(updated) on the issue of Bruce Waltke and evolution

((Update) You can read an open letter to the public by Bruce Waltke on Justin Talyor’s blog). 

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Did you hear Bruce Waltke resigned from his post at the Reformed Theological Semianry?   Why is not totally clear.  Additionally, Tremper Longman was “disinvited” from his adjunct position there over a video he had about his thoughts on Adam.  These two fellows are no lightweights when it comes to OT and biblical studies. 

Brian LePort has put up a post on “The Evolution of Bruce Waltke” which logs many different responses to the situation going on there at RTS. 

Again, see my comments in relation to Trevin Wax’s post.  I think too, it should be noted Waltke’s statement on the BioLogos video doesn’t really seem to take a stand one way or the other – but it reveals a deeper problem I have been noticing especially among conservative reformed folk and that is the problem of over-interpretation – people getting upset at Waltke’s statements are over-interpreting his statment as an endrsement of evolution, which may or may not be true – even so, in conservative reformed an even conservative evangelical circles, I guess there are consequences for making such statements or for honest biblical scholarship

 As another example of the problem of over interpretation – I once tried to explain to a conservative reformed fellow about his supposed “right doctrines” and he labled me emergent and eventually my comment seemed to suggest I support that anyone can believe whatever they want and that I didn’t think doctrine was important.  He was over-interpreting what I was saying. 

Well, anyways, seems like a shame that so many are wanting to “tighten the lid” so to speak on various issues instead of letting people make their own choices.

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9 responses to “(updated) on the issue of Bruce Waltke and evolution

  1. Waltke was part of an institute that had (and has) the right to determine whether one is in agreement with a statement of faith and/or community agreement. It is my understanding that he had for many years been in agreement with the statement of RTS, but as a result of his comments placed himself outside of that agreement and thus left his post. The school did not dismiss him. He dismissed himself (though it may have been influenced by the school). His interview with BioLogos is tantamount to an assertion of embrassing evolutionary beliefs (though his perspective is certainly theistic). He is an extraordinary OT fellow, but his beliefs about evolution does not find its roots in his interpretion of Scripture but in his interpretation of the scientific data. I will continue to read (and interact with his work) and hope he continues to be mightily used of the Lord (as he certainly has in the past). While he is an able scholar he is not beyond being wrong. I do agree that many conservative Reformed folks are incapable of discussing such issues (but so is anyone else who believes they know what is right and that it actually matters in the light of eternity). I wish this was a topic that could actually be discussed without all the harsh rhetoric that seems to go hand in hand with such discussions (I’ve personally received 15 new blog posts about this very topic). I do believe this is a topic of great importance (it is specifically related to the topic of the thesis I’m writing for seminary), but am willing to accept that those who differ from me are not heretical, only misguided (as I’m certain I am on things as well) and/or inconsistent with a broader proper hermeneutic and application.

  2. To me the story seems similar to Kevin Vanhoozer’s. A notable and insightful evangelical academic in both cases finds themselves just barely outside of a current evangelical manner of doctrinal explanation. I wish both of them well.

  3. Pingback: Link to Roundup on Bruce Waltke « Threads from Henry's Web

  4. I think we’re going to see more activity like this. I seem to think it’s related to “academic freedom” and “confessional standards.” It’s difficult to weigh through, because one can find strengths within both positions.

    I don’t think it’s just the Reformed either. Tony Jones’ interaction with some Pentecostals was similar, wasn’t it?

    Anyway, yeah, this is interesting. I’m a mild “literal-six-days-of-creation-old-earth” advocate who sees the issues as important but simply not important enough to have a hard line opinion… but give me time!

    enjoying the blog! Thanks! I’m also praying for things to continue to progress for the ministry you are doing out there!

    Blessings,
    luke

  5. Pingback: Hanging on the blog shelf: 4-12-10 - Think Theology

  6. Thanks for the link Rick – that does help and like Luke, Waltke’s response increases my respect and appreciation for him.

    Luke, I am not sure Tony Jones post SPS temper tantrum is quite the same as this situation – I am not convinced either that open support for gay marriage is akin to what Waltke is talking about – so far as I am concerned Waltke has more character and integrity in the very tip of his left pinky than TJ has in his whole body – but that is my opinion after reading his posts and hearing too AoG General Superintendent Dr. Wood’s response to the situation. Tony Jones is ABD at Princeton and sadly, it shows. Sorry if that is offensive, it’s just how I feel.

    For the record, at this point while I am still in process with where I stand on the whole creation-evolution debate I tend to side with Waltke as he explains it in his letter.

    Thanks too for your partnership in the gospel through prayer support for the ministry here in the Grand Canyon National Park. It is much appraciated.

  7. Well, I tend to think the issues are related because both issues (academic freedom and confessional standards) are two sides of the coin. Most professors desire “academic freedom” in order to teach to the best of their ability and in their quest for truth. Yet confessional standards are important for many Christians, especially Evangelicals. I’ve found this to be the case within the Assemblies of God, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, the Lutheran Missouri Synod, Christian Reformed, and the Southern Baptist Convention. Obviously what passes as “standard” depends upon which tradition one is in.

    I must say that I’m not sure which is best because I can see strengths and weaknesses to both sides of the coin. I had a professor in an A/G university that had openly been in opposition to two of the 16 fundamentals and was quite “liberal” compared to most. I have also had professors promote the idea that the Scriptures had errors and could only be trusted in “spiritual matters.” Both of those ideas were in direct opposition to the theological standards that both institutions held as being “essential,” so to speak.

    But as soon as professors are regulated to only teach within a small box, I think academic integrity becomes questionable. Therefore, my opinion is that, specifically speaking, Evangelicals need to do a better job of determining what are essential and what are okay to differ on. As you know, Dispensational Premillennialism was at one time the standard and if you did not hold do that view, you were academically and ministerially screwed (at least in certain traditions).

    I understand your point though, which is dealing more with the overall issue related to what is accepted as “standard” within a confessional school. Certainly there is enough cause to allow Theistic Evolution, though it too has issues (as do all other views, in my opinion). It certainly does not make one a damnable heretic!

    From my understanding, Waltke is stating that he wishes he’d have communicated things better, and if he had, pehaps he’d still be at RTS. I know there are several professors at RTS who do have some interesting views on creation (I’m using the word “interesting” to carry a lot of weight there).

    For the record, I agree with Dr. Wood on the situation with Tony Jones 🙂

    Blessings,
    Luke

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