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  1. The only infallible interpretation of the Holy Scripture is by the Holy Spirit in the Holy Scripture. Enns not only disagrees with Paul, he disagrees with God. That’s not a very safe position to be in.

  2. Rich,

    I hope you realize that almost every evangelical with a different interpretation claims the “Holy Spirit” revealed it to them. Saying the Holy Spirit has revealed the meaining of a text is the equivalent of saying “this is what I think it means”. By the way, the Holy Spirit revealed to me that Genesis supports evolution, see how easy that was?

    1. No, Gabe, anyone who holds to a closed canon is holding to a special revelation given by the Spirit. The interpretations of the Bible in the Bible are inspired by the Holy Spirit.

      My interpretations of the Bible are not inspired by the Spirit, and yours aren’t either.



  3. JMH,

    The bible doesn’t interpret itself. People interpret the bible, there’s no way around this. Of course you can say everyone would have the same interpretation if only they would read the bible correctly, but that is begging the question.

  4. First: I wonder whether Enns’ assertion that Genesis is open to many readings is, itself, open to many readings? I mean, is it valid for me to “read” Enns as saying that the Bible must take epistemological priority to all else or one is not living out the implications of the Lordship of Christ? And as affirming that The World-Tilting Gospel, with its extended treatment of depravity in the OT, convinced him that it was an OT concept long before it was a Pauline concept? Cool!

    Second: “It’s old and boring and full of fallacies.” This is yet another thing I love about you. You don’t write like a Raised-Pinkie Blogger. Truth matters, and we should be passionate.

    Third: awfully kind of Enns to prove yet again just how right Westminster was to let go of him, isn’t it?

  5. I believe that there are many evangelicals who hold to old-earth and ‘theistic evolutionist’ philosophies in good conscience. As a classically trained scientist, I was a neo-darwinist into my late twenties.

    However, when someone joins forces with the BioLogos crowd, in my opinion, they have stepped over a very serious line; the line that divides those who embrace evangelical Christianity and those who wish to alter or destroy it. I find nothing redeeming in the BioLogos literature, and much deception and ill will toward believers who hold various creationist points of view. Their rhetoric toward creationists is little different than Hitchens, or even Dawkins.

    My question is this: both Enns and Waltke have written commentaries on OT books that are still highly recommended by various reformed leaders. But can such a book be trusted if it came from someone who later embraced this BioLogos nonsense? What to do?

  6. Gabe, what Dr. Hamilton said. You misunderstood what I was saying. The Bible, at times, interprets the itself. There are hundreds and maybe thousands of echoes of and allusions to the Bible in both testaments. There is intertextuality and inner-biblical exegesis or interpretation. And when these things occur in the text of Scripture, they are infallible interpretations and applications of previous biblical revelation. Now, back to what I said: “The only infallible interpretation of the Holy Scripture is by the Holy Spirit in the Holy Scripture. Enns not only disagrees with Paul, he disagrees with God. That’s not a very safe position to be in.” Paul’s view of Adam is infallible because, as a writer of Holy Scripture, his writings are inspired by the Holy Spirit who is God and, therefore, infallible. When God comments upon His word through the authors of Scripture, His comments or interpretations and applications are infallible. Paul is right. Enns is wrong. Paul says what God says. Enns does not.

  7. Regarding your comment, “Peter Enns is trying to combine two different religions, evolution and Christianity.” Have you ever considered that you yourself might be guilty of subsuming every other sphere of discourse into your construction of Christianity?

  8. The theory of evolution by natural selection, if true, is a defeater of Christianity. Honest theologians (such as Douglas Groothuis, author of the recently published Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith) recognize this and do not shy away from it. Either the creation story described in Genesis is true or we evolved over eons from the earliest biological replicators (posit intelligent design if you wish) to our present human form. You can’t have it both ways. Simply put, we can all imagine standing in line holding hands with our antecedents going back in time. This theoretical process would either arrive at the person of Adam or not. Those who would deny the theory of evolution have no credibility in the field of scientific discourse. Such deniers are largely the same group as those who still urge that there was a Noah’s ark.

