Re: [asa] pastors knowing science (was: Youth leaving churches because of old earth)

From: John Walley <>
Date: Mon Aug 10 2009 - 13:59:59 EDT

Yes all these other studies and disciplines are important and valuable but they are not where the modern day battle lines are drawn. For ministry leaders to be effective today they have to get this right first. The rest are the equivalent of angels dancing on the heads of pins in my opinion. We agree though that protestant reformation has reaped a whirlwind and boils down to spritual anarchy. Thanks John ________________________________ From: Cameron Wybrow <> To: Sent: Monday, August 10, 2009 1:28:16 PM Subject: [asa] pastors knowing science (was: Youth leaving churches because of old earth) A couple of points re John Walley's remarks:   Yes, it would be good if pastors were more educated about science.  It would be good if they were more educated about everything.  Educated pastors (outside of university towns) are extremely rare these days, for a variety of reasons.  However, I cannot imagine fitting any significant science education into the typical 3-year M.Div. degree, which is the highest level of theological education that 90% of Christian clergy has these days (if even that, in some fundamentalist churches).  The clergy are not getting nearly enough fundamental theology in the M.Div. programs now, and theology is their basic business.  How then can adding science to the curriculum be justified?   Perhaps something could be done at the other end, i.e., one could require that one or more genuine science courses be taken in the Bachelor's program that leads into the M.Div. program.  That would be feasible, because someone doing a four-year B.A. in History or Philosophy or Political Science (or whatever else people take before entering M.Div. programs) has "elective room" in which the science courses could be taken.  But once you get into the M.Div., the slate is nearly full of compulsory courses, and already not nearly enough of them are in Greek, Hebrew, systematic theology, individual books of the Bible, history of Christian thought, etc.  Plus, you have all kinds of constituencies within the seminaries, each of which would like to see some *other* courses made compulsory, and this puts pleas for a science course at the back of a long line.  So the idea of adding a "science for pastors" course is, from an administrative point of view, a
 non-starter.   I myself am much less offended by a minister or priest who doesn't know much about evolution, than I am by a Catholic priest (very common nowadays) who cannot read Latin and neither knows nor cares anything about Augustine or Aquinas, an Anglican priest who neither knows nor cares anything about Richard Hooker, a Presbyterian minister who has never read the original writings of Calvin, or a minister of *any* denomination whose Greek is so minimal that it is largely forgotten by the time he leaves the seminary, and who has never taken even introductory Hebrew (such defects in language training being typical of most Baptist, Gospel, Pentecostal, Methodist and other clergy).  How can one be a leader and a teacher within the Christian church if one cannot fluently read the texts and does not know the tradition?  I would say, let's get the theological, philological, historical and philosophical training of clergy up to the level it should be, and then, if
 the clergy have any time or energy to spare after that, teach them some science.   It would be nice to have a world in which there were theological experts that all would defer to.  I am sure that Rome expected deference to the Magisterium from Luther and Calvin.  Similarly, Luther and Calvin apparently expected deference to their "magisterium" from the Anabaptists.  The difficulty is that once you unleash "the Protestant principle", you're on a slippery slope and travelling downhill fast.  If Luther was justified in defying Rome on the grounds of "conscience" and his own conviction about the meaning of the Bible, and if Calvin was as well, why wasn't a liberal like Van Till justified in defying orthodox Calvinism on the grounds of "conscience" and *his* own reading of the Bible?  Why weren't the Anabaptists justified in rejecting infant baptism, since adult baptism is what they sincerely found in the Bible?  Etc.  It seems to me that Protestantism has been a great self-contradiction from the outset.  On the one hand, no
 one has been more concerned about theological correctness, orthodoxy, discipline, the policing of morals, etc. than Protestants.  Protestants have often been the "control freaks" of the Christian world.  Yet their very principles -- the right of believers to interpret Scripture for themselves, the pitting of Scripture against tradition, the tendency to downplay or even deny the theological authority of clergy, in some denominations the abandonment of the requirement of Apostolic succession in the Ministry, etc. -- have all militated against the maintenance of steady theological tradition, church discipline, and morals, and have invited further schisms and heresies.  Thus, putting Protestantism into one great orthodox and stable theological unity is like putting Humpty Dumpty back together again.  I don't think it can be done.   This is not to say that the Catholic tradition is beyond criticism.  Nonetheless, the Catholics, in looking upon the two thousand or so denominations that dot the American landscape, and the endless wrangling that occupies their time and energy (dispensationalism vs. non-dispensationalism, Calvinism versus Arminianism, wine versus grape juice, young earth creationism versus a less literal reading of Genesis, etc.) can, upon hearing John Walley's complaint, with some justification smile and say:  "We told you so."    Cameron.   ----- Original Message ----- >From: John Walley >To: Schwarzwald ; >Sent: Sunday, August 09, 2009 7:40 PM >Subject: Re: [asa] Youth leaving churches because of old earth > > >First of all I would say that all pastors should be required to be educated about science. They should all be conversant and fluent about all the science faith issues that comprise the modern day ideological battlefield including age of the earth and evolution. They should be familiar with all the facts of science on both of these issues including dating methods and pseudogenes and have read all the popular authors on the subject like Ross, Collins, Miler, Falk, McGrath etc. I think all pastors should be as educated on these issues as the average member of this list who is just an avid truth seeker and not a professional minister excepting George and Michael and maybe a couple of others. We have come to accept stupidity and excuses from our church leadership and we are just ok with that. Well I for one am not. If I was in charge of a denomination they would all be fired. This is one of the most foundational issues of the faith and not only is it the
