Concordia Irvine Professor and 1517.® (Not 1580!) Author says “Thank God for evolution indeed!”

It may be time to look into Concordia University Irvine a little though I suspect the administration just didn’t know about this professor.  It seems that one of their professors has written an article for 1517.® titled “Thank God for Evolution“.  Yes, the title of their article is trying to gain clicks for their site (1517 is not 1580… not even close [evidenced by the period after the number by a feat of irony!]).  Here is a good quote which shows some of the 1517.® Gospel Reductionistic story:

If we could stop worrying so much about the age of the Earth, the status of humanity in the biological sciences, design inferences, historical or non-historical Adams, and a host of other problems that seem to arise from the current state of the biological sciences, trusting that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and the author and perfecter of our faith, then one realizes that all the important facts begin and end in the middle of the Bible. It may seem counterintuitive, but Christians begin and end with Jesus, NOT the beginning of created time or from the eternal outside of time. From the shade of the cross, we can confidently look back to the beginning and glimpse the eternal. From the dying, yet victorious cry from the cross, “It is finished,” we may be able to see Christ working through the biological sciences bringing outsiders and reminding insiders where our security and salvation is anchored. If we remove a few cognitive planks from our own eyes, we may even be able to serve our evolutionary neighbor. Thank God for evolution indeed!

This is strikingly similar to the promotion of evolutionary conversation we witnessed last summer in Concordia Journal.  Maybe “It’s Time” for some more pastoral conference resolutions!

Concordia University – Irvine can be reached here.

The Pacific Southwest District of the LCMS can be reached here.

The Office of the President of the LCMS can be reached here.


About Pastor Joshua Scheer

Pastor Joshua Scheer is the Senior Pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He is also the Editor-in-chief of Brothers of John the Steadfast. He oversees all of the work done by Steadfast Lutherans. He is a regular host of Concord Matters on KFUO. Pastor Scheer and his lovely wife Holly (who writes and manages the Katie Luther Sisters) have four children and enjoy living in Wyoming.


Concordia Irvine Professor and 1517.® (Not 1580!) Author says “Thank God for evolution indeed!” — 66 Comments

  1. T-rav has gotten to the heart of the issue by asking whether we fear God and his Word. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. One word of God is better than an infinite number of plausible words of wisdom. The apocalypse will set things right.

  2. @T-rav #50

    “I’ve no idea what else to think and/or feel”–how about not being insulting or offensive? That keyboard in front of you has no mind of its own.

    I treat you with respect–you treat me with respect. It’s not hard.

    “This whole topic…brings me great pains”–so discuss something else if it upsets you so much!

    “An evilutionist perspective”–do you want me to call creationism “cretinism”? If not, then please knock off the wisecracks.

    Feeling strongly about your beliefs does not justify discourtesy!

    I sincerely hope you find a place in your life where you will not be so “troubled.”

  3. @James Gibbs #26

    Thanks James,

    I always lumped Theistic Evolutionists and Intelligent Designers together. Thank you for pointing out the distinction.

    My original point, I think, still holds vis-a-vis the article by Dr. Deen. That is, the conception of history for the scientist working with methodological naturalism is in a different category from the conception of history for the historian looking at the resurrection of Jesus. This is a metabasis eis allo genos, a switch from one category to another, if we are to say, “We both are committed to historical truth.” The point being that the word “historical” is equivocated in the comparison. As you said, “Excluding the supernatural is necessary in science because the tools of science can’t measure or test the supernatural.” We, of course, would have to say that including the supernatural is necessary in history, since we believe God has intervened very particularly in the incarnation, etc. This is where I don’t think Dr. Deen’s positive apologetic works. There is nothing about the scientific view of history that embraces methodological naturalism, no matter how much it is sincerely devoted to finding the truth, that would present an interface with the view of history that expects God to intervene in an event like the crucifixion and resurrection.

    I’ve benefited from your honest conversation and posts. Thanks again.

  4. @T-rav #50

    Mod: could you please correct where I typed “evilutionist”? That was a typo as I hope was clear from the correct use of “evolution” in the same paragraph.

  5. @James Gibbs #52

    Then let’s forget it and move on. I took you as being condescending and flippant on a previous post and you said that wasn’t your intent. You took me as making wisecracks; I did not intend that and I hope the mods will fix the typo. I apologize for giving offense there.

    I also apologize if my attitude/ deameanor has been offensive. Sometimes that’s hard to tell in a forum especially when it’s easy to read another poster according to our own emotions at the time.

    I will not apologize however for my thoughts concerning this debate about the Word of God. If it means we have a different spirit in this matter so be it.

    I rarely comment on this site, but I do when I think I have something to contribute. I thought the plain text of Scripture was important enough. I added my $.01, and with that I’m lurking back into the shadows.

  6. @Elizabeth Peters #53

    Thank you, Elizabeth, for your conversation, also.

    May I offer a couple of additional thoughts?

