5 Tips for ‘Going Public’ as an Evolutionary Creationist
Article by Mario A. Russo (2017)
Read the Full Article

What is the Science?

“How do you share with a resistant audience that you accept the scientific data and still believe in the truth of the Christian faith?” In asking this question, BioLogos writer Mario A. Russo names a shared problem for many Christian pastors and laypersons alike: how does one share with friends, family, and congregants one’s scientifically-informed subscription to the theory of evolution? For the preacher whose honest scientific convictions may come at personal cost, Russo’s five tips for sharing a commitment to evolutionary creationism might be received as wise and necessary guidance.

Evolutionary Creationism: Theistic evolution, theistic evolutionism, or evolutionary creationism are views that regard religious teachings about God as compatible with modern scientific understanding about biological evolution.

“My views on evolution and Genesis cost me a job” – Mario A. Russo

What is the Theology?

For preachers, subscription to the theory of evolutionary creationism is not only a scientific commitment; it involves the careful integration of theology, hermeneutics, and biblical interpretation. Preachers holding a scientific commitment to evolution, for example, are likely to be engaged in studying  varying interpretations of Genesis 1, questions of human origins, and debates on the likelihood of an historical Adam and Eve (cf. Rom. 5:12-21; 1 Cor. 15:21-22, 45-49). For many, questions of how (or even if) the preacher is to translate such theological territory from the pulpit are of great pastoral significance.

What to Consider

  • How can you show grace and respect to those who disagree with you on issues of science in general and evolutionary creationism in particular?
  • As a preacher, how can you best communicate both your commitment to Scripture and to scientific discovery?
  • Reflect on your own church context, considering what factors (e.g. systems, beliefs, or persons) might complicate discussion on evolutionary creationism. How can you show grace or care to those factors in such a way that creates space for dialogue?
  • How might your views on evolutionary creationism serve as a missional bridge to those outside of traditional church settings?

How to go Deeper

  • Make safe space in your church for dialogue on faith and science, evolution and creationism. If you feel unsafe about leading such conversation yourself, support scientifically-engaged persons in your community who might want to create such space. Or seek partnerships with local churches who are already engaged in conversations around science and religion.    
  • If you are feeling isolated in your scientific beliefs, find safe persons, communities, or networks that are already engaging in discussion on evolutionary creationism.
  • Increase your knowledge and deepen your empathy for those who might disagree with your evolutionary stance by cultivating helpful resources. A detailed list of such resources can be found in the source article for this post.  

Relevant Scripture

All references in parenthesis refer to Lectionary readings. For more information on what the Lectionary is, please click here. For additional Lectionary resources click here.

Related Research

Biologos Basics Videos” 

5 Common Objections to Evolutionary Creationism

Theistic Evolution vs. Evolutionary Creationists

The Power of Forgiveness at Work
Article by Brooke Deterline (2016)
Read the Full Article

May 1st, 2017|6 Comments

What is the Science? While the benefits of forgiveness are widely supported by two decades of research, a recent study seeks to demonstrate the positive impact of forgiveness within the specific context of [...]

The Three Parts of an Effective Apology
Christine Carter (2015)
Read the Full Article

February 3rd, 2017|4 Comments

What is the Science? Often the catalyst for receiving forgiveness is offering a good apology. Yet, in her article “The Three Parts of an Effective Apology,” Christine Carter suggests that all apologies are [...]

Is Vengeance Better for Victims than Forgiveness?
Article by Jason Marsh (2015)
Read the Full Article

December 16th, 2016|5 Comments

What is the Science? After victimization, many people desire vengeance. In well-publicized atrocities, such as the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing or the 2012 Colorado movie theater shooting, prosecutors, the public, and victims’ families [...]

How to Overcome Barriers to Forgiveness
Article by Linda Graham (2014)
Read the Full Article

December 16th, 2016|3 Comments

What is the Science? Forgiveness is a difficult thing. It can take a great amount of time and work to arrive at a place where we can let go of hostility and [...]

Which Contributes More to Forgiveness, Sympathy or Free Will?
Article by Michael McCullough (2013)
Read the Full Article

December 14th, 2016|2 Comments

What is the Science? Psychologist Michael McCullough suggests that when humans consider forgiving others they instinctively engage in one of two distinct systems for arriving at forgiveness: sympathy or free will. McCullough argues [...]

How Grudges Hurt Your Health
By Joanna McParland (2016)
Read the full Article

September 27th, 2016|4 Comments

What is the Science? Research has long suggested that if a person carries a prolonged grievance they risk adverse health effects. Now, a new study suggests that one’s determination to hold a grudge [...]

By | 2017-02-24T20:16:42+00:00 February 24th, 2017|Cosmos, Religion and Science, Research|8 Comments

About the Author:

Michael Wiltshire serves as an assistant pastor at Rose City Church in Pasadena, CA. He holds an M.Div from Fuller Theological Seminary (2016) and a B.S. from Cornerstone University, double majoring in Biblical Studies and Youth Ministry. While studying at Fuller Theological Seminary, he co-led the Fuller Faith and Science student group and worked in residential community. Michael is passionate about pastoral care, and is dedicated to exploring how preaching, practical theology, and organizational systems can empower churches to care well. A Michigander at heart, Michael enjoys cloudy weather and the NBA.

