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Joint Statement by Darrel Falk and Bruce Waltke

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April 5, 2010 Tags: Christian Unity

Today's entry was written by Darrel Falk and Bruce Waltke. Please note the views expressed here are those of the author, not necessarily of The BioLogos Foundation. You can read more about what we believe here.

Joint Statement by Darrel Falk and Bruce Waltke

This is a follow up to a recent post in which BioLogos discussed a request by Dr. Bruce Waltke, Professor of Old Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary, to remove a video posted one week earlier. One key reason for his request is addressed in this joint statement with Darrel Falk, President of The BioLogos Foundation.

We are both professors. The controversy over the recent posting of a video by Bruce largely relates to difference in teaching styles, probably significantly affected by differences in our disciplines. One of us teaches biology and prepares students for careers in science and medicine. The other teaches biblical studies and prepares students for careers in ministry. We both feel a great responsibility in our careers to preserve the faith of our students. Both of us face unique challenges in the current climate of secularism. The secular academy far-too-frequently considers Christianity to have ideas and ideals which are irrelevant at best and despicable at worst; it is not always easy for biology students to retain their faith. Bruce believes that many in the guild of professors in biblical studies cut students free from the authority of Scripture to find their moorings in reason, not in the revelation of God in Jesus Christ, and/or in existentialism, not in the apostolic confession of the Gospel. There is nothing more important to both of us than that our students retain their faith as they leave our courses and head into their future.

If you are a good professor, you are very sensitive to where your students are in their journey. You don’t whack them over the head with an idea and tell them to take it or leave it. You give them tools to discover it step-by-step for themselves. Your role, if you are a good professor, is to give your students a firm foundation in your discipline, to be there alongside of your students and guide them as they proceed down this journey. It is a little bit like the journey along the road to Emmaus. We hope they will eventually understand, and we want to lovingly journey with them, but they have to see it for themselves.

These are perilous times for the educated Christian. There are forces that threaten the faith both in science and theology and in their inter-relationship that have never existed in quite this way before. There are many who would like to take our students and our former students and to vaporize the faith they have inherited. We both feel that in our roles as professors, we exist in no small part to prevent that from happening.

We each have two different sets of students. One set goes into science and medicine, where the data in favor of evolution seem to be overwhelming. The others go off to lead churches, where a foundation well-grounded in the Bible is essential.

Our approach as we journey along the Emmaus road with our students may need to be different. One of us—the biologist—feels that he needs to lay out the scientific data fairly early and be there to help the student proceed through faith issues at whatever pace he or she is comfortable—with full confidence in the inspiration of Scripture. From there the student can examine the scientific data, bit by bit, and proceed through it at whatever pace he or she is comfortable, The other of us—the biblical scholar—feels that biblical students must be well grounded in the historic Christian faith and from there learn how to interpret the Bible, and, bit by bit, discover its spiritual treasures with a freedom to test their understandings against the Church’s confessions. Interestingly, though the scientific method tends to be more inductive and the biblical approach more deductive, so far as the faith is concerned we end up at similar place with respect to retaining the historic faith, but our way of getting there is different. There is little doubt that the reason for that difference relates to our disciplines.

The video posted by BioLogos accurately reflected our views—both of our views. However, for Bruce, it said the sort of thing that would be said at the end of the journey after making it clear that his thinking was firmly grounded in the inerrancy of Scripture (as to its Source, not to its interpretation) and its infallibility (as to authority for faith and practice, not, for example, of ancient man’s view of a tripartite universe), and the historicity of Adam and Eve. Darrel, as a biologist, would say something similar1 but at the beginning of the journey.

The fact that this video generated controversy illustrates why the dialog must continue. It is absolutely essential that we not give up just because missteps will occur. We must not be discouraged. Let the conversation continue, but only if it can be done in love and mutual respect and in a way that draws the next generation even closer to the Lord Jesus Christ who joins us all on our road to Emmaus.

For more on Bruce’s views see An Old Testament Theology . For more on Darrel’s views see his regular blogs on this site and Coming to Peace With Science.

1. Please note though, our views do differ significantly on the Adam and Eve question.


Darrel Falk is former president of BioLogos and currently serves as BioLogos' Senior Advisor for Dialog. He is Professor of Biology, Emeritus at Point Loma Nazarene University and serves as Senior Fellow at The Colossian Forum. Falk is the author of Coming to Peace with Science.
Bruce Waltke is a world-renowned Old Testament scholar, Biblical translator and expositor. He served on the translation committee of both the New American Standard Bible and New International Version -- two of the most popular modern translations of the Bible produced in the twentieth century. Waltke is a professor emeritus of Old Testament studies at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia and a former president of the Evangelical Theological Society.


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dopderbeck - #8860

April 6th 2010

Mike Gene—I don’t think anyone is overlooking that point.  The question here, however, is how do theological seminaries prepare pastors to minister to people who largely will be educated in that secular educational environment?


