This blog highlights books from Ralph Winter’s Library and compares excerpts to Winter’s own writings on one or more of the themes from his list of twelve “Frontiers of Perspective.” (See the full list at the end of this blog.)
(11) The Religion of Science
Ritchie, A.D. 1950. Science and the Christian life. In The Coming-of-age of Christianity, ed. Sir James Marchant, 92-118. London: Latimer House.
This book caught my eye because of the chapter about a theme Dr. Winter talked about frequently. The book contains other chapters by Kenneth Scott Latourette and Stephen C. Neill. The author of this chapter, A.D. Ritchie, was professor of logic and metaphiscis at Edinburgh University. I’ve copied a few quotes here that sound like something Dr. Winter himself might have said!
In the past there were many who said that science had no place within the Christian life; there are even more at the present day who say that science leaves no place for Christianity. … When it is pointed out that some of the greatest men of science … have been sincere and devout Christians, this fact, which cannot be denied, is brushed aside (p. 92).Scientific work and worship are of course different activities, not easily pursued simultaneously. They are not for that reason incompatible (p. 92).It is curious that there should be any need to say that science is not a kind of god, but it is necessary. There should be no need either to say that it is not perfect or complete, but that is necessary too (p. 95).Darwin’s “natural selection” based on chance explains a great deal; it explains how some forms die out and not others, but it does not explain how new forms appear. (Darwin never thought it did and in that respect was perhaps not a Darwinian.) Natural selection and chance do not explain directiveness. … The difficulty is; if there is purpose within the organic world, whose purpose is it? (p. 112).
Here are a few quotes from Ralph Winter’s compilation of his own writings in the volume, Frontiers in Mission http://missionbooks.org/williamcareylibrary/product.php?productid=546&cat=74&page=1: “Perspective Eleven: The Religion of Science”
All effective scientific endeavors are dependent totally not so much on a particular “method” but on a faith in the existence of order in nature. This is a uniquely Biblical insight. It is the result of the Christian tradition.It is as though the Book of Nature and the Book of Scripture have spawned two global faith-communities, and that to most of the adherents of either faith the “other” is invalid.…In crossing this frontier into the realm of science we must not ignore the presence of the Holy in the very world of science. If we can be people whose devotion to the living God is richly nourished by both books we can respect the genuine beginnings of belief in the lives of many, if not most, scientists, we can rejoice in the faith they have which will give them reason to hear of another kind of faith. … We need ourselves to love His Word and His Works, and we need to share the manifest glory from both of those books if we wish to cross this huge, gargantuan frontier.
Ralph Winter’s 12 “Frontiers of Perspective” represent major shifts in his thinking that “profoundly modified and molded his perception of the mission task”:
(1) Unreached Peoples
(2) The Great Commission and Abraham
(3) From the Unfinished Task to the Finishable Task
(4) Failure with the Large Groups and the Off-setting Trend to “Radical Contextualization”
(5) Reverse Contextualization, the Recontextualization of Our Own Tradition
(6) The Reclaiming of the Gospel of the Kingdom
(7) Beyond Christianity
(8) A Different Type of Recruitment
(9) A Trojan Horse
(10) Needed: a Revolution in Pastoral Training
(11) The Religion of Science
(12) The Challenge of the Evil One