BioLogos, theistic evolution and the Pelagian heresy
Debating an historical Adam and the destruction of the Gospel
Published: 22 March 2014 (GMT+10)
The secular philosopher George Santayana wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”1 King Solomon, the wisest person in all history said, “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, ‘See, this is new’?” (Ecclesiastes 1: 9–10).
This is especially applicable to Church history. There is no new heresy under the sun, and those who aren’t familiar with the battle for truth throughout the past 2000 years are doomed to repeat the same errors that have plagued the church since it began.
Today we Christians find ourselves at an interesting place in Church history. Although Scripture has been with us for 2,000 years (and is sufficient for determining how and when God created), we now have decades of research that supports what the Bible has always said. Today we are blessed with mountains of scientific evidence supporting the biblical record of a recent creation followed by a global flood and all humans originating with Adam and Eve. Despite all of this, aspects of an old heresy relating to the creation account are increasingly infiltrating the Church. This is the falsehood known as Pelagianism.
No Adam: no original sin, no need for the cross
The heresy of Pelagianism (see the box below for details) asserted that Adam’s sin had no effect on the human race, that we have not inherited a sin nature from Adam, and that all humans are born with the ability to live a sin-free life. This renders the work of Christ on the cross superfluous. If we can achieve Heaven without any work of God whatsoever (that is, if we have no sin) then there is no need (it is even nonsensical) for God to bear the penalty for our sin. The reality is that at the cross Christ died for us as a substitute. He paid the penalty that we incurred, in our place and simultaneously transferred His righteousness to us. 2 Corinthians 5:21 describes this double transfer. The sinless Christ pays for our sins in our place (so that we don’t have to!), and His righteousness is transferred to us. That single verse is Paul’s simple one-sentence summary of the Gospel. The whole Gospel message is contained in outline in those words and is, of course, detailed throughout the rest of Scripture.
Bible scholars at the time of Pelagius recognized the contradiction between his teachings and Scripture. As a result, Pelagianism was condemned as heretical at many church councils including the Councils of Carthage (in 412, 416 and 418), the Council of Ephesus (431) and the Council of Orange (529). The intervening 1600 years have merely strengthened and further refined the biblical truth confirming that Pelagianism is heretical. This rich history of the battle for truth is a great advantage for us today. When Pelagianizing tendencies infiltrate the church today we should simply look back at that history, remember the error of the past, and avoid repeating the same error. Unfortunately, Pelagianism is alive and well today. One of its modern forms, mutated and renamed, is called ‘theistic evolution’.
Theistic evolution: different time period, same error
BioLogos is a leading voice for ‘theistic evolution’, though not all theistic evolutionists would agree with BioLogos at every point. BioLogos teaches that people do not all originate with Adam and Eve but that, “humans descended from a group of several thousand individuals who lived about 150,000 years ago.”2,3
This organization was founded by professing Christian Dr Francis Collins, a leading geneticist who uncritically accepts evolution over millions of years. Assuming evolution to be true, and ignoring both the Scripture and science against it, his organization exists to attack the historical reality of a physical Adam. In 2010 BioLogos president Darrel Falk wrote (emphasis added): “Option #1 [that Adam and Eve are actual historical people] is the standard argument put forward by those who believe in a young earth created by God in six twenty-four hour days less than 10,000 years ago. BioLogos exists in no small part to marginalize this view from the Church. A fundamental part of our mission is to show that Option #1 is not tenable.”4
Therefore, a ‘fundamental mission’ of BioLogos is to advance anti-biblical ideas that have been condemned by church councils throughout the history of the Church. Or, said another way, their mission is to promote heresy.5 Ironically the subject ‘tag’ applied to Darrel Falk’s article above is “Christian Unity”. According to God’s Word, unity in the Church is achieved as believers rally around the truth of Scripture. Paul writes, “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God”. (Eph 4: 11-12) The purpose of the various gifts God gives is, “So that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” (Eph 4:14) This unity can never be achieved by teaching against biblical truths.
