Evangelical Leaders Meet to Discuss Implications of Evolution for the Church

Christianity Today reports on the Theology of Celebration workshop held on 20–22 March:

About 60 participants came by special invitation, with the proviso that their names would not be publicized without permission. This was intended to encourage open conversation on sensitive topics. Attending were such luminaries as N. T. Wright, Alister McGrath, John Ortberg, Tim Keller, Scot McKnight, Os Guinness, Joel Hunter, and Andy Crouch. Prominent scientists included Ian Hutchinson of MIT and Jennifer Wiseman, senior project scientist for the Hubble Space Telescope. Forty-one pastors and parachurch leaders participated.

Evangelical Evolutionists Meet in New York

The workshop was held to discuss the implications for the church of the document arising from the previous workshop (PDF), which included the following statements:

We agree that the methods of the natural sciences provide the most reliable guide to understanding the material world, and the current evidence from science indicates that the diversity of life is best explained as a result of an evolutionary process. Thus BioLogos affirms that evolution is a means by which God providentially achieves God’s purposes.

Based on our discussions, we affirm that there are several options that can achieve this synthesis, including some which involve a historical couple, Adam and Eve, and that embrace the compelling conclusions that the earth is more than four billion years old and that all species on this planet are historically related through the process of evolution. We commit ourselves to spreading the word about such harmonious accounts of truth that God has revealed in the Bible and through science.

BioLogos states that it ‘is a community of evangelical Christians committed to exploring and celebrating the compatibility of evolutionary creation and biblical faith, guided by the truth that “all things hold together in Christ.”’ It has been the recipient of grants totalling over $2m from the John Templeton Foundation. The Foundation states:

These grants support the launch of the BioLogos Foundation with the creation of a website and a series of workshops on the compatibility of theism and evolutionary science. The website will serve as a forum for Francis Collins and other expert consultants to address common questions about the relationship between faith and science. The invitation-only workshops will bring scientists and evangelical leaders together to seek a theology more accepting of science, specifically evolutionary biology. These projects will allow the BioLogos Foundation to build a reputation as a source of sympathetic, authoritative, and accessible thought on matters of science and faith.

The Language of God: BioLogos Website and Workshop

According to the official website of the late Sir John Templeton (1912–2008), he ‘contributed a sizable amount of his fortune to the John Templeton Foundation, established in 1987 and based in West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania’. It further explains that ‘The Foundation’s mission is to serve as a philanthropic catalyst for research on what scientists and philosophers call the “Big Questions.”’

The website also outlines Templeton’s unorthodox beliefs:

Templeton took a broad view of spirituality and ethics. He was influenced by the Unity School of Christianity, a movement that espouses a non-literal view of heaven and hell and a shared divinity between God and humanity. As he wrote, “We realize that our own divinity arises from something more than merely being ‘God’s children’ or being ‘made in his image.’” Templeton did not claim to be a theologian, but he was determined to support the work of those who might deepen our “knowledge and love of God.”

Biography: Sir John Templeton

Theistic evolution is controversial. Writing last year, Dr. Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, explained its incompatibility with traditional Christian belief and challenged the agenda of those promoting it:

If evolution is true, then the entire narrative of the Bible has to be revised and reinterpreted. The evolutionary account is not only incompatible with any historical affirmation of Genesis, but it is also incompatible with the claim that all humanity is descended from Adam and the claim that in Adam all humanity fell into sin and guilt. The Bible’s account of the Fall and its consequences is utterly incompatible with evolutionary theory. The third chapter of Genesis is as problematic for evolutionary theory as the first two.

The naturalistic evolutionists are now pressing their case in moral as well as intellectual terms. Increasingly, they are arguing that a refusal to accept evolution represents a thought crime of sorts. They are using all the tools and arguments at their disposal to discredit any denial of evolution and to marginalize voices who question the dogma of Darwinism. They are working hard to establish unquestioned belief in evolution as the only right-minded and publicly acceptable position. They have already succeeded among the intellectual elites. Their main project now is the projection of this victory throughout popular culture.

Among the theistic evolutionists, the issues are becoming clearer almost every day that passes. Proponents of theistic evolution are now engaged in the public rejection of biblical inerrancy — with some calling the affirmation of the Bible’s inerrancy as an intellectual disaster and “intellectual cul-de-sac.” Others now openly assert that we must forfeit belief in an historical Adam, an historical Fall, and a universal Flood.

Thus, the vise of evolutionary theory is now revealing the fault lines of the current debate. There can be no question but that the authority of the Bible and the truthfulness of the Gospel are now clearly at stake. The New Testament clearly establishes the Gospel of Jesus Christ upon the foundation of the Bible’s account of creation. If there was no historical Adam and no historical Fall, the Gospel is no longer understood in biblical terms.

Creation vs. Evolution — The New Shape of the Debate