We accept the biblical teaching with regard to creation and do not base our position upon theories of evolution, whichever particular theory people may choose to advocate. We must assert that we believe in the being of one first man called Adam, and in one first woman called Eve. We reject any notion of a pre- Adamic man because it is contrary to the teaching of the Scripture.
Now someone may ask, Why do you care about this? Is this essential to your doctrine of salvation? Are you not falling into the very error of over-particularization against which you warned us at the beginning? I suggest that I am not, and for these reasons. If we say that we believe the Bible to be the Word of God, we must say that about the whole of the Bible, and when the Bible presents itself to us as history, we must accept it as history. I would contend that the early chapters of Genesis, the first three chapters of Genesis, are given to us as history. We know that there are pictures and symbols in the Bible, and when the Bible uses symbol and parable it indicates that it is doing so, but when it presents something to us in the form of history, it requires us to accept it as history.
We must therefore hold to the vital principle, to which I have referred earlier, of the wholeness and the close interrelationship of every part of the biblical message. The Bible does not merely make statements about salvation. It is a complete whole: it tells you about the origin of the world and of man; it tells you what has happened to him, how he fell and the need of salvation arose, and then it tells you how God provided this salvation and how He began to reveal it in parts and portions. Nothing is so amazing about the Bible as its wholeness, the perfect interrelationship of all the parts. Therefore these early chapters of Genesis with their history play a vital part in the whole doctrine of salvation. Take for instance the argument of the apostle Paul in the Epistle to the Romans 5:12-21. Paul's whole case is based upon that one man Adam and his one sin, and the contrast with the other one man, the Lord ]esus Christ, and His one great act. You have exactly the same thing in I Corinthians 15; the apostle's whole argument rests upon the historicity. Indeed, it seems to me that one of the things we have got to assert, these days in particular -and it should always have been asserted- is that our gospel, our faith, is not a teaching; it is not a philosophy; it is primarily a history.
The apostles, you remember, on the day of Pentecost, filled with the Holy Spirit, were talking about the wonderful works of God. The works of salvation are Godís acts! The Bible is a record of Godís activity. Salvation is not an idea; it is something that results from actions which have taken place on the concrete plane of history. Historicity is a very vital matter. As I say, it is the very key to understanding the apostle Paulís elaboration of his doctrine of salvation. In addition to that, of course, the whole question of the person of our Lord arises. He clearly accepted this history, he referred to Adam, and in speaking about marriage he clearly accepts the historicity of that portion of Scripture (Matt. 19:4-5). But quite apart from this, if you do not accept this history, and prefer to believe that manís body developed as the result of an evolutionary process, and that God then took one of these humanoid persons, or whatever you may call them, and did something to him and turned him into a man, you are still left with the question of how to explain Eve, for the Bible is very particular as to the origin of Eve. All who accept in any form the theory of evolution in the development of man completely fail to account for the being, origin, and existence of Eve. So there are scientific difficulties as well as these much more serious theological difficulties, but there is a general aspect to this particular matter which seems to me to be, in a sense, even more important.
These good friends who are thus, as they feel, safeguarding the Christian message of salvation by drawing this distinction are, I believe, doing precisely what the Roman Catholic Church did in connection with Copernicus and others. You remember how the Roman Catholic Church opposed the findings of these men. Why did she do so? Well, she did so because she was tied by Greek philosophical teaching with regard to the natural world. That teaching had come out of pure reason, not as the result of observation or of any scientific investigation. The philosophers had thought it through and they had laid down certain absolute propositions about the world and about the cosmos, so that when these scientific men came along and said that they had discovered this and that, it was rejected. Why? Because the church was not so much tied to the teaching of the Scripture as to the teaching of Aristotle and other Greek philosophers, and so she found herself in difficulties; she found herself denying what is truth and fact.
Now here, it seems to me, is the very thing that certain evangelical people are tending to do at the present time. They are tying themselves to modern, scientific teaching, and nothing is more dangerous than that. We must base ourselves exclusively on the Scriptures, and if this has always been true, it seems to me it is especially true today. We are living in an age of great change, great scientific change. The quantum theory and the work of Einstein have introduced a revolution into the whole realm of science. Take, for instance, the dogmatism with which the scientists spoke in the last century, how they talked about 'the absolute laws of nature', and so on, but they no longer do that, and they cannot do that. Everything today is indeterminate. Scientists now say that what we call the laws of nature are simply a very small section of the totality of truth. This is all we have discovered so far, but increasingly they are finding that their knowledge is very limited.
Modern science itself teaches us that we are not anti-scientific and we are not obscurantist if we do not accept statements as absolute truth and fact simply because they are made by certain prominent and great scientists. We know that great scientists have made very dogmatic statements in the past, which by now have proved to be wrong. They were teaching with great confidence, one hundred years ago, that the thyroid and the pituitary glands were vestigial organs, and people believed them. It was because they accepted such assertions that the faith of many evangelicals was shaken in the middle of the last century. Today we know that these assertions were wrong. All I am saying is that it is very dangerous for us to base our position, our exposition of the Scripture, upon the pronouncements of science. These are changeable, constantly moving. Indeterminacy is the rule today rather than determinacy, so we must be humble. And while we admit that we cannot explain everything and that there are certain things put before us for which we cannot account, what we must say is this: because the Spirit has borne witness within us to the truth of the Scripture, we do believe that whatever is asserted in the Scripture about creation, about the whole cosmos, is true because God has said it, and though Scripture may appear to conflict with certain discoveries of science at the present time, we exhort people to be patient, assuring them that ultimately the scientists will discover that they have been in error at some point or other, and will eventually come to see that the statements of Scripture are true. Thus we base our position upon Scripture alone and this has always been the Protestant view of Scripture. There are two testimonies to the truth of the Scripture in all its parts: there is the external testimony of the Spirit in the Word itself; there is the testimonium Spiritus internum, the internal testimony of the Spirit in us, giving us assurance that this is the Word of God?
You see the importance of the need to elaborate our doctrinal statements at the present time. There are some who say, Yes, I accept it, I haven't changed my view at all on your basis of faith and what it says about the Scriptures. But when you talk to them in detail, you find that they have departed in this very serious, and I suggest, radical manner from the true position of the evangelical.
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