Re: [asa] Almost Half of Evangelical Theologians Accept Evolution?

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Fri Oct 23 2009 - 10:11:07 EDT

I am not an "Evangelical" in the sense that most Americans use the word (though definitely "evangelical" in the sense of theology centered on the gospel). But I think some of my experience in mainline denominations (ELCA, Episcopal) is relevant here. One of the problems that I've encountered in the latter churches, & I suspect is even more prevalent & serious in Evangelical churches, is the disconnect between "Ivory Tower seminaries" and congregations. Seminary students learn about the critical study of scripture, different genres of biblical texts &c & maybe even a little about positive ways of relating creation & evolution. But when they're ordained & have pastoral responsibility for a parish they don't, by & large, talk about those things. In the mainline churches that's likely to be because they think "It doesn't really hurt anything if they think that all of Genesis was written by Moses. What's really essential is the gospel (maybe with a large dose of social justice.) & why take a chance of stirring up trouble?" For Evangelical pastors there may be similar considerations but the possibility of stirring up trouble if they talk positively about evolution is much higher. So pay lip service to YEC & talk about Jesus & the Christian life.

That's a greatly oversimplified picture of course, but the failure of pastors to make use of mature theology when they preach & teach definbitely is a widespread problem.


  ----- Original Message -----
  From: John Walley
  To: Steve Martin
  Cc: Keith Miller ;
  Sent: Friday, October 23, 2009 6:35 AM
  Subject: Re: [asa] Almost Half of Evangelical Theologians Accept Evolution?

  Agian, I contend the schools are localized, and the 46% that accept evolution and the 44% that hold to a literal reading of Genesis are as well. For instance is Southern Evangelical Seminary represented in FESP? I bet you would be hard pressed to find anyone there that accepts evolution and if so it is likley a closely a guarded secret.

  Excepting what they believe in Ivory Tower seminaries, I can tell you that where it matters on a practical level like on the staffs of churches, down here in evangelical churches, a non-literal reading of Genesis is not really on the table and accepting evolution is a one way ticket out of the fellowship.

  Hopefully that will continue to change though.


  From: Steve Martin <>
  To: John Walley <>
  Cc: Keith Miller <>;
  Sent: Fri, October 23, 2009 5:46:43 AM
  Subject: Re: [asa] Almost Half of Evangelical Theologians Accept Evolution?

  Hi John,

  That is a good point on who in included in the definition of "Evangelical" but I think Waltke's "practical definition" below is a good one for this purpose

    For practical reasons, I restricted “evangelical theologian” to those educators within institutions whose presidents belong the Fellowship of Evangelical Seminary Presidents (FESP).

  so I don't think the conclusion can be criticized as localized.

  I found two points very, very interesting:

  1) I have the same perception as Keith that evangelical Hebrew and OT scholars have laid some great groundwork here lately (eg. recent books by Waltke, Enns, and John Walton at Wheaton). However, in the survey, the straightforward reading of Gen 1 and 2 was the largest single barrier to accepting evolution (44%) while the barriers 3 and 4 (Adam's Fall, and Adam's headship) were considered barriers by only 34% and 28% respectively. So my personal perception that Paul's use of Adam is a much, much more difficult issue than the interpretation of Gen itself, does not seem to be shared by evangelical theologians.

  2) More of evangelical theologians accepted evolution (46%) than chose any single barrier identified by Waltke.


  On Thu, Oct 22, 2009 at 9:18 PM, John Walley <> wrote:

    I suggest this is a localized observation and/or it depends on who you consider to be evangelical and who considers themselves evangelical.

    For instance in a parallel thread we have been discussing the apologetics conference at the link below which is a who's who in evangelical circles and the only thing in common among all of them is that they all reject evolution except possibly Colson. In my neck of the woods it is very rare to find anyone who terms themselves an evangelical that accepts evolution. I am still glad to hear the report though.


    www nationalapologeticsconference dot com

    From: Keith Miller <>
    Sent: Thu, October 22, 2009 10:04:03 AM
    Subject: Re: [asa] Almost Half of Evangelical Theologians Accept Evolution?

    I am not at all surprised by this survey's results. It has been my perception that evangelical theologians - particularly Hebrew and Old Testament Scholars - has been increasingly outspoken that there is no necessary conflict between evolutionary science and a faithful reading of scripture. This is true of theologians who have personal reservations or doubts about the validity of biological evolution (particularly as it concerns humans) - Henri Blocher and J.I. Packer come to mind here. However, once it is recognized that scripture does not demand a rejection of biological evolution, then that person is open to persuasion by the scientific evidence.


  Steve Martin (CSCA)

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Received on Fri Oct 23 10:11:54 2009

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