1859 AD to 1961 AD: The church response to the challenge of the theory of evolution.

This part of the creation discussion is short (1859 AD to 1961 AD) but highly significant. The entire Bible is challenged by a world view of evolution.


1859 – On the Origin of the Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life was published. In 1872 the title was shortened to On the Origin of the Species. It was authored by Charles Darwin (1809-1882). (Wikipedia)

1896 – The Analogical-Day view of creation is introduced in Dutch evangelical circles. This view is popularized by PCA academic C. John Collins of Covenant Seminary (St. Louis) 100 years later. (PCA Report)

1900 – This is considered a general date for the beginning of the Pentecostal Movement.

1910-1915 – The Fundamentals was published by the Bible Institute of Los Angeles. This is a set of 90 essays by 64 conservative protestant authors. (Wikipedia)

1920s – Turbidity Currents, vast rapid moving underwater landslides are discovered. Turbidity currents produce Turbidites, layers of sedimentary rock can form very rapidly. This is may be considered the first element of catastrophic geology to be recognized by mainstream science.

1922 – The Channeled Scablands controversy begins.

1923 – The New Geology is published. It is authored by George McCready Price, a Seventh Day Adventist layman and armature geologist. Price theorized that most of the earth’s geologic features were a result of the Genesis flood. He is incorrectly characterized as the formulator of “Flood Geology.”

1924 – The Southern Presbyterian denomination declares evolution to be out of accord with Scripture and the Confession. The denomination made similar declarations in 1886, 1888, and 1889. (PCA Report)

1924 – Dr. Arie Noordzij of the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands was the first proponent of the Framework Interpretation. (Wikipedia)

1925 – The Scopes Trail was conducted in Dayton Tennessee.  John T. Scopes was accused of violating Tennessee’s Butler Act (1925) which prohibited teaching evolutionary theory in public universities and public schools.  The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) represented Scopes.

1929 – Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia) was formed as an independent seminary.

1936 – The predecessor of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) was formed. The denomination was initially called the Presbyterian Church of America.

1937 – The expanding universe, “Big Bang” theory was postulated.

1941 – The American Scientific Affiliation (ASA) was established as a group for evangelicals in science. The group soon became dominated by those who believed in theistic evolution. (Wikipedia)

1942 – The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) was founded.

1950 – “In the 1950 encyclical Humani generis, Pope Pius XII declares that there is no intrinsic conflict between Christianity and the theory of evolution, provided that Christians believe that the individual soul is a direct creation by God and not of purely material forces.” (Wikipedia, excerpted 8/14/13)

1958 – A paper titled “Because it Had Not Rained” was published in the Journal of Westminster Seminary. It was authored by Meredith Kline (1922-2008), an OPC ordained academic. Basically, Kline stated that Genesis 2:5a was the proof text for the world being created by natural means and that the language of Genesis 1 was symbolic. This paper may be downloaded from several websites.

1960 – This is considered a general date for the beginning of the Charismatic Movement.

Summary of the Creation Discussion from 1859 to 1961:

The period of 1859 to 1961 was marked a time of turmoil within the Christian church. There were struggles within the mainline denominations between the conservative (often termed fundamentalist) and the modernists (often termed liberals). The churches view on evolution was at the center of the struggles.

By 1958, evolution was accepted by the Roman Catholic Church, and generally by the mainline protestant churches. Evolution was also accepted by many evangelical Christians who were involved with science. The American Scientific Affiliation had become a center for theistic evolution within the evangelical community.

This period demonstrates a continuation of the two different approaches that Christians have taken to confront the challenge of a secular worldview.

The continuing first approach is to believe the Biblical account of creation and the flood even though the Biblical account is different from uniformitarianism and evolution. Increasingly, those in science are looking at scientific findings and are able to consider conclusions that are outside that of the scientific consensus of uniformitarianism and evolution.

The continuing second approach is to reinterpret the Bible so it will be in harmony with a secular view. This harmony now had to cover not only age but the mechanism of creation.   The concordism of The Ruin-Restoration Interpretation of creation (Gap Theory) and Day-Age Interpretation were no longer considered adequate to harmonize the Bible with the conclusions of secular science. Those seeking to harmonize the Bible felt that new Bible interpretation techniques were needed.

These new Bible interpretation techniques are generally termed “Discordism.” Discordism gives lip service to preserving Genesis as history.   The trust of discordism is to remove the Bible from scientific and historical discussion by using various literary interpretations and devices.   This requires elaborate reinterpretations of certain passages. The Framework Interpretation is an example of discordism. The Analogical-Day Interpretation is another example of discordism.

This period marks the first recognition of catastrophic geologic events by secular science.

This period marks the beginning a continuing period of Holy Spirit renewal within the Christian Church that is expressed in Pentecostal Movement and the Charismatic Movement.