Free Book! Foundations by Rev. Peter Holtvlüwer


Today we’re pleased to present a free electronic copy of Foundations: Sermons on Genesis 1-3.  This book by Rev. Peter Holtvlüwer has been out of print for a while and he’s now generously given us permission to make it available on Creation Without Compromise.  You can download it here — it can also be found under our “Books” tab above.   Enjoy!

Below you can find my review of Foundations, first published in Clarion in 2011.


Foundations: Sermons on Genesis 1-3, Peter H. Holtvlüwer, Tintern: Little Angels Press, 2010.  Paperback, 163 pages, $15.00.

Attacks on the truths of God’s Word never stop.  This is also obviously true for the first three chapters of the Bible.  Outside the church there are voices that outrightly deny what the Bible says about our creation and fall.  Sadly, even inside the church there are voices that undermine what Scripture says about these things.  We can be thankful to God for faithful preachers of the Word like Peter Holtvlüwer, minister of the Spring Creek Canadian Reformed Church in Tintern, Ontario.

This book contains a series of sermons he preached to his previous congregation in Carman, Manitoba.  There are 13 sermons and they cover almost every verse of Genesis 1-3.  The sermons retain the style of sermons and they include the sort of references that one might expect from a pastor addressing a rural congregation.

There are three reasons why I’m going to recommend this book to you.  First, the author takes the biblical text seriously as a record of historical events.  There is no capitulation here to Darwinism, theistic evolution, or anything of the sort.  Second, Holtvlüwer constantly brings everything to a focus on Jesus Christ.  These sermons are Christ-centered and therefore edifying and God-glorifying.  Third, Foundations features clearly written prose.  The author explains Scripture in a direct and easy-to-understand fashion.

Preachers who review other preachers’ sermons are in an awkward position.  We all have our own ideas of what should be left in a sermon and what should be left out.  In this instance, too, there are some things that I would have liked to seen included.  As an example, especially in the light of some current discussions with our URC brothers, it would be good to see a reason why Holtvlüwer regards the covenant in Genesis 3 as a renewal of the covenant from Genesis 2.  He appears to assume that this is an obvious fact.  Or in chapter 12, he writes that “we often must learn to forgive ourselves too.”  Where does Scripture teach that?  Again, this seems to be assumed rather than established.

Overall, this is a valuable contribution to our Reformed community.  Holtvlüwer’s book could be used in public worship for reading sermons – song selections, etc. are included in an appendix.  It could also be used with profit for personal devotional reading.  Moreover, the author has generously decided to use all the proceeds for this book to support a worthy cause in Brazil.  The Reformed Reading Room in Recife is part of Canadian Reformed mission efforts in north-eastern Brazil.  God has used it in a fantastic way for the spread of the biblical gospel.  Your purchase of this book will contribute to the ongoing dissemination of the good news of Jesus Christ.


What’s at Stake? The Gospel Is at Stake (Tim Challies)


Tim Challies recently interviewed Dr. William Van Doodewaard about his new book The Quest for the Historical Adam.  With his kind permission, we are republishing it here on Creation Without Compromise.  The original post on can be found here.


There is always one truth or another that is being disputed. There is always some doctrine or another that is under attack. And speaking personally, I find it hard to keep up. Sometimes it is best to recruit some help, and I did that very thing recently. I keep hearing about differing views on the historical Adam, with more and more people moving away from a strictly literal understanding that Adam was divinely created by God on the sixth day of creation. Knowing that William Vandoodewaard had just written a book on the subject (The Quest for the Historical Adam), I asked if he would help me sort it all out. He did that in this brief but helpful Q&A.

Me:  Can you briefly (and as objectively as possible) lay out the different options when it comes to the historical Adam? What are the predominant views?

