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Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Monday, April 05, 2010

Views of Genesis and Personal Salvation

Grace to You has been running a series of blog articles addressing Genesis, evolution, and more specifically, compromised views of Genesis taught by evangelicals who believe we must conform our understanding of Genesis with accepted paradigms within evolutionary "science." That would be deep time, early man and Adam and Eve, Genesis is historical narrative as opposed to a creation myth.

There are a number of men who would affirm an infallible and inerrant Bible who would also hold to a compromised view of Genesis. Their views of Genesis fall any where between theistic evolution to progressive creationism. We noted three such men in a recent blog, though I would imagine only Bruce Waltke would be more in line with the idea of an infallible and inerrant Bible.

A handful of commenters believe Waltke's views are reflective of an unregenerate nature. That all three of these men, and I would imagine everyone else who adhere to similar views on Genesis, are unsaved and not even Christians.

I think such language is way over the top and I wrote a response to such speech I thought I would share here:

Let me preface my comments by affirming the fact I believe how we understand Genesis has significant ramifications on how we understand the rest of the Bible, how we do gospel apologetics and evangelism, and how we engage our culture at large. I would be the first one to confront any synchronistic compromise on behalf of believers who want to weave our understanding of the creation week as outlined in Genesis 1 and 2 with evolutionary deep time ideas. The Christian's handling of Genesis is majorly important, hence the reason why Grace to You has chosen to do a series of blog articles on the topic.

Now, with that stated, to begin our criticisms of our opponents who have an alternative view of Genesis by calling them unregenerate, is way over the top and treading in areas of judgment where we do not have the full knowledge to tread. I hope you all understand the seriousness of accusing someone of being "unregenerate." To call someone unregenerate cannot be a flippant accusation made so lightly. When we say a person is "unregenerate" we are in essence saying a person is unsaved and guilty of hell fire, and that is a rather heart sobering accusation to make against another person who says he names Christ as his Lord. It is an accusation that should never be made in haste but after much reflection and confrontation with the person.

In all honesty, there is an ungracious spirit with your all's words. In fact, many of the comments smack of the sort of bigoted fundamentalism that regrettably turns people away from hearing the truth or even desiring to discuss the issues. This kind of rhetoric should not be. One of the first objectives we must pursue when we offer a defense of the faith (and this would include defending the proper understanding of Genesis), is to offer our response with meekness and fear (1 Peter 3:15). Immediately labeling a person an unregenerate hell bound sinner is not responding with meekness and fear.

We have no knowledge as to why a man like Bruce Waltke takes the view that he does on Genesis. There could be any number of reasons why people gravitate toward compromised views of Genesis and embrace theistic evolution and progressive creationism. Perhaps they don't understand the implications of their position, or maybe they are ignorant of the evidence against evolutionary Darwinianism. My experience with engaging theistic evolutionists and progressive creationists is that they believe the so called evidence for long ages and evolution is undeniable; that it is self-defining in its scope. In other words, that all so-called scientific evidence is what it is and if we don't believe what science tells us about the evidence, we are denying truth. Thus, these men don't want to challenge the "evidence" because they believe they are unqualified to do so, plus, it is denying reality. In their thinking, to be a Christian faithful to truth, they must re-consider how we understand Genesis in light of these "facts."

Whatever, the case, as much as I would be the first to say such ideas are gross error and these people need to review their positions, saying a man is in error is a far distance from saying his beliefs are a product of an unregenerate heart. Believe me, Bruce Waltke is just one notable evangelical who holds to this position on Genesis. Other men did as well, sadly. Fine men like the late James Montgomery Boice, E.J. Young, and Francis Schaeffer, to name a few. Are these individuals as equally unregenerate in your all's book?

I truly hope you all reconsider the rhetoric you utilize when engaging this discussion with others who may disagree with you sharply. Certainly their views may stem from an unregenerate heart, but that is not everyone for sure, and it shouldn't be the first thing we conclude about them.

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19 Comments:

Blogger Steve Lamm said...

Fred,

I agree with you on this and I am very strong in my YEC views. Such ad hominem attacks should not be used to argue our position. When YECs say such outrageous things about brethren on the other side, they ought to be firmly rebuked by other YECs.

Thanks for holding and proclaiming truth in a gracious way.

Steve

9:38 AM, April 05, 2010  
Blogger Bob McCabe said...

