Alister E. McGrath

in The Oxford Handbook of Evangelical Theology

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780195369441
Published online January 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks


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Evangelicalism is characterized by an ambivalent attitude toward the natural sciences, reflecting both the lingering aftermath of difficult historical controversies and current concerns about reductionist tendencies within the sciences that seem to threaten the essence of the Christian gospel. Whereas Catholicism, Orthodoxy, and mainstream Protestantism have found conceptual space and theological strategies to accommodate the sciences, evangelicalism generally remains wary of them, particularly in the United States. The first major challenge to evangelicalism from the natural sciences came from the field of geology. This article explores the development of evangelical attitudes toward the natural sciences. Evangelicalism inherited both its emphasis on the authority of Scripture and its understandings of how Scripture was to be interpreted from the sixteenth-century Reformation. After discussing early evangelicalism and the sciences, the article proceeds with a discussion on evangelicalism and the crisis of geology, the evangelical debate over evolution, the views of Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield on evolution, and contemporary evangelical approaches to evolution and creationism, as well as evolutionary theism and scientific culture.

Keywords: Protestantism; evangelicalism; natural sciences; Reformation; geology; evolution; Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield; creationism; theism; Scripture

Article.  6522 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Philosophy of Religion ; Christianity ; Religion and Science

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