Conflict in Leadership, Part I

30 04 2010

 

It is said that there are two things in life that are sure things: death and taxes. While it could be argued that there are many other things in life that could be added to the short list of sure things in life I would simply add this one thing: every leader will at some point collide with conflict. Conflict among people, even in the Church, is inevitable. It is a sure thing! It is as sure as death and taxes. Show me a person in a leadership position who has never faced conflict with others or had to work to resolve conflict between others and I will show you a person who isn’t leading. For example, leadership by its very nature demands calling for people to change and many people in our churches don’t want to change. Whether it’s personal change or organizational change many people simply resist and stiff-arm any change.

Consider some of the great leaders who are set forth as examples in Scripture. Moses, possibly one of the greatest leaders in history, faced all sorts of conflicts. He had to confront Pharoah, the leader of Egypt, multiple times and rebuke him as God pronounced judgment upon the Egyptians. When the Lord ultimately triumphed over the Egyptians and the children of Israel were set free from their slavery Moses was left wandering the wilderness with ungrateful people who constantly opposed him and ultimately God. King David is another example from the Scriptures of a leader who faced conflict. Note that even before David held the position of leader he was confronted with decisions on how to handle conflict with Saul. David’s confrontations with King Saul bear forth a noble record of handling conflict and adversity. Consider Queen Esther who was faced with the decision of whether to keep silent and save her own life or speak out to the King and risk her own life to save the lives of her people. Esther shines forth in the Old Testament as a glowing example of handling crisis in leadership. Daniel is another fine example of how a leader must take courageous stands in the midst of strife and conflict. Multiple times we see him courageously walking by faith in the midst of the existing conflicts between his own convictions and the demands that his captors placed upon him.

Then in the New Testament we have fine examples such as Paul and Stephen. These are men who did not shrink in their leadership in the face of conflicts all around them. The apostle Paul faced confrontation and conflict at every turn during his missionary journeys. Paul chronicles some of the results of his conflicts in 2 Corinthians when he states,

Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness—besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.[1]

 Not only did he face personal conflict, but he also intervened to encourage those in the Church to settle their conflicts in a spirit of Christ-likeness (cf. 1 Cor. 5ff; Phil. 4). Stephen is noted in Acts 7 as we find him standing and preaching the Word of God and in an uncompromising way confronting the sins of his hearers and paying the ultimate price with his life.

            From all of these examples and from many others we can readily see that conflicts in leadership come in many different shapes and sizes. As Jeff Iorg states, one thing is certain, “God’s best leaders seem to go from crisis to crisis.”[2] We can conclude from all of this that it is futile for God’s leader to try to live and lead in such a way as to attempt to avoid both interpersonal and interchurch conflicts. Indeed, conflict is a sure thing. My purpose in writing is to set forth, with Scripture as our final authority, the character qualities that are necessary in the life of every leader to successfully navigate through conflict in the ministry. Stay tune for the next section dealing with the attitude of the leader.


[1] 2 Corinthians 11:22-28, (NKJV)

[2] Iorg, Jeff. The Painful Side of Leadership. Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2009, 31.





Poll

26 04 2010




Biblical Problems with Theistic Evolution, Part III

26 04 2010

PROBLEMS WITH DEATH

            The second major problem the theistic evolutionist must deal with is death. The historical record of evolution is full of millions of years of death before man is ever on the scene. The biblical account is much different in that death is part of the curse that resulted from the sin of Adam and Eve (Gen. 2:17, 3:19). So, how does the theistic evolutionist deal with the problem of the evolutionary teaching that death has existed long before man came on the scene? The answer is that they must reinterpret the Bible to fit their science. Again we turn to Alexander who illustrates the point. He writes,

Nowhere in the Old Testament is there the slightest suggestion that the physical death of either animals or humans, after a reasonable span of years, is anything other than the normal pattern ordained by God for this earth…It is clear from these contexts that it is not death per se which is caused by sin, but rather premature death which is seen as specific punishment for specific sins.[1]

 Alexander never states who, in his opinion, defines what a “reasonable span of years” actually amounts to. He also chooses to completely ignore the Genesis account of how death (physical and spiritual) came about.

            He returns to this in the next chapter where once again he employs his hermeneutical principle of interpreting these first few chapters of Genesis “in figurative language written for the purpose of conveying theological truths accessible to all people in whatever era or culture.”[2] Since Adam and Eve failed to die physically on the very day in which they committed their sin against God, Alexander jumps to the conclusion that the only death that resulted from their sin was spiritual death, because in Alexander’s view physical death has always been around. So, how does he explain Genesis 3:19 which states, “In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return”? He writes,

The reminder to the man that he will return ‘to the dust’ (verse 19) seems not to be a consequence of his disobedience, but rather a reminder that sweating away to extract crops from the earth is actually quite appropriate when we recall that Adam is destined to return to the earth anyway.[3]

