Volume 22 - Issue 1

Evolution and Eschatology

By David N. Livingstone


The encounter between evolutionary theory and evangelical theology has now been the subject of numerous historical investigations.1 These have provided a variety of case studies of individual responses to evolutionary biology and, on occasion, have sought to connect these stances with denominational allegiance, doctrinal system, biblical hermeneutics, or philosophical orientation. Insightful though many of these proposals undoubtedly are, I suggest that one major component of traditional Christian theology has been significantly overlooked in these scenarios—eschatology.2 Thus my argument in this paper is that attitudes to evolutionary theory were very substantially conditioned by eschatological stances which, in turn, were closely bound up with how evangelicals conceived of the doctrine of providence and the sorts of social philosophy they espoused.3

Eschatology is ‘traditionally defined as the doctrine of the “last things”—in relation either to the individual human being (in which case they comprise death, resurrection, judgment, and the afterlife) or to the world’.4Eschatologies, moreover, implicate their holders in a whole range of stances towards history, politics, society, and so on. Postmillennialists, for example, in the nineteenth century generally had a fairly optimistic view of social change and a robust confidence in the cognitive and political power of Christian civilization. In Britain, and no doubt in America too, the purposes of Providence were seen as the engine power behind what Roderick Murchison in mid-Victorian Britain once called the ‘public faith of empires’.5 Premillennialism, particularly in its dispensational mode, was, and is, of course rather different. As George Marsden puts it:

This doctrine … provided a general theory of history, proclaiming that the present “church age,” the sixth dispensation in the world’s history, was marked by apostasy in the churches and the moral collapse of so-called “Christian civilization.” Thus dispensationalism predicted the rise of modernism and emphasized the necessity of fighting to preserve the true faith and personal purity. These emphases also led dispensationalism to an antimodernist way of interpreting the Bible. They insisted on the inerrancy of Scripture and argued that each word was the perfect word of God. Confident that they could rely on even the details of Scripture, dispensationalists became fascinated by specific predictions of the cataclysmic events ushering in the millennial age, based on literal interpretations of biblical prophecies.6

The implications of eschatological commitments. I should note in passing can be fairly wide-ranging. In a recent study of ‘Contemporary Christian Eschatologies and their Relation to Environmental Stewardship’, for example, Janel Curry-Roper highlights the different ecological strategies that eschatological postures deliver. Thus she points out, for instance, that dispensationalist premillennialists canvass the environmental literature on pollution, the impact of nuclear weaponry and so on merely ‘to show how prophecy is being fulfilled’. This ‘fosters no active stewardly response—only idle waiting’, she concludes, Chuck Smith, author of End Times, is thus reported as apparently seeing in the destruction of the ozone layer the fulfilment of Revelation 16 which tells of the fourth vial being poured out by the angel during the great tribulation. DDT accumulation in the oceans is similarly interrogated. By contrast, modern postmillennialists of theonomist stripe see the solution to ecological breakdown within the context of the re-establishment of the OT moral economy. Far from being other-worldly, this land ethic calls for the development of earth resources within the context of a free-market capitalist economy. Amillennialists and historic premillennialists are different yet again. Perhaps the key to unlocking the ecological strain in these traditions is the tension that they both hold between this present evil age, and the new age already inaugurated at the incarnation. The idea of substantial ecological healing and the encouragement of acts of environmental restoration thus represent the kind of vocabulary to which they turn.7

I do not intend to pursue this topic further, however, I merely refer to the question of eschatology and ecology to indicate that eschatological convictions have broader social and political implications and perhaps to suggest that historical considerations of the relationship between theology and environment need to be approached with far greater hermeneutical sophistication. I now turn in a different direction.

