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What I Read Online – 06/25/2013 (a.m.)

25 Jun
    • The next 10 days are special: A lot of undecided Google Reader users are looking for a home. A lot of them might not know that feedly has evolved. A lot of them might not know that feedly is offering one-click migration http://cloud.feedly.com. Please help us spread the word by sharing this post on your favorite social networks (you can use the buttons below) – and grow the feedly community!
    • I consider homeschooling to be a full-time job. It is quite hard to find time to go grocery shopping and clean the house. The house is usually a mess with the kids at home all the time. Solitude is a scarce commodity, and date nights are “golden.”
    • According to the Westminster Shorter Catechism (Q. 35), sanctification is “the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.” It is a continuing change worked by God in us, freeing us from sinful habits and forming in us Christlike affections, dispositions, and virtues. It does not mean that sin is instantly eradicated, but it is also more than a counteraction, in which sin is merely restrained or repressed without being progressively destroyed. Sanctification is a real transformation, not just the appearance of one.
    • Speaking personally, I’ve never seen a medication-only approach work in the long-term. I have seen medication work well in treating moderate to severe depression, but only when combined with counseling and lifestyle changes (e.g. diet, sleep, exercise, relaxation, Christian fellowship, etc.). However, this research might help explain why antidepressants just don’t seem to work at all for a large number of people.
    • Perhaps that’s because I’m English. My limited experience in transatlantic dialogue suggests that the word “inerrancy” is divisive in America, up there with “Texas” and “Pelosi” in the list of words most likely to prompt expressions of luminescent ecstasy in some and enraged inarticulate spluttering in others.
    • In the UK, however, it’s not such a contentious concept.
    • In ten years of teaching, writing, and researching theology, I’ve never once been asked whether or not I believe in inerrancy. As it happens, I do. If someone was to ask me whether, in my view, the Scriptures contain mistakes or not, I would answer in the negative. Partly this is a result of theological conviction about the divine and human components of Scripture: that when God’s words are expressed by humans, neither their human aspects (authorial personality, tone, language, mode of expression) nor their divine aspects (truthfulness, authority, clarity, reliability) are compromised. Partly it’s because I’d find it strange to tell people that the whole Bible represents the word of God, and the word of God is completely truthful, but that parts of the Bible aren’t completely truthful. (I don’t mean to say that nobody can believe all three of these things but that it would be beyond my intellectual faculties to do so.) Mostly, though, it’s because of Jesus. Put simply, based on what I read in the Gospels, I cannot imagine (if we let this rather implausible thought-experiment run for a moment) Jesus being asked whether the Scriptures contained mistakes or not, and saying yes.
    • If there were parts of the Hebrew Bible that Jesus, or anyone else we encounter in the Gospels, regarded as mistaken (which, from what we know of first-century Judaism, would be a highly unusual view), they have left no such indication in the records we have. The idea of there being mistakes in the Torah, for example, would not have occurred to him, or to any of his earliest followers.
    • Not only that, but many of the biblical passages people today find the most troubling, and the most likely to be “mistaken,” are also affirmed willy-nilly by Jesus and the apostles, with complete disregard for any subsequent historical-critical brouhahas that might emerge. Creation ex nihilo, the origin of death in humans, the murder of Abel by Cain, a cataclysmic flood of judgment, the righteous judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah, the Mosaic origin of the Torah, manna from heaven, driving out the Canaanites, the Isaianic authorship of the servant songs, and so on—it’s almost as if Jesus and his followers went out of their way to affirm and validate all of the most awkward and recalcitrant apologetic curveballs in the Tanakh, just to make life difficult for post-Enlightenment Western interpreters. It is possible, of course, that Jesus and the apostles were also mistaken, and that their affirmation of all these challenging Old Testament texts reflects nothing more than their limited horizons of understanding. (Most Christians are not prepared to go there, of course, and neither am I; those who do, though in my view misguided, are at least consistent.) But it is hard to argue for an errant Bible based on the words and actions of an inerrant Jesus.
    • So when asked the street-level question, “Does the Bible contain mistakes?” I always answer, “When interpreted properly, no.”
    • The practical upshot is that compound eyes tend to be very valuable if you want a wide, panoramic view. In addition, they are very sensitive to motion. If you’ve ever tried to swat a fly, you understand that. The fly seems to see your hand no matter how slowly you move it or where you are relative to the fly. Simple eyes, on the other hand, are more valuable if you want very a very sharp, clear image of what you are focused on. So far, the cameras produced by human science and technology have been modeled after simple eyes. They give sharp, clear images of what the camera focuses on, but the view is not panoramic and the depth of field is narrow.
    • Is there any doubt that the camera is the product of design? Of course not! Now I want you to look at this picture, which is a closeup of a dragonfly’s eyes:
    • These eyes are significantly more elegant, significantly more sophisticated, and provide significantly more resolution than the camera pictured at the top of this post. However, there are some who desperately contend that these eyes are not the result of design! I simply do not understand the mental gymnastics needed to accept that a crude mimic of a natural structure is clearly the result of design while the elegant, sophisticated natural structure is not.
    • Second, remember that the earliest eyes seen in the fossil record are compound eyes that have 3,000 individual lenses. In addition, the lenses in these fossil eyes are designed just like the lenses in the eyes of modern arthropods. These fossil eyes are supposed to be 515 million years old, yet they are superior to what modern technology can produce! Also, no precursors have been found in the fossil record. The fossil record goes from animals with no eyes to animals with eyes that are superior to what our modern technology can produce in supposedly a mere 120 million years.