    1. TAM,

      The theory of evolution cannot stand because it does not account for the rational preconditions of theory itself. If materialistic evolution is correct, then all my thoughts in my brain are merely chemical reactions, and there is not basis for connecting them in any way to the outside world (Is there an outside world? How do you know?) But knowledge of chemical reactions is knowledge that comes from the outside world. If my thoughts are merely chemical reactions then I have no reason to believe my thoughts to be true, and this would include the truth that my thoughts are merely chemical reactions. Raw matter and energy cannot give an account of itself. Accidents do not explain themselves. If you come into the kitchen and discover a puddle of milk on the floor, and you want to know what happened, you don’t ask the milk. It doesn’t know. It is the accident.

      1. “If my thoughts are merely chemical reactions then I have no reason to believe my thoughts to be true, and this would include the truth that my thoughts are merely chemical reactions.”

        The reason why your perceptions of the outside world are true (at least most of the time) is because they work. You say that there is no basis for connecting your thoughts to the outside world. Of course there is. If, early in evolutionary history, you and your neighbour both saw a lion and you ran while your neighbour decided to pet the kitty – what do you think would happen to your neighbour’s genes? For an interesting discussion of this isue, I commend a listen to the discussion with Stephen Law and Alvin Plantinga on Premier Christian Radio’s Unbelievable program: This show is also available as a free podcast download from iTunes.

    2. “Those who would deny the theory of evolution have no credibility in the field of scientific discourse.”

      Yet it it is the Atheist worldview that cannot account for science, discourse, or even the existence of theories. A simple review of the history of secular views Philosophy of Science and Epistemology make this quite clear. So if one’s denial of evolution removes credibility in any sense, one can only imagine what adhering to Atheism does to one’s credibility.

      1. taco, thanks for the link. I love this line: “While there is much to learn, we will never learn anything that overturns a fact which is known and revealed by our all-knowing and loving God.” With a presupposition like that, why would you even bother discussing anything with a non-believer?

      1. JMH,

        I hope you are not implying that this line divides between Christian and non-Christian (or even “bad Christian”). Because I am a Christian who believes in evolution, and I would take issue with this.

        Here’s the issue I have with this line of thought. I work in the youth group, and have met numerous teens who think that to be a christian you have to reject evolution. So if they start to see evidence that evolution is true, they think that means they have to reject christianity. So kids walk away from Christianity. This is tragic and doesn’t have to happen! Just because they don’t hold to Christianity as you understand it in this realm, please don’t re-enforce this division with posts like this last one.

        If you want to believe as you do, and it is coherent to you, that’s fine. But please be more gracious in how you define who’s in and out.

        1. I think everyone concedes the evidence for micro-evolution. Show me evidence for macro-evolution.

          So yes, snakes mutate into other kinds of snakes. But what evidence do we have that any fish anywhere ever mutated into something that wasn’t some other kind of fish?


  9. Rich,

    I’m well aware of the fact that many, or rather most, of the passages in the bible are self-explanatory. I’m referring to the passages that aren’t as clear. It’s these passages where believers often say the Holy Spirit revealed the true meaning of the text, along with the help of prayer, exegesis, etc. But even still you’ll have a wide range of different interpretations, even though the same Holy Spirit was supposedly involved. That’s why I think it’s useless to claim the Holy Spirit had any part in it.

  10. Gabe, the Holy Spirit inspired Paul’s writings contained in the NT. They are, therefore, infallible in all they assert to be true. Some of Paul’s writings include interpretations of aspects of the OT. Where that occurs, the interpretation is infallible. We are talking about Paul’s view, Paul’s interpretation of Adam as recorded for us in the early chapters of Genesis, the Bible’s interpretation of the Bible. We are not talking about interpretation that occurs outside the Bible by subsequent fallible interpreters, the only kind that exist outside the Bible. We are taking about God’s comments on God’s word which records, in part, what God has done in space and time.The fact that the Holy Spirit had a “part in it” is not only useful, it is the issue at stake.

    Hamilton said elsewhere, “The point that I’m making is that Paul interpreted Genesis and arrived at the hermeneutical conclusion that he was the first man. For me, that settles this hermeneutical issue. If Paul interpreted the OT to mean that Adam was historical, so should we. Not to do that is to reject the authority of Paul’s Spirit inspired interpretation.”

