There is often a struggle within Christian circles about the role of advocating for truth and advocating for love. Many groups either become focused on ensuring that they’re seen as being love and open or become focused on making sure they have right Christian teaching (on as many details as possible). This makes it seem like it’s a contest between truth or love, instead of being something more dynamic where both truth and love matter – a lot.
One area where truth has been under discussion relates to the origin of the world. For many years, most Christian (churches) held that the world was created by God in seven days (not necessarily literal days). The teaching of the academic world – that the world came about as the result of evolution – was seen as being anti-Christian, especially as it dismissed God. This has been shifting: more and more Christians, including pastors, see evolution as being how God brought about the origin of the world.
So how do we have a conversation about this truth: a truth that is fundamentally linked to how we understand how to read and interpret the Bible as well as how to read and interpret what evidence is found in the world around us and is presented to us by science? It’s something we’ve talked a lot about at Campus Edge but it never stops being an important conversation.
Paul Wallace gives some helpful advice to a youth pastor who has encountered people who believe differently: in this particular case, when engaging in “conversations with staunch creationists how do you present the science-Christianity relationship in a way that doesn’t immediately turn them off?” A similar response could be made for those who encounter staunch (theistic) evolutionists.
The only thing I can tell you about working with creationists is to listen carefully to them — try to see what’s behind their words. Treat it like a puzzle and ask yourself — what’s really motivating them? Don’t worry about convincing them. I don’t mean to not take them seriously. It is good and necessary to learn as much about science and the cosmos as you can and to bring that into your dialogue. That is your responsibility. Engage them as deeply as your knowledge will allow.
It’s a pastoral question first and an intellectual one second. If they know you love them they won’t ultimately care if you disagree with them. . . . And there’s no better way to convince them about science than by opening yourself up to them while standing by your convictions regarding God and the cosmos.
But you have to love them first and always, and love does not insist on being right.
I especially appreciated the last words: love does not insist on being right. Being loving does not in any way mean not searching for and advocating for right truth (especially in and as a community), it is simply recognizing that truth does not get to trump love.