As Christians and committed creationists, we go through painstaking effort to take the Bible–the Holy, Inspired Word of the Living God–seriously. When we see someone seemingly mishandle that which we love so dearly, it is easy to become defensive and perhaps a bit insensitive to the views of others.
I think this is an area where there is much room for improvement within the creationist community. I simply believe we can have fellowship and communion with those who disagree, while holding firm and unwavering to our own commitments.
Better still, I actually think this will allow us to be more persuasive when trying to make our case for the young age position.
I think this mindset shift will be easy to achieve (even if it takes awhile to catch on), and I for one am creating materials each and every week to help fellow creationists do this.
Here are three steps you can start implementing now to help you communicate creationism with grace, love, and respect:
#1. Consider Others’ Intentions
This first step is how we communicate with grace.
A word that gets thrown around quite a bit in the origins debate is “compromise.” It’s my personal opinion that we should immediately stop using this word–at least so haphazardly.
Having had hundreds of interactions with non-YEC Christians, the most common disposition I encounter is not an attempt to fit millions of years into the Bible, but rather to understand the Bible more accurately within its context.
Even though I disagree with such individuals about the nature of the Bible, is this not a respectable endeavor? Their intention is not to compromise the Word, but to understand it.
Therefore, rather than to criticize one’s intentions, we should first ask what they are. If they say that modern science has persuaded them to take a different approach to the Bible, you now have a perfect opportunity to introduce them to the beautiful work creation scientists are doing, such as that presented at the recent ICC in Pittsburgh.
You will always encounter those who claim that young age creationism is “pseudoscience.”
Of course, this is not true, and I’ve developed a more comprehensive response to that claim here and here. These folks need also to learn not to use unhelpful rhetoric, but the appropriate response is not to call them a “compromiser.” After all, all you’re doing at that point is name calling!
Rather, you should work hard to prove them wrong by providing accurate research and dependable sources, and doing so with a polite demeanor.
#2. Exercise Empathy
This next step is how we communicate with love.
As the Body of Christ, it is the of utmost importance that we love our brothers and sisters. John wrote rather clearly about this:
He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. (1 John 4:8)
When we truly begin to understand how others interact with God and with the Scriptures, we can begin to approach and challenge them in a more persuasive manner. And we will make a greater impact for doing so!
I’ll not mention names, but many of our non-YEC brothers and sisters have personally expressed doubt to me about the very Christianity of some young age creationists, simply because they are seemingly unable to engage in a friendly conversation!
Brothers and sisters–have we lost sight? Have we forgotten that, although we should hold firm to the truth, we should do so with an unwavering commitment to love others as Christ did?
There are some really, really good reasons to be a young age creationist–both biblical and scientific. But if people are not willing to listen because of our own attitude, that should cause us to pause and reevaluate.
We can and should hold fast to the truth while, at the same time, emphasizing radical love and empathy.
#3. Persuade with Integrity
Finally, if you’ve done steps one and two right, that will help you communicate with respect.
Remember, I am not asking you to bow at the feet of the old age creationist, the theistic evolutionist, the framework theorist, etc.
On the contrary, I am asking you to persuade them! Get in the conversation! Give them your best resources, your clearest reasoning, and your utmost respect.
If they claim to truly love the same God that you do, why not believe them? We should all have the same goal–to love and understand God more fully in the relentless pursuit of truth. We can do this together, even if we have disagreements along the way.
At the same time, there is nothing more frustrating for me than communicating with a critic of young age creationism who does not, in the least, understand it (whether scientifically or biblically). It would be easy to lash out in anger and righteous indignation, but instead, I try to consciously decide to treat them with the presupposition that they want to understand our position.
I find that when I do that I am usually both more respectful and more persuasive. Isn’t this what we want? To make an impact for the better? Yes!!! A thousand times, yes!
So let’s work together toward this goal. Let us be lights in the darkness and communicate Christ’s love and the explanatory power of young age creationism.
But when we do so, let’s do it with grace, love, and respect. Let’s consider the intentions of others, exercise radical empathy towards them, and aim to persuade them whil maintaining the utmost integrity.
This is the way Christ reasoned in the Scriptures; therefore, it is only appropriate that we do the same.
I fully agree with your comments. We all have to work with fellow-believers who don’t share our view of Genesis. But we can respect them and work with them without compromising our own position, and I think they are more likely to respect us, and even consider our views, if we refrain from judgmental attitudes.
Couldn’t agree more, Geoff! There is a balance to be maintained here. I think the key is starting with the presupposition that even those who disagree with us *usually* do so not because they intend to compromise, but because they desire to better understand. Of course, there are exceptions. But I fully believe that we can maximize our impact by adopting the attitude I’ve suggested.
Great thoughts, brother!
Excellent article! We can be firm in our stance while being respectful of others. We need to keep in mind that they simply see things very differently. They are convinced that certain things are “scientific fact,” so they think that they have no choice but to understand the Bible accordingly, and that means they can’t help seeing us as a problem. They don’t say that what we believe is pseudoscience to be unkind, that’s just the way it looks to them.
It might also help if we seek to point out how much we do NOT disagree with. We’re all in favor of the vast majority of science. Even many evolutionary studies are perfectly legitimate in themselves. We can accept that living things vary from one generation to the next, natural selection weeds out many of them, and a population can break apart into separate species. We simply don’t believe that observations of such things warrants jumping to the belief that all living things descended from microbes!
David, great thoughts!!! And so very true.
Finding those points of common ground–however rare–is key. By using the tactics above, I have been able to garner the respect of many figures outside of the young age creationist community. Just today one told me that despite our disagreements, he has thoroughly appreciated our conversations, has great respect for me, and knows that the best likely YEC answer is going to come from me or another mutual acquaintance he mentioned.
I don’t say that brag; rather, to point out that by simply showing this mutual respect, we can begin to make inroads and gain the listening ear of those who disagree.
Again…really, really good points, David!
These words of wisdom in this article are often forgotten in our attempts to “stand for the truth”.
What point is the truth, if the manner we give it in speaks AGAINST the truth?
Oh man, Daniel, so true!!
Here we are proclaiming Jesus–the way, the TRUTH, and the life–and we can’t even be respectful while doing it! That certainly needs to change.
Thanks for your thoughts, brother.