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A Culture of Fear

I’ve been subscribing to BioLogos website basically since its inception a year or so ago.  It has always been an interesting, provocative, and thoughtful forum for learning about and discussing matters related to science and faith.  It is a refreshing voice in that, rather than positing science and faith as mortal enemies it seeks to embrace the contributions both make to the quest for truth.

The website often runs videos where this or that scholar will offer a short commentary on questions of science and faith.  On March 24, I watched with interest as Prof. Bruce Waltke, one of the more well-known and well-respected voices in evangelical world, especially in OT studies, talked about scholarship and religious faith and, specifically, how to think about evolution.  Prof. Waltke is Professor Emeritus of Old Testament Studies at Regent College and taught a few courses while I was a student there.

The Waltke video on the BioLogos website was called “Why the Church Must Come to Accept Evolution.”  It is a provocative title, but the content seemed like fairly standard stuff to me.  Waltke said that if the church didn’t accept the overwhelming scientific consensus of evolution, it would increasingly be seen as a marginal cultish type group.  He said that we have been given the mandate to love God with all of our minds, and that our commitment to God and the gifts he has given us should move us away from a fear-based rejection of evolution.  Pretty good and necessary stuff, in my opinion.

Well, a few days later the video was removed from the BioLogos website.  Apparently, Waltke’s employers at the Reformed Theological Seminary had “asked” him to seek its removal.  Despite the fact that he still stands by his comments, Waltke did so, and in addition provided a statement of clarification (scroll down to the bottom).  The video, which was apparently a fairly popular one, was removed from the BioLogos website.  And now, it seems, Waltke has lost his job over it.  His employers at RTS stated that while they allow some divergence regarding how Genesis is interpreted, Waltke’s statements were unacceptable.

Here’s what the folks at BioLogos had to say after grudgingly taking down the Waltke video clip:

The fact that Dr. Waltke felt he was unable to leave the video in place, despite the fact that he still agrees with its contents, is an extremely important statement about the culture of fear within evangelicalism in today’s world.

A culture of fear indeed.  You would think that someone who has been a trusted and respected voice within the evangelical community for as along as Waltke has would be given the benefit of the doubt.  At the very least, he is owed a bit more of a gracious response than he seems to have gotten.  This is a person who is committed to the gospel, who has devoted his entire life to understanding Scripture and training Christians to think well.  But he doesn’t think correctly (enough) about the mechanics of creation, apparently.  And we wonder why some are eager to put distance between themselves and the evangelical world…

The Waltke story makes me sad, and a little angry to be honest.  I see similar, if not quite as sensational, stories happening closer to home as well, in both academic and church contexts.  People getting bullied or having their orthodoxy questioned for holding different views.  People getting intimidated into remaining silent about what they really think or providing “clarifications” and retractions about what they have said.  Good and thoughtful people—precisely the kind of people the church needs!—who are trying to think about and communicate the gospel with intellectual integrity and pastoral sensitivity, yet feeling trapped and/or muzzled by unnecessarily rigid conceptions and ungenerous expressions of orthodoxy.

It’s not right.  And if it keeps up, we’re going to lose a lot of good and necessary voices.

37 Comments Post a comment
  1. Larry S #


    Thanks for this post.

    My exposure to Walkte at Regent College decades ago was the catalyst to embrace biblical theology even though I had grown up in an ‘Anabaptist’ MB environment. I recently listened to his Genesis lectures via Regent Audio where he touched on the ‘evolution’ issue. As I recall the lecture’s Waltke seemed to just talk about the two different disciplines – theology / science speaking different languages. I was blessed by listening to the course (and glad I could skip the course work). I’m guessing his views on the video must be more provocative than what he wrote in his Genesis book. Do you know what (or if) he wrote about the evolution issue? You’d think the boys at the Reformed Seminary would have a pretty good idea of where he was coming from based on his printed work.

    I am about a decade and and change away from being a “professional” Christian and am now quite happily “bullet proof” and don’t have to worry about “friendly fire”.

    Take care and watch your back.

