So Jesus puts unity in his prayer for those who would follow him, and Paul says we are to make every effort to keep united in the Spirit, rightly setting this endeavor in the context of humility, gentleness, and love. In light of these verses, how are we to respond to the disunity and acrimonious comments that are expressed between some Christians?
Love and Unity Require Effort and Humility
Some of the most conflict-ridden public dialogue among Christians transpires between those who hold various views of science and creation. The theistic evolution or evolutionary creationism camp is constantly in conflict with the young-earth creationists (YECs), who are, in turn, in conflict with them and the day-age/old-earth/progressive creationists (OECs). Theistic evolution proponents (TEs) believe that OECs don’t understand evolution, and TEs and OECs believe YECs don’t understand science or take it seriously enough. And then there are those who are less engaged in the sciences and prefer a more allegorical or framework approach to understanding scriptural references to the creation accounts. Each Christ-follower should ask, What does this conflict do for the witness of Christ in the world and to the call of Christians to seek truth, seek God, and make every effort to maintain unity? Such acerbic conflict is a major blemish on our Christian witness and one from which each of us should humbly seek to repent for our part.
Science is a quest for truth. Following Jesus is a commitment to seek and follow the Truth. God is the author of all creation and the arbiter of all that is true. He wants us to know him and be reconciled to him. For this, he has made great and costly provisions. He has chosen to reveal himself through creation (Romans 1:20), the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 2:10–16), and the Incarnation of Jesus (Colossians 1:15–23). As we seek truth in our world and our faith, we should do so with humility and with the hope that the God who wants to be known will harmonize the truths that we discover about his creation and his character. Whether we study nature via science or Scripture via reason and faith, we should all look to the author and perfecter of our faith and lay aside nonessential differences to maintain unity in our witness of Jesus Christ to a lost and broken world.
Therefore, though we each have different views and experiences, let us love one another and pursue truth, peace, and unity. Will you join me in praying for the unity of Christ’s followers, especially among those who work in the overlapping areas of science and faith?
Note: I wrote this blog before attending the Dabar Conference Creation Project at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. The conference’s focus this year was “Reading Genesis in the Age of Science.” Following that meeting and the ASA annual meeting earlier this week, I am even more convinced of the deep need for and value of gracious dialogue among a diversity of Christian theologians, biblical scholars, and scientists seeking unity for the sake of the gospel to a watching world.
- For more on unity and disunity in the church, read my colleague Kenneth Samples’s five-part article “Examining Christian Disunity” (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5).