Dr. Albert Mohler delivered what would have to be considered a barn-burner of a theological address at the 2010 Ligonier Conference. You can watch the video of the address here or read a transcript here. The title was “Why Does the Universe Look So Old?” and at the heart of his argument is this contention. The most straightforward reading of the creation narratives in Genesis presents a young earth view of creation. It is the view with the fewest complications. In his own words:
“An understanding of creation in terms of 24-hour calendar days and a young earth entails far fewer complications, far fewer theological problems and actually is the most straightforward and uncomplicated reading of the text as we come to understand God telling us how the universe came to be and what it means and why it matters.”
With all of this, Mohler argues that the biblical doctrine of creation is incompatible with any form of evolutionary theory of human origins (theistic or otherwise). Mohler specifically challenges the authors of the Biologos website on this score. He says,
“The BioLogos website has just even in recent days focused its attention on the direct rejection of biblical inerrancy. Understanding that any rendering of the bible as inerrant makes the acceptance of theistic evolution impossible. Certainly implausible. Kenton Sparks writing on that website suggests that, intellectually, evangelicalism has painted itself into a cornerâ€”that we have put ourselves into an intellectual cul-de-sac with our understanding of biblical inerrancy. He suggests that the Bible indeed should be recognized as containing historical, theological and moral error. Peter Enns, one of the most frequent contributors to the site, suggests that we have to come to the understanding that, when it comes to many of the scientific claims, historical claims, the writers of scriptures were plainly wrong.
“Our only means of intellectual rescue, brothers and sisters, is the speaking God, who speaks to us in scripture, in special revelation. And it is the scripture, the inerrant and infallible word of God that trumps renderings of general revelation, and it must be so. Otherwise we will face destruction of the entire gospel in intellectual terms. When general revelation is used to trump special revelation, disaster ensues.”
As you can imagine, Mohler’s address has provoked a spirited conversation. At the Biologos site, Peter Enns, Darrel Falk, and Karl Giberson have all responded to Mohler. Scot McKnight has also joined the fray with an anonymous guest blogger named “RJS” (here and here), and I expect that we will see many more.
This is an important conversation not least because of its bearing upon the inerrancy and authority of scripture. I think Mohler’s contention is correct. Many of the theistic evolutionists are simply allowing general revelation to trump special revelation. The theological difficulties entailed in this procedure are profound but are too often lost on evangelicals. Mohler has done a great service in raising our awareness to the issues.