Good Friday Creation & Re-Thinking “The Fall”


Bosch-Garden-Earthly-Delights-Outer-Wings-Creation-WorldEach year during Lent, I press all the more deeply into a motif that appears throughout the Bible: that in some mysterious way, the God of the Universe has had a “slain” and “suffering” aspect to his nature for all eternity–even before the world came into being.

When this world did come into being, the Bible says that it came to exist “through” this suffering and slain Jesus. Therefore the rhythms of Christ’s own nature and life are written into the very DNA of the world. All of our history is an echo of Jesus’ life, both from eternity past and while on earth.

I’ve written before about what this means for the world and what this means for us, but what might this mean for the entire history of God’s work in this world?
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Weekly Must-Reads {2.12.14} | Creation, Masturbation, & Communism


guy-newspaper-reading

Well, it’s been a good long while since I’ve posted a Reading List for you all to enjoy–too long, in fact. These were some of my favorite things I read this week. What were some of yours?

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In defense of creationists | The Week
Michael Brendan Dougherty

I referenced this at the end of my post yesterday, but this is a stunningly beautiful piece that wrestles with humanizing those that frustrate us the most in the Christian family. A must-read for sure.

Escaping the Prison of the Self: C.S. Lewis on Masturbation | First Things
Wesley Hill

Don’t overlook this piece too quickly. It is an incredibly powerful piece that speaks to how all of us–married, single, gay, straight–engage our sexuality in this world. It showed me how having celibate unmarried people in the world is necessary for healthy marriages, as well as how masturbation ruins even good friendships.

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I think we all need a reminder: Ken Ham is on our team.


ken-ham-banner

Okay, this one is a tough one to write.

Most all of us know by now about the Great Debate that happened a couple of weeks ago between Bill Nye and Ken Ham on whether or not Creationism is a viable model for human origins. If you’ve followed this blog for an real period of time, you know it’s no secret that I do not think it’s a viable model, and I’ve been quite vocal about that in this space.

So I felt the frustration when Ken Ham was treated like the stand-in for every Christian that wants to take the Bible seriously. I felt better when smart Christians responded well. I chuckled at those that poked fun of him and other Creationists, debunked their logic, or discredited the historical stream in which he finds himself. I gave into the private mocking.

I was then really encouraged when I read this report in Christianity Today that shows that Americans are not as divided on this issue as some polls make it seem. I was overjoyed with knowing that more Christians than ever were leaving the Ken Hams of the world in the dust of irrelevance, their budgets and voices shrinking in the distance.

As the discourse went on, I began to thinking to myself: I think we’re winning! But then yesterday, I felt like I woke from a fog and thought: Wait. Who are we fighting?
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Putting the FUN back in Fundamentalism! (vs. Atheism)


anastasis-resurrection-dead-hell

For those that follow this blog only through WordPress, you may have seen the guest post yesterday–a beautiful meditation on spiritual realities that Autumn brings to our minds–and didn’t think much of it. It was pretty and all, but not controversial, right?

Not so, on Facebook.

A good friend, and Atheist (that we here at the blog know quite well), made a comment taking issue with references to the “Fall” and “first parents” (and even the Resurrection) on the grounds that these do not jive with evolutionary science. (Although I don’t think he clicked on the link to a similar post I wrote last year in which I used the same terminologies in the same way, but whatever.) He was surprised that I would have let a seemingly “young earth creationist” (someone who thinks the world was created in six literal days) post on my blog.

Though I assured him that this guest poster was not, in fact, a young earth creationist, and was merely speaking using the common poetic language shared by all of Christian theology and not at all trying to speak in scientific terms, he doubled down. Then, Christians and Atheists all jumped into this thread. Sarcasm, insults, and “who-said-what when” arguments began, all having little to do with the post, and more to do with who was condescending first, who understands genre theory, and who were the more aggressive and defensive parties in the discussion.
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Simplistic Atheism {2}: Science “versus” Theology


darwin-buddy-jesus-humor

(Note: These exchanges are now complete. There is a Table of Contents to the discussion now available.)

I’m doing a little series this week responding to a Facebook post by a friend of mine named Daniel Bastian. He outlined twenty things that would make him change his mind about Atheism. The piece is well-organized and thought out, I encourage everyone to read it and wrestle through it themselves.

In line with my belief that these sorts of discussions always seem to end up at differences in hermeneutics (interpretive filters) rather than facts, I wrote a post talking about what appeared to be Daniel’s bigger commitments and understandings of the world, human reason, and assumptions about spirituality (also read the Facebook comments).

I was, of course, accused of still not engaging with his specific points, even as I sought to talk about principles behind the points. And so, I’m excited to say that with today and tomorrow, we will be hitting many of Daniel’s specific points
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Advent, Evolution, & Absolution [RE-POST]


Today, I’m re-posting a piece I wrote exactly a year ago for last year‘s Advent series. During this year‘s, we’re seeing how the Advent event affects parts of our lives that we usually don’t associate with it. Today, it’s Advent and Evolution. You can follow the series here.

