Hard Truths For Theistic Evolutionists [1]

creation_thumb[3]God’s Character and the Doctrine of Inspiration

Theistic evolution has emerged in recent years as the “go to” explanation that attempts to accommodate the historical narrative of Genesis with the evolutionary theory of life. Even though theistic evolutionary proponents claim to uphold the inspiration of the Bible, they typically undermine its integrity by yielding to so-called scientific conclusions thus diminishing the authority of God’s Word.

Biologos is the primary mouthpiece popularizing and disseminating theistic evolutionary propaganda to the general pubic.  Under the “Questions” page the curators summarize their position by differentiating theistic evolution from atheistic evolution, intelligent design, and creationism, by writing,

Theism is the belief in a God who cares for and interacts with the creation. Theistic Evolution, therefore, is the belief that evolution is the way by which God created life.

On the webpage where the Biologos Foundation outlines what they are about and what they believe as a group, they write under point 1,

We believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. We also believe that evolution, properly understood, best describes God’s work of creation [emphasis mine].

Here we read a clear statement from the Biologos Foundation affirming a devotion to the inspiration of the Scriptures, and that is important to note, because the Bible specifically defines for us the word “inspiration.” In 2 Timothy 3:16, 17, Paul writes, All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 

The word translated in our English Bibles as “inspiration” is a Greek word meaning “God breathed.” Some English translations even render the word as “God breathed.” In other words, Paul is saying the Bible – the Scriptures – is a written, divine revelation directly from God.

Paul goes on to identify the effectual nature of Scripture. It is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness. Now, the constituency of Biologos would argue Paul’s description of Scripture pertains only to moral issues of a spiritual nature. The daily issues a pastor will encounter when shepherding the Church of God. Hence, when the Bible addresses ethics, morals, and spiritual values of the Christian life, it is a reliable source of information. When the Bible addresses physical reality, however, areas of the world where modern day scientific theory attempts to assert itself as the dominant authority, it isn’t particularly useful and in some instances may be mistaken.

But, if the whole of Scripture is, as Paul describes, God-breathed, then such would imply the whole of Scripture is invested with a uniquely divine authority. The Scriptures, being breathed out by God, would certainly bear the qualities of God’s attributes. The most important of those attributes as it pertains to Scripture is God’s truthfulness. In God dwells all truth.

The Scriptures themselves repeatedly declare God is the source of all truth. For example, Deuteronomy 32:4 says God is called A God of truth. Psalm 31:5 states the same thing about God. Through out the Scriptures, the Word of God is called God’s truth and to obey God’s Word or to keep His law is equated to obeying the Truth. See for example Psalm 86:11 which says, Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name. Also, Psalm 119 describes God’s Word as truth and obedience to His Word by believers as “walking in truth” five times in verses 30, 43, 142, and 160. Those are just a smattering of passages from the OT.

The NT states the same thing about God’s Word. Jesus, in John’s gospel, calls Himself the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). When He prays to the Father, Jesus says God’s Word is truth and that truth sanctifies the believer (John 17:17, 19). The Holy Spirit is called a “Spirit of Truth” in John 14:17 and 15:26. It is also important to note that “walking in light” is seen as walking in truth and is contrasted to “walking in darkness” which is described as error or deception.

Several more passages in both the OT and the NT could be considered, but it is clear the Bible identifies God and His Word as being “the truth,” and it is “truth” identified with God’s character.

So. When God breathes out His revelation it will always be truthful in all the matters it addresses. That can be the only possible conclusion one can draw from Scripture if we take it seriously as a divinely given document. If the Bible is God-breathed and, as its own pages proclaim, it is truthful, then it has to be without error because being by its very nature God-breathed, the Bible is invested with God’s character which is truth.

Returning back to Paul’s words to Timothy, the apostles states “all Scripture” is God-breathed. “All” means more that just those things only pertaining to spiritual or moral values. That means God’s Word is without error when it speaks to physical reality and historical matters. There isn’t a dichotomy within Scripture where some is God-breathed and other portions are not.

