April 30, 2017

Theistic Evolution: Tolerable or Treacherous? (1)

Joseph L. Henson

This article first appeared as the lead article in the first issue of the magazine, Faith for the Family, published March/April, 1973. It is reproduced here by permission.

In a day characterized by superficiality in every realm, we may expect to find many fundamental Christians incorporating ideas into their personal beliefs which are inconsistent with their fundamental convictions. Because of the moon walks, computer technology, discoveries in nuclear physics, and many other faith-for-the-familyaccomplishments of modern science and technology, many Christians have unthinkingly adopted a view which attempts to harmonize the creation account in Genesis with some kind of evolutionary scheme. It is not possible for any person to both accept the Bible as authoritative and trustworthy and inerrant in the original autographs and some scheme of evolution, theistic or otherwise.

Fundamental Christians are sometimes accused of limiting God by insisting on a six-day creation and a universal flood. Let us examine this charge. Could an omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent God have used any method of creation? Are we being narrow and shortsighted when we demur? I think not.

When God tells us in His Word that He has done something a particular way, we are not free to speculate about how else He might have done it. Recently I drove home from Atlanta. If you asked me what route I took, and I told you, then it is rather pointless for you to try to figure out whether I could have come home some other way. I grant that this view imposes the responsibility of determining, if we can, what the Genesis account is saying, but the account does tell us certain things. It does place certain limitations on the speculations of the human mind.

Having established this point, who is guilty of limiting God—those of us who say we believe what the Scripture says about the length of the creative week, or those who say that God could not have created in that period of time and was forced to use tremendous geologic eras for the creation? If the Bible does place some time limit on the length of the creative week and the age of the earth, the individual who insists that God could not have done it in that length of time is really the one who is guilty of limiting Him, not the person who accepts what the Bible teaches. It is time fundamentalists stop being browbeaten with the nonsensical argument that we are guilty of limiting God.

Theistic evolution is simply the idea that evolution is God’s method of creation. He has personally superintended the process very much like a chess player moves his chessmen around on the board. By evolution we do not mean the normal variation exhibited by any population, but the idea that all forms of life came originally from one or a few prototypes. Let us notice two comments by Thomas Huxley, a nineteenth century biologist who advocated Darwinism. “Not only do I hold it to be proven that the story of the Deluge is a pure fiction; but I have no hesitation in affirming the same thing of the story of the Creation. It is clear that the doctrine of evolution is directly antagonistic to that of creation … Evolution, if consistently accepted, makes it impossible to believe the Bible.” This gentleman is an eminently qualified spokesman for the theory of evolution, and is consistent in his view concerning the antagonism between the two positions. If neither a consistent evolutionist nor a consistent creationist can accept the idea of theistic evolution, then the modern minds who supposedly are able to reconcile these antithetical views need to be confronted with valid answers.

It would help to spend some time elucidating the non-scientific basis of evolution, which is properly referred to as scientism, and in noting the inappropriateness of interpreting Scripture in light of this scientism. Suffice it to say with respect to the first that evolution is not a scientific theory. It is a philosophical theory. It is not believed scientifically but religiously. With respect to the second, whenever born-again Christians begin to interpret God’s eternal and infallible Word in light of finite, unbelieving man’s fickle scientific interpretations, we are in grave danger indeed.

To be continued…


Dr. Joseph L. Henson is the chairman of the division of Pure and Applied Science and head of the Biology department at Bob Jones University. He holds a bachelor of science degree from BJU and a master of science degree from Clemson University. His doctor of philosophy degree is also from Clemson. He has gathered one of the largest personal collections of insects in the southeastern United States. Currently over 10,000 specimens make up the collection, which is used regularly for study and demonstration in his entomology classes.

The preceding biography is as it appeared in the original publication of this article. Dr. Henson is now retired.


Although Proclaim & Defend is the blog of the FBFI, the articles we post are not an expression of the views of the FBFI as a whole, they are the views of the author under whose name they are published. The FBFI speaks either through position statements by its board or through its president. Here at Proclaim & Defend, we publish articles as matters of interest or edification to the wider world of fundamentalist Baptists and any others who might be interested.

Submit other comments here.