Christianity,  Theology/Bible

Giberson Shows His Hand

Karl Giberson really showed his hand in his response to Albert Mohler’s open letter. He acknowledges that he is not a theologian, but he nevertheless makes a weighty theological pronouncement. But I don’t sense that he realizes how weighty it really is. Here he is in his own words.

“Is it not here that we find the central truth of our faith? Our sinful nature is a simple reality… But is it not possible that we might have different ideas about how we came to have that nature? Does the saving power of Jesus vanish if sin becomes something that developed through natural history, rather than appeared all at once in the Garden of Eden? It seems to me that there is a conversation to have here, beyond simply drawing a line in the sand. Satisfactory answers to questions like these are truly ‘How to be a Christian and Believe in Evolution.’

“At BioLogos we have made our peace with evolution, and it has been liberating and even faith-affirming. We encourage conversations to further that agenda and make no excuses for that. We are not destroying Christianity. We are saving it.”

Bottom line. No historical Adam. No original sin. No 1 Chronicles 1:1, Luke 3:38, Romans 5:12-21, 1 Corinthians 11:8-12, 15:22, 15:45, 1 Timothy 2:13-14, Jude 1:14 or the entire substructure of biblical theology. Yet Giberson somehow thinks he’s saving Christianity. Hardly.


  • Tim Rogers

    Dr. Burk,

    Giberson said;

    Does the saving power of Jesus vanish if sin becomes something that developed through natural history, rather than appeared all at once in the Garden of Eden?

    It seems that Giberson believes we are sinners because we sin. Someone needs to remind him that we sin because we are sinners.

  • BPRjam

    I must admit, I’m more on the Biologos side of the fence than Mohler’s side, but some of the statements made by Giberson were over-the-top, especially that last sentence about saving Christianity.

    Those who are wise will be able to see through the fog of sloppy language and hyperbolic rhetoric to the real issues being debated. We’ll disagree on how best to handle those issues, but I’m afraid that the debate is starting to become more about personalities and specific language than a real quest for truth.

  • Jason

    Is it just me, or are the quoted paragraphs almost identical in concept and flow, if not subject, to almost anything written by Brian McLaren?

  • BPRjam

    Tim (#1):

    I’m not sure I get that from the Gilberson statement you quoted.

    Can you help me understand how you got there?

  • RD

    When I read Giberson’s statement I am left with the notion that, yes, all humanity is in a state of sin-seperation from God and that Jesus is our redeemer. However, how the sin-seperation state happened is really irrelevant. Biblical written texts of ancient oral traditions give a name and a face and a specific instance for this sin-seperation state (Adam, Eve, the garden, the serpent, the fruit, etc), but if it didn’t happen that way it still doesn’t change the fact that humanity is in this state.

    What matters is that God has made a way to restore right-standing through Jesus. If a patient presents in the ER with a gunshot wound, the doctors might get all kinds of stories relating to how the wound happened. What matters to the doctors is treating the wound. The wound is the reality. If the writers of the New Testament understood the ancient stories to be fact, so be it. I’m not surprised that they did and that they referenced them as such. A great number of people reference as fact the incident of George Washington chopping down the cherry tree with his hatchet and then not lying about it. Did it really happen? Who knows. Does it matter if you believe it happened or don’t believe it happened? Not really. What matters is the message behind the story: one shouldn’t tell a lie. Does it matter if Adam was an actual factual human being? Does it matter that mankind became sin-seperated from God because Eve ate a fruit that was forbidden? What matters is the message behind the story!

    I think this is what Giberson is trying hard to convey: many believers feel forced into having to make a choice between faith and intellectual integrity when Dr. Mohler (and others) insists that in order to be an authentic evangelical Christian one must believe in a literal talking snake and a literal piece of forbidden fruit.

