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.
We have been discussing difficulties which were of a commonsense nature rather than strictly Biblical, but now we come to those doctrinal objections which preclude the possibility of accepting the Scriptures as authoritative and hanging on to some kind of theistic evolution. I do not wish to be misunderstood here. If you do not wish to accept the Bible as God’s Word, authoritative, trustworthy, and inerrant in the original autographs, then these doctrinal objections will not cause you any particular difficulty. If you hold this view of Scriptures, you will see the impossibility of trying to harmonize these two antithetical positions.
The first doctrinal objection has to do with the nature of man. The Scriptures abound in passages which are abundantly clear as to the nature of man. Man is unregenerate, totally incapable of saving himself, dependent solely on the finished work of the Lord Jesus on the cross for his salvation. In short, man is by nature bad rather than good.
What is the evolutionary view of the nature of man? Why, he is not depraved, or unregenerate, or in need of salvation. He is getting better and better and presumably evolving into some sort of god. A good look at most morning newspapers would prove rather discouraging to such a view. At any rate, it is not possible to reconcile these two views. Either man is unregenerate and in need of salvation, or he is by nature good and not in need of being saved. The Biblical claim is plain and diametrically opposed to the evolutionary view.
The second doctrinal objection has to do with the nature of the Lord Jesus Christ. In John 1:1, 3, 14 we read, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God … And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” We find from this passage that Jesus was eternal; He was God; He was the Creator; He was the Savior. This is the Biblical view of the Lord. What is the evolutionary view? He was simply the best man that has evolved so far. He was a good teacher, a martyr because of his ideas, a perceptive philosopher, the great example. Again we note that these two positions cannot be harmonized.
If Christ were just a man, we are left with only two possible conclusions about Him, neither of which is tolerable. If He was a man and knew he was only a man and went around telling everyone that He was God, He was a liar. If He was just a man and thought He was God and went around telling everyone He was God; He was crazy. There is a very simple matter at issue here. If Christ was not God Incarnate as He claimed, He Was either a liar or insane. Let us make no mistake about this, and let us stop the superficial drivel that Christ was good but not God. If Christ was just a man, He could not possibly have saved me from my sins. He would have had His own sins to worry about. Note carefully I Corinthians 15:12-19, “Now if Christ be preached that he arose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if them be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” If Christ were just a man, He could not possibly have risen from the dead, but thanks be to God, the passage does not stop with verse 19. Verse 20 continues, “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.”
Let us be done once and for all with the foolishness propounded from so many sources today that the Lord did not know who He was and He was searching for answers just as everyone else. Note John 8 beginning in verse 56, Christ is speaking, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it and was glad.” Note the Jews’ answer, in verse 57, “Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?” This was a very legitimate question. Christ had just claimed to have seen Abraham, and the Jews said this was not possible since He was not yet 50 years old. Note carefully Jesus’ answer in verse 58, “Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.” The Lord was using here the Old Testament name for God. A name so holy that no Jew would pronounce it. A name so holy that when the scribes wrote that name in copying the Scriptures, they would break the pen they had used to write the name and throw it away. If you recall Old Testament history, this was the name which God used when Moses was standing before the burning bush and asked, who should he say had sent him. God said—say I AM hath sent me unto you. I AM THAT I AM. Obviously Christ was claiming to be God. That this is true is evident by the reaction of the Jews in verse 59 when they took up stones to cast at Him. Turn to John 10:30; again Christ is speaking, “I and my Father are one.” In verse 31, we read that the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. In verse 32, the Lord tells the Jews that He had done many good works and asks for which of these good works were they stoning Him. In verse 33, we read their answer, “The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.”
We have noted only two instances of many in the New Testament in which the Lord Jesus was claiming to be God. The Biblical claims, which are Christ’s own claims, cannot be harmonized with the evolutionary theory. You choose to accept the statements of Scripture or you choose to accept the claims of the evolutionists. You cannot believe both.
The third doctrinal objection has to do with the nature of the Bible. The historic Christian position is that the Bible is God’s Word and does not merely contain God’s Word. If evolution is true, then the Scriptures are a product of the process of evolution because they were written by men who were themselves products of the evolutionary process. Again, these two alternatives cannot be reconciled. If the evolutionary claims are correct, then the Bible is the biggest collection of foolishness and nonsense ever gathered together under one cover. It is not trustworthy, nor authoritative, nor inerrant.
These three doctrinal objections indicate clearly the impossibility of attempting to harmonize the Scriptures with evolutionary claims. You cannot believe both the Bible as God’s Word and evolutionary dogma. I am not making a plea for you to accept what the Scriptures say; I am simply demonstrating that you cannot believe both. You must choose one or the other.
For unbelievers, these doctrinal objections may seem ridiculous, but be careful of your willful turning away from the truth. For believers, let us be perceptive in this day concerning the foolishness of trying to accommodate God’s Word and sinful man’s ideas. This kind of careless rationalization is not tolerable and it can prove to be exceedingly treacherous.
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.