    And, “Show me a text where Paul says there’s a solid dome covering the earth and that the earth was flat.

    Here’s one where he says that Adam was the first man: 1 Cor 15:45, “Thus it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being.’” Here Paul is quoting Genesis 2:7, and into the Greek translation of this verse he inserts the words “first” and “Adam,” showing that he thinks Genesis 2:7 is talking about the first man, Adam.”

  11. Rich,

    Like I said previously, there are passages that are easy to interpret, just like the verses you mentioned above. But that’s not the case for a lot of other passages, such as 1 Timoth 2:13-15, 1 Cor 11:10, 1 Peter 3:18, etc. In these passages, there’s simply no way to know who has the right interpretation. It’s cases like these where it’s useless to claim the Holy Spirit is involved in interpretation, when many believers, supposedly assisted by the same Holy Spirit, arrive at a different meaning. Btw, I don’t mean to get off topic

  12. Gabe, I think we are talking past each other. I am too busy to continue this discussion but will add this. You are right when you say “there are passages that are easy to interpret.” The verse I referenced above per Dr. Hamilton is itself an interpretation of the Bible by a Bible author. So claiming the Holy Spirit’s involvement is not useless, in this instance. Paul believes Adam was the first man. He cites Gen. 2:7 to that end. Paul’s writings are inspired and infallible, unlike ours. Paul is right; anyone who disagrees with him is wrong. BTW, I am not claiming you disagree with him. I am claiming that his interpretation is infallible. Thanks for the interaction!

  13. I came across this article, “Talking to Pastors about Adam and Evolution: Options,” on Dr. Enns website today :

    What struck me was this particular comment back to a reader :

    “Chris, I appreciate the point, but all I really mean here is that evolution, however interpreted, means that there was no first man created from dust ort a woman from his side. I do not commit myself to any particular way of addressing the data (since I am not a scientist). If you know of trained scientists (without a literalist apologetic agenda) who take the biblical account as a historical record of human origins, I am open to hearing what they have to say.”

    I’m in the process of reading David Wells book, “No Place for Truth,” eye opening.

  14. This is a series question, and it is not intended to be sarcastic or snarky. Frankly, I am wrestling through the possible meanings of the Genesis narrative and the conclusions of science that point heavy to an origin involving process.

    Your statement, “It seems from this lecture that for Peter Enns the theory of evolution carries as much authority, if not more, than the Bible. If you doubt that, do watch the lecture.

    In seeking to synthesize evolution with Christianity Enns is engaging in a syncretistic attempt to combine alternative religions.”

    Remember my question is one of an honest seeker. What is wrong to hold science as authoritative over the prevailing interpretation of scripture in the middle ages when a few persecuted Christians claimed the earth rotated around the sun as opposed to the other way around? How would you distinguish the form/method of your argument from that of Rome in the Medieval period?

    If you would kindly address these questions I would sincerely appreciate it. As I stated, I am wrestling through this question at present, and my inquiry is an honest one. Blessings.

    1. Ryan,

      Thanks for your comment. I have not studied that period of church history closely. From what I have seen, there were differences even between the way that Luther and Calvin responded to the phenomenological statements of Scripture.

      As much as anything else, I would take from this example that the “assured results” of science are in flux. So I would be hesitant to hitch my theology to any science. The point that I am trying to make is that the Bible should be our authority. My interpretation of the Bible may be wrong, but the Bible’s teaching will not be wrong. I do not think it wise to elevate conclusions of modern science to the level of authority Scripture has.

      So there are many questions I cannot answer, but my controls are set by Scripture, not science.

      I hope this helps,


      1. Thank you for the reply, and I must apologize for my question. It is incomprehensible. I should have proof read it before posting, but that will teach me to try and post while my two year old son is in the room.

        If you’ll indulge me one more time…When men of science were figuring out that the universe was heliocentric it cut against the grain of how the Church (only Roman at the time) read the biblical text. They charged these men and their followers with denying the authority of scripture and the Church. They did not see the difference between the biblical text and their interpretation, and only history has allowed the Church (Protestant and Roman) to appreciate the difference in that case.

