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The BioLogos Foundation’s Theology of Celebration II Workshop

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January 11, 2011 Tags: Christian Unity
The BioLogos Foundation’s Theology of Celebration II Workshop

Today's entry was written by the BioLogos Editorial Team. You can read more about what we believe here.

On November 9-11, 2010, a group of pastors, church leaders, scholars, scientists, and informed laypersons met in New York City for the second Theology of Celebration BioLogos Workshop. In light of the scientific consensus that has emerged about the origin of the universe and of life’s diversity, there was extensive discussion around the following three themes:

  • The theological significance of Adam and Eve’s historicity
  • The nature of divine activity in a world where life has been created through an evolutionary process
  • The appropriate response to the emphasis on scientism that has emerged from some in the secular scientific community

After much dialogue, the following statement emerged, which represents a summary of the discussion, as no attempt was made to develop a binding consensus statement.

Summary Statement

Science and Faith

We affirm historic Christianity as articulated in the classic ecumenical creeds. Beyond the original creation, God continues to act in the natural world by sustaining it and by providentially guiding it toward the goal of a restored and consummated creation. In contrast to Deism, Biologos affirms God’s direct involvement in human history, including singular acts such as the incarnation and resurrection of Christ, as well as ongoing acts such as answers to prayer and acts of salvation and personal transformation.

We also affirm the value of science, which eloquently describes the glory of God’s creation. We stand with a long tradition of Christians for whom faith and science are mutually hospitable, and we see no necessary conflict between the Bible and the findings of science. We reject, however, the unspoken philosophical presuppositions of scientism, the belief that science is the sole source of all knowledge.

In recent years voices have emerged who seek to undermine religious faith as intellectually disreputable, in part because of its alleged dissonance with science. Some go further, characterizing religion as a “mind virus” or a cultural evil. While many of their ideas are not new, these voices are often identified as the New Atheists, and scientism undergirds their thinking.

In contrast to scientism, we deny that the material world constitutes the whole of reality and that science is our only path to truth. For all its fruitfulness, science is not an all-inclusive source of knowledge; scientism fails to recognize its limitations in fully understanding reality, including such matters as beauty, history, love, justice, friendship, and indeed science itself.

We agree that the methods of the natural sciences provide the most reliable guide to understanding the material world, and the current evidence from science indicates that the diversity of life is best explained as a result of an evolutionary process. Thus BioLogos affirms that evolution is a means by which God providentially achieves God’s purposes.

Accounts of Origins

We affirm without reservation both the authority of the Bible and the integrity of science, accepting each of the “Two Books” (the Word and Works of God) as God’s revelations to humankind. Specifically, we affirm the central truth of the biblical accounts of Adam and Eve in revealing the character of God, the character of human beings, and the inherent goodness of the material creation.

For a more comprehensive look at what we believe at BioLogos, please see our official faith statement.

We acknowledge the challenge of providing an account of origins that does full justice both to science and to the biblical record. Based on our discussions, we affirm that there are several options that can achieve this synthesis, including some which involve a historical couple, Adam and Eve, and that embrace the compelling conclusions that the earth is more than four billion years old and that all species on this planet are historically related through the process of evolution. We commit ourselves to spreading the word about such harmonious accounts of truth that God has revealed in the Bible and through science.


The following individuals were present and thoughtfully participated in the group discussion that produced this statement:

Denis Alexander, Director of The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion

Kathryn Applegate, Program Director at the BioLogos Foundation

Robert C. Bishop, John and Madeleine McIntyre Professor of Philosophy and History of Science in the Physics Department at Wheaton College

Stephen Ashley Blake, Filmmaker and President of Realm Entertainment

Jim and Carolyn Blankemeyer, Chairman of the MetoKote Corporation and the National Christian Foundation

Barbara Bryant, Trustee of the Trinity Forum

R. Judson Carlberg, President of Gordon College

Ron Choong, Ordained minister and Founder of the Academy for Christian Thought

Francis Collins, Former leader of the Human Genome Project, author of The Language of God, and Director of the National Institutes of Health

Michael Cromartie, Vice President at the Ethics and Public Policy Center

Pete Enns, Senior Fellow, Biblical Studies, The BioLogos Foundation

Catherine Crouch, Associate Professor of Physics at Swarthmore College

Andy Crouch, Special Assistant to the President at Christianity Today International

