RTS, Bruce Waltke, and Statements (and Non-Statements) of Faith

Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS) has dismissed Dr. Bruce Waltke because he recently stated publicly two radical convictions: (1) that a Bible-believing Christian could believe in evolution; and (2) that the church needs to beware of becoming a cultural laughingstock for retaining anti-evolutionary views that cannot be supported scientifically.

What’s pathetic about this action is that those points weren’t even radical in the nineteenth century, when Darwin himself had a number of orthodox defenders. So RTS apparently is not quite ready to catch up with almost two centuries of theology/science dialogue.

But that’s the easy point to make—glad as I am to make it on behalf of a beloved colleague (Bruce is a professor emeritus at Regent College). Here’s a different one.

If you examine RTS’s highly detailed declaration of their theological commitments, as you can here and here, you will find only a little commentary about views of evolution. And by “only a little” I mean “not a single word.” Bruce’s openness to evolution was so crucial to the theological integrity of RTS as to get him fired, but not important enough to articulate formally.

Yet in fairness to RTS, they’re hardly the only confessional institution in this situation. Lots of Christian schools nowadays have statements of faith plus a whole raft of other beliefs that one had better hold or face termination. Questions of sexuality; marriage and divorce (and remarriage); alcohol use; political allegiance and involvement;  gender in home, church, and society; and, yes, understandings of creation and evolution—these and others form the “hidden clauses” of many a school’s statement of faith.

We here at Regent struggle with this as well, so much so that we are considering ways of being more articulate indeed about what we expect of school leaders so that we truly are of one mind on whatever we agree is centrally important to our mission—and therefore free to disagree about what is not.

The RTS/Waltke fiasco, therefore—and it is a fiasco for RTS, while Bruce will be just fine, I’m sure—raises a basic question a lot of other schools have gotten away with answering behind closed doors. Those days are done: It’s time to put it all out there.

[Note added on April 13: For the record, I have confirmed the account offered here with sources familiar the details of the situation, despite the suggestions in some comments below that I am misconstruing what RTS has done.]

0 Responses to “RTS, Bruce Waltke, and Statements (and Non-Statements) of Faith”

      • Donny

        Have you spoken with Dr. Waltke or the administration at RTS to determine whether it was a “dismissal”, “resignation”, a “firing” or something else? If you haven’t heard it from one party or the other, does your use of quotation marks give excuse for spreading rumors as if they are fact?

        • John Stackhouse

          Donny, You don’t know much about how these things work, it seems. Everyone who understands this sort of situation knows what happened: That’s why every news medium reporting on it gives the same take.

          • Donny

            Dr. Stackhouse, I apologize if my comment sounded naive. My question for you is this, “Are you personally aware of how this happened or are you making assumptions?” If you have insider knowledge, then feel free to let everyone know what “really happened.” The truth deserves to be told. If you don’t, then let it be known that you are making assumptions. But, if you are making assumptions, then please also let it be known that you may be wrong and if you are wrong then you have slandered either Dr. Waltke or the administration of RTS. Doesn’t the dignity and value of every person deserve a fair hearing or is it okay if their character is impugned so long as it is kept to blog comment sections? If Dr. Waltke says he was not forced out, then is he a liar or is he the naive one (As everyone’s favorite theologian, Forrest Gump, might say, “I may not be a smart man, but I know what fired is.”)? I’ve spent a good deal of time with him in the past several months…Dr. Waltke is not one to suppress an opinion, but you probably already know that. So why would you imply that he’s a liar or that the administration of RTS has been nefarious in this situation? Let’s have dialogue about Gen 1-3. Let’s not question the integrity of people based on assumptions.

            • John Stackhouse

              Donny, you are using a lot of binary categories here–too many for me to refute in a short comment. But as for your key term “assumptions,” I am offering interpretations based on the evidence available according to what I know of how the North American evangelical academy works and what these words typically mean in that cultural context. So I’m not offering wild speculations (which is what I think you mean by “assumptions”): I’m offering an interpretation of the evidence, and it’s an interpretation common to most of the media who have covered this story.

  1. Chris Miller

    Helen Guergis “resigned” too. Although, in her case she clearly should have.

  2. theo_student

    Dr. Stackhouse,
    Have you read the Westminster Confession of Faith? In 4:1, it clearly outlines a position on creation…6 days. Waltke’s position was theistic evolution…which is no where near in sync with the WCF. He outlined this position in his popular Old Testament Theology (which incidently is a great textbook aside from his views on creation). If an institution holds all faculty to a confessional statement, that institution has a right and responsibility to fire those whose view depart from the confession. That is what happened at RTS-Orlando. I, for one, am proud of RTS for holding tight to their confessional standards in a day when other institutions are flighty and weak on theological convictions.

    • John Stackhouse

      Oh, come on: You don’t need Westminster for “six days,” you just need Genesis 1. Waltke knows Genesis 1 better than you or I do, and better than anybody at RTS that fired him. If he thinks he can say what he said and not contradict Genesis 1, then I’d say the burden of proof is on those who disagree. WCF has nothing important to say on the matter.

      • Timothy Jones

        Professor,

        My Regent days are long past, but I do believe those are documents from very different Genres, written with very different language. I even suspect Dr. Waltke would agree.

  3. Lisa

    Isn’t the standard to which we should all be called to live as Jesus lived, to submit our lives to God and to love one another?

    And shouldn’t we concede that none of us has all the answers? Aren’t we all called to individually explore these issues with God and come to the best understanding we can?

  4. theo_student

    oh, I agree that 6 days in clearly in Gen. 1. But his position of theistic evolution is outside the very idea of “6 days.” He goes beyond even the common “framework” hypothesis articulated by Kline. His view departs from the standards of his institution. Therefore, they had a right to urge his resignation.

    One further point is that RTS as an institution is deliberately trying to raise up ministers who will hopefully be ordained in to pastoral ministry one day in conservative, Reformed denominations mostly. Waltke’s position would not pass ordination in most conservative Reformed denominations. Why would an institution keep an unordained man whose position on creation is outside the boundaries of what is acceptable to most of their related denominations?

    On another note…the nail in the coffin for Waltke was the bit in the video about the church being viewed by the world as a cult unless they accept evolution. He really stoked the fire with that idea. Should we be concerned how the world views us? We believe in the resurrection from the dead; should we be surprised if the world thinks the church is crazy?

    • Bethany

      theo_student, I don’t think that Waltke is concerned if the world thinks us a “cult” when it comes to the central points of the Gospel, like the resurrection. The problem comes when church leaders are willfully ignorant about the basic nature of the world we live in, and people shame the Gospel message in consequence. The classic statement on this, is of course, Augustine’s:
      “Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he hold to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn.”
      People are being kept from salvation because of the insistence of church members that evolution is incompatible with Christian belief.
      This is a sad day for Christian education.

      • John Stackhouse

        Again, if the Westminster Standards say only “6 days,” then anyone who can understand evolution in terms of Gen. 1 can, ipso facto, understand it also in terms of the WCF.

        The fact that YOU can’t understand how they can do it is neither here nor there, right? The fact that RTS thinks that there is no way a conservative OT scholar like Waltke can do it is breathtaking in its arrogance.

        And to your last point: it is indeed too bad that there are a lot of stupid congregations out there who might not hire someone because of such a belief. But (1) that’s not a reason for RTS not to help such congregations catch up with two centuries of science by training Bible-believing pastors who know better and (2) why didn’t they fire Waltke when his published work made clear how he stands?

        Could it be that someone, somewhere, saw Bruce’s video and caused a ruckus at RTS, prompting this precipitous action that was not prompted by the publication of his book–which RTS leaders certainly ought to have known about previously, and probably did (and didn’t mind it)?

        • Jewel

          What science? Seriously! If you actually ever studied evolution and not just in school. You will find that there is no evidence! Period. That’s why they are only allowed to say “theory”. Because that’s all it is. If you really want to get technical evolution is also a religion. Like it or not. So you are still choosing a religion just like atheism is a religion as well.

          • John Stackhouse

            I shouldn’t bite on this, but for the record, I have no idea on what serious scientific grounds Jewel can propound these confident views. “No evidence. Period.” Just sad, really, that many, many Christians continue to believe this line of propaganda from the “creation science” folk.

          • Steve Wilkinson

            Schools, especially religious ones, need to address this topic rather than sweep it under the rug. The first response I’d provide to Jewel is that there are multiple definitions of evolution. There are some that I’m sure even you, Jewel, would agree with. At the other extreme are definitions NO Christian could accept. There are several in-between that good Christians can debate over.

            So, when someone asks if you believe in evolution, you should reply back, “Can you explain what you mean by evolution?”

          • Matt Jones

            “That’s why they are only allowed to say “theory”. ”

            This statement always comes from people who do not understand science. “Theory” in science is quite different from “theory” in the common vernacular. “Creation science” folk have never seemed to grasp this.

            The theory of gravity is only a “theory”. I guess that means it doesn’t have any evidence or I can choose not to believe in it.

            • John Stackhouse

              Jewel, you’re not seriously asking someone for evidence for this or that understanding of evolution, are you? That is readily available lots of other places and it would waste people’s time to post some here!

            • Bob

              Jewel, I would suggest that you look at “Language of God” by Francis Collins as a good starting point. He is a brilliant man, was head of the Human Genome Project (sequencing the human genome), and is a practicing Christian.

  5. Rob

    Apart from the argument about the “resignation” in this case, the more general point that you make in this post is valid, and as far as I can tell beyond argument. Institutions be they secular or (especially) theological should be transparent in what they hold to be essential, and thus dismissal-worthy. Any rules that govern one’s livelihood that are unwritten are highly suspect and open up very legitimate questions about the integrity of the institution.

  6. Maurice Harting

    I respectfully disagree with Prof. John Stackhouse defense of Dr. Bruce Waltke’s position that a Bible believing Christian could believe in evolution.
    Theological greats like Prof. R.C. Sproul, Dr. Albert Mohler, and even arminians like Ravi Zacharias agree that there is no room for Darwinistic macro-evolution when one looks at the Book of Genesis in the Bible and how God created the heavens and the earth and all that is in it.
    Dr. Bruce Waltke was wrong in the past when he defended Scofield’s belief in dispensationalism and later changed his mind, as he should do with his defense of evolution.
    What’s next? Is Dr. Bruce Waltke going to defend the high school science class poster showing how an ape developed into an erect homo sapiens over time?

