May 23, 2017

Church of the Holy Sepulcher dsScripture is not a collection of proof-texts, propositions and commandments, to be pulled out on demand to answer our questions and guide our behavior. Scripture is the story of God’s mission in the world. The Gospel writers understood this and conveyed the story of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus in this context. Richard Hays, Echoes of Scripture in the Gospels, examines the various ways in which the Evangelists used to Old Testament to frame their message. This is an outstanding book – well worth the time and effort to read and ponder. The gospel is not some timeless and placeless abstraction. In the fullness of time God sent his son into the world. At a chosen time, in a chosen place, and for his purpose.

As Christians we can, and should, read the Old Testament through the filtering lens of Jesus the Christ.  But this isn’t a simple monochromatic lens providing a selection of proof-texts for our faith. Each of the Evangelists provides a different perspective. Hays suggests that these differences are a God-given gift to the church.

One function of the church’s canon, a diverse collection of writings, is to model a repertoire of faithful ways to receive and proclaim God’s word. The fourfold Gospel witness is a providential gift to the church; it protects the community against the dangers of rigid monologic discourse and offers a range of theological resources for diverse circumstances. Particular voices within the canon will be more or less useful in different times and places, as the church discerns the points of vital intersection between the Bible and its own immediate cultural situation. (p. 356)

We are called to wrestle with Scripture in our context today, and the model for this interaction is found in the pages of the Bible itself. Hays concludes his book reflecting on what this approach to Scripture should look like for us today.  While we can understand the essence of the gospel with a superficial understanding of the Old Testament, we will not get the depth and nuance of the Gospels or the gospel without a deep appreciation for Israel’s Scriptures.

What would it mean to undertake the task of reading Scripture along with the Evangelists? First of all, it would mean cultivating a deep knowledge of the Old Testament texts, getting these texts into our blood and bones. It would mean learning the texts by heart in the fullest sense. The pervasive, complex, and multivalent uses if Scripture we find in the Gospels could arise only in and for a community immersed in scriptural language and imagery. Scripture provided the “encyclopedia of production” for the Evangelists narration of the story of Jesus. Their way of pursuing what we call “doing theology” was to produce richly intertextual narrative accounts of the significance of Jesus. Because the language of Scripture was the Evangelists’ native medium of expression, their reflection about God was articulated through subtle appropriations and adaptations of that linguistic medium. But alas, many Christian communities have lost touch with the sort of deep primary knowledge of Scripture – especially Israel’s Scripture – that would enable them even to perceive the messages conveyed by the Evangelists’ biblical allusions and echoes, let alone to employ Scripture with comparable facility in their own preaching and narration of the gospel story. (p. 357)

It is incumbent on us as Christians to dig into the Old Testament story. This is our story. Hays suggests five ways the Gospels teach us to read the Old Testament.

(1) We should read the Scripture backwards (hence the title of his shorter book Reading Backwards).  The meaning of the Old Testament is not confined to the intent of the original authors or the understanding of the original audience. While this is an important aspect of our understanding, it is not the sum total. “The Evangelists received Scripture as a complex body of texts given to the community by God, who had scripted the whole biblical drama in such a way that it had multiple senses. Some of the senses are  hidden, so that they come into focus only retrospectively.” (p. 358) The experience of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus led the Evangelists and the early church to a whole series of Aha! moments, where things formerly hidden became clear. “Their eyes were opened anew to see how Moses and the prophets prefigure Jesus.” (p. 358)

(2) The Evangelists “summon us also to a conversion of the imagination. … To read Scripture well we must bid farewell to plodding literalism and rationalism in order to embrace a complex poetic sensibility.” (p. 360) The Evangelists emphasize the storyline, they do not see Scripture as a compendium of “oracles, prooftexts, or halakhic regulations,” or of raw historical events. References to specific passages or events are intended to conjure up the entire context, not merely the specific quote or allusion. We need to be immersed in the story as the early church, Paul, and the Evangelists were.

(3) The New Testament story us transfigures and continues Israel’s story, it does not negate or replace it. “The canonical Evangelists understand themselves to be standing within the still-unfolding narrative trajectory of Israel’s covenant relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” (p. 362)

(4) All four of the Evangelists portray Jesus as the embodiment of Israel’s God. Each does it a little differently, but the same general theme runs through all four. They use Israel’s Scripture to make this point. In particular, Matthew, Mark, and Luke portray Jesus as doing the things that the God of Israel does or will do in Israel’s Scripture. “The Gospel narratives, precisely through their reading of the Old Testament to identify Jesus, force us to rethink what we mean when we say the word “God.”” (p. 364)

(5) We are called to action. “The Evangelists consistently approach Scripture with the presupposition that the God found in the stories of the Old Testament is living and active. … All of the hermeneutical recommendations I have enumerated here make sense only because God is the primary agent at work in and through the biblical story – and indeed, only because God is in some ultimate sense the author of Israel’s story.” (p. 364) This means that we read the Gospels not as flat history, but as a call to discipleship. “The imperative of accepting a commission is inescapable for the assenting reader of all four Gospels.”

According to the Evangelists, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the God incarnate in Jesus, the Messiah. This cannot leave those who hear and understand unchanged.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading and leading a study based on Echoes of Scripture in the Gospels and Reading Backwards over the last five months (with help from a friend, another academic). It would be great if someone would develop a curriculum based on these books, making them more accessible to the church at large.

What do you think of Hays’s conclusions?

How is the Old Testament important for an understanding of the gospel?

If you wish to contact me directly you may do so at rjs4mail [at]

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June 5, 2012

This article, from, is by Valerie Tarico, a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington and the founder of Wisdom Commons. She is the author of “Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light” and “Deas and Other Imaginings.” Her articles can be found at Her study overlaps with the reasons for leaving the faith I published in Finding Faith, Losing Faith.  (HT: JM)

If the Catholic bishops, their conservative Protestant allies, and other right-wing fundamentalists had the sole objective of decimating religious belief, they couldn’t be doing a better job of it.

Testimonials at sites like show that people leave religion for a number of reasons, many of which religious leaders have very little control over.  Sometimes, for example, people take one too many science classes. Sometimes they find their faith shattered by the suffering in the world – either because of a devastating injury or loss in their own lives or because they experience the realities of another person’s pain in a new way. Sometimes a believer gets intrigued by archaeology or symbology or the study of religion itself. Sometimes a believer simply picks up a copy of the Bible or the Koran and discovers faith-shaking contradictions or immoralities there.

But if you read ExChristian testimonials you will notice that quite often church leaders or members do things that either trigger the deconversion process or help it along. They may turn a doubter into a skeptic or a quiet skeptic into an outspoken anti-theist, or as one former Christian calls himself, a “devangelist.” (more…)

February 11, 2012

Over the years we have discussed many books relevant to the issues of science and faith or faith with intellectual integrity. One of the overriding themes of this discussion is a conviction that God and his creation will make sense as we contemplate and consider the questions raised by modern science. It is difficult to find much of the material on the blog, however. This page provides links to the various books and topics and in an organized fashion. It should be noted that some of the material could be listed under multiple headings. For the most part I have avoided doing that and have linked each book or post only under the most appropriate heading. Most of these posts were written by RJS, some by Scot, a few by others.

Click on the links for more information and for links to specific posts in each topic.

Books on Science and Faith

The Language of Science and Faith: Straight Answers to Genuine Questions by Karl Giberson and Francis Collins.

This book addresses in narrative form the questions that Francis Collins received by letter and emails following the publication of his 2006 book The Language of God.

Posts: The Language of Science and Faith, How Do We Relate Science and Religion?, Are the Laws of Nature Free?, Evolution, Entropy, and Human Beings 1, Evolution, Entropy, and Human Beings 2, Providential Evolution.

Redeeming Science: A God-Centered Approach by Vern Poythress

This book looks at approaches available to reconcile science and faith. The author is a professor at Westminster Theological Seminary and takes a conservative and reformed approach to scripture. He describes how he finds it possible to reconcile science, including evolutionary biology, with faith and scripture.

Posts: Science, Faith, and Vern Poythress; Parts One, Two, Three

The Language of God by Francis Collins

This book, written by an eminent scientist and Christian, gives Dr. Collins’s story of faith, looks at the evidence for evolutionary creation and explains his approach to the questions of science and faith.

Posts: The Language of God: Parts One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six.

Nature’s Witness: How Evolution Can Inspire Faith (Living Theology) by Daniel Harrell

This book is an engaging and conversational look at the issues that evolution raises for faith. An excellent introductory book.

Post: Evolution and Fundamentalism, I’ll Be a Monkey’s Cousin, The Tortuous and Torturous Path of Evolution, A Competent Creator, Being Drawn Toward the Future. Reposts: Nature’s Witness, The Path of Evolution, God, A Competent Creator!, From Revelation Backwards.

Theology After Darwin edited by R.J. Berry and Michael Northcott

This book contains 11 scholarly essay on theology in the context of evolution.

Posts: Theology After Darwin 1, What About Intelligent Design?, Theology After Darwin 3, Evolution and Environmentalism, Being Human After Darwin 1, Being Human After Darwin 2, The Age to Come — New Creation After Darwin.

The Blackwell Companion to Science and Christianity edited by J. B. Stump and Alan Padgett.

This book consists of scholarly essays covering a variety of topics relating to the discussion of science and the Christian faith. The contributors range from believers to skeptics and approach the topics from a variety of different angles. The book is designed and priced for libraries, not the casual reader, but many of the essays introduce topics worth some consideration.

Posts: Is Religion (Merely) a Natural Phenomenon?, How Would You Respond?, Does the Universe Need God?

Making Sense of Evolution: Darwin, God, and the Drama of Life by John Haught

This book presents an interesting point of view for looking at levels of meaning in creation. John Haught is a Senior Fellow in Science and Religion at Woodstock Theological Center, Georgetown University and Professor of Theology Emeritus. His approach is rather too liberal for most evangelicals, but contains some interesting insights.

Posts: Evolution in the Key of D: Darwin, Design, and Diversity, Descent and Drama, Direction, Depth and Death, Duty and Devotion, Deity or Deism?

Coming to Peace With Science: Bridging the Worlds Between Faith and Biology by Darrel Falk

Darrel Falk is a professor of Biology at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego CA. This book is a description, arising from his own experience and his experience with college students at a Christian college, of the reconciliation of science, especially evolutionary biology, with Christian faith.

Post: At Peace With Science?, Evidence for (Human) Evolution,

The Bible, Rocks and Time: Geological Evidence for the Age of the Earth by Davis A. Young and Ralph F. Stearley

Davis Young is Professor Emeritus of Geology and Ralph Stearley is Professor of Geology and Chairman of the Department of Geology, Geography, and Environmental Studies at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. They have put together a nice and readable presentation of the geological evidence for the age of the earth. This book is an excellent resource for any Pastor and any Christian struggling with the issue.

Post: The Bible, Rocks, and Time, The Age of Earth.

Origins: Christian Perspectives on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design by Deborah B. and Loren D. Haarsma

The Haarsma’s, both professors in the Physics Department at Calvin College, have written a book designed for use in small groups or Sunday classes exploring the science and theology of origins – creation, evolution, and intelligent design. This book gives an even-handed presentation of the range of views, thoughtful observation, and excellent discussion questions. The book also points the reader to online resources and contains a useful list of additional resources at the end of each chapter. The version I originally reviewed was aimed at the reformed church with some emphasis on the reformed confessions. The new version linked here is aimed at a broader Christian audience.

Post: Origins – A Resource, Should We Teach the Storehouse Theory?, Why Don’t We Push the Storehouse Theory of Rain?.

Evolution and Belief: Confessions of a Religious Paleontologist by Robert Asher

Robert Asher is not an atheist or agnostic; he does not rule out the existence of the supernatural or spiritual. He is, as he describes himself, a religious paleontologist. He is not evangelical, and like many he explicitly disavows the designation. He sees the gospels as basically trustworthy with much of it (especially Paul’s letters and Mark’s gospel) written “well within the range of an oral tradition based on eyewitness accounts.” (p. 24 Evolution and Belief).

Posts: What About the Virgin Birth?, Evolution, Belief, and the Virgin Birth, Thinking Scientifically, Of Crocoducks and Kangaroaches, How the Fossil Record Supports Evolution, Always in Transition, The Fossils Say No!, The Genes Agree – The Answer is No, Probability, Complexity, and God.

Mapping the Origins Debate: Six Models of the Beginning of Everything by Gerald Rau

In this book Rau lays out many of the issues involved in the controversy over origins in the church. He discusses the presuppositions and assumptions behind the various positions that Christians take on these issues. This book does not try to make a case for any given model of origins.

Posts: Origins and Models, Mapping the Debate, What is Science?, Models, Models, Models, The Origin of the Universe – Three Views, The Origin of Life, Humans … Qualitatively or Only Quantitatively Different?, One Endless Debate …

Rocks of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life by Stephen Jay Gould

A topic that comes up often in the discussion of science and religion is Stephen Jay Gould’s concept of non-overlapping magisteria or NOMA. Many papers, articles, and books refer to this principle – sometimes agreeing, more often disagreeing significantly from both sides. In this book Gould introduces and explains the concept as he intended it.

Posts: NOMA and Rocks of Ages, No Miracles Allowed?, Gould, Bryan, and the Importance of NOMA, Not Benevolent, Warm, and Fuzzy.

5 Questions Science & Religion edited by Gregg D. Caruso

This book uses interviews with a range of scholars from various perspectives to present answers to five question questions concerning science and religion. Are science and religion compatible? Does Gould’s proposal of NOMA describe the relationship between science and religion? What are the most important questions?

Posts: 5 Questions … and Some Answers, What Is Religion Anyway?, Materialism Isn’t Enough,

Laying Down Arms to Heal the Creation-Evolution Divide by Gary N. Fugle

Gary Fugle was a Biology Professor (now retired) at Butte College and is a Christian who, as he says in his introduction,  has immersed himself in studying the Bible. His book is a call for Christians to lay down arms and think about the creation-evolution questions carefully and reasonably. He classifies his position as evolutionary creation. As a biologist (Ph.D. from UC Santa Barbara) he finds the evidence for biological evolution overwhelming. As a Christian he has found himself (as have so many of us) on the front lines of a cultural battle. His book works through what he sees as some of the most significant issues

Posts: Laying Down Arms, A Matter of Interpretation, We Are (Christian) Naturalists, The Value of Evolution, Reading the Bible With Evolution in Mind, Human Evolution and the Bible.

The Fabric of Eternity. A Scientist’s View of the Works of Providence, by  István Kolossváry

This book, reflects the way that Kolossváry has dealt with the (apparent) chasm between science and theology. His book “seeks to eradicate the wall that divides the two disciplines and bring a fresh perspective to believers in both.” In particular, Kolossváry is focused on the theological and philosophical questions that address the way that God can and does act in the world. Does science and scientific explanation eliminate the possibility that God exists? Some people claim that modern scientific understanding of the nature of the universe does just that. Kolossváry doesn’t find this satisfactory.

Post: The Fabric of Eternity

How I Changed My Mind About Evolution: Evangelicals Reflect on Faith and Science. Kathryn Applegate and J. B. Stump, editors

In this book twenty-five Christians reflect on their journey to and around the intersection of evolution and Christian faith.

Posts: What is Your Story?, No Evolution Allowed,

A World From Dust: How the Periodic Table Shaped Life (Oxford University Press) by Ben McFarland

Ben McFarland is a biochemist, and a professor and chair of the department of chemistry and biochemistry at Seattle Pacific University in Seattle Washington. He received his Ph.D. in Biomolecular Structure and Design from the University of Washington in 2001 and has been teaching at SPU since 2003. In this book he digs into this question of chemistry, biology, contingency, and evolution. Evolution is constrained by chemistry in ways that most people do not appreciate.

