Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sola Smorgasbord: Tim Keller And Theistic Evolution. Part V: Congregational Confusion On A Scale Previously Unimagined

(Revised 6/28/11)

Protestants adhere to the doctrine of Sola Scriptura.  The doctrine of Sola Scriptura states that the Bible alone is the sole authority for matters of Christian living and doctrine.  Calvinists, Arminians, Wesleyan-Arminians and Pentecostals uphold this doctrine.  Tim Keller's attempt to reconcile Biblical faith and Evolution in his article "Creation, Evolution, and Christian Lay People", which appears on Francis Collins' Biologos website, undermines Sola Scriptura.  His Biblical exegesis ignores relevant scriptures that must be taken into consideration in determining whether or not Genesis 1 is to be read literally.  Such scriptures include Heb 4:3-4, Mark 10:6 and I Cor 15:47.  He also ignores the meaning of key terms such as the meaning of light in Gen. 1:3 and lights in Gen. 1:14.  His views that Adam was the product of Evolution while Eve was the result of special creation, his promotion of the "God gene," that Man's belief in God may be genetic in origin, these Keller admits are just models of how the Christian faith can accomodate Darwinian Evolution. But Keller insists that Christians must make such accomodations for the sake of accepting the importance of evolutionary biological processes.  How does Keller characterize the refusal to make such accomodations? "This is not a sophisticated theological and philosophical move..." (Keller, p. 6)  He speaks of this accomodation as if the contents of the Christian message are just a strategy to win people to the Christian side.  And part of Keller's strategy to win people is to so read Scripture in such a way as to accomodate a theory that Darwin could not have formulated without rejecting the role of God as creator in the process of creation. (See Part III)  He mixes Scripture and non-scriptural elements to make the accomodation neatly fit together.  Hence the rational for the title of this series.

The irony is that some Calvinists believe that they own the doctrine of Sola Scriptura (from the little I know about Tim Keller, I would not include him in this category).  Some Calvinist's believe that all other Christian theologies are Man-centered and result from a refusal to honor the authority of Scripture as the sole authority for life and doctrine.  For instance, they criticize the Wesleyan Quadrilateral, which states that truth can be arrived at by consulting Scripture first, and interpreting Scripture through tradition (what the Church has said in the past on a particular issue), reason and experience.  Some Calvinists charge that the Quadrilateral, by consulting tradition, reason and experience, undermines the authority of Scripture.  Yet many Calvinists have no problem when one of their own undermines the authority of Scripture by accomodating it to a world view rooted in the rejection of God as creator.  Tim Keller recently published an article on the Reformed Gospel Coalition website entitled  "Sinned In A Literal Adam, Raised in a Literal Christ."  It is a far shorter article than "Creation, Evolution, and Christian Laypeople", yet it repeats many of the points he makes in the longer article which have been discussed in this series.  Some of the other members of the Gospel Coalition may disagree with Keller, but Keller appears to remain in good standing with the group.  Some of the members of The Gospel Coalition, such as John Piper and Al Mohler, are also members of the The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals .  According to Roger Olson, the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals will not allow Methodists to become members. (See the comment section from this article on Olson's blog.  Olson would disagree with my views of creation.)  If certain well known Calvinists will not allow Arminians to join their group and persist in the fiction that their group represents the Evangelical wing of the Church, why are the writings of Keller which challenge the Biblical account of creation not responded to by Keller's fellow Calvinists. How can Calvinists continue to remain hypocritical?

Let's look at one further example of Keller's accomodation of Christian and non- Christian world views.  Keller promotes a theory by Christian philosopher Peter van Inwagen.  Keller quotes him on page 1:  "Suppose that God exists and wants supernaturalistic belief to be a human universal, and sees (he would see this if it were true) that certain features would be useful for human beings to have-useful from an evolutionary point of view: conductive to survival and reproduction-would naturally have the consequence that supernaturalistic belief would be in due course a human universal.  Why shouldn't he allow these features to be the cause of the thing he wants?-rather as the human designer of a vehicle might use the waste heat from its engine to keep its passengers warm."

Keller comments on this statement: "Even if science could prove that religious belief has a genetic component that we inherit from our ancestors, that finding is not incompatible with belief in the reality of God or even the truth of the Christian faith.  There is no logical reason to preclude that God could have used evolution to predispose people to believe in God in general so that people would be able to consider true belief when they hear the Gospel preached." (Keller, p. 1)

So God used Evolution to predispose all of us to believe in God in general and be able to consider true belief when the Gospel is preached.  If God indeed used Evolution for that purpose, it didn't work, did it?  The vast majority of human beings have not had saving faith in Christ.  As Christ Himself said, "Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." (Mt. 7: 13-14)  It is the created world surrounding Man that causes Man to first discern that there is a God, Paul tells us in Rom. 1:18-21.  Yet even then Paul tells us that no one seeks God. (Rom 3: 11)  Most of those we witness to do not accept the Gospel.  Most of those who believe in God do not believe in Jesus as the Son of God, nor do they believe Jesus is the only path to God. Why would God root our belief in Him in natural phenomena subject to mutation? If Man inherited a "God gene" as Keller thinks we did, so that we would be predisposed to believe, then what God predetermined did not come to pass.  Why should we put our faith in such a God who does not have the power to fulfill all His purposes?  In Keller's zeal to accomodate Evolution and Christianity, he sows doubts concerning God's sovereignty and sabotages Christian assurance.

One last question.  How does Keller reconcile his notion that we inherited this "God gene" with the Calvinist doctrine of predestination?  This doctrine states that God predestined a certain few, the elect, to life with God while the rest of humanity is damned to a Christless eternity in hell?  Whether one is a member of the elect or not, one cannot alter their own destiny.  If that is the case, why would God implant a belief in Him in those He predestined to hell?  Why would He predispose humanity to belief in Him if He has decreed that the vast majority of humanity through the centuries are not among the elect?  Again,this is a slur on the character of God.  How does Keller reconcile this with his Calvinist theology?  How does those he counsel reconcile these contradictory beliefs?  Or are they so confused by his counsel that doubts are sown in their minds concerning not only the authority of Scriptures but the very existence and character of God?      

The conclusion to this series will appear in a few days.
All Scripture Quotations taken from the NIV.

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