Engaging Those Who Think Differently
by Darrel Falk, BioLogos President
Perhaps the most unique chapter in the Bible is John 17. In no other place are we given a detailed, extended word-for-word account of a conversation between Son and Father. The importance of this chapter is under-scored by the fact that it presents the words of Jesus at the most critical moment in all of history—just hours before his arrest and crucifixion. We learn a lot about what’s most important as we ponder final words before any imminent event. Never, however, has there been a more culminating event than the walk leading to the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus.
So what are those final words? Here are some (verses 22 and 23):
The glory that you have given me, I have given them so that they may be one as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
At BioLogos, we focus in on one of the most sensitive issues the Church faces today—our own origins. Were we created in an instant, or through a long evolutionary process? However, not only is it sensitive, but the issues are also somewhat abstract and can easily lead to one group portraying the other as less intelligent, or as the case may be, less centered on Christ. The Church cannot sweep this issue under a rug, or lock it up in a closet anymore. It won’t go away and we need to talk about it. And yet, Jesus says as he gets ready to go to Calvary, “may they become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me...”
Central to the BioLogos mission, then, is that we discuss our differences even as we remain centered on the fact that in all of the most important dimensions of the Christian faith experience we are one. The exchange with Southern Baptist seminary leaders was initiated with that in mind. This conversation has been public—on our website—and has resulted in a great series of interchanges in which we have had a chance to clarify misconceptions, even as we listened very closely to the concerns that Southern Baptist leaders have about evolutionary creation.
Similarly we have engaged in closed and open meetings with leaders of the Old Earth Creationist organization, Reasons to Believe. Last month, Fuz Rana and I appeared on Frank Pastore’s KKLA Christian talk show, and we did so as brothers in the Lord. We also had a meeting at an Orange County, CA, church in which we each presented our views on human creation and opened the microphone for questions from the floor. We’ve also engaged in private all day meetings where we identified common ground even as we thought together about our differences.
If we fail in generating a spirit of oneness in the midst of our diversity, we fail period. First and foremost we are all Christ-followers. All else will eventually fit into place as we, together, keep our eyes on him—the “pioneer and protector” of the faith we all share.