Evolution and the Pulpit

Some friends were recently discussing evolution and creationism on an online community I participate in. Being a group of generally well-educated people, I was actually surprised at the number of them who dismissed evolution entirely and were devout believers in a young-earth.  This was apparently a pet peeve with a number of them because many had really done their homework on the topic.  I have to admit that after all my years in school, I still have no definite opinion one way or the other.  I certainly believe God created it all.  But I’m not willing to put limits on how he chose to do it. 

One of the posters expressed his shock that his conservative Baptist church actually embraced and taught evolution.  His words sent chills down my spine — but probably not for the reason you might guess.  I don’t like secularists teaching theology, and I don’t like preachers or laymen “teaching” science. It’s not a matter of separation of church and state or anything high-minded like that.  It’s simply a matter of expertise.  Growing up in a conservative church, I heard a tremendous load of garbage coming from Sunday School teachers and from the pulpit itself whenever the teachers stepped outside the domain of their authority (Scripture and doctrine) and ventured untrained into the sciences.  It was the blind leading the blind.  Or worse, the blind locking the doors on searchers of truth. Images of bishops debating Galileo flash across my mind.

There is a huge number of believers well schooled in the sciences out there, real Christian scientists, but the rest of us are just interested dilettants, hobbyists. It’s a fun topic to explore, to discuss the implications. In fact, it’s healthy to openly discuss and debate these ideas.  But can we agree that such discussions should never occur from the pulpit?  When people — when we — stand in that position, we assume the mantel of divine authority. And in such a position, I would hope we would stay within the realm of that authority: Scripture, sound doctrine and theology. Our role is to lead others to God, to instruct them in the things of God and help them grow.  Not try to debunk the latest scientific trends.  Teach Genesis, teach creation, teach the principles the God of the universe would have us learn from Genesis.  But if it’s not described there, then as teachers of others, let’s not jump into it.

Okay, that’s my rant for the day. Why should preachers or teachers lose their source of power and step into an area of impotency?  

But for the rest of us hobbyists outside the pulpit, let the discussions continue …

Steve

2 Replies to “Evolution and the Pulpit”

  1. Well said. I’m a believer that the formation of this world was not a random event; even Big Bang theorists admit that their model can explain only what happened from the instant *after* the bang and not its cause. As such, I see no plausible reason why belief in such a model should be mutually exclusive from belief in God’s involvement in this world’s creation.

    As for young earth, I haven’t believed in that for quite some time. My view of “intelligent design” is that God may very well have overseen the development of living organisms but allowed it to take place over many thousands of millennia, as fossilised evidence has indicated.

    Ultimately, a belief in young earth creationism will have little or no bearing on whether or not a person has found their way to God, opened themselves to the touch of the Holy Spirit and following the path of Christ. And this, surely, should be our concern.

  2. I hear you and agree 100%. (Who woulda thunk it?) I am continually wondering why many mainstream believers think that critical thinking and Christianity are mutually exclusive. I scoff at anyone — and any organization — that claim to understand all the operational and implementational principles of the Universe.

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