Last month I asked “Would your church allow you to publically support evolution?” and many of you responded with some thought provoking and moving comments. Well this week Cliff Martin realized the question for him personally was “Can my church survive with my leadership given that I publicly support evolution?” And the answer for Cliff was: “Probably not”.
So yesterday, Cliff resigned as an elder of his church.
Last October when Cliff revealed that he was an Evolutionary Creationist he had hoped to initiate a dialogue on science and the Christian faith.
I had hoped that [my church] might be a place where various views could be openly discussed, where we could think suppositionally (asking the "what if" questions), and that we could serve as a model of how a church might deal with the difficult issues raised by science today, even if we did not all agree. Instead, I found that my revelations served mainly to inflict pain on my friends. Many, perhaps most of them, felt a sense of loss and betrayal, and a deep emotional wound which has still not healed.
Because of these feelings of pain and the sense of betrayal, Cliff realized that his leadership was hurting rather than helping his fellowship.
There is no question of my love for these friends, nor of their love for me. But when so many of my brothers and sisters believe that a YEC position is vital to Christian faith, it is too much to ask them to follow a leader who rejects YEC in favor of an Evolutionary Creationist model.
I think Cliff should be commended for his decision. Ultimately “being right” in something like this is less important than furthering the kingdom of God. Church history is littered with those that put their own good over that of the Church. That Cliff did not speaks volumes for his integrity.
In the comments of the post, Chris Tilling asks Cliff: “What advice would you offer those of us who may face similar circumstances?” . Cliff responds with: “Advice? I was hoping someone might have advice for me.”
I’m not sure I have any advice either, but maybe my readers do. Even if you don’t, I encourage you to read Cliff’s entire post. For myself, I don’t think I can offer anything but a prayer for Cliff and his church.