50 Outrageous quotes from NWC profs book – Jesus Loves You & Evolution Is True

Jason Lief and Sarah Tolsma, authors of Jesus Loves You and Evolution is True, are professors at Northwestern College. A “distinctively Christian” college…according to the college. 

According to the Northwestern College website, it is affiliated with the Reformed Church in America. It says “We accept the ultimate authority of God’s written Word and are guided by the wisdom of the ecumenical creeds* and our historic Reformed confessions**. We affirm the divine inspiration, infallibility, authority and sufficiency of Scripture in matters of faith and practice.”

**The Belgic Confession, Heidelberg Catechism and the Cannons of Dort. 

Creation

BCF art 12 states that after God Created the world out of nothing. God has given all creatures their being, form, and appearance and their various functions for serving their Creator. 

The book begins with a quote from atheist Stephen Hawking.

“One of the basic rules of the universe is that nothing is perfect. Perfection doesn’t exist….Without imperfection neither you nor I would exist.” p.5

“Darwinian evolution is a scientific explanation or theory for the emergence of the diversity of life from a common ancestor through variation and natural selection over approximately four billion years. The theory is well tested.” p.9

“The creation accounts in the early chapters of Genesis are important for revealing God’s spiritual truths but are not intended to reveal scientific truths.” p. 28

“As a child, (Leah) understood the stories of creation to be literal, so she was confused and a little distraught…her youth pastor walked with her as they explored different ways of reading Scripture.” p.28-29

“This means the material creation is inseparable from the spiritual; there is no divide between the two.” p. 42

“Karl Barth invites us to consider as we think about the incarnation (of Christ) not as a response to sin but as God’s embrace of our humanity.” p. 56

“Both the satisfaction and the penal theories of the atonement see the incarnation as a response to sin. Both interpret the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as a sacrifice that appeases God’s wrath, making reconciliation with God possible. Beyond some of the philosophical questions this raises (Why does God have to save humanity from God?), an important question to consider about this view of the atonement  is whether it contributes to a diminished view of our humanity.” p. 47

“Barth refers to humans as being “earthly” both in body and in soul, and that heaven is not our real home. Heaven is, according to Barth, “the sphere from which God speaks and acts towards man. Hence it is not a sphere to which man belongs by nature, not even in virtue of his soul. For in the language of the Bible the soul is simply the earthly life of man, and not at all a divine or heavenly component of being.” p. 52 

“I explained that sharing a common ancestor was different from ‘coming from monkeys.'” p. 58

“We shared a common ancestor with chimpanzees, our closest living relative, about six million years ago.” p. 76

“In the Christian community, an evolutionary understanding of human origins raises (legitimate) questions about the historicity of Adam and Eve, the fall, and the role of Christ’s redemptive work.” p. 58

“Humans are part of the evolutionary process. Humans are part of a creation that is on the way.” p. 75

“Science observes that the story of humans is one of a species that is an intimate part of the rest of creation and, like other species, is on the way–part of a process of gradual evolutionary change.” p. 76

“Together we are physical creatures, embodied image bearers, the result of a beautiful evolutionary process. Together, we are all on the way.” p. 80

“As a Christian biologist who accepts evolution as the mechanism by which God created.” p. 106

“Historically, the church has referred to the sin of Adam and Even in Genesis 3 as the fall, which impacts the way we think about salvation. Interestingly, nowhere in Genesis is the word fall used; it’s been read into the text. Instead of a fall, Adam and Eve commit a big overreach. Put simply, they take what doesn’t belong to them…The idea of a fall is steeped in Greek metaphysics…the continued reference to sin as a fall fosters a dualism within Christian circles.” p. 85-86

“Evolution, after all, sees change and death as part of the creative process. It’s not bad; it’s merely the way the natural world works…maybe death also has a good and very natural function.” p. 86

“This directional shift changes how we think about what it means to be human, the nature of sin, and the meaning of the incarnation (of Jesus).” p. 86

“This is the meaning of (Christ’s) incarnation, not primarily a response to human sin, but the climax of creation.” p. 87

“All creation is incarnational.” p. 88

“God comes in Jesus Christ to embrace our humanity.” p. 88

“Sin is the abstraction of our identity…” p. 88

“The incarnation (of Christ) is not a response to sin.” p. 90

“The cross (of Christ)…is not a form of substitutionary atonement, or God punishing Jesus for human sin.” p. 91

“‘The Incarnation is a mystery of divine sympathy and empathy…God feels passionately attracted to the interior of human nature.’ It is this love and passion that moves God to action. First, in the act of creation to bring forth a world in which love and freedom cultivate the possibility of relationships. Second, in the act of incarnation that is the completion of the creative act but also the renewal and restoration of a humanity that has forgotten who they are and what it means to live as a human being.” p. 94

