Sunday, August 30, 2009

What is our goal?

The so-called Great Commission gives us, as Christians, our "homework", shall we say, from God.
Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
A couple of recent events stick out in my mind, reminding me how utterly unimportant to fulfilling the Great Commission the "creation-evolution debate" is. Really, does it matter, ultimately, how God created the earth? Will it impact your faith? Your salvation? What if God seeded earth with creatures from some other planet - would it change a thing?

I rather think not.

On the other hand, consider the results of arguing the point.

This past year was the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth, and the 150th anniversary of his publication of the Origin of Species. As a biology teacher, naturally I had to do SOMETHING to commemorate it. I started reading a few short bios of Darwin's life. (Yes, this is relevant, bear with me!)  I knew before I started that Darwin started his life in the Church. However, I learned a bit more about him that was somewhat surprising - and very sad. Darwin initially intended, at the urging of his father, to enter the priesthood. That was before his travels on the Beagle. We all know the story - naturalist on the HMS Beagle, visited the Galapagos and saw the finches (and a whole lot more, but they're the ones who got famous), proposed the idea of Natural Selection, and became the black sheep of the Church.

The thing that hit me about Darwin's story, though, was that he started as a Christian! In the end, he gave up his faith, because he found too much evidence for natural selection. Not just that though - the Church told him that his ideas and the Bible were incompatible. It was not natural selection, evolution, studying nature that drove him from God, but the Church itself.

Around the same time this year, some friends shared with me about their granddaughter and her friend (I'll call them Alice and Bill, just to make this easier). Alice is a Christian; Bill is an atheist. Alice and Bill made a deal - he'd come visit her church if she came to an atheist's meeting with him. The meeting Alice ended up going to was a birthday party - the 200th birthday of one Charles Darwin.

Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ; atheists grasp on to Darwin, as the man who made God unnecessary for the creation (beginning, I suppose) of life. What if Christians didn't so forcefully reject Darwin, natural selection and evolution? Six days, ok, fine - but why the big deal about it?

The Christian church (the vocal part of it, anyway) has turned the HOW of creation into dogma, rather that the minor footnote it should be in our walks of faith. The result? We are driving people AWAY from the Church, and the Christ we are called to make disciples for. Is it really that important?

I'm fairly confident that if we asked Jesus whether it was more important to make disciples or to make 6-day-creationists.... the creationists are not the winning answer. It is time to drop the small stuff and come back to the main point - glorifying our God and Creator through spreading his message. The important one.

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