    April 9, 2010
    • It’s very interesting to hear about your connection to Waltke, Larry. I actually don’t think his views he expressed in the video were unusually provocative. Here’s one quote of what he said in the original video, from the BioLogos website:

      “if the data is overwhelmingly in favor of evolution, to deny that reality will make us a cult…some odd group that is not really interacting with the world. And rightly so, because we are not using our gifts and trusting God’s Providence that brought us to this point of our awareness.”

      It was nice to see that I’m not the only person that thinks this whole thing is a little crazy. John Stackhouse posted on the matter today as well. You can check out his thoughts here.

      April 9, 2010
  2. Dave Chow #

    Ryan, thanks for the comments. Wow. Heavy-handed. I wonder how Waltke would have weighed in on the Pastors’ Conference at Regent College in Vancouver:

    Hope no one loses their jobs for speaking, (or being there!)

    April 9, 2010
    • Yes, I suspect the conference is going to be very interesting in light of this issue. Some of the conference themes might have just received a boost in urgency because of what’s happened to Waltke!

      April 9, 2010
  3. Ken #

    From what I am able to read about his position at the links above, my impression is that he does subscribe to a type of theistic evolution. He does not appear to believe that natural selection accounts for the origin of the species as Darwin argued and which is the scientific paradigm of our time. He believes evolution occurred but was guided by God in critical ways. His account of the origin of mammals and humanity is as fabulous as creation science.

    I don’t see how even a very “generous orthodoxy” can accept Darwin’s account unless atheism is orthodox. The meaning of Darwin’s argument is that “God is not the creator of humanity.” Do you accept Darwin’s account (the scientific paradigm on which biology is based)? Or do you believe something like Walkte believes?

    April 9, 2010
    • I don’t think the meaning of Darwin’s account is that God is not the creator of humanity. I think that is one interpretation of Darwin’s account. It is a metaphysical argument that depends on a whole set of assumptions, just like the theistic evolution espoused by Waltke. I have certainly not done an exhaustive study on Waltke’s understanding of theistic evolution, but based on what I have read I think that equating it with creation science is a little unfair. From what I’ve seen, Waltke is very honest in his assessment of the findings of science.

      I am not a scientist, obviously, but I have no reason to reject the basic Darwinian story. As I said, I think that the main difference between Waltke’s view and Darwin’s would be not in the mechanics of natural selection but in how this is interpreted and what framework of meaning they choose to locate it in.

      April 9, 2010
      • Ken #

        The difference between Darwin’s theory and theistic evolution is that Darwin argued that chance and necessity are the origin of the species, not God. Proponents of theistic evolution argue that God guided or influenced the origin of species. Proponents of theistic evolution might argue that evolution has a mechanics that God works or tweaks, but Darwin did not. Theistic evolution is not science. It is a theology that has serious problems. Waltke’s apparent argument that the future of evangelicalism depends on adopting theistic evolution is implausible. I think it is a pity that he lost his job over an allegiance to an implausible argument.

        Darwin’s theory fits much better in the “framework of meaning” called “pantheism” than it does with Christianity, notwithstanding the fact that Christians can and do sometimes locate Darwin’s theory of evolution in the framework of meaning that is Christianity. We do it with a large measure of incoherence.

        April 10, 2010
      • I’m obviously not nearly as knowledgeable about The Origin of Species as you are, but I don’t think Darwin explicitly argues that chance and necessity are the origin of the species and not God. Does he actually say it that starkly anywhere? I could be wrong… I don’t think that theistic evolution claims to be science, at least not in my view. It seems to me to be a way of incorporating the best deliverances of science into a theological paradigm. It doesn’t seem to be claiming to be a different kind of science—at least not in the same way that, for example, Intelligent Design does.

        Christians may be guilty of some measure of incoherence in trying to fit evolutionary theory into their worldview. I would say that Darwinian naturalists are guilty of some measure of incoherence in trying to fit any kind of objective moral meaning or purpose into their worldview as well. Nobody escapes incoherence, it seems.