William:  There are really five possible views:

  1. Adam was specially created by God on the sixth day, as understood by the literal interpretation of the Genesis text. Adam is created without ancestry, apart from any evolutionary processes. He is the first human.
  2. Adam was specially created in the manner that Genesis describes (out of the dust, life breathed into him), but without the time frame of six days of ordinary duration—it occurred at some unknown point in the ancient past. Adam is created without ancestry, and apart from any evolutionary processes. He is the first human.
  3. Adam was created through a combination of natural processes and supernatural, divine intervention at some unknown point in the ancient past. Evolutionary processes played a part in Adam’s creation, he had animal ancestry, but God intervened, doing something special in his conception, or making him human after birth, even though his biological parents were not. Some argue that God’s intervention included changing Adam’s physical constitution; others argue that it was only God’s gift of a spiritual constitution or soul that set Adam apart from his animal ancestors.
  4. Adam developed the same way as in #3, but he was simply an individual whom God entered into relationship with, making Adam religious. The immediate change that made Adam “human” was relational, not constitutional.
  5. There was no Adam. Adam is simply a figure or type for early humanity as a category.

While these are the five main categories, it is helpful to be aware of their place and proportion. The historic, mainstream understanding of the Christian church is view #1. Despite continuing efforts to the contrary it remains the predominant view among evangelical Christians. By contrast, view #2, rooted in post-Enlightenment geological theories, is actually a minority stream. Views #3–5, while trendy, very vocal, and on the evangelical edge (where broad evangelicalism merges into theological liberalism), actually represent an even smaller fringe than view #2.

Ongoing round-tables and “four views on Genesis and origins” type books produced by parts of evangelical academia are misleading. They give the impression that the literal understanding of origins is a minority when it actually remains an overwhelming majority commitment, much to the chagrin of its opponents.

Me:  What is really at stake here? What does the church stand to lose if we widely accept an alternate view of the historical Adam?

William:  The teaching of God’s Word is at stake here. God’s character is at stake. The gospel of Jesus Christ is at stake. Accepting an Adam with evolutionary origins immediately impacts what it means to be human, created by God in His image. It opens a Pandora’s box of theological problems—from Adam’s relationship with his animal parents and surrounding community, to the doctrine of sin and the fall, to God’s holiness, goodness, and justice. It immediately impacts the doctrine of Christ as the One by whom all things were created, as well as His incarnation and work of salvation. It’s an issue that touches so many others: from soteriology to race relations to sexual ethics to the new creation at the second coming. Those who take the logically consistent step beyond an evolutionary Adam to a figurative Adam join a line of thinkers including Voltaire and Kant.

Me:  Do you think there is an inevitability here? Do you think that those who deny a historical Adam are necessarily on a slope to full-out theological liberalism?

William:  The denial of a historical Adam is already theological liberalism, beyond the bounds not only of evangelicalism, but also historic Christianity. There is an inevitability of further decline, not always in the case of the individual who departs further from Christian orthodoxy, but almost always in the next generation, and in any institution or church that allows this. The underlying problem is the capitulation to reading Scripture through the lens of this world’s culture and thought, rather than reading culture and thought through the lens of Scripture.

Me:  Are all 4 of the alternatives to the literal reading of Genesis 1 equally dangerous? Or do you think there is room within Christian orthodoxy for some or all of them?

William:  I don’t believe that we should ever say there is room in Christian orthodoxy for “lesser” error: if something is unscriptural we should not give it a pass. Christian orthodoxy should not be viewed as the “core concepts” of biblical Christianity; orthodoxy is the whole counsel of God’s Word. Our job is to be committed to being conformed to Christ, to the Word, in all things. This should be our passion and joy, pursued in love for Christ, His church, and a world in desperate need of the complete gospel.

