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Author: Steve Martin
Document Version: 1.0 Last Updated: September 12, 2009
This document is a compilation of weblog posts; the individual articles remain the property of the author. You are free to share, copy, or distribute this document in full within the limitations of the Creative Commons AttributionNoncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License and the Creative Commons AttributionNoncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 Canada License. To view copies of these licenses, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/ and http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.5/ca/.
Table of Contents
A) INTRODUCTION...........................................................................................................................................3 B) THE SIX ESE ARTICLES .............................................................................................................................4 I. II. III. IV. V. VI. Building a Community of Evolutionary Creationists ........................................................................................4 An Evangelical Statement on Evolution (ESE): Objectives .............................................................................5 An Evangelical Statement on Evolution (ESE): Approach ...............................................................................6 An Evangelical Statement on Evolution (ESE): Contents.................................................................................7 ESE Contents: Addendum .................................................................................................................................9 The Process of Building an Evangelical Statement on Evolution ...................................................................10
This Ebook contains six articles that discuss the creation of an Evangelical Statement on Evolution (ESE). These articles were published as a series between June 15 and September 7, 2009 on the weblog An Evangelical Dialogue on Evolution. The series was motivated by a post by Francis Collins on “Science and Sacred” where he asked for ideas on building “a new and vibrant community dedicated to finding the truth in both science and faith”. I believe the ESE could be a catalyst for just such a community. The first post in the series, entitled “Building a Community of Evolutionary Creationists”, introduces the concept of the ESE and outlines why I think it would be helpful. Posts two to four in the series outline my view of objectives for the ESE, the approach we should take, and a framework for the contents of the ESE. Throughout the series I received excellent and thoughtful feedback from other Evolutionary Creationists (ECs). Some of this feedback prompted me to augment my ideas with a “Contents addendum” article – this was post#5. The sixth post provides an overview of the process I believe should be followed to ensure the success of the project. Once again I would like to thank all those who provided their thoughts, ideas, and reactions to the series within the comments sections of the individual blog posts as well as to those who contacted me via email to provide their private comments, criticisms, and encouragement. It was greatly appreciated.
B) The Six ESE Articles I. Building a Community of Evolutionary Creationists
Published June 15, 2009 Many of us that accept the scientific consensus for evolution find it difficult to find like-minded individuals interested in exploring the theological implications of an evolving creation. Many others (maybe most Evangelical ECs) would risk membership in their Christian community (Church, mission, etc.) if their views were known. (See for example our past discussion on the question: Would your church allow you to publicly support evolution). In a new post on changing beliefs, Cliff Martin comments on his frustration in finding this type of community: So I am facing a conundrum. I am motivated to prepare my friends for what I consider an inevitable paradigm shift, and to develop a community of believers who will study the Bible with me from an evolutionary perspective. But I am having no success. And I risk alienating my own friends if I continue. The irony is that in seeking to bring together a community that values integrity in both science and faith, we risk being ostracized from both the community of faith and the community of science. There are encouraging signs that people who trust both God and science are beginning to create such a community. All of us should be thankful to Collins, Falk, Giberson, and the rest of the Biologos team for starting to provide resources for building this type of community. I’m also happy to see Collins is looking for input from other EC/TEs. He states: These are just initial efforts to help catalyze a community devoted to seeking harmony in science and faith. We'd love to hear any ideas that could help in building this community.
Well, since he asked, here is my suggestion. I think we should publish an “Evangelical Statement on Evolution” that succinctly states that an Evangelical expression of the Christian faith, and the scientific theory of evolution are compatible. This could be modeled after the Clergy Letter Project, but crafted in a way to ensure it has an explicitly Evangelical character. The statement sponsoring signatories should include evangelical leaders from 1) a broad range of denominations 2) several different academic disciplines (at least scientists, biblical scholars and theologians - yes, we definitely need those timid theologians) and 3) a cross section of Evangelical organizations (eg. missions, umbrella groups like the EFC and the NAE). The statement should also have some mechanism for allowing the rest of us to sign on as well. And, come to think of it, that November meeting that Tim Keller, Collins and other leading scientists, biblical scholars, and theologians are having would be a great forum to launch this initiative.
