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From Esther to Evolution

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

One of the Bible's great statements about courage comes in chapter 5 of Esther. The Jewish queen of Persia has told Uncle Mordecai that she can't go before the king: If she does, she'll probably die.

Mordecai responds with admonition—you won't escape by hiding—and then a line that has sent chills down my spine: "Who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"

For such a time as this.

In every generation moments of truth arise. Esther, early Christian martyrs, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and many more throughout the centuries have faced life-or-death decisions.

In this land of liberty our task is easier: We have reputational decisions. Should I speak up for biblical truth and have people think I'm a—horrors—fundamentalist, or should I hedge?

Rush Limbaugh

Today's three great cultural flashpoints are abortion, same-sex marriage, and evolution. We can hedge on them and justify our hedging: Playing it cool here will help me gain for Christ people who would otherwise walk away.

I'm not knocking such considerations. Nor am I assuming that anyone who tries to meld eternal truth and contemporary trends lacks courage: Some do so on evangelistic principle, others because they believe what they're saying is true. But attempts to unify antitheses generally defy logic.

Over the past 15 years I've tried to explain some of the problems of Darwinism. Last year I raised questions about the "theistic evolution" that Francis Collins espouses, but didn't offer answers—and several WORLD readers have pressed me for more (see "Theistic evolutionist," July 10, 2009).

OK. It seems to me that since the Bible emphasizes God's purposefulness and macro-evolutionary theory emphasizes randomness, the two are contradictory. Theistic evolutionists stretch the laws of logic: How can Creation be a sovereignly guided sequence and at the same time a sequence of chance, with random mutations and survival of the fittest?

Theistic evolutionists can answer that question by saying that God has intervened trillions of times to make evolution turn out the way He wants. Or, that the original code He wrote for all life has a mechanism to trigger mutations just when He wants them. Either way, theistic evolution contradicts the biblical account.

Chapter 2 of Genesis tells how "God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature." Later in the chapter God makes Eve out of Adam. Unless we see this chapter as metaphor rather than history, the biblical account is incompatible with the idea that Adam and Eve each had two parents plus some beneficial mutations.

Theistic evolutionists logically have to discount other parts of the Bible as well. It's not just that when we de-historicize parts it's hard to stop. (Were Noah, Abraham, and Moses also metaphors?) We also have to discredit Paul the apostle, who cited early Genesis as fact (see Romans 5, 1 Corinthians 11 and 15, and 1 Timothy 2).

For that matter, Jesus also saw it that way (Matthew 23, Luke 11). Those who say, "God merely used evolution to bring about the results He desired," may think they're avoiding arguments, but they are either relinquishing what's crucial—biblical inerrancy—or redefining chunks of Scripture as creative writing and literary appreciation rather than history.

Should we hug evolution to further evangelism? Theologian Wayne Grudem has it right: "Theistic evolutionists tell us that Christians can surrender to this massive attack on the Christian faith and safely, inoffensively, tack on God... To put it in terms of an equation, when atheists assure us that matter + evolution + 0 = all living things, and then theistic evolutionists answer, no, that matter + evolution + God = all living things, it will not take long for unbelievers to conclude that, therefore, God = 0." Again, let me stress that many theistic evolutionists are honorable individuals. Some think the evidence against macro-evolution is weak. Others think we must bow to evolution or bow out of academic and media summit conferences. I don't think that's inevitable, but if it happens: For such a time as this we must learn to trust God to change hearts without our having to back away from the Bible.

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