N.T. Wright on Whether the Slippery Slope Always Leans Left

I have recently come across the BioLogos website. I had heard about it, but only this week began to look through the website. I must say that it is an extremely helpful resource for Christians wanting to engage with understanding our faith, the Scripture and science.

Personally, I am ok with science informing our faith. All truth is God’s truth and, so, good science is God’s good truth. And science informing our faith, or beliefs about Scripture, has happened through the centuries. The greatest example is that of the 16th century when people like Copernicus and Galileo began to teach that we live in a heliocentric universe where the sun sits stationary in the middle and the planets revolve around it. This was contrary to the current geocentric opinion of the day that the earth was in the centre of the universe.

None of this was done to destroy the faith or what the Bible taught. Simply stated, the authors of Scripture were not able to engage with science like they were in the 16th century or even today. Thus, they described things as they saw them and understood them. It didn’t make them ‘wrong’ in the sense of making false statements in Scripture. Rather they were communicating truth within the context of their historical and cultural understanding of the world.

The great things is that this shows how God is so gracious and willing to reveal Himself even when we don’t understand it all. And, though we have taken many scientific leaps since the 16th century, the same stands true in the 21st century. We don’t know it all and don’t understand it all. And in the 22nd century, they will know a little (or a lot) more than we did.

Is our faith subservient to science? Well, Christ definitely isn’t. But I suppose I, and we, don’t have perfect knowledge yet. We await that day, as Paul points out in 1 Cor 13:10.

So, I believe we need to be open and willing to learn from and understand good and solid science. Science actually simply means knowledge. But as we gain knowledge, we should not let it puff us up, as Paul warns in 1 Cor 8:1. Rather we are still to remain committed to self-sacrificial love, just as the divine Son, Jesus, was.

Therefore, with a lot of the questions surrounding such issues as faith, Scripture and science, this is where the team at BioLogos is extremely helpful. Not to mention that each member of the team have written solid books as evangelical scholars, such as Peter Enns’ Inspiration and Incarnation, which I hope to begin posting a multiple-part review next week.

So noting the great resource that I believe BioLogos can be for Christians, I plan to regularly post video interviews as well as links to articles and papers from their site. I hope they are as helpful to you as they are to me.

To begin, here is an interview BioLogos held with N.T. Wright on whether or not the slippery slope always leans left (or ‘liberal’). I believe Wright brings some very helpful balance here.

2 thoughts on “N.T. Wright on Whether the Slippery Slope Always Leans Left

  1. Hi Scott
    An interesting start to some posts that I am looking forward to. I had a look at BioLogos after you posted a link to in on Facebook recently. I am very interested in the Christianity and science debate including evolution.
    I was however not sure of the approach BioLogos takes (or is it as varied as the contributors ?)
    For example I read “Darwin and Dr. Mohler: The Truth Comes Out” on the site and at the end of the article the following is written:
    …… Our sinful nature is a simple reality. G. K. Chesterton said it was the only empirically verifiable truth of Christianity. And it is certainly a clear biblical teaching. But is it not possible that we might have different ideas about how we came to have that nature? Does the saving power of Jesus vanish if sin becomes something that developed through natural history, rather than appeared all at once in the Garden of Eden? It seems to me that there is a conversation to have here, beyond simply drawing a line in the sand. Satisfactory answers to questions like these are truly “How to be a Christian and Believe in Evolution.”
    Does the suggestion that sin developed through natural history rather than through one man (Adam) not cause a lot of problems with evangelical belief and interpretation of the New Testament ?

    One last comment on your post above, I too agree that all truth is God’s truth and that science can inform us, however one of the big issues is the interpretation of science when it goes beyond the facts.
    Hope this makes sense !

  2. Hey Martyn. Good questions, no doubt. I don’t propose to have all the answers, but I can give a shot at some of them.

    First off, I think that all of the BioLogos group believe in theistic evolution. And I suppose I lean that way as well, only recently through what I have begun to read and consider through things like the BioLogos group. But I still believe it is God bringing about the creation we have over a very long process, known as what we call evolution. But He is still personally involved. That is what science seems to really point to – good science, which the BioLogos people point to.

    Does the suggestion that sin developed through natural history rather than through one man (Adam) not cause a lot of problems with evangelical belief and interpretation of the New Testament?

    I don’t believe it does. It only challenges our understanding of what the text is teaching us. Remember, we didn’t have it all figured out before today and we won’t have it all figured out. Were we always right that Adam was an actual first historical male? Were we always right to believe that Genesis 1 is ‘literal’?

    Remember – science in the 16th century challenged our understanding of what the text and the people who wrote the text were saying and believed about the earth. And so the same will continue today. We laugh to think that people labelled those who believed in a heliocentric universe in the 16th century as heretics, but they did. But we know that they were actually bearers of truth that taught this. We need to learn from this today as we deal with the text of Genesis in light of scientific developments over the past 100+ years.

    For some brief but solid answers to some of these questions, go here – http://biologos.org/resources/conversations/ – and check out more video interviews with the BioLogos team and other solid scholars.

    But back to Adam and whether sin had to come through one actual historical man. I don’t believe it destroys our faith to 1) recognise that Adam might not have been the first actual literal primal male and 2) that Paul actually believed he was the first primal man though Adam might not have been. In the Jewish context of the first century, Paul was comparing the first man as presented in the Genesis text, Adam, and the second Adam, Christ. I think the comparison still sticks when we see what Genesis 1-3 says and what places like Romans 5 says. What were the authors (especially the author of Genesis) trying to teach us? Or, what was God trying to teach us through such a text? Actually, some scholars believe the Pentateuch was crafted in Babylonian exile. Thus, Adam was really a figure pointing to Israel – they had just been ‘kicked out of the Garden’. So Genesis 3 spoke about Israel. And so here they are in that day awaiting a Messiah, a kind of second-Adam, that would embody Israel and fulfil where they failed.

    So whether we believe ‘Adam’ was the real, first human male, I don’t think it cuts at the theological truth that Paul was teaching in places like Romans 5. I know plenty of evangelicals who would disagree with me, but I don’t think it does. My faith is in Christ, not in whether Adam was the first actual male. 🙂 And I am trying to understand what the text is teaching, not understand what I think the text should teach. If that makes sense.

    One last comment on your post above, I too agree that all truth is God’s truth and that science can inform us, however one of the big issues is the interpretation of science when it goes beyond the facts.

    True. And I think that is why people like the BioLogos group, and their associates, and so many others become so helpful to us. I am no expert. But there are many wise men and women of God who are. But there are also non-Christians scientists without the agenda to destroy the Christian faith or any notion of a supreme God. We don’t want to lean too far towards conspiracy theories where they are all out to ‘get us’.

    I hope that was helpful.

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