This is my first post here so sorry if this has been answered but I couldn’t find it. Is there a good way to find local churches/denominations that align with the Biologos ideology? I’ve mostly attended non-denominational churches, but I have yet to find one with a high view of science. Thanks for the help.
Welcome. You’re in good company. Your question comes up in various forms frequently. So, stick around. There are some really great people hanging out here, who have been a big encouragement to me. If you haven’t already, and while you’re waiting for other replies, you might want to throw “church” in the search box (top right corner) and look at some of the multitude of threads that show up.
You might find this recent one of interest: Anyone on here a member of…
This thread was very important to me last fall, although it’s specifically related to COVID response, there is a lot that’s relevant to your question: How can we be one again once this is all over?
And this one Where does one find fellowship?
Actually, these are a couple I’d like to go back and review.
My general experience is that it tends to reflect the church demographics - congregations in areas with higher proportions of people with strong science backgrounds tend to have better grasp of science. Pastoral training has a significant effect as well - what, if any, qualifications are required? Of course, there are churches and denominations that accept science but don’t do so well on theology - there are various possible types of problems.
Hi, Luke - and thanks for your inquiry. Along with some of what’s already been offered, I would say that Biologos almost certainly isn’t aiming to become some kind of “brand” or “theology” of its own. I don’t speak for Biologos, but as one of the moderators who’s been here a while, I think I can safely say that they (‘we’) aren’t aiming to make some new or distinctive tradition, but just wanting to continue what we see as the best of the old traditions - any of the most faithful and most attentive to all God’s words and works. Such thoughtful voices have sounded out all up and down church history - even from long before anything like biological evolution was even imagined. And those voices haven’t all been localized to just one Christian tradition, though perhaps some traditions have been more receptive (or less hostile) to them than others - with the important caveat of allowing for wide variation even within most large traditions - and the further caveat of allowing for variance even down among any particular local congregation.
If what you’re hoping to do is avoid some particular congregations where such thoughtfulness (in those directions) is not welcomed, we could probably compile a list of “benchmark indicators” that would make pretty reliable signs whether or not the congregation in question is what you have in mind.
E.g. If in a church you hear …abc, or see xyz posted on the Sunday school walls, then that may indicate whether it’s friend or foe on the issues important to you.
Most around here would probably say that seeing “Answers in Genesis” curricular materials in kids areas would be an indicator that this won’t be a friendly bunch to the sorts of questions a scientific thinker likes to ask. Or if you hear a lot of “slippery slope” or “us and them” talk from the pulpit, regarding science types, perhaps those are warning signs too.
All that said, I almost repent … (almost I said) of even bringing this “Shibboleth” mentality into the picture at all because since we all seem to be practicing this so much already, it just further contributes to all the polarization and so-called “purification” of all our churches from any unwanted voices (on both sides). And as much as we all like to be comfortable by being surrounded by mostly a chorus of agreement (or short of that - at least having our side be the majority voices in power), to the extent that we chase after all that, we miss out on the ‘opportunity’ to be challenged to love our neighbor despite their pig-headed refusal to just succumb to all my ideas - er - I meant “God’s” ideas, of course . Ok, so you see how that works.
In any case, one probably shouldn’t be too quick to judge an entire congregation (much less an entire denomination) by one occurrence of something in a sermon, or one Sunday school teacher’s idea of a great curriculum source. All those things are indicators to watch, to be sure - but I would also bring a large load of grace to the table, and if you can be salty flavor in the midst of a group that needs it - then more power to you!
I spent some time on a reformed theology sub and there was generally a favorable view of NT Wright, John Walton, and James Smith. So you may want to look into some of the reformed denominations in your area. And send an email or ask the pastor after service about their view on Walton. If you know his work, then you know how telling the answer will be on that question.
Within every denomination you’ll probably find a gradient of teachers, preachers and pastors who who share and don’t share a similar view as found among many members here.
Take the denomination I go to. Church of Christ. Some are extremely and unbearably conservative literalists. Whatever term you want to use for people who just seem oppressive in every way. Not saying they are evil or not Christian. But if you know you know. Within this same movement there are extremely liberal science accepting progressive Elders, teachers and preachers. I’ve met Catholics are are YEC and some who accept evolutionary creationism. So you never really know how you’ll fit with them until you reach out.
The United Reformed Church has a broad view that accepts Science as valid. But, as mentioned above, there will be a wide spectrum of precise beliefs and could not promise that anyone in a particular church (congregation) would share your views.
So, church pews are like a box of chocolates? Warning: May contain nuts.