Fred,

Thanks for the reminder. I am in complete agreement with you.

I use many books by fine evangelical scholars who do not agree with me about young earth creationism. However, I appreciate their commitment to Christ and the solid evangelical works they turn out, even though I disagree with their understandings of origins. To describe these men as unregenerate is sinful.

12:28 PM, April 05, 2010  
Blogger Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Hi Fred,

This is such an easy topic to agree with you on.

The more challenging topic is whether one can deny the historicity of Adam and still legitimately claim to be an inerrantist.

1:51 PM, April 05, 2010  
Blogger DJP said...

Fred: Mm-hmm.

8:24 AM, April 06, 2010  
Blogger Fusion! said...

What do you think about the comments being made here? http://www.jrdkirk.com/?p=500

11:42 AM, April 07, 2010  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Honestly, I think a bunch of them are cry babies. Note how they distort the situation: Waltke has an OE view of Genesis, his interpretation of the creation week twists the normal usage of the Hebrew language, RTS reacts to a video he does explaining his theistic evolutionary tendencies, RTS, or any seminary/college that wishes to be orthodox in their acceptance of creation against atheistic evolutionary ideas are intellectually killing bad guys, great men, like Waltke, will free themselves from the shackles of such thought control.

It's hopelessly self-serving and embarrassing. I have yet to see anyone at biologos or any other old earth site seriously take on the arguments against their position made by apologists for biblical creationism.

See another post I wrote along these lines

12:15 PM, April 07, 2010  
Blogger Sloan said...

I understand exactly why Bruce Waltke and others would take a modified view of Genesis. As a chemist who works in public health, and as a teacher of biology who has spent the past years reading everything I could on the subject of evolution, AND as an evangelical Christian of the Reformed persuasion, I can say that one mitigating factor for those who are trying to understand Genesis in light of modern scientific knowledge is simply this: the science in support of an ancient earth and the ancient origins of life is rock-solid, it comes from a multitude of disciplines, and it all points to the same conclusion: all living things on this planet, past and present, from bacteria to badgers to us, share a common ancestry. And I didn't learn any of this until I got my head out of the YEC literature, which was my only source of information at the time, and started reading the books and the peer-reviewed literature written by actual scientists who are doing actual work in the field and laboratory.

I'm not some wild-eyed atheist wading in here to try to stir things up. I'm telling you what I've experienced. The last ten years, in which I have endeavored to understand the science and at the same time reconcile it with my faith...well, there have been times, my friends, when it has been agony. AGONY. But I've stared into the abyss, and yet I still find God there, waiting for me. I'm still not quite sure how that happened, but I'm happier and wiser for having taken this journey.

I have no one within my Christian communion with whom I can share my feelings about this, because I'm concerned that they will react exactly the same way that the commenters on the Grace to You blog reacted. I've already had my faith called into question at the place where I teach, to the extent that they've brought in a second biology teacher for those who might object to my OE views.

I really don't think that Christians who object to evolution are all that concerned about the veracity of the science. I think they're concerned about what they think it says about ultimate meaning and purpose, especially the meaning and purpose of their own lives. That's the real heart of the matter for most believers.

8:26 PM, April 08, 2010  
Blogger Escovado said...

@Sloan:

"[T]he science in support of an ancient earth and the ancient origins of life is rock-solid, it comes from a multitude of disciplines, and it all points to the same conclusion: all living things on this planet, past and present, from bacteria to badgers to us, share a common ancestry. And I didn't learn any of this until I got my head out of the YEC literature, which was my only source of information at the time, and started reading the books and the peer-reviewed literature written by actual scientists who are doing actual work in the field and laboratory."

I’m a software engineer by profession. I have struggled with this question off and on for the past 29 years since I first became a Christian and came to the exact opposite conclusions as yours. Peer-review is way overrated IMHO; nowadays it seems to serve more as a mechanism to lock out unpopular opinions. All I care about are facts and logical framework in which these facts are presented.

When viewed from a birds-eye view, the science behind evolution looks impressive and “rock-solid.” However, when one starts digging into the particulars and separating the empirical science from the speculation, it becomes much less attractive. For myself, all the particular evidences for evolution are zeros and, when added together, zero plus zero plus zero still adds up to zero.

I am really not up for an extended debate at this time, but I am curious: which YEC literature you were reading? And May I pick your brains a bit regarding what evidences you found so convincing?

