In a recent article—building on their previous work—David Livingstone and Mark Noll argue that “One of the best-kept secrets in American intellectual history is that B. B. Warfield, the foremost modern defender of the theologically conservative doctrine of the inerrancy of the Bible, was also an evolutionist.” Fred Zaspel, author of The Theology of B. B. Warfield: A Systematic Summary, says that this has become the “canonical” understanding of Warfield’s views on creation and evolution, and that it is often cited uncritically.
But, Zaspel writes:
I am persuaded, however, that this understanding is mistaken. Warfield did claim to have accepted the theory of evolution in his youth, but he then rejected it early in his career. Thereafter he remained open to the possibility of it and affirmed that Scripture could accommodate it, if it were to be proven true, but he himself continued to reject the theory. To demonstrate this, we will survey Warfield’s writings first for his foundational assumptions and basic distinctions about creation and evolution, second for his skepticism about evolution as a scientific theory, and third for how Christians specifically should evaluate and respond to evolution. We will then be in a position, finally, to reevaluate the argument and evidence that Livingstone and Noll propose.