        April 10, 2010
      • Ken #

        Darwin uses metaphors to explain his theory. Natural selection is the main metaphor. He compared it to human selection for the sake of conveying how variations can lead to new species. He makes clear that this is a metaphor and that he does not mean to say something called Nature actually Selects anything. He makes clear that Nature does not refer to any god or divine action.

        In addition to the metaphor “natural selection” he uses several other metaphors, including survival of the fittest (from Spencer), and the preservation principle (which he favored over survival of the fittest. He used the expression chance and necessity to refer to the unintentionality of natural selection and the wildness of evolution. Another expression that he used, perhaps the most dreadful, is the origin of species resulted from the “war of nature, from famine and death.”

        Darwin was arguing against the prevailing idea among scientists that God had specially created each specie.

        Proponents of theistic evolution generally claim that their view is compatible with science, even though it contradicts the heart of Darwin’s theory. Theistic evolution is related to Intelligent Design. The ID proponents like the theistic evolution proponents argue that God is “selecting.”

        I completely agree with you that “Darwinian naturalists are guilty of some measure of incoherence in trying to fit any kind of objective moral meaning or purpose into their worldview.” (Darwin would agree.) Some, like Richard Rorty, have dealt with this problem explicitly. His pragmatism is similar to Darwin’s pragmatism on morality.

        My own recommendation is that Christians read and understand Darwin’s book, The Origin of Species) and be candid with themselves and others about the way it conflicts with scripture (not just Genesis) and theology (not just creation) – and to remember that reason is not everything and that wisdom, the kind associated with scripture, matters just as much. I am not suggesting any particular literalism. Rather, I am thinking about the sentiment Luther expressed when he wrote, “Whoever wants to be a Christian should tear the eyes out of his Reason.”

        Darwin’s work is a masterpiece. As Christians, whatever our take on evolution, we can admire it. It certainly is a powerful explanation of life. And reason, expressed most importantly in science, has enormous value. At the same time, we cannot live without the wisdom contained in scripture and the theology of our ancestors, and the God to which they testify. (That is why the future of evangelicalism and other Christianities will survive into the future.) No one has ever reconciled the two satisfactorily. One is Greek in origin. The other is Hebraic. We are fortunate to have both, even though they often contradict each other.

        April 10, 2010
      • Maybe I’m missing something, but I still don’t see what would prevent someone from simply claiming that natural selection was the means by which God created the world. Of course the question of what kind of God would use this method would still be a live one (and one that Darwin wondered about, if I’m not mistaken), but I don’t think it’s as simple as either Darwin or God. Maybe I’m misunderstanding you…

        As I see it, the main issue boils down to teleonomy vs teleology. This is where most people probably diverge at the worldview level. It’s been interesting to see some books coming out wondering about the possibility that human beings were in some sense “inevitable” or even “intended” by evolution. Simon Conway Morris’s latest leaps to mind. I haven’t read it yet, though I intend to.

        My suspicion is that many people cannot or will not tolerate the kind of cognitive dissonance at the worldview level that you seem to be advocating in the latter part of your comment. For most of us, it simply does not work to say that human beings are the result of an amoral purposeless process while at the same time claiming that the wisdom of Scripture, located in the theological and anthropological context we find it, is somehow normative. Reason is certainly not everything, but it’s something. We can tolerate some paradoxes, but the one you’ve described seems like a fairly big one and it is located at the heart of how most of us think about the world and our place in it.

        April 11, 2010
  4. Larry S #

    During the Genesis lectures I mentioned in my earlier post, Waltke laughed at the notion that a coment could or would strike our planet. Waltke firmly believes that God is in control.

    My best and lasting memory of Waltke from my first year at Regent was at a panel at Regent on the role of women (he believes God blessed the patriachal system). Anyway, Waltke was presenting the conservative view. Another prof was presenting the egalitarian view. At one point near the end of his presentation Walkte was getting excited and said something to the effect that if the Church abondonded the traditional view the foundations would be shaken. The other prof (whose position I hold)interupted with a shout “NO.”