Collins on Creating a New Community
Francis Collins is trying to rectify this problem. In a recent post on “Creating a Community to Explore the Harmony of Science and Faith”, Collins stated that he would like to: [encourage] a new and vibrant community dedicated to finding the truth in both science and faith. The shrill voices at the poles of the science and faith discussion that claim the scientific and spiritual worldviews are incompatible have their own organized communities. But what about the vast majority that seeks a third way? From my own limited experience / knowledge, I think Collins belief that a “vast majority” seek this 3rd way is probably overly optimistic. But he is absolutely right that the situation is much better now than it was even a decade ago. He comments that:
Ok, that’s my idea. What do you think? Do you think the time is right for an Evangelical Statement on Evolution? Would it be a positive step in the discussion, or would it serve only to raise more divisiveness? Do you have any other ideas you’d like to suggest to the Biologos team?
II. An Evangelical Statement on Evolution (ESE): Objectives
Published July 7, 2009 In the last post we discussed the possibility & value of building an Evangelical Statement on Evolution (ESE for short). Personally, I think the time is right for Evolutionary Creationists (ECs) to produce such a statement. However, I also think we need to be very careful; there are some risks in a project like this. If not done right, the results could be very counterproductive.
worse, most Evangelicals seem completely unaware that any other view is possible, and that many within their faith community, including some of their own leaders, have already reconciled biological evolution with their faith. A key objective of the ESE will be to raise awareness that coming to peace with evolution is a theologically acceptable perspective for Evangelical Christians. Objective #2: Provide Encouragement for those Struggling with the Perceived Conflict between Science and Faith For many, the perceived conflict between faith and science is irreconcilable and thus a choice must be made. This choice can be emotionally and spiritually destructive. The ESE should provide encouragement to those struggling with this conflict, and provide a catalyst for them to come to peace with both their Creator and his creation. This applies to at least three groups of people: a) Evangelicals considering abandoning their faith because of the evidence for evolution Evangelicals are often told that evolution is incompatible with Christianity and that it is unsupported by the scientific evidence. However, many Evangelicals that actually examine the evidence for biological evolution find the evidence quite persuasive, and, because of the conflict thesis, they incorrectly believe that their faith must be abandoned. The ESE should demonstrate that many other Evangelicals have accepted the evidence for evolution without abandoning the core elements of Evangelical theology, and while maintaining an authentic and vibrant faith in the risen Christ. b) Evangelicals that are fearful of science Evangelical students will often avoid science (I did) because they are afraid that it will be detrimental to their faith. The ESE should show that Christians have nothing to fear from studying science, and that a deeper understanding of creation can lead to a deeper appreciation of the Creator. c) Those prevented from putting their faith in Christ because of the perceived science / faith conflict It is my impression that many people who are science-literate have difficulty accepting the Gospel because they equate the evidence for biological evolution with evidence against Christianity. This conflict-thesis stumbling block must be removed if
A New Series
In the next several posts I’d like to take a preliminary stab at: a) the objectives we should define for the ESE b) the approach and character of the statement c) the contents of the statement d) the process by which we should build it (hint: the answer isn’t the internet let alone this blog). I should stress that these are merely preliminary ideas. I’m hoping that they can serve as a catalyst for other ECs to come up with something even better. Actually, most of these ideas are not my own, but merely a synthesis of ideas that others have contributed here and elsewhere. At the end of this series I’m mulling over conducting a survey to get further feedback. Let me know if you would like to participate (or better yet, if you have a good idea on how such a survey should be conducted).
