Here we go again. I was contacted last week about an article in the Concordia Journal. In a joint issue with Concordia University, Seward Nebraska, there is an article about creation. In it, the author – a science professor at CUNE – attempts to bring together science and religion. I use that phrase advisedly, because “Bringing together science and religion” almost always means rejecting the plain meaning of Holy Scripture in a vain attempt to make the secular materialists hate us less. Or, to put it another way, “But mommy, the big kids on the playground are mean to me!” It is nothing more than a craven attempt to be popular with the culture around us. It does not fool the world. And it makes us look like fools to those who might have listened, if we had stuck to our guns. At a certain point, we need to put on our big boy pants, and “git er done”. At least then, people will see that we have the integrity of our convictions.
As you may have noticed, I don’t have a lot of patience on this topic. To be clear, I am very patient with members of the church that struggle with these issues. The world is very alluring. And the arguments are well crafted to draw in the unaware. For such people, I am patient to the end of time, and will gladly explain, repeatedly if necessary, in a simple way, the importance of the Word of God.
I have zero patience with teachers in the church that teach things they know to be false. The occasional mistake is one thing. But constantly chasing after the approbation of the world, constantly demeaning the integrity of the Word of God by those who should know better just makes me angry. There is scriptural precedent for such anger. When looking at the people, Jesus was filled with compassion, for they were like sheep without a shepherd. When Jesus saw the leaders of the people selling literal sheep in the temple, it was time to make whips and flip tables.
I won’t link to the article in question, but it suggests a compromise position on evolution, one that is neither faithful to the scriptures, nor acceptable to today’s evolutionary community. It has the appearance of splitting the baby. But, as any scholar of Holy Scripture can tell you (so, don’t look to find it in this issue of Concordia Journal) the point of that story is that Solomon did NOT split the baby in half. Here it is:
God created the world. But he took millions of years to do it.
No really. That’s it. God set up creation, nudged it every few million years, but let it go about developing naturally. The word for this is : Theistic Evolution. And it is a threat to the faith as much as secular evolution is. In a forthcoming book (Evolution: A Defense Against) I explain why this fails as theology. At a later point, I explain why this view is not acceptable to evolutionists. My concern today is the former point, and that is what I address in the this brief snippet from the book (For the latter, stay tuned – I am working very hard to have it ready by Christmas.):
But first, a few words about evolution and the church. There are those who think that evolution can be safely imported into the church, as “Theistic evolution.” The Roman Catholic Church takes this view. The problem is that evolution as evolution destroys the teaching of justification. The Lutheran church has claimed since the reformation that justification is the doctrine on which the church stands or falls. Not all Christian churches have agreed with this assessment. But there is little disagreement among Christians that the work of Christ is central to the Christian church. And while Lutherans may frame the discussion in terms of justification, if theistic evolution is accepted, it destroys the work of Christ.
Evolution requires millions of years. The objection of the church is not the years themselves. Ultimately, while I believe that the earth was created in six days, I do not think it would destroy our salvation if the earth was created in six million (or six billion) years. Scripture does not teach that it was, but if God wanted to, he could certainly have taken his time, and scripture would reflect that.
For those who try to align evolution with scripture, the problem is not the timeframe. Theistic evolution teaches that during those “millions of years” evolution is occurring. And evolution requires death. The less fit die; the more fit survive. Scripture is clear. “Sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned ” (Romans 5) Death exists because of sin, and for no other reason. Sin happens after the creation is finished. If there is death before Adam and Eve commit the first sin in the garden, then death must be a part of the creation. If this were true, then God created death; death is good. But if death is a part of the created order itself, then death is not a consequence of sin. Which means that, when Jesus died to take away sin, He could not also take away death. Death is only taken away by Jesus death if it is a result – and only a result – of sin. If death comes into the world any other way, then Jesus death may take away sin, but it can not take away death. This is a problem. The death of Jesus is our life. He is our resurrection. Saint Paul explains it eloquently:
But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. (1 Corinthians 15:13-19, ESV)
If you want to learn more about what scripture teaches, I recommend Luther’s Large Catechism. And for understanding the Large Catechism, I recommend “What Every Christian Must Know: Outlines of Luther’s Large Catechism.” It’s perfect for a Bible Class, New Member Class, or for personal study. It’s cheap, it’s helpful, and it’s available NOW at Amazon.
Plow through the sugar at the beginning. http://www.jeannedennis.com/archives/7696
One of the reasons I wrote the book is because Answers in Genesis has serious shortcomings. I believe their curriculum actually makes it MORE likely that someone will be drawn away from the faith by the surrounding culture.
Spot on, Pastor Winter! The other problem is that no action will be taken to correct this very public error in our Synod…At least that is our track record thus far.
I forget who first said it first, but… “It’s one thing to believe in evolution. It’s another thing to blame God for it.
When the age of the universe comes up, I usually seek to highlight the rarely acknowledged assumptions that serve as the basis for the current scientific consensus – most notably, that the so-called “laws of nature” as we observe them today have operated in more or less the same way since the very beginning, or shortly thereafter. There is no way to demonstrate “scientifically” that this was actually the case, and anyone who believes in an omnipotent Creator has no problem with the notion that those laws have changed – the Fall and the Flood being the most obvious candidates for when this has happened.
That said, I agree that people get too hung up on the time frame and often completely miss the serious theological implications of the current scientific consensus regarding the origin and development of life on earth. Animal death before the Fall indeed entails that it was (and presumably still is) a “very good” aspect of God’s original design. Those who insist that Romans 5 is only referring to human death or spiritual death are grasping at straws, in my view.
Why not link to the article or provide a quote of the false teaching? The fact that you don’t raises serious questions about the veracity of your claim. Sapiens nihil affirmat quod non probat!
I don’t link because it is heresy. Why promote it and give them page views? Google is very helpful in this regard. “Concordia Journal” Latest issue. p. 64-73. P. 72 is where he says animal death was probably created by God. Fossils, death, all good. Only Adam and Eve dying needs to wait for the fall. Sophistry. Read for yourself if you want. But I won’t link it, and since they won’t let me copy paste, I won’t retype their trash either. Luther follows the same pattern in Bondage of the will. The assertions he makes can all be proved without actually quoting Erasmus. It can be proven. If you don’t believe me, look for yourself if you do not believe me. But I won’t promote their false teaching. Once my claim has been verified to your satisfaction, I’m sure you will print a retraction in the comments.
Hey Lincoln, our circuit forum passed a fine overture this morning. I’ll email it you and you can post it if you’d like.
That would be great! I’m submitting one for our district pastor’s conference as well. I’ll let you know how it goes.