Seeking your stories: Thinking about a YEC class in an influential megachurch in Dallas


(josh abraham) #1

I have been invited to a YEC class at a huge megachurch here in Dallas called Lakepointe.

On the east side of Dallas, this must be the most influential church system. It has several satellite campuses; the total Christmas Eve attendance was 42,000; it is very sociologically savvy about singles, addicts, and divorced couples.

YEC dominates most conservative Protestant churches I have seen in Dallas. ID occaisonally does appear, as Stephen Meyer spoke to an audience of about 300 at a Church of Christ here.

Evolutionary creationism? Haven’t seen any evidence of it at all among Protestants I have met here. Maybe that is an exaggeration, as the conversation about science has not always come up.

These culture warriors seem to be acting out of a desire to save America from evolution and its social impacts as they perceive them. They see their antievolutionism as redemptive, as part of Christian faithfulness to tear down the wisdom of the world, replacing it with the “foolishness” of the Gospel.

I cannot figure out what kind of battle this is, and who the opposition is.

But I am seeing these types of antievolutionist classes pop up regularly in the neighborhood here, taught normally by intelligent and zealous laymen usually not informed by a sense of historical context.

If you have any stories about engaging this type of individual in this type of church context, it would be a great help.

I will try to respond to your replies within about four days.


(Christy Hemphill) #2

My advice would be not to get bogged down with the science. People can look into that if they are interested, and information is readily available.

Emphasize valuing God’s word, loving Scripture, wanting to hear what God has to say for us in Scripture, etc, and talk about good hermeneutics, understanding the ancient context, the message God was delivering to his people. The more you can show respect for the Bible and its authority, the more you will resonate with your audience, even if you are advocating a different interpretation. The first thing you say that could be heard as “science trumps the Bible,” you will lose people.


(Phil) #3

I find that most people do not really know what the landscape is, they just “know” what they have been told. As such, I think if invited to such a meeting, I would spend my time on educating folks on what the different views are, perhaps making a chart of the various views, what they tend to believe, and the theological problems that each view must address. I think there are some good ideas along that line in the book “Origins” and something like this, though I would add ID and make a section for concordist vs non-concordist.

I think my goal would not be to try to convince them of any one position, but rather to help them see that Christians hold a broad range of views on these issues, and still are faithful to Christ. If that message could be accepted, the rest is gravy.

By the way, I see the chart I linked was made by an RTB person, and while I have not read it in detail, it seems pretty fairly presented. One thing it does not list is theological hurdles each position has to clear, and again think the Origins book is a good place to start in looking at that.


(James McKay) #4

I don’t personally expect anyone to accept evolution or an ancient earth. I merely take the line that if they are going to adopt a YEC position, they are being honest in how they approach it, that they know what they are talking about, and that their facts are straight. Rejecting science may be faith, but misrepresenting science is lying, and ridiculous, easily falsified, or ignorant claims will merely undermine their credibility in the eyes of anyone who happens to check.

I’d start off by asking them how to tell the difference between good arguments and bad arguments. The fact of the matter is that the YEC scene is awash with arguments that are so ignorant and so blatantly false that they sound more like some kind of parody than the real thing. If they want to present their case with any credibility, they need to have a bonfire of the bad arguments.


#5

I have seen a few posts like yours, and each one pushes me closer to purchasing and reading “Anti-Intellectualism in American Life” by Richard Hofstadter. It won quite a few awards, including the Pulitzer. What intrigues me most is the year of publication: 1963. From what little I have heard about the book, it goes into why anti-intellectualism has become as popular as it is in America, and it echoes many of the political struggles we are still having.


(Mervin Bitikofer) #6

On a hopeful note, there are megachurches (or at least one that I’m about to name, which I hope is not an isolated example) that take a level-headed approach to science.

I’ve followed some of the sermons of Adam Hamilton (United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Kansas City) and have been impressed. (As a side note, he is only now finishing up a series on Christianity and how it relates to other world religions – many here would really benefit/enjoy/be provoked by his kick-off sermon, “The Wise Men” in this series.) I don’t know if his church qualifies as a “megachurch” by Texas standards, but I guess their membership is now around 22,000, for those who are impressed by such things.