A) ESE Objectives
First we need to define objectives. Why do we really need a statement like the ESE? What are we trying to accomplish? Just as importantly, what is beyond the scope of the ESE? We need to set practical objectives; setting unachievable objectives is simply a recipe for failure. Since (I believe) we want to achieve a broad consensus on what the statement contains, we better have agreement among ourselves on what we are trying to accomplish. Objective #1: Communicate the Harmony of Faith and Science to the Broader Evangelical Community Most Evangelicals believe that modern science, and biological evolution in particular, is the enemy of orthodox Christian theology and faith. What is
the good news is to be received. The ESE should make it clear that evolution should not prevent anyone from making a faith commitment. Objective #3: Serve as both a Resource and Encouragement for ECs Many EC’s are part of communities that are hostile to evolution. These ECs are often reluctant to discuss their ideas within this community for fear of being ostracized. The ESE should provide encouragement to ECs by demonstrating that many Evangelical leaders share their perspective. It should also be a simple and non-threatening resource that can be shared with friends and other members of their community. Hopefully, this in turn will lead to positive dialogue regarding faith and science.
ESE will not result in an immediate and dramatic change of attitude among a majority of Evangelicals. If we can simply start a dialogue, and bring hope to those struggling with the issue, the ESE should be considered a great success. 4. Defend the Integrity of Science in Public Education Christians should be particularly concerned about integrity. So, it is galling to see dishonest methods used by some Christians in attacking the teaching of evolution. But defending the teaching of evolution should not be the goal of the ESE. That should be left to organizations like, for example, the NCSE. So, what do you think? Are these valuable objectives? Are they achievable within a reasonable amount of time? Has the bar been set to low? Too high? What other objectives would you like to see?
B) Other Worthy Objectives that the ESE should not try to Accomplish
To be successful, the ESE should not try to accomplish too much. Below are a few objectives that, although desirable goals in their own right, should not be considered as objectives for the ESE. 1. Provide Counterarguments to those Raised by AIG, ICR and other Like-minded Organizations “Anti-evolution Creationist” organizations are wellfunded and relatively powerful within the Evangelical community; no doubt they will attack the ESE with vigour. However, it would be impossible to respond to every argument these organizations put forward if we want the ESE to be shorter than a book. We have a multitude of other methods and resources that provide persuasive counter arguments to the conflict-thesis mantra. The ESE should simply make a positive statement on the compatibility of biological evolution and the Christian faith without trying to provide a detailed defense of Evolutionary Creationism. 2. Provide Counterarguments to those that use Evolution to Attack Christianity For a similar reason, Christian apologetics should not be the goal of the ESE. Again, there are other resources for this purpose. 3. Trigger a Wholesale Change of Attitude within the Broader Evangelical Community We need to be realistic; a simple statement like the
III. An Evangelical Statement on Evolution (ESE): Approach
Published July 13, 2009 In the last post we discussed the objectives for the ESE. Before moving on to the content of the statement (that will be the next post in the series), I’d like to first share my view on the ESE’s approach. What should be its character? If someone read the ESE for the first time, how would they describe it?
Characteristic #1: Positive in Tone and Content
Sadly, many Christian position statements seem very negative, both in their tone (aggressively attacking whatever is perceived to be the problem) and in content (defining itself by what it is not, rather than what it is). Given the polarization of positions in the faith / science dialogue, a negative statement by Evolutionary Creationists (ECs) would only exacerbate this polarization. Special creationists are not our enemies; they are our brothers and sisters in Christ. Atheists are not our enemies; they too are created in the image of God (even if this is not acknowledged). If we want our message to be heard, we need to state our position with grace and compassion. If our objective is to win hearts and minds (or at least convince others that there is no need for warfare), we need to articulate positive aspects of an EC position (see HornSpiel's comment).
Characteristic #2: Displaying a Spirit of Humility
All of us have been wrong at times. Many of us were once very wrong on the evidence for evolution (and maybe, to our shame, made aggressive claims that we now regret). Since we are called to clothe ourselves with humility (Col 3:12), the ESE should echo that humility. ECs are not necessarily smarter, more honest, or more Christ-like; we have simply discovered (often through painful experience) that the science-faith war is completely unnecessary. The ESE should be written to share this good news, and not as an opening salvo for renewed debate.
