An Evolving Bible?

Did the Bible come about as man evolved? The Rev. Michael Dowd thinks so. Now, Dowd is a graduate of Palmer Seminary with a Master of Divinity and considers himself an “evolutionary evangelist.” In a recent article for the Huffington Post, Dowd has come up with a story of how the Bible may have come to be—from an evolutionary viewpoint!

Basically, Dowd holds that the Bible started as cultural accounts and traditions, which were passed down and changed over time—until being written down. He explains as follows:

Alas, when a story becomes Scripture, it ceases to evolve—at least in any functional, intentional way. Skillful and charismatic interpreters of unchanging Scripture can, of course, maintain the relevance of the sacred stories for a good deal longer by continuing to evolve the interpretations. Supposed miracles can be reinterpreted as metaphor; historical “fact” can be recast as value-laden parable. But when the interpretations themselves fall to the temptation of idolatry of the written word, absurdity eventually prevails. (emphasis added)

Really, Dowd is unhappy with the fact that Bible-believing Christians take God’s Word as unchanging and inerrant. He seems to believe it’s a bad thing that Scripture doesn’t change with the culture—now, that’s what I call an “absurd” belief!

But the “absurdity” that Dowd refers to is actually his own misunderstanding of Old Testament laws and how they are understood today. Dowd says he is “prone to point out the scriptural injunctions in my own tradition that modern sensibilities rightly recognize as morally repugnant.” He explains further:

For example, even the most conservative of Christians alive today do not respond to our disrespectful sons by inviting neighbors to join in stoning them to death. Nor do we advocate capital punishment for the sin of working on the sabbath. No western voice rises in support of ancient Middle Eastern customs of slicing off the hand of a thief or beheading blasphemers. In spite of scriptural admonitions, we apply modern moral reasoning—secular reasoning—that has emerged through the centuries as cultural conditions themselves evolve.

Actually, biblical Christians don’t use “modern moral reasoning” or “secular reasoning” to make decisions. The Bible is still very much our foundation for morality. Furthermore, I’ve heard this claim about stoning disrespectful children many times before, and Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell addressed it on our website—see Feedback: Doesn’t the Bible Condone the Killing of One’s Rebellious Child?

Dowd continues to caricature what he calls “biblical literalists” (including those of us at AiG), but he doesn’t seem to understand how Scripture is interpreted using a historical-grammatical hermeneutic. (For more on hermeneutics, read Tim Chaffey’s series on hermeneutics, part 1 and part 2.)

Now, there are a number of positions on how to understand the Law, and we at Answers in Genesis don’t take an official position on this issue. But today’s lead article on our website explains the three major views on understanding the Law. I urge you to read it so that you will better be able to respond to these sorts of claims—titled Why Don’t Christians Follow All the Old Testament Laws?

Because Dowd has accepted the anti-God religion of evolution, he then assumes that everything (including the Bible) has been evolving. He views the Bible as a totally human document that evolved as humans and culture evolved. His starting point is wrong, which is why his view of the Bible is wrong. I’m reminded of what God says about His Word:

Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven. (Psalm 119:89)

“For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” (Matthew 5:18)

Concerning Your testimonies, I have known of old that You have founded them forever. (Psalm 119:152)

The entirety of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever. (Psalm 119:160)

“But the word of the Lord endures forever.” Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you. (1 Peter 1:25)

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,

Ken

Steve Golden contributed to the writing of this blog post.