What's the majority consensus here about Alister Mcgrath?

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SolaScriptura

Puritanboard Brimstone
It would only be a problem for me if I was one of those chumps who think that I have to agree with someone on everything in order to agree with them on anything. Like anyone else - including Calvin - one must separate the wheat from the chaff.
 

J. Dean

Puritan Board Junior
McGrath has to be taken with a grain of salt on some issues. True, he has put out some very good pieces, but he's also said some things that I would disagree with him on.

SolaScriptura is right: no man, nor any document or saying of man, be it a confession, creed, doctrine, etc.,is infallible. That infallibility belongs to God and His word, and those things alone. We need to be very careful in not putting our absolute trust in anything or anyone outside of God Himself and His word.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
This worries me brethren. Please advise

It doesn't worry me about myself, because I could read "the good bits" of McGrath and reject his espousal of "theistic evolution". But if McGrath is commended to a less experienced Christian, he might embrace his erroneous and heretical views on Genesis.

I find the same thing goes through my mind with John Stott who wrote a lot of good stuff before espousing annhilationism. I still hear his books being recommended without qualification by Reformed men.

I haven't read much Stott or McGrath but I know that they've written a lot of good stuff but there's lots of other guys out there who've written the same/similar stuff without the doctrinal poison mixed in.

To the extent that these men have adopted "evangelicalism-with-liberal-stances", their books should come with a health warning, particularly for young and immature Christians and students.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
I think we must be very careful to point out their errors, particularly to Christians we think may lack discernment, if we feel the need to recommend them at all.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Do you think we are doing a service to God by recommending to others to read and learn from men who do God the great disservice and dishonor by denying Him the title as sovereign creator?
Wouldn't it be more wise to avoid such men altogether? (As scripture warns us to do.)

I've never recommended them, although I may have recommended C.S.Lewis, but I've heard others recommend them.
 

John Bunyan

Puritan Board Freshman
But McGrath doesn't deny creation, he affirms the doctrine of Creatio ex Nihilo.

Now, if you're gonna stop reading anyone who is not a creationist, are you gonna ignore Augustine with his istantaneous creation of the world and the idea that 6 days of creation are merely 6 categorizations of creation?
 

lynnie

Puritan Board Graduate
There are two kinds of Christian evolutionists. I don't agree with either of them, but I can tolerate the ones like Tim Keller who believe in a historical Adam. At some point in time God took a suckling primate at his momma's hairy breast, or perhaps he was a full grown mature member of his jungle tribe swinging through the trees, and God breathed into him a human soul with human intelligence and without sin, and he really did sin somehow (not sure how Eve and the fruit fits in but they do have a historical Adam). What Paul says in Romans about Adam is literally true for these people. I think we have to bear with them, I really do. Their position is not even truly scientific and I think they are decieved, but within their own logic and beliefs they have an Adam, a fall, sin, and Christ the second Adam our redeemer.

Then there are the evolutionists who are fully evolutionists and Adam is mythical, the fall and Eden and the serpent tempting her, and maybe everything right on up to Abraham is mythical. They maybe have an original human grouping of several thousands of initial "people", or maybe they just have a theistically motivated evolutionary path that led to modern man without any Adam. It varies. Those I reject and I don't want to submit myself to anything they write, it is just too far off into unbelief and biblical denial. Even if they sort of believe it all as a mythical poetic picture of sin, without a first Adam, I find it rather revolting. Yes indeed, I agree with you that this is a denial of essential doctrine.

So to go back to your original post, what sort of evolutionist is AM? I have no idea. If he is a Tim Keller guy I think you need to forbear. You may not agree with his Adam model, but at least he has an Adam who was made man by a sovereign miracle of God breathing a human soul into a primate that evolved, (as opposed to making him directly out of the dust of the ground on one day). That Adam fell and sin was imputed to all of us. Is that what AM holds to?

