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Sunday, 30 March 2008

Polkinghorne Quotes #9: Timid Theologians

I have previously commented on the dearth of evangelical theologians willing to tackle the implications of biological evolution. While evangelical scientists, and in particular evangelical biologists, are grappling with the theological implications for their Christian faith, evangelical theologians for the most part have remained silent. Some, no doubt, fear retribution from the constituents and institutions they serve; others may simply fear exploring new ideas.

Here is what Polkinghorne has to say on the latter:

As a scientist I am often struck by theologians’ persistent fear of getting it wrong. [In science] a willingness to explore ideas which might prove mistaken, or in need of revision, is a necessary price of scientific progress. One would have thought that the intrinsic difficulty in doing theology would encourage a similar intrepidity. At times (the patristic period, the Reformation) that has been so, but not always. I am not of course, denying the existence of many wild flights of contemporary theological fancy, but saying that within the sober core I detect a degree of disinclination to take intellectual risk, particularly where it involves interaction with another discipline. Hence the widespread neglect of natural science by theologians.

From Science and Christian Belief, page 44
In some ways, Polkinghorne’s admonishment is too gentle. If theology is “faith seeking understanding”, then it is imperative that theologians deal with current issues, issues that may have been irrelevant to Christians in the past, but issues that puzzle, bewilder, and confuse us today. It is not sufficient to understand historic approaches to theology that may have been appropriate for the church fathers and the reformers. For the good of our faith we also need approaches that make sense of our modern and post-modern world.

Polkinghorne later continues:
Theology without natural theology would be in a ghetto, cut off from knowledge of the physical creation; natural theology by itself would be vulnerable, apt to seem little more than a competing possibility alongside a thoroughgoing naturalism. Once again one sees how essential it is that theological inquiry is conducted as a fully integrated discipline.
Over the past half-century Evangelicals have (thankfully) realized that the fundamentalist cultural ghetto serves only to silence the gospel, and we have begun to (slowly) break down those walls. What I’m not so sure we understand is that our theological ghettos are just as dangerous. If we cannot speak to the issues of the day, how can we expect others to be interested in the gospel? If we aren’t answering the questions that are being asked, why are we surprised when people (including our youth) look elsewhere for answers?

Evangelical theologians: This is not so much a complaint as a request for help.

Other Polkinghorne Quotes: [Introduction] [Previous]

21 comments:

Steve said...

Another stellar post. I am 100% in agreement. I never thought about the idea of trial and error in theology. Two things that I am aware of that contribute to this issue:

1) Theologians tend to unwittingly mistake their own interpretations for the absolute truth of the Bible, which admits no possibility for variation.

2) The trial and error method is incompatible with completely static, immutable doctrine. This is somewhat overruled by overemphasis on orthodoxy: the trend among some of the most serious theologians, the Reformed, is to hold everything up against "historical Christian beliefs" and evolution, particularly with a non-literal Adam, does not play well with orthodoxy.

elbogz said...

You wrote:

…evangelical theologians for the most part have remained silent. Some, no doubt, fear retribution from the constituents and institutions they serve; others may simply fear exploring new ideas.

Perhaps it’s something else. You stand at the biblical cross roads and one path is marked the inerrant word of God; the word for word truth. The second path is marked, stories and myths about the mystery and nature of God. You can only take one path.

The theologian that accepts our evolutionary past must take the second path. Once you accept that Genesis 1 and 2 do not describe an evolving world, once you accept that all of man kind did not come from 2 people that stood in the garden of Eden, once you accept that Noah could not have put all life forms on the ark, you find, you’ve wandered miles and miles down path number 2.

What chose do you have but to remain silent? There is no call for a sermon that says the bible is a myth. There is no desire to say that the bible is just a bunch of made up stories, that describe God. You are forced to ask questions like, why would God tell a story about flooding the earth and killing all life, when He didn’t really do it? If the story of Noah is a myth, and if the story of Adam and Eve is a myth, then, what else? Is the story of Jesus a myth?

At some point the theologian realizes that they have opened Pandora’s Box.

Jordan said...

Thank goodness for journals like PSCF, where we can exercise our minds and stir the stagnant waters that evangelical Christianity has become. Contrary to what elbogs advocates, I think theologians like Enns, Lamoureux, and Polinghorne have done more to set us back on the path of traditional Christianity than, say, Morris, Ross, or Hovind ever have. There seems to be this misconception that mythology and storytelling is somehow wrong or sinful, and yet we know that this is how the ANE people communicated. It's high time we stop pretending otherwise, stick our necks out, and begin venturing down these long-abandoned avenues lest we confuse the Bible's truth for some 21st century, post-Enlightenment mindset that espouses scientism.

elbogz said...