There are many problems with ‘evolutionary creation’ but one of the greatest errors (among many serious errors BioLogos promotes) is the elimination of a physical Adam from which all people descended and the sin that he transferred to the rest of the human race. This is because it strikes directly at the heart of the Gospel: the need for the ‘last Adam’ to provide for us an escape from the wrath of God against sin incurred by the first Adam. In this way the error of theistic evolution is identical to that of Pelagianism.
Unheeded lessons of history
The lesson from history is this: If it was wrong for Pelagius to assert that Adam’s sin and guilt was not transferred to all humans, how much greater an error is it to postulate that Adam never existed? Theistic evolutionists actually take the Pelagian heresy further than Pelagius did!
BioLogos seems to have forgotten, or they deliberately ignore, the historical fact that the debate over the importance of the doctrine of original sin has already been fought and settled definitively with Scripture back in the 5th century. Since that debate was settled, then how can we today be seriously contemplating the non-existence of an historical Adam? Adam is the historical/physical ancestor of all people; all people inherited their sin nature from him. Santayana’s warning is very applicable here.
Casually rejecting 16 centuries of truth
The astounding naiveté with which some theistic evolutionists play around with the notion of ‘no Adam’ is like a child who’s found his dad’s gun. They toy with this concept seemingly without any idea that it will blow their heads off—literally, the head of the human race, and with it, the doctrine of original sin.6 BioLogos, in response to the question, “How does original sin fit with evolutionary history?” casually suggests that, “Evolution does not raise questions about our current state of sinfulness. It does, however, raise questions about how and when the first sin occurred, and how this fallen state was transmitted to all people. The sciences of evolution and archaeology can provide some insight into these questions but are not equipped to answer them. These questions are theological, and over the centuries the church has considered many possible answers.”7 What those “many possible answers” are is not specified, but what this teaching does not allow is the view of the Church throughout history.
If Adam’s one sin didn’t lead to condemnation for all men, then why should anyone believe Jesus Christ’s one act of righteousness will lead to justification for all men (Rom. 5:18)? This is not like the Church’s error with Galileo or other extra-biblical ideas and traditions that crept into the Church throughout her history. It is a fundamental Gospel truth.
Most theologians throughout Church history up to the present (including several associated with BioLogos) instantly recognize the massive doctrinal problems in postulating that Adam wasn’t historical. Even the article8 in Christianity Today (a paper not unsympathetic to theistic evolution) that alerted many people to the issue back in 2011 included more cautious language than some writers today.9
It seems that a prerequisite for theistic evolutionists is a low view of Scripture, particularly Genesis. You cannot have a high view of Scripture while at the same time mangling Genesis to force-fit millions of years of evolution into it.
Science supports Scripture—all people came from Adam
Other scientists have found problems with Dr Collins’ conclusions. Geneticist Dr Robert Carter has already suggested areas where Dr Collins is in error. In addition, modern genetics provides powerful support for all humans coming from one man and one woman, and even for the population bottleneck at the Flood.
This should highlight something: if other geneticists can see how the data fits with God’s Word, why can’t Dr Collins? It also highlights (again) that fundamental aspect of the origins debate: making distinctions between operational and historical science. Scientific facts are obtained by making observations about today’s creation, not yesterday’s. We do not have yesterday. The origins debate is not the Bible vs science; it is biblical history vs extra-biblical history. Leading evolutionary scientists are not wrong about science; they are wrong about history. Dr Collins, BioLogos and other evolutionists take today’s discoveries and interpret them to fit with evolutionary history—a history that they accept by faith. Other geneticists can not only easily interpret new discoveries to fit with Scriptural history (which is also, obviously, accepted by faith), but the interpretation is often a much better fit.
Science does fit with Scripture, although not the way that BioLogos envisions.
How is error refuted? By the nonstop teaching of truth
Let’s remember the lessons of history so that we are not condemned to repeat mistakes. BioLogos is wrong about Adam and original sin and as an organization desires to ‘marginalize’ Scripture and the Church’s historic position on Adam10. Some believers might think it’s time to simply ignore BioLogos.
However, it is not quite that simple. BioLogos is going into churches and Christian schools drawing away disciples after them (Acts 20:29–30). How will the truth prevail? Let’s look at how truth prevailed in the past.
