Bonhoeffer uses a similar phrase 'worldly Christianity'. It's J Gresham Machen that I want to line up most closely with. See his Christianity and culture here. Having done commentaries on Proverbs (Heavenly Wisdom) and Song of Songs (Heavenly Love), a matching title for Ecclesiastes would be Heavenly Worldliness. For my stance on worldliness, see 3 posts here.

Carey Conference 2013 02

Our second paper at Carey this year was from Professor Andy McIntosh who spoke on reaching people today on the matter of creation.
He had three points
1. What is 21st Century culture?
He spoke of postmodernism and atheism and all the other aspects of the general culture around us. He highlighted two quotations from scientists, for it is on scientists that postmoderns ironically lean to bolster their case.
“Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded. And, the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics: You are all stardust. You couldn’t be here if stars hadn’t exploded, because the elements - the carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, iron, all the things that matter for evolution and for life - weren’t created at the beginning of time. They were created in the nuclear furnaces of stars, and the only way for them to get into your body is if those stars were kind enough to explode. So, forget Jesus. The stars died so that you could be here today.” Lawrence M Krauss
(Lawrence Maxwell Krauss is a Canadian-American theoretical physicist and cosmologist who is a professor of physics, Foundation Professor of the School of Earth and Space Exploration, and director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University.)
"Evolution is unique amongst the sciences because it strikes people in the solar plexus of their faith; it strikes them in the idea that they are specially created by God, because evolution says you're not. It says that there is no special purpose for your life, because it's a naturalistic philosophy, we have no more extrinsic purpose than a squirrel or an armadillo. And it says that morality does not come from God, it's an evolved phenomenon. And those are three things that are really hard for humans to accept, particularly those brought up in a religious tradition." Jerry Coyne
(Jerry Allen Coyne is an American professor of biology, known for his commentary on the intelligent design debate. A prolific scientist, he has published dozens of papers, elucidating on the theory of evolution.)
Having established the basic anti-biblical mindset that prevails today he went on to deal with the particular subject of
2. Where do you put death and suffering?
He began by speaking about theistic evolutionists attempt to avoid this issue but by quotation of several Scriptures was able to demonstrate that there is both a spiritual and a physical death and that sin comes first. He ended this section with a quotation from Al Mohler
"What is most lacking in the evangelical movement today is a consideration of the theological cost of holding to an old earth position. The position seems to be at an insoluble collision with the redemptive historical narrative of the Gospel. The cost to the Christian church, in terms of ignoring this question or abandoning the discussion, is just too high. The cost of confronting this question is also costly. It can be very expensive because it can create intensity and conflict and controversy, but I would suggest that the avoidance of this will be at the cost of our own credibility."
3. Authority and true history
Dr McIntosh closed with more biblical material, underlining the biblical truth of creation. He began with New Testament references to creation being through Christ and moved on to the resurrection and nature miracles to remind us of the power of God in Christ. He also went directly to the whole issue of 24 hour days and the old chestnuts about the sun being created on the fourth day and 2 Peter 3:8.
He closed with charts on the Bible's chronology, the only religious text with a coherent chronology.
This worthwhile session focused only on biblical matters rather than science. Although Dr McIntosh was very thorough and said nothing objectionable, I wonder if it might be better for him to speak about science rather than the Bible, although his scientific background does give him a certain leverage and it was good to hear him.

3 comments:

Eric Gale said...

Many Christian teachers today seem to accept evolution and see this as no contradiction to creation. E.g. Professors Donald Macleod and Alister McGrath. I'm struggling to see how this can be so. Can you recommend any exegesis of Genesis 1 that deals with the problem?

Gary Brady said...

Dr McIntosh made the point that accepting evolution does not prove unbelief. However, we must see that our view of creation is central. Among the books recommended to us, which I have just bought, is a book of essays published by IVP and called "Should Christians embrace evolution?" That sounds promising and perhaps what you are looking for.

Eric Gale said...

Thank you, I'll get the book. Creation is a 'hot topic' at the moment. I'm certain that when correctly interpreted science and theology will tell the same story of God's creation, but I don't want to misrepresent God's truth. Some interpretations of Genesis 1 that allow for millions of years sound highly plausible... And yet I'm not convinced. Thanks again for your recommendation.