Darrel Falk, President of the BioLogos Foundation and Professor of Biology at Point Loma Nazarene University

Leighton Ford, President of Leighton Ford Ministries

Kerry Fulcher, Dean of Arts and Sciences and Acting Provost at Point Loma Nazarene University

Karl Giberson, Vice President of the BioLogos Foundation, Professor of Physics at Eastern Nazarene College, and author

Charley Gordon, Neurological Surgeon

Os Guinness, Author or editor of more than 25 books and primary drafter of the Williamsburg Charter

Deborah Haarsma, Associate Professor and Chair of Physics & Astronomy at Calvin College

Daniel Harrell, Senior Minister of Colonial Church and author of Nature’s Witness: How Evolution Can Inspire Faith

Matthew J. Heynen, Project Manager for the Theological Book Network

Joel C. Hunter, Senior Pastor of Northland, A Church Distributed

Ian Hutchinson, Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Randy Isaac, Executive Director of the American Scientific Affiliation

Sidney J. Jansma, Jr and Catherine Jansma, President and CEO of Wolverine Gas and Oil Corporation

Tim Keller, Pastor and Founder of Redeemer Presbyterian Church and author of The Reason for God

Paul H. Lange, Professor of Urology at the University of Washington

Ard Louis, Reader in Theoretical Physics at Oxford University

Patrick McDonald, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Seattle Pacific University

Tim O'Connor, Professor and Chair of Philosophy at Indiana University

Thomas Jay Oord, Professor of Theology and Philosophy at Northwest Nazarene University

Jeff Schloss, Professor of Biology and Director of the Center for Faith, Ethics, and the Life Sciences at Westmont College

Randy Scott, Chairman of the BioLogos Foundation

Sanford C. "Sandy" Shugart, President of Valencia Community College

Dean Smith, Senior Pastor of the Highway Community

Mark Sprinkle, Artist and Senior Fellow at the BioLogos Foundation

Tim Stafford, Author and Senior Writer for Christianity Today

Dave Ussery, Associate Professor at the Center for Biological Sequence Analysis at the Technical University of Denmark

Luder Whitlock, President of Excelsis and former Executive Director of The Trinity Forum

Philip Yancey, Best-selling author of evangelical Christian literature

Amos Yong, J. Rodman Williams Professor of Theology at Regent University

View the archived discussion of this post

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

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Ben - #46961

January 11th 2011

God bless you all!  Glad to see such a diverse crowd.

Maurizio - #46963

January 11th 2011

Tim Keller, Phillip Yancey and Os Guinness…3 of my favorite Christian writers attending a BioLogos Conference….Bravo Brothers!! Bravo!!

dopderbeck - #46972

January 11th 2011

Excellent, thank you.

Martin Rizley - #46975

January 11th 2011

There is much in this statement that I could agree with, even though I am not an evolutionary creationist.  I was very pleased to see the firm rejection of scientism and the clear affirmation of God’s direct intervention in history in miraculous acts such as the incarnation and resurrection, as well as God’s “ongoing acts such as answers to prayer and acts of salvation and personal transformation.”  To these truths, every believer must say, Amen!
Although it is a popular idea, I question the notion that the natural world constitutes a second “book’ from God alongside Scripture;  to see the natural world as a fixed, unalterable ‘book’ from God, as immutable in its operations as the words of Scripture are immutable, leads all too easily to a deistic view of God’s relationship to the natural world, however unintended.  A better analogy is to see the natural world as a vast “theater” created by God, in which God, the principal actor, is constantly acting in ordinary ways (by upholding natural laws) and occasional extraordinary ways (by suspending those laws) to carry out His sovereign will.

Ryan G - #47032

January 12th 2011

This is a good statement. Unfortunately, it’s probably not contentious enough to draw wide coverage.

In the light of e.g. Mohler’s statement that BioLogos represents “a very significant challenge to the integrity of Christian theology and the church’s understanding of everything from the authority and truthfulness of the Bible to the meaning of the Gospel”, this article warrants the courage for a response - especially if it’s opening claim is indeed true.

Martin - would you have problems with “General Revelation” and “Special Revelation” in place of the “two books” terminology?

