Monday 18 March 2013

Beyond Galileo—to Chalcedon

ICS alumnus J. Richard Middleton, Professor of Biblical Worldview and Exegesis at Northeastern Seminary, has been invited to join a team of ten other Christian scholars from a variety of academic disciplines charged with working on a three-year communal research program that addresses evolution, the Fall, and original sin. The project, sponsored by the Colossian Forum on Faith, Science, and Culture, is co-led by another ICS alumnus, James K. A. Smith, Professor of Philosophy at Calvin College.

The project, titled “Beyond Galileo—to Chalcedon: Re-imagining the Intersection of Evolution and the Fall,” has received funding by the Biologos Foundation.

Middleton is one of two biblical scholars on this team; the remaining scholars are scientists, theologians, and philosophers. Together their task is to explore a pressing question for the contemporary church:

  • If humanity emerged from non-human primates—as genetic, biological, and archaeological evidence seems to suggest—then what are the implications for Christian theology’s traditional account of origins, including both the origin of humanity and the origin of sin? 
  • The integrity of the church’s witness requires that it constructively address this difficult question. The team believes that cultivating an orthodox theological imagination can enable Christians to engage these tensions without giving up on confessional orthodoxy. So its confessional methodology is as central to the project as its topic.
Smith recently wrote an article in Christianity Today called “What Galileo’s Telescope Can’t See”, in which he vigorously defended the ability of Chalcedonian orthodoxy to fearlessly take account of whatever science discovers. As Smith put it: “We can boldly, imaginatively, faithfully, creatively tackle the most challenging issues, secure in the conviction that all things hold together in Christ.”