The centrality of eschatology

I want to suggest that responses to evolution theory were substantially conditioned by the eschatological stance adopted by commentators. Now while my focus here is on conservative or evangelical eschatologies, it is worth pausing to note in passing that there is an initial plausibility to this association given the connections between liberal theologies of hope, ideologies of progress, process philosophy and (at least certain versions of) evolutionary thought. Nearly three decades ago Ernst Benz published a work entitled Evolution and Christian Hope, part of which was devoted to an assessment of the relationship between Darwinism and such future-orientated ideologies as Marxist and materialist histories of salvation. Nietzsche’s futuristic doctrine of the superman, speculations on evolution and the future of humanity in the writings of the Hindu Sri Aurobindo, and Teilhard de Chardin’s evolutionized eschatology. In all of these, eschatological motifs certainly assert themselves. Moreover, the resonances between technological progress and Christian expectation of the end times at least since the period of the late Renaissance render the association between developmental convictions and theologies of Christian hope entirely conceivable. Indeed there have been some, like David Friedrich Strauss who ‘transposed the Christian expectation of the end of time into an idea of technological progress’.8

Further details of Benz’s general scenario are beyond my purposes here. What I do want to focus on is the formative role he accords to the eschatological thinking of such nineteenth-century evangelical scholars as James McCosh, Henry Drummond and George Frederick Wright.9 All were, to be sure, postmillennialists. Consider the case of James McCosh, Presbyterian clergyman. Scottish Common Sense philosopher, and president of Princeton University. Even before the Origin of Species had made its appearance, McCosh had displayed his belief in the working of God through natural law. To him, a unity of design was to be detected throughout the course of plant and animal development, for all elements in the world of nature ‘conspire[d] to a given end’. Accordingly, as he himself was to put it in 1871:

The persistence of force may be one of the elements conspiring to this end: the Law of Natural Selection may be another, or it may only be a modification of the same …

All such laws are complex … [but] the law of the progression of all plants and of all animals is a still more complex one, implying adjustment upon adjustment of all the elements and all the powers of nature towards the accomplishment of an evidently contemplated end, in which are displayed the highest wisdom and the most considerate goodness.10

Further elucidation of McCosh’s scientific leanings or exegesis of the precise version of his evolutionary commitments are not necessary here. Elsewhere I have tried to locate McCosh’s evolution in the tradition of American Neo-Lamarckism.11 Rather, what I want to argue is that his evolutionary inclinations were undergirded by a robust postmillennialism. Referring to the ‘coming time’, McCosh observed:

In all the geological ages we find in any age the anticipation of the following. This may also be the case with the age in which we now live, the Age of Man. We see everywhere preparations made for further progress, seeds sown which have not yet sprung up; embryos not yet developed; life which has not yet grown to maturity. In particular we find that in this Age of Man, man has not yet completed his work.12

For McCosh, then, the events of the Heilsgeschichte in the Christian era were to be located in the wider context of the progressive development of the great chain of life. The advent of the human species, and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, are to be understood as inaugurating new stages of human existence. As he put it:

In all past ages there have been new powers added. Life seized the mineral mass, and formed the plant; sensation imparted to the plant made the animal; instinct has preserved the life and elevated it; intelligence has turned the animal into man; morality has raised the intelligence to love and law. The work of the Spirit is not an anomaly. It is one of a series; he last and the highest. It is the grandest of all powers.13

In the light of these intimations it is hardly surprising that Benz senses reverberations between McCosh’s evolutionary eschatology and Teilhard’s Omega point. Indeed, McCosh’s enthusiasm for the Duke of Argyll’s The Reign of Law reveals just how far he was prepared to go in locating divine design within the intrinsic operations of natural law.14

All this suggests that there were significant resonances between attitudes to eschatology and attitudes to evolution theory. Thus postmillennialists, with their exuberant confidence in social progress, were sympathetic to the idea of a gradual transformation of society, and so it is not surprising that they would find the transformism of evolution theory congenial. Perhaps no better candidate illustrates this than B.B. Warfield, famous for his architectonic defence of biblical inerrancy and professor of didactic and polemic theology in the Princeton Seminary. That Warfield endorsed the broad outlines of evolution theory is now beyond doubt and does not require demonstration here. Rather I want to illustrate something of how Warfield conceived of God’s workings in the world from his reflections on aspects of evolutionary theory.

