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Evangelical scholar fired for endorsing evolution

Evangelical scholar fired for endorsing evolution

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From USA TODAY. By Scott Jaschik

When it comes to incriminating videos these days, the one of Bruce K. Waltke might seem pretty tame. It shows the noted evangelical scholar of the Old Testament talking about scholarship, faith and evolution. What was incriminating? He not only endorsed evolution, but said that evangelical Christianity could face a crisis for not coming to accept science.

"If the data is overwhelmingly in favor of evolution, to deny that reality will make us a cult ... some odd group that is not really interacting with the world. And rightly so, because we are not using our gifts and trusting God's Providence that brought us to this point of our awareness," he says, according to several accounts by those who have seen the video. Those words set off a furor at the Reformed Theological Seminary, where Waltke was — until this week — a professor. (The seminary is evangelical, with ties to several denominations.)

The statements so upset officials of the seminary that Waltke had to ask the BioLogos Foundation, a group that promotes the idea that science and faith need not be incompatible, to remove it from its website (which the foundation did) and to post a clarification. The video was shot during a BioLogos workshop. But even those steps weren't enough for the seminary, which announced that it had accepted his resignation.

Waltke is a big enough name in evangelical theology that the incident is prompting considerable soul-searching. On the one hand, his public endorsement of the view that believing in evolution and being a person of faith are not incompatible was significant for those who, like the BioLogos Foundation, support such a view. Waltke's scholarly and religious credentials in Christian theology were too strong for him to be dismissed easily.

But the fact that his seminary did dismiss him is viewed as a sign of just how difficult it may be for scholars at some institutions to raise issues involving science that are not 100% consistent with a literal interpretation of the Bible.

"I think it's a really sad situation, even if this isn't the first time a scholar at a religious institution has been released for unorthodox views," said Michael Murray, vice president for philosophy and theology at the John Templeton Foundation, which supports BioLogos and other efforts to bridge science and religion.

Waltke could not be reached for comment on the situation. He did issue a joint statement with the head of BioLogos in which he stood behind the substance of what he said in the video, but also said that he wished he could have provided more context, particularly his view that it is possible to believe in evolution and also believe in "in the inerrancy of Scripture."

Read the full article at USA TODAY.

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