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In 2017, I was a coeditor for the book Theistic Evolution: a Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Critique . in my introductory chapter to that book, I defined theistic evolution as follows, using a definition jointly authored by the editors of the book:
God created matter and after that did not guide or intervene or act directly to cause any empirically detectable change in the natural behavior of matter until all living things had evolved by purely natural processes (p. 67).
But after the book was published, some reviews on the Biologos website objected that our definition had misrepresented their position. The primary statement of this objection was in a thoughtful and gracious review by Deborah Haarsma, President of Biologos. She proposed an alternative definition of theistic evolution (though she prefers to call it “evolutionary creation”):
God creates all living things through Christ, including humans in his image, making use of intentionally designed, actively-sustained, natural processes that scientists today study as evolution.
Haarsma adds, “God guided evolution just as much as God guides the formation of a baby from an embryo” (in the previous sentence she had cited Psalm 139:13, which says, “You formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb”). She also says, “Although God in his sovereignty could have chosen to use supernatural action to create new species, evolutionary creations [sic] are convinced by the evidence in the created order that God chose to use natural mechanisms.”
However, Haarsma’s new definition does not actually conflict with our definition, but rather confirms the essence of our definition given above. We could modify our definition to add more things that she advocates, but the substance of the definition would remain, as in this example:
God created matter [with intentionally designed properties governed by “natural law”] and after that [God continued to sustain matter and preserve its natural properties but he] did not guide or intervene or act directly to cause any empirically detectable change in the natural behavior of matter until all living things had evolved by purely natural processes [which God actively sustained but did not change].
In this modified definition, I have explicitly added the Biologos belief that God actively upholds and sustains the activity of the entire natural world (as affirmed in Col. 1:17 and Heb. 1:3). I agree with that belief. But to define creation this way is to confuse God’s initial work of creation with his ongoing work of providence. (Note the present tense verb in Haarsma’s definition of theistic evolution: not “God created” but “God creates,” thus drawing no distinction between God’s initial creative work at the beginning of the universe and his subsequent sustaining work that continues today.)
The key point in our definition is the theistic evolutionist claim that God did not “cause any empirically detectable change in the natural behavior of matter” until all living things “had evolved by purely natural processes.” Haarsma does not raise any objection to this crucial part of our definition, and in fact her proposed definition affirms the same thing: “God creates all living things… making use of intentionally designed, actively-sustained natural processes.”
In another Biologos review, Jim Stump writes, “Yes, we believe that God guides evolution, the same as we believe God guides photosynthesis.”
But this is a misleading use of the word “guide.” People ordinarily use the word “guide” to refer to an action that influences the course of an object so that it changes the direction it was otherwise going. But the Biologos explanation shows that they use the word “guide” to mean “does not change the direction of an object but sustains it so that it continues in the direction it otherwise was going.” So ordinary English speakers understand “guide” to mean “change the direction of something,” but the Biologos foundation uses the word” guide” to mean “not change the direction of something,” which is just the opposite.
I conclude that our definition of theistic evolution remains accurate. The advocates of theistic evolution who are affiliated with Biologos support a viewpoint that is correctly summarized in this statement:
God created matter and after that did not guide or intervene or act directly to cause any empirically detectable change in the natural behavior of matter until all living things had evolved by purely natural processes.
 Edited by J.P. Moreland, Stephen Meyer, Chris Shaw, Ann Gauger, and Wayne Grudem (Wheaton: Crossway, 2017).
 See Deborah Haarsma, “A Flawed Mirror: A Response to the Book ‘Theistic Evolution,’” dated April 18, 2018: https://biologos.org/articles/a-flawed-mirror-a-response-to-the-book-theistic-evolution.
 See p. 65, n. 6 for a discussion of why we retain the term “theistic evolution.”
 Jim Stump, “Does God Guide Evolution?” at https://biologos.org/articles/does-god-guide-evolution.
by Wayne Grudem
I wrote my new book Christian Ethics (Crossway, 2018) for Christians who want to understand what the Bible teaches about how to obey God faithfully in their daily lives. I hope the book will be useful not only for college and seminary students who take classes in Christian ethics, but also for all other Christians who seek, before God, to be “filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,” with the result that they will live “in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Col. 1:9–10).
But the book also contains a challenge. I am concerned that teaching about ethics has been neglected in many evangelical churches today—partly because the issues seem complex, partly because pastors do not want to be accused of sounding “legalistic,” and partly because the surrounding non-Christian culture is hostile to Christian moral values, so anyone who teaches biblical ethics is likely to be criticized by unbelievers. Therefore, I hope this book will help to meet a need among Christians today for more biblical ethical understanding. And I hope the book will challenge Christians to live lives of personal holiness in the midst of a secular culture.
This book is similar in its method to my earlier book Systematic Theology, because both books seek to explain “what the whole Bible teaches” about various specific topics. However, Systematic Theology dealt with theological topics such as the Trinity, the person of Christ, the atonement, and salvation, while this book deals with ethical topics such as lying and telling the truth, war, abortion, euthanasia, racial discrimination, divorce and remarriage, homosexuality, stewardship of money, wise use of the environment, and many other topics.
I hope it will be useful for all Christians who seek to experience the great blessing of God that comes from walking daily in paths of obedience, knowing more of the joy of God’s presence, and experiencing his favor on our lives.
The Eighth Commandment, “You shall not steal,” has massive implications for human life on earth. Exodus 20:15 provides the necessary foundation for system of private ownership of property, of stewardship and accountability, and of an expectation of human flourishing. This article also argues that “business as mission” is a legitimate calling and that founding and running a profitable and ethical business glorifies God.
Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies, Phoenix Seminary, Phoenix, Arizona
[published as: “Why It Is Never Right to Lie: An Example of John Frame’s Influence on My Approach to Ethics,” in Speaking the Truth in Love: The Theology of John Frame (Festschrift for John Frame), edited by John J. Hughes (Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R, 2009), pp. 778-801]