First, Warfield was not unfavourably disposed to mechanistic accounts within science. In his otherwise favourable review of Vernon Kellogg’s Darwinism Today published in 1908, he complained that

Some lack of philosophical acumen must be suspected when it is not fully understood that teleology is in no way inconsistent with—is rather necessarily involved in—a complete system of natural causation. Every teleological system implies a complete ‘causo-mechanical’ explanation as its instrument.

Then again, consider Warfield strenuous efforts to make Calvin himself into an evolutionist in the following terms. If the six creatorial days had been lengthened out into ‘six ages of the growth of the world’, he reported.

Calvin would have been a precursor of the modern evolutionary theorists … for he teaches, as they teach, the modification of the original world-stuff into the varied forms which constitute the ordered world, by the instrumentality of second causes,—or as a modern would put it, of its intrinsic forces.15

In both of these cases it is clear that Warfield was operating with a conception of God’s activity in the world in immanentist rather than interventionist terms. To be sure, this does not imply that Warfield ruled out intervention. But in his theology of creation he basically kept it to a minimum. Now this, of course, sits nicely with the transformational gradualism of a postmillennialist eschatology. Besides, Warfield believed that the creation narratives in Genesis were so ordered ‘as to throw into a very clear light the teleology of the whole world-history’. The modes of creation held within them the very structures of what he termed ‘cosmical predestination’—world eschatology.16

The very gradualism that postmillennialists found congenial to their evolutionary requirements, however, was precisely what critics found objectionable. Louis Berkhof, for example, focused on this very point in his critique of postmillennialism.

The modern idea that natural evolution and the efforts of man in the field of education, of social reform and of legislation, will gradually bring in the perfect reign of the Christian spirit, conflicts with everything that the Word of God teaches on this point.… Civilization without regeneration, without a supernatural change of the heart, will never bring in a millennium, an effective and glorious rule of Jesus Christ. It would seem that the experiences of the last quarter of a century should have forced this truth upon the modern man. The highly vaunted development of man has not yet brought us in sight of the millennium.

Besides this, Berkhof so associated postmillennialism and evolutionism in his evaluations that he felt constrained to suggest as a question for further study. ‘Are the Postmillennialists necessarily evolutionists?’17 Indeed, for Berkhof and others, certain forms of postmillennialism—like that of Walter Rauschenbusch or Shirley Jackson Case—could simply be defined as ‘humanistic and evolutionary in principle’.18

Berkhof’s question certainly did have considerable plausibility. Allow me to illustrate this by brief reference to the eschatological theologies of two eminent nineteenth-century American theologians. Augustus Hopkins Strong and William Newton Clarke.19 Here I do not propose trying to identify the precise theological niches into which these figures may be fitted. Suffice to say that such labels as moderate fundamentalism, liberal evangelicalism and progressive orthodoxy have all been used in categorising their theological stances. What they did have in common, though, was an emphasis on the theological, scientific, and eschatological significance of the principle of continuity. In both, divine immanence assumed a new significance; not that intervention was entirely ruled out—at least in the case of Strong—but the emphasis moved towards an assertion of the pervading universal character of the work of the spirit in the world. And what made this shift from discontinuity and transcendence towards continuity and immanence all the more plausible, of course, was the idea of evolution. As Strong himself argued. ‘Evolution is simply the ordinary method of Christ’s working [although] it leaves room for absolute creation, for incarnation, miracle, resurrection’.20 Because Strong conceived of history as the progressive revelation of God to humanity, eschatology merged with natural evolution and Christocentric immanentism to the degree that he could assert that ‘the attraction of gravitation and the principle of evolution are but other names for Christ’.21 What made this quite remarkable assertion coherent for Strong was his insistence on a conception of the world that was dynamic, monistic, and idealist:

If we were deists, believing in a distant God and a mechanical universe, evolution and Christianity would be irreconcilable. But since we believe in a dynamical universe, of which the personal and living God is the inner source of energy, evolution is but the basis, foundation and background of Christianity, the silent and regular working of him who, in the fullness of time, utters his voice in Christ and the cross.22

