Fuller Theological Seminary is launching a series of contests to recognize excellence in sermons that make effective use of scientific research. But at least one conservative theologian is urging caution.
Fuller received a nearly $200,000 grant from the John Templeton Foundation to conduct contests for outstanding examples of sermons that effectively incorporate new research findings into their messages. The contest website provides contestants with three sermon examples from a pro-evolution pastor named Daniel Harrell.
Fuller Theological Seminary gave OneNewsNow the following written statement about the purpose of the contest:
The hope is that the contest will generate resources for helping pastors and faith communities grapple with the discoveries that affect their daily lives, while providing data for further careful research. It is not advocating for more "liberal" or "conservative" viewpoints as a subject for preaching as much as engaging both contemporary science and orthodox Christian faith.
Conservative theologian Dr. Richard Land, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary, has no problem with the contest but says his concern is about possible flaws in the information science can give.
“It depends on our understanding that the Word of God is infallible and science isn't,” he says. “Science is always in a state of flux, science is always open to new discoveries, and science is always open to revision.
"There are a lot of things that used to be considered settled scientific facts, but which are no longer scientific facts because evidence has disproven them. So science is always written in erasable ink; the Bible is not."
Land says the person doing the preaching has to understand the difference between the nature of biblical knowledge and the nature of scientific knowledge. But he adds that certainly doesn't mean science should be ignored.