Wednesday, July 31, 2013

New SGM Album Out Today

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A more scholarly take on Enns and The Evolution of Adam

For a more scholarly take on Enns and The Evolution of Adam,  check out this article:

The gist of this new book by Peter Enns is that evangelicals should revise their expectations of Genesis and Paul—with reference to Adam and the fall—in order to relieve perceived tensions between Christianity and evolution.1 This thesis turns out to be controversial.
On the one hand are evangelicals who disagree with Enns and judge his basic argument a capitulation to modern science. If Enns is right, then present-day conservative evangelicals are wrong, the early twentieth-century fundamentalists were wrong, pre-nineteenth-century Protestant Christianity was wrong, the post-Reformation scholastic tradition was wrong, the Reformers were wrong, and the entire medieval and patristic tradition was wrong. And why? Because Darwinian natural science and the biblical criticism that emerged with the rise of historical consciousness in the eighteenth/nineteenth century are right.
On the other hand, those sympathetic with Enns are worried that old bugaboos like inerrancy are tearing apart the evangelical movement and bringing unnecessary disrepute to the Christian faith. This also places an unbearable strain on younger evangelicals who seek to cultivate the best Christian minds as they follow Christ: Are they to play the ostrich, bury their heads in the sand and deny what every sane, intelligent person believes in the twenty-first century?
That is the situation—alas—and Enns is brave enough to begin a conversation (p. 112). Taking him up on this, this brief reflection offers a perspective on why many Protestants, myself included, have significant reservations about his arguments. I shall simply assume that readers have already read the book; specific details of Enns’s argument can be found in other reviews (e.g., see countless print, online and blog reviews). 2 Better yet, read the book for yourself. It is well-written, accessible, and provocative. My main purpose is to dialogue with Enns from my location as a Reformed systematic theologian. Like Enns, these reflections “are an outworking of my own Christian convictions” (p. xii, with italics); I have good friends who disagree with some of the claims I make here. Further, this review is not comprehensive since there are vital matters I do not touch on—not even to wave as I drive by.3 Instead, (1) I begin with initial observations before broaching a few areas worthy of discussion: (2) the doctrine of Scripture, (3) natural science and historical criticism, (4) further theological concerns, (5) a methodological aside, and (6) concluding thoughts.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Deliverance Program--Embrace Brasil

July 19, 2013 at 12:14pm

Embrace Brasil is excited to begin the Deliverance Program!!

Deliverance is a simple way to allow believers across the world to pour truth into the lives of students in Brasil. Believers will select a specific student to commit to. The commitment will include praying daily and emailing a minimum of 2 times per month. Embrace Brasil will receive all emails. We will translate, filter and deliver to the students.

Our goal of this program is to connect Christ followers with students in need. Your letters of encouragement will bless their lives and will share the Gospel. We will sit with the students and help them write letters back to you. This will allow great conversation. The one-on-one time will teach the students they are loved and valued. Reading and writing letters will also serve to tutor the students who need help learning to read and write.

We have posted a few students to begin the program. Many more will be added as more and more students participate in the activities offered by Embrace Brazil.

Any believer wanting to participate will fill out the online form requesting the student of their choice. All emails will be sent to Embrace Brasil will then translate, filter and deliver to the selected student.

We invite you to review the children and teens listed on our website and let's get started today praying and blessing specific children.

The Evolution of Adam by Peter Enns

The issue of the relationship between science and faith has been an important topic for centuries, if not millennia, if not longer.  I do not think it is an overstatement to say that it is as great, if not greater, an issue today than any other time in history.  Advances in science and archaeology over the past 125 years have put everyone in a position of having to address this relationship.  There are many routes taken in this process. 

Some go with a simple dismissal.  Science is evil and a lie from the pits of hell.  Religion is a crutch for the simple minded and offers nothing to the scientifically literate of the world.  Or maybe the dismissal is not as extreme and prejudiced as that, but it still a simple dismissal of the competing claims.  This has been the approach for many of us for most of our lives.

I just do not think we have that luxury anymore, especially in regards to the issue of evolution.  We are now seeing a virtual universal acceptance of some form of evolutionary theory in our world today.  While many or most Evangelicals and virtually all Fundamentalists still reject any type of macro-evolutionary theory, the option to dismiss without engaging is no longer viable.  Our world is embracing evolutionary science and we must be willing and able to engage those who do.  According to Barna research, one of the reasons many youth leave the church is for its unwillingness to engage scientific issues with any semblance of credibility.  Many hold that the church's rejection of evolutionary theory is a misguided elevation of interpretation over revelation, much like the initial rejection of the heliocentric model of the universe presented by Copernicus and argued for by Galileo.

Many books have been written over the past decade about a Christian's response to evolutionary theory.  The Creation Institute and the Biologos Foundation have both been instrumental in furthering the discussion, if not at times resorting to caricature and polemics where better means would have been more appropriate and beneficial.  Nevertheless, the discussion is occurring and that is a good thing.  A good addition to the discussion is Peter Enns' recent book, The Evolution ofAdam.