Although valuable for drawing a line in the sand, no church council ever put a stop to heretical teaching. In some cases (such as the Arian controversy) false teaching gained huge followers after the council that was called to refute it. The heroes in the battle for truth succeeded through extensive speaking and writing. By constantly and faithfully refuting error and putting forth the truth of Scripture over the long haul, God used them to preserve truth and build His Church. Even then, heresies never really die. They may become unpopular for a time but then they adapt, change names, and appear in different shades to confuse and distract the next generation of believers.
Satan doesn’t need to devise new false doctrines when the old ones are so effective. It is therefore likely that refuting today’s falsehoods will require the same nonstop, patient teaching of truth that was needed in the past. Creation Ministries International is only a part of the solution. As one supporter said, “You keep making the bullets and we’ll keep firing them.” It will take effort from truth-loving Christians everywhere to stand up and accurately and patiently, with humility, refute error.
We hope that some of you will partner with us and take up the fight against error. Use the resources that CMI produces. The best place to begin in is your own home. Teach yourself, and then teach your children the truth. Start by exploring the links in this article, or at our ‘Creation Answers’ page. Can you teach at your church? How about teaching through the famous Creation Answers Book with your church youth group? There’s a free Study Guide here. Stream some of our videos and have a discussion. Not comfortable teaching this yourself? Book a speaker into your church. We are here to help.
The heresy of Pelagianism
Augustine of Hippo
The Pelagian controversy ignited when Pelagius vehemently disagreed with a prayer written by the famous Augustine of Hippo that was becoming popular throughout Christendom, “Lord, give what Thou commandest and command what Thou wilt.”11
Dr Tom Ascol explains Augustine’s prayer. “He asks for the grace and then acknowledges: ‘Command whatever you will and then give the grace to do what you command.’…You have commanded us to worship, LORD grant us the ability to worship. You have commanded us to pray, grant us the ability to pray. You have commanded us to evangelize, grant us the ability to evangelize. And every real Christian, at his best moment, would acknowledge the rightness of both of those requests. Because when we pray we’re asking God to do for us what we can’t do for ourselves.”12
However, Pelagius insisted that God would not command something of man that man cannot accomplish. He reasoned that a divine command implies human ability. A favourite saying of his was, “If I ought, I can.” Therefore, he taught that no one inherited the sin nature from Adam nor were they ‘born in sin’. Infants are born tabula rasa (Latin for a ‘blank slate’) and are therefore perfectly capable of obeying and pleasing God. His error here on the fundamental doctrine of original sin led to his belief that a person could live a sinless life. He said that, “a man can be without sin and keep the commandments of God, if he wishes.”13
As a moralist Pelagius reasoned that if Christians are told that God forgives all sin, then they would sin without restraint. He blamed Augustine’s teaching on grace for the moral weaknesses he saw in the church. Pelagianism insists that if people are born sinners by nature (if sin is something we inherit) it would be unjust for God to hold individual sinners responsible for their sin. That is why he reasoned that the human will must be totally free—inclined to neither good nor evil—or else our choices cannot be free. If our choices are not free, then we cannot be held responsible for what we do. So, how can we be held responsible for how we were born?
Pelagianism inevitably results in the purest form of ‘works salvation’. This is because the more that human will is magnified, the more that human works are magnified. If the fallenness of humanity is denied, then to be consistent, there is really no need for divine grace. If we are not hopelessly in bondage to our sin then we really don’t need God’s grace, we just need strength of will to make the right decision. Pelagianism makes salvation by grace through faith unnecessary.
Notice that the foundation of Pelagianism is rooted in extra-biblical reasoning. Turning to Scripture, one single verse can overthrow it, “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.” Romans 5:18
Augustine reasoned from Scripture that before Adam sinned he was in a state of Able to sin and Able not to sin, but by his sin he rendered himself and his descendants Not able not to sin. After death the redeemed saints are glorified to a state which Adam did not enjoy, namely Not able to sin.
