On Adopting a BioLogos Faith Statement, Part 2

Bookmark and Share

October 4, 2010 Tags: Christian Unity

Today's entry was written by Darrel Falk. You can read more about what we believe here.

On Adopting a BioLogos Faith Statement, Part 2

Note: Since the publishing of these posts, BioLogos has adopted a “We Believe” statement. You can find it here.

There was a good deal of interesting discussion in the aftermath of my last post, which began by assessing whether BioLogos should post a faith statement. “Just what do you people at BioLogos believe?” we have frequently been asked. Given the theological diversity of our staff and that of the BioLogos community in general, we have been hesitant about posting a specific statement of faith. However, the Comments section of this post led us, the BioLogos staff, into some great discussion, and we have reached a consensus. In short, we know of no better summary of what we all believe than Paul’s words in I Corinthians 15:1-5.

Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.

We’ll leave it to you to determine whether this constitutes a faith statement, but it is a reflection of that which serves as the core of our individual beliefs as BioLogos staff members, and we hope it is a presupposition for the broader BioLogos community as well. Those who think differently or who are truth- seekers are welcome to join in the conversation, but we in the BioLogos community have come to accept this by faith. The faith we hold is not blind—it is well-supported by evidence, albeit not of the scientific variety.

Paul goes on from this introduction to the fifteenth chapter, reminding us of its ramifications in verses 17-19.

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.

It is Christ’s life, death, and resurrection—the reality of the Creator who dwelt among us, died to show his love for us, and then victoriously overcame that death—which shapes our current existence, and provides assurance for a life to come.

Also foundational to the BioLogos vision is the belief that the Bible is the inspired Word of God—every word of it. The Bible is a living document. God, through his Spirit, continues to speak to the Church and God does this through the Bible. Within the BioLogos community, we do not all see the theological implications of the Bible in the same way—the Church has always been in that situation. However, BioLogos is committed to the foundational precept that the Bible is God’s Word.

Even though the Bible is the Word of God, it is not a sort of Robert’s Rules of Order which is designed to prescribe appropriate instructions for every conceivable situation. One of Jesus’ biggest challenges was created by the Pharisees who turned a written document into something other than that for which it was intended. The purpose of the Bible is to lead us to Christ and to guide us into a life grounded in his Presence. Too often, people come to the written Word and then stop. We are called into a vital relationship with the living God, and the Bible guides us into that relationship. We must not search the Bible for truths about the natural world. God used ancient cultures to communicate eternal truths about God’s love for us, about our own inability to adequately respond to that love, and about the one and only answer to this dilemma—new life in Christ. God did not use those ancient cultures to teach us the details of how nature works or how the creation command was fully realized.

Much has been written in recent days about the BioLogos agenda. Leading young earth creationist groups like Institute for Creation Research, Answers in Genesis, Grace to You and the Southern Baptist leader, Albert Mohler have warned their followers about BioLogos. Our friends Hugh Ross and Fuz Rana with whom I meet fairly regularly differ from us in fairly profound ways brought about largely, as I see it, by their view that one can (and must) draw scientific truth from Scripture. Finally, various figures affiliated with the Discovery Institute and the Intelligent Design Movement have expressed grave concerns about our views based largely on our tenet that the science of biology (including evolutionary biology) is largely correct, not deeply flawed. We, like they, believe in an intelligence through whom all of life was created. However, we do not accept that the existence of this intelligence has been demonstrated through their scientific analysis and, furthermore, we think there are theological reasons for suspecting that it will never be possible to demonstrate God’s existence through the tools of science. As believers we see God’s hand everywhere, but it is not through testing of scientific hypotheses that one comes to prove (or even almost prove) the existence of God. There are better ways of coming to know God.

All of these groups think so differently than us about the scientific data. In that regard, we are truly worlds apart. However, they, along with us would all say “Amen” to Paul’s words in I Corinthians 15:1-5 and 17-19. True they would interpret some other portions of the chapter differently than we understand them, but on the essentials there is unity.