I’m not trying to be argumentative, but there is something I don’t truly understand. Believe me, I was much happier spiritually when I didn’t think of such things. But why would God tell the story of Adam and Eve, if that is not what happened. Why would God tell the story of the creation of the heavens and the earth if that’s not what happened. What difference would it have made to God to do it that way? God could have made the world just exactly the way the bible says. Why would God tell a story about destroying the earth with a flood when He didn’t do it? The God that created the heaven’s and the earth certainly could have flooded the earth. What value is a story that’s not true? If the bible is the inerrant word of God, the why didn’t it tell us the story of evolution?

Jordan said...

Why would God tell the story of Adam and Eve, if that is not what happened?

For the same reason that Jesus told stories about good samaritans, rich fools, and unjust stewards, I would argue. Stories, as opposed to dry history lessons, are both memorable and carry simple truths. Aesop's fable about the ant and the grasshopper doesn't need to be historical in order for us to understand its message about planning for tomorrow. And I'm sure you'll agree that it's an easier story to vocalize (as was the custom in ANE culture) than, say, the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Just as God accomodated Himself to us in the form of Christ, should we not also expect Him to accomodate His timeless truths to us (as Gordon Glover would put it) in a way we can both remember and understand?
This all seems to get back to Enns' idea of incarnational Scriptures, as Steve cited a couple of weeks ago. It's likely worth your checking out (I just asked for a copy for my birthday :)

Jordan said...

I should probably specify, I asked for a copy of Enns' book "Inspiration and Incarnation".

elbogz said...

There is a difference between a fable and an historical account; both in writing style and its effect on the reader. When you read the parable of the prodigal son, Jesus had already told us he is talking in parables for a reason. In fact in my version of the bible those verses begin with the heading “The parable of the prodigal son”. The reader of the bible doesn’t read the parable of the lost coin and ever think it was about loosing a coin. Why is that? Well, the writer intended the reader to know it was a parable.

Name one church; name one preacher; name one theologian that tells the fable of Adam and Eve. Name one church doctrine that tells the parable of Noah’s ark. In the case of the Old Testament, the writer and the reader both interpret the writing as a historical document. Name one theology that talks about the fable of the genealogy of King David. Or, perhaps, name one of Aesop’s fables that tells you 2000 years of genealogy before you get to part about the ant and the grasshopper.

Pete said...

First off, I agree with the blog entry that we need some brave theologians to begin tackling these issues and I am grateful for the ones Jordan mentioned who already have. I have even petitioned a rising star in the evangelical scholarship world and a friend of mine to at least look into the reality of biological evolution (to my knowledge he has not done so).

Second and partly off the subject: I am sick and tired of the "Truth" fish eating the "Darwin" fish. How are we going to reach an unbelieving world when we so prominently advertise that to accept Christianity is to deny reality?

But the real reason I am writing is to agree with elbogz. I just don't understand why God would do it this way. Sure, it sits well with me that ANE culture spoke in myths and God used that genre. But then why tie those myths so closely, through multiple genealogies, to what is historical reality (or is it historical reality? Where did the myths end? Was Goliath a myth? How about Sampsom and his magic hair, and the killing of thousands of people in one day?). And surely surely surely we assert that Jesus death and resurrection where a reality, so if this is historical reality why start with a genology that traces him back to a mythological figure, such as Adam.

And why did it take us so long to realize that God spoke in myths? Shouldn't there have been some interpreters close to the source that plainly stated these truths were not history. It seems the OT itself, the NT writers, church history for the first 2000 years, and any Jewish interpreter that I am aware of believed these stories were history.

Jordan said...

elbogz...

"When you read the parable of the prodigal son, Jesus had already told us he is talking in parables for a reason. In fact in my version of the bible those verses begin with the heading “The parable of the prodigal son”."

Yes, in some cases, Jesus did introduce the parables as such. I should point out a few things, however:
(a) The parable headings you mention in your Bible are editorial additions that do not appear in the original manuscripts.
(b) When the parables are introduced in the original texts, they are usually identified as such by the gospel writer, not by Jesus himself.
(c) Some parables, like the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, are not identified as such at all in the text.

