Which Well-known Pastor Participated in This Pro-evolution Workshop?

We agree that the methods of the natural sciences provide the most reliable guide to understanding the material world, and the current evidence from science indicates that the diversity of life is best explained as a result of an evolutionary process. Thus BioLogos affirms that evolution is a means by which God providentially achieves God’s purposes . . . We acknowledge the challenge of providing an account of origins that does full justice both to science and to the biblical record. Based on our discussions, we affirm that there are several options that can achieve this synthesis, including some which involve a historical couple, Adam and Eve, and that embrace the compelling conclusions that the earth is more than four billion years old and that all species on this planet are historically related through the process of evolution. We commit ourselves to spreading the word about such harmonious accounts of truth that God has revealed in the Bible and through science.*

This statement (the full statement is reprinted below) was composed as the result of a 2010 BioLogos workshop in which several well-known Christian academics participated, such as Dr. Peter Enns (someone we’ve discussed in this blog a few times) of the pro-evolution organization BioLogos. The workshop included Pastor Tim Keller, the well-known senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City.

In 2009, Pastor Keller co-sponsored a major BioLogos workshop. It was attended by many well-known theistic evolutionists—both scientists and theologians. It was held in November of 2009 at the Harvard Club in New York City and was entitled “In Search of a Theology of Celebration.” The workshop participants were the following: Tim Keller, Jennifer Wiseman, Denis Alexander, Kathryn Applegate, Dean E. Arnold, R.J. Berry, Dorothy Boorse, Pastor Greg Boyd, Joel Carpenter, Pastor Dan Cho, Pastor Sheila Coleman, Francis Collins, E. David Cook, Michael Cromartie, Karl Giberson, Owen Gingerich, Os Guinness, Daniel Harrell, John Haught, Jack Hayford, Pastor Joel Hunter, Randy Isaac, Jack Johnson, David Kim, Kelly Monroe Kullberg, Ard Louis, Mark Noll, Pastor Tom Oord, Pastor Earl Palmer, William Phillips, Jeff Schloss, Pastor Dean Smith, Cara Wall-Scheffler, Bruce Waltke, John Walton, Luder Whitlock, Dallas Willard, N.T. Wright, and Philip Yancey.

A second BioLogos workshop was held in 2010. It’s not fully clear what Pastor Keller’s role was in bringing this second workshop together. But it was at the same New York City location and had the same theme. Except this time, the workshop issued a summary statement about evolution and the age of the earth (among other topics), and it was drafted after consultations by workshop participants that included Pastor Keller as well as the following: Denis Alexander, Kathryn Applegate, Robert C. Bishop, Stephen Ashley Blake, Jim and Carolyn Blankemeyer, Barbara Bryant, R. Judson Carlberg, Ron Choong, Francis Collins, Michael Cromartie, Pete Enns, Catherine Crouch, Andy Crouch, Darrel Falk, Leighton Ford, Kerry Fulcher, Karl Giberson, Charley Gordon, Os Guinness, Deborah Haarsma, Daniel Harrell, Matthew J. Heynen, Joel C. Hunter, Ian Hutchinson, Randy Isaac, Sidney J. and Catherine Jansma, Tim Keller, Paul H. Lange, Ard Louis, Patrick McDonald, Tim O’Connor, Thomas Jay Oord, Jeff Schloss, Randy Scott, Sanford C. “Sandy” Shugart, Dean Smith, Mark Sprinkle, Tim Stafford, Dave Ussery, Luder Whitlock, Philip Yancey, Amos Yong.

Here is the full statement. Now, it could be that Pastor Keller didn’t necessarily sign off on this entire statement but allowed his name to be included as someone who had input in the document. Regarding the names of the workshop participants at the end of the document and above, it states, “The following individuals were present and thoughtfully participated in the group discussion that produced this statement.” But based on what our research team has discovered about Pastor Keller’s beliefs concerning Genesis and his endorsement of the work of the pro-evolution BioLogos group (he writes for BioLogos; plus, as we noted above, he co-hosted the 2009 BioLogos workshop),* it appears the BioLogos’ statement (below) generally reflects his views on how Genesis is to be taken. And note that in the statement below, the collective “we affirm” is used a few times and the names of the leaders are given underneath it, so the implication is that Pastor Keller agrees with the document’s contents.

I have bolded some of the statement’s sections for emphasis.

Summary Statement

Science and Faith

We affirm historic Christianity as articulated in the classic ecumenical creeds. Beyond the original creation, God continues to act in the natural world by sustaining it and by providentially guiding it toward the goal of a restored and consummated creation. In contrast to Deism, BioLogos affirms God’s direct involvement in human history, including singular acts such as the incarnation and resurrection of Christ, as well as ongoing acts such as answers to prayer and acts of salvation and personal transformation.

