The objective of the Creation Project is to catalyze a field of study around the doctrine of creation that is faithful to Scripture and informed by contemporary scientific research.
The Creation Project will span three years—each covering a distinct theme and set of issues—and five programs, directed toward academic and ecclesial engagement with the doctrine of creation in all of its historical, theological, and scientific complexity.
The project’s academic engagement is committed to making progress in understanding about where the conflict between the current state of scientific inquiry and classic theological positions is real and where it is illusory. The ecclesially oriented programs aim to revive the importance and breadth of the doctrine of creation beyond the narrow set of questions to which it has too often been reduced, to promote biblical fidelity and thoughtful interpretation, and to demonstrate a form of Christian intellectual hospitality that approaches the difficult questions of our age with a posture of humility and in pursuit of greater understanding.
This project is made possible through the support of a grant from the John Templeton Foundation.
The opinions expressed throughout this project do not necessarily reflect the views of the John Templeton Foundation.
Conversations surrounding science and theology often demonstrate more division and hostility than humility and a shared commitment to truth and understanding. This is especially so when the topic is “creation and evolution.”
Heated public debates and exchanges often heighten this polarization. Some expressions of popular piety among evangelical Christians also contribute to the problem, viewing science as an opponent to faith rather than an ally and interlocutor towards new insights and deeper understanding of reality. Sometimes this mentality is even supported by the perception that orthodox Christian theology (affirming the Bible as definitive and authoritative divine revelation) is fundamentally at odds with the natural sciences.
The consequences are not merely lack of thoughtful choices; increasingly, political and institutional responses are making it difficult for scholarly engagement or humble pastoral guidance. Increased intellectual humility on both sides of the “science and theology” conversation is needed, as well as greater openness to the claims of scientific inquiry and their potential implications in relation to doctrine and ultimate reality.
Within an ecclesial and theological context, much of the confusion is at least in part a result of an inadequate understanding of the doctrine of creation. Too often the “creation vs. evolution” controversy immediately takes center stage and crowds out the very theological convictions that should frame and shape further treatment of the controversial issues.
The Creation Project recognizes the need and opportunity for establishing and strengthening this field of inquiry within the evangelical community, both among its thought leaders and the general ecclesial public. We believe that the doctrine of creation provides opportunity for humble and open inquiry and the potential for new insights at the intersection of science and theology.
While some scholars have begun to wrestle with the difficult issues, much work remains. Gathering the thought leaders throughout the evangelical community—pastors, scholars, administrators, and the like—we are interested in changing the tone of discourse, research agendas, and public perception within the evangelical community and in making progress towards new insights in the doctrine of creation.
In advancing the doctrine of creation at the intersection of revelatory theology and scientific advance, biblical interpretation and empirical investigation, we hope to make progress within the wider evangelical community in four areas:
1. Catalyze a Field of Study in the Doctrine of Creation
The fundamental assumption of the Creation Project is that much of today’s antagonism between science and theology stems from an underdeveloped doctrine of creation. To remedy that neglect, therefore, the primary objective in all Creation Project activities is to infuse renewed energy and thought in that doctrine, especially as it relates to the current state of scientific evidence.
2. Gain a Deeper Understanding of the Doctrine of Creation
The project aims to help stimulate careful and creative scholarly work among both academic and pastoral theologians (as well as budding scholars, ministerial students, and other ecclesial leaders) on key issues in the doctrine of creation. It seeks to aid the development of a theological approach to the doctrine of creation that is both faithful to the teachings of Holy Scripture and classical Christian teaching as well as informed by significant advances in scientific knowledge.
3. Increase Openness, Understanding, and Intellectual Humility
The project proceeds from the conviction that Christian intellectual endeavors should begin with a steadfast confidence in the utter truthfulness of divine revelation as well as a humble and charitable openness to serious study of God’s creation.
4. Provide Clear and Public Guidance within Evangelical Communities
The project provides an opportunity to clarify the primary questions that need to be addressed, to test which tensions and contradictions between the disciplines are real and which are merely illusory, to stimulate further work on remaining challenges, and to provide a platform for the dissemination of well-informed evangelical theologies of creation to broader evangelical communities of faith.
The Creation Project is a three-year, five-program initiative intended to address an array of audiences—lay and pastoral, student and scholar.
Learn about each of the initiatives and see which ones you might be interested in participating in.