Or is he the other kind of evolutionist? No literal Adam? Pete Enns sympathizer? You really must distinguish.

I'd like to know myself if anybody knows the answer.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Colin, you haven't been labelled a chump for promoting the doctrine of creation. Obviously all authors must be read with discernment, and some have a higher proportion of wheat to chaff than others. Of course, people also have different levels of solid grounding in the truth, and different ability to prove all things and hold fast only that which is good. We should all be honest with ourselves on our abilities in this area. I find that I can take unbelieving books on aspects of Scripture (say E.P. Sanders on the Gospels) only in small doses before they become oppressive to me. But C.S. Lewis' errors don't strike me as being difficult to spot or hard to reject. For someone else, though, it might be the other way around.

I agree with you that creation is a basic, fundamental doctrine of superlative importance; and works by authors who deny the Biblical doctrine of creation should be recommended very cautiously - to those who are well able to sift, and if there is a special reason (perhaps no one else has addressed a particular matter, or it is the only book available in a particular language, or there is need of a contrast to make a position emerge more clearly), not as a matter of course or to all indiscriminately.
 

SolaScriptura

Puritanboard Brimstone
Never thought I would be labeled a "chump" among a reformed crowd for defending creation. Maybe I've come to the wrong place.

Colin, I apologize for giving you the impression that I was calling YOU a chump for defending creation. That wasn't my intent or point at all.
Now, I will stick to my guns and say that one does not need to agree with EVERYTHING said by another in order for one to agree with ANYTHING. To assert otherwise is immature, and THAT is what I labeled. As others have said, simply accept what is good and reject what is bad.
 

lynnie

Puritan Board Graduate
The point is agreeing on, as Ruben so well stated, basic, fundamental doctrines of superlative importance. This INCLUDES creation. Otherwise, we are no longer even referring to the same God.

I can't believe I'm even saying this as young earth creationist, geocentrist on top of that...but you are so wrong.

As I posted above and you seem to ignore, those who hold to an original Adam who was the first man, who had a God breathed soul without sin, who fell and whose sin was imputed to all men, refer to the same God, and the same Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Tim Keller is our brother and in the same covenant union with Christ that you are in. Even if his first Adam got to adulthood after millions of years of theistic evolution. Even if the word death means to him spiritual death, not the death of his biological mother and father and grandpop and great great greats who emerged from that primordial pool of scum. He is still our brother.

You have yet to say if McGrath holds to a literal first Adam, before you banish him to worshipping another God.
 

gordo

Puritan Board Freshman
I don't think he denies creation. He just believes God created the world through evolution. The world was still created by God whether it took 7 days or millions of years. :2cents:
 

lynnie

Puritan Board Graduate
I do not know what "form" / "method" of evolution McGrath adheres to, nor do I think it's relevant.

Brother, there are those who believe in an Adam, in a Covenant with God in the garden of Eden, with an Eve, the first two humans, with a God breathed human nature/soul, without sin, who chose to disobey Almighty God and who fell, and whose sin was imputed to all mankind. Those who believe this believe Paul's teaching in Romans is literal, not allegorical or myth or symbolic.

Some of those people think that the Adam I just described was the product of God ordained evolution. I disagree. So do you. But they worship the same God and believe in the same bible as truth.

This is highly relevant, and I don't mean to offend but you are showing some serious ignorance about the positions among those who hold to theistic evolution. It is highly relevant. Let me try stating this again another way:

The more passive we are in attitude towards understanding the difference between brethren who teach and believe in the literal words of Paul in Romans- even while adopting an evolutionary model,- and those who do not belive what Paul said about Adam is literal, the more dangerously blurry we become in arrogantly dismissing genuine brethren as worshipping another God.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
It's "theistic evolutionists" and other evolutionists who believe they're related to chimps that are sadly the chumps.
 

