Have theistic evolution leaders/proponents ever responded to the claim they are "heretics"/teaching heresy (looking for links, etc)?

The further down this path I go and the more it makes sense to me (theistic evolution), the more I read/hear of YEC who call those who support this as heretics, or even consider this as a possibility (which is where I land, I lean this way, but not saying definitively, if that makes sense, I just don’t see how evolution is a salvation issue/deal breaker, not at all, and the only ones I see saying that tend to be YEC). Have any leaders in this (thinking Francis Collins, Tim Keller (the ones I am most familiar with), etc. addressed the accusations that they are heretics, or teaching heretical thinking? I see quite a bit from the opposing view, but not much from theistic evolutionists about being accused of being heretics.

I was reading on social media today for a pastor I follow on Facebook, who has been fairly reasoned on a lot of topics, and was promoting a video series , Is Genesis history? , which on the surface looked interesting, until I read the descriptor he posted, and without naming Keller, said that a founding member of the Gospel Coalition (personally not a big fan of them), of Redeemer Church, is a theistic evolutionist and a heretic. And further that those that teach theistic evolution are heretics. Just surprised me to see someone I have found to be reasoned, be so dogmatic to label someone a heretic.

Yes, unfortunately I know Christians who would say similar things. Perhaps some of those who say these things are heavily tuned in to hardcore YEC organizations and simply repeating what they hear, but it depends on the person. Tim Keller strikes me as a person who is mature enough to not devote a lot of time to publicly defending himself from criticism of this kind, though I’m sure he’s had plenty of more personal conversations about it. I have never read “The Reason for God,” but if he defends evolutionary creationism anywhere that’s where I’d most expect to find it.

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Thanks Laura! It is on my reading list, already sitting on my pile, so perhaps when I finish what I am reading now, will get into that.

If anything, the more I see Christians attack another’s point of view lately, the less likely I am to take them seriously. If anything the heresy claims, seem to provide more support to those who believe in theistic evolution.

Yeah, I feel the same way. It’s one thing to disagree, but to come out with labels like that sounds a lot more self-righteous to me now than it would have before. Of course, I used to believe similarly so I can’t point too many fingers!

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Describing a person’s belief as ‘heresy’ is one thing. Describing the person themselves as a ‘heretic’ is at quite another level.

If a variant of that word is in the conversation, then the motto “hate the sin, but love the sinner” is worth bearing in mind.

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Honestly, you only have to defend yourself from heresy charges if you still want to belong in the group. Obviously they are aware of the name-calling. (Darrel Falk kind of embraced it in his book with YEC Todd Wood, The Fool and the Heretic.) The arguments usually go something like, “You don’t believe X Y Z, therefore you are a heretic.” Well, it’s one thing if you do believe it, but if you don’t, then what are you supposed to do? I’ve seen a lot more defense from the EC crowd when they are accused of “having a low view of Scripture” or “letting science trump the Bible” or “putting more faith in science than God,” or “explaining away all the miracles in the Bible” i.e. things they would deny. But if the allegation is “You accept evolution, so you are a heretic,” what is there to defend? Obviously they have a different view of orthodoxy.

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Thank you for all the input everyone! Very helpful!

One man’s heretic is another man’s orthodox. Or heretic… To me theistic evolution is heresy from evolution : ) And I double down on accusations of heresy. Yes I’m heretic from fundamentalism, Biblicism, the historical-grammatical hermeneutic. I’m orthodox to having the highest possible view of Scripture; it speaks of our yearning up, to, with God yearning up, with, in us despite its human feet in the ancient blood mired clay. Particularly in the early letters of Paul which testify to the thriving Church within a few years of its core claim; incarnation.

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I imagine if you searched for any writer or blogger of theistic evolution and search that with false teacher and ect… you’ll find plenty who have been attacked and then search for responses. I see it often on blogs but never tried to keep up on it. Even a few times in here I’ve seen similar thoughts from people that we took the bible to loosely and placed man made beliefs over gods word and ect…

Here’s one response from a theistic evolutionist…

Creationism is another American pseudo-Christian heresy like Mormonism and Jehovah Witnesses. They contradict the Bible just because they don’t like science and want to pretend that science is contradicted by the Bible even if they have to rewrite the Bible to make it do so. The Flat Earth people are more Biblical than the creationists. Though both groups are rather logically similar: One simply limits reality is a small portion of time and the other limits reality to a small portion of space. Their excuse is the limited awareness of the extent of time and space displayed in the Bible, which is absurd, as if galaxies, electrons, computers, and cats do not exist just because the Bible doesn’t mention them.

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There is a word for people who denounce facts as heresy.

The word in question is “cult.”

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For those interested, Tim Challies has a long sponsored post on his website promoting ‘Is Genesis History’. It is hard to know whether the post was written by him or by the IGH promo team. On one level I guess it is irrelevant since paid promotion = endorsement.

Here is the Link:

I was shocked to read several things.