Carl F. H. Henry Resident Fellowship
The Henry Fellowship is the centerpiece of the Creation Project, designed to foster collaborative, interdisciplinary scholarship that advances evangelical understanding of the doctrine of creation in ways that are informed by important work in the natural sciences. The fellowship supports new approaches to theological inquiry that address basic questions of reality, with a special focus on the relationship between theology and science. Each year will follow a specific topic and will offer two year-long Senior Research fellowships and four semester-long Research fellowships. In addition to the residency program, there is also a Henry Discussion Fellowship, which will consist of four, regional colloquia, aimed at the greater Chicagoland area and greater interdisciplinary variety.
Senior Research Resident: Up to $100,000 + housing provided
Research: $32,000/semester + housing provided
Quarterly Discussion Fellowship: $1,000 stipend + travel expenses
In the sensationalized, polarizing, and vocationally hazardous terrain of North American culture, of which evangelicalism is a part, honest, humble, and open conversation is not easily encouraged. The Dabar (Heb. “word”) summer conference aims to be just such a venue. Gathering 50+ leading evangelicals together from different disciplines, denominations, and institutions, the goal of the conference is (a) to orient evangelical scholars working in the “classical” theological disciplines to relevant recent work in the natural sciences; (b) to sharpen our awareness of which questions need to be asked, what tasks need to be shouldered, and what work remains; (c) to promote theological scholarship in the field of the doctrine of creation that is both faithful to evangelical doctrinal commitments and engaged with relevant work in the natural sciences; and, (d) to develop clarity and direction within the evangelical theological community in order to both provide clear and public guidance for the church.
John Stott Award for Pastoral Engagement
The church has always sustained and propagated the intellectual core of its faith through responsible church ministry and especially through the study and proclamation of the Word of God. Every week, millions of Christians learn and are shaped through sermons, small groups, Sunday school classes, and other forms of liturgy and education. Meanwhile, thoughtful pastors and churches understandably veer away from the divisive issues surrounding science and theology, and especially creation and evolution. Consequently, our children are ill-equipped, our scientists are silenced in their religious communities, our pastors are conflicted about the potential implications of publicly addressing the issues, and congregations generally lack clear and informed pastoral guidance. From this context, the Stott Award is is a congregation-specific award designed to nurture, support, and foster collaboration among pastors and congregations who are willing to engage in the topic.
6 Awards per year
Public Lectures & Events
Free and open to the public (some events may require registration)
The Henry Center’s public ministry has historically consisted in several series of public lectures and events directed primarily to a pastoral audience, and secondarily to theologically inclined lay Christians. All of these venues (i.e. Scripture & Ministry, Trinity Debate, Timothy Series, Trinity Symposium, etc.) for the public promotion of issues related to science and theology over the course of the initiative. As a public initiative, our primary goal is to impact the public conversation both by disseminating the best of confident yet humble, creative evangelical scholarship that addresses the basic concepts and realities of the world and by demonstrating a mode of theological inquiry that places the pursuit of a transcendent truth above the particularities of circumstance.
All events free and open to the public
Sapientia and Digital Presence
All our Public Lectures & Events will not only be live-streamed for our wider audience, but they will be digitized, produced, and published on our resource page and other digital platforms. Digital communication, however, is not merely about information, but interconnection and wider inter-institutional conversation and partnership. Sapientia, our periodical digital communication, allows the Creation Project to speak to and interact with all that’s happening at the intersection of science and theology from our own theological horizon. Learn from authoritative voices, keep abreast of new and important works, and get insightful commentary and opinions from trusted theologians and other experts.
Read more on Sapientia
Theme Years & Topics
Each year of the Creation Project will focus upon a distinct aspect of the doctrine of creation. These three themes will also provide the general parameters for all five projects and activities.
Year 1 addresses issues related to divine action and the contingency of creation. Year 2 addresses the primordial goodness of the created order and its theological implications. Year 3 revisits theological anthropology, with special attention given to human origins between theology and evolutionary biology.
