Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Creation: With or Without Compromise?

A few weeks ago a new website was launched - Creation Without Compromise. Its stated purpose is:
We are Reformed Christians concerned about the issue of origins in our midst. Through this resource site and blog, we aim to provide support to those who share our concerns. We are committed to the historic Reformed understanding of Genesis and believe that a failure to maintain the orthodox position not only attacks biblical truth in general, but the gospel of Jesus Christ in particular.
The editors are Dr. Ted van Raalte (professor at the Canadian Reformed Theological Seminary), Rev. Jim Witteveen (missionary at the Canadian Reformed mission church in Prince George, BC), Jon Dykstra (editor of Reformed Perspective magazine), and Dr. Wes Bredenhof (pastor of Providence Canadian Reformed Church of Hamilton). Rev. Ken Wieske (Canadian Reformed missionary in Recife, Brazil) is listed as an author.

The issue of origins has become contentious within the Canadian Reformed Church over the last six years. This is due in large part to the efforts of the editors of the Reformed Academic website, which has encouraged acceptance of mainstream historical science, including human evolution. This, of course, entails promoting also a compromised re-interpretation of Genesis 1-11. According to the Reformed Academic editors, their website has been influential among Canadian Reformed university students, teachers, and even ministers.

It is thus high time for the Canadian Reformed Church to take an official stand. 

To this end, on March 11, 2015, Canadian Reformed Classis Ontario West adopted a proposal from Hamilton's Providence Canadian Reformed Church to amend the Belgic Confession (Art.14) so as to specifically  rule out human evolution. This proposal will be dealt with at Regional Synod East this Fall. The Creation Without Compromise site has various useful sources concerning this proposal.

The reception to this proposal has been mixed. A negative reaction was posted on the blog of Rev. Bill de Jong (pastor of the Hamilton Cornerstone Canadian Reformed Cornerstone Church), to which I have responded in my post The Myth of the Merely Hypothetical.

More recently, Dr. J. Visscher, editor of the Clarion, expressed his disagreement with the proposal (Clarion, June 5, 2015). He raised various concerns, all of which are well addressed in a reply from Dr. Wes Bredenhof, at the Creation Without Compromise website. I must add that I am disappointed that Dr. Visscher does not acknowledge that evolution is a problem in our churches, even though various members of his own congregation have been among the most actively involved in promoting this error.

In sum, I welcome the new website Creation Without Compromise, and I highly recommend it to my readers. It already has a useful collection of articles on creation. I pray that it may serve well in helping the Canadian Reformed Church to maintain the sound Reformed principle (Belgic Confession Art. 29) of rejecting all things contrary to the pure Word of God


Steve Drake said...

Enjoyed the review of Gaffin's "No Adam, No Gospel". The next step in the link would be between billions and millions of years and no gospel. It will be interesting to see if this new website takes on that topic.

Unknown said...

Checking the stance of a seminary a friend studies at, I'm happy to say it looks like there are others who still hold to orthodoxy:

DanielPech said...

John Walton claims that the ancient audience of the Genesis 1 account did not constitute some Israel Conference on Physics, and thus that its author did not expect to be presenting on the origins of physics. ( (video time 15:19-17:32) and (video time 21:14-22:18))

But, as to what the account is NOT about and why, Walton thinks essentially along the lines of Lazar Puhalo. Puhalo claims that, for any account that includes the material origins of the cosmos-the earth-life-and humans, it must at least once mention such things as atomic elements and 'atomic structures'; And, therefore, since Genesis 1 does not even once mention any of the particular elements that are fundamental to the cosmos ('deuterium' and 'helium', etc.), then Genesis 1 is not an account that includes the material creation of anything, much less of the entire universe.

(Puhalo, Lazar (2011): 'Theology made simple: The Meaning of The Fall of Man.l'. Youtube, Lazar Puhalo: (at video time 03:18-03:42))

And, in common with Walton, N.T. Wright, etc., Puhalo overlooks (X):

(X) How short-and-sweet can a text or account be that constitutes a complete basic account of how God created the universe, the Earth, life, and humans? In other words, what is the best short way for such information to be communicated to normal, native terrestrial humans? And how would that best communication best begin and proceed?

I think that (X) is as legitimate and critical a question as is that of Walton's own question: what things the origin of which was Genesis 1 meant to _explicitly_ address?

...And Walton reasons essentially along the same lines as Puhalo about why the Genesis 1 account of origins is not an account of the _material_ origins of anything. **Yet, Walton advises that we should not---repeat, not----impose our modern, Space Age, cosmological and general physics concerns onto the ancients' own accounts.** ( (video time 23:18-24:03))