Monday, May 21, 2007

B. B. Warfield on evolution

"I do not think that there is any general statement in the Bible or any part of the account of creation, either as given in Genesis 1 and 2 or elsewhere alluded to, that need be opposed to evolution"

(I was surprised to read this, too!)


At 5/21/2007 4:13 PM, Anonymous W. Travis McMaken said...

Warfield started out studying biology, so something like this comes as no surprise.

Yes, the founder of inerrancy didn't have a poblem with Darwin.

At 5/21/2007 4:34 PM, Anonymous Mike said...

Interestingly enough, neither did Charles Hodge...if you read his Systematic Theology...I don't remember where on the top of my head.

At 5/21/2007 6:06 PM, Anonymous Pastor Bob Cornwall said...

Yes, Warfield was fine with evolution -- and yet despite his foundational defenses of inerrancy myriads of inerrantists insist that to affirm evolution is to deny the authority of Scripture. Go Figure!!!

At 5/21/2007 7:36 PM, Anonymous Looney said...

Change and evolution are synonyms. If something evolved, then it changed. If it changed, then it evolved. Thus, evolution is an observable fact. Unfortunately, there is exactly nothing that can be deduced from the theory of change.

At 5/21/2007 11:10 PM, Anonymous Michael Westmoreland-White said...

I knew this about Hodge, Warfield, and others like A.H. Strong, E.Y. Mullins, James Orr, and other early evangelicals. I have plugged this quote, Chris, on my blog and given you credit for the reference.

Unfortunately, the state I live in, Kentucky has just built a "Creationism Museum" due to open this month. I may die of embarrassment.

At 5/22/2007 10:46 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Crikey, what a fascinating list of conservatives who accepted evolution!

At 5/27/2007 10:38 PM, Anonymous chris e said...

Well - Warfield's formulation of inerrancy was a lot more nuanced than that held by the average evangelical, he allowed for biblical language to be phenomenal rather than scientific.

If you look at the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy, there would appear to be a huge tension between articles 12 and 13 (one is tempted to call 'kludge'):

Article XII.

WE AFFIRM that Scripture in its entirety is inerrant, being free from all falsehood, fraud, or deceit.

WE DENY that Biblical infallibility and inerrancy are limited to spiritual, religious, or redemptive themes, exclusive of assertions in the fields of history and science. We further deny that scientific hypotheses about earth history may properly be used to overturn the teaching of Scripture on creation and the flood.

Article XIII.

WE AFFIRM the propriety of using inerrancy as a theological term with reference to the complete truthfulness of Scripture.

WE DENY that it is proper to evaluate Scripture according to standards of truth and error that are alien to its usage or purpose. We further deny that inerrancy is negated by Biblical phenomena such as a lack of modern technical precision, irregularities of grammar or spelling, observational descriptions of nature, the reporting of falsehoods, the use of hyperbole and round numbers, the topical arrangement of material, variant selections of material in parallel accounts, or the use of free citations.

I suspect this reflects both the original language of inerrancy used by Hodge and Warfield, and the lobbying of YECers who were pushing for the statement to be specifically tied to a literalistic 6 day creation.

At 6/12/2007 5:45 PM, Anonymous Henry (Honzo) Imler said...

Interesting quote - what is the source?

At 4/14/2008 3:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have read Hodges Systematic Theology and have the volumes in my library. So I looked it up. The statements made are in my opinion a twisting of the authors words, in an ambiquous way, "I don't remember where of the top of my head." Try volume I chapter X -Creation. "According to the more obvious interpretation of the first chapter of Genesis, this work was accomplished in six days. This therefore has been the common belief of Christians. It is a belief founded on a given interpretation of the Mosaic record, which interpretation, howevever, must be controlled not only by the laws of language, but by facts. This is at present an open question. The facts necessary for its decision have not yet been duly authenticated. The believer may calmly await the result." I think we can safely say if Hodge were alive today, he would be quite comfortable with a six day creation, as the facts, i.e. observable science, have brought evolution into serious question.

At 4/14/2008 4:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

“As the Bible is of God, it is certain that there can be no conflict between the teachings of the Scriptures and the facts of science. It is not with Facts, but with theories, believers have to contend. Many such theories have, from time to time, been presented, apparently or really inconsistent with the Bible. But these theories have either proved to be false, or to harmonize with the Word of God, properly interpreted. The Church has been forced more than once to alter her interpretation of the Bible to accommodate the discoveries of science. But this has been done without doing any violence to the Scriptures or in any degree impairing their authority. Such change, however, cannot be effected without a struggle. It is impossible that our mode of understanding the Bible should not be determined by our views of the subjects of which it treats. So long as men believed that the earth was the centre of our system, the sun its satellite, and the stars its ornamentation, they of necessity understood the Bible in accordance with that hypothesis. But when it was discovered that the earth was only one of the smaller satellites of the sun, and that the stars were worlds, then faith, although at first staggered, soon grew strong enough to take it all in, and rejoice to find that the Bible, and the Bible alone of all ancient books, was in full accord with these stupendous revelations of science. And so if it should be proved that the creation was a process continued through countless ages, and that the Bible alone of all the books of antiquity recognized that fact, then, as Professor Dana says, the idea of its being of human origin would become “utterly incomprehensible.””

These words of Charles Hodge "if it should be proved" indicate that he had not "bought in" to Darwinism. The statement made by Warfield is most likely to be taken in this same context, and should continue to be taken in this context until the author of the original blog can produce the reference to the Warfield quote.

At 9/18/2009 2:03 PM, Anonymous mathematician said...

All of a sudden, BB Warfield has become my hero. He has a high view of scripture, and he isn't fazed by science (unlike today's creationists).


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