Pastor Rejects Evolution Theory

I go to a modern church with a fairly educated congregation and a wonderful pastor. Our pastor recently released material on several topics he felt needful to address. One of which, to my surprise, was the rejection of evolution theory.

I have considered approaching the pastor and sharing biologos and the possibility of harmony between world views. I am afraid doing so may result in negative consequences.

Any advice? Thanks!

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If I felt there could be negative consequences just from bringing this issue up politely and respectfully, I would be compelled to prayerfully consider if I was in the right church. If a Pastor gets upset at you for merely sharing a perspective like this I think there is a deeper issue at work. There should be nothing wrong with sharing your perspective with your pastor in a respectful manner.

On the flipside, if you are getting wonderful sermons that bring you closer to God and this pastor is not grinding a young-earth creationism axe from the pulpit, you might consider letting it go. It stinks when an authority person sends out misinformation to many people. But it happens very often.

Vinnie

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I think that the best approach is to make your concerns about bad arguments in particular, and not about a wholescale rejection of evolution. I know that ID gets a bit of a bad press round here, but I don’t think it’s wise to approach the subject with an attitude of “evolution is a fact, get over it.” Instead, hold out the possibility that there may be a case to be made for intelligent design, but explain that if there is, it needs to meet certain expectations, such as being based on accurate and honest weights and measures (Deuteronomy 25:13-16). There are some arguments for ID that sound pretty convincing to anyone who doesn’t have a strong grasp of evolutionary theory, but there are others that are quite frankly so bad that they sound more like an atheist parody than like genuine creationist apologetics, and it is probably those howlers that you should be most concerned about.

You may find this series of blog posts that I wrote about how to challenge a scientific theory helpful in understanding what an accurate and honest critique of evolution would look like:

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“Hello, Pastor Joe. I have given a lot of thought about how to be faithful to God and to His word while also respecting the work of those who feel called to practice science in the academic world. Would you be interested in hearing my perspective?”

Or something like that.

Best,
Chris Falter

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Truth tell, your concern may be well founded. If anti-evolution is a major theme, myself, I would just find another fellowship; otherwise there may be merit in just refraining from initiating that discussion and focusing on spiritual growth.

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Thank you for your thoughtful response! I agree it is a disappointment because it makes me feel isolated from the congregation as this was presented in “I believe, therefore we believe” framework.

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Well, first I would say that it was probably unwise on the pastor’s behalf to make a secondary issue a pulpit matter. There is such a wide variety of views, it is tough for unity. But, there it is, and evidently he felt led to do so for whatever reason. He may be misinformed, or depending on the denomination, feels he has to support his party line.
In any case, if it bothers you, you have to either decide whether to accept him holding a contrary position to yours, and look for the areas you agree, or whether to discuss it further to see if he can at least accept that evolution is compatible with a faithful Christian belief, even if he disagrees. If he cannot, it sort of forces you to leave.
My current pastor avoids the subject, and I have avoiding asking him his views, as I do not want to endanger his ministry by backing him in a corner on it. We have fairly vocal YEC folk, quite a few progressive creationists (ala Hugh Ross) and some ID folk I know of, as well as a few of us EC people. Most of the time, all get along and do well together, though I admit to feeling like I live on the outskirts of the village most of the time.

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Great advice and a great read. Thank you for your response!

I think I struggle between knowing when to speak up, creating possible conflict and when to stand firm in my beliefs, ready to discuss if pointedly asked. I don’t aim to change his mind per say, but I would like it if the floor for discussion remained open.

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It was the first time I’ve heard it addressed. My pastor delivers great messages all-in-all.

I know personally, my eyes were opened to the harmony that could be achieved between intellect and faith by CS Lewis. Prior to that I had very little interest in means of creation. Evolution or not, I just didn’t care. It seems unfortunate that he would take a stance in making what to me seems more of a personal worldview (not of personal salvation consequence) and present it as a matter of spiritual alignment with God’s word.

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Libby Anne’s story might be worth considering.

Libby Anne was raised in an ultraorthodox creationist household. She describes herself as being one of the most knowledgeable high schoolers when it came to creationism. Then she went to college and had to face the reality of science that her homeschooling had protected her from. Her faith fell apart because of how important her parents and others had made creationism.

I think it would be helpful to at least discuss how creationism is not a requirement for being a Christian so that people won’t give up on their faith when their beliefs about creationism have to face the reality of the science.

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Secondary issue to matters of salvation, precisely.

