Futility, What Futility?

by Reed DePace

Let’s label it D3. The Bible teaches that in some manner the historical Fall of Adam brought about the introduction of three things as a curse-judgment on Adam and Eve’s sin: death, decay and destruction – D3.

If you believe in a historical Adam and a historical Fall, what does it mean for God to judicially administer these as judgment for sin? (If you do not believe in a historical Adam or a historical Fall, no disrespect, but this post is not addressed to you.)

If you think the death, decay and destruction existed before the fall:

Do you believe these things were in some manner also introduced in response to sin? If so, how are pre-fall forms of D3 different from post-fall forms of D3?

Do you think there is no difference between the pre-fall and post-fall forms of D3? If so, then what does God’s judicial administration of these on sin actually consist of?

If you want to limit the extent of God’s judicial administration of D3 on sin to just man, then what is the nature of the futility that the created order has been subjected to on account of sin (Rom 8:20)?

Do you believe God uses actual physical things to both picture and apply the gospel? If so, did God actually use a rainbow as a physical picture for a story that didn’t happen? Did God provide a real tree for a mythical test in a mythical garden? Etc., how do you determine where history ends and myth begins?

Sincerely, it does not appear that we are thinking through the necessary ramifications of affirming some sort of theistic evolution position.

by Reed DePace

POSTSCRIPT: these and the last two posts on this topic were written at the same time, last week. Nothing I’ve said in these may be construed ad specific responses to any discussion on these previous threads.

My focus in these posts has not been to make a positive argument for a specific pre-fall death scheme. Instead my focus has been ask my theistic evolution persuaded brothers to think about what this position does to the reality of a historic fall and God’s curse-judgment response to it. I do not believe theistic evolution enables an adequate explanation of sin and death. Please disagree. Please do not take personal offense.

POST-POSTSCRIPT: here is a good starting article to consider problems evolution: What Are the Top Ten Problems with Darwinian Evolution? This is a scientific perspective, not a biblical perspective. For those interested in an informed and reasonable critique of evolution from a science perspective, I recommend this site.

Fall, What Fall?

by Reed DePace

Theistic evolution maintains that the natural processes currently seen in the physical world are part of God’s original creation. That is, these are the processes he has used to bring into being all that we see.

Thus stars and planets evolved over billions of years through processes involving death, decay and destruction. The ecosystems of our planet (geology, meteorological, biological, etc.) similarly evolved over millions of years through processes involving death, decay, and destruction. And God was in charge of it all.

O.k., got it.

So what does that mean for God’s claim that He made everything good, very good, that is perfect? What does it mean that God created everything without the reign of death to be found anywhere in the created order?

Well, the deadly poison of theistic evolution can be seen in the kinds of arguments that are being offered by young folks raised to believe both that God created everything and that He created everything perfect. Watch the Q&A discussion Doug Wilson has with such young folk at the Indiana University, Bloomington. Their arguments demonstrate that they hold to the following convictions:

  • God created everything, including me.
  • God created everything perfect, including me.
  • God created the capacity to love as a part of this perfect creation, including in me.
  • I was born with the desire to love members of my own gender.
  • Therefore Christians who say homosexuality is wrong are acting wickedly – they are sinning!

It is not a surprise at all to find young folk raised in:

  • Schools teaching them that everything came about via evolution,
  • Communities that protect and promote their self-esteem,
  • Churches that tell them God loves them and has a wonderful plan for their lives, and
  • A Culture that says God (if He actually exists) doesn’t make mistakes,

Would reach the conclusion that their same gender sexual attractions are pure and holy.

Now, as Theistic Evolution has already affirmed that death, decay, and destruction are a normal, good, wholesome, beneficial part of God’s original creation,

How are we ever going to be able to justify the idea of sin and judgment?

It is no surprise when such folks, acting consistent with the necessary conclusions of Theistic Evolution, want to shut us up when we tell them the gospel.

“Fall, WHAT FALL! There is nothing wrong with me. You’re just a judgmental jerk!!”

by Reed DePace

POSTSCRIPT: For those who think I’m making ridiculous connections in this post, here is another example:

The Little Boy Who Wanted To Be a Girl

So how do you explain to these folks that the problem is the fall? How do you explain to them that God did not create this child this way? After all, mankind keeps evolving, right? If you follow theistic evolution you have no alternatives here.

POST-POSTSCRIPT: here is a good starting article to consider problems evolution: What Are the Top Ten Problems with Darwinian Evolution? This is a scientific perspective, not a biblical perspective. For those interested in an informed and reasonable critique of evolution from a science perspective, I recommend this site.

Theistic Evolution and the PCA

by Reed DePace, TE, PCA

O.k., I know this is a touchy subject. Yet it is important. I’m not going to name names, as to do that with the respect owed to brothers would take up much more space than I have here. I am however, going to say that I am persuaded that the teaching of theistic evolution is occurring within the PCA.

Some of this is overt; those involved know that this is what they are teaching. Some of this is under layers of rationalizing that hides the connection to theistic evolution (sometimes even from those supporting the rationalizations). Either way, there is support for theistic evolution going in our denomination.