But Christians are at various points in their spiritual growth, so, as one theologian said, “a man may be in error, and yet not be a heretic.” Someone may hold to an error at some point and still be a Christian. Understood this way, the first alternative view on human origins is the least problematic: you can hold to view #2 and retain an orthodox view of Adam, but it is nonetheless error requiring correction because it requires hermeneutical choices which set the stage for worse alternative views, in Genesis and elsewhere. Views #3 and #4 move significantly further into error. #5, with its flat out denial of Adam, brings one into the realm of heresy. The Quest for the Historical Adam details the historical realities and theological consequences of each of these in contrast to the coherence and orthodoxy of the literal understanding of our origins.

Me:  Should the average Christian church-goer get informed about this issue, or is it one where we can allow the scholars to work it out?

William:  Average Christian church-goers cannot afford to ignore this issue. Its erosive impact is continuing, if not gathering steam, in American evangelicalism. It may impact you directly through the minister you call or the elders you ordain: discernment here is essential for the church’s life and future.

Our children are likely to face the denial of the historical Adam at many Christian colleges—under the guise of Christian education. The issue is not just for us, but for our children’s future in the faith and for the continued expansion of the kingdom of Christ. Despite the naysayers who say “there is no slippery slope,” church history shows over and over that those who buy into alternate views of human origins are getting on the road that leads to complete abandonment of biblical Christianity.

I believe the best way to be informed is not found in immersing ourselves in books that present various views of the creation account, but by understanding Scripture’s richness, beauty, and cohesiveness on our origin, taught by faithful expositors and theologians for millennia. We must begin recapturing the marvelous reality of the literal understanding of our origin, all it entails, and how it applies to our lives. This was a key part of my aim in The Quest for the Historical Adam. When we understand the reality of what God has said and done, we will not trade our birthright for a pot of stew. We will worship our Creator and Redeemer.

William:  Yes, I would recommend two recent books: Richard Gaffin’s No Adam, No Gospel (P&R, 2015), and the collected essays in the volume God, Adam and You (P&R, 2015).

God, Adam, and You (review)

God Adam and You

God, Adam, and You: Biblical Creation Defended and Applied. Edited by Richard D. Phillips. Philipsburg: Presbyterian & Reformed, 2015. 210 pages. $14.99.

Church leaders must be noticing something. This is at least the third book in 2015, written by confessional Reformed and Presbyterian authors, defending the biblical doctrine of creation. Consider how Joel Beeke opens his essay in the book at hand, “Carl Trueman has written that the historicity of Adam is the biggest doctrinal issue facing this generation” (15).

2015 has already seen William Van Doodewaard’s Quest for the Historical Adam: Genesis, Hermeneutics, and Human Origins (RHB, 2015). It is a tour de force, surveying in 400 pages the entire history of the church’s stand regarding the historical Adam. A much shorter work has also just been published by Richard Gaffin, entitled, No Adam, No Gospel: Adam and the History of Redemption (P&R, 2015). He mounts an exegetical defense from Scripture of the teaching that all human beings descend from Adam. The volume at hand, God, Adam, and You: Biblical Creation Defended and Applied contains ten essays, edited by Richard Phillips, a minister and prominent leader in the Presbyterian Church of America. The essays were composed by well-known professors and pastors: Joel Beeke, Kevin DeYoung, Liam Goligher, Richard Phillips, Derek Thomas, and Carl Trueman.

It’s noteworthy that all of these men are noticing the need to defend the biblical teaching of creation. They’re not doing so simply because evolutionary teaching is out there in the world, but because it is making remarkable inroads in the church. The essays first saw life as speeches at the Philadelphia Conference of Reformed Theology, sponsored by the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, in 2013. As the footnotes in this book demonstrate, these scholars were well aware of the radical trajectory of Peter Enns and the compromising views of Bruce Waltke and Tremper Longman III—all of whom had once taught Old Testament at confessional Reformed seminaries—as well as the white paper of Tim Keller and other postings at the Biologos website. These things gave their conference (and this book) a sense of urgency.