Posts: A World From Dust,

Science and Christianity: An Introduction to the Issues by J. B. (Jim) Stump

This book takes a philosopher’s perspective writing a book designed for use in college and university courses. This isn’t an overwhelming text book though, and Jim is an excellent writer. It is short – 180 pages – and an excellent introduction for Christian leaders at all levels, including (and perhaps most importantly) the local church. Jim’s intent is to introduce the interested reader to the various facets of the problem. This is not an apologetic for either Christian faith or for science.

Posts: Signposts to God and More, The Christian Origin of Science?, Science Leads to Secularization, The Heavens Declare!, A Matter of Interpretation, Should Naturalism Define Science?, How Do the Heavens Declare the Glory of God?, Cause and Effect,

Science and Christianity: Conflict or Coherence? by Henry F. (Fritz) Schaefer

Fritz Schaefer was a professor of chemistry at the University of California Berkeley for 18 years (1969-1987) before moving to the University of Georgia, where he has now been for almost 30 years. I was a graduate student at Berkeley when Fritz was on the faculty and participated in a lunch gathering he had with Christian graduate students for a year. His influence as a Christian and a productive and respected scientist was an invaluable example for me. This book arose from a series of lectures he has given over the years. He got started lecturing on science and Christianity in response to an incident from his first experience teaching freshman chemistry at Berkeley in January 1984.

Posts: Conflict or Coherence?, Conflict or Choerence Revisited.

Evolution: Scripture and Nature Say Yes! by Denis Lamoureux

Denis Lamoureux is Associate Professor of Science and Religion at St. Joseph’s College in the University of Alberta. He has a Ph.D. in Biology (Oral Biology–Dental Development and Evolution) and a Ph.D. in Theology. In this engaging and readable book he builds on his strong background in biology and theology to explore the question of evolutionary creation.

Posts: Signposts to God and More, Rejecting Either/Or, The Heavens Declare!, Science is Incidental, Moving Beyond Conflict, What Price Concord?

Denis Lamoureux also has a course available at Coursera: Science & Religion 101. Denis is always interesting, he knows his material, and has spent many years teaching on this subject at Alberta. If you are interested, give it a look. It is sure to be interesting. The course is free although there is a fee if you wish a certificate of completion.

Old-Earth or Evolutionary Creation edited by Kenneth Keathley (Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary), J. B. Stump (BioLogos) and Joe Aguirre (Reasons to Believe).

This is an unusual book – it isn’t a polemical defense of a view. The contributors, despite very real disagreements, regard each other as fellow Christians and treat each other as such. The book is a discussion (as much as a book can be a discussion) between individuals from BioLogos (Evolutionary Creation) and Reasons to Believe (Old-Earth Progressive Creation) moderated by Southern Baptist seminary professors (at least some of whom may hold a young earth view and all of whom represent conservative evangelicalism).

Posts: A Civil Disagreement, Does Concordism Get a Bad Rap?, What is Inerrant?, Don’t Underrate Scripture, It’s in the Interpretation, Return to Adam, Is Natural Evil Evil?, Ordinary Presence Rather Than Ordinary Absence, Views on Natural Theology, And Now Evolution,

Faith and Wisdom in Science by Tom McLeish

Tom is Professor of Physics at Durham University. He is a theoretical physicist specializing in soft condensed matter – polymer physics. In Faith and Wisdom in Science Tom digs into the relationship between faith, specifically Christian faith, and science. He also picks up on a biblical theme that has impressed me as well. The book of Job is probably the most useful biblical resource for understanding creation, faith and science.

Posts: Faith in Science, Science or Natural Philosophy – What’s in a Name?, The Many Faces of Creation, Through the Eyes of Its Creator, Looking to the Future, A Theology of Science?,

Jesus, Beginnings, and Science by David and Kate Vosburg

David is a chemist, a Professor of Chemistry at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont CA. His background and ongoing research is in the area of organic synthesis, his college website notes that he and his students “seek make medicinally useful molecules in new ways.” Among other things they focus on biomimetic and/or enviornmentally friendly (“green”) pathways. David has also been actively involved in campus fellowships. Kate is a campus pastor with InterVarsity at the Claremont Colleges. She is approaching twenty years of experience working with college students in campus ministries. The book contains twelve studies arranged in three parts. The purpose isn’t to convince any participant of a particular position, beyond the truth of Christian faith. The focus is on the breadth of Scripture and how it applies to the questions at hand.

Posts: Connecting Jesus, Beginnings, and Science

Mere Science and Christian Faith by Greg Cootsona.

Greg is convinced from his experience working with emerging adults that questions surrounding science and Christian faith are often in play, either overtly – leading to explicit conflict and questions, or under the surface. His book is aimed at pastors and ministry leaders as well as 18-30 year-old emerging adults. It is designed to help people think through the issues involved and to develop the tools for interaction and engagement as new challenges arise. He calls it both a manifesto (“it’s designed to convince you that the church must embrace mainstream science for its future“) and a field guide (“[it] presents a picture of what it looks like to pursue this kind of work“).

Posts: Mere Science, Mere Christianity, Outdated or Authoritative, A Day Without Yesterday, Let’s Keep Our Eyes on Jesus, Intelligent Design Revisited,

Faith Across the Multiverse by Andy Walsh.

This book is not your typical science and faith book, but it is an interesting read. Translation is inevitable and essential. Our thinking is constrained, if not confined, by the language we use. Metaphors and analogies make important connections bringing understanding. Walsh uses these to make connections between science and Christian faith.

Posts: Babel Fish Needed?, Math + Theology =?, Mercy, Justice, and Mars, A Matter of  Grace, The Light of the World, It Is All Relative,

Is There Purpose in Biology? The Cost of Existence and the God of Love by Denis Alexander

Purpose is one of those words that covers several different categories or concepts. Is life purposeful or purposeless? On one level there is, of course, purpose in biology. Stomachs are for the purpose of digesting food.But “Purpose” is often used in a capital P, metaphysical sense. This is the kind of purpose Denis Alexander explores in his book.

Posts: Purpose in Biology?, A Short History of Purpose in Biology, The Grand Narrative, Chemistry Rules!, Not Really Random … or Purposeless, The Christian Matrix, The Cost of Existence and the God of Love.

Understanding Scientific Theories of Origins.

This book is the joint effort of five Wheaton professors. It grew out of a course they’ve been team teaching for two decades or so (along with a handful of other colleagues). Their collected expertise ranges from Physics to Old Testament. Robert Bishop is professor of physics and philosophy, Larry Funck is a chemist (now retired), Raymond Lewis is a biologist, Stephen Moshier a geologist, and John Walton, an Old Testament specialist. They have the necessary background and training to deal with the scientific and biblical issues involved in questions of origins along with a strong faith and commitment to orthodox biblical Christianity.

Posts: Understanding Origins, What is a Credible Interpretation?, Thinking Christianly About Creation, God Acts in Creation, In Seven Days,

Videos and Movies on Science, Christian Faith, and the Bible

Test of FAITH

This web site from the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion was put together to provide introductory resources for those who are interested in or troubled by the interaction between science and faith. There is a DVD: Test of Faith, Instructor’s Bundle: Includes Book, Leader’s Guide, Study Guide, and DVD, a book: Test of Faith: Spiritual Journeys with Scientists, resources for group discussions with a leaders guide and study guides Test of Faith: Science and Christianity Unpacked, a version for youth 11-14 and 14-18 (here) and a version for kids planned, a YouTube Channel and more.

Posts: Test of Faith – Does Science Threaten Belief in God?, Test of Faith – Is Evolution a Random Process?, Are We Just the Sum of Our Neurons?

From The Dust

A documentary film released June 2012. This film, by Ryan Pettey at Satellite Pictures, is designed to be a positive contribution to the discussion of science and faith, especially science and evangelical Christian faith.

Posts: A Leap of Truth: Evolutionary Creation and Genesis, Conversations in Creation … We Can Make a Difference!, A Conversation About Paul’s Adam, A Conversation About Genesis.

The Author of Life

A set of beautifully prepared short videos (6-7 minutes) prepared by Diane Sweeney (a high school biology teacher) and Joshua Hayashi (a school chaplain) to encourage high school students (and others) to think deeply about God’s role as Creator. Their collective experience as chaplain and teacher shapes the approach they take to reach students, either Christian or non-Christian who have questions and concerns about the relationship between science and faith. The videos can be downloaded free of charge from Vimeo. Study guides are being prepared for each episode.

Posts: The Author of Life, How Our Creator Shapes Us,

The Big Story

A video featuring Rev. Len vander Zee’s presentation of the grand story of creation from the perspective of modern science.

Posts: The Gravity of it All

The New Testament You Never Knew

A video course by Michael Bird and N.T. Wright. Excellent for use in churches.

Posts: The New Testament You Never Knew, Explosive and Powerful?,

Natural Theology

God’s Universe by Owen Gingerich

An excellent small book contesting the idea that science and our understanding of the Universe eliminates purpose or design. Owen Gingerich is Professor of Astronomy and of the History of Science Emeritus at Harvard University.

Posts: No posts directly on the book – but several refer to the book: Knowing, Can Darwin be Saved 3, and The Heavens Declare, revised and updated: The Heavens Declare, Are We Being Fooled?.

A Fine-Tuned Universe: The Quest for God in Science and Theology by Alister McGrath

This book is an enlarged version of his 2009 Gifford Lectures in which McGrath examines the evidence for and interpretation of fine-tuning in the universe.

Posts: A Fine Tuned Universe? Parts One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten. Second Series: Natural Theology – An Introduction, A Trinitarian Natural Theology, St. Augustine and Natural Theology, Does the Universe Point to God?, The Seeds of Life, Top Down or Bottom Up?, Is There Evidence for Design in Biology?, Is There an End in Sight?, An Emergent Creation?, Stringing it Together.

Quarks, Chaos & Christianity and Belief in God in an Age of Science.

The Rev. Dr. John Polkinghorne was a very successful scientist, Professor of Mathematical Physics at Cambridge University, before he resigned to study for the priesthood. He has since been a parish priest, Dean of the Chapel at Trinity Hall Cambridge and President of Queen’s College, Cambridge. After retirement he continues to write, think, and lecture about the interface between science and faith. No posts specifically on his books – but they are referred to in a number of posts.

Posts: Polkinghorne on Natural Theology and Moral Law, An Afternoon With John Polkinghorne, An Interview with John Polkinghorne, Polkinghorne on A Destiny Beyond Death, Your Favorite Joke, The Nature of Miracles.

Quantum Leap: How John Polkinghorne Found God in Science and Religion by Dean Nelson and Karl Giberson.

A biographical interaction with the life of John Polkinghorne, his move from a Professorship to the Anglican priesthood and then to his current place as one who thinks and writes about the intersection between science and the Christian faith.

Posts: Quantum Leap

Life’s Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe by Simon Conway Morris.

This book is an exploration of the evidence for evolutionary convergence – the idea that there are islands of stability and that evolution will identify these islands. Conway Morris is Professor of Evolutionary Paleobiology at Cambridge University. He is also a Christian and puts some effort into integrating his science with a Christian world view.

Posts: Evolution’s Place Parts One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six. (Posts one and four are related to this book – but are not directly on the book.)

Theology in the Context of Science by John C. Polkinghorne.

The question asked in Theology in the Context of Science is straightforward: Can science and the study of science and religion provide a context for theology? We’ve entered an age where greater awareness of the world, understanding of history, and sensitivity to power structures and cultural influences has led to contextual theologies. Dr. Polkinghorne suggests that science is another context for theology that can enhance and inform our Christian faith.

Posts: Science and Theology – Science as Context, What Has Science Taught Us?, A Matter of Time, Are Science and Theology Complementary?, Motivated Belief, On the Resurrection, Theology is Much More.

The God of Hope and the End of the World by John Polkinghorne

This book discusses eschatology and the nature of the New Creation from the perspective of a scientist and a theologian. The book contains three sections – I. Scientific and Cultural Prologue, II. Biblical Resources, and III. Theological Approaches. It repeats some of the material Polkinghorne presents in his other books, but with a new focus.

Posts: The End of the World, Human Experience and Our Hope for the Future, Afterlife and Hope in the Old Testament, The Riddle of Jesus, Hope is Our Foundation, The Soul and New Creation, The Significance of the End: Death, Judgement, Heaven, and Hell.

The Wonder of the Universe: Hints of God in Our Fine-Tuned World by Karl Giberson

This book is a description of the wonder of our universe and of the process of discovery that led to our modern understanding of the universe. It is an excellent book for a general audience – college educated perhaps (although high school students may like it as well), but with little understanding of science required. This book has none of the problem with “tone” found in some of Dr. Giberson’s other books. It is a book that can be recommended to any Christian interested in science and the Christian faith.

Posts: The Wonder of the Universe, Is Science Ever-Changing and Thus Untrustworthy?, Can We Find God Through Nature?

God and the Cosmos: Divine Activity in Space, Time and History by Harry Lee Poe and Jimmy H. Davis

Science and scientists are finding a natural explanation for all manner of phenomena formerly attributed to the work of God. This appears to squeeze God into an increasingly small corner of the universe – and many argue it removes God from the picture all together. As Laplace famously replied to Napoleon … we have “no need of that hypothesis.” Poe and Davis are addressing these latter kinds of questions in their book. Can a transcendent and personal God really act in the universe? and Can science help us answer this question? The answers are not what one might expect.

Posts: God and the Cosmos … Intelligent Design?, The Death of Poetry?, Beyond the God of the Gaps, Uncertainty, Openness, and the Action of God, Evolution and the Creativity of God, Is it all Imagination?.

The Faithful Creator: Affirming Creation and Providence in an Age of Anxiety. by Ron Highfield

This book explores the concepts of creation, providence and evil and looks like it should lead to some interesting conversation and insight. Ron Highfield is a professor of religion at Pepperdine University (a place I’d love to visit some day), where he teaches courses like Systematic Theology I and Systematic Theology II, among others. Highfield’s approach is that of a theologian, not that of a biblical scholar. His book is described as “both accessible and scholarly” and “an ideal text for classroom use.” This may scare a few off (who really wants to read a textbook?) but shouldn’t. The concepts he addresses are important.

Posts: A Theology of Creation, In the Beginning …, A Philosopher’s God?, The Mystery of Creation, The Perfection and Completion of Creation, From Atoms or Adams, We are God’s Creation, Is Intelligent Design Dead?,

  Creation by David Fergusson.

David Fergusson is professor of divinity and principal of New College at the University of Edinburgh.  This  short book is part of a series Guides to Theology published by Eerdman’s. This series is intended to provide an introduction to fields in theology for students as well as pastors, church leaders, and theologians.

Posts: Testing Book Smarts,

Signposts to God: How Modern Physics & Astronomy Point the Way to Belief by Peter Bussey.

This book looks at evidence for the existence of God in the heavens. Bussey is an elementary particle physicist, currently at the University of Glasgow. He addresses the question: Does science uncover evidence that the world is designed, i.e. evidence for the existence of God (or a god)?

Posts: Signposts to God and More,

Evolution, Darwinism, and Intelligent Design

Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design by Stephen C. Meyer.

A continuation of the argument for Intelligent Design that Meyer began in Signature in the Cell.

Posts: Darwin’s Doubt and Intelligent Design

Intelligent Design Uncensored by Willim Dembski and Jonathan Witt

A discussion of the concepts in intelligent design emphasizing the need to combat philosophical materialism. The scientific discussion is unsatisfactory and the book emphasizes the culture war aspects of the discussion.

