Joel Hunter is the senior pastor of Northland Church, a dispersed congregation of 12,000 that meets in Orlando, Florida. He also serves on the White House Advisory Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Dr. Hunter attended the BioLogos sponsored symposium, "In Search of a Theology of Celebration", in New York City last November, and along with almost all the other attendees, signed the following statement:
Many voices in our current culture assert that there are irreconcilable conflicts between science and faith in Christ. We, the undersigned Christian pastors, theologians, scientists, and other scholars, respectfully disagree. We have learned much from each other during these days of communal prayer, presentation, discussion, and worship, but we also recognize that we have much more to learn and many others from whom to learn. We affirm that the truths of Scripture and the truths of nature both have their origins in God, and that further exploration of all these truths can enrich our joyful and worshipful appreciation of the Creator’s love, goodness, and grace. We commit to exploring these important issues further.
In a recent article in Sojourner Magazine, Dr. Hunter reflected on the workshop:
I recently attended a private symposium of Christian leaders—scientists, theologians, and pastors, along with other scholars. We were learning from each other and praising God for many corresponding revelations in God’s two books: the Bible and nature….
…Remind me again: Why are we afraid of the facts of evolution, instead of drawn to the picture God paints with them? Pastors can keep their congregations fired up by indulging a culture suspicious of science, but denying the consensus of science on evolution or climate change—or any social-science data that deals with evidence—does not glorify God. God made the world the way God wanted to make it. To avoid the discoveries of God’s process, to rail over ideology while dismissing facts, only fans the flames of fanaticism…
There have been times when we evangelicals have wondered whether our church will ever change. Lest we be tempted to give up, it is important to emphasize that there is much reason for hope! Dr. Hunter is a very significant leader in evangelical Christianity. This statement, along with others that leaders like him have been making will go a long way to ushering in a new era for evangelicalism. This June 2008 article in the New Yorker elaborates further on the changing tide. There is good reason to be optimistic about the future. We “new evangelicals” take the life and words of Jesus very seriously. We take Scripture very seriously. However, just as N.T. Wright said so well in Saturday’s posting, our worldview influences how we perceive Scripture. Wright encourages us to take off our reactionary “spectacles” and to see Scripture through lenses that have been more thoroughly cleaned. Joel Hunter has done this and his words give us reason to hope.
I am also interested that Dr. Hunter admonishes some of the leaders who encourage people to hold onto their old anti-evolutionist views. He asks such leaders to check their motives and warns that love of power may play a role in motivating them when they urge people to hold onto their old anti-scientific views:
The culture wars are not about truth; they are about power…. But the goal must be to seek more precise information, not to manufacture suspicion to get more power.
Wow! These are strong words. We all need to humbly spend time in prayer to make sure that they do not become true of us as well.
Submitted by Darrel Falk. (Photo: AP / John Raoux)