Argument over evolution seems largely irrelevant. The gist of the
argument seems to be:
Did God work directly to create man or indirectly to create man? Since
been known to work directly and indirectly, what does it matter? God
works both ways.
The intelligent design in nature makes me think there is a Spirit of intelligence who is predisposed to life reveling and moving behind the creations of life. But who are we to say how God works? Much less become argumentative over it.
The argument so vital to many is one of an importance I fail to grasp. I am reminded of the satire of Dean Swift in “Gulliver’s Travels” between the two warring islands of tiny people fighting over which end of the egg to open first the large or the small end. Shall we view God as acting directly, as He has been known to do, or acting indirectly, which He has been known to do? I offer the theory that when you are down to having to argue about this, your religion has lost its sense of proportion.
I consider it small minded and picayune to argue over such trifles. But the history of religion has been fraught with this. If you will remember the “Filioque” was the argument on whether the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father and the Son or just One of the two. This issue was considered the reason for the splitting of the Roman Catholic Church and the Greek Christian Church in the Middle Ages. (The Nicene Creed says the Holy Ghost proceeded from the Father and the Son.) Now really, such argumentativeness is the worst side of Christianity.
The theologians of an overly intellectual and far too literal Western Christianity of the Middle Ages argued the question: How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? This type of quarreling shows absolutely no sense of proportion on how Christian energy should be spent and applied. Please remember a meeting of the Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church was arguing over whether their vestments should have ribbons of two or three inches as the Russian Revolution was taking place in the streets of the city.
Is this sort of thing to be the creative response of the Christian church to the pressing issues of the world? I pray not. I hope not. Infatuated by creedal emphasis, they failed to respond to the challenge of the world. We must try to make our Christianity relevant to the spiritual and material needs of the world. A debasing creedalism has been an error of Western Christian faith that I pray the new Eastern Christians will avoid.
When we as Christians are arguing whether God works indirectly or directly, when He does both, we show a Christianity that is off base, a faith not spiritually balanced but seriously unbalanced, a faith lacking priorities, displaced in its goals, and wasteful of that limited energy we have to serve the world and others.
In the Middle Ages they argued over the procession of the Holy Ghost. They made themselves a satire, arguing: How many angels could dance on the head of a pin? Thank God for the Reformation that came. It was an attempt to establish better priorities and have a more measured sense of proportion along with a simpler emphasis on the New Testament. It helped at the time, but it did not change the resurfacing of human nature and thus sins of mankind.
But sin is very deeply engrained in man’s nature, resurfacing in every age. It sticks with us, and now we argue over literalisms that are small and irrelevant in much the same way those of earlier times argued about trifles. We blow up the bagatelles of creed. And in every age these sins must be rediscovered and redeemed, since they are the dark shadows of human nature that always shadow it.
I WONDER IF you argue because you cannot find a common goal to get behind to push Christ forward. If you would find a good goal to get behind so you might work together, a higher harmony might result, and you would have a better chance of not bickering. You would not be arguing church politics and magnifying subtle nuances of creed enlarged to have something to alleviate the boredom of the churchy by arguing over it.
Let me remind those who say God must work directly, that God also works indirectly. If God is the engine of the train, we must go through a thousand cars to get to Him. And we tend to argue over things we cannot know. If we were wiser, we would realize we are only on, perhaps, the third car of God. We cannot pontificate about what we do not know yet, being only in the third car of God, as we move up investigating from our caboose of modern time.
Do not try to argue there is a split between science and God. That is childish. Pseudo-scientists often try by speculation to claim more than they can really know. It is childish of them to do this, but it is equally childish of us to resent their childishness. All of us see through a glass darkly. And we must love the childish, not only because they are children, but also because they may one day grow up. The grace of God is amazing. Wait with patience and love for people too sold on themselves to grow up.
Everyone worships. What they worship is the question. Reason is the object of much worship. Reason is a good servant but a poor master. Others deify science. Science is a good aid to life but it may aid us out of existence if we do not use it rightly and with God in mind.
Some scientific people can’t get their values straight. They are lost in a tangle of theories. But let us pray to God to give us grace to endure these warped thinking people. What will be, will be, and we need grace to accept or endure with the right attitude the testing that is this world.
Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.