No crisis of faith necessary, simply exchange conservative beliefs for liberal ones

One of the goals that organizations like the BioLogos foundation have is to reconcile evolutionary creation and biblical faith. Of their great concern is the number of people who have had a “crisis of faith” because of the apparent conflict between science and faith and have left the church. The goal is to show Christians that they don’t have to give up their faith to accept the scientific consensus on evolution. All they have to do is adjust their understanding of Scripture and what it teaches.

Many critics of this approach have argued that this kind of accommodation leads to further accommodation and the loss of more and more tenets of biblical faith. Slippery slope arguments, as they are often called, generally are sneered at and ridiculed. However, the truth of this danger is fairly easy to demonstrate.

Dr. Peter Enns, formerly a BioLogos senior fellow, wrote in his book, The Evolution of Adam, that maybe we should reconsider our definition of sin and our understanding of death, in consideration of the “truth of evolution”:

Although … sin and death are universal realities, the Christian tradition has generally attributed the cause to Adam. But evolution removes that cause as Paul understood it and thus leaves open the questions of where sin and death have come from. More than that, the very nature of what sin is and why people die is turned on its head. Some characteristics that Christians have thought of as sinful — for example, in an evolutionary scheme the aggression and dominance associated with “survival of the fittest” and sexual promiscuity to perpetuate one’s gene pool — are understood as means of ensuring survival. Likewise, death is not the enemy to be defeated. It may be feared, it may be ritualized, it may be addressed in epic myths and sagas; but death is not the unnatural state introduced by a disobedient couple in a primordial garden. Actually, it is the means that promotes the continued evolution of life on this planet and even ensures workable population numbers. Death may hurt, but it is evolution’s ally (160).

Dr. Karl Giberson, formerly VP of BioLogos, has written a book with Dr. Randall Stephens entitled, The Anointed: Evangelical Truth in a Secular Age. In their book, Giberson and Stephens argue that evangelical Christians must learn to accept the scientific consensuses and stop making fools of themselves by going against the tide. They also believe that there is a simple answer to avoiding a crisis of faith:

Not all born-again Christians lose their faith in such crises, of course. Many simply find a new articulation and a new place in the parallel culture of evangelicalism where they are more comfortable and where they can live more faithfully. The spectrum of evangelical belief runs from a rigid, judgmental, sometimes harsh fundamentalism on one end to a more liberal and culturally plural expressions on the other. Often an evangelical ‘crisis of faith’ is resolved with a simple liberalizing, whereby specific beliefs—biblical literalism, young earth creationism, homosexuality as perversion, eternal torment of the damned in a literal hell, the sinfulness of abortion—are abandoned and other beliefs—the Bible as literature, concern for the environment, racial and cultural equality for oppressed groups, universality of salvation, an emphasis on social justice, tolerance of diversity—move to the center as animating ethical and theological concerns. The evangelical spectrum encompasses both of these camps (216).

Notice that evangelicals are urged not only to give up a belief in Young Earth Creationism, but also the inerrancy of Scripture, a literal hell, and homosexuality and abortion as sins. It’s never just about evolution. To accept evolution as the “way God created” requires a type of mental gymnastics with what Scripture teaches. Once you give up the orthodox teachings on Scripture, everything else is open to redefinition. How much longer until Giberson and the rest accept the scientific consensus that no man has ever risen from the dead?

9 thoughts on “No crisis of faith necessary, simply exchange conservative beliefs for liberal ones

  1. Peter B says:

    At least they’re slightly more honest here, calling it “the scientific consensus” — even though it’s far from unanimous, even among humanistic scientists. “You must accept our interpretation of these artifacts from a process no one has ever seen, or you’re an idiot” is a great way to start a discussion.

  2. jilldomschot says:

    The evolutionary ideal of “survival of the fittest” IS sin nature. Giberson and Stephens are correct in so much as death becomes a necessary, even positive end to the suffering caused by sin and brokenness. It all depends on one’s perspective and starting point. I begin with God as my starting point.

  3. Jerry Koerkenmeier says:

    Enns: “Likewise, death is not the enemy to be defeated.”

    God: “The last enemy to be *destroyed is death.” (1 Cor. 15:26)

  4. Steve M says:

    There was a time when I welcomed so-called “Scientific Creationism” as a defense of Scripture. Having been exposed to only the arguments in favor of the theory of evolution during my school years, it was comforting to hear that their were well-reasoned arguments against it. However, over the years I have come to understand that so-called Science, that is Empiricism, leads to no truth at all. It can neither confirm nor refute the truth of the Genesis account of creation.

    I have come to believe that a Christian’s time is better spent attacking the fallacious methods of empirical science than trying to reconcile them with Scripture.

  5. Peter B says:

    Steve, that is key. Everyone talks as if the whole matter is sealed and settled, undebatable for all eternity — when in reality, the boots on the ground know nothing. They can’t even claim that their theory is scientific (i.e. observable and repeatable).

    We’ve had enough of this “give ground” strategy that merely masks the desire to look like the culture around us.

    Of course, our time is even better spent showing the love of Christ to our neighbors. I’m continually amazed at how much hatred of the Church is born from people doing the opposite — in the name of our God, of course.

  6. Mark B. says:

    “The evangelical spectrum encompasses both of these camps”
    If Dr. Giberson’s statement is true, then it would appear that the word evangelical has become rather meaningless.
    That aside, this type of reasoning seems more freefall than slippery slope; logically, how do they determine which Biblical statements are true? Whichever ones they like at the moment? Or perhaps whichever ones are useful?

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