    Waltke without another word, immediately surrended the podium and sat down. The other Prof was left to get up and make a lame apology for interupting.

    April 9, 2010
    • Great story (with either the “comet” or the “comment”)!

      April 9, 2010
  5. Larry S #

    correction: in my first sentence the word should be “comet.” Must have been a Freudian slip or something, at times a coment can shake our worlds – I know I’ve made comments that have shaken my world.

    April 9, 2010
  6. Larry S #

    Ryan, this whole things stirs up angry feelings and ghosts of old fights I’d thought I’d forgotten. When I said watch your back i meant it.

    April 9, 2010
    • Thank you for the cautionary words, Larry.

      April 10, 2010
  7. This is troubling… I feel more troubled over the fact that Waltke lost his job over this than the trouble I feel over the evolution/creation “debate” (disinterested, unfortunately best describes my feelings here). I guess I’ve taken belief in evolution for granted – I never really saw it as too problematic. One thing does bother me though – and maybe you help with this… How do we account for sin under an evolutionary model, and in particular, sin and death as interrelated?

    April 9, 2010
    • You’re right, Jessica. How we think about sin and its effects is a bit tricky on an evolutionary model. I suppose the two big picture ideas that appear to be at odds are, 1) an evolutionary paradigm where human beings with all their faculties come into being very gradually through a process that involves vast periods of time and, obviously, a lot of death along the way; and 2) a biblical paradigm where the decisions of human beings introduced death into the world.

      One way of harmonizing the two would be to posit the fall as somehow primarily psychological/spiritual in nature. In this case, while physical death would have already been present, the human experience of it was fundamentally altered because of their rebellion against God. I find this route somewhat satisfactory, although not entirely. As in every theory, it explains some things well (i.e., the alienation and shame we see in Genesis 3), others, not so much.

      John Polkinghorne is a guy I’ve read a lot on questions of science and faith and according to him, fitting a Christian conception into an evolutionary model of the cosmos is one of the most challenging questions there is. Here’s what he has to say about one way to think of the Fall from an evolutionary perspective (apologies about the length):

      As self-consciousness dawned—itself a process as difficult to envisage as it is certain that it happened—there would surely also have dawned a form of God-consciousness. The episode that theologians call the Fall can then be understood as a turning away from God into the human self, by which our ancestors became curved in upon themselves and alienated from the divine reality. This was not the cause of physical death but it gave to that experience the spiritual dimension of mortality. Self-conscious beings could anticipate their future death, but at the same time they had become divorced from the God who is the only ground for hope of a destiny beyond that death. Thus humanity became prey to that sadness and frustration at the thought of human transience that we may call mortality. In that sense ‘death’–the bitterness of mortality–had truly come into the world and passed to all.

      Obviously, it’s a complicated question, but I like Polkinghorne’s general direction and emphasis.

      April 10, 2010
  8. That is a helpful quote, and I am actually beginning a Polkinghorne book this week (One World) so hopefully I can move from an attitude of “disinterest” to an attitude of more willing engagement.

    I think I see where Polkinghorne is going, but doesn’t a “fall” described as self-conciousness of mortality (or as you described a psychological/spiritual fall) implicitly change our interpretation of bodily resurrection (if that makes sense)? It IS a sticky issue, and just seems to get stickier the more I think about it!

    April 10, 2010
    • It does make sense and it is a sticky issue. Perhaps the hope of resurrection only emerges in the context of a “fall” of some kind? Perhaps the original plan was to arrive at human immortality via other means? This is mostly just wild speculation, of course. I’ve read some authors who gesture in directions like these, but I don’t remember who.

      Let me know what Polkinghorne says about it :).

      April 11, 2010
  9. The information you share feels discouraging to me too. I’d just finished a response to the MB Herald article about Mark Baker’s apology — though I haven’t posted it yet — and thought I’d take a little stroll around some of the sites I visit. Then I see this. And I see shades of this in that.

    April 10, 2010
    • Yes, that certainly has a bit to do with this…

      April 10, 2010
  10. Further, re. culture of fear. What is the underlying fear, do you think?