“Sin…is to forget what it means to be human.” p. 95

“The primary reason for the incarnation (of Jesus) is to make known the wisdom and goodness of God and to bring about the perfection of the universe…not as a response to sin…” p. 96

“The incarnation completes creation.” p. 96

“Theologically, they provide a way for us to think about salvation and sin differently…affirming our humanity…” p. 96

“Youth ministry cannot remain closed off from what science tells us about creation and what it means to be human.” p. 98

“When we realize that the incarnation (Christ’s completion of Darwinian evolution, see above) is the basis of Christian faith — not whether the Bible is inerrant, or holding to a particular view of creation, or even holding to a particular view of how salvation works — we are free to take the creation seriously, take our humanity seriously, which means taking our embodied (material existence) life seriously.” p. 99

“Conservative reaction is to hold tightly to doctrinal or ethical positions that they fail to see are much more cultural than biblical.” p. 100

“This reconfirms the dualistic approach to Christian life where spirituality focuses on an abstract afterlife or abstract ethical principles that are unable to address the realities of human life.” p. 100

“We will discover that the evolutionary evidence is very compatible with God’s love revealed in Jesus. An important first step is to help you people understand that salvation is not first and foremost God’s punishment of sin or having to pay some sort of debt. While these metaphors for God’s saving action in Jesus Christ are historically significant, and even have some biblical backing, they are not the primary biblical or theological metaphor for God’s saving work.” p. 101

“Theologically, to interpret the incarnation (Christ in the flesh) as the culmination of creation (not Genesis), as that toward which creation has been moving from the beginning, opens up an entirely new way of interpreting the scientific evidence for evolution.” p. 101

“The (evolutionary) progression towards consciousness, which is a way of saying the movement toward human beings as the integration of matter and spirit, opens up the possibility of embracing science (Darwinian evolution) as the story of the unfolding cosmos…the union of the divine and the material.” p. 101

“Recognizing Christ (coming bodily) as at the center of creation (Darwinian evolution) overcomes dualistic tendencies that exist in Western Christianity. To be human, both biblically and theologically, is not to be a body and a soul; it is to be an embodied soul (monism).” p. 102

“This requires a view of spirituality, not as something to be added to or extra in some way…” p. 102

“Instead spirituality is embodied; spirituality is material.” p. 102

“As a Christian biologist who accepts evolution as the mechanism by which God created…” p. 106

“I find identity with the creation…the Creator…impossible to think about these relationships as anything but physical.” p. 107

“An evolutionary worldview compels us to reorient our relationships with God, creation, and each other.” p. 107

“If we believe that God specially created humans…it is not surprising to see us behaving in such a way that takes advantage of the earth’s resources.” p. 108 

“Christians need to face the possibility that the failure to steward God’s creation properly is collateral damage from refusing to accept the scientific evidence for evolutionary theory. Perhaps if Christians embraced evolutionary theory, taught their young people to embrace it as well…they would reclaim a role as caretakers of God’s creation.” p. 119

“When we help our young people embrace their part in the evolutionary story…” p. 122

“Give thanks that you and all species around you are on an evolutionary journey.” p. 137

“Many Christian young people have been brought up believing in al literal six-day creation…this leads to an unhealthy refusal to engage in conversations or explore scientific insights.” p. 141

“Darwin’s theory of evolution fits this criterion. The impact of this paradigm shift, from an ordered universe created by a rational god, to a theory of biological life based on natural selection, is still working itself out.” p. 143

“The problem is many people don’t think of their interpretation of the Bible as a paradigm; they think of it as the absolute truth about God and the world. So when other Christians provide a different interpretation, conflict arises. When everyone sees their interpretation as Truth with a capital T, it makes it hard to have meaningful conversation.” p. 146

“Arguing about the…historicity of Adam and Eve…flow out of definitions of truth…we read the Genesis creation stories differently based upon different approaches to interpretation and truth. Like dominos falling in different directions, this starting point usually leads down different and irreconcilable paths.” p. 146-147

“An important question for the Western church today is what happens when these ancient philosophical and scientific categories no longer make sense…they (creeds and doctrines) must be interpreted for a new historical and cultural moment, which includes new scientific paradigms.” p. 148

“evolution is a self-organizing process with an overall increase in adaptive complexity…which gives rise to new, more organized and more inclusive forms of life.” p. 148

“This pattern — from death to life, old to new, chaos to order — finds resonance with the scientific insights of a neb-darwinist perspective. The Christian community only has to have the courage and the imagination to see it.” p. 153