    Maurice Harting
    mauriceharting@yahoo.ca

    • John Stackhouse

      Let’s leave aside whether Brothers Sproul, Mohler and Zacharias ought to be counted as theological “greats” (I certainly don’t count them as such, even as I respect aspects of their ministries), and simply say that lots of pretty smart and pretty godly theologians say otherwise–and have over the last century and a half since On the Origin of Species first was published. (Even B. B. Warfield didn’t dismiss it out of hand; nor did James Orr–and you don’t get much more Reformed than those two.)

      Folks, don’t you feel the least bit humbled by Waltke’s learning and long career as a conservative scholar and bethink yourself that you might just be mistaken about the categorical incompatibility of the Genesis account and any form of evolution? Can’t you leave the door open even a bit for a man with two doctorates who has spent his life studying the OT and teaching it in conservative places?

      Don’t get me wrong: I don’t think Bruce is infallible. I think he’s dead wrong about gender and I argued with him publicly about his criticism of the work of our OT colleagues Iain Provan and Phil Long. But still: On this issue Bruce has lots and lots of worthy company and RTS is ‘way overreacting. I wonder why…

      • Jewel

        Who cares what doctorates he has. I didn’t know that was a requirement for godly wisdom and discernment in the bible. Genesis is pretty clear and when we depend on what scholars say and not just read the bible ourselves that’s when we can be easily deceived! I vote God’s word or a man’s interpretation any day. Even if the man was sincere and was only doing what he thought was right. Don’t leave the door open and let the wolves in, they always seem like sheep.

        • Jewel

          Correction: God’s word over a man’s interpretation.

          • John Stackhouse

            And you are qualified to tell us what God’s Word says on the basis of . . . what?

            Your presumption is that “Genesis is pretty clear,” and that’s just a hilarious thing to say, given centuries of varied interpretation among a wide range of faithful and learned Christians. It’s NOT “pretty clear” in at least some respects: That’s why faithful and learned Christians differ.

            • Bob

              Jewel, consider that Psalm 139 says that: “My frame was not hidden from you…When I was woven together in the depths of the earth”
              Taken literally, this would seem to suggest that the psalmist thinks his foetus gestated underground. Yet we don’t ridicule him because we know that it is a metaphor for his mother’s womb. We accept this because we know genre of the psalm is a poem, a hymn. Consider: What genre is Genesis 1-3?

          • Jewel

            On the basis of common sense. Which has been lacking with those “faithful and learned Christians” you speak of who scratched their heads at how God said he made creation. You can have a child read it and they can tell you the “who” and “how” of creation. It’s sad when even babes can put the best of us to shame. God couldn’t have been more clear when he states in Genesis 1:5 that the evening and the morning were the first day. So common sense says okay a morning and an evening constitutes a day. There’s day one and so on until you reach day 7 where God rests. Then we are supposed to follow that example. How can we if we think he took millions of years to create everything when do we pick to rest then? See how someone else could think that your view would be hilarious one. People have known since Adam the creation account. But the devil likes to twist, confuse and blind us to the truth. It’s right there if we would just pray that God would take the blinders off and show us.

            • Bennett

              This is so interesting! The emotion, the rhetoric, the logic and ill-logic.

              I’ll throw this out there for possible discussion only related to this post by a flimsy side alley. Assuming God created Adam in the course of no more than one day, how old would he appear to our contemporary eyes on his second day of life? In other words if the “literal” Adam was transported through time to today and he went to the doctor how old do you think the doctor would guess him?

              If the answer is anything more than 2 or 3 days old then, to me, that raises an interesting epistemological situation. IF God created the universe in 6 literal days equal to contemporary days, then how would we ever be able to scientifically prove it? I’m sure I’m not the first to think of this fact, but I’ve never come across it. If God made the earth in this way and a scientist showed up during week two would the earth appear to be a week old? Or would it look more-or-less…old? I’ve always pictured it as old from the beginning. Does anyone else see this as a problem?

              My only possible theory is that God is less concerned with Time and Beginnings and Ends, than we can imagine and therefore less concerned that we can express in literature.

            • Steve Wilkinson

              Bennett,

              I think there is a work around to avoid that dilemma. There are several ways one could measure age. One would be to just look at Adam and make a guess based on his appearance. I suppose that would be a fairly primitive technique, but you’d then probably guess some adult age (what number, who knows?).

              However, if you took other biological measurements… then it depends. If God wanted to create Adam in such a way that all our techniques would measure him to be more than 2 days old (to match his developmental appearance), God could find a way to do so. However, if God just straight out created him as a direct creation event (without trying to make anything ‘look’ a certain way), my guess is that we’d see a mixture of measurements. Things like appearance, development of certain aspects would say old… but looking at other biological markers would tell us he is extremely new or ‘young’.

              Interestingly, I think as our abilities to understand genetics advances, we will actually be able to answer this question with pretty good certainty. In other words… is humanity a unique creation, or a branch of the evolutionary tree, and if so, approximately how old. (This of course, makes the assumption God hasn’t tried to make things appear other than they actually are).

              As for the age of the earth or universe, there are tons of independent ways we can measure age. The question again, is can we depend on any of this kind of analysis? Or, has God made all this stuff to look a certain way, never intending us to try and figure it out. If the latter, then someone way back made a huge hermeneutical mistake in assuming what we now call scientific discovery was worthy of pursuing.

              There is a young-earth, 6-day position apart from the ‘God tricked us, just believe’ camp (which I’ve mostly seen represented in the YEC comments here), and that is that we can depend on scientific measures of age, we’ve just got them wrong in the main-stream. I differ with the first camp for theological reasons (nature of God and how He is revealed in Scripture), but I can appreciate this second camp. I don’t agree based on the evidence I’ve seen, but it is a worthwhile pursuit which still integrates the Bible and science nicely… so long as they are willing to fully participate in the science community and debate (and have their work critiqued properly).

              And, I’m not saying the above about ‘tricked us’ for the one YEC camp as an insult, just that those people can’t do science. All they can do is have that interpretation of Scripture, trust that they got it right, and ignore other Christians and science.

        • Steve Wilkinson

          I’ve found one big problem in this debate is that people believe there is only one ‘literal’ interpretation to Genesis 1. While I admit that some OT scholars go a bit beyond a literal reading, one can certainly conclude a non-6-24hr-day creation without abandoning a literal reading.

          I would say the big question is not literal vs non-literal, but historical vs non-historical. That is where the big division is located today in serious scholarship. Some OT scholars fall on the side of non-historical. If this is the case with Waltke, I can understand RTS’s discomfort, as it introduces theological problems more than exegetical ones. If this was their issue, they should be VERY clear about that, though I don’t really see it as grounds for dismissal.

          Maurice & Jewel – consider that Hebrew for day (yom) can have a number of literal interpretations from sunrise to sunset; a 24-hour day; the afternoon; an indefinite (but not infinite) period of time; reference to a range of time (the days of Noah); proper noun with an event (Yom Kippur – Day of Atonement), etc. The genealogies later in Genesis and other places in the Bible are widely recognized to be incomplete. So, other than the ‘day and night’ structure, there is nothing in the Bible to indicated the length of time of creation.

          You can make arguments one way or another about the day and night structure, but a literal reading of it AT LEAST ALLOWS for a non-6-24hr-day view. So, one can read Genesis quite literally, and not be a young-earth creationist. Then you have to decide whether you are going to let God’s creation inform your understanding of Biblical interpretation in any way, and that could push you one way or the other between LEGITIMATE readings.

  7. Maurice Harting

    and Prof. John Stackhouse … theo_student under item 3 of this blog does raise an important objection by those bright theologians who formulated the WCF that it was in their humble opinion “6 days” that the Bible in Genesis refers to. Your apparent (hasty) dismissal with “Oh, come on” does not take in account the patience and careful crafting of the formulators of the WCF document who themselves were no light weights when it comes to biblical understanding.
    Bottom line … I don’t like revisionism or those that think they can improve on the understanding of the greats of the past whom were inspired by the Holy Spirit.

    • John Stackhouse

      Unless you’re what I call a Roman Catholic Presbyterian–a not uncommon breed who believe that the Reformed Confessions deserve to be characterized as “inspired by the Holy Spirit” while Reformed Christians OUGHT to reserve such language for the Bible alone–then I suggest that what the 17th-century Westminster divines thought about interpreting the Genesis record two centuries before evolutionary theory probably isn’t the place to dig in on Bible-science questions.

      And, while we’re at it, keep reading in Article 4 of the WCF to the place where it heretically says that human beings were created with “immortal souls.” I appreciate much of what the WCF says, but “inspired by the Holy Spirit” is ‘way too strong for me….

  8. Pilgrim in the Ruins

    There are those at RTS who cannot abide any view if it does not affirm a young earth, 24 hour day view of Genesis 1.

    It seems to me that as long as you affirm these truths as taught in the first chapters of Genesis — creation of a good earth by an omnipotent God, a historical Adam and Eve created in God’s image without sin, a real, historical fall into sin that brought all of their descendents into a state of sin and misery, and in the promise of a redeemer — your views are permissible in the Reformed Presbyterian Churches.

    From experience, my guess as to how the resignation happened is that RTS probably wrote the letter of resignation and asked Bruce to sign it, making it appear as if it was his initiative, his own decision.

    • MJG

      This is untrue. You dishonor Dr. Waltke by such speculations, no matter how plausible they may be in your mind.

      Dr. Stackhouse comes close to the same. His speculation is not based on a knowledge of the facts.

          • John Stackhouse

            “Speculations” is the wrong word: “Interpretation of the available evidence” is, more strictly, what I meant. That’s what I’m engaging in, and if someone has either information that would prompt a reinterpretation or an interpretation that better explains the available evidence, then please bring it forward.

            But no historian ever has “all the facts,” nor does a historian even NEED “all the facts” to engage in responsible interpretation. That’s what I’m doing.

