by Al Maxey

Issue #475 ------- February 11, 2011
I believe that God created man, and whether it came by an
evolutionary process or not, does not change the fact that
God did create man. Whichever way God did it makes no
difference as to what man is and man's relationship to God.

Billy Graham {born: 1918}
"Doubts and Certainties" (1964)

Theory of Evolutionary Creation
Are Christianity & Evolution Compatible?

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) once observed, "Man is a stream whose source is hidden. Our being is descending into us from we know not whence." This quote from one of his essays in the year 1841 is quite insightful, and sums up rather well the somewhat confused state of our particular species with respect to our origins. One of the defining qualities of mankind is that we have the capacity to question the nature of our existence. Or, to state it in the words of Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), "Apart from man, no being wonders at its own existence." In the minds of some, we are "the cornerstone of creation" -- Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931), while in the minds of others, we are little more than "a creature that walks on two legs and is ungrateful" -- Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821-1881).

The painful reality is this: none of us were present when man appeared on earth, thus not a one of us can proclaim with any degree of authority precisely how we came to be. I cannot help but think of the gentle rebuke of Job by God, "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?! Tell Me, if you have understanding!" (Job 38:4). We weren't there! As a result, we have absolutely no firsthand knowledge of our own origins as a species, nor of the origins of our universe, for that matter. At best, the devout disciple can only exclaim -- "By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible" (Heb. 11:3). We believe that God was the Creator, but as to how He created this marvelous creation (which includes us), we can only speculate. Yes, we may have strong convictions on these matters, and we might even be able to argue for them passionately, but when all sides have placed their positions in the public arena for careful scrutiny, none of them rise above the designation -- Theory. And yes, that includes the cherished convictions of our fellow Christians, which is precisely why the author of Hebrews 11:3 declared our understanding of this creative process to be "by faith," rather than by established fact. Therefore, we must all refrain from a rabid dogmatism with respect to our various views on how the Creator brought into being that which presently exists. I have strong convictions about this, just as many of you do. But neither of us were there. Therefore, neither of our convictions constitute ultimate truth on the matter. Perceiving this will prove quite helpful in promoting a positive dialogue between all parties.

It is my own personal conviction, based upon decades of intensive study and reflection, that our universe is quite old (most likely many, many billions of years old), as opposed to the view of some who maintain that the age of the universe is somewhere between 6000 - 10,000 years. I have examined all their arguments for this, and, in my view, their evidence is woefully lacking. The "young earth creation" theory, for example, insists that the six "days" of creation are literal 24-hour periods. I have dealt with this argument in Reflections #56, and have sought to show from the Scriptures themselves that such a view is untenable. Another argument of the "young earth" crowd is that God created the universe (and our planet Earth) with the appearance of advanced age!! Clearly, the geological and cosmological and biological evidence is overwhelmingly supportive of an ancient universe. Thus, they suggest the universe was created by God to appear to be old, when in fact it is quite young. This, of course, raises some troubling questions about our Creator and why He would see the need to deceive mankind in this way. I have dealt with this issue in Reflections #233. Notice the following excerpt from that article:

Is it possible for someone to be a devoted Christian and yet believe the universe is only a few thousand years old?! I personally believe the answer to this question is -- Yes! There are a great many things about which you and I have very limited knowledge. If our relationship with God is based on possessing perfect perception of all matters, then we are all lost. However, if our relationship with our Creator is based on faith, then our lack of understanding on a host of matters is not critical. By faith we know God created all that exists (Heb. 11:3). How God chose to create all of this (His methodology) is knowledge we may never fully possess! Yes, we have theories, and we all have a tendency to hold these theories in rather high esteem. However, we should never be so dogmatic about our views that we declare someone who differs with us to be eternally damned. I may declare their views "foolish," as I believe many of the young earth theories to be, but I will never declare those who embrace such views to be godless apostates. Is it possible for someone to be a devoted Christian and believe in a universe that is many billions of years old? Again, I believe the answer is -- Yes! Nowhere has the Lord made our understandings of such things relevant to our eternal salvation. We each have our own convictions, and that is fine, but such convictions should never be elevated to the level of Truth! Thus, we must never judge another disciple who may differ with us. Yes, dialogue about these differing convictions, but don't seek to defame or destroy one another over them!

Here is another question, one that some might consider far more difficult to answer -- Is it possible for someone to be a devoted Christian and believe in evolution?! Or, to phrase it another way: Are Christianity and evolution compatible? Can one be saved if he/she perceives evolution as a viable theory of origins? My response to these questions would be a qualified one, for it depends largely on which view of evolution a person has adopted. The theories of evolution are many, varied and complex. It is not a simple, "one-size-fits-all" proposition. When it comes to evolution, far too many Christians are guilty of what is known as Conflationism -- "The collapsing of distinct ideas into one single notion. By way of example, the scientific theory of evolution is very often conflated with the secular philosophy of atheism, leading many persons to assume that evolution can only be a godless and purposeless natural process" [Dr. Denis Lamoureux, I Love Jesus & I Accept Evolution, p. 179]. The reality, however, is: there are a great many different theories that fall under the broader umbrella of "evolution." Some, indeed, are God-denying, such as Dysteleological Evolution, which is entirely atheistic and humanistic, regarding God as a malicious myth and the universe as the result of blind chance! Can such a person be characterized as a Christian? No! In fact, they themselves would reject such a characterization.

