and Eve and every other human were unfaithful. I think of Adam and Eve as real people in salvation history, though I think the account of them in Scripture is a theological narrative intended to convey important truths about God and humanity more than it is a historical record of the objective facts of their lives. I have read Al Mohler and Phillip Ryken and Wayne Grudem on this topic and I just have not found their arguments all that convincing when they say that we all have to be biological descendants of Adam and Eve in order to have a coherent soteriology. What other time in salvation history is genetics or genealogy what carries spiritual import or establishes our relationship to God? Throughout the OT, God is constantly choosing people with the wrong genealogy and biological status. Membership in the covenant community was open to foreigners who would abide by the Torah, and God goes out of his way to highlight the part that genealogical “outsiders” play in his story, from Melchizadek to Rahab to Namaan to the Shunammite woman (to mention a few off the top of my head). The theme continues in the gospels where the Samaritan is the good guy of the parable, and the Roman centurion and the Canaanite woman have faith the rightful heirs of Abraham lack. In the NT church, the “grafting in” of the Gentiles as Abraham’s children (without conversion to Judaism) is a major paradigm shift. Even the important NT metaphor about being adopted into God’s own family is a recognition that it is God’s action that matters not, our birth claims to an inheritance. So I have a hard time believing that when Paul wrote Romans, he had anything close to the concept of genetics or genealogy that has been imposed on him by people who see a genetic line from Adam to all of us. Yes, clearly Paul taught that Adam and Eve were the first parents of humanity, but I am not at all convinced that means everything YEC Neo-Calvinists claim it means. Why would a spiritual parenthood need to be biological or genetic when that is not how membership in God’s covenant community works anywhere else in Scripture? We do not need to be physically related to Christ to be in Christ, so why do we need to be related to Adam to be in Adam?

Thank God for that.

This is the kind of thing that makes me wonder why people like me get this kind of reaction from people like you. Are we not on the same team? Today I sat in church in Mexico where I work and heard about how last night in the town square of Caxitepec a few hours drive through the mountains, the newly completed Jesus Film was shown for the first time in Me’phaa of Tlacoapa. The town authorities, some members of the military, and most of the town turned out to hear the gospel in their own language, the story of Jesus in as recorded by Luke. No one explained the technical theological difference between original guilt and original sin, no one argued about the historicity of Adam and Eve, no one hammered home the necessity of a penal substitutionary model of atonement. Those details don’t save people. Saturday they preached Jesus, God who became human and gave his life to make us his own children. And many people repented of their sins and turned to Christ. Making the gospel available to people in their own language is my life’s work, and I have a hard time imagining how it can possibly be construed that I am somehow so corrupted by my acceptance of mainstream science that people wonder if I am capable of presenting the “real Jesus” or participating in the work of the “real gospel.” At what point do you follow Jesus’s advice and judge a tree by its fruit instead of nitpicking the details and definitions that undergird a person’s theological abstractions?

Every month someone comes on and warns me about how reading BioLogos is going to make me lose respect for the Bible until it eventually has no authority over my life and that I have exchanged the truth of God for a lie. I appreciate the concern, but I have been reading BioLogos for ten years now, and yet, here I am, out in the middle of a drug war zone, getting bit by mosquitos that carry dengue and chikungunya and zika, eating food that gives me parasites, going without electricity and running water and indoor plumbing for weeks at a time, all because I really love Jesus, and the Bible, and I want everyone to have the chance to hear and respond to the gospel. If people can’t recognize that it’s the real Jesus and the real gospel that is motivating and empowering me, that is disappointing and a little discouraging, but I have learned not to sweat it too much.

Thank you for the conversation. I do not expect any further response and I fully support the wise choice to prioritize family, work, and every other aspect of real life over arguing with strangers on the internet. :slight_smile:


(George Brooks) #55

@Colin

Please don’t take anything below as a blunt retort to your fine writings on this thread. I am being intentionally concise in order that the discussion doesn’t get shunted into some kind of dead end.

  1. The sheer volume of your responses is not something unique to a person of your theological background. The entire Christian world is filled with people who strongly hold to their views … and who, like you, find it difficult to believe that others hold opposing views.

