Here’s something new: Genesis is in “crisis” and if you don’t see that you’re “syncretistic”

the-genesis-crisisAnother “crisis” article on Christianity and evolution, this by the ever balanced and ever ready to learn from and build bridges toward fellow believers, Grace to You ministries.

The article is its own refutation. When N. T. Wright, Tim Keller, and Bruce Waltke are your Stygian Triplets, you know you’ve passed into some parallel universe.

This is what fear masked as supreme confidence with a liberal helping of emotional manipulation looks like in print.

Methinks thou doth protest too much.

Missing is the “Grace to You” part.

There is no crisis, folks. Really. There isn’t. Only the one you continue to fuel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

POPULAR AT PATHEOS Evangelical
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • gingoro

    The article by !Grace to You is not worth reading and probably not even worth commenting on. DaveW

    • peteenns

      And yet, we’re looking at a sold out 5000 person inerrancy conference they are putting on.

      • John B

        I think its because we are afraid of the alternative. The God of evolution is a different God than the one we are used to. He is almost unknowable and He is certainly not perfect in our understanding. The realities we are facing also alter our interpretation of much of Scripture. The idea of sin, death, suffering and even who survives – the fittest? When faced with fear we cling to that which is safe. Be patient.

        • Doug

          We all survive, how could it be other wise.

      • Clarke Morledge

        Pete: Have you put any bets down as to how many times your name will be mentioned at MacArthur’s inerrancy conference? If it is anything like the previous “Strange Fire” conference, my guess is that you will be a featured reference!!

        • peteenns

          Nope. Not one single solitary nano-second of thought given to this.

          • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

            Not anymore!

  • mhelbert

    What’s even scarier than the article are the comments.

    • chriswhite7

      Yeah just a couple comments in and they’re warning of us descending into Nazism…

  • Norman

    Flat earthers are still kicking and circling the wagons. I started getting knots in my stomach after about two sentences. Ugh

  • Dan Ortiz

    Total misuse and misunderstanding of the term syncretism…. Syncretism is not a red herring, syncretism is amoral. There can be positive and negative syncretic outcomes. Yec IS a syncretic theology in itself and a negative one

  • Steve Ranney

    Maybe it’s a funding crisis at Grace To You.

  • http://www.theelephantsdebt.com/ Ryan Mahoney

    I have used with my friends an ugly pejorative, in jest, to describe this branch of the Christian family. After reading this article frankly my pejorative does not go far enough, and I’m not joking anymore.

  • Nate Sparks

    One must wonder, as he talks about there being no debate/ discussion about “day” being literal in Genesis beyond Chapter 1, if he even actually follows biblical scholarship before making his argument about “literal days” being the only common sense reading. Not to as significant a degree I suppose, but none the less to his point, there has been discussion for some time that the “40 days and nights” of the Flood narrative is likely a figurative number representing an idiom for “a long time”. It’s not like figurative periods of time represented with exact numbers are foreign to OT interpretation. Even the OT treats exact numbers as figurative, such as Daniel working through Jeremiah’s 70 years text in Daniel 9 proving that Jeremian was figurative (and probably Daniel too).

    • Nate Sparks

      I was just reading through the Decalogue in Exodus, specifically the Sabbath command in Chapter 20. If ever there was the beginning of an argument for a literal six day creation, you would think they would start with a passage within the Pentateuch itself, as this seems to actually take the idea seriously. Of course passages like Psalms 74 and Job 26 and their ilk, with their chaos seas and sea monsters that wrestle with God during creation, show that Israel clearly didn’t always or only conceive of creation via the narrative recorded in Genesis unless it is a significant demythologization of the traditions preserved elsewhere. Still it makes more sense than the tired Romans argument.

  • http://thecuttingledge.com/ Phil Ledgerwood

    “There are only two ways to deny a six-day creation: ignore the text or reject the text. Scholars ignore the actual text by blinding themselves to the genre, grammar, and layout in order to insert their own.”

    The irony here is staggering.

    • newenglandsun

      How many times is the atmosphere in Gen. 1 represented as a dome? And now how many YEC’s will assert the Earth is actually flat? Clearly, there’s some faulty hermeneutic at work here on this one.

    • Tom R.

      Phil, the quote is right the Bible teaches a six-day creation. The only problem is that it did not happen that way. So the scholars ignore the parts of the text they can’t accept. They should just admit the Bible is mistaken. After all the people of that time should not be expected to know what we do in the area of science.

  • http://aldaily.com/ Justin L. Conder

    Par for the course from MacArthur, Johnson, and that crew. They always seem to elevate pretty much every theological conviction they have to “foundational” to the survival of the Christian faith. The problem becomes apparent as soon as they encounter anyone (continuationists, Arminians, egalitarians, theistic evolutionists) who doesn’t see it the exact same way. And it always means the other guy is distorting the plain, unmistakable facts of what Scripture says on any given subject. Someone said elsewhere that MacArthur really doesn’t seem to like people very much – they kind of muddy the waters of what would otherwise be his (I mean – uh – God’s) perfect systematic theological clockwork. And that’s because MacArthur views internal issues of disagreement as something which need to be resolved in order to unite the true church (that is, everyone who agrees with his brand of Calvinism) and cast out the goats. He is right and the other view must be wrong and therefore Satanic. That’s no caricature:

    “I’m not talking about immoral people in the world, I’m talking about immoral people where? In the church. You’ve got to deal with those people. They’ll pollute the fellowship. They’re like leaven. You’ve got to put them out, you’ve got to turn them over to Satan, you’ve got to deal with them, don’t eat with them. If they’re heretics, admonish them a few times and then dismiss them.”

    https://www.gty.org/resources/print/sermons/47-44

    With that M.O., even second or third tier beliefs (or ambiguous beliefs like Keller’s on evolution) can’t be tolerated, lest the devil get a foothold. When this is what you’re dealing with, it really doesn’t matter what the topic is – you either can trust God and tolerate diversity of human faith claims, or demand witch hunts for ever deviation, real or perceived.

  • Bev Mitchell

    Their sub-heading, or whatever, says “Unleashing God’s Truth, One Verse at a Time”. This gives us a large clue re the hermeneutic hole they have fallen into.

  • Orthodoxdj

    “Grace to you” really means “monergistic salvation for some and deterministic destruction for all else.”

    • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist

      Along with a steaming plate full of Gal. 5:19-21.

  • Dr Mike

    Forty years ago, in a series of 1975 articles in BibSac, Waltke presented his understanding of Gen 1 as a preexistent cosmos that truly was in chaos. I’d be interested in your take on it since, for me, it takes age-of-the-earth and evolution objections off the apologetics table (moving them to biblical research table, where they really belong).

