I think your experience resonates with many of us. As to this particular statement, I think that sometimes we can take some of the emotion out of it by saying, “Evolution is consistent with the evidence we see in science, but absolute truth is not something that science can speak to.” or something similar. Truth in a religious sense is not the same as “truth” scientifically, and the same is true of belief. If you “believe” in evolution, it means something quite different in the lab or the Biologos forum than it does to non-scientifically oriented people in church, so we have to be aware of the emotional impact of our words.
Well put. When someone asks me directly if I believe in evolution, I say something like, “I don’t believe in evolution. But I do accept that it is the best scientific model for explaining the diversity of life on earth.” That usually opens up the conversation more than a simple “yes.”
So many people in churches have been told that evolution is a competing religion that makes incompatible truth claims, it’s better to avoid using words like “believe” and “true” if you want people to hear you out.
I go to a church that is Christ centered, Bible believing, and deeply committed to theological teaching. One thing they are not open to is evolutionary creationism. In fact, when confirming a lay leader they mentioned believing in a literal seven-day creation. So, in other words, I would never be able to teach in that church because I do not subscribe to a fundamentalist concept of creation. I have a good relationship with my pastor and good friends at this church but I do not mention my EC views. My typical response is that I can’t recall reading about seven-day creationism in the Apostles or Nicene Creed. That is why I believe it is so important to lay hold of the essentials given to us by the early Creeds- this is true orthodoxy and a way of bridging the divide between Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestants. As I grow older I have become less sensitized to what others think of my beliefs. But I also realize you need to pick your battles wisely. I have to own my own faith and beliefs and will not be bludgeoned by fundamentalists to think otherwise. My wife knows how I believe and even though she may get irritated she is still open and beginning to understand the evidence as compelling concerning evolution and interpretation of Genesis. I must admit that I do wish I could find a group of people that are unafraid of mainstream science and theology. Much more can be said but since most believers can’t even discuss issues of doubt I do not believe American Evangelicalism’s fundamentalist foundations will crack any time soon.
I’m interviewing for a position at my church as a youth leader. my passion is to help high schoolers with any questions they may have about the faith, since I have walked down a road of searching for answers in the past. I am a little nervous because I know that I may be in the minority at my church, which is non-denominational and actually pretty diverse, who does not interperate genesis literally/ believes God created through a process. I don’t really care what others think, per say, I am just nervous that this will some how come up and be a problem as a youth leader. But, I still want to do it because these kids probably have questions about evolution and how it relates to faith! Please pray!
@BradKramer, I just bring myself to click on the “like” button for that post . . . but know that I am 100% in sympathy for you and that gut-wrenching experience. When I was in a Nazarene youth group as a teen, everyone knew I was agnostic, or Unitarian, or UFO-minded… so it was all out in the open… and that was pretty rough too. There sure isn’t any easy way out of the situation …
Whenever I find I’m interacting with a fundamental Christian, I always pull out a card I carry with me as soon as the discussion gets even remotely close to questioning my faith. It lists the 12 fundamental principles of Christianity:
- God created the universe.
- God is Holy.
- We are morally unholy.
- Holy and unholy do not mix.
- God is Love.
- Love for His creation inspires God to want us to know His Love now and experience it with Him for eternity.
- 2-6 create a conundrum.
- 1 gives God the right to solve that conundrum as He sees fit.
- God the Father, requires us to become Holy by assuming the Holiness of God the Son (Jesus) through the action of God the Holy Spirit in our lives.
- He does this by enabling our unholiness to die with Jesus on the Cross, thereby entombing it, and replacing it with Jesus’ Holiness, which permits us to rise through His resurrection as a new, Holy creation.
- We can know this is true through the revelation of Himself in His creation, His inspired Holy Word, His incarnate Son, and His involvement in our lives through the Holy Spirit.
- 1.-11 combine to form a logical and consistent worldview.
I then ask the person if he agrees with these 12 principles. Any Christian, of course, would, or if there is a problem, a little discussion will clarify it. Once he admits he does agree, I admit the same and then point out that since believing these 12 seals our current and eternal relationship to the loving, Lord God Almighty, Creator of the universe, ALL ELSE PALES IN COMPARISON!
So, if we don’t see eye to eye on some aspect of faith, such as the details of how God created the universe, we should respect each other’s views and agree to disagree agreeably. And by respect each other’s views, I include not trying to win him over to mine or visa versa. There is just too much more important business for us to engage in, such as reaching others with the truth of the 12 principles.
I have yet to find someone walk away from that discussion who remains my opponent.
