The presence of a campus minister at a creationist event held on a university campus might not sound all that significant or even all that unexpected. But is it different when that campus minister is standing with those challenging the message of the creationists?
A week ago Saturday, a group of creationists came to MSU to present the message that the world was created in 6 literal days. Their presentation gave reasons why natural selection was problematic, presented scientific evidence that they believed challenged the earth being old or formed through evolution, and explained how to get around scientific evidence that seems to go against a literal reading of the first few chapters of Genesis. Although I do believe the group raised some good questions and I do believe they want to take the Bible seriously, I found the rhetoric and presentations to be problematic.
Furthermore, the group used controversial means to try to gain publicity, showing disrespect to professors and the research being done by MSU. Besides that, they alienated and insulted those Christians who are working in the fields of evolutionary biology.
As much as I don’t feel that my role as campus minister is to take a stand about how the world was formed, I do believe that there is something pastoral in standing with academics from the university and challenging Christians on their actions. In doing so, I can support and interact positively with those who may have rejected the church and/or felt ostracized by the church. My presence also proclaims that one doesn’t have to choose between faith and science, which is part of the good news that Reformed theology has to give to the university.
Last, but not least, I also got to minister to those who do believe the world was created in 6 days. I could encourage them to keep searching for God’s truth and challenge them to engage in better dialogue. And when someone asked me if I thought he, as a creationist, was dumb for believing in an old earth, I could in all honestly, say, no, I don’t believe that. I believe that he, like the Christian grad students and I, is doing his best to use his intellect to serve God faithfully.