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Would Christ create through evolution?


Published: 1 June 2017 (GMT+10)

In an April 2017 contribution to the BioLogos website,1 NT Wright argued that “If creation is through Christ, evolution is what you would expect”. However, the argumentation is fatally flawed by the assumption of evolution imported onto the text of Scripture.

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Wright asserts, “We must somehow start with what we know of Jesus’ own vision of truth and the kingdom and power and ask what that might mean for creation itself.” One consequence, he suggests, is that “if creation comes through the kingdom bringing Jesus, we ought to expect it to be like a seed growing secretly.” He argues that even though most evolutionist scientists are motivated by a non-Christian worldview, they “nonetheless come up with a picture of Origins that looks remarkably like Jesus’ parables of the Kingdom: some seeds go to waste, others bear remarkable fruit; some projects start tiny and take forever, but ultimately produce a great crop; some false starts are wonderfully rescued, others are forgotten. Chaos is astonishingly overcome.”

However, Wright makes an elementary error when he goes to soteriological texts to inform his doctrine of creation, and uses those soteriological texts to override the plain meaning of the cosmological texts! I agree with Wright that our doctrine of Christ is important for our doctrine of creation—the key Christian contribution to the doctrine of creation is the assertion that Jesus is the agent of creation. However, understanding Christ as the Creator did not lead anyone in the church to suddenly take the timescale and mode of creation outlined in Genesis non-literally until after uniformitarian geologists and Darwinian biologists began to challenge the biblical view.

Further, not only does the New Testament assert that Christ is the agent of creation, but also the agent of restoration—that is, when Christ returns and His rule over creation is fully manifest, He will restore creation from the effects of the Curse. This will not take place via a gradual process over billions of years—it will happen instantaneously.

In fact, it is ironic to use Christ’s teaching to try to support an evolutionary interpretation of Genesis, because Jesus’ own use of Genesis shows that He took it plainly. For instance, He clearly believed that Adam and Eve were the first historical people, created ‘at the beginning of creation’.

Wright argues that the wasteful aspect of evolution is in line with the parables Jesus used to teach about the coming of the Kingdom. However, Jesus was teaching about something happening in a fallen world of rebellious creatures—we should not expect the same things to hold true in an unfallen universe. In fact, many biblical creationists and atheists alike have successfully made the argument that a god who would use evolution would not be the loving God of Scripture at all, but a monster, to build such suffering and wasteful death into a so-called ‘very good’ process.

It is common for theistic evolutionists to use non-cosmological texts to try to make a cosmological point which directly contradicts the plain teaching of Scripture regarding origins. It is more important than ever for biblical creationists to be equipped to handle the sophisticated-sounding but ultimately flawed arguments of those who too readily compromise on the issue of evolution and billions of years. Yes, Jesus is the Creator, and He believed Genesis. And as Christians, we should seek to hold the same view on creation that He did, and not misuse His teachings to try to compromise with anti-Christian worldviews.

References and notes

  1. Wright, N.T., NT Wright: If Creation is through Christ, evolution is what you would expect, biologos.org, 25 April 2017. Return to text.

