by David Rufner
In 1953, James Watson and Francis Crick took the breath away from the world-wide scientific community when they announced their discovery of the physical structure of DNA – the famed double-helix. Fifty years later, in 2003, James Watson took my breath away in a NOVA Documentary entitled “DNA: The Secret of Life.” To a crowd of supporters, Watson said, “There are people who say [that] we’re playing God. I have a straight forward answer. If we don’t play God, who will?”
This wasn’t evolution at the level of fossils or a billion-year distant past. This was evolution at the level of who are we now and where shall we go?
Dr. Watson has proved quite prophetic in this regard. For in the 15 years since, we’ve been much more culturally enthralled with how we are evolving now. Politicians are evolving. Academics are evolving. Celebrities are evolving (no surprise there). And yes, whole church bodies are evolving in a range of theologies. As if this isn’t concerning enough already, we are now finding that quite often the evolved ones are not content to simply out-survive as the fittest around. Rather, the evolved ones are frequently showing indications that they are interested in the active extermination of the weak.
What are followers of Jesus to do at such a moment? Trust in the Giver and His gifts.
In 1537, Martin Luther wrote pastorally ‘Concerning the Marriage of Priests.’ “Now, as little as the power has been given to them or to us to make a female out of a male or a male out of a female — or to abolish sexual distinctions altogether — so little did they have the power to separate such creatures of God or to forbid them from living together honestly in marriage… We do not want to disrupt or inhibit God’s work, for St. Paul says that would be ‘a teaching of demons.’”[i]
Trust in the givenness of creation. Yes, it too is under the curse of the fall with us. But still it bears the immutable handiwork of God!
Trust in the Son who also was given. “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly… God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”[ii]
For all of us who rebel, this given Savior bled to death and breaths again in life – crucifying and raising us with Him in His gift of Baptism, and feeding, uniting and strengthening us with His gift of the Supper.
And here in the season of Pentecost, trust in the Holy Spirit who is also given! For not only does He call sinners to the Father in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but He enlightens us with gifts, sanctifies and keeps us in the true faith.[iii] This too is gift language.
The prophets, the world around us, and our own flesh make clear that left to ourselves we don’t so much evolve from worm to man, but from man to worm, and from one muddy mess to the next.
Yet there is hope for people like us and for the world around us, and that hope is a God – Father, Son and Holy spirit – who gives and gives and gives. He is our life and our light. He is the life and light of the World. By God’s grace given in Christ Jesus, may we hold onto this life and this light for ourselves and our children. By God’s grace given in Christ Jesus, may we hold out this life and this light for an otherwise hopeless world.
The Rev. David Rufner is pastor of New Hope Lutheran Church, Hudsonville, Mich.
[i] Kolb-Wengert, SA 324:1
[ii] Romans 5:6,8.
[iii] Luther’s Small Catechism, CPH, 1986, Explanation of the Third Article of the Apostles’ Creed, p 17.