This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://biologos.org/blogs/chris-stump-equipping-educators/student-ministry-in-a-scientific-age
It’s a privilege to share @Ryan’s story today. In the past on this blog, we’ve talked about the reality that many youth pastors feel underprepared and under-resourced to deal with science but here’s one example of someone moving forward anyway. We welcome your questions or comments about his experience.
I enjoyed reading this. My dad was a chemistry professor for many years, and was also one of the strongest believers I’ve known. He grew discouraged by the mutual distrust that he saw between people in these two spheres of his life, and prepared a presentation that he used to share with church groups. He called it “[To Know and Believe].” I hope you don’t mind, I’ve included a link to where you can read his essay.
Your blog entry caught my eye because the final paragraph is so similar to something that Dad wrote:
“If truth is to be found at all, then it must be God’s truth. For this reason, Christians are not threatened by any scientific theory and should not look to science as an advocate with regard to matters that properly fall within the spiritual realm. Think about that for a minute. If the theory of evolution was proved to be correct, would your faith in God be endangered? Does your belief in the Bible rest upon the premise that the earth is very young? Is your relationship with God centered on the issue of whether the six days of Genesis 1 are literal days or not? I’m not saying that Christians should change their beliefs to accommodate popular scientific opinions. However, we must not discount scientific discoveries on the prejudiced thesis that only certain kinds of truth are acceptable to God.”
Best wishes in your ministry, and best of luck. When it comes to discussing some of these hot topics, there’s room at the table for us all, as long as we’re all willing to make room!
I appreciate your kind words! I understanding the feeling, it can be quite discouraging to see how some react to this discussion. Thanks for including a link to your dad’s essay, I look forward to reading that as I really enjoyed the excerpt you included. I think sometimes we miss what Genesis One is really trying to communicate by getting wrapped up in the age debate. Appreciate your insight, and I agree, there’s always room at the table for respectful dialogue…and I’m bringing the pizza!
I’m not sure I saw any clarification on exactly how you approach the science/religion talk or what the position is.
Thanks for the comment. I mentioned my position in the introduction paragraph. I was the one presenting a case in the presentation for Evolutionary Creationism…or theistic evolution. The other position was a general Old Earth Progressive stance since many students already knew about YEC. But, you’re right, I didn’t mention how to approach the science/religion discussion, rather, in this post I simply talked about a few reasons why student ministers or youth leaders should approach the discussion. I am glad you brought this up because in my future post I will be discussing some ideas on how to bring it up. Hope this brings some clarification.
It seems to me that this is only a problem to those clergymen who hold on to the Young Earth Creationist position. Those who hold Progressive Creation views and Evolutionary Creation or other Theistic Evolution views do not have problems with this.
Thank you for sharing your experience of being a risk taker in your role as a youth pastor. I live in a country so far away from United States, and awareness of science and latest scientific findings among the youths are not as intense as in your place . However, I believe, sooner or later due to a vast development of information technology, the youths here will experience the same thing too.
I have been trying to communicate that issue with our pastors here. However, I don’t think changes will happen soon. The theological institutions from where they graduated taught them Intelligent Design or Creation Science.
My questions are:
Are you a top leader in the organization hierarchy of your church? If not, could you tell me your experience in convincing your top leader(s) to allow you to discuss this topic in the youth sermons? What are the sources or (and) arguments that you used to convince them? Did you make a comprehensive programme for this topic or it was just one of the topics to be discuss within a year?
I think I would agree with you. The problem I think is that the majority of clergy are YEC who are dogmatic (in a way) with their view. At least in the area I’m located (Bible Belt). So, I agree that generally people who hold either Progressive Creation or Evolutionary views don’t have much of a problem with this, there is however, a big concern among those who do hold “dogmatically” to YEC.
Even in the Bible Belt, there are progressive denominations that do not use Evolution (or Creationism) as a litmus test. It just takes a lot more work to find one you like.
