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Bruce Waltke – A Reformed Scholar Attempts to Serve Two Masters April 12, 2010

Posted by Dave Landis in creation.
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Even though BCASV  is not a Reformed organization, the preamble to our Statement of Faith is taken from the Westminster Confession of Faith’s chapter on Creation.   I myself am Reformed.    My Reformation Study Bible has as one of its contributors Dr. Bruce Waltke, who until recently, was on staff at Reformed Theological Seminary.

Recently Dr. Waltke appeared in  a video blog at the Biologos Foundation where he stated his belief in theistic evolution.  This  led to RTS asking for his resignation.  At his request the video was removed because he didn’t want to be “taken out of context”.   In a subsequent posting, Dr. Waltke  stated that he believes in a historical Adam and Eve.  Jesus Christ did too.  What about the history that occurred before the creation of Adam and Eve? That  plants and animals were created after their own kinds, i.e. cats produced cats and roses produced roses.   Cats don’t produce dogs and roses don’t produce conifers.  Yet evolution teaches “from goo to you”.   The ideas of Biblical kinds and evolution are mutually exclusive.  Even the course of events are different, the development of life forms in the two accounts follow different chronologies.

I’m certain that Dr. Waltke and I are in agreement on many points of Scripture. However,  when it comes to Creation, I believe he  has departed from Scripture and the Confessional Standards to which we Reformed Christians give assent.   I for one am saddened by his views, but believe that his departure from RTS was for the good and necessary.

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Comments»

1. dancingfromgenesis - April 12, 2010

Creationists have allowed themselves to be boxed in by the darwinists’ semantics on the evolution issue, in that darwinists get away with saying that creationists don’t believe in evolution, and so, are avoiding reality, therefore, it needs to be said by creationists that we do believe in evolution per se (natural selection), but within syngameons, and that only about 20,000 syngameons of animals need have been on Noah’s Ark,

2. Kirk Bertsche - April 12, 2010

Dave, your blog title charges Waltke with attempting to “serve two masters.” This a fairly serious charge to level against a fellow believer. Has Waltke or RTS stated that he “attempts to serve two masters”? I see no support for this charge in the text of your blog. What I see is evidence that he has departed from some historic creeds and interpretations of Scripture, which is not the same thing.

I assume you would level the same charge against B.B. Warfield and other TE’s (theistic evolutionists), but what about other reformed OEC but non-TE scholars (e.g. Meredith Kline, Jack Collins)? In other words, is it Waltke’s OEC or his TE views that you think are evidence of an attempt to “serve two masters?”

BTW, Waltke has had great influence outside of Reformed circles as well as within them. He has been on faculty at Dallas Seminary (closer to my theological bent), has authored a respected Hebrew textbook, and was an editor of the excellent “Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament.” He is a first-rate Old Testament and Hebrew scholar.

I doubt that Waltke has ever held an ICR/AiG style YEC interpretation of Genesis. Back in 1974 he delivered a series of lectures on the first three verses of Genesis, printed as “Creation and Chaos” (1974) and as a series of five articles in “Bibliotheca Sacra” in 1975. In this he argued that Genesis 1 does not describe an initial creation from nothing and that it is largely a theological polemic against pagan religions of the day. I believe TE author Denis Lamoureux learned his OT and Hebrew from Waltke at Regent College, so I suspect that Waltke has been open to TE for some time.

Kirk

3. Kirk Bertsche - April 13, 2010

BTW, I don’t see quite how biblical “kinds” precludes evolution. I agree with your interpretation of it: it means that cats produce cats, not dogs. I.e. the descendants are similar to the parents. But how does this preclude gradual changes from one generation to the next? It seems to only preclude abrupt single-generational changes.

4. James I. Nienhuis - April 13, 2010

Natural selection is demonstrated within syngameons, while the supposed darwinian evolution of new syngameons (kinds) is not.

Species is a meaningless term, but Kirk, take a wack at it, what do you think is the appropriate definition of of the term species?

Kirk Bertsche - April 14, 2010

I agree that there is no direct evidence for macroevolution. It is a huge extrapolation from microevolution.

But my question is about the biblical text, not about scientific definitions. How does the biblical teaching of “kinds” preclude gradual evolution?

5. dancingfromgenesis - April 14, 2010

They can only breed within their kind, so any “evolution” is natural selection within the gene pool of the kind in question. By definition, those gene pools are of the respective “kinds” of animals, with variation within those gene pools surely, natural selection, genes naturally “selected” from the gene pool of the kind of animal in question, those genes “selected” which increase survivability.

