Saturday, July 31, 2010

Evangelicals versus Biologos

In the past months several prominent evangelicals have raised concerns about the Biologos blog.

One of these is Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, who describes himself as a Calvinist. In a recent speech (transcript) Al Mohler defends the traditional reading of Genesis 1-11--including 6-day creation and an historical Adam--and opposes the promotion of evolution by Biologos. Mohler singles out Karl Giberson and Pete Enns for denying the historicity of Adam and the inerrancy of the Bible.

Another is John MacArthur, another self-proclaimed Calvinist Baptist, president of The Master's College. His Grace To You blog has numerous posts and speeches defending the traditional view of Genesis 1-11. Pastor Phil Johnson, an associate of MacArthur, explicitly addresses Biologos in his Pyromaniacs blog. Johnson writes:

Lately, BioLogos has consigned biblical inerrancy to the dustbin of outmoded ideas, alongside creation ex nihilo. They have been floating multiple alternatives to the historicity of Adam and Eve:
•Peter Enns: "The Adam story could be viewed symbolically as a story of Israel's beginnings, not as the story of humanity from ground zero."
•Alister McGrath (summarized in the words of the BioLogos editorial staff): "It makes even more sense to say that Adam and Eve are stereotypical figures—represent [sic] human potential as created by God but also with the capacity to go wrong."
•N. T. Wright: "I do think it matters that something like a primal pair getting it wrong did happen. But that doesn't mean I'm saying that therefore Genesis is kind of positivist, literal, clunky history over against myth. Far from it."

And so on. Of course BioLogos's creators and contributors don't believe in a global flood, either. So creation, the fall, the curse, and the flood all ultimately fall victim to BioLogos's skeptical, rationalistic, modernistic approach to "harmonizing science and religion." The original promise (in the words of BioLogos contributor Tim Keller)—"that biological evolution and biblical orthodoxy can be compatible"—turns out to be a lie. "Biblical orthodoxy" has no clear meaning in the BioLogos lexicon. In all candor, it seems as if sound doctrine is simply not matter of major concern for most BioLogos contributors.

It is commendable that Mohler and Macarthur take a clear, firm stance on the Bible as it relates to origins.

Disappointingly, John Piper, a third prominent Calvinist baptist, waffles on Genesis. In a recent Desiring God blog, entitled "What should we teach about creation?", Piper defends a direct creation of Adam--from dust-- at most 15,000 years ago but expresses an openness to the earth being billions of years old. Piper notes that he follows the views of John Sailhamer, who argues that the six creation days refer only to the preparation of the promised land and could be symbolic. According to Piper, this position has the advantage of saying that the earth is billions of years old if it wants to be—whatever science says it is, it is—but man is young.

Aside from the problems with Sailhamer's position (here is one critique), this is an untenable compromise. For example, if Piper wants to appease naturalist science, what is he to do with its claims that aborigines have lived contunously in Australia for the last 45,000 years and that human-look-a-likes existed a million years earlier?

Piper's wishy-washy take on Genesis is particularly regretful given that he has written many excellent Christian books and has a very influential ministry. Hopefully Piper will reconsider.


MSC said...

It was refreshing to see that R. C. Sproul repudiated OEC views and embraced the YEC view some years ago I believe after reading Douglas Kelly's book "Creation and Change." Perhaps Piper will do some more thinking in this area and change as well.

Brad said...

In a church filled with hypocrisy and little love for one another, using YEC as a litmus test to decide who is or is not saved or truly Reformed, or whatever, is simply what Paul was exhorting Timothy to do when he instructed him to avoid quarrels and foolish controversies. Hopefully, we'll return to the Gospel rather than perverting it into a weapon to tear one another down. Peace.


Anonymous said...

Brad, can you point out in any of the writings on this blog (or any other creasionist blog) where anyone said YEC or OEC issue 'decide who is or is not saved' ?

Your straw man attacks do not advance the 'peace' you are trying to preach.

When the Peacemaker of the Gospel says in Mark 10:6,"But from the beginning of the creation, God 'made them male and female'", how should we understand 'from the beginning of creation':

- that the creation of Adam and Eve were 5 days after Gen.1:1, or
- must we now start understanding these words (and maybe also the rest of the Gospels) 'symbolically' ?

No compromising theologian yet could answer why they let 'evolutionary science' determine the age of the earth, but they do not allow 'modern theological science' determine their view of the Gospels and the rest of the NT.

Why do they accept evolutionary presuppositions in one area (origins), but not in another (Gospel history) ?

The Armchair Theologian said...


Come on Piper! Let's have some exegetical consistancy!

I've been frustrated by him lately, and this is a good example of why. He admits that he's never preached through Genesis, and then goes online a throws out an opinion that thousands will take as authoritative.

I'm wondering what in the world is going on in Minneapolis.

Ktisophilos said...

A small point: the Sailhamer critique should be linked here, since Creation Ministries International is the publisher of the journal in which the critique appeared.

john byl said...


Thanks for your correction. I certainly want to give proper credit where it is due, so I have changed the link according.