Does Evolution Hurt the Gospel? Part 2

Ever since I first started giving talks on the creation/evolution controversy and biblical authority, I’ve said that if our foundation in the church isn’t the Bible, from the very first verse, we’ll end up losing the culture. Well, the church (and certainly most of the leaders and academics) has (sadly) embraced evolution and millions of years more and more. And I would argue that the message of the gospel in those churches has been harmed as a result, as God’s Word has been undermined—and this has had a devastating effect on the culture as well.

Yesterday I wrote about one article in a series by Mike Beidler, a guest author with the Bible compromisers at BioLogos. He claimed that the Genesis account of creation is mythical and that believers today should not take it literally.

In another article, “Losing Our Savior,” Beidler further explains his position on Genesis. You know, I’ve often argued that if we can’t trust one part of the Bible (such as Genesis) then it raises doubts about many other parts of Scripture, including the reliability of the Gospel accounts—and often puts people on a slippery slide of unbelief.

But Beidler disagrees. Even though Genesis is not that much older than the Gospels, he falsely claims, “the life of Jesus as presented in the four Gospels is nothing like the etiological myths encountered in Genesis 1–11; we can safely treat the Gospels as a reliable source for knowing how the early Church viewed the historical person of Jesus of Nazareth . . . ” (emphasis mine).

So, the Gospels are reliable—but Genesis isn’t, despite the fact that Professor Steven Boyd has clearly shown through a detailed statistical analysis of the Hebrew language that Genesis is historical narrative? What a low view of inerrancy.

Of course, the next step in Beidler’s argument is to explain away Adam and Eve—and he does just that. He writes that sin is still a reality even without a historical Adam and Eve. “In fact,” he writes, “one could argue that evolutionary biology provides an even more powerful paradigm for explaining the source of mankind’s sinful nature in our day than the biblical text does.” Wow! There it is—evolution explains man’s sinful nature better than the Word of God, the Creator of the universe! And this is the nonsense that is pervading the church more and more—no wonder the church and the nation as a whole is in trouble.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, look at Beidler’s potential explanation for the origin of this sin nature in the evolutionary creationists’ worldview. He stated that “our inherited evolutionary baggage [was] borne [sic] of an instinctual (and once necessary) need to preserve one’s self by means of selfish acts.” Did you catch that? Our sinful nature supposedly had its origin in our evolutionary ancestral past, which, according to Beidler, was directed by God. If that is the case, then God is responsible for our sinful nature rather than our rebellion in a real Adam (and thus a real historical Fall).

Beidler’s treatment of the apostle Paul is just as bad. Now, Paul (and really, God through Paul, since this is the Word of God), treated Adam as a very real historical figure in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15. You see, taking these Scriptures at face value, there is no doubt that Paul believed in a historical Adam. But Beidler explains away Paul’s statement, saying that Paul wasn’t trying to argue for a historical Adam—he was arguing for a “literal Savior.” He compares Paul’s use of Adam in that verse to a character in a parable—parables didn’t contain real people, so why should Paul’s statement?

But you know, the main problem with Beidler’s view is that, just as Genesis is clearly historical narrative, parables are clearly parables. Listeners then and readers now know that parables typically don’t contain historical figures. But Paul’s teaching in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15 is not a parable! There’s no reason to think that he believed Adam was mythical. And besides, the first time the gospel is preached is in Genesis 3:15—if that is mythical, then the gospel itself is mythical.

Paul also referred to the literal creation and fall of Adam and Eve in 1 Timothy 2:13–14 while discussing ideas about authority in the church. He wrote, “For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.” Once again, there is no doubt that Paul viewed Adam, Eve, and their sin as part of literal history. Are we supposed to assume that this passage was a parable as well?

Beidler even says that one should expect Paul to believe in a literal Adam and Eve due to his Jewish upbringing and Pharisaical training. However, the implication from Beidler is that Paul was mistaken, and he even cites Peter Enns as a source readers can check out “for other possible ways to understand Paul’s understanding of Adam.” In this other source, Enns argues that not only Paul, but also Jesus, accommodated the errors of their day. In other words, according to Enns, Jesus knowingly or unknowingly taught errors about the first man and woman. And I need to emphasize again—even though Paul wrote these passages being referred to—he was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write what God wanted to reveal to us. As we read in Thessalonians: “For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

BioLogos has no way to defend these positions scripturally. What I think has happened here is that the people at BioLogos have approached the Bible with the requirement that evolution and millions of years must fit into Scripture. What Beidler is teaching here is not a viable alternative to biblical creation based on any kind of textual evidence. No, he’s attempting to use clever academic arguments and terms to subvert the authority of God’s Word so that man’s fallible, changing ideas are treated as the truth about our origins. It is the “Did God Really Say?” (Genesis 3:1) attack of the devil all over again.

You see, our ability to fully trust God’s promise of salvation relies upon our ability to trust everything He says about history from beginning to end. So it is right for believers to fear that the message of the gospel will be harmed by the view of theistic evolution and BioLogos. As I’ve said many times before, we can trust God’s Word, from the very first verse.

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,

Ken