gordo

Puritan Board Freshman
God created the earth. That's it. That's all that matters. How it happened, I really don't care. And I am certainly not going to get upset at other Christians over it and discount certain believers because of it. Created in 7 days? Great! Created in 45,000,000 years? Great! Was God behind it all? Absolutely. God bless! :)
 

Unoriginalname

Puritan Board Junior
How can you say evolution is relevant?
It is relevant because you run the risk of misrepresenting so of our brothers. Obviously it is important to strive to have the most proper interpretation of scripture, however not all faulty views are as systemic as others. There are plenty of individuals who would hold to what Lynnie described Keller as holding to. That does not effect interpretation as much as an Enns interpretation which leads to the denial of the Fall (or an incredible reinterpreting of it), an assault on Romans, and a breakdown of federal theology (with Christ being the second Adam and so on).
Furthermore you keep stating that AM denies that God is the creator which is simply not true, AM denies YEC, there is a significant difference between what you have stated and the truth. Do not let your rhetoric get in the way of issue.
 

lynnie

Puritan Board Graduate
Brother, I would not even keep trying here if I did not feel concern for your soul.

You are openly stating on a public Christian forum that certain people are not "referring to the same God" that orthodox Chriatianity refers to. That is a strong charge to make.

Let me repeat myself. Does AM "believe in an Adam, in a Covenant with God in the garden of Eden, with an Eve, the first two humans, with a God breathed human nature/soul, without sin, who chose to disobey Almighty God and who fell, and whose sin was imputed to all mankind." ? Well? does he or does he not?

You are asking the wrong question and demonstrating serious ignorance between men who follow guys like Enns, essentially denying inerrancy, and men who hold to positions like Keller, affirming inerrancy.
 

GulfCoast Presbyterian

Puritan Board Junior
however I wonder where a line has to be drawn when it comes down to fundamental elements of our faith.

Folks are attempting to answer your question "I wonder where a line has to be drawn...." If you ask the question, you should not be "amazed" that there are a range of responses as to where individuals would draw a line. "Reformed" is confessional, but Reformed is not monolithic.
 

Unoriginalname

Puritan Board Junior
The way we believe the doctrine and theology of creation has a PROFOUND effect on how we interpret the rest of scripture
Thats what we are trying to say, you seem to want to lump people who disagree with you into a pile so that it is easy to demonize them, instead of dealing with the specifics of their views. Misrepresenting your opponents is still misrepresenting at the end of the day. There are at least two forms of theistic evolution, nondenial of a historic Adam, and denial of historic Adam. You need to separate the two if you want to go anywhere in a discussion. I am amazed that you fail to see this.
 

J. Dean

Puritan Board Junior
On a related note, Iain Murray addresses McGrath in his book "Evangelicalism Divided" and as I recall he's quite critical of him. It's been a while since I've read the book, but as I recollect, it had something to do with McGrath glossing over matters that Murray says should not be glossed over (I'll have to dig the book out again).
 

Somerset

Puritan Board Junior
This worries me brethren. Please advise

It doesn't worry me about myself, because I could read "the good bits" of McGrath and reject his espousal of "theistic evolution". But if McGrath is commended to a less experienced Christian, he might embrace his erroneous and heretical views on Genesis.

I find the same thing goes through my mind with John Stott who wrote a lot of good stuff before espousing annhilationism. I still hear his books being recommended without qualification by Reformed men.

I haven't read much Stott or McGrath but I know that they've written a lot of good stuff but there's lots of other guys out there who've written the same/similar stuff without the doctrinal poison mixed in.

To the extent that these men have adopted "evangelicalism-with-liberal-stances", their books should come with a health warning, particularly for young and immature Christians and students.

Excellent post, especially the last paragraph. The first Christian books I bought were recommended by our local Methodist minister -Paul (?) Yancy. Now I don't buy anything unless it is reviewed in a good reformed journal or recommended on here. The PB has cost me a lot in terms of books bought - but nothing in terms of books regretted.
 