So we in the BioLogos community can make a clear and unanimous statement about what we believe. It is firmly grounded in biblical Christianity. There are those with whom we disagree profoundly on matters of biblical hermeneutics and science. And although I have little doubt that they are wrong about those matters, I also respect that they are correct about that which matters most of all. Together, we celebrate the greatest of all truths, summarized by Paul in those verses written so long ago. Together we raise our one voice in a united song of thanksgiving:

To God be the glory, great things He has done;
So loved He the world that He gave us His Son,
Who yielded His life an atonement for sin,
And opened the life gate that all may go in.

O perfect redemption, the purchase of blood,
To every believer the promise of God;
The vilest offender who truly believes,
That moment from Jesus a pardon receives.

Great things He has taught us, great things He has done,
And great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son;
But purer, and higher, and greater will be
Our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see.

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the earth hear His voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the people rejoice!
O come to the Father, through Jesus the Son,
And give Him the glory, great things He has done.


Darrel Falk is former president of The BioLogos Foundation. He transitioned into Christian higher education 25 years ago and has given numerous talks about the relationship between science and faith at many universities and seminaries. He is the author of Coming to Peace with Science.

< Previous post in series


Share your thoughts

Have a comment or question for the author? We'd love to hear from you.

View the archived discussion of this post

This article is now closed for new comments. The archived comments are shown below.

Loading...
Page 2 of 2   « 1 2
Daniel - #33396

October 5th 2010

To reveal my bias from the outset, I am a young earth creationist , so normally, I disagree with what I read on the Biologos website.  However, I am glad to find Biologos issuing a rudimentary statement of faith that appears to uphold the basic elements of the Gospel.  Indeed, I would like to see more elaboration of Biologos’ beliefs in the future.  One of my main concerns about this website has been the degree to which the articles seem to question the accuracy of what many Christians (including myself) believe to be God’s Word. There was even one article that appeared to me to question the authority of Christ’s words while on earth.  In consequence, I would encourage Biologos to post more articles elaborating the reasons they believe Christiany to be true, the reasons Christians should hold the Bible (more than other written works) to be inspired by God, and the reasons why the Bible should be taken to be authorative in matters of theology when Biologos seems to indicate it is not authoritative on any other subject.  I think such articles would help readers understand Biologos and its positions better.  In the meantime, kudos for tackling the difficult organizational issue of setting forth a statement of faith.


Gudnews - #33398

October 5th 2010

You see, it just looks to me like what is at stake here is the whole Protestant Reformation—specifically the foundation (sola scriptura) and the central message (substitutionary atonement).

Where am I making my mistake?


merv - #33410

October 5th 2010

Gudnews wrote:  “Why should we think the writers of Scripture did not intend to communicate ancient science, but did intend to communicate eternal truth?”

I think one obvious (to me) reason that we see it as spiritual and not scientific is that it doesn’t even appear that the ancient writers themselves saw it as physical.  E.g.  the author of Genesis didn’t record that Adam died (physically) on the day he ate the fruit—so even the original writer must have been speaking about spiritual death.  Paul also derives many spiritual lessons from it, none of which seem to insist on physicality in the same way Paul does in I Cor. 15 when speaking of the resurrection.

Gudnews:  “Why should we think God himself has those dual, dueling plans for Scripture?”

He doesn’t.  That’s the point of much of this—that the attempted use of it to inform 20th century science wasn’t the aim of Scriptures.

Gudnews: If it really does come down to separating the eternally relevant truth from the culturally-specific truth, by what principles should we do this?”

Well—whatever principles we use, we won’t be “stepping outside” of our own culture to do it.  As is obvious by our own fixation with wooden factuality.

—Merv


John VanZwieten - #33413

October 5th 2010

Gudnews,

It seems we have much in common, as I also parent an engineering student and am a pastor as well.  As I was once YEC and quite literalist, we at least had that in common too.  I don’t take offense at your tone as I have seen your other posts, which reveal someone willing to discuss. 

Here’s why I find it a valid approach to distinguish between the “message” of scripture and the “mode” in which that truth is communicated:
1)  Scripture itself does not claim to be a book for teaching science, but does claim for itself to be inspired by God and completely useful for training us in righteousness.
2)  Any effective communication involves the use of words, grammar, ideas that speak to the hearer.  This is unavoidable.
3)  A “straightforward” reading of scripture shows the authors to have frequently used the “science of the day” rather than point to things we know now which they could not have known then.  To claim otherwise requires contortions of the “it says that but doesn’t really mean that” sort.  To insist that God is teaching science in scripture is essentially to charge Him with error—which I can’t abide.


