A Dangerous Direction

BeekeA few months ago, we included a review of a book edited by Richard D. Phillips, God, Adam, and YouYou can find Dr. Van Raalte’s review here.  I’ve had the book for a while, but have only just begun reading it myself.  So far, it definitely lives to up to what was said in the review.

I’d like to share an excerpt from chapter 2, “The Case For Adam.”  Dr. Joel Beeke presents ten persuasive historical and theological arguments in favour of the orthodox view of Adam.  His final theological argument is that “the historical Adam is a test case for biblical authority.”  He specifically critiques scholars like Peter Enns who argue that God “‘adopted mythic categories’ from the ancient world, myths that we may now discard, so long as we retain the kernel of truth they contain.”

Beeke goes on to remark:

Those who take this route perhaps may not realize that they are departing from the path of biblical orthodoxy and following the same road as unbiblical neoorthodoxy.  Emil Brunner (1889-1966), a prominent neoorthodox theologian, said that the Bible’s teaching on creation is “not a theory of the way in which the world came into existence,” but only a summons to know God as your Lord and Creator.  Thus, he said, the Adam of Genesis 2 is inseparable from ancient beliefs about the universe and cannot be viewed as a real individual in light of our modern understanding.  For Brunner, Paradise was a “myth” not “historical fact.”

It is not necessary for us to go in this direction.  Why couldn’t the ancient Hebrews have understood it if God had told them that he created by a long, slow process of evolutionary change?  Every day, as they planted and harvested crops or worked with sheep and cattle, they could see change and improvement in the various seeds they planted or the animals they bred.  Why couldn’t God effectively communicate to them that he had conferred a human soul upon an existing animal rather than breathed life into a body formed directly out of the earth?  Why not reveal in Genesis that God made many human beings at first, instead of just one?  Why would these things have been harder for them to accept than the idea that there is only one true and living God, given that all their neighbors worshiped many gods?  And why must we separate the way in which God created from the fact that he is Creator?  Does it not glorify God as Lord to know that he created man, not through any natural process, but by a supernatural act of creation?  Yes, the account of the historical Adam’s creation greatly honors God as Creator and Lord.

Furthermore, this is a dangerous direction to go.  If the Bible is a mixture of cultural dressing wrapped around divine truth, then how can we be sure which part is the husk and which is the kernel?  What one generation embraces as the kernel of divine truth could very well be rejected by another generation as merely more human culture and tradition.  We see this happening around us even now with respect to the definition of marriage and homosexuality.  (pages 38-40)

Beeke is spot on.  Indeed, theistic evolutionary views can only gain acceptance as believers succumb to lower views of the Bible.  Such views typically over-emphasize the human element behind the authorship of Scripture and under-emphasize the divine.  We should never forget the Reformed (and biblical) teaching that the primary author of Scripture is the Holy Spirit.  And yes, “primary” is the right word.  The Bible is not 50% human and 50% divine.  It is first and foremost the Word of God.  It has come to us through human involvement, but it remains entirely 100% the word of our Father in heaven.  The more clearly we see that, the better equipped we are to stand fast against false teachings like theistic evolution.

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 creationwithoutcompromise.com.

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.