Sviata Nich

Puritan Board Freshman
[video=youtube;yL5su0zmpKM]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yL5su0zmpKM&feature=related[/video]


[video=youtube;jEhwPhwfMnk]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jEhwPhwfMnk&feature=related[/video]



I want to emphasize his words "praise God as creator".
I think it should also be note he has co-edited commentaries by Calvin (including his commentary on Genesis), Luther and more with J.I Packer.
 

Unoriginalname

Puritan Board Junior
No one is denying that he supports TE, you are misrepresenting the fact that he still views God as the creator as well as refusing to see the difference between believing Adam is a special creation and still holding to evolution and believing he is fully the process of evolution. I do not think my earlier post could have been clearer as to what I mean.
 

John Bunyan

Puritan Board Freshman
I don't think he's a liberal.

Liberals deny all important christian doctrines: the trinity, creatio ex nihilo, incarnation, the virgin birth, two-natured of Christ, substitionary atonement, biblical inspiration and sufficiency, etc. McGrath affirms them all - he just applies a non-conventional hermeneutics in certain places, but he keeps the essential.
 

Rufus

Puritan Board Junior
Creation is no exception. If you are not representing God as the sovereign creator, who purposed to create, and did it as scripture tells us He did it- then you are no longer representing the God of scripture. And that is a dangerous place to wander off into.

Believing in Theistic Evolution doesn't deny that God is sovereign, He just takes some time with His Sovereignty, I don't agree with Theistic Evolution, but it doesn't mean that God's sovereignty is denied.

I think we need to be very careful of commending or associating with people who claim the name of Christ, yet who are opposed to FUNDAMENTAL and ESSENTIAL doctrines.
As I stated in my original post, we are not referring here to the date of the exodus, or the author of Hebrews, or methods for baptism, etc.
When it comes to the Bible's clear and absolute claims and doctrines, we must take a stand.
Or else, where do you draw the line?
Why not start recommending Joel Osteen? Or Joseph Smith? They make true statements. Just take them with a grain of salt right?
(*note* my use of satire here is to make my point, please do not misinterpret any confronting or argumentative tone on my behalf dear brother.)

Where do you draw the line in the opposite direction i.e. how "Reformed" must one be? How "Calvinist" must one be. In some peoples eyes if your not a 5 pointer your a damned Arminian from the pit of Hell, in others Lutherans, Anglicans, and Presbyterians are damnable baby baptizers who hate God. Some (very few) people go as far as saying one must be a KJV only or one must "speak in tongues" to be saved.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
I think there are two separate issues.

1. Should McGrath's writings be recommended?
2. Do McGrath's beliefs constitute an attack on the Biblical doctrine of God, as well as on the Biblical doctrine of creation?

The answer to the first question depends on a number of factors, some of which are entirely extrinsic to McGrath (e.g., has anyone else done work on the demise of the second person singular form in English?), so your answer to that has no necessary connection to your answer to the second.

My answer to the second question is that ultimately every "hath God said" is in effect an attack on the Biblical doctrine of God; but by no means are such attacks necessarily direct, immediate, or conscious. I attack the Biblical doctrine of God in a similar way every time I sin.

However, it seems that the intent of the first question may actually be something more like, "Should churches give McGrath a platform, given his aberrant views." And to that, I think the answer is a resounding no.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Time out. Take some deep breaths, remember to be swift to hear and slow to speak, and hard to offend.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Reopened. Try to put the best construction possible on what other posters say; try to be clear and kind in what you say yourself; and if someone must be corrected do so gently.
 

Zach

Puritan Board Junior
While I do not think a theistic evolution position is at all Confessional (WCF 4.1) and I think guys who hold to a theistic evolutionary position have a serious misunderstanding of the scriptures and misrepresent the Confession it does not mean that they are not sincere brothers in Christ. While I'm not very familiar with McGrath, I don't think that we should ignore what someone like Tim Keller has to say just because he believes in theistic evolution.
 
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