    April 10, 2010
    • I think there’s lots of fear to go around. Fear of being wrong! Fear that evolution somehow disproves God’s existence. Fear that we’ve been reading the bible wrong. Fear that the Bible can’t be trusted. Fear that God can’t be trusted. Fear that human beings really aren’t that special after all. Fear that we’re alone in the cosmos. Fear that there are no good reasons for hope… I’m sure there’s more.

      I think that whether it’s Bruce Waltke or any of the cases I am personally familiar with, there is the ordinary fear of being wrong, but there is also the fear of being unorthodox, with all of the things that entails. There is the sense (usually implicit, sometimes explicit) that if we don’t think correctly (enough) about God, or the mechanics of creation, or the atonement, or any other matter, that our salvation is somehow in jeopardy. I could be wrong about this, but I’ve certainly gotten that sense at times. It certainly seems like there is more at stake than the appropriate evaluation of theories.

      April 10, 2010
  11. Maria #

    I don’t get it…
    Larry S said that he
    “…embrace(d) biblical theology even though I had grown up in an ‘Anabaptist’ MB environment.”
    What are you talking about? Is the MB environment opposed to biblical theology? Since when? That’s a pretty stereo-typed, nasty thing to say about an entire group of people. Have you ever been to an MB Biblical Seminary? On what basis do you make that statement? Sorry, but that makes me a little mad.

    Another thing…
    Spirit of fear? I don’t get that either. I don’t have a spirit of fear about evolution theories. I suppose I would be considered an evangelical. They are theories; and that’s all we’ll ever be able to come up with about our origins; no matter how smart we are; or how much evidence we think we find; or how many scientific proofs we think we’ve assembled. I’m not afraid and I don’t know anyone in my circle that is afraid of evolution theories.

    I do wonder though… the Bible is not a scientific book. Yet I’ve always believed that where it talks about science it’s right. It has to be if we believe it is God’s word. If you want to say that science makes the creation story not ‘factual’ or ‘true’ or not a valid ‘theory’; then are you not calling into question the infallibility of God’s word and the Sovereignty of God himself? That I have a problem with. You might want to say that I’m afraid – but I’m not. I’m not smarter than anyone on this site, or than you Ryan, and definitely not smarter than a scientist. But that’s OK…

    “… God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:27-29

    The creation story may seem foolish and like a children’s story; but it’s the one God gave us. Believing it doesn’t mean you lack knowledge or carry a spirit of fear. It doesn’t mean that you don’t believe in scientific discovering and experimentation. Defending it’s truth doesn’t mean you belong to a cult.

    I am saddened by this.
    “Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.” Philippians 3:15-16

    May the Holy Spirit guide believers who study and investigate into these things.

    April 10, 2010
    • I’m glad to hear that you’re not afraid of evolution, Maria. I certainly wasn’t claiming that you (or any other specific person) was afraid. The post was about someone getting fired for holding a view that isn’t really that remarkable in the wide world of Christianity. And I think there is a fearful and protectionist mentality at work in situations like this. There is an unwillingness to consider other views. At least that’s how it seems.

      The creation story may seem foolish and like a children’s story; but it’s the one God gave us. Believing it doesn’t mean you lack knowledge or carry a spirit of fear. It doesn’t mean that you don’t believe in scientific discovering and experimentation. Defending it’s truth doesn’t mean you belong to a cult.

      Again, I am not claiming that you or anyone else is foolish, nor am I describing anyone’s view as childish. I am not saying that those who have a certain view of Genesis are stupid or that they belong to a cult. I am simply saying that to dismiss someone because they hold a different position (a position that I cannot have imagined was news to the folks at RTS—Waltke quite clearly wrote about his understanding of Genesis in his commentary on the book as well as in his Old Testament Theology), seems to betray a fearful approach. If something is true, I don’t think we need to be afraid of it.

