Where does theistic evolution lead?

Posted on August 25, 2013

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"Stop Following Me!"

So where is this heading? What kind of Christians accept evolution, and how does it affect their beliefs? Do they all deny Adam, original sin, the doctrine of inerrancy, divine intervention? Do they even accept the virgin birth and bodily resurrection of Jesus? Before any of these questions can be answered, a few points should to be made clear:

  1. Evolutionary biology is not a theology. A Christian with an evolutionary view of biology may be a Calvinist, a Pentecostal, a Roman Catholic, or a member of any other conservative or liberal denomination. An evolutionary understanding of natural history doesn’t close the door on discussions about inerrancy, an historical Adam, or other theological issues. You will find theistic evolutionists holding diverse positions on these issues. Even within the issue of evolution itself, there is a spectrum of views about how it works and God’s involvement.
  2. For Christians, evolution can be difficult to deal with whether we accept or deny it. Neither side can rest in certainty and ignore the challenges of the other. Young-Earth Creationist Todd Wood put it well in an essay when he said “Either way we go, we’re left with intellectual and spiritual tensions.” There are difficult theological questions for Christian evolutionists to work through, and there are difficult scientific questions for special creationists. Young-Earth Creationists may wonder how some others interpret Genesis 1 to include millions of years, and some of us wonder how they could interpret the fossil record as having been formed by a single catastrophe in recent history. Old-Earth Creationists have their problems from both sides. It’s not a simple issue regardless of where one stands.
  3. The truth is the truth no matter where it leads. It’s not about picking sides based on the whether or not we like the implications of an idea or if we like some individuals in a given camp.

As I work through some of these questions and discuss things here on this blog, keep in mind that my conclusions are still personal and that other Christian evolutionists may disagree with my interpretations and theology, even if we agree on the science (though we may disagree about the science, too!).

To answer the questions above, I affirm orthodox Christianity, as expressed in the Nicene Creed. I believe in the divinity of Christ, His virgin birth, and bodily resurrection. I believe that God can do miracles. Regarding Original Sin, I think that the biological advances made since Augustine call his understanding of inherited sin into question – and I don’t think it has the biblical support to overcome the scientific, theological, and philosophical problems it creates.

I’m a life-long student of the Bible. When studying the synoptic Gospels, or comparing Kings and Chronicles, I find it impossible to ascribe to the Doctrine of Inerrancy as it tends to be understood in evangelical circles. I believe the Bible is inspired, authoritative, and useful for “teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” I believe the Bible is “God-breathed”. To say it’s “God-spoken” and the authors were merely taking dictation ignores the explanations explicitly given by the human authors and replaces them with an imposed view that fails to explain the features of the Bible, in my opinion.

So those are some of my views, for what it’s worth. Some may incorporate evolutionary thinking, but most are completely independent. My point is that there isn’t a single, unified evolutionary theology. Accepting or denying modern science’s conclusions about life on earth doesn’t conclude our efforts to understand our world, ourselves, or our faith.

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