It's also worth pointing out that the genealogies you cite aren't, in fact, historical at all. There are a good many names left out in many of the NT genealogies (e.g., three names are omitted between Jehoram and Uzziah in Matthew 1:8). It's clear that the historicity of the biblical genealogies are only secondary, and that the writers were more concerned with conveying numerological significance (as was the custom of the time) than history.

This is what evolutionary creationists are talking about when we speak of accomodationism and reading the Bible as the original audience would have. I think as evangelicals, we've moved well off-track.

Steve Martin said...

Stephen:

re: theologians mistaking their interpretations for biblical truth. Agreed - particularly for those on the conservative side of the house.

Re: trial & error, immutable doctrine, orthodoxy etc: I’d hesitate to equate taking “intellectual risks” with “trial & error”, but yes this is a problem when we try to equate “closed canon” with “closed doctrine” - and do the same thing with orthodoxy. In fact, I believe, we need to take into account the fact of progressive revelation. And no one can really deny this as, for example, we are learning much more about God’s creation. Too often, conservatives (& liberals) equate “progressive revelation” with “throw out the old & bring on the new”. That is not it at all. Progressive means filling in the gaps in orthodoxy when we understand new things. It is building on the creeds, not throwing them out. (How else could it be? Even our creeds were developed over hundreds of years).

Elbogz, Jordan, & Pete:
I agree with Jordan’s recommendations for these questions – I’d start with Gordon’s “Beyond the Firmament” and then Enns “Incarnation and Inspiration”. (Elbogz, Pete: Have you read these yet? Because maybe I’m recommending something that you’ve already read & it hasn’t really done it for you.) And Lamoureux will be releasing his “Evolutionary Creation” book shortly (finally). Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find it anywhere on the net (eg. amazon or chapters).

Briefly to Elbogz question: “Why wouldn’t God tell it like it is in Gen 1-11?”. One of the answers (Glover covers this) is that the modern scientific “story” would have made no sense in the ANE culture – would have been literal nonsense to an ANE reader / listener. Enns point is that God was so concerned to be connected with his people, to demonstrate his plan for redemption that he spoke through his people (divinely inspired writers) in ways that the readers could understood. I really do recommend the Enns essay paper “Preliminary Observations on an Incarnational Model of Scripture” in the Calvin Theological Journal (available online on Enns’ articles page: http://peterennsonline.com/articles-and-essays/ ) – particularly the concluding section.

Re: Pete’s question on what can we trust historically:
This is a very, very important question. Not sure I have it completely figured out yet. Here is something I saw on the ASA listserv quite a while back.

“Perhaps it should be added that there are two issues involved. Science as such and historicity. My belief is that the science in the Bible is always the science of the times. It is always accommodated by God. I have tracked this in my studies from Genesis to Revelation. Or to put it in other words, God had no intention to reveal scientific truth in Scripture and did not do so.

Historicity is a separate, if overlapping, problem. Biblical historians say or imply that they got their historical facts from human sources. Accordingly, their history can be no better than their sources, and this is why Gen 1-11, which evidences being based in part on outdated Mesopotamian sources, is so bad, later Genesis based on oral traditions and Kings based on royal chronicles is better, and the Gospels based on eye-witness accounts are best of all. This also answers the question of how we can with logical consistency make a separation between Gen 1-11 and what follows.

Divine revelation was saved for matters of faith and morals”

Not sure I’d say it the same way, but it is a good start.

Pete said...

Steve,

Yes I have read both those works and they have both helped tremendously. Gordon’s book in particular in understanding Genesis 1. It was because of that book, and tracking down the author and finding his blog, that I participate in this blog (it is on Gordon’s blogroll). And yes, just about everyone including Gordon recommended Enns so I read that as well. ( I’m also half way through Walton’s Genesis commentary and after that might grab Hyer’s “The Meaning of Creation” and thereby complete the Holy Quadrinity we evolutionary creationist subsribe to) In Enns, I learned a lot, and quickly took to his main thesis, that the Bible was not just 100% fully written by God but also 100% fully written by man and . . . . and . . . and . . . well at this point Enns never quite fully develops what that means or at least go as far as I might have wanted him to say. And what is it I wanted him to say? That maybe being written 100% by man means that there were (hold your breath) “errors” in the history in that the history is not 100% accurate.

