Sunday, May 9, 2010

Sola Smorgasbord: Tim Keller And Theistic Evolution. Part I: A Faith And Evolution Reconcilation?

Tim Keller is the pastor of The Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan.  While pastoring his own church, he has been influential in planting numerous churches in New York City.  Most of these church-plants are not even of his own theological conviction.  Of these 65 church-plants, only 10 are of Keller's denomination, The Presbyterian Church of America.  The rest include Lutheran, Charismatic and Christian Missionary Alliance Churches.  The largest church-plant is Southern Baptist. (For the source, see here)  For this, Keller deserves enormous respect.  I have heard some of Keller's Apologetic sermons and found them profitable. Sometime this year or next, his book, The Reason for God,  will be reviewed on this blog.  Therefore, I was disappointed to discover that Keller has written an article which was published on Francis Collins' Biologos website entitled "Creation, Evolution, and Christian Lay  People" which attempts to reconcile biblical faith and belief in evolution.

In his article, Keller states that the widespread conviction that evolution and biblical Christianity are mutually exclusive poses problems for Christians and those who are attracted to Christianity.  According to Keller, many Christians cannot reconcile their gratitude toward modern science and what modern science tells them about evolution with their theological beliefs.  Those who are exploring the Christian faith have a different problem.  Seekers may be drawn to the faith but ask, "I don't see how I can believe the Bible if that means I have to reject science." (Keller, p. 1)The merits concerning Keller's presentation of this conflict will be examined in part V of this series. 

Keller maintains that the conflict for Christians and seekers  can be resolved by demonstrating how biblical faith and belief in evolution can be reconciled.  To affect this reconciliation, Keller attempts to answer four questions:
1.  How can we interpret Genesis 1 as non-literal while honoring the authority of Scripture ?
2.  How can we accept evolution without adopting the views of the New Atheists such as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris?
3.  How do we reconcile the historicity of Adam and Eve, which is at the center of Paul's theology of human sin, with evolution?
4.  If God used evolutionary biological processes to produce Man, how do we account for the introduction of sin and violence into the world?
Keller's answers to all four questions fail to stand up to scrutiny.

By this time I had planned to begin series on the Global Church and Wesleyan theology but I wanted to deal with issues that came up during my blogger hiatus this past winter.  I have been busy with so many other things that even this has proven to be difficult.  Anyway, this series deals with one of these issues.  Originally this series had been planned as a single article, however, realizing that the one article would have been too long, I have divided it into five parts.  In the next three posts, I will examine how effective Keller's answers are to the four questions he poses.  Part IV will evaluate a possible model Keller uses to explain how the Biblical account of creation could accomadate evolutionary biological processes.  It is in part IV that the rational for the title of this series will be explained.  For now it suffices to say that his model violates the doctrine of sola scriptura adhered to by Protestants.  It is also in conflict with Calvinist theology, of which Keller is an adherent.   Part V will examine whether the conflict between faith and belief in evolution for believers and seekers is as Keller portrays it to be and why the two cannot ultimately be reconciled.

Judging on past experience when this blog has dealt with the topic of evolution, I would advise anyone who would like to comment to read the new comment policy which can be found at the right hand side of the screen.  I would also encourage you to read Keller's article linked to above.  I do look forward to your responses.

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