Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Those Emergents

I've read two new books in the last week on the emergent church, one as a pro and one as a con to the movement and its philosophy and theology.

The first is called Why We're Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be). Ed Stetzer recommended this book when he was giving a talk on the emergent church a couple of weeks ago on campus, and I noticed that it sold out at the campus bookstore that afternoon. I'm not going to review it now, but I will say that while I don't think it's a great critique in any sense, it is more helpful than some of the other strawman books that have come out on the subject (coughjohnmcarthur).

The other book I read is The New Christians by Tony Jones. As a full disclosure, the only other Tony Jones book I own (The Sacred Way) literally sits under my book shelf to help prop it up. Now, having said that, I will say that I LOVED this book. It offers a background for the group, a look into theology, and a look at some of the churches in practice. I would encourage everyone I know to read it. The emergent idea of a humble hermeneutic is opened up throughout. I don't agree with how far he takes that idea, but it really made me think about my own views of hermeneutic and gave an understanding to where they are coming from.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Getting Past the 'Yom' Debate

This week I wrote down two questions that I have been thinking through related to inerrancy and Genesis.

1. Did the Biblical authors have special insight into how events happened and/or the workings of the laws of nature?


2. Did the Biblical authors use common description of events in order to serve their own purpose(s)?

To affirm question 1, a person would argue that God spoke plainly to the writer or gave that writer some sort of mystical insight in some other way.

To affirm question 2, a person would argue that the author of the text used a common cultural story of the creation of the world in order to tell who created the world.

I will say that I am much more persuaded by view 2 than by view 1, despite what many people will see as problems within the view. View 2 cuts through all of the infamous yom debates (did it mean a literal 24 hour period or a much longer span of time) because it isn’t worried about reconciling scientific understanding of the world with scripture. In taking view 2, it could be argued that the author isn’t wrong about the length of time it took to bring about complex life in the world, because the author isn’t arguing for that, but simply adopting that understanding in order to affirm the Hebrews' God.

Now, I do realize that people will have problems with this view and I expect my own view to be much more refined and nuanced with greater understanding in the future (I’m psyched about finally getting John Sailhamer’s Genesis Unbound to help me with some of my continuing questions). But it does help me gain understanding into the text. I can say that the reason the author seems to be describing normal 24 hour days with evenings and mornings is because that is what the author is describing. If the author intended for yom to mean thousands or millions of years, then he does not do a great job at conveying that through the way that he writes. But the cool thing is that it doesn’t really matter. When faced with cultural explanations with how the world was created, the author’s rebuttal seems to be, “Yeah, well our God did it.” I have a slight feeling that if the author was confronted with modern understandings of the creation of the world he would say, “Yeah, well our God did it.” And that seems to be the greater point of the passage.

I’m not totally satisfied with this view and I hold it extremely loosely. I know that it will bring up questions of what inerrancy means, and those are questions I'm still working through.

Also, to see both sides of the argument dealing with yom, read this post by Justin Taylor and the ensuing comments.

To get a description of what Sailhamer lays out in Genesis Unbound, read this review.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

3 Conversations

I've had three conversations in the last three or four days with people who would claim varying degrees of spirituality, but who reject Christianity.

The first conversation was with a girl whose main problems with Christianity are seeming contradictions, some within scripture itself and some with other fields of thought, mostly related to science.

The second conversation was with a girl who could not come to terms with education and Christianity. She believes that the more educated you become, the less you are able to rationally believe Christian theology. She argued that faith is the antithesis of education.

The third conversation was with an older man who came in to where I work for some coffee. He was buying a book called "I Ching," about eastern spirituality. He told me that he rejected orthodox Christianity, and gave me reasons ranging from hypocrisy to inconsistencies from within and outside the text.

Here is a break down of each of the individual arguments:

1.-The creation account in Genesis conflicts with modern scientific understanding of the world
2.-There are contradictions within scripture
3.-Christianity is not compatible with an educated understanding of the world
4.-Many within the church, especially preachers, are hypocrites
5.-History shows contradictions within scripture, such as Josephus not reporting the mass murder of babies that the Gospels claim that Herod ordered
6.-Many of the so-called miracles within scripture could actually be associated with Satan himself, parading as an angel of light
7.-Jesus was not the Son of God, simply a good teacher who at times had his own share of doubts ("Father, why have you forsaken me")

Three people, from three totally different walks of life and stations in life, and yet all but two of their arguments can be split into two basic categories: contradictions and mistakes within scripture and the relation of Christianity and science. Only arguments 4 and 6 would not fit here. But the important thing is that I believe that a correct understanding of scripture can answer every one of these arguments. That's why I'm going to really try to deepen my grasp of what scripture is over the next few weeks.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Fidelity of Betrayal

Pete Rollins has posted the introduction and opening chapter of his new book The Fidelity of Betrayal, and it looks pretty challenging. His last book, How (Not) To Speak of God has been one of my favorites of the last couple of years so I'm pretty pumped for this one. Here's the intro to his new book, coming out at the end of the month:

The Fidelity of Betrayal

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Expanding Borders

I'm about to expand the borders of this blog a bit so that I can write more often and interact more with my friends. I'll probably post mostly on the things I'm interested in at the moment: science, philosophy of science, the church, the emergent church, music, and some of my other interests. But for now, I'm just going to do one of those fun reading/listening posts.

Currently reading:

The Reason For God - Tim Keller
The Shack - William Young

Just finished:

Darwin and Intelligent Design - Francisco Ayala

About to Read:

Surprised By Hope - NT Wright
The Fidelity of Betrayal - Pete Rollins
Why We're Not Emergent - Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck (I'll review this one)

Currently Listening To:

Radiohead - In Rainbows
Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago
Vampire Weekend - S/T

Recent blog posts I've enjoyed:

The Poor You Will Always Have With You - Pete Rollins