The question of the origin of man is common among many who are seeking to know God and is foundational to those who accept the Bible as God’s word. For Christians, developing a personal understanding of our creation is essential for sharing biblical truths with others who are seeking to know God. Therefore, answering the question of how we were created is an essential part of Christian theology and is a crucial apologetic in evangelism. There is serious debate among Christians regarding the understanding of Scripture’s account of creation. This is the central theme of discussion in A Biblical Case Against Theistic Evolution edited by Dr. Wayne Grudem (Crossway, 2022).
In the book Dr. Grudem and a team of contributors seek to address the theology of man’s origin as interpreted from the Bible. The essays chosen for this work are condensed and adapted from a more comprehensive scientific, philosophical, and theological critique of a theory of “Evolutionary Creation” titled Theistic Evolution: A Scientific, Philosophical and Theological Critique (Crossway, 2017). As the authors focus their debate as a case against the origin theory of “Theistic Evolution” we see a strong case for literal interpretation of God’s inspired Word found in Genesis chapters 1-3. Packed into these six chapters are many scripture references and their contextual interpretations for which many have come to depend on from Wayne Grudem and the other contributors.
Much more detail can be gleaned from a deeper analysis of both of the books regarding theistic evolution. For the purpose of this review, however, it is important to share a brief of the author’s definition of theistic evolution and interact with the material discussed. The introduction, authored by Grudem, provides the following definition of theistic evolution with which the book contributors take issue:
“God created matter and after that did not guide or intervene or act directly to cause any empirically detectable change in the natural behavior of matter until all living things had evolved by purely natural processes.” (Pg 15)
The remainder of the book discusses how this definition of theistic evolution is incompatible with the teaching of the Old Testament (chapter 2), and how it is incompatible with the teaching of the New Testament (chapter 3). It also discusses how theistic evolution is incompatible with historic Christian doctrine (chapter 5). The most important chapter in the book, however, is the final chapter, written by Wayne Grudem. In this chapter he discusses crucial doctrine and twelve events of creation recorded in Genesis that are undermined by the teachings of theistic evolution.
Theistic evolution, as defined in the book, attempts to bridge the gap between the teachings of evolution and the biblical account of Genesis. This endeavor, however, proves to be more difficult than it may seem. In order to reconcile the Genesis account of creation with evolution, one must hold to a figurative or allegorical view of Genesis 1-3 rather than a literal view. This is what Grudem and the other contributors take objection with regarding theistic evolution. Many others, however, take objection to a literal reading of the Bible, but this shows a misunderstanding of a literal view of scripture. At its essence a literal view of scripture simply takes God at his word. A literal view of scripture must be distinguished from a strictly literal view. The Bible is a collection of differing genres of literature that, as a unit, tell the story of redemption. Each genre of the Bible must be taken into account for a proper interpretation. Therefore, a literal view takes seriously the written word of God all the while being careful to understand it in proper context.
For this reason, theistic evolution undermines the authority and sufficiency of scripture. Genesis 1-3 are written as poetry, which not only aids with memorization but also tells the reader something about the beauty and creativity of God. Any understanding of Genesis 1-3 as anything other than factual, is a slippery slope and undermines the Christian understanding of sin, and humanity’s need for a savior. Without a proper understanding of human origins, one cannot properly understand the cross.
A Biblical Case Against Theistic Evolution is an excellent resource. It could be used as a study of Genesis Chapters 1-3 and its role describing man’s creation, and the origin of sin and death, thus the need for a savior. Reading and studying A Biblical Case Against Theistic Evolution will strengthen one’s understanding of reformed theology, thereby energizing the desire to share the gospel, and make clear again the wonderful grace of our Lord!
Randy Ray is a graduate of the University of Alabama in Birmingham (UAB) and is retired from a career with AT&T holding positions in sales, marketing, product and training. He is a member at The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham.
Editor’s Note: This book was received by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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