Nazarenes Exploring Evolution - ECF Project
Nazarenes Exploring Evolution is a multi-faceted project engaging leaders, scientists, theologians, and laity in the Nazarene denomination as it promotes the compatibility of evolutionary creation and Christian faith.
This ECF-funded project features more than 70 essays and last month they hosted the Exploring Origins: Nazarenes in Dialogue conference located at Point Loma Nazarene University in California. The conference brought together Nazarenes from various perspectives to talk about how God creates. Featured guest speakers included Darrel Falk, BioLogos Senior Advisory for Dialogue, and Thomas J. Oord, member of the BioLogos Board of Advisors. Oord co-directed this conference that explored evolution, Scripture, science, and theology.
Nazarenes Exploring Evolution recently completed a video sharing the highlights of the conference. Our prayer is to continue to witness gracious dialogue. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17 (TNIV)
Thomas Jay Oord: I’ve had a lot of fun working with Mark Mann who is the director of the Wesleyan Center here at Point Loma Nazarene. The two of us dreamed about how we might go about putting together a conference that is talking about a tough topic that a lot of people don’t feel comfortable talking about.
The Nazarenes Exploring Evolution conference at Point Loma Nazarene University was a success, in large part, because people came together for real conversations. They actually listened to one another, which is not always common in the kind of controversial topics that we were exploring. Topics about origins, evolution, biblical interpretation. We wanted to get people together because we not only needed this kind of a conversation but statistics show that there are scientists who are leaving our denomination and the faith all together over the subject and a lot of young people who are dissatisfied with the church for not addressing these big topics.
And so we brought together biblical scholars, scientists, pastors, laity, to come around conversations, to listen to folks who have some experience in this kind of a topic and then to discuss “okay what does this now mean?” “How do we think about God as our Creator?” Everyone here believes God creates, that God is the Creator, but exactly how God creates we had differences of opinion. But we also talked about what this look like in terms of the universities and colleges of the Church of the Nazarene and the pews and congregations. How does this conversation play out in the way that we get along with one another and talk about God as our Creator? We all know that heads butt over this issue. People are passionate about these things.
We wanted to come together and use kindness, discretion, respect for one another, and most of all, to be humble and present a model for how we could have a conversation that makes a difference for topics that are often volatile. I’m proud, actually, and thankful for Point Loma Nazarene University to host this kind of important conversation.