The orthodox evangelical view held by the pioneers of science, including geological pioneer Nicholas Steno, is that the Bible records real history: that Adam and Eve were real people, Adam was made from the dust of the earth, Eve was made from the rib of Adam, the Garden of Eden was a real place, Noah’s Flood was a global catastrophe, and the earth is about 6,000 year old.
Over the past decades, evangelical seminaries and colleges have been afraid to defend a straightforward reading of the Bible, in spite of their long-established statements of faith. Instead of accepting the biblical teaching on origins, they have been embracing the secular narrative that the universe and everything within it evolved by naturalistic processes over billions of years, including humans who evolved from apes.
In recent years, a few notable evangelical theologians have taken a stand and spoken out against compromise with evolutionary, long-age thinking. Two figures in particular are Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and R.C. Sproul of Ligonier Ministries, who have come out together in defence of the traditional, straight-forward reading of Genesis. See “Mohler At Center Of Debate Over Evolution & The Bible” for a report.
What is most lacking in the evangelical movement today, Mohler said in the address, is a consideration of the theological cost of holding to an old earth position. The position, he said, seems to be at an “insoluble collision with the redemptive historical narrative of the Gospel.”
“The cost to the Christian church, in terms of ignoring this question or abandoning the discussion, is just too high. The cost of confronting this question is also costly,” Mohler said. “It can be very expensive because it can create intensity and conflict and controversy, but I would suggest that the avoidance of this will be at the cost of our own credibility.”
The cost is not just within the church but born by the whole community. The compromise within the church is deep and the battle is shaping up to be fierce. But reformation must begin in the church before it will spill over and transform the world.
It’s good to see that the debate has begun.