In other words, God’s Word cannot be God-breathed yet filled with error or deception at the same time. It cannot be both inspired yet errant. If Scripture is inspired or God-breathed it has to be inerrant and infallible in all that it addresses both in spiritual matters and physical and historical matters.

The presence of any error in the Bible with regards to physical matters (read “science”) and historical matters (read “origins”) would impugn God’s character with either intentional deception or making a series of mistakes. If either one of those scenarios are true the Bible could no longer be confidently believed as trustworthy or said to be infallible.

The drafters of the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy recognized inspiration and inerrancy are wed together as one in the historic orthodox doctrine of Scripture. Those two doctrines stand or fall together and cannot be separated. Under article 11, the drafters state,

We affirm that Scripture, having been given by divine inspiration, is infallible, so that, far from misleading us, it is true and reliable in all the matters it addresses.

We deny that it is possible for the Bible to be at the same time infallible and errant in its assertions. Infallibility and inerrancy may be distinguished but not separated.

and under article 12 they write,

We affirm that Scripture in its entirety is inerrant, being free from all falsehood, fraud, or deceit.

We deny that biblical infallibility and inerrancy are limited to spiritual, religious, or redemptive themes, exclusive of assertions in fields of history and science. We further deny that scientific hypotheses about earth history may properly be used to overturn the teaching of Scripture on creaton and the flood.

Even though the folks at Biologos claim they affirm a high view of Scripture, they regrettably reject the unity of inspiration and inerrancy in the one orthodox doctrine of Scripture. Though they say they believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God, they reject inerrancy. They are acknowledging an inspired, but errant Bible, especially when it addresses the subjects of our World’s creation and man’s origins.

One has to wonder if theistic evolutionists recognize how their position speaks against the character of God. They are unintentionally saying that God breathed out a divine revelation that was inscripturated in the Bible, but what God revealed was misleading, deceptive, or mistaken.

If theistic evolutionists insist they believe in a divine, sovereign God and that the Bible is inspired, I would expect them to explain the numerous theological problems their position creates. The disconnect between an inspired, yet errant Bible and God’s character being just the first among many. In a handful of up-coming posts, my objective will be to highlight those problems and consider whether theistic evolution really reflects a high view of God, let alone a high view of Scripture.

What I have seen so far from theistic evolutionists, particularly the people at Biologos, is unbelief. A full out denial of Christian orthodoxy. In a manner of speaking, it is a form of stealth atheism.

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12 thoughts on “Hard Truths For Theistic Evolutionists [1]

  1. Pingback: The Daily Discovery (September 30, 2014) - Entreating Favor

  2. Fred,

    As I read the BioLogos website, I don’t actually see them affirming anywhere that the Bible is indeed ‘errant.’ While they don’t come out in affirmation of the Chicago Statement, they do nonetheless display a reluctance to say that the Bible errs. Here’s one example from one of their FAQs about Scripture and Science:

    “What do we do when the results of science disagree with common biblical interpretations? One response is to say that the Bible is right and science is wrong; the Bible, after all, is more important to the Christian. This response, however, forgets that the Bible is always interpreted, and elevates a particular biblical interpretation to the authority of the Bible itself. It also discounts God’s revelation to us in the natural world, rather than listening to what science has learned about it.

    Another response is to say that science is right and the Bible is wrong. This response, however, says that the Bible itself is in error, rather than that a particular interpretation is incorrect. It also elevates scientific knowledge as the best type of knowledge, even though science is ill-equipped to answer questions about ancient texts.” (emphasis added)

    Notice what’s happened here: the BioLogos team says that when when science and Scripture appear to be in conflict, one possible response would be to say that science is right and the Bible wrong, but BioLogos rejects that response precisely because it says that the Bible is in error.

