The Doctrine of Revelation: Inerrancy (Part 6)

Inerrancy and Creation Accounts

In my younger years I was pretty sure that there was no way in h-e-double-hockey-sticks that you could be a Christian and do any of the following: cuss, smoke, drink, vote democrat, care about the environment, watch an R rated movie, and especially accept evolution as plausible. I must have been a joy for people to spend time with (nothing says “let’s be friends” like a healthy dose of broad legalism). It was evolution in the particular that many Christians believed was devised by the Devil expressly to lead people astray…but I hardly find this convincing. Now, I don’t know personally where I stand on the issue of evolution, but I firmly believe one can be a Biblical Inerrantist and an Evolutionist.

The major point of debate is whether or not the Creation accounts of Genesis 1 and 2 can be taken literally or are more poetic. Arguments abound on both sides of the debate that are worth considering, I won’t rehash them here, however. For what I want to demonstrate is that it is possible to believe the Bible and even to take it literally and still hold to evolutionary theory. The issue is what is the authorial intent behind Genesis 1 and 2. John Walton has done an excellent job of demonstrating that the Creation accounts do not happen from within a vacuum, rather they are written from within a particular culture and a particular cosmology. In ancient cosmology, he says, the people were not interested in answering the question of origins, but rather of functionality. Genesis 1 and 2, then, should not be taken as a science textbook. Walton believes that it should not be taken to address particularly the issue of origins, either. I am not sure if I buy the hard distinction he makes, but I can at least admit that Walton presents a case for understanding Genesis that allows us to both affirm that it is without error, inspired by God, true, even literal, and yet intended to be understood as a poetic description of functionality.

Other authors argue for a poetic understanding of Creation as well, and if this was the intent of Moses, to write poetry, then I cannot deny that it is an acceptable interpretation. It may not be my opinion, but I recognize that there is room for disagreement here and flexibility in interpretation that allows for all of us to sit at the same table of Evangelicalism.

There is, in light of this issue, an important point to be made. When we affirm the inerrancy of Scripture we must be careful not to draw hard and fast lines around every interpretive issue. There must be some humility here. We want to affirm that the Word of God is without error, agreed, but where differing theologians and pastors do so we should affirm them as brothers. We are not saying we are without error, but only that the text is without error. We must all make sure we do not conflate our interpretation and our view of Scripture. So you can believe in some form of evolution (so long as it recognizes God’s preeminence and guidance of the process) and still be a Biblical Christian. And while that’s not where I am at, since I’ve ditched the broad legalism, we can still be friends.

Comments

  1. Ken Hamm made an insightful observation years ago when dealing with theistic evolution. He notes: the idea that God oversees creation through an evolutionary process causes a serious biblical problem. Scripture states that death entered the world when Adam and Eve sinned. Evolution, however, is a series of deaths that occur as lesser species evolve into more complex species. Hamm goes on to argue If evolution (macro-evolution) is true, scripture is no longer inerrant.

    Locating missing links in any species has created a difficult problem to the macro-evolutionist and the theistic evolutionist. A far greater problem is accepting a hypothesis as true without any validating evidence. In so doing, the truth of scripture is jeopardized.

Trackbacks

  1. […] on these days about the compatibility of evolution and Scripture. In light of my recent post on Inerrancy and Creation Accounts I thought I would post some related articles on the topic. Here are some of the more recent ones […]

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