First Things RSS Feed - Frank Turk
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Mon, 09 Aug 2010 10:07:44 -0400I’ve been watching Christopher Benson take up on behalf of BioLogos this last period of time I guess it’s over a couple of weeks now, but blogging distorts time. It may have only been last week. Anyway, it seems to me that Christopher wants to embrace the dryer-fresh smell of academia in spite of the tattered rags he may be pulling out of the wash.
Here’s what I mean by that: it seems to me that Christopher wants to embrace Science as a fully-competent competing source of authority with, for example, the Bible. And in that, he wants to be able to use Science to do the same kinds of things that the Bible can and should do for us for example, to tell us who caused the creation of the universe, and whether it was a miracle or not. What’s not clear from BioLogos is whether this same skepticism about the Creation miracle will be applied to the Resurrection miracle and whether they can tell us what will become of this faith once we have decided what to do about that.
So on the one hand, I am certain that someone can come up with a version of the Bible and what it is “really” telling us, that BioLogos, and by extension Christopher, would find wholly-acceptable which passes the academic sniff test. But on the other hand, I think what will be left will not be worth putting on certainly not as something for which it is worth dying over.
See: that’s the actual problem BioLogos wants something which they can accept as they are today, in the world they have defined, which doesn’t upset the apple cart or, frankly, make them suffer very much. Because you might have to suffer a little, for example, if as a professor of philosophy, you have to figure out how to teach Descartes when you know for a fact that Jesus Christ left an empty tomb to prove He is both Lord and Christ. Descartes’’ “Cogito Ego Sum” looks somewhat infantile when the actual great “I AM” is the one who defines all things, including the boundaries of life and death and right and wrong and you might have to say something when it comes up in a survey of Western Thought.
You might also have to put it out there that, for example, man is not a product of adaptations and changes over a geological expanse of time that whatever we think we see in the geological record, God made man
for an explicit purpose
, and that purpose is (just to be a broken record here) make perfectly clear by the fact that Jesus Christ left an empty tomb to prove He is both Lord and Christ. Even the ones who might say that it’s actually a gesture of extraordinarily-high Calvinism to attribute God’s providence to natural selection that finally winds up with Chris Benson and Frank Turk fussing over the meaning of the phrase “there was evening and there was morning, the [x] day” have to admit: that’s such a far-fetched
of the Genesis text
and all the derivative thgeological statements made in the rest of the Bible from that text
that, even if it is actually what happened, it puts our ability to actually receive the Bible as anything but a massive fiction however ethically or morally true into question.
So what to do? I mean: I’m an advocate for reading the Bible literately, and in such a way that we treat it like the greatest single anthology of literature ever composed. Do we have any advice which we should invest some kind of epistemological seriousness in, or do we have to sort of grope around until we either fall into the right answer or the proverbial pit of despair?
Personally, I’m an optimist I think we don’t have to grope around at all. The reason for my optimism, frankly, is that Jesus Christ left an empty tomb to prove He is both Lord and Christ. I mean: that is actually the reason to be optimistic about this stuff that there really is a God, and whether you think there’s sin in the world or not (those voting “not” probably need to get out more), He took a really clear action to send Jesus into the world, to have him personally correct the people who were waiting for him, and then to have him die on a cross in abject humiliation and then, 3 days latter
in accordance with Scripture
, and as a
fulfillment of prophecy
, emerge from the grave as the first of many siblings who will, in fact, be glorified with Him in the final account.
Think about that: the key matter of the Christian faith
which ought to substantiate the rest
— the Jobs, the Noahs, the Abrahams, the Davids, the Adams is a matter of historical fact. It’s not going to be replicated, so Science is utterly useless in telling us about it just like, for example, the creation of all things. Let’s assume for one second that Science really can tell us how much and how long and which kind at the moment of Creation: it cannot tell us “what for”.
And that, to be blunt, is the point.
When Science begins to encroach on the ontological and metaphysical description of the world, my response is simply this: “when you can fully explain Jesus Christ, who left an empty tomb to prove He is both Lord and Christ, you can then continue in your journey to enlightenment.”
