Christians Under Fire

By Julie Roys
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Martin Gaskell is not a creationist. He doesn’t believe God created the world in six 24-hour days. And, he believes all life descended from a common ancestor and evolved into its present form. However, Gaskell publicly expressed “that there are significant scientific problems in evolutionary theory . . . and that these problems are bigger than is usually made out in introductory geology (and) biology courses.” He also stated said that “despite some popular claims to the contrary, science has no satisfactory explanation of the origins of life.” This made the University of Kentucky suspect Gaskell might be evangelical. And, allegedly, this disqualified this highly qualified astrophysicist from a position there.

The university recently gave Gaskell $125,000 to settle a religious discrimination suit he had filed against the school. Though the University of Kentucky admitted no wrongdoing, an email written by a member of its search committee, who began to get cold feet, shows otherwise.

“If Martin were not so superbly qualified, so breathtakingly above the other applicants in background and experience, then our decision would be much simpler,” he writes. “We could easily choose another applicant, and we could content ourselves with the idea that Martin’s religious beliefs played little role in our decision. However, this is not the case. As it is, no objective observer could possibly believe that we excluded Martin on any basis other than religious.”

It used to be that Christian belief drove scientific exploration. This belief in a universe governed by a rational being led Galileo to discover order in the heavens and Newton to discover classical physics. Now, Christian beliefs have become taboo in the scientific community. And unfortunately, this anti-Christian bias isn’t limited to the field of science. Graduate counseling students have been kicked out of their programs for expressing objections to homosexuality; a hospital last year demoted a nurse for refusing to remove a cross necklace; and, a health care clinic in Britain recently suspended one of its workers for expressing pro-life views to her co-workers. Discrimination against Christians has become epidemic, but just how should Christians respond?

According to the Church of England, members of the clergy need to lead the way by re-engaging in the public square. In a recently released report, it states, “Bishops have a key role here both as public apologists and as teachers of the faith.” I agree. But, this isn’t a job reserved for pastors. The Christian Cultural Mandate applies to all believers. Historically, Christians have understood God’s command to subdue the earth as an injunction to apply God’s truth to every area of human society. This means all of us need to be public apologists – businessmen, stay-at-home moms, nurses, and astrophysicists. If we all accept this charge, perhaps then we can begin to change the cultural climate.

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4 thoughts on “Christians Under Fire”

  1. John Schneider was forced to resign from his position at Calvin College after 25years. This after publishing a paper in support of Theistic evolution. So there is bad unethical behavior on both sides of this issue.

  2. Hi Steve,

    In the essay that got him in trouble, Schneider wrote, “Furthermore, the Genesis story has another extremely
    important role to play, not only in Protestant
    theology, but also in western Christian theology:
    it frames Christian “theodicy,” or defense of God
    against the charge that God is the responsible cause
    of evil. In the Augustinian version of the historical
    Fall, the purpose is to exonerate God from this charge,
    and to pin all the blame on creatures—demonic and
    human. As we will see, the narrative of human
    evolution makes it very hard, if not impossible, to
    maintain this position and its approach to theodicy.
    For it seems, on this science, that not just natural
    evils, such as animal suffering and violent episodes
    in nature, but also the disposition for human moral
    evils, are practically part of God’s original design.”

    Where is the unethical behavior? It looks as though Schneider chose to take a swim in some pretty hot water by suggesting that the fall was part of God’s original design.

    Neal

  3. Hello, Neal.I read John Schneider’s article on line. He does argue against a strict literal interpretation of Genesis as a historical occurrence. To view the Bible as a historic scientific document without error is a mistake. He sites that their is no genetic evidence that modern humans could be traced to a couple that lived 6000 years ago. In my opinion, this punches a hole in the Doctrine of Sola Scriptura as evangelicals view it. I think that scares them the most. I believe, if Evangelicals continue to base their Theology so much on strict literal Biblical interpretation, they will have built their denominations on houses of cards.
    St Augustine was a great Church father. As far as i know, he did not write any Gospels.
    To force this man to retire, as Calvin College did, was immoral and cowardly. Mr. Schneider followed all the procedues of his University in presenting the paper. I imagine it was to spare themselves financially. If this man supported a young earth, against evolution and was fired, i would be equally appalled. steve

  4. Steve & Neal… I’ll leave the two of you to debate the fine points of evolution. However, I don’t think embracing a view that humans are older than 6,000 years contradicts biblical inerrancy. Biblical genealogies are not necessarily complete — nor were they meant to be taken that way. For example,Jesus is called the son of David — yet, we know He was many generations removed from David.

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