    I also find it a bit ironic that this post immediately follows your post “preeeetty sure my version of Christianity is right and yours is wrong.” That seems to be the tone of the (equally ironic) “Grace to You” post. And what is to keep them from accusing you of the same?

  • https://patrickfranklin.wordpress.com/ PSF

    “When N. T. Wright, Tim Keller, and Bruce Waltke are your Stygian Triplets, you know you’ve passed into some parallel universe.”

    Lol! Classic line. Pretty much sums it up.

  • Mike Rogers

    John Gresham Machen is alive and well.

  • Craig Wright

    McArthur does not make sense when he says the length of day and night are governed by the sun and moon after day four. What about the first three days?

  • http://www.tillhecomes.org/ Jeremy Myers

    Every line in your post is classic. Ha!

  • Amen Specklebird

    Given that:

    1. The conflict between supernatural creationism and empirical naturalism is way older than Christianity.

    Epicurus taught a materialistic view of the universe: the whole of nature consists of matter and space. All matter is divisible down to the level of atoms (Greek for “indivisible”). They are eternal; neither created nor destroyed. They cannot be seen or felt with the senses but they do have size, shape, weight and motion. The atoms operate according to natural law. Thus there is no creation and no purpose in nature.

    Epicurus also rejected believe in an afterlife.

    What is Epicureanism?
    religionfacts.com/greco-roman/sects/epicureanism.htm

    2. And that Jesus condemned Epicurean philosophy, even when it was found in the Bible.

    Ecclesiastes’ Epicurean Ceterum censeo that nought is good for man but eating, and drinking, and pleasure (8:15, 2:24, 5:18, cf. 3:12) is condemned by Jesus (Luke 12:20) in a section which contains several allusions to the Book of Ecclesiastes (cf. Luke 12:18, and Eccl. 2:4; Luke 12:20b and Eccl 2:18b, and above all, Luke 12:27 = Matt. 6:29 (Solomon in all his glory.)[…]

    Paul Haupt (1905) The Book of Ecclesiastes: A New Metrical Translation (with an introduction and explanatory notes). Baltimore: John Hopkins Press. p.6.
    books.google.com/books/about/The_Book_of_Ecclesiastes.html?id=DYIwAQAAMAAJ

    My conclusion is that Jesus would have a dim view of evolution as also being too much in line with Epicurean atomist/materialist (nowadays, naturalistic) thinking.

  • https://sites.google.com/site/apocalypticwisdom/ Alan Fuller

    To sum up: it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything
    upon insufficient evidence. If a man, holding a belief which he was taught in childhood or persuaded of afterwards, keeps down and pushes away any doubts which arise about it in his mind, purposely avoids the reading of books and the company of men that call into question or discuss it, and regards as impious those questions which cannot easily be asked without disturbing it—the life of that man is one long sin against mankind. – William Clifford

    Clifford must have had Grace Ministries in mind.

  • http://thecuttingledge.com/ Phil Ledgerwood

    I also like how it’s a “crisis.” Like, hey guys, have you heard about this new evolution thing? We’re going to have to deal with this!

    I’m looking forward to the next article, “Christianity in Crisis: The Marcionism Factor.”

  • Jeff Y

    Well said, Pete! It’s becoming a comedy to see these blogs like the one on, “Grace to you.” And your post … so great. Thanks.

  • Dean

    “The doctrine of inerrancy becomes useless…”

    It is useless! The funny thing is the arguments used in this article are the same tired arguments used for the past 150 years. Not one thing has changed, even though the evidence for evolution and an ancient earth grow each day. I’m not sure it even matters refuting folks like this anymore, they absolutely live in an alternate universe and speak a different language.

  • Dr. Donny

    What’s new? Same old “plain reading” inerrancy nonsense that cherry-picks around any uncomfortable passages. Displays a total lack of critical thinking (or capacity for). Shows absence of any knowledge of historical development of writing and historiography. Never places anything in historical context unless that is useful for their interpretation. We have all seen this many times before. Total waste of time to argue or engage with such folks. Just ignore and go back to what is really important: trying to live as Jesus would have you do.

    • Andrew Dowling

      Unfortunately, these people are highly influential in our body politic on the state and federal level. And such a lack of critical thinking and embrace of fundamentalism is having serious ramifications, such as one of our two major parties not even accepting the reality of man’s influence on the climate.

    • John Daily

      Odd. Whether or not I actually agree with MacArthur, I see much evidence of critical thinking in that article. Critical thinking doesn’t presuppose that one will automatically reach a differing conclusion from the one they held previously.

      • Dr. Donny

        Critical thinking involves (1) actively seeking alternative explanations, (2) honest evaluation of all explanations to avoid favoring the desired answer (confirmation bias), (3) selecting the explanation which bests fits multiple, independent lines of evidence (abductive logic). When the author quotes MacArthur, who begins “The simple, rather obvious fact is that no one would ever think…”, one tends to doubt that critical inquiry is in progress, nor does his demonization of Wright and Waltke for simply having different views. His further failure to address available evidence based on historical context, literary criticism, and work of other OT scholars makes it appear that he is interested in nothing more than confirming his presupposed position.

  • newenglandsun

    Recently, I went out to lunch with a couple from my church (we’re from the ACA, BTW) and their daughter (who is WELS). The dad was talking about how scientific evidence recently has uncovered a Y-chromosome Adam and a mitochondrial Eve though the two did not live together at the same time. The daughter threw in her belief that it’s odd how we can come up with a totally different story of creation and yet can’t even come up with new names for the characters.

    This struck me as interesting. The ACA doesn’t have an official stance on how God created the world other than that God created the world (add the Nicene-Constantinople, Athanasian, and Apostles’ Creeds into the definition as well). WELS, however, does have a doctrine on how God created the world. Literal, six-day creation.

    I will state though that whenever I come across the creation-evolution debate, I always remind myself that I study religion and history, not evolutionary biology.

    • Gary

      I think the names “Adam” and “Eve” are used for Y-chromosomal and mitochondrial MRCAs is a mix of using these words in a robustly etymological sense, throwing a jab at an anti-science bent of much of Christianity since the Enlightenment, and yet giving some sort of nod too. Mostly though, I think it’s emphasizing the truthfulness of the findings vs. ancient mythological stories. “No, no, no. /This/ is the real Adam and /this/ is the real Eve.”

      Personally, I’ve not witnessed anything face-to-face on this debate for years. It’s a lingering online phenomenon. All of my creationist-leaing friends and family would never discuss this with me.