  9. Maurice Harting

    Thank you for your replies to my posts Prof. Stackhouse.
    A few more “food for thought”:

    1. “Leaving the door open” as you suggest depends on what thoughts are being led in through that door.
    When it comes to secular humanism or atheistic darwinism or man-made evolution theories that door should be firmly closed for the genuine Christian in my humble opinion.

    2. Maybe these youtube video clips will change your mind on whether or not Prof. R.C. Sproul deserves your lower theological view of him and his insights on creation:
    See Prof. R.C. Sproul’s discussion with Ben Stein below (3 parts)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpM76ymlnbA (part 1 of 3)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDJgxJOdQ04&feature=related (part 2 of 3)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDTCMnw4EbU&feature=related (part 3 of 3)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kVHZrSuXZkY&feature=related (part 1 of 5)
    The other 4 parts of the discussion between R.C. Sproul and scientist Stephen Meyer on Intelligent Design can be accessed through youtube as well.

    Ofcoarse Dr. Bruce Waltke’s knowledge of the OT is great and I am not questioning him on that. However, his initial acceptance of Scofield’s dispensationalism as well as his views on progressive creationism and the like makes me question whether or not He sees the God of the Bible as being a. fully sovereign (in charge of everything), b. omnipotent (could have created the universe in 1 day if He so chose), c. truth (He says what He means and means what He says).

    Your love for Dr. Bruce Waltke should not be grounds for compromising on issues with un-biblical basis however well it can be defended.

    Love your Easter message on 100 Huntley Street!

    In His grip,

    Maurice Harting

  10. Paul McClure

    For those interested in what Dr. Waltke actually says in his magnum opus, An Old Tesatment Theology, published in 2007, here it is:

    “For most moderns,… the biblical narrative has been replaced by evolutionism, a philosophy that regards the process of things changing from a simple of lower to a higher or more complex state as ultimately due to chance, not to intelligent design. Since the biblical narrative does not prescribe the process of creation from a scientific viewpoint, the origin of species by evolutionary processes cannot be ruled out automatically, but evolutionism’s worldview that only matter exists and that it is ruled by chance must be rejected as unreasonable and, more important, as antithetical to the biblical worldview” (173).

    I don’t find anything that is contentious here, and I dearly hope that those in Charlotte and Orlando knew of this passage as they made their decision. As an RTS student who has taken Dr. Waltke’s OT Theology class, which was taught at Regent in the summer of ’07, I can say that I am humbled by the depth and breadth of his scholarship, and unless you are in his ranks, of which there are few, some humility and consideration to Waltke’s views is only appropriate.

    • Jewel

      I’m sorry, I didn’t know God made ranks. Well I guess I should bow to Dr. Waltke in whatever he says then.

      • John Stackhouse

        Don’t be petulant, Jewel. God himself has ordained teachers to bless the church. If you have good reason to disagree with Dr. Waltke, fine, but you should indeed have pretty good reason to dispute with someone who apparently knows far more than you do about the issues involved.

        • Jewel

          That’s being a bit judgemental seeing you don’t know a thing about me, except my posts.

    • Jack McLaughlin

      Thank you Paul for introducing some calm and grace into this whole discussion. Dr. Waltke is quite capable of defending himself if he feels that necessary. I would also like to think that he would not have asked Bilogos to take the offending video down if he really felt that it reflected unequivocally his position on the matter. Bruce Waltke may be a soft spoken gentleman but from what I know of him from people who do know him, he is courageous enough to stick to his guns if he feels that he is being bullied by those around him.

      Thanks for writing to him, and praying for him. We should all do this and we should pray also that wisdom be granted to all institutions of learning as they deal with controversial topics.

      It sounds as if Dr. Waltke, in not pointing a finger of blame at RTS or, indeed, mentioning any other parties, has proven to have earned the reputation as a Christian statesman that he carries into the sunset of his life and career.

  11. theo_student

    No doubt humility is required. I do not question the man’s abilities or his devotion to Christ. But his views are deemed incompatible with the confessional standards of RTS as well as the denominations most closely associated with RTS (the PCA, ARP, OPC…these institutions have denominational papers prohibiting ministers from holding the position of theistic evolution). Therefore, RTS has not only the right, but the responsibility to dismiss any professor (regardless of intellectual ability or piety) who comes into disagreement with those standards. This is simply the nature of any confessional institution. They should not be criticized for holding professors to their standards, which unfortunately means dismissing them sometimes.

    • Andrew Tsai

      If RTS does not allow prof. who believes in theistic evolution to teach at their institution, why hire him in the first place? IT would be shame on them for NOT knowing Waltke’s stand on this issue if they care about this issue that much. He has written on this subject before he taught there. And even if he did not, should not the institution have asked him his view on this issue, given that they would not allow prof. who think otherwise to teach there?

  12. E.G.

    Thanks, Dr. Stackhouse, for your analysis of this sad situation.

    My biggest question… what do non-Christians think when they see this sort of nonsense within the Church? My only consolation… probably 99.9% of them don’t bother to notice… but what if they did?

    Second, I have noticed that people who love to associate with the most legalistic of institutions (seminaries, churches, even small Bible study groups) really enjoy the certainty that they feel in their beliefs… until one day they discover that one of their beliefs (a belief, as is usually the case, on a non-essential, such as the process of Creation) clashes with that of the group or the leadership. Suddenly, they find themselves on the outside as well… and that’s no longer fun.

    I’ve had several friends like this. Some have simply gone on to find other legalistic settings in which they (so far) don’t notice their differences with the leadership/congregation. Others have (thankfully) reconsidered their legalism and have come to realize that a diversity of opinion in the church – within certain reasonable bounds – actually makes the church stronger… and perhaps actually better represents the Truth of the Scriptures in some ways. Since so many views (e.g. Arminianism vs. Calvinism) can both seem reasonable at times, is it possible that both simply approach the same Truth from different directions? And that both, then, should be represented as we struggle to reconcile ideas and understand Truth? Of course, that struggle will continue until the day that our Lord returns. But, until then, can’t we simply agree that various opinions on non-essentials might all have merit?

  13. Paul McClure

    theo_student,

    I’m glad we agree that humility is required and that Dr. Waltke’s scholarship and piety are not in question. Could you point me to the “denominational papers prohibiting ministers from holding the position of theistic evolution”?I’d be interested in reading those.

    Also, even if the denominations like the PCA have confessional standards on this matter, does RTS, which as far as I can tell doesn’t have its own confessional standard regarding the process of creation, have the responsibility to force upon him his resignation?

    Thanks for your insight

  14. theo_student

    I agree that unity amid disagreement over nonessentials is right and good. However, the problem is that those who are reacting so negatively against RTS for this are not practicing this very thing. Even Dr. Stackhouse above says, “So RTS apparently is not quite ready to catch up with almost two centuries of theology/science dialogue.” That is not unity and charity amid disagreement. That is dismay over the fact that a confessional institution would rather side with what Scripture seems clear on rather than side with the “clear” testimony of scientific theory. What we’re dealing with here is a question of authority…what is absolute? Is Scripture actually authoritative over our lives, even if it means disagreeing with the thousands of contradictory pages which have been written about theories of evolution? Or does science compel us to scrap Scripture when it contradicts our modern science theories? That is the problem. I’m for unity amid disagreement, but Christianity stands or falls on this question of the authority of Scripture. It is worth fighting for; without it, we have no principles for unity in disagreement.

  15. theo_student

    Paul,

    I do not have the papers on hand. However, you should be able to find their position papers at http://www.pcanet.org. It is a good question about whether RTS has that kind of documentation. To my knowledge, they don’t, but my knowledge is limited so, they may. While it is true that they wouldn’t enforce one denomination’s position papers for the seminary, my point was that those denominations are closest to the seminary, and it is likely that whether officially or unofficially, the board would act toward the seminary as they would tend to act with the denomination. Now…as to whether that is right or wrong is another question. Good question. As for the idea of having the responsibility or bringing about his resignation, I would argue yes simply due to the fact that faculty know that theistic evolution is not an allowable position within the faculty of RTS. See the article at Inside Higher Ed. for statements from Dr. Mike Milton, interim president for RTS-Orlando concerning standards for faculty.

  16. Anonymous

    Professors at RTS are required to sign a statement each year that they hold to the inerrancy of Scripture and to the doctrines contained in the Westminster Confession of Faith andf Catechisms. Students are required to memorize the Shorter Catechism to graduate, so there is a strong commitment to historic Prebysbyterian orthodoxy. There is no written statement regarding specific doctrinal views such as creation or the relationship of science and the Bible. But I can tell you that there are certain standards that are whispered underneath the table, so to speak. I’ve heard RTS professors time and again remark that a particular candidate won’t be a good fit because he won’t pass muster with Doug Kelly’s or Ligon Duncan’s perspective on creation. So RTS is looking for a certain cast of mind. The Seminary is a denominationally independent institution so it is not under the authority of any church court except that most professors are ordained teaching elders (and if not teaching elders, then ruling elders) in the PCA, EPC, ARP, OPC and even PCUSA. The Seminary is very proud of its denominational diversity, but has a narrow theological stance.

  17. Maurice Harting

    I do agree with theo_student’s points of view on these matters. In our modern day secular society in general and in our modern day Christian churches in particular we see more and more a liberalization and a revisionist attitude and mindset, which I believe is unhealthy and un-biblical. As Christians we need to have the mind of Christ and the only way to get that is by studying and applying the Word of God with discernment enabled by the Holy Spirit and much prayer in thought, word and deed.
    As an old dutch saying goes: “Being slothful is resting on the devil’s pillow” and we need to remain on guard against those with revisionist agendas.

    Maurice Harting
    mauriceharting@yahoo.ca

  18. John Stackhouse

    Sometimes my students at Regent can’t believe that people can be so naive as to identify their particular interpretation of Scripture as simply “what the Bible says.” But we’ve had a few such people comment thus on the list. Waltke has his view, and I have God’s view. Um, no: Waltke has his view and you have your view and the rest of us have to decide as best we can where the truth lies.