    The NT’s record of the testimony of the apostles as to Christ’s resurrection is historical evidence (for an extraordinary event, I grant). Scientific investigation might fail to uncover evidence for a natural explanation of the apostles’ account (because of methodological naturalism), so the eyewitness testimony would have to take up where the science left off. Science and faith both deal with history (what happened), but use different methods.

    Kind of like when the Catholic Church tries to establish a miracle to justify canonizing a saint. Science is called in to rule out a natural explanation (methodological naturalism again), but Rome can, after science has “done its thing,” declare a miracle account “worthy of belief.” Faith takes over where science leaves off.

    This may sound weird, but studying the Book of Job has strongly influenced my views on origins.

    Job has his faith in God’s goodness, the arguments of his friends that he “must have done something bad” to deserve catastrophe, and his own personal knowledge of his innocence–all three of which seem to conflict strongly.

    He seems to think, “I used to think, and my friends all tell me, that God would never let the innocent suffer as I have. But he has! So I still plan to cling to my faith in God, but without denying reality as I see it. I’m not going to say I’m guilty of secret sin if I’m not, and I’m not going to say God would never do X if he did. I’m going to be honest.”

    That’s (on a much less exalted level) how I feel about the whole origins debate. Until Feb. of 2014, I spent 54 years of my life totally “buying” the whole LCMS young-earth creationism package–hook, line, and sinker. Then I started reading and thinking about things, and the whole thing kind of fell apart for me.

    I was told 90% of scientific evidence supported a young earth. It doesn’t–not even close.

    I was told evolution was a theory on the ropes, with no real evidence to support it. I found out it is a theory with far, FAR stronger evidence to support it than I ever imagined.

    But–I love Jesus, I cling to the faith of my parents, and I want to believe the Bible is true.

    So–I look for ways to resolve things. I don’t have all the answers. Some “answers” for sale out there aren’t any better. But I keep looking.

    So, the idea of “history” (which Dr. Deen used in his original blog post) is something I can relate to. What…actually…stinkin’…HAPPENED? Not “God would never use evolution to create,” as some say. Did he, or didn’t he? If evolution happened, either God did (or allowed) it, or there is no God! Needless to say, I am sticking to “God did it.” (Assuming it happened, that is!)

    Sorry to ramble on. Thanks for listening.

  7. @James Gibbs #56

    Thanks James,

    I think what you’re saying would end up falling into the category of negative apologetics. Science is called in to find there is no natural explanation. And then there is either aporia or the supernatural. But science itself isn’t supplying, positively, anything to the idea that the supernatural happened. Perhaps Dr. Deen’s point is that in wanting to seek the truth about the past, the evolutionist will find that he can’t find the truth about the past in the case of Jesus without going beyond his methodological naturalism. But this again ends in aporia or in adjusting what “historical truth” can consist of. And either way, I think we’ve got a negative apologetic.

  8. @Elizabeth Peters #58

    I just learned a new word–“aporia.” Cool!

    Well, if an evolutionist winds up adjusting his view of history to include Jesus, that’s all to the good! He finds out that “There are more things in heaven and earth…than are dreamt of in your philosophy,” as Hamlet said.

  9. @Pastor Joshua Scheer #57

    That exact same reasoning is why Francis Pieper rejected Copernicus.

    Stick to the prima facie meaning of the text and completely ignore scientific observations, human reason, and common sense. They’re all corrupted by sin, after all!

  10. @Daniel Deen #39

    Yet the lack of gentleness demonstrated by Rev. Scheer and others shows that they lack charity to fully grasp your article or even care to do so.

    While I agree that the phrase, “Thank God for Evolution” is misleading and wrong, it doesn’t mean we need to emphasize the 6-day creation. Our goal as Christians isn’t to convince unbelievers the the truth of creation but to present the Law and Gospel. The false narrative about 1517 has not been proven. They are only calumnities based upon the sin of one of its writers, which ad hominem attacks demonstrate and perpetuates the stereotype that pastors in the Wyoming District and by extension the Fort Wayne seminary are know nothing blowhards.

  11. How ‘old’ would earth and space have tested, by today’s methods, on the third and fourth days of God’s creation?

    How ‘old’ would earth and space have tested, by today’s methods, at the fall of Adam and Eve when death and aging entered the world? No death prior to the fall.

    I think the Jewish calendar has the age of earth about right: 5779 years, while science says it tests about 14.6 billion years. It’s called marking time.

    Nothing about a young earth testing old should bother anyone because in no way does it thwart beneficial science as evidenced by mankind’s progress in science.

    Creation occurred just as God’s Word says it did which shouldn’t bother scientists unless they hate God and are looking to justify wickedness.

    If wickedness occurs in the name of science or religion, mankind can and has condemned it over the centuries and can work to stop it, as God wills.

  12. I once said to someone: “You need to drive a stake into the ground (i.e. stake out your position), and prepare to defend it.”

