Monday, January 19, 2015

The Eight Elements of the Westminster Doctrine of Creation: Why They are Incompatible with Theistic Evolution

By Dr. William M. Schweitzer
Adjunct Professor
Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary

The 2014 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America considered and rejected overtures to clarify the denomination’s position regarding theistic evolution. The rationale was that the subordinate standards and the previous Study Committee Report are good enough, and that any further statement would be unnecessary.

Although some might question this line of reasoning, the basic assumption that our standards speak clearly and sufficiently on the doctrine of creation is something that we can all affirm. Let us therefore take this opportunity to consider afresh what, exactly, they teach.

Specifically, I would like to discuss the individual elements of the Westminster doctrine of creation. Theistic evolution—as with all false teachings—retains a veneer of acceptability so long as the discussion remains at the level of vague generalities. It is only when things are brought into sharp focus that the irreconcilable discrepancies become obvious. The general principle here is that ambiguity harbors heresy whereas precision preserves orthodoxy. Of course, there is more than one way to be precise. Recently, conservative men have been pointing out the disastrous implications of theistic evolution for other parts of Reformed theology, particularly those involving Adam. This work is hugely important. However, what has been neglected by comparison is a detailed examination of the doctrine of creation itself. In this article, I want to remedy this somewhat by introducing the eight individual elements of our confessional doctrine of creation while explaining briefly how theistic evolution is incompatible with each one.







EDITOR'S NOTE: This article is reprinted from Puritan Reformed Journal 7,1 (2015): 256-268