    My beef with RTS is not that they are siding with Scripture over against Bruce Waltke. It is that they are presuming to know what Genesis 1 must mean in terms of evolutionary theory and that Waltke is wrong. Indeed, they must presume that they know so certainly what it means, and that the issue is so crucial, that they would rather do without Bruce’s ministry among them than have him teach his point of view from time to time about this issue. That’s what’s going on. And I believe that RTS is wildly wrong about that judgment.

    It isn’t, as I keep saying, a matter of faithfulness to the confessions, let alone the Bible. It is instead about a very particular interpretation of both.

    But as long as theo_student and Brother Harting keep equating their interpretations or RTS’s interpretations with the documents themselves, then there’s nothing more to be said. One must just walk away, shaking one’s head at people’s hermeneutical arrogance, however well intended. For it is indeed arrogance to arrogate to oneself the authority to interpret God’s Word or the confessions over against anyone else.

  19. Ben Vandergugten

    After reading this post last night I emailed Dr. Waltke to let him know I was praying for him at this difficult time. He responded and let me know that he has no wish for the reputation of RTS to be tarnished. The original Biologos video caused a big stir in part because it was improperly contextualized. Dr. Waltke explains here: http://biologos.org/blog/why-must-the-church-come-to-accept-evolution-an-update/
    He does not repudiate his view of “theistic evolution,” but is concerned that RTS was involved in this controversy because of him. Having been his student, I know that Dr. Waltke is a humble and gracious man. His first concern is for Christ and His Church. Dr. Waltke does not find fault with RTS, and so I think we should respect his wishes and not tarnish the reputation of RTS (though I understand Dr. Stackhouse’s frustration). Dr. Waltke is a humble and gracious man, and we should follow his example, as he follows Christ’s example.

    • John Stackhouse

      I’m not sure what the point is here, Ben. RTS’s reputation is based on what it did, not on what I or Bruce Waltke or anyone else says about them. It is not a matter of “tarnishing” anything, but of remarking on an event and trying to draw some useful lessons from it.

      Bruce has his own reasons for what he is now saying, and that’s fine. But I don’t see that the Kingdom of God is advanced by giving RTS a pass in this apparently egregious case.

      • Jack McLaughlin

        Perhaps RTS should get “a pass” and the Kingdom of God advanced simply because this is an “APPARENTLY egregious case”. We don’t have the whole story and maybe we should call a cease fire on the matter, until we have more information.

        At the moment, there seems to be a lot more going on in this Blog with its replies, than merely “remarking on an event and trying to draw some useful lessons from it.”
        It could be confused with “open season” on ‘confessional institutions such as RTS, and their ilk.”

        Dr. Waltke, who has taught at both “confessional” and “non-confessional” schools and wrote about the difference when he first moved to Regent College, has not used the word “fired” and yet there is a somewhat hard to describe undertone in the words: “Bruce has his own reasons for what he is now saying.”

        Am I to believe that Bruce Waltke, the colleague and Christians brother, about whom this Blog originated, is duplicitous? That he actually does feel wronged but for “money”, “job references” or for the sake of “unity in the Body of Christ” he now refuses to “go along” with our defending him and ‘dissing’ RTS for acting “pathetically”,and “being not quite ready to catch up with almost two centuries of theology/science dialogue.”? Hmm…?

        Changing the focus somewhat, perhaps the real villan in the piece is Biologos. Dr.Waltke didn’t see the video and they didn’t ‘contextualize’ his comments when they posted it on their Website. Surprise, surprise! “Gotcha”.

        As a man of integrity Dr. Waltke obviously thought that the slice of video that was posted and being viewed did not accurately present his position and that it would have a negative impact upon RTS. Therefore, he asked, and Biologos, to their credit, reluctantly, removed the video.

        However,Biologos has a particularly hardline position when it comes to promoting Darwinian evolution. See for example: Karl Giberson’s Saving Darwin and his “interview” with Francis Collins recently published in Books and Culture.

        Both men are convinced that their view of “theistic evolution” and the agenda of Biologos which is funded by the Templeton Foundation is the only way to prevent our young people from having their faith destroyed because they have been encouraged by ignorant preachers, philosophers historians and lawyers to doubt Darwin.

        Bruce Waltke would make an impressive trophy if only he could be heard saying (better yet, seen, saying) that he supported the hardline position of the Templeton Foundation, Francis Collins, Karl Giberson, Darryl Falk and Dennis Alexander. Sadly, for them he doesn’t.

        Their position is: “SINCE[ [our view of] EVOLUTION IS A FACT then EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANS MUST CHANGE some of their theology and JETTISON ENTIRELY other bits of it. Otherwise evangelicals will look like “dummies” in the eyes of USA Today, for example, and our children will lose their faith.

        Waltke is much more measured and nuanced, and it is important to note that he begins by saying he is NOT a scientist—but an interested professional, as it were, in an area where history and science and theology meet.

        So Waltke states quite correctly,(it would seem to me): IF EVOLUTION IS TRUE, then we as evangelical Christians must learn how to incorporate it into our theology. BUT SCIENCE is CONSTANTLY in flux and not, at present, settled.

        Not quite what was hoped for,I’m sure, by the promoters of radical theistic evolution found at Biologos and I suspect, at the Faraday Institute in Great Britain, as well.

        Because the science is not absolute, Waltke has even suggested that there should be civil debate and exchange of ideas between Biologos and the Intelligent Design community, neither of whom, are committed to a “Creation Science” Six Day creation position but differ greatly on whether or not “natural selection” can carry the weight that it has been asked to, given the advances in genetic science even since the decoding done by Francis Collins’ team.

        We shall see, but don’t hold your breath. For the Biologos folk, the ID theorists are “creationists in a cheap tuxedo” (whether they are Christians, Jews, Muslims,atheists or ‘Moonies” ) and nobody with the support of the Templeton Foundation is likely to invite ID theorists to the banquet table. Many of these IDers, aren’t even scientists much less biologists. Waltke, Stackhouse, and Plantinga need not expect an invitation unless they say the right things before the event.

        We shall see what happens with the $350,000 grant from the Templeton Foundation to Regent College given to delve into the integration of faith and science. Just how many ID theorists do I expect to see invited to that series of discussions? About as many as there are references to ‘evolution’ in the RTS statement of faith. I could be wrong, and have been surprised before, so I live in hope.

        The Biologos folk, and Dennis Lammoureux in Edmonton, have a “take no prisoners” approach when it comes to their agenda regarding evolution. They will not even admit that their “theistic evolution” or “evolutionary creationism” or “Biologos” is a form of intelligent design and that it should, as such, give real evidence of the existence of the Creator behind the cosmos. They have no room as “scientists” for intelligent agency.

        John Lennox, on the other hand, in his delightful book, God’s Undertaker, does a masterful job of presenting the evidence for “fine tuning” in the biosphere, something studiously avoided by Francis Collins in The Language of God. His arguments are from C.S. Lewis and the moral natural law theory, and the fine tuning of the cosmos noted by physicists.

        Bruce Waltke and RTS and perhaps even Regent College may be casualties (junk DNA?) in the evolution of Christianity so far as Biologos is concerned. If they do not change in their direction then they deserve to go out of existence because they are part of the problem not part of the solution.

        Biologos has its own spin on what has happened and have posted that on their Website. They did the right thing, and Dr. Waltke has been persuaded by FEAR to ask them to do the irregular and take the video off their Website. That they have done out of respect for him as a person not because they felt they ought to as journalists.

        Darwinian evolution is a tough business in which there are winners and losers. Too bad, how sad, but that is the way things are.

        One suspects, that Karl Giberson’s sympathies are more with Daniel Dennett, for example, than they are with RTS or Regent College, for that matter. Dennett is clear, at least on what he believes about Darwin’s dangerous idea. It is an acid that destroys all it touches.

        On this Giberson says a hearty “amen” except for those doctrines of Christianity that, he, at the moment, happens to hold too dear to toss overboard—but they are held for very tenuous and personal reasons, if he means what he says in Saving Darwin.

        And the winners are: Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens and all those who have now joined the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster—”Pastafarians”- All !

      • Ben Vandergugten

        Dr. Stackhouse is right that RTS should not get a pass on this issue. Hopefully we can all learn from this, especially the leaders in our churches and seminaries. But I hope it can be done in the most constructive way possible.
        Also, it should be noted that Dr. Waltke still believes that BioLogos (theistic evolution) offers the best way for finding harmony between God’s words in Scripture and his words for creation, as opposed to YEC, OEC, ID, and the Framework hypothesis. (Some here seem to think otherwise)

        • Jack McLaughlin

          Ben

          My point was that RTS should be given a pass for the sake of the Kingdom AT THE PRESENT TIME, because we are “rushing to judgment” long before anyone but Bruce Waltke (and RTS) knows exactly what was said or what happened.

          On the matter of Dr. Waltke or you, personally believing that the brands of “theistic” evolution that the BioLogos folk push and what James Orr, B.B. Warfield, Bernard Ramm, or Russel Mixter and Bruce Waltke endorse is identical then I’m afraid that I must respectfully disagree.

          Waltke is very clear: if the evidence is such that it is absolutely certain that “evolution is a fact” then, as evangelicals we must come to terms with it. He is VERY TENTATIVE about his position. It is “IF…..THEN”. And by the way if you read his statement now posted on the BioLogos Website, he is miles and miles from being in the same tent as are they either in content or certainty.

          Have you read (carefully) Saving Darwin by Karl Giberson of BioLogos? Francis Collins wants me to believe that he has and opines:”A much-needed book. . . A powerful contribution.”

          Speaking approvingly of Daniel Dennett’s acid analogy, Giberson on page 10 of the paperback version, states: ‘Acid is an appropriate metaphor for the erosion of my fundamentalism (by his exposure to Darwin’s dangerous idea). Dennett’s universal acid dissolved Adam and Eve; it ate through the Garden of Eden; it destroyed the historicity of the events of the creation week. It etched holes in those parts of Christianity connected to these stores—the fall, “Christ the second Adam,” the origins of sin, and nearly everything else that I counted sacred.’

          (After a number of paragraphs he refuses to believe that the Darwinian acid dissolves the primary doctrines of the Christian faith like the ‘incarnation’ or the ‘resurrection’ but, (and again I quote directly from page 11: ‘Evolution does, however, pose two challenges to “secondary” Christian beliefs: the FALL of humankind, and the UNIQUENESS of humankind.’

