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, 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.

The Purpose of the Gospel of John

John 20:31 is the thesis and purpose statement of the Gospel of John: ταῦτα δὲ γέγραπται ἵνα πιστεύ[ς]ητε ὅτι Ἰησοῦς ἐστιν ὁ Χριστὸς ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ 
θεοῦ, καὶ ἵνα πιστεύοντες ζωὴν ἔχητε ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι αὐτοῦ. My translation agrees with D.A. Carson’s understanding of this verse. I translate it this way: “These things have been written so that you might believe that the Christ is Jesus, and so that when you believe, you will have life in His name.” Most translations of this verse reverse the subject and predicate in this way: “These things have been written so that you will believe that Jesus is the Christ,” etc. The problem with the latter translation is that the definite article goes with “Christ” and not with “Jesus.” Typically, when you have a copula (a verb form of “is”) connecting two nouns in Greek, the one with the article is the subject, and the one without is the predicate, regardless of word order. That is Carson’s argument, and I agree with him. The difference may seem small, but the implications are fairly large for the understanding of John as a whole.

The translation “that Jesus is the Christ” implies that you could say many things about Jesus, and one of them is that He is the Christ. The translation I favor implies that you could claim many people to be the Christ, but that Jesus is the only one Who can be proven to be the Messiah. In other words, is John primarily written to Gentiles (which the translation “that Jesus is the Christ” favors), or primarily to Jews (which the translation “that the Christ is Jesus” favors)? On either supposition, of course, John does not ignore the other people group.

The theological implications run this way: believing that the Christ is Jesus (knowing what we know about the Old Testament expectations concerning the nature of the Christ) brings with it life in His name. I can’t think of a more important thing to believe in life and in death.