I lived in Dallas 1987-2012 and attended a variety of evangelical churches over that time, and I didn’t “fit in” at a single one. For me, this was also complicated by the fact that Dallas Seminary graduates are everywhere, so dispensationalism predominates the landscape. End times. Israel. Rapture. Republican politics. Abortion. Evolution. Culture War. If it wasn’t sermons, it was small groups and Sunday school, where the lay leadership takes over. A lot of time spent listening and biting my tongue. Wish I could say that I found the perfect place for you, @jbabraham88, but I couldn’t even find one for myself!
I’ve been in the PCA for over 10 years now. I love it, but then I’m entirely comfortable in a denomination that champions complementarianism and traditional views of marriage, among other things. I love the high view of Scripture and expository style of preaching in the PCA.
I know of several people in the PCA who are ECs and who have served as elders, but not many pastors. They have to be pretty quiet. Yet I have encountered a number of church leaders who are supportive of Christians who accept evolution. That is, you can be an EC and be a member in good standing, but you probably can’t serve as pastor and likely not as elder or deacon.
There was a study on creation done in 2000, which was about the spectrum of views on the nature of the days of creation in Genesis 1. It wasn’t formally about evolution, but there were several negative mentions of it. Yet this was long before BioLogos existed and evolutionary creation was well known. Now there are many evangelicals who have this view.
This study report isn’t binding, but it does carry a lot of weight. It is below Scripture and the Westminster Standards in terms of authority. My understanding is that for ordination, you have to state any exceptions you have to the Westminster Standards, and you have to do some pretty creative interpretation to be able to affirm all of it and accept an old earth and evolution.
In any case, I have had mostly great experiences in the two PCA churches of which I have been a member since being on staff at BioLogos. My husband and I have been very upfront with the church leadership in both cases about what we believe, and why, and what I do vocationally. I’ve also tried to not be pushy - I would be willing to teach a seminar or class if asked, but I’ve never asked to teach nor have I been asked. (I did lead a science/faith discussion group for a couple of years, but that wasn’t a formal ministry advertised by our church). That said, it’s not like it’s ever been a secret - I talk to anyone who expresses an interest about BioLogos and how evolution can fit with the Bible, and I have mostly been met with interest and lively conversation.
PCA and Adam Theology
The AME Church ordains those who are EC, but you have a whole different set of issues there.
However do not forget that Black Churches are Protestant Christian also.
The Southern Baptist landscape has changed a bit too. The SBC remains quite under the control of conservatives, but the Texas state organization (BGCT)is fairly moderate, and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship has broken away to have a fairly (for Texas) liberal flavor. Not to mention, a lot of the “non-denominational” churches that seem to predominate in some areas are really “Baptist” in theology and often in affiliation when you look at the fine print. That of course is a simplified version.
Spent about five weeks interviewing a PCA youth pastor who went to Westminster Theol Sem. Also heard from another PCA pastor from Florida. A lot of YECS in the PCA, including ordinands. Starting off in Alabama in 1973, the denomination has a strain of Southern fundamentalism in it still. Still also trying to deal with its initial opposition to civil rights.
The Tim Keller thing is rocking the PCA today. His Manhattan context directly contrasts with the Concerned Presbyterians who denounced interracial marriage with flyers on the cars of PCA attendees at a recent meeting. Only time will tell what Keller’s influence will do to this very heterogeneous denomination.
Sometimes I wish Baylor’s biology department was in Dallas instead of 90 miles away.
I greatly beneffitted from the singles ministry at Redeemer Presbyterian in Winston-Salem in the 1990s. But then around 2005 Norman Geisler I think made a comment about Hitler and Darwin on behalf of Probe Ministries at this church, and I heard some Wake Forest biology people might have walked out. Whoever invited Probe didn’t realize the congregation had become so heterogeneous.
I participated in an attempt to reconcile the parties by giving historical context at a multi-speaker seminar. A theologian from RTS named Douglas Kelly was upset with me due to my evaluation of his Genesis commentary over a three-way conference call with the pastors. I was doing my grad school work in Florida at the time.
Kelly and I sat together at a meal the night before the seminar of reconcilation. instead of attacking his YEC position, I told him a story about being a Yale biology student from YEC WV who heard about ID through Cru and couldn’t make any sense as to what to believe about science as a Christian.
He said in response, “I never thought of it that way.”
Narrative is missing from this national debate. Personal narrative. Goes a long way.
I did precisely the same thing recently with an older homeschooling dad who had been a member for many years at ICR’s home church in southern California. We had been in a small group together working through the Truth Project, and after I bristled a bit at some of the evolution comments in it (tactfully, but out loud), he approached me at the end of the meeting and said he’d love to get together sometime and talk about all that. So, with much fear and trembling, I started out just sharing my story with him, including my church-cultural background through youth and college, my struggles with doubt when I moved away to the big multicultural city, the things that had helped me work through those doubts and various origins issues, and a little bit about how I reconcile things like death before the fall. I even included my challenges with things in Scripture that I feel like I’m still trying to understand better. I had to clarify (hearing echoes of @Christy here) that I wasn’t letting science trump Scripture but trying to let Scripture say what Scripture was saying in context. But overall, I think he was really surprised by the whole narrative… I don’t think I fit his narrative for what a “theistic evolutionist” looked like. One of the most satisfying theological discussions I’ve had in a long time. Couldn’t agree with you more.
I don’t know why personal narrative has not been emphasized as part of the Christian conversation across the YEC-ID-EC spectrum, especially in rural locations like Arkansas and Louisiana and the Dover area, where neighbors stopped speaking to one another according to Lauri Lebo.
There’s always Dallas Baptist Univ., though I have no idea whether they’re YEC Baptists or more moderate. If you’re inclined toward private schools with religious affiliation, Dallas also has SMU and the Univ. of Dallas (Catholic), and Ft. Worth has TCU and Texas Wesleyan.
The church we attended had quite a few DBU faculty and staff. (And YEC was never promoted from the pulpit there.) We were in an ABF with a guy who is pretty high up in the DBU administration and we had a really interesting conversation at a pool party about how the inerrancy issue has played out there among the faculty. Several (himself included) had pretty strong opinions about it. (Faculty currently don’t have to sign any statement of faith that includes an inerrancy affirmation.) He was a deacon at our church and had made it very clear that he did not accept strict inerrancy before they put him on the deacon board, and I guess it wasn’t an issue. I don’t think the college has a position on creationism. Mark Bloom, one of the biology profs recently published an article on mitigating tension with conservative students in the South when teaching evolution. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1057%2F978-1-349-95139-0_7 So, I would imagine the science dept is like many at Christian colleges where the faculty have a certain perspective as science professionals and they have to navigate carefully with parents and students who have a very different perspective.
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