Monday, April 12, 2010

Setting the Record Straight on Waltke

The blogosphere has been set ablaze since the resignation of Bruce Waltke from Reformed Theological Seminary. Dr. Waltke, an Old Testament scholar for whom I have a great deal of respect made a regretable video for Biologos, an organization which seeks to advance the theory of evolution among evangelicals. I have posted on the situation already (here & here).

I have checked around on some Christian blogs which are hostile toward the idea of biblical inerrancy and the conclusion is that Dr. Waltke was bullied and that those rascally fundamentalists will be the ruin of us all. But this is a gross mischaracterization.

Don Clements has written a very helpful article for the
Aquilla Report that sets the record straight.

After viewing the video, Dr. Cannada [RTS President] contacted Professor Waltke via e-mail suggesting that he wanted to set up a time to talk to him about the video. In his return e-mail, Waltke immediately offered his resignation for the good of the seminary. He apparently knew by then that what he had said in the interview was problematic. This fact – Waltke’s offer of resignation at the very beginning of discussions with RTS – appears to be contrary not only to a number of blogs antagonistic to RTS but also contrary to a number of the secular media reports.

In their first phone discussions, Cannada told Waltke that he did not want to accept the resignation and that he had the hope that a detailed explanation might be possible to resolve the issues. Cannada did ask Waltke to request that BioLogos remove the videos from the web, which he did. Although BioLogos did not agree that they should be removed, they honored the professor’s request.

It was the desire of the RTS Administration, as well of Dr. Waltke, that every effort would be focused throughout the process on seeking peace for everyone involved, as well as maintaining the confessional integrity that is important to institutions like RTS that work so closely with and hire faculty from confessional based denominations.

Waltke himself was clear that the videos were misleading. He explained that he was used to writing his materials and that writing could be edited before publication, but in this case – his first venture at a video statement – he did not have the ability to edit it prior to it being published.

In asking that the video be removed, Waltke also wrote an explanation that BioLogos published. That statement was as follows:

I had not seen the video before it was distributed. Having seen it, I realize its deficiency and wish to put my comments in a fuller theological context:

· Adam and Eve are historical figures from whom all humans are descended; they are uniquely created in the image of God and as such are not in continuum with animals.

· Adam is the federal and historical head of the fallen human race just as Jesus Christ is the federal and historical head of the Church.

· I am not a scientist, but I have familiarized myself with attempts to harmonize Genesis 1-3 with science, and I believe that creation by the process of evolution is a tenable Biblical position, and, as represented by BioLogos, the best Christian apologetic to defend Genesis 1-3 against its critics.

· I apologize for giving the impression that others who seek to harmonize the two differently are not credible. I honor all who contend for the Christian faith.

· Evolution as a process must be clearly distinguished from evolutionism as a philosophy. The latter is incompatible with orthodox Christian theology.

· Science is fallible and subject to revision. As a human and social enterprise, science will always be in flux. My first commitment is to the infallibility (as to its authority) and inerrancy (as to its Source) of Scripture.

· God could have created the Garden of Eden with apparent age or miraculously, even as Christ instantly turned water into wine, but the statement that God “caused the trees to grow” argues against these notions.

· I believe that the Triune God is Maker and Sustainer of heaven and earth and that biblical Adam is the historical head of the human race.

· Theological comments made here are mostly a digest of my chapters on Genesis 1-3 in An Old Testament Theology (Zondervan, 2007).”
Read the entire article HERE.

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