Martin Rizley - #47044

January 12th 2011

I have no problem with the concepts of ‘special’ and ‘general’ revelation because I see a difference between God’s two methods of revealing HIMSELF to men and saying that He has given two BOOKS to men.  To see the natural world as a “book from God’ can lead to certain erroneous concepts, in my opinion.  For example, it can lead one to believe that the natural world is totally accessible to us, as the Bible is totally accessible to us.  But we are only beginning to discover dimensions of the natural world that were previously inaccessible to human beings—through the electron microscope, etc.  Even now, there is so much about the natural world that is ‘beyond our reach;’ consequently, the conclusions of science regarding the natural world must be regarded as provisional, based on the existing evidence (which is always growing), and subject to revision as nature itself becomes more ‘accessible’ to our investigation.  Scripture, on the other hand, as a literal book that has been given to us by God, has been fully accessible to the church for the last 2000 years of history (continued).  (continued)

Its sixty-six books will never be supplemented by any other divinely inspired ‘book’ added to the canon of Scripture—such as the Book of Mormon—in the light of which all the other inspired books of Scripture must be radically revised and reinterpreted.   
No.  The canon of Scripture is closed.  The faith has been ‘once for all delivered to the saints;’ and it will not be ‘revised’ in the future.  No ‘new, improved’ editions of God’s only BOOK, the Bible, will ever be published.  Also, the idea of nature as a book can lead to the erroneous notion that nature’s ordinary operations and laws are as immutably ‘fixed’  as the words of Scripture, so that no one, not even God Himself, can suspend those operations and laws without violating ‘the Book of Nature,’  which He has written in indelible ink.  On the other hand, to say that God is constantly revealing HIMSELF and His ATTRIBUTES through His ordinary and extraordinary works in the “theater” of the natural world is to say no more and no less than what Paul says in Romans 1:18-20.

R Hampton, 
Of course, the return of Christ will mean the fulfillment of all ‘partial’ forms of knowing with the arrival of ‘full understanding.’ (1 Corinthinans 13:9-12).  The Scriptures are given to us for life in this present world and in this present age.  They are “a light that shines in a dark place, UNTIL the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19).  The point I was making is that the Scriptures have been fully delivered to us; we are not awaiting the arrival of newly ‘inspired’ books hot off the press.  The canon is closed, because the final deposit of revelation concerning the content of our faith has been given already through Christ and His apostles.  Our calling is not to await ‘new revelations’ of a faith that is still in the process of being delivered to us; our calling is to ‘contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints’ (Jude 3).

R Hampton - #47074

January 12th 2011

My point being that Scripture, while it is sufficient for us to find Salvation, it does not begin to reveal all that God has to tell us. Upon Christ’s return, there will be more. Furthermore, Scripture is not itself the complete Truth even within our Biblical era:

...Heppe’s sola indicates that the Bible is not only the unique and final authority of the church but is also the “only source of all Christian knowledge.” At first glance this statement may seem to suggest that the only source of revelation open to man is that found in Scripture. But that is not the intent of Heppe’s statement, nor is it the intent of the Reformation principle of Sola Scriptura.

Uniformly the Reformers acknowledged general revelation as a source of knowledge of God. The question of whether or not that general revelation yields a bona fide natural theology was and is widely disputed, but there is no serious doubt that the Reformers affirmed a revelation present in nature. Thus the sola does not exclude general revelation but points beyond it to the sufficiency of Scripture as the unique source of written special revelation.

- R.C. Sproul

Unapologetic Catholic - #47075

January 12th 2011

“Its sixty-six books”

Isn’ that the problem?  There are 73 books in the Bible. 

” The canon of Scripture is closed. “

Year, please.  Or at least the millenium. Was the canon closed before or after 1000 A.D.?

Martin Rizley - #47101

January 13th 2011

Unapologetic Catholic,    Jerome, who translated the Old Testament Apocryphal books into Latin, strongly opposed their elevation to the status of inspired Scripture.  He wrote,  “As the Church reads the books of Judith and Tobit and Maccabees but does not receive them among the canonical Scriptures, so also it reads Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus for the edification of the people, not for the authoritative confirmation of doctrine.”  When was the canon closed?  The canon was closed by God Himself when he moved the last chosen author of inspired Scripture to write the last book destined to be received by the church as Scripture.  That took place in the first century, when John wrote the book of Revelation.  By moving ‘holy men’ to ‘speak from God’ and write down God-breathed words on parchment, God imposed a ‘canon’ on the church.  That canon was passively received and formally recognized by the universal church through a process that took place over several centuries.  The church did not ‘close’ the canon; God did, when the last book intended to be received as Scripture was ‘breathed out’ by the Holy Spirit.  The church merely recognizes the canon.

