I read an article recently that discussed perspectives on why God allows evil in the world. Almost as an aside, it talked about evolution as a picture of God’s nature. At first this seemed almost heretical, but the idea wasn’t necessarily to promote evolution, only to use it as a model. This made me think of Paul on Mars Hill, and whether there’s a lesson here for reaching today’s science-focused world with the truth of the Gospel.
First of all, it needs to be stated that this line of thought in no way is meant to suggest that evolution is valid. Rather, the idea here is to face the fact that some people do believe it is valid, and so we can use that fact to introduce them to the Savior. Once that happens, He can bring them to a correct understanding of the truth.
So if we think about Paul in Athens, we recall that he was waiting for Silas and Timothy to arrive. While waiting, he became upset by the level of idolatry in the city and began challenging people with the Gospel in the synagogue and marketplace. This attracted the attention of some intellectuals who wanted to hear more.
So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you.” Acts 17:22–23 (NASB95)
As Paul started speaking to them, he mentioned finding in the city an altar to “an Unknown God”. Paul used this as a way to introduce them to the one true God. What’s interesting here is that Paul didn’t really refute their false belief, but rather used it to point to the truth. In fact, Paul even used Greek poetry about Zeus to make a point later on! How unlike the typical approach of the church today, which chooses to confront the lost about their false beliefs while making the Gospel secondary. Although Paul did go on later to differentiate the true God from those that supposedly live in temples, and did give them a call to repentance, his focus was on pointing them to the truth, rather than away from their false beliefs.
So what if, in like manner to Paul, there was a way to use evolution to point people to the truth without refuting them directly. Suppose there was a way to use someone’s beliefs, whether right or wrong, to bring them into the Kingdom. It is after all, God’s heart above all else, to bring people into the Kingdom. This is what He died for, and this seemed to be what the authors of the article were suggesting. In this case, the idea was that part of God’s nature is to bring good out of the bad of the world, and evolution, because of the way cycles of death supposedly result in improved organisms, is a picture of that nature.
This is definitely something to take to the Lord. Sharing the Gospel with intellectuals is an interest of mine, so I’m going to pray about this topic and seek an understanding in the Word. Perhaps I’ll write more in a future post.