George is not a big fan of Tim Keller

Reading Keller’s writings (I’m just getting through his 2nd of a two part series) - -

    • I am not at all impressed with his friendliness towards BioLogos - - unless there is some newer writings that show some kind of “evolution” (pun intended!).

He seems “locked into” the magical view that because of Adam’s sin, the whole Universe suffers.

Here are a few paragraphs:

“The result of the Fall, however, was ‘spiritual death’, something that no being in the world had known, because no one had ever been in the image of God. Human beings became, at the same time, capable of far greater and far worse things than any other creatures. We now die eternally when we die physically. And since we are now alienated from God, the world is under the power of the forces of darkness in a way that would not have occurred without the fall.

“The physical world now ‘groans’ under disintegration because human beings have failed to be God’s stewards of creation. Greater ‘natural evil’ is combined with human, moral evil to create a dark, chaotic world indeed.”

The world will finally be renewed, and become all it was designed to be (Romans 8:19-23), only when we finally become all we should be through the work of the Second Adam (1 Cor 15:42-45.)"

This is just my personal view, but I really don’t see how anyone can pull Keller back from his terrifying view of the Universe that has become an abyss of evil and horror.

That’s not a magical view, that is the Reformed view and many Evangelicals who wouldn’t even consider themselves all that Reformed embrace it.

The universe is not an abyss of evil and horror in that view, because Jesus is victorious and all things will be made new.


Okay, taking my life in my hands and challenging Dr. Ted to a duel. (Maybe I am unarmed, but I have taken a deep breath. haha)

I think there is a connection between human rights and the Bible/Christian theology, but it has nothing to do with evolution or biology. Simply put, the impartiality of God’s justice in the Bible is the source of our Western ideal of equal standing before the law. Discuss …

File this one under “George discovers something that most Christians believe and reacts strongly because he finds it personally distasteful.”

As Christy has pointed out, Keller’s understanding of sin and salvation is normative of most Evangelicals, including most in the BioLogos camp. As Christy also pointed out, there are ways of understanding Keller’s theology that aren’t as ghastly as your own wording.



I’m not sure I follow you.

First, If you read Keller’s paragraph, the Universe is an abyss of evil and horror.

Secondly, just because the Reformed view embraces this description does not remove the “magical” or “miraculous” aspect of the scenario:

Adam & Eve eat from the Tree of Life…

And suddenly herbivores begin to eat meat? Natural evils like floods and hurricanes take lives, and so forth.

If anything, showing how God uses evolutionary processes to accomplish his end helps a Christian distance himself from such Instantaneous Cosmic Chaos. The Universe is chaotic, and has been since the Big Bang … but there are pockets of order, and the Cosmos (even with chaos) is still a wondrous place!


Now, Brad …

This view of the Cosmos, in and of itself, is not a discovery for me. The discovery for me is finding out that there are Christian Evolutionists who think the intrinsic nature of the Universe suddenly changed when Adam & Eve sinned.

I had thought this was almost always a YEC viewpoint… but the reaction to my earlier posting has certainly clarified the matter for me!

I would hazard a guess that as long as this kind of view remains intact, such a person will find nothing interesting about BioLogos.

But naturally, @BradKramer, I would be interested in how BioLogos thinks it can reach people with this view.

Just for clarification . . .

How is it that man could corrupt God’s creation? It would seem to imply that man and/or evil is more powerful than God, or God intended for the creation to be corrupted from the start if were to take a more Calvinist approach. How does Keller’s theology handle this issue?

Jay, offering a different view is hardly a duel–at least, I hope not. I’m always open to persuasion.

I like your point, Jay. Perhaps that’s true–I don’t know the history you summarize briefly here. If you care to develop it more fully, I’m all ears.

The key word in my statement is “necessary.” I’ve encountered many very attractive theological claims throughout Christian history, but I can’t think of a claim about human rights that I would say amounts to a necessary connection, where if you believe A, then you are going to conclude B. Too many things can derail such alleged connections, in my experience as an historian of Christianity and science. (I know very little about legal history, the domain of your claim unless I’m understanding it. I’d love to know more.)

For example, almost all theologians of any persuasion rightly emphasize that humans are made “in the image of God,” which sounds highly positive and from which affirmation Christians have concluded a lot of very good things. I’m wholly on board with that, but I have yet to learn what the image of God actually means, with sufficient clarity and conviction that it would have a specific necessary consequence(s). That’s b/c (a) the Bible doesn’t spell out what the image of God is (it says only that we bear it and implies that other creatures don’t); and (b) theologians and others who affirm it differ quite widely on what they think it means. So, e.g., it could mean that we are “co-creators” with God; it could mean that we have “eternal souls,” an idea that I regard as more Greek than biblical (even though a biblical case can be made for it); it could mean that we are moral agents. It could mean all of those things, or none of those things. Following the late John Stek (a Reformed scholar), I think it means (in context of the Ancient Near East) that we are appointed to be God’s royal stewards. I’m not saying that each of those notions is inconsistent with the others, but I am saying that they would imply different things. To the extent that the best interpreters are likely to differ on the specific meaning of the image of God, to that extent they are likely to differ on what the consequences are for us of bearing that image.

