As I read the variety of articles in Robert Heie’s blog project “Respectful Conversation” a theme threaded its way throughout the writings. The theme was “How?” How do we approach these topics from an Evangelical Christian perspective? It seems there is the knowledge within Evangelicalism that topics such as science, politics, education, and morality need to be addressed from an Evangelical Christian perspective but there are different opinions about how to address these. Some of the writers used personal stories, one in particular of how he tried to teach and write in a Christian educational context but was silenced by the administration who feared losing support. Harold Heie calls this the “elephant in the room.” Others wrote about these topics using scriptural references. One contributor, John Wilson, asks, “I just don’t know what our conversation is really about. I’ve read all the responses regarding “evangelicalism and morality” at least once; most of them I’ve read more than once; some I’ve read several times. I’m still baffled.” The articles on “exclusivist claims” were anything but, with fragmented views on just about every topic.
The danger, in my opinion, of shotgun opinions and exclusivist claims with no sincere questions is the loss of deep Christ-giving discussions. And with this loss is the mass confusion and exodus of young Christian adults from any type of Christianity. It is time for Evangelical Christians, who tend to be the voice in mass media, mega-churches, and many educational institutions to begin fresh humble conversations with leaders in science, technology, politics, education, medicine, etc. in order to stay relevant and knowledgeable. This weekend I tweeted, “In their atheism they crave science.” There isn’t a lack of hunger for wisdom and spirituality. But because of the unwillingness or perhaps ignorance of some to be honest, young believers, and want-to-be believers cannot find a place to land and therefore fly to other worlds full of magic and mythology. It is amazing to me how many of my students this semester have interest in Norse mythology. Perhaps this is due to recent movies or comic books; but evidently they are also finding some basic principles there that make sense to them. Something that intrigues their curiosity and gives some meaning to life.
I don’t think the us/them mentality that has developed between some Evangelical Christians and educators in different fields is helpful. Most of us are doing our best to understand the Universe and our place in it with the stories and technology that we currently have. Most likely there will be advanced tools invented which will help us examine new scientific ideas; a stronger telescope or microscope, for example, which will give us new scientific clues and stories of our origins. Perhaps there will be an archaeological dig that will uncover writings by Jesus or maybe even texts that describe his life during the “silent years” somewhere between ages 12 and 30. One of the contributors shared a balanced approach I think to the conversation. Amos Yong states, “Those who are led by the Spirit can therefore pursue the life of the mind, even the scientific vocation, and in this way also bring their own questions, perspectives, and curiosities to their scientific endeavors.… [P]ursuit of the Spirit-filled life can be part and parcel of the modern scientific task.”
My final question…Can we be curious and humble enough to ask questions and sift through the variety of opinions to find truth that we can live?