    Had you already seen this particular page? Am I missing something here that makes statements like these amount to an according-to-Hoyle denial of inerrancy? Have I missed something else on their site that DOES specifically deny that the Bible is inerrant and infallible? As I read them, BioLogos seem to be saying (almost ad nauseum) that they don’t reject what the Bible says about creation, but they object to how what the Bible says about creation is being interpreted. Surely that’s a radically different question, no?

    (FTR: I am not partisan to either side in this debate, which quite frankly is one for which I’ve never been able to muster much excitement over at all.)

  3. When I initially wrote these articles, Biologos was just then coming on the scene. That was around 2010. They published a number of articles written by authors critical of inerrancy, including Karl Giberson. In fact, the original edition of this post linked to a number of them that have since been scrubbed, so I can only guess that the folks over there have taken the heat as coming across looking like atheists wrapped in Christian sounding lingo and I am guessing they have tightened up their views to make it one of “interpretation” rather than the outright questioning and rejection of inerrancy.

    If you want to see some interaction between folks from GTY with the followers of Biologos, you should go to these series of blog posts (several weeks worth) and give them a read. http://www.gty.org/blog/creation The comments are worth the investment of time as well.

    You write, “As I read them, BioLogos seem to be saying (almost ad nauseum) that they don’t reject what the Bible says about creation, but they object to how what the Bible says about creation is being interpreted.” That seems to be the direction they moved into over the last few years, but in their attempt to make this about interpretation, they deny inerrancy. The biggest example is their view of Adam. They don’t believe what the Bible says that Adam was created directly by God, but they take the evolutionary view that humanity descended from a thousands of individuals, not one pair. See this article for a clarification, http://biologos.org/questions/evolution-and-the-fall

    Here we have a direct challenge to the stated record of revelation. Nothing from the text of scripture, no matter how you may want to torture the meaning of “interpretation,” allows for their view of Adam. It is a conflict of authorities. Either Adam was created like God has always said or the Bible is wrong. There is no two ways about it.

  4. Gotcha. I didn’t realize that these were initially written several years ago–that explains why I wasn’t seeing the outright denial of inerrancy you were referring to. And I agree: the denial that Adam and Eve were literal historical figures does indeed amount to a rejection of the revealed text.

  5. Here is a brief bibliography that I have been compiling on this subject.

    G. K. Beale, “Myth History and Inspiration – A Review Article of Inspiration and Incarnation by Peter Enns”, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 49:2 (June 2006), pp 287-312.

    Richard Belcher, “Did Adam and Eve Really Exist? By C. John Collins; A Review” (21 FEB 2012), on The Aquila Report at
    http://theaquilareport.com/did-adam-and-eve-really-exist-by-c-john-collins-a-review/ [accessed 11 MAR 2013].

    Wes Bredenhof, “Thoughts on John Walton’s Reading Genesis with Ancient Eyes” (1 APR 2013), on YINKAHDINAY at http://yinkahdinay.wordpress.com/2013/04/01/thoughts-on-john-waltons-reading-genesis-with-ancient-eyes/ [accessed 3 APR 2013].

    D. A. Carson, “Three More Books on the Bible: A Critical Review”, Trinity Journal 27:1 (Spring 2006), pp. 1-62; reprinted in D. A. Carson, Collected Writings on Scripture, compiled by Andrew David Naselli (Wheaton: Crossway, 2010), pp. 237-301. The original article is available as a PDF file on The Gospel Coalition at http://s3.amazonaws.com/tgc-documents/carson/2006_three_more_books.pdf [accessed 11 APR 2012], and without footnotes on Reformation 21 at http://www.reformation21.org/shelf-life/three-books-on-the-bible-a-critical-review.php [accessed 11 APR 2012]. This article and chapter by Carson includes reviews both of Peter Enns, Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2005), pp. 18-45, pp. 255-283 respectively, and N. T. Wright, Scripture and the Authority of God (London: SPCK, 2005); also published as The Last Word: Beyond the Bible Wars to a New Understanding of the Authority of Scripture (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2005), pp. 45-62, and pp. 283-301 respectively. [PDF available]

    Andre w Compton, “On an Appropriate Use of Background Studies for Biblical Interpretation” (2 APR 2013), on The Reformed Reader at http://reformedreader.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/on-an-appropriate-use-of-background-studies-for-biblical-interpretation/ [accessed 3 APR 2013].