That’s the actual stain-fighting power in the universe, dear reader: that’s the actual place at which the human race can find the solution which makes the everything come out at the end with the pleasing aroma God intends to bring to this world. He’s going to bring us beauty for our ashes, and an oil of gladness for our mourning. He’s going to bring us clean wedding garments. And get this: it’s never going to be newer, or improved upon especially by people who think that the cause of the stain isn’t very tenable and that the story which tells us these things is, at best, surreal.
The “what for” of all things is wrapped up in Jesus Christ, who left an empty tomb to prove He is both Lord and Christ. Every action we take which makes this fact less cogent, or less meaningful, or, God help, us less real and historical and human and tangible is to our
, not to our
. No matter what it smells like to those who, frankly, are dying.
Thu, 05 Aug 2010 00:01:18 -0400by Frank Turk
Back in 2000, the
Jewish World Review
published a categorically-brilliant essay by Sam Schulman called “Gay Marriage:
fin de linge
” in which Mr. Schulman simply and dispassionately dismantled the argument that sexual appetites are the basis for anything but self satisfaction. That essay, sadly, is a dead link, I am certain, that because of its force, JWR received plenty of hate mail and threats.
However, in 2003, Mr. Schulman rolled up his sleeves again and published
this essay, called “Gay Marriage — and Marriage”
which leap-frogged even the span of his previous essay and made what must be called the definitive secular case against gay marriage. It’s is a shame that this essay is not more widely-known in Christian circles because it would greatly reform out engagement on this topic. You should read it simply to be an informed person. (here’s
for those of you so inclined to read that instead)
I bring it up because on 04 August, 2010, U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that the California’s Proposition 8 ballot initiative denying marriage rights to same-sex couples was unconstitutional.
His reasoning culminated in this statement:
]]>The other foot of Jesushttps://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2010/07/the-other-foot-of-jesus
Thu, 29 Jul 2010 01:01:42 -0400You know: the subject of God’s love is not an either/or question in the face of orthodoxy. It’s not either you think God loves men or you have the right theology. In fact, I would say that the manner by which you can affirm that God loves men determines whether or not you have the right orthodoxy.
Hence: the Sunday school lesson I sat through a while ago.
We’re reading the Gospel of Mark together in class (it was an adult married class, for the invasively curious), and we had just completed chapter 2 and just begun chapter 3. And Chapter 3 opens like this:
]]>eBook recommendation: the Infidel Delusionhttps://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2010/07/ebook-recommendation-the-infidel-delusion
Tue, 20 Jul 2010 16:52:38 -0400There have been a
of books recommended here at
in the last month of so — and to buy them all you’d need a small fortune. But what if there was a book recommended here which was worth a small fortune, but you could in fact download it and keep it
My friends at the infamous blog
have done exactly this for the English-speaking Christian community by digitally publishing & distributing
a response to the most recent volley from the likes of John Loftus, Ed Babinski and their likely crew of internet “New Atheists”. The atheist book is
The Christian Delusion
(a title which looks suspiciously familiar, as if it apes another more famous and more formidable book), and the Triablogguers have aptly named their rejoinder
the Atheist Delisuion
Peter Pike has this to say about the work of his fellow bloggers:
I’ve been away for a while — work and other commitments have limited by blogging overall, and sadly my availability for
has been one of the victims of that. I stopped by yesterday (Friday, 17 July 2010) to see what’s going on here, and I found Christopher Benson’s piece “
”, which included what Christopher called “my bibliography for all pomo-curious Christians.” It was an interesting mix of titles (I admit: I have not read all of them).
]]>Bias #3 and the Gospelhttps://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2010/05/bias-3-and-the-gospel
Fri, 28 May 2010 10:25:01 -0400Because it’s important to be transparent about biases before one starts a review like this, I have at least 3 going into this blog post:
 The DVD I am about to review was provided by Zondervan explicitly and only if I promised to review it. That promise was secured because when I watched the video teaser they sent me to see if I was interested, I told them that I would be glad to watch the video, but that I couldn’t promise I’d review it and my reason for that was simple: I hate writing reviews that are wholly-negative. I know none of you here at
believe that, but the truth is that I think there are plenty of good things especially in the Gospel to write about, and that panning someone’s product is a drain on my time. So I told the publicist I work with at Z that if I didn’t like it I probably wouldn’t review it. He said the only way to get a copy was to promise to review it, so here we are.