YEAR ONE: 'GOD SAID . . . AND IT WAS SO': DIVINE ACTION, CONTINGENCY, AND MODERN SCIENCE
The whole of the Christian tradition has affirmed that God freely acts in the world; that he created and continually sustains it, that it is subject to his providential care and miraculous intervention—and most importantly, that God acted decisively in the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Christ. Yet, in spite of this commonly held belief, there is no clear consensus among evangelicals— theologians and scientists alike—about what it means to affirm that God acts in the world. This simple affirmation is taken by some to either support or rule out various scientific proposals. More often, the affirmation is taken for granted, and the implications of affirming divine action for our theological and scientific beliefs goes unexplored. This year of the Creation Project explores how these classical affirmations bear on issues and questions raised by the natural sciences.
YEAR 2: 'GOD SAW THAT IT WAS GOOD': UNITING THE NATURAL AND MORAL ORDER
Discussion on the doctrine of creation has commonly centered on specific empirical questions in Genesis (e.g., age of the earth, diversity of animals, physical continuity of species). So much so that the author’s recurring refrain, “God saw that it was good,” is often overlooked. The goodness of creation is a central assertion of Genesis 1 and the whole of Scripture. On the one hand, it is directly tied to the goodness of God; on the other hand, it is set against sin and evil. But what does it mean to call creation good? Can the moral claim of goodness say anything about the natural order? Might it challenge the seemingly artificial dichotomy that our age has set up between the “natural” and “moral” order? And, if so, what alternative might we find for re-uniting these currently divided “orders”? Year two will bring biblical and theological considerations into constructive dialogue with insights from disciplines such as social and moral psychology, biology, sociology, and cognitive science.
YEAR 3: 'IN THE IMAGE OF GOD HE CREATED THEM': THEOLOGICAL ANTHROPOLOGY REVISITED
Throughout the biblical witness, humanity is consistently depicted as occupying a unique location within the rest of creation. Humanity was created “a little lower than the angels,” as the Psalmist puts it, yet “crowned with glory and honor.” In Genesis humanity alone is said to be “very good,” made in the image and likeness of God, and given dominion over the rest of creation. These depictions ground the Christian understanding of humanity’s place in the cosmos. What the Bible takes for granted is a point of debate in modern, scientific thought and a focal point in the science-theology discussions. Difference between humanity and other animals has been replaced with an emphasis on similarities. To what extent are humans unique within the created cosmos? What is consciousness—is it reducible to complex physical properties? Is human capacity for language qualitatively distinct from the communicative abilities of other animals? Year three revisits these questions about the place of humanity in God’s created order.
One of the Creation Project’s objectives is to catalyze a field of study around the doctrine of creation that is faithful to Scripture and in open and earnest dialogue with modern science.
To that end, the Creation Project’s Resident Fellows, staff, and conference participants are producing significant contributions to the current scholarly and ecclesial conversations in the form of monographs, edited volumes, and peer-reviewed journal articles. Below you will find a list of the works coming out of the Creation Project’s various initiatives that have been published, contracted, or accepted for publication.
Chambers, Nathan J. Genesis 1 and Creation Ex Nihilo. JTI Supplement Series. Eisenbrauns/Penn State, accepted.
Collins, C. John. Reading Genesis Well: Navigating History, Poetry, Science, and Truth in Genesis 1-11. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, Oct. 30, 2018.
Cortez, Marc. Creation. New Studies in Dogmatics, edited by Michael Allen and Scott R. Swain. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, under contract.
–––. Divine Presence: Idols, Incarnation, and the Image of God. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, under contract.
Farris, Joshua R. An Introduction to Theological Anthropology: Humans, Both Creaturely and Divine. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, forthcoming Spring 2020.
Hilber, John. Old Testament Cosmology and Divine Accommodation: A Relevance Theory Approach. Eugene: Cascade, forthcoming.
Houck, Daniel. Aquinas, Original Sin, and the Challenge of Evolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming.
Madueme, Hans. The Evolution of Sin? Sin, Theistic Evolution, and the Biological Question—A Theological Account. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, under contract.
Ortlund, Gavin. Retrieving Augustine’s Doctrine of Creation: Ancient Wisdom for Current Controversy. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, under contract.
Torrance, Andrew B., and Thomas H. McCall, eds. Knowing Creation: Perspectives from Theology, Philosophy, and Science. Vol. 1. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2018.
———. Christ and the Created Order: Perspectives from Theology, Philosophy, and Science. Vol. 2. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2018.
Fulkerson, Geoffrey, and Joel Thomas Chopp, eds. Science and the Doctrine of Creation: A Handbook of Modern Theological Approaches. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, forthcoming.