      • newenglandsun

        I wouldn’t say we “debated” the issue as to whether the Earth was created in six literal days or not. I used to debate YEC’s more frequently but truthfully, some YEC’s are extraordinarily intelligent in regards to theology (not necessarily the scientific arguments they make for it).

        I would say I’m a convinced old earth creationist myself but I’ve known one person who was training to be a pastor in a Pentecostal tradition who believed quite firmly in young earth creationism. He never presented it as official doctrine, just as his own interpretation.

        Like I said, the only real disagreement that there was in the discussion is that WELS does assert that YECism is necessary doctrine and the ACA does not. If you must know, the father teaches chemistry and the daughter teaches math. I would imagine a chemist is far more obliged to accept evolution than a mathematician.

        • Gary

          Whoa, that’s a big jump! We were talking about Y-chromosomal Adam and mitochondrial Eve and then, boom!, the age of the planet earth?

          • newenglandsun

            I truthfully do not know much about Y-chromosomal Adam and mitochondrial Eve to even care. Sorry to disappoint.

  • http://timothyhawk.com/ Timothy Hawk

    …their capitulation is spreading like a disease. OMG, we better find an antibiotic! Actually, GTY doesn’t need to worry, they’re quarantined – from reality. Thanks, Pete for sharing this with us.

  • Dean

    So I was out sick yesterday and just restless in general and started looking up different NASA space missions that have occurred recently or are being planned. It was recently announced that JPL is working on a mission to Europa, one of the four large moons orbiting Jupiter. For those of you who do not know, there is very good scientific evidence that there is liquid water just underneath Europa’s icy surface, I mean A LOT of liquid water potentially, maybe more than twice the volume of all the water on earth! So of course, this leads scientists to wonder if maybe life could have evolved independently on Europa. Total speculation of course, but it is questions like these that propel humanity forward toward scientific progress and discovery. Can you imagine a society which believed that everything you need to know is self-contained in the Bible wasting precious time and resources on going to Europa? I mean, good God, what if it what we find there contradicts the Genesis account!? What would we do then!?

  • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

    I just started reading Jeffrey R. Stout’s Flight from Authority: Religion, Morality, and the Quest for Autonomy. The following appears to apply to MacArthur et al:

    My conclusion will be that the era of foundationalist epistemology, the era in which epistemology was the basic concern of philosophy, is now as a matter of historical fact over. The position called minimal foundationalism has lost its connection with the purposes that gave Cartesian philosophy, as a human project, its point. (6)

    Did he not get the memo, or is he still flying away from authority and tradition, while claiming to do neither? Stout has something to say about such people:

    Still, provided we pay ample attention to preserving each other’s nobler parts, it is the closest thing we have to progress in philosophy. By historicist lights, the claim to have achieved “the perspective of eternity” is itself the height of condescension. If so, then historicism is rightly understood as a flight from condescension in favor of modest claims and unrarified air. (5)

    As far as I can tell (and I have spent some time looking), folks like MacArthur cannot/​will not see “each other’s nobler parts”. In other words, he cannot do this:

    But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. (Heb 5:14)

    If he could, he would identify what is kalos and what is kakos, and perhaps even recognize the significance of the one letter difference. Perhaps he would even see kakos as “that which isn’t as it ought to be”, instead of “that which needs to be DESTROYED”. After all, God’s method is always to bring out a remnant; see e.g. Is 6:8–13, especially v13. Hmmm, I’ve never noticed the connection between v13 and 2 Pe 3:8–12

  • Mark

    Perhaps MacArthur would also have us go back to the understanding that it is the man’s “seed” which grows babies, and the woman is just the necessary receptacle. Sure, all the scientists and doctors tell us otherwise, but have you ever actually seen a woman’s “egg”?

    • Nate Sparks

      The irony being that lying behind MacArthur’s insistence on Original Sin is just such an ideology. Augustine, who coined the idea, called it seminal transference, because everything coming from the male was the best scientific understanding of procreation in his day, and it is why (often unwittingly) so many Original Sin-ners refer to “All have sinned in Adam” as their prooftext.

    • newenglandsun

      Maybe I misunderstand modern biology but I thought that the seed (man’s semen) was necessary to fertilize the women’s egg. It’s not like she can just give birth on her own.

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com/ Nathan Rinne

    Interesting article from MacArthur’s site. Read it this morning along with Denis O. Lamoureux’s article in the recent PERSPECTIVES on Science and Christian faith, “Beyond Original Sin: Is a Paradigm Shift Inevitable?”

    What always concerns me here is that for many, Gods’ word seems to be merely something like Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar – the main intention not being to convey real history that speaks to us and forms us now, but rather to simply speak to us and form us now…

    Now, now, now.

    But here is the real challenge: look at Jesus… he never gives any indication that He took the events of the OT as anything other than things that really happened. What do we do when the True Myth Incarnate gives us such impressions… and then tells us to to believe like children?

    For it seems to me, there is a ruthless logic here. There are these genealogies that connect Adam with Christ after all… Why stop with Genesis and Adam as being mythological so as to just be for the now, now, now – at the expense of words acknowledging that it also has to do with the real past?

    What do you do when the True Myth Incarnate (hat tip: C.S. Lewis) gives every indication that the stories of the Old Testament are utterly historical as well as for our moral edification? Do you, in an effort to stifle this inconvenient truth, eventually end up consigning the True Myth Incarnate to more ethereal realms as well? (after you’ve moved to a lower Christology?) Why wouldn’t you?

    Can you at least see why some persons are concerned about this?

    +Nathan

    • newenglandsun

      I think you might be interested to see more of what Bp. N.T. Wright has to say about this. He takes a view that reconciles evolutionary biology with a more literal reading of Genesis that involves the account of Adam and Eve as more semi-figurative. That is, while he concurs with monogenesis and the fall story, he doesn’t take it in the exact same way as it is presented in the Bible. He thinks that some of the elements are more figurative than others.

      Also, in regards to the overall truth of the Bible, you might want to look into some of the stuff that Fr. Robert Barron has stated about the Bible as well. He makes the contention that the Bible is more of a library (a collection of books), rather than a single book. There are areas of the Bible which give historical accounts and there are areas which don’t. It depends which section of the library you are in.

      BTW, I think C.S. Lewis saw evolution as reconcilable with Christianity.

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com/ Nathan Rinne

    For me, it is interesting to think about all of this in terms of teleology, or purpose. Presumably, most of the persons reading and commenting on this blog would have this in common: while believing evolution is true, they would not share the premise that it is without purpose, all chance, etc.

