Tuesday, May 17, 2011

About that Genesis Symposium

Bryan College will be hosting a symposium this fall entitled Reading Genesis 1-2: An Evangelical Conversation. Due to the roster of speakers, we've been getting some questions about the symposium. Here's what I wrote to one such inquiry:

Thanks for writing. The Genesis symposium you refer to is hosted and organized by the Bryan Institute for Critical Thought and Practice, which is part of Bryan College. For the past six years, the Bryan Institute has organized symposia at the college focusing on controversial issues, often including disagreements within evangelical Christianity. Past symposia focused on issues like global warming, the function of music in church services, and health care in America. Here's a list of past symposia.

It's in that context that we need to understand the Genesis Symposium. The college is definitely not advocating some new way of reading Genesis, and we're not changing our position on anything. What we're trying to do with the symposium is to examine and evaluate new proposals about reading Genesis 1-2, which have become very popular among evangelical Old Testament scholars. In addition to scholars advocating these novel interpreations, another speaker will be Todd Beall, who is an Old Testament scholar who continues to advocate a traditional, creationist interpretation (as I do). You may recall his name from his chapter in the creationist book Coming to Grips with Genesis, edited by Terry Mortenson and Thane Urey. So the symposium intends to reflect a plurality of interpretations, rather than promoting "evolution-friendly" interpretations. The Bryan Institute was absolutely committed to having the creationist perspective presented at the symposium, which is more than can be said for many modern scholarly symposia on Genesis and origins.

As a college, we feel it's important that our students become aware of the full range of Christian perspectives on origins, since they will undoubtedly encounter those positions some time during their lives. The Genesis symposium is part of that educational experience. It's definitely not a sign that we've changed our doctrinal position or that we're abandoning the authority of scripture. Quite the contrary. The Center for Origins Research, which is entirely sponsored by the College, continues to do pioneering creationist research on biological topics, as we have done for the past 22 years.

I hope this will answer your concerns, but if you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to ask.

Feedback? Email me at toddcharleswood [at] gmail [dot] com.