Theological colleges—on ‘the slippery slope’?
Photo by Karen Marshall, templetonpress.org
Sir John Templeton
It is with some concern, as a former graduate of BCNZ,1 missionary2 and Christian writer,3 that I note the holding of the New Perspectives in Science and Theology Conference at BCNZ (Bible College of New Zealand), this coming weekend, 27–28 July 2007. It is advertised as being ‘organized by TANSAA (Theology and the Natural Sciences in Aotearoa4 Auckland [New Zealand]) a Metanexus.net initiative and Tyndale–Carey Graduate School.’ According to its website, Tyndale–Carey Graduate School is a joint venture between the Bible College of New Zealand (BCNZ) and Carey Baptist College (Carey).
My concern revolves round the fact that several of the listed speakers are well known for their theistic evolutionary beliefs, one is known for his explicitly anti-biblical inerrancy stance, and none that we know of hold to the literal young-Earth position on Genesis 1. For example:
Assoc. prof. Neil Broom, while sympathetic to the Intelligent Design movement, is well known for his anti young-Earth, anti biblical-inerrancy position, e.g. the old oft-refuted canard that Genesis 1 and 2 contradict.
Dr Graeme Finlay is a theistic evolutionist whose book on the evolutionary similarity of human and chimp DNA based on pseudo or junk DNA has recently been refuted by the latest research (see for example Greater than 98% Chimp/human DNA similarity? Not any more and Astonishing DNA complexity uncovered). He is a dogmatic supporter of the arcane and discredited Framework Hypothesis.
Dr Nicola Hoggard Creegan is another theistic evolutionist and opponent of biblical creation, e.g. writing articles such as ‘Theology is enhanced by an evolutionary understanding of the world’.
Funding to teach evolution
A further concern is that the funding appears to be from the Templeton Foundation,5 which offers large grants of money (of the order $10,000) to any tertiary institution that will host an approved course, by which is meant one that is in line with its own philosophy and ethos. See my article ‘Evangelical Colleges paid to teach evolution’. Their philosophy is exemplified by the Templeton Foundation Annual Prize, currently valued at Stg £800,000. According to the Templeton website, ‘We hope all religions may become more dynamic and inspirational.’6 The Prize ‘seeks to encourage understanding of the benefits of diversity’. This really means, anything goes except something as exclusive as Jesus’ teaching, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’ (John 14:6). The aim is ‘to encourage a wide diversity of recipients from different races, sexes and religions’.6 Judges have included the Dalai Lama, Prince Charles, and the co-founder of the world’s largest Buddhist lay organization. In 1995, they awarded the Prize to Prof. Paul Davies who does not believe in a personal God (see Physicists’ God Talk and Huff and Bluff: Can ‘quantum magic’ save chemical evolution?). See also Templeton Prize goes to panentheistic Darwinist.
Contradictions with the BCNZ’s own professed belief
BCNZ’s own Statement of Faith is perfectly sound evangelical doctrine, with which CMI heartily agrees (compare ours). But judging by the speakers invited (and those not invited!), one could not be blamed for seeing it more as decoration than prescription:
3. God has revealed himself in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. All Scripture is uniquely inspired by God and is therefore wholly trustworthy and of supreme and final authority in faith and life.
Comment: how can Scripture be ‘wholly trustworthy’ if it contradicts itself (as some speakers assert), and how can it be ‘final authority’ if evolutionary ‘science’ trumps Scripture about the origin of man (as many speakers assert)? Note that Jesus Himself commended all the parts of history that evolution/long age teaching denies—see Jesus Christ on the infallibility of Scripture.
7. Through human disobedience to God, sin and death entered the world. …
Comment: Millions of years simply cannot be married to that. If evolutionary ‘dating’ is accepted, then fossils even of undoubted humans exist well before any possible date for Adam. Also, human disobedience resulted in a curse on the entire creation (Romans 8:19–23)—see The Fall: a cosmic catastrophe. And evolutionist Carl Sagan said, ‘The secrets of evolution are time and death’, which contradicts the biblical teaching that death is the ‘last enemy’ (1 Corinthians 15:26). So the BCNZ statement is totally accurate: death is the result of sin.
Conclusion: Christians and Bible Colleges
Christians in NZ thinking of attending this conference should be aware of these matters before deciding to support this teaching by their presence. And if they wish to attend a Bible College, it is not enough to analyse a particular college’s Statement of Faith—it must also be binding on all their teaching, otherwise it is simply decoration (and could serve to mislead evangelicals who might divert their support elsewhere if they knew what such a college really taught). Sadly there is an increasing trend for many prominent Bible Colleges to compromise the authority of Scripture with respect to the issue of Origins. See ‘Crisis in the colleges: A call for reformation’.
- 1957–58, when BCNZ was named New Zealand Bible Training Institute. Return to Text.
- With Overseas Missionary Fellowship for 20 years. Return to Text.
- With Creation Ministries International for 17 years. Return to Text.
- Aotearoa is the Māori name for New Zealand. Return to Text.
- Tyndale-Carey Graduate School information sheet re TANSAA,
<http://www.tyndale-carey.ac.nz/index.php?option=July 24, 2007. Return to Text.
- www.templetonprize.org/purpose.html July 24, 2007. Return to Text.