    In my question that follows below, you will see it has to do more with philosophy classically understood than modern science (fixated on the quantitative, measuring, technique, mechanical analogies, etc).

    First, I set the stage:

    The purpose of writing, for example, is pretty clear. We can readily understand the reasons persons use writing, put things in writing, etc. And we learn from the Scriptures themselves that one of the reasons for the Scriptures was to “safeguard” or preserve, the faith.

    Now, getting to the question(s):

    On the other hand, it seems to me that we cannot so readily understand the reasons for the universe. Is it there in part to give us a “clock” that can help us calculate the age of the earth? On what basis would we say this? How do we know? What if the main reason it is there is to give us a glorious fireworks display and the secondary reasons have nothing to do with clocks?

    +Nathan

    • Preston Garrison

      The thing is that when you do the measurements, certain parts of the universe do act like clocks. The spinning of the earth, its orbit around the sun, radioactive decay and sloppy clocks like the accumulation of mutations. The time it takes for one collection of C-14 atoms to decay matches very well the time it takes for another similar collection to decay. We’re not assuming the wrong function, we’re making observations and they indicate clocklike, regular behavior. Indeed, we couldn’t make clocks of the ordinary sort if things didn’t behave in a regular way.

      Since God isn’t giving interviews on His specific purpose for each detail of the universe, all we can do is observe and experiment and see how it seems to work.

      • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com/ Nathan Rinne

        Preston,

        “We’re not assuming the wrong function, we’re making observations and they indicate clocklike, regular behavior. Indeed, we couldn’t make clocks of the ordinary sort if things didn’t behave in a regular way.”

        It seems to me that not only do we have unproven assumptions – operating on the basis of something we cannot possibly know – but you are also being anachronistic. Forgive me if I am wrong, but weren’t clocks invented around the 10th or 11th century? In other words, we would not look at the universe and think “clock” (since clocks came on the scene long after persons had been interested in, and studying the universe), but we would look at the clock and think “universe”.

        In like fashion, anyone who knows something about the origin of computers should not find it surprising that some who use powerful computers are tempted to reduce what is complex into a false simplicity. Alan Turing invented the computer based on his own idea – his own model – of how the brain operated and how human beings communicated. After the computer begin to
        dominate our lives, it became more and more common to think about the brain – and our own communication as human beings – in terms of the computer itself and computer networks. As far as it pertains to academia, this happened in the sciences as well as the humanities. Jaron Lanier even talks about how words like “consciousness” and “sharing” have been “colonized” by Silicon Valley nerd culture. Can we say that as we increasingly give ourselves to technology without reflection and personally constructed levies, we see that it is not so much that the robots resemble us, but that we resemble the robots?

        My friend David Bade notes that “…in our time, following Turing and Chomsky, the machine has been understood not as a product of human activity but as an embodiment of exactly the same design principles which the human being embodies.” But wherein does this epistemological confidence lie?

        +Nathan

        • Nate Sparks

          Nathan,

          I think you fail to understand how clocks came to be. The earliest clock, a sundial, was designed to divide the day into points of reference accessible to the public – at least to one extent or another – based on the position of the sun. Like the emergence of a coin based economy over a bartering system, the desire to quantify and qualify “time” allowed for greater control and systemization, a system of weights and measures necessary for “empire” to function. However, this came by studying “the observable universe” to extent they were able in their time. They noticed certain shadows corresponded with how the sun was positioned and used it to their advantage. Likewise calendars, which are even more ancient than the idea of the “clock” were developed initially as a way of quantifying and planning for harvest seasons and festivals – by the way, this is the express reason behind the Hebrew calendar given in Exodus. I think you see a false dichotomy here, though perhaps I misunderstand you. The universe can be beautiful and awe inspiring and still be ordered and both can be God’s purpose, both can be love. I do like the notion of order as love, as I have a special needs child and understand how that works. Order need not be cold , calculated, or mechanical as even the Genesis 1 account depicts the universe as ordered and precise-in a priestly sense, with rather obvious polemical concerns- yet also beautiful and suitable as divine dwelling/temple, an act of invitation into participation in divine community.

          I hope I’ve read you correctly and am not simply “talking past” you. Peace to you in Christ.

          • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com/ Nathan Rinne

            Nate,

            Thanks for engaging me here.

            “The earliest clock, a sundial, was designed to divide the day into points of reference accessible to the public – at least to one extent or another – based on the position of the sun.”

            Right. And we can all agree that using the sun, the moon, and the seasons (with the stars) to give order to our lives is a good idea – days, weeks, years….. These things pretty obviously are helpful in serving this function. Even so, we can’t extrapolate from these actions to figure out how long they or we have been. For that, we would need human records.

            The idea of a clock where each second is captured is a medieval idea. Clocks started out dividing up the days, and as we realized more and more the way we could use numbers in conjunction with the regularities in the universe, we have grown more confident about what we could do. E.g. we can not only divide up days with numbers but can divide up all of natural history – using things like the speed of light, background radiation, etc.

            Sorry – I just don’t see why it is so obvious that those things are meant to serve these purposes. The more I think about all of this, the more I think the modern scientific and technological mindset is a total dead-end – built on totally false assumptions.

            Even if the clock does seem to be right more than twice a day (i.e. our faulty models still enable some predictions that work).

            +Nathan

          • Nate Sparks

            I’m following your concern. I agree that the modernist tendency to colonize and control everything by way of systemization, categorization, and quantification into supposed propositional truth statements promotes a problematic philosophy/metaphysic geared, essentially, towards self-deification. We want a single system of control we can impose on all, the desire to homogenize. However, I would offer two cautions:

            1) Modernism is just as inherent to YEC as to the modernist/naturalist scientific/technological enterprise. The very insistence on biblical inerrancy as self-evident reading toward “propositional truth” is built upon this same type of foundationalism.

            2) don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. You may agree with the philosophy/metaphysics (and rightly so) that doesn’t mean we cannot see God in it. I don’t know if God designed the universe in an orderly fashion so we could “decode the clues”, honestly I don’t see how it matters much. He did make it fairly predictable and thus, we can still be good stewards by using what we can observe to understand our world and as a way of establishing well-reasoned common ground (transformed of course by our belief in Christ) towards dialogue with the very philosophy you object to.

            If you throw out or avoid all results that came about by methods you don’t agree with, you will have a problematic interaction with the world around you. You can’t even go the doctor’s office without being confronted by this. Perhaps it is better to stand as informed but engaged than to simply reject it all together.

