Kenneth F. Keathley and Mark F. Rooker. 40 Questions about Creation and Evolution. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2014. 432 pp. $23.99.
One of the most controversial and divisive intra-evangelical debates is in the area of origins. At the extremes, Young-Earth Creationists (YECs) can think that Old-Earth Creationists (OECs) and theistic evolutionists have a low view of Scripture and are at risk of compromising the gospel; OECs and theistic evolutionists can think YECs are not using their brains and have a faulty literalistic hermeneutic. Most frequently books on origins are written from a certain perspective and/or address one (or a few) subtopic(s), and often books on origins increase misunderstanding and further the divide between the main camps (the several multiview books in this area are, of course, exceptions to the latter statement). In 40 Questions about Creation and Evolution, Kenneth Keathley and Mark Rooker provide a balanced, fair, and scholarly yet accessible introduction to all the main issues surrounding the topic of origins.
Keathley and Rooker are both professors at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, with the former identifying as OEC and the latter identifying as YEC. Though conservative, Keathley and Rooker do not succumb to some of the pitfalls of conservative books on origins. They are fair and nuanced in their presentation and assessment of other views and rarely cast other positions as automatically outside the bounds of orthodoxy. This can be seen in their approach in Question 38, “Can Christians Hold to Theistic Evolution?” They note famous Christian leaders past and present who embraced theistic evolution, such as B. B. Warfield, C. S. Lewis, and Tim Keller. However, they emphatically affirm the importance of an historical Adam and Eve and present this as the litmus test for any model that tries to integrate Genesis 1-3 with the findings of modern science (378). They do note that while there are serious and detrimental consequences to denying an historical Adam and Eve, they do not doubt the commitment to Christ of those who do so, such as Lamoureux and Giberson. After surveying three positions held by evolutionary creationists who affirm an historical Adam, Keathley and Rooker note both evangelicals (who affirm inerrancy) who affirm evolutionary creationism (such as Bauer) and those who contend that it is not a viable option for evangelicals (e.g. Grudem). While noting the theological concerns and hermeneutical challenges of evolutionary creationism, the authors recognize that believing scientists “are followers of Christ who desire to be faithful to the gospel by working with integrity within their scientific vocations” (385).
Structurally 40 Questions about Creation and Evolution is broken into six parts: the doctrine of creation (4 questions), creation and Genesis 1-2 (6 questions), the days of creation (6 questions), the age of the earth (6 questions), the fall and the flood (9 questions), and evolution and intelligent design (9 questions). This is an excellent introduction to the topic of origins that interacts with the best of biblical scholarship and scientific views. While solidly evangelical with a commitment to biblical inerrancy, the authors are not overly dogmatic and are irenic and fair in their presentation of other views. I highly recommend this book as an introduction to the topic of origins, but especially to those who hold to conservative views on the matter. Not only do you come away from the book with a broader and deeper understanding of the topic in general and the main points of debate, but you also gain a greater appreciation for the other sides. Often conservative literature paints a picture of OECs and evolutionary creationists that tries to make you question their faith and commitment to Christ; this book helps you see that it’s possible for those on the other sides of the debates to affirm inerrancy and have a genuine devotion to Christ and commitment to the gospel.
Thanks to Kregel Academic for the review copy!