Steven Lawson writes, “This was the heart of the dispute between Augustine and Pelagius. Augustine taught that man lost all ability to obey God in the fall of Adam. Because of original sin, human beings cannot perform what God requires. Pelagius, relying on human reasoning rather than divine revelation, concluded that accountability necessitates ability. Despite the teaching of Scripture, he insisted on the natural ability of fallen man to keep God’s law. The main facets of Pelagius’s teaching were an exalted view of human responsibility and a weakened view of divine sovereignty.”14
The great significance of this controversy is recognized by Church historians. Adolf von Harnack notes, “There has never, perhaps, been another crisis of equal importance in church history in which the opponents have expressed the principles at issue so clearly and abstractly. The Arian dispute before the Nicene Council can alone be compared with it.15
B.B. Warfield considered that the issue was a struggle for the very foundations of Christianity.16
Steve Lawson writes, “This controversy was a Continental Divide in the theology of the church, one that separated a God-centered approach to truth from one that is man-centered.”17
A great deal of the credit for the defeat of Pelagianism goes to Augustine. However, Pelagianism continued to influence the Church after Augustine and even saw a ‘revival’ through the influential lectures of William of Ockham at Oxford University in the early 14th century. As before, God raised up scholars and teachers to stand against error and teach truth. Thomas Bradwardine was a voice for truth responding to Ockham’s Pelagian views at Oxford.
References and notes
- George Santayana, The Life of Reason, Volume 1, 1905 Return to text.
- Were Adam and Eve historical figures?, BioLogos website, biologos.org/questions/evolution-and-the-fall, accessed Feb 3, 2014. Return to text.
- Dr Collins wrote something similar in his bestselling book The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, back in 2006. “Anatomically modern humans emerged from primate ancestors perhaps 100,000 years ago—long before the Genesis time frame—and originated with a population that numbered something like 10,000, not two individuals.” Return to text.
- Darrel Falk, On Living in the Middle, BioLogos Forum, June 24, 2010, biologos.org/blog/on-living-in-the-middle, accessed Feb 5, 2014. Return to text.
- The label “heresy” is applied to teaching that represents serious assaults upon the character of God, of Christ, and salvation. It does not apply to lesser disputes such as baptism of infants, pre or post-trib rapture, worship on Saturday or Sunday, musical instruments in the church, worship styles, dress codes, etc. Return to text.
- Edwin Walhout’s article ‘Tomorrow’s Theology’, in The Banner, 3 May 2013, is an example of the kind of casualness (not to mention arrogance) that is common among many theistic evolutionists currently weighing in of the topic of the historicity of Adam. See thebanner.org/features/2013/05/tomorrow-s-theology, accessed 3 Feb 2014. Return to text.
- From the “Common Questions” section on the BioLogos website, biologos.org/questions/original-sin, accessed 12 Feb 2014. Return to text.
- Richard N. Ostling, The Search for the Historical Adam, Christianity Today, Jun 2011, Vol. 55, No. 6, Pg 23. Online at christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/june/historicaladam.html. Return to text.
- Ref. 9 See especially the last part of the article under the heading, “If Paul is Wrong on History”. Return to text.
- Ref 4. Return to text.
- The text for this prayer came from Augustine’s Confessions, Chapter XXIX, written in 397 AD. Return to text.
- Interview video clip in Amazing Grace: The History & Theology of Calvinism by Reel to Real Ministries, Inc./The Apologetics Group, 2009. Return to text.
- Pelagius, cited in Augustine, The Proceedings of Pelagius, 54, in Nicene and post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol V, ed. Philip Schaff, 207. Return to text.
- Steven J. Lawson, Pillars of Grace-A Long Line of Godly Men, Vol 2 AD 100–1564, Reformation Trust, 2011, pp. 224. Return to text.
- Adolf von Harnack, History of Dogma Vol V. Return to text.
- B.B. Warfield, ‘Introductory Essay’ in The Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers: Series 1, Volume 5, Saint Augustine: Anti-Pelagian Writings, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978. Return to text.
- Ref 14, pp. 223. Return to text.
In response to any earlier comment you cautioned me against calling the folks at BioLogos "Sinners headed for hell." And then you pointed out that scripture warns that there will be false teachers. I think it's fair to assume you meant BioLogos.
