In recent weeks, the BioLogos Foundation has been discussing whether or not they should adopt a specific faith statement. They recognise the difficulty because their team consists of such a varied group of believers.
This is not an easy thing to do given that BioLogos is a place for conversation among people of diverse viewpoints and traditions. The BioLogos staff members represent assorted backgrounds in the protestant evangelical tradition. Our current church affiliations include for example, fellowships which are Calvinistic, Baptist, Anabaptist, and Wesleyan. Furthermore, the BioLogos community as a whole is even broader than that. BioLogos is a place for conversation among Christians—a very broad umbrella for a wide set of theological perspectives.
Not only that, but, noting their desire to continual discussion around the integration of science and the Christian faith, it becomes somewhat difficult when addressing some issues surrounding the interpretation of certain biblical passages, i.e., the early chapters of Genesis. But, through their time of consideration, they have looked to reaffirm their dedication to the Scripture as the word of God.
Also foundational to the BioLogos vision is the belief that the Bible is the inspired Word of God—every word of it. The Bible is a living document. God, through his Spirit, continues to speak to the Church and God does this through the Bible. Within the BioLogos community, we do not all see the theological implications of the Bible in the same way—the Church has always been in that situation. However, BioLogos is committed to the foundational precept that the Bible is God’s Word.
In their discussion about adopting a faith statement, they gave some more detailed thoughts surrounding the nature of Scripture by looking at things like The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, specifically Article XII, which states:
We deny that Biblical infallibility and inerrancy are limited to spiritual, religious, or redemptive themes, exclusive of assertions in the fields of history and science. We further deny that scientific hypotheses about earth history may properly be used to overturn the teaching of Scripture on creation and the flood.
They took time to look at the Chicago Statement because it is considered such a stalwart statement within the evangelical Christian community. Darrel Falk, president of BioLogos, goes on to share these words about Article XII of the Chicago Statement:
So can “scientific hypotheses about earth history…overturn the teaching of Scripture on creation and the flood?” I suppose how we answer the question depends upon who is doing the teaching about creation and the flood. If it is incorrect teaching, then science does help point us to what God really did and how God really did it. There is no question in my mind that there is considerable well-meaning, but nonetheless highly erroneous teaching being carried out by some of evangelicalism’s leaders. Science does help to expose those who are teaching untruths about what God wants to convey through Scripture. So I almost agree with this statement. Scientific hypotheses (if accurate) will not overturn correct teaching of Scripture.
Perhaps we should adopt the Chicago statement with the proviso that we add one word: “we deny that scientific hypotheses about earth history may properly be used to overturn the correct teaching of Scripture on creation and the flood.” I think I could be comfortable with that.
What about the first part? Is the Bible infallible in the assertions it makes about science? When it comes to God’s purposes and what God wants to say through Scripture, the Bible is inerrant. However, put simply, it doesn’t make any scientific assertions, and if we think it does it is because we’re not interpreting it correctly. So the biblical assertions about science are indeed infallible, a point which is moot because the Bible, properly understood, makes none. Wow! It seems that I am getting close to accepting the Chicago statement!
Still I wonder why Billy Graham didn’t sign the statement? And I wonder why leaders of my denomination (and the other denomination referred to above) didn’t either? Weren’t they evangelicals also? Let’s be careful about attaching too much significance to statements and let’s not make them litmus tests for orthodoxy. (emphasis here)
Therefore, in adopting a faith statement, they made a decision to centre that statement in Paul’s words to the Corinthians:
Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. (1 Cor 15:1-5)
They have looked to ultimately centre it in the gospel as summed up in the work of Christ himself who died for our sins, was buried and truly raised from the grave, appearing to so many people. This is central to our faith. Of course there are other things that are part of the essentials. If you read their two posts, they note those things and discuss some of them in detail. But, as a whole, they are centering the faith in what is absolutely essential – that of Christ as God’s final redemptive word for all of humanity.
Still, some have been quick to disregard the BioLogos community because of their beliefs that 1) God used evolution as His creative process, 2) that the early chapters of Genesis are not written as literal, historical fact and 3) that they are open to the possibility that Adam and Eve were not the sole progenitors for the human race. But I believe that labelling them as ‘in’ or ‘out’ based on those three issues is not truly coming from a place of wisdom (and possibly not coming from a place of Christlikeness for some). Rather it seems quite reactionary.
So, if interested, I would encourage you to read their first post and second post on forming a statement of faith. BioLogos is not a local church, not a denominational headquarters, or any such thing as that. It is a ‘para’-church organisation committed to the integration of science and our Christian faith. And I hope that the casting of stones might fall to the wayside and we could at least engage in constructive conversation (and debate, if needed).