…And from the Guardian

Less edifying, in my humble opinion, is this piece in Monday’s Guardian by Karl Giberson, a key contributor to, and former Team Member of, BioLogos. His experience, of course, is his and not mine – I grew up in Britain, it would seem some years earlier than he did in North America. But I don’t recognise his view of Evangelical Christianity as an abusive environment for young people, nor his portrait of Francis Schaeffer, whose writings influenced me to think seriously and Christianly in every area of life, including my profession of medicine and my interest in science. And in everything else I encountered, come to that.

Yet I didn’t know Schaeffer, so maybe these words from someone I did encounter and still admire are a better corrective.

What interests me most, though, is the response that Giberson has produced from Guardian readers. A majority, as one might expect from the traditionally Lib-Lab Grauniad, agree with him in the sense of agreeing that religion in general, and Christianity in particular, are pernicious evils. The terms “Fundamentalist” and “Evangelical” get tossed around, too, but pretty much as synonyms for “Christianity”.  The few Christians venturing into the arena (apparently from a range of traditions) disagree with the thesis of the piece, even when they distance themselves from the US political Right.

 What is notably missing are any nuanced responses suggesting that, yes, Giberson is right to critique the fusion of Fundamentalism and Republican politics into something that threatens true Christianity and detracts from the worship of the inconceivable God of the Universe. And to be honest, that’s because there’s no incentive to do so in the article. It closely follows the score of the anti-religious skeptical symphony, to the extent that the majority of those commenting did not even register that he is a Christian, let alone a writer on faith and science. If they had there’s no doubt he would have faced personal abuse rather than the agreement evidenced in their posts. After all, every other Christian contributor did.

Giberson’s writings on evolution have sometimes received more criticism from the atheist bloggers in the field, but in that case they have clocked that he was writing from a faith perspective. His take on the science is seen as completely kosher,  but his Christianity as a rather silly and unnecessary gloss. You’d expect that, I guess.

 But if it were me, I’d feel a little concerned if my biggest fans were (as the Guardian correspondence indicates) those who want to see Christianity disappear. I’d feel uneasy if what I wrote encouraged such disparagement of everything Christian, including Christ himself. 

It all seems to play into the hands of those who suggest that theistic evolution, in the form we see it on BioLogos, sits rather too loosely to its theism. It certainly seems to be at cross purposes with the Biologos aim of persuading US Evangelicals of how easily evolution can fit in with their faith.

Jon Garvey

About Jon Garvey

Training in medicine (which was my career), social psychology and theology. Interests in most things, but especially the science-faith interface. The rest of my time, though, is spent writing, playing and recording music.
This entry was posted in Creation, Politics and sociology, Science, Theology. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to …And from the Guardian

  1. Cal says:

    I could blow up on the issues of politics, Western blindness and American cultural imperialism, but I’ll let those ones lie.

    Sad to see Giberson did not even rise up to proclaim Christ in the face of those who mutate Him into a campaign slogan. It all seems a case of the blind leading the blind. Atleast in this country, when you say that, “Yes, Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah, My God and My Lord, rose from the dead. Yes the Scriptures are Inspired by God and I trust every word of them. Yes I believe I too will rise from the dead because I am born again of the Spirit into Eternal Life” but then say something like, “No, I’m not voting for Rick Perry, no I don’t like the Republican party. No I’m not a patriot” I get a look of disbelief and even a willingness to actually listen. Those who go around spreading the hatred for Christianity don’t even realize they’re fighting a strawman.

  2. Jon Garvey Jon Garvey says:

    Hi Cal
    One small, but helpful, difference in the UK: in the affluent southeast, many Evangelicals find it hard to believe that a Christian would not vote conservative. So far, so like the US religious right. Yet elsewhere (for example, in South Wales) Christians cannot see why you wouldn’t vote Labour. Then historically, the old Non-conformists were Liberals, and that voting preference is even now often extended to the Liberal Democrats.
    So as soon as you get about a bit, you find the Evangelicals are voting differently, and you have to extend your horizons. Probably in most cases you realise that there is no Christian party, but that they are salt and light in all. If they have the courage to admit their faith, of course.

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