Scriptural references to "false teachers" give no inference whatsoever that these are simply misguided Christians. They are lumped with "false Christs" and "false prophets" teaching heresies.
Ezekiel (3:18) warns us that we SHOULD warn those who are headed for destruction or their blood will be on our hands. In the case of those who claim Christ and then turn away, Peter wrote that it would have been better for them to have never heard the gospel (2Peter 2:21).
Jesus warned against causing children to stumble. Jesus said having a millstone tied around your neck and being thrown in the sea was a BETTER option for those who cause children to stumble.
And now I come to CMI and BioLogos.
I have read and heard testimony after testimony from CMI writers and speakers about how evolution turned their heart away from God. Or long kept them from even considering God existed. This isn't some oblique doctrinal debate. This is at the crux of why CMI exists. So why is it I need to be cautious about proclaiming the judgement God has in store for false teachers promoting heresy?
For the folks at BioLogos, this is not a matter of some personal, privately held belief that might be a little off. BioLogos is claiming to be Christian while openly and aggressively promoting a heresy which, according to repeated testimonies at CMI, turns people, especially children, away from God.
I suggest that if there is caution needed here, it is against NOT saying and writing what needs to be proclaimed.
We cannot assume that everyone associated with BioLogos are non-Christian false teachers. What they teach is wrong, but that does not automatically make them non-believers.
Appreciate the scholarship & study going into the excellent articles generally provided by you all: however, just a reminding word of caution that our authority ultimately is the Word of God ---not the Fathers of the Roman Catholic Church & system (Colossians 4:2) who drew men back to merging pagan 'light' and wisdom, and carnal understanding, with God's word which is spiritually discerned. A quick review of Moses, the Prophets & Psalms ---even apart from the plain apostolic warnings--reveals plainly what the Lord thinks of this 'mergine'. Calvin & Luther, and of course, Menno Simons ---all came out of the Roman Catholic system with its human persecuting & kingdom now, replacement theology spirit; & elitism ---not the Pilgrim church through which God preserved His word among the despised & rejected who received His word with gladness & continued in it. -----------Within Rome, the bogus dialectic & struggle between the views of the two philosophical 'ditches' of carnal understanding, & crass carnal worldly political struggle were seen as advancement: evolution toward 'enlightenment'. Lucifer's light. ------I state this because out of just such extra-biblical rationalizing have sprung 'higher-than-God criticism' of God's Word (see Genesis 3) & its resulting arrogance & lack of humility resulting in irrationality (mystical salvation before hearing & such, 'dead' meaning can't hear gospel--though logically dead can't sin or exist either, & God becomes arbitrary as Allah & other Luciferian fronts); heresy-hunting & elect, non-elect streams of persecution & forced externalism & conformity --with attending rivers of blood, & confusion before the watching dying world, have flowed from following Augustine rather than the direction of the Holy Spirit through the word of God.
Thanks for your encouraging comments. As a ministry we agree that God Word is the ultimate authority. Our Statement of Faith is clear about this.
Many thanks Richard, - Biologos indeed promotes some disturbing teachings characterised by deferring to evolution as an authority over scripture. Some examples are; Nature as authoritative (interpretations denying the effects of the fall, and the global flood). Humans are not descended from Adam & Eve (a real historical single pair), there is death before Adam's sin in God's perfect creation, there is no original sin (as stated in the article). Salvation is understood in evolutionary terms; "increasing Christ likeness". The new creation of the "heavens and earth" is not a reversal or new but a continuation of an evolutionary process of God. As you have quoted "There is nothing new under the sun ..." - reminiscent of Did God say .... ?. Thanks also to Russell W for his open letter to Biologos.
If Romans 5:18 proves original sin, it also must prove universal salvation. In reality, it proves neither.
The entirety of Romans 5 tells us that sin entered the world through Adam's sin, and with it came the consequence: death. The whole of creation has been suffering from that choice since that day. The good news is that since Christ came to offer new life and reconciliation to God, and freedom from sin, we can be saved by His act. And as the first Adam ushered death into the world, which the entire world has suffered from, so the second Adam (Christ) has ushered salvation-so that those who turn from their sin and follow Him will be saved.