Post: Questions – What about Intelligent Design?

Insights From Thomas

Evolution is Stochastic (not Random)

Is Evolution a Random Process?

Tiktaalik roseae and Friends

Missing Links?

Tiktaalik roseae revisited

What’s for Dinner?

Is Intelligent design Dead?

Evolution is a Lousy Story

What’s With the Junk? (DNA that is)

No Crocoducks, But Just as Good

Evolution – A MOOC … (Well Not Quite)

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Meteors, Dinosaur Droppings, and More

Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design by Stephen C. Meyer

In this book Stephen Meyer, one of the leading proponents for Intelligent Design, puts forth his case. This book essentially argues that life is very complex, the origin of life is a puzzle, and the information content in DNA cannot be explained by natural means. We interacted with and critiqued some of the ideas in the book in a long series of posts.

Posts: Signature in the Cell: Parts One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine

Saving Darwin: How to Be a Christian and Believe in Evolution by Karl Giberson

This book covers the history of the interaction of ideas that led us to the present state of conflict between science and Christian faith. Gilberson’s book is not a science book, it is a history book, an attempt to provide context and a sense of perspective.

Posts: Can Darwin Be Saved? Part One, Two, Three

Back to Darwin: A Richer Account of Evolution edited by John Cobb

John B. Cobb Jr. Professor Emeritus of the Claremont School of Theology organized a conference on evolution and religion. This conference eventually gave rise to this book of essays exploring various scientific and philosophical questions. The contributors vary dramatically in outlook and position. Cobb supplemented and organized the book with an aim to highlight ideas of emergence and process theology. This book is not for the average pastor or church member – but may prove useful for one working in a graduate school environment. It provides valuable background information.

Post: Back to Darwin?

Darwin and the Bible: The Cultural Confrontation edited by Richard H. Robbins and Mark Nathan Cohen.

This book contains a series of chapters by authors ranging from Steven Jay Gould to Phillip E. Johnson and aims to structure discussion around the historical, theological, social, and political aspects of the confrontation between science and religion. It is designed for a college classroom setting containing a range of views. It is not a Christian apologetic or perspective although it includes Christian perspectives.

Posts: Darwin and the Bible: One, Two, Three.

The Music of Life: Biology Beyond Genes by Denis Noble

The reductionist approach to biology described on a popular level by Richard Dawkins in his book The Selfish Gene considers the purpose of any organism simply to provide a casing ensuring the survival of the genes. Information flows from the gene which is the ultimate conductor controlling the whole. Biology however, is far more complex than the reductionist emphasis on the selfish gene allows. Noble’s book explores systems biology on a lay level and helps to clarify the issues. Noble is not a Christian, but his discussion is a welcome addition.

Posts: The Music of Life,

Dealing with Darwin: Place, Politics, and Rhetoric in Religious Engagements with Evolution by David Livingstone.

Often times we forget the importance of place and time on the way ideas are received and processed. David Livingstone, Professor of Geography and Intellectual History at Queen’s University, Belfast makes it his business to study the relationship between the way ideas are received and developed as a function of place. This is a readable academic book – a scholarly study of the importance of location and local context on the way evolution was received, embraced, or rejected.

Posts: Dealing With Darwin, Bacon’s Bequest, Tradition and Our Way of Life, Purpose Matters!,

Books on Scripture

It Starts With Genesis a post that summarizes many of the resources listed here.

Inspiration and Incarnation by Peter Enns

A short and very readable book(no footnotes!) that presents a useful approach to understanding the Scripture that we have as the Word of God. Dr. Enns suggests the use of an incarnational model or parallel. As Christ is fully human and fully divine – so also scripture is fully human and fully divine. Enns invites his reader to consider an important question: How does scripture’s full humanity and full divinity affect what we should expect from Scripture?

Posts: The Bible and Knowledge 5: Inspiration and Incarnation

God’s Word in Human Words: An Evangelical Appropriation of Critical Biblical Scholarship by Kenton Sparks

This book describes some of the problems identified in scripture and suggests an approach to interpretation and understanding that relies heavily on the idea of accommodation, God’s accommodation to limited human perspective. The book is written with an edge that makes it controversial, but contains many interesting ideas and useful insights. It contains more detail than the book by Peter Enns (longer and including footnotes).

Posts: Enns, Sparks, Arnold, Chapman on the OT: One, Two, Three; The Bible and Knowledge: One, Two, Three, Four

The Last Word: Scripture and the Authority of God–Getting Beyond the Bible Wars by N. T. Wright and his revised and expanded book Scripture and the Authority of God: How to Read the Bible Today.

Wright’s book deals specifically with purpose of Scripture and the nature of Scripture as authority by asking the following questions (among others): In what sense is the Bible authoritative? How can the Bible be appropriately understood and interpreted?

Post: The Bible and Authority

The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate by John Walton

In this book OT scholar and Wheaton professor John Walton offers new insight into the creation narrative in Genesis 1:1-2:3

Posts: Genesis One: Parts One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen, Fourteen, Fifteen, Sixteen, Seventeen; God, Science, and Evolution.

Before Nature: Cuniform Knowledge and the History of Science by Francesca Rochberg.

The book is not technically on Scripture, but it is relevant to our ongoing discussions of the interaction between science and scripture. The Old Testament was written into an ancient Near Eastern culture where the identification of “natural” and the division between supernatural and natural was quite different from our modern western understanding.  The title, Before Nature, reflects the fact that it is an anachronism to assign our understanding of ‘nature’ to the cultures that gave rise to the cuneiform texts through which we know ancient Mesopotamian culture from Sumeria to Babylon.

Posts: Before Nature, Before Nature, Before Books,

The Lost World of Scripture by John Walton and D. Brent Sandy

Walton and Sandy explore the nature of Scripture and inspiration in the context of ancient cultural expectations. The texts we have were assembled from documents in a primarily oral culture. This has important implications for the way we approach the inspiration of Scripture.

Posts: Before Nature, Before BooksDon’t Read it for Moral Lessons, Under the Spell of the Printed Word, The Word of God is Not a Book, The Essential Word, Errant or Inerrant … By What Standard?, Authority is in the Intent, Of Moldy Walls and Foriegners, Problems with the Prophets, Oral Origins of the New Testament, It’s God-Breathed, Pros and Cons of Inerrancy, Better Than Inerrancy, Faithful Conclusions, Safe to Ask?.

The Lost World of the Flood by John Walton and Tremper Longman III,

This book explores the question of ancient context of Genesis especially as it relates to the story of the flood. Their intent is not to provide a single “correct” interpretation – but to explore the context and “provide an interpretation based on the conviction that the Bible is the Word of God – Scripture that speaks truly.” (p. viii)

Posts: An Ancient Document, Does Genesis Make Claims About History?They’re Theological Histories, It is Hyperbole., The Flood in the Ancient Near East, Local Flood – Authoritative Cosmic Interpretation, The Unfolding Pattern, Setting the Stage, The Most Challenging Passage, The End of the Flood.

The Blue Parakeet by Scot McKnight

In the second edition of his book on rethinking how we read the Bible, Scot includes an appendix on Genesis and particularly on Adam.

Posts: Adam and the Blue Parakeet,

Evolutionary Creation: A Christian Approach to Evolution by Denis O. Lamoureux

Dr. Lamoureux has a Ph.D. in Biology (Oral Biology–Dental Development and Evolution) and a Ph.D. in Theology. He has put a great deal of effort into thinking through the debates over science and origins in the church. This is a book that describes a way to move beyond the creation and evolution debates. The book takes modern science seriously but concentrates on the approach to interpretation of scripture.

Posts: Evolutionary Creation Parts One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten. What Color are Your Glasses?

Science, Creation and the Bible: Reconciling Rival Theories of Origins by Richard F. Carlson and Tremper Longman III.

This book provides another angle on the question of creation and the intent of the creation narratives in Genesis combining expertise in science and Biblical Studies. Richard Carlson is a research physicist at the University of Redlands in Redlands California. Tremper Longman III is an old testament scholar, the Robert H. Gundry Professor of Biblical Studies at Westmont College in Santa Barbara. The book is short and readable. The overview of creation passages in scripture, including Psalms, Isaiah, Job, and the New Testament is particularly useful.

Posts: Creation and Worldview Parts One, Two, Creation as a Worldview Statement.

Testing Scripture: A Scientist Explores the Bible by John C. Polkinghorne

The Rev. Dr. John Polkinghorne opens Testing Scripture with a bit of a biographical note: Scripture has been very important to me in my Christian life. For more than sixty years I have read the Bible every day. In this short book Dr. Polkinghorne describes his approach to scripture through eyes of faith, with a mind turned toward God, and with a practical realism for the nature of the text and how it is to be read and understood.

Posts: One, Two, Creation and Fall, Is There Ambiguity in the Bible?, Why Would a Scientist Believe the Virgin Birth?, What About the Virgin Birth?, Why would a Scientist Believe a Virgin Gave Birth?, A Virgin Shall Conceive,

Genesis for Normal People by Peter Enns and Jared Byas

This short book is written in an informal voice for Christians who have little if any formal training in biblical studies. It will rock the world for some because it presents the purpose and form of the OT in general and Genesis in particular from a point of view that is distinctly different from the approach the average Christian is familiar with. A running theme from Enns and Byas is that we have to learn to read the OT through ancient eyes … this is how we can best understand the message.

Posts: Genesis for Normal People, Abraham and Israel for Normal People, Finally in Print! (and a question about Moses).

The Seven Pillars of Creation by William P. Brown

In this book Dr. Brown, professor at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur GA looks at the creation narratives – seven of them – found within the pages of the Old Testament. The question that drives the study: “What is it like to read the Bible in one hand and the journal Science in the other? … What is it like to be both a sage and a psalmist, a steward of creation’s mysteries and a servant of Christ?” According to Brown we need both an empirical appreciation for the world God created, a sense of wonder, and an appreciation for the revelation of God’s story in scripture.

Posts: Seven Pillars of Creation, Creation, Cosmology, and Context, Creation According to God … As Told to Job, Creation By God … According to Wisdom.

The Bible and the Believer: How to Read the Bible Critically & Religiously by Marc Zvi Brettler, Peter Enns, and Daniel J. Harrington

Three Old Testament scholars, one Jewish, one Catholic, and one Protestant, explore the question of how a believer can reconcile the results of biblical scholarship, including historical criticism with religious faith. They accept the clear results of scholarship but reject the extremes to which it is taken in some of the academy. This book consists of a short introduction on the historical/critical reading of the Old Testament, and then follows through with an essay by each of these scholars, and a response by each of other two.

Posts: The Bible and the Believer, The Roles of Biblical Criticism, My Bible – A Jew’s Perspective, Indispensable but Insufficient!, Promise and Fulfillment?, The Bible Is Not the Center.

In the Beginning … We Misunderstood by Johnny V. Miller and John M. Soden

This book explores the meaning of Genesis, starting with the question: What did Genesis mean to the original authors and readers? Johnny Miller (ThM, ThD, Dallas Theological Seminary) and John Soden (ThM, PhD, Dallas Theological Seminary) have a rather conservative take on the interpretation of scripture. They assume the basic truthfulness of the text, including Genesis, but ask questions about the meaning of Genesis 1 in its original context. They argue against a concordist view of the relationship between science and scripture. Modern science (or in fact any science beyond that of the original ANE culture) should not be read into or out of the biblical text.

Posts: With Modern Eyes We Misunderstand.

Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy (Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary)

A commentary providing background context for the various books of the Bible. The background commentary on Genesis was written by John Walton.

Posts: The Garden in Ancient Context, Babel in Ancient Context,

Reading Genesis 1-2: An Evangelical Conversation

Views on Genesis 1-2 and responses by a number of primarily Old Testament scholars. Contributors include John Walton, Tremper Longman III, C. John Collins, Kenneth Turner, Tod Beall, Jud Davis, and more.

Posts: Christian Education and the Question of Origins,

Seriously Dangerous Religion: What the Old Testament Really Says and Why It Matters by Iain Provan

If we as Christians are seriously focused on being the people of God it has to take the Old Testament seriously on its own terms, not restructured into the story we expect it to tell. Provan is an Old Testament Scholar, the Marshall Sheppard Professor of Biblical Studies at Regent College in Vancouver British Columbia. In this book he explores the Old Testament context of Christian faith, first on its own terms and then in light of the New Testament.

Posts: Seriously Dangerous Religion, The World is Sacred Space, Who Is God? – The OT View, Who Are Man and Woman?, The Embrace of Evil, Now Choose Life, Love the Lord Your God, You Are Your Brother’s Keeper, The Bible Isn’t “Green” … or Is It?, God Nudges, Shouldn’t We Also?, Old Testament Hope: For New Jerusalem – Not For Eden, New Dimensions in the Old Story, But Is it True?, Is the Story Dangerous?, Dangerous or Not? … We Can’t Ignore Joshua, More from Iain Provan on “Dangerous” Religion. A Green Bible?

The Nature of Creation: Examining the Bible and Science by Mark Harris,

Mark Harris began his career as a physicist specializing in condensed matter physics. He has a number of nice papers investigating spin-ice materials comprised of heavy rare earth titanate pyrochlores. He then trained for ordination and is now Lecturer in Science and Religion at the University of Edinburgh. His book presents a critical and theological investigation of the creation texts in the Bible and how this relates to modern scientific ideas of origins.

Posts: The Nature of Creation, Theologies of Creation?Not a Scientific Hypothesis, Biblical Views of Time and Space, Creation – Once or Continual?, Is “The Fall” Necessary?, Evolutionary (Inborn) Evil?, New Creation From the Old.

Old Testament Theology: Reading the Hebrew Bible as Christian Scripture by R. W. L. Moberly

Walter Moberly is professor of theology and biblical interpretation at Durham University and an ordained Priest in the  Church of England. In this book he takes eight passages in the Old Testament and uses them to explore the major ideas in Old Testament theology.

Posts: Reading the Hebrew Bible as Christian ScriptureA Chosen People?!, A Possible Approach to herem in Deuteronomy?, It is a Puzzle … Herem Never Practiced?, Bread From Heaven in the Desert, Can God Change?A Responsive Potter, The Faithfulness of God, Isaiah and Jesus, Forget the Fish Already!, Perplexity, Paradox and Psalms, That is Wisdom!

Scripture and Cosmology: Reading the Bible Between the Ancient World and Modern Science by Kyle Greenwood

Kyle Greenwood is an associate professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at Colorado Christian University. This is a book written at an accessible level directed at lay Christians as well as pastors and teachers. Asked for the main point in this book Kyle responds: “It is my contention that a high view of Scripture employs a hermeneutic that accommodates the biblical writers’ immersion in its ancient, pre-Enlightenment cultural context. As with other cultural matters, such as social custos and language, the biblical texts reflect that worldview in their written communication.

Posts: Scripture and (Ancient) Cosmology, A Three-Tiered Universe – Earth, Heavens and Seas, Creation Beyond Genesis, A Spherical Earth … Oh No!, “The Devil Possess Them” and Other Responses, The Authority of Science Scripture.

A New Heaven and a New Earth: Reclaiming Biblical J. Richard Middleton

Dr. J. Richard Middleton is Professor of Biblical Worldview and Exegesis at Northeastern Seminary in Rochester New York and has specialized in the Old Testament and in creation theology among other things. This book explores the biblical view of Christian hope in the age to come. Our hope is not for some other-worldly heaven but for the renewal and consummation of all creation. “The inner logic of this vision of holistic salvation is that the creator has not given up on creation and is working to salvage and restore the world (human and nonhuman) to the fullness of shalom and flourishing intended from the beginning. And redeemed human beings, renewed in God’s image, are to work toward and embody this vision in their daily lives.”