9:45 PM, April 08, 2010  
Blogger Sloan said...

My principle sources for the YEC perspective were John Whitcomb, Henry Morris, and Scott Huse...specifically, the books "The Genesis Flood," "The Early Earth," and "The Collapse of Evolution." I also read papers by Duane Gish. I've read quite a bit of the material on the Answers in Genesis website and the Institute for Creation Research website, as well as the Christian Research Institute (I used to be a regular listener of the Bible Answer Man program under Walter Martin, and later, Hank Hanegraaff). I've also read materials on the Discovery Institute website and although I've not read "Darwin's Black Box," I understand the ID arguments fully and I recently heard Dr. Behe and several other Discovery fellows speak at Westminster Seminary.

The most convincing evidences for me have been the revelations from examination of the human genome and comparisons with other genomes. The evidence from human chromosome 2 (a clear chromosomal fusion of ancestral primate chromosomes 4 and 8); endogenous retroviral DNA (nucleotide sequences from retroviruses that were inserted into the primate genome prior to the split between hominids and other primates and are now found in the same places on the chromosomes of both humans and primates); and pseudogenes (genes that once had a function but no longer express protein because they've been corrupted by mutations...examples would be corrupted hemoglobin genes in icefish, which have no hemoglobin, and corrupted olfactory receptor genes in dogs and humans, explaining why they have a poorer sense of smell than mice, whose olfactory receptor genes are intact); all of these phenomena simply cannot be explained any other way except by common ancestry. Human chromosome 2, ERVs, and pseudogenes each have excellent write-ups on Wikipedia, if you want to learn more.

So I have to respectfully disagree with you, Escovado...it's when you look at the details that the evidence really jumps out at you. I have to wonder which details you've been looking at.

10:51 PM, April 08, 2010  
Blogger Escovado said...

Part 1 of 2:

The specific creationist books you cited are way out of date. I would examine “Earth’s Catastrophic Past” by Andrew Snelling which is a two-volume update to the “The Genesis Flood” from ICR. For web resources, in addition to what you have mentioned, I also like Creation Ministries International and their Journal of Creation. The True Origin Archive is also useful. I have also found a lot of interesting information from the Creation Research Society Quarterly.

The specific evidences you cite in your second paragraph all have one flaw in common: they might be useful for tracing common ancestry, if molecules-to-man evolution were true, but they provide no evidence whatsoever for molecules-to-man evolution. To say that “all of these phenomena simply cannot be explained any other way except by common ancestry” is not true since creationists argue they give evidence for common design (see part 2 of my post).

The Achilles heel of evolution for me is its complete failure to produce a mechanism that can generate information of any kind, genetic or otherwise. We have in DNA a self-replicating, base-4 digital encoding scheme that evolutionists would have me believe appeared out of nowhere. And then, they want me to believe that random copying errors (mutations) produced the genetic information encoded into DNA. This is patently absurd. I would suggest three books by creationists on this issue: “Not By Chance!” by Dr, Lee Spetner, “A Case Against Accident and Self-Organization” by Dean L. Overman and “Genetic Entropy & the Mystery of the Genome” by Dr. J. C. Sanford. Sanford argues that the human genome is actually losing information.

6:08 AM, April 09, 2010  
Blogger Escovado said...

Since we are limited to 4096 characters, here is Part 2 of 2:

When you mention the “examination of the human genome and comparisons with other genomes” are you referring to the similarities between human and ape DNA? If that is so, then I would suggest this article as a starting point for creationist thought on the issue: Human/chimp DNA similarity, Evidence for evolutionary relationship?

From what I understand, the fusion hypothesis for the origin of human chromosome 2 proves nothing for human evolution. Evolutionists claim common descent because one of our chromosomes looks like two ape chromosomes fused together, but then again they also would claim common descent if we had the same number of chromosomes as apes. Creationist David A. DeWitt in “Chimp genome sequence very different from man,” writes:

“Evolutionists claim that two chromosomes in the putative human-chimp common ancestor were fused to become the human chromosome 2. With no known selective advantage it is difficult to see how this fusion would become exclusively characteristic of man. Chromosome fusions can occur but are particularly messy and typically thought to reduce reproductive success…Many of these types of chromosomal defects are associated with mental retardation. The chance of the same chromosome fusion occurring in two individuals at the same time in the same place such that they just happened to mate with one another to produce viable male and female offspring stretches credulity to breaking point.”

