Dr. John Byl has been blogging quite regularly as of late and has made some helpful contributions to the debate over whether theistic evolution should be tolerated in the Canadian Reformed Churches. One of the central issues is hermeneutics. The latitudinarians argue that, historically, Calvin spoke of accommodation in Scripture and it’s accommodation that we see in Genesis 1 and 2. In other words, God uses words that people can understand according to their context. People in another context thousands of years later have to reckon with this accommodation in their biblical interpretation. You can find Dr. Byl’s discussion of this subject here.
Similar debates have been taking place in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in connection with their school, Erskine College and Seminary. There too, biblical inerrancy has been questioned in an effort to make room for a variety of views on origins. Rick Phillips at Reformation 21 recently commented on this.
We have more of the same taking place at Reformed Theological Seminary and in the Presbyterian Church of America. Bruce Waltke recently resigned from RTS because of his position on origins and the nature and authority of Scripture. Dr. Mark Jones is the pastor of Faith PCA in Vancouver, BC, and he recently blogged on Waltke’s views. He says, “As this post will make clear, Waltke has endorsed the work of Francis Collins, and by doing so has committed himself to an understanding of evolution that simply is not compatible with the Christian faith.” Read the whole thing here. In a follow-up blog post, Jones continues to interact with Waltke’s views. He also takes on the familiar line about Warfield and evolution. His conclusion? “Warfield did not affirm Darwinian evolution. In an article yet to be published by Fred Zaspel he makes a convincing argument to this effect, which I am in general agreement with in my own book on this subject.” You can read this post here.
This morning I noticed that the latest issue of Modern Reformation has an article by a group of PCA geologists arguing for an old earth. You see, this issue is becoming hot all over.
Dear Pastor Bredenhof:
I am very thankful that you and others are addressing this issue here and elsewhere. The trumpet definitely needs to be sounded when it comes to defending the truth of Scripture against any form of evolution.
I was wondering if you would have time to comment on the arguments presented by the proponents of theistic evolution about Galileo and the Roman Catholic Church. It seems to me that when they present the example of Galileo’s fight with the RCC they are presenting us with a “straw-man” which they can easily pull down, and that it really doesn’t have anything to do with the argument about creation in six days.
This would take a lengthy discourse to answer responsibly. Let me just say that this sort of argument follows an older way of telling history that is increasingly being discarded. The older historiography (the Draper/White model) presents a legend of war between science and religion. Newer historiography is considerably more nuanced. Helpful discussions of this are found in Hunter Baker’s The End of Secularism (chapter 14), and Rodney Stark’s For the Glory of God (chapter 2). Both point out that Galileo’s problems with the Roman Catholic Church had just as much (if not more) to do with his personality, tactics and approach as with his science. But just like with the older historiography about Protestant scholasticism (Calvin vs. the Calvinists), it takes time for the old view of Galileo vs the RCC to wither and die.
sounds like a good suggestion for some summer reading.