There are several other forms of evolution, however, that are very boldly God-affirming, and whose proponents have embraced Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The Theory of Progressive Creation, for example, accepts God as Creator of the universe, believing He chose to bring about the present universe (Cosmological Evolution), including our planet (Geological Evolution), through the natural mechanisms of His laws of nature over a period of billions of years. On the other hand, a Progressive Evolutionist will emphatically reject Biological Evolution, believing instead that with respect to the world of living beings our God practiced what may be classified as direct and dramatic Interventionism (i.e., He acted miraculously to place living beings into this evolving creation). They are "old earth creationists," thus they accept the view that the universe and our planet are extremely old, yet they boldly defend the "Adam and Eve" account of the origin of humans, believing that God stepped outside of the cosmological and geological evolutionary process to effect a biological intervention (all living beings created miraculously)! Progressive evolutionists accept "Micro-Evolution" (living organisms evolve to a very limited extent -- dogs may evolve into vastly different kinds of dogs, but they remain dogs; they do not transform into a different species), but they reject "Macro-Evolution" (all living organisms have evolved from a common source; one species can change into another species -- amphibians into reptiles, reptiles into mammals, and the like). They believe this view has the distinct advantage of accommodating the major teachings of both science and religion, rather than regarding these two fields as diametrically opposed to one another. Do such persons accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior? Yes, many of them do, and they are very devout in the practice of their Christian faith.

Yet another theory of evolution, and one that is really gaining in acceptance among Christians, especially those with training in the sciences, is known as the Theory of Evolutionary Creation. This is the position promoted by Dr. Lamoureux in his book referred to above (a picture of the cover of this particular book appears at the beginning of this article). "Evolutionary creation asserts that God created the universe and life through an ordained, sustained, and design-reflecting evolutionary process. This position fully embraces both the religious beliefs of biblical Christianity and the scientific theories of cosmological, geological, and biological evolution. It contends that the Creator established and maintains the laws of nature" [ibid, p. 26]. Again, this view of evolution is one that gives unto God all of the glory for the entirety of creation!! It confidently acknowledges that God is Creator, and it declares He has testified to His creative methodology within the creation itself (known as "Natural Revelation"). Thus, we have the "Book of God's Works" (the Book of Nature) and the "Book of God's Words" (the Scriptures), both of which testify to God as Creator, and neither of which is in conflict with the other (although the focus of each is different). In the former we find the language of science, in the latter the language of faith!! The latter reveals the nature of God, the former the God of nature!! In the one we perceive the Person behind the creation, in the other we somewhat perceive (as best we are able) the process employed by this Person. The creation account in Genesis 1-3, it should be noted, was never intended to be a scientific treatise detailing the process, but a theological revelation that God is our Creator, and the responsibilities of relationship that ensue from said fact. Failing to perceive this critical distinction, the young earth creationists have taken the text literally and scientifically, and have thus arrived at an absurdity.

The above mentioned book by Dr. Denis O. Lamoureux (184 pages, softcover, published in 2009) is actually a shortened version of his much more extensive book "Evolutionary Creation: A Christian Approach to Evolution," which was published in 2008, and which is over 500 pages long. The author informs us that as he was writing his longer work, "I recognized the need for a shorter and more accessible version of the book! 'I Love Jesus & I Accept Evolution' is an attempt to outline the main points and arguments" [ibid, p. xiii]. Both of these books may be purchased on, as well as other outlets, and I highly recommend them to all those in possession of a "Berean spirit" who aren't afraid to have a number of "sacred cows" challenged. Denis Lamoureux is a professor of Science and Religion at the University of Alberta in Canada. He holds three doctoral degrees -- he was a practicing dentist for a number of years, then left his practice to earn doctorates in both biology and theology. In this book Dr. Lamoureux is refreshingly candid about his own personal journey of discovery (as a former atheist and now a devout believer), and his struggle to reconcile the teachings of both Scripture and science.

Dr. Denis Lamoureux has several especially valuable sections within this book that are well worth the read. He does a fabulous job of debunking some of the proof-texting employed by the "young earth" crowd, as well as showing from the cosmological and geological records precisely why their rigid theory is untrue! Chapter three, on the presence of what may be termed "Ancient Science" within the Bible, will prove very eye-opening to many readers (especially those who view the Bible as some infallible guide to modern day science). His discussion of the evidence for an ancient universe/earth, as well as his discussion of the many aspects of human evolution, are quite valuable, and will most certainly challenge your thinking. The book is filled with numerous pictures, charts, graphics, and tables that help illustrate his many points, and his bibliography of scholarly works consulted is extensive. This is a must read, whether you agree with his conclusions or not, as it will certainly motivate you to revisit your own convictions to determine "if these things be so." And, after all, isn't that what the Bereans were willing to do, rather than hound and harass those with whom they differed, as the Thessalonicans did (Acts 17)? May God help us all to exemplify the spirit of the former disciples, rather than the latter, when we are faced with some perspective that assaults our theological comfort zone!

