I should stop reading blogs. But then I’d have less to say on this blog. Then again, who cares what I say.
Yes, I’m in a cranky mood. There are reasons, but not ones I want to share.
A number of people are of the distinct impression that the PCA should have issued a statement denying theistic evolution, or affirming the reality of Adam and Eve as special creations of God in His image. They believe the only way to confront the increasing popularity of this sub-biblical, and gospel-destroying view point is to issue a statement, hang a sign saying “not welcome”. There are some in the PCA who think this, and some outside the PCA who think this. I’ve even heard of a family that left the PCA because we didn’t make this statement.
As a member of the court who voted in the majority, I guess I take this a little too personally. I am not sure why this bothers me so much. Perhaps it goes back to why I’ve generally been in cranky lately. But there is the implication that either I don’t understand the gravity of the problem or don’t care about the problem. There is somehow the suspicion on the part of some that the PCA is moving closer to apostasy because we didn’t do something.
But we did. It is easy to look at the ruling, but not think of why people ruled. Some critics have stated why some of us voted the way we did- but still aren’t happy.
I get the seriousness of the issue. The issue of evolution was instrumental in my conversion. I am a young earth, 6 day creationist. I know this makes me a small-minded, caveman in the minds of some people. But I recognize that God’s Word is perfect (though our interpretations are anything but), and that science is not perfect. What they say today is not carved in stone because they always come up with new data, new methods of collecting data and new interpretations of data. It is foolish to think that the majority view of science supercedes Scripture. How’s that Ice Age predicted in the 70’s working?
As an advocate of presuppositional apologetics I have to note that apart from the lens of Scripture they can’t arrive at satisfying and accurate interpretations of the data. They have presuppositions which affect their theory-making and theory-testing. I just can’t eliminate the fact that Genesis 1 instructs us that, among other things, the world was created with age.
I understand the importance of this issue regarding our doctrine of sin, and therefore salvation. Large scale evolution (between species instead of just within species) makes death natural instead of a result of Adam’s sin and the final enemy of God’s to be destroyed.
But many (most?) of us voted not to issue a statement because we believed that our Confession of Faith and prior study committees are sufficient for the task of refuting this error. The real issue is whether or not we will hold people accountable from deviating from the Standards.
1. It pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for the manifestation of the glory of His eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, in the beginning, to create, or make of nothing, the world, and all things therein whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days; and all very good.
2. After God had made all other creatures, He created man, male and female, with reasonable and immortal souls, endued with knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness, after His own image, having the law of God written in their hearts, and power to fulfill it: and yet under a possibility of transgressing, being left to the liberty of their own will, which was subject unto change. Beside this law written in their hearts, they received a command, not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which while they kept, they were happy in their communion with God,and had dominion over the creatures. WCF, IV
The Confession affirms God’s immediate creation out of nothing. He was not merely reshaping preexistent material. Adam and Eve were created, immediately. They were not some beasts that God then indued with His image. They were created in His image and placed in covenant with God.
The Study Committee on Creation is significant because it outlines views of creation that are within the boundaries of the system of doctrine we find in Scripture and summarized in the Westminster Confession. Those views are 6-day creationism, Day-Age theory, the Framework Hypothesis and the Analogical Days Theory. Theistic Evolution is not one of the acceptable views. Elders and teachers are prohibited by a SJC case from holding this view.
We don’t need another statement. We need to act on our statements. This may get dicey. Lines may get blurred. Tim Keller, for instance, believes there is enough evidence for macro-evolution (this SO distresses me) but does not go to the point of denying a historical Adam and Eve. He’s close to crossing the line that Longman and others have crossed. We need to make sure we are not exercising discipline too broadly, or without pleas to repent.
Those pleas are to be gospel-centered pleas. We need to show them how the gospel is in danger as a result of this view. We need to remind them that all sound doctrine is in accordance with the gospel (1 Tim. 1). We don’t want to lapse into the license of liberalism or the legalism often found in fundamentalism. Threats to the gospel must be met with the gospel. And where rejected, address the departure from the gospel.
Yes, the PCA has a problem. But a statement won’t fix it. Only the hard work of holding to the standard and disciplining those who don’t will fix it. I realized I haven’t asked guys their views on this during examination. I will now. The issue is that important. We can agree on that without necessarily agreeing on the solution. But just because you hang up a sign saying “Don’t Walk on the Grass”or “No Smoking” doesn’t mean people aren’t on the grass or ceasing to smoke. The sign, like the law, has NO power to compel obedience. That is the hard work of love. That is what we must begin to do- not the mere making of statements.
I don’t want all the controversy, pain and discomfort that may result from this. But I don’t want to become the PC(USA) which began its slide into something barely resembling Christianity by ignoring its Confession of Faith. Eventually they began to deny it, and soon their form of government was contrary to it. You have to hold people to it or it becomes meaningless.
I am not arguing for strict subscription to the Confession. I took exceptions, common exceptions. I guess I should have revoked one after shifting from framework hypothesis to 6 Day Creationism. In the PCA we hold to subscription to the system of doctrine. In our categories, theistic evolution would be something that strikes at the vitals of the system (gutting the historical Adam, our doctrine of the imputation of sin and righteousness and perhaps some other doctrines). Therefore it should not be permitted, and when discovered the elder should be called to repentance. It isn’t hard. It can be painful, but getting rid of this cancer must happen or the denomination will die.