On the Theological Cost of Fundamentalism

Scot McKnight published on his blog a series of three posts on the evolution debate. The first one, that introduces the problem, can be found HERE. I have written HERE about the second one, which presents the statements made recently by Al Mohler in favour of the young earth theory.

The third article in this series is the most consistent and I suggest it is really worth reading by those interested in this debate.

McKnight begins by quoting Mohler, who said:

In other words, the exegetical cost–the cost of the integrity and interpretation of scripture–to rendering the text in any other way, is just too high. But I want to suggest to you that the theological cost is actually far higher.

Then he responds:

The exegetical question is significant. Given the scientific evidence, how do we understand scripture as truthful and trustworthy, as authoritative? Peter Enns’s response to Dr. Mohler provides a start on this, as does John Walton’s book  The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate. On the issue of authority I find it helpful to remain focused on Christ as the foundation of our faith. Scripture is a lamp; it provides reliable illumination, but is not the foundation. This change of focus helps me wrestle with the issues because it emphasizes an understanding where other information, tested against the whole, will shape our interpretation of scripture – but will not weaken the foundation of our faith. How we understand scripture as revelation inspired by God changes in subtle but important ways. Others who commented have other takes on the understanding of scripture as truthful and trustworthy.

The theological question is, I think, a more significant question. Evolution and old earth may not cause exegetical problems, but what about theology? Are the theological problems insurmountable?  In his speech Dr. Mohler suggests that the theological problems are profound. This seems something of an overstatement. There are challenges –  but are they really any more significant than the challenges that Christians have wrestled with in the past? The details and challenges are somewhat different in each generation – but each generation must wrestle with the nature of God revealed in scripture and the narrative story we find ourselves within. So the first question to consider today is this:

What is the theological cost of an old earth, even more an evolutionary understanding of creation?

But we can not stop there. We have to look at the flip side of the coin as well.

What is the theological cost of a young earth understanding of creation? Where are the theological difficulties?

Read on. I Assure you it is worth it, whatever is your position on this debate.It is not


Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

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