“Christians of earlier times had a hyper literal interpretation of Genesis…they have to be interpreted into an entirely new way of making sense of the cosmos.” p. 153-154

“The Christian community…tends to see our humanity grounded in the past static image (pre-fall unchangeable image of God) that opens the door to natural law, the problem with natural law is that it is conservative in a bad way; it wants to keep things the same.” p. 156

“In the story of the man race, then, the image of God was not achieved fully at the outset. It was still in process…this full actualization is our destiny…therefore the incarnation (of Christ)…cannot be a mere reaction of the Creator to Adam’s sin.” p. 157

“What happens when we bring theology and evolution into dialogue? How does evolution change the way we talk about God? T he tendency in evangelical Christianity is to see the doctrine of creation as a demonstration of the power of God. God is viewed as a king, as a sovereign, who rules and governs the creation. This lends itself to traditional views of salvation in which there must be punishment for sin, or some form of satisfaction must be made. God heroically comes to take the wrath upon God’s self, taking our place to bear the punishment for sin, so humanity can be reconciled and so everything can be put back in right order. It’s easy to see how this view comes into conflict with evolution. If God is the sovereign King, then the natural world has to have order, it has to have a grand plan, it has to have a designer. This is seen in the language of the Christian community that often wants to point to design and order in the creation as proof for the existence of God. Historically, this type of argument, know as the cosmological argument, focuses on principles like causation, order, and intelligence to make the case for God and faith. It’s easy to see how evolution causes problems for Christians in this context, because Darwin’s evolution doesn’t need a grand designer or grand plan; it doesn’t need an all powerful God to account for natural life, or even the life of human beings. But what if the problem isn’t Darwin or evolution? What if the problem is our view of God?” p. 158-159

“Johnson does not see the incarnation primarily as a response to sin…But the incarnation is not dependent on the sin of our first parents.” p. 160

“God loves the material world…God loves humans because we are creatures made from the dust, the same as apes, dogs, and cattle. …our identity is not found in some glorious pre-fall state that we are trying to get back to.” p. 161

“Youth ministry has to begin to take…science (monkey to man evolution) seriously…to help them to become comfortable with their lived experience as human animals.” p.166 (Chap. 8 title is “Embracing our Animal”)

“There are some who call for us to embrace the pain and death in creation as an essential part of the goodness of creation. This tends to come from an ecological understanding of death and suffering, moving away from a view that sees it only as a consequence of sin… life can not exist without death.” p. 169 

“So what does this have to do with evolution and youth ministry? Too often, our response to new theological and scientific insights is a lack of imagination.” p. 195

“Too often, our response to new theological and scientific insights (Darwinian evolution) is a lack of imagination because our conceptual and theological framework is too frail and thin.” p. 195

“Another important issue evolution and youth ministry can address together is sexuality. Too often the Christian community settles for purity propaganda…holding to outdated and abstract notions of purity can have negative consequences as young people deny their sexuality, or it can lead to descriptive forms of shame if they do engage in various forms of sexual activity.” p. 205

“As I tell my students, the problem with pornography is not the sex, it’s hat the sexual relationships are not real.” p. 205

“Recognizing that humans are animals with sexual drives.” p. 205

“It has nothing to do with purity and everything to do with the vulnerability of sex as an act in which we are physically and spiritually laid bare before another person.” p. 206

“In fact, Smedes recommends that physical intimacy needs to be part of a dating relationship, and that refraining from touching, holding hands, or kissing is unhealthy. Young people need to discover their sexuality in relationship with each other; they need to be given permission to explore each other’s bodies.” p. 206

“Increasingly young people’s lives are abstracted by technology and capitalism as they are institutionalized.” p. 206

“Rather than seeing creation as an act that happened ‘in the beginning,’ evolution affirms the ongoing process of creation through secondary causes embedded in the created world.” p. 207

“Our lives are dependent upon our relationship to the created order.” p. 207

“Our own form of life is bound up with the animals and the plants, the sky and the land…we are dependent on it for life.” p. 208

“The act of immersing ourselves in the dirt reconnects us with a vital part of our humanity. You handle the decomposed bodies of trees, leaves, birds, and fallen stars. Your body recognizes its kin.” p. 209

“It is not about perfection or purity or human beings becoming something other than creatures.” p. 209

“What if youth ministry became a space where young people could ask questions that push against the tradition that has been handed down to them? What if youth ministry became a space where young people could wrestle with tradition, with the Bible, and with social and cultural issues with no fear of being reprimanded or labeled as heretical? What if youth pastors became theological scouts entering into unchartered territory?” p. 213

“However, it’s important to remember that at one time saying the earth revolved around the sun was just as controversial — now something most Christians take as a matter of fact. Paradigm shifts take time.” p. 218