The small arboreal eyelash viper (Bothriechis schlegelii) coiled in a tree or bush might appear relatively harmless. Its venom, though rarely fatal, can cause a lot of pain and discomfort. Our words, though sometimes flowery and eloquent, also can generate a lot of pain. When we use labels to identify others with unbiblical positions or beliefs, the damage we create can cause more than personal pain—a label can spur some people to ostracize the person thus labeled. The best sounding labels might actually be inaccurate, unfair, and maligning. Labels and classifications may be unavoidable, especially in theological circles (consider the labels “Calvinist” and “Arminian,” for example), but the creator or user of a label must make certain the label is not a serious misrepresentation due to a lack of adequate and honest research.
When we think we have accurately and fairly identified someone with regard to their ideas, their interpretations, or their models, the best way to confirm our conclusions involves talking with them personally or engaging in one-on-one email conversations. We might find out that we just plain misunderstood the other person. Or, we might discover that an editor failed to catch a problematic sentence or word that the author had not intended to use. Just consider how often our “smart phones” and our “smart computer programs” alter words that produce ridiculous statements. A word processing program automatically changes “pericope” to “periscope.” A publishing program inverts the Hebrew text so that even a solo word reads backward. A researcher fails to read the context of an excerpt from a book before passing the selection on to someone else out of context and misrepresenting the author’s viewpoint. These things happen. It is one reason professors insist on firsthand sources.
In the Creation Theology Society’s (CTS’s) “Principles and Values” we focus on being a community characterized by Christian ethics and activity. CTS, therefore, purposes to promote “agreement and unity” and to provide “opportunities for irenic discussion in areas of disagreement.” Our “Goals” include:
- To set a standard for interdisciplinary research, in which collaboration models how the body of Christ operates.
- To exhibit Christian character by irenic interaction should disagreement arise due to different research findings.
CTS believes “A Call to Unity” further advances those principles, values, and goals. The statement clarifies what we mean by “irenic interaction.” CTS is not the first to observe the need for the biblical creationist community to renew our commitment to unity, civility, and respect. Dr. Randy Guliuzza, President of the Institute for Creation Research, called all of us to these values in three different issues of Acts & Facts over the past three years. In “The Power of the Next Idea,” Acts & Facts 49, no. 11 (Nov 2020): 5–7, he wrote, “Unfortunately, in our August issue we were harsh in our criticism of several fellow creation scientists and called them some names. I regret that we did that and am truly sorry for the hurt it inflicted. We will endeavor to not engage in those behaviors in the future. Please forgive us” (ibid., 6). Then he published “Unity Worthy of Our Creationist Heritage” in Acts & Facts 50, no. 1 (Jan 2021): 5–7, in which he identified the practice of demeaning someone with whom we have a disagreement:
Academic leaders’ playbook for dispensing professional sorrow includes several effective means. A few actions they regularly attempt are suppressing opposing views by simply ignoring contrary research or killing it through an abusive peer review process; ruining another scientist’s credibility or assassinating their character by public humiliation either in person, in blogs, or in so-called “peer reviewed” papers; and bringing on professional exile by shunning rogue scientists at conferences or in employment. (p. 6)
CTS recommends Dr. Guliuzza’s most recent article, “The ICC and a Covenant for Civility and Respect,” Acts & Facts 52, no. 3 (May-June 2023). The humility and integrity exhibited in these three separate articles over a three-year period stands out particularly in regard to apologizing three times for the publication of an article ICR admits violated the principles of unity, civility, and respect. That remarkable action exemplifies for all of us the way we should be interacting with one another. No other biblical creationist organization or publication has made such an apology in recent memory. It is time for more of us to live up to the biblical instructions God gave us in His Word for our obedience to His standards of unity, civility, and respect.
If you agree with our commitment to unity, civility, and respect, please follow the instructions below the heading Signatories at the end of “A Call to Unity” to become a signatory.
Also, please consider becoming a member of CTS to help us continue
- To publish the Journal of the Creation Theology Society
- To organize the annual Origins Conference Interdisciplinary Sessions
- To provide opportunities for member interaction through occasional online symposiums
- To encourage interdisciplinary research cooperation