For many good reasons, solid Christian theologians have sharply criticized and rejected Darwinian macro-evolution as an unchristian and unbiblical teaching. Darwinism doesn’t square with the biblical record nor does it mesh with biblical doctrine. I bring up this topic because a friend pointed me to a recent article on evolution by a retired Christian Reformed Church pastor. His argument was thus: since evolution is true (the scientists say so!), we have to reformulate all our key doctrines to fit the evolutionary paradigm – from sin to salvation to eschatology.
You can find the article online by searching “Tomorrow’s Theology” and “evolution.”
Suffice it to say the article is extremely problematic and even outside the bounds of Christian and Reformed orthodoxy. To say that Paul was wrong about Adam being the “first man” is not in line with historical Christian doctrine! To say that Christ’s human nature evolved from fish and monkeys certainly isn’t a Christian teaching! If we would reformulate all our doctrines to harmonize with evolution, we would be left with something other than Christianity.
In light of this article, I found it helpful to go back and see what some older Reformed teachers have written about evolution. Here’s good section on this topic in volume 2 of Herman Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics (p. 519-520). In this section, Bavinck wrote about the theory of evolution and the image of God in man (Gen. 9:6 & James 3:9). Especially pay attention to the last paragraph.
“Darwinism above all fails to provide an explanation of humanness in terms of its psychic dimension. Darwin began with the attempt to derive all the mental phenomena to be found in humans (consciousness, language, religion, morality, etc.) from phenomena occurring in animals, and many others have followed him in this regard. But up until now these attempts have not been successful either. Like the essence of energy and matter, the origin of movement, the origination of life, and teleology, so also human consciousness, language, freedom of the will, religion, and morality still belong to the enigmas of the world that await resolution. Ideas, which are entirely mental, relate to the brain in a very different way from the way bile relates to the liver and urine to the kidneys. In the words of Max Muller, language is and remains the Rubicon between us and the animal world.”
“The psychological explanation of religion is untenable. And the derivation of morality from human social instincts fails to do justice to the authority of the moral law, to the categorical character of the moral imperative, to the ‘imperatives’ of the good, to conscience, responsibility, the sense of sin, repentance, remorse, and punishment. Indeed, although Darwinism as such is not wholly identical with materialism, it nevertheless tends in that direction, finds there its most significant support, and thus also paves the way for the subversion of religion and morality and the destruction of our humanness. There is no advantage for people to say that it is better to be a highly developed animal than a fallen human. The theory of the animal ancestry of humans violates the image of God in man and degrades the human into an image of the orangutan and chimpanzee. From the standpoint of evolution humanity as the image of God cannot be maintained. The theory of evolution forces us to return to creation as Scripture presents it to us.”
True, Christians might be called idiots and dolts for firmly rejecting Darwinism. But it won’t be the first time we’ve been called names for holding tightly to biblical truth and rejecting what is false. And it won’t be the last! Our duty is to stand firm and hold to the traditions taught by the apostles (2 Thess. 2:14) – even when it is unpopular and counter-cultural.
Shane Lems is pastor of the United Reformed Church in Sunnyside, Washington (in the Yakima Valley). He is a graduate of Westminster Seminary California. He blogs, along with fellow classmate Andrew Compton, at Reformed Reader where this article first appeared: it is used with permission.