Mike Gene - #8929

April 6th 2010

Hi dopderbeck,

I fully support the efforts to get Christians to realize the false dichotomy of evolution vs. Christianity.  But I see no analysis of a secular educational environment that appears to be trafficking in stereotypes.  Given that the secular educational environment represents itself as the champion of critical thinking, tolerance, and diversity, shouldn’t we hold them to those standards?


Unaplogetic Catholic - #8969

April 6th 2010

I wonder how the two professors recommend addressing this dispute:

http://news.adventist.org/2010/03/evolution-controvers.html

As long as there’s universities that have to deal with this issue, Mike Gene’s concerns are negligible.

The reason why these are perilous times for Christians is because Christians seem intent on suffering from so many self-inflcted wounds.


pds - #8997

April 7th 2010

Darrel,

Do you and Biologos still stand by your contention that this episode with Dr. Waltke and RTS is “an extremely important statement about the culture of fear within evangelicalism in today’s world.”  Does Dr. Waltke agree with you on this? 

Here is your full statement from an earlier thread:

The fact that Dr. Waltke felt he was unable to leave the video in place, despite the fact that he still agrees with its contents, is an extremely important statement about the culture of fear within evangelicalism in today’s world. Leading evangelicals who support evolution are rightly fearful of personal attacks on the integrity of their faith and character. Even when they believe that scientific data must be taken seriously, and that science has revealed the ways in which God created the world, they are more willing to be associated with those who are clearly wrong about God’s truth as revealed within His World, and who are thereby also wrong about how they understand His Word.


unapologetic catholic - #9017

April 7th 2010

“The fact that Dr. Waltke felt he was unable to leave the video in place, despite the fact that he still agrees with its contents, is an extremely important statement about the culture of fear within evangelicalism in today’s world. Leading evangelicals who support evolution are rightly fearful of personal attacks on the integrity of their faith and character.”

Certainly true:

The Seventh Day Adventists are attacking their college biology teachers

http://news.adventist.org/2010/03/evolution-controvers.html

Dembski himself is atacked for not being YEC and casting doubt the historical Adam and Eve

http://oursovereignjoy.blogspot.com/2009/12/book-review-william-dembskis-end-of.html

Olivent Nazarene dustup with Richard Colling is a well known example:

http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1P3-1634514211.html

There are many more examples.


Mairnéalach - #9023

April 7th 2010

Unapologetic Catholic, those examples cannot be true! As everybody knows, it is SCIENCE that is the intellectually stifling environment. It is SCIENTISTS who jeer, mock, ridicule and excommunicate minority opinions. It is SCIENTISTS who suppress Intelligent Design because of peer pressure.

Religious men, on the other hand, do not share these fallen, Adamic characteristics with scientists. They are above this sort of thing.

Off with your head.


Thomas Jay Oord - #9045

April 7th 2010

Thanks, Bruce and Darrel…

Tom


Mike Gene - #9069

April 7th 2010

As long as there’s universities that have to deal with this issue, Mike Gene’s concerns are negligible.

I see.  So when intellectuals traffic in stereotypes, we are not supposed to notice when they feed their stereotypes with confirmation bias in the form of something like an obscure little
Seventh-day Adventists college.  I guess critical thinkers are justified in presuming Darrel Falk, for example, is a creationist because of some kerfuffle at La Sierra University, right?


Unapologetic Catholic - #9077

April 8th 2010

Mike, if you want to deal in fiction, feel free.  The fact is that only Christian universities have kicked biology professors off their faculty for teaching valid science. 

That seems to be to be a particular problem for those who claim to be Christians and respecters of the truth. 

Your effort to point out the specks in non-believers’ eyes is noted.  But why care about some amorphous intellectuals who don’t respect either Christianity or the truth?  Shouldn’t we be removing the beams from our own?


Mike Gene - #9079

April 8th 2010

Specks?  When you present yourself to the public as a champion of critical thinking and tolerance, yet peddle stereotypes supported by confirmation bias, that’s more than a speck.  That type of behavior can undermine the credibility of academia itself.  The problem you cite, Unapologetic Catholic, is old news and well-known and only happens to be one of the primary reasons this whole entire web site exists.  In contrast, the problem I am citing seems to be swept under the rug.


Darrel Falk - #9089

April 8th 2010

I believe that Mike Gene is correct.  However, I also happen to believe that to a large extent it is our fault.  Mark Noll’s book title, “The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind” comes quickly to mind.  We have been ignored in part because Christian scholars (evangelicals and non-evangelicals) have been far too silent.  Where we have not been silent, far too often, I’m afraid, we’ve been saying pretty silly things. 

Like: “the earth is 10,0000 years old.” 
Like: “research on the origin of the information content in DNA has reached a dead end”

I am not saying that it is entirely our fault.  It’s not.  However, we Christians are the ones who can and ought to do something about it.  Moreover, all of us who are part of the BioLogos community, including especially those who work in the “comments section,” have an important role to play in bringing about change.