Posts: Singing Lies in Church?, The Thrust of the Biblical Plot , God Redeems His People … Then and Now, The Mountains Melt Like Wax, Redemption of Creation or Harps and Clouds?, A Blaze of Glory, Prepared in Heaven, Unveiled on Earth and Left Behind, It is Time to Rise to the Challenge.

Reading Backwards: Figural Christology and the Fourfold Gospel Witness and Echoes of Scripture in the Gospels by Richard B. Hays

These books dig into the question of interpretation, looking for the full depth of meaning in Scripture and the way that the Gospel writers used the Old Testament to illuminate the nature of Jesus as God/Man/Messiah. The first book focuses on Jesus as the embodiment of Israel’s God and the second goes beyond this.

Posts: How to Read the Bible, The Embodiment of Israel’s God?, The Importance of Israel, What’s in a Name?, Jesus as Redeemer of Israel, A New Kind of Triumph, Lord, Save Us From a Prooftext Faith.

[Creation] The Apple of God’s Eye by Justo L. González

This is a short book (99 pages) ideal for a small group study from high school through adult. This book isn’t a Bible study, but a Genesis based study of the theology of Creation.

Posts: Creation as an Act of Love, The Culmination of Creation, “No Longer” or “Not Yet”?, God’s Absence?, A Sign of Love a Sign of Hope.

The Fear of the Lord is Wisdom, by Tremper Longman III

The role of wisdom in Israelite and Jewish thought is a fascinating topic. This theme may change the way we view some passages of the Old Testament as well as their application to the New Testament. In the prologue Longman writes “This book intends to explore wisdom in the Bible. We will focus on the OT, Israel’s wisdom. Ultimately, however, our study is a work of Christian biblical theology; thus, we will continue by examining how the NT appropriates the wisdom of the OT.” (p. xiv)

Posts: The Fear of the Lord, Which Will You Choose?, Both Will Die in the End,

Early Christian Readings of Genesis One by Craig D. Allert

Why should we care about the church fathers? After all, they lived a long time ago; they weren’t inspired; they had limited knowledge and perspective when it came to ancient history. Craig Allert, in his new book Early Christian Readings of Genesis One, considers this question. There are several good reasons for us to care and to pay attention to their writings. The Early church fathers can help us understand the text and its impact on our faith.

Posts: Why the Rule of Faith?, Why Care?, How Not to Read, How to Read?, One Story From Genesis to Revelation, Only the Literal Meaning?, Ex Nihilo!, The Eighth Day, A Training Ground, Augustine and the “Literal” Interpretation of Genesis, Theology More Than History?

The Bible in a Disenchanted Age by R. W. L. Moberly

Walter Moberly discusses the ways in which we can read the Bible faithfully in the modern or postmodern era. It is neither just like any other ancient text nor a magic book.

Posts: The Bible For Today, Approaching the Bible as …, Foundations and Faith, The Chicken or the Egg?, Faith in a Disenchanted Age, Inerrant or Trustworthy?.

Bible Commentaries


The book of Job is a profound and often overlooked or misunderstood book. While it is not directly related to the science-faith discussion a close look at this book can help to undercut some non-biblical assumptions at work in 21st century evangelicalism. The book is also of great value on its own merits. Two commentaries – Job (The NIV Application Commentary) by John Walton and Job (Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms) by Tremper Longman III form the basis of a series of posts on the book of Job.

Posts: Wow, Job, Justice or Wisdom?, The Accuser is not Satan, Job is Innocent… And He Proves Faithful, Job’s Lament (And What’s in it For Me?), God’s Role in the Cosmos, Is God Just?, I Know That My Redeemer Lives, Oh Where Wisdom? (Hint – Not in Science), Let My Arm Fall From the Shoulder!, Remember, God Doesn’t Need You, And Then God Speaks … About Creation, And Then God Instructs (or Rebukes?)… Job and Us, God’s Creation … Chaos Creatures and What is “Good”?, Job and the Question of Suffering, God Blesses Job … New Children to Replace Those Lost?.

How to Read Job by John Walton and Tremper Longman III

This book draws on their combined insights to bring the interested readers through the book. A mere 200 pages, with discussion questions, the book is an excellent resource.

Posts: How to Read Job, Reading Job as Literature, God, Satan, Job and the Rest, Is Suffering Just?, Learning About the Cosmos From Job, A Theology of Suffering, Job and Jesus, Job for Today.


As the first book of the Bible and the first book of the Pentateuch, the book of Genesis  sets the stage for the biblical story. Several commentaries shape a series of posts on Genesis; the primary source is the commentary by Tremper Longman III on Genesis in the Story of God Series, but we also use his short book How to Read Genesis (HRG) along with the commentaries by John Walton (The NIV Application Commentary Genesis) and Bill Arnold (Genesis (New Cambridge Bible Commentary)).

Posts: How to Read Genesis, Who Wrote Genesis?, A Celebration of Creation, And The Two Become One Flesh, The Serpent in the Garden, East of Eden, And Cain Knew His Wife, The Flood, Of Nations and Languages, On Reading Genesis 1-11, The God of Abraham, And Abram Went, A Sojourn in Egypt, A Lot of Trouble, Abraham Laughed, Abraham, Model of Faith? The Binding of Isaac, Isaac was Isaac-ing, It Isn’t About Jacob!, God Intended it for Good.

Other Posts on Scripture

More on Reading the Bible

Forget the Fish!

Spirit and Scripture

Bloesch on the Primacy of Scripture

And the Sea Will Be No More?

Creation Through Christ

A Literal Reading Please

Our Rock

Also in Eden?

No “New” Science

Jesus and Jonah

The Sweep of Scripture and the Kingdom of God

Jesus and Genesis

Read the Whole Bible?

Meant to be Experienced

Inspiration? Yes! – Inerrancy?

The Problem of Joshua

Start With Isaiah

The Mighty Mysterious Camel

Reading the Old Testament

Should Reading the Bible Make One an Atheist?

A Literal Reading of Scripture

Reflections on Reading Genesis 1-3

Is It (Or “OT”) All About Land?

Wait! No Sea?

Chew It Through Afresh

No Scientific Revelation in the Bible!

Reading Genesis for All it is Worth!

The Primacy of Scripture, Adam, and the Fall

It is a Defiling Skin Disease … Say What?

Creation Groans; But Why?

Wither the Fig Tree, Whither the Wandering Saints

Context is Key

The Whole Sweep of Scripture

Absolute Perfection? … Oh My

Throwing the Bible Under the Bus?

Can the Bible be read both critically and religiously?

A Conspiracy of Silence?

The Bible and Authority Revisited

The Bible and Authority Revisited 2

Constitution or Conversation?

Science, Scripture, and Worldview

Collected Stories?

The Primacy of Scripture and the Fall

Romans 8: Creation Groans

Satire or History? (A post on the book of Jonah)

Intellectual Integrity: Science, Scripture, Faith and the Academy

Intellectual Humility is a Virtue

Design, Naturalism, and “Acceptable” Worldviews

Religious People are Less Intelligent?

Faith and Vocation – As a Scientist

Skepticism and (Not Needing) the Last Word

Do Faith Claims Have a Place?

A Search for Acceptance?

Wright, Hays, and History as Apologetic

Christian Worldview – Is There a Place?

Evangelical … With Intellectual Integrity

Christianity and Higher Education

Are You There God? It’s Us, Scientists

Evolution Isn’t the Problem

Belief: Readings on the Reason for Faith

Francis Collins, in the brief stretch between stints as head of the Human Genome Project at NIH and, now, Director of NIH, put together an anthology of readings he finds helpful in discussing rational reasons for belief in God. The essays and excerpts in this book will not provide a proof for the existence of God – no such proof is possible. But they do provide arguments and reasons for belief.

Posts: belief, the modern case, story or history, what is the point, the meaning of life, the problem of evil and suffering, the problem of evil and forgiveness.

Christian letters to a post-Christian world (also available under the title The Whimsical Christian: 18 Essays), a selection of essays by Dorothy Sayers

Unfortunately out of print now. Sayers deserves a far broader readership than she receives. She was much more than just a writer of detective stories. Her insights (not to mention her incredible power with the pen) still speak today. Many of these essays speak today as powerfully as they did when originally written more than half a century ago. Sayers spoke into a academic and intellectual culture that struggles today as it did then with the depth of Christian faith.

Posts: We Must Believe in Age, The Greatest Drama Ever Staged, We Must Believe in Age Redux, Story and History, The Greatest Drama Ever Staged (repost), Temporary Happy By-Products, Incarnation Grounds the Christian Faith,

The Spirit in Creation and New Creation: Science and Theology in Western and Orthodox Realms edited by Michael Welker.

This book contains a series of articles by both Western and Orthodox Christian thinkers exploring the role of the Spirit. In the upcoming weeks I will post on a number of the articles in this book.

Posts: Spirit or Scripture?, The Spirit in Creation, The Spirit of God in Evolutionary History, The Benefit of a Spirit-Breathed Perspective, The Spirit of Life,

Why Science Does Not Disprove God by Amir D. Aczel

This book looks at the flaws in many of the arguments found in the books, articles, and lectures of the so-called New Atheists. Aczel is the author of a number of popular books on science. In this book he is not writing from any faith tradition, but is exposing what he sees as a misuse of science.

Posts: Does Science Disprove God?, Coevolution of Science and Religion?,

Science vs Religion: What Scientists Really Think by Elaine Howard Ecklund

This book draws on an extensive survey of nearly 1700 professors at twenty one “elite” universities, in seven core disciplines (chemistry, physics, biology, sociology, economics, political science, and psychology), augmented by detailed interviews with 275 of them. The book uses 10 representative anecdotal stories to flesh out and personalize the findings. This book is well written, easy to read, and (speaking as a lab rat) she hits the target. I find nothing surprising, but much that provokes thought.

Posts: What do Scientists Really Think?: One, Two, Does Ph. D. –> Atheism?, God on the Quad?, Myths We Believe …, A Means of Knowing or a Subject for Study?,

Religion vs. Science: What Religious People Really Elaine Howard Ecklund and Christopher P. Scheitle

This book follows up on the study of scientists with survey and interview data looking at the way religious people think about science.

Posts: What Religious People Really Think, Religious People Like Science, Not So Sure About Scientists?, Religious Scientists?, Most Evangelicals Are Not Creationists?, Climate Change Deniers?, Playing God?, Beyond Myths and into the Future.

For the Common Good: Principles of American Academic Freedom by Matthew W. Finkin and Robert C. Post.

This book provides a historical description of the development of the ideals of academic freedom in the US, including the forces that have push for and against academic freedom.

Posts: For the Common Good One, Two.

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas S. Kuhn.

While Kuhn’s premise – that scientific revolutions represent changes in an accepted conceptual framework more than progress toward an objective truth – is rightly criticized by many, his insight and insistence that the conceptual frameworks of science are always influenced by historical and social factors remains an important, even revolutionary, contribution. Many Christians use Kuhn’s ideas about the nature of scientific revolutions to dismiss modern scientific views and stick with a more traditional view of creation.

Post: (Paradigm) Shift Happens.

Does God Make a Difference? Taking Religion Seriously in Our Schools and Universities by Warren Nord

Warren Nord (1946-2010) was the founding director of the interdisciplinary Program in the Humanities and Human Values at UNC–Chapel Hill a position he held for 25 years. With a Ph.D. in philosophy his area of interest was in religion, morality, and education. In this book, published in 2010 he addresses the role of religion in a liberal education. He is not looking to indoctrinate students in any religious tradition, rather he thinks it important that we acknowledge the role that religion plays in human society.

The Scandal of Secular Indoctrination, Religion in Science Courses?, Religion in Economics Courses?

A World of Difference: Putting Christian Truth-Claims to the Worldview Test, by Kenneth Samples

Written by a senior research scholar at Reasons to Believe (RTB) who also lectures in the MA program in Christian Apologetics at Biola University. Samples is a philosopher and theologian by training – with an MA in Theological Studies from the Talbot School of Theology at Biola.

Posts: Testable Truth,

A Little Book for New Scientists: Why and How to Study Science by Josh Reeves and Steve Donaldson.

The book is designed for Christian college, or possibly high school, students contemplating a career in science. It also contains insights in a short readable format that pastors, including youth pastors, may find useful.

Posts: Are We Ethically Superior?, Cultivate Humility, Science for the Good of the Church.

 Making Sense of God by Tim Keller

In almost 30 years of ministry in Manhattan, Tim Keller has wrestled with the questions raised by people in the city. New York is not a particularly religious city and Manhattan is the least religious borough. The education level is high (59% of adults over 25 with Bachelor’s degree or more compared with 29% for the whole country, data from the 2010 census), and education feeds into the secular feel of our age.  How can the church address the questions that are raised in this environment?  Keller’s book looks at the questions that are often raised.

Posts: Making Sense of God, We All Live by Faith, Is Meaning a meaningless Pursuit?, What Do You Love?, Don’t Tread On Me!, Finding Our Identity, An Identity Found in Christ, A Season For Hope, Are We Morally Obligated?, Human Rights, Another Form of Western Imperialism?Is It Reasonable?, Our Best Argument.

Books and Posts on Doubt

Doubting by Alister McGrath

An excellent, short book on doubt, deals with this issue in a useful and pastoral way. Especially good suggestions for students and scholars confronted with challenges. It concentrates on approaches to questions more than answers for questions.

Post: Doubt, Those Who Doubt, Off to College … Into?.

Evolving in Monkey Town: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask the Questions by Rachel Held Evans.

This book is the memoir of a young Christian wrestling with the meaning and implications of Christian faith. It is well written and easy to read, with a thread of encouragement for the future. The issues that trouble Rachel include science and evolution, but the more important issues deal with hell and judgment.

Posts: Facing the Future in Community, Book Review by Justin Topp, Evolving Faith 1, Evolving Faith 2.

Doubt, An Essay by Pete Enns

How Can You Be A Christian?

… Or Eruptions of Conflict

Doubt, The Reformation, and Sola Fide

Young Earth, Old Earth, and Questions for Faith

Death Before the Fall: Biblical Literalism and the Problem of Animal Suffering by Ronald Osborn

Ronald Osborn was raised to believe in a young earth, with creation in six 24 hour days. In the original creation there was no mortality and no predation. The attraction the lions have for a young Cape buffalo is a consequence of human rebellion in the sin of Adam and Eve. This sin produced not just death, but also a myriad of anatomical changes in the animals populating the garden and the world. Today this seems an unlikely interpretation of scripture – yet the problem of animal suffering remains to be answered. This book looks at both the problems with a young earth interpretation and animal suffering in creation.

Posts: Death Before the Fall, No Interpretation Needed!?, Unwholesome Complexity, Are Stage Props Necessary?, Sola Scriptura Renewed and Renewing, From Tower Building to Tent Mending, And it Was Good … But Red in Tooth and Claw?, Jesus Ate Fish and Other Thoughts on Death, The God of the Whirlwind, Christ Centered Creation!.

Peril in Paradise by Mark S. Whorton.

In this book Dr. Whorton, a rocket scientist (Ph. D. in aerospace engineering, worked for NASA) and a Christian, puts forth a case for an old earth and digs into problems with a young earth scenario. He does not espouse an evolutionary creation, leaning instead toward a progressive creation model. According to the back of the book, he has been active in the formation of local chapters of Reasons to Believe founded by Hugh Ross.

