October will feature a meet called “The Vibrant Dance of Faith & Science II in Houston, Texas, offering “respectful conversation” about “Creation: Biblical Options, a gracious dialogue.” Co-sponsored by Christianity Today International and Fuller Theological Seminary, the literature features Senior Editor Andy Crouch welcoming prospectiveattendees, asking “Why is it so important for Christians to be able to discuss these issues with Grace?”:
Cultural assumptions are all the more fascinating when one doesn’t share them. Consider these:
🙄 The editors at Christianity Today recently portrayed Adam and Eve (whom Christians worldwide have assumed to be our parents) in a coarse way, to stress that they are really kin to apes – not perfect creations of God. Yet they assume the role, with no sense of irony whatever, of moral authority about “gracious” and “respectful.” Could you cut this with a chain saw? A laser?
Other cultural assumptions that I, for one, don’t share: Crouch goes on:
Christianity and science are like neighbors who share a long, contested border. At stake in the way we relate to our scientific “neighbors” are matters of ultimate concern, including the credibility of Christianity and the flourishing of human beings as the image bearers of the world’s Creator and Lord. Yet, precisely because of our faith, we are able to engage these significant issues with grace instead of legalism, hope instead of fear, and love for our neighbors, both in the secular world and within the diversity of the Christian community.
🙄 Ultimate concern for “credibility” in the eyes of the world? Being all too familiar with the Velvet Oppression (which Christianity Today itself published!), I am not the least concerned with credibility. People decide to be Christians when they discover facts that I can’t represent for them, no matter what. Any time Christians must impose a new vision, we look incredible (and dangerous) to the guardians of dead ideas. And so? You thought you would look like the young Marlon Brando?
🙄 grace instead of legalism, hope instead of fear, and love for our neighbors, both in the secular world and within the diversity of the Christian community. I’m for legalism and fear, myself. In my neck of the woods, more churches close from grace than from legalism, and from hope than from fear.
Stray thought: As soon as a pastor starts telling you that his church isn’t about sin, leave. That’s like a doctor telling you his hospital isn’t about illness. Then why go there if you’re sick?
Has anyone noticed how legalistic doctors and nurses are when it comes to illness and injury? They go overboard. They drive you crazy. They make you feel guilty about little things that probably don’t matter. Half the time they are wrong. But the more laid back people the conferees like so much better will be group hugging “against a backdrop of interpretive dance” at your funeral. Your life. You choose.
🙄 The default media and cultural message in the world today is that science refutes faith in a personal God. On the contrary, scientific evidence increasingly points to a loving, creator God … In other words, the conflict is framed as to how we can use facts to change media stars’ minds. Well we can’t, and it doesn’t matter whether we do. The legacy media are going under without changing. The public largely believes in God anyway. Given how much the ID community has needed to defend our civil rights, this community hardly owes the walking dead media even the courtesy of an explanation. Though I certainly don’t care if someone chooses to provide one.
🙄 Last, and most important: The continued focus on a ”safe“ forum (meaning merely emotionally safe) when the reality outside is this: Anyone who questions the reign of Darwinian atheism is not safe at all, as the Expelled or kairosfocus could testify. The conference’s focus on merely feeling good, feeling safe, and feeling respected – in this environment – is a sure sign of breathtaking irrelevance.
So what works? Barry Arrington recently did far more good for any form of Christian social witness by compelling Prof. Pompous to quit harrassing a Darwin-doubting student. Oh wait, that’s legalism. My gosh, it’s even law!
😀 Maybe Arrington doesn’t care if Pompous feels good about himself. I sure don’t. I don’t care if he becomes a Christian or gets saved. I don’t care about his perspective. I don’t want to go to conferences about his perspective or about anybody’s in particular.
I want him to quit harassing politely dissenting students, and he had better.
Guys, a reasonable discussion does NOT begin with Christians congratulating each other for being more gracious than other folk. It begins with what Barry did: Setting a limit on how much evil is tolerated. And you won’t see many conferees doing that, let me tell you.
I’d be glad if they proved me wrong, but I’ve been right for 30 years and counting.
See also: My letter, as a former equity reviewer, to my school board trustee, on the tax-funded “sharia” public schools in Toronto.
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Denyse O’Leary is co-author of The Spiritual Brain.