On Adopting a BioLogos Faith Statement, Part 2
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.