For more on the 12 principles, including bible verses for each, go to Mentiscopia, Twelve Fundamental Principles of Christianity.
If you want a template for printing out these principles on the front and back of a blank business card, let me know.
I am working on an apologetics course for the youth in my church. I don’t know where they or their parents stand on these issues. I figure it is best to give them an overview of several viewpoints and communicate that it is OK whichever they choose, because salvation isn’t dependent on it. I might tell them which one I choose, and I know it will be hard to be objective in presenting other views (because I am convinced their basis is much weaker!) But in the end, I think my job is to open the area up for study and if they want to investigate more, I have left them with a chance of evaluating the evidence for themselves. I’ll probably get them to do some of the arguing for each point of view! Then at the end of that discussion, we will probably have a discussion about what to say and what not to say to scientific, agnostic friends! I think being as open ended as possible is the best way forward - trusting God to guide those for whom it really matters. And teaching the values of the wonder of God’s creation, respect, listening and not judging are probably the main issues here! If they end up with a YE view, that is actually OK, as long as they don’t inflict it on others!
This is just a suggestion, but it comes from many years of experience as a high school and middle school teacher, so perhaps that will gain me a hearing, at least.
In my judgment, most apologetics classes for youth are unproductive, if not counterproductive. I say this for a couple of reasons. First, teenagers tend to use what they learn in the typical apologetics course merely as fuel to start arguments with unbelieving friends and peers. Second, the typical apologetics class winds up spending far more time on controversial issues and strategies for argumentation than it does on giving kids a solid intellectual foundation for their own faith.
Instead of the usual apologetics course that tries to equip kids to be evangelists, I would like to see an apologetics course that equipped them to deal with their own intellectual struggles with the faith. Since this is a group of kids at your church, why not conduct an anonymous survey and ask them about areas where they have their own difficulties with faith? Where do they struggle? Where are they confused? Personally, I think this would be a much more productive and fruitful class for the kids.
Anyway, just an idea. Good luck with your class!
Thanks for the suggestion. I am planning this in conjunction with the youth worker and she will have the power to throw out anything she doesn’t like. She has done plenty of the kind of session that you suggest, but there is interest in the sessions that I am planning. The young people who are thinking of going into science for example do need to hear that there are several views out there, not just the one they may have heard. However, it is not apologetics in the argumentative sense - I agree totally that that is not constructive. I just called it that as short hand. We are calling it “Confidence in the Truth” and the end conclusion is often to listen more than argue - and to realise that scientists (for example) are interested in the joy in discovery, so we can share that hope with them. These young people know that the best evangelism is loving and praying for their friends - then inviting them to one of the events put on for them (Such as youth “Alpha” style events where people can express whatever view they like without being shouted down!) They are great evangelists! They have also adopted the church atmosphere of honouring and respecting people, and not judging them. When there is a youth led service, the adults queue up to be prayed for by the young people! They are pretty special.
I realise that what I wrote above about “what to say to agnostic friends” sounds like a formula for an argument. That is not what I meant. I would definitely encourage them not to argue, and not to produce trite answers, but to listen to what the other one is interested in - and to what lies behind what they say. The goal of each session is that we have confidence in what we believe, and that we can see how to apply these truths in practical ways. I hope that clarifies things, but thanks for the suggestions!
There is a lot of condescension in your article and in the messages of those who have responded - and perhaps some suppressed anger or resentment as well.
What do you mean? Can you give an example? Condescension toward whom?
I will respond only this one time because I believe my meaning is clear enough. The presupposition of the article and of respondents’ messages is that churches and institutions that do not allow the free expression of the evolutionary creationist position are both unscientific and unfair - with the accompanying presupposition that those who do allow such expression - are - scientific and fair. I stated my view of this as a statement of fact, accompanied by a possibility. I did not intend to start a conversation and don’t want one. I have simply given readers something to think about.
If that is the case, then perhaps you should not have posted your remarks in an open forum dedicated to dialogue.[quote=“Bobby, post:34, topic:34606”]
I have simply given readers something to think about.
Regrettably, you have failed to communicate to me at least what it was you wanted us to think about.
Thanks for reminding me of this blog, as it has a lot of good advice and food for thought. As to your observation about anger and resentment, I would agree, as many have been in painful circumstances, and it is sometimes hard to let that go.
As to condenscention, I really did not see that, thought the point of offering grace to those who do not offer grace to you sometimes can be twisted in that direction. I had an acquaintance who would say whenever we were in conflict, “I’m sorry…you feel that that way.” The passive aggressiveness of that attitude made me feel…angry and resentful.