Kirk Bertsche - April 14, 2010

Dave claimed that “the ideas of Biblical kinds and evolution are mutually exclusive.” But I don’t see how, and no-one has answered this question yet. My question is exegetical; how does the biblical teaching of “kinds” preclude gradual evolution?

You have given a scientific explanation for limits to evolution. What you say is reasonable, and may well be correct. But I was asking for biblical exegesis. Are you claiming your scientific explanation is implied in the biblical description of “kinds,” and that this is what Moses meant by the term? If so, can you please show how you derive all of this exegetically?

6. dancingfromgenesis - April 14, 2010

If old earth creationists are really serious that God created the kinds of animals, and which have not morphed into new kinds through what is said to have been hundreds of millions of years, then why are they not more aggressive on the subject, for instance, why don’t they emphasize the syngameon as the technical term for the biblical kind?

Kirk Bertsche - April 14, 2010

If I understand your question, I believe OECs have written on this topic. There’s the old book by Michael Denton, “Evolution: A Theory in Crisis” and a much newer one by the Discovery Institute folks, “Icons of Evolution.” I don’t remember either one using the term “syngameon,” but as I recall, they both present the concept.

7. dancingfromgenesis - April 14, 2010

The term kind would be meaningless without genetic boundaries between them, since God said he created all the kinds. If new kinds had evolved from older created kinds (rather than sequentially created over hundreds of millions of years as the old earthers say, or created in a matter of days as the yecs say), then all the animal kinds would be more than what God said he created, all the animal kinds.

Kirk Bertsche - April 14, 2010

Where does the text say that God created “all the kinds”? I see where He created water creatures and birds (v. 21) and land creatures (v. 25) “ACCORDING to their kinds,” which is a bit different from “ALL the kinds.”

Kirk Bertsche - April 14, 2010

My comment above may be unclear, so I’ll try to clarify it.

The text says that God created the animals “according to their kinds.” In other words, He did not only create one “kind” of bird, fish, and land animal, but multiple “kinds.” This is NOT the same as saying:
1) that God initially created ALL of the kinds that would ever exist, precluding any subsequent changes, or
2) that God did not use evolution as part of His process in creating the multiple “kinds”

We certainly agree that God created everything. That’s not the question. But you are claiming much more; you seem to be arguing for the “fixity” of the “kinds.” I agree that a scientific case can be argued for this. But I don’t see a BIBLICAL case for it. This is what I’m asking for.

8. dancingfromgenesis - April 14, 2010

Syngameons is the closest descriptive term for the nature of kinds.

9. dancingfromgenesis - April 14, 2010

Ok, you win, the universe is billions of years old.

Kirk Bertsche - April 14, 2010

I’ve not even claimed this in the current thread, and the age of the universe has not even been discussed.

Are you implying that you CAN’T biblically defend Dave’s claim that “the ideas of Biblical kinds and evolution are mutually exclusive?”

10. dancingfromgenesis - April 14, 2010

Do you see how you’re grasping at straws?

And you haven’t answered what you think was the nature of Noah’s Flood, a swollen river, if not, what else?

Kirk Bertsche - April 14, 2010

Why do you accuse me of “grasping at straws??”

I am asking a simple question of biblical exegesis and clarification re Dave’s blog post. (And my question is directed mainly to Dave, not to you.) Can anyone present a clear, coherent, BIBLICAL defense for why ““the ideas of Biblical kinds and evolution are mutually exclusive?”

11. James I. Nienhuis - April 14, 2010

Since you don’t think they are mutually exclusive, then you’re free to interpret all the morphing of new kinds of creatures you want.

But I thought you’re an old earth creationist, so why are you trying to shoehorn in what you admit is not confirmed? Why the need, when God says nothing about new kinds of creatures morphing from created ones?

12. James I. Nienhuis - April 14, 2010

Why do you dodge all my questions?

Kirk Bertsche - April 14, 2010

Because they are off-topic. The topic of this blog posting is the compatibility or incompatibility of theistic evolution and the Scriptures, and how this has become an issue for Bruce Waltke and RTS.

13. dancingfromgenesis - April 14, 2010

Fixity? This is boring.

14. dancingfromgenesis - April 14, 2010

Please tell me where is the “fixity” in llamas, alpacas, and camels, having naturally selected within one syngameon?

Where is the “fixity” in all the kinds of cattle having come from perhaps just one syngameon?

And where is the “fixity” in the “races” of humanity having naturally selected?

Are these what you consider “fixity?” If so, then laxity is your monicker, enough laxity to accomodate darwinism within the biblical rubric.


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