  2. You are a living exemplar of why BioLogos remains aloof from the theological battles that have brought down many a fine pastor, church and denomination. Haven’t you ever wondered why there is pretty much one Roman Catholic church, and yet hundreds if not thousands of Protestant denominations? It is because it is so easy to for a small devoted group to decide that their particular view of Scripture is different enough from everyone else’s that they think there needs to be a group who very specifically defines the Gospel in a way that no other group does.

  3. Why would you want BioLogos to “pick their favorite view of Gospel”? If the mission of BioLogos is to show how Evolutionary science is compatible with several different interpretations of The Gospel, you can see that BioLogos better serves its mission by not trying to also choose it’s favorite Gospel.

You understand this logic, correct?


#56

I agree with the basic thrust of this article, so my comment here is quite incidental. But I would challenge the statement that “there is broad scholarly agreement that this verse [Gen 1:1] functions as a summary statement for the rest of the chapter.” Even the hyperlink (to John Walton’s NIVAC commentary) does not support this claim. Walton mentions several scholarly options, and then progresses to explain his own view. While I think Walton’s view (assumed by Ted Davis) is possible, it’s not the only credible scholarly view. For example, the view advocated by the NJPS translation has strong support from Hebrew scholars. I just point to the detailed work by Robert Holmstedt (the third link is a response to a question I had raised via email):

As I stated, none of this detracts from Ted’s excellent article.


#57

Just to reiterate and add to points others have made. You apparently don’t understand the Greek verbal system. I suggest you study the Greek aorist and aspect-vs.-tense in general. Also, it’s a well known issue in the Synoptics that one of the differences between otherwise parallel accounts is the variance in verb tenses. Thus, your claim that “exactness” in verb tenses is important is dead on arrival.


(Brad Kramer) #58

Hi @KJTurner! Great to see you here again. I’m the one who contributed this particular sentence to Ted’s article, so I’ll take the blame for any inaccuracies. I’ll say up front that I have no scholarly credentials other than my MDiv, which included a master’s thesis on Genesis 1:1-3. So I’m fully aware of my presumptuousness in defending my wording to an actual OT scholar such as yourself. But with that in mind, here goes…

My impression from my seminary research was that interpreters are basically split as to whether Genesis 1:1 is an independent clause or a dependent clause. (For the benefit of other readers, the dependent clause interpretation would mean that 1:1 should be read as, “When God began to create the heavens and the earth…”.) The scholar you link above seems to fall more in the dependent clause camp (although I confess my Hebrew is pretty terrible and I didn’t follow the technical discussion very well).

However, in neither case (independent or dependent) does 1:1 describe a separate act of creation—and that was the point I was trying to communicate. If it’s an independent clause, then it’s functioning as a pseudo-toledot heading of sorts. If it’s a dependent clause, then it’s a chronological marker rather than a separate act. And in both cases, bereshith bara elohim (“in the beginning God created”) applies to the whole of the creation week, especially given the merism hashamayim wa’et haeretz (“heavens and earth”), which wouldn’t make any sense as a separate, initial creation event. This seems to be the thrust of Holmstedt’s post as well.

In other words, I think we agree with each other, and I just sloppily worded the sentence in question. I have a lot of respect for your scholarship, so I’d be more than happy to consider an alternative wording of that sentence in @TedDavis’s piece if you can suggest one.


#59

@BradKramer I agree we agree in the big picture. Either way “the beginning” is a a period of time rather than a point event. There are actually about four main ways to connect all the clauses in Genesis 1:1-3. I’ll spare you the details. But Gregg @davidson And I are writing a book together on Genesis 1 for Kregel where I’ll outline the options. Maybe I can write up an article for BioLogos down the road.

Perhaps the more interesting observation is that on your or my reading, v.2 describes the state of affairs before whatever v. 1. Is describing.


(Brad Kramer) #60

Thanks for the reply. Would it be more accurate to say, “there is broad scholarly agreement that the phrase ‘in the beginning’ in Genesis 1:1 refers to the whole period of creation rather than an initial event” ? [quote=“KJTurner, post:59, topic:37280”]
Perhaps the more interesting observation is that on your or my reading, v.2 describes the state of affairs before whatever v. 1. Is describing.
[/quote]

I am baffled as to why there isn’t more conversation about this, given that it offers a significant challenge to the “ex nihilo” readings of Genesis 1 (I believe in ex nihilo, but I don’t think you can get it from Genesis 1 in a clean fashion). I also think there’s a lot of implications here for discussions on theodicy, but that’s for another time…[quote=“KJTurner, post:59, topic:37280”]
But Gregg @davidson And I are writing a book together on Genesis 1 for Kregel where I’ll outline the options
[/quote]

That sounds like a great book! Can’t wait to read it.


