The Briefing 03-02-15

The Briefing 03-02-15

The Briefing


March 2, 2015

This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


It’s Monday, March 2, 2015.  I’m Albert Mohler and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.

1) Perennial conflict between evolution and Christian faith acknowledged by journalist

From time to time we need to step back and look at some stories that time did not allow us to attend to in recent days. One of those is an article that appeared last Sunday at; the headline is: Science and Religion: Surveying The Field Of Battle. The columnist for Forbes is John Farrell, who covers science and technology for the magazine and the website. He cites Kelly James Clark, who wrote,

“As the scientific evidence has accumulated in favor of Darwinism, many Christians have defensively retreated into unscientific, untenable biblical literalism. Conflict is an apt metaphor for the ongoing battle between Darwinian evolution and biblical literalism.”

Now whenever you see the word literalism here one of the things we need to ask is what in the world does that word mean in this context, what does the one who uses it mean? There’s a sense in which the word ‘literal’ is usually not the best word. As an English professor I had back in college said, whenever you are literally tempted to use the word literally, do everything literally possible to avoid it. But as we read this article by Farrell, citing this work by Kelly James Clark, what we come to understand is that literal in this sense means that the Bible is conveying historical space-time truth in especially the text of Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. Farrell goes on to explain that Clark has a PhD in philosophy; he conducts research at the Kaufman Interfaith Institute at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. Christians may recognize his name because he formerly taught at Calvin College.

As Farrell writes, Clark has written several books on what’s described as the interface of science and religion. Farrell then writes,

“While an evangelical Christian, like some of his fellow authors Peter Enns and Karl Giberson, Clark is not satisfied with the way that evangelical theologians have dealt with the findings of modern science.”

Now in a very public sense, I have engaged both Peter Enns and Karl Giberson; one in person, the other merely in print and out there in the digital world. But nonetheless both have made very clear their own convictions on this issue, and I will grant to both of these men the intellectual honesty that they are doing their best, I think, to play out the inevitable intellectual results of their worldview.

Peter Enns and I have engaged one another in a recent book on inerrancy published by Zondervan and we also engaged one another in a massive session before the Evangelical Theological Society. And Peter Enns is very clear in rejecting inerrancy. He’s very clear on the consequences of what he believes the rejection of inerrancy must mean. And he is also very clear, especially in his recent writings and books, on how a non-inerrantist would approach Genesis 1 and Genesis 2.

Karl Giberson’s not writing as a biblical scholar, but as rather one who was a science educator. He’s been involved with the group known as BioLogos, promoting a union or a peace between evangelical Christianity and an evolutionary worldview. Giberson’s a co-author of a recent book published by Oxford University Press in which he suggests that Christians who reject the current Darwinian synthesis are bringing intellectual disrepute upon the Christian faith. Giberson also understands that a claim of biblical inerrancy is very problematic in terms of his worldview when we encounter Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 and when those biblical texts encounter the claims being made by the modern scientific consensus.

But leaving Enns and Giberson, let me go back to Kelly James Clark and let me go back to John Farrell’s article at Forbes in which he discusses Clark’s proposal. Farrell writes,

“Starting with opening chapters laying out the terms and the sides in the often contentious debate between science and religion, Clark discusses the history of science in Europe, the founding fathers of the scientific revolution, their religious presuppositions and beliefs, and moves from there to the achievements of modern science–evolution and cosmology and quantum mechanics–most of whose leading lights have discarded the faith that inspired their scientific forebears.”

So while John Farrell is calling upon evangelical Christians to make peace with the world of modern science, he’s also acknowledging right up front that most of what he describes as the leading lights of that modern science have discarded Christianity. But Farrell’s point is not really about those who’ve abandon their faith in the face of modern science, but rather those who are holding on to their faith and are rejecting the demands being made by the modern scientific worldview – especially a modern worldview in science that is almost exclusively naturalistic and materialistic, cutting out any role for God whatsoever.

Farrell writes,

“[I]t’s the resistance to science on the part of his co-religionists that concerns Clark more. To use an analogy, if one believes in a god who inspired the Book of Scripture, one can’t avoid the implications of what’s written by the same author in the Book of Nature.”

