Christianity and Evolution – Compatible or Contradictory?

“Theistic evolution is the proposition that God is in charge of the biological process called evolution. God directs and guides the unfolding of life forms over millions of years. Theistic evolution contends that there is no conflict between science and the Biblical book of Genesis.” [1]
Worldview Warfare
Across the world, in churches of varying denominations, faithful Christians are having their scriptural beliefs and worldviews compromised. As the values of secular culture continue to seep in through the cracks of unsuspecting churches, more and more Christians are trading their beliefs for those of the world. These ideological assaults on churches are easily visible in the debates and issues prevalent in our modern culture. The clash of worldviews on abortion, homosexuality, and evolution rage on around us and in our lives, with Christianity generally making a stand for the “conservative” side.
Each of these three topics would take pages and pages to cover, and that would barely scratch the surface. I want to address all of these issues eventually, but right now I am focusing on only one of them.
The Rise of Theistic Evolution
The historic and ancient Christian Church, with very few exceptions, has always accepted the creation account of Genesis 1 to be literal history. The acceptance of this interpretation has been on a decline ever since the foundations of evolutionary biology were established by Charles Darwin in the 1800s. To be fair, Darwin’s theory of natural selection is not completely synonymous with modern evolutionary theory. However, it did lay the foundation from which an evolutionary worldview would soon be born.
The problem of theistic evolution can by no means be discussed in full in just a few paragraphs, but I hope to present a general understanding of some of the dangers of theistic evolution.
I’m not trying to engage in an ad hominem attack on Christians who accept evolution. They are, for the most part, well-meaning Christians who simply want to remain Christian, but feel as if believing in creation labels them as uneducated fundamentalists. Seeing the evidence of evolution paraded around by biologists, paleontologists, and geologists, they can’t help but accept evolution as a fact. I’m not stating a scientific argument for creation and against evolution. I simply want to discuss the implications of believing that God used evolution (over millions of years) to create humans.
Theistic evolution, in summary, is the belief that God created the universe and all that is in it, but did not do so in just six days. Creationists believe that all animals and organisms in the world were present at the time God stopped creating, on the seventh day. Theistic evolutionists believed that God created and developed the natural world through the process of evolution of a long period of time.
Understanding the Text
Believing in creation is not just an issue of examining historical evidence and seeing that it points to a young earth. Rather, it is also an issue of taking God’s Word at face value. By examining the historical context of the books of the Bible (isagogics), and using the context of Scripture as a whole, theologians are able to understand when the Bible is speaking in a literal sense, and when it is speaking in a symbolic sense. The visions found in Daniel 7, along with the book of Revelation, are examples of symbolic literature. They are inspired and inerrant, just like all of Scripture, but they use dramatic and vivid imagery to convey what God has to say.
The entire book of Genesis was meant to be a literal history of God’s creation of the world, in addition to a testament of His mercy toward His people. It is presented and portrayed, from beginning to end, as a historical account. There is nothing in the text that would signify a shift from symbolism to history at the end of the creation account. This is very important to understand, as it makes the basis for the most important arguments against theistic evolution.
Jesus’ Mention of Creation
In Mark 10, when Jesus is confronted on the topic of marriage and divorce, states that “from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’” Now, taken at face value, Jesus’ language seems to suggest that humans were there at the beginning of the world. One could make an argument that Jesus only said “from the beginning of creation” because it’s what the Jewish people believed, they themselves holding to a view of six-day creation. One can claim that Jesus only meant “from the beginning of creation” in a symbolic sense. But as is the rule for Biblical interpretation, we always take the plainest and simplest meaning of the text unless the context would tell us to do otherwise.
The Problem of Death
One of the bigger issues with theistic evolution is the way it deals with death. We are told in Genesis 1:31 that God saw His creation as “very good” after He had finished creating. His creation was good because it was perfect: there was no trace of sin and death, because God didn’t create it that way. In order to hold to a view of theistic evolution, one must believe that God formed the universe and started the “evolutionary chain of events” that would transform primitive organisms into humans over millions of years.
Evolution requires two major things to succeed: time and death. In order for organisms to evolve into more advanced creatures, the weakest animals need to die, only allowing the stronger ones to reproduce. Transition of one organism into another species requires generation after generation of that organism to die off in order than stronger and better versions of that organism can take their place. Millions and millions of years of natural selection and death are necessary for evolution to take place. In order to hold to theistic evolution, one must believe that God created a world that was filled with death.
However, Paul tells us in Romans 5:12 that “sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin.” Paul is clearly stating that sin is a prerequisite and cause of death entering the world. Sin only came into the world after Adam disobeyed God, so death did not exist in God’s creation before the Fall of Man. Believing that God used death and evolution to produce mankind seems to lie contrary to what the Bible tells us about sin, death, and the Fall of Man.
Jesus, the New Adam
Most theistic evolutionists see Adam and Eve as allegorical representations of the first human beings, not as real historic people that lived in the Garden of Eden. However, the doctrine of justification discussed by Paul in Romans hinges on the fact that just as Adam was the one man who brought death into the world, Christ is the one man who undid Adam’s curse. As written in Romans 5:17 – For if, by the trespass of the one man (Adam), death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!
Jesus is and his saving work is the exact antithesis of Adam and his fall into sin. If Adam were only a symbol of the first men, and death existed in God’s original creation, the redemptive work of Christ is undermined. We are made righteous in Christ the same way we were all made sinful through Adam. “Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:18). The redemptive work of Jesus Christ, the New Adam, has undone the work of the Old Adam.
Can we Trust the Bible?
Ultimately, when the authenticity of the historical accounts written in the Bible is brought into question, the accuracy of the entire Scriptures is endangered. Once a certain story is labelled as a myth, it raises doubt about the rest of the history recorded in Genesis. The entire book of Genesis, as true history, is an absolutely vital piece of God’s plan for salvation. The lives of Israel’s Fathers, such as Abraham and Jacob, are referenced frequently in the New Testament as testimony to the Truth of Christ. If the entire Bible isn’t trusted as inerrant, it leads to the picking and choosing of only the doctrines we find agreeable. When it comes to inerrancy, it’s either all or nothing.
There are many objections that theistic evolutionists can raise to refute the problems listed here. However, for a more thorough treatment, check out these websites for great scientific and theological material challenging evolution:
Creation Ministries International (and this article on the dangers of theistic evolution)