          I doubt that Dr. Waltke would see these as “secondary” Christian beliefs.

          On page 12 he discusses his ‘evolutionary’ view of sin. ‘Sinfulness is mainly selfishness’. . . ;’

          “Evolution says some interesting things about selfishness. Selfishness, in fact, drives the evolutionary process. Unselfish creatures died, and their unselfish genes perished with them. Selfish creatures, who attended to their own needs for food power, and sex, flourished and passed on these genes to their offspring. After many generations selfishness was so fully programmed in our genomes that it was a significant part of what we now call human nature.” [This is his account of ‘the fall’]

          Having said that the genes of unselfish creatures died with the creatures who were unselfish, leaving only selfish creatures, presumably, Giberson goes on to discuss altruism, which is harder to explain he says [after having done away with the altruistic genes and the creatures who contained them, I have no doubt that explaining altruism will be difficult] nevertheless, undeterred he soldiers on: ‘humans are a powerful mix of selfish and unselfish tendencies’.

          Indeed but not because of a moral choice but because of a somewhat convoluted and naturalistic process. ‘Humankind did not appear all at once, and neither did sin.’
          [As an aside this is what is frequently called a “just-so story”. There is not a pin of evidence for this wonderful tale, except to say things are:”just-so”]

          We don’t have all night so,let me jump to Giberson’s own ‘Confessions’ on page 155 and 156.

          Under the heading: WHY THE ID ARGUMENT FAILS he states ‘he wishes it were true’ but. . .

          ‘I understand how honest thinkers and seekers after truth, like Daniel Dennett and Michael Ruse can end up rejecting God. [His description of fellow Christians like Hugh Ross or Phillip Johnson is hardly so kind. They are dismissed along with Henry Morris as “fundamentalists”]

          ‘ Like that of most thinking Christians, my belief in God is tinged with doubts and, in my more reflective moments, I sometimes wonder if I am perhaps simply continuing along the trajectory of a childhood faith that should be abandoned.’

          ‘AS A PURELY PRACTICAL matter, I have compelling reasons to believe in God.[Note what they are and that Giberson is a professor at a Christian college interacting daily with young people looking for “reasons for the hope that is within him”.]

          My parents are deeply committed Christians and would be devastated, were I to reject my faith. My wife and children believe in God, and we attend church together regularly. most of my friends are believers. i have a job I love at a Christian college that would be forced to dismiss me if I were to reject the faith that underpins the mission of the college. Abandoning belief in God would be disruptive, sending my life completely off the rails. I can sympathize with Darwin as he struggled against the unwanted challenges to his faith.’

          This is hardly a ringing statement of belief. I, for one would hate to approach the end of my days with so little assurance that the Lord of Heaven and Earth is so distant and that my hope for which I am reminded by St. Peter I should be always ready to state and defend, comes to this!

          Dr. Waltke, on the other hand, in his tentative acceptance of a form of theistic evolutionary thought, may have his times of doubt, but I suspect that his hope has found a sure foundation in the triune God who has created, continues to sustain and has redeemed him through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ.

          For Waltke, creation is not a secondary doctrine, humans are unique, the fall happened, sin is moral failure not selfishness over time.

          Daniel Dennett and Michael Ruse (a former professor of mine) are not primarily honest seekers after truth. They may be personable gentlemen but they use the tools of evolutionary science to deny the existence of the One who created them in their ‘mother’s womb’. Ruse was raised a Quaker and has deliberately turned his back on the faith of his fathers.

          No, I should think that Dr. Waltke might embrace Giberson and pray for him but I do not think he would agree with his friend, Collins, who endorses these ideas to the extent that he invited Giberson to be one of the first two members of the BioLogos entity.

          Lastly, look up Karl Giberson and Michael Shermer (himself a lapsed evangelical) on YouTube for another look at where this all goes.

          Sorry to take so much of you time but I really do think that the word “evolution” is a very slippery word that frequently is used more to confused than enlighten.

          Similarly “theistic evolution’ morphed into BioLogos has now become a term that needs to be carefully defined to distinguish what it meant for James Orr, B.B. Warfield and Bruce Waltke, from what it means for Francis Collins, Karl Giberson, Darryl Falk, and, I have reason to believe, Dennis Alexander, not to mention the Templeton Foundation.

          The terminology may be identical but the content is vastly different.

  20. robahas

    A slightly different concern for me is that the discussion about evolution become polarized among evangelicals in the same way it is polarized between evangelical creationists and scientific materialists. I’d like to think that I’m not an ignoramus, and I have spent time thinking and teaching on this issue, and I think that there is room to criticize the evolutionary theory on several fronts. I don’t say that because I can’t live with evolution. I can. But let’s not allow the discussion to be all about getting over the hump of accepting scientific authority on this into our hermeneutic. We must also remember that grand scientific theories are not infallible. Let us beware of dealing with the two options: denial vs. hook line and sinker.

  21. Maurice Harting

    Good Ben, I am glad to hear that Dr. Bruce Waltke does not wish the reputation of RTS to be tarnished.
    A good position to hold for all including Prof. John Stackhouse.
    When it comes to theistic evolution as in micro-evolution within the species fine, but to take macro-evolution and apply this to Genesis 1 than we are doing what Darwin himself did not even do.
    There is a clear difference between creation and evolution when it comes to Genesis 1. If the evolution model were applied to Genesis 1 than God must have made mistakes that required correction and adaptation, which is nonsense.

    Here are two more great You Tube videos that deal with much of what is being discussed:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPFi8k5IMK0 (Is evolution compatible with Christianity?)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tn3cw9yEGms (Did God create create in 6 literal days?

    So again I don’t like “revisionistic” thought when applied to the Bible and my hope is that the staff and students at Regent College have not been seduced by this deceptive spirit that roams in this world as it appears in this blog.

    Maurice Harting
    mauriceharting@yahoo.ca

    • John Stackhouse

      Brother Maurice, I’ve faithfully posted your comments and links, but please add something new to the conversation or leave things be. And I’d also be grateful if you didn’t attribute what I’m saying to Satan, which seems to be the force of your last sentence–and that seems a little harsh, no?

  22. Steve Wilkinson

    One point I would add to this discussion (other than arguing who is right and wrong), is that Christian Schools and Seminaries need to talk about the details of this, rather than hide it. Even at fine schools like Regent, we tend to dismiss it as, ‘an issue that shouldn’t divide Christians,’ therefore we’ll just brush the surface of it it and make generic statements about it (of course, then certain professors are fairly clear about what right-thinking students would conclude on this is in individual classes… no, I’m not referring to Dr. Stackhouse).

    I agree that a certain position, if compatible with and affirming of basic orthodox principals, shouldn’t label one as a heretic. However, failing to have serious discussions about this leads to more division IMO, and relative ignorance on the issue (which can be seen even in some of the responses here). Failing to address the issue OR just giving a position without helping students understand the details just strengthens the divide! This can be just as true at RTS or Regent.

    I wonder if Regent will have the courage to seriously address this issue at the coming ‘Wonder and Devotion’ pastor’s conference on the topic in May.

    • John Stackhouse

      I have no idea what you’re talking about, Brother Steve. In the dozen years that I’ve been here, Regent has sponsored guest lectures, debates, conferences, and whole courses that deal with aspects of this issue. How can you seriously worry if Regent will “have the courage to seriously address this issue”? My goodness: Regent has been “seriously addressing this issue” since its earliest days.

      • Steve Wilkinson

        I guess I need to clarify. You have a longer history to draw from at Regent, but it has not been my experience. I’m not saying Regent censors other views or has an official position on the matter. It is more a lack of addressing details of the issue within the general student body (ex: CTC), and then not presenting a balanced range of views in more specific classes when it is addressed to a greater depth (admittedly, in the limited number of classes I’ve taken or talked to others about).

        A bit of background for my frustration… A couple years back in Christian Thought & Culture, we had a panel discussion day where students could ask questions. There had been a great deal of confusion and discussion within the student body over the issue of evolution. When a student asked a question about this (to be expanded a bit) to the panel, the general answer was that it is a divisive issue which pulls the focus off of the true purpose of Genesis. I suppose in the interest of time, this was reasonable, though I would have liked to see them take a crack at it (they did for several other issues that day).

        After the class, a number of students were discussing the issue and were unsatisfied with that response. I sent a cordial e-mail to the panel through the TA, and ended up in a discussion of the matter back and fourth with a few of the Regent profs from the panel. It probably wouldn’t be ethical for me to quote any of them here, but the basic thrust of them was, again, around the divisiveness of the issue and detraction from the main point of Genesis. I recognize time constraints, but contend that one could give a basic overview in 15 minutes that would have been quite helpful to the students (in fact, I even passed such an overview along). I was also told that if this was my area of interest, I should attend more of the science and Christianity type classes. While that kind of misses my whole point (I see a similar problem with apologetics being so optional in many schools, BTW), I took that advice.

        I have taken at least one class directly in that area, the topic has come up in a few other classes, and I’ve talked to other students about classes they have taken. My experience has been that only one major view on the topic is typically represented in any detail (as previously noted, your classes are an exception, but then we’ve never delved very deeply into the issue in the ones I’ve been in so far).

        re: “seriously addressing this issue” – Unfortunately, I won’t be at the conference. However, I’ll be curious to hear if the speakers spend much time talking about the various definitions of evolution and implications of each, or adequately explaining the three or four major views on Creationism within Christianity and the implications of each. I hope I’m quite wrong. It just has not been my experience so far, and I believe there is a similar amount of confusion on the matter within the student body as we’re seeing in the above forum (as well as in pastors and Christian professionals, as they go out into the real world and encounter this topic).

        • John Stackhouse

          Thanks very much for this clarification, Steve. I have now heard this same story from another student who wrote me privately in support of your concern, and I realize better now what you’re saying–and I sympathize.

          As you know, I try to deal with some of these matters in my course on theology that deals with the doctrine of creation, and we had a more extensive conversation this year than we have ever had. But I could do more to help students in this fraught area–particularly our large cohort of American students who in particular have to deal with these issues when they return home.

          So: thanks for this patient prodding. I’ll not forget it.

