Position Statements on Creation and Evolution
The Canadian Reformed Churches are being attacked by dangerous false teachings. These teachings are not coming from outside, but from within. They are being promulgated by several (by no means all) intellectuals and professional scientists. These false teachings pertain to the relationship between science and Scripture, more particularly with regard to creation and evolution. This document outlines my position on these false teachings through eight position statements.
The Authority and Inerrancy of Scripture
The Bible is the authoritative Word of God. It is inspired, infallible, and inerrant. It stands supreme over all human thoughts and endeavours. Historically, those who have denied the inerrancy of Scripture have done so with an agenda often linked to scientific or historical concerns or doubts.
Science and Scripture
The Bible is not a scientific textbook, but it does provide firm foundations for every scientific endeavour. All Christian scientists should approach their calling by first fearing the LORD and humbly honouring his Word above all. Psalm 36:9b says, “….in your light do we see light.” Colossians 2:3 tells us, “…in [Christ] are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” When the results of science and the clear teaching of Scripture appear to conflict, the Christian scientist is called to submit to what Scripture says and modify his scientific theories accordingly.
The Gospel is at Stake
Theistic evolution in its various forms teaches that God used evolutionary processes to bring about the creatures that are described in Genesis 1 and 2, including man. Theistic evolution is a serious error in conflict with God’s Word. It requires a radical reinterpretation of Genesis 1 and 2 to explain away certain aspects and make room for science. Historically, the same hermeneutic has been employed to deny the virgin conception and physical and historical resurrection of Jesus. The hermeneutic which allows for theistic evolution opens the door to a denial of the gospel. This is why I say that we are being assailed by a dangerous false teaching.
“…then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.”
The plain reading of this passage categorically rules out any notion of hominid ancestors for Adam. God formed Adam, not from some pre-existing creature, but from the dust of the earth. “Man became a living creature” at this point – that implies that he was not a living creature prior to this moment. To reinterpret these words to accommodate any theory of evolution is unbelief. It is sin against the first commandment. It is a refusal to accept God’s Word and a form of idolatry.
In the past there have been Reformed theologians who have held various positions on the age of the earth. This does not say anything about whether such positions are true or false. Such positions may have been tolerated, but this could have been because of a lack of foresight as to where such positions might lead. The Canadian Reformed Churches have expressed concerns to the United Reformed Churches about the toleration of the Framework Hypothesis. The Framework Hypothesis leaves the door open for seeing the earth as millions or billions of years old rather than thousands or tens of thousands. This in turn more easily accommodates theistic evolution. Still, no URC ministers are known to be promulgating theistic evolution. No Reformed theologians in the Canadian Reformed Churches have promulgated theistic evolution. Theistic evolution is now what is being promulgated by various intellectuals and scientists. This is what must be addressed and refuted.
The Reformed Confessions
The Confessions are not a wax nose that can be turned any way we please. For example, Belgic Confession article 14 references Genesis 2:7, “We believe that God created man of dust from the ground…” When the Confession was first adopted by the Reformed Churches, it was understood that this meant that God literally created man from the earth. Prior to Adam, there were no “Adam-like” creatures or hominids. The first commentator on the Belgic Confession, Samuel Maresius, was familiar with the idea of pre-Adamites in his day. He wrote a lengthy refutation of the notion. Likewise, in his commentary on the Confession he indicates that the Confession means what it says. There is no room for pre-Adamites in the Belgic Confession. When the same Confession was adopted by the Canadian Reformed Churches, there was the same understanding. There is no “wiggle room” in this statement. It is disingenuous to suggest otherwise. Nevertheless, it may be advisable for our churches, in consultation with our sister churches and others (at ICRC and NAPARC) to add a clarifying statement in article 14 that rules out any possible notion of pre-Adamites or theistic evolution.
The question of creation and evolution is not a widespread global issue amongst Christians, whether new or more mature believers. It is more of an issue amongst North American and European academics in urban environments. One should not be tempted to reconsider the issue of theistic evolution on the basis of an argument that this is a significant concern for Christian mission.
The Calling of Office Bearers and Consistories
All office bearers have a duty to “oppose, refute, and help prevent” the errors of theistic evolutionary thinking in the Canadian Reformed Churches. Whether in public (from the pulpit) or in private discussions, ministers have a responsibility to give clear direction from the Word of God and call those to repentance who are harbouring, tolerating, or teaching such errors. Consistories have a responsibility to use the keys of the kingdom of heaven to bring brothers and sisters who harbour, tolerate, or teach such errors to real amendment and repentance. A failure to carry out this calling will be detrimental to the spiritual health of the Canadian Reformed Churches.