Now that’s a very important point and it’s a point that I would also affirm, but I would have to affirm it in a way that clearly understands the importance of Scripture, the central role of Scripture, the authority of Scripture. Because it is true that God has revealed himself in the book of nature, but a theological worldview reminds us in Romans 1 that human beings, with our vision so much affected by sin, our intellectual apparatus so corrupted by sin, we are unable to see the book of nature, as it’s called here, for what it truly is. The apostle Paul makes the categorical statement in Romans 1 that the creature corrupts the knowledge of the creator; even that knowledge, he makes very clear, that is embedded within creation itself. That’s not to say that biblical Christians understand that the secular world can know nothing of the world around us, to the contrary we should be thankful that much is known and even more is becoming known, but it does tell us that at the most basic level of presuppositions and worldview there is no way that the book of nature can lead us appropriately to truth.

But suggesting that the mode of thinking that needs to rule in evangelical Christianity is one that makes peace with the secular reading of the book of nature, Farrell goes on to write – and at this point he gets rather personal –

“Now, there is little evidence of this happening at institutions like, say, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, whose president remains mired in anti-intellectualism. And I wonder how Clark’s book is being received there.”

Well, I would simply say, he could’ve asked.

But the reason I raise this article today, and I go back to this issue so often, is because this is one of those perennial issues that’s pressing on us in this particular moment and time. In this intellectual climate, evangelical Christians will face fewer intellectual and theological challenges more pressing and more urgent than this. And what is being required of us is a basic surrender to the modern scientific consensus, and we need at least understand what is then at stake. In this case John Farrell writes that I remain,

“…mired in anti-intellectualism,”

Now there are certain things that can hurt my feelings, indeed if that were made by an evangelical Christian – by an evangelical Christian scholar – who is also committed to the inerrancy of Scripture and to the worldview I share, I would find that a very troublesome statement. But when it’s made from someone who is writing about what is now required of evangelical Christianity and our understanding of Scripture, and what it turns out is required is abandoning what I believe to be the clear teachings of Scripture, at that point I simply have to affirm what by now we should know. And that is, all of us are going to have to be ready to run the risk of being called anti-intellectual if the only way to be considered not anti-intellectual is to buy into the current demands of a naturalistic and materialistic worldview. But to be honest, we would also have to understand there are those who are arguing that some peace can be made between the modern Darwinian synthesis and an evangelical understanding of Scripture and the gospel. But that’s where we also have to be very clear about what the gospel is, what the authorities of scripture requires, and what the modern Darwinian synthesis is.

By referring to the modern Darwinian synthesis I’m using the term that modern science uses about the understanding of evolution that now rules in the scientific mainstream. End even if at this point I bristle a little at the fact that John Farrell describes our worldview here, and my worldview in particular, as being “mired in anti-intellectualism,” I simply have to take some comfort in what he says in the next paragraph because he gives me a gift by making the point I make over and over again. He writes, and I cite these very words,

“But even evangelical science organizations like BioLogos, which like to promote harmony between science and faith, often blanch at the real challenges genetics and anthropology pose for the interpretation of scripture.”

Now why is that a gift? Because it makes the point we need to make over and over again. Those who claim that we need to make peace with evolution need to be very honest about what making peace would require; and BioLogos is one of those organizations that has promoted some form of theistic evolution, And yet you have John Farrell, who just criticized me and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, then criticizing BioLogos, who after all is not only open to theistic evolution but very much pushing that agenda, he now accuses BioLogos of failing to come to full theological terms with what the modern Darwinian synthesis would require of them. As he says, to use his words,

“They often blanch at the real challenges genetics and anthropology pose for the interpretation of scripture.”

Those are challenges John Farrell understands that will go far beyond the question of historicity in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. These are questions that will go right to the heart of the very storyline of Scripture. Was there a historical Adam and a historical Eve? Are all human beings descended from Adam and Eve? Now, theologically, I just want to point out that that is essential to the biblical storyline. It’s essential to the biblical storyline not just in terms of the doctrine of creation and even our understanding of what it means to be human, but it is essential in our understanding of what it means for every one of us to have a common ancestor and thus to share a real brotherhood and sisterhood. And furthermore, the apostle Paul does not hesitate at all, stating explicitly, that our understanding of the work of Christ as our federal head is entirely dependent upon the reality that as a second Adam he has done what the first Adam could not do; he indeed has undone with the first Adam did. The apostle Paul point is very clear: if there is no first Adam, we don’t understand what it means for Christ to be the second Adam.

And then John Farrell, with whom I’ve had at least a written engagement in times past goes, comes back to give me, in effect, another gift when he writes,

“As another author of evangelical background, Peter Enns, has written, the issue is not whether science and religion in general can be reconciled. ‘The issue before us is more pressing: can evolution and a biblically rooted Christian faith coexist?’”