Characteristic #6: “An” Evangelical statement; not “The” statement
No one can claim to speak for all Evangelicals, and this is especially true in the polarized science-faith dialogue. On the one hand, the ESE should clearly state that the position it espouses on scripture, creation, and evolution is consistent with the Evangelical tradition and that it is accepted by a wide variety of Evangelicals. However, it should also acknowledge that this position will not be acceptable to all Evangelicals, at least in the short term. Questions Is this an approach you think would work? Are there other characteristics that should be considered?
Characteristic #3: Modest in its claims
I like Allan’s point in an earlier comment that the ESE should be modest in its claims. Scientific theories are continually being corrected and modified (see Irenicums comment) and we should not tie the ESE to specific (and possibly debatable) aspects of the theory. Allan’s proposed affirmation that: science suggests that God may have used evolutionary processes to create, and from a Biblical and theological standpoint it is OK if that's how it happened may be too modest for some of us, but I think it is good place to start the discussion. I suspect the extent of the modesty will be one of the more difficult decisions to make when crafting the ESE.
IV. An Evangelical Statement on Evolution (ESE): Contents
Published July 29, 2009 Crafting a statement on evolution may be difficult for Evangelical Evolutionary Creationists (ECs). On the one hand, this is a very contentious topic in the broader Evangelical community and we must be careful if we are to have a positive impact on that community. On the other hand, many salient aspects of the dialogue are contentious even within the very small EC community. In the last post we discussed “How” we should say what we need to say; in this one I’ll lay out my suggestions on “What” we should say.
Characteristic#4: Broad appeal
One of the most attractive aspects of Evangelicalism is its ability to see beyond denominational boundaries. Most Evangelicals are very willing to work with others in advancing the Kingdom of God, even when theological differences abound. The ESE should take this approach as well, and appeal to the entire Evangelical spectrum. This means that the ESE should avoid specific theological claims that would be unacceptable to Reformed, Arminian, Lutheran, Anglican, Anabaptist, or any other Evangelical theological tradition.
Some Initial Notes
I) A qualification: This is a broad overview of the content, and not a suggestion for the final (or maybe even initial) wording. My hope is that others will take this content and create the final statement (more on that in the next post) II) A note on style: I see three options for the ESE (other suggestions welcome) 1. 2. 3. A style similar to the Clergy Letter Project A “We believe” statement – somewhat like a statement of faith An Open Letter to our Evangelical community
Characteristic #5: Short
If the ESE is to raise awareness of the faith-science dialogue within the Evangelical community, it will have to be relatively short. A long, detailed document will not be broadly read, and will mean that certain interpretations of the ESE (probably unfriendly) will be read more than the ESE itself. If the ESE is longer than this blog post, it is probably too long.
My initial vote would go with #3.
III) Sections: I have divided the content into 6 sections: Creation, New Creation, Scripture, Science, Biological Evolution, and Purpose. These do not need to form 6 sections in the final ESE but I believe all of this content should be included in some manner.
statement needs to say something as simple as “God’s Word is not intended to teach us science”. 3. More fundamentally, what does the ESE state about specific interpretations of Genesis – particularly Gen 1-11 or maybe just Gen 1-3? I am at a loss on what to say here – I’m tempted again to remain silent. How does one produce a statement which is acceptable to both staunch concordists (eg. Glenn Morton and Dick Fischer) and to those who maintain that the early part of Genesis bears little relation to historical or scientific fact (eg. Denis Lamoureux and Paul Seely)?
The ESE should begin with an emphatic affirmation that we believe in creation. We trust in a God to whom the universe owes its origin and being. We trust a loving Creator who continues to sustain his creation from moment to moment. Even though the term “creation” has been tarnished in our modern culture, we need to reclaim and proclaim creation. As Richard Bube outlined most eloquently back in 1971, “We Believe in Creation”.
Two things we should mention: 1. Christians are called to be people of integrity. This includes the area of science. We need to go where the evidence leads us, not where we think the evidence should go. 2. Many Evangelicals fear science (see ESE objective 2b) . This is highly regrettable. Since science is the study of God’s handiwork, Christians should revel in the study of creation. As Stephen Matheson noted, opponents of faith stole the reverent study of science from the Church; it may be time to steal it back.