Of course, Strong did retain the central theological significance of the individual—‘Humanity is saved, individual by individual, not by philosophy or philanthropy or self-development or self-reform’ he asserted—and yet in good postmillennial fashion he welcomed the application of Christian principles to ‘all human relations, to labor and capital, to commercial and social evils, to legislation for the equalization of human conditions’. And so understandably he could insist that Christ’s second coming is ‘pre-millennial spiritually, but post-millennial physically and visibly’.23

Certainly not all evangelical postmillennialists found Strong’s particular visions appealing. Warfield, in typically Princetonian mode, for example, was hesitant about his idealist tendencies, but yet did observe that the new monistic views he had espoused ‘have not as yet eaten very deeply into the substance of Dr. Strong’s work’.24 Moreover, the self-same optimistic reading of social and scientific history undergirded the evolutionary eschatology of William Newton Clarke, who urged that natural theology needed to be refashioned on a Darwinian template. Eschatology, on this rendering, became the mundane unfolding of the kingdom of God. Indeed, to Clarke, eschatology was not properly millennial at all, but, rather, evolutionary and progressivist.

The wider millenial science

Thus far I have been arguing that there were conceptual resonances between pro-evolution sentiments and postmillennial eschatology of various stripes. Of course I am not suggesting this as an invariant general law. But what does make the association compelling. I suggest, is its converse: the connection between dispensational premillennialism and anti-evolutionism. This eschatological stance, of course, introduced a much narrower literalism into biblical hermeneutic and a more sombre note of social pessimism into evangelical rhetoric; the outcome was a theology with a far more robust emphasis on intervention than on providential superintendence of the world order. Dispensationalism, according to George Marsden, was suited for ‘people who saw themselves as becoming cultural outsiders.… It proclaimed that true believers were a holy remnant, that they should maintain personal purity while waiting for the Lord to return, and that they should concentrate on rescuing the perishing. These emphases could dampen efforts to reform civilization either through politics or education.’25

Accordingly, premillennialists—like George McCready Price, Seventh-Day Adventist father of the modern creationist movement—found the idea of evolutionary transformism repugnant on almost every front: social, scriptural, and scientific. Thus his pamphlet on Poisoning Democracy: A Study of Present-Day Socialismwas described by one partisan as showing ‘that the conditions prevailing today are due largely to the acceptance of various socialistic and evolutionary theories termed “New Theology” ’.26 And if here we find displayed Price’s twin political and scientific phobias, it is not surprising that they were all-of-a-piece with his eschatological emphases:

The most timely truth for our day is a reform which will point this generation of evolutionists back to Creation, and to the worship of Him who made the heaven and the earth. Other reforms in other days have been based upon various parts of the Bible here and there. The reform most needed in our day is one based on the first part of the Bible—and upon the last part also. For he who is looking for the return of his Lord, and for the imminent ushering in of the new heaven and the new earth, must necessarily believe in the record of the first part of the Bible which tells of the Creation of the earth. Surely it is useless to expect people to believe in the predictions given in the last chapters of the Bible, if they do not believe in the record of the events described in its first chapters.27

In similar—though certainly not identical—vein, the International Bible Students Association, in its illustrated Photodrama of Creation, portrayed the Battle of Armageddon in terms of a conflict between labour and capital. Socialism, apparently prefigured in the story of Samson, and higher criticism, taught in the seminaries, were together conspiring to loose anarchy upon the world. The only course for the believer was to hold steadfastly to the prophetic principles embedded in the very structure of the Genesis narrative.28

None of this, of course, is intended to suggest that dispensationalism or premillennialism was the sole begetter of creation science. To the contrary: creationism had plural origins. For in contrast to Price, William Jennings Bryan’s anti-evolution sentiments were wedded to the politics of democracy and to an abhorrence of what he took to be the moral implications of Darwinian naturalism.29 And yet the association between dispensationalism and anti-evolution was, I judge, especially tight. This is surely further confirmed in the following words published by the dispensationalist theologian John F. Walvoord in 1975, who in the course of his discussion describes eschatology as ‘a developing science’:

In the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Darwinian evolution began to penetrate the ranks of postmillenarians. Liberals hailed the theory of evolution, with its easygoing optimism, as the true divine method for bringing in the predicted golden age. Recognizing this as a departure from the faith, more conservative postmillenarians and amillenarians attempted to refute the new evolutionary concept. One of the means used was the calling of great prophetic conferences which were held in the last part of the nineteenth century and continued into the twentieth.

