I’m not sure what’s going on at the Templeton-funded accommodationist website BioLogos, but lately they seem to be reviving Biblical literalism. First there was the website’s waffling about whether Adam and Eve were real people, and now, as reported by commenter Scott on yesterday’s “Tea Party Jesus” post, BioLogos is retreating from the notion of Genesis as metaphor.
You’d think that, for a website devoted to reconciling faith with the facts of science, the idea of Genesis as inspirational fiction would not be negotiable. If anything is absolutely, rock-bottom true, it’s that life evolved, beginning about 4 billion years ago, and that the creation myth of Genesis is completely wrong.
Yes, you’d think that, but it isn’t so. To buttress the idea of a literal Genesis, BioLogos has posted a short video, “The danger of preaching on Genesis, by Joel Hunter, a preacher at the oddly named “Northland, a Church Distributed.”
Here’s BioLogos‘s characterization of the piece:
In this video Conversation, Joel Hunter acknowledges the risk that pastors take when preaching on Genesis—and in particular, when they approach it with an attitude of humility, allowing the possibility that the text was not meant to be understood in literal terms.
What?? Humility is bad??? At first I thought that this was a mistake, but it’s not:
Hunter notes that a large number of congregants in our churches today are uncomfortable with the literal narrative of creation in six twenty-four hour days. In fact, many believers are open to the notion that God used alternative means of creation. Those with this viewpoint are not convinced of the all-or-nothing mentality that pervades contemporary evangelicalism, but rather, they see the possibility of evolutionary creation as a testament to God’s abilities.
Hunter emphasizes, however, that one must avoid being dismissive or derisive of those who do hold to a literalist view of Genesis because for some, reconsidering the traditional creation narrative introduces questions to which they are unsure of how to respond. Many with this viewpoint feel that if Genesis can’t be understood in straightforward terms, then we cannot know how to read the story of the Resurrection—as a historical account, or simply as a metaphor? Questions like this have the potential to cause them to wonder if they must now question the whole truth of Scripture.
Without “bullying” literalists into a new scriptural interpretation, we should still provide Christians with the space—and permission—to more completely consider the “fullness” and the “great mystery” of God.
The purpose of the video, it seems, is to tell preachers to be careful when telling their flocks that Genesis might be a metaphor. Why is that “dangerous”? Because it might scare “uneducated” people into questioning other parts of the Bible, like the Resurrection. And we can’t have that! No questioning! “Humility”, once a virtue, is now seen as a problem. And, “bullying”, apparently, means “telling people that Genesis might be metaphorical and not literally true.”
Here’s Hunter: (this is a screenshot, not a link; to see the video go here):
Here are quotes from Hunter, soft-spoken but oozing intellectual arrogance:
“When people say, look if the scripture’s not plain to the uneducated mind, if the scripture can’t be understood by what it says to somebody like me, then is the Resurrection really just a story? Is it just a metaphor for rising up out of constraints, and overcoming the death that we face in everyday life and so on and so forth and was there really a Resurrection? And so that’s what’s at risk for many people, and I don’t, again, want to dismiss or denigrate those who hold a literalist view because they honestly believe that if they vary off that, then they themselves, will have to question the truth of scripture. . .
. . . there are those with a lot more capacity intellectually than they’re using, and they need to be given permission to use that intellectual capacity to understand the fullness of God and the great mystery of God.”
Okay, here’s my translation of Hunter’s words into plainspeak.
“Look, fellow preachers, there are a lot of dumb people in our pews who can’t be told that Genesis is wrong because if they see that, then they may start questioning the foundational claims of our faith that are equally bogus, like the Resurrection. Where would we be then? So don’t even intimate that Genesis might be wrong.
On the other hand, we don’t want to alienate the smart people either—those who realize that the claim of a six-day creation is ludicrous, in plain contradiction to the facts of biology and geology. So don’t say anything about Genesis! You’ll put us all out of business!”
By giving preachers a platform to say that Adam and Eve might really have existed, or to warn against questioning Biblical literalism in the face of science, BioLogos has abjured its mission to bend faith to the facts. Their mission now seems to be hiding the facts so they don’t disturb the faithful. As many have pointed out, this attitude treats religious people as if they were delicate and befuddled little children who simply can’t bear to hear their beliefs questioned. Question their politics, sure, but their religion? Never!
But if you don’t do that, of course, you’ll never convert them to accepting evolution. Isn’t it possible that those “uneducated minds” could be educated?
It’s possible to bend over backwards so far that your head goes up your butt.