First under the heading “Genesis is the solution for our culture” (a shocking claim in itself!) we read:

Or consider climate change/global warming: if God told Noah after the Flood He would never destroy the earth again with water, and that seasons (i.e., the climate) would remain the same for seedtime and harvest, then there’s no need to fear any future climate issues.

Equally shocking was the entire third section (quoted in full below):

3. Genesis is being Reinterpreted by Evolutionists

There is an influential movement today that many Christians are unaware of. Its goal is to re-introduce Darwinian evolution into Christian theology. This idea is called ‘theistic evolution’ or ‘evolutionary creation . The primary group pushing this view is Biologos. On its website, it has a lot of well-known Christians and thinkers (many of whom I respect) saying good things about it.

The organization is teaching heresy. It was seen to be heresy back in the 19th century when Asa Gray, an American scientist, and friend of Charles Darwin, tried to take Darwin’s new history of the world and use it to reinterpret Genesis.

Darwin didn’t think this was possible. After all, the whole point of his theory was to replace the Genesis account. Nevertheless, some theologians and scientists have tried to merge the two histories and attempt to hold onto the gospel.

It is the devil’s delusion. Here are some of the heresies that theistic evolutionists promote that contradict the Biblical account:

  • There were hundreds of millions of years of death in the world before Adam sinned;
  • The creation has always been subject to corruption;
  • Adam and Eve were just two hominids out of group of hominid-type creatures that pre-dated them by hundreds of thousands of years;
  • There are no unique created kinds since everything goes back to a common bacterial ancestor;
  • God used evolution (which progresses through killing off the unfit) as the primary way to create everything we see.

Clearly, this is a completely different history of the world than the one taught in Genesis. Biologos is well-funded and spends a lot of money trying to influence pastors and seminary students. But it is dangerous: not only is it teaching bad theology, but it is also presenting unsound scientific theories.


There is much there to talk about, I simply want to make a comment about Tim’s use of the word ‘heresy’. Technically speaking, a heresy is a belief held or taught that puts someone outside of realms of salvation and has the same effect for those who adopt the position themselves (Think, Galatian heresy, and Ephesian eeresy, or 2 Peter 2:1). Which means far from simply saying ‘You are wrong’ or ‘You’re a false teacher’, calling someone a heretic is akin to damming them and all of their followers to hell for which the only escape is to recant and repent of the supposed heretical theology.

This is an extremely serious accusation to make; not to mention divisive and damaging if deployed too carelessly. It is essentially saying that an EC:

  1. is not a Christian,
  2. should be stripped of all church leadership/teaching responsibilities
  3. Face church discipline if they refuse to repent.

Worse still, the phrase is often used as a form of ideological inoculation. Once some accepts that ‘View X’ is heretical they no longer need to think about it for themselves. Neither do they need to seriously engage with someone that holds said view (why would they, they already know it is wrong!). No matter what evidence or arguments are marshalled in favour of view X they need only draw their theological Excalibur and strike down it down as the heresy it is.

I benefited so much from Tim Challies’ ministry over the years. He’s made comments about reading Genesis literally and his views on evolution before, but never to this extent. Sad times… :slightly_frowning_face:

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To clarify, that wasn’t a direct reply to you @jammycakes (or anyone else), I meant to post it as a general reply. :man_facepalming:t2:

John MacArthur uses the same argument against global warming that you cited from Tim Challies


It is upsetting to hear famous pastors speak this way
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Thanks for reposting that @LM77, that was the post I saw/read and had the same thoughts. A lot of what Tim said has resonated with me as well, and this is disappointing. It’s interesting the reform guys never seem to call out Tim Keller (on view about evolution) who is fairly reform (member of the gospel coalition, etc, so I assume so), but clearly disagree with him on that.

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You’re welcome :slight_smile:

They have in the past it seems but not so much of late. I’d also say that Tim Keller is a fully-blooded Reformed since he is an ordained Presbyterian ministry required to hold to the Westminister Confession of Faith.

On an aside, I don’t actually know where Tim Keller stands on the issue of evolution… I know he has done stuff for BioLogos in the past and is sympathetic to evolution as a genuine option for Christians. But do we have Tim Keller on record saying, “I am an evolutionary Christianist” as say, Tremper Longman has? Perhaps @jstump, @Kathryn_Applegate or @HRankin might be able to shed some light on that for us?

Thanks @LM77 very interesting, I did not know that!

I think Keller has said he is for theistic evolution, which I did not realize was different then evolution, but I am still leaning about this perspective believers have.

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No, Keller has not, to my knowledge, ever called himself an evolutionary creationist or theistic evolutionist. He is sympathetic to our work, but thinks it is “non-negotiable” that Christians believe Adam and Eve were specially created, not created through an evolutionary process. Of course long-term readers of this Forum will be aware that there are lots of proposal for how you can have an Adam and Eve, and common ancestry. But I’ve never seen Keller say “yep, that’s what I believe” with regard to any of them.

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thanks for the clarification @jstump, I wasn’t sure!

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Ditto. Thanks, @jstump .

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