Science in Christian Perspective

Letter to the Editor


Dialogue More Fruitful than Dispute
James 0. Buswell, III 

President, ASA 
Wheaton College Wheaton, Illinois

From: JASA 31 (June 1979): 127

Now that the 1978 meetings are history and reflections on its many highlights compete for attention, there is one personal experience that I should like to share with you. It is evidence that sincere discussion between people holding opposing views can reduce misunderstanding that communication can lead to increased understanding.
Leading up to this experience was the report of a panel discussion of May 2 at Wheaton College on the theological implications of how long ago creation took place. That event had involved the confrontation of those holding two major positions of creationism, that of a geologically ancient creation, and that of the young-earth, recent creation. The former position was presented by panelists who represented no single organization, although one of them was an ASA member. The latter position, because of the nature of its current image, and because the invitation was given to the Institute for Creation Research, Midwest Center, was represented by two of the prominent spokesmen for the ICR.

The particular highlight that I wish to share with you is that since one of those spokesmen, Pastor Marvin Lubenow, was present at the Hope College meetings we had a chance to have some long conversations, to exchange some ideas, to refine terminology, and thus to clear up some misunderstandings on the part of both of us. Although neither of us convinced the other to change his basic views, I was able to revise parts of the report to reflect his explanations. I found Pastor Lubenow to be a most gracious, Christian gentleman, willing to communicate without a closed mind.

Thus I was encouraged to believe that the bridge-building between the ICR and the ancient-creation position (often identified with the ASA) towards which the reported panel discussion was aimed, might indeed be continued between the more open-minded on both sides of the question.

This brings me to the point of this communication: although we seek continuing discussion among Christians, such interaction with reference to those holding opposite views on any subject should be conducted in charitable terms and in a manner becoming to Christians.

A recent communication from ICR director, Henry Morris, alleges that, " 'Bridge-building', of course needs to proceed in two directions. For at least three decades ASA and neo-evangeli cals in general have been ridiculing those of us who believe in a young earth and flood geology .... This has been very hurtful."

Whether this charge is true or false, exaggerated or one-sided, or merely the result of misunderstanding, my reply to Dr. Morris in part promised, "to take every possible precaution against any further such expressions appearing in ASA publications. We shall continue the 'open forum' style of expression, including different sides of questions debated by Christians, without sarcasm and ridicule against other creationists of which we have been accused. 

Accordingly I am sending this letter to the editors of both our Journal and our Newsletter, and thus to all future authors within their pages, asking them to continue to lead our membership at large with diligent attention to the rhetoric of controversy. Dialogue is more fruitful than dispute; and criticism can be expressed as eloquently in love as in condemnation.

(Ed, - This letter was written for all the members of the ASA on September 1, 1978. It was published in its entirely in the Fall 1978 issue of the ASA News, but due to a misunderstanding has not been previously published in the Journal ASA.)