John VanZwieten - #33414

October 5th 2010

As to sola scriptura, the meaning of that phrase is not that we should get our science only from scripture—right?  Rather it refers to the idea that only the teaching of scripture may bind the conscience of the believer—as opposed to the idea that church tradition or authority also has that prerogative.

While I respect our brothers who believe otherwise, I agree that only the teaching of scripture, correctly understood, may bind my conscience.  But that in no way reduces the need for extensive exegetical study to determine just what scripture is teaching in a given passage or as a whole.

As to the central message of substitutionary atonement, I find giving up “Bible-science” to be a great help in holding strongly to that central message without getting sidetracked by all this other issues.  In fact, the more I read non-literalismist perspectives on scripture, the more I see that central message reinforced throughout scripture.

As to the principles by which to “separate the wheat and chaff”, I think Dennis’s formula is pretty good:  What is the inerrant message of faith being communicated by a passage?  What else is left?  I don’t expect that process to be easy, but I do expect it to be fruitful.


Gudnews - #33429

October 5th 2010

JonVan, Merv,
Thanks for your thoughts. I’ll ponder them much, you may be sure.


merv - #33490

October 6th 2010

Sorry if my responses were a bit short, Gudnews, your questions deserve more treatment—and indeed John did a better job giving them just a bit more.

...and thank you, Marshall (33280).

—Merv


DBB - #33636

October 7th 2010

I am glad to see that Biologos accepts the resurrection of Christ and that His resurrection is the basis for our resurreection as Paul writes in 1 Cor. 15.  However Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 15: 21-22 “For as by a man came death, by a man came also the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”  In Gal. 1: 11-12 Paul writes “...the gospel preached by me is not man’s gospel.  For I did not receive it from man,  nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ.”  If Paul declares Adam to be a real person, and Adam’s death and Christ’s resurrection to be real events and if Paul in fact received the gospel throught a revelation from Jesus Christ. than how can Biologos deny that Adam is not a real person and the man from whom all of humanity is descended.  If Christ has the power to resurrect us from the dead, than surely He would be able to accurately communicate the Gospel accurately to Paul.  Resurrection is clearly a miracle, but to accurately communicate the Gospel from Jesus to Paul only requires ordinary communication skills . No miracles required!  If Jesus told Paul that Adam existed and there never was an Adam than Jesus was….?


dumbdarwin - #34047

October 9th 2010

“Hath God said?” And so it continues today. What about all the science against evolution? DNA found in fossilized dinosaur bones, DNA mutation rates, and a host of other things should have you people thinking, “God did say! And we need to see where the evidence leads.” Let God be true and every man a lier!


Frodo - #34442

October 12th 2010

What about Tobit or or Daniel 14 or Psalm 151?


Jonathan Watts - #34644

October 14th 2010

@gudnews—To me, one of the ways we sort through what is cultural in the Bible is by reading it while keeping our eyes open to information from other sources—history, science, reason and so on.  I think we already do this more than most of us admit - in a charismatic church, passages on the Spirit are interpreted more literally than in a non-charismatic church.  By default we interpret the story of the sun standing still differently today than people did before Copernicus.  If there is evidence for evolution, it’s OK to bring that in to our interpretation of Genesis 1-2.

Interesting that you mention the reformation.  Most non-evangelical churches have a “three-legged stool” of truth - scripture, reason and tradition/magisterium.  The three are in diagolue (trialogue?) and need each other.  I think the way we have interpreted “sola scriptura” has taken it too far away from the importance of using our reason and the faithful interpretations of other believers across time and space.  Luther was responding to abuses within the church - their tradition had trumped and contradicted scripture.  We don’t need to err the other way.

Blessings brother, these are not easy issues I know… I have been wrestling too.


Jonathan Watts - #34645

October 14th 2010

@dumbdarwin #34047—Amen to your closing sentence, let God be true and every man a liar.  All truth is God’s truth—so what about all the science FOR evolution?  Are you reading that too?  Let me add my voice to the voices on this site that have sought to follow the evidence (while working as a practicing scientist and academic) and have found that it led me from being a YEC to seeing a lot of evidence for an old earth and a lot of evidence for biological evolution.


Page 2 of 2   « 1 2