Here's my contribution to the Core Academy March newsletter:
A great deal has been said recently about statements of faith, especially how those statements specify - or don't - the details of God's creation. Faith statements serve a variety of purposes. They can positively define the beliefs of a group of people, or they can negatively state what is out of bounds for that group. Most statements of faith do both. Some statements help others understand exactly where certain institutions stand, while other statements are more of a minimal ideal to which a group strives. Lots of statements go beyond the bare necessities of Christian faith and include points that help define a group's identity. For example, a creationist organization will include points about creation, but a ministry to the poor might leave those points out in favor of clear declarations of human value and God's love.
All of these functions are perfectly reasonable, and many hundreds of Christian organizations successfully use faith statements all the time. The question on my mind today is whether any of these statements actually mean anything in the long run. I'm especially challenged by James' words, "But someone will say, 'You have faith and I have works.' Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.... For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead" (James , 26). James teaches us that faith must be worked out. Belief is just the beginning. What difference do our statements of faith make?
Like all Christian ministries focusing on origins issues, Core Academy of Science is in the thick of the current "historical Adam debate." Some recent evangelicals have argued that an actual physical ancestor named Adam is not essential to the faith. Many others (including some evolutionary creationists) argue otherwise. Where do we stand? Of course there was a historical Adam! To us, the historical Adam is obvious, but we cannot stop there, because faith without works is dead. How can we live out our belief?
At Core Academy, we want to understand what the historical Adam means for the rest of science. What does he mean for our understanding of genetics? Of comparative genomics? Of the fossil record? Since Adam and Eve existed, what do australopiths really tell us about human origins? Since God created Adam and Eve separately from other animals, why does the human genome so closely resemble the genomes of mammalian animals like chimpanzees?
I have just finished two chapters addressing these very questions for a book coming early next year. These chapters are co-authored with my friend and colleague Joe Francis, chairman of biology at The Master's College. These chapters exemplify the Core Academy approach to faith: we work out our faith. Faith statements are just the beginning.
If you've grown weary over the faith statement wars, we're looking for ministry partners who are as passionate about living their faith as we are. Will you join us? Visit our website for more information.
Feedback? Email me at toddcharleswood [at] gmail [dot] com.