        You mentioned that your “interpretation of the Bible may be wrong, but the Bible’s teaching will not be wrong.” Agreed. But if Christians in the past have been on the wrong side of natural theology (science/reason) because of a faulty interpretation of scripture before, how is it that we are certain the same hermeneutical error is not being committed by young earth creationists?

        I want to be bound by the parameters of scripture too, under its authority, but that does not address the more difficult question, “how do I know what scripture teaches apart from my interpretation?” Science, critically appropriated, can in fact correct our reading of scripture. Because of science we know now that the atmosphere is permeable air and not a stone dome, as the Hebrew word suggests in Genesis. We know now because of science that, that language is metaphorical or phenomenological. If science has functioned to correct our interpretation, which is fallible, of scripture in the past, how are you certain it cannot be doing it today with the issues of origins? This is what I see Enns trying to do; remain under the authority of the text but allow science to shape his interpretation of the text.

        Like I mentioned previously, I have no commitment to either side at this point. I grew up in a more fundamentalist context that would be horrified by these questions, but I don’t want to be throwing out the baby with the bath water. Thanks for your time and post.


        1. Thanks for your note, Ryan,

          I’m not picking a fight with old earthers. As I’ve said elsewhere in these comments, I think creationists of all stripes (young, mid, old-earth) are on one side and theistic evolutionists have crossed into another world, the one where people don’t believe God created it.

          Any way you interpret it, Genesis 1 is presenting God as the creator of the world.

          I want to learn from mistakes made in church history, but I can’t see how abandoning the idea that God created the world to embrace the modern theory of evolution is anything other than a forsaking of the teaching of the Bible.



  15. The frustrating thing about most evangelical discussions of this issue is that they begin by articulating what the consequences would be for theology if a theory were accepted, instead of taking a close, careful look at the evidence in its favor. That is not a good way to get to the truth about anything. Does evolution have more authority than the Bible? A better question would be to ask what authority it actually does claim. What empirical evidence is it based on? Does it form a solid ‘inference to the best explanation’ of a wide variety of observations across a wide variety of disciplines?

    Don’t rush to judge something before you’ve studied it carefully.

    1. I apologize if this reads curtly as that is not my intention, but your alternative question would be fine if those who advocate for evolution did not claim their theory has authority over-against the biblical account of creation in Genesis (young, old or otherwise) and therefore their interpretation of the theory must be submitted to. When that argument is advanced, there is no question as to what the biblical answer is as it has to do with macro-evolution or any other un-biblical claim to authority.

  16. TPM has hit the nail on the head.

    What I find most amusing is the fact that those who subscribe to creationism are quite willing to rely on a consensus of scientific authority when it comes to medical science (eg. cancer treatments), engineering (eg. structural integrity of a bridge), meteorology (eg. hurricane warnings) and practically every other scientific endeavour. Why is that biological science is singled out for this odd form of extreme skepticism? This is not a fallacious argument from authority. This is relying on anyone with a Ph.D. in biology or chemistry to support the belief that humanity evolved from much more simplistic life forms. Simply put, this contradicts the biblical version of creation and, as noted above, any honest Christian theologian will admit as much. I don’t care if you want to posit a designer for the first original biological replicators. I really don’t care if you want to posit a designer as the source of “punctuated equilibrium”. However, anyone who seriously suggests that macroevolution is anything different than microevolution on a geological time scale is sticking their head in the sand when it comes to the unanimous consensus of biologists and chemists. If someone proves otherwise – the Nobel prize will be theirs.

    I must quote Prof. Groothuis here: “if the Bible does not demand a young universe and earth, we should not press the point in the face of a well-established and large-scale scientific theory that also lends strong support to creation ex nihilo” Christian Apologetics (IVP Academic, 2011) at p. 234. The only reason why Groothuis refuses to accept the equally “well established and large’scale” scientific acceptance of the theory of evolution by natural selection is because it imperils his Christian worldview. He can’t accept the theological consequences of reality and that’s a shame.

