When beliefs are driven by fear

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In response to Pastor John Shuck's public announcement of his church's participation in Evolution Weekend, he received a condemnatory email from a creationist pastor of a nearby Baptist church.

Particularly revealing was this paragraph in the missive that John received:

If Genesis is not true and accurate as to its account of special creation, then the gospel is entirely irrelevant; for death did not, as the Bible says, enter as the result of human sin (Genesis 3:6; Romans 5:12). In that case death was entirely natural and normal, something from which no person needs saving. The Bible declares death to be an intruder and the immediate result of sin; it entered human experience through Adam's one act of disobedience and was defeated by Christ's obedience (Romans 5:18). Theistic evolution is an apostate compromise; it utterly denies the Bible's teaching about both man, sin, and salvation from sin and death.
In a nutshell, the creationist pastor managed to summarize the fear that drives creationist thinking. His argument ran along these lines: If evolution is true, then my carefully constructed theological edifice will come crashing down. Therefore, I choose to ignore any facts or scientific findings that contradict my theology.

It is obvious that fear of what will happen to one's belief system is frequently what drives the anti-scientific impulse of creationism (and Genesis literalism). The creationist pastor in this instance came right out and admitted that this was his justification. It had nothing to do with the scientific evidence, and everything to do with self-protection and fear--the fear of what might happen to his theology.

Fear is a powerful motivator sometimes. It is fear that often makes people cling to beliefs that otherwise lack all credibility.

4 comments:

Chris said...

Indeed.

Andrew said...

Well said. I understand how one can move in those thought lines when younger, or when newly converted; but it seems like you would have to get good at theological twister over time to stay that way.

It seems that even his theological defining of death is narrow and doesn't take into account that Paul was addressing larger issues.

For this reason, I always think it is a good idea to hold beliefs very loosely, in fact I have lately been thinking of many of them more in terms of hope.

It also says something about his view of Christian teachings and outlook if they suddenly become pointless if certain happenings were not as historical as he thought.

OneSmallStep said...

A lot of that letter seems to be driven by a fear of death, and almost a lack of appreciation of this life.

But we have no proof that death was not always a part of this universe, other than writings going back to ... 6,000 years ago? If there wasn't the Bible, would people have any reason to believe that death is unnatural?

SocietyVs said...

"If evolution is true, then my carefully constructed theological edifice will come crashing down." (MS)

It's too bad the Baptist minister is so worried about holding up doctrine (like a proverbial 10 commandments) to the point of not working with another pastor - uhm - can someone teach that dude what love and respect for another human being actually looks like?

I am not a big evolutionist or nothing myself - but if someone holds to evolution and wants to celebrate - I am not sure of the harm to someone in that action. If Schuck starts teaching God came from a fish also - then maybe I can see asking deeper questions - condemnation should never enter the talks irregardless.

I see some of this defense of doctrine as kind of debilitating to this faith - people are so hung up on making doctrine stick they do everything outside the teachings of the gospel to achieve this...not saying this baptist minister is doing this - but how far off can that truly be?