I am the lone pastor in our homeschool group and as such I am often sought out for spiritual advice, to cast vision for our group, and sometimes settle disagreements. At times it is a great blessing, at other times it is the bane of my family’s wider homeschooling endeavor. Our group meets on Tuesday afternoons in a cooperative style, teaching different classes, supplemental to our home curriculums. I am teaching chemistry this year! However, a little over a year ago I had an ugly confrontation with a fellow pastor whose children were meeting with us on Tuesday afternoons.
A problem arose in literature class which was the result of a gross misunderstanding. The pastor’s youngest daughter told her daddy that her teacher was essentially teaching that evolution was true. (Please do not leave any comments desiring to discuss creation and evolution; it is not the point of this post. Suffice it to say I believe special creation, so please stick with me here.) In a discussion of the creation story from Egyptian mythology, the little girl questioned her teacher and she could not answer in the affirmative that she believed in creation as presented in the early chapters of Genesis.
The little lady promptly told her daddy about it and to make a long story short, my brother pastor confronted the teacher and hurt her terribly. There was no humility or grace in his attack; wholly uncharacteristic of a Christian minister. One thing led to another and he called me after several conversations with this lady. Essentially he desired to mount an offensive against her and me being the only other pastor in our group, he thought he would have an instant ally.
I met him for breakfast and he shared his concerns. To prepare myself, and to be fair, I met with the teacher the week before, with another lady present from our homeschool group. Her husband was working, unable to get time off to meet with us. Having her side of the story, I met my brother pastor and I was not shocked to hear a differing tale. I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, as I did the other lady, until he made a bold, underhanded statement.
I could accept defending his children. I accepted the potentiality of false teaching amongst our group. I accepted his right to be upset. After a laborious conversation, I was becoming sickened by false humility. It was then that he finally called the lady’s salvation into question. “Tony,” he said, “if she doesn’t believe Genesis 1-11 there is no way she can be saved.”
I nearly dropped my teeth. It took me a few moments to gather my thoughts. I really could not believe my ears and I am certain the dumbfounded expression betrayed to him my incredulity. “Well, what you are saying then is that I was not saved until just about eight or ten years ago.” I came to Christ in my late teen years and went to college to major in biology. I was really wrestling with my newfound faith and, being a science major, special creation contradicted everything I was being taught at the University of South Carolina at Spartanburg.
I will never forget one of the very first lectures in my baby botany class, which began with a discussion of the primordial ooze. A theory postulated by A. I. Oparin, a primitive “ooze” containing all the necessary elements of life was electrified in some way and behold, life began. I raised my hand and with all the innocence of a baby Christian, asked, “Where did the elements come from?” The professor answered, “They were always there.” That answer never washed with me and it still doesn’t but it was the best she could do. They had to come from somewhere didn’t they?
Nevertheless, when I came to Jesus Christ I understood some simple things. I understood that I was a sinner; a dirty rotten sinner. I felt I was so sinful that I could not be forgiven. (I learned otherwise.) I also understood that Jesus Christ died a horrible, agonizing death for me. The reason why—the wages of sin is death. I literally remember feeling so sinful and so separated from God that I wanted to die; I deserved to die. However, God had other plans for my trivial existence. My good friend, Todd, shared with me that Jesus’ death was sufficient to pay the penalty for my sins; He died so I wouldn’t have to! Now that was good news! Weeping, on my knees in Todd’s bedroom, I called on Jesus Christ to save me from my sins and I was born again. The joy of forgiveness washed over my soul, changing me from the inside out. I finally felt I was right with God.
Now I share that brief testimony to make this point. I did not believe in creation when I was saved. I had never heard of the verbal plenary inspiration of the Bible. I was light years from believing that Scripture is inerrant. It took me a lot of time to come to and hold the convictions that I do now. I did not instantly believe all those things; I had to work out my own salvation, and it has been with fear and trembling.
So, I asked my brother pastor, “Did you believe Genesis 1-11 was literal history when you came to know Christ?” He responded, “Of course I did.” But I said, “Are you not willing to make an allowance in this lady’s case, that she may be working toward that end and that she may also come to that conclusion, that Genesis 1-11 is literal history? Are you not willing to allow her time to formulate her own convictions and not force her into any particular mold?”
Sadly, he answered in the negative, and if I would not stand beside him and fight this thing, then he would find someone who would. He simply wanted her out; no discussion, just a call for her resignation, making no allowances. By the grace of God, no one took up arms and jumped in the foxhole with him, so he and his family quietly left our homeschool group. Their decision saddened me and our group, because they were a sweet family; passionate, committed, homeschoolers, zealous for their children’s welfare.
There is a moral to this story, and it may already be apparent. However, entertain me just a while longer. I have been in the blogosphere for a few months now and have made some great cyber friends. Raborn out at Ray’s X-change and Steve at Theological Musings are passionate simple church advocates. I have had great discussions with both of them. They love the Lord dearly, but we have a few theological differences. If you want to talk SBC politics, then Les Puryear is your man out at Crucified with Christ. Earl Flask is a gentle yet persuasive Calvinist blogger at metaSchema (I don’t know what that means either). He attends a Presbyterian church and he and I have been discussing baptism; need I say more?
If you want pure biblical exposition and heart and soul edification, plus a good laugh every now and then, see Gordon Cloud at Heavenly Heartburn. Tim Blankenship at Fire and Hammer, well, you get the picture. Streak, operating under a blog alias at Streak’s Blog, has the Republicans in a chokehold gasping for breath and they don’t even know it. And then there are homeschool bloggers, Spunky, Homeschrewling, and Why Homeschool? that are all worth your time.
I have been involved in good discussions on all these blogs yet I have also seen some conversations degenerate into ugly firefights totally unbecoming of the Godblogoshere. In a recent discussion, I watched someone call a person’s salvation under question just because he did not agree with his point of view. I understand and I have no problem with anonymity and blog aliases but if you are using these to fly under someone’s radar and make hurtful and snide comments, and believe you are getting away with it, please know and understand this: you do not escape God’s attention and there will be a reckoning.
We are all out here in the blogosphere to learn, be edified and encouraged, discover differing points of view, prove why we believe a certain way, yet never in a derisive fashion. Iron sharpens iron, and yes it does make sparks at times, but this is no excuse to be mean. Be passionate, uphold your convictions, but don’t resort to meanness. There is always room for more humility. Remember, there is a person on the other side of that computer screen that isn’t an argument to be won or a point to be proven.
My brother pastor totally missed the point of his own argument. Though belief in special creation is not a prerequisite for salvation, how much more effective could he have been in her life if he actually was a pastor to her, instead of being so dead-set against her? Convictions do not develop overnight, nor are they formed in a vacuum. We all are and can be part of that great process; imagine what you can miss otherwise. God makes allowances for each one of us to develop convictions; test them, try them, see if they hold up under divine scrutiny. Afford your brother or sister in Christ the same luxury.
Thanks for reading.