            Peace to you in Christ

          • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com/ Nathan Rinne

            Nate,

            I agree about YEC and modernism. That’s why I approach things the way I do (though I re-iterate my comments below expressing concern with the way many handle the Bible and what this means for Christology in particular). Thanks for the interaction. I think its been fruitful. I am eager to test these thoughts I’ve had and you have helped out in that process.

            +Nathan

          • Andrew Dowling

            “Sorry – I just don’t see why it is so obvious that those things are meant to serve these purposes. The more I think about all of this, the more I think the modern scientific and technological mindset is a total dead-end – built on totally false assumption”

            And then he clicks “post” on his computer which unveils his message to the Internet . . .

      • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com/ Nathan Rinne

        Preston,

        Again, why would we not assume that things like supernova are
        there first and foremost as something for us who dwell in God’s
        creation/household: there to show us something like a beautiful painting or fireworks display (take your pick).

        I think all of this can be better understood with a simple analogy:
        Parents arrange things in a consistent fashion so that a child can be captivated, play, create and experiment on the one hand, and they arrange things and *act* in a consistent fashion so that the child feels security, stability, and confidence, on the other hand. Arranging things in a consistent fashion – more or less so – depending on what we are talking about, and acting in a consistent steadfast fashion is a part of love. Creating beauty and order for another is a fruit of love. In other words, order is born of love, not love of order – or froma love of order! As the linguist Roy Harris perceptively notes, communicative behavior cannot arise from non-communicative behavior. There must be an infrastructure in place from the beginning. This matter does not center around the fact that truth is a social construct instead of some cold and impersonal factual correspondence, or something like that – but that how we conceive of and describe reality can’t not be done personally, or socially. And such should not surprise, because Reality is personal, is social (rooted as it is in the Reality of the Triune God). And this in turn brings us back to Romans 1. It is not that there is nothing to the idea that order=God, but rather that order can’t not be recognized as a fruit of love. Perhaps one’s proof of God does not begin by saying “Someone must have made this”, but rather by the love that one does know.

        Now none of this means that we can’t observe the hard and soft
        regularities that God has put in place for us. It just means being
        humble about working with these things, understanding that He has His own purposes for arranging the world as He sees fit, and we have our own purposes

        I should be posting at Jordan Cooper’s Just and Sinner here on patheos soon and hope to occasionally explore issues like this there.

        +Nathan

    • Dean

      What a strange comment, I’m not even sure what you are getting at. We mark the passage of time because it aids in organizing our society. The age of the earth and universe is an extension of that. The Bible may suggest some other dating of the earth and the universe, but it certainly doesn’t dictate a specific date or age. Given that we now have much more evidence that the earth is ancient, it is reasonable to reassess the text. I understand for some, this poses theological problems, I simply humbly suggest that people reassess their theology. If Christians really took theology seriously, this should be a non-controversial process. If theology is a real thing, than it should progress with our advances in our understanding about God and the world around us. To suggest that we can actually ever arrive at a “perfect” understanding of scripture severely detracts from the legitimacy of this exercise, what it suggests is that we never get better at “doing” theology. I’m not sure why this isn’t obvious to people, fundamentalists often critique science for continuing to revise its theories and conclusions. To the rest of the world this is an absurd critique, because that happens to be precisely why we are able to comment on a board via the internet rather than having to draw stick figures in a cave.

      • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com/ Nathan Rinne

        Dean,

        “I’m not even sure what you are getting at. We mark the passage of time because it aids in organizing our society.”

        Right – and how, generally speaking, do we do that? How did we do that before we used clocks? The sun, the moon, the seasons. And we can’t look at these things and tell how long we have been…. We look to human records for that.

        You say we have much more evidence now that the earth is ancient, but that assumes that the cosmos as a whole functions as a mechanical clock – which is my point (the embedded and completely unnatural assumptions). I am not talking about theology at this point. This is classical philosophy – teleology – I am using to challenge the modern scientific and technological mindset.

        +Nathan

        • Dean

          Nathan, you forget that human beings believe things about nature because it “works”. You’re over-thinking things I suspect, because of some theological dogma you feel compelled to defend. Not sure I need to produce any evidence that the cosmos functions as a “mechanical clock”, I’m not even sure what that means. I suspect it doesn’t mean anything. Either our observations about the age of the earth matches up based on several independent measures or it does not. You are certainly free to challenge methodology, but that has thus far been a dead end for YEC folks. Sure you can make arguments all day long about why the scientific community is collectively delusional, but if no one is listening, it’s mostly a waste of your time. That’s the power of instantaneous and ubiquitous access to information. Everyone gets to decide who’s arguments are better in real time. People with bad ideas don’t get killed, they just get ignored. I think we’re making progress, at least in the West anyway.

          • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com/ Nathan Rinne

            Dean,

            Appreciate your response to me. Thanks. Let me think a bit more before I try another reply.

            +Nathan

          • Dean

            Of course. Take your time. I don’t mean to be rude, but I think your arguments need to stand on their own. Meaning, they should come from some other place than the need to maintain a YEC framework to support your other theological positions. I was just re-watching some of Al Mohler’s presentations on YEC. He is unique in the sense that he readily admits that the earth looks ancient, but he holds on to a young earth because it is theologically expedient. Well, it occurred to me if anyone used the same kind of argument by expediency on him to support a theological position he would attack it as too convenient. So it is odd to me why he would present something like that and expect anyone to find it convincing. If you haven’t seen this kind of presentation from him, here is a clip:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_Wi5OYZ7Ks

          • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com/ Nathan Rinne

            Dean,

            Thanks much. I will check out the Mohler clip.

            I understand your concern about my theological convictions and how they affect me in this debate (again, people can clearly see my post below about how the Bible becomes akin to Shakespeare). Still, given that in the first 1800 years of Christianity most all theologians of influence seem to have had a pretty straightforward understanding of the creation story, I’d say that’s a reasonable concern. All of this, of course, ultimately has theological implications – having to do with sin and decay and brokenness and death reigning not just after but also before the fall. In any case, from the YEC perspective, I don’t think talking about the “appearance of age” makes sense really as it assumes too much – so I am at odds with Mohler here to.

            My theological concerns aside, I do think that most anyone
            should be able to see the merits of my critique from a simple “critical thinking” and philosophical point of view.

            You say “you forget that human beings believe things about nature because it “works””. “It works”. I know by saying that you are just saying that it seems to work like a clock (because of independent measures, which again, we all – even YEC to an extent – assume maps with “the time” from the get-go), but I think about something else. I think Daniel Dennett should be taken seriously when he says Darwinism is a universal acid.

