Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Plea From Dennis Venema

Dennis Venema, who has written many good posts for BioLogos has written an article for the Colossian Forum titled “What I Would Like To Hear A Young-Earth Creationist Say.”  Rather than wax scientifically, he focuses, instead, on the things that we should have in common:
...the most important thing I would like to hear a YEC say to someone of my views isn’t a scientific statement at all – it’s a statement of unity in Christ. It’s the simple “brother” or “sister” that says – “we’re both part of the same family.” Even if we disagree on the mechanism of creation, affirming our unity in Christ needs to be the starting point for the conversation.
For those of us who are Evolutionary creationists/theistic evolutionists, he writes about a hypothetical conversation which, for some of us, is a constant fear:
“So, what do you do for work?”
“I’m a biologist. I teach up at the local Christian university.”

“Oh, really? You must really love the work that (insert the individual’s favorite anti-evolution ministry) does. It’s so good to have Christians like you who fight against evolution.” 

“Well, actually…”
 I have many friends in church to which I dare not bring up the evolution/creation debate.  I remember when one of of my friends from Bible Study was looking at my poster of the Tower of Time, a small version of the one by John Gurche that hung in the Smithsonian for years.  She remarked "How can you believe any of this?"  Implicit in her comment that was the poster represented an anti-God, anti-biblical  view of the world.  How do you bring someone like my friend, who had little to no scientific background, up to speed on the evidence.  Even if you could, would it matter?

Venema suggests (and I agree) that this issue should always be of secondary importance to the call of Christ and the unity that we should feel and express with each other:
So, to my YEC brothers and sisters, I would make this request. Without minimizing the importance of the exegetical issues that the creation/evolution controversy raises, let’s first and foremost sit at the Lord’s table and break bread together, recognizing each other as brothers and sisters in Christ and members of the same body. Those of us who see things from an EC perspective may need to repent of belittling our YEC brothers and sisters as scientifically ignorant or theologically naive. Those of a YEC perspective may need to repent of condemning their EC brothers and sisters as “compromisers” or theologically liberal.
I confess that belittling is easy to do and that is where the problem lies. It is too easy to do that and not to see the unity in Christ. We enjoy arguments and we enjoy disagreements. It gets the blood flowing and the dander up. But at some point, we have to see beyond that. Are the Christians that espouse the YEC viewpoint going to heaven? Yup. Are those of us that are EC going to heaven. I certainly believe so.

Having said all of this, we do have a responsibility to honestly treat the evidence that we encounter and to learn about God's creation from it. That does not change. To point out the variances from this is a worthy cause, but we should never believe that those who espouse those positions are not saved by grace, because, when the dust settles, we are all in need of that. 

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