Timothy Keller does. Do you? Take 10 minutes to learn 7 quick ways to avoid them.
I cannot emphasize enough the significance of Keller’s errors in his article, “Creation, Evolution, and Christian Laypeople.” (1) They encroach upon crucial Biblical doctrines: the authority of the Bible, the work of Jesus Christ including His atoning death and resurrection, and the doctrine of sin and original sin, to name a few.
Keller’s Errors on Genesis 1
Timothy Keller asserted several times in his article that Genesis 1 used a poetic style, not a literal style. Therefore, according to Keller, Genesis 1 did not describe events that happened literally as described. (2)
However, later in his article, Keller interpreted sections of Genesis 1 factually to support his assertions on the conditions of the earth in its early stage and the presence of evil in creation before Genesis 3. (3) I will comment on these false assertions in the next section of this article.
Keller selectively interpreted Genesis 1 to suit his evolutionary schemes. You can read a refutation of Keller’s non-literal interpretation of Genesis 1 at this link, (4) which also provides the Biblical basis for a literal interpretation of Genesis 1.
Keller’s Errors on the Presence of Evil in Creation Before Genesis 3
Keller claimed that the presence and activity of satan and his demons existed in creation before the appearance of evil by the serpent in Genesis 3. (5) Keller based his assertions upon the following false claims.
The initial condition of the earth at creation (Genesis 1.2) suggests chaos, disorder, and the absence of peace. (6)
According to Keller, God’s commands to mankind In Genesis 1.28 to subdue the earth and to have dominion over it indicates the lack of development and imperfection of the earth in creation. (7)
Keller described the Garden in Eden as an imperfect and non-glorified place, where death and decay existed that enabled edible fruit by mankind. (8)
Keller said that God’s promise of death to Adam upon eating the forbidden fruit (Genesis 2.17) applied to “spiritual death” only, not physical death, which Keller presumed existed already as part of evolutionary processes. (9)
Ironically, Keller arrived at some of these claims by using a literal interpretation of Genesis 1, which contradicted his non-literal interpretation of it earlier in his article. (See note 4.)
Refutation of Keller’s Errors on the Presence of Evil Before Genesis 3
Keller emphasized the chaotic condition of initial creation and its absence of peace to fit his evolutionary theories and his assertions about the presence of satan on the earth prior to Genesis 3. However, Keller’s claims have no basis either in Genesis 1-3 or any other part of the Bible.
The succession of “ands” in Genesis 1.1-3 linked a series of steps, seen clearly upon removal of the verse numbers imposed upon the text. Christ's creative acts proceeded from nothing to light, from lower forms to higher forms that comprised the first day of creation. (10)
Further, Keller’s use of “chaos” does not properly define the initial condition of the earth. More accurately, the text describes the earth as formless and void, not chaotic or in an unsatisfactory state of achievement as Keller purported. (11) The great theologian John Owen declared that nowhere does the Bible describe God as the author of disorder. (12)
Contrary to Keller, God's commands to Adam in Genesis 1.28 and 2.15 describe God's intent for mankind: the benevolent care and keeping of Christ's creation as His vice-regent and custodian for the glory of God throughout the earth. (13)
Although initial creation, including the Garden in Eden, did not equal the perfection of the new heavens and earth of Revelation 21-22, one cannot call it imperfect and inhabited with death and decay as Keller described it in order to fit his evolutionary edicts. God called it “very good.” (Genesis 1.31)
Further, the fruit in the Garden in Eden did not have to decay in order to make it edible by humans. In fact, decay makes food inedible and harmful to humans. God created it in a suitable condition as food for mankind.
Again, contrary to Keller, death and decay did not exist before Adam and Eve’s eating of the forbidden fruit. This belief originated from evolutionary demands for centuries of death as well as the Pelagian Heresy, which said that human death results from the necessity of nature, regardless of the presence of sin. (14)
God's promised punishment for disobedience, “dying you will die,” certainly included spiritual death. It also included physical death, which God described to Adam and Eve as part of the curse resulting from their sins, “dust to dust” (Genesis 3.19) and further detailed in Romans 5.12-21.
Throughout the entirety of Keller’s article, he repeatedly preferred the assertions of science and Biblical textual criticisms to the Biblical text, serious errors. As a result, Keller revealed his primary basic belief: not the Holy Spirit inspired, inerrant, infallible Bible. He persistently interpreted the Bible by science, not science by the Bible.
This series of articles did not attempt to answer all of Keller’s errors in his article. Nor do they address any of the numerous logical fallacies it employed. These articles concentrate upon the refutation of some of the crucial Biblical errors he claimed.
I cannot emphasize enough the significance of Keller’s errors in his article. They encroach upon crucial Biblical doctrines: the authority of the Bible, the work of Jesus Christ including His atoning death and resurrection, and the doctrine of sin and original sin, to name a few.
His errors bring additional concerns because of Dr. Keller’s status and influence in the Christian community. Therefore, for the glory of God and your spiritual welfare, I urge you to review Christ's warnings found in Matthew 7.15-23 regarding false prophets and those who profess trust in Christ.
H. C. Leupold. Exposition of Genesis. DeWard Publishing Co., Ltd., Chillicothe, OH 45601. 2010. P. 31.
Leupold, Ibid., p. 31; definitions from Genesis 1.2 = formless and void: WORDsearch Bible Software, v. 10.0.5. “Brown-Driver-Briggs,” “Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament”; Logos Bible Software, v. 5. “Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon”.
John Owen. The Works of John Owen, 16 Vol. The Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh, UK. 1968. Vol. I, p. 183-185.
Christopher J. H. Wright. The Mission of God. IVP Academic, Downers Grove, IL 60515-1426. 2006. P. 65, 211, 415, and 425.
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