  • Nate

    “I think this is what Giberson is trying hard to convey: many believers feel forced into having to make a choice between faith and intellectual integrity when Dr. Mohler (and others) [insist] that in order to be an authentic evangelical Christian one must believe in a literal talking snake and a literal piece of forbidden fruit.”

    Then why force a “literal” God-man who needed to die for those sins? Jesus can’t really be the divine Son of God who became a human. It’s ridiculous to think that. Science hasn’t proven this to be true. Pretty soon we might have to start thinking that there was a literal talking serpent and a literal piece of fruit to go along with a literal resurrection from the dead and all those literal miracles.

    Heaven forbid… What matters is that we think we know more than what the bible declares and has been believed for a couple thousand of years.

  • David Vinzant

    It’s more than a little ironic that Gibberson is criticized for making a “weighty theological pronouncement” even though he isn’t a theologian, while Mohler gets away with making weighty scientific pronouncements even though he isn’t a scientist.

    I happen to think that Mohler is right on the theology (the Bible teaches a literal six day creation) and scientists are right on evolution (it is true). This leaves a very real dilemma. Either the Bible is right or scientists are right.

    I sympathize deeply with theistic evolutionists as they are trying to hold on to both their faith and their intellectual credibility. Unfortunately, Mohler is right that one cannot hold on to orthodox Christianity and also accept the reality of evolution. One must choose between the Bible and reality.

  • RD

    “Unfortunately, Mohler is right that one cannot hold on to orthodox Christianity and also accept the reality of evolution.”

    And this is why there are a growing number of Christian writers, preachers, theologians, etc who are re-examining Christian orthodoxy. I know such an idea is appalling to many, but it is a natural reaction to a growing faith. Almost 500 years ago orthodoxy was in flux and under intense scrutiny. As a result, this reformation of orthodoxy changed the course of western civilization. The Christian faith was enlarged and spread throughout the entire globe. Disagreements remain about whether reformation is/was a good thing, but the fact is that it’s an inevitable thing. We are on the cusp of a new reformation in Christian faith (like it or not).

    This week I received a telling email from someone with whom I’ve engaged ideas on the blogs. He told me that I am clearly not saved and that I did not know his Jesus; that the Jesus I know isn’t the Jesus he sees in scripture. Christians cannot have honest dialogue about serious issues involving science, biblical authority, Christian history, religious pluralism, etc without it impacting our theology. And many of the old theological paradigms are no longer feeling relevant to a growing number of sincere believers. The Mohler/Giberson “discussion” is a bold reminder of the larger change that is in the air.

  • Donald Johnson


    Based on your last post, I suggest you check out John Walton’s new book, “The Lost World of Genesis One”.

  • Derek

    Well, at least you’re honest, RD @ #10. Many others don’t come out and say it like you did right here.

    The reality is that this “reformation” you’re referring to is not new – it started in the mainline churches over 100 years ago and decimated them, theologically and numerically. Obviously some of the talking points and flashpoints/issues have changed since then and perhaps it has infiltrated the church in a deeper way, but it is not new.

  • RD


    No doubt the “reformation” began years ago (these things don’t happen in a month or two). Yes, many mainline churches suffered decline. Christianity in europe and america are on the decline compared with other parts of the world (and compared with other faiths). BUT, I think this is temporary. Vast numbers of faith-folk felt they had to choose between old paradigms of belief and new enlightenments in science, medicine, culture, etc. So they opted out of church completely. The result: a generation of soul-sickness. People need God (I believe it’s a part of our makeup as humans), but the questions have been, How to have a deep, honest, life-changing relationship with God while maintaining intellectual integrity? The whole Emergent Church “conversation” is one example of this move back toward God. A growing number of Christians are no longer comfortable in the paradigm of the church building and the Sunday morning service and singing, followed by greetings, followed by preaching, followed by alter-calls, etc. It’s too formulaic and it’s an old model. And new mega-churches, while once a novelty, seem to just be super-sized versions of the more traditional worship venues.

