On March 26 I put up a short post (Confronting the Data) that linked to a video excerpt of an interview with Dr. Bruce Waltke. In this video Dr. Waltke began his comments with a caveat, an if, but spoke of the need to confront the data, to wrestle with the data, to trust in God’s providence, to love God with all of our minds and think about the issues, to enter into open dialog. It is “our spiritual death in witness to the world” when we are not credible and cannot put out reasoned rational answers. Dr. Waltke did not explicitly endorse any particular position in the video.
Dr. Waltke also put together a white paper outlining the barriers to acceptance of evolution and I discussed some of these conclusions on two posts last October: Evolution
and Evangelicals … What are the Barriers and Evolution and Evangelicals … Reflections. Again his comments were measured, well thought out, and considered issues of scripture and current debates. We had a good conversation on this blog centered on issues highlighted in his white paper.
I have never met Dr. Waltke, but all of these resources give me the impression of a careful, intelligent, Christian scholar. I am sure that he and I would disagree on many issues coming from different perspectives, his area of expertise is Old Testament, mine is Chemistry, his doctorate is from Harvard, mine is from UC Berkeley, but I would learn much in the dialog – I hope he would as well. We need these conversations.
The video excited a great deal of controversy – controversy that has resulted in the removal of the video after Dr. Waltke informed BioLogos that the administration of Reformed Theological Seminary had asked him to request that the video be taken down. The controversy also resulted in a clarification statement by Dr. Waltke, a statement e-mailed directly to me (among many others I’m sure) by Rev. Lyn C. Perez (at least from his e-mail account), president of RTS foundation at Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando.
I will come back to some of the other issues later this week – including some of the points in Dr. Waltkes’s clarification – but today I would like to concentrate on a simple question.
What does it mean to have a mind for truth, a heart for God?
The phrasing of this question is not conjured from thin air – rather this phrase: A mind for truth, A heart for God is the motto of Reformed Theological Seminary. It is a motto I would like to apply to my own life – although perhaps with a third phrase added reflecting the need for a life lived in service of love for God and man.
The idea of a mind for truth is a very important one. But this will only come about with openness. We need open, honest, and civil dialog about the tough issues. We need to trust in the providence of God and confront our doubts and questions face on. We do not preserve the church by drawing lines and building walls. I appreciated Dr. Waltke’s video comments and posted on them not because they supported my view of the “facts” – or because he and I would agree on all fronts, but because he put into words my core conviction – built on almost 30 years in secular academia as graduate student, scholar, and professor. From the video:
… to deny the reality would be to deny the truth of God in the world and would be to deny truth. So I think it would be our spiritual death if we stopped loving God with all of our minds and thinking about it, I think it’s our spiritual death. … So I see this all as part of the growth of the church. We are much more mature by this dialog that we’re having, and I think this is how we come to the unity of the faith, is that we wrestle with these issues. We’re all in the body of Christ as one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism. And we may disagree with one another, but we are really interacting in a very serious way, trusting God’s truth. And that we are testing what is true and holding fast to that which is good and we are the richer for it. And if we don’t do that we are going to die.
Unfortunately growth causes growing pains – and growth brings uncertainty. People get defensive and people get hurt. We see this today and are poorer for it. It is also – my opinion, not from Waltke’s comments – our spiritual death in witness to the world when we backstab, fight, condemn, and censor amongst ourselves. We are our own worst enemy – Dawkins and the like can just sit back and laugh.
Pray for our church and our future.
What do you think? What does it mean to have a mind for truth and a heart for God? And what does this mean when it comes to the science and faith
If you wish, you may contact me directly at rjs4mail[at]att.net