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He didn’t take my life in our last conversation. But I don’t think Ted and I ever finished our offline discussion … maybe I’m a “dead man walking”…

You are projecting YEC/AIG views onto Keller. He was basically just recapping Romans 5 and 8. Romans 8 is one of the most hopeful passages of the Bible. The focus is not on creation’s frustration, but on its future liberation and redemption.

The idea that nature suffers because of a cosmic battle between good and evil is not “magical,” it is supernatural. I freely admit to having a worldview that allows for supernatural realities intersecting with natural realities. Ever read Madeleine L’Engle sci-fi when you were a kid? She was no YEC Evangelical Fundamentalist, she was Episcopalian, but in her books Earth is a “shadowed planet.” That’s how I think of things. This is a pretty standard doctrine.

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I certainly agree that a cosmic battle between good and evil is supernatural.

The reason I nudged it over into the smaller bucket of “magical” (inside the bigger bucket of “supernatural”) is because of the notion that Adam’s decision affected the whole Universe, and instantaneously so!

Let’s read just these few sentences:

"And since we are now alienated from God, the world is under the power of the forces of darkness in a way that would not have occurred without the fall. The physical world now ‘groans’ under disintegration because human beings have failed to be God’s stewards of creation. "

I do struggle with the idea that a person who can write these words can ever accept the role of Evolutionary processes in the animal world … unless you somehow get him to agree that “evolutionary processes are tools of both God and Satan”.

Now that would be quite the conversation!

[quote]I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.[/quote]

Keller is borrowing Paul’s words. Human rebellion affected earth on a cosmic level. Humans have failed to be God’s stewards in the past, but God’s children are also the hope of creation in the future. Nowhere is Keller saying Adam’s sin broke creation. It ushered in a spiritual darkness that overshadows the natural world in some ways. And “the Fall” is shorthand for a lot of theological concepts, (human rebellion against God, alienation from God, spiritual death) it is not necessarily referring to a single act of Adam and Eve eating forbidden fruit in a garden that resulted in a fundamental reordering of nature by God. When many people talk about the Fall they are focusing on an ongoing condition, not an event.

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Hmmm. I don’t know if what I’m thinking fulfills the “necessary” condition. Let’s see, that makes the cumulative score Dr. Ted - 50, Jay - 0. But I’m starting a comeback …

I’m not really thinking of anything more than the grand sweep of Western history, and the fact that our culture owes its ideas about the worth of the individual to our common Christian heritage. As G.K. Chesterton put it,

“Christianity preaches an unattractive idea, original sin. But when we wait for the results of the doctrine of original sin, we find they are pathos and brotherhood and a thunder of laughter and pity, for only with original sin can we pity the beggar and distrust the king.”

“Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly” (Lev. 19:15, just a few verses before “love thy neighbor …”).

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Chesterton is wonderful! Always helping me see things I should have seen before. Original sin is one of the great Christian truths, but (as with the imago dei) there are multiple ways to understand it. If we mean simply that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, I think that’s incontestably true. If, however, we mean that I sin directly b/c Adam & Eve sinned first, I am not fully convinced of that reading of Scripture. I would say more that we sin with Adam than in Adam: that the sin of our first parents was theirs, not mine, and that I have plenty of sin myself to answer for. Robin Collins explained it that way here:

Either way, of course, my status as a sinner is a fact, and ditto Christ’s status as my Redeemer.

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As I’ve mentioned in some other threads (no doubt, at great annoyance to many), there are millions of Christians who agree with your position - - and they are found in the varied communities within the Eastern Orthodox devotion.

While mileage will vary, the great majority of Eastern Orthodox blogs that I have visited and reviewed (on the topic of Original Sin) can be paraphrased that Adam was the first sinner, but all humans bear the guilt of their own sin - - by sharing the human propensity to sin delivered to each human by birth due to their being Humans - - not because Adam transmitted the “sin itself” to the following generations.

When discribed in this way, it becomes easier to tweeze apart the contributing elements:
a. all humans are delivered a soul from God the creator.
b. not a single human soul (with the exception of Jesus) is able to defy the internal flaws of mortal flesh to avoid sin of one kind or another.
c. Adam & Eve are not the cause; they were the first exemplars.

Because God gave dominion to mankind over Creation.

Would it also be accurate to say that God knew that man might corrupt the creation if given dominion over it?

Just to be clear, these aren’t gotcha questions. I’m trying to understand what this theological position is, and I am not trying to argue against.

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