Department of Geology, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49546
In common with all Christians in every walk of life, Christian geologists share in the great evangelistic task with which the Lord entrusted his church. We all participate in bringing the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ to the lost around us. After all, Scripture was written for that very purpose: "These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name" (John 20:31). And II Timothy speaks of the "holy Scriptures which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus" (II Timothy 3:15). And so we work through our local congregations and conduct individual ministries as God grants us opportunity. One of the tasks of ACG is to be a witness to unbelieving geologists. However, we need to go beyond the general evangelism in which we are individually engaged. Perhaps it is time to initiate discussion about what ACG can do collectively to reach other geologists for Christ.
As evangelism is the task committed to the church, ACG ought to be on guard against usurping the place of the church. We want to work in concert with the church. But we are in a unique position to bring the good news to members of our profession. There is, for example, no question that many geologists face intellectual barriers to Christianity. The idea that science and religious faith are incompatible is so ingrained that many geologists feel they would have to abandon science and rationality in order to become a Christian. Surely ACG is uniquely qualified to discuss such issues with unbelievers and to dispel these misconceptions about Christianity. In fact we ought to show that Christianity by virtue of its doctrines of creation and providence lays the basis for the very possibility of doing science. We should challenge unbelievers to show on what possible basis pure atheism, materialism, or naturalism can provide grounds for a rational science. We should challenge unbelievers to see the intellectual bankruptcy of some of the other options open to them. We should all become more acquainted with some of the quality science-theology and apologetic literature that is available so that we can recommend it to unbelievers. Our parent organization, the American Scientific Affiliation, has an excellent resource guide to such literature. Perhaps ACG can focus on some of these apologetic issues during future GSA gatherings. I encourage members to give serious thought to giving a talk in the near future on the general topic "Why I am a Christian geologist." If well advertised, such talks by some prominent members might draw well. Or we or ASA might consider publishing a pamphlet containing the testimonies of several of our members.
But, as people are more than intellect, there is more to evangelism than clearing intellectual hurdles. Conversion to Christ is primarily a matter of the heart and will, of repenting of one's sins and trusting in the finished work of the risen Lord. We need to reach geologists for Christ, not just their brains. But if we are to bring geologists to Christ, members need to be careful lest we spend all our time with one another. We have immensely enjoyed our fellowship. Many of us feel that what makes GSA meetings most worthwhile is the opportunity to get together with fellow believers. But let's not neglect rubbing shoulders with those outside Christ. We can make an impact on other geologists if we treat them as image-bearers of God, as fellow humans with needs and concerns. Perhaps we should spend less time engaging in technical geological discussion (though we certainly should not abandon that!) and more time in talk about health, family, and personal concerns. We can display the love of Christ through solicitous concern for others. Nor should we neglect the role of prayer in evangelism. The time has probably come for us to gather for prayer before or after one of our formal GSA presentations. We need to pray for one another, for non-Christian geologists, and for opportunities to evangelize. Nor can our love for one another be discounted as an evangelistic factor. In John 17 Christ prayed that the world, through observing our unity, would know that God sent the Christ into the world. It is vital that ACG members treat one another with love and respect despite differences that we may have with one another.
Let us be in prayer that we may be an instrument in the Lord's hands for bringing geologists to Christ. But we cannot be satisfied with having them become members of ACG. We need to encourage new believers to become part of a local congregation, to become involved with Bible study and prayer in their home towns, and to enjoy fellowship with all kinds of believers, not just geologists. To metamorphose Jesus' evangelistic metaphor of the harvest into geological terms, the ore is ready to be mined. Shall we expect a bonanza?