      April 10, 2010
      • Maria #

        I was merely using words I read in your post.
        “Waltke said that if the church didn’t accept the overwhelming scientific consensus of evolution, it would increasingly be seen as a marginal cultish type group.”
        I would have to disagree with that statement.
        You are agreeing and affirming a culture of fear – which means that you are saying that people are afraid and in danger of being seen as cultish.
        “If something is true, I don’t think we need to be afraid of it.”
        What are you saying is true? What are we talking about here? Evolution from a single cell? Evolution within species? What exactly do you mean?

        April 10, 2010
      • I happen to think Waltke is largely correct in his statements. I probably wouldn’t have used the word “cultish” but it’s no secret that the evangelical community is perceived by some to be on the margins of cultural/intellectual engagement. Often, I think, fear is at the root of this. I have seen many examples of this personally, and have read about it in countless other places. This doesn’t mean that everyone associated with the evangelical world can be characterized as fearful or unengaged. But on a very broad level, I think the shoe sometimes fits.

        What are you saying is true? What are we talking about here? Evolution from a single cell? Evolution within species? What exactly do you mean?

        I am not making a specific argument about evolution here. There is a fairly broad scientific consensus on the big picture, even if there are disagreements about the particulars—the kind of consensus that most of us wouldn’t dream of disregarding in any other area of human life (medicine, for example). I do not uncritically accept the consensus nor am I unprepared for future discoveries to influence how I think about questions of origins; but neither do I say evolution can’t be true because of a specific interpretation of Genesis. There’s a lot of this kind of language out there (check out the comments on John Stackhouse’s latest post on this matter, for a few intemperate examples) and I think it is based in fear.

        April 11, 2010
  12. Larry S #

    Hi there Maria – we haven’t met and already I like your fiesty spirit.

    I grew up in an MB home and MB church so believe that yes, I can make statements about an entire group of people. You might note that I but the word anabaptist in quotes. Thats because MB’s, given our history, are a kind of hybrid denomination – a bit of this and bit of that (fundamentalist, anabaptist and now a bit of reformed). It was during my time at Regent where I was introduced to biblical theology not so much my MB church. But maybe that was my fault due to not paying attention to the sermons 🙂

    And yes I’ve been to the MB Seminary and actually am a grad of the MB Seminary.

    April 10, 2010
    • Maria #

      I’ve never been to Seminary or even Bible school; I was introduced to Biblical theology by well, the Holy Spirit…? I have no other explanation for my interest and voracity for the Word. I have followed different ways of reading and understanding God’s word and been under incredible teachers who could be said to have any number of different dispensations. This all while attending MB churches (I suppose affirming your notion of a hybrid of denominational thought – although I wouldn’t say that for certain).
      I didn’t like your comment that ‘even though’ you grew up in MB churches that are ‘anabaptist’ that you didn’t know about Biblical theology… it assumes something that even with your experience seems slightly as-cue. To me it sounded like MB’s don’t preach the Bible, but something else… ? I think you are more right in saying that you may have just not been listening to the sermons. Growing up churched often shuts our hearts and minds off to the very things we are hearing all the time.

      I’m still thinking about all this. My greatest concern is the integrity of Scripture and what it tells us. Not only that, but why are we only applauding Waltke for standing by his opinion (which he seemingly backed away from in his later statements)? What about the RTS? They stood by their confessional statements and could not reconcile Walke’s opinions to that. It also appears that Waltke knew this (dare I say Waltke knew his statements conflicted with what the Bible says?), and resigned before being approached and then RTS accepted the resignation. In light of that, it seems that there is much ado about nothing.
      However, is this all motivated by fear. I don’t know…
      What should we fear?
      Jesus’ words seem appropriate here;
      “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:26-28
      I find that I can never say something as well as Jesus did. Jesus was and is continually telling his disciples to not be afraid, so it’s pretty important when he tells you what to be afraid of. Not only that, the truth is all will be made known; the covered knowledge of creation will one day be very clear – even more so than what Genesis gives light to.
      It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:31) Without the resurrected Jesus as our saviour, we should stand in fear.

