Date of Award

2020

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (Christian Scripture) - MA (CSc)

Department

Theology

First Advisor/Committee Member

Robert W. Wall, Th.D., Paul T. Walls Professor of Scripture and Wesleyan Studies

Second Advisor/Committee Member

Cara Wall-Scheffler, Ph.D., Professor of Biology

Keywords

Bible. Luke xxiv.13-35; Religion and science; Bible—Hermeneutics; Preaching; Lord's Supper; Creation—Biblical teaching; Natural selection; God (Christianity)—Goodness; Scientists—Religious life

Abstract

This thesis proposes a novel paradigm for faith-science dialogue, drawing a Biblical analogy between two disciples’ Emmaus Road encounter with the risen Jesus (Luke 24:13-35) and contemporary faithful scientists wrestling with narrative conflict between the findings of science and the confession of faith. For science’s reading public, science serves as an alternative mythmaking discourse, whose narratives may indeed conflict with faith. This thesis proposes that theology ought to deploy Biblical preaching to resolve such narrative conflicts. To guide this process, this thesis proposes that Jesus’ two responses to the troubles of the disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35) illustrate bridges between the new creation and the creation where the disciples live, bridges which are helpful to interpret troubling scientific findings faithfully in modern faith-science dialogue. The disciples on the road confront narrative conflict: was Jesus God’s successful Anointed, or a failed prophet? Jesus addresses this conflict in two ways: (1) re-interpretation of Scripture (preaching the Word) and (2) response to an offer of hospitality (breaking the bread). Based on Jesus’ responses to the disciples, hermeneutical guideposts for Scripture are proposed for faithful scientists (or science students) wrestling with narrative conflicts. Finally, this thesis proposes that a faithful scientist seeking Christ in narrative conflict, like the disciples in the text, is in fact making science an occasion of Christian service to God, as Jesus’ Word and Table responses set the frame of Christian worship. The thesis concludes with a case study applying its method to a possible narrative conflict. The key role that biological death plays in the Darwinian evolutionary mechanism of variation and selection sits uneasily with the Biblical witness to the ‘goodness’ of creation. The thesis proposes a Scriptural response to this narrative conflict, and witnesses how the narrative conflict leads to transforming encounter with Christ.

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