Thanks for your comment! If you don’t mind me asking, what country are you from? I think that’s good you have an idea of what may come and you approached your pastor about it. I’d like to encourage you to take it slow. Change with-in church people (at least from my perspective) seems to go slowly. That’s not always a bad thing.
To answer some of your questions, I am the student minister at our church. I report directly to the pastor. When I presented this to my students I did it in such a way that I made sure they knew I wasn’t trying to force them to accept something, rather, I was showing them two other views other than YEC that was completely acceptable in the Christian faith. I made sure they knew where to seek resources for either position, what most people in our church probably held, etc. I am planning on making a series of blog post here on BioLogos about some ideas of “how” to bring this up with students if you’re interested. Hope this helps you.
I agree there are some. I was just speaking from my own experience and observation.
Yes, there is truth in what you say. I always try to be optimistic. Surely, we are living in a time of turmoil; however, God’s loving Spirit is always here. Keep that in mind. I attend a little Southern Baptist Church in the state of Virginia. It is a very nice place, and I would like to believe that God uses me there. There are different views concerning creation; however, it is not a litmus test for one’s salvation.
What a great reminder Henry. God surely can use anyone regardless of the position we hold. I too serve in a southern baptist church. How God created the universe certainly is not a salvation issue but an important topic for respectful and productive dialogue but not division. I hope all is well with your church family.
It is Brother Ryan. God bless.
Thanks for your reply. I am from Indonesia, a country consists of many exotic and beautiful islands .
You are right, getting the changes slowly is not always a bad thing. There are many aspects of our doctrines that will be affected when we view the world from the perspective of natural evolutionary process. Those affected aspects need explanations (the ones that BioLogos community is still working on).
I look forward to your next blog posts to get more ideas! Thank you. God bless your ministry.
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@Ryan, I don’t believe there should even be a perception that the Bible is forcing us to choose between itself and science. I say this because there is a valid third option, Covenant Creation.
CC teaches that Genesis 1 is not about a physical creation of the universe. Studying the writings in Hebrew, instead of English, and taking into account the style of writing of ancient near East texts, we see that the writer wrote the creation story in a figurative narrative, that it is about the first covenant man, Adam, not about the first human.
If interested, one can find more details about it at this address.
looks like the topic is recycled to bring it to the attention of the facebook audience. still a valid move and I hope you primed Ryan that he is aware and interactive on the subject.
Having missed it at the time I would only comment that it might be useful to introduce the students to the basic philosophy of science to explain that science is founded in axioms derived from theology, e.g. the believe in ultimate causality and that from the ultimate cause of our universe reality was bound by laws to have an order that allows us to comprehend reality. If you deny those axioms you remove your justification to do science.
Now if you can connect to this ultimate cause on a personal level or not is a question of capabilities and experience. Some find it hard but can still manage to obtain a intellectually satisfactory worldview. Others struggle with the entire concept as it defies their ego to accept that there is an authority higher than themself as they battled so hard in puberty to reach the delusion to have authority over the self that they are not willing to let go of it. We can only pity those stuck in puberty, as the wisdom of growing old and coming to peace with reality is to accept this higher authority and thus come back to God.
After all, the problem of puberty is the Fall in a nutshell, the rejection of authority over the self in the disobedience to the command thus to become an individual self. The skilled reader will notice that God does not say that he will kill Adam and Eve when they disobey his command, but that they will suffer death. This is not a threat of punishment but the explanation of the logical consequence of separation from God, like you will explain to your child that if you touch the high voltage cable that it will die. If you are with God you can not suffer death - as Jesus demonstrated. He did not die to please God, but to show us that you cannot suffer death if you are with God as he gives you the strength to endure anything. And do not think you have to walk around in the mangled body you leave behind, nor that you will get back the body that you fancy most, but imagine yourself as a spirit that can be anything. To live forever is the art to learn to live in any heart.