As amillennialism and postmillennialism have little to offer by way of refutation of the concept of evolutionary progress, these prophecy conferences soon became dominated by premillennial interpreters. Many of the doctrines which later became an essential part of premillennial theology were introduced into the discussion …30

What lends further support to these suggestions, moreover, is what might be called the scientific dispensationalism that is built into the very fabric of creation science. For in these scenarios there is a major structural disjunction between the original created order and the post-fall, or perhaps better, post-flood world as we find it. The original structures of nature have, supposedly, been entirely dislocated by fall and flood. Thus it seems that the natural world itself has its own series of ‘dispensations’ to pass through.31

Thus far I have said little about two related subjects: the relationship between amillennialism and evolutionary theory, and the recent wedding of theonomist postmillennialism and creationism. So far as amillennialism is concerned, I suggest that its advocates could opt for different evolutionary positions depending on the precise version of amillennialism adopted. Thus, for example, Floyd E. Hamilton, a staunch opponent of evolution in the 1930s, turned from premillennialism to amillennialism. Yet he noted that the premillennial theory is … right in what it asserts of the condition of the world up to the time of the Rapture’.32 By contrast, the Christian Reformed Church, widely adherent to the amillennial view but rather more optimistic in its enthusiasm for cultural transformation, could accept evolutionary change even while rebutting Darwinian naturalism.33

Either way, the connections between evolution and eschatology remained firm. Consider, in this regard, the case of the Dutch theologian Herman Bavinck—an advocate of amillennialism—who, in evaluating evolutionary theory, felt constrained to locate his analysis within the broader framework of the ‘origin, essence, and end of all things’—namely in the context of the world’s entire eschaton. For Bavinck, the heart of evolutionism was to be found in its espousal of the idea that ‘substance is eternal’ and that Providence had been transmuted into natural law. But his critique of the naturalism that he identified as the essence of the modern ‘development theory’ was intimately connected with his efforts to address such questions as: What is the end of the world? What is the issue of the world’s history? For, to Bavinck, it was precisely because ‘the theory of development … has no mention of a plan and of any destiny of things’ that its unsatisfactory character was especially evident. Scientific defenders of evolutionary theories abandoned ‘themselves to greater illusions than the Chiliasts among Christians, who look for a kingdom of Christ in this present dispensation’.34 Not surprisingly, signs of amillennial social pessimism clearly surface in this analysis. The high culture of modern civilization was anything but secure and nothing could ensure that it would ‘not become trodden down underneath threatening revolutions’. Anarchism, now actually loosed upon the world, ‘refuse[d] to practice patience any longer’ and threatened to satisfy its passions ‘by violence, with the aid of petroleum and dynamite, of revolution and slaughter’.35 With such convictions Bavinck’s assessment of the culture of modernity and his rejection of the theory of evolution as unremitting naturalism held together in a non-millennialist eschatology:

If we had no knowledge except that of an immanent self-development, we would have no ground for th[e Christian] hope. The kingdom of heaven has not once come along the lines of gradual ascent, neither will it come along these lines in the future.36

The recent reassertion of anti-evolutionism among the postmillennial theonomists or Christian Reconstructionists also merits scrutiny.37 On the surface this might seem to militate against the associations I have been detecting between pro-evolutionary sentiment and postmillennialism. But there are, I think, very significant differences between this contemporary postmillennialism and its nineteenth-century counterpart. For one thing—as I read it—contemporary reconstructionist postmillennialism politicizes eschatology in a way that is totalitarian and theocratic; its strategies seem more manipulative than gradualist, revolutionary rather than evolutionary. Earlier postmillennialism seemed to rely more on God’s providential supervision of the world order and its history.