      April 13, 2010
  13. James #

    I agree that it is ridiculous that Waltke was fired but I have to agree with Maria that the fear language misses the point. Theological trends ebb and flow. It’s why I like Chesterton’s Orthodoxy so much- it covered the whole current debate 100 years ago. We just keep circling around the same old arguments.
    I was in seminary [MBBS] with Larry and was I considered hopelessly fundamentalist. It isn’t that I haven’t refined my thinking in 25 years but on the matter of evolution nothing has changed- now in a segment of evangelicalism I am considered liberal and no one calls me fundamentalist any more- at least not to my face 🙂
    When your side is on the wane you feel fear and when it is on the rise you feel triumphant. Don’t worry if you live long enough you will experience both at least once 🙂
    Ken will be happy to know that in the matter of theology I am very Darwinian- it’s survival of the fittest but it’s best not to declare things dead prematurely. Twain made a famous quip to that end.
    The only loss is to the seminary that fired Waltke. They’ll be kicking themselves soon enough. I’m betting that their well deserved backlash is already fomenting.

    April 10, 2010
  14. rbennetch #

    Wow! As an outsider of the church looking in, part of me wants to say I’m not surprised — but still, I am.

    I guess the larger question I’d like to ask is — what does this say about the evangelical church culture and its view toward “worldly” knowledge (that is, insight from outside of an accepted, dogmatic theological variety)?

    I can imagine it’s a bit terrifying to be in the midst of such an institution and be afraid of what aftereffects your honest opinion may land you, in terms of your career’s future.

    I watched this video a couple weeks ago on another blog, and here’s what I said then:

    I’m outside the church, but I LOVE this part of the quote you highlighted: “To deny the reality would be to deny the truth of God in the world and would be to deny truth. So I think it would be our spiritual death.” I wonder where else this sentiment could be applied in today’s world — for example, maybe when there’s (even more) undeniable evidence of the genetic components of homosexuality, will the church have to adjust its dogmatic views toward gays and lesbians?

    It’s interesting that the more knowledge of the natural world we understand and embrace, the more theology is forced to adjust to this material knowledge.

    I have to admit, my view of the Reformed Theological Seminary and (unfairly?) the evangelical church culture has significantly decreased on hearing the news of Walke’s forced resignation. “It’s not right,” indeed.

    April 10, 2010
    • James #

      Surprised!!?? That needs an explanation. I understand surprise, disappointment, outrage etc from those inside the Church- but from those outside? I assume you are outside the Church because something in it doesn’t work for you. Fair enough. Maybe I’m missing something but your post sounds a whole lot more like “schadenfreude.” Tell me I’m wrong.

      April 11, 2010
      • Larry S #

        For the low-brow among us (i include myself) who have no idea what schadenfreude means – from Wikipedia: Schadenfreude (pronounced /ˈʃɑːdənfrɔɪdə/ Audio (US) (help·info), German pronunciation: [ˈʃaːdənˌfʁɔʏ̯də]) is pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others.[1] This German word is used as a loanword in English and some other languages, and has been calqued in Danish and Norwegian as skadefryd.

        Thanks for expanding my vocab James. And back during our seminary days, although you may have self-identified as a fundamentalist you made sure you kept the “fun” in fundy.

        blessings 🙂

        April 11, 2010
    • I guess the larger question I’d like to ask is — what does this say about the evangelical church culture and its view toward “worldly” knowledge (that is, insight from outside of an accepted, dogmatic theological variety)?

      Well, I guess one of the things it says is that there are parts of the evangelical church culture that aren’t following Christ’s commands (“love the Lord your God with all your mind… love your neighbour as yourself…” ) as well as they could/should be. Happily, it doesn’t describe the entire church. Happily there are, and have always been, Christians who are committed to gladly embracing truth wherever it is found.

      April 11, 2010
  15. Thanks Ryan! It’s amazing how theological issues can distract from a real issue (I believe) behind people’s fear: the inability to handle diversity. As you say, this is one area every group has to wrestle with (including our own).

    April 12, 2010
    • I hope our wrestling leads to improvement :).

      April 12, 2010
      • Dave Chow #

        WWE style?

        April 17, 2010

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