I need more time to think about it but you seem onto something about history only being as good as its source. This would siding with Enns in assuming the authorship was done 100% human like and (except for recorded sayings directly from God) was not dictated by God himself. Indeed, the first time (outside of Luke or the Kings history which directly mentioned sources) did I consider sources at all. Enns questioned where Moses got his history of Adam and Eve. My pastor and I have been discussing this (he was the one who originally recommended Gordon to me, as he knows I accept common descent), and he asserted that he thinks God just supernaturally told Moses the details of those ancient events. But whether or not we consider sources, most of my fundie piers will assert that however the information was collected, God would make sure it was 100% accurate.

I have had a lot of thoughts swirling around for some time about history and inerrancy and I really should take some time to try to make it clear (especially before I drop in on my fundie community). But let me just try to make a start here. And lets go straight to the top, the gospels themselves. We all know the gospels are not in perfect harmony on the details of Jesus life. At the very least, his actual words could not be what they were because they clearly are different in the different gospels for the same situation (most attribute this to the fact it was originally in Aramaic and translated into Greek and that is a fair answer). And sometimes the historical details can be made to align by assuming many characters are not mentioned in the story or only half the story is told in one account. But sometimes the history is very hard to reconstruct, to the point that it might appear they are in conflict. Now there are three things you can do at this point. 1) not notice them at all, and seemingly never hear anyone when they try to describe a few. 2) just add more details and events and allow for the most complicated reconstructions imaginable. You can have the rooster crow 6 times, and the women and Peter returning to the grave 3 or 4 times, and having two completely different Jarius’s. with two completely different daughters. This is what my fundie friends would do. Or 3) Somehow accept that the historical details are not 100% accurate. People have been doing the third option for awhile by mentioning that their standard of reporting was not the same as 20th reporting. And indeed, I have never had a problem with Jairus’ daughter since if I were telling a story I might have said it one way or the other and never been concerned about exactly when he told Jesus she was dead, as if that were a major detail. But these are all pretty minor, but a launching pad into more major historical questions.

And that is where I branch into the Old Testament. I think most present here have concluded that Gen 1-11 is not literal history in 20th century definition of the term. But what about . . . . the Exodus. Well, before I launch into the Exodus, let me back off a bit to Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, just to make a note that here again we have two different accounts that don’t always align up exactly. Some of them are so obviously in conflict that even my fundie buddies with the most imaginative reconstructions available, will admit that one source was a copyist errors (as long as they can protect the non-existent original source; they are tentatively okay with this). This includes how old a few Kings were when they began to reign, and who killed Goliath. Returning to the Exodus, we don’t have competing sources to question the historical details, but we do have natural revelation, and at some parts the story doesn’t seem to line up. Did millions of people really flee Egypt all at once? How long would it take that many people to cross the red sea? Exactly how much water came out of this rock? Some of these began to stretch the imagination and yet any and all supernatural involvement can make these possible. Maybe it was a huge rock that immediately broke into a nice canal system and then into smaller capillaries to get to the several million people present. And maybe they walked several thousand people abreast when they walked across the red sea. But then there is some historical documentation to consider. It would seem that at the time nations armies numbered tens of thousands at the most, but Israel boasted an army 600 thousand strong, an order of magnitude greater then surrounding nations. No wonder everyone was afraid of them, they could lose 90% of the army and still win any fight!

Did these events happen, or were theses numbers correct. And though it is still in Genesis 1-11, what about the ages of the people after the flood, because they lead right up to Abraham himself, with Abe’s father being 205. So why would we stop shortly at Genesis 1-11? Is there a different historical genre splitting the genealogy of Abraham and the life history of Abraham?

And finally, the question might be “so what”? What if Abraham’s father was not such and such and age. I must admit that I am stuck in my fundie way of thinking that somehow the stories must have occurred exactly as described to be totally at peace with them. And while their have been cracks in my fortress on this point, easily with Adam and Eve (and the tower of Babel) and less easily but within reach for Noah, I am adamant that Abraham must have lived his life just so. Worse, the community I fellowship with sees it this way, and any thought that I might consider some of Genesis (or worst…) as not historical puts me way outside the faith. It is a lot of stress. Indeed, very few people no I accept common descent in the first place.

Pete said...

Peter Enns just got suspended from Westminster for "Inspiration and Incarnation"

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2008/aprilweb-only/114-24.0.html?start=1

Pete said...

Sorry, link got cut off. I don't know how these things work so I will put it on two lines.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2008/
aprilweb-only/114-24.0.html?start=1

elbogz said...

I have to take back something I said. When I said, I’m not trying to be argumentative, I realize now that part is probably not true!

