Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Asa Gray's Christian Calling

I am currently reading a biography of Asa Gray. I was turned on to it from a series of posts at The posts themselves are pretty good, but I have been more interested in who Dr. Gray was. Asa Gray was a professor of Botany at Harvard University and was a contemporary of Charles Darwin (and Emerson and Joseph Smith, some of my favorite people). Many consider him the first defender of Darwin’s Origin of Species in America. He was also an orthodox Presbyterian throughout his life and saw his science as truly important and not at odds with his faith. In fact neither really did Darwin, he just struggled for other reasons.

Many years earlier, when Gray first moved, theologically, from a more material rationalism to a more fervent orthodoxy he made the following statement about his Christian calling:
 Whenever I see clearly that my duty calls in any other direction I shall throw up science as a profession, if not without a sigh, yet without a moment’s hesitation. Meanwhile I feel that the labor of years would be wasted if I did not turn the knowledge I have acquired to the greatest account. (pg. 46 of the 1959 hard bound edition) 
That really resonated with me as I feel most people serve the Lord by being good at their profession and integrating their professional life with church life. By this I mean using those skills and influence obtained in the “secular” world to advance the cause of the gospel. Dr. Gray is a good example for this and I am really enjoying the 50 year old plus biography. I’m only part way through it and may return to themes I get from it. One is his example of living the Sabbath, important for this coming Sunday’s lesson.