So what! Right? Well, mark me as a trouble maker if you wish, but theistic evolution is deadly. It is a doctrine that presupposes the validity of an origins theory that fundamentally denies the Biblical origins doctrine. And in doing so, it proves a fatal poison to the gospel.

We can spend our time trying to parse out what “death” is, but we doomed to fail up front because evolution in theistic evolution is antithetical to the Bible. Evolution is fundamentally opposed to the Bible’s explanation of death. We may think we can wall off some limited form of death that protects the historic credibility of the Fall into sin and the ensuing curse of all creation. Yet beginning from a position that affirms that in any manner, to any degree, the reign of death now being experienced throughout the created order is actually how God created things in the first place leaves us with no hope.

Evolution calls good everything the Bible says is God’s judgment on Man’s sin. It truly is a matter of darkness denying the light. There is no compromise with it that will succeed. We don’t have a choice if we are to maintain the Bible’s integrity. Whatever the natural processes before the fall (biological, geological, astronomical, et.al.) they cannot partake of what God calls the reign of death. They cannot be a variation of it or a perfected form of it.

To so argue makes biblical interpretation no more than metaphor. If first Adam is nothing more than a metaphor, then last Adam is likewise nothing more than a metaphor. You agree in even a small way that the reign of death IS NOT exclusively a result of the fall and you lose the gospel. No fall, no judgment; no judgment, no atonement; no atonement, no gospel.

It is that simple.

by Reed DePace, TE, PCA

POSTSCRIPT: here is a good starting article to consider problems evolution: What Are the Top Ten Problems with Darwinian Evolution? This is a scientific perspective, not a biblical perspective. For those interested in an informed and reasonable critique of evolution from a science perspective, I recommend this site.

Contending for Creation

by Reed DePace

I’ve both enjoyed and been frustrated at the various origins discussions we’ve had here at GB. I’ve enjoyed them because I’ve found my own understanding and confidence in a straightforward reading of Genesis 1-2 strengthened and deepened. I’ve been frustrated because I’ve not seen that result shared across the board by all those commenting on these origins posts.

I want to ask those of us who do find our confidence in the straightforward reading of Gn 1-2 (from 6/24 YEC to those who essentially buy this is what the Bible requires but don’t want to make any positive scientific affirmations) to think about the nature of this debate. I agree we get how serious it is. I may be saying something that you already get, yet just in case not, I’m asking you to take a moment to consider again what is going on in this debate for the “other side”.

Begin by focusing on this question: what does it mean to assert the authority of special revelation (Bible) over general revelation (Science)? I’d argue that those posting here from the (supposed) other side do not disagree with this way of answering this question: the Bible RULES Science. In other words, I don’t see anything in what they’re saying which leads me to conclude that they are not sincerely affirming this necessary truth.

This being said, then how do we explain those areas, those comments from the other side where we believe they’re concluding things that require exactly the opposite belief? What do we do with those areas in which we’re convinced that they’ve just said something that is based on the Science RULES Bible perspective?

I’m not admonishing us, as if I think we’re doing something wrong. Instead I hope you hear me encouraging, even exhorting us to take our own explanations and make them better. Sympathetic with their concerns and patient in our explanation, yes, but we owe them even more!! We must pursue active, even graciously aggressive efforts to winsomely demonstrate how the Bible RULES Science.

I suspect that those commenting on blogs like this one who are pushing for an expanded understanding of Gn 1-2 (and then 3-11) are the brave ones, the confident-in-their-faith ones. While I do find some sympathy for them, even such as the “high priest” of the effort, Dr. Pete Enns (a former professor of mine), I am GREATLY more concerned for the potential legion of young professing believers for whom this debate is critical.

We tend not to recognize how true one of Ken Ham’s insights really is – every issue in some manner or form does come back to an origins question. Consequently, while not saying it is the only issue, I am saying that we must keep before us this point: the argument over origins is vital to all the other THREATS to the Church in our land.

Take for example the issue of the normalization of sexual fornication in the American Church. Let’s not be wheenies with our words here. Not believing in 6/24 creation might not mean you’re a heretic going to hell, but believing you’re a born-again, Holy-Spirit baptized, justified-adopted-sanctified, persevering-to-glory child of God who rejoices in the freedom of his sexual fornication IS a damning conviction. (Read 1Co 6:9-10, deal with what “no one who is a fornicator of any type” (vs. 9) and “such were some of you” must mean.)

What we believe about origins directly applies to this subject. If we agree that “being born this way” is true this means in the end that a propensity for what the Bible calls sexual perversion is actually a part of God’s original perfect creation. From this perspective perversion is a wicked label for these various fornication practices (i.e., those things we euphemistically label “lifestyles” to make them appear innocent and holy). I.O.W., a failure in our origins apologetic will support a state of atrocity, one that will do more than anything else to remove the Church in America’s lampstand from before the Spirit whose holiness will not allow Him to gaze with love on any wickedness.