Genesis 4:6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
Thanks be to Jesus Christ that He has provided a way to freedom, for, those who have died are freed from sin. John 5:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
Great article - okay, you hooked me with the Santayana quote! It is one of my favourites. And the box on Pelagian heresy is so illustrative of the principle set forth in Ecclesiastes. But why not call out BioLogos and Frances Collins et al for what they are? Sinners headed for hell! Is this so difficult? Paul wrote the Corinthians (there's a couple of letters the entire western church needs to heed) that someone in their midst who is sinning willfully should be turned over to Satan. I guess in contemporary vernacular we would say "Go to hell." Am I being too harsh? No. Did Jesus discuss hell? Yes. Did He tell people of certain behaviours they were headed there? Yes. Needless to say, in the modern church hell doesn't get much mention. Is it because it is not real or we don't want to consider the possibility? If hell is not discussed then what is the meaning of salvation? Salvation from what? The worn out "hell on earth" explanation doesn't come close to describing the real hell. If, indeed, there is a spark of truth, i.e., Truth, left in the crowd over at BioLogos, they could be helped by a dose of New Testament discipline. They are headed for hell and will be held accountable for all the people they drag with them. Stop arguing with BioLogos if you are not going to admonish them. Let's be reminded that in his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul had to instruct this troubled church to forgive and embrace the young man singled out for his stern admonition in the first letter (of those we have at our disposal). And why? Because he repented.
Glad you found this article helpful.
I would caution you in calling the Biologos folks "Sinners headed for hell". They are certainly false teachers, and Scripture has some stern warnings for them. Consider that it is possible to be a Christian and still teach things that contradict Scripture. For some details see Can you be a Christian and believe in evolution? Also be sure to check out the links to the related articles on that page.
Scripture explains how Adam's sin affected all of mankind. It's Hebrews 7, where we read "In addition, we might even say that these Levites — the ones who collect the tithe — paid a tithe to Melchizedek when their ancestor Abraham paid a tithe to him. For although Levi wasn’t born yet, the seed from which he came was in Abraham’s body when Melchizedek collected the tithe from him".
The thinking is that the descendants are contained in the ancestor. This gives rise to the saying "He who saves one life saves a world entire", illustrated at the end of the film "Schindler's List" where the modern-day descendants of the Schindler Jews are shown. There were around 1,200 names on the List but in excess of 10,000 "Schindler Jews" (Schindlerjuden) today - all alive because they were "in" those whom Schindler saved.
The New England Primer teaches this. The rhyme for the letter "A" reads "In Adam's fall we sinned all". Just as Levi was in Abraham when Abraham paid tithes and therefore Levi paid tithes, so I was in Adam when Adam sinned and therefore I sinned.
Again, in a catechism, the Primer contains the question "Are you then born holy and righteous?" to which the answer is "No, my first father sinned and I in him".
The phrases "in Adam" and its corollary "in Christ" hold wonderful truths.
I'm so glad I've found this article on BioLogos. I have challenged my pastor about his support for it and for a book by founder and "professing Christian" Dr Francis Collins. My pastor has recommended to our church they read this book. Then worse, he got the Elder Board to sign off on this position. Even worse than that, we are the First Evenagelical Free Church of Rockford, IL. All EFCA churches traditionally have held to the true Creation Science account -- except ours at this time. Many if not most of EFCA churches actually are supporters of Answers in Genesis and the Institute for Creation Research. Thanks for this article. I'll see how I can possibly forward it to church leadership.
Glad you found this article. :) Please note that this is not the first article we have written on the serious errors of BioLogos and theistic evolution. To find some others just type 'biologos' into the search window in the upper right of your screen.
Excellent insightful analysis that “the error of theistic evolution is identical to that of Pelagianism”. As you observe, “Theistic evolutionists actually take the Pelagian heresy further than Pelagius did” by denying that Adam existed! Early last year, Carl R. Trueman, professor of church history at Westminster Theological Seminary pointed out that “the question of Adam is arguably the biggest doctrinal question facing the current generation”.
