I have had to write a few of these over the course of my lifetime, typically on social media. I have not written one for the blog yet, however. So, here goes nothing.
Perhaps “retraction” is too strong a word. “Apology” might be more fitting, or “reconsideration.” In any event, I no longer think the way I once did about a topic I have written about quite thoroughly: Christianity and evolution.
It’s curious: when one slides leftward, that is, in the direction of liberalism, one will go to any lengths to justify such a slide. I certainly jumped through quite a few hoops in order to hold together two seemingly contradictory ideas. I recall quite vividly that I almost gave up the doctrine of inerrancy in order to defend my opinion (which would have ended up being no real defense at all). Let me try to get into some specifics.
I’m still not a scientist. I’m not of a mind to become one either. Any argument based on scientific inquiry will inevitably fall on deaf ears; it’s not my wheelhouse. However, what I am, first and foremost, is a Christian; part of being a Christian is a commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord and Master, and that includes a commitment to his Word as wholly authoritative. If I find myself disagreeing with his Word, I am disagreeing with the Man himself.
That’s a sobering thought, isn’t it? It’s not one that many want to think. Any number of excuses can be made to get around it, the most dangerous being the denial of Scripture’s inerrancy. Eventually one gets to the point of picking and choosing which parts of Scripture are to be believed and which are the “culturally backward” parts or the “morally repugnant” parts, etc. etc.
A interesting article by Michael J. Kruger (of New Testament textual critical fame) brought to light quite a few of the sentiments I expressed in my many blog posts about this subject. The article was not about evolution, but rather about an interview between Peter Enns and Jen Hatmaker on Hatmaker’s statements regarding homosexuality and her “de-conversion” from orthodox Christianity to whatever odd New Age blend she’s espousing nowadays. Kruger outlines a number of tactics employed by the recently “de-converted” Hatmaker to promote acceptance of their new theology by the masses. She employs many of the same tactics I used in my articles (which is quite frightening!).
For instance, step #4 (“Insist Your New Theology is Driven by the Bible and Not a Rejection of It”) is one I explicitly made use of in my articles. Consider this statement from “Why I Am Not A Young Earth Creationist”:
Please note, that this interpretation was not motivated by a desire on my part to shoe-horn science into the text; I believe that to be a fool’s errand. I adopted this perspective before I even believed that modern science had anything good to say. I was, in truth, motivated by a desire to remain true to what the text was telling me, and that involved putting it in its ancient Near Eastern context.
Was I, in fact, motivated by a desire to remain true to what the text is telling me? I don’t know that I was. And, to be perfectly honest, I added that statement in the original article without thinking it entirely true, even back then. I was motivated by science—my apologetics teacher in high school had given me strange facts and theories surrounding geological strata that seemed to make good, logical sense, and which clearly showed that the earth must be older than a mere 6,000 years. But must it?
Irony of all ironies, though I thought I was kicking against the goads, nothing said in the interpretation section of that initial blog post (my own “de-conversion” story) is contradictory to what well-read YECs believe about the first chapter of Genesis. Just as an example: I said that Genesis 1 was a polemic against other ANE myths; Dr. Abner Chou, a Bible professor at The Master’s University (and a fastidious scholar as well), said exactly the same thing when he opened the Creation Summit in 2017. He called Genesis 1 “not myth, but myth-busting.”
Similarly, from “My Visit to the Creation Summit”:
I make no secret about my qualms with the YEC position, especially when it comes to exegesis and theology. Not in any way having been scientifically trained, I have to take the scientists at their word most of the time. But I am trying to be a good student of Scripture, and that has taken me places I’d never thought I’d go and stretched me in ways I never thought possible. The Bible has genuinely surprised me at times. I say, let it surprise! Let us ever be conformed to it! It’s the only book on earth that is God-breathed, after all.
I should have heeded one of my friend’s warnings early on. When I posted “Just a Bit Confused” in the midst of learning about geology and an odd interpretation of Genesis 1 and an equally strange definition of inerrancy, someone I know online commented:
The primary issue at play here is not whether you end up in theistic evolution, OEC, YEC, or gap theory – even though that question is extremely important – the PRIMARY issue is whether or not we will allow what is not God’s revelation to control what God’s revelation can say; that’s the pharisee’s leaven which will work it’s way through the whole lump.
I let what is not God’s revelation control what God’s revelation can and can’t say! (John Walton, an OT prof at Wheaton, does this, too. I’ve plugged his books before.) My friend went on to quote B.B. Warfield:
It is very plain that he who modifies the teachings of the Word of God in the smallest particular at the dictation of any ‘man-made opinion’ has already deserted the Christian ground, and is already, in principle, a ‘heretic.’ The very essence of ‘heresy’ is that the modes of thought and tenets originating elsewhere than in the Scriptures of God are given decisive weight when they clash with the teachings of God’s Word.
(On a side note, the idea that B.B. Warfield accepted evolution whole-cloth is absurd; don’t let anyone tell you that.)
I’ve done exactly what Warfield accuses the heretic of doing: altering Christian teaching for the sake of preserving some outside opinion drawn not from the teachings of Scripture, but from human inquiry and deduction. Believe it or not, mankind’s mind was affected at the fall, too, so our thinking ends up being muddled (look up “the noetic effects of the fall” sometime). It’s better, though, to “err” on the side of God’s Word than on the side of human opinion.
I kidded myself into thinking that my “humble inquiries” into the question of origins were motivated purely by a desire to be true to the text of Scripture. I know they weren’t. I wanted to be a liberal and pretend to be a conservative Christian; I wanted to have my cake and eat it too. I apologize for my dishonesty. Moving forward, I promise to be much more careful in my acceptance or rejection of theological difficulties (and even more so in my promotion of those opinions on the internet); more than that, I promise not to let God’s Word take second place in considering the evidence. I have done that in the past, and it’s never good.
It will be interesting to look back on this blog in a number of years and trace the intellectual journey that God has taken me on. Until then, I offer this as yet another signpost on the side of the road.