From: Don Winterstein (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Mon Sep 15 2003 - 10:00:23 EDT
Keith Miller wrote in part:
"It is also clear from scripture, from the history of God's people, and from
our own experience, that God is a God of process. The process matters to
God. God does not appear to be interested in just cutting to the chase and
getting to the final objective. The process of getting there is the
objective. That in my mind is what sanctification is. It is also clear
that suffering and pain is part of that process - a process which God
himself experienced in the incarnation and cross.
"A long creative history is just what I would expect from the God of history.
Furthermore, a long creative history emphasizes God's care for the creation.
All the myriad of organisms that have come and gone on this planet were
there for God's pleasure alone. They gave praise to God long before
humanity was there to see and worship."
Just for clarity, YEC to me includes not just "creation scientist" but all who believe on biblical grounds that Earth is less than 20 000 years old. Several on this list, including me, have indicated that we do not challenge the private beliefs of individual YECs, partly because we don't want to be responsible for damaging the Christian faith of those for whom a literal interpretation of Genesis may be important. However, if and when YECs teach their beliefs about the age of Earth publicly in the name of Christianity, especially when they are in a position of authority or honor, then they are potentially doing serious damage and must be opposed.
YECs as a rule are far from being evil people; I assume they are all God's people. It's just that they're missing out on so much good theology. In exchange for a security blanket that's going to prove insubstantial, they have made themselves unable to share in the enlightened views of God that our knowledge of the world gives.
Keith in the quotation above touches on some of the theological consequences and benefits of this knowledge. There's no question that our knowledge has expanded our views of God over those of YECs and of Christians living in pre-scientific ages. Believers had always recognized that God was great and had been around for a long time, but now we know what these things mean much more compellingly than before.
The picture is at times overwhelmingly beautiful: The cosmos emerges from nothing, living creatures evolve and play out their individual dramas over hundreds of millions of years. All this, as I see it, culminates in human beings who can know and interact with God. Christ assures us that God loves us, and he thereby gives us the power to love in return. As beings brought into existence more or less independently of God we can love him much more truly than ever "children of Abraham" raised up from stones would be able to do. We have a kind of freedom and independence that beings first crafted from dust a few thousand years ago would never be able to achieve, and our independence gives God reason to value our love more than he would value the love of the slavishly dependent.
A major consequence of our knowledge about the world is that we know beyond doubt that we must interpret parts of the Bible that superficially appear to be historical as something other than strictly factual accounts. Few of us agree on how to do this, but we agree that it must be done. This necessity in itself enhances our freedom, because we are not tied to a literal interpretation of any text.
Such freedom and independence does little for our unity in an organizational sense. But we are united in our allegiance to Christ. That should be sufficient for this world; and God alone ultimately will decide what is sufficient. When you think of the billions of Asia, where the message of Christ has had little effect, how consequential are the differences between us?
If God is truly a loving God, the gate can't be all that narrow, can it?
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