Rich - #47105

January 13th 2011

I second the objection to Martin’s arbitrary decision that the Bible has only 66 books.  Canonization was a much more complex phenomenon than Martin indicates.  Martin’s account of the canonization process is not one that can be taken seriously by historical scholars.  The following link to a list of variant canons in various branches of the Christian tradition only scratches the surface of the complexity of the question of canonization:


Of course, lying behind the question of canonicity is the larger question of the relationship between Scripture and Tradition, a question which Martin tries to sidestep by arbitrarily asserting that God closed the canon.  Of course, it is nowhere written *in* Martin’s canon that God closed the canon; and, since on Martin’s principles, only the canon is a reliable source of divine truth (sola scriptura), it follows logically that the belief that God closed the canon is not a divinely revealed truth, but only a human opinion.  It can only come from “tradition,” which Martin steadily belittles as lacking in authority.  Augustine more logically said that he could not believe that the Bible was the word of God if the Church did not guarantee it.

Unapologetic Catholic - #47125

January 13th 2011

I completely agree with Rich’s analysis above—proof that miracles happen. 

The convoluted events leading to the canonization of books of the Bible is facscinating history.  The Roman Catholic Church did fix the canon before 1000 AD at at least 73 books.  The Eastern Orthodox have a few more but include all the one incldued by the Church in the West.  It wasn’t until later, at the Protestant Reformation, that Protestant denominations deleted several books from the canon.  Neither the Roman Catholic Church nor the Eastern Orthodox acccept those deletions.  There are theological conseqences as a result of the deletions.

Even today, there are some minor differences on various versions of the books and the canonicity of various verses.  To suggest God closed the canon in 100 A.D. is historically inaccurate.  Rich’s link is informative and I’m sure he has other sources.

All of that does not take way from the central sigificance of the Bible.  It does, however, suggest there is an error in sola scriputura, whcih would mean that Albert Mohler should be a little more cautious in his Biblical interpretation and recognize that his position is a minority position among Christians and is perhaps not even orthodox.

(still) Steve - #47130

January 13th 2011

Since my first comment was erased, I’ll try again with something (presumably) less offensive.

(Yet, I hope that just because someone disagrees with the statement, and its signing that comments are deleted).

I (still) think that signing this statement was an embarassment for Francis Collins and the NIH. And this (still) shows that although some embrace claims/evidence, that those same people can sometimes.

The reason that I feel this was is because there is no evidence to back up some of the (faith) claims made in the statement.

bereshitbara - #47143

January 13th 2011


Echoing Rich # 47105, your understanding of canonization may need some rethinking. See perhaps here http://www.amazon.com/Scripture-Authority-Formation-Evangelical-Ressourcement/dp/0801027780/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1294958175&sr=1-2

I am also bewildered how quickly these comments can get off topic. I’d rather hear what people have to say about the statement, whether it will help evangelicals think more productively about evolution and faith, things like that, positive or negative. No more lectures, please.

Cal - #47146

January 13th 2011

I’m curious about the “two book” hypothesis. Now it’s quite clear one can see God’s “finger prints” in nature and can worship and marvel through its exploration and understanding.

But the point of Scripture was to point to Jesus, to direct towards Him. We go over the life of Jesus and the writings of the Apostles (New Testament) and the long trek of progressive revelation and building to the climax of history (Old Testament). This was the intent of the Law of Moses and the Prophets!

So what does this make of nature? Again it brings one to marvel in the mighty hand of the Creator, but I don’t see it leading directly to Jesus. Perhaps as we have to read the Old Testament with Christ-opened eyes, we must look at nature with the same outlook, always searching Him out?  What do you all think?

Katie - #47148

January 13th 2011

As a scientist, I am saddened by Francis Collins’ (and by extension, the NIH’s) role in this statement. 

