Answers are Also Great: a book review

Living the Questions (LtQ) publishes a series of resources for progressive Christians. LtQ is a ministry which helps thinking Christians wrestle with the issues we face in contemporary culture.  They publish a series of DVD curriculums which are used by ‘nearly 6000 churches and other groups across the US, Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand.  Recently I viewed one of these courses entitled, Paint the Stars: Science, Religion and an Evolving Faith. It consists of seven twenty-minute sessions where various Christian theologians, pastors and bloggers (Rachel Held Evans) discuss the interaction between science and faith, especially in relation to evolutionary thought.

The overarching theme of these videos is to illustrate. that science is not opposed to the spiritual life. Science and evolution   cause of wonder and give us new metaphors for faith and life. Contributors to this series certainly paint a compelling vision of scientific and spiritual cooperation. In the faith tradition I was raised (conservative, evangelical Protestantism), I was taught to mistrust my biology teachers and look askance at evolutionary theory (after all it is only a theory, right?). So I applaud what I think is a move in the right direction: an affirmation of both scientific and spiritual truth without necessitating that one negates the other.

I loved the tenor of all this. I did struggle with what was actually said on the DVD. There is an affirmation of science and spirituality, but there is no deep engagement with either sphere. This is not a video series that makes the biblical case for evolution. Or much of a theological/philosophical case. They also use science suggestively without engaging with hard data. On both scores I think the Biologos forum offers more substance.

I also thought the contributors were a mixed bag. It makes sense to include Rachel Held Evans in this project. She grew up as a conservative evangelical and embraced a more progressive form of faith (when she evolved in Monkey Town). But some of the contributors do not have what I would call a robust ‘Christian’ faith. People like Matthew Fox, John Shelby Spong, and Gretta Vosper are not inspiring witnesses for me. Though I did appreciate the words of Barbara Rossing, Philip Clayton and Michael Dowd.

My nit-picky point of critique is a single line of misinformation. One of the contributors (I forget who), quoted Amos Yong of Regent College to illustrate a point. I have read Amos Yong and highly respect him. I regard him as one of the foremost Pentecostal scholars of our day, but as a graduate of Regent College, I know he doesn’t teach there. He does teach at Regent University in Virgina. Despite the similarity in name, and  their mutual evangelical commitment, these are two very different institutions. An easy enough mistake to make, but I found myself turned off by this piece of editorial sloppiness.

This was an interesting video series and I found it thought provoking at places. However I didn’t think it said enough, I didn’t trust those saying things. As such I wouldn’t really recommend this DVD. Certainly it could be a good discussion starter, but I don’t want to just live the questions, I want answers too.  I give it two and half stars.

Thank you to SpeakEasy for providing me a copy of this DVD video series in exchange for my honest review.

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