Whether one traces the origins of evangelicalism to the fundamentalist-modernist controversy, or back further to the great awakenings in the 18th and 19th centuries, the age of the earth has been a pressing question throughout its history.
Evidenced by the question’s staying-power, a satisfying resolution has remained hard to come by. At bedrock the debate raises several important exegetical and theological questions addressing issues like biblical authority, the proper interpretation of opening chapters of Genesis, and the relation between scientific and theological knowledge, to name only a few of the more difficult ones.
In this year’s debate, prominent evangelical voices C. John Collins and R. Albert Mohler will debate this important question and the wider issues surrounding how one responds to it.
The creation presentation featured C. John (Jack) Collins, professor of Old Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary and a scholar-in-residence this year at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS), along with R. Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Their discussion, titled “Does Scripture speak about the age of the universe?” was part of the Creation Project, a three-year program at TEDS. The Templeton Religion Trust funds the project.
Both Mohler and Collins agreed that the question before them was not a matter of first-order theological orthodoxy, even if it does raise questions about other issues that lean into essentials of the faith.
Mohler argued an “old earth” interpretation opens the door for potentially dangerous theological compromises, and is not in keeping with the consensus of the historic church.
Collins countered that Scripture does not fully answer the age question, and is therefore irrelevant when interpreting the creation account.
After putting forth initial arguments, Trinity College Professor of Philosophy Chris Firestone moderated a panel discussion between Collins and Mohler.