Kenneth Kantzer of TEDS Predicted Inerrancy, Evolution Crises in 1987

A little while back I mentioned Kenneth Kantzer, founding dean of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.  In the course of my research on Kantzer and his fellow neo-evangelicals, I came across this documentary fragment that will be of interest to many who are following current evangelical battles over inerrancy, theistic evolution, and the historicity of persons and events in the book of Genesis.

In a talk Kantzer gave on October 4, 1987 to the TEDS advisory committee, he included a section entitled “Theological Changes That Could Affect Evangelical Seminaries.”  He listed the following (this is a word-for-word reproduction):

1. Limitations on inerrancy
2. Theistic evolution
3. An historical Adam and Eve
4. A freer view of introduction problems like: the historicity of Noah, the author of Ecclesiastes, the Pentateuch, and the Psalms
5. Premillennialism

If I’m not mistaken, he went five for five–or very close to it.  Inerrancy has come under fire through the Enns-Westminster controversy and the writing of Kenton Sparks.  Theistic evolution is the subject of a major debate between Southern Seminary president Al Mohler and the BioLogos Foundation.  The necessity of the historicity of Adam and Eve was recently questioned by Westmont College Old Testament scholar Tremper Longman.  The other OT “introduction problems” mentioned by Kantzer in his fourth point, especially the authorship of the Pentateuch, are the subject of much discussion among biblical studies faculty in evangelical seminaries.

Premillennialism is not as viscerally debated as are others on this point, but evangelical institutions and leaders are very much puzzling through whether it should remain “on the books” in statements of faith and other confessional documents as the eschatological position required of professors.  The Evangelical Free Church of America came within a hair’s breadth of removing it from their confession a few years back (EFCA Canada did remove it from theirs); influential pastor Mark Dever suggested a few years ago that it was a sin for churches to require members to assent to a premillennial position.

So again, I think Kantzer went five-for-five.  That’s a remarkable record.  This is one more indication that he was a uniquely wise leader and one who is worthy of significant historiographical consideration.  One is moved by this list to pray for the future health of evangelical seminaries, whether TEDS itself, Gordon-Conwell, SBTS, Reformed Theological Seminary, Westminster Theological Seminary, or others.  We pray that these schools will not give ground to the culture where it begs it from them, but that they will uphold the life-giving teachings of God’s Word.


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