But what really ties this post to this thread is Hamilton’s take on evolution. I was naturally curious what his stance on that would be, and found this sermon he preached back in 2005 titled “Where did we come from? Apes, Evolution, Adam and Eve.” It’s an mp3 download (I guess they weren’t posting videos yet back then.) But dated as this will be, he said much to his church that I think @Swamidass and many others here would find hopeful and intriguing. And he reaches out to young-earthers and IDers, in ways that many here ought to admire [even if they think he’s being too generous, but you’re wanting to see how somebody reaches out here, right?] – even as dated as this sermon will be with regard to much ID nuance (and detraction) that has developed since then.

Texas may be a different political creature than Kansas, to be sure. But I can’t imagine urban Texas to be all that different from urban Kansas. We are pretty red here too after all. So the fact that his church thrives as a mainline congregation with the truth being preached is something I find encouraging.


#7

My best experiences come from talking about “what really matters”:

  1. Addressing the concerns that become roadblocks for the scientifically minded, preventing them from coming to Jesus because of the fear of having to reject something they believe to be true–namely, evolution. When talking to “literalists,” I ask how God created the animals; they almost invariably say, “God spoke them into being.” I try to nicely point out that they are actually not taking it literally since God commands the ground to produce animals. This allows a crack, not for them, per se, but for an allowance for the evolutionist to come to Jesus.

  2. Talking to high school students about “what is essential in the Gospel message.” “Not believing in evolution” is not in there, whether you’re talking about the actual New Testament version of the Good News, or even the more simplistic “Four Spiritual Laws” version.

In both of those cases, it’s not about the person having to believe evolution or reject YEC; it’s about giving the skeptic the opportunity to come to Jesus without imposing unnecessary barriers. Forcing someone to reject evolution is an unnecessary barrier…

That said, I’m planning on doing a series on the first few chapters in Genesis in church in a couple of months (yes, probably a predominantly YEC perspective, although I’ve never done a survey) and I plan on doing it without even introducing the YEC vs. evolution framework. Let’s talk about what it really says…


#8

In Canada, any church over 1,000 is “quite large,” so…


#9

[quote=“jbabraham88, post:1, topic:37954, full:true”]
I have been invited to a YEC class at a huge megachurch here in Dallas called Lakepointe.

I cannot figure out what kind of battle this is, and who the opposition is.[/quote]

Hi Josh

It would be helpful if you could provide more context to your OP.
It reads like you’ve been invited to make a presentation. I doubt you’ve been invited to do battle with anyone.

Regardless, reading the OP “literally”, go be a guest, represent Jesus with integrity. If you’ve been invited to make a presentation then we’d need to know just what you’ve been asked to present. Without more context all we can do is speculate,

Kind regards, Larry


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #10

John 1:1-14 (NIV2011)
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 He was with God in the beginning.
3 Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.
14 The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, Who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.


(josh abraham) #11

Yes, thank you. I think you are very right the first bit of common ground is a general respect shared about the supernatural nature of the Bible.


(josh abraham) #12

Thank you for this PDF resource and your testimony. Every narrative and experience helps.


(josh abraham) #13

Hofstadter looks at evangelicalism much like the film Inherit the Wind does. He talks about Billy Graham I believe as a populist fundamentalist.


(josh abraham) #14

I have wanted to visit Kansas to study the battle over science standards and ID. Thanks for the narrative. It is good to hear BioLogos has some presence in such a conservative state.


(josh abraham) #15

YECs tell me it is all about Adam and the theology of salvation. it is all of one piece, as they see Genesis as foundational to the NT and hope in Revelation. Thanks for advice.


(josh abraham) #16

The Canada years I spent were at Regent College in Vancouver. It was really something to see the controversy over evolution played out in that context. We organized a three-way dialogue among YEC, ID—we had a speaker come directly from the Discovery Institute in Seattle—and EC. I will never forget that, and it has been 15 years.


(josh abraham) #17

I should ask first–what does OP stand for? It is “original post”?

I have not actually been invited to give any kind of presentation. I have just been invited by a former Cru director who enthusiastically supports YEC and does not know I am EC.


#18

That’s a beautiful location. I was there just the once, I think, to sit in on a writing symposium with Madeleine L’Engle.


#19

Hi Josh

I’ve always thought “op” stands for opening post. I think original post or opening post works.

For what it’s worth, having read this thread and your reply to my post, since you are going as a visitor I’d treat it much as I would going to a church whose theology was far different than my own. Ask questions for clarification but don’t engage. Be a visitor to a foreign culture.

It would be interesting to read your reflections after your visit. And would be fun to read your report if you out yourself to your friend.

Larry Schmidt (Regent College 1985)


(josh abraham) #20

Here comes the report. A new OP.