I picked up another new book this week – to add to my stack. This book Evolution and the Fall contains a collection of essays by a number of authors including Biologist Darrel Falk, philosopher James K.A. Smith, theologian Joel Green and Old Testament scholar J. Richard Middleton. It looks well worth dipping into over the coming months. This book is the result of a collaboration facilitated by the Colossian Forum where these Christian scholars met together regularly over several years for worship, fellowship, and intellectual engagement on the issues surrounding evolution and the fall.
The introduction lays out the premise. Christian thinkers need to gather together in communion to thrash through the kinds of hard questions raised by evolution, especially human evolution. Our model shouldn’t be Galileo. Rather, we should be looking before Galileo to the manner in which the church worked through key issues. The preferred model should be the Council of Chalcedon where the leading thinkers and bishops of the church gathered to thrash out issues surrounding the nature of Jesus as both divine and human.
Why is this a better model? First, comparison with Galileo sets the wrong tone.
Since we now tend to look at the church’s response to Galileo as misguided, reactionary, and backward, this “Galilean” framing of the new origins debate does two things: First it casts scientists – and those Christian scholars who champion science – as heroes and martyrs willing to embrace progress and enlightenment. Second, and as a result, this framing of the debate associates concern with Christian orthodoxy as backward, timid, and fundamentalist. (p. xvi)
Second, this model focuses on the importance of Christian fellowship and worship in the discussion.
Creative and constructive theological work requires faithful imagination. But that requires two things: time and worship. We need time to train and stretch our imaginative muscles; time to ruminate on issues and opportunities; time to listen and contemplate; and above all time to pray. So the cultivation of faithful imagination also requires bathing and baptizing the imagination in the cadences of the biblical story – which is precisely the goal of Christian worship. Thus the cultivation of constructive theological imagination begins with liturgical formation. (xviii)