Beware of Unintended Consequences
The following post is written by Rev. Jim Witteveen.
When Christians seek to harmonize evolutionary theory with the Christian faith, I believe they may often be motivated by a sincere but misguided idea that acceptance of current scientific theories is necessary in order for the church, and the gospel message that the church proclaims, to remain relevant in our culture.
Rejecting evolutionary theory as contrary to Scripture, some say, places an unnecessary stumbling block before unbelievers. What really matters is the gospel of Jesus Christ, and not details about origins, or arguments about the creation week, or debates about whether or not Adam was descended from someone (or something) else. Some say that this discussion is a waste of time – that we should be spending our time and effort on being more “missional,” and not arguing about these issues. Others say that when we reject the current scientific understanding of the origin and development of the universe, we are creating barriers and excluding people from the Church who may hold to these beliefs, or struggle with them.
However, I believe that these Christians don’t really understand how dangerous the waters that they are entering are. Rather than accommodating such opinions, we need to provide strong warnings against them.
Here’s another quote from “The Bible And Evolution” by Richard D. Phillips which speaks with great wisdom to this issue:
“Peter Enns has written, ‘Some behaviours that Christians have thought of as sinful are understood in an evolutionary scheme as means of ensuring survival – for example, the aggression and dominance associated with “survival of the fittest” and sexual promiscuity to perpetuate one’s gene pool.’
Enns is right, and his candour should be appreciated. Evolution cannot be grafted onto the structure of biblical Christianity, but replaces it with a different structure, a different ethic, a different story of salvation, and a different religion altogether.
I strongly doubt that most Christians who urge an embrace of evolution, or at least its tolerance, envision so staggering a loss as a result. They see a gain: no longer would Christians have to be considered anti-science ostriches with our heads in the sand… no longer would we be categorically excluded from the possibility of dialogue in the market square of secular society. No longer would we be a cult of obscurantists who refuse to accept what everyone else knows. No longer would we argue matters that seem so far removed from the good news of forgiveness through a loving Saviour. With the credibility of our tolerant consideration of evolution, we would gain an opportunity to discuss Jesus as the loving Saviour. Do we realize the folly of this reasoning?…
The logic of the gospel we seek to present is one that belongs to the story of Adam as the special image bearer of God, who brought sin and death into the world by transgression. Moreover, the events of Christ’s life that we proclaim are as unacceptable to the postmodern worldview as the special creation of Adam. We would be holding forth the doctrines of a Bible that we have already subjected to the higher authority of secularist dogma and scientific claims, neither of which will tolerate Christ’s atoning death and bodily resurrection. In short, by the folly of our desire to escape the persecution of a world that does not tolerate God’s Word, we have ourselves abandoned the history taught in the Bible, which alone can support the story of the Christian message, the gospel of Jesus as the Saviour for our sins. How little is the gain and how catastrophic must be the loss to a Christianity that capitulates to a narrative that is in its very essence designed to replace the teaching of God’s Word regarding everything in our world.”