    David B. Garner, “Intinction and Extinction: Where is Our Good Faith?” (MAR 2013), on reformation 21 at http://www.reformation21.org/articles/intinction-and-extinction-where-is-our-good-faith.php [accessed 11 MAR 2013].

    Nathaniel T. Jeanson, “Does “Junk DNA” Exist?” Acts & Facts 42:4 (2013), pg. 20; on Institute for Creation Research at http://www.icr.org/article/7316/ [accessed 2 APR 2013].

    “I take the view of those who say that the greatest hoax of the last hundred and fifty years has been the theory of evolution. It has hoaxed the vast majority of people. It was originally a theory, but it has been turned and twisted as if it were a fact that everybody believes. But it is pure dogmatic assertion. It is nothing beyond a supposition.”
    – David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Gospel in Genesis

    John MacArthur, The Battle For the Beginning: The Bible on Creation and the Fall of Adam (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2001); on Amazon at [accessed 26 JUN 2013].

    John MacArthur with Phil Johnson, Evangelicals, Evolution, and the Biologos Disaster, GTY136, on Grace to You at http://www.gty.org/products/audio-lessons/GTY136 [accessed 5 APR 2012]. MP3 available on Grace to You at http://webmedia.gty.org/sermons/High/GTY136.mp3 [accessed 5 APR 2012]. Transcript not available as of 5 APR 2012.

    Robert V. McCabe, “A Defense of Literal Days in the Creation Week”, Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal 5 (Fall 2000) pp. 97-123; available as a PDF on Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary at http://www.dbts.edu/journals/2000/McCabe.pdf [accessed 11 APR 2012].
    [PDF available]

    R. Albert Mohler, Jr., “No Pass from Theological Responsibility – The BioLogos Conundrum” (Nov. 9, 2010), on AlbertMohler.com http:/www.albertmohler.com/2010/11/09/no-pass-from-theological-responsibility-the-biologos-conundrum/ [accessed 5 APR 2012].

    R. Albert Mohler, Jr., “Why Does the Universe Look So Old?”, delivered at the 2010 Ligonier Ministries National Conference, audio and transcript on Credo Magazine at http://www.credomag.com/2013/06/25/why-does-the-universe-look-so-old-albert-mohler/ [accessed 25 JUN 2013].

    Jared Oliphint, “Our Make-Believe Parents: When Adam Becomes More Fiction than Fact” (SEP 2013), on reformation 21 at http://www.reformation21.org/articles/our-makebelieve-parents-when-adam-becomes-more-fiction-than-fact.php [accessed 12 SEP 2013].

    John Piper and Tony Reinke, “Was Adam For Real, and Does It Matter?” (14 JAN 2013), on desiring God at http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/ask-pastor-john/was-adam-for-real-and-does-it-matter [accessed 5 FEB 2013].

    John Piper and Tony Reinke, “Why Adam Matters for Global Missions” (15 JAN 2013), on desiring God at http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/ask-pastor-john/why-adam-matters-for-global-missions [accessed 5 FEB 2013].

    Vern S. Poythress, “Á biblical and scientific Adam”, on World (18 MAY 2013) http://www.worldmag.com/2013/05/a_biblical_and_scientific_adam#.UZgtmMCy7QE.email [accessed 7 JUN 2013]. Note: This is from an article published in the Westminster Theological Journal 75:1 (Spring 2013).

    Vern S. Poythress, “Response by Vern S. Poythress,” to John Walton, The Lost World of Genesis One (8 FEB 2010), on The BioLogos Forum at http://www.biologos.org/blog/vern-poythress-responds-to-john-walton [accessed 20 OCT 2010].

