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Theology of Celebration III Report, March 20–22, 2012

Theology of Celebration III
Left to right: Darrel Falk, Alister McGrath, N.T. Wright (Courtesy of Ken Fong)

Several framing principles were inherent in the BioLogos vision from the beginning. One was to develop a website that would address the many questions that people were asking about the compatibility of Christianity and the findings of mainstream science, especially biology. The second was to initiate a series of annual workshops which would bring together a small group of Christian scholars—scientists, authors, and theologians—to meet with some of America’s leading pastors and parachurch leaders for the express purpose of exploring what a peace between conservative Christianity and the science of biology would look like.

These workshops were called “Theology of Celebration” meetings because they were to be thoroughly grounded in an awe-inspiring celebration of the beauty and majesty of creation, even as participants wrestled with some of the tough theological questions that evangelicals have as we face the reality of God having created through an evolutionary process.

Theology of Celebration III
N.T. Wright, New Testament Scholar and Former Bishop of Durham in the Church of England (Courtesy of Ken Fong)

On March 20–22, 2012, noted evangelical pastor Dr. Timothy Keller hosted the meetings at the Harvard Club in New York City. That in itself has symbolic significance. Harvard University was founded on principles firmly grounded in the Word of God in its pursuit of truth. But since then, Harvard has lost its way. Some wonder if a segment of the church is now in danger of losing its way too.

A statement emerged from each of the first two “Theology of Celebration” meetings, which were held in November 2009 and November 2010. The third meeting, held in March 2012, showed that the conversation has reached a new level of maturity. Given data that was presented at the meeting—which convincingly showed that almost half of America’s protestant pastors hold or strongly lean toward a belief in a universe less than 10,000 years old—there was a deep concern for the church not only in America, but also worldwide. This time, leading evangelical Christians left with not so much a statement as an urgent desire to bring about change. The church of the coming decades cannot divorce itself from matters about which there is scientific certainty.

Theology of Celebration III
John Walton, Old Testament Scholar at Wheaton College (Courtesy of Ken Fong)

We celebrated the beauty of creation even as our hearts cried out for the church we love dearly. Despite the data, and despite the enormity of the task ahead, there was a sense of excitement as most people left feeling as though they are a part of something much bigger than a small group of 75 people. The Spirit of God moved at the Harvard Club, and we believe the church will be impacted by that movement for decades to come.