All this to urge those of us for whom this all seems so much clearer: let’s double down on our patience, our love, AND our zeal. There is a Church to see restored and a Nation to see saved. The “other side” may exasperate us at times (as I’m sure we do them). Yet they are actually a gift from God in that they can help us proclaim the glory of our God clearer.

by Reed DePace

Man – A Fiat Creation?

posted by Reed DePace

I intend this post to solely be a discussion of the biblical question posed. I am aware of the relevance of this question to some particular circumstances within the PCA at present. I am asking anyone who comments on this post to refrain from bring up those circumstances, expressly to refrain from mentioning names. Thanks for your consideration of my request. (Remember, I’ve got moderator powers if you don’t give it due consideration. ;-) .)

I am aware of at least two current situations in which it appears that the following opinion is held by some PCA brothers. With reference to Adam’s creation, some maintain that God took a souless hominid and at some point gave him a soul, thereby creating the first spiritually living man. Intended to coordinate with an evolutionary scheme, this position argues for an intermediate creation by God.

This appears to be inconsistent with the PCA position. See this helpful summary provided by Wayne Sparkman at the PCA Historical Center. The key quote comes from the recommendations:

“We affirm God’s special creation of Adam and Eve as real, historical individuals (Romans 5:12-14; I Corinthians 15:21-22, 45-49), and deny that Adam and Eve were the products of evolution from lower forms of life.”

I am unclear, however, as to what force, this Study Committee recommendation has. Yet my question is more basic than this. Does the Bible teach that God created Adam directly, not via any intervening life forms? Is Adam, in other words, a fiat creation of God? Or, is it possible to properly interpret Gen. 2:7 as allowing for a intermediate creation, a creation which used an existing lifeform, elevated to a spiritual relationship with God?

I’ll admit my conviction is towards fiat and away from a intermediate creation. Yet I’m open to hear where I may be limiting Scripture.

How Trustworthy is That?

In these discussions on the supposed errors in the Bible there is an unacknowledged gorilla in the room. (See Incoherent Inerrancy, Who Ya Gonna Believe, There’s Accommodation, and then There’s …?, and Check Your Facts!, God.)

Specifically it is the question of Creation as reported in Gn 1:1-2:4. For those who affirm an error-laden-inerrancy, this is the really big error in the Bible. After all, Secular Science has all but proven that evolution, both biological and cosmological, is the unquestionable fact.

Sitting in classes at WTS, it was this problem that most exercised the “young evangelicals” around me (I was in my later 30’s when I went to WTS.) Enns’ solution (God’s accommodation to man’s errors) was the “cage” that finally contained this gorilla for a number of them. I daresay, caging this particular gorilla has been at the forefront of the “error-problems” of many of the errantists participating in this blog. (I could be wrong, but …)

I admit to appreciating the angst of younger evangelicals concerning this subject. Popular culture is a serious idol to go up against. One is foolish to do so with any weapon but the honest to goodness sword of truth. If in some way Gn 1:1-2:4 on the face of it acts to dull the sword of truth, by all means let’s fix this.

The problem again begins with one’s presuppositions. I for one am not ready to crown Secular Science with inerrancy and infallibility. Meteorologists still get it wrong, crops still fail, people still die. I.e., Secular Science has a long way to go before it can claim the inerrancy/infallibility that is inherent in God’s being and His word. Thus I see the seriousness of the challenge.

But there is something more important than being laughed at by a bunch of mocking unbelievers who think any of my convictions are just so much evidence of my weak mind and foolishness. I’m not ready to conclude that God has used error to communicate some of the most critical truths in the Bible.

Assume for the sake of discussion that God’s creation account accommodates itself to the errors of the ANE cosmogonies common during Moses recording of Genesis. That is, God had Moses not record a factually accurate account, but specifically used the erroneous ANE’s creation myths as the basis for his creation story.

O.k. then, let’s deal with the question of trustworthiness, of reliability. Assuming that the account is not all pure myth (error), how do we determine what parts are true? Not what parts are true, but what hermeneutical principle(s), found in the Bible itself, will enable us to reliably determine what parts are true and can be counted upon to be trustworthy?

I dare so you will search in vain for such hermeneutical tools.

The structure of Genesis (i.e., the waw-consecutive) requires that we read the succeeding stories as one whole cloth with the creation story. But let’s limit our questioning to Gn 2-3. If the creation story is error-laden, then on what basis are we to prove that Adam is historical? If we do not have a historical Adam, then what of the Fall? I.O.W., following the necessarily logic of the error-laden-inerrancy reading of Gn 1:1-2:4, we are left concluding that Adam and the Fall are nothing more than myth, and that God used these errors to rhetorically communicate some “truth” in these passages.

Take this to its next necessary connection, Romans 5:12-20. If Adam and the Fall are merely rhetorical, then Jesus’ atonement is as well. There is no other conclusion we can reach. Get this, beginning with the presupposition that Secular Science must be right, and the Bible’s creation account must be an accommodation with the ANE error-laden creation myths, we end up with nothing more than a rhetorical atonement.

How trustworthy is that?

- Reed DePace

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