We all have different kinds of fears, I think. In my case, I feel tremendous guilt at times that I played a role (as so many of my generation did) in helping to create this science-denialism false teaching that has made made these origins issues such a terrible stumbling block to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Sometimes I feel angry, even half a century later, about those I sincerely trusted who convinced me to get on that path. I thought they were speaking for God and had honestly presented the evidence to me. They hadn’t. Not even close. (I thought the fact that they held to the same Biblical doctrines as I did made them trustworthy. It didn’t.) Sometimes I still lie awake at night thinking about things I was told that fooled me at the time when I didn’t have the information to know any better. I think of the scriptures about causing stumbling blocks. They were guilty of that and I was guilty. (Fortunately, I believe in grace and forgiveness that comes with repentance. But it still troubles me that my sincerity and prayerfulness didn’t protect me from serious hermeneutical errors and terrible gullibility.)
What disturbs me more is the fact that so many people who claim to be guided by the Holy Spirit within them have informed me via Internet forums and emails that I’m “obviously” a servant of Satan and they look forward to my burning in hell for daring to say that I praise God for all that he has created, including evolutionary processes over millions of years. That venom and their delight in the eternal suffering of others brings to mind those “pious crowds” who used to cheer when someone who dared to translate the Bible (or helped those who did) or who baptized the wrong person roasted in the flames of a public execution. The fact that people believe the wrong things, even silly and stupid things, doesn’t in itself bother me too much. But the fact that such beliefs are accompanied by a seeming loss of humanity and a hateful spirit downright scares me.
I’ve seen enough in my days to understand how Germany followed Hitler into a cruel madness. We fallen humans are capable of all sorts of terrible things. I struggle with why the indwelling Holy Spirit doesn’t make certain kinds of behaviors utterly distasteful to us such that few would even consider such choices. Theologically I know all of the “right” answers to such questions. I’ve even preached on them. But the more I look back on a lifetime of contradictory behaviors I’ve seen from those who name Christ, the more perplexed I feel.
My only answer that ultimately makes sense is “and few there be who find it.”