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So… what’s your answer?
How would you answer Kimberly Hyatt’s question:
No disrespect intended, but should pastors act a little less like lawyers and a little more like researchers?
I heard a panel of arts education professors this week remind the audience there are two ways to argue facts — like a lawyer or like a researcher.
The way of the lawyer is to employ facts in order to make a pre-determined assertion seem more credible; the way of the researcher is to be open to letting the facts make whatever point they happen to make.
This distinction comes into play in the oft-discussed divide between what pastors learn in seminary and what they go on to teach people in the pews.
To take just one simple example from the very opening pages of the Bible, let’s look at the creation story. Beside the fact that the earth is neither flat nor the center of our universe, other information is apparent from even a cursory study of the opening chapters. Foremost among these is that there is no single creation story in Genesis but rather two very distinct stories.
Among the notable differences, each story presents creation in a different order; for instance, in one, God creates humans before the other animals, and in the other, God creates humans last.
Obviously, both creation stories cannot be literally true, and odds are neither is. Yet, what’s a pastor to do? Act like a lawyer and manipulate the facts or act like a researcher and let the facts speak for themselves?