And then John Farrell writes, and I quote his words exactly,

“Perhaps in the end, they can’t,”

He goes on to say that Clark’s proposal is at least interesting. And he says it shows an engaging interest in the need to study the question further, not simply retreat, he says, behind the walls of denial and wishful thinking. But what a concession he makes in his words. Perhaps in the end they can’t; which is, if you take the article seriously, him saying, ‘perhaps in the end, Mohler is right.’ Now he doesn’t really mean in any sense that I might be right (that is impossible, I think, according to his worldview). But it does affirm the fact that it is not irrational to believe that in the end the only answer that can be given to the question that Peter Enns asks –  and that is again the question before us as more pressing – he says, ‘can evolution and a biblically rooted Christian faith coexist?’-  is no.

And the issue there is twofold. How are you going to define evolution? Now if I can define evolution so that it has no conflict with everything I believe that Scripture reveals, then I’ll be glad to embrace evolution. But there is no mainstream understanding of evolution that would allow that. As a matter fact, the current Darwinian mainstream position is not only that there wasn’t a historical Adam and Eve, but that there wasn’t the possibility of having any design from outside and any designer who had any role whatsoever in the shape of the cosmos in any way shape or form. On the other side, you’d have to define what it means to know a biblically rooted Christian faith. And at that point I’d have to say, it would have to be a faith that would be understandable as the faith that Jesus gave to the apostles, the faith that the apostles preached to the church, the faith that the reformers and others throughout the history the church have affirmed have confessed and have taught. It would have to be the faith, as Jude says, ‘once for all delivered to the saints.’ It would have to be a faith that is faithful to the storyline of Scripture. It would have to be a faith that finds it’s rooting, in terms of everything we know, everything we know about Christ and everything we know about the cosmos in terms of its biblical significance in the text of Scripture itself.

As I have often pointed out on The Briefing, we are told routinely that there are those such as the Roman Catholic Church who have made peace with evolution, but as I pointed out, if you look at the actual Papal statements, you’ll discover that the evolution that in mind here is not an evolution that bears any significance whatsoever to the modern version of evolution being taught in universities and colleges. So what we’re looking at here is the reality that there are those who want to put us on the intellectual defensive and there are those out there in the culture who are sure we must be on the intellectual defensive. But I for one don’t believe that’s true. And we are hardly the first generation of Christians to confront this challenge. But it is a challenge we cannot avoid now, and when the question is asked of us, we better at least understand what is at stake and be ready, as Scripture commands, to give an answer – no matter what someone may call us once they hear our response.

2) Return of German edition of Mein Kampf reveals endurace of even wicked ideas

Next, on Wednesday of last week the Washington Post ran on its front page below the fold the headline; ‘My Struggle’ Provokes a New One For Germany. This is one of those headlines that understates the story. In this case, “My Struggle” is a title and it is a title of one of most infamous works of human history, one of most infamous and evil works of literature ever written. Most of you will know this book if you know it in its German title, “Mein Kampf,” – My Struggle – by Adolf Hitler.

As Anthony Faiola report from Munich,

“Old copies of the offending tome are kept in a secure ‘poison cabinet,’ [that’s the term used by the government] a literary danger zone in the dark recesses of the vast Bavarian State Library. A team of experts vets every request to see one, keeping the toxic text away from the prying eyes of the idly curious or those who might seek to exalt it.”

Literary historian Florian Sapp said,

“This book is too dangerous for the general public,”

He was speaking as he carefully laid out a first edition of “Mein Kampf,” Adolf Hitler’s autobiographical manifesto of hate, as it is described, on a table in a restricted reading room there at the Bavarian State Library. Nevertheless writes Faiola,

“…the book that once served as a kind of Nazi bible, banned from domestic reprints since the end of World War II, will soon be returning to German bookstores from the Alps to the Baltic Sea.”

The prohibition on the reissue of the book was upheld for years by the state of Bavaria, by which the state owns the German copyright and legally blocked attempt to republish it is going to expire in December of 2015. And according to the Washington Post, the first new print run of “Mein Kampf” since Hitler’s death is due early next year.

The book is going to be released even as a new tide of anti-Semitism is sweeping throughout much of Europe. And there are new moral complexities even involved in the republication of this book. For one thing, the Bavarian government that had been banning the book is now going to profit by its sales because it effectively owns the only legal edition that is going to be issued, at least at first.

