Science in Christian Perspective

Letter to the Editor

Was InterVarsity Intimidated When It Dropped Brave New People?
Purnell H. Benson
Visiting Professor
Graduate Business School
Columbia University
New York, New York 10027

From: JASA 37 (June 1985): 127

The news account in Christianity Today (September 21, 1984) reports that the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, following protests by both sides of pro-life, withdrew Gareth Jones' book because it was divisive and did not express the views of IVCF's staff or constituents in their advancement of the gospel.

The unproved allegation (Bullock and Bube, JASA December 1984) that IVCF lacked the integrity to resist political pressure seems gratuitous and could erroneously affect the reputation of a splended evangelical fellowship. Unlike the ASA, IVCF has not sought, as far as I know, to be a forum for publication of divergent views about science and the Christian faith.

Whether IVCF should assume a fresh role of facilitating debate among different hues of the Christian spectrum may be an issue worth exploring. If so, let it be done by followers of IVCF within the channels of communication in IVCF, if possible, and in a warm spirit of Christian love for fellow evangelists.

The issues of "pro-life" are profound. As we thread our way through the difficult days ahead in seeking Christian consensus about how to curb the mass evil of abortion, let us avoid impugning each other's integrity.

For myself, I believe that sensitive Christians, having initiated life at conception should, and usually will, fulfill the trust which God has reposed in them by providing for the life entrusted to them. As for the secular world of unsaved Christians, I consider it impractical to pass and enforce laws to protect life in the early weeks of human development.

I premise this impracticality upon my outlook as a university professor of management science. Well-intentioned orthodox Christians in the United States have fostered the growth of predatory systems of organized crime by periodically enacting unenforceable codes of morality, such as the Prohibition failure. Of course much social legislation enacted by Christian support has been beneficial.

There is the larger question of who shall survive on the limited resources of this planet. Can we afford expensive life support systems for the terminally ill? Shall we keep alive infants born with monstrous deformities or tragic handicaps? Shall we invoke capital punishment as a crime deterrent? Shall we use scientific techniques and sacrifice human lives in wars such as Vietnam? Shall we use scientific gene procedures to control the formation of human life?

These are questions to which there are no easy answers. It is a tremendous thing that the ASA assumes the weighty responsibility of concerning itself with such issues of science and Christian faith.