Tuesday, June 14, 2011

NT Wright and the biasness of Anglo Enlightenment "scholarship"

In this video, pseudo-conservative scholar N.T. Wright was interviewed by Peter Enns of the BioLogos Foundation on the topic of Evolution. According to Bishop Wright, evolution is "a very America specific issue." Wright then state that the creation/ evolution controversy stems from the Fundamentalist/ Modernist controversy, which has some relation to the American Civil War and the division between the supposed "liberal" North and the "conservative" South.

As a non-American, this is simply laughable. First of all, the creation/ evolution controversy does not originate from the US alone. Del Ratzsch in his book on the Creation/ Evolution controversy, The Battle of Beginnings: Why Neither Side is Winning the Creation/ Evolution Debate (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1996), traced the Creationist movement to a movement within American Seventh-Day Adventism, but this picture is totally simplistic. One strand of Creationism came about in Australia, and many churches which became known as "Fundamentalist" did not embrace Evolution even at the beginning. To be sure, in the academic and scholarly world, there were few creationists in the beginning of the 20th century, but it is sheer snobbery to think that only those with PhDs have influence in the churches.

Secondly, while there wasn't a Fundamentalist/Modernist controversy in the UK, that is so because of the capitulation of the churches. The only great battle there was fought by Charles Spurgeon and is documented in the Downgrade Controversy. The Fundamentalist/ Modernist controversy happened in the US not as a legacy of the American Civil War but because the churches in the US decided to fight for the faith instead of rolling over and letting the liberals take over the churches like what has happened throughout the world. As a counter-example to the Civil War argument, the last great Old Princeton scholar J.G. Machen was no Southerner but rejected Liberalism nonetheless.

N.T. Wright can be seen to exhibit myopia regarding the actual reasons behind the creation/ evolution debate. Such is hardly surprising and perfectly understandable for those living in their academic ivory towers, removed from the struggles of the "unwashed masses" and from the reality in most of the world. While I cannot speak for everyone, I have found that the creation/ evolution issue to be one of the important topics for Christians, and to put it down entirely to American influence is simplistic. It fascinates me when people assume that Christians who are creationists must have read literature by creationists instead of coming to the position by merely reading the Bible. Although I guess, Wright would probably dismiss the views of peasant farmers and villagers who read the Bible and through reading it believe in 6-day creation as the errant view of the unenlightened not worthy of being mentioned or even discussed.

Somehow I guess the Holy Spirit only reveals His truth through "scholarship." As for the hoi polloi, too bad for them I guess.


Michael said...

Tell me how you really feel....

PuritanReformed said...


on what issue specifically?

Coram Deo said...

The irony here, of course, is that viewing the Scriptures through an evolutionary lens is the eisegetical "Johnny come lately" position, not the literal creationist approach.

Where would one get an evolutionary view of creation? Certainly not from the Scriptures.

In Christ,

PuritanReformed said...