Evolution and how not to be a cult
March 26, 2010
A while back, I bemoaned the conversion of R. C. Sproul from evolutionist to Creationist (“The necessity of extra-theological norms”). But now I’m happy to see (ht: Chaplain Mike) that Bruce Waltke has come out saying that if evangelicals are not open to evolution, in the face of its unanimous support across the physical sciences, then we will become a cult (see video). I don’t know Dr. Waltke enough to know if this has been his long-held position or not, but it is quite refreshing to see (1) a conservative evangelical, (2) who is thoroughly Reformed, and (3) an influential Old Testament scholar make such a statement. The conservative Reformed world is where these sort of claims are the most contested — entire systems are in danger of collapse! Take away Adam, take away Jesus. That’s the view that I recently engaged on another blog. For what it’s worth, here are some bits of what I said in the comments:
…Israel, as such, did not exist at the beginning of creation (or of man), but they did eventually provide a protology which, probably not historical in large respects (the talking snake, the tree of knowledge, the rib for Eve, etc.), is authoritative for a theological anthropology that comprehends the (historical) place of Israel and her Savior.
…God does not inspire Scripture by over-riding, in this case, Paul’s assumptions about the historicity of Eden. Biblical inspiration can, and does, include the finite material, at hand, of the human authors. Yet, it is still infallible according to His purposes and intentions. Similarly, we don’t believe in a three-tier universe anymore (with heaven literally above the sky), even though several biblical authors were obviously working with this cosmology.
…We need the imputation of Christ’s works and merit because we are sinners, enslaved in sin and unable to make a perfect/eternal atonement, not because Adam’s guilt is imputed to us. Federal categories are not helpful here — this is about ontology — but federal representation is, indeed, helpful and necessary when we turn toward understanding the remedy of this ontology of sin. In other words, a federal soteriology does not require a federal protology. Sin entered the world with Adam (actually, Eve, or whoever the first humans were), and all subsequent generations have been born as sinners (and, therefore, guilty). However, this sin and guilt is fully our own since it constitutes the most fundamental part of ourselves (without which there is no “self”) — our will. It is as impossible to disown our guilt as it is impossible to disown ourselves. Thus, it is impossible to lay the blame elsewhere (Adam or whoever). Hence, federal categories are not helpful here and are actually misleading.