31 May 2011

Two Cheers for Existentialism

ONCE UPON A TIME, I was reading Jürgen Moltmann (I believe it was God in Creation) wherein he wrote in passing on his way to some point or another how the only serious atheists were the likes of Sartre and Camus. I remember being somewhat surprised at this, mainly because the two folks mentioned were also the most enthusiastic and consistent existentialists; I daresay they have no competition even today. At any rate, I decided to re-read The Stranger, as well as portions of Being and Nothingness (though I can only read philosophy in small chunks separated by periods of both being and nothingness), and I was quickly reminded of why atheists such as these ought to be taken seriously: they almost got it right.

23 May 2011

The Logical Order of Things About Which We Know Next to Nothing

Augustine (6th c. fresco)
THERE HAVE BEEN, at times, moments of expected flack since I’ve outed myself as a single predestinarian. At worst it’s deemed a belligerent betrayal, at best with a wink and a nod it’s seen as a defect—often in intelligence. Not too long ago, a dear friend approached me quite concerned about not having vocalized my thoughts on this subject to him or others near to me (he did this for all the right reasons; we all should be so lucky to have at least one friend who cares to this extent), also suggesting my thinking has changed on this issue. With my typical smug chuckle, I didn’t offer any explanation one way or the other—but I thought there wasn’t much of a point when it’s a presumed fact that the breadth of the Reformed tradition excludes single predestination.

19 May 2011

Land of the Lost: Nutshell

"Fish with Legs" by Ellen Marcus © 2011
THE TIME HAS COME for the last post about John Walton's Lost World of Genesis One. [update: Walton's expanded edition on this subject hits the shelf this October—Genesis One as Ancient Cosmology.]

According to Walton, a responsible reading of Genesis 1:1-2:3 will approach the text as ancient literature, not modern science. In so doing, we will understand that the author's original intent was "far different from what has been traditionally understood" (p. 162)—not least since the days of flood geology. The original intent has to do with the functions of the cosmos (why it was created) as opposed to the material structure of the cosmos (how it was created). Walton calls the ancient view of creation the "cosmic temple inauguration view." This means that the events of Genesis 1 describe how "the cosmos was given its functions as God's temple, where he has taken up his residence and from where he runs the cosmos. This world is his headquarters" (ibid.).

13 May 2011

Review of Perspectives on the Sabbath

Andy Naselli provides a brief review of Perspectives on the Sabbath, wherein he highlights some of the elements that make the book "an excellent example of how different views use different hermeneutical approaches and theological methods." Check it out.

11 May 2011

Land of the Lost, part 11

"ON THE BASIS OF THE VIEW THAT Genesis 1 is a discussion of functional origins," Walton writes, "we may now tackle the question of what is appropriate in the classroom" (p. 153). If you've been following along, you'll remember that Walton removes from the interpretation of Genesis 1 the possibility that it says anything about material origins (i.e., how the cosmos was created); it instead speaks of the world's functional origins (i.e., why the cosmos was created). As such, and as we saw in part 9 of this series, "whatever explanation scientists offer in their attempts to explain origins, we could theoretically adopt it as a description of God's handiwork" (p. 132). One important question thus remains for Walton: What is acceptable to teach regarding the purpose of the universe in a public school science class? Answer: nothing. Why? Because teleology is beyond the scope of science (see part 7, Prop. 13, for more on this).

04 May 2011

Land of the Lost, part 10

IF MAKING SENSE of the creation narrative in light of other portions of Scripture, ancient Near-Eastern contexts, and the relationship between science and faith isn't enough, Walton further argues, in his next proposition, that the theology produced in this construct is formidable—less shallow—than the resulting theology in competing views (not sure exactly which view he has in mind here, but my guess is young-earth creationism). It does nothing to weaken the picture of God (particularly his sovereignty and glory) laid out in Scripture.

02 May 2011

Remembering God's Grace

FOR MANY OF US, at the beginning of our Christian journeys, we thought of and spoke often about the radical forgiveness of a God who has been greatly sinned against. I remember myself going on and on about God’s longsuffering and patience, and how grateful I was for it. I also recall having conversations with friends who did not convert out of a debauched past, who had never known a time they didn’t consider themselves Christian.

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