Green Baggins Recommends "Recovering" for Reformation Day

Lane reviews RRC at GB.

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  1. I noticed some people arguing over 24-hour creation days in the Reformed tradition on the linked website. I know that Dr. Clark does not think that you must hold to 24-hour creation days to be Reformed, but what of those who affirm theistic evolution? I think B.B. Warfield held to theistic evolution or at least stated that it was a possible way for God to create. If he held to theistic evolution, is it proper to still call him Reformed? It seems to me a person can still be a Christian or orthodox and yet hold to theistic evolution, but what about calling the person Reformed? The issue intrigues me because I am reconsidering whether we as Christians should oppose evolution as is common today, especially if that is where the evidence is pointing. Does Dr. Clark cover the evolution issue in his book?

  2. Hi Alberto,

    It is widely held that Warfield held to theistic evolution. Gary Johnson, however, has (I think — I’ve not read his book yet) that he did not. Would theistic evolution make one non-Reformed? It might be a mistake but non-Reformed? Warfield? Have you read Warfield? If he denied the Reformed Christology or soteriology or doctrine of the church or sacraments but, however great a mistake theistic evolution might be, it wouldn’t make one necessarily non-Reformed.

    No, RRC doesn’t really get into evolution per se. It does discuss how we ought to define Reformed, however.

  3. Yes, I know it’s unimaginable to think of Warfield as non-Reformed, but I had to ask the question. I asked it especially since I am reading Tim Keller’s book The Reason for God; in the notes section he mentions Warfield and his acceptance of evolution, and he cites a book edited by Mark Knoll and David Livingstone, B.B. Warfield on Evolution, Scripture, and Science. I checked it out on Amazon and found it to be titled Evolution, Science, and Scripture: Selected Writings.

    Thank you for responding Dr. Clark. I know you are a busy man, so it just makes me appreciate your responses even more.

  4. Alberto,

    I think you mean Mark Noll. Yes, I have that volume (and I’ll take a look at it and Johnson’s volume soon, Dv) and it’s probably it’s true that Warfield held views that many today might reject (whether he held to theistic evolution) but the question is really what defines “Reformed.” Our confessions don’t speak explicitly to theistic evolution. Perhaps they speak implicitly. When we confess that he was created in righteousness and true holiness that might be taken to imply a rejection but that could, theoretically, be a matter for debate. Please don’t misunderstand. I’m opposed to theistic evolution. I don’t think Scripture permits it and I agree heartily with the points on creation adopted by Synod Escondido in 2001, but let’s say Warfield did hold to it. Does that mistake automatically disqualify him from being Reformed and if so, why?

    This is one of the points of RRC. We need to re-think how we define Reformed. Warfield may have erred on a particular point of exegesis but so long as he affirmed that Adam was created in righteousness and true holiness and that in Adam’s fall we fell into sin and death, I don’t see exactly how teaching that he had evolutionary forebears (which, again, I think is a mistake) makes him “non-Reformed.” We need to be very careful in setting tests for orthodoxy to make sure that they have to do with the substance of our faith and arguing that if one doesn’t agree with me on this point of exegesis (e.g. the length of the creation days) that, ipso facto, he is not Reformed is not a wise test. Denying the two natures of Christ, denying reprobation, denying unconditional election, denying the imputation of Adam’s sin, denying infant baptism, teaching paedocommunion, teaching justification through faith and works, these things are sufficient to make one non-Reformed, at least in certain areas.

    At the most one might say that, if Warfield is guilty as charged, then we might say that this view implicitly called into question the Reformed anthropology but I doubt that we should say any more than that. Remember, there was a time when some of our people would have said that to deny that the earth is at the center of the universe (geocentrism) is to deny the clear teaching of the bible and thus to deny the faith. Well, virtually none of us today holds that the earth is at the center of the universe and no sane person says that such a view is essential to being Reformed.

    Take a look at RRC and see if it doesn’t help on this question.

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