       

      I simply cannot muster enough faith to believe that evolution can produce such amazing technology in so short a period of time!

    • This is an entertaining, at times thought-provoking, but deeply flawed book. For all of its underlying scholarship, it is reminiscent of those Christmas Specials on the History Channel where some learned scholar announces to the camera that the Bible never specified that there were three wise men. Cue portentous pause, the assumption apparently being that somewhere in the ensuing silence one can hear two thousand years of Christian theology (rather than a mere century of kitsch festive season artwork) collapsing into a heap of rubble. 
    • There is a sense in which the general thesis relies heavily upon the ignorance of the reader.  Throughout the book, the impression is given that the paucity of empire-wide persecution of Christians and the lack of reliable first-hand accounts of the same will somehow deal a devastating blow to the faithful. It may be that there are some out there who think the Romans organized mass persecution for centuries before it all ended rather unexpectedly with the sudden conversion of Constantine; but surely no first year undergraduate or modestly well-read churchgoer would believe such a narrative
    • To talk of the ‘myth’ of persecution is somewhat mischievous
    • Moss’s definition of myth seems to mean ‘a narrative which radically distorts actual historical realities’. Surely it is then the case that, of all current political issues, abortion more than any other depends upon an established mythology: the idea that its primary reason for existence is to serve the victims of rape and incest? Like the little girl referenced by Moss, there are such victims and it is indeed horrible to hear of two young women expressing no sympathy. But if Moss can claim this lack of sympathy is somehow connected to a myth of Christian martyrdom, then how much more is lack of sympathy for babies in the womb connected to a ‘mythology’ of rape and incest? I wonder if Moss will follow this volume with one that debunks the pro-choice myth of persecution that poisons current political and ethical debate far more than that of Christians with, I have to say, far less historical and contemporary evidential support. That would be most useful.
    • one of the greatest gifts each of us has received from our creator—and for which we will one day give account—is our minds. “Pragmatism” can refer to an anti-supernatural philosophy, but it can also be just another word for “wise judgment,” which is commended in Scripture in the strongest terms. And with poor judgment, it is quite possible to root what we do in the Scriptures and still fail to serve God well.
    • Examine Your Goals in Light of the Scriptures
    • Explore How Specific Scripture Is—Whether Explicitly or Implicitly—about How you Do Things as a Church
    • Work from What Is Clear in Scripture to What Is Less Clear
    • Pay Attention to Context—Including Genre
    • Carefully Determine when a Scriptural Example Is Normative.
    • A final component of biblical pragmatism is patience

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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Posted by on 25/06/2013 in Current Issues

 

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