Be that as it may, my argument is simply—again—that eschatological commitments substantially condition evolutionary stances. In a striking article that appeared in a recent issue of the Chalcedon Report, R.E. McMaster, lamenting the lack of eschatological commitment in modern churchdom, attacks the theory of evolution because it counterfeits truly biblical eschatology. To put it another way, he sees evolutionary theory as Satanic pseudo-postmillennialism. Appropriately enough adorned with a New Age hieroglyphic in the form of an astrological icon, McMaster’s piece identifies the competitors of genuine postmillennialism as either evolutionary humanism or New Age optimism:

What’s the essence of evolution? That things are getting better and better over time. Which Christian perspective is evolution most closely attempting to counterfeit? Post-mil, the concept that Christians will make the world better and better over time until Christ returns. Satan’s counterfeit, evolution, is attempting to substitute itself for the post-mil reality. The New Agers are close to being on track, but they have bought the truth with a deathly Satanic warp.38

And just how does McMaster consider that Christians make the world better and better? By the unfettered reign of the free-market economy:

God understands the principle of incentive, eternally. In fact, He invented it. Men work for benefits and out of love. This is why the Christian free market works, and the economics of Communism is such a dismal failure. There is no incentive to work under Communism … Christianity works, in time, on earth. Men who have put it to the test and proved all things affirm that Christianity works. This is what made America great.39

McMaster’s analysis is not to be taken as untypical of Reconstructionist theology. The very first issue of the Journal of Christian Reconstruction, for example, was devoted to a series of critical readings of evolution theory and included a programmatic statement of creationist-Reconstructionist economics that denounced all forms of state interventionism.40 Moreover, in a recent investigation of postmillennial creationism. Tom Melver reveals just how central eschatology is to the Reconstructionist philosophy of science. Indeed, he reveals the profound disjunction between their brand of creationism and that of ‘creation science’. The Reconstructionists are not interested in undermining contemporary evolution theory with the gadgetry and paraphernalia of modern-day scientific technique. They frankly admit that creationism is a religiouscommitment, because, well versed as they are in the presuppositional apologetics of Cornelius Van Til, they reject the evidentialism of traditional positivism and argue for the legitimacy and coherence of allowing their theology to reconstruct science itself. Rousas J. Rushdoony’s tellingly entitled volume on The Mythology of Science captures the spirit of this project.41 It is erected foursquare on the presuppositional apologetics of Dutch neo-Calvinism and on six-day creationist foundations. What is at stake for Rushdoony is the question of epistemic authority—the competing authorities of science and Scripture. Accordingly, science needs to be remade along consistently creationist lines and that means ‘renouncing the idea of brute factuality, that is, the idea that facts exist apart from God and apart from any interpretation’. For the Reconstructionists, ‘creationism is a necessary fact’.42

Postmillennial dominion theology, however, does not merely require a reconstruction of the scientific enterprise. Because what is ultimately at stake is the question of authority, the entire social order needs remaking through legislative reconstitution. For some, this means a return to OT law and so they are openly contemptuous of democracy and advocate the reinvigoration of theocratic authority.43 The scary images of Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale come eerily to mind. The reconstructionist agenda, at least for some, according to Mclver, includes the reinstitution of slavery, the death penalty for various moral sins, the disparagement of religious liberty, and racial polygenism. Herein their divergence from the Common Sense postmillennialism of the nineteenth-century Princetonians is dramatically revealed.


Attitudes about the end times may have had a greater impact on thinking about origins than beliefs about election or divine sovereignty or any of the doctrinal particulars generally associated with Calvinism or Arminianism. The reason is, I suspect, that eschatologies, no less than creation stories, are comprehensive cosmologies.44 They situate their adherents in conceptual frameworks that make sense of their particular historical setting and in an entire system of beliefs and behaviours appropriate for the regulation of the social order. The debates about evolution theory are to be understood, at least in part, within this context. The nature of the scientific task, the role that science should play in human knowing, the authority it should have in society are all involved in the evolution debates no less than in assessments about social change in the light of eschatological convictions.


I am grateful to Ron Numbers for several valuable observations on an earlier draft of this piece.

