EFCA Theology Pre-Conference Part 2

Here is the continuation of my previous blog. I’ve tried to quote every place I’ve taken exactly what he said, but as the conference was a week ago, I’m sure there are parts here that I wrote down verbatim. All the thinking in this was done by Hans Madueme, thank you very much for walking us through some background to this very important issue.

Hans Madueme who further explored the historical Adam and Eve did the second part of the theology conference. He gave some very helpful background information to this question, as well as some practical questions to ask for us today.

Hans talked in great detail about Charles Darwin not being the first person to push for an old earth view.

Over 50 years prior to Darwmin’s Origin of the Species, many theologians agreed with geologists who said the earth was older than Bishop Ussher’s date of 4004 B.C.  Darwin was not the only “bad guy” in our history. One of the key figures who began questioning the historical Adam and Eve was Isaac La Peyrère (1596-1676).

Isaac La Peyrère was a controversial figure in his day, born in France to a Calvanist family. He had many questions about the beginning chapters of Genesis. People at his time had begun to ask some very important questions regarding the history of the world. They had become aware of ancient histories (Chinese, Egyptian, etc) who went further back than the Bible’s histories. Columbus had also discovered the “New World” and where did those people come from? There had also been myths about giants, Cyclops and other mythical creatures. How did they fit into the creation story? It was in the midst of these questions that he wrote a two-part magnum opus in 1642-1643 defending the theory that Adam was not the first human. His proof text for this theory was Romans 5:12-14. He was labeled as a heretic and was forced to recant his heresy and fake a conversion to the Roman Catholic Church where he blamed those “Calvinists” who had brainwashed him.

This then leads us to Darwin, who we now know wasn’t the first to ask the questions about the origins of the world. The questions about the historical Adam and Eve are not new to us today, but have been asked many times before. As Hans said in his lecture, “People had doubts about the traditional picture of Adam before 1859, but Darwin made it much harder to believe in Adam and Eve as the first human beings who later fell.” Many liberal scholars today have come to the conclusion that Christian theology needs to be done without a historical Adam and Eve. Now, “it is possible to have “Christian Theology” without a historical Adam and Eve, but it’s not the theology our Church Fathers would recognize.”

Hans then went on to discuss the question, “How should Christians relate science and theology?” Ian Barbour, who published Issues in Science and Religion in 1966 was helpful in the emergence of this study. Hans continued by saying, ‘Regarding the controversy over Adam and Eve, the authority of Scripture is the hinge on which it all turns.” Barbour developed a typology of how Christians are to relate science and theology. Christians can view them: in conflict, as independents, in dialogue with each other, on in integration with each other. Barbour recommends the dialogue position (avoid conflict at all cost) he wanted to show the “reasonableness” of the Christian faith. However, sometimes there are real conflicts between science and theology (e.g. the traditional doctrine of the fall and mainstream evolutionary theory).

**Following are the exact notes I took during the conference, there are a lot of definitions with my explanation next to them that I thought would be helpful for you to see as opposed to me trying to write it out in paragraph form**

Scriptural realism is the proposal for how to relate science and theology. It tries to address a concern that theology keeps being revised because of new scientific data.

  • Canonical Epistemology – Scripture is inerrant. It is true and without error. Scripture in their original content is infallible. Everything we know from the Bible is true in an absolute sense.
  • Critical Fideism – We do not always understand the true parts of Scripture because of human error in understanding. We are sinful, fallible interpreters of Scripture. These things are supernaturally affirmed by the Holy Spirit. We are certain of these things, because and only because we receive them from the living God.
  • Christian Eclecticism – there is no one-size fits all method of approaching scientific theories. Warranted theological agnosticism-when a scientific belief is in conflict with a scientific theory.

How would scriptural realism help us in the debate over evolution and the historicity of Adam and Ever?

  • The doctrine of the fall is a central doctrine (and presupposed in all of Scripture).
  • All major church traditions affirm these doctrines despite differences in detail.
  • Christians can be theologically agnostic about conflicting evidence from scientific data (a warranted agnosticism).

Difference Evangelical Positions

  • Traditional Young Earth Theology
  • Creationist Preadamism (Old Earth Creationists)
  • Evolutionary Preadamism (fully embraces theistic evolution, Adam and Eve share a common ancestry with other animals)
  • Federal Headship Preadamism (there were many pre-adamite creatures who existed before Adam and Eve, the world was full of pre-adamites before Adam and Eve were placed in the garden who became the first human beings)

The final question, then, is how should churches, seminaries and us as Christians deal with the questions of science and theology? Hans suggested 3 things for us to think through as we continue to grow in wisdom with both God and men.