It’s Advent. A time where we especially orient ourselves towards rejoicing and celebrating the fact that God did not remain far off and merely create a “legal” or “dogmatic” satisfaction for the plight of his creation and creatures. Rather, he broke into it and came into his creation and among his creatures. In this year’s Advent series, we’re exploring how, in this Coming, Jesus took on our creaturely formcare-taking functioncomprehensive fallenness, and communal formation.

First, God took physical, human, creaturely form. In the study I did–and subsequent lecture I gave–on Beauty a couple of years ago, I defined “Beauty” as the attribute of something that expressed complexity simply. Is not this God-in-human-flesh (theologically referred to as the Incarnation) the most beautiful of all miracles to take place? The Infinitely Complex God inhabits the simplest of human forms: a child.

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READ THIS BOOK: “Genesis For Normal People” by Peter Enns & Jared Byas


A theologian whom I respect and a professor with whom I went to seminary have teamed up to offer a really great book on the first book of the Bible. Genesis for Normal People: A Guide to the Most Controversial, Misunderstood, and Abused Book of the Bible is a walk-through of Genesis following its themes and history. They open with these words:

Genesis is an ancient story. This may sound like an obvious or even patronizing way to begin. Of course it’s an ancient story. But once we look at what this means, that short phrase might be the most important thing to remember about Genesis. It will guide the rest of this book, showing us how to approach Genesis and what we should expect from it.

For many, the opening book of the Bible is a little confusing. It reads strangely, it doesn’t “sound” like any other book of the Bible, and, as Christians, we don’t know why we would even want to read it (except maybe for the first few chapters, but even those have a bunch of problems of their own).

Ever wondered what a sane, intelligent, and faithful understanding of Genesis would be in light of the findings of science or history? Ever pondered what the relationship between Adam and Darwin might look like? Have you ever been confused by a random history channel special that cast doubt on some of the stuff in Genesis? Ever tried to read the darn book only to only to ask yourself why you started to in the first place? Do you want to know how it connects to the rest of the Bible? Would you want all this talked about and explained in everyday terms with little prior biblical or theological knowledge needed?

Well, this is the book for you. (If you’re still skeptical, you can read a wonderfully comprehensive review of the book here.)

A quick note for any atheists or skeptics that find themselves reading this: this book is also for you. As a champion of (what I feel are) “not crazy” ways of reading Genesis, I have received a lot of pushback from atheists over the years who try and argue that the only true and faithful ways to read the book are in those (what I feel are) “crazy” ways. They try and say that if you “accommodate” the difficulties in Genesis away, you no longer have the faith you were trying to defend in the first place, and so you might as well abandon the whole enterprise. I challenge you to read this book and walk away feeling the same way.

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As far as obtaining the book, I have good news, and I have bad news:

Good News: it’s only $1.99 (for a limited time, then it will go up to $4.99)

Bad News: at least for now, it’s only available for Kindle E-Readers.

The Good News about the Bad News: you can download free apps on your computer, phone, or tablet to read the book anyway. A recent survey by the Pew Research Center showed that computers were the most popular device to read an ebook on; not a phone, tablet, or even a Kindle. So….you have no excuse.

The Slain God of Evolution | Lent {6}


This Lent, we’ve been going through a series meditating on some of the implications of the fact that we worship a God who was “slain before the foundations of the world”–in eternity past–and therefore has some aspect of “slain-ness” to his very nature.

In the last couple of posts, we’ve been focusing on what this means for the many references in which the Bible says that the world was created “through Jesus”. What might it mean that the world came into being through a suffering and slain Lord? What might it mean for our own suffering?

This got me thinking about Evolution.

Obviously, the main vehicle driving Natural Selection is death and dying. This is one of the biggest hindrances that Christians have to the idea of Evolution. If our usual categories are correct of a “good” creation “falling”, and only then ushering “death” into the world, how does the thoughtful Christian deal with the realities of Evolution?

I think this Lenten idea of God’s “slain-ness” can help.
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Advent, Evolution, & Absolution


It’s Advent. A time where we especially orient ourselves towards rejoicing and celebrating the fact that God did not remain far off and merely create a “legal” or “dogmatic” satisfaction for the plight of his creation and creatures. Rather, he broke into it and came into his creation and among his creatures. In this year’s Advent series, we’re exploring how, in this Coming, Jesus took on our creaturely form, care-taking functioncomprehensive fallenness, and communal formation.

First, God took physical, human, creaturely form. In the study I did–and subsequent lecture I gave–on Beauty a couple of years ago, I defined “Beauty” as the attribute of something that expressed complexity simply. Is not this God-in-human-flesh (theologically referred to as the Incarnation) the most beautiful of all miracles to take place? The Infinitely Complex God inhabits the simplest of human forms: a child.
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a Jesuit Priest on Evolution. Enjoy.