We also affirm the value of science, which eloquently describes the glory of God’s creation. We stand with a long tradition of Christians for whom faith and science are mutually hospitable, and we see no necessary conflict between the Bible and the findings of science. We reject, however, the unspoken philosophical presuppositions of scientism, the belief that science is the sole source of all knowledge.

In recent years voices have emerged who seek to undermine religious faith as intellectually disreputable, in part because of its alleged dissonance with science. Some go further, characterizing religion as a “mind virus” or a cultural evil. While many of their ideas are not new, these voices are often identified as the New Atheists, and scientism undergirds their thinking.

In contrast to scientism, we deny that the material world constitutes the whole of reality and that science is our only path to truth. For all its fruitfulness, science is not an all-inclusive source of knowledge; scientism fails to recognize its limitations in fully understanding reality, including such matters as beauty, history, love, justice, friendship, and indeed science itself. We agree that the methods of the natural sciences provide the most reliable guide to understanding the material world, and the current evidence from science indicates that the diversity of life is best explained as a result of an evolutionary process. Thus BioLogos affirms that evolution is a means by which God providentially achieves God’s purposes.

Accounts of Origins

We affirm without reservation both the authority of the Bible and the integrity of science, accepting each of the “Two Books” (the Word and Works of God) as God’s revelations to humankind. Specifically, we affirm the central truth of the biblical accounts of Adam and Eve in revealing the character of God, the character of human beings, and the inherent goodness of the material creation.We acknowledge the challenge of providing an account of origins that does full justice both to science and to the biblical record. Based on our discussions, we affirm that there are several options that can achieve this synthesis, including some which involve a historical couple, Adam and Eve, and that embrace the compelling conclusions that the earth is more than four billion years old and that all species on this planet are historically related through the process of evolution. We commit ourselves to spreading the word about such harmonious accounts of truth that God has revealed in the Bible and through science.*

I must admit it is perplexing to see a very good preacher of the Word and one who has a heart to reach people with the gospel like Tim Keller being involved with BioLogos and helping to compose such a Bible-compromising statement.

By the way, from what I have read about Pastor Keller, it seems one of his favorite Christian authors is my favorite writer—Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. He was a great expositional preacher of England and Wales in the twentieth century. In fact, I remember seeing a letter that Pastor Lloyd-Jones wrote to someone in England after being asked if he believed God created the universe in seven days.  His reply went something like this: “No. He created everything is six days.” Pastor Lloyd-Jones certainly believed in six literal creation days and taught against evolution.

In his book What Is an Evangelical?, Lloyd-Jones actually gives his own summary statement about how to accept the Genesis account of origins. This may well be used as a response to the summary statements we have read from BioLogos. He declares the following:

We accept the biblical teaching with regard to creation and do not base our position upon theories of evolution, whichever particular theory people may choose to advocate. We must assert that we believe in the being of one first man called Adam and in one first woman called Eve. We reject any notion of a pre-Adamic man because it is contrary to the teaching of the Scripture.**

Further, Lloyd-Jones stated the following:

If we say that we believe the Bible to be the Word of God, we must say that about the whole of the Bible, and when the Bible presents itself to us as history, we must accept it as history. I would contend that the early chapters of Genesis, the first three chapters of Genesis, are given to us as history.**

While Dr. Lloyd-Jones is not saying that you must reject evolution to be a Christian, he is saying that evolution is a straying from the truth and biblical authority, and as such is a divisive philosophy in the Christian church. This would indicate that Dr. Lloyd-Jones was prepared to make this matter of biblical authority an essential and foundational truth for unity among evangelicals. We would expect that if Dr. Lloyd-Jones were alive today, he would be appealing to Pastor Keller to return to the unity that can only be found in the truth of Christ and the whole counsel of His entire Word. This is also our appeal for Pastor Keller.

We need to understand that there is an increasingly aggressive effort—more than ever before and by many Christian leaders—to convince the church to believe in evolution and millions of years and to convince Christians not to take an authoritative stand on six literal creation days, a young earth, and so on. There is no doubt that the recent AiG book Already Gone and the coming sequel (May 1 release) Already Compromised are timely publications to open the eyes of Christians regarding the destructive nature of this compromise of Genesis with evolution and millions of years.

Make sure you have read Already Gone and have ordered Already Compromised.

The battle in the church over the authority of God’s Word beginning in Genesis is greatly heating up. Make sure you are informed and equipped so you can defend the Christian faith.

Footnotes

* http://biologos.org/blog/the-biologos-foundations-theology-of-celebration-ii-workshop/CP1/.

** Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, What Is an Evangelical?, Banner of Truth Trust, pages 74–75, 1992 (reprint 2002).