Posts: Oh, the Stories We Tell!, A Perfect Plan not a Perfect Paradise, Christ as Redeemer From the Beginning, A Day in the Life of Adam and Eve, Suffering and the Plan of God, The Promise of Life and the Curse of Death, Truth or Consequences.

The Grand Canyon, Monument to an Ancient Earth: Can Noah’s Flood Explain the Grand Canyon? edited by Carol Hill, Gregg Davidson, Tim Heble, and Wayne Ranney

This book is written with abundant pictures and diagrams to educate Christians about geology and the shortcomings of flood geology. Each of the chapters is written by experts in the area, many with years of experience in the classroom answering questions raised by students. Authors include Gregg Davidson, professor of geology at the University of Mississippi, Stephen Moshier from Wheaton College, Ralph Stearley from Calvin College, all of whom I’ve had a chance to meet and talk with at BioLogos meetings. Many, but not all, of their coauthors are Christians – but all have expertise in some aspect of the geology of the Grand Canyon. Joel Duff, who blogs at Naturalis Historia (a blog well worth reading), contributed two chapters on the fossil record.

Posts: A Grand Canyon, A Story Carved in Stone, Fossils Tell a Story, How Do You Date a Hole in the Ground?, Not Just Better; It Works.

Four Views on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design Edited by J. B. Stump

This volume brings together leading proponents of Young Earth Creationism (Ken Ham), Old Earth Creationism (Hugh Ross), Evolutionary Creationism (Deborah Haarsma) and Intelligent Design (Stephen Meyer).

Posts: The Bible Tells Us So, Why Not YEC?, God’s Redemptive Purpose, Is it the Science?, The Case for a Designer.

It All Adds Up – The Earth is Old

A Gracious Response

The Great Debate? Nye vs. Ham

Houston, We’ve Had a Problem

Houston, We Still Have a Problem

Houston, Here’s the Situation

The Credibility of our Christian Faith (by T)

Sin, Suffering, and the Fall

A Reply to an Open Letter

Why Would God Use 4.6 Billion Years?

Why is the Universe Unfathomably Large?

The Beginning of the Gospel

Immortality is a Divine Gift

Immortality is Still a Divine Gift

Evolution and the Sting of Death

Is Evolution a Must Win Issue?

It Goes Deeper

A Question About Evolution – Answers Anyone?

Was it Wasted Time?

Once Again: Immortality is a Divine Gift!

American Culture and Evangelicalism

The Anointed: Evangelical Truth in a Secular Age by Randall Stephens and Karl Giberson.

Quoting Dr. Giberson: In our new book, “The Anointed: Evangelical Truth in a Secular Age,” historian Randall Stephens and I look at the widespread and disturbing inability of American evangelicals to distinguish between real knowledge claims, rooted in serious research and endorsed by credible knowledge communities, and pseudo-claims made by unqualified groups and leaders that offer “faith-friendly” alternatives.

Posts: How Can We Know?, Anointed? … Evangelicals and Authority One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven.

Among the Creationists: Dispatches from the Anti-Evolutionist Front Line by Jason Rosenhouse.

Scot opened his series on this book: What happens to a mathematician or science-type who decides out of curiosity to spend gobs of time — weekends, conferences, reading time — with the creationists? What happens when you spend time with creationists? Jason Rosenhouse, a professional mathematician, did just that and wrote up a book about it. It’s a good read; it’s an alarming read at times; it’s an attempt at comprehending creationists; it’s by an atheist, an evolutionist, and someone who has a hobby of wondering what makes creationists tick. He’s deeply bothered by the approach.

Posts: Among Creationists, Experiencing a Creation Conference, Creationist Struggles, Intelligent Design is Creationism 2.0.

Books on Christian Faith

Confronting Christianity: 12 Hard Questions for the World’s Largest by Rebecca McLaughlin

In this book Rebecca McLaughlin argues that the arguments against Christianity are not compelling. There are reasonable responses to the 12 most common criticisms (the hard questions).

Posts: Confronting Christianity, A Western Religion?, One True Faith?, Doesn’t Religion Hinder Morality?, Religion-> Violence?, To Tell the Truth,

Emerging Adulthood and Faith by Jonathan P. Hill

Jonathan Hill is an assistant professor of Sociology at Calvin College. This book explores the change (or absence of change) in the religious faith of young adults, the so-called generation Y or Millennials who were born roughly from 1980-2000.

Posts: Just the Facts Please, Doomsday Approaches.

Mere Believers by Marc Baer

Marc Baer is a Professor of History at Hope College. His specialty is modern British history. In this short book he looks at eight Christians in Britain examining how their lives, inspired by Christian faith, made a difference. The individuals range from Selina Hastings, Countess of Huntingdon (1707-1790) to Dorothy Sayers (1893-1956) spanning some two and a half centuries. In between we find Olaudah Equiano, kidnapped in Africa, enslaved, freed, and a voice for the humanity of Africans in Britain, Hannah More an author and reformer, as well as the more well known William Wilberforce, Oswald and Biddy Chambers, and G. K. Chesterton. The mix of men and women is intentional – and the women were active in preaching, teaching, shaping, and building. No mere supportive role here.

Post: Vocation as Holy Ground

A Fellowship of Differents by Scot McKnight

A look at what church and Christian life should look like through a study of the letters of Paul.

Post: A Tossed Salad.

Surprised By Scripture by N. T. Wright

This book is a series of essays on the way scripture can and does speak into contemporary issues. The essays originated as lectures and talks in a variety of places, including a few at BioLogos meetings. They have been expanded and polished for the book.

Posts: Healing the Divide, It’s About God and God’s Kingdom, When Does it Matter?, The Riddle of Jesus,

Vanishing Grace: What Ever Happened to the Good News? by Philip Yancey

From the Amazon synopsis: Yancey explores what may have contributed to hostility toward Evangelicals, especially in their mixing of faith and politics instead of embracing more grace-filled ways of presenting the gospel. He offers illuminating stories of how faith can be expressed in ways that disarm even the most cynical critics. Then he explores what is Good News and what is worth preserving in a culture that thinks it has rejected Christian faith.

Posts: Is Grace Vanishing?, It Isn’t Love – But It Should Be, Reclaiming the Good News, Fellow Pilgrims, Of Artists and Activists, The Salt of the Earth, Scientists, Celebrities, and Yahoos … Why Are We Here?, A Community of Contrast!, Faith and Culture: Uneasy Partners.

The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism by Tim Keller

For the last two decades Tim Keller has ministered in Manhattan to reach an educated and largely unchurched urban population. In this book he draws on his experience to discuss seven common questions posed to deconstruct Christian belief, demonstrating that none of these need be “deal breakers.” He then spends the second half of the book reconstructing “The Reason for God” and of course, the orthodox Christian faith.

Posts: Our Reasonable Faith: Parts One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen, Fourteen, Fifteen, Sixteen

The book is revisited in more detail in a second series of posts.

Posts: In an Age of Skepticism, All Religion is Culturally Conditioned Truth, How Could a Good God Allow Suffering?, Absolute Truth is the Enemy of Freedom, (In)Justice in Jesus’s Name, Revisiting Hell, I Believe in Genesis, You Can’t Take the Bible Literally – Right?, The Historic Christian Faith, Echoes of a Voice, Keller and THE PROBLEM, Cosmic Consequences?, Gospel or Religion, The (True?) Story of the Cross, The Reality of the Resurrection, The Divine Dance, Now What?

The Future of Faith by Harvey Cox

Cox is the Hollis Professor of Divinity emeritus at Harvard and is best known for his 1965 book The Secular City. He also wrote When Jesus Came to Harvard: Making Moral Choices Today, a very thoughtful and thought provoking book. The Future of Faith explores the trends that Cox sees in the history of the church and his thoughts on the future of faith, including Christian faith. From his very liberal perspective – the future “Age of the Spirit” is both a good thing (away from the legalism of conservative Chrisitanity) and a bad thing (too many non western Christians actually take the Bible and the supernatural seriously).

Posts: Faith and the Future: Parts One, Two, Three, Four.

Finding Calcutta: What Mother Teresa Taught Me About Meaningful Work and Service by Mary Poplin.

From the Publishers description: Lifelong educator Mary Poplin, after experiencing a newfound awakening to faith, sent a letter to Calcutta asking if she could visit Mother Teresa and volunteer with the Missionaries of Charity. She received a response saying, “You are welcome to share in our works of love for the poorest of the poor.” This book describes her experiences and her realization that she could “find her Calcutta” in her home surroundings at the University.

Posts: Finding Calcutta Parts One, Two, Three.

God is Red by Liao Yiwu.

Liao Yiwu is a Chinese dissident, critical of the communist regime. In his travels around China he interviewed a number of Chinese Christians, many of whom were persecuted quite severely for their faith. He is not a Christian, but their stories interested him. He starts with a doctor who left the halls of academe to serve the poor, but from here he moves to relate the accounts of many who suffered after the communist victory and in the cultural revolution, including several who were executed. This is an interesting portrait of Christian faith through the eyes of an outsider.

Posts: Listening to Chinese Christians, Take Up Your Cross And Follow Me.

Called: The Crisis and Promise of Following Jesus Today by Mark Labberton

This is an interesting, short, and readable book with ample questions to direct conversation. It would make an excellent short study for a small group or an all church focus.

Post: To Live as Followers of Jesus

The Apostles Creed.  The Apostles’ Creed by Ben Myers, The Apostles Creed by J.I. Packer, What Christians ought to Believe by Michael F. Bird, primal credo by Derek Vreeland

The Apostles’ Creed provides an outline introduction into the fundamentals of Christian belief and doctrine.

Posts: Holy Catholic Church, Communion of Saints, Why You Need the Creed, Creeds Within the Canon, Creeds Before the Canon?, God: Father, Almighty, Creator, Who Is This Jesus?, Suffered, Died, Descended, The Linchpin of Our Faith, And in the Spirit, One Church for the World, The Forgiveness of Sins, The Best is Yet to Come, Amen … So Be It.

N.T. Wright and Heidi Lene Maibom in a conversation on Life’s Biggest Questions.

Posts: The Christian Story as Worldview, Love and Knowing, Who Are We?, Is There Something Wrong?, Through Jesus We See God, The Solution?

The Question of Adam

Adam, Evolution, and the Imago Dei

An Adam Seminar

Adam, Adam, Adam …Wright

Evolution, Death, Adam, Wright

CS Lewis: Outside the Pale?

Historical Adam?

Jesus on Adam and Eve

The Search for the Historical Adam 2. A discussion of the article and editorial in the June 2011 issue of Christianity Today.

Adam, Sin, and Death … Oh My Part 1, Part 2.

Revisiting the Fall

Adam according to Jesus

The Adam Quest by Tim Stafford

In this book Tim Stafford, a senior writer for Christianity Today, relates the stories of 11 scientists and how they work with and understand human origins. The stories range from Young Earth Creationist to Evolutionary Creationist.

Posts: Start with Genesis, Overwhelmingly Complex!, But They Know God is Real!, An Engineer or a Gardener?, Pros and Cons.

Evolution and the Fall ed. by William T. Cavanaugh and James K.A. Smith

This book contains a collection of essays by a number of authors including Biologist Darrel Falk, philosopher James K.A. Smith, theologian Joel Green and Old Testament scholar J. Richard Middleton. The book is the result of a collaboration facilitated by the Colossian Forum where these Christian scholars met together regularly over several years for worship, fellowship, and intellectual engagement on the issues surrounding evolution and the fall.

Posts: Before Galileo, A Matter of Providence, Reading Genesis 3, Standing on the Fall?, Sin: Insights from Paul and James,

Adam and the Genome by Dennis Venema and Scot McKnight.

This book provides an important and novel contribution to the discussion of science and Christian faith. The real sticking point of evolution (and even the age of the earth) comes down to the nature of human kind as the image of God, followed by Adam and the fall. The important scientific questions revolve around evolution and human evolution in particular and on the New Testament importance of Adam as the first man and the original sinner. Adam and the Genome targets these important questions. Dennis is a professor of biology at Trinity Western University. He is an evolutionary biologist and a Christian. Scot McKnight (known, of course, to this audience) is a New Testament scholar and theologian. Together they have given us a thought-provoking book to start a journey through the question.

Posts: The Assured Results of Modern Science?, Evidence for Evolution, A Whale of a Story, Consider the Devil(s), The Bush of Hominins, Finding God in What We Know, On to Adam, It is God’s Story, The Image of God, Adam, Eve, and the Fall, Does it Matter?, Paul’s Adam, A Literary Adam.

The Lost World of Adam and Eve: Genesis 2-3 and the Human Origins Debate by John Walton

This is a full development of Walton’s view on the significance of Adam in the biblical text. He holds to a historical Adam, but sees Adam as archetypal in the text of the Bible. Walton digs into the Hebrew text and the ancient Near Eastern background to interpret the text. His approach holds to the inerrancy of scripture, but notes that this means that we have to explore what the text meant to the original audience. It is written for us, but it was not written to us.

Posts: And It Was Very Good, The ˀādām in Genesis 1-5, Archetypal AdamConsider Melchizedek … and Adam, Of Gardens, Trees, and Serpents, Not Paradise Lost But Paradise Ungained, Jesus is the Keystone, Paul’s Adam, From One Couple?, In the Image of God, Why Does It Matter?.

Four Views on the Historical Adam (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology)

The contributors to the book include Denis Lamoureux, John Walton, C. John Collins, and William Barrick. The views presented range from no historical Adam (Lamoureux) to young earth creation with Adam as the unique father of the entire human race some 6000 years ago or so (Barrick). John Walton and Jack Collins fall between these two views, with Collins taking a somewhat more ‘literal’ view than Walton.

Posts: The Historical Adam, No Historical Adam?, Responses to No Historical Adam, Adam Both Archetypal and Historical, Responses to Archetypal Adam, Adam and Eve as Special Creation, The Historicity of Adam is a Gospel Issue, Responses to the Traditional View of Adam,

The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn’t Say about Human Origins by Peter Enns

Peter Enns is an Old Testament scholar (Ph. D. in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from Harvard). In this book he concentrates on the interpretation of the creation stories in Genesis and the use Paul makes of these stories in Romans and 1 Corinthians. His approach is from a position of faith, but he argues that we need to rethink the way we interpret these passages in the context of their intent in scripture.

Posts: Adam in Genesis and Paul, Once More With Feeling, When was Genesis Written … and Why?, What is the Purpose of the Old Testament?, What About Enuma Elish and Other ANE Myths?, Adam and Atrahasis, YHWH is Redeemer, But is Adam Israel?, Out of Egypt? … Say What?, Is the Adam of Genesis Not Paul’s Adam?, Paul’s (First Century) Use of Scripture, Paul’s Adam and the Gospel, So How Then Should We Think About Adam?.

Did Adam and Eve Really Exist?: Who They Were and Why You Should Care by C. John Collins

Dr. Collins is a professor of Old Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis MO. His goal in writing this book is to show why he believes we should retain a version of the traditional view of Adam. He argues that the traditional position on Adam and Eve, or some variation of it, does the best job of accounting not only for the Biblical material and for our everyday experience as human beings.

Posts: The Search For the Historical Adam One, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine.

Adam’s Ancestors: Race, Religion, and the Politics of Human Origins by David Livingstone

This is a readable, but thorough and academic, book looking at the history of the idea of pre-adamic or non-adamic humans in western Christian thinking from the early church (Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, and Augustine) through the middle ages, the explorations of the fifteenth and sixteenth century, the debates on racial supremacy, and on to the present day. The book presents an interesting survey and puts many factors into perspective.