 modern spiritual weapon that the enemy is using to marginalize and criminalize Christianity, it also gets to the core issue of objective reality and how we know anything. Without a desire to have this understanding, to me Christianity is certainly impotent and almost meaningless. It is hard for me to accept the spiritual authority of any pastor who doesn't show at least an interest or a desire to press through to understand these issues. I can accept disagreement from those that are on the journey and trying to understand but not from those who just write it off and dismiss it out of hand, which are most from my experience. > >There once was a day when church scholars were the thought leaders for all of society and education and intelligence and applied Christian theology were synonymous. That is how it should still be today as well. Collins and the above are bright spots that give me hope that it may be that way again but first we have to get all the fundamentalist ignorant Bible thumpers out of the way first. The prescription is not a formula for what they should be saying or doing but instead an honest, humble quest for Truth with the willingness to repent of religious pride and tradition, status and self identity, ego and all the other things that keep people locked in that spiritual jail. Once they encounter the true God that aligns with the record of nature and that they worship in spirit in truth instead of the idol they make for themselves from their over literal and over concordist finite understanding of the Bible, then they will know what to say and do and things
 will start changing. > >We have had the discussion before on this list that the Reformation did a lot of good for the church but one of the not so good things it did was to create an anything goes theological free-for-all. Every church's doctrine is as good as any other and you can find a denomination for whatever combination of subjective pet beliefs and doctrines you care to cherish. What is now missing from prostestantism is the concept of the Magisterium where there really is a right and wrong that is decided by competent and qualified experts with a rationale that serves all. I have a feeling that this is where God is trying to bring the protestant church back to but I shudder to think of what it might take to get the church from here to there. > >Thanks > >John > > >  > > > ________________________________ From: Schwarzwald <> >To: >Sent: Sunday, August 9, 2009 2:25:54 PM >Subject: Re: [asa] Youth leaving churches because of old earth > >If that's the case, John, then what do you think the course of action should be for pastors and church leaders when it comes to this question? What should they be saying, how should they be saying it, etc? > > >On Sun, Aug 9, 2009 at 1:21 PM, John Walley <> wrote: > >The problem with this is that if we can't do any better than three mutually exclusive datasets in a world where their choice will make or break their career, then I agree with them in their decision to leave the church. >> >>If pastors and the church can't figure this out then I don't blame anyone for not having any respect for them and not trusting them. >> >>They are not only not relevant but actually counterproductive by obfuscating what should be a cut and dried issue. >> >>I count myself among these you are lamenting and I put the onus on the church to be the solution. >> >>Thanks >> >>John >> >> >>On Sat Aug 8th, 2009 10:39 PM EDT James Patterson wrote: >> >>>It seems to me that this baby/bathwater problem is even more serious right >>>now because of a seemingly growing inclination among many of the young to >>>instantly turn off the voice of (respect for) anyone who self-compromises >>>their message by uttering something that immediately registers as untrue, is >>>accompanied by an unwelcome (to the hearer) agenda, or fails to connect >>>however tenuously with the questions floating around in the hearer's >>>recently discovered and dynamically growing internal worldview. >>> >>> >>> >>>Jim, agreed. >>> >>> >>> >>>One thing my wife has mentioned several times, with which I agree, and that >>>gets back to the "are they really a Christian if they leave the Church" >>>issue. Many of these young adults go and taste the world, and find it >>>distasteful. It does not sit well with what is written on their hearts. They >>>gain perspective, insight, learn to see that man and the Church are not >>>perfect. Some also learn in time that, despite its problems, the Church is >>>(vastly) better in an imperfect form than no Church at all. >>> >>> >>> >>>I know that's what happened with me. >>> >>> >>> >>>Despite all our debate about how God did it, we agree that God created us. >>>We really should be able to figure out a way to provide to young people >>>convincing evidence that - despite the fact that we can't agree on HOW - he >>>DID create us. The problem is that they (the "average" college student) need >>>evidence.and we have (at least) three different datasets. >>> >>> >>> >>>James Patterson >>> >>> >>> >>> >>> >> >> >> >> >> >> >>To unsubscribe, send a message to with >>"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message. >> > >

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Received on Mon Aug 10 14:00:57 2009

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