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Showing posts from October, 2011

Random Bits #9

Jim Kidder has yet another post on parallel culture, and he makes an amazingly important point. He's specifically reacting to the essay "The Evangelical Rejection of Reason" at the New York Times, co-written by Karl Giberson and Randall Stephens, who identify themselves as Evangelical Christians. Giberson, you might recall, is the author of Saving Darwin: How to Be a Christian and Believe in Evolution and the co-author with Francis Collins of The Language of Science and Faith. Writing about their NYT essay, Jim says that by mixing evolutionary biology with beliefs typical of liberal Protestant theology, their message about evolution will be lost. Or to quote Jim,
After reading Giberson's and Stephens' New York Times essay, why would your average evangelical even think about changing their minds about evolution?He's completely right about that. Go read what he has to say about it. It's definitely worth it.

Some of you might recall last year that I had…

Excellence

My last post got a lot of passionate responses (including one from Jim Kidder), which was a bit of a surprise to me. I guess I hit a nerve. A few were kind of miffed at me, but most were overwhelmingly sympathetic to what I wrote. So thanks for all the comments.

To those who were a little annoyed, let me clarify something very important. If you read my comments as nothing but condemnation, you've missed the point entirely. The tragedy of evangelical mediocrity is not the mediocrity itself. Every culture has its mediocre underbelly (like the vast majority of music, television, and movies). That's inevitable, I suppose. What makes evangelical mediocrity so frustrating is the fact that we can do better. That's the whole point. If evangelical Christians were mediocre, second-rate people, then sure, I could totally understand the mediocrity of our work. But we're not mediocre, second-rate people. We don't have to settle. We can be excellent.

Taking it to th…

On behalf of parallel cultures

One of my readers asked me to comment on this blog post from Jim Kidder that also discusses the World magazine series on the Barna poll:

World Magazine on the Barna Group Results

Jim quoted a piece from the New York Times, which notes that evangelical Christians have created a "parallel culture"
...that has become the de facto culture of home school curricula, evangelical churches and Christian colleges. This is the result of what Mark Noll called "The Intellectual Catastrophe of Fundamentalism." This is not Christianity as it is practiced in either the Catholic or Eastern churches and, in many ways, it is a Christianity that is unique to the United States. It is also a Christianity that I am profoundly uncomfortable with and am becoming more so every day.I'm not entirely sure whether he's concerned about the very idea of a "parallel culture" itself or the quality of the evangelical culture. As for developing our own parallel cultures, I would poin…

Conversing on Genesis Part 5

Just a brief note this morning to alert you to the podcasts of the conference available at the Bryan website.

On Friday, we heard 30 minute basic presentations of each speaker's position, followed by a concluding panel discussion:

Opening and Richard Averbeck opening comments

Todd Beall opening comments

Jack Collins opening comments

Tremper Longman opening comments

John Walton opening comments

Friday night panel discussion


On Saturday, there were issue-focused panel discussions

Saturday Session One - Literary Context of Genesis 1 and 2

Saturday Session Two, Historical Adam and Eve

Saturday Session Three, New Testament Interpretation of Genesis1 and 2

Feedback? Email me at toddcharleswood [at] gmail [dot] com.

Is the church antiscience?

World magazine has an article out on why young people are leaving the church, and it's a bit too succinct for my taste:
Casualties in the Battle between Science and Faith

The article opens with statistics from a recent Barna poll:
According to the findings of a research study recently released by the Barna Group, 59 percent of young adults disconnect from the church in their teen years. Many study participants told researchers they disagreed with the church's stance against science. Of those, ... Twenty-five percent described Christianity as "anti-science," and 23 percent said they had been turned off by the debate over creation and evolution.Let's put that in context. Of the 59% of respondents who "disconnected" from the church as teens, 25% said Christianity was anti-science. That's 14.75% of the respondents. Not exactly a majority.

Addendum: Since writing that paragraph, I've been provided a link to a description of the original research, wh…

Conversing on Genesis part 4

Sorry about the delay in posting this final report from the recent symposium on Genesis, sponsored by the Bryan Institute for Critical Thought and Practice. Immediately after the symposium, I came down with a nasty cold, and that knocked me out for at least a week. But enough excuses, what did I really think about the symposium? (For those catching up, here are parts one, two, and three of my report.)

Did I learn anything? I was asked this question as soon as the symposium was finished, and now that I've given it a lot of thought, I'd have to say that I didn't learn very much. I was familiar with Walton's and Collins's positions from their books, and there weren't very many surprises there. I wasn't a bit surprised by any of the arguments put forward by Beall or Averbeck. The only mild surprise I had was from Longman. OK, "mild surprise" is putting it mildly. I was actually kind of flabbergasted that anyone would give any credibility to th…

Conversing on Genesis Part 3

For those just joining, I'm continuing my summary of the recent Reading Genesis symposium sponsored by the Bryan Institute and held at the Chattanooga Convention Center. On the first day (Friday), each of the five speakers was allowed to give a 30 minute presentation of his position on the interpretation of Genesis 1-2. On Saturday, the presentations were thematically oriented, with panel discussions on the subjects of Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) influences on Genesis, the historicity of Adam and Eve, and the New Testament use of the creation account. The Friday sessions were very well attended, probably the best attended of any of the many Bryan Institute symposia. We estimated as many as 500 people in attendance, including some 150 Bryan students. Attendance on Saturday was a bit sparser but still quite good.

All of the speakers emphasized that the ANE literature and myth was really important for understanding the Old Testament, but that the relationship was not simply one o…

Conversing on Genesis part 2

It occurred to me this morning that it might be really helpful if I just gave a brief overview of the recent Genesis symposium before launching into more detailed responses. So here goes:

The conference opened on Friday evening with 30 minute sessions from each of five speakers, wherein they were to present their own views of Genesis 1-2. We opened with Richard Averbeck from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. His was the most unsettled and uncertain position. He emphasized that there really are good reasons for taking the text of Genesis 1 as a record of a real week, but there are also good reasons to suspect that there might be something more symbolic going on in the text. He affirmed that Genesis 1 speaks of the real creation of things that did not exist before," and he affirmed the physical consequences of the Fall.

Next was Todd Beall of Capital Bible Seminary. Beall emphasized his desire for a consistent hermeneutic to be applied to the entirety of Genesis. To Beall…

Conversing on Genesis 1

Right after the Genesis symposium this past weekend, I came down with a nasty cold, which prevented me from blogging much of a response. I'm feeling a little more coherent today (but not much), so I'll shoot off a few comments here and probably continue my reactions in followup posts.

As you might imagine (or maybe you've had the same thoughts), Bryan took some flak for hosting this conference. Some took the speaker roster as an official college endorsement of their positions (which it wasn't). Some felt the speakers were too biased in favor of promoting a non-literal Genesis 1, which if you think about it, doesn't make a lot of sense since having more young-age creationists would have just made for repetition of talks ("I take Genesis 1 as literal history," "So do I!" "So do I!"). Others were concerned that our students and maybe the public are just not discerning enough to be able to listen to differing views. I sympathize with …