Extrapolate from a few and call it them all
August 1, 2012
Lawrence Martin’s trashing of Evangelicals in July 31, 2012 Globe & Mail’s Faith and Reason column evidences research that is short on information, misguided by another’s bias and superficial in its analysis. He pulled in Prime Minister Harper with accusations that he is not sufficiently supporting public science because of his church affiliation with an Evangelical Protestant denomination.
Evangelical Protestants are found in all sectors of Canadian society – teachers, doctors, even scientists, to name just a few. The views of Canadian Evangelicals cut a wide swath across the political spectrum. In late 1990s, more voted federally for the Liberals than Conservatives. However, after the scorning of Prime Minister Chretien’s government in regard to matters of faith the Liberals moved progressively to a close third, behind the NDP, in Evangelical voter support. But over science or statistics? Hardly.
To define a substantial Canadian denomination – the Christian and Missionary Alliance – by claiming they believe “the free market is divinely inspired and views science and environmentalism with what might be called scorn,” is sweeping, superficial and, from my experience, plain silly. Of course across the sweep of thousands of Christians there will be all sorts of views on politics: from the NDP to the Green Party; on matters of science, from seeing creation through the lens of a young earth or old earth; on free market, viewed as an opportunity by many and with suspicion by others.
I’ve lived my life within the community: raised as a minister’s son in Saskatchewan; past president of both The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada and a liberal arts university; and, having listened to the debate on issues of science and faith, always knowing that a rational argument was appreciated and applauded – mine and many others grounded in our Christian beliefs.
Evangelicals are, as sociologist Reg Bibby describes, small “c” conservative, in that we conserve what is true and good of Christian faith in our churches, culture and society. Born within the Reformation of the early 1500s, more particularly defined within the Protestant community in the social actions of William Wilberforce in the late 1700s, in Canada we were more slowly identified as the older main line Protestant church transitioned from its former theological locus.
Being theologically conservative frees one to investigate the world of science without apology. Politically correct science is not required; given “This is our Father’s world,” the environment matters. The keeping of its nature and preserving its integrity is critical to our world view. Desecrating God’s good world is included in the category of “evil.”
Science is a great gift of our Creator. Its use and abuse is profoundly important to our theology and communities as having not only performance realities but moral ones. For Martin to lay at our doorstep a politician avoiding, in Martin’s opinion, debate on science and the environment has nothing to do with what we believe. Politicians and governments do what they do for their own reasons. Mr. Martin is not only categorically wrong but seems to have little idea as to who we are.
My question to Mr. Martin is, “Have you met with leaders and influencers from the Evangelical community to allow their ideas to filter your understanding?” The straw images he cunningly destroys are so banal.
The mind – our means of pursuing truth by reason – and creation, – the marvelous gift of life – are central to our vision of life and critical to our calling to co-manage creation. Reason and creation we celebrate. Science and the market place are gifts to be carefully understood and applied for benefit of all humanity.
Brian C. Stiller: President Emeritus, Tyndale University College & Seminary; Global Ambassador the World Evangelical Alliance