            As A.N. Wilson has written Darwin’s truly unique contribution “was to expound a theory of natural selection which removed any necessity for a metaphor of purpose when discussing natural history”. Hamann, noting the modern scientific and technological mindset said before Darwin came on the scene, said “…human beings experience a regularity in the world around them, which they then improperly abstract into a concept of ‘natural law’ that excludes from serious discourse, the mystical, and the religious.” Even Goethe predicted that the Renaissance ideal of classical languages, classical literature, and classical arts would be replaced by classical mechanics, which have no place for meaning, ethics, or Bildung [that is, the “tradition of self-cultivation, wherein philosophy and education are linked in a manner that refers to a process of both personal and cultural maturation” – Wikipedia]”

            A universal acid indeed! Not just Darwinism, but the mindset that Darwinism was born from.

            Think about this more broadly…. the implications of “it
            works”. I think by thinking this way, we are implying that “what is ultimately true is that what truly ‘works’ is
            more important than what is, in fact, the case.” It is subtle but do you see it? Everything is effected by this mechanical thinking. What is in fact the case about the nature of the cosmos does not truly matter because treating it like a clock works. Likewise, what is in fact the case about the nature of human life does not matter because all that matters is that we are treated like “gene machines”. Actually, as we know, Darwinists insist this is true: the core truth about humanity that really does matter is that we, like machines, are “built” (no purpose though) to pass on our genes. If we think about what this means, we realize that in some cases here, only *appearances* need matter: we only need to appear to have the potential – perhaps we are merely more readily associated with others who are more gifted than us! – to be great survival machines who will have the power and wherewithal to pass on our genes to impressed mates (not just our physical strength or beauty matter, but our social strength, our cleverness, etc).

            Of course, there is a real irony here. Anyone who believes in evolution does not want to give the impression that evolution is about anything other than what is. It must stay in the realm of fact, not value. But here is the question that
            should nag us, and that seems to undermine evolution: does the person who says evolution is a fact have a vested interest in having a belief system whereby they can readily justify their behaviors to themselves (their conscience) and
            others?

            Needless to say, this focus on “what works” seems to
            undermine the evolutionist’s claim to be able to know what is. Only appearances matter – just enough so that the genes can get passed on. Does theistic evolution get dissolved in this acid? Again, what is really true is that what truly works is more important than what is, in fact, the case. What can we really be certain of? Well, though we can’t know the natures of things and teleology is just a “value” and not a fact (since evolution is without purpose and is a universal acid), I see mathematics and beauty as becoming the gods of the age (for our elites – see Rebecca Goldstein’s “Plato at the Googleplex”). Of course, this does not deny that the more glaring aspects of the “spiritual” and “religious” will make themselves known as well, like the moles you hit
            with the club at the amusement park. But of course the world’s religiosity and Christianity are not necessarily synonymous.

            For more thoughts on this, I wrote an article a few months
            back which is now on patheos called : “The upside of being a gadget, or, we are all acting like atheists now”: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/justandsinner/the-upside-of-being-a-gadget-or-we-are-all-acting-like-atheists-now/

            Here is how I ended the article:

            “I am simply asserting that it is normal for the practice of methodological naturalism to lead persons in this mechanical direction and for it to affect our deepest beliefs.
            And I think to say this is not much different from saying lex orendi lex credenda (The Law of prayer is the law of belief). As one finds some success in the world using naturalistic techniques one may begin to think, somewhat logically, that they ought to have a very good reason for not letting their methodological naturalism become pure
            philosophical naturalism. Just what is that good reason?
            After all, they think, there is no doubt that I am understanding much about nature and learning ever better how to manipulate it. It works because it is true and it’s true because it works!”

          • Dean

            Nathan, I never intended to make the leap to evolution, so clearly you have a bunch of other things on your mind that you are lumping together. Let’s just stick with old earth/new earth, because I have to say, that’s the most outrageous claim that some Christians make and I would argue, it is a minority position even among conservative evangelicals, at least those with a college degree. None of this is meant to offend you, it’s just that when you study broadly, you come to the inescapable conclusion that the earth is really old, even Al Mohler acknowledges that. There are so many problems with young earth, that all you are left to arguing is teleology. Well I don’t see how teleology can bail you out of a T-Rex skeleton that looks like it’s billions of years old. Even if you don’t accept billions, it is certainly not 6000 years old, we have written records dating pretty much that far back. Basically nothing in the world makes sense with a 6000 year old earth. You have to come with ad hoc argument after ad hoc argument, like getting koala bears to Australia without them starving to death. That’s the only point I was making when I said we believe things because they “work” for us. They allow us to understand things and explain other things. Old earth “fits” everything else we understand about our world today. You are certainly free to reject the conclusions of science for whatever reasons that may be. But you should at least understand why others do not, especially scientists themselves, because for them, the old earth “works”. The same scientific principles that allow us to come to those conclusions are the very same principles that allow us to communicate on a computer over the internet. It may be convenient for you reject scientific consensus, but my question is what kind of world do you think we would be living in if everyone adopted this view? If we have to reject certain scientific theories off hand because they seemingly contradict the Bible, do you really think that is a recipe for scientific progress or regression?

            “what is ultimately true is that what truly ‘works’ is
            more important than what is, in fact, the case.”

            I would argue that what truly “works” in this world is all we can “know”. Christianity is the same way. We are Christians because it “works for us. If a relationship with Jesus Christ didn’t have a real impact on your life, you wouldn’t be Christian.

          • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com/ Nathan Rinne

            Dean,

            No offense taken. My point about evolution was made because it is my guess that most persons here are not OEC but theistic evolutionists – and as I said, I see evolutionary theory coming directly out of the modern scientific and technological mindset (no teleology). And looking back at what I wrote there, I think it is quite solid (but I always like to be challenged).

            Well Mohler did say the earth *seems* old, and like I said, I’m not even sure why he would say that. I mean, what other earths do we have to compare it to? I have looked into arguments about why everything is said to be so old and I find them unconvincing really (I don’t deny I’m biased, but….). Again, I don’t think any reasons are given
            about why we should assume that cosmos’ purpose or even part of its purpose is to serve as a clock for us. The heavens show us the glory of God and I think are more like his fireworks show for us. Radioisotopes I am guessing have all kinds of practical uses – or should – by which we can serve our neighbor.

            You say that there are so many problems with YEC (by the way, here is something I found on the Answers in Genesis site: https://answersingenesis.org/astronomy/age-of-the-universe/evidence-for-a-young-world/ – clearly Humprhries would dispute your “Old earth ‘fits’ everything else we understand about our world today”) that all I am left with is teleology. That’s not what I think. I think the problem with YEC is that it is basically captive to the same enlightenment overconfidence that the modern scientific and technological mindset is (see quote from Hamaan above). That is, the mindset that left most all ontological knowledge and teleology behind – foolishly (yes, Aristotle got a lot wrong, but that does not mean that Bacon’s
            program was the answer) already starting in the 17th c (and the groundwork here had even been laid by earlier figures like Abelard and Ockham).