          • Steve Wilkinson

            Thanks for your understanding and the initial push-back as well. After re-reading my comment, more clarity was certainly needed. I don’t want to sound like a disgruntled Regent student! While I don’t always agree with every professor on every point, that is part of the charm of Regent. Outside this issue, I probably would have fit in better at RTS, but purposefully chose an environment with a mixture of denominations and viewpoints.

            One further point. In my extremely limited experience of teaching a couple of apologetics classes in church here in Canada, I’m not so sure the issue isn’t quite hot up here as well as in the USA. As polite as Canadians are, they did get into it when that topic came up. 🙂

  23. rbennetch

    Wow, as an unbeliever (formerly a part of the evangelical church culture), I have to say I’m rather enjoying the cannibalism that’s now resulting due to Waltke feeling free enough to speak his mind on this issue.

    Of course, I feel badly for him having to lose his job over such an issue — then again, if the institution he’s working for is so dramatically insecure as to not allow dissenting opinions, well then, they don’t deserve such a freethinking mind as Waltke.

    Keep it up, folks. We in the non-believing community will get more deconverts the more you deny (and punish!) the acceptance (and admittance!) of such knowledge.

  24. Maurice Harting

    In Prof. John Stackhouse’s response to my posting under item number 8 he appears to dismiss the notion of “immortal souls” rather quickly when the Bible has a lot to say about this.
    At first glance it appears that only God, the Father has immortality (1 Timothy 6: 16), but it becomes clear from 1 Timothy 1 verses 15 to 17 that Jesus Christ himself is identified as immortal (vs 17) even though He died to save sinners (vs 15), which maintains the true tri-une nature of God.
    So physical death does not mean that immortality is lost as is shown with Jesus’s death, burial and resurrection.
    We too will experience immortality, just like Jesus as seen in 1 Corinthians 15: 50-53, where the mortal (in physical death) will become immortal (vs 53).
    Stronger yet, when one looks at Matthew 10 verse 28 Jesus himself tells us that our souls cannot be killed (hence immortal) for those who are in Him.
    So this is how one needs to understand Article 4 in the WCF regarding immortal souls, unless one objects like the Russellites did and Jehovah Witnesses do by simply applying 1 Timothy 6 verse 16 without proper context and deeper study.
    I would have expected more from you Prof. Stackhouse instead of your apparent dismissal of immortality of humans.
    So Christians do have immortal souls and spirits, but not physical bodies, which will be re-newed or transformed in full agreement to WCF.

    Maurice Harting
    mauriceharting@yahoo.ca

    • John Stackhouse

      The doctrine of the immortality of the soul–that the soul in itself is immortal, which is what that phrase means to those who know the relevant literatures–is Greek/Indian, not Hebrew/Christian.

      The NT teaching that God gives us eternal life shows that we don’t have it already by virtue of having an already immortal soul. Indeed, it’s not clear that our souls are thus in any different situation than our bodies: both need the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit to proceed from this life to the life to come.

      Thus I maintain that the Westminster divines in this case spoke out of longstanding confusion in Christianity, and were clearly, therefore, not infallible. You keep writing as if they were, Brother Maurice, and that strikes me as deeply un-Protestant!

  25. Maurice Harting

    Have you ever thought it possible that we all have immortal souls to begin with that can only be lost in hell? Contrast the first part with the last part in verse 28 of Matthew 10.
    I am not going to entertain Greek or Indian (secular) thought and neither am I going to entertain Russellite thought in this matter. Obviously there are many ways one can interpret the meaning of “immortal souls”.
    My position is clear. I stand with the writers of the WCF. Your position in this regard seems to run parallel to the Russellite position.
    And I am not saying that you are a Jehovah Witness or of the devil, but only that your rejection of immortality of the soul needs to be reflected on more ….

    Maurice Harting
    mauriceharting@yahoo.ca

  26. Maurice Harting

    …. and the concept of “soul sleep” is also to be rejected as John Calvin did. Our souls are not dead between physical death and Judgment Day (aka the “intermediate state”) but remain very much alive awaiting judgment or eternal reward.

  27. Jennie McLaurin

    Just an update for the student who wondered about Regent tackling this problem. Visit our cosmos website: http://www.cosmos.regent-college.edu
    We are very clear about our majority view that theistic evolution is consistent with Biblical truth. And we won a Templeton award to promote the science-faith dialogue, so it certainly is being vigorously engaged! Just not in that student’s realm of study, perhaps. Makes me sad to think so many earnest believers are suspicious of learning that they might not fully understand God’s beautiful creation. “Unbeliever”, I hear you.

    • Steve Wilkinson

      Hi Jennie,
      I have no issue with majority viewpoints, or being in the minority on a view… however, does ‘vigorously engaged’ mean there will be anyone there to properly represent the minority viewpoints as they are engaged, if they are engaged? In reading the site, I don’t get that impression (please correct me if I’m wrong).

  28. Maurice Harting

    …. in closing on the “immortality of the soul” the following … we all have been given immortal souls that can be LOST in unregenerate state in hell that is what Matthew 10 verse 28 seems to get at. And here in Matthew 10 verse 28 the body is not the same as soul. A distinction is made between the two as in the physical body can be killed, but not the soul, however in hell both the body and soul are destroyed. Sorry for our deviation from the headline topic, but it had to be addressed.

  29. Maurice Harting

    Jennie … since when does the Bible tell us to engage the non-christian (evolutionist) on their terms (evolution) and make room in the creation story for their views? Is that not called worldly compromise? In other words as Christians we are not called to fit billions and billions of years that atheistic scientists have come up with into the six days of creation narrative of the Bible. Our job is NOT to appease science and man’s logic, but to trust that God did what He said He did, namely creating this world, everything in it and the universe in 6 days. And why would day here in Genesis 1 be different from the over 3000 other times it is used in the Bible just to “fit” man-made theories about the origins? We should not change our theology to fit science, but science should explore the reality of biblical creation, which it, for the most part, rejects!

    • Matt Jones

      “Our job is NOT to appease science and man’s logic, but to trust that God did what He said He did”

      Christians cannot ignore science. It is inappropriate and ignorant to do so. We have no reason to ignore science just because you happen to think in conflicts with your particular interpretation of scripture (and make no mistake, what you think scripture says IS an interpretation).

      I completely trust that God did what he said he did. However, God did NOT say he created the world in 6 days. The writer of Genesis used particular theological language to describe Creation, he did not write a scientific text.

      Why should revelation about God through science be ignored? Was God lying to us there?

      • Jewel

        The bible IS science! Without it we wouldn’t be where we are with science today. Research it! Most all of the famous scientists came up with what they did based off of God’s law. Seriously research it before you reply.

    • Bob

      Maurice,
      You implication that the scientists investigating evolution are atheistic is both unfair and untrue.
      Evolution is not a nefarious invention by athiests who hate God and Christians and want to blot Him our of existence. The theory of evolution came about by people (some athiests and some deeply committed Christians) exploring the natural world and documenting what they have found,interpreting it to the best of their abilities, and creating the most logical explanation based on their information. They constantly re-work and revisit the theory as they find new information.
      Another important clarification is needed: evolution is not necessarily athiestic. There are some who intepret it that way. However, the explanation of the changes in genetic material do not have agency in and of themselves. Proponents of theistic evolution believe that this agency is God’s. Athiests believe that the agency is chance or something else. While I fully agree that there are many who use the science to support an athiestic position, that is AN interpretation of agency (or the lack thereof) but not the only or the best interpretation.

  30. Maurice Harting

    Matt Jones, you make some interesting observations.
    So let me clarify what I meant to say.
    1. When man-made science contradicts Scripture it must be disregarded.
    2. When man-made science confirms Scripture it may be upheld as proof that the Bible is accurate.
    3. When the author of Genesis, whom was inspired by God stated that God created in 6 days and by the seventh day He rested (Genesis 1: 31 and Genesis 2: 2) as Christians we got to believe that to be true.
    4. We should never try to blend secular thinking with Christian thinking to come up with some “revisionistic truth” that is not biblical truth at all. We always need to have or strive to have the mind of Christ on all matters.
    5. The Creation story and man-made Evolution theories are not compatible nor should Christians try to make them compatible is some delusional attempt to please those who have made science their god.

    You may respond to me personally by emailing me if you so choose.

    Maurice Harting
    mauriceharting@yahoo.ca

    • Matt Jones

      Maurice: Clearly, trying to argue is not going to get anywhere. If the numerous Christians who are smarter than I cannot convince you of the sensible marriage between science and religion, I will not be able to either.

      Science, like scripture, is not something you can pick and choose depending on how you feel it fits with your particular belief and interpretation of scripture.

      You and I both are choosing to read Genesis in a particular way, I would just disagree with your particular interpretation. Waltke knows a whole heck of a lot more about Genesis than I (and I would presume you as well) and he doesn’t seem to read it like a text book either.

  31. Maurice Harting

    Matt Jones, we agree to disagree on these topics.

    My objective is not to convince you or argue with you on whether or not God created our universe in 6 days or not.

    If you believe in the power of the God of the Bible He could have created it all in 1 minute as He is omnipotent (all-powerful). The Bible shows us that God created it in 6 days (with actual day counts) and on the seventh day He rested. It is up to those who reject the 24 hour day to prove it is not 24 hour days times 6 in creation as is the norm in over 3000 times the word day or days are mentioned.

    This is not my interpretation, but the normal literal application one uses to understand the biblical text.
    If I told you I hold 2 oranges in my hand you could argue that that does not mean 2 per se, but just more than 1 or that that is figurative language, but in a literal sense I hold 2 oranges in my hand. Our God is not a God of confusion and if I listen to all the evolution experts out there than I would end up with at least 10 if not more different or overlapping evolution theories (big bang, gap theory, darwinism, theistic evolution, etc., etc., etc.)

    So I prefer to stick to the literal biblical interpretation of the Genesis account of creation. Call me narrow minded, but that is what Christianity is all about … a focus on Jesus Christ and His work yesterday, today and forever. Whether you agree or not is not my main focus and can never be.

    Maurice Harting

    • Matt Jones

      “This is not my interpretation, but the normal literal application one uses to understand the biblical text.”