I’ve always felt destined to live on the outskirts of the mainstream in many aspects, so I am right there with you on that one. However, I am thankful for the community Biologos provides!

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Perhaps you could write a question for the pastor:

How would you navigate a conversation with someone claimed to be a Christian and also accepted evolution?

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Interesting statement, in that even Ken Ham promotes speciation after the “kinds” left the ark. It appears he is not very knowledgeable about science or the discussion over origins in general, but only his particular point of view.
Another tactic might be to give him a book like Origins by the Drs. Haarsma which points out some of theological problems of each approach and ask his opinion. His statement seems to support his looking for science in the Bible, so it would be interesting to know what he thinks of Dr. Lamoureux’s book The Bible and Ancient Science.

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Great recommendation! I will look into it for myself as well. I find the average person (even college educated) has a rudimentary understanding of the science of creation. I know I did until recently stumbling across Biologos.

Now I look at things like trees and seashells and find it does make a nice subtle difference, considering the world as billions of years in the making as opposed to…how many, exactly? Apparently I never seemed to care before! I find that’s the case for many.

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Now that’s precisely the question I’m afraid to know the answer to! I think it’s one worth asking, though. Especially considering a huge portion of the congregation attend the local university.

This general sort of problem is precisely why I generally avoid the subject of hobbies outside of academic/scientific environments (I live in the rural south), as one of my primary ones is invertebrate paleontology (“hobby” in the sense of “I enjoy it, and am not getting paid to spend time working on it”). The particular field I am in is Plio-Pleistocene mollusks of the southeastern United States, which are among the deposits least reconcilable to a YEC position, given the high number of primarily marine layers in a clear sequence, based on stratigraphy and faunas alone.

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In my experience it comes down to this. Hopefully you and your pastor, and the rest of your congregation, are close enough to a loving family model that it’s ok to voice a difference in opinion on a specific subject every now and then. We also need to be mature enough to understand deconstruction can take years and requires the other party to do significant studying on their own. It won’t change in a few conversations if they are not already leaning that way. We also need to remember the issue of “ being right versus being righteous “. I can be right and correct everyone everytime I hear them misrepresent science or theology on and I can be right so much that it’s unrighteous. Sometimes it’s perfectly fine to voice your opinion and sometimes it’s perfectly fine to stay silent and look past it.

The majority of my congregation are YEC who are fairly pro Trump and what I consider far right. Maybe 2/3rds are like that. The remaining half seems to be some sort of ID with old earth views snd fall slightly right of the middle. The remaining bit is split with almost directly middle and slightly left snd open to evolution being true. So as someone that’s fairly left politically and believe in evolution and even go to the point that I don’t believe God created us on purpose at all and we are by chance and he took advantage of it and reached out once we evolved I am often isolated in views. If I constantly attacked them , or even just constantly talked about my views it would be divisive. I would be right, but I would not be acting righteous.

So my balance is that unless directly asked I only bring up my political views and my scientific understanding 3-4 times a year in front of the whole congregation. At the end of every service for about 15 minutes the entire floor is opened for everyone to ask questions or counter statements made during the service. Then for about 10 minutes after that we do a “ live bulletin “ of which the floor is open for everyone to mention what they are doing and if anyone wants to be part of it. Such as in a few minutes I’ll be bouncing because last Sunday I mentioned at a local store that sells comics and they do games like D&D , play cards games like gathering and so on is playing part two of the Fear Street trilogy. 2 disciples
From the church are going to meet me there. Though I’m not going Sunday after church a group of like 9 people are driving an hour away to some restaurant that will be going out of business is having a buffet and so they are all going there. So a few times a year I’ll mention something that is coming up at the IMAX or some cool hike thst will be focused on natural history or something evolution focused and if anyone wants to come they can.

Outside of that I just don’t bring it up, even when they are, and will only speak up if someone directly asks me. With that said there are many disciples that one on one we talk about it almost weekly. But it’s private and not before everyone.

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Typically our priests here dont care at all about anything their congregation believes or does for.They might assume some things but they keep them to themselves.Maybe gathering some other members who hold the same belief and go confront him in a good manner might work

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Would the pastor view it as a secondary issue?

Unfortunately I face a similar situation. It is actually written in the church doctrine statement, which members must agree to. I gather that means they do think it is an issue of primary importance. Probably related to their idea of Scriptural infallibility?

I am still praying and learning and waiting to be prompted to raise the matter. But thus far, I don’t think “this is an unnecessary secondary issue” is going to be persuasive, on its own anyway.

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“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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