Science in Christian Perspective

Letter to the Editor


Response to Tiscareno

David F. Siemens, Jr., ASA Fellow
2703 E. Kenwood Street
Mesa, AZ 85213-2384

From: PSCF 51 (December 1999): 279.

Tiscarenoís concern (PSCF 51 [September 1999]: 208) is clearly heartfelt. But is it warranted? It seems to me that he primarily wants Christians, especially in the ASA, to be nice. I have not found this to be part of the description of a believer. I know that it is a vital part of the culture of some religious groups. My folks had dealings with a member of one of them. Mom said that she had often wished that Christians could be as nice as they. But the nice was purely surface. When things did not go exactly as the member wanted, she became very nasty on the spot. Mom never again wished that the believers could be that "nice." One must also ask if Paul was nice when he chewed Peter out for compromising with the legalists, or when he called Ananias "a whited wall." Is Matthew 23 nice? Is the cleansing of the Temple nice?

In contrast, love is the first ingredient of the fruit of the Spirit. Agape must not be confused with liking or being likable. "Like" goes no deeper than compatible personalities, and may be even more superficial. But if I love my neighbor as myself I will become as upset over injustice done to him as I do when itís done to me. I donít have to like him for that. Nor do I have to agree with him.

Is it "wholly false that ëpremillennialists Ö are not concerned much with activities which would improve the worldí"? They have become more concerned recently, but for a long while they opposed anything which seemed to them associated with the "social gospel." Indeed, I recently heard an elderly premillennialist asking why an organization was building an expensive structure if they believe that the Lord is soon returning.

Will civility be increased by foregoing theological commitments? Some among us remember that Luther tapped the table saying, "Hoc est corpus meus," which Calvin understood differently; that Arminiusí views were condemned by a church council; that their fellow believers were imprisoned, chased out of Massachusetts, and sent to the galleys, massacred, or burnt at the stake. Some bear the scars of battle with usurping heretics, or of wounds from sowers of discord. Are those who for such reasons have deep commitments to be censured for stating them? Of course not, for they have the right to present their views strongly. Their statements as published seem to me polite. I have not found them indulging in personal attacks.

Finally, I must warn Tiscareno that nice lies with the individual. Unless he stands for virtually nothing, someone sometime will tell him, "That wasnít nice."