“…opponents are aghast, in part because the book is coming out at a time of rising anti-Semitism in Europe and as the English and other foreign-language versions of ‘Mein Kampf’ — unhindered by the German copyrights — are in the midst of a global renaissance.”

As if that’s not scary enough. The book is going to come out in an academically annotated form that will have notes and historical comments made by those who do not share the worldview of the book but are rather commenting on it. But as the Post says,

“Regardless of the academic context provided by the new volume, critics say the new German edition will ultimately allow Hitler’s voice to rise from beyond the grave.”

One man quote was Levi Salomon, spokesman for the Berlin-based Jewish Forum for Democracy and Against Anti-Semitism who said,

“I am absolutely against the publication of ‘Mein Kampf,’ even with annotations. Can you annotate the Devil? This book is outside of human logic.”

That is a brilliantly stated position and a brilliantly stated question. Can you annotate the devil? The answer that is, morally speaking, no, there is no academic response to this kind of hatred that is in anyway morally adequate. And yet this raises the question, once a book like “Mein Kampf” is written, can it possibly be truly eradicated, band and controlled? The answer to that is no. Even as this news article in the Washington Post made clear, if it was banned in Germany, it wasn’t banned elsewhere. It’s being used by Hindu nationalists in India, it has been used by racist and hatemongers in the United States, it has never been unavailable worldwide in numerous languages ever since Adolf Hitler wrote it and ever since Adolf Hitler died at his own hand at the end of World War II.

From a Christian worldview perspective, the most important thing for us to think about here is the endurance of ideas, including deadly evil ideas. The Christian worldview understands that ideas have consequences and horrifying ideas have horrifying consequences. This is one of the things we need to note very carefully, there is no question that the Christian moral verdict on Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” must be one of unrestrained condemnation. It must be one of the horrified responses in the actual horrors of what Adolf Hitler has called for in this book – he called for the elimination of the Jewish people.

One of the scariest aspects of “Mein Kampf” is that we can now understand that the German people had no right not to know what Adolf Hitler would do if he gained power because he stated exactly what he would do if he gained power in this book that was written long before he came close in any sense to gaining power in Germany. But gain power he did, leading to one of the most horrifying events in human history, the most horrifying event that dominates the history the 20th century.

This front-page article in the Washington Post affirms what we must know at all times and that is that we are in a battle of ideas, a battle of good ideas versus horrible ideas; a battle of good against evil. While you can’t reduce every single issue and certainly you can’t reduce every debate or controversy to a simple matter of good versus evil, one of most interesting things to note in recent years is that the relativism that was put forth by the postmodern worldview has had to be in retreat in recent years simply because the headlines coming in terms of the horrifying events such as the executions by the Islamic state or any number of other evil event that simply can’t be called anything other than evil that have  erupted into our consciousness in recent years, even in recent days and weeks.

But we can’t leave this without recognizing that one of most chastening realizations that comes to us is that sometimes the most horrible and evil ideas seem to have the longest life in traction. They seem to have attraction, they seem to have attractiveness, and they seem to have a tenacity that goes beyond what our moral imagination can comprehend. The republication of “My Struggle” – that is “Mein Kampf” – by Adolf Hitler in Germany, in a German edition, is evidence aplenty that we are in a struggle for ideas and that is a struggle we simply cannot avoid.


Thanks for listening to The Briefing. For more information go to my website at You can follow me on Twitter by going to For information on The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary go to For information on Boyce College just go to


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I’m in California this week for a very important conference, a summit on biblical inerrancy which is the Shepherd Conference this year held by Grace Community Church in Sun Valley and led by Dr. John MacArthur, the church’s pastor. It’s going to be a very important conference, a lot will be happening. I’d encourage you to watch my twitter feed – especially this week – and you’ll want to be following everything you can from this very important, that I believe is, historic conference.


Last week I was pleased to be interviewed by Marvin Olasky, veteran journalist, in his program known as Newsmakers. We’ll put up a link to that video interview at , along with today’s edition of The Briefing.


I’ll meet you again tomorrow for The Briefing.


Podcast Transcript

1) Perennial conflict between evolution and Christian faith acknowledged by journalist

Science And Religion: Surveying The Field Of Battle, Forbes (John Farrell)

2) Return of German edition of Mein Kampf reveals endurace of even wicked ideas

‘Mein Kampf’: A historical tool, or Hitler’s voice from beyond the grave?, Washington Post (Anthony Faiola)


Newsmakers Interview with Marvin Olavsky

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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