Whilst I have no reason to doubt Collins’ credentials in his own research, the acceptance of particular truth statements (e.g. “[God’s] ongoing acts such as answers to prayer”), without, or indeed contrary to, evidence stands firmly opposed to the scientific method.  The scientists involved in this statement, I would argue, are therefore not fulfilling their obligations as such.  I doubt leaders such as Collins would have attained positions in their field if their scientific endeavors contained such grand and unsubstantiated claims as are laid out in the above passage.

Martin Rizley - #47154

January 13th 2011

beershitbara,  I was not intending to “lecture,” but to answer a question that cannot be answered with a “sound bite.”  I.  I share your concern about drifting too far from the topic, but in a sense, we were staying on the topic of one central issue raised by the Biologos statement.  That issue is, which books has God given us to interpret his mind and will?  The Biologos statement says God has given us two books, apparently of equal authority—the book of Scripture and the book of Nature.  I took issue with the idea of Nature as a book, for reasons stated above.  I pointed out that God had delivered the faith COMPLETELY to the church by the end of the first century, and that this faith is contained in its inviolable integrity in the sixty-six books of the Bible.  My point, before we started debating the issue of canonicity, was whether we should let the fallible writings of men fundamentally ‘alter’ the faith infallibly revealed to us in the divinely inspired Scriptures.  Too often God’s perfect self-revelation in nature (the universe) is EQUATED with men’s imperfect interpretation of nature (science)  which is then used to make radical ‘corrections’ to the allegedly errant teaching of Scripture.

R Hampton - #47156

January 13th 2011

Too often God’s perfect self-revelation in nature (the universe) is EQUATED with men’s imperfect interpretation of nature (science)  which is then used to make radical ‘corrections’ to the allegedly errant teaching of Scripture.

Also, too often God’s perfect self-revelation in Scripture is EQUATED with Man’s imperfect interpretation of the Bible (theology), leading to errors of Biblical proportions (pun intended).

Rich - #47165

January 14th 2011

Miracles not only happen, UC, but can happen twice on the same day.  I also agree with R Hampton in 47156 above!

The teaching of Genesis shouldn’t be carelessly identified with a particular interpretation of Genesis (e.g., a literalist, inerrantist interpretation), any more than the reality of nature should be carelessly equated with a leading current theory about nature.  If human beings can make errors in the interpretation of nature, then surely they can make errors in the interpretation of Genesis.

Martin is at pains to point out that we should not take a provisional result of natural science and re-write theology to harmonize with that, and I agree with him; but he fails to notice the danger of the opposite procedure, i.e., taking the result of one very narrow line of Biblical interpretation and forcing science to submit to it.  The best results are obtained when we entertain the broadest possible range of scientific views, and the broadest possible range of Biblical interpretations.  Martin’s approach is the mirror-image of the approach used by Dawkins; to combat a narrow scientism he offers an equally narrow Biblicism.  An impoverished view of nature is replaced by an impoverished view of Scripture.

Rich - #47167

January 14th 2011

“Thus BioLogos affirms that evolution is a means by which God providentially achieves God’s purposes.”

I and many others inclined to the ID approach have no quarrel with this statement, but its high level of generality covers up many difficulties.  Whether or not the evolutionary process can be “providential” in the standard Christian sense depends on how evolution is conceived of as operating.  Not all modes of evolution are compatible with “providence” as understood by the Fathers, the Medievals, and the Reformers.  Some modes of evolution, i.e., those in which the process is defined in such a way as to be inherently incapable of specifying and achieving any particular goal in any set time-frame, are compatible rather with “open theism” or “process theology.”  To combine evolution with providence, what is needed is a teleological conception of the evolutionary process itself.  The TE/EC proponent closest to holding such a conception, as far as I can tell, is Denis Lamoureux.  But most TE/EC people shy away from this approach.  The question is why they should be so reticent.

Jon Garvey - #47180

January 14th 2011

You have to feel sorry for the limited view of life some of our visiting posters appear to have.

Their proposition is that Francis Collins and others should not, because they are scientists, be involved with issues for which, in their view, there is not scientific evidence.

It makes me glad that my own field was medicine because nobody seemed to take offence if one took an interest in history, art, football, philosophy, family, politics and even religion: all those things that the real scientist, it seems, must eschew as lacking evidence. As do the posters above, if they are consistent.

Such a view of science makes Catholic celibacy look like libertarianism. And maybe excludes the possibility that such good, perhaps great, scientists as Collins ought not to be dismissed as “pathetic” without a little more reflection.

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