08 October 2010

BioLogos and Christian unity. Part I: The cost of artificial unity

Christian unity is not something to take lightly. Famous biblical proof texts urge us to pursue it. Basic theological commitments establish it as a primary goal of believers. Basic human nature would seem to drive us to seek solidarity with those who share fundamental beliefs. So when a Christian – especially a Christian in the midst of a dispute or disagreement with another Christian – makes an appeal for unity, only a fool would rise to disagree. Considered in isolation, talk of unity is powerfully persuasive to Christian believers. "Considered in isolation." That's where I will focus as I try to explain (again) why talk of unity can be inappropriate and even dangerous when it is offered outside of context. In short, I take the following to be evident: unity is not an end in itself, and is not achieved by wishful thinking or gushy happy talk. I'll look at those two points in two posts on BioLogos and Christian unity.

So, I'm occasionally frustrated by the stance of my friends at BioLogos when it comes to Christian unity. Consider a recent and widely-discussed piece by Darrel Falk, on the question of why BioLogos is co-sponsoring a conference (called The Vibrant Dance) with two organizations known to regularly misrepresent science: Reasons To Believe (RTB) and the Discovery Institute (DI). Falk notes that this choice has been criticized by believers and skeptics alike. In my opinion, his defense of that choice misses the most important criticisms. His defense amounts to a claim that Christian unity matters more than just about anything else. Specifically, he asserts that "what we have in common far outweighs the differences we may experience." And "we" is BioLogos, RTB, The DI, and an interesting group of other organizations, one of which is my employer (Calvin College). I will have words for Calvin in the near future. Here are some comments on his reasoning and his claims in that post.