This last weekend, while visiting my hometown of beautiful Wichita, KS, I engaged in a lively discussion re: the teaching of Intelligent Design in schools. Certainly this is a hot topic right now. The article that prompted our discussion is one you may have read in the KC Star. Specifically, a professor at KU who is being told to teach intelligent design thinks it mythology, and thus will name and classify his course as such. An e-mail he had written was ‘pirated’ and placed on a right-wing message board. In his e-mail, he rants against the Christian Right, as well as fundamentalists with their “fat faces” and so on.
My family was surprised and shocked that I stated that this whole discussion interested me very little, that I could understand the KU Professor’s point (maybe not agree with what he states, but I can understand how he’d feel that way), and namely that I wish sometimes the whole topic would just go away. They countered with the familiar battle cry of “We must take a stand”…“We are in a cultural war” and so on.
In fact, much of the discussion going on re: these topics is very relevant to an excellent book I am reading entitled “Blue Like Jazz” by Donald Miller. I bought the book on Saturday and have already read about 10 chapters of it.
The book emphasizes what I was trying to talk about the other night with my family. It is not that “Creation VS Intelligent Design VS Evolution” is a bad topic. It is just that more and more people (especially the current 20-somethings in my classrooms and younger) are largely apathetic to this subject. More importantly, they are turned off by these arguments and sadly turned off the rest of Christianity as well. My guess is that if you asked a college student what a “Christian” is, or what came to mind if they heard the word “Christian”, they would say something like “They are that group of people who hate abortion, are against gay marriage and against evolution.” No mention of Jesus…just the issues we seem to be fighting for. If that is the case, how sad this is.
I further explained my opinions to my family (none of my thoughts are original, certainly). My feeling is that this generation is NOT going to be “converted” with “new scientific proof that the Bible is true!” Nor will they repent by Christians sharing “The 4 Spiritual Laws” or “The Bridge Illustration” (of course, there will always be exceptions). They are going to be converted largely by narratives and testimonies and people who take an interest in them. This generation seems to say things like “I like the Jesus I read about in the Bible, but I don’t care for ‘Christians’ per se.” This could largely be due to all the coverage of Christians is in regards to three topics: Creationism, homosexuals and abortion. That is why I wince when I read constantly about this Intelligent Design fighting that is going on. (Do you think the professor who made these comments is further or closer to becoming a Christian after all of this??? I wonder if the death threats he is receiving is helping him understand the love of Christ for him?) This Intelligent Design is dividing people at the college I teach at…everyone is bickering back and forth defending their point. Ugh.
The scientific/logical/a=b=c approach falls on deaf ears with this generation. Thus, what I was trying to say was this. I think a lot of Christians (with the Intelligent Design debate) are trying to still reach kids with the ‘scientific’ approach (‘We can PROVE God! Just look at these facts!’). But, I fear the negative repercussions of the debate (the fighting, the nastiness, the petitions signed to remove this KU professor) is drowning out the discussions that should be going on, and may be going on.
While the generation of my father and others of us may be reached by memorizing John 3:16 and Romans 3:23, this next generation I think will be touched more by reading the entire Gospel of John and thinking “I like this Jesus fellow.” This will hopefully lead to them taking a fresh look at Jesus, the fact that he is God, and a relationship with Him. They will become Christ followers not because of media coverage of Christian issues (“CNN” OR “Focus on the Family”…..we can’t just blame the ‘liberal media’) but DESPITE the coverage of Christian issues.
Also, I know there are many in this generation who are hurting tremendously, and no one is paying attention to them because the Christians in their world of influence are too busy with other issues or political topics. That is a tragedy. Jesus reached people by spending time with them individually. He did not lead a ‘political campaign’ against the Romans. Where in scripture does it talk about Jesus organizing a campaign against the Roman government (which treated Christians horribly…..much worse than now in the USA…I laugh when Christians imply we are “persecuted in America!”…we live in Disney World compared to other countries!)?. This was largely why people were disappointed with Jesus. He seemed disinterested in the political issues of the time, and instead focused on the needs and hurts of society’s fringe.
Hey, Bloggers, I encourage you all to read the book I mentioned (as well as another book I read and loved by Donald Miller entitled “Searching for God Knows What”) and tell me what you all think. I will warn you. The author, Donald Miller, is someone who would be labeled as ‘liberal’ by many. I suspect he is not a George Bush fan, for example, although he doesn’t rant against him.
Thoughts on the book? Thoughts on Intelligent Design? Am I a heretic? Some in my family may think so! (not really : ) )