1 So, for example, James R. Moore, The Post-Darwinian Controversies: A study of the Protestant struggle to come to terms with Darwin in the United States and Great Britain, 1870–1900 (Cambridge: CUP, 1979): David N. Livingstone, Darwin’s Forgotten Defenders: the encounter between evangelical theology and evolutionary thought (Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1987); Frederick Gregory, ‘The impact of Darwinian evolution on Protestant theology in the nineteenth century’, in David C. Lindberg and Ronald L. Numbers (eds), God and Nature: historical essays on the encounter between Christianity and science(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986), pp. 369–390: Jon Roberts, Darwinism and the Divine in America: Protestant intellectuals and organic evolution, 1859–1900 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1988); Ronald L. Numbers, The Creationists (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1992).

2 Numbers, however, does draw attention to links between eshatology and creationism: see op.cit.

3 I have hinted at some of these connections in an earlier, preliminary investigation in ‘Evolution, eschatology and the privatization of Providence’, Science and Christian Belief 2 (1990): 117–130.

4 Frederick Fyvie Bruce, ‘Eschatology’, in Everett F. Harrison et al (eds), Baker’s Dictionary of Theology(Grand Rapids: Baker, 1975), pp. 187–193.

5 Roderick I. Murchison, ‘Address to the Royal Geographical Society’. Journal of the Royal Geographical Society 14 (1844): lxix.

6 George Marsden, Reforming Fundamentalism, Fuller Seminary and the New Evangelicalism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987). p. 5.

7 Janel M. Curry-Roper, ‘Contemporary Christian eschatologies and the relation to environmental stewardship’, Professional Geographer 42 (1990): 157–169. The citations from this article both appear on p. 161.

8 Ernst Benz, Evolution and Christian Hope. Man’s Concept of the Future from the Early Fathers to Teilhard de Chardin, translated from the German by Heinz G. Frank (New York: Doubleday, 1966), p. 134. Liberal theologians who fused postmillennial optimism and organic evolution were Albrecht Ritschl, Washington Gladden, and Walter Rauschenbusch. See Ritschl, The Christian Doctrine of Justification and Reconciliation; Richard D. Knudsen, The Systematic Thought of Washington Gladden (New York: Humanities Press, 1968), pp. 111–117: Walter Rauschenbusch, A Theology for the Social Gospel (New York: Macmillan Co., 1922), pp. 131–166.

9 See Benz, Ibid. The relationship between eschatological vocabulary and quantum cosmologies is discussed in Willem B. Drees, ‘Beyond the Big Bang: Quantum Cosmologies and God’ (Doctoral Dissertation, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, 1989). I am grateful to Dr Howard Van Til for drawing this latter work to my attention.

10 James McCosh, Christianity and Posttivism, A Series of Lectures to the Times on Natural Theology and Christian Apologetics (London: Macmillan, 1871), pp. 90, 92.

11 Darwin’s Forgotten Defenders, pp. 106–112.

12 James McCosh, The Religious Aspect of Evolution (New York, 1890), p. 101.

13 Ibid., p. 113.

14 McCosh had written to Argyll in 1867 and received a reply in which Argyll noted that it was a ‘great pleasure to find that on the whole our agreement is so great on the questions raised respecting “Law in the Realm of Mind”. I think we are substantially at one.’ Letter, Duke of Argyll to Dr McCosh, 21 September 1867, General Mss (misc) C0140, Firestone Library, Princeton University. That Benz locates Henry Drummond’s evolutionary theology and what might be called the Darwinian Calvinism of George Frederick Wright in the self-same conceptual frame is also entirely predictable. See the discussion of Drummond’s views in James R. Moore, ‘Evangelicals and evolution: Henry Drummond. Herbert Spencer, and the naturalization of the spiritual world,’ Scottish Journal of Theology 38 (1985): 383–417. Wright is discussed in Ronald L. Numbers. ‘George Frederick Wright: from Christian Darwinist to fundamentalist’. Isis 79 (1988): 624–645.

15 B.B. Warfield, ‘Calvin’s doctrine of the Creation’, Princeton Theological Review 13 (1915): 196.

16 B.B. Warfield, ‘Predestination’, in Biblical and Theological Studies, p. 277.

17 Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (London: Banner of Truth, 1958, first pub. 1939), pp. 718, 719.

