Friday, December 04, 2009

Focus on the Family and the Truth Project

Steve Martin over at An Evangelical Dialogue on Evolution, has written a post about the new Truth Project that is being initiated by Focus on the Family. It is a call to "speak the truth in love." He writes:
Focus on the Family is promoting their “Truth Project” to churches and small groups. A quick look at the lesson overview shows that, ironically, the Truth Project doesn’t seem to put much stock in truth when it comes to science (see lesson 5). For example, this lesson states that “Darwinian theory transforms science from the honest investigation of nature into a vehicle for propagating a godless philosophy”. Completely untrue.
Daily we run across a creationist who has no clue about the fossil record spouting nonsense. What do we, as Christians do about it? Well, I write this blog, hoping it will reach out to people that are curious, questioning or searching. Steve says that maybe that is not enough:
Given what has been said above, I would like to propose a guideline for when we as ECs should NOT remain silent. When either 1) a Christian organization in which we participate or 2) our local Church officially promote anti-evolutionary views, I believe that we must speak up. In this instance, we must “speak the truth in love” and provide the message that:

a) the scientific evidence for common descent is massive
b) the acceptance of biological evolution is compatible with an evangelical expression of the Christian faith

For us to remain silent in these circumstances would be a disservice to the gospel. It would be unloving to our brothers and sisters who are being told that their faith rests on a specific view of science that is demonstrably false.
If you have followed this blog for any period of time, you know that I have been leaning the same direction. My problem is that I have come, increasingly, to view the young earth creation model as a radical misinterpretation of the scriptures. I have, however, tempered on my thinking that it might be a modern-day heresy.

I just had a long conversation with my boss about the concept of heresy and his perspective (and I see the wisdom of it) is that as long as a core teaching of scripture is not being violated (think creeds, here) it is not heresy. Different interpretations of Genesis fall in to this category, since the omnipotence and immanence of God is not being debated. However, for me to say that someone who thinks that the world was created 6 000 years ago is not saved is clearly wrong. But I have seen people use that belief as an article of faith and salvation. I will speak up about that!

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  1. Hi Jim,
    I think you are bang-on. I too gladly accept those brothers and sisters in Christ whose view of origins & interpretation of Genesis differ from mine. The problem is when someone says that the gospel mandates a 6-day creation week; THAT we do need to speak out against because that is an addition (and a very bad one) to the gospel.

  2. But I have seen people use that belief as an article of faith and salvation. I will speak up about that!
    I am curious why someone would make belief in a 6k year old earth a matter of salvation. Certainly their theological position has to trump any scientific evidence. So how do we make the case for b) the acceptance of biological evolution is compatible with an evangelical expression of the Christian faith?
    In fact, it seems we need to advocate for something stonger: that an interpretation of Genesis that allows for evolution is more faithful to an orthodox understanding of God's Word. How does one make that case? Perhaps for some a) the scientific evidence for common descent is massive is part of that.
    But I would suggest that the view they hold of the messenger is critical. So the way we "speak up" is every bit as important as what we say. As FotF reminds us: Speak the truth in love. Both for the sake of the person we are addressing, and for all those reading the post.

  3. At the RATE conference in 2005, Gary Parker said something like the following (paraphrased): "The creation/evolution issue is not a side issue; it is a fundamental salvation issue. Evolution is an enormous stumbling block and 'millions-of-years' is a big part of the problem."

    Ironically, he also said the following (once again, paraphrased): "Live by God's Word, not man's opinion. The biggest temptation is the one used on Eve in the Garden of Eden: God gave you a brain – use it."

    Question: if we are not to use our brains that God has given us, what was the point of the RATE conference? In fact, what is the point of the whole YEC movement?

  4. Steve, how is the ESE coming?

  5. It seems that, in light of things like the "Truth Project," which might sweep through churches across the nation, a forthright response like the ESE would be perfect.

  6. If you don't accept a literal interpretation of Genesis, then you are simply playing with the Bible making it say whatever you want. The number of literal interpretations are very limited.

    Calvin for good reason called anything but a literal interpretation to be Satanic because it undermines the authority of Scripture.

    Genesis was written as history and records history all the way through. The history is also provided with songs of worship throughout the book.

    Darwinian evolution also has zero demonstration of all of its tenants. Once they actually start doinng science, I will let you know; otherwise, you are simply propagating an illusion that has no scientific demonstration relying solely on educated guesses.

    If Darwinian evolution was really ongoing, we should see it ongoing at this time; however, it just doesn't exist anywhere in the natural world. We observe mutations all the time which have no effect on the kind of thing that it is.

    Before you can even consider natural selection, you first have to have a mutation system that actually can create new functional information that is beneficial to the organism. This has never been done.

    Darwinian Evolution is merely a myth at this time that belongs in the realm of abstract theory.

  7. Nobody takes the entire bible literally. They just don't. Paul Marston writes a great paper in which he explores how best to understand the creation passages in light of Jesus' and Paul's teachings. He concludes that "The "slipper slope" argument is unnecessarily paranoid, and this distorts sound interpretation." For example, he writes:

    The unleavened bread at the last supper was no more “literally” the body of Christ than he “literally” came down from heaven as a piece of bread. And for those non-Catholics who claim to “take Scripture literally” there are some further thoughts. The word “body” is used 41 times in the gospels. In 38 of them it is clearly meant literally – but this does not imply that this is true for “Take, eat, this is my body”. Language is just not like this. The whole force of a spiritual and symbolic meaning is that the word(s) used also have a literal meaning - the way to determine whether a literal or symbolic meaning is intended is to look at the context.

    In another place, he discusses how Henry Morris, in his book The Genesis Record, demands a strictly literal interpretation of the scriptures and then proceeds to show many places where he does not do so. I would encourage you to read this paper. It is a fresh perspective.

    As far as evolution is concerned, you have, once again, demonstrated that you are not interested in looking at the evidence. You come back with statements like "Darwinian Evolution is merely a myth at this time that belongs in the realm of abstract theory" without a shred of evidence for your position. If you don't want to look at the evidence for evolution, at least have the decency to say so.