Steve Martin said:
It's also worth pointing out that the genealogies you cite aren't, in fact, historical at all

So, umm, after all the pages of the bible devoted to show the linage of Jesus, we find out he’s just related to “Some guy, and Some gal?” (We’re not really sure about that part anymore)

One of the answers (Glover covers this) is that the modern scientific “story” would have made no sense in the ANE culture – would have been literal nonsense to an ANE reader / listener.

That seems like a easy way to avoid answering the hard questions. So, which part? The part that says In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth? Is that the part that’s not historical fact? The part where Adam names all the animals? The part where God says, let there be light, and there was light? (Even though there was no sun) Which part of the history is wrong? If we are pointing to places where the bible says “God said”, and that’s not historically accurate, then wouldn’t that make the bible blasphemy?

Ok, so I’ll skip the Genesis 1-11. Heck, I’ll skip all the way to the book of Exodus. Is the story of Moses historical fact? You would think if Moses led 2 million people to the promise land Egyptian history would have noticed. Yet, is says nothing.

If we stop and look at the physics of 2 million people walking together, where the front of the line would have to start about 30 days ahead of the rear of the pack, and somehow communicate to everyone. Or perhaps we just had a wandering hippie commune the size of the city of Phoenix wandering through the desert, leaving no trace for any future archeologist to find. Is that the part that is historically accurate?

Where do you start? What verse? What verse of the bible can we finally say with certainty, “that is historically accurate”. I hope it happens sometime before the part of Jesus rising from the dead.

Jordan said...

elbogz:

Indeed, you are being argumentative now. ;) It is an interesting discussion, though.

I'm not sure I understand your misgivings about the ahistorical nature of the NT genealogies. There are clearly names missing, and this is likely done for a reason: so the generations add up to numerological multiples of seven. As I said, this was common practice in ANE culture, so there's little reason to read these genealogies as history. Numbers mattered to these people; the nitty gritties of history didn't. It might be expected that Matthew would have edited Jesus' genealogy so that his superstitious audience would give their attention to his story.

You also seem leery of what you see as a slippery slope argument. You appear to think that if maybe we understand a few chapters of a book as ahistorical, we are in danger of interpreting the ENTIRE BIBLE ahistorically. I wonder whether this worry is with merit, though (not saying it's not); If we take the opposite approach and insist that the Bible be read strictly as history, are we not also in danger of understanding certain ahistorical passages erroneously? What of the earth's pillars mentioned in Job or the crystaline firmament mentioned in Ezekiel? It's a slippery slope argument that works both ways. I trust that with God's guidance and careful study, we'll reach some middle ground.

And Steve:

If you're looking for Lamoureux's new book, you can inquire by sending an email to his publisher: orders@wipfandstock.com

Steve Martin said...

Pete: Thanks for the link to the story on Enns. I have been following the story closely (basically from the day after my post on the incarnational analogy even prior to the board meeting). I might post on this next.

Jordan: Thanks to the link to Lamoureux’s new book. And the point that making the bible a modern history book is its own slippery slope.

Elbogz and Pete:

I appreciate your questions & your passion. I have asked them myself & for many of them I am still asking - so if you are looking for someone who has figured this all out, sorry - you are looking in the wrong place. (But I suspect you already knew that :-) ).

To make a very, very long story short (and a story that has so many loose ends it can hardly be called a story) I believe we start with the resurrection of Christ. That is where the early Christians started; that is the only reason why the followers of Christ carried on. There were many “messiahs” in 1st century Judaism – but all the other messiahs died (most of them violently as well) but didn’t come back to life. The resurrection of their messiah seemed just as nonsensical to the early church as it does to us. They didn’t write their history to fit their theology; history had just wrecked their theology. They had to start over with their theology. I’m starting to read some of N.T. Wright’s stuff. Very helpful.

This certainly doesn’t address all the questions (probably spawns even more) but it is an approach that I think we need to take.

Re: the story in Exodus of the Israelites leaving Egypt, I think there is pretty good consensus among scholars (even many if not most Evangelical scholars) that the numbers we have in our bible today for the Israelite nation & their army can not be accurate. As one example of someone working through this, check out: “Miracles of Exodus” at http://books.google.com/books?id=0RF42cryB48C .

Pete said...

Steve wrote:

I think there is pretty good consensus among scholars (even many if not most Evangelical scholars) that the numbers we have in our bible today for the Israelite nation & their army can not be accurate.

Interesting. I don't know of any evangelical scholars who have that position (though I certainly admit to knowing very little about current evangelical OT scholarship). Can you give an example of a few names.