      If you don’t recognize that you are making interpretations then there isn’t really anything I can say. There are places all throughout the Bible where we have to decide whether literal or metaphorical readings are appropriate. You are choosing to take Genesis 1 as a literal account, that IS an interpretation (wouldn’t you agree that there are places in scripture that should be metaphorical?). I feel that a more sound interpretation of Genesis 1 based on literary and cultural exegesis is one that doesn’t read as literal as you would believe.

      • Steve Wilkinson

        It isn’t just literal vs metaphorical either…. one can read it quite literally, and still not end up with six 24hr days. This isn’t an either/or situation.

        Also, whether six 24-hr days or billions of years is fairly theologically irrelevant as far as I can tell. What is much more important to me is historical vs non-historical, as that is where the theological fall-out occurs (the fall, sin, human nature, Christ and the Atonement, etc…. you know, the small stuff 😉 ).

        So, for me, the debate between Young Earth and Old Earth (Progressive) Creationism seems important to science (though there are excellent scientists who seem to be OK as YEC), but irrelevant to Christianity. What is at stake seems to be that one party has an improper interpretation of Scripture on an IRRELEVANT issue.

        However, the debate between Old Earth (Progressive) Creationism and Theistic Evolution has non-trivial implications. Are Theistic Evolutionists so sure of their science that they are willing to take the theological risks? All that seems to be at stake is a differing interpretation of some of the science data? Is that a bad thing?

        I’d rather get my theology right first and let the interpretations of the science data fall where they may (especially when there doesn’t seem to be too much disagreement among theologians of the kind necessary on the impacted issues, but there is a descent amount of disagreement among scientists on interpretations of the relevant data).

  32. Maurice Harting

    Matt Jones, using your logic take the dice and roll them. If it falls on metaphorical than play that card and if it falls on literal play a different one. Using your logic than everything becomes speculative in the Bible and nothing is real. Your truth is not my truth and everything becomes relative and uncertain. After all one person’s interpretation is not another person’s interpretation and so everything becomes speculative. So roll the dice and see where it lands lol
    I do find it interesting though that when it comes to Genesis 1 and 2 you are certain that days there are not 24 hours long and evolutionary science becomes the proof text for you.
    How about Jesus walking on water … is that metaphorical too, since we don’t have any scientific proof that humans can walk on water?
    And using your argument against you … How do you know Jesus walked on water? Is that not open for interpretation too? hahahaha
    You see how foolish this becomes?

    Another old dutch saying … one fool can ask more questions than 10 profs can answer.

    A safe approach would be to take the Bible at face value (literal) unless it warrants a metaphorical explanation based on the context and content.

    • Matt Jones

      You seemed to have missed my point and my logic. My point is that in order to have sound interpretations we have to have sound exegesis. My claim is that sound exegesis of that passage is not a literal one. Literal vs. metaphorical (which as Steve above points out, isn’t even always a clear distinction) isn’t a roll of the dice, it takes time and careful study of all the various aspects of the passage and surrounding texts.

      You ARE making interpretations, your choice to read it literally IS an interpretation and my claim is that it is a faulty one based on the exegesis, context, and culture surrounding that passage.

  33. Maurice Harting

    Matt Jones, as I see it, you have been so influenced and/ or seduced by worldly secular thinking that the possibility of God being able to do what He said has to be sacrificed at the altar of science and human reasoning when science contradicts or appears to contradict the literal biblical interpretation. Science and human logic does not have room for unproven miracles like walking on water and raising people who have been dead for 3 days. Ohhh wait, 3 days here could mean 3 minutes lol as a day is not necessarily 24 hours long .

    You make such an issue of various interpretations that are possible that you lose sight of the most probable, namely the literal one.

    It becomes evident to me that science has become your god and not the God of the Bible as you hide behind the possibilities of different interpretations and as such not commit to any viewpoint unless confirmed by science.

    To be sure my viewpoint is a narrow one, but I am able to see the forest from the trees as I trust in God to do what He said He would.

    As I stated before the God of the Bible whom is omnipotent and omniscient could have created the universe in 1 minute if He so chose or over billions of years, but He chose 6 days and He rested on the seventh day, even though God does not have to rest as He does not get tired, but He said He did, so I believe Him.

    I am surprised that God has so much patience with evolutionists and their god-less thinking, but one day their eyes will be opened too and Almighty God will reveal Himself as He is … the all-powerful Creator of heaven and earth who spoke everything into existence. And He don’t need billions and billions of years to say what is on His mind or to accomplish His purposes hahahahaha

    Maurice Harting
    @ mauriceharting@yahoo.ca

    • Matt Jones

      Well then we are at an impasse. I find it unfortunate that you would doubt my trust in God’s sovereignty because I think Genesis 1 is not literal (thinking God brought about creation over billions of years and thinking it was NECESSARY for God to do so are very different things).

      May God bless you in the journey he is taking you on.

  34. J. Barrett Lee

    Thanks for this post, Dr. Stackhouse.

    My heart goes out to Dr. Waltke and all others who are caught up in this crisis, which I take to be a relational crisis more than an ideological one.

    Many of us seem to know Genesis and Westminster quite well. Why not spend some more time in John’s gospel?

    “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

    I am inclined to agree (albeit tearfully) with rbennetch’s use of the term “cannibalism” to describe the way in which we Christians tend to relate to one another in these issues. His post should serve as a biting indictment against us all.

    Dr. Francis Collins, director of the Human Genome Project, has consistently inspired me as a voice of sanity and compassion in the faith-science debate.

    He writes:
    “I have found there is a wonderful harmony in the complementary truths of science and faith. The God of the Bible is also the God of the genome. God can be found in the cathedral or in the laboratory. By investigating God’s majestic and awesome creation, science can actually be a means of worship.”

    CNN has published a wonderful article by him, which can be read here:
    http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/04/03/collins.commentary/index.html

    Thanks for speaking out in solidarity with our comrade.

  35. Larry S

    in post #35 Maurice wrote:

    “As I stated before the God of the Bible whom is omnipotent and omniscient could have created the universe in 1 minute if He so chose or over billions of years, but He chose 6 days and He rested on the seventh day, even though God does not have to rest as He does not get tired, but He said He did, so I believe Him.”

    So did God nap or perhaps just lie down for awhile to close his eyes? 🙂 Odd how we read some texts very literally and then others metaphorically or could we say anthropomorphically.

  36. Maurice Harting

    Take a nap Larry … you need one hahaha

  37. Matt

    Wow. It is clear that many of us have missed the texts pertaining to humility and gentleness. Perhaps it would help if we all drank a few cups of humility before making our claims to so easily understand the Biblical text. Furthermore, the assumption that either we must read it literally or else we worship science and secularism is plainly absurd. The fact that wise and discerning believers disagree ought to alert us to the challenges of interpreting ancient texts, rather than simply reinforce our simplistic conclusions of who is right and who is wrong.

    Waltke himself, (and lets not forget this post was about him in the first place), spent a long and fruitful career studying texts. His admonition that he is not a scientist is par for the course, but perhaps that dose of humility could lend us to following him a step or two in what he thinks of the text. For starters, we might take up his article from Crux, entitled “The Literary Genre of Genesis, Chapter One,” pub. in Crux 27:4 (1991); then move on to his Genesis Commentary and Old Testament Theology.

    There are two issues at play here which I believe can helpfully be teased apart. 1. The right interpretation of the Biblical texts. (And lets be so humble to admit that any act of reading and applying our noggins entails an interpretation.) 2. The integration of our reading of a text with whatever happens to be found in the science of our day.

    There is a long and faithful history of both of these practices in the Reformed tradition, and it seems to me that Waltke’s famed comments were about the need to continue doing the both of these (the reading of scripture and the conversation with the science of our day) and the concern that if we shut either down we are at great risk. His admission that he is not a scientist shows plainly that his career is more thoroughly invested in the first issue: Bible reading. I suspect, however, that his heart is also with young believers today who haven’t been given the skills in Bible reading but are suddenly thrust into the ring of integrating their reading with the science of their day.

    I have simply encountered too many evangelical folks who were given no helpful guidance or resources for interpreting the Scriptures and instead told that what it said was abundantly clear and therefore in opposition to evolutionary science. When these friends went on to encounter the body of evidence around origins, be it in a college course or in their own careers, they found an insurmountable fork in the road: faith or science.

    I don’t for a moment want science to take greater authority over Scripture (nor did Waltke), but how are we to have a meaningful dialogue between the two when the only picture we paint is ‘one or the other’? Lets also not forget that a high view of Scripture’s authority does nothing to guard our interpretation: that still takes careful study.

    And on that note, one doesn’t have to read very far these days to find a wealth of helpful material. The long and diverse history of interpretation around Gen 1-3 is a helpful place to start. So too are the history of the Defenders of an integrative model, (B.B. Warfield, et al. as Stackhouse has already mentioned.)

    I pray for the Church in this difficult but vital search for wisdom. And I pray for Waltke, a faithful brother whom we all have much to learn from, who in these late years of life faces the sharp and deadly teeth of this fearful and perverse evangelical subculture.
    Again, I pray humility may lead us all back to grace and back to see the Scriptures anew.

  38. Maurice Harting

    Pilgrim in the Ruins … so if Dr. Waltke is no expert in the “science” of theistic evolution, as he himself states in the letter-link you posted than why do most Regent College posters in this forum claim that Waltke knows all about creation and evolution and “worship” him like a god that can do no wrong? It seems to me that Regent “Christian” College should stick to biblical studies and keep their nose out of secular science of which it knows little.
    Regent College staff remind me of those “captain wannabe’s” that stand along the shoreline telling the ship’s captain how to dock his vessel.
    If you don’t know what wolves (unbelievers) are don’t try to tackle a wolf in sheep’s clothing! You will get bit and bit bad.

    Hopefully another lesson learned by all in here including Dr. Waltke, which is the good news of this “theistic evolution” debacle.
    Most is here can’t even define what theistic evolution is because it isn’t in the Bible nor is there general agreement on what this means. Does it include macro- and micro-evolution? Is God still doing macro-evolution today and what form does that take? Is becoming born-again part of this evolution and if so on what scientific verifiable basis does this happen?
    So why bother even exploring this “theistic evolution” nonsense when we have our hands full trying to comprehend the magnitude of creation as found in Genesis?
    My advise …. stick to the Bible and you will have your hands full.