8 Comments

  1. matt@ncstudycenter.org March 18, 2017 at 4:24 pm

    Thank you for your article. I especially appreciated your insight: “subscription to the theory of evolutionary creationism is not only a scientific commitment; it involves the careful integration of theology, hermeneutics, and biblical interpretation.” In my experience, too much of the conversation about biblical faith and evolutionary creationism is reductionist, without participants appreciating the multiple disciplines that are involved: science, biblical studies, theology, philosophy of science, etc.

  2. Weabz April 4, 2017 at 9:23 pm

    I think the struggle I have with evolution is that the science behind it is foggy and not observable in time, it truly is still a theory. However, if God chose to use evolution as a way for creation, great. I have mad respect for Christian Scientists and they have way more understanding in those areas then I could ever pretend to know or learn. I can only imagine the difficulty you face every day in the balancing act between science and theology.

    But that brings up the question: Should I have to juggle the two? The underlying issue is what is your authority? Is it naturalism and the explainable through observation? If so then do you try and understand the miracles in Scripture through the eyes of scientific explanation? What about the resurrection? If not then why must we as believers in the resurrected Christ, in a Savior that is a scientific wonder, feel the need to explain the amazing act of Creation by the same God who raised Jesus from the dead? The underlying problem seems to be that we misplace what is to be our authority and often times it’s because our identity is split between the world and Christ. Whether it’s in the realm of our jobs, marriages, friendships, desires, etc. we struggle with submitting every area of our lives to the Lord, including our wisdom and understanding. Scripture is the only thing we have that tells us of who our Savior is and who our Creator is and who we are in nature and character. It must be our ultimate source of authority. Then we have Creation as seen in Romans 1 that also declares of our Creator and His attributes. Science is so helpful and a gift from God to help us understand how He works in the world around us. However I find danger when we begin to suggest things like the creation story may have been allegorical or Adam and Eve may not have been literal. Why would we assume that, unless it’s because we allowed our trust in science to trump that of what God has revealed plainly.

    It really comes down to how we view Scripture as a believer. How we see Scripture determines how we see everything else in the world around us and where we begin to distribute authority. What hermeneutic should be applied from Scripture? And why? What hermeneutic did Jesus himself as well as the NT apostles apply to OT Scripture. Was it contextualization? Allegorical, christocentric, genre specific, figurative, and all the rest? I assert when they spoke of OT passages and referenced them or interpreted them it was from a literal grammatical-historical hermeneutic. Jesus didn’t speak of Creation hardly at all. It when it was referenced it was in a literal way, as did Paul. If they themselves used such a hermeneutic then shouldn’t we? And if we domt think we should approach the text in a literal sense looking for the author’s intent, I would ask why not?

    I know this is a sticky and personal subject for many and I have many friends in which we lovingly disagree but again I must ask: Is God’s word not enough to trust as true and sufficient for us or are we not satisfied with His revealed Word and therefore must find answers in whatever field we study, teach, or experiment?

    Blessings as we all try and navigate our lives to the glory of God in our respective fields, relationships, ministries, and collectively as brothers and sisters in God’s family.

    • aidenkang May 1, 2017 at 10:08 pm

      Absolutely agree with your view that our view of Scripture determines how we see everything else in the world. One word of caution though – When science says something is a theory, it’s an “explanation rooted in experiment & testing” and not just an opinion – You probably knew this already.

      • Weabz May 19, 2017 at 5:30 pm

        I understand that, however the evolutionary theory is not actually testable in time. But you are right it is an “explanation” though based on more speculation and a liberal use of “evidence”.

        I am in no way a scientist bit from what I have read, watched, and studied evolution is more of a “best guess” in regards to creation rather than having solid observable evidence

  3. aidenkang May 1, 2017 at 10:00 pm

    “There are situations where it would be best to keep views on evolution private” – Good point, especially since I have a tendency to honestly share my views openly.

  4. AustinF May 18, 2017 at 4:48 pm

    What stood out to me was the distinction you made between, “theology, hermeneutics, and biblical interpretation.” I think this is an issue in and of itself. Those things are disconnected disciplines that need to be integrated. They are all part of a system that we must follow carefully. Our hermeneutics must be correct in order to correctly interpret the Bible which should lead to correct theology. Almost like a pyramid, with hermeneutics being at the base and theology being the tip. My point at the end of all this is that it seems like instead of committing to science, we need to commit to a right set of hermeneutics. Committing to science rather than the Bible is allowing a largely secular force to determine our theology. Come out as a biblicist, nothing else.

    • matt@ncstudycenter.org July 1, 2017 at 7:48 pm

      It seems that hermeneutics are influenced to some degree though by our social imaginary, which includes the findings of science. We can’t interpret Scripture in a vacuum, we’re unavoidably influenced by our time, context, culture, etc. Not that those things trump Scripture (they certainly do not!), just that they seem unavoidably to me to factor into hermeneutics

      • AustinF July 9, 2017 at 7:52 am

        I understand your point and to an extent I agree. I would just say that the right hermeneutic takes into account the authorial context because it should seek the author’s intent (which, because of inspiration and inerrancy, is God’s intent). Abner Chou will be publishing a book soon on this very topic.

Leave A Comment