    Vern S. Poythress, “Appearances matter: Author presents a false contrast between the material and functional in Genesis,” World Magazine 24, no. 17 (August 29, 2009): 61; on World at http://www.worldmag.com/2009/08/appearances_matter [accessed 7 JUN 2013].

    Michael Reeves, “Why the Good News Turns Bad Without Adam” (26 JAN 2013), on desiring God at http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/why-the-good-news-turns-bad-without-adam [accessed 5 FEB 2013].

    Tony Reinke, “Do All Humans Descend from Adam and Eve?” (17 OCT 2013), on Miscellanies at http://spurgeon.wordpress.com/2013/10/17/do-all-humans-descend-from-adam-and-eve/ [accessed 17 OCT 2013].

    Erin Roach, “‘Destruction of the weakest’ essential to evolution, prof says” 22 AUG 2012), on Baptist Press at http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=38552 [accessed 22 AUG 2012].

    J. P. Versteeg, Adam in the New Testament: Mere Teaching Model, or First Historical Man? trans. Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., 2nd ed. (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1977, 2012).

    Mike Wittmer, “Adam, where art thou?” (12 MAR 2013), on Don’t Stop Believing at
    http://mikewittmer.wordpress.com/2013/03/12/adam-where-art-thou/ [accessed 12 MAR 2013].

    Mike Wittmer, “creation and evolution”, on Don’t Stop Believing at http://mikewittmer.wordpress.com/2013/03/25/creation-and-evolution/ [accessed 30 MAR 2013].

    John J. Yeo, “Recent Challenges to the Doctrine of Inerrancy: Peter Enns and ‘Myth’ in Genesis 1” (23 JAN 2012), on The Aquila Report at http://theaquilareport.com/recent-challenges-to-the-doctrine-of-inerrancy-peter-enns-and-myth-in-genesis-1/ [accessed 30 SEP 2014].

  6. To capture Peter Enns’ take on inerrancy let him speak for himself. See Peter Enns, “Inerrancy: If it Was Good Enough for Jesus…. (a panel discussion at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)” (15 OCT 2012), on Patheos at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2012/10/inerrancy-if-it-was-good-enough-for-jesus-a-panel-discussion-at-southern-baptist-theological-seminary/ [accessed 30 SEP 2014]. Then see Wayne Grudem, “Letter to Dr. Peter Lillback, President of Westminster Seminary, Philadelphia, regarding Dr. Peter Enns” (10 FEB 2008), posted 27 APR 2009 on Green Baggins at http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2009/04/27/wayne-grudems-letter-regarding-pete-enns/ [accessed 30 SEP 2014].

  7. If undirected change is a defining feature of (macro) evolution, I don’t see how Christians can believe in it, notwithstanding the addition of ‘theistic’. The theory depends on there being no direction or purpose, randomness. A deistic ‘god’ may have started it off, but is irrelevant to how it developed. ‘Theistic evolution’ is pretty much a contradiction in terms. How God started a process that doesn’t need him.

    When it comes to the age of the universe and of the earth, I have become less dogmatic over more recent years. I used to be woodenly literalist 6 days creation, but re-examining the text itself and thinking about it I’m less sure this is absolutely entailed by Genesis 1. It is that God created it all that counts, not the time he took, which hopefully everyone agrees with. I don’t regard it as the road to apostacy to wonder whether the material universe is ‘old’. It is not the purpose of the account to date the universe.

    I’ve come to see the length of a day as having some parallel with how literally or not you understand the millenium. Genuine believers can differ on this, though they can’t all be right!

    That said, I don’t see how the direct creation of Adam from the ground, thousands rather than millions of years ago, can be avoided without abandonning what the text says, so my sympathies in that regard remain entirely with the YEC view.

  8. Pingback: Early October 2014 Presuppositional Apologetics Links Round up! | The Domain for Truth

  9. Pingback: Refuting Theistic Evolution and Old Earth Creationism | hipandthigh

  10. Pingback: Fred Butler – Hard Truths For Theistic Evolutionists (Part 1) |

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