Is evolution a theory, a system or a hypothesis? It is much more: it is a general condition to which all theories, all hypotheses, as systems must bow and which they must satisfy henceforth if they are to be thinkable and true. Evolution is a light illuminating all facts, a curve that all lines must follow… There is an absolute direction of growth, to which both our duty and our happiness demand that we should conform. It is human function to complete cosmic evolution…. Christ is realized in evolution.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Jesuit Priest and trained paleontologist in “The Phenomenon of Man“, ca. 1930s

I’ll be writing more about this in my Advent reflection on Monday. [Read reflection 1]

Weekly Must-Reads {08.11.11} | reasonable Christianity edition (in honor of John Stott)


This week, I wanted to focus on extremely “reasonable” expressions and discussion surrounding Christianity: it’s heroes, it’s application, and how to live it out. This is in honor of a great man we lost recently. A couple of weeks ago, John Stott, a great and fairly unassuming hero of the Church, died. He is very much responsible for the shaping of a Christianity that is both just and intelligent. Even though he did not preach nor speak regularly, and mostly wrote academic books, it is he that laid the theological foundation that has only now finally trickled down to the masses of young and “restless” Christians today–whether we know his name or not. It is the shoulder of this giant of the faith upon which we all now stand. Let us not forget that. I have provided some links to that end.

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John Stott Has Died | Christianity Today

This is Stott’s obituary in Christianity Today. Read up on his life and read some of the homages linked to in this article. He was an amazing man.

Evangelicals Without Blowhards | NYTimes.com Opinion

This is by Bill Kristof, a weekly contributor to the blogs at NYT. He is not a Christian, and yet he devotes this article in honor of John Stott–his work, his influence, and the presence of millions of Evangelicals that are continuing his work today by caring about justice in this world.

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science and the evolution of the science of evolution


Over at Scot McKnight’s blog, Jesus Creed, the resident scientist-who’s-a-Christian (I hate that I can’t just write “Christian Scientist”), RJS (I have no idea what his full name is, and I couldn’t find it), recently posted a brief post about the ongoing dilemma of a fossil called Tiktaalik rosea, the dating of which and the evolutionary place in which it exists is still in flux. After recounting some of the changing conclusions about this fossil, RJS asks:

Is this kind of give and take an evidence for weakness in the evolutionary hypothesis?

Is it unexpected waffling or the expected progress of scientific discovery and the refinement of understanding?

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On Darwinism vs. Design (a response to the Richmond Center for Christian Study) {pt.2}


Yesterday, I posted the first part of a reply to Chris Daniel, Executive Director of the Richmond Center for Christian Study, who wrote an article titled The Origin of Life: Darwinism vs. Design. Here is part 2.

Chris, you are right to attack Darwinism as a philosophy or worldview; just like it is also appropriate to attack humanism, hedonism, racism, sexism, bibliolatry, and “systematic theology-ism”. Any system that builds its existence and definition around a created thing rather than the Person of God Himself ought to be attacked and shown to be the inadequate system it is.

But just because those “isms” above shouldn’t define our worldviews, it does’t mean that there isn’t truth and goodness even in the the things they are tempted to define themselves by: humanity has worth, pleasure is good, races are beautiful, genders are different, the Bible is the primary revelation of God (we are not a people of the Book, but a people of the Word that is testified to by the Book), and systematic theology can be helpful as we interpret and apply the Scriptures.

And Darwinism as a philosophy is an improper elevation of a seemingly true process.

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On Darwinism vs. Design (a response to the Richmond Center for Christian Study) {pt.1}


[Update: Part 2 has been posted]

Chris Daniel, Executive Director of the Richmond Center for Christian Study posted this article titled The Origin of Life: Darwinism vs. Design. In it, he unpacks why he thinks agreement with evolution is an incorrect posture for Christians and how “Intelligent Design” is the superior and clearer stance to take.

I consider Chris a friend. He led the Reformed University Fellowship at VCU when I went there and our campus ministries worked together on several occasions. He is a great man of God, a brilliant teacher, and an articulate apologist for the Christian faith.

Nevertheless, my feelings on this topic are no secret, and my heart has broken frequently over these discussion (and has become angered some times). As I started writing out a little comment on the post on their site, it turned into a full-fledged response, which I’ll break up into two posts today and tomorrow. Please refer to his article for any references I make that seem to have no context. Here’s part 1 of my response. Part 2 is here: Continue reading

When Great Minds & Stubborn Hearts Collide: on Al Mohler & Karl Giberson


Ah, this is a tough one to write. As some on the blogo-rounds have been quick to jump on the coat tails of, Al Mohler, the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Karl Giberson, the Vice-President of the BioLogos Foundation, have been in a bit of a tizzy for the past couple of months. Mohler is a very conservative Evangelical whom Time proclaimed as the most influential Evangelical intellectual in America of couple of years ago. Giberson is also a Baptist, but has devoted much of his time, writings, and energies to showing how Darwinian Evolution is not inherently antithetical to a Christian worldview. Mohler, as can be expected, disagrees. This little debate has reached a climax in the past couple of days. For a full account of what’s been written in this exchange, I have a full timeline at the bottom of this post.

Hopefully in the next few days I can actually lend some (hopefully) helpful thoughts on the actual argument taking place, but today I just wanted to step back and lament a little.

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