 As a result, in its attempt to converge evolution and Christian theism the theistic evolutionist “gives a false representation of the nature of God because death and ghastliness are ascribed to the Creator as principles of creation.”[4] Somehow in the theistic evolutionary scheme mankind must manage to fall upwards because “evolutionary belief tells us that things have been improving – life has been evolving into more and more complex forms”[5] while the Bible tells us that man has fallen and “the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs (Romans 8:22).” Ken Ham summarizes the problem by stating, “Evolution says death plus struggle brought man into existence; the Bible says man’s actions led to sin, which led to death. These two are totally contradictory. If evolution is true, then the reason Christ died on the cross has been destroyed.”[6]

 PROBLEMS WITH THE FUTURE

            The third major issue confronting the theistic evolutionist deals with future events as they are described in the Bible. Specifically in Acts 3:21 the Bible states, “Whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.” The fact that the Bible speaks of a time yet future where God will restore His Created order back to what it previously was presents an interesting dilemma for the theistic evolutionist. After all, as we have noted, evolution depicts millions of years of pre-Adamic death and suffering in the world. For the evolutionist, death and suffering have always been a natural way of life. The fact that God will restore all things back to their rightful order communicates that in the present order of things there are problems. In fact Romans 8:22 agrees that something is not right: “For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.” For his part Alexander relates this passage not back to Genesis and Creation but rather to Isaiah 24-27 and the future judgment God will bring to the earth.[7] However, the whole of this issue cannot be glossed over with fancy reinterpretations of Scripture. As John Verderame states, “For the theistic evolutionist (or the closely related ‘long-age creationist’) this should logically mean a restoration back to billions of years of death and suffering.”[8]

            Not only must they explain a restoration back to billions of years of death and suffering, but they must also account for passages like 2 Peter 3:13 which states, “Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” The immediate question is how long will God go about creating this new heaven and new earth? Will He once again use the processes of evolution? The theistic evolutionist must grapple with these topics and do so in a way that does not force modern evolutionary “science” upon the interpretation of the Bible.

CONCLUSION

            It has been the purpose of this paper to examine the means by which the theistic evolutionist seeks to bridge the gulf between the two opposing systems of evolution and Creationism and within that examination to see if their position will stand up underneath the light and scrutiny of a literal, historical-grammatical interpretation of Scripture. To be sure, much more has and could be said in regards to the problems stated in this paper and also to many other problems that face the theistic evolutionist in his quest to merge Creationism with evolution. However, what has been proven in this short examination is the fact that in order to merge these two opposing systems the theistic evolutionist must play fast and loose with their interpretation of the Bible. They must read the Bible in light of their scientific beliefs and then reinterpret the Bible in order to mesh those beliefs together. As much as they may claim to believe in the final authority of the Bible it is their science that holds “privileged status” over the Scriptures. After all, in their estimation, God’s Word could never hold up under the scrutiny of the latest and greatest claims of modern day science. It seems ironic that even some of the most hardcore evolutionists are adamant that the theories of evolution could never be harmonized with the Bible. For instance, Ken Ham quotes Thomas Huxley, an evolutionary humanist as stating,

I am fairly at a loss to comprehend how anyone, for a moment, can doubt that Christian theology must stand or fall with the historical trustworthiness of the Jewish Scriptures. The very conception of the Messiah, or Christ, is inextricably interwoven with Jewish history; the identification of Jesus of Nazareth with that Messiah rests upon the interpretation of the passages of the Hebrew Scriptures which have no evidential value unless they possess the historical character assigned to them. If the covenant with Abraham was not made; if circumcision and sacrifices were not ordained by Jahveh; if the ‘ten words’ were not written by God’s hand on the stone tables; if Abraham is more or less a mythical hero, such as Theseus; the Story of the Deluge a fiction; that of the Fall a legend; and that of the Creation the dream of a seer; if all these definite and detailed narratives of apparently real events have no more value as history than have the stories of the regal period of Rome – what is to be said about the Messianic doctrine, which is so much less clearly enunciated: And what the authority of the writers of the books of the New Testament, who, on this theory, have not merely accepted flimsy fictions for solid truths, but have built the very foundations of Christian dogma upon legendary quicksands?[9]

 In the end a good question for today’s theistic evolutionist comes straight from the mouth of Jesus Himself in John 3:12, “If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?”


[1] Alexander, “Creation or Evolution: Do We Have To Choose?”, 246-249.

[2] Ibid, 257.

[3] Ibid, 262.

[4] Gitt, “10 Dangers of Theistic Evolution”, [Last accessed 4/6/2010].

[5] Ham, Ken. “The Lie: Evolution.” Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 1998, 150.

[6] Ibid, 150.

[7] Alexander, “Creation or Evolution: Do We Have To Choose?”, 268-270.

[8] Verderame, John. “Theistic Evolution: Future Shock.” http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v20/i3/theistic_evolution.asp [Last Accessed April 6, 2010].

[9] Ham, “The New Answers Book 1”, 32-33.








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