B) A New Creation
We also look forward to a new creation, when “All things will be made new”. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is both our hope and our promise. But this New Creation is not something that is restricted to the future. It is in our hearts. The Kingdom of God has already come. This is the good news we want to share with others.
As Christians, we are “People of the Book”; as Protestant Christians we maintain the authority of Scripture; as Evangelical Protestants we continue to affirm the inspiration and authority of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, even when many of our Protestant cousins no longer agree with this claim. Three points for discussion here: 1. I believe the ESE should remain silent on inerrancy, even as umbrella organizations like the NAE and the EFC are silent. Some Evangelical EC’s may still strongly affirm inerrancy (although, maybe not the version articulated in the Chicago Statement). Other Evangelical EC’s (maybe most) have strong reservations on inerrancy or at least would wish to qualify the term. 2. I am not sure if the ESE should say anything about scientific concordism. Some (probably a very few) ECs still maintain this hermeneutic strategy. So I’m tempted to be silent on this as well since a) I think the ESE should be as “big a tent as possible” and b) I think we should minimize negative terminology. On the other hand, as Rob mentioned here, scientific concordism is very problematic. So maybe the
E) Biological Evolution
I have already received several suggestions for what to include here. My view is that we include only those claims that are well supported by the evidence. This basically maps to E1, E2, and E3 from Allan’s definitions for evolution: The earth is billions of years old and the geological record shows a progression in the development of life over many millions of years. Common descent: The evidence strongly indicates links between all living organisms both in the present and in the past. Thus we can say with some confidence that any two living organisms on earth today share a common ancestor (maybe in the very ancient past). Many different evolutionary mechanisms (eg. natural selection, genetic mutations, genetic drift) are important factors in the development of life on earth. It appears that God used these mechanisms in creating life, including the creation of humanity, the living organism he created in his own image.
My suggestion is that we leave out E4 (that evolutionary mechanisms completely account for common descent). Personally, I have no problem with E4 and believe it is theologically attractive and sound. However, I also believe the really important hurdle for the Evangelical church is common descent; let’s not make the bar higher than it needs to be (or possibly higher than it is warranted).
objective #2 defined earlier, ie. Helping those struggling with issues of faith and science. We might articulate it as follows: To those Evangelicals considering abandoning their faith because of the evidence for evolution we say, “The conflict between science and an Evangelical expression of the Christian faith is completely unnecessary. We can trust the Creator God even if our understanding of how he created has changed over the centuries. To those Evangelicals that fear science we say, “Do not be afraid. Science is simply the study of God’s creation. A deeper understanding of creation can lead to a deeper appreciation of the Creator.” To those who are considering a commitment to Christ we say, “You CAN have the best of both worlds; both the one that leads to forgiveness, love, and spiritual fulfillment and the one that is intellectually satisfying and coherent with a scientific worldview.
Many people equate evolution with purposelessness. We must state categorically that this is incorrect. God has a definite purpose for creation; he has revealed much of that purpose through his written Word and the Word made flesh. God has both the ability and the will to accomplish that purpose, no matter what the cost (and thus his ultimate sacrifice). That his purpose will be accomplished is ultimately assured – even though he has given much freedom to his creation (including rebellious humanity). I suggest that the ESE remain silent on design. I am sure that some ECs will be passionate in their desire to include some positive affirmation of design in the ESE; I am equally sure that many others (maybe most) would just as strongly wish to articulate a rejection of Intelligent Design (at least the ID movement). I think neither strategy would be helpful in accomplishing the goals articulated earlier. Design is a slippery concept, and I doubt we will achieve consensus on how we should articulate our position on it. More pertinent however, even though all of us believe that an intelligent designer (our God) was responsible for creation, design is not nearly as strong as purpose, is not as scripturally relevant as purpose, and is not as theologically important as purpose. Thus purpose must, in my opinion, be included the ESE while design should be neither affirmed nor rejected.
Ok, in my last post I said the ESE should be short. However, in describing the contents I wrote possibly my longest post ever. Maybe this is going to be even more difficult than anticipated.
