Nullifying the Word of God for the sake of academic reputation...
This is a post showing how (it seems to me) shame over the Bible's history of Creation has led to the (maybe) decline of Covenant Theological Seminary. But first, a short back-story...
Some time back I had a man in my congregation who had grown up Baptist and was pursuing graduate studies in science. One weekend he was home visiting his childhood church and he came under the influence of John Armstrong who--whether through preaching or conversation, I don't know--convinced him to stop graduate studies in science and begin graduate studies in theology. Being PCA at the time, I encouraged him to go to the PCA's Covenant Seminary over in St. Louis and he matriculated there a year or so later.
Watching him across the years is part of the reason I've warned people to avoid Covenant. There's more to say than this, but two things are worth highlighting...First, after a year or so at Covenant, this young man let it be known that he intended to teach on the seminary level. My brother and I are of the conviction that almost no one should teach on the seminary level who has not served faithfully in the work of the ministry for a number of years. The Church doesn't need more scholar-scholars training shepherds, but pastor-scholars. Or rather scholar-pastors. So I warned this young man not to let the scholarly world turn his head as it's turned so many young men's heads these past fifty years. I encouraged him to go and work as a shepherd for a decade or so. Then, if God has blessed you with fruitful ministry, think about returning to the seminary as a teacher where you'll teach, not with the heart of an academic but the heart of a shepherd.
This was my theme in several conversations we had during his first couple years of seminary, but each time he was resistant to my counsel. He explained he didn't need to be a pastor to do a good job training men for the ministry. It might be helpful for me to add that my counsel was not disconnected from my knowledge of this man's strengths and weaknesses. Although I believe the principle of serving in the ministry prior to teaching in a seminary is generally true, I admit to certain exceptions. Yet as his pastor, it was clear to me this man was not one of those exceptions.
Second, a couple years later I called this young man to ask if any professors at Covenant would be willing to work with a team of scholars and pastors who were opposing sex-neutered Bibles? At the time we were putting together a coalition to warn Christians of Zondervan's neutering of the New International Version which, back then, was almost the only Bible used in Evangelical churches. We also had started working to get the copyright for the Revised Standard Version so we could issue a new Bible version that would not cave to the feminists on the male inclusive.
This young man recommended a Covenant prof who had influenced him quite a bit named Jack Collins. He said Jack might be willing to join the fight, so I contacted Jack and he became part of the team. Some wealthy men who had been supporting our work at the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood agreed to fund the work of editing the RSV and Jack joined that work also. (A few years later, Lane Dennis's publishing company in Wheaton issued the revised RSV under the name English Standard Version.)
Over the years I've asked myself why men choose the academy over the pastorate? I've worked closely with a lot of Evangelical Theological Society scholars and it seems to me a number of those men have a jealous disdain for the ministry. Jealous in that they lack the love of souls that motivates shepherds to continue to feed and admonish wayward and unruly sheep (such as ourselves). They wish they were lovers of souls, but they know they're not and this produces some envy of those who are gifted with this leadership.
But there's also a disdain and this is more visible. Like many of us, scholars are in love with their strengths and prefer to get their paychecks using their strengths rather than their weaknesses. Further, they have spent years listening to preaching and teaching from men they consider loveable ignoramuses and they find it a terrible embarrassment. Their primary orientation is the Academy and they die a thousand deaths over the shame pastors cause them when pastors aren't sufficiently nuanced in what they say or write. So they set out to change all that by training future pastors what not to say and how not to say it.
Did I mention this young man was a strong advocate of evolution? A number of times he told me of his intense opposition to those who believed the Bible's history of God creating the heavens and the earth. (Of course he'd nuance that statement quite a bit if he were the one writing it.)
All the above is prelude to the following.
Firing professors is a mark of a seminary that's still alive just as excommunication is a mark of a church that is still alive. A few years ago Westminster Theological Seminary in Philly fired Peter Enns for (as I see it) rejecting the authority and inspiration of Scripture.
Since leaving Westminster, Peter Enns has been out there preaching the Gospel of Scripture's errors, and (we see below) focussing on those most embarrassing to intellectuals contained in the first few chapters of God's Word. Peter Enns thinks Christians should give themselves to a new metanarrative concerning Gaia's origins. (Of course he doesn't actually call it "Gaia.")