Pseudogenes as evidence for molecules-to-man evolution is an outdated concept. A couple of articles from a creationist perspective on the subject: Pseudogenes, Are they non-functional? and Potentially decisive evidence against pseudogene ‘shared mistakes’

There are also creationist interpretations of the other evidences you cite. You certainly don’t have to agree with creationists, but I have the general impression that you have not kept up on creationist thought in regards to these issues.

6:11 AM, April 09, 2010  
Blogger Truth Unites... and Divides said...

http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/04/09/video

Professor Bruce Waltke has resigned from RTS-Florida because of a video in support of theistic evolution.

12:07 PM, April 09, 2010  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Yeah. Someone sent me that link earlier today. I think they are a bunch of hypocritical cry babies. Are they telling me they have no problem with with the same academic tyranny against ID people? I may have a post on it next week.

12:40 PM, April 09, 2010  
Blogger Escovado said...

The in-your-face hypocrisy expressed by most of the comments following that news item from Inside Higher Ed made me shake my head. When the shoe is on the other foot, theistic evolutionists waste no time giving creationists the boot. They wouldn’t even pray about it as the seminary did. Back in the 1990’s, Clairemont Emmanuel Baptist Church in San Diego “asked me to leave” a leadership position I had in their Sunday School program when they found out I was a creationist. I explained here before what lead to my dismissal. They also fired their assistant pastor when they found out that he too was a creationist.

The evolutionists have been the ones with the medieval mentalities from my experience.

4:53 PM, April 09, 2010  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Sloan,
I apologize. I thought I had left a response to you earlier this morning, but I must have either navigated away from the page before it was saved, or somehow I deleted it when I was cleaning up the comment page.

Hopefully I can reproduce what I wrote.

Escovado has provided some good links for you to consider, so let me just offer up a couple of responses to your comments.

First, there is no other way Genesis can be read but as historical narrative. This fact IS rock solid certain. Waltke, Longman, Enns, and all the other so-called scholars are being out right dishonest when they attempt to read Genesis as allegory, or some ANE Jewish creation myth, or as heavenly temple-earthly temple symbolism, or what ever other nonsense. The grammar of the text will not allow any other interpretation but that God created the world in the space of what we know as a week. The creation week is not long epochs of time, or some Klinian frame work theory, or creative acts separated by millions of years. The reality of what Genesis is saying sets down a dividing line. For now we have two competing authorities telling us about origins: God's Word as it is revealed in Genesis and man-made assumptions built around alleged scientific paradigms. The issue is which authority yields to the other, because they cannot successfully be merged as theistic evolutionists and other long age groups wish to do.

Second, you write the science in support of an ancient earth and the ancient origins of life is rock-solid, it comes from a multitude of disciplines, and it all points to the same conclusion: all living things on this planet, past and present, from bacteria to badgers to us, share a common ancestry. Then in the follow up comment to Escovado's first comment to you, you conclude by writing, it's when you look at the details that the evidence really jumps out at you. Well, details have to be interpreted. Both evolutionists and creationists have the same evidence, but it is the interpretations each group brings to the evidence that shape the conclusions they draw from the evidence. Interpretations are born about by specific presuppositions that are shaped by the worldviews each part brings to the process of discovery.

You note that the details you find compelling involve certain biologically shared genetic markers that supposedly show common ancestry. I guess my question is why doesn't such shared similarities demonstrate a common designer? I would expect a creator to design His creatures to function together in a shared biosphere, so there would have to be similarly shared genetic markers and the like in order for these creatures to experience their maximum capacity to thrive. As a Christian who confirms he believes in a sovereign creator, why don't you draw such a conclusion? It truly is mystifying.

You then conclude your first comment by stating: I really don't think that Christians who object to evolution are all that concerned about the veracity of the science. I think they're concerned about what they think it says about ultimate meaning and purpose, especially the meaning and purpose of their own lives. Yes. I think you are absolutely right. The reason being is there are two competing worldviews that attempt to explain the ultimate meaning and purpose of life and they are the exact opposite from each other. No amount of tweaking can harmonize them. That is why I as a Bible believing Christian find such attempts by fellow believers to be troubling and eventually theologically problematic.

8:07 PM, April 09, 2010  
Blogger Sloan said...