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Readers’ comments

Piet A.
Another reason why we should not believe in a very slow evolutionary creation is the reaction of nature on the will of Jesus. When Jesus wanted to heal all kinds of sickness ,he spoke and the sick people where healed immediately. In the same way he created wine and calmed the winds and the waves of the lake.He even revived three dead people immediately on his command. So there is no reason at all to suppose that during the creation nature should have worked billions of years to implement the demands of Jesus Christ.
Bruce B.
N.T. Wright proclaims - “If creation is through Christ, evolution is what you would expect”. More than a touch of hubris here. One is simply forced to ask 'why?'. Is evolution really the only choice? NT is desperately searching for reasons to justify his woefully mistaken beliefs rather than seeking our Lord's truth in his Word.
Thanks, Lita, for your always excellent commentary and thank you, SH, for your very perceptive and telling remarks.
Peter M.
When God created Adam & Eve they were created with a level of maturity. They did not have to grow from babies. Clearly, God is able to create things already mature. The same principle can apply to the creation of the universe. God could have create it already in a state of maturity; He does not need billions of years. Think of Jesus changing water into wine for another example. It could take years to mature wine, but Jesus did it instantly and it was the best wine.
Jordan C.
Thank you Lita for this informative review regarding the evolutionary comments made by Wright. I had held much respect for him until I watched his speech hosted by Biologos last month. In fact, I was 1/3 of the way into his book the NT and the people of God, before coming across a video of this admission on youtube. I have since put his book down. It's quite unfortunate considering how much he has otherwise contributed to a Christian defense of the Resurrection of Christ, but now I'm not sure what to make of him? I'm not a scholar, just trying to learn about history, so I ask can we even trust him on things strictly relevant to his field and discord his ignorance regarding scientific issues? I am a big fan of Dr. Craig, he is not an evolutionist to my knowledge, although I obviously disagree with his old earth positions(big bang models, etc), but his style of logical argument is very useful and can be tested, and I trust his sincerity, despite my disagreements mentioned, but for Wright, I’m not sure if I should trust him now, because, again I am not a biblical scholar, how can I hold on to what he says to be true, if I cannot test it? Should I finish his book? God bless CMI
Lita Cosner
I face the same dilemma with Wright, especially since I consider his Resurrection of the Son of God to be a great work defending the historicity of the Resurrection of Christ. I would recommend reading with discernment, and making sure you're part of an evangelical church where you can ask your pastor about anything you're unsure about.
Kent O.
Excellent response as usual, Lita! It's amazing the lengths that people, even Biblical scholars, will go to in order to accommodate billions of years and evolution because they believe it is fact. But as the articles on your website so clearly show, molecules to man evolution is NOT a fact. Evolution is neither good Bible interpretation nor good science.
Bill P.
This is why it is so important to read, study, and meditate on The Word of God. This world view of evolution is just one of many examples of people twisting The Word of God to fulfill what motives they are hiding in their hearts and sadly many fall for it. I know many even in my own family. I beg them to read God's word for themselves and they won't take the time.
Walter S.
Evolution is a mindless, undirected and purposeless natural process according to Dr. Jerry Coyne, Univ. of Chicago; Richard Dawkins and other noted evolutionists. Creation is a mindful (it involves a Mind), directed (by that Mind) and purposeful supernatural event(s).

How could Christ use his mind to direct a process which has no mind behind it and is un-directed by definition? He would be accomplishing His purposes with a system which can have no purpose. Combining the antithetical philosophies of creation and evolution is fundamentally irrational.
L. David G.
Contrary to N.T. Wright, no seeds go to waste in the parable of the sower and soils because Isa. 55 says that God is the sender of the seeds (of his word) and they ALWAYS accomplish his purpose, even when plucked by birds (satan), withers with the heat of the sun (rootless) or choked by weeds and thorns (cares of the world). The final judgment will prove this to be so.
S. H.
I realise NT Wright is not saying he interprets the Scripture to mean that the parable of sower is Jesus' commentary of creation. But nevertheless, it's a strange analogy to evolution. Here we have a perfect God creating a perfect garden but only able to do create through evolution and death, chaos and disorder! It would make for a very strange God who created a world of chaos in the first place (everything God stands against and that Jesus attributes to the enemy) - especially when Jesus came to redeem that very chaos to turn it back to order! Doesn't this picture of God also diminish who God is and his power? If NT Wright wants to use the parable of the sower as a parallel to creation, the interpretation Jesus gives of the parable doesn't work either. We find that the things that took away from the Kingdom were either from the enemy, from the world or from within the corrupt heart of man. Using Wright's parallel, this would hardly be a ringing endorsement of the character of God (or the Bible). It would effectively mean God used evil to create good and therefore didn't create a perfect world. As you rightly say, will God make a new heaven and a new earth over millions of years? It'll be quite a wait and contrary to the Word of God too. No, using the parable of the sower even very lightly as a picture of origins doesn't stand scrutiny and paints a picture of God that we know and the Bible shows isn't true.

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