Posts: The Challenge of Adam: One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, A new set of posts/reposts: Adam’s Ancestors, Pre-Adamite Populations?, Pre-Adamism and Hermeneutics.

Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith (v. 62 no. 3 2010) Reading Genesis: The Historicity of Adam and Eve, Genomics, and Evolutionary Science

Posts: The Fall And Sin After Darwin One, Two, Three, Four, How Much History in Gen 1-3?, Did God Create us Sinful?, What is Sin?

Beginnings: Ancient Christian Readings of the Biblical Creation Narratives by Peter Bouteneff

This book explores the use of the creation narratives in Second Temple Judaism (ca. 200 BCE to 100 CE), in the New Testament, and in the writings of the early church fathers through the first four centuries of the church. This is a fascinating book – a bit academic, but not too strenuous a read.

Posts: One, Two, Three, Four, Creation-Fall-Redemption is a Recent Reading?, Adam, Original Sinner not Origin of Sin, A Second Century View of Adam, Origen on Origins, Adam, and Eve, Basil Again, With a Little Athanasius on Top, Allegory or History … The Focus is on Christ, These Are the Generations of AdamCreation is Salvation.

Original Sin: Illuminating the Riddle (New Studies in Biblical Theology) by Henri Blocher

A theologian looks at the question of Original Sin in the context of Romans 5.

Posts: Original Sin Returns: One, Two, Three, Four

Science, Faith, and Being Human

Ambition – Virtue or Vice? Revisited

They Will Know We Are Christians By Our … Politics?

More Than Just Genes and Neurons

The Measures of Success

Stop Playing the Game!

The Evolution of (Im)morality

Science and Sin 1

Science and Sin 2

Science, Worship, and Fasting

Science and Christian Virtue 1

Science and Christian Virtue 2

Ambition … Virtue or Vice?

In the Image of God

A series on Acts and Diversity: Acts, Diversity – and Triple Consciousness?, Acts, Diversity – and Service, Acts, Diversity – and Cultural Competence, Acts, Diversity – and Macro Practice, Acts, Diversity – and Comments.

Rethinking Human Nature: A Christian Materialist Alternative to the Soul by Kevin Corcoran

Dr. Corcoran is a philosopher teaching at Calvin College and specializing in philosophy of mind, metaphysics, and philosophy of religion. He is a philosopher who connects philosophy with bible, theology, faith, and science. This book is a development of a view of persons as fully embodied beings.

Posts: Science, Body, and Soul part 1, part 2, part 3, The Stem Cell Challenge, Science, Body, Soul and Resurrection.

Body, Soul, and Human Life: The Nature of Humanity in the Bible by Joel B. Green

Dr. Joel B. Green is Professor of New Testament interpretation and Associate Dean for the Center for Advanced Theological Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary. Before that he served on the faculty and administration of Asbury Theological Seminary. When Joel Green became interested in the questions of body and soul he responded by pursuing the topic from biblical, theological, philosophical, and scientific directions. Although trained in New Testament, he began graduate work in neuroscience at the University of Kentucky. While he didn’t finish a degree he has a more complete perspective on the topic than many theologians or philosophers. Borrowing from the product description, in this book he explores “what Scripture and theology teach about issues such as being in the divine image, the importance of community, sin, free will, salvation, and the afterlife.”

Posts: Being Human One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine.

Anatomy of the Soul by Curt Thompson

Dr. Thompson is a psychiatrist in private practice, and this book comes from his study and experience in this context. The book explores the relationship between brain and mind and looks at the impact a better understanding of this relationship might have on both spiritual practices and relationships. As a Christian, Dr. Thompson looks at the impact new findings in neuroscience have on our understanding of Christian practice and transformation.

Post: Anatomy of the Soul

Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn and Half the Church by Carolyn Custis James

Half the Sky is a powerful book that explores the oppression of women worldwide, from rape, sex-trafficking, and maternal mortality to domestic violence, “cutting” and infanticide. Half the Church takes this and looks at biblical portraits of women and at the need for action.

Post: Half the Sky and the Power of Story.

Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work by by Tim Keller with Katherine Leary Alsdorf

If you happen to, oh say, teach at a seminary or pastor in a church it is relatively easy to see how your work connects to Gods work. If, on the other hand, you happen to run a business, work as a secretary, repair cars, or be on the faculty of a major secular University it can be somewhat harder. This book grows out of the experience Keller has had with younger adults (and older adults I expect) as they wrestle with what it means to be Christian in all aspects of life, including work. Every Good Endeavor is an interesting book, exhibiting some of the best of Keller as he focuses on a “merely Christian” approach to work. He draws on insights from Scripture (Both Genesis and Ecclesiastes plays a significant role) and from a broad range of scholars and thinkers, including Christian thinkers such as Dorothy Sayers, Andy Crouch, JRR Tolkien, Mark Noll, and many more.

Posts: Every Good Endeavor, When Work Goes Wrong, Connecting Gospel and Work.

Neuroscience, Psychology, and Religion: Illusions, Delusions, and Realities about Human Nature by Malcolm Jeeves and Warren S. Brown

Neuroscience and related areas of psychology, including the psychology of religion provide a challenge different in many ways from these earlier conflicts. At the center is the very nature of what it means to be human. Malcolm Jeeves (emeritus professor of psychology at the University of St. Andrews) and Warren S. Brown (Director of the Lee Edward Travis Research Institute and Professor of Psychology, Department of Clinical Psychology at Fuller Seminary) are Christians, experts in the area of neuroscience. Their book explores the issues at the forefront of neuroscience and Christian faith.

Posts: Apes on the Way Up?, The Stories We Tell,

Minds, Brains, Souls and Gods: A Conversation on Faith, Psychology and Neuroscience by Malcolm Jeeves

Malcolm Jeeves is a Christian, an emeritus professor of psychology at the University of St. Andrews. Of late he has been thinking and writing about the intersection of mind and brain and the relationship of the psychology and neuroscience with Christian faith and religious belief. The first book provides an overview of the relationship between neuroscience, psychology, and religion. In this book Jeeves and Brown survey the history and current state of neuroscience with emphasis on the interface with religion. The second book covers much of the same material but does so in a conversational, question and answer style. This being the 21st century the format of the conversation is not an exchange of long letters, but an exchange of e-mails, short and long, over a course of undergraduate studies. Although the presentation is a fictional conversation, the questions posed by “Ben” represent the cumulative experience of more than half a century interacting with students taking psychology.

Posts: Ask Jeeves!, Beware Neuromaniacs and Darwinitis!, How Free Am I?, The Power of Ideas, Both Body and Soul, Are Only Humans Moral?, God Guides and Directs … Or is it All an Illusion?.

Psychology Through the Eyes of Faith. by David G. Myers and Malcolm A. Jeeves.

This book is part of a larger series of books looking at various disciplines “through the eyes of faith.” Jeeves (Professor Emeritus of Psychology at St. Andrews) and Myers (Professor of Psychology at Hope College), tackle many of the tough questions in the dialogue between psychology (or neuroscience) and Christian faith.

Posts: The Endless Spiral of Faith and Action.

The Liberating Image: The Imago Dei in Genesis 1 by J. Richard Middleton

Dr. J. Richard Middleton is Professor of Biblical Worldview and Exegesis at Northeastern Seminary in Rochester New York and has specialized in the Old Testament and in creation theology among other things. The Liberating Image explores the meaning of the image of God and what it means for the nature and calling of mankind. This is an academic book – with plenty of footnotes – and the language at times reflects this academic nature. Yet it is interesting and quite readable even for the educated layperson like me.

Posts: Interpreting the Imago Dei, No Text is an Island, The Artistry of Creation, Cosmic Temple, and Imago Dei, All Humanity is the Image of God, Humans Created to Serve the gods?, Genesis 1-10 as Ideological Critique, Babel as Ideological Critique, In the Image of a Violent God?, A New Look at Genesis 1, Richard Middleton: After The Liberating Image, No Need to Fear.

Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect by Matthew D. Lieberman

Lieberman is a Professor of Psychology at UCLA. He is a social psychologist specializing in social cognition. The primary message of Lieberman’s book is that we are formed to be social. While it is common to consider our most basic needs to be those related to such items as food, shelter, and safety, Lieberman claims that social connection is in fact our bedrock need. Of course we need food and shelter, but as humans we get food, shelter, safety, and much more through social connection. This is the foundation on which all else rests.

Posts: We Are Wired To Be Social, Fairness Tastes Like Ice Cream,

The Oxford Inklings: Lewis, Tolkien and their Circle by Colin Duriez.

Friendship, good friendship unites us and preserves and promotes virtue. In this book Colin Duriez “tells the story of friendship, mutual influence, and common purpose of the Inklings – the literary circle which congregated around C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien.”

Posts:  Nothing More to be Prized,

Evolution and Holiness: Sociobiology, Altruism, and the Quest for Wesleyan Perfection by Matthew Nelson Hill.

The hard questions in science and Christian faith are those that deal with the nature of being human. These questions include thing like: What is morality? Is altruistic behavior possible? What role does society play? Is there anything free about human will? Can we change? What does it mean to be human? These questions have a larger impact on Christian faith than any of the simple questions of origins; larger even, than the question of Adam. In fact, objections to evolution are often rooted in the questions raised by evolutionary psychology and sociobiology. Hill is an assistant professor of philosophy at Spring Arbor University. In this book, Hill “uses the lens of Wesleyan ethics to offer a fresh assessment of the intersection of evolution and theology.” Although Hill, an ordained elder in the Free Methodist Church, concentrates on Wesleyan ethics, the implications for the church extend beyond any particular Christian tradition.

Posts: A Society Based on Lies?, You Are Not What You Eat!, Must We Play the Game?, No Holiness but Social Holiness.

The Emergence of Personhood, A Quantum Leap? edited by Malcolm Jeeves

This book explores the question of personhood from many different perspectives ranging from evolutionary biology, psychology, and anthropology to philosophy and theology. Although many of the contributors are Christian, this isn’t true of all and wasn’t a requirement for participation. Jeeves invited contributions from humanists, theists and atheists to “bring a genuine multiplicity of voices to speak to common themes.” Christian theologians and psychologists (e.g. Anthony Thiselton and Justin Barrett) might bring in the concept of imago Dei or image of God. Such a perspective is foreign to humanist or atheist thinkers, but other important questions are highlighted in this case.

Posts: The Dividing Line, It’s in Art, It’s Culture, Stupid,


The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies—How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths by Michael Shermer.

Shermer is an outspoken skeptic of religion.

Posts: Is it All a Trick of the Mind?.

Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist by Christof Koch

Christof Koch is a Professor of Cognitive and Behavioral Biology at CalTech. He was raised in a Roman Catholic family, son of a German diplomat, traveled a great deal in his childhood and youth: Missouri, Amsterdam, Bonn, Ottawa, and Rabat. He writes, among other things “about the wellsprings of [his] inner conflict between religion and reason” and “why [he] grew up wanting to be a scientist.” In the last chapter he comes back and muses about the relationship between science and religion and the existence of God. He wanders through the experience of some 32 years studying consciousness, neuroscience, and will; 26 of them as a professor at CalTech. He introduces the science and reflects on it.

Posts: Even the MacBook Air Is Not Sentient, The Wellsprings of Conflict, Qualia, Consciousness, and Zombies.

Neither Gods Nor Beasts by Elof Axel Carlson

Elof Carlson is a geneticist who taught biology for decades at UCLA and at Stony Brook. He calls himself a non-theist, and has little appreciation for religious faith. He is not, however, a militant atheist. The premise of his book is that humans are distinct from other animals in possessing reason and his argument is one for science, science education, and the use of reason.

Posts: Reason, Revelation, and Relationship, Neither Gods Nor Beasts.

On Miracles and Naturalism

He is Risen Indeed!

The Power of Resurrection?

Miracles and the “Problem” of Divine Action

Good News – God Cannot Be Contained

The Miracles of Creation

Did Jesus Really Walk on Water?

Science and Christianity … Why Resurrection?

Why Cross and Resurrection?

A Miraculous Creation

Wait, No Miracles? … Wright On!

Is Free Will Anti-Science

What Role Naturalism? 1

What Role Naturalism? 2 – Insights from Thomas

Investigating the Unnatural – Is Science the Religion of the 21st Century?

Investigating the Unnatural – Why Believe in God?

Is Naturalism Christian?

Science as Religion Revisited

Free Will is an Illusion?

Approaches to Conversation on Science, Faith, and Evolution

Why Doubts? What to Do?

A Plotless Story?

Talking Science as Christians

The Power of Language


What Would You Choose?

None and Fine With It

You Brood of Vipers!

Moving From Debate to Dialogue

Rules of Engagement

And God Said “Let There be Light”

What Are Your Objections?

I Wish Pastors Knew … Part 2

I Wish Pastors Knew … Part 1

Where Do You Start?

Videos Galore … on Evolution and Christian Faith

I Dare You to Change!

How to Talk About Science and Faith

This is Why We Need Christians Engaged in Science!

Community Matters

Churchless and Secular

Coming Soon … “The Talk”?

Trust Is Precious

Blood From Stone … But Unfortunately He Got Everything Wrong

Is There Room in the Middle?

Is Faith a Threat to Science?

Communication Fail!

Can We Dialogue?

Science and Faith – A Pastoral Approach

Telling Our Story

Telling Our Story – The Story of Genesis

Telling Our Story – The Story of Jesus

A Statement on Science, Faith, and Human Origins

Science and the Evangelical Mission

Who Can We Trust?

Science as Critical Thinking

Conflict or Not?

A Slippery Slope … or A Two Way Street?

Communicating Science

Pastors Unconvinced … Now What?

Is Science Merely Wisdom of This World?

How Should We Respond?

What Do We Have to Offer?

Evangelical Evolutionists … and an Opportunity

Theology … The Queen of the Sciences?

We Need More of This!

Evolutionary Creation in the News

A Pastor’s Approach to Science

Creation, Evolution, and US Pastors

Scot gave a talk at a BioLogos posted on Jesus Creed in three parts.

Posts: With a tear in his eye, Theologians Thinking with Scientists, Where do we go from here?

Comments, Trolls, and Teaching

Most Americans are Fine With Evolution (most white evangelicals are not)

An Exciting Opportunity!

Environmental Issues

Creation Care: A Biblical Theology of the Natural World by Douglas Moo and Jonathan Moo

A video course on reading the Bible and its impact on our view of creation and the issues that face us today. Unfortunately these lectures are part of Zondervan Academic’s online or self-paced study courses and are for individual use only. Use in a public church setting is explicitly prohibited making it of limited value.

Posts: Creation Care, Approaching the Bible, A Beautiful Creation,

Let Creation Rejoice: Biblical Hope and Ecological Crisis by Jonathan Moo and Robert White

I’ve been looking for a book that would help us make a foray into the area of environmental crisis and global warming. Here we have a start. Let Creation Rejoice looks at the scientific evidence for threats to the environment arising from the actions of mankind and at the hope and mission that Christians have and the difference this can make.

Posts: Let Creation Rejoice, Oh The Devastation We Can Wreak, Humans Are Changing the Global Climate., The Gospel and Global Warming, Down to Earth Hope, The Day of the Lord Will Come, The Renewal of All Things, Not Of This World, But For This World. Reposts: Creation Care?, The Earth is Finite, Climate Change?, Through the Lens of the Gospel, The Whole Creation Has Been Groaning, The Challenge of John’s Vision, Moving Forward.

A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith Based Decisions by Katharine Hayhoe and Andrew Farley

Katharine Hayhoe is a professor at Texas Tech working in the area of climate science. She is also active in the public sector, working to get the message out to a variety of audiences, especially conservative Christians. Her husband Andrew Farley is a linguist and author and a pastor.