    Those words are essentailly the sentiments that Charles V, the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, conveyed to the followers of Martin Luther. They complied, and staked out their position. The document that they produced is known to us as The Augsburg Confession.

    Their position came under immediate attack. Over a period of time, they produced a series of followup documents in defense their position. Those documents have been gathered together into a single volume that is referred to by a variety of names, for example:

    Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions

    The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church

    The Book of Concord (BoC)

    The BoC declares to the world what Lutherans “believe, teach, and confess”. Notice the recurrence of the word “confess”, and its significance. A famous LC-MS clergyman once wrote that a Lutheran is someone who believes the truths of scripture as they are explained within the BoC. Many people, and some Lutherans, do not understand this and so we add the word “confessional” to the word “Lutheran” to help them along.

    The BoC is published by a number of publishing houses, and is availble for free online. My favorite edition, A Reader’s Edition of the Book of Concord, is published by Concordia Publishing House, the publishing arm of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod.

    An interesting piece of history is that Philip Melanchton, the author of The Augsburg Confession, modified it after its adoption. This would be akin to Thomas Jefferson modifying The Declaration of Independence after everybody signed it. This is unacceptable!

    And so within the LC-MS, ministerial candidates must affirm The UNALTERED Augsburg Confession. This is an implicit admission by the LC-MS that they will not tolerate changes to the BoC. And I say “Good for them”!

    So what do they do instead? They set official policy for all of their members, and they have every right to do so! Their membership consists of credentialed workers (e.g. ministers, school teachers) and institutions (e.g. schools, colleges, seminaries, congregations).

    I am a confessional Lutheran in that I believe, teach and confess the truths of scripture as they are explained within the BoC. I am a member of an LC-MS member congregation, and as such have been publicly and officially asked (twice) to affirm the BoC. I did then and do so now. I dwell in peace with my congregation because God, through his scriptures and ministers, requires me do so, and the Holy Spirit which he has given me compels me do so.

    For some of us (including some LC-MS clergy such as Rev. George Borghardt and Rev. Bryan Wolfmueller) the Lutheran Reformation is not merely something that happened 500 years ago. It is something that we lived through in our personal spiritual development. We see the BoC as a wonderful treasure. We invite you, as Rev. George Borghardt would say, to “Dare to be Lutheran!”.

    I understand and appreciate that LC-MS members (as defined above) must not openly oppose established LC-MS policy. But I am not an LC-MS member, and as such am not bound in the same way that LC-MS members are.

    As a member of an LC-MS member congregation it is encumbent upon me to affirm the BoC. This assumes that I have read it (I have) and that I agree with it (I do). I am an advocate of Law and Gospel, Word and Sacrament, a supporter of The Office of Holy Ministry, and a fan of the Lutheran liturgy. Those who question this claim need only use this website’s search tool to find and read my past comments.

    As a confessional Lutheran, I am bewildered by others who seem to prefer the likes of Ken Ham and his AnswersInGenesis crowd over and above the likes of me and James Gibbs. I consider such people to be crypto-something-or-other, and “Hiding in the Lutheran Church” (check out the articles by Rev. Neil L. Carlson, published on this website).

    If you are a YoungEarthCreationist, an OldEarthCreationist, a FlatEarther, I commit to being at peace with you under the umbrella of Confessional Lutheranism. But please do not redefine what that means (ala Philip Melanchton) and attempt to bully others into submission.

    My best regards to all,

  13. @RK #64

    Right–EVERYONE who holds to an ancient cosmos “hate[s] God and [is] looking to justify wickedness.” C.S. Lewis, Billy Graham, William Jennings Bryan, John Stott, Francis Collins, Hugh Ross–they all hate God. Seems obvious to me!

    There are only TWO possible options: accept a 6,000-year old universe, or hate God. Got it.

    God created the CMB (the “echo” of the Big Bang), even though there was no Big Bang. Understood!

    We see light from stars millions of light years away (including gravitational lensing of light from when that light passed distant galaxies sometimes billions of light-years distant), even though those light beams never left those stars. Check!

    We can see the wave of ejecta from supernova SN 1987A interacting with circumstellar material, and use basic trigonometry (the same trig used to build the Great Pyramid) to show that SN 1987A is 168,000 light years away. But that never happened.

    God created all of those astronomical images in transit.

    We see quadrillions of fossils all over the earth, but there was no animal death before the Fall. Noah’s Flood did all that, neatly sorting all the corpses into what only LOOKS like an evolutionary order.

    No flowering plants in rocks below the Cretaceous. No bones of tuna eaten by mosasaurs imbedded in their coprolites. No human fossils or artifacts in “pre-Flood” strata. No modern mammals mingled with dinosaurs. All accomplished by one giant flood!

    The geologic calendar? Well, we know the earth is only 6,000 years old, and all those layers were laid down in 2,300 B.C. by the Flood. It’s only a coincidence that radiometric dating puts all those layers in the exact same relative order predicted in the 19th century before radioactivity was even discovered.

    What tripe!

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