What Merv said:
I’ll emphasize from my experience, that it can be a long, slow process, too. If you feel like the church body can accept your “radical ideas” into genuine fellowship, then you’ve probably found a good place. We left our former church almost 6 months ago (how can it be that long?!) after feeling more and more alienated for quite a few years. A lot of it has to do with the culture in the area, which has never felt comfortable to us. All of us bring our cultures into the churches we attend. I do, too. But the last few years of ever-increasing Culture War heat and damage had made it unbearable any more. When you feel like church is bringing on a nervous break down, and you don’t want to see anyone before or after the service, it might not be the place for you.
After having just watched a Bible lecture from a well-known speaker, I was reminded of another common theme that is a red flag for me.
And that is: the warfare mentality. It isn’t that this is a wrong message - there is much to draw on from scriptures that reinforces the warfare nature of our struggle with sin, and against the principalities and powers of this world. What bothers me about it, though, is when the alarm-sounding speaker casts the entire battle as: “you good people here in this room listening to me - we are the ones against that evil secular culture out there which is determined to destroy us.” Rather than owning that the line between good and evil runs through every human heart (Solzhenitsyn) - they instead have the alleged line running between the religious right, and all the rest of the world (especially the evil, liberal academy). Now - I’m reasonably sure that if somebody in the room brought this up, and what scriptures actually tell us about this, the speaker would probably agree - “of course - yes - we are all sinners in need of God’s grace” … and would go on to recite all the well-rehearsed doctrines that in fact confirm this. But it won’t be but for a brief moment, and they will go back to living and teaching as if the opposite was true - calling their own righteous troops to political / counter-indoctrinational battle again, against all those evil secularists (including - especially including all those culturally compromising ‘Christians’) out there who will never rank any more highly than “pure enemy” in the minds of the ‘righteous troops’ being commissioned for battle.
What they fail to see is that they already (long before the 60s or any other recent decade they love to blame) lost the battle, not just for the youth, but even for themselves when they abandon any continued pursuit of truth, choosing instead to put away any humility for self-inspection, or further growth and learning before God - and instead try to to press the warfare metaphor into literal service in ways that Jesus never owned, and in fact was at pains to purge from among his own politically eager disciples.
When I stop sitting in humility at Christ’s feet as a student, and instead get my sword and leave the house, truth will inevitably be the first casualty - first in myself; and then for any who I tragically draw into my crusade with me. And yet the very self-appointed defenders of truth refuse to take to heart this lesson from the very scriptures they think they are so defending. And both they and their children are and will continue to suffer for that loss of humility and truth. Not because secular professors can be found spouting anti-religious venom. There has never been any period of recorded history free of such mockers. They will always be there. The real battle (the actual one described in scriptures) begins in earnest only when one looks in the mirror.
I was in a ‘Taking Back America’ church for a while. Never connected with that side of the ministry. The theology was reformed, charismatic, and post-mil. So it was otherwise pretty good.
Sometimes I would poke the pastor with my socialistic political philosophy. He was cool about getting along all the same.
(edit: the pastor was also an evangelist at heart, saved by grace, and under no illusion of his grandeur)
Reading your post, I was also reminded of the fact that the guy who wrote the book on the warrior motif in Scripture, would probably be unwelcome in some of these more unfriendly congregations. Another book of his on political theology, The Bible and the Ballot, is truly heart warming. I have wondered if it’s a word play on The Cross and the Switchblade.
Well stated, Merv. It seems to be all wrapped up together with a tendency towards Christian nationalism, persecution mentality, and such.
That would be Paul. And I agree. I don’t think any congregation today would much appreciate having Paul around for long. But in a sense, we do have him. In spirit and through his letters.
Luke, it is good that you support Biologos and love science. Finding this church might be difficult because, in one church, the pastors, leaders even people may have different views - but they all fellowship together because Christ is central.
Generally, I settle for not at war with science.
What Paul? Not that charismatic, slavery apologist, male chauvinist?
Oh yes. And even if we gave Paul the “contemporary culture sensibility training” that anyone would need before being transplanted across that many centuries, to remove all the offensive edges on the periphery of his messaging - but left the core of Paul’s messaging intact from his letters such as we have; it still wouldn’t soften things much for us, I’m pretty sure. I doubt that the congregation exists today (among any tradition or political stripe) that could much bear his presence for long - or Christ either for that matter. Some non-Catholic people may smugly take Dostoevsky’s “Grand Inquisitor” poem as little more than an indictment against the Catholic church of that time, but I see it as a wider indictment against organized religion generally that will not have lost any of its sting since that time.
Nicely put. Often I see the skin tight pants worn by men and women on the worship stage and carelessly imagine the apostle in that scene from Scent of a Woman.
And I doubt I could hang with him, but you know, his capacity for gracious empowerment could bring about something totally unexpected.