    1. TAM, “those who subscribe to creationism are quite willing to rely on a consensus of scientific authority when it comes to medical science (eg. cancer treatments), engineering (eg. structural integrity of a bridge), meteorology (eg. hurricane warnings) and practically every other scientific endeavour. Why is that biological science is singled out for this odd form of extreme skepticism?”

      Because those other authorities are not telling us what to believe about the Bible when their evidence lacks what is necessary for a theory to become fact, scientifically speaking of course.

      One thing you must understand from the Christian position is that the Bible is not just some book to play around with and that any interpretation is fine. The Bible has God, the Creator, as its ultimate author and that the intention of meaning of his inspiration of the Bible that came from, humanly speaking, the pens of the men who wrote it, is the meaning that we should derive from our interpretation of it. If another person or group of persons says, “no, no, that’s a wrong interpretation,” and then uses something other than the Bible to defend its claim, then it’s an automatic denial of the authority that said person or group is claiming. When you know who God is, then it becomes utter foolishness for we, the creatures, the clay, to say to the Creator, the Potter, “nope, this is how it is because of this or that.”

      On another note, I can’t pass this opportunity up to say to you that if you are what your title says you are, please, hear this: repent of your sin–your denial of God’s rule and reign over you–trust in Christ for the forgiveness of your sin and for a right-standing before your Judge that is found in Christ alone. You will bend your knee and confess that Jesus is Lord one day. Please make that day today!

    2. “However, anyone who seriously suggests that macroevolution is anything different than microevolution on a geological time scale is sticking their head in the sand when it comes to the unanimous consensus of biologists and chemists.”

      This is a conclusion that only a science (so-called) by consensus could accommodate. It has never been demonstrated to be true and it is certainly not “unanimous.”

    3. I wasn’t aware of any unanimousity on the issue of the origin of life. Maybe TAM can enlighten me whether the scientific community unanimously thinks that it is the DNA world, the RNA world, or the silica world that marks the transition from non-life to life.

      I’m sure such is an easy question to answer for those who are “truly scientific,” who evidently know much more science than the rest of us who are unscientific, regardless of the scientific degrees we may possess.

  17. You corrected the spelling on “Auerbach” but you still haven’t corrected the spelling on “Erich”.

    I take it that you haven’t read Auerbach’s book, but have simply pulled up the reference and the quotation from your source. If you had read Auerbach’s work, you would know that he would not like to be used out of context, to defend a fundamentalist position that was not his own. As a scholar, Auerbach had far more in common with Pete Enns’s way of reading the Bible than your own. He was trained in Germanic philology and certainly did not regard the Bible as unitary, perfect, and uniformly inspired in every syllable. Also, for the record, he wasn’t a Christian but a Jew. I find the proof-texting academically offensive.

    1. C W,

      I make more mistakes than I realize! Thanks for catching the typo.

      I have not finish MIMESIS yet, but I am reading it and enjoying it. Please forgive my americanization of the spelling of his name.

      You might not like the proof-texting, and I am well aware that Auerbach and I would not arrive at the same conclusions on many things, yet I maintain that his words are fitting for this context and apply to the situation. As is often said of the words John quotes Caiaphas saying (cf. John 11:49–52), he spoke better than he knew.



  18. Noah, the name “Atheist Missionary” is a sarcastic jab at religious fundamentalists. Atheists don’t proselytize and are unified only by their freethinking nonbelief in the existence of a supernatural deity.

    It’s impossible to deny God’s rule and trust in Christ if you don’t believe these deities exist. It’s even more difficult to bridge this gap in circumstances where Christians are willing to deny what is increasingly coming to be known as the fact of evolution. Seriously – do you honestly think the earth is 6000 years old? Do you think that man roamed the earth with dinosaurs or that fossils are the work of the devil to mislead mankind? Do you believe in the Great Flood and Noah’s Ark? These are rhetorical questions – I am not asking for answers but I have no doubt that you have them. However, you can only delude yourself for so long.

    Finally, I have no idea whether you are a Calvinist, Arminian or Universalist. However, if you are a Calvinist and firmly believe that salvation is by grace and not by works, then my die is already cast. I have either won the lotto as one of the elect or am a damned reprobate – it is out of my control. C’est la vie.

