Personal interpretation of creation should not get in way of understanding evolution


In my experience, one of the perspectives that most limits young people from being willing to confess a belief in Christian principles is the perception that -- if you become a Christian -- you are necessarily in opposition to scientific thought or, more the case, thinking altogether. This is, of course, a relatively modern notion that has been purported by those seeking to capitalize on conflict methodology.

In fact, there really is no reason for Christians to generally be in opposition to scientific/technological development or theories. Most Christians that I know, young and old alike, actually love scientific/technological advancements for the comforts they provide and for the relationships they can help to solidify. I don't suspect that most people are willing to give up the comforts of motorized travel, cell phones, social networking or anesthesia for theological reasons.

On the other hand, there are some issues that many Christians have become convinced they should be direly concerned about. The theory of evolution is one of them. Simplistically put, the main disagreement behind such theoretical angst tends to be that both sides of the dispute dislike the arrogance that the other side has in holding their opinions. Whole organizations have been developed, and millions of dollars have been spent, among disagreeing Christians in order to advocate the particular stance their camp holds. One might argue that such division helps to advance the Reformed motto: Ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda! ("Reformed and always reforming") according to the Word of God. Others, though, might wonder if such conflict promotes unity in the church and if such allocated funds might better be used serving the poor.

Personally, as one who actively works between the realms of science and theology, I have found that talking about evolution as it pertains to the creation of the universe is oftentimes not a productive endeavor. Regardless of one's personal convictions on the subject, the topic is not Biblically a salvific issue. In my opinion, if such discussion causes conflict in one's church, then it is sometimes better not to get into our personal interpretations as to how God created everything.

That being said, I don't think Christians should be against the theory of evolution. Actually, I think they should be, and necessarily are, very in favor of it. Allow me to explain.

According to the Bible, after Jesus is resurrected, he appears to his disciples for 40 days. And, in addition to being raised from the dead, it seems that Jesus is quite a bit different from before his crucifixion.

On the one hand, Scripture tells us that when Jesus is resurrected he indeed has a physical body. He has physical flesh and bones (Luke 24:39). He has touchable wounds (John 20:24-31). Jesus is even regularly hungry (Luke 24:41 and John 21:1-14). On the other hand, though, the resurrected Jesus doesn't seem to be like us at all. He can show up instantaneously in a crowd (Luke 24:36-46), even through locked doors (John 20:19-22). He appears in many different unrecognizable forms (Mark 16:12-13) -- even to people who have followed him for years and know him intimately (Luke 24: 13-35). He can even ascend into heaven. In some ways, the resurrected Jesus is just like a pre-resurrected living human being, yet in other ways, he is clearly -- instantaneously -- an evolved form of Jesus.

If Christians are indeed to take up their cross and follow Jesus and eventually be resurrected to eternal life, it seems to me that this eschatological evolution should be something we are all not just in favor of, but striving toward.

The Rev. Christopher Benek is the associate pastor of family ministries at Providence Presbyterian Church on Hilton Head Island. Read his blog at