I did a recent post on different styles of debating. In it I describe the oft used tactic of Antithetical arguments; where too seemingly opposite view points are presented as the only available options. There was a perfect example of the problems caused by this in the BBC3 programme 'Conspiracy Road Trip - Creationism' At this point you may suspect that I am about to come down hard on the producer and presenter of the show, but hold for a moment. Granted, the television company did what they tend to do by creating space for maximum conflict, but the focus of my frustration lay elsewhere. It seems to me that some sections of the evangelical church have suggested (even taught) that there are only two positions available in the faith vs science debate. Namely; you either believe the bible or you believe evolution. I felt sorry for most of the participants because they had obviously not been encouraged to have an open mind about such things and so began to defend their faith instead of discussing science. And this is what I believe to be the problem. If we are told that there are only two options available then it is easy to conclude that accepting any alternative evidence is akin to 'letting the side down'. There are many evangelical Christians, who hold a considered view of the bible, and who are not uncomfortable with the idea of evolution. My frustration is that churches equip their members to take a stand on areas that do not necessarily undermine the Christian faith. There are more places to take a stand on the issue than simply the two options presented.
I have noticed a trend over recent days when engaging with the Christian blogosphere; it seems that some quarters find it all too easy to shout heretic at even the slightest questioning of any given evangelical construct. This is nothing new of course; the 'H' word has been used in all kinds of situation to silence dissenting voices so that those in power might feel safe in their chosen sphere of comfort. Thankfully nowadays we are more likely to be roasted on the Internet than burnt at the stake. It seems that some are afraid of the very idea of questioning current interpretations of orthodoxy, as if God might be offended by our need to understand. To a watching world it must make the creator of the universe look a little insecure if he has left the task of his honour being defended to the likes of us. Surely questioning is as much a part of the faith journey as any other spiritual discipline and yet you will be hard pushed to find it encouraged in some sections of the church. I can do nothing but take my lead from the incarnation; this moment when God took the ultimate risk of becoming human. In this act we see how full commitment to the idea of 'becoming' can have eternal consequences. It seems plain to me that the church, as Christ's body, should have the same desire to 'become' what it needs to be in every generation and to every tribe. The very notion that the church should look exactly the same in every context seems to ignore the Incarnational motif. By definition there needs to be difference: there needs to be change. For this to happen questions need to be asked. At times the kind of questions that risk the use of the 'H' word. The search for orthodoxy is perhaps subservient to the need for evangelical Morphodoxy.