Author/pastor Tim Keller may be (and is) wrong about how Christians can accept evolution yet preserve the Gospel’s integrity. But there are equally wrong ways to address concerns about this compromise — methods of criticism that flaunt Scripture’s admonition to consider someone a false teacher only if he disregards the truths of the Gospel, just as much as Keller disregards Genesis.
More of the same dismissal of Scripture for the sake of Fixing a Problem won’t help.
Yes, even if it’s a real problem, as Biblical-creation-rejection is.
In Keller’s case, his viewpoint — which I would argue is based on simple ignorance of the issues — minimizes the truth of Genesis.
But in certain critics’ cases, their pushbacks against Keller minimize the truth of Scripture’s admonition to oppose false teachers only if they get the actual truth of the Gospel wrong. Missing or being confused about vital supporting doctrines, such as creation — as important as that is — is not the same as rejecting the Gospel itself.
This issue is flaring up further after Ken Ham, famous (or infamous) Answers in Genesis founder and creation-apologetics wonk, firmly yet carefully considered Keller’s recent restatement about his origins beliefs.
Tim Keller ( Senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan) again endorses evolution: “Belief in evolution can be compatible with a belief in a historical fall and a literal Adam and Eve.”
You can read the entire sad article at: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2011/06/06/sinned-in-a-literal-adam-raised-in-a-literal-christ/
And one can read Ham’s note, on Facebook, here. He goes on to list what a Christian evolution-acceptor must believe, then concludes:
It is so hard to understand why so many men of God who preach so solidly on God’s Word–as soon as it comes to Genesis in this era, they (like Tim Keller) are willing to give up their stand on the authority of Scripture and adopt a different hermeneutic for the sake of accommodating man’s fallible ideas (man’s religion) of millions of years and evolution.
Again, I emphasize–this is not a salvation issue but an authority issue. Though in a sense it is a ‘salvation’ issue for the coming generations, as it affects they way they view Scripture, and thus could be a great detriment to them acknowledging their need of salvation as many are put on a slippery slide of doubt leading to unbelief in regards to the Word of God
We need to pray for people like Tim Keller, that the Lord will open his eyes to this glaring inconsistency in his compromise on God’s Word in Genesis.
(Boldface emphases added.)
In response, I expressed my appreciation for Ham’s commitment to Scripture, both in Genesis, and in how to correct a Christian brother when he’s wrong about an issue.
Ken, I appreciate your very gentle tone yet Biblical admonition to Tim Keller, and others, who are solidly Scriptural in every other area and are clearly Gospel-driven, and perhaps being protected by the Spirit from taking their evolution acceptance to its logical conclusion! Perhaps you, like me, have benefited from Keller’s books and ministry. Yet I echo your hope and suggested prayer that he would reconsider his views and practice consistent belief in Scripture’s authority when it comes to origins.
Because of Keller’s “city” emphasis, I wonder if he meets a lot of Christians from rural areas who have been taught to be six-day creationists, but only Just Because, and were not taught to think Biblically and defend their faith with reason. I wonder if that is why he wishes to push back against that — but has only rejected a weaker, illogical form of just-so creation belief. Yes, I know that does exist, but isn’t advocated by AiG at all.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on that, and perhaps on the broader topic of Christians who do accept Biblical creation (thank God!) but don’t know why, and are therefore vulnerable.
Keller did give some good reasons for accepting that Adam was a historical person, anyway. That prompted blogger Frank Turk to link to the review over Twitter and comment: “Let’s see if his friends at BioLogos post this at their website.” But still — [Keller is] inconsistent.
Again, I’m quite sure it’s because Keller has encountered former literal-Biblical-creation believers who were taught what to think, but not how to think, which is unfortunately a persistent problem. But he’s overcorrected for it.
Then came the critic, who — though writing somewhat restrained, compared to some cyber-zealots I’ve seen! — exclaimed this:
“Tim Keller is certainly not a man of God. We need to stop treating these men with kid gloves and kick them out of the Church if they do not repent of their sin. I do not care how good they can preach. Any man who denies Genesis is not of God, he is what paul [sic] calls ‘An Apostle of Satan’.”
My response to this critic:
@Malcolm: No, I prefer Ken’s approach. Keller has shown he is solid on the Gospel, and has (so far) not compromised on that to be more consistent with his compromise on Genesis. Belief in Biblical creation is not what saves. AiG has been clear on that. Yet Malcolm, I fear that with your statement you’d give some credence to the common slander that AiG and Biblical creation-believers claim “you must believe our version of creation, along with the Gospel, to be saved.” Don’t add to the Gospel.
Keller and others like him are solid in the faith where it counts. Where they err is in the areas that the Church has forsaken for too long. AiG is opposing real, disgusting compromise where it counts, and knowing when to gently admonish rather than simply yelling at everybody. Let’s discern better how to discern and take into account real ignorance contrasted with overt truth-rejection.
Addendum: Paul didn’t condemn people who messed up on Genesis (as vital as that is) as servants of Satan and heretics. However, he did have strong words against those who equated their own favorite add-ons with the importance of the Gospel.
Genesis is my favorite add-on too. So is belief in a literal, future, physical New Earth. Both are essential for growing in Christ. Yet one can be saved, despite disbelief in both, even if they miss out for a while on the blessings of understanding how God created the world just as He said in Genesis, and how He will restore the world to that paradise. Don’t condemn where God has not condemned. But I also hope that such folks will see their own inconsistencies and thereby be able to grow more in truth.
What do you think?