Sadly, the atheists clearly recognize the necessity of a literal Adam and Eve and a literal Fall to the Gospel far better than some declared Christians. For example, Frank Zindler, currently the editor of American Atheist Magazine and Director of American Atheist Press, made the following observations: “The most devastating thing though that biology did to Christianity was the discovery of biological evolution. Now that we know that Adam and Eve never were real people (which for Zindler logically follows from evolution) the central myth of Christianity is destroyed…and…If there never was an Adam and Eve, there never was an original sin. If there never was an original sin, there is no need of salvation. If there is no need of salvation, there is no need of a saviour. And I submit that puts Jesus, historical or otherwise, into the ranks of the unemployed. I think that evolution is absolutely the death knell of Christianity.”
As you point out, the error that BioLogos teaches is nothing new. Atheists/Bible haters have been have been pointing out the vital connection between a non-historical Adam and the destruction of the Gospel for years. The quote from Zindler states this clearly. The difference with BioLogos is that it is a group of professing Christian evolutionists arguing for a non-historical Adam. Believers must be careful not to 'let their guard down'. Just because someone is a Christian doesn't mean they are unable to teach falsehoods.
Richard, a very well written article. In November last year I wrote an open letter to the current President of Biologos asking her a series of questions - so far no response. Biologos are a promoter of false doctrine and guilty of undermining/destroying the faith of many within the church.
I had never made the connection between Pelagianism and theistic evolution but you present it so clearly. Thank you for the insight.
I am a supporter of CMI but am disappointed to see this site take up the Reformed gauntlet and push aside some truths that disagree with the human doctrine of Calvinism.
The Doctrine of Original Sin is recognized and embraced as fully biblical and essential to the Gospel by all of conservative Protestantism, including both Arminians and Calvinists. Indeed, it is because this doctrine is so foundational to the Gospel that makes the error of BioLogos is so serious. By teaching against an historical Adam, and therefore against Original sin, their teaching strikes at the very heart of the Christian message.
Furthermore, as a ministry CMI deliberately stays out of Calvinist/Arminian, and denominational debates, etc which (while they may be important) would distract us from our main focus.
I listened to a talk by Derek Prince on Genesis 1.26-28 and Genesis 2.7. He was an expert in both Greek and Hebrew. When talking about God breathing into man to be a living soul, the Hebrew word sounds in part like a breath 'pah' and requires just a breath ‘out’ to pronounce it, whereas the Hebrew word for man necessitates both a breath ‘in’ and a breath ‘out’. He said this shows how man needs to be breathed ‘into’ in order to breathe ‘out’, whereas God, the uncreated one, only breathes 'out'.
This shows the uniqueness of mankind, supported elsewhere in the Bible. Mankind alone has the breath of God breathed into him. This is why we are not animals. How does theistic evolution explain the breath and hand of God in humanity? How can we ‘evolve’ to enable God’s breath to come into us?! God clearly states mankind was made in the image of God. If we accept theistic evolution, does this make God some kind of ‘sludge’ or at what point does mankind come into God’s image and in what way?! Or perhaps God did this over ‘time’… If so, how could mankind rule over anything? Only a human being with God’s breath in them could rule. But the Bible is clear this happened immediately – God put man in the Garden and spoke to man, tasking him with work to do.
Secondly Derek Prince speaks that the Hebrew word for man is a noun - a name - Adam. Up to Genesis 2.4, the Hebrew word translated God is ‘elohim’ (the Godhead). But in Genesis 2.4 and 2.7, we find God’s name – Yahweh. Derek Prince points out that a personal God made a personal man for a personal relationship. This was unique and not found anywhere else in the Bible or creation. A real man (Adam) was made in the image of God, with the breath of God for a personal relationship with a real God. The same is true today.
Dear, S. H.
As you point out, There are many problems with theistic evolution. For a list of key articles summarizing some of these see: Creation Compromises
Biologos shows a clear attempt to understand scripture from intellect.
Just like the scientists from - [website removed as per feedback rules].
 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.