Dr. Timothy Keller is the widely known and respected founder of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, vice president of The Gospel Coalition (TGC), and the author of several New York Times bestselling books. I have long admired Keller’s ministry to thinkers and questioners and the gracious demeanor in which he addresses them. I have been encouraged and enriched by his articles and blogs. Even though he holds a different view from mine of the early chapters of Genesis and has been associated with the evolutionary creationist organization BioLogos, I consider him one of today’s heroes of the Christian faith.
Dr. Ligon Duncan is chancellor and CEO of Reformed Theological Seminary and a TGC Council member. In 2001, Duncan and I took different sides in The Genesis Debate book, in which he defended the 24-hour-day view of the Genesis creation days and I defended the day-age view. On that occasion and others since then, Duncan has treated me and other old-Earth creationists with respect. He has consistently complimented our commitment to biblical inerrancy and to evangelism.
The Gospel Coalition (TGC) was founded in 2005 by Timothy Keller and Donald Carson, professor of New Testament Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. TGC is a broad network of Reformed evangelical churches with the mission of encouraging and educating current and next-generation Christian leaders, advocating gospel-centered principles and practices. A few weeks ago TGC released a 12-minute video entitled Keller, Moore, and Duncan on the Non-Negotiable Beliefs About Creation. In that video, theologian Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and TGC Council member, interviewed Keller and Duncan about what they consider essential creation beliefs for orthodox Christians.
As this video shows, Keller and Duncan uphold views of human origins that closely align with those affirmed by Reasons to Believe.1 Beginning at time stamp 4:30, in response to Moore’s question, “What are the essentials, … the boundaries of what we all have to agree on when we are talking about creation in order to recognize one another as orthodox?” Duncan answered, “I want to emphasize at least three things with folks: one is creation ex nihilo, another is the goodness of creation, and another is the special creation of Adam and Eve.”
At 8:01, Keller adds, “Where I would stop is with Adam and Eve. There was an actual Adam and Eve. Otherwise I do not understand how the Pauline understanding of salvation works. I just do not know how Romans 5 works.”
Then, at 8:44, Keller continues, “When I read the [biblical] text, I look and it says it sure looks to me like it’s saying that God created Adam and Eve and He didn’t just adopt a former human-like being and adopt and put the image of God [into him].” … At 9:01: “It says He created out of the dust of the ground.” … At 9:51: “It [the biblical text] says to me, no, there’s an Adam and Eve and everyone came from Adam and Eve and they were a special creation.” … At 9:57: “Even though I don’t have an answer to my science friends, that is where I stand.”
Many theologians and scientists today, based on certain genetics models, assert that we must abandon the archaic idea of a supernatural de novo creation of Adam and Eve as the first humans and sole progenitors of all humanity. My Reasons to Believe colleagues and I are encouraged that two such respected theologians as Tim Keller and Ligon Duncan are willing to publicly stand by what Christians for centuries have understood to be the clear teachings of Moses, Jesus, Luke, and Paul concerning Adam and Eve, including the descent of all humans from this original couple, and the sin nature that all have inherited from them. We agree with Keller and Duncan that these teachings are not minor doctrines.
We are not surprised that Keller lacks “an answer to my science friends.” He is not trained in the relevant sciences, and he is inclined to trust his scientifically trained friends, the evolutionary creationists with BioLogos, with whom my team and I have been dialoguing in recent years. Based on our reading of the scientific literature and an integrative approach to the relevant scientific disciplines, we see a strong case—one that grows stronger with each passing year—for the supernatural de novo creation of Adam and Eve from whom all humanity is descended. We document this scientific case in our book Who Was Adam?2 We present our case, side by side with the BioLogos scholars in the newly released two views book, Old-Earth or Evolutionary Creation? Discussing Origins with Reasons to Believe and Biologos.3 Many articles on human origins can also be found on our reasons.org website.
- Timothy Keller in Keller, Moore, and Duncan on the Non-Negotiable Beliefs About Creation (New York: The Gospel Coalition, August 29, 2017): https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/keller-moore-duncan-non-negotiable-beliefs-about-creation.
- Fazale Rana with Hugh Ross, Who Was Adam? A Creation Model Approach to the Origin of Humanity, 2nd ed. (Covina, CA: RTB Press, 2015).
- Kenneth Keathley, J. B. Stump, and Joe Aguirre, eds., Old-Earth or Evolutionary Creation? Discussing Origins with Reasons to Believe and Biologos (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2017).