V. ESE Contents: Addendum
Published August 10, 2009 In preparing this series on the ESE, I never intended to get bogged down in the details of the actual statement – that is a future task. However, after receiving feedback on the content in the last post, I think this brief content addendum is required to fix some glaring omissions (three), and to suggest that one of our objectives should be addressed more indirectly.
In our conclusion, I think we should affirm that we believe that harmony between faith and science can be achieved. However, we should also acknowledge that there are differences of opinion on how that harmony is reached. There is no point in pretending there is consensus when there may be significant differences of opinion between us on matters like biblical interpretation and models for divine action. What we share however, is a faith in the Creator God, and a desire demonstrate integrity in the study of his creation. Finally, I believe we should directly address
A) Randomness and Purpose
Reconciling the randomness in evolution with God’s sovereignty is a huge hurdle for many (see comments by Vance); the ESE should address this, if only briefly. In the section on purpose, we could mention one or more of the following: 1. randomness is closely tied to unpredictability. Unpredictability is often simply a function of human limitations. God does not have these limitations.
Scripture asserts that God is in control & can accomplish his purposes even in random events (eg. Prov 16:33, Acts 1:26) God provides true freedom to his creation (eg. humanity) but is in complete control, and can accomplish his purposes, even when that freedom is abused.
D) Positive Statement on the message of early Genesis
Stating something positive on the message of the early part of Genesis is, I suspect, the most glaring omission in the previous post – several people identified it (Joel was first). As a couple people noted (Allan & Cliff), Evangelical OT scholars have taken several different (often overlapping) hermeneutic approaches to the first few chapters of Genesis. Therefore we should be careful not to adopt one single approach. Still, I think there are some theological statements that should be mentioned. An example of what we might say is below (a slightly modified version of what Allan proposed): The early chapters of Genesis have much to teach us about God (his sovereignty over all of creation, his faithfulness, and his love), creation (it is good, it owes is being to God) and humanity (our creation in the image of God, our disobedience, and our dependence on God’s faithfulness to repair our relationship). However, the inspired writers were not trying to convey scientific information in these early chapters and we should not expect it to answer our modern scientific questions. So, yes I am abandoning my initial hesitation on taking a firm stance against scientific concordism. Whew … Not sure if I mentioned it before, but writing a short statement is probably going to be an order of magnitude more difficult than writing a long one.
Whole books have been written on this subject (eg. God, Chance, and Purpose by David Bartholomew) and rigorous debate on this reconciliation still persists, even within the EC camp. So we need to carefully consider what we say here. But to Vance’s point, we can not be silent.
B) Scientific Explanations and God
Something should be mentioned about the relationship between scientific explanations & divine action. Two related points here: 1. Scientific explanations are not an alternative for God’s action in the world; divine action and natural events are not mutually exclusive (see Hornspiel’s comments). The resolution of this false dichotomy has been so ingrained in the EC mindset (or at least mine) that we sometimes forget others may consider it a problem. Since it is a significant issue for many in our audience, we should definitely make some statement addressing the false dichotomy – maybe it should be the first item mentioned in the section on science. On the other hand, science does not exclude the possibility of miracles (eg. Comment by Vance). Making scientific statements like “this event is extremely unlikely to occur given our current knowledge” or “no scientific explanation for this past event can be made at this time” are valid claims. However, science cannot rule out any event a priora. As Evangelical Christians we firmly believe that God can, has, and continues to perform miracles within his creation, and that some of those miracles would be deemed “impossible” by science.
VI. The Process of Building an Evangelical Statement on Evolution
Published September 7, 2009 I would like to thank everyone who participated in the conversation on the ESE, both in the comment sections and via email; in particular I’d like to thank those who provided emails of encouragement. To me, it is clear that the time is ripe for this type of statement from Evangelical ECs. This (much delayed) final post outlines my own ideas on how we should tackle the project.
C) Mention of the Fear of Science
An explicit statement to those “who fear science” may be counterproductive. Per the conversation in the comments with wtanksley (#1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, and #7), I agree we should take the explicit statement out of the ESE but address it indirectly since this target audience is important (even if there are many in this group that would not admit membership in it).
