My primary motivation for my last post is to dispel the idea that the Bible and true science are in disagreement on the issue of God’s creation process or timeline. And my greatest concern about how we approach the issue of the theory of evolution is to make sure that we are not adding anything to the pure message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. What do I mean by “not adding anything to the gospel”?
The gospel message of Jesus Christ is best summarized in the middle chapters of the gospel of John. In a long discourse, Jesus says about ten times that he who believes in Jesus has eternal life, having passed from death to life by faith in Christ. “Everyone who beholds the Son, and believes in Him, has eternal life” (Jn 6:40 e.g.). The gospel message really is that simple. He who believes in Jesus has eternal life. But in our human desire for a system, we are often tempted to add to the gospel.
He who keeps some New Testament form of the law and believes in Jesus has eternal life. He who keeps the traditions of the church and believes in Jesus has eternal life. He who believes in a young earth and six literal 24-hour days of creation and believes in Jesus has eternal life. Do you see where I am going? All of these ideas add to the gospel.
When we add our beliefs about a creation process and timeline as a requirement for what it means to be a Christian, we are adding to the gospel. And this requirement puts especially our young people in an unnecessary and dangerous predicament. We are forcing a choice on them that I do not believe the Bible requires. We are asking them to choose between the scientific evidence for a long progressive creation and Christianity itself. We are tying our (and their) faith in Christ to a belief in young earth creationism.
Creationists in their defense will say, “We are not adding to the gospel with our young earth creation ideas. We are preaching faith in Christ alone for salvation.” But good communication is entirely based on what was heard and understood by the listener, by the audience. It is not based only on what was said. We can say all we want that our gospel is based on Christ alone, but the communication our students and parishioners are hearing in our debates, sermons, and scolding of old earth believers is that embracing the gospel requires embracing a young earth creationist view. The message we are hearing is, “Young Earth + Jesus = Salvation. This approach is “adding to the gospel”.
And this box we put our students in is unnecessary. It springs from the divorced parents idea of science and the Bible where a choice between the two has to be made. As I have said many times in the last few posts, a better picture of science and the Bible is a strong marriage where the differences get worked out.
Now there is a clear distinction that we need to make with our students, whether they are headed to a secular university or a private school; whether they are headed to a career in science or any other education. There is a huge difference between the science of evolution and the naturalistic philosophy of evolution. I believe the science of evolution is supported by observational facts. The philosophy of evolution? Not so much. In my opinion, a random naturalistic form of evolution does not fit the facts and has no place in the world of true science.
Please hear this clearly. A theory of evolution that cuts God out of the picture is to be rejected by believers everywhere. The God of the Bible is the Creator God, no matter what timeline He chose to work in. The random naturalistic version of evolution is not Christian in any way, shape, or form. This is the distinction we need to be teaching our students.
Finally, as I have said before, do not limit God’s creative activity on the basis of any presuppositions about the “one” way that God could have done it. God is so off-the-charts in His ways, His methods, His attributes, His beauty, His mystery, His holiness, and He will have the last word on how He did it. My goal is to pay attention to the science wherever it leads and my experience to this point and my confidence in any future discovery is that we will see “the genius of the God who did it that way.”