15 December 2007

doubting in good faith

Two days ago, I mentioned a Pentecostal professor who said that he'd been "Moltmannized" after reading some of Jürgen Moltmann's stuff. As I noted, I've started reading his autobiography, A Broad Place. In chapter 7, he speaks of his awakening interest in theology for the medical profession. Moltmann talks about meeting with people who are specialists in various scientific fields--and of the great interest and energy generated by those encounters. Here's a sentence which really got my attention:

"But there are still very few scientists who expect to profit scientifically from theology, and unfortunately hardly any theologians who read scientific books in order to discover the traces of God in 'the book of nature' too." (p. 90) I'm not terribly surprised about the first half of that sentence. It's the second half that troubles me.

I realize that there are all kinds of attempts to merge science and faith that do justice to neither. Pseudo-science and fuzzy faith appear in many corners: from the new agey "What the Bleep Do We Know?" to the fundamentalist "intelligent design." Maybe it's just Moltmann's perspective (I would hope so), but why aren't there more theologians, Christian thinkers, and rank-and-file church members who are interested in science? Can't we get beyond the politics involved and admit that a genuine search for truth is a good and noble (and even sacred) thing?

Tomorrow, I'll discuss with our congregation Matthew 11:2-11, where John the Baptist from his prison cell expresses doubts as to whether or not Jesus is actually the Messiah. In response, Jesus doesn't scold John. He honors him as "a prophet" and "more than a prophet." It appears, in my humble opinion, that Jesus acknowledges that John's doubt comes from a place of integrity. John genuinely wants to know. He doubts in good faith! If we can get hold of that, there's no reason to fear the good faith searches of people who seem very different from us.

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