 I am not a fan of Zondervan’s offerings to the marketplace of spirituality as a whole. They offer some winners like Richard Abanes, Jay Adams,
own Gene Fant, The Habermas brothers, two books by John MacArthur, and a few others if you rifle through their stable of talent. But sadly they are also the ones who prop up the liberal end of the spectrum and undergird the “self-actualization” end of the evangelical (small-“e” intended) spectrum, and they do so with gusto. It seems to be their favorite thing to publish. So I tend to hold Zondervan’s offerings in general at arm’s length.
(An important note here: Zondervan also publishes a dump-truck full of fiction titles intended for the Christian book marketplace one assumes because it is a cash cow. The state of Christian fiction should be the subject of a future year of blogging in every blog venue I have, but suffice it to say today that it’s not their fiction I actually have a serious beef with: it’s Zondervan’s non-fiction and allegedly-serious forays into spiritual/pastor advice)
 The easiest way to garner an unenthusiastic response from me in any situation is to place some other value ahead of truth. This sounds like a fundamentalist saw horse, but I think I mean something different by it than the classic fundamentalist would. Recently I had a chance to discuss this at work with a colleague, and when given the chance to elaborate, I said this:
]]>How Filthy Rags come back in stylehttps://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2010/05/how-filthy-rags-come-back-in-style
Wed, 19 May 2010 10:27:57 -0400While I have a minute today, I have been working through James Davison Hunter’s
To Change the World
along with another book which I think is the right theological companion to it, and it turns out that Chuck Colson has published a “response” to Davison’s book at Christianity Today. After all the PR for the work of Colson’s conservative social activism, the money quote comes here:
]]>Song that everyone knows they don’t knowhttps://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2010/05/song-that-everyone-knows-they-dont-know
Fri, 07 May 2010 09:16:26 -0400A few words before you watch this video.
1. The point is obvious, and it’s been said before, but to see it in this high production value should make you at least be happy that the point is also going mainstream.
2. The stunning irony of this video is that it comes from North Point Media — which is a function of North Point Church, Andy Stanley’s church. It’s a church foundational to the “Catalyst” network of churches which, if you ask me, are among the ones getting poked at in the video.
]]>A Pastoral Standpointhttps://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2010/05/a-pastoral-standpoint
Mon, 03 May 2010 15:19:32 -0400
I have no idea how long ago I received my review copy of
Abide by Jared C. Wilson
, but it has had me on a guilt trip every since it came in the mail box.
See: Jared and I sort of met because we both started blogging at
, and I think we weren’t supposed to like each other. He’s a Boar’s Head Tavern guy; I’m obviously a PyroManiac. He’s not really one of the “YRR” crowd even though he has some friends there, and somehow I am even though I prolly don’t really have any friends there except Zach Bartels and Tad Thompson, may a blessing be upon them. And my guilt trip has come from the fact that Jared’s book deserves a good review, and I haven;t had time to make one. Until now.
I think Jared actually “gets” it. He’s not a theology wonk, and he doesn’t memorize the Puritans or anything like that, but as a pastor he gets it that people need Jesus, only Jesus, and what Jesus has done because that’s the only real hope in the world.
You could do a lot worse than to wake up one day and find out that Jared was your pastor.
So in that context, Jared’s people at LifeWay sent me
, and I was supposed to review it. It comes in a box, and in the box is a workbook and two discs. To be totally forthright in this review, I could not get the video DVD to work, so maybe there’s some content on there that ought to make me rend Jared limb from limb. I’ll leave that to someone else to discover; you can feel free to put your content-substantiated criticism of the DVD in the comments.
is not a Bible study. Sorry LifeWay there’s no way to frame this as a book which is first and foremost, as someone someplace has said, what God hath said. This is a book which is a lot about what Jared says. I’m not sure that Jared would say that exactly about this work, but here’s what he does say about it in his one-page intro:
]]>A short bit about Hellhttps://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2010/04/a-short-bit-about-hell
Wed, 21 Apr 2010 22:37:40 -0400Before closing the last thread on bashing Calvinism, I noted this as one of the comments: