Monday, April 12, 2010

Another Video Bites the Dust (On Dr Bruce Waltke's Resignation from RTS)

It begins as a video, stirs up controversies all around, which ultimately leads to one esteemed Professor resigning from his seminary. Dr Bruce Waltke, on the 6th April 2010, resigned from Reformed Theological Seminary after his views on Theistic Evolution put RTS in hot soup. On the surface, it seems to be that Dr Waltke is urging the Church to accept evolution. Yet, on closer examination, it is more a problem with technology rather than theology. Let me explain.

1) Beginning: The Background
Dr Bruce Waltke is a world renowned scholar Old Testament scholar. With a prestigious doctorate from Harvard, and a respected Old Testament expert, he consented to an interview with Biologos, to share about his ideas on creation, science and evolution from a biblical perspective. With thorough explanation through biblical exegesis and Old Testament theology, Waltke affirms that it is 'possible' for Christians to accept evolution without compromising the Christian faith. In trying to make sense of God's Word in the light of science and faith, Waltke attempts to engage science from the angle of faith. In doing so, a video was made and released on the website at BioLogos. No one was expecting this little video (technology) to boil over to multiple interpretations and reporting of the issue (blogging, Internet), which led to an 'embarrassment' to the institute that employs Dr Waltke.

2) The Controversy
On April 6th, 2010, Reformed Theological Seminary announces farewell to three faculty members, one of whom was Dr Bruce Waltke. The official word is that Waltke has resigned from the Orlando campus. With such a famous name at stake, the Internet rapidly picks up on this news and all kinds of viewpoints spread like wildfire. It caught the attention of theologians such as Dr John Stackhouse and Dr Ross Hastings, both colleagues of Dr Waltke at Regent-College. You can follow some rather passionate arguments from different parties at the comment section of Dr Stackhouse's blog. Christian media like ChristianityToday has also picked up on this, as well as public media such as USAToday. The blogmosphere is filled with all kinds of reporting and opinions, including my little blog here. Some notable ones are at Henry's Web, JDKirk, Brandon Withrow, and Dr Robert Cargill. There has been talk about whether Dr Waltke was forced to resign or does it on his own accord. Anyway, it seems like the bigger controversy is not the theology, but how the technology is being used to handle theological differences.

3) The Revelation 
From day one, the Internet has the potential to provide both information as well as misinformation. Given the spread and ease of information distribution electronically, it is important for us to be wise and discerning on the use of information. Right use leads to enlightened minds and grateful hearts. Abuse leads to unhealthy controversies and bitter arguments. If we can engage one another not with bigoted views but open minds, it will be very educational for all of us. I believe that when controversies occur, even though we cannot stop it, at least let us learn from it. Let the different groups try their best to articulate their ideas. Let them have the benefit of the doubt that they are honestly and earnestly trying to be faithful to the Word of God, according to their gifts. The one with the final say is not them. Neither is it us. It is God. For lack of a direct access to the actual circumstances surrounding the Waltke Resignation from RTS, I think it is important for Internet users to stay with the official statements. With that, Justin Taylor has helpfully given us the open letters from Dr Waltke and the Reformed Theological Seminary to try to clarify what actually happened.

See Waltke's words:
"As noted, I did not have a chance to vet the video. How would I have edited it?"
Information is useful, but it can also lead to misuse. Like sugar, if we take too much of it, it can lead us dangerously toward diabetes. Same with information. With this note, I respectfully urge all Internet users and Christians online to respect Dr Waltke AND RTS for their positions taken and leave them as that. If there is any desire to debate theistic evolution, creationism or all kinds of theologies surrounding evolution or creation, let them continue at the level of ideas, not people, not institution, and especially not use arguments as ammunition to hurt and divide the Church. In other words, the technology, the video has caused in a major way lead to a prominent resignation, and has distracted RTS from their work. For those of us who are concerned about theology, let us also maintain a tight leash on the technology that is used to spread the theology. May God's wisdom and discernment prevail in a climate of peace and love.

conrade

2 comments:

YAPdates said...

It seems like Dr Bruce Waltke is now employed. Well done Knox Theological Seminary! (link)

Matt Jones said...

I'm glad he was hired so quickly. I hope RTS takes a long, hard look at this situation and makes some changes. If Waltke, master of Genesis, can support Theistic evolution, I think they could too.

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