Enter the PCA's Jack Collins who has written a book titled Did Adam and Eve Really Exist? Peter Enns recently reviewed Collins's book and here are a few things he says about (what I see as) Jack's apologia for evolution:
I commend Collins for attempting to bring under one roof the truth of evolution as the proper paradigm for explaining human origins and the biblical story of Adam and Eve.
You see where this is headed, right? Question: is Collins's "one roof" the roof of the Church or the roof of the Academy?
Collins is professor of Old Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary, the denominational seminary of the Presbyterian Church of America (in which he is ordained). The document that governs their theological deliberations is the seventeenth-century Westminster Confession of Faith, which clearly stipulates a first couple. I commend Collins for the courage to engage this group in a conversation about evolution.
Question: just yesterday, wasn't Enns doctrinally subscribed to the Westminster Confession of Faith? How is it, then, that he's now referring to the Wesminster Confession as "their" and "this group's" commitment? Are paychecks this powerful in changing a man's confession of faith?
Collins's synthesis requires an ad hoc hybrid "Adam" who was "first man" in the sense of being either a specially chosen hominid or a larger tribe of early hominids (Collins is careful not to commit himself to either option).
Question: was the Apostle Paul wrong when he wrote this under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit?
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned--for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. (Romans 5:12-14)
Was he also wrong when he wrote,
For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:21, 22)
But bright men assure us that "one man" Adam (Peter Enns reports) could well have been a "tribe of early hominids."
Peter Enns sees the dance and names the tune:
Although I am sympathetic to Collins's efforts to blaze such a path... I do not see how such an ad hoc Adam will calm doctrinal waters, since the Westminster Confession of Faith leaves no room for anything other than a first couple [Adam and Eve] read literally from the pages of Genesis and Paul, and therefore entails a clear rejection of evolutionary theory.
Question: if the man relieved of his duties at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia is able to see and name (what he sees as) the betrayal of Scripture and the Westminster Standards by Jack Collins, why is Jack still teaching at Covenant? Surely there's no lingering doubt about Jack's views being incompatible with Biblical faith. Why should Covenant allow errors that Westminster repudiates?
...this type of hybrid "Adam," clearly driven by the need to account for an evolutionary model, is not the Adam of the biblical authors.
Peter Enns shows great perspicacity concerning Jack Collins's denial of the perspicacity of Scripture.
Ironically, the desire to protect the Adam of scripture leads Collins (and others) to create an Adam that hardly preserves the biblical portrait. Evolution and a historical Adam cannot be merged by positing an Adam so foreign to the biblical consciousness.
"The Biblical consciousness?" This is simply awful. There is no Biblical consciousness. There is the Holy Spirit of God--He is everywhere in and through and around the Word of God. Again, note how easily Enns recognizes Collins's repudiation of Scripture.
Then we're off to the flood story:
Collins spends much time discussing the mythicized history of the flood story.
Can anyone be surprised that the man who (as reported by Enns) argues Adam may be a tribe of hominids also "spends much time discussing the mythicized history of the Flood" contained in "the flood story?"
That sneaky little word 'story' shows which side of the oxymoronic "mythicized history" Enns and Collins fall on.
...the hybrid "Adam" Collins leaves us with is most certainly not the Adam of these biblical authors (Enns's emphasis)
Again, such clarity on the part of the man relieved of duties at Wesminster concerning the doctrinal commitments of Covenant's Old Testament prof. Why couldn't it have been another Covenant prof blowing the whistle? Why couldn't it have been Covenant's president? Or Jack Collins's presbytery? Or even one of Covenant's trustees?
Collins ...finds creative—but unconvincing—pathways through various scholarly terrains to support a first pair of some sort... (and the) possible plausibility of the traditional position.
Enns reports that a prof of Old Testament who helped pull together the ESV is arguing for a first pair of some sort and the possible plausibility of the traditional position on Creation.
Let us remember that, after praying all night, our Lord chose long-haul truck drivers and Gloucester fishermen and IRS agents as His Apostles. And trembling, let us keep in mind His terrible warning concerning the elders, pastors, preachers, seminary professors, and Bible scholars of His day:
"'But in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.' Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men." (Jesus) was also saying to them, "You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition" (Mark 7:7-9).