“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.”

-Acts 17:24-25 (ESV)

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Finding the Trinity in Genesis 1

One of the core concepts in Lutheran and Reformed theology is the christocentricity of Scripture. When we say that the Bible is “christocentric,” we are stating that the entirety of Scripture, whether explicitly or through typology, points to Christ and His saving work. Jesus Himself said, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me.” (John 5:39). We see images of Christ all throughout the Old Testament, with many of them occurring in the Pentateuch, or “Books of Moses.”

For example, Abraham’s offering of Isaac as a sacrifice to God (Genesis 22) is overflowing with imagery that points to the atonement of Christ. We also see a foreshadowing of Christ when Moses was instructed by God to set a bronze snake on a pole, so that the Israelites who looked upon it would not die (Numbers 21). These are some of the most apparent parallels to Christ found in the Old Testament. Just as the snake was lifted up on a pole, so was Jesus lifted up on the cross. All who looked to the bronze snake were spared their lives. All who look to Jesus as Savior will not perish, but have eternal life.

On the other hand, some of these undertones of christocentricity are harder to spot, buried deeper in the text, sometimes only apparent in the original Hebrew or the minor details. I think it’s worthwhile to take a look at the first few verses of the Bible, found in the first chapter of Genesis.
As a short introduction, let’s examine the Gospel of John 1:1:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

In his gospel account, John refers to Jesus as the Word and the Light, among other names. John makes it clear that Jesus is the Word of the Father, existing from eternity. Now, take a look at John 1:3:

All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

John is stating that God the Father Almighty created all things through Jesus, a fact that we confess in the Nicene Creed. But what exactly does that mean? This becomes readily apparent when we examine Genesis 1:3:

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

God spoke the universe into existence with His Word. Jesus is the Word of God. When God speaks, His words have supreme authority, having the power to create worlds and convert hearts. That same Word of God was manifest in the flesh as Jesus Christ, who delivered the gospel of God to the world. When God created, He did so through Jesus.
We shouldn’t forget the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. Next we look at Genesis 1:2:

The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

The Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, was present at creation as well. Even in the first chapter of the Bible, written long before the Trinity was even fully revealed to the world, we see the Triune God at work. We, of course, know that there is only one God. When the Hebrew word of Elohim (God) is used during the account of creation, and even throughout the Old Testament, the word used is a plural noun. There is one God speaking, but referring to Himself as us. All three persons of the Trinity were actively involved at the creation of the universe. We shouldn’t spend too much time trying to understand how the Trinity is possible. Even our best analogies and metaphors used to comprehend this doctrine end up bordering on heresy. Rather, we receive the Word of God in humble reverence, joyful that He has revealed this great mystery to us. And the Trinity is even found in the first verses of the Bible!
The Word of God, through which the world was created, is the same Word that now saves us.

“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” —John 6:63