Theistic evolution, in various forms, was and is being promoted among Christians via speeches, conferences, courses, and educational centres. For example, since 2008 the Biologos Foundation in the United States and the Faraday Institute in Great Britain have received huge grants from the Templeton Foundation to promote evolution among Christians (Biologos has received about 9 million dollars since 2008, to be precise $8,735,123). More about all this another time, D.V. This just to say that defending biblical creation is an urgent and timely matter. Those in the know are probably not surprised at the appearance of

God, Adam, and You contains some very fine essays. Most are written at a grade 10 or lower reading level and most are quite understandable to the average reader. Some will move you to praise the Lord as you contemplate his greatness in creating this beautiful world. This is what Derek Thomas first highlights: creation exalts God (3–8)! Overall, the book’s authors advance a clear antithesis between creation and evolution. The question of what it means that God created Adam and Eve in his image returns several times.

To read the rest of this review, click here.

Evangelism Begins with Genesis One, Two, Three

Where to begin?

Many Christians witnessing for Christ have wondered what to say first. Many pastors have likewise wondered what curriculum to use in their new members courses. Where do you start when the person you’re speaking with knows absolutely nothing about the Christian faith? Some suggest the gospel of Mark, others the gospel of John, still others the Belgic Confession, but one of the most successful starting points has actually been Genesis 1, 2, and 3.

Presenting the gospel? Many Reformed churches have held training sessions for their members using Two Ways to Live, a course developed by Philip Jensen, an Evangelical (Reformed) Anglican from Australia, and marketed by Matthias Media. This course begins with the truth of the good creation.

God is the loving Ruler of the world. He made the world. He made us rulers of the world under him. “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, because you created all things and by your will they were created and have their being” (Rev. 4:11).

Starting with “Jesus saves” begs the question what he saves us from. Starting with sin begs the question whether God is responsible for it. But starting with the loving Ruler creating a good world gets matters off on the right track.

Teaching new members? I’ve used Genesis 1 through 12 at least twice in a new members course, in two different congregations, with good fruit. It’s really quite amazing how, by journeying through the narrative of the good creation of Genesis 1, the blessed provisions of Genesis 2, and the disastrous rebellion of Genesis 3, one finds all the major topics of Christian doctrine covered: God as almighty, loving, and wise; the world as distinct from God, dependent on him, and all very good; humans made in God’s image, exalted, and made responsible; Satan seeking to destroy God’s creation by bringing down its rulers; God holding humans responsible, starting with the man; God bringing a curse upon us and creation so as to punish us and draw us to him; and, finally, God promising salvation by severing our tie to Satan and speaking of a single Descendant who would put Satan out of commission. There may be other ways to get at these teachings, such as following the outline of the Belgic Confession, but it’s certainly important to erect these teachings as biblical pillars early on in one’s journey of faith.

Mr. Antoon Breen, support officer of the John Calvin Schools in Australia, has kindly sent us a short, entry-level, meditative-style booklet that he recently published in the Reformed Guardian series. Readers will enjoy his reflections on the text of Genesis one through three. His title suggests that the gospel itself begins with these chapters. I couldn’t agree more.

You’ll appreciate his story about asking a question in front of a crowd of 750 people at an ACER Conference on learning back in 2013. He writes (pp. 28–9),

I’m thankful that I got the opportunity, before an audience of 750 or so people, to challenge one of the keynote speakers on his appeal to scientific method. I told him that I respected the call to be scientific in our approaches to linking neuroscience to education. “But earlier in your address,” I continued, “you mentioned the developments that had taken place in relation to the human brain some 400 million years ago; that’s not science, that’s metaphysical. In this respect I would like to offer an alternative view. What if the human brain did not come about by the processes of evolution, but that it was created by a transcendent and immanent God, for the purpose that it should be used by mankind to return to Him glory and honour for His great and awesome works? I offer that as an alternative perspective”.

The applause told me that there were many more who didn’t bow their knees to the modern Baal.

You can read the rest of this edifying 73 page booklet here (you’ll notice we’ve added a new category: books).