Gentlemen, thank you for your measured and thoughtful responses. I'm still trying to decide whether or not I want to extend the conversation any further, because I'm sure you know how these conversations usually go, and I'm not sure I have the heart for it. Escovado is correct in saying that my creationist reading is rather out-of-date, but I am familiar with some of the newer material, and I have been reading the articles to which he linked.

For now I'll just say that, from my reading, I've found that the case for ancient origins and common ancestry is much, much more complete and cohesive than I think any of you realize...unless you have indeed been reading outside the creationist literature. But I can see that one fundamental difference we have -- and please correct me if I'm wrong -- is that I see the scientific data, or more specifically the interpretation of it, as theologically or teleologically neutral, whereas most of you feel that the interpretation of that same data comes loaded with antisupernatural presuppositions and atheistic/antitheistic baggage. And I really think that's going to be a big point of disagreement right there.

8:44 AM, April 10, 2010  
Blogger Escovado said...

Sloan,

I can certainly empathize with your desire to avoid yet another contentious, going-nowhere, internet discussion thread with semi anonymous individuals who argue for the sake of arguing. I’ve been there and done that myself. I don’t really want that either.

Creation versus evolution has always been a fascinating subject for me. Over the past twenty-eight years I have accumulated at least three-hundred books on the subject, from both sides of the fence, most of which I have read from cover to cover. I even spent a summer in the early 1980’s obtaining my own copies of the original sources for almost all the quotations used by Dr. Gish in his book, “Evolution: The Fossils Say, No!” I wanted to see for myself if, as claimed by evolutionists, Gish was misrepresenting any of his sources. I did discover, by the way, that Gish represented all of them accurately. So, I would guess you can say I am fairly hard-core (or crazy). But I am hard-core because I just want to know the truth.

And yes, I have been reading outside the creationist literature. I peruse many of the anti-creationist web sites (e.g. talk.origins, Pharyngula, etc.) to see what’s new. My latest forays into the dark side have been two books: “Why Evolution Is True” by Jerry A. Coyne and “Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters” by Donald R. Prothero. Given the glowing reviews of these books on Amazon.com, both have been rather disappointing to me since they go over the same tired old territory: 1) if you truly understood science, then you’d be an evolutionist, 2) if an evolutionist comes up with a plausible-sounding, just-so story on how some evolutionary event might have taken place, then it must be true, and, of course, 3) the old evolutionary bait-and-switch.


That being said, I would be most appreciative if you could point me in the direction of any evolutionary literature (biology, geology, physics, etc.) that you found most supportive of your views.

Now, I would be interested in discussing your ideas that the interpretation of data in regards to origins can be theologically or teleologically neutral.

10:46 AM, April 10, 2010  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

But I can see that one fundamental difference we have -- and please correct me if I'm wrong -- is that I see the scientific data, or more specifically the interpretation of it, as theologically or teleologically neutral, whereas most of you feel that the interpretation of that same data comes loaded with antisupernatural presuppositions and atheistic/antitheistic baggage. And I really think that's going to be a big point of disagreement right there.

Sloan,
That is probably the absolute best summary I have read outlining the main disagreement. I plan to use it. It is a disagreement, however, that is vitally important and your position of neutrality raises significant questions regarding the power, authority, and sovereignty of God.

Essentially, what you are telling me is that God doesn't particularly care to define, or better, offer His interpretation of the created world. This in spite of the fact that the entire Bible is filled with exhortations to consider the creation and offer praise. Psalm 104 comes to mind.

Let me ask you: Is the scientific data for the Resurrection, the person and work of Jesus, miracles, the infallibility of scripture telelogically and theologically neutral? Why or why not? When Paul states we are to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ in 2 Cor. 10:5, does that include our thoughts, or in other words, our interpretations, of any evidence, or is that just "ethical" considerations?

I have written on the subject of neutrality if you are interested HERE. Also, if you are so inclined, I would encourage you to download a couple of MP3s.

My friend Dan Phillips has a message he gave at a conference last year on the Sovereignty of God and Creation

and my pastor's message The Theology of Creation


If you are willing, I would like to see how you build a case biblically for a neutral theology, so to speak.

Fred

6:45 PM, April 10, 2010  
Blogger Escovado said...

This is off topic: The world is indeed turning upside down when Pravda is publishing articles in favor of creationism: Creationists Right About Entropy.

7:03 AM, April 13, 2010  

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