            “What kind of world do you think we would be living in if everyone adopted this view?”

            I don’t think it would make much of a difference, frankly. Modern science really got rolling with Christians like Roger, not Francis, Bacon. And there have even been many accomplished scientists in our day who were YECs for example. If we are going to go at the question from a pragmatic point of view the question I would like to see addressed is: “Can anyone *specifically* explain how certain scientific discoveries which no one disputes are important discoveries which affect the way we “do business in the world” (atoms, genes, DNA, Newton, Einstein, Maxwell, etc.) could not have been made unless the one making them had depended on old earth or even evolutionary frameworks?” I’ve always wondered about that.

            “I would argue that what truly “works” in this world is all we can “know”.”

            So Christianity is true because it works? Do you, in general, think that we can’t really know any truth? So what is your response to anyone else who would reject your faith because they already have something that works? (like scientific naturalism with a dash of Spinoza, for example)?

            +Nathan

          • newenglandsun

            Nathan, you keep saying that “the Bible becomes akin to Shakespeare” if we don’t accept the literal, six-day creation. I’m a bit perplexed like this. True, many of us who don’t take Genesis 1-11 literally liken it to Shakespeare (I personally prefer likening it to Tolkien), however, the emphasis is more on likening the Bible overall to a library. I’m certain you don’t take everything in the Bible exactly literally–you respect the context and the genre. I’ll admit, none of us really knows what the genre of the creation account in Genesis is. We can only do guess-work and make assumptions. This is why most churches don’t elevate one’s view on creation to the status of doctrine.

          • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com/ Nathan Rinne

            newenglandsun,

            Well, actually I don’t keep saying that. Here’s what I said: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2015/02/heres-something-new-genesis-is-in-crisis-and-if-you-dont-see-that-youre-syncretistic/#comment-1881785862

            above I also said this:

            “….given that in the first 1800 years of Christianity most all theologians of influence seem to have had a pretty straightforward understanding of the creation story, I’d say that’s a reasonable concern… ”

            Are you disagreeing with that?

            I went on to say above: “All of this, of course, ultimately has theological implications – having to do with sin and decay and brokenness and death reigning not just after but also before the fall.”

            Are you disagreeing with that? Issues of genre aside (even some YEC, it seems to me, have sophisticated discussions about matters of genre, and are quite up on the arguments, as best I can tell).

            +Nathan

          • newenglandsun

            “”….given that in the first 1800 years of Christianity most all theologians of influence seem to have had a pretty straightforward understanding of the creation story, I’d say that’s a reasonable concern… “”
            That’s because in full technicality (at least in my own personal opinion), YEC’s typically go into the creation narratives without any further information. Old earth creationists tend to read science into the Bible in order to come up with their conclusions.

            “”All of this, of course, ultimately has theological implications – having to do with sin and decay and brokenness and death reigning not just after but also before the fall.””

            No. It does not. For instance, while Catholics accept evolution, they are obliged to maintain to monogenesis. This is due to anthropological theology of the Catholic Church dealing with original sin and the nature of the human soul. Many old earth creationists hold to perfectly orthodox views on original sin, the deity of Christ, and other things.

            I’m not against the YEC interpretation so much as I am against the notion of elevating such an obviously MINOR doctrine to the status of a MAJOR doctrine of which it is clearly not.

          • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com/ Nathan Rinne

            newenglandsun,

            “No. It does not. For instance, while Catholics accept evolution, they are obliged to maintain to monogenesis.”

            Right – and just like the RC church needed to change because of Galileo, they, it is now argued, need to change again. Give it time.

            +Nathan

          • newenglandsun

            Galileo was placed under house arrest because he was presenting his theories as if they were truth. At that time, more scientific evidence pointed to geocentricity. Besides, heliocentricity is equally unscientific which we also know now.

          • qwerty

            I just listened to Mohler. No surprises. The primary issue in all this is our doctrine of scripture – how we understand the Bible. Those who see Bible as the literal word of God have to treat it as inerrant and this requires young earth creationism. So either the the science is wrong or God is playing tricks on us (Mohler seems to prefer the latter). I regard both of these as untenable positions.

          • newenglandsun
          • qwerty

            Not sure what the significance of that is. Evolutionary science has moved on from Darwin. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_evolutionary_synthesis

          • newenglandsun

            Not certain either. If you follow the comments section on that blog, we’re still trying to figure out if it’s a parody or not.

  • qwerty

    Peter, all I can say is that I find your approach demonstrates a far higher view of scripture than MacArthur’s. It scares me that many people are willing to follow him.

  • https://infanttheology.wordpress.com/ Nathan Rinne

    Dr. Enns,

    I had posted the following earlier in the day and it was put up. I noticed an error in it later and tried to edit it, but now it is gone. I am not sure if you just accidently lost it or if you did not want it on your blog, so I am trying again – I really am curious to know what kinds of answers you / some might give to my questions (feel free to delete all of the above if you do allow this on your blog):

    For me, it is interesting to think about all of this in terms of teleology, or purpose.
    Presumably, most of the persons reading and commenting on this blog would have this in common: while believing evolution is true, they would not share the
    premise that it is without purpose, all chance, etc.

    In my question that follows below, you will see it has to do more with philosophy
    classically understood than modern science (fixated on the quantitative,
    measuring, technique, mechanical analogies, etc).

    First, I set the stage:

    The purpose of writing, for example, is pretty clear. We can readily understand the reasons persons use writing, put things in writing, etc. And we learn from the
    Scriptures themselves that one of the reasons for the Scriptures was to
    “safeguard” or preserve, the faith.

    Now, getting to the question(s):

    On the other hand, it seems to me that we cannot so readily understand the reasons for the universe. Is it there in part to give us a “clock” that can help us
    calculate the age of the earth? On what basis would we say this? How do we
    know? What if the main reason it is there is to give us a glorious fireworks
    display and the secondary reasons have nothing to do with clocks?

    +Nathan

  • Judy Buck-Glenn

    When I was eight years old, I was in Sunday school and our teacher began talking about Adam and Eve. She showed us a picture of two modern-looking human beings. I looked at the picture and asked “What about Neanderthals?” She said “You can believe in the Bible or you can believe in Neanderthals. You can’t believe in both.” I said no more, but inside I said to myself “I believe in Neanderthals, so I guess I don’t believe in the Bible.”

