Evolution, Grace, Logic, and Algebra: Why X – Y = Abundant Grace

I couldn’t resist putting the following exchange up as a blog post. It happened in the comments section of “Evolution and Romans 5:12.”

I’ll just give you Monster’s one comment, and my reply. I chopped out a section his (marked with …) for obvious reasons:

Monster’s Comment to Me

“And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli,

“Which was the son of Matthat …

“Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.”

So which one of these in the line of Jesus were made up characters? Just Adam? Perhaps Seth, or Enos? How about Noah? Why stop at Adam, let’s just throw out the Great Deluge as a fairy story as well. Seriously, where do the real people start and the made up people end? Where do the made-up events stop and the real events start? If Adam was a real person, just from a long line of sinning cavemen who died, then why does he take the rap for sin? That’s not very just; in fact, I would call it false witness.

Your watered-down version of Genesis just doesn’t add up.

My Reply

I know that Christians love to reason from “if x is true, then y.” For Christians, if they don’t like y, then x must not be true. I’ve started referring to such Christians as AI Wits (meaning “Anything I Want is True”).

I can’t do that. Wishful thinking doesn’t work for me. I like to take a good, long, hard, and evens years-long look at the evidence to determine whether x is true. Then, once I find out whether x is true, then I deal with y.

In this case, x is true, or at least has so much evidence for being true that we have to deal with it. Evolution at least seems to have happened, whether we like it or not.

This affects our interpretation of Genesis, whether we like it or not.

This means we have to deal with the question you asked, not complain about having to deal with it and throw out evolution because we don’t like it.

As it turns out, the question you ask–”Which one of these in the line of Jesus were made-up characters?”–is a really important question that can start the process of leading us out of our modern version of Christianity back into apostolic Christianity. What do I mean by modern version of Christianity? I mean the one that is powerless to produce “love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith” but instead “straying from these into fruitless discussion, wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions” (1 Timothy 1:5-8, NASB).

The approach we have to Genesis, which you are offended to have questioned, is part of the reason that our Gospel, with some exceptions, can’t produce “the power of God to salvation” (Rom. 1:16) so that saints are “zealous for good works” (Tit. 2:14) and rarely have love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and an unfeigned faith.

X (evolution) shocked me back in the mid-90’s. The incredible power of leaving American Christianity’s rigid, novel, and mostly powerless approach to Scripture (Y) shocked me even more.

Amazingly, in this case, x-y=z, where z is abundant grace and faith.

About Paul Pavao

I am married, the father of six, and currently the grandfather of two. I run a business, live in a Christian community, teach, and I am learning to disciple others better than I have ever been able to before. I believe God has gifted me to restore proper foundations to the Christian faith. In order to ensure that I do not become a heretic, I read the early church fathers from the second and third centuries. They were around when all the churches founded by the apostles were in unity. I also try to stay honest and open. I argue and discuss these foundational doctrines with others to make sure my teaching really lines up with Scripture. I am encouraged by the fact that the several missionaries and pastors that I know well and admire as holy men love the things I teach. I hope you will be encouraged too. I am indeed tearing up old foundations created by tradition in order to re-establish the foundations found in Scripture and lived on by the churches during their 300 years of unity.
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7 Responses to Evolution, Grace, Logic, and Algebra: Why X – Y = Abundant Grace

  1. Shammah says:

    Well, Bob. On this issue you and I are in complete agreement. I don’t think your statement is going to be convincing to any fundamentalist that didn’t already agree with you, but well said nonetheless.

  2. Bob Duggan says:

    The book of Genesis (and the whole Bible for that matter) was not written as a book of science or a book of history as we understand them today. More than anything, the stories that make up the Bible (which have existed in various forms before and after being written down) are part of mans attempt to understand not merely the workings of the world around him and it’s chronology but to probe the mystery of human suffering in tension with the instinct for eternal life and a good God – “Le Bon Dieu”. The stories of the Hebrews and Israelites as well as those of Christ’s Apostles also reveal a unique revelation of God among men. These stories represent that God as a God of Love and Justice and as such reveal a God who is making more of an attempt toward man than man is capable of himself. This revelation and understanding, this relationship is unfolding and evolving as can be evidenced by the Scriptures themselves (apart from science and history etc.) But that doesn’t have to mean that the Bible is not compatible with science and history, quite the contrary at times. But it must first must be understood (especially the first few chapters of Genesis) as “Myth”. Not myth as in “false”. Myth as in a story which is addressing something which can not be apprehended easily and shouldn’t be. Whether we like it or not there is an eternity of wonderful mystery surrounding us.

  3. Shammah says:

    Fixing it on my phone didn’t work. Going to fix it now.

    I fixed one other statement with it. The fact is, I don’t **know** that evolution is true. Everything in science is at least somewhat tentative, and it’s all the more tentative when you’re not a scientist (like I’m not).

    On the other hand, if someone wants to keep digging down to the base, honestly comparing the arguments, he is going to have to admit the evidence for evolution wins hands down over those who argue against it. Those who disagree either haven’t done the work or aren’t honest. Simple as that.

    Again, that’s whether we like it or not. We can pretend that’s not so, but there’s a lot of people that we’re not fooling, even though we are fooling ourselves.

  4. Shammah says:

    Yes, Allison, you’re right, and from my perspective, evolution can’t be that important. It’s just science. But honesty? Openness? Not assuming that Genesis one *must* be literal? Those are real important.

    Okay, now t try to fix that one sentence while on just my phone.

  5. Sorry it was three days… Listening to my four year old as I type. It is true though “He shrouds Himself in mystery” thats why we must seek HIM to know the truth.

  6. I can help but think about the age of Jesus as another point of controversy. As well as how long his ministry was. Some say only a couple of years. Yet at one point he refers to God taking “forty years to build this temple” and the scriptures say he was talking about his own body and even said God would raise it up in four days. I said that not to start an arguement but simply to illustrate that from a historical perspective, there is much wonder, mystery and delight in the pages of the Bible. I too am an artist and my depictions always try to capture that perspective.

  7. Allison Musick says:

    In your section called “My Reply,” 2nd sentence – did you mean “if they don’t like y, then x must NOT be true”? that confused me.

    this was a great post. i’ve known many AI WITS and i’m tired of them. your description was accurate.

    i don’t really care about evolution that much – is that allowed? young earth, old earth, i don’t see that it makes THAT much difference to me personally. as a [retired ;-)] artist, it makes perfect sense that God could have created the earth to look and seem thousands or even millions of years old, though it may not be – just like i could draw a picture of a ninety-year-old person on a piece of paper, and if i’m any kind of artist, the person will look ninety years old. the piece of art itself may only be 1 day old, but the image of the person will look ninety years old.

    anyway. i’m sure you get it. just wanted to give props. 😉

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