Steve Martin said...

Hi Pete,
Humphries book referred to above was helpful– actually, his method & style is a little over the top for me but 2 things really sunk in from this book: dealing with 2 of the BIG problems with exodus 1) dating the exodus and 2) the size of the Hebrew nation.

(Apologies in advance for sketchy details & sources below – don’t have access to any of the materials right now)

On #1, you can get two different dates from scripture itself. First by counting back years from Solomon’s reign you get somewhere in the early 1400’s BC. But, you can also get something in the mid-1200’s BC (forget where this source is). And the scientific /historical data definitely matches the latter. Humphries outlines how the first date is reached (essentially rounding numbers from generations).

On #2, he shows how the combination of Hebrew “use of large numbers” and /or “later copyist / editors misunderstanding of original Hebrew numbering system” led to the “exaggerated size”. The real estimated size (if I recall correctly) is around 20,000. 2 sources I remember for this are Gordon Wenham (His OT commentaries are very good) and Kenneth Kitchen.

One other thing: I probably played a little loose with “many if not most Evangelical scholars”. First, I should probably have qualified that with Evangelical ANE or OT scholars. Controversial findings tend not to be accepted outside the field of interest as quickly (eg. same reason why biological evolution is accepted by evangelical biologists more than other evangelical scientists). Second, this judgement is based on my own reading (I have no stats)– which is probably slanted towards the less conservative side of Evangelicalism (eg. not a lot of Dallas guys – although Darryl Bock’s NT stuff is good). The point is that Evangelicals have made these points for some time now & are generally accepted (I think) within the bounds of orthodox interpretations – unlike Enns’ stuff from I&I which is still pretty hot.

elbogz said...

I spent the better part of the year listening to an apologetics program on the radio for my drive home. It dawned on me that if I kept listening, with in month’s I would talk myself out of believing in God. When you try to understand the bible, like a historian trying to understand the battle of Gettysburg, or a scientist trying to understand fossils, thinking there is some clean answer to it all, you find yourself even more confused. Despite what the apologist says,there is no geologic proof of Noah’s flood. If there is, it is hidden from us. There is no archeology proof of the Exodus from Egypt. If there is, it’s hidden from us. When people point to rocks or to DNA or to a monkey and say “LOOK PROOF OF GOD!” (or) LOOK PROOF THERE IS NO GOD!” neither are right. When that person is a pastor of a church, he is a false teacher.

I believe in God, because I met God. That experience was as real to me was as hitting my thumb with a hammer. Could it be as Dawkins said, an illusion? Was it just a couple of neurons firing off and creating a warm fuzzy? I will probably never know in this world. Every part of my being met God. So, if it was an illusion, it was a damn good one.

When you mix in science or theology or rituals, or geology or the age of the earth or any apologetics, I talk myself out of a belief in God. The intellectual in me asks to many unanswered questions.

We ask the question, how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? We then pull out our micrometer and our bible and pursue the answer. We ask a question about Genesis, and then look toward science for the answer, or ask a question about science and look toward Genesis of the answer. Either way we come to the same conclusion, we don’t know. The danger for me has been that this mental gymnastics is really tearing away at my faith.

My big “ah ha!” moment came one day as I tormented my way though the book of Deuteronomy.

Deu 29:29 "The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.

We argue over questions that have no answer. Perhaps God meant it that way. Part of being God’s children is to know there are questions with no answers

Jordan said...

Sounds like you're going through a mid-faith crisis, elbogz. I pray that God will see you through it as He did with me. Some people feel more comfortable in their ignorance, not wanting to know the mysteries God has hidden from us. But remember Proverbs 25:2:

"It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.”

Remember also the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

"We are to find God in what we know, not in what we don't know."

Steve Martin said...

Elbogz, Jordan:
Owen Gingerich's "God's Universe" (reviewed at: http://evanevodialogue.blogspot.com/2007/09/gods-universe-review.html ) ends with a chapter called "Questions without Answers". I like Ted Davis's final comments on this:


It does indeed take faith to draw this conclusion in the absence of scientific proof—in Gingerich’s case, a deeply Christian faith, heavily informed by a profoundly incarnational understanding of the creation. Jesus—not the universe—is for Gingerich the “supreme example” of divine revelation, and in his mortal suffering “the nature of God’s self-limited, dappled world became excruciatingly clear. God acts within the world,” he concludes, “but not always in the ways most obvious to our blinkered vision.”