    This kind of garbage is a great way to make atheists. It took me years to find a way back.

    My big beef with the Genesis account–which I have used, playfully, flexibly, to talk about God as creator in a fun Vacation Church School–is that there is NO WAY AROUND day three. All those plants. And no sun!

    But of course, if I had to pretend the universe were not about 15 billion years old and the human race had not evolved from lower hominids over millions of years, in order to be a Christian, I would still have the same answer I did at age 8.

    • Gary

      Weekly church-going’s silent thought bubbles…

      Entering the doors – “Holy smokes! They actually believe this stuff.”

      Song service – “What do these words mean to these people?”

      Readings – “Lemme guess what the sermon will be on…”

      Sermon – “How does one even respond to that? Never mind that thought, there’s no context to respond or dialog.”

      Communion – “Self surrender, at least of 1st amendment rights.”

      Back out the door – “Wow, the sun’s shining out here! Glory.”

      Pete’s look at the crisis in this blog is painfully narrow. Stygian Triplets isn’t the biggest issue. The biggest issue is that there are no corrective feedback cycles into the system and no context to engage in meaningful dialog. When both of those lack, truth and community shrivel. Like a cursed fig.

      Judy, decades after Sunday School’s flannelgraph faith it isn’t that different. The number of times I’ve heard “Neanderthals” among thousands of sermons is zero. The number of times I’m hearing “Adam,” too, is rapidly dwindling.

      People, who have sufficient friends-and-family freedom, leave. This is Western Christendom’s crisis.

      • Judy Buck-Glenn

        Well, I am now an Episcopal priest, so all is not gloom and doom! I DID find a way back. Though I have to admit I have never preached on Neanderthals. However, I do not think you would mind hearing what I DO preach on.

        • Gary

          Well that’s usually true. Most Episcopal homilies I’ve found to be much better. That is, except the one I heard that was mostly on Close Encounters of the Third Kind and some sort of Christmas hagiography to Steven Spielberg, as a Jew. That was one really weird sermon. Weirder than anything about Neanderthals would have been.

          • Judy Buck-Glenn

            I do not think anyone has ever considered my sermons weird. Me, perhaps, but not my sermons. I am trying to imagine how that Christmas sermon might have been structured, and it is quite hopeless. I may lack the creative spark necessary to see the three components as congruent.

          • Gary

            I think it was the shepherds’ experience being something like a Close Encounter and Steve Spielberg like an OT prophet. It was a bit surreal. Very high church environment with an old, established city center church, liturgy very well done, sermon preached from a nice proper pulpit. But a bit other worldly. Dare I say, alien. Didn’t really grok much Christology that Christmas Eve!

      • http://thecuttingledge.com/ Phil Ledgerwood

        Hey Gary,

        I’m not sure I agree that the western church has no corrective feedback cycles or context for meaningful dialogue.

        I agree there are probably people and congregations in the west who are not open to those things, but spirited dialogue on a host of issues is alive and well in the western church.

        The Sunday morning worship service is probably not the ideal place to find that, because that service is a Christian ritual that serves a specific purpose in the life of the Christian community. A rabbi might be totally open to debating with you about the Torah in his office, but probably less so in the middle of a Bris.

        But discussion and debate happens in small groups and Sunday Schools and books and blogs and journals and, in my case, over scotch with friends. There is definitely no lack of diversity on a great many issues in Christianity and no lack of discussion on them. That said, specific congregations may have very different attitudes toward that kind of thing.

        • Gary

          Good points. It’s not that there’s no corrective feedback cycles or context for dialogue, it is, perhaps as you’ve outlined here, the centermost things don’t have such and the such is pushed to the fringe, and especially as time allows. The rabbi would like meeting in the more controlled and less exposed environment of his office. He might do this once, he might do this twice. But, in time, he will find the engagement a waste of time. He won’t be convinced of anything (people rarely are when their livelihood depends on it) and so he’ll appreciate the friendship, but simply find, even ever so politely, better things to do with his times. The small group leader needs to meet his objectives. The Sunday school leader needs to meet the pre-determined needs of the curriculum. And online opportunities abound.But in the real world, such conversation usually needs to be taken, what’s euphemistically referred to as, “offline.”

          • http://thecuttingledge.com/ Phil Ledgerwood

            I don’t disagree with that for the most part.

            The reason I feel like Sunday worship isn’t really the best place to have self-corrective dialogue isn’t so much about controlling the environment or the relationship, but more about the purpose of the Sunday morning worship service. It’s just not a forum, per se. Maybe it should be. There are reasons to believe early church worship services were more interactive and participatory than Sunday worship in its current format. But at least insofar as it exists today, I wouldn’t think of that as an ideal place for discussion and debate. It’s just when Christians get together to worship. If I went to a mosque for their worship service, I wouldn’t expect them to open the floor to dissenters in the middle of it.

            But that does raise the question of, if Sunday morning worship isn’t the mechanism for that, what is? That’s a good question. You raised some valid limitations about the ad hoc mechanisms that currently exist. On the other hand, it’s not really practical or desirable to have a church council every time someone disagrees with something.

            I guess I have had good experiences through the more informal means of these discussions happening, but that’s mostly because of the community/ies I’ve chosen. I can easily easily understand the experience of someone who also tried to have these discussions in a given community and was run out on a rail.

          • Gary

            Yes, I feel you’re understanding what I’m referring to. The instruments of the institution facilitate worship and one-way communication. Bi-directional and multi-directional communications are not built-in to what the institution does. At least not since, as you wonderfully point out, councils. Two bishops/pastors/priests/lay leaders in two very different streams of Christianity have no organized structures for finding consensus.The design of our institutions and their programs do support worship but they are based upon division–only parallel, divided worship is possible. Consider the major programs such as: Service/liturgy, Sunday school, small groups, retreats, etc. Name one that is structurally designed to support more than one mutually respected authority to engage with another. To a degree, councils did this. Consider the difference with other truth-seeking institutions. You will find institutional structures and programs that are designed for things such as debate, voting, peer review, etc. Many modern truth seekers would like to engage but most of the systems support only an authoritarian, take-it-or-leave engagement model. One could possibly say this is what makes is sacred and such a space as to surrender to the Divine, but given that those vending their wares of doctrines and dogmas can’t agree, it makes it difficult for a truth-seeker to meaningful engage in dialogue concerning what they’ve heard from varies adherents of various faiths and sub faiths.

  • Tim

    “Syncretism” is the new “Heresy” label.

  • https://www.facebook.com/JeanKisarl Jean Kisarl

    well put