Atheist Dentists and Smug Christians
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “The Messiah of God.” – Luke 9:20
I went to a new dentist recently. He asked me what I do for a living. I told him. He looked me straight in the eye and said, “A pastor. Let me ask you something. Do you believe in evolution?”
The man was about to stick a needle in my mouth. I would have said I believed in unicorns if it made him happy. But it was easy to say “Yes, of course I do.”
The dentist looked annoyed. He didn’t get my goat. I felt proud of my ability to straddle the fence between the claims of faith and the laws of science.
Of course there are better ways to get under a liberal Protestant’s skin than asking about Darwin. He could have asked me about the incarnation. Evolution is a one-word answer, “Yes.”
But if someone asks me about Christ’s identity at 10:30 on a Tuesday morning in the dentist’s office? I’m going to bob and weave, hem and haw. That’s too bad, but it’s the truth.
And it suggests that we should never feel too satisfied in our faith. Even when it seems to successfully bridge the gap between the empty tomb and the modern world, it probably doesn’t. Only God can work that sort of miracle.
My guess is that our attempts to usurp God’s role are probably displeasing. In other words, atheistic dentists aren’t the only ones who dislike smug Christians.
Dear God, don’t let us become smug in our faith. Keep us on our toes, humble and hopeful. Amen.
Matt Fitzgerald is the Senior Pastor of St. Pauls United Church of Christ, Chicago, IL.