Monday, June 15, 2020

Review: Understanding Scientific Theories of Origins

The Creation Without Compromise site has just published an extensive review by Dr. Wes Bredenhof of the theistic evolutionist book Understanding Scientific Theories of Origins: Cosmology, Geology, and Biology in Christian Perspective (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2018.  Hardcover, 659 pages).

The authors (Robert C. Bishop, Larry L. Funck, Raymond J. Lewis, Stephen O. Mosher, John H. Walton) are all Wheaton College professors, and all are scientists, except for theologian John Walton.

The reviewer, Dr. Bredenhof, is pastor of the Free Reformed Church of Launceston, Tasmania, Australia. This massive volume attempts to make a theological and scientific case for theistic evolution. In his review, however, he focuses on the biblical and theological side of things.  He finds that this book is a repudiation of the Reformation view of Scripture, a perversion of what Scripture teaches about creation, in addition to other serious theological shortcomings.

Although USTO affirms the authority of the Bible, God's special revelation, it disparages a “Bible-first” approach, where scientific theories must conform to Biblical givens. Rather, it views scientific knowledge as part of God's general revelation. The Bible and science are taken as equal partners in the pursuit of truth regarding cosmological, geological, and biological origins; they complement each other, and need each other to be properly interpreted.

Regarding Genesis 1, USTO argues that, when read in the proper context of Ancient Near Eastern thinking, it is concerned with God assigning proper functions to various parts of the universe, and not concerned with the origins of the material universe.

Hence, we must turn to (mainstream) science to discover truths about physical origins. Consequently, USTO embraces full-scale evolution over billions of years.

This has various theological implications. For example, why should a loving God use a creative process filled with so much pain and death? According to USTO, God, in His love, gave creation a relative freedom to develop itself. God has relinquished full control of His creation. Of course, this raises further theological questions regarding God's sovereignty, providence, foreknowledge, and so on.

Further theological problems concern the nature of Jesus Christ. USTO stresses that Jesus, while on earth, did wonderful things through the power of the Holy Spirit, rather than by Jesus' own divine nature. Bredenhof identifies the USTO view of Jesus as  functional kenotic Christology. He explains in some detail what this is, and why it is a serious theological error.

Evidently, acceptance of evolution has widespread theological fallout.

Dr. Bredenhof concludes his review,
I tried, but I could not read this book dispassionately.  In this book, I heard the whispers of Satan in the Garden of Eden:  did God really say?  If someone is questioning my Father or twisting his words, even if it’s done with the greatest sophistication, I cannot remain dispassionate.  I also think of the sad fact that this book comprises course material at Wheaton College.  Scores of impressionable youth have been and are being fed this content.  Because it is happening at a Christian institution, they could be led to believe that this is an acceptable Christian approach.  It is not.  It is unbelief.  I pray for students at Wheaton College that God will help them with his Spirit and Word to discern the truth regarding origins.
Unfortunately, what is taught at Wheaton College about science and Scripture is standard fare at most Christian universities today.


1 comment:

Steve Drake said...

From Dr. Bredenhof's review:

"If God is revealing through the scientific evidence that a global flood never happened, then we need to revisit our interpretation of Genesis and somehow bring it into alignment with this newer divine revelation. That is what USTO is doing. However, it is a revisionist approach to the Bible."

The great evangelical compromise: deny the six days were really six days and deny that the Flood was really a global and universal cataclysm that covered the whole earth. The siren song of deep time and billions and millions of years continues to seduce, doesn't it? Otherwise faithful Christian brothers and sisters in our churches fail to see the duplicity of holding to a form of godliness but denying the power thereof (2 Tim. 3:5).