Goals for Church Science
The Reasons to Believe Monthly Partners Ministry published some “stunning” findings in their February newsletter. As I read it I became aware that our science/faith blog is concerned with many of the same issues expressed in the RTB letter. They quote the president of The Barna Group, an opinion gathering research organization with outreaches to the spiritual landscape of the nation. David Kinnaman, president of The Barna Group, reported that church pastors and leaders seldom address science in their teaching. The statistics indicate that only 1% of young adult pastors/leaders ever address science in their teaching.
We do not propose to diminish the theological message of salvation through Christ and righteous and effective Christian living in our modern world. Many sound churches present these messages with great effectiveness. But what we lack in a substantial majority of church programs is a challenging ministry of Christian apologetics. How do we balance the theme of salvation with joyful fulfillment of God’s purpose for His created order? How do we defend the basis for our faith? Is a message of balance needed? The omnipotent God of Creation has designed the physical universe for the purpose of giving glory to himself.
The Westminster Shorter Confession (a Reformation Statement of faith of 1647) begins with the reflective question, “What is the chief end of man?” The answer is, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” Two great works of God, creation and redemption, are intended to display God’s sovereignty and glory. These profound spiritual truths are summed up in just a few words. The full harvest of truth has been elaborated upon in many scholarly works since it was originally penned nearly four centuries ago.
Consider the two great works of God—creation and redemption. If we focus primarily on redemption, creation topics may acquire a secondary role. By creation we mean the beauty, order, and purpose of our physical universe. Many other characteristics describe creation. We are not, however, intent on rank-ordering these two great works of God. This rank ordering would impose a human appraisal categorizing some of God’s works as superior to others. One way to state the relative importance of the two great works is Both/and but not either/or.
Properly applied principles of science call attention to the glory of the created order. Thereby, we really call attention to the glory of God. Do we advocate turning our Sunday morning sermon time into a science lesson? No, we do not. Misunderstanding of the preacher’s pulpit vision could be counterproductive to the stated fact in our opening paragraph: “Only 1% of young adult pastors/leaders ever address science in their teaching.”
In future posts we contemplate dealing with the challenges of this reality. Science has taken a secondary role in many church ministries. Topics of science have been rank-ordered by many church members as low on the spectrum of importance. This is a strange turn of events in an era where science discovery has expanded. As greater discoveries of the natural world are made, the wonders of the Creator appear ever more astonishing!