ARTICLES AND BOOK CHAPTERS
Allen, Michael. “Into the Family of God: Covenant and the Genesis of Life with God.” Trinity Journal 39, no. 2 (Fall 2018): 181–198.
Carson, D. A. ” Genesis 1 – 3: Not Maximalist, Not Minimalist, But Seminal.” Trinity Journal 39, no. 2 (Fall 2018): 143–163.
Chambers, Nathan. “Reading Joshua with Augustine and Sommer: Two Frameworks for Interpreting Theophany Narratives” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, forthcoming.
———. “Divine and Creaturely Agency in Genesis 1.” Scottish Journal of Theology, forthcoming.
———. “God’s Grandeur and the Groaning of Creation: Are Suffering and Danger Intrinsic to Creation?” Trinity Journal, 39, no. 2 (Fall 2018): 221–236.
Chopp, Joel Thomas. “Unearthing Paul’s Ethics: Douglas Campbell on Creation, Redemption, and the Christian Moral Life.” Journal of Theological Interpretation 11, no. 2 (Fall 2017): 259–276.
Collins, C. John. “1 Corinthians 8:6 and Romans 11:36: A Pauline Confession with a Hellenistic Setting.” Presbyterian 43, no. 2 (Fall 2017): 55–68.
———. “Inerrancy Studies and the Old Testament: ‘Ancient science’ in the Hebrew Bible.” Presbyterion 44, no. 1 (Spring 2018): 42–66.
———. “How Does the Hebrew Bible Speak about God’s Action in the World?” Presbyterion 45, no. 1 (Spring 2019): forthcoming.
Cortez, Marc. “The Body and the Beatific Vision.” In Being Saved: Explorations in Soteriology and Human Ontology, edited by Marc Cortez, Joshua Farris, and Mark Hamilton. London: SCM Press, 2018, 326–343.
———. “Nature, Grace, and the Christological Ground of Humanity.” In The Christian Doctrine of Humanity, edited by Oliver Crisp and Fred Sanders. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2018, 23–40.
———. “The Spirit and Creation.” In The T & T Clark Companion to Pneumatology, edited by Daniel Costelo and Ken Loyer. New York: Bloomsbury, forthcoming 2019.
Farris, Joshua R. “The Unsuitability of ‘Unsubstitutability’ in Theological Anthropology: Bridging the Christian Tradition, Modernity, and the Soul,” Theology Today (forthcoming 2020).
———.“Ensouling the Imago Dei: Modernizing the Holy Tradition,” In Bloomsbury Companion to Analytic Theology, ed. by James Arcadi and J.T. Turner. New York: Bloomsbury Press, forthcoming 2020.
Houck, Daniel. “Original Sin in Abelard’s Commentary on Romans.” In Being Saved: Explorations in Soteriology and Human Ontology, edited by Marc Cortez, Joshua Farris, and S. Mark Hamilton. London: SCM Press, 2018, 54–67.
Jaeger, Lydia.“Facts and Theories in Science and Theology: Implications for the Knowledge of Human Origins.” Themelios 41, no. 3 (December 2016): 427–46.
———.“The Contingency of Creation and Modern Science.” Theology and Science 16, no. 1 (Spring 2018): 62–78.
Madueme, Hans. “Mission Impossible? A Reply to Hud Hudson.” Journal of Analytic Theology 5 (2017): 621–628.
———. “An Augustinian-Reformed View,” in Five Views on the Fall and Original Sin, ed. Chad Meister and James Stump (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, forthcoming).
Mattox, Mickey. “Faith in Creation: Martin Luther’s Sermons on Genesis 1.” Trinity Journal, 39, no. 2 (Fall 2018): 199–219.
Ohlers, R. Clinton. “The ‘Conflict Thesis’ of Science and Religion: a Nexus of Philosophy of Science, Metaphysics, and Philosophy of Religion.” Journal of Biblical and Theological Studies 2, no. 2 (Fall 2017): 208–233.
———. “The Conflict Thesis and the Reification of ‘Science’ and ‘Religion’.” Fides et Historia 50, no. 1 (2018): 85–93.
Oswalt, John. “Creatio ex nihilo: Is it Biblical? And Does it Matter?” Trinity Journal, 39, no. 2 (Fall 2018): 165–180.
Parks, Benjamin. “From the Waters of Babylon: Frankenstein, Transhumanism, and Cosmogony.” Trinity Journal, forthcoming.