Re: [asa] TE Evangelists

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Sun Apr 13 2008 - 16:20:49 EDT

Yes, one shouldn't preach (or teach) about evolution without having some grasp of the science that's involved. That's also true for cosmology, stem cell research, environmental issues or anything else in which science &/or science-based technology plays a major role. That's why seminaries need to include courses on science & theology or (even better but probably less likely, integrate that material into systematic theology courses). & such courses should give some attention to dealing with science & technology issues in parish settings & other situations of ministry. In "The Science-Theology Dialogue" that I teach at Trinity Seminary in Columbus I try to deal with issues in appropriately scholarly ways but the assignments I give are things like development of a lesson plan for a confirmation class on creation or writing a church newsletter article on some controversial scientific discovery instead of standard "term paper" stuff.

Continuing education events for pastors who are already in parish ministry are also needed. If pastors are scientifically illiterate, members of their congregation might gently encourage them to find a seminary or other institution that offers such opportunities.

With regard to your last paragraph, I had in mind particularly opportunities for adult education in congregations. Right now I'm teaching a course titled "God and Science 102" (because I led a quickie intro last fall as 101) at St. Paul's. But such classes needn't be led by clergy. It's one place where scientifically knowledgeable & theologically literate laypeople can make an important contribution. Volunteer.

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: George Cooper
  To: ASA
  Sent: Sunday, April 13, 2008 3:40 PM
  Subject: RE: [asa] TE Evangelists

  Evolution is a topic best avoided in sermons. How many pastors that have the gift of preaching also are gifted in understanding fully the pros and cons to evolution? I suspect the preachers are more gulible to YECers who are more bold and argue for a simple reading of Genesis. Last Sunday, our wonderful and gifter pastor stated in the sermon that evolution only works in micorevolutionary ways -- changes in variety, but new speies. Further, the customary derogatory tone was used regarding the unlikelihood of man evolvling from ooze and apes. He also stated that "scientific evidence must be recreated to be considered valid", implying that evolution is therefore invalid until science can observe one species become another.

  Though he is a great pastor, I know how great is his lack of knowledge and understanding of science; it's comenserate with his lack of interest in it. So much so, that I have no hope he would care to visit with me, or others, to gain a better understanding of the real weight science carries or the confluence that exists that supports it. His sermon was likely meant to passify many within the Church; like a shepherd calming the flock.

  Unfortunately, I fear this approach will cause faith to become more of a blind faith. As this happens, it becomes far more open to ridicule, where doubt becomes much more nourished.

  I agree that evolution discussions is best in an educational environment. Do you mean in the school system, or is there some education of this matter being conducted within the Church?


  John Walley <> wrote:
    I agree that there is a downside risk to incorporating TE too centrally to the gospel. One reason why is that I have found that people just aren't ready for that and you can end up shaking their faith too much and potentially doing them great spiritual harm.

    I agree with you Bernie that we shouldn't hold on to beliefs just because we want something to believe in but I also think that believing in something even though it may be imperfect or even misguided can be better than not believing in anything at all. This is a journey and TE is an advanced topic and not one for every young and fragile believer to have to grapple with especially if they are facing many more real problems in life.

    That said however, I am reminded of Ken Miller's presentation which if you recall I summarized on this list last year under the thread "Evo-langelist" which I think did a good job of making the case for a Designer even in the context of Darwinian evolution, i.e., TE, but that was in an educational setting not church, and as George mentioned that might be more appropriate. I don't think it is imperative that every believer know that the scientific evidence shows us that God created us gradually from lower life forms and equate that with the gospel, but there is definite value in understanding that the wedge between science and faith isn't as bad as some in the church make it out to be. To the extent that pastors can help heal that division in the church, I think that would be a good thing.



      -----Original Message-----
      From: [] On Behalf Of George Murphy
      Sent: Sunday, April 13, 2008 6:59 AM
      To: Dehler, Bernie
      Subject: Re: [asa] TE Evangelists

      We need to be a bit careful about "preaching TE theology." What is to be preached is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the evangel - that's what qualifies one as an evangelist. Certainly it's appropriate to refer to evolution & related matters at times in the course of preaching but a sermon shouldn't just be a lecture on a theological view of evolution. That's best dealt with in educational settings.

      The distinction between proclaiming & teaching, kerygma & didache, isn't absolute but ought to be borne in mind, especially by would-be preachers.

      I think more examples of pastors who preach the gospel & teach about how to understand evolution theologically would be found if views were broadened beyond the evangelical community. In fact, I'm going to be doing the latter later this morning at St. Paul's, though I'm not preaching on this particular Sunday. (& if I were preaching on today's Gospel, John 10:1-10, probably nothing would be said about evolution.)

        ----- Original Message -----
        From: Dehler, Bernie
        Sent: Saturday, April 12, 2008 7:42 PM
        Subject: [asa] TE Evangelists

        I think it was Denis L. who said he was a little conflicted with those YEC, and OEC, because they preach the gospel, unlike those in the TE camp. I was thinking about it. People like Billy Graham and another major evangelist that I know may be TE or lean towards TE. However, they don't make their views on TE known. They preach the gospel without a central role for Adam and Eve, or may explain Adam in theological terms and skirting the "real person" question. So on one hand, there are YEC's preaching the gospel along with YEC theology, but TE (or TE friendly evangelists) simply just preaching the gospel, avoiding the controversy altogether. Yes, there are no loud TE's preaching the gospel and TE theology. I may be trying that in the future.


        From: [] On Behalf Of Dehler, Bernie
        Sent: Saturday, April 12, 2008 4:10 PM
        Subject: RE: [asa] Was Adam a real person? (ancient science)
        For those who claim there is no ancient science, I have two questions:
          1.. When, exactly, did science begin? Please be specific and concise- 5 sentences or less.
          2.. Is saying "there was no ancient science" like saying "there was no ancient business?" Business today didn't exist in the ANE. Today it is thousands (or millions) times more complicated. Today we have world markets, derivatives, high-speed computer stock trading, board of directors, stock, bonds, futures, commodities, mortgages, various forms of debt (home equity, credit card, reverse mortgage, etc).
        My point, there was ancient science just like there was ancient business, but the "memes" for each have considerably evolved.

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Received on Sun Apr 13 16:24:51 2008

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