    1. TAM,

      I agree with what Noah has said to you. Jesus is Lord, and you are responsible for how you will respond to that reality. All Christians, whether Arminian or Calvinist, agree that God is sovereign over all things and that humans are responsible before God for their actions.

      Do you really think that all you see around you, all the complex processes of life, the intricate balance of the universe and all that makes life possible, do you really think all that just evolved? Out of nothing? For nothing? With no designer?

      Perhaps you see how that’s harder for me to believe than the idea that there is a good and loving God who made this world good, a world defiled by human rebellion, a world in which redemption is possible because God sent Jesus to accomplish salvation, so that all who believe in him will be forgiven of their sin and reconciled to God.

      The Christian story is the best story, and best of all it’s true.

      May you trust and worship the God who made you, by faith in his Son Jesus, in the power of the Holy Spirit,


  19. Prof. Hamilton asks: “Do you really think that all you see around you, all the complex processes of life, the intricate balance of the universe and all that makes life possible, do you really think all that just evolved? Out of nothing? For nothing? With no designer? ”

    Professor, I am not a biologist or a chemist. Just a litigator with an amateur interest in philosophy. My answers to your question is: yes, I am almost certain that all life on earth evolved via evolution by natural selection. We obviously didn’t evolve out of nothing – we evolved out of inorganic matter. How that inorganic matter transformed into the first biological replicators is beyond my ken but I see no need to draw on a supernatural explanation. Likely within our lifetimes (and certainly within the lifetimes of our children), biological replicators will be produced in a laboratory setting from inorganic components. This opinion was recently put forward by reknowned University of Glasgow chemist Lee Cronin. In this regard, I commend Cronin’s recent presentation on TEDTalks (available for free on iTunes): Making Matter Come Alive. Once this happens, I suppose that creationists will be able to say: “Now we know how god did it!”.

    My question to you is: what scientific facts and authority (as opposed to theological opposition) you rely on to deny evolution by natural selection?

    1. TAM,

      You are a man of faith, misplaced though it is.

      Here are some scientific facts: life doesn’t come from non-life; order doesn’t spontaneously arise out of chaos; and there is no evidence for any kind of cross-species evolution.

      Far more significant than these scientific facts, however, is the living and abiding word of God, which declares that God made the world.

      The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof,


    2. If a chemist in a lab can make biological replicators from inorganic matter, what does that prove?

      Whatever it doesn’t prove, it sounds like the beginning of a promising joke…

  20. I’ve enjoyed reading this debate so much. Thanks to everybody who was willing to put their time and thought into it.

    Two resources I’d recommend for an evolutionist or fence-sitter to consider: 1) Thomas Khune’s book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions and 2) Peter Harrison’s Protestantism and the Rise of Natural Science. In the first you’ll find a non-Christian who clearly sets out why we can’t trust evolution forever and ever amen. See the term “paradigm shift.” (God’s Word, on the other hand, invokes a completely different standard of proof–witnesses in history who wrote down their experiences. The plethora of Biblical manuscripts makes a paradigm shift in that witness much more improbable from a human perspective.)

    In the second book, you’ll find an Oxford don’s well-documented argument that the Protestant Reformation and in particular the belief of Western culture that Genesis existed “in space and time” (as F. Schaeffer would say) was foundational to the rise of Science. So, he would argue that if it hadn’t been for Calvin and Luther and their so-called narrow, outdated views on Genesis, we’d never have gotten the Wright Brothers’ airplane or penicillin, much less the personal computer. In fact, the author doesn’t say this, but I think it begs the question whether Science can ultimately withstand the loss of its Christian underpinnings.

    Thanks for the opportunity to think about such an important subject!

    “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” (Phillipians 2:12-13)

  21. Here’s a question: could Paul have been wrong?

    (I’m not suggesting that he was—but the Adam/evolution issue deserves more thought than the traditional response gives: “Paul said that Adam was a literal person; therefore, the theory of evolution as commonly understood is false.”)

    1. There is contingency in every propositional statement. Therefore, yes, certainly Paul “could” have been wrong. The deeper question to consider is: If Paul is making false statements, where does that leave the whole of evangelical theology?

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