18 Ernest Frederick Kevan, ‘Millennium’, in Everett F. Harrison et al (eds), Baker’s Dictionary of Theology, pp. 351–55 on p. 353. Rauschenbusch, for example, in his A Theology for the Social Gospel (p. 225), wrote that the Christian ideal of society would come about only by a ‘shift from catastrophe to development’ Case, in The Millennial Hope (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1916. p. 238), urged that the ‘course of history exhibits one long process of evolving struggle’.

19 I rely here on Irwin Reist, ‘Augustus Hopkins Strong and William Newton Clarke: a study in nineteenth century evolutionary and eschatological thought’, Foundations 13 (1970): 26–43. See also Grant Wacker, Augustus H. Strong and the Dilemma of Historical Consciousness (Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 1985).

20 Augustus Hopkins Strong, What Shall I Believe? A Primer of Christian Theology (New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1922), p. 49.

21 Augustus Hopkins Strong, Systematic Theology: A Compendium (1907: rpt, London: Pickering & Inglis, 1956), p. 75.

22 Ibid., p. 123.

23 The extracts cited in these two sentences are quoted in Reist, op. cit.

24 B.B. Warfield, review of Strong’s Christ in Creation and Ethical Montsm, in Presbyterian and Reformed Review 12 (1901): 325–326.

25 Marsden, op.cit., pp. 5–6.

26 Cited in advertisement appended to William Jennings Bryan, In His Image (New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1922).

27 George McCready Price, Science and Religion in a Nutshell (Washington, D.C.: Review & Herald Publishing Association, 1923), p. 13.

28 See The Scenario of the Photo-Drama of Creation (Brooklyn, NY: International Bible Students Association, 1914).

29 Numbers, The Creationists, p. 43.

30 John F. Walvoord, ‘Posttribulationism today’, Bibliotheca Sacra (1975): 16–24.

31 I am endebted to Dr Arie Leegwater for this suggestion.

32 Floyd E. Hamilton, The Basis of Millennial Faith (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1942), p. 34. Hamilion was also the author of The Basis of Evolutionary Faith (London: James Clark, c. 1931).

33 See Glenn A. Remelts, ‘The Christian Reformed Church and science, 1900–1930: an evangelical alternative to the fundamentalist and modernist responses to science’, Fides et Historia 21 (1989): 61–80.

34 Bavinck seems to have postmillennialism in mind at this point.

35 H. Bavinck, ‘Creation or development’, Methodist Review (November 1901): 849–874, on 852, 868, 872, 873.

36 Ibid., p. 874.

37 Critiques of theonomy are available in William S. Barker and W. Robert Godfrey (eds), Theonomy: A Reformed Critique (Grand Rapids. MI: Academic Books, 1990): Richard John Neuhaus, ‘Why Wait for the Kingdom? The Theonomist Temptation’, First Things (May 1990): 13–21.

38 R.E. McMaster Jr., ‘Evolution and New Age globalism: counterfeiting biblical eschatology’, Chalcedon Report (1989): 7–9. Critics have claimed that postmillennial Reconstruction or Dominion Theology, as it is sometimes called, has embraced either New Age occultism or materialism. See D. Hunt and T.A. McMahon, The Seduction of Christianity: Spiritual Discernment in the Last Days (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1985).

39 McMaster, op.cit.

40 See The Journal of Christian Reconstruction 1, 1 (1974).

41 Numbers points out that Rushdoony found a publisher for John C. Whitcomb’s The Genesis Flood: see Numbers, op.cit., p. 199.

42 Rousas John Rushdoony, The Mythology of Science (Nutley, N.J: Craig Press, 1967), pp. 57–58. See also his rejection of scientific authority in The Myth of Overpopulation (Birmingham, AL: Cornerstone Publishers, 1974).

43 See Tom Mclver, ‘Christian Reconstructionism, Post-millenialism, and Creationism’, Creation/Evolution Newsletter 8, 1 (1988): 10–17.

44 See Jim Moore, ‘(Re)reading Genesis: towards a radical interpretation of the New Creationism’, Science for People 55 (1983): 10–15.

David N. Livingstone

David Livingstone is Professor of Geography at Queens University. Belfast