The hubby and I were lying in bed the other night. He was watching an episode of The Office and I was contemplating how I was going to write my next blog post on Pierre Teilhard Chardin—the topic of my last few posts. After a few minutes of staring at my screen, I let out a moan and said in defeat, “This is just too big. I have no idea what I am doing! How do I convey in plain language the beauty and possibility Chardin is offering?” For the most part, Teilhard’s ideas are not compiled in one place in a neat and tidy manner. Rather, they are made up of various articles, unpublished writings, and a few documented speeches. Besides the few books that he completed, his works are written from various areas of his expertise, written at different times throughout his life, and translated by different people. The translation piece is worth noting since Teilhard often spoke using a vocabulary that was essentially of his own making. Over time, as I have read and reread his works I began to see things in a new way. I felt a hope and an understanding of a new vision that made sense to the here and now. It was exhilarating. Almost from day one I knew God was asking me to share this hope with others. I am finally at a place in my life I can do just that and I’m at a complete loss as how to go about it. To simply try and summarize his theories and assertions won’t suffice. So I have decided to try it from another angle. I want to use the hopeful desire, which the Spirit has set aflame in me, and paint a picture of how I see it translating into our current world. I know what he is saying, but I have no idea how to say it-—so I will say it the way I can—through my own words, with my own vision, and spurred on by my own hope.
Part of the reason I initially held back from casting this vision from a personal standpoint was, sadly, due to fear. While I regard Chardin as a philosopher first, a scientist second, and a theologian third—a claim he is very forward about stating—part of what I feel called to do is integrate a theological orthodoxy to the foundation already laid. It is not that the biblical narrative doesn’t appear in his works, in fact it is pervasive, but it clearly was not written to be used as a work of theology. I think it can be. My fear in this regard is taking the leap to attempt such a feat. Attempting to create a theological worldview is not only I’ve never done before, but something I never thought I would feel capable or confident to undertake. The foundation from which I am going to build upon, however, is one shrouded in questions and doubts over whether it can hold up to orthodoxy, and furthermore, if it is even something that has the qualities intrinsic for any theological basis. This fear, along with the following one, are the two greatest struggles in Chardin’s life and something that he never obtain resolution to in his life. Part of the reason Chardin didn’t directly use Scripture as his only means of building his theories is because of his heart for all people and of all faith backgrounds. He wanted no one to feel as though the hope he was offering was something only for Christians. I admire and agree with his decision on this.
There is another fear I feel compelled to confess. This struggle is in regards to evolution being at the foundation of all Teilhard believed. This issue is just one of many un-Christ like divisions within Christianity. Divisions that I contend are abhorrent if they revolve around any issue apart from the truth of God’s nature as being love, which is revealed through Christ on the cross. The centrality of the cross should by the center of everything we adhere to. It is here and only here we are able to understand God as love. The most comprehensive definition I know for the love Christ displayed on the cross is as follows: a self-sacrificial, other-oriented love that ascribes unsurpassable worth to another at the cost of oneself. My opinion about the centrality of the cross being the only reason for church division doesn’t negate the fact there is one regarding the evolution vs. creationism issue. But there is simply no way around it. In fact, it would be impossible to remove evolution from the equation here. Teilhard’s experience in geological studies and evolutionary discoveries is what inspired a majority of his work.
My encouragement to those who have a different view of interpreting creation is not to back away from the conversation, but rather to engage in it. I want to leave open a door for us to consider new possibilities among a group of people who may see things differently over certain things. My intention is not to bring conflict or division, but hope and unity. There will be things that will be a challenge on both sides, this I am certain. My aim is to create an environment of openness and vulnerability—a place where questions are welcomed. Questions are vital to any growth process. Doubts are good. Wresting is healthy. The key is for each to be open to change and willing to agree to disagree.
This is where I am at right now and this is where I will be going from here on out. God is so good and so faithful. It is Him who I look to for my words and I never feel as though he doesn’t deliver. So I will now put my trust in the One in which I live and move and have my being. Standing firm on the truth that perfect love casts out fear.
Love this sister! Thanks for sharing your writings. And I LOVE what an articulate writer you are!! You have a gift and I’m glad you’re using it! Love you!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you friend! I don’t know what I would do without you:)
I’ve read little or nothing from Chardin, but now you’ve got me interested. Thanks for posting this. Sounds like the sort of thing people would want to talk about at Flaherty’s, right?
Well, you know me. I seem to always have a way of saying things whether people want to hear what I have to say or not 😉
Thank you Stephanie. I have never seen much of a conflict between the Genesis accounts and evolution. And, oh BTW, our current pastor is a contributor to the conversation via BioLogos. But even before that, I have always understood that there are different ways of striving after the wind of truth: one is science and the other is art — one is head, the other is heart. They both are “known”, in a sense. They both are true.
I’m no scientist so I don’t have much of anything to say in the matter other than that I am dogmatically agnostic when it comes to how God created the world. None of us will know for certain. And I haven’t really read as much as I should on this issue either. I am an old earth creationist though.
Well, you need to read the next post to see my suggestion about resolving, what I perceive to be, an unnecessary issue. Happy to see you reading and giving feedback again…I suppose it helps that I started writing again, huh? 🙂