This morning our pastor’s message was entitled “The Story we Live By”. He told us that the Christian worldview was radically different from the worldview of modern culture. Those of us that profess to follow Christ will find ourselves fundamentally at odds with prevailing wisdom, or find ourselves fundamentally at odds with Christ’s radical teaching. He challenged us to rethink how and why we live the way we do: The meta-physical narrative of the “E” paradigm was simply not a story that Christians could subscribe too or live by.
For me, this was a sermon that spoke close to home. What exactly do I put first in my life? What paradigm drives my intellectual and spiritual growth? Am I blinded by the spirit of my own time? More importantly: How do I make choices in life – where exactly do I put my faith? Am I, like so many of those around me, a thrall to the “E” Paradigm?
This has been a big month for Evangelical leaders speaking out against an Evolutionary Paradigm. Last week I critiqued Tony Campolo’s warning. This week Chuck Colson added his voice against “Evolutionary Foolishness” (HT: Cliff) and Albert Mohler argued (yet again) that Christianity and evolution are irreconcilable. But my Pastor was not joining this chorus. Instead he was identifying a way of thinking much, much more pertinent to our culture, a disease that has affected nearly all of us: The Economic Paradigm.
For those of us that are rich (and, if you are reading this on the internet, you almost certainly qualify as a rich), how do we reconcile the fact that so much of our energy is expended appeasing the “God of Economics”? How do we reconcile Christ’s teachings with our own preoccupation with material things? How do we (in the West) live with the fact that much of the injustice in the world is due to economic systems that prop up our own lifestyle? It makes you think, or at least it should. It makes me think.
An economic paradigm has two chief (not necessarily bad) concerns: generating prosperity and distributing this prosperity. The two most notorious economic paradigms are of course capitalism and communism. Capitalism is pretty good at addressing the first concern (generating prosperity) at the expense of intolerable disparity in the distribution of this prosperity. Communism is very good at the equitable distribution of prosperity (at least theoretically) but generates no prosperity to distribute (ie. you end up with an equitable distribution of poverty). But both of these paradigms share the same assumption: that money is “a good way to keep score”. And, as my pastor noted, “Jesus thought money was a very bad way of keeping score”.
So for those that are concerned that Evolutionary Creationists like myself have been duped by the “Spirit of the Age”, and are bowing to the “God of Evolution”, I will say this. You are correct in warning us of the dangers in serving any God but the God revealed in scripture. You are correct that we need to carefully and critically consider scientific concepts that are often bundled with philosophical ideas alien to the gospel. You are correct that we do not always have good answers to tough theological problems raised by biological evolution.
But you are absolutely wrong to accuse us of abandoning the gospel. We haven’t. We don’t. We won’t. We too see the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as central to the good news. However, we also believe (unlike the vast majority of our Evangelical brothers and sisters) that God’s creation was accomplished through the gradual process of evolution. And before you offer to extract the “evolutionary paradigm” mite from my eye, maybe you should consider the “economic paradigm” log in your own.
And while you are at it, maybe you can help me with the same log in mine.
I’ll conclude this post with the conclusion of my post on Evolution and Morality:
Making an Evolutionary Paradigm (however it is defined) foundational for defining truth, making choices, and finding purpose is unacceptable for Christians. Our primary paradigm must be Christ-centered and biblically guided. If this approach is trumped by any other paradigm, whether a Democratic Paradigm, a Capitalist Paradigm, or an Evolutionary Paradigm, we have committed idolatry. Christians can of course hold democratic political ideas, capitalistic economic ideas, and evolutionary scientific ideas, but these ideas need to be secondary to, informed by, and measured against our primary paradigm, which is faith in Jesus Christ.