Saturday, July 31, 2010
Friday, July 30, 2010
"it all depends on your perspective""there is no absolute truth""there is no right answer".
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Sunday, July 25, 2010
You may have heard sentiments such as "All religions have their creation myths. Genesis is just one of those. They all basically saying the same thing ...."
It was only a few years ago that I read the Babylonian epic, Enuma elish. I wish I had read it earlier because it so enhances a reading of Genesis. Here is a little of Karl Barth's commentary comparing the two:
is not a history of creation, nor "pre-history," but a portrayal of the constantly recurrent change of relationships which is exactly the same in pre-historical time as any other within the cosmos as it has come into being and now exists. The unity, totality and singularity of the cosmos are not altered by the fact that there are in it the dreadful contradictions, changes and convulsions, bases and emanations, causes and consequences, births and deaths, conflicts, victories and defeats, divisions, reconciliations and fresh divisions, which are the theme of myth. But all this is merely the inner rhythm of the cosmos and has nothing to do with its creation. Enuma elish
Tiamat, the mother of the gods, the gods who originate in her, and her youngest and most successful scion the hero and later demiurge Marduk, who by his final victory over the original power which is both friendly and hostile comes to the aid of the other more or less impotent divinities-all these are of one species and kind. And if heaven and earth arise because Marduk ..... literally attacks the arch-mother of all the gods and all beings, cleaving and dismembering her and turning her into heaven and earth...... In these forms and events we nowhere see a genuine horizon of this One and All as it is found in the concept of creation. There is no qualitative difference between divine and every other reality. What kind of a deity is it in whose very bosom there is so much darkness and such a dialectic of good and evil, in whom conflict, victory and defeat, life and death, reign side by side?
The god Marduk with his dragon, from a Babylonian cylinder seal.
.....We may calmly ask indeed if there is any true or final distinction between [man] and these gods; between these gods and gigantic but shadowy projections of human experiences and needs, struggles and sufferings, hopes and possibilities; between the Babylonian deity and the Babylonian king and Babylonian man. In the figure of Marduk the three are in fact indistinguishable. There can be no question in this epic of any prehistory, of any genuine history of creation. On the contrary, we have only the transparent apparel of a deep insight into the already existing reality of the world and of man. This reality and its inner problem have here no boundary, no beginning and no end, no given determination enabling it to escape the caprice or fate of its own movement.
What we read in Gen. I and 2 are genuine histories of creation. If there is a connexion with the Babylonian myth or its older sources, it is a critical connexion. Everything is so different that the only choice is either to see in the Jewish rendering a complete caricature of the Babylonian, or in the Babylonian a complete caricature of the Jewish, according to the standpoint adopted.
In Gen. 1 and 2 no less than everything obviously depends on the uniqueness and sovereignty of the Creator and the creative act- so much so that a reciprocity of creaturely speech or activity is not even mentioned in the first account, and only incidentally at the end of the second (in the naming of the animals and the saying about the woman brought to man).
Church Dogmatics 3.1: The Doctrine of Creation, p. 89Reading this one can also see how and why in Barth's doctrine of creation there is such an emphasis on the creation being a reality distinct from the Creator.
Friday, July 23, 2010
Thursday, July 22, 2010
- Great intellects take the Bible seriously.
- You can be a genius and be correct on some matters, but badly wrong on others.
- The dangers of mis-interpreting apocalyptic literature.
- Governments should not legislate theological orthodoxy
He devoted more time to the study of Scripture than to science, and he said, "I have a fundamental belief in the Bible as the Word of God, written by those who were inspired. I study the Bible daily." He spent a great deal of time trying to discover hidden messages within the Bible.
Monday, July 19, 2010
10The third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven, blazing like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and of the springs of water. 11The name of the star is Wormwood [*]. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many people died from the water, because it had been made bitter.[*] Wormwood is the name of a plant and of the bitter-tasting extract derived from it.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Apart from the frequent and general observation that God created heaven and earth and mankind, the Koran does not contain any detailed report of the creation as in the Old Testament, except in surah 41:9-13, which describes the creation as having been completed in six days.....
We do not read anywhere in the Koran, however, that God made man “in his image,” as emphasized in the Old Testament (Genesis 1:21). This would be irreconcilable with the greatness and uniqueness of God, who cannot in any way be compared with mankind. Also, surah 40:57 describes the creation of heaven and earth as a ‘greater wonder’ than the creation of man. In contrast, the creation account in the Old Testament describes the making of man as the crowning of creation....
The Koran emphasizes that God was not tired after the creation and did not rest, as did the God of the Bible: “We created the heavens and the earth, and everything inbetween in six days, but no tiredness came over us” (50:38). God does not suffer tiredness and does not require sleep. God does not require Muslims to hold a Sabbath, and so, up until the modern day, there is no official weekly day of rest in the Muslim world, although Friday has a special status. In certain countries, Sunday has been introduced as a day of rest as a result of earlier European colonization.
Furthermore, these differences are not just minor details but rather concern two of the central ideas of the Genesis text.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
But an even stronger argument is the way that Christian faith transforms individual lives - the lives of the men and women with whom you mingle on a daily basis, the man, woman or child next to you in church tomorrow morning.
Friday, July 16, 2010
3For we who have believed enter that rest, ....although his works were finished from the foundation of the world.4For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: "And God rested on the seventh day from all his works."
8For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. 9So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.
The complete text of the book is here.
The photo above [taken from a beautiful collection of photos of Scotland by James G. Mundey] shows the initials PH, the memorial for Patrick Hamilton.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Monday, July 12, 2010
The success of reductionism as a method in the natural sciences has heavily influenced modern theology, much of which attempts to reduce theology to other disciplines. However, the past few decades in science have shown the limitations of reductionism and the importance of emergence. The properties of complex systems with many constituents cannot be understood solely in terms of the constituent components and their interactions. I illustrate emergent properties and concepts with specific examples from geometry, condensed matter physics, chemistry, and molecular biology. Emergence leads to a stratification of reality that affirms that ontology determines epistemology. To show the significance of emergence for the dialogue between theology and the natural sciences parallels are drawn with the theology of Karl Barth. The approach here is distinctly different from most writing on emergence and theology which embraces “strong” emergence (which most scientists consider speculative), an immanent God, and does not engage with orthodox Christian theology. Aspects of Barth’s theology that are particularly relevant include his view that theology is an autonomous discipline which is not reducible to anthropology or history, the irreducible character of revelation, and the emphasis that ontology determines epistemology.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
The decisive problem of fundamentalism is not so different after all from the problem of liberalism. Both appear to balk at the fact that God himself is the one ultimate Judge of the truth or falsity, the adequacy or inadequacy, of all human conceptions and statements about him.Thomas F. Torrance, Preface to Reality and Evangelical Theology, page 18, 1999, IVP edition
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Sunday, July 4, 2010
Saturday, July 3, 2010
The fact that, through the free grace of God, Jesus Christ is made our Righteousness means that we have no righteousness of our own. To be put freely in the right with God means that we and all our vaunted right are utterly called in question before God.... No one may boast of his own orthodoxy any more than he may boast of his own righteousness. Justification thus turns out to be the strongest statement of the objectivity of faith and knowledge..... the very beliefs which we profess and formulate as obediently and carefully as we can in fidelity to God's self-revelation in Jesus Christ are themselves called into question by that revelation, for they have their truth not in themselves but in him to whom they refer,...This is the crux at which fundamentalism is put to its severest test...