Friday, September 27, 2013

Does Evolution Change Our Theology?

One of the issues with Evolution that seems to go unnoticed by many is its potential effect on the traditional understanding of our theology.  The claim put forth usually makes it seem like nothing really changes.  We simply need to approach Genesis differently so that its message and what is claimed by evoutionary theory agree.  Thus what began as narrative history now becomes symbolic.  Yet it doesn't end there.  A whole host of doctrines ultimately need to be reexamined.  Genesis 1 - 3 sets the stage for all that comes after this.  Adherence to Evolution of necessity brings into question the doctrine of sin, how we understand death, and salvation.  These doctrines are morphed, it appears to me, into this kind of thinking:
  • If Adam and Eve do not represent real, historical figures, then their recorded actions are merely symbolic and not related to any particular action.  Thus, their disobedience and the consequence of that disobedience, having no anchor in reality, floats free and becomes detached from any discussion of sin.  For sin is the act of disobeying the clear commands of God.  Actual sin morphs into a sense of general sinfulness which vaguely morphs into whatever we end up defining it as. We see this happening already as certain social behaviors are re-explained as no longer sinful because they are too widely accepted by people.  Sin becomes our unwillingness to accept people for what or who they are, for intollerance. 
  • If living things, including the evolutionary ancestors of man, were dying long before homo sapiens came on the scene hundreds of thousands of years ago, how are we do understand the reason for death and how it fits in which the general plan of God?  When Paul writes that the "wages of sin is death," death is then reinterpreted as "spiritual death" to make it fit with the evolutionary picture.  Death is even reimaged as somehow "good" since those who suffer from disease, disability and pain are relieved of these burdens by death.  There are real issues here that need to be noticed.  The Easter miracle so central to the Christian faith is that Jesus physically rose from the dead, the first fruits of all who would rise. If death is not the curse it is pictured in the traditional reading of Genesis, then how do we reinterpret the resurrection of Christ and its implications for the life and future of all who believe?  Why would His 'physical' resurrection be so important if spiritual death was the ultimate culprit and physical death simply incidental?  
These are but a few thoughts on the implications Evolution has for our theology.  

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Why Francis is More Popular with the Media than Benedict

The title to this post, while reflecting a recent article on the subject ("Are the Media Giving Pope Francis a Pass?" - RNS), is a bit misleading on the point of this post.  My point, then?  I have to admit that this brief article revealed some simple, yet signficant points that could be incorporated by many Lutheran pastors in their own ministries.  Sounds odd, I suppose, for Lutherans to be taking pointers from a pope, but you should be perceptive enough to spot these things when you see them.  I would recommend reading the article for yourself, but here are the main points made (although not all are equally applicable).  Why does the media seem to like Francis more than Benedict? -  1.) Few knew him before he became pope, 2.) Francis is empathetic and humble, 3.) Style becomes substance, 4.) He practices what he preaches, and 5.) Francis is not Benedict.  Francis connects with people with a sense of genuineness that also betrays the ability to truly relate.  In other words, he's not removed from the world.  He may live in a kind of 'gated community,' of sorts, but that does not keep him from interacting with the common and the poor. He seems to understand the pastoral nature of his position and he acts as much like a regular parish priest.  To be pastoral means to minister to real people where they are at with a real sense of love and concern.  More could be said, but the point was made, and I confess I am still growing into this.