Best,
Darrel


pds - #9098

April 8th 2010

Darrel,

Who exactly said “research on the origin of the information content in DNA has reached a dead end”?

Are you referring to Stephen Meyer?  If so, I think you are grossly misrepresenting his position.  I think Biologos actually contributes to the problem Mike Gene is addressing by misrepresenting and stereotyping ID proponents, and by not addressing their arguments in their strongest form.

A good example is the “unreview” of Signature in the Cell by Francisco Ayala, which I discuss here.  Ayala announces the “keystone argument of Signature of the Cell” [sic] and gets it completely wrong.


Mike Gene - #9138

April 8th 2010

Hi Darrel,

I believe that Mike Gene is correct.  However, I also happen to believe that to a large extent it is our fault.

I’m sorry, but it is not our fault if a scholar, who holds himself up as a champion of critical thinking and tolerance, relies on stereotypes.  That is the fault of the scholar as a scholar should know better.  And while I fully support your efforts to help Christians realize they need not have to choose between science/evolution and Christian faith, I don’t think it a good idea to make excuses for those who betray the values of academia by engaging in tribalistic group think while peddling stereotypes about the outgroup.


Darrel Falk - #9143

April 8th 2010

Hi Mike,

I think, you’re right in essence.  However, I want to make it clear that we Christians are not blameless for the conditions that gave rise to the current situation.  It is too easy for me to simply point the finger at those on the other side.

I want us to accept part of the blame, so that we can get on with the business of repairing the damage.  The secular academy has not seen Christ clearly in us, and I don’t think it is entirely their fault. 

Darrel


Jim - #9194

April 8th 2010

Reposted here from the Boyd thread.

Studies of religious attributions of Presbyterian Congregational members were examined to see how confessed theology about God’s sovereignty affects real-life attributions (saying “God did it”) in every-day events (attributions of events to God. or, to secular causes).  Study results fail to support a correlation between theological confession (of the non-negotiables of faith) and real-life attribution (with some exceptions between distal and proximate events – see e.g., Miner, M. H. and McKnight, J. (1999). Religious Attributions: Situational Factors and Effects on Coping. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 38(2), 274-287). 

The dramatic story line is that professors get fired, churches split, denominational variety increases (as variety increases via mutate-select and sexual reproduction).  The by-line is that so many believers don’t believe what they confess they believe in the first place. 

It’s a curious puzzle how the science of Darwinian evolution threatens beliefs (about God’s activity in the world) which are already discounted internally in confessing believers.


dr. sam tsang - #9457

April 11th 2010

I support both your positions.  I’m angered by this treatment of Dr. Waltke. I’m afraid we’ve reached a very dark age.  I’ve written a blog on this particular issue to support you all at http://www.sacredsaga.org/sam-tsangs-blog/2010/4/10/an-unkind-orthodoxy-christianity-facing-a-new-dark-age.html#comments


Jamie - #9493

April 11th 2010

I like Dr. Waltke, but he deserves the boot.  So does Charlie Darwin’s lame theory.  In OT times the academic and cultural giants were the Philistines, while the knuckle-draggers were that insignificant, backwards bunch called Israel, the people of God, the “apple of His eye.”  Well, I’d rather stand shoulder-to-shoulder with uneducated halfwits who love the Lord Jesus Christ and trust God’s Word and its recounting of human origins than to sell my spiritual birthright for a bowl of Dr. Waltke’s mush.

By the way, if you can’t believe that God created the earth in six days, you’re going to have a hell of a time believing in walking on water, turning water to wine and the resurrection, among the other extraordinary miracles of Christ.


Ted Davis - #9541

April 12th 2010

I just left my own comments about this episode on the ID blog, “Uncommon Descent,” where there is also a thread about this.  I haven’t said anything there for quite some time, but this is just too big to ignore.

http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/bruce-waltke-and-the-scientific-orthodoxy/comment-page-1/#comment-352076


Humblesmith - #9594

April 13th 2010

On the road to Emmaus? 

Must we realize that the two disciples who were on the road to Emmaus were on the way of disobedience…....they were abandoning Jerusalem and going back to their old ways. Christ met them on the way and turned them back.


Alexeiv - #9703

April 14th 2010

Jamie, this of all places is not a place of judgement. The idea of this conversation and very much the original vidéo itself was about the compatibility of science and religion. Religion needs science just as much as science needs religion, and to some extent these two concepts are identical. The everlasting questioning about truth and meaning and of course the origin of creation cannot be answered debasely by pure faith or unrelenting probing alone! To reject all views save your own makes this a monologue, and self-actualization, so necessary in faith, can only be accessed through authentic dialogue between individuals with diverging views. I personally think this conversation between scholars in which both parties admît weakness and accept their own imperfection is a great example of how much potential we have as a species.
God bless


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