Post: Beloved Let Us Love One Another.

The Things People Do To Nature

The World’s Oceans – Should We Worry?

Theology, Science, and Global Warming

Miscellaneous Posts

Disappointment With God?

Two Enacted Parables

Creation is Much More!

Atheism is an Age Old Problem

When We Disagree

Not as the World Sees It

By Their Fruit …

All Authority?

Women of the New Testament

A Look at Biblical Womanhood

Our Biggest Stumbling Block

If You Believed Moses …

Job 38 Updated for Today

Remember the Sabbath to Keep it Holy

Reflections on Christ and Creation

Christ and Creation

The Wisdom of this World

Bridges or Walls?


Why We Gather

The Heart of the Matter

The Great Reversal

By Their Fruit You Will Know Them

All Authority in Heaven and on Earth

Biblical Womanhood … The New Testament

Biblical Womanhood … Not What Many Think

Spectators or Participants

The Wisdom of This World

But the Greatest of These is Love

Did Shemaiah Know?

The Bible and That “Women” Question

That “Women” Question

It is a Conundrum Pt. 1

It is a Conundrum Pt. 2

12 Reasons

Bias or Just Natural?

Congratulations Graduates

Just Like Me?

Soon and Very Soon

Ignorance: Does it Drive Both Science and Theology?

The Things People Do To Nature

Where Do You Start?

Evangelicals on Evolution, Women, and the Future

How Not to Succeed in …

Scientific Progress or A Step Too Far?

Doodle Now … Learn More

Following Aslan

Is Marriage Overblown?

If Everyone Else is on Steroids …

Is Science Failing Us?

Reflections on Sticky Faith and the King Jesus Gospel

Do We Have an Extrovert Ideal?

No, it is Not a “God Particle”

Dark Matter, String Theory, and Heaven

Love Is the Name of the Game.

May 18, 2019

Greetings from Calgary Alberta, where I’ve been spending time with the EvFree leaders.

Beth Allison Barr — well done!

As a historian, I know the Roman view of women (as reflected in 1 Corinthians 14) is just one of many, many examples of patriarchy in the ancient world. Indeed, patriarchy is a constant in world history. From The Ramayana in ancient India to the Epic of Gilgamesh in ancient Sumeria, texts from early civilizations reveal the gender hierarchies that privileged men (especially men of certain classes) and subordinated women. As Gerda Lerner argued in her monumental study, The Creation of Patriarchy, male dominance over women is rooted in the historical development of civilizations. It is a power structure created and maintained by human labor. The Roman system which elevated men and subordinated women fits perfectly in the framework of human history.

Which is what makes the New Testament so revolutionary. While we get echoes of human patriarchy in the New Testament, especially as the early church tries to make sense of its place in a very pagan world, we get a whole lot more of passages subverting traditional gender roles and emphasizing women as leaders. Beth Moore, one of the greatest students of biblical text and teachers of biblical truth in the modern church, made the right point in her twitter response to Owen Strachan:

“What I plead for Is to grapple with the entire text from Mt 1 thru Rev 22 on ever matter concerning women. To grapple with Paul’s words in 1 Tim/! For 14 as authoritative, God-breathed!- alongside other words Paul wrote, equally inspired & make sense of the many women he served alongside. Above all else, we must search the attitudes of Christ Jesus himself toward women.”

1 Corinthians 14:34-35 is actually not a difficult passage. It fits in beautifully with human history. The most difficult passage in the New Testament to explain, historically speaking, is the end of Galatians 3:

“For you are all children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

This is what is radical. This is what makes Christianity so different from the rest of human history. This is what sets both men and women free……

I find it ironic that we spend so much time today fighting to make Christianity look like the things of this world instead of fighting to make it like the world Jesus showed us was possible. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Instead of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 as God’s dream for humanity, doesn’t the world of Galatians 3 seem more like Jesus?

Patriarchy may be a part of Christian history, but that doesn’t make it Christian.

Zafrir Rinat, on the birds of Israel:

A working visit to Israel by German journalist and photographer Thomas Krumenacker 11 years ago changed his life. After witnessing the seasonal migration of birds here, he made his hobby something much more serious. The result: his book “Birds in the Holy Land,” which has just come out in German and English.

The work was published with the help of the Hoopoe Bird Foundation, founded by Rachel and Moshe Yanai and administered by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel. Krumenacker lives in Berlin but visits Israel often. He follows the birds from the heights of Mount Hermon to the Gulf of Eilat.

The book’s photos and accompanying text show why birds’ migration along the length of the country has been termed “the eighth wonder of the world.” In a short period, more than 500 bird species pass overhead, and almost every year a new species not seen before in Israel is observed.

Most of these birds leave Europe in the autumn on their way to Africa, making the long journey back in the spring. Some species arrive during the winter. Experts estimate that during the migration season some 500 million birds pass through Israel.

For some species, almost the entire global population moves through the region. For example, nearly all the world’s Levant sparrowhawks fly over the Holy Land during their migration.

Especially prominent overhead are white storks; half a million stop in Israel for food or rest, nearly all the ones from Europe and Asia. Another important visitor is the lesser spotted eagle, described by Krumenacker as one of the most enigmatic birds to nest in Europe. This is due to its penchant for remote forests.

At Walking with a Limp, Joe sets the record straight — plain, simple, clear:

It is widely known that the SBC holds a complementarian viewpoint regarding women in ministry; that is, women are restricted from serving as a pastor and elder, and generally are not allowed to preach a Sunday sermon and teach doctrine to men. So when popular speaker, teacher, and lifelong SBC member Beth Moore let it slip a few weeks ago on Twitter that she was going to be preaching at an SBC church on Mother’s Day of this year, blue-check SBC Twitter heavyweights and their blue-check hopeful friends ignited this tired debate once again with a question.

Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary professor Owen Strachan planted his flag on social media regarding the issue by calling the act “functional egalitarianism”, and refused to capitulate. … Strachan also excoriated SBC president J.D. Greear for bending a little on the issue and cracking the door open, ever so slightly, for a woman to say something during the vaunted Sunday sermon. [then someone else who uses buzzwords]

Oh, there we go with those door-slammer buzzwords like “clear” and “black and white”. I’ll buy into this “clear, black-and-white” hermeneutic when I see:

  • all women wear head coverings (1 Cor. 11:5-6),
  • women pray and prophecy (1 Cor. 11:5),
  • but somehow women prophecy out loud and yet remain in total silence in church (1 Cor. 14:34-35),
  • women with no braided hair, no jewelry, no fancy clothes (1 Peter 3:3)…
  • sorry, no pearls either (1 Tim. 2:9),
  • 1 Tim. 2:8, men everywhere praying with holy hands lifted up (not just sometimes and only in certain denominations)…
  • “without anger or disputing”. (Uh oh. Gotta scrub a few social media posts out),
  • and for a stomach illness, cut back on water and instead have a little wine (1 Tim. 5:23).

Obviously I’m being playful in a couple of places here, but can we please get over the delusion that having a high view of scripture means that we can export our favorite prooftexts straight into the by-laws of the church, all the while dictating that other inconvenient “clear” passages are only for the ancient culture? It is as if we want to say that 1 Tim. 2:12, as translated and understood in our modern context, was addressed directly to us, but we can relax the prohibition against braided hair a few verses prior because that is some kind of a cultural reference, and there is a higher principle for us to find there, yada yada yada.

Razib Khan, at National Review:

As an evolutionary geneticist and a conservative, I take some interest in critiques of Darwinism. I have come to expect that every few years a new book by Michael Behe, a professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University, will trigger commentary relaying his skepticism of evolutionary theory to the interested public. And this will result in vociferous rejoinders from evolutionary biologists.

But evolutionary biology is nothing for conservatives to fear, because it is one of the crowning achievements of modern Western civilization. It should be viewed not as an acid gnawing at the bones of civilization, but as a jewel. The science built upon the rock of Charles Darwin’s ideas is a reflection of Western modernity’s commitment to truth as a fundamental value. And many Christians well-versed in evolutionary science find it entirely compatible with their religious beliefs.

Further, while evolutionary biology does not tell us what is good, the truth of the world around us can inform our efforts to seek the good — and in this sense, the political implications of evolutionary biology do not favor the Left. Today many on the Left reject the very idea of human nature, to the point of effectively being evolution deniers themselves. They assert that society and values can be restructured at will. That male and female are categories of the mind, rather than of nature. In rejecting evolution, a conservative gives up the most powerful rejoinder to these claims.

Why tomatoes taste like nothing but maters:

Have you ever eaten a perfectly ripe tomato and wondered why you even bother? Tomatoes are a staple in sandwiches and salads, and you can throw them into just about any dish and come up with something edible. Tomato flavor, however, has apparently been going downhill for a while now, and scientists think they know why.

In a new study published in Nature Genetics, researchers including those from the Agricultural Research Service and the Boyce Thompson Institute have mapped the genome of the modern cultivated tomato as well as tomatoes that still grow in the wild. The team marked thousands of genes that were previously unknown, comparing the genomes of cultivated tomatoes with their wild relatives, and made more than a few interesting discoveries.

In comparing the cultivated tomatoes to their wild counterparts the researchers noted literally thousands of genes which were missing from the produce we typically find in our supermarkets. In the never-ending quest to develop plants that produce bigger tomatoes at a faster rate, growers seem to have inadvertently favored plants that also produce inferior-tasting fruit.

“One of the most important discoveries from constructing this pan-genome is a rare form of a gene labeled TomLoxC, which mostly differs in the version of its DNA gene promoter,” James Giovannoni, co-author of the paper, said in a statement. “The gene influences fruit flavor by catalyzing the biosynthesis of a number of lipid (fat)-involved volatiles – compounds that evaporate easily and contribute to aroma.”

Based on their own testing, the researchers believe that the flavor-enhancing gene is only present in around two percent of modern store-bought tomatoes, but was found in over 90 percent of wild tomatoes.

March 6, 2019

John Walton and his son J. Harvey Walton, The Lost World of the Torah, and the 5th part of their book will prove to be the most controversial.


W&W anchor the Torah in the Ancient Near East (ANE), in the covenant God made (exclusively) with Israel (not the church, and the covenant and its legislation stipulations are about God’s presence with Israel. We are not in that covenant so what is said to that covenant people is not “to” us …

The impact of this approach to Torah can stagger some for it locates the Torah back then and only for back then. W&W are church people, Christian people, and that means people ask them about the significance of the Torah for today. Is it relevant?

It seems their answer would be: No and Yes, and what is relevant is that we learn who God is and how we can live before that God in faithfulness. This may not be enough for some, but it’s a good start.

Here are their propositions in this 5th part, some of which (16, 17, 18, 20) are not controversial (or ought not to be) and some will require much longer treatments (19, 21, 22, 23).

Proposition 15: Discussions of Law in the New Testament Do Not Tell Us Anything About Old Testament Torah in Context

A brief: one cannot equate what Jesus and the apostles mean by “law” as the same as what it meant in the ANE and OT, nor does what they say about the OT Torah equate to how it was understood in the ANE. In fact, he suggests covenant stipulations becomes more like legislation in the Hellenistic period, and that is the river in which the NT is floating. [I wanted more proof for this but contextual location arguments are important.]

Proposition 16: The Torah Should Not Be Divided into Categories to Separate Out What Is Relevant

Proposition 17: Torah Was Never Intended to Provide Salvation

Proposition 18: Divine Instruction Can Be Understood as a Metaphor of Health Rather Than a Metaphor of Law

Proposition 19: We Cannot Gain Moral Knowledge or Build a System of Ethics Based on Reading the Torah in Context and Deriving Principles from It

Propositions 20: Torah Cannot Provide Prooftexts Solving Issues Today

Proposition 21: The Ancient Israelites Would Not Have Understood the Torah as Providing Divine Moral Instruction

Proposition 22: A Divine Command Theory of Ethics Does Not Require that the Torah Is Moral Instruction

Proposition 23: Taking the Torah Seriously Means Understanding What It Was Written To Say, Not Converting It into Moral Law

I agree that dividing Torah into moral, civil, and ceremonial is artificial; Torah did not provide salvation and never intended to do; I’m not sure the health theme is all that important. The emphasis in the book is on wisdom and order. No one wants to say they are prooftexting, so that point isn’t controversial. Actually, this point emerges from already assuming the Torah has legislation that reflects God’s character and is for God’s covenanted people, including the church. Still, we’ll move on.

Decisions about the relevance and application of the Torah (as with any text of Scripture) must be made on the basis of the genre (in this case, wisdom insight rather than legislated commands), the context (written to Israel in the context of covenant and temple), the rhetorical strategy (how a section of literature functions within the larger work), the author s intention (what he intends the communication to accomplish the expected response), and the backdrop of the cultural context (understood in relation to the ancient cultural river, not ours).

Discussions, debates, and disagreements arise with the others, and it is quite unlikely that W&W are going to convince many. While I think this is the most provocative of the Lost World series, I found it in need often of more thorough proof and less in need of the Not…But rhetoric. I am not convinced Torah as wisdom and order cannot also be legislative and I’m totally unconvinced Torah needs to be comprehensive to be legislation. I’m open to being persuaded.

The relationship between the covenants — let’s say Moses and New to approximate the issue — has to be spelled out to make sense of the proposals/propositions in this book. The word “fulfill” and “telos” (goal, end, etc) require definition to connect the covenant obligations of the former with the latter.

When it comes to #19, in the main I agree: the principlization theory that Walter Kaiser was onto is not as simple as it looks, but to turn it around, its denial is not simple either.

I’m unpersuaded that morality can be divorced from wisdom, from order, from covenant stipulations and from legislation. Calling it order doesn’t negate morality. These are not reified or even reifiable categories. God’s being, God’s will, God’s law, God’s covenant with God’s redeemed people … these generate moral visions, morality and moral systems.

But I go back to the relationship of the Old and the New, the First and the Second Testaments. This is where the issues here have to be sorted out, and in this book and for this purpose W&W did not raise this into the propositional level. They can easily do this so perhaps more about this someday.

On the Torah not being about morality… it seems he’s defining a moral system by the term morality and W&W connect that to being comprehensive, natural law … Torah is not morality but instruction, and the response to instruction is comprehension, not obedience. OK, and W&W have been asked this a number of times, why not both?

As we extend these concepts beyond the scope of Israel, it is probably not unreasonable to maintain that God’s people have been given an identity with God and that it is our responsibility to honor God as we reflect him in our lives. Moral behavior would unquestionably be part of that, but only a part. The basis of this claim, however, would not be a universal revelation of the character of God in the Torah but rather an idea derived from the New Testament’s own context (i.e., the idiom “in Christ” as a declaration of identity) and the assumption of thematic recapitulation in the parallel portrayals of the church and Israel (see proposition twenty-three). Most importantly, however, this observation in itself does not help us to ascribe a particular shape to moral behavior, let alone the shape that is described in the Torah. Morality may well comprise some universal absolutes (i.e., do not steal), but it is also defined by norms that are culturally relative (i.e., do not run around naked in public). But our knowledge of the particular shape of the universal (or situationally relevant) constituents of moral behavior need not be assumed to come directly from the text of the Bible, though divine command theory admits the possibility that God’s commands can be known from general revelation, and neither the Old Testament nor the New Testament teaches that it should come from the Torah.

Their purpose is not to dictate God’s demands for our conduct but to let us know what God is doing—what his plans and purposes are—so that we can choose whether we want to participate or suffer from not participating as its own consequence.