Special CD Offers
A number of special CD sets are
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Down, But Not Out
A Study of Divorce and Remarriage
in Light of God's Healing Grace

(A 193 page book by Al Maxey)

One Bread, One Body
An Examination of Eucharistic
Expectation, Evolution and Extremism

(A 230 page book by Al Maxey)

Readers' Reflections

From Daniel Douglas in Dresden, TN:
(A Minister with the Contending for the Faith faction)
*The following is from an email sent to various CFTF members*

I see many problems with The 2011 Tulsa Workshop involving false teachers. For one, isn't Victor Knowles a member of the Christian Church denomination? I pray for the repentance of Al Maxey for teaching false doctrine, and for that of others with whom he is associated (2 John 9-11). Jim McGuiggan is on this program also, along with other false teachers such as Al Maxey, Jeff Walling, Randy Harris, Edward Fudge, Don McLaughlin, Rick Atchley, Marvin Phillips and Terry Rush. Note also the appearance of Tim Pyles and Stafford North on this program filled with false teachers.

From a Reader in Tennessee:

Dear Brother Al, I pray that your new year is going very well. Here in Tennessee we've had a lot of snow, and I am ready for Spring!! My husband and I have now registered for The Tulsa Workshop. Yea!!!!! This will be our first time to attend, so I have a concern -- are any women going to be there? It seems all I ever read about is men being present. I soooooooo want to come and listen to you speak!! It is a wish of mine!! You have opened my mind to our Lord in ways that I cannot even begin to explain. Even if I could, there is not enough space to write it all down. Thanks for all that you do, and I look forward to seeing you in Tulsa!!

From a Reader in Washington:

Brother Al, I have really enjoyed your last four Reflections very much!! My wife asked me the other day if I would like to take a trip this year, and, if so, where I'd like to go. I chose The Tulsa Workshop and a visit to North Carolina to see a couple of old Army buddies. I figured both would be good for my soul.

From a Native Evangelist in India:

Dearest Brother Maxey, I am currently in Saudi Arabia on a business trip for the next two weeks. Thank you very much for the excellent lesson on the Fear of the Lord (Reflections #473). I am requesting your kind permission to print this article in the Telugu language for the brethren in India. Thank you!

From a Reader in Colorado:

Dear Brother Al, I just read your article in response to my question about the fear of the Lord. I didn't expect to see it so soon! Your study is going to be a big help for me, and I will spend some time looking at all the Scriptures you referenced so that I may understand their context. I hope many others will find this issue of your Reflections helpful also! May God bless you richly!

From a Reader in Texas:

Brother Al, Please send me a complete set of your CDs -- Special CD Offers. My check is enclosed. You are doing a very important job for the Kingdom. May God bless you and Shelly.

From a Reader in California:

Dear Brother Maxey, Please accept this gift (the Dr. Paul Brand tribute edition of the two books "Fearfully and Wonderfully Made" and "In His Image" by Dr. Paul Brand and Philip Yancey) in appreciation for all you do for so many of us who read your Reflections. You have been a blessing to me! May God continue to bless you with wisdom and understanding, with patience and humility, that you may continue in your ministry.

From a Reader in Georgia:

Bro. Al, Wow!! I sent this article on Charlotte Fall Fanning to my daughter, who is attending Lipscomb University. I am sure she will be interested in reading about this woman who was widely appreciated in that area for her service to so many. I hope she also takes the time to read the many other articles you have written that are dedicated to Christian women and their influence. It is not often that we take the time to appreciate our women and their tremendous value to the church. I went back and read your article on Phoebe (Reflections #299) and noticed a sentence that I intend to borrow from you for many years to come: "Genuine leadership is evidenced by those who feel no need to command, but who rather rally others to a cause by their depth of passion, conviction, and courageous example!" I will also remember to give you credit!!

From a Reader in Florida:

Brother Al, Charlotte Fanning is a woman I will now strive to emulate, as she exemplified Christ in her life. Also, I am so grateful for the generations who came after her and were touched by her life. My daughter went to Lipscomb University, so I know that the benefits of Charlotte Fanning's life continue on!!

From a Reader in Arizona:

Dear Brother Maxey, I'm glad to have begun receiving your weekly Reflections. Your words are nourishing to faith and love! Your short history of the life of Sister Fanning was really uplifting. I will forward this on to an old friend who is a good student of history, confident that he will appreciate it also.

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