Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Science and Mission

Scot McKnight links to a Ken Wilson post on religion's attitude to science and its evangelistic consequences:
My evangelical heart was first exposed to the issue when I sat down for coffee with the only biology graduate student attending our church at the time. I asked Theresa an innocent question: “We have grad students in English, social work, and engineering—why aren’t there more science and biology students in our church?”

Theresa’s laughter alerted me to a lurking brutal fact, which she then blurted out: “Ken, what did you think? It’s evolution!”

I resisted her point with a counterpoint: “But I’ve never taught against evolution! I’m a C. S. Lewis Christian. I have no problem with the Creator working through evolutionary process.”1

“Yes,” she replied in earnest, “but have you ever taught that from the pulpit? Ken, you co-authored a book called Empowered Evangelicals. Vineyard is an evangelical church, even though it’s not in your face on these hot button issues. Scientists, especially biologists, expect American evangelicals to attack evolutionary science, not support it. Scientists don’t view evolution as some marginal scientific issue. It’s the primary narrative of modern science. That’s why they don’t bother to darken the door of an evangelical church. Would you, if you were in their shoes?”
Wilson goes on to expand this into a political "red/blue" thing which makes the important point, I think.

Religion and science rarely collide really. Politics collide, and there is a lot of politics forced onto science and religion, but as a deep student of both rarely, if ever, is the problem actually science or religion.

Wilson's real point is about culture - not science or religion, which is a point that needs to be made over and over again. As he points out - cultural impingement on the church harms evangelism. Now, of course, religion has cultural consequences, but much of the culture imprinted on religion has nothing, really, to do with those consequences. Likewise for science. Wilson then goes on how to view these cultures as mission fields.

Fair enough, but I would be happy if the average scientist and Evangelical just understood the difference between culture, science, and religion.

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