Or so says this guy.
For those that don’t know, Professor Bruce Waltke, a lion of conservative evangelical scholarship, recently gave some comments for a brief video for the BioLogos Forum. BioLogos is the brain child of Francis Collins, the geneticist, current head of the National Institute of Health, and committed Christian. The Forum is a collective of like-minded scientists and Christians who believe that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God and God created the world by the process of evolution. (For more on this view, see Brad Kramer’s Patrol essay on the subject.) For those that struggle with this topic, BioLogos’ “The Questions” section offers very helpful articles on most every possible question you can think of concerning this discussion and gives thoughtful perspectives on it all.
Long story short (the best summary of all this can be found here), Waltke made some comments in line with this idea and the Christian blogosphere erupted with the ignorant, the passionate, and (only rarely) the thoughtful responders to this. Within a three week span, Waltke had made these comments, they were posted online, they were taken off-line, they were clarified by Waltke, he resigned his position at Reformed Theological Seminary, and was hired at Knox Theological Seminary. In short, this man’s life, career, reputation, and family were completely exposed, turned upside down, and severely damaged because he said he didn’t think Adam had to be a historical figure for the Bible to still be true and authoritative.
And Rick Phillips, of Reformation21, appears to love this.
In the afore-linked article above, entitled “Orthodoxy’s Best Friend” and in his follow-up “Theistic Evolution: A Hermeneutical Trojan Horse,” Phillips writes his “response” to Waltke’s situation. I don’t wish to use this space to try and counter what he says, as my opinions on this topic are well documented. Rather, I wish to express my heartache over this entire situation. To see Waltke’s life fall apart over this (of all things) is really rather frustrating for me. I knew many Christians disagreed on this topic, but to see the vitriol that has been spewed over this, the sarcasm that has been unleashed, the personal attacks that have been thrown, I just can’t seem to process it. This idea of God’s work through evolution has been such a source of worship and awe in me. It has inspired some of the most beautiful pieces or writing I’ve encountered. And Rick Phillips, in my mind, is the poster-child for the entire mindset that drove Waltke away and is an enemy to this great source of my praise.
So much of me really wants to employ the same glee, insult, and sarcasm against Phillips that he uses against Waltke and Pete Enns (a professor that was asked to leave my former seminary over similar doctrinal disagreements), but I just can’t. I need to love this man no matter how immature, ignorant, naive, simplistic, extrabiblical, modernistic, and blind I may feel he is (and no, I wasn’t trying to be ironic with that list of adjectives). But at the same time, though, I feel like his comments, or rather, the spirit in which they were said, must be responded to in some way.
Phillips all but comes out and says that he believes those Christians that believe in creation by process of evolution are “heretics” (admittedly, he may have only been calling heretics those that don’t think there needs to be a historical Adam and Eve, but this changes little). Does he really believe that such people are indeed heretics? He either doesn’t really think that, in which case he is a judgmental, graceless, prideful man that can’t control his tongue (or keyboard); or he does indeed think this, therefore calling as heretics the following people in history: Origen, St. Augustine, John Calvin, C.S. Lewis, Tim Keller, N.T. Wright, B.B. Warfield, Alister McGrath, Derek Kidner, Mark Knoll, John Stott, Teilhard de Chardin, Tremper Longman, Meredith Cline, Asa Gray, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Pope Pius XII, Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, the entire Episcopal Church, the entire Anglican Church, and the entire Roman Catholic Church.
The above people are those that have a view of Genesis that does allow (or would have allowed) for creation by evolutionary processes, and most include views that do not necessitate a historical Adam and Eve.
Mr. Phillips, I have no idea who you are. I’ve never heard of you, heard you speak, nor read any of your books (nor do I intend to now). I stumbled upon your tactless and graceless articles by accident. There was no bit of grace, charm, or pastoral care in them. Indeed there was nothing “Christianly” about them. If you were my pastor and I read those articles, I would immediately cease attending your church; not at all for the opinions you hold, but rather for the nature of your heart these writings reveal. You have obviously “searched the Scriptures diligently” but I did not see in your writing an acquaintance with the One about whom those Scriptures bear witness. On the basis of this good Word of God you long to be taken so plainly and so literally then, I must say that if this commandment we have from Him is: “whoever loves God must also love his brother,” then it seems, Mr. Phillips, you are a liar, and the truth is not in you.
- “Orthodoxy” Book Club, Chapter 3: “The Suicide of Thought”
- Orthodoxy Book Club: Chapter 2, “The Maniac”
- Introducing the Confront-Your-Prejudices Book Club on G.K. Chesterton’s “Orthodoxy”
- The Men of Fox News are Right: My Breadwinner Wife is Destroying My Marriage and Undermining Civilization
- Philosophical Flavors
- No public Twitter messages.
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