  1. They should set dogmatic boundaries on these sort of questions.
  2. We need more scientists who are confessional and who are wrestling with the most difficult questions in science and theology.
  3. We need to think about how we can best create “intellectual space” for our best theologians and scientist to explore tentative, non-binding hypotheses (from a scriptural realist perspective)

Hans did a great job of helping us think through some of the modern implications of these very old questions. It’s a good reminder that it’s all been done before, there’s nothing new under the sun. Praise God for his Word which is timeless!

EFCA Theology Pre-Conference Part 1

This past week I had the privilege of attending the 2012 EFCA Theology Conference at Trinity in Deerfield, IL. Dr. Bob Yarbrough and Dr. D.A. Carson were the speakers for the topic of ‘Understanding the Complimentarian Position.’ It was a very helpful conference and took a look at what the Bible says about gender roles and how that affects us today. Over the next couple weeks (if I can get it done) I’ll be putting up some summaries from the different sessions up here.

The first pre-conference session was about the “hot topic” of the historicity of Adam and Eve. This presentation was given by my “dear old dad” Greg Strand and Hans Madueme.

The purpose of this preconference was to discuss this debate with the issues of inerrancy and the authority of the Word of God. The goal was to not become minimalists or maximalists, but instead major on the majors and minor on the minors. In light of that, how are we to think about the historical Adam and Eve, as under attack from the modern liberal views of them being a group of people?

At the core of this denial of Adam’s historicity were listed 3 groups or individuals: Francis Collins, BioLogos, and Peter Enns.

Francis Collins was a part of the Human Genome Project and has written a couple books about science and God, specifically in relation to creation. In his first book The Language of God, he claims that humans emerged from primates about 100,000 years ago, and in his later book The Language of Science and Faith, says that Adam and Ever “do not fit the evidence” that science has presented.

BioLogos was launched in 2007 by Francis Collins, the “atheist turned Christian” to promote theistic evolution. Many people look to BioLogos as the authority in this scientific discussion, and while there are many good Christian scientist who are a part of this organization, we need to be careful of their theological view.

BioLogos group does affirm that the Bible is the inspired and authoritative Word of God. They have not yet adopted a statement of faith, but affirm 1 Corinthians 15:1-5 and the ancient creeds of the early church. While those are good and necessary to affirm, they aren’t the only things that need to be affirmed. The Bible as a whole is God’s inspired Word given to us. There is no realm that isn’t affected by Scripture. Many people at BioLogos are seeking to make the Bible fit into their science instead of seeing how science ultimately points us to Christ (Romans 1).

The final person that was addressed was Peter Enns who wrote Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament. In this, Enns suggests that we read the Bible incarnationally. We must avoid the error of Docetism (that Christ only appeared to be human). The final conclusion he comes to is that because the Bible was written by humans, we must accept errors because of their ignorance, i.e. the biblical writers weren’t as scientifically advanced as us and therefore wouldn’t have written what they did if they knew the whole story. He therefore suggests that Adam is not the beginning of humanity, but the beginning of the nation of Israel. This leads him to say that a strictly literal reading of the Adam story no longer fits with what we know from secular science.

It seems that at the root of the previous 3 arguments is the questioning of the validity and authority of Scripture. This is exactly why point 3 of the new EFCA Statement of Faith states “We believe that God created Adam and Eve in His image, but they sinned when tempted by Satan.” For more information about the EFCA’s position on these issues, see Evangelical Convictions, pages 34-35 and75-77.

The Phone Stack

I found an awesome new game to play! Cell phones have invaded every part of our lives. It’s generally the first thing to look at in the morning, and the last thing you see before you go to bed at night. It even has taken over meal table conversations, as any lull in the conversation is invaded by a tweet, text, e-mail or call. The concept behind this game is pretty easy: everyone puts their phone in a stack in the middle of the table, and the first person to grab their phone has to pay for the meal. It’s intense, good accountability, and just funny to see people squirm. Do you think you could last entire meal without grabbing your phone?

Carl Trueman on Media and the Message

Carl Trueman has a good reminder here that “A theology which can be expressed in 140 characters or turned into a half dozen semi-grammatical bullet points without an obvious main verb is inevitably a theology which is either ambiguous, simplistic or both.” He goes on to say, “This is one reason there must be a difference between evangelism and discipleship.” This reminds me of my Biblical Theology class at Taylor where we talked about “tweeting the Gospel” I couldn’t think of any way to fit the entire message of the Gospel into a 140 character tweet. God’s message takes up the entire universe (Rom 1:20) and can’t be contained within every book ever written. Yet, we will be held accountable for every word we say (Matt 12:36). How can we use twitter, Facebook, etc to glorify God in ways that aren’t ambiguous, yet point to Christ?


Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus

Recently, a video went viral about a guy telling the world why he hates religion but loves Jesus. In response to that video, Kevin DeYoung wrote a very nice article critiquing the video. This was then followed up by an update by Kevin DeYoung again. This video is really hitting home to a lot of people. I appreciate both Kevin and Jefferson’s exchanges, as they seem to be both loving and encouraging of each other, very different then many people handle criticism today. I do appreciate the video, and the opportunity that it presents to talk about the difference between Jesus and legalism. Jesus did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17). So being a Christian isn’t about following certain rules, but through the process of sanctification, our hearts will continue to become more and more like Christ, putting sin to death and putting on Christ. We then will be so radically changed that the “rules” we find in the Bible that are so hard to follow, have now become second nature to us. May we continue to pursue Christ-like-ness in every area of our lives.

Pastors Oppose Evolution

On Tuesday I’ll be going to Chicago where my dad will be giving a lecture on the historicity of Adam and Eve. In light of that, I came across an interesting article talking about a survey asking Pastors what they thought about Adam and Eve, Creation, and a young Earth. Although, like any poll, it isn’t what EVERYONE believes, it’s helpful to see just what Pastors are saying, and hopefully teaching in their churches every week.

Against ‘Against Calvanism’

Here is a really helpful response to Roger Olson’s book ‘Against Calvanism’ in which he argues against the thoughts of todays ‘Young Restless and Reformed’ movement. I’m 65 pages into the book and already have been frustrated with what, as this author writes, is a lack of exegetical evidence. Olson instead values a moralistic approach and argues against a God who would not fit in his definition of goodness.

As Olson says in his book:

“One day, at the end of a class session on Calvinism’s doctrine of God’s sovereignty, a student asked me a question I had put off considering. He asked: “If it was revealed to you in a way you couldn’t question or deny that the true God actually is as Calvinism says and rules as Calvinism affirms, would you still worship him?” I knew the only possible answer without a moment’s thought, even though I knew it would shock many people. I said no, that I would not because I could not. Such a God would be a moral monster. Of course, I realize Calvinists do not think their view of God’s sovereignty makes him a moral monster, but I can only conclude they have not thought it through to its logical conclusion or even taken sufficiently seriously the things they say about God and evil and innocent suffering in the world.”

Wow. I am glad that God doesn’t fit inside my human-shaped box.

Tim Tebow – The Man, The Legend

Tim Tebow has been quite a buzz lately. He set a record on Sunday for the most tweets per second at 9,420. I appreciate that Tim is taking the stage he has been given to give all glory to God. And love him or hate him, he’s become a cultural icon. I today read a blog with 10 thoughts about the Tim Tebow phenomenon. He has 5 reasons he likes Tim Tebow and 5 concerns he has about the Tebow mania. It’s worth reading!

First Entry!

Hello Everyone!

I had been using google’s blogging tool, but have read a lot about word press so I decided to make the move! I’ll be writing about useful new technology, books I’ve read, movies I’ve seen and different life events. I am currently as associate pastor at Cheyenne Evangelical Free Church in Cheyenne, WY and am loving learning and growing as an under-shepherd at a local church body. I hope and pray that God will be glorified in and through me in my stumbling to learn and grow closer to Christ and the cross. To him alone be the glory forever.

‘Unfashionable’ by Tullian Tchividjian

I just finished reading ‘Unfashionable‘ at the recommendation of my senior pastor. I still am not sure how to pronounce his name, but I can definitely see where his heart is from the book! The reason Tullian wrote this book is to remind Christians to not be so like the world that there is no difference between the world and the church. It reminded me a little bit of some of J.C. Ryle’s exhortations in ‘Thoughts for Young Men‘ where he encouraged young men to not be like most young men who aren’t living the Christian life to which God has called them. Tullian does a good job of identifying a growing disparity between the Western Church and the Church at large-namely that ‘Christians’ in the West are not living the way Christ did, and the way God has called us to live. How exactly are Christians supposed to be “in the world but not of it”? Tullian answers, “The Bible makes it clear that Christians need to be people of double listening-listening to both the questions of the world and the answers of the Word.” (page 81) Amen! How different would it be if Christians really did seek the Bible first for the answer to all questions, not just the “theological” ones? (I would argue that all questions begin with a theological question/background) In trying to “fit in” and be like the world, “All of the bells and whistles in the church have caused us to forget the God whose church it is.” (page 165) That’s very true! Would your church be any different if God was not present in it? Have you given in to the influence of the world at the expense of the God who created and sustains the world? Thank you Pastor Tchividjian for the timely reminder to be ‘Unfashionable’ and live like it!