The Bible and Science Debate: How Shall We Interpret Genesis?

If I were to pick three highly skilled biblical scholars/exegetes, who also profoundly understand science (two of them – McGrath and Polkinghorne – have a PhD degree in hard science), to speak clearly about the way to properly read the Book of Genesis then I would pick these three theologians. I have met two of them and have read all three for decades now. Perhaps no debate has more unnecessarily divided the church than the raging debate over science and Bible. In particular, it comes down to this: “How do we understand Genesis?” My own thinking has changed about this question, in fact several times over the course of my lifetime. I would now line up well with what these three orthodox and confessional Christian ministers/teachers say in this outstanding video.

In some ways this is one of the most helpful and important videos that I have ever shared on my blog. I hope you will take the twelve minutes needed to watch it carefully. This video should not only disabuse you of the many numerous bad ideas about reading Genesis but it will also help you

Immersed in Divine Love

imagesAfter years of struggle with the truth of divine love I now have an overwhelming sense of God’s great love and mercy toward me. I have come to experience this love through Jesus Christ. He reveals the eternal God to me in trinity; e.g. in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. I will later seek to show why the trinity, a most under appreciated and misunderstood understanding of God, is so important to what we believe and how we live in loving, faithful obedience to God. If we are to be immersed in the love of God, and then love him and others with divine love, then we must grapple afresh with this great truth of God’s being, the truth that towers above all other divine truths – “God is love.”

When I am asked to speak about God, or to pray to God, I begin with these words:

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does

Bible Reading or Bible Engaging?

UnknownMy own tradition puts a lot of emphasis upon reading the Bible, even reading it each day as a part of morning devotional practice. I heard about Bible reading from as far back as I can remember. I also read the Bible at the breakfast and dinner table with my family. As soon as I was old enough to read the Bible for myself I delighted in reading the text. I was given my first Bible, which I still possess, at age six. My mother’s inscription reminds me of the supreme value that we placed upon Scriptures in our family and church.

It is often shocking to people with my background to realize that for centuries, before movable type and the printing press, almost no Christians “read” the Bible. Christians in the early church did not “read” the Bible either. Most of them only “heard” it read and most of the time they only heard the Old Testament until centuries after Pentecost. This is why 1 Timothy 4:13 says: “Until I arrive, give attention to the public reading

The Atonement Debate: “Why Did Christ Die?” Part 5

JesusOnCrossMake no mistake about this a serious debate about the nature of God’s wrath, and the doctrine of penal satisfaction, is extremely important for many conservative Protestants.  Some of this heat, so I believe, is a carry-over from the earlier battles of fundamentalism with theological liberals who wanted to have a God who loved all and accepted all into his redeemed family.

The recent attempt by the Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song to change the words of a popular modern hymn (“the wrath of God was satisfied” was to be changed to “the love of God was magnified”) touched off a new debate about defining the atonement in terms of God’s wrath and Jesus’ death as the sacrifice that appeases his wrath. (Some Catholic theologians agree but their position is more encompassing of other ideas and distinctly more nuanced. The Orthodox, as I’ve briefly indicated, take a different view.)

images-2Al Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, provided USA Today some context to his concerns when he said this

Why Do Millennial Christians Read the Bible So Differently Than My Generation?

As I read Jonathan Merritt’s A Faith of Our Own I asked, “Why do younger Christians read the Bible so differently from my generation?” Jonathan Merritt correctly believes that they have “reflected on the Bible” and take it very seriously. This seems very odd to most older evangelical leaders in my generation. Merritt writes that these younger Christians “approach the Bible with fresh eyes, as each generation must” (129).

When Christians like me, from a modernist generational background, read the Bible we are often influenced by rationalist methods and approaches. Like Merritt, I too grew up on this method, indeed I taught it for decades. If you wanted to know what God says you simply study the Bible and find the answer and there it is, the case is closed. This offered so much certitude and closed all new inquiry, to a greater or lesser extent.