Enns is explicit with what he is attempting to accomplish in his book. “My aim is to speak to those who feel that a synthesis between biblically conversant Christian faith and evolution is a pressing concern.  And my purpose here is certainly not to undermine the faith of those who see things differently.”  I do hope Enns is genuine with this statement, and I have no reason to believe otherwise.  Enns' purpose is  based on some underlying truths to which he holds. “The truth value of any theological iteration cannot be judged simply by how well it conforms to past views...I take it as axiomatic that a healthy theology is one that shows a willingness—even an expectation—to revisit ways of thinking and changing them when need be.”  I would hope that this is something on which we all could agree and support with a hearty “Amen!”

Enns makes some great points throughout this book.  His most relevant and important point is looking at how many Christians are simply unwilling to engage a counterview because of fear.  
Enns statement about why many Christians are reticent to even explore the idea of evolutionary theory is quite insightful and may have applications beyond simply how we interact with scientific thought. 

Biblical Criticism

In reading and writing about Peter Enns' The Evolution of Adam, Biblical Criticism comes up and plays a major role.  In order to supplement what I wrote about Dr. Enns's book, I thought it best to present the topic of Biblical Criticism and allow the reader to see briefly what the term means and how it has influenced the work of Enns.  This section is from the Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible.

Biblical Criticism
Biblical criticism is a child of the Enlightenment, an era when it was believed that every human endeavor must appear before the bar of reason and be judged according to its relation to universal truth. Inevitably, the OT and NT were made to appear. 
The purposes for which biblical criticism were used were many and varied. For example, the French prelate Richard Simon (d. 1712) subjected the Bible to critical scrutiny in order to prove that it was not a sufficient rule for faith. The great Jewish philosopher and lens-grinder Benedict Spinoza (d. 1677) applied the critical method to distinguish whatever in the Bible gave rise to dogma, thus to persecution, and whatever in it could be recognized as eternally valid and thus could end religious conflict. Due to his rigorous examination in the Tractatus, Spinoza has been celebrated as the “father” of modern biblical criticism. Johan Salomo Semler (d. 1791), early Protestant biblical critic, applied the discipline to the question of the biblical canon—chiefly in order to detach the OT from the NT, and the orientalist Hermann Samuel Reimarus (d. 1768) used it to distinguish the “system” of Jesus from that of his disciples, intent on fraud.
Initially, the word “criticism” lacked negative connotation. The German term Kritik, for which it served as translation, simply denoted a discrete method of investigation. But owing to the largely negative results at which its advocates arrived, it came to be associated with an attack on the sacred Scriptures, and thus identified as an enemy of faith, an identification still made by some. Others, then as now, have insisted that biblical criticism could be made to serve the ends of faith. In the United States, biblical criticism actually made its advent at the hands of people of faith. Moses Stuart of Andover (d. 1852), representative of the evangelicalism of Jonathan Edwards, was early attracted to German critical scholars, whose works he proceeded to master and interpret for his American readers. Stuart’s approach to the OT and NT earned him the title of “father of biblical science in America.”
If biblical criticism in the 17th and 18th centuries served the ends of the Enlightenment, i.e., to lift out the “universal truths of reason” from the merely historical or “accidental,” in the 19th century it engaged in historical “excavation.” Through advances in archaeology and the deciphering of ancient texts, scholars encountered witnesses to the biblical texts previously unknown, which greatly facilitated approximating those texts to their originals or autographs. The German pietist Johan Albrecht Bengel (d. 1752) proceeded to group the witnesses into “families,” a practice continued by Brooke Foss Westcott (d. 1901) and F. J. Anthony Hort (d. 1892) in England. This “lower” or textual criticism came to be distinguished from the “higher criticism” with its questions touching sources, structures, and religious-historical contexts of the biblical writings. While the more wary restricted themselves to the lower criticism, ultimately the restriction could not guarantee security. The so-called Textus Receptus (“received text”) which had dominated since the 16th century, and on which the orthodox had based their doctrine of verbal inspiration, now fell from favor. The result was elimination of neutrality from the pursuit of the lower criticism.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

10 Ways to resist the devil

From Challies.
It is one of the Bible's many sweet and powerful promises: “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). The question is, though, how do we do this? In very practical ways, how do we resist the devil? Thomas Brooks offers a list of ten ways the Christian can resist Satan's temptations.
1. Be Ruled by the Word. Make the Word of God your rule and authority and live in obedience to all it says. It will keep you walking straight and guard you from all manner of temptation. “When men throw off the Word, then God throws off them, and then Satan takes them by the hand, and leads them into snares at his pleasure.”
2. Beware of Grieving the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that gives the Christian the ability to discern Satan's temptations and to see his hand in and behind life’s circumstances. If you grieve the Spirit, you drive off the one whose ministry involves guarding you against Satan's attacks.
3. Labor for Wisdom. There is a great difference between knowledge and wisdom, between accumulating facts and applying Scripture to those facts so they become wisdom. It is not the Christian with the most knowledge, but the Christian with the most wisdom, who is equipped to battle Satan's temptations.
4. Resist the First Stirring of Temptation. It is safe to resist temptation and dangerous to dabble in it. “He that will play with Satan's bait, will quickly be taken with Satan's hook.” God promises that we can resist temptation, not that we can resist sin once we have begun to dabble in that temptation.