    Maurice Harting
    mauriceharting@yahoo.ca

    • SC

      As far as I read, Mr. Harting’s comments have gone way too far unChristianly, even though he quoted the Bible, with his interpretations, often. That’s really sad.

      • John Stackhouse

        Yes, I have now had to moderate Brother Harting’s comments and block a half-dozen that are simply incendiary or insulting, alas…

  39. John Stackhouse

    Okay, I’m blowing my referee’s whistle now on Maurice and Jewel who are not adding anything new and are resorting instead to mere insults or wildly scattered questions and assertions.

    New ideas, please, folks, or let’s move on to something else.

  40. Maurice Harting

    Yes Prof. John Stackhouse, let’s move on to something else, I agree with you …

  41. John Stackhouse

    Prof. Michael Glodo of RTS has posted this link above, but it might be missed in the welter of other commentary: http://theaquilareport.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1855:ot-professor-bruce-waltke-resigns-from-rts-orlando-faculty-amid-historical-adam-and-eve-controversy&catid=51:ministries&Itemid=134. Thanks for this, Brother Michael.

    The detail of this post, however, doesn’t change my sense of what’s happened. Bruce Waltke holds a view that he thinks is consistent with Gen. 1-3, with a literal Adam and Eve, with the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy, etc., etc. People at RTS, including members of their constituency, are so upset about his linkage with BioLogos and its views (that clearly differ with Bruce’s over Adam and Eve) that they apparently don’t care about all of Bruce’s affirmations and instead would rather have him leave.

    So was Waltke “fired”? Not in the strict sense of a formal process of termination, no. But his resignation is hardly the act of a man happy with RTS’s views nor is their acceptance of it indicative of anything other than their intolerance of his views. Challenging a scholar over his views and, despite his professing loyalty to the school’s doctrines, pronouncing his views untenable and accepting his offer to resign is simply firing without the formality (and hassle to both sides) of due process.

    My initial interpretation of RTS’s views and actions remains, and it’s not a positive one.

  42. Jennie McLaurin

    Just a plea that your more aggressive writers will realize that there are lots of scientists who are also Christians. Scientist doesn’t mean atheist. Indeed, at Regent we have a number of scientist theologians, so the “Regent should not copy the secular world” bit is inaccurate. I have a degree in chemistry, medicine, and theology; Ross Hastings has doctorates in chemistry and theology; Darrell Johnson has an undergrad in physics; Phil Long has an undergrad in biology, and so on. We are simply trying to reason together, but this is such a vitriolic series of postings, I’ll leave it for some time. Please don’t hate people away from faith.

  43. Lukas

    I’ve noticed a lot of comments suggesting that we either choose a literal view of Genesis 1, or choose to abandon Genesis 1 in favour of evolution.
    Can I suggest a book which helped me: It’s called “The Lost World of Genesis One” and is by respected bible scholar John Walton. It shows that we can take Genesis 1 at literal face value and still be open to evolution. You can buy it at:

    http://www.amazon.com/Lost-World-Genesis-One-Cosmology/dp/0830837043/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1271120502&sr=8-1

    • Matt Jones

      “I’ve noticed a lot of comments suggesting that we either choose a literal view of Genesis 1, or choose to abandon Genesis 1 in favour of evolution.”

      I want to be careful here: those (well I suppose I can only speak for myself) who don’t read Genesis as a literal 6 day creation in no way want to abandon Genesis 1 in favor of evolution. We (I) just don’t necessarily see a contradiction in Genesis and science.

      • Lukas

        Hi Matt, please reread my comment – you’ll find that I agree with you.

        • Matt Jones

          I recognize that you agree with the theology, I disagree with your statements that the comments have been suggesting either a literal view or an abandoning of Genesis. It appeared to me that most commenters who do not take it literally would not want to abandon Genesis.

          • Lukas

            But I think that is the dichotomy implied by many of Waltke’s critics on this page; they are suggesting that to embrace evolution is to reject a literal view of Genesis.
            Walton – in the book I recommended – demonstrates that a ‘literal’ reading of Genesis 1 actually leaves plenty of space for evolutionary theory (though perhaps with modifications).

            • Matt Jones

              My apologies, I didn’t realize that your statement was in reference to what Waltke’s critics were saying; I thought you were saying that some comments say we must be literal and others say we must abandon Genesis. Sorry about the misunderstanding!

  44. conrade

    Allow me to jump in to point readers to the latest statements made by RTS and Dr Waltke himself. I find it helpful to take them at face value, instead of trying to read other meanings into them. From what I see, they are not interested in arguments or further controversies. They want to make sure that disputes are settled as mature as possible. In that light, I find it heartening that their latest press release (thanks to Justin Taylor) is remarkably helpful. Bruce defends RTS, and RTS defends Bruce.
    [http://bit.ly/a2DU20]

    Personally, it is with regret that RTS did not stand up for Bruce prior to the resignation. They could have invited a scholarly debate from among their professors, and perhaps result in an enlightening learning environment. What is a loss for RTS is now a gain for another institution. Knox Theological Seminary has gained a new Professor for themselves. See below (+comments) for more information.
    [http://yapdates.blogspot.com/2010/04/another-video-bites-dust-on-dr-bruce.html]

    • Matt Jones

      Nice addition Conrade. I definitely appreciate the amicable and cordial nature of the split. It is just too bad the split happened!

  45. Dan

    I read that Tremper Longman was fired from his institution for similar reasons, ie comments made on video regarding the historicity of Adam. Is this correct?

  46. tim e

    i read this in one of my favorite blogs..jesus creed. i found this helpful and thought, hey, that makes sense. this must be what many thinking christians also believe about the early genesis narrative..
    here is the quote from feb 12 2009
    “Genesis 3 tells the story of the temptation of the man and woman to disobedience, the consequence of the disobedience, and sets the stage for the stories to follow – and ultimately for the Gospel and the work of God through Jesus. But what of the text itself? Again mytho-historical appears the best approach. This is not literal history and was never intended to be.

    So is the story true? The story is true in what it intends to teach. We have broken the relationship with God, innocence is irretrievable and the guilt and the consequences of guilt afflict all of humankind. The consequences (not curses) include broken relationships with each other, and with the earth. But there is little doubt that the story incorporates ANE mythic elements. Genesis is mytho-historical. To take it first and foremost as literal-historical fact is to ignore the cultural situation, ignore the obvious literary elements, and to distort the message.”

  47. Jeremiah Duomai

    Thank you, brother John, for writing this post. It is really disappointing to learn the way RTS has handled the issue. I think many Christians in the US have really got confused between evolutionary biology and scientific naturalism. It would be good if Christians there would also read what Christians from other parts of the world say about the evolution-creation debate; and also what evolutionary biologists from the other side of the world say about theory of evolution.

    In our country I have never come across any textbook of Biology that denies God’s existence. Evolutionary biology is confined to Biology. No one makes constructs an ideology out of it, and I think atheist like Richard Dawkins is making a great disservice to Biology by making it necessarily atheistic. I also think well meaning Christians like Phillip Johnson and Ken Ham are not taking the right approach in their arguments against the like of Richard Dawkins. Their ways of argument undermine biological science and also Christian theology. I am afraid they have bitten the bait laid by atheists.

    • Steve Wilkinson

      Jeremiah, I’m not sure I’d agree that, “No one makes constructs an ideology out of it…” Any scientist who goes beyond just examining and reporting the data, and draws a philosophical conclusion from that data, is injecting their ideology into the discussion. This includes everyone from Richard Dawkins to Ken Ham and many levels in-between.

      I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing so long as these people are doing a good honest job in their science work, and allow others to enter the discussion and critique one another in a fair manner. I think at both extremes, there are examples of excluding/ignoring good scientists from the conversation, covering up or leaving out data, and in some extreme cases, even inaccurately reporting on the data and findings. Unfortunately, that is part of human nature, and THAT is what is to be resisted, not a particular view-point.

      I think many are missing the point that a layer of interpretation exists with the science data, just as it does with Scriptural interpretation. One can argue for their interpretation by referencing the data/scripture and use ideology/theology to work out conclusions from the data… but we can’t forget they are interpretations.

      Sadly, in my opinion, some naturalistic and theistic evolutionists in their view of the scientific data have a lot in common with some Young Earth Creationists in their view of scripture (other positions as well, but these two seem the worst about it). They both are so confident their interpretations are correct, they are no longer looking at, or trying to understand the views of those who disagree… or even show them basic respect, as we’ve seen examples of here. If we, as scientists or Christians, are going to move beyond this kind of environment, we have to try to understand each other and respect each other, even when we disagree.

      • Jeremiah Duomai

        My line was referring to what’s happening here in India. I have never read anyone who has argued that their scientific conclusion necessarily leads them to atheism or eugenics or rape or homosexuality etc.

        As much as ID folks don’t want to be called New Creationist I don’t want the label theistic evolutionist. I prefer evolutionary creationist. We have to engage with the data and interpret them. And I agree that we need to try to understand those whom we disagree. But here we have a case where a respected Old Testament scholar was made to resign. So who is not trying to understand whom?

  48. BrianT

    The question for me is quite simple: Did Bruce plan to resign or was he “asked” to resign. It seems to me if he planned to resign, he could have done so before the video was aired. At least, he could have handed in his letter of resignation at the same time it aired.(This would have been likely if he felt the video would make his position at RTS untenable.) Furthermore, it seems out of sorts for someone of his caliber to resign before the end of a semester. Lastly, if he wanted to retire he would not have entertained the offer of a new position. In the light of the above I suspect that he was “asked” to resign.
    I want to thank prof. Stackhouse for bringing this to light, because RTS would be too happy to keep this nice and quiet & then do it again to another scholar if it suits them.

  49. John Stackhouse

    Okay, friends, I think we’ll call it here. Thanks for a spirited and informative exchange. Some of us misbehaved a bit (!), but we all got to learn something, if only how some people think and argue about these issues. On to new matters…

×

Comments are closed.