    Also, like it or not, issues about homosexuality are becoming wedge issues. More and more people are discovering that family members, teachers, their accountants, doctors and lawyers are admitting to being gay (and I don’t want to open up that tired debate here by making this point). The reality of more people having friends/coworkers/family who are homosexually oriented is forcing people of faith to re-examine church dogma and scriptural authority on this topic. The same goes for the role of women in church.

    So, church structure, certain dogmatic theologies and a genuine confusion on how to proceed toward God is why so many writers like Mr. McLaren are resonating with Christians. The way it seems, I think, to many many Christians is that folks like Dr. Mohler, rather than lighting a candle, are simply railing against the darkness.

  • Chris

    This whole discussion reminds me of a favorite verse of mine:

    Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly. – Proverbs 26:11

    “Reinterpret” one concept and it leads to more and more reinterpretation and leads farther and farther away from God!

  • Brian

    The saddest thing about this conversation is that in defense of theistic evolution proponents have placed “our intellectual integrity.” Does this mean this mean that to just read the bible and believe it is intellectual suicide?

    Is not the God who inspired those words omniscient? Are we now in 2010 America so advanced that we have outsmarted God? Is our arrogance so unbridled that we say His words are intellectually unsatisfying? Do you really think that little of God?

    How can you trust God to save your soul, which you can only know by reading the bible? But you do not trust that he created all things without (macro)evolution? When in fact the bible says that He created in 6 days.

    I’m not that bright. You can probably respond with a lengthy argument that I may or may not understand it just seems inconsistent. If I trust God to save my soul, I trust him on the rest of what he says as well.

  • RD


    Trusting the scriptures does not mean blindly taking every single word and statement as indisputible fact. God has given us many ways of relating to him (scripture, reason, experience, tradition, etc). When confirmed reason discovers something about the way God created or sustains our universe, our eco-system, our own bodies, we can’t simply ignore those revelations if they happen to disagree with some point in scripture.

    When it was proven beyond doubt that the earth revolved around the sun and not the other way around, it changed the way we had to interpret certain scriptures which reflected the ancient world-view of the sun circling earth. It doesn’t mean that the value of scripture is lessened. As modern people God has given us the great priviledge of understanding some of the inner workings of his great creation. He has also given us skills to dig into the earth, find remains of long ago times, compare those remains with ancient texts, ancient chemical samples from the ground, ancient geological formations, etc and come to a more complete picture of our ancient past. When that discovery disagrees with the Bible, we can either tell ourselves that what we see is only what we think we see, or we can seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance as we re-examine the scriptures.

    When we discover that Jericho, Ai and Hazor – instead of being destroyed in a kind of blitkrieg as Joshua moved across Cannaan – fell into ruin over a 1000 year span, we have to look at the biblical narratives of those accounts and rethink their historical accuracy. To simply say that we believe the Bible over and against what the facts in the ground tell us means that our faith lacks intellectual integrity. I don’t think God intends us to view scripture this way at all.

  • Donald Johnson

    I do not think little of God, but in any communication there is a possibility of misunderstanding.

    What happens in translation is that the translator tries to map concepts from one culture to another. And cultures are different so the way one culture carves up reality can differ from the one another does. The Hebrew word bara is often translated as the English word create. But what was important about God’s creating was different back then to how we think today.

    Today, when we think of creation, we most often think of material creation, the bits of the universe.
    Back then, according to John Walton, bara was akin to establishing a functional ordering among preexisting things, separating this from that so that everything would be in its proper place and the whole thing would operate as intended (by God).

    It IS the case that God created all the material also, but that is not what is described in Gen 1, what is described is an ordering of things that were very basic and fundamental to shephards and farmers 1000’s of years ago, day and night, land and sea, lights in the sky, weather, domesticated animals and wild beasts, food and non-food plants, etc. And humans sat on top of this but under God.

Comment here. Please use FIRST and LAST name.