Theistic Evolution: A Hermeneutical Trojan Horse
I have been interested to follow the web reaction to Dr. Bruce Waltke's resignation from RTS for his Biologos video insisting that evangelicals must accept evolution or be considered a "cult", especially that which lambasts those who would criticize scholars of such eminence as Dr. Waltke. There are, however, some features of Waltke's video, as with Dr. Enns' articles on Paul and Adam, that counter this sentiment. Most significant is the fact that neither of these Old Testament scholars base their arguments on the Old Testament at all. Rather, their claims are based on evidence from outside of their academic competence - science and archaeology - and only then do they turn to the Bible, seeking to harmonize Scripture with the scientific orthodoxy. This is, in fact, the true issue that has people like me so concerned: our supposedly eminent Bible scholars are now going on record to say that we must subordinate the authority of Scripture to the higher and more objective standard of secular science.
Some will respond that the Bible does not make scientific claims and therefore we should not be biblically dogmatic when it comes to this topic. But what about history? Isn't the creation account a record of history? Is the question of the historicity of Adam and Eve a matter of science, but not of history? Further, is it not true that evolution makes not merely scientific but also historical demands? And can the Bible's theology be true if the historical events on which the theology is based are false?
Consider the reasoning in Dr. Enns' most recent blog post on Paul and Adam, in which he openly bases his argument on the superiority of secular science to the historical claims of the Bible. Enns admits that "For Paul, Adam and Eve were the parents of the human race." Well, that settles it, doesn't it? No, it does not. Assessing our ability to grant the Bible superior historical authority, Enns writes, "This is possible but not satisfying for those familiar with either the scientific or archaeological data." He concludes that to accept the Bible's historical claims over against those of secular science is "unrealistic and wrong." Citing the examples of Alister McGrath and Wheaton College's John Walton, Enns states that the only alternative is to admit that "we have all left 'Paul's Adam.'" He admits that, no longer able simply to believe the Bible's historical claims, we are left with "creating Adam" on our own "in an effort to reconcile Scripture and the modern understanding of human origins."
Let me offer these observations:
1. Neither Enns nor Waltke presents his argument for evolution (both) and against a historical Adam and Eve (Enns) as a result of biblical reflection. In both cases, the argument stems from the conviction that where secular science speaks to history, it must be accorded a superior authority to the Bible. The Bible must be "reconciled" to accommodate the claims of secular science and archaeology. Any biblical reflection is offered after the history has been decided by secular orthodoxy.
2. To my knowledge, both Drs. Waltke and Enns affirm the divine authorship and inspiration of Scripture. But their arguments evacuate divine authority of any real significance in our interpretation of Scripture. Simply put, if "God spoke through the prophets" (Heb. 1:1) so as to be the source of the Bible's historical claims, then no consensus of human scientists can be presumed to have a greater knowledge than the omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent Creator. Yet Enns assures us that it is "unrealistic" and "wrong" to grant Scripture a higher authority on its historical claims. Waltke tells us that we must be considered cultists unless we adopt a theology of creation alien to that of the Bible. So I ask: in their view, what positive contribution does our doctrine of inspiration and divine authorship make to the interpretation of the Bible? The answer, as Enns has put it in earlier writings, amounts to a Kantian situation where the history is human and the theology is divine. In this case, to be a Christian is no longer to believe the historical facts of the Bible but only theological inferences drawn from myths.
3. Lastly, I am astonished by the naivete of these scholars. Do they think they can restrict the hegemony of science over Scripture to the realm of creation issues? What will science make of the virgin birth, the miracles of Jesus, and the resurrection? The 20th Century gives us the answer. Moreover, do they think they can avoid worldly scorn merely by jettisoning biblical creation, while still holding to even more obnoxious doctrines like substitutionary atonement? The hermeneutics behind theistic evolution are a Trojan horse that, once inside our gates, must cause the entire fortress of Christian belief to fall under the humanistic sword.*
*P.S. This seems to be the opinion of at least some jubilant atheists, as seen here.
reformation21 is the online magazine of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. It is supported only by its readers and gracious Christians like you. Please prayerfully consider supporting reformation21 and the mission of the Alliance. Please donate here.
- God's Ambassadors: The Westminster Assembly as Candidates and Credentials Committee
- The Real John Knox
- Praying for Heretics: Irenaeus of Lyons' First Prayer for the Gnostics
- God's Ambassadors: The Westminster Assembly and the Reform of the English Pulpit, 1643-1653
- Ressourcement: Irenaeus of Lyons and His Answer to the Hyper-Spirituality of Gnosticism