Of the Lost World books this is both the finest attempt to show the significance of the ANE as well as the most provocative, but I believe, too, the one that will not be as convincing until some of the loose ends are tied up. I’m hoping it generates conversations about the meaning of Torah, about how Torah and covenant fit together, how Torah and law/legislation and morality fit with one another, and especially how the “ethic” of the OT fits with the ethic of the NT. Terms, of course, in need of nuancing, but the big picture is what we have in view when it comes to conversation.

W&W have taken on a huge topic, and it’s not surprising that writing at this level will leave lots of loose ends. It might be ours to pick them up and see if we can tie them together.

Maybe what we need is a clear example of how to “do Christian ethics” — say how to approach Christian and war, or Christian and same-sex relations/marriage, or the Christian and capital punishment.

August 7, 2018

No exploration of the nature of Scripture is complete without  a discussion of Paul’s claim in 2 Timothy 3:16 that “All Scripture is God-breathed.” Many a statement of faith uses this phrase and references as a proof text for the doctrine of Scripture, often as the first proposition as though all else follows from this assertion. John Walton and D. Brent Sandy, The Lost World of Scripture, devote a chapter to this text.

There are several important points. The first has do do with the way that language is used in Scripture. Quoting from the Dictionary of Biblical Imagery “the Bible is much more a book of images and motifs than abstractions and propositions.” We err when we look at “the Bible as a theological outline with prooftexts attached.” John and Brent note that “the Bible primarily relates truth through narratives of human experience and through poetic language that transcends the normal boundaries of expression.” (p. 264)

Paul was a powerful communicator and he shaped his communication to evoke a response. His sermons, teaching, and letters were not dry statements of theological concepts. John and Brent run through a number of examples in 2 Cor. and Galatians, but we could find them in any of his letters. Language is a tool for communication, not some kind of mathematical formula.

As far as we know the term θεόπνευστος (God-breathed or God-spirited) was coined by Paul. It is found no where else in Scripture or “apparently in the Greek literature before Paul’s time.” (p. 269)  It is likely that Paul is creating a word picture that aims to imprint the idea that God’s Spirit is behind the narratives and images we have in Scripture.

Second, we need to consider context. Because this is a one-time phrase, context is particularly important as we seek to understand Paul’s meaning. 2 Timothy is a powerful letter. It serves as a commencement address (Timothy is being sent of to carry on) and a farewell discourse (Paul anticipates his death). Paul’s use of of the new word has meaning in this context. Paul writes:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings … But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 2 Tim 3:1-4:2 (NIV)

John and Brent suggest that the term θεόπνευστος (God-breathed or God-spirited) can be understood in three ways (p. 271): (1) it affirms God as the source of Scripture, (2) it evokes images of God’s communicative breath or Spirit, and (3) it communicates Scripture’s transforming power.

Paul is not putting the written teaching of Scripture in a place superior to his teaching. Nor is he suggesting that written communication carries God’s truth in a way that the oral communication of apostolic teaching did not. Today the New Testament preserves this apostolic teaching for us – but the oral origins are significant for the way we approach the text. But back to 2 Timothy. “Paul was tutoring Timothy in the importance of proclaiming divine truth to the community of believers, as evident both in oral and written sources.” (p. 272) He appeals to his teaching and his way of life, that Timothy can trust what he’s learned because he knows his teachers and the Holy Scriptures.

Third, Paul is not presenting complete doctrine of Scripture. Paul appeals to purpose in describing the Holy Scriptures … they make us wise for salvation and are useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training. Paul’s emphasis is on the function of Scripture in Timothy’s life, in the lives of those he will teach, and by implication our lives. He was not developing or articulating a doctrine of Scripture. (John and Brent also note that Paul doesn’t distinguish the Septuagint that he and Timothy knew best from some unavailable original autographs or manuscripts.)

[Paul] was enjoining Timothy to entrust to others what he had learned from Paul’s preaching, to use Scripture in building up the body of believers and to preach the logos, the oral message of the gospel I2 Tim 2:2; 4:2)

Frankly, a proper understanding of purpose is more important than a precise articulation of the mechanism through which God’s message is faithfully preserved in written form. Paul’s farewell exhortation to Timothy is important for us today.

What is the intent of Paul’s exhortation to Timothy?

Is 2 Tim 3:16 a verse we should use as a prooftext in a doctrine of Scripture?

If so, how should we apply it?

If you wish to contact me directly, you may do so at rjs4mail[at]

If interested you can subscribe to a full text feed of my posts at Musings on Science and Theology.

February 21, 2017

The_Inspiration_of_Saint_Matthew_by_CaravaggioMatthew anchors the story of Jesus in Israel’s history. If we are unfamiliar with the Old Testament Scriptures and this history, we will miss important parts of the message.  This is especially true in the prelude to Jesus’ public ministry in chapters 1-4. Richard Hays (Reading Backwards and Echoes of Scripture in the Gospels) explores these connections.

Matthew encourages the reader to see Jesus as the fulfillment of Old Testament precursors, particularly Moses, David, and  Isaiah’s Servant figure. … Matthew’s language and imagery are from start to finish soaked in Scripture; He constantly presupposes the social and symbolic world rendered by the stories, songs, prophecies, laws, and wisdom teachings of Israel’s sacred texts. (p. 109)

Jesus is the fulfillment of Israel’s Scripture, he is the Messiah and he enacts Israel’s destiny the way it was intended. In the opening section there are at least seven passages where Matthew makes a direct statement or allusion to Jesus as the fulfillment of Israel’s Scripture.The fulfillment passages sometimes seem a reach, with 2:15 “And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.” a good example.  This quote is found in Hosea 11:1, which is decidedly not a messianic prophecy. This passage, and the rather simplistic assertions sometimes made about it in sermons and Christian literature, has long troubled me. It shouldn’t though. In order to understand Matthew’s point in including this citation, and others as well, we need to dig deeper than some index of prooftexts and look to the context of the passages.

Jesus enacts Israel’s destiny. In this post we will look at four specific passages: the flight to Egypt (2:13-15), Herod’s murder of the innocents (2:16-18), the baptism of Jesus by John (3:13-15), and the temptation (4:1-11). In all of these passages there is, according to Hays, “a typological identification of Jesus with Israel: Jesus becomes the one in whom the fate of Israel is embodied and enacted.” (p. 113)

(1) Out of Egypt I called my Son. 2:13-15 Hosea 11 starts with the identification of Israel as God’s son. This is a tradition that can be traced to Moses and the exodus. God instructs Moses to tell Pharaoh that “Israel is my firstborn son.” (Ex 4:22)  But we should see in Matthew’s formula “And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet” not simply the bald misappropriation of Hosea 11:1, but a resonance with the context of Hosea 11 and with God’s love for and rescue of his people, Israel.

Matthew transfigures Hosea’s text by seeing how it prefigures an event in the life of Jesus. Matthew now sees the fate of God’s “son” Israel recapitulated in the story of God’s Son, Jesus: In both cases, the son is brought out of exile in Egypt and back into the land.

… Matthew cannot be unaware of the original contextual meaning of Hosea 11:1 as an expression of God’s love for Israel, a love that persists even through Israel’s subsequent unfaithfulness (Hos 11:8-9). Indeed, Matthew’s use of the quotation depends upon the reader’s recognition of its original sense: if Hosea’s words were severed from their reference to the original exodus story, the literary and theological effect of Matthew’s reading would be stifled. The fulfillment of the prophet’s words can be discerned only through an act of imagination that perceives the figural correspondence between the two stories of the exodus and the gospel. … the story of Jesus acquires the resonance of the story of Israel. (p. 113-114)

Matthew’s use of the quotation also names Jesus as God’s Son. This is not independent from, but part and parcel of the figural connection between Jesus and Israel.

(2)  Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled 2:16-18. the words that are fulfilled involve lament – Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more. Jeremiah 31:15 and context is not a messianic prophecy, but it is another passage where God’s love for Israel, even in their unfaithfulness, becomes evident. Jeremiah continues: This is what the Lord says:  “Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded,” declares the Lord. “They will return from the land of the enemy. So there is hope for your descendants,” declares the Lord. “Your children will return to their own land.”

Surely it is not merely coincidental that in consecutive formula quotations (Matt 2:15+Matt 2:17-18) Matthew has linked these two very similar passages from Hosea 11:1-11 and Jeremiah 31:15-20. Both prophetic texts speak of the exile and suffering of an unfaithful people, and both declare that God will reach out in mercy and bring the people back from exile. By evoking these two prophetic passages in the infancy narrative, Matthew connects both the history and the future destiny of Israel to the figure of Jesus, and he hints that in Jesus the restoration of Israel is at hand.

Matthew is not merely looking for random Old Testament prooftexts that Jesus might somehow fulfill (as is sometimes suggested); rather, he is thinking about the specific shape of Israel’s story and linking Jesus’ life with key passages that promise God’s unbreakable redemptive love for his people. (pp. 115-116)

(3) It is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness 3:15 The story of the baptism of Jesus by John is well known – a regular in both sermons and Sunday School. But we seldom stop to wonder why Jesus needed to be baptized by John  and why it was “to fulfill all righteousness.” After all, John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance and there is certainly little support for the idea that Jesus needed to repent. Hays connects this to Jesus enacting Israel’s  destiny.

I would propose that Jesus’ acceptance of a baptism of repentence, performed at the Jordan River, is meant to signify his symbolic identification with sinful Israel (the people whom he will “save from their sins”), and the figurative beginning of that new Israel’s entry into the land of promise. (p. 116)

640px-Temptations_of_Christ_(San_Marco)(4) Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 4:1-11. Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights. Moses also fasted forty days and nights in the presence of God, first to receive the commandments and then, twice after, to intercede for the sins of the people (Deuteronomy 9).  “I lay prostrate before the Lord those forty days and forty nights because the Lord had said he would destroy you. I prayed to the Lord and said, “Sovereign Lord, do not destroy your people, your own inheritance that you redeemed by your great power and brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand.” There is also, of course, a resonance with the forty years that Israel wandered in the wilderness as a result of their unfaithfulness. The three responses that Jesus gives have resonance with Israel’s wandering in the wilderness. (Hays points out that Matthew could have all of this in mind.)

When tempted to turn stones into bread  Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” quoting Deut. 8:3.  In this response we should be aware of the context:

Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. 8:2-3

Hays notes that in this response “God’s “son” passes the first test by obediently trusting God – just as Israel should have done, when so instructed by Moses.” (p. 118)

When the tempter suggests that Jesus should fling himself down to be rescued by angels Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” a quote from Deut. 6:16.  Again we need to consider the context:

Do not put the Lord your God to the test as you did at Massah. Be sure to keep the commands of the Lord your God and the stipulations and decrees he has given you. Do what is right and good in the Lord’s sight, so that it may go well with you and you may go in and take over the good land the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors, thrusting out all your enemies before you, as the Lord said. (6:16-19)

Again Jesus passes the test.

Given Matthew’s presentation of Jesus as the Messiah who brings Israel’s exile to an end, this is a highly significant passage: by resisting temptation to aggrandize himself through a spectacular stunt, Jesus again reaffirms obedience and trust in God as the means by which Israel is to be brought at last into the land of promise. And his response as obedient Son exemplifies the role Israel is meant to take in the world: not to seek to force God’s hand through risky self-assertion but waiting faithfully and doing what is right. So God’s Son passes the second test by responding obediently, typologically invoking Moses’ instructions to Israel. (p. 119)

Again the devil tempts Jesus, this time asking for worship in exchange for power and dominion. Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” (Deut 6:13) Again we should turn to the context … do not follow other gods … for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a jealous God.

Once again, by allowing this Scripture to answer the devil’s temptation, Jesus identifies himself fully with/as Israel, heeding God’s commandment. With this final decisive rejoinder, Jesus has named the fundamental issue: Who is God, and whom are we to serve? His answer, scripturally voiced, is to declare his own allegiance to the one God of Israel and to reject the worship of any other. With that the tempter is confounded and dismissed from the scene. And so God’s Son passes the third test by responding obediently, just as Moses instructed Israel to do. (pp. 119-120)

Jesus enacts the faithful Israel, son of God through whom salvation comes.

At the end of his time in the wilderness, Jesus has rightly embodied the covenant faithfulness Israel was meant to render to God – and he has done it, in Matthew’s elegant narration, by simply reciting the very Scriptures through which that covenant faithfulness was originally defined and commanded. (p. 120)

We began this survey with Jesus called out of Egypt and identified along with Israel as God’s son. Traced the allusions, through Hosea and Jeremiah to God’s love for Israel, and his promise of redemption and restoration for his people. The first public acts of Jesus in Matthew reinforce this idea of Jesus taking on and restoring the destiny of Israel.  Yes, it is for all of us – but through God’s chosen people.

What do you think of this cast of the story of Jesus?

How are we to understand Matthew’s fulfillment quotes – especially when they do not seem particularly relevant?

If you wish to contact me directly you may do so at rjs4mail[at]

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June 18, 2011

We’ve been gone awhile and that means Weekly Meanderings aren’t as plentiful as I’d like. But here’s what we’ve got. Enjoy.

TSK, the model for many of us when we begin blogging (including me), is (or his blog is) now ten years old.

John Piper, on twelve ways to glorify God at work.

Here’s another way: “Men, don’t let yourselves go!”

Krish Kandiah on Wayne Grudem’s new book on politics: “One of the things that I enjoyed about Grudem’s systematic theology as a young person was that Grudem did not sit on the fence about anything, he had clear views and made a persuasive case for all of them. But looking back it almost feels like everything was a primary issue of Grudem – there is no sense of “Christians differ on these issues, I maybe in the wrong here and so these are not issues that we need to divide over” instead Grudem seems to have very little respect for other views – there is a sense of omniscience in his writing – a sense that Grudem believes the Bible to be crystal clear on all the issues he looks at. There is very little engagement with views from the history of the church or from the global church.” And this is Krish’s conclusion, and I should say that Kandiah did not enjoy criticizing Grudem: “All of us are vulnerable to being influenced by our cultures, our upbringing and cultural location makes us vulnerable to seeing the Bible through our preferences, political persuasions. The best way to test our views would be to expose them to the whole biblical narrative rather than selecting prooftexts. If you work hard you can make the Bible say almost anything you want – how many of us have had conversations with Jehovah’s witnesses that use an identical prooftexting hermeneutic. They impose a theological system on the Bible that means they miss the point of its narrative. If we are not careful the Bible ends up being a mascot to support our own ideologies rather than allowing scripture to shape us. I was disappointed by this book it feels divisive, and lacks a wider theological awareness that you would expect of a thinker of Grudem’s caliber.  Should it perhaps be retitled: Politics according Grudem, a one sided polemical text book?”

And Michael Mercer’s State of the Union on science-faith issues.


December 7, 2005

This post will summarize Eugene Peterson’s Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places, chp. 1 pp. 85-108. This is a short section, but it is better than biting off too big of a chunk that extends to nearly 50 pages and ends with great reflections on Sabbath and Wonder (next week). Whether you’ve read the book or not, we welcome your interactions.

This section deals with the second grounding text when it comes to Christ playing in Creation. The first one was Genesis 1–2 and this one deals with the Gospel of John. Good stuff here. |inline

December 7, 2005

This post will summarize Eugene Peterson’s Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places, chp. 1 pp. 85-108. This is a short section, but it is better than biting off too big of a chunk that extends to nearly 50 pages and ends with great reflections on Sabbath and Wonder (next week). Whether you’ve read the book or not, we welcome your interactions.

This section deals with the second grounding text when it comes to Christ playing in Creation. The first one was Genesis 1–2 and this one deals with the Gospel of John. Good stuff here. |inline

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