Re: theology of the cross of some theistic evolutionists

Murphy (
Wed, 29 Jan 1997 12:44:45 -0500

Pattle Pun wrote:

> May I suggest that the Lutheran theology of the cross is a theology of
> paradox of constant tension between the allegiance to God and allegiance
> to civil authority, and may I suggest also between scientifc history and
> salvation history. The interpretation of the "original sin" and its
> origin in the Fall is the heart of the issue. Paul seems to suggest
> the efficacy of the second Adam Jesus Christ's redemption is predicated on
> the historicity of the Fall of the first Adam (Rm. 5) Calvin also
> champions the unity of General Revelation in Nature and Special Revelation
> in Christ and the Holy Spirit. Theistic evolutionism seems to compromise
> on both, either with no historical fall, or special creation of Adam only
> through the breathing of a "soul" into a already preexisting hominid that
> was miraculously chosen from an evolving group. Salvation history of our
> personal encounter with God and salvation through Christ is predicated on
> our sinful nature, sinful will and sinful act, which is rooted in an
> historical Fall, and the bodily resurrection of Christ which is the
> evidence that God provided for the world to know that his atonement is
> effacacious and He will judge us (Act 17). Both the historical Fall and
> Christ's resurrection also happened in space and time, events in
> scientific history. It seems to me this theological system is
> contradicting the premise of the unity of God's general and
> special revelations.

Pattle -
You probably recall that we had an exchange in this same area in
the ASA journal some years ago. A few comments on that in a moment, but
1st note the context of my current remarks, that Johnson seems
uninterested in the theological issues. He does not present the type of
theological response you do, but just asserts that Christians who try to
understand something like Darwinian evolution within a Christian
context are caving in to philosophical naturalism. I don't think that's
helpful, though I guess it makes a good lawyer's speech.
As to the points you raise -
Of course, I have to say that Luther isn't responsible for the
use that I make of some of his ideas. He certainly didn't accept
evolution - though what he might have said if he'd been born 400 years
later isn't obvious.
The theology of the cross _is_ paradoxical. (Luther calls his
theses for the 1518 Heidelberg Disputation, from which the classic
statement of the theology of the cross comes, "paradoxes"!) But note
that you can't get a lot more paradoxical than I Cor.1:18-31.
It isn't really correct to identify the theology of the cross as
closely as you do with the "two kingdoms doctrine" (which I myself have
some reservations about). Nor do I think that's terribly relevant to
the creation-evolution question.
I agree that the question of original sin is the major problem
which evolution presents for theologians. There are theologians (e.g.,
Phil Hefner) who have made attempts to deal with this. Whether or not
those attempts are adequate have to be judged on their merits.
As you probably know, I'm not terribly enthusiastic about the
idea of "general revelation", at least if it is understood to be able to
tell us something about God independently of special revelation. The
most I would grant is this: Observation of the world and reason can
lead one to consider plausible the idea that there is a God, but it
cannot tell us anything at all about _who_ God is. And even at this its
use is fraught with danger, because people continually develop from it
ideas of God at variance with the biblical picture.
George Murphy