#61

No that would not be accurate b/c in Holmstedt’s reading (cf. NJPS) “the beginning” is an initial period pointing to the start of creation in v.3. It’s more accurate to say that th general consensus is that the creation of “heavens and earth” in v. 1 is the account of the six days in vv. 3-31. Verse 2 seems clearly “prior.” I agree with you about ex nihilo…but that’s not necessarily a consensus position.

Actually I’m a bit timid to say “consensus” and Genesis 1 in the same sentence! :slight_smile:


(Brad Kramer) #62

So Jesus’s quotation of Genesis just has a hidden ellipsis in it? Otherwise I don’t know how to make sense of his quotation.


#63

Perhaps. Or maybe Jesus’ “beginning” isn’t Gen 1:1 but just something more general, like the beginning of the story, of his Bible.


(Albert Leo) #64

[quote=“Colin, post:24, topic:37280”]
There is an unsubstantiated presumption to your comment that “God initiated physical creation to unfold over long periods of time.” How is that provable?

[Al Leo] It isn’t provable. A god that is provable by science is not one I would want to worship. As a spirit, my God must be approached through the spiritual nature that He bequeathed to me–thru metaphysics, if you will.

Probably you are stating what many (most?) evangelical Christians believe: that God inspired the authors of Scripture two millennia ago to impart this information to all humans who followed but choses NOT to continue to do so in modern times. I disagree. I am in much closer agreement with Chardin who saw that a belief in evolution could inspire humanity to accept their conscious role as co-creators of a continually evolving Universe–a Universe inevitably destined to return to its source, Omega.
Al Leo


(Colin Eakin) #65

George,

I was intending to move on but your question deserves a response.

When Christ began His earthly ministry, He proclaims (Mark 1:15), “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of heaven is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” Not a gospel. Not “take your pick among the various gospel options My adversary is dangling about you.” No, Jesus uses the definite article because He knows there is the one, true gospel that saves, among a variety of counterfeits.

The Apostle Paul knew there was one true gospel, and was so convinced of this that he became apoplectic when his spiritual children in Asia Minor strayed in their absolute adherence to it (Gal. 3:1). He was so irate at those who would alter that one, true gospel by adding a little human contribution to what saves the sinner that he damned such teachers to hell (Gal. 1:6-8). That is the attitude and language of someone who is certain there is one gospel to believe among an onslaught of evil options.

You ask why should Biologos choose one particular gospel? Here’s the best reason: because all those who believe any gospel other than the one true gospel are going to be subject to the wrath of Christ Himself when He returns with His mighty angels (2 Thess. 1:8), “in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” Again, there’s that definite article. It seems Jesus will be pretty worked up against those who miss what that one gospel is.

This last example shows why it is actually blasphemous to imply there are multiple competing gospels in Scripture of equal weight and imperceptible if any substantive differences. Why? Because the Bible says (Ps. 19:9), “the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.” How could that possibly be true if His gospel is veiled in any way? After all, He has promised to destroy those who do not believe and obey the true gospel when He returns. How righteous and just is the Judge who promises this retribution for failing to believe this particular gospel, and then makes it hard to know exactly what that gospel is? To hold that there are many optional forms of the gospel which might be chosen and embraced, all acceptable before God, is to call God a liar (for using the definite article when He writes about the gospel) and unjust (for throwing those who don’t know and believe it into hell).

The one true gospel is “the power of God for the salvation of all who believe, first for the Jew, then for the Greek.” It says the problem with the world is sin; that the answer to sin is the Savior; that the response to the Savior is surrender; and that the reward for surrender is salvation. Every true believer from the time of Christ’s earthy ministry until today has believed and been saved by this one true gospel. This is not my particular view of Scripture. This is the view that God has made plainly manifest on the pages of His Word.

If Biologos is desiring, as you suggest, “to show how evolutionary ‘science’ is compatible with several different interpretations of the gospel,” its mission is not only its own but the enemy’s as well.

Colin


(Brad Kramer) #67

OK, let me try again. How about, instead,

“There is broad scholarly consensus that Genesis 1:1 has an introductory purpose, and that the creation of the heavens and the earth is the subject of the whole chapter, not just the first verse.”