A Youth Pastor and a Concerned Parent Talk about Evolution and Christian Faith

A parent learns that his high-schooler is being taught that evolution is false by his youth pastor, and dialogues with the pastor about evolutionary creationism.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://biologos.org/blogs/guest/a-youth-pastor-and-a-concerned-parent-talk-about-evolution-and-christian-faith

Is really refreshing to hear the conversation between two intelligent and civilized men. This discussion should be posted on the forum page as an example of gracious dialogue.


Definitely a very well-articulated and thoughtful conversation. If only more people out there were like “Jim” and were willing to discuss things openly and candidly with a genuine desire to learn and find out the truth about things. Unfortunately, in most of the conversations that I’ve had along these lines, the response has been anything but open to new information or views.

Personally, I’ve always been perfectly ok with “agreeing to disagree” and consider it totally ok for people to have their own separate convictions. My concern is just that often when people say that they just want to “agree to disagree,” what they really mean is that they’d just rather not think about it or put the effort in to try to understand where other people are coming from or genuinely wonder if they might be wrong. In other words, it’s often just used as a cop-out phrase. I also think that it’s very unfortunate that in many cases, regardless of how much research a person has done on a given topic, as soon as they come to different conclusions than those that are taken for granted by “conservative” Christians, they essentially get labeled as “liberal” or “compromising” and quickly get tuned out from the discussion. How fair or smart is that? When those who held those same “conservative” views do a lot of research, come out thinking differently, and claim that their views are still biblical, how is it in any way fair or right to tune them out so quickly? All that does is protect the positions that are largely based on ignorance…

Anyways, hopefully respectful dialogue and conversations will win out and Biologos’ excellent ministry will continue having a positive effect on what views can be considered legitimate in most evangelical churches!

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An excellent discourse. If only it were true of what usually happens. I suspect it is somewhat idealized.
In the usual case, the youth minister would bring the initial letter up at staff meeting, the senior pastor would say something like, “Let’s not open that bag of worms. We are having enough trouble making budget and calming down the Going Home Sunday School class when their chairs were moved from the rows to a circle. Say something nice and move on to another subject.”

That is not to say that it should not be addressed. The next time it comes up, perhaps the staff will be more open and recognize diversity in views. I have not gotten up the nerve or had the opportunity to approach the subject, but the youth minister when my kids were growing up was very young earth oriented in some of the videos and trips they went on, and I wonder if his views have changed with time. Truth be told, the issue of evolution is pretty well ignored in our church, which is appropriate most of the time, though in youth, it is an issue that they may be working through.
I guess my question in looking at the dialogue is, “How aggressive should we be in confronting these issues?” I think the approach given is good, but what if the responce was not as nice.

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While I agree that this conversation went better than average, I want to make it clear that this conversation has not been doctored or fabricated in any substantial way, other than the usual editorial process (i.e. removing typos and smoothing out a couple of phrases).

I say this because I’ve seen a couple of social media comments accusing me of fabricating the whole thing, which is 100 percent false. The “father” in this post is a real person known by many in our community.


Good to know. I think that it went as well as could be expected, and perhaps we are slowly turning the corner where folks are not as threatened as they once were by the subject. That is the goal, anyway. I tend to be a cynical sort so forgive me any doubts. Which I tend to side with Enns on, anyway.
In any case, I assume the example is here to encourage us to confront these sort of situations honestly, openly, and lovingly, which I fully agree with, though it is often not easy.

I am grateful that the youth pastor was open to friendly dialogue and agreed to look into the matter. I do suspect that many church Sunday school programs would not be too encouraging towards such an open dialogue. I went to a church meeting with a so-called expert on young earth creationism and evolution, but he displayed graphics that totally bypassed what the evolutionary tree looks like today, with all the recent discoveries in genetics and fossil structures. He set up a straw man and misrepresented modern evolutionary thought. I considered offering a reply but since I was outnumbered I thought it best not to pursue the matter. In his literature he mentioned how many debates he has had in the past with evolutionists but I cannot imagine an evolutionary biologist accepting his outdated material. I believe these so-called “experts” need to do their homework and proceed with humility. They have a special responsibility when speaking to the “flock”. This goes for all of us who wish to address Christian audiences. We all need to be cognizant of the fact that “we see through a glass darkly”.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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