Friday, 16 May 2014

Bruce Waltke - Theistic evolution is the best synthesis of special revelation, general revelation, and science

The sidebar list of recommended reading isn't merely an affectation. It's a list of reference works that I have found useful in understanding how to create a grand synthesis of the books of divine revelation. One of the books on the list is "An Old Testament Theology: An Exegetical, Canonical, and Thematic Approach" by Bruce Waltke and Charles Yu.

Waltke is a respected evangelical OT scholar who (along with Michael Patrick O'Connor) literally wrote the book on biblical Hebrew syntax. [1] His synthesis? Evolutionary creationism:

I've referred to Waltke's acceptance of evolution before, but a full quote in context would not go astray:
Ancient Near Eastern cosmogonies are a very different literary genre from the genre of scientific writings. These ancient cosmogonies—including that of Genesis 1—do not ask or attempt to answer scientific questions of origins: the material, manner, or date of the origin of the world and of its species. The biblical account represents God as creating the cosmological spheres that house and preserve life in six days, each presumably consisting of twenty-four hours. But how closely this cosmology coincides with the material reality cannot be known from the genre of an ancient Near Eastern cosmology, which does not attempt to answer that question. 
Recall that biblical narrators creatively and rhetorically represent raw historical data to teach theology.

The best harmonious synthesis of the special revelation of the Bible, of the general revelation of human nature that distinguishes between right and wrong and consciously or unconsciously craves God, and of science is the theory of theistic evolution. By “theory,” I mean here “a coherent group of general propositions used as principles of explanation for the origin of species, especially ʾāḏām,” not “a proposed explanation whose status is still conjectural.” By “theistic evolution” I mean that the God of Israel, to bring glory to himself, (1) created all the things that are out of nothing and sustains them; (2) incredibly, against the laws of probability, finely tuned the essential properties of the universe to produce ʾāḏām, who is capable of reflecting upon their origins; (3) within his providence allowed the process of natural selection and of cataclysmic interventions—such as the meteor that extinguished the dinosaurs, enabling mammals to dominate the earth—to produce awe-inspiring creatures, especially ʾāḏām; (4) by direct creation made ʾāḏām a spiritual being, an image of divine beings, for fellowship with himself by faith; (5) allowed ʾāḏām to freely choose to follow their primitive animal nature and to usurp the rule of God instead of living by faith in God, losing fellowship with their physical and spiritual Creator; (6) and in his mercy chose from fallen ‘ʾāḏām the Israel of God, whom he regenerated by the Holy Spirit, in connection with their faith in Jesus Christ, the Second Adam, for fellowship with himself.

There is a synergetic modus vivendi in recognizing that both science and theology have a contribution to make to our understanding of the origins of the creation. A scientific cosmogony contributes to answering the questions of how and when, and the rhetorical biblical cosmogony answers the more important questions of who and why. Science points to a Creator but not necessarily the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Science seeks to explain the origin and fate of dinosaurs (Gk., “terrible lizards”); the biblical writers seek to establish a just and moral society under I AM’s rule to his glory. Knowledge about biology including dinosaurs, about physics including the relativity of time, space and energy, and about myriad other scientific facts and laws in our possession would not improve the biblical writers’ aim. The Bible’s message is that the God of Israel created all things and blesses his creatures to procreate and to produce a culture under his rule. This is the saving alternative to the nihilistic message of our age of secularism and its promethean and narcissistic psychological tendencies. In short, render to Einstein what is Einstein’s and to the Bible what is the Bible’s. [2]
An Old Testament Theology: An Exegetical, Canonical, and Thematic Approach can be obtained in print and Kindle versions. It is also available for the Logos Bible software program. Read yourself rich.


1. Waltke, Bruce K., and Michael Patrick O’Connor. An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1990.

2. Waltke, Bruce K., and Charles Yu. An Old Testament Theology: An Exegetical, Canonical, and Thematic Approach. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007. p 202-203