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Reformed Theology and Evolutionary Theory
PAPERBACK; Published: 2/25/2020
ISBN: 978-0-8028-7442-9
Price: $ 44.99
328 Pages
Trim Size, in inches: 6 x 9
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Many books aim to help beginners explore whether or not evolutionary science is compatible with Christian faith. This one probes more deeply to ask: What do we learn from modern evolutionary science about key issues that are of special theological concern? And what does Christian theology, especially in its Reformed expressions, say about those same key issues? 

Gijsbert van den Brink begins by describing the layers of meaning in the phrase “evolutionary theory” and exploring the question of how to interpret the Bible with regard to science. He then works through five key areas of potential conflict between evolutionary theory and Christian faith, spelling out scientific findings and analyzing Christian doctrinal concerns along the way. His conclusion: although some traditional doctrinal interpretations must be adjusted, evolutionary science is no obstacle to classical Christian faith.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1 Reformed Theology: Distinctive Commitments and Concerns
1.1 Introduction
1.2 Some Common Misunderstandings
1.3 Endless Plurality?
1.4 The Reformed Theological Stance
1.5 Reformed Theology and the Natural World
1.6 Seeking the Honeycomb in the Lion’s Mouth

Chapter 2 Evolutionary Theory: A Layered Concept
2.1 Varieties of Evolution: Terminological Clarifications
2.2 Gradualism
2.3 Common Descent
2.4 Universal Natural Selection
2.5 What If It Is True?

Chapter 3 Evolution and the Interpretation of Scripture
3.1 The Bible and Modern Science
3.2 The Search for Harmony: Concordism
3.3 Beyond Category Mistakes: Perspectivism
3.4 Where Science and Christianity Overlap: History
3.5 In Search of Cocceians

Chapter 4 Animal Suffering and the Goodness of God
4.1 Gradualism and the Fate of Animals
4.2 The Appreciation of Animals in the Bible
4.3 Is There a Problem at All? Neo-Cartesianism
4.4 The Cosmic Fall Theory: Animal Suffering and Human Sin
4.5 Animal Suffering as Part of God’s Plan
4.6 Animal Suffering and the Demonic
4.7 Evaluation

Chapter 5 Common Descent and Theological Anthropology
5.1 Introduction
5.2 A Reformed Concern?
5.3 Human Dignity and the Challenge of Evolution
5.4 Animals in the Image of God?
5.5 Human Uniqueness as a Theological Category
5.6 Why We Are Still Special

Chapter 6 Evolution and Covenantal Theology: Adam and the Fall, Original Sin and Salvation
6.1 The Covenant as a Reformed Key Concept
6.2 The Scientific Story of Human Origins
6.3 Genesis 2-3 and the Historical Adam
6.4 The Fall: Biblical and Theological Backgrounds
6.5 The Fall and Original Sin in an Evolutionary Context
6.6 Human Death as the Wages of Sin
6.7 The Scope of the Christian Message of Salvation

Chapter 7 Natural Selection and Divine Providence
7.1 Introduction
7.2 High Stakes: Divine Guidance or a Purposeless Universe
7.3 Evolution, Chance, and Teleology in the Past
7.4 Evolution, Chance, and Teleology Today
7.5 Beyond Compatibility: Convergence and Consonance
7.6 Conclusion: Consonance instead of Conflict

Chapter 8 Morality, the Cognitive Science of Religion, and Revelation
8.1 Biological, Social, and Cultural Evolution
8.2 The Evolution of Morality and Theological Ethics
8.3 The Cognitive Science of Religion
8.4 A Panoply of Theories: Religion as Byproduct or as Adaptation
8.5 Revelation Debunked?
8.6 Conclusion

Chapter 9 Any Other Business?

“Reading Gijsbert van den Brink’s profound—and, I would insist, groundbreaking—study of faith and science has been an illuminating intellectual adventure. And while it has stretched my thinking, it has also encouraged me in my journey of faith. This splendid book is a gift to all of us who want to be open in new ways to how, in Van den Brink’s words, ‘the unspeakable glory and majesty of God are underlined by the evolutionary history of the world.’”
— Richard J. Mouw
from the foreword
“No matter what perspective readers come from, they will appreciate the frank honesty and refreshing sensitivity demonstrated in this book. The set-up is inviting, the execution impressive, and the conclusions compelling, all supported by research that was both wide and deep. The combination of unapologetic faith and open-minded thoughtfulness charts an important path forward as Van den Brink has demonstrated a clear grasp of both science and theology. On the rare occasion I found reason to disagree with his conclusion, his discussion was stimulating enough to prompt me to think through my position again. With this book, Van den Brink emerges as one of the most important voices in this conversation; I will be recommending it widely.”
— John Walton
Wheaton College
The Expository Times
“Van den Brink’s stated aims are to assure Reformed Christian believers that their faith does not require them to resist evolutionary theory, and to assure non-believers that the Reformed Christian tradition does not require them to forego so well-established a theory if they are to accept that tradition. Readers falling into either of these camps who are swayed by careful, nuanced, reasoned argument will find much here to savour; and it is to be hoped that van den Brink’s book may also find a readership beyond the specific constituencies which he has in mind.”