Even though the internet is ideal for connecting those with common interests, I believe that it is imperative for the ESE to be launched and lead by a group that can meet (at least initially) in face-to-face discussions. What the ESE says and how it is communicated to the broader Evangelical community will be scrutinized very closely. Since the ESE is a message of hope for our (current and future) brothers and sisters in Christ, we must make every effort to avoid careless, uninformed, or insensitive statements. Face-to-face discussions should minimize this risk.
church and parachurch leaders, as well as Evangelical scientists from the various scientific disciplines relevant to the study of evolution. Recruiting these founding signatories will be crucial for the success of the ESE. It would also be helpful if these signatories committed to providing an introduction to the ESE (either formal or informal) to their own constituency in a forum that seems most appropriate to them.
The tasks listed below are the ones I believe are necessary to make the ESE a success. This is a moreor-less chronological process although some overlap is possible.
5) Define the process for drafting and achieving approval for the final statement
Although the authors are tasked with drafting the statement, they should solicit input from a wide range of Evangelicals. At a minimum the entire leadership group and founding signatories would need to approve the final wording. Yes I understand that this step could significantly delay the publication of the statement. However, I believe that formulating a high-quality statement is more important than releasing a hasty statement.
1) Formation of the ESE leadership group
The first step is to form a leadership group that can provide oversight to all aspects of the project, and who will be accountable for its ultimate success. This group should have experts from various academic and vocation backgrounds (scientists, theologians, biblical scholars, pastors) and should reflect the broad theological diversity within Evangelicalism.
6) Publish the ESE
This is probably the easiest task; the internet is the ideal place to publish a statement of this sort and there are lots of options available. The leadership group could also augment this with other targets (eg. Evangelical publications like Christianity Today).
2) Definition of vision and objectives
The first task for the leadership group is to define the vision and objectives for the ESE. The discussion during this blog series (particularly in the objectives and approach posts) may be a helpful starting point here.
7) Implement a communication plan
The initial publication of the ESE will certainly be important. However, we are after lasting impact, not simply a flurry of publicity. As such, there needs to be an ongoing communication plan to ensure that believers and seekers continue to hear and have access to the message that faith and evolution are not in conflict. Fifteen or twenty years from now the Evangelical church may have come to a lasting peace with science. Until then we need a plan to continue communicating the harmony between faith and science.
3) Define and enlist a roster of authors
A small group of authors should be enlisted to draft the ESE. This group could be a subset of the leadership group; it should certainly include the same theological, academic, denominational, and vocational diversity. Ideally this roster would be composed of 4 to 6 individuals; anything more could prove unwieldy.
4) Define and enlist a group of Founding Signatories
The roster of founding signatories may be even more important than the roster of authors; ie. who signs the document may be just as significant as what it says. Ideally, all denominational, theological, and international constituencies that are included within Evangelicalism will be represented within this group in some form. The group should also be composed of respected Evangelical theologians, biblical scholars,
8) Implement a mechanism to enroll other signatories
Finally, the ESE should have some mechanism for other Evangelical ECs to sign the statement. As well, there should be processes in place for the ongoing management of this list.
The First Step
From my viewpoint the first step is to form the ESE leadership group. And although I believe this blog series outlines a solid framework for launching the ESE project, and that an informal group made up of EC bloggers and our readers could publish a fairly good statement, we could never come close to maximizing the potential of this project. As I hinted earlier, I think the Biologos Foundation is ideally positioned to initiate this project. That fall workshop led by Tim Keller with 15 leading scientists, 15 leading theologians, and 15 leading pastors from the Evangelical community seems to me to be an ideal
forum to launch the discussion. The focus of the workshop will be on: celebrating God’s creation in light of 21st century knowledge about the universe and our place in it. Worshiping our Creator and celebrating his creation brings joy to both us and Him. But not everyone feels this sense of wonderment and contentment. For many, discussions about how the Creator created produce only cognitive dissonance. We must go beyond celebration and communicate to others why this celebration is both possible and warranted. I believe the ESE can help accomplish this goal.
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