Jonathan Merritt concludes:

But rising generations–perhaps as a result of the influence of postmodernism–are falling in love with the Bible’s overarching narrative. That’s why so many people today talk about ‘the story of God’ or the Bible’s ‘grand narrative.’ Not that

Reading the Bible: From the Apostles to Us

Each Monday, for the last eight years, I have published an e-article called the ACT 3 Weekly. Many readers of this blog do not even know these articles are published and I’ve discovered that readers here have never been to our ACT 3 site to sign up for these mailings. Presently we are rebuilding the ACT 3 website and reworking our entire online presence. Until everything is synchronized I am going to post this ACT 3 Weekly here on the blog site so readers can discover the most important weekly writing that I do. I hope more of you will discover this resource by this post. This present post is in a series on understanding the Bible. Back issues are available at ACT 3


In this short series about learning how to read the Bible we have considered that Jesus is the reason for the entire biblical story. The Bible is principally about him, not science, history or even religion. This is not to deny that at times these subjects are touched upon, at least in non-technical ways. I say this to underscore the myriad

By |September 18th, 2012|Categories: Biblical Theology, Hermeneutics, Scripture|

From Big Bang to Big Mystery (A Review: Part 2)

Yesterday, I published the first part of Dr. Joe McCarroll’s review of Brendan Purcell’s important new book, From Big Bang to Big Mystery. Today I publish the second part of his review. I believe this portion of the review explains clearly why this is an important book for thinking, serious Christian readers who want to engage the question of origins in a biblically honest and insightful way while properly giving due to what we’ve learned from science over the last several centuries.

From Big Bang to Big Mystery

A Review, Part Two

Joe McCarroll

Apart from those engaged by the issues around evolution I’d say that From Big Bang to Big Mystery – Human Origins in the Light of Creation and Evolution has most to offer those working on the theme of creation.

The book is studded with stunning exclamatory and discursive statements on the contingency and sheer existence of aspects of the finite universe and ourselves, moving back and forth between the pneumatic and noetic dimensions of our experience of groundedness in a transfinite Origin so profoundly explored in Chapter 1, with remarkable quotations from Parmenides (41f.), Aristotle (47), Les Murray

By |August 16th, 2012|Categories: Biblical Theology, Books, Science, Scripture|

From Big Bang to Big Mystery: The Question of Human Origins

I grew up in an ecclesial context that had positively no regard for insights we might gain from evolution. During my student years at Wheaton College I learned to think of creation differently and began to open my mind to broader thought patterns on the questions of origins. Then I wandered into “strict (literal) creationism” for a sojourn of about ten years. This came about while I was preaching through Genesis in the late 1970s. I was always uncomfortable with creationists, for reasons that I will not elaborate at this point, but I felt Genesis plainly taught that creation was completed in six 24-hour days. Almost out of necessity I then agreed that this work of creation was likely finished only 12,000-15,000 years ago. (This was much harder to accept and I never fully embraced the idea!) These views continued to sit very uneasily within my mind. Later they deeply troubled my heart as well. The reason was that they required me to deny some things that I saw very clearly. But much more importantly, they forced me to interpret Scripture in a way that I

By |August 15th, 2012|Categories: Biblical Theology, Books, Science, Scripture|

Form vs. Freedom, or Spirit vs. Structure

I wrote in my last blog about the danger of activism in living the Christian life. For me, growing up as an evangelical in the South, this meant sharing my faith in order to get people “saved.” This really was the most important thing you ever did. Week after week I heard sermons that ended with, “Come to Jesus. Walk down the aisle while we sing this closing song and he will save you right now!” I tended to always feel rather guilty about this since I had not done enough to keep my friends from going to hell.  Even though I did my fair share of witnessing, and inviting the lost to come to my church, this culture never sat well with me. I wanted to be more like Jesus but did not understand what this had to do with growing into the freedom of grace.

Over time I understood that there was a necessary tension, a tension that ran through all Christian practice for over 2,000 years, between form and freedom, or structure and spirit. The more I met Christians from different backgrounds, especially as

By |August 6th, 2012|Categories: Scripture, Spirituality|

Listening to God's Word with the Heart

Yesterday I made a point about the Hebrew word (dabhar) that is used for God's Word. This word means much more than the sound of words in our ear or the registry of a meaning upon our mind. The same Hebrew word is used for God's creating the world by his word. And this is the same word that expresses God's revelation in Jesus Christ. When the word became incarnate it was this creative, powerful, faith producing word, which became the Logos of God (cf. John 1:1).

We listen to words at many different levels and in many different contexts. Words come at us in many forms and at many levels. Some words go no further than our ears. We hear sounds and that is it. Others enter our minds and make us think. (I am convinced that this is how most people read the Bible!) Some words touch us on the surface of our emotions and bring shallow feelings of joy or sadness.



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