J.W. Wartick

J.W. Wartick has an MA in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. His interests include theology, philosophy of religion--particularly the existence of God--astronomy, biology, archaeology, and sci-fi and fantasy novels.
J.W. Wartick has written 715 posts for J.W. Wartick -"Always Have a Reason"

My 2014 Reading- A list and some reflections

Hello, new year! Hello, readers! I thought I’d share you with my list of books read in 2014 and offer some comments on a few select works. The list will be at the end because it’s long!

Best “Counterpoints” Type book

These are books that offer different views on a specific topic. Some examples I read this year include 5 Views of Biblical InerrancyFour Views on the Historical Adam, and Four Views on the Book of Revelation. I really enjoy this type of book because it allows you to get your feet wet on a number of different topics without reading a whole treatise on each.

The best book in this category I read last year was Understanding Spiritual Warfare: Four Views edited by Beilby and Eddy. I wrote a microview of the book here and can’t recommend it enough if you’re at all interested in the topic.

Best Fiction

I read a truly awesome assortment of fiction this year and so much of it was absolutely amazing. I particularly enjoyed the “Wheel of Time” books and everything by David Weber, my favorite author. Seriously, if you don’t read Weber, you should rectify that ASAP. However, the single best fiction book I read this year is glaringly obvious because I’m half convinced its the best piece of fiction I’ve ever read: Dune by Frank Herbert.

I think I definitely enjoyed other works as much or even more than I enjoyed Dune, but the unmistakable epic quality and the way the latter sticks with you makes it deserving of the praise put on its front cover: “Science Fiction’s Supreme Masterpiece.”

Best Overall Non-Fiction

There are plenty of contenders here, but I’d have to pick John Walton’s Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament. It was simply fascinating and provided tons of insight and background information for the Old Testament and how it relates to the ancient world. It was just amazing.

Fun Categories

Most Worth Staying Up All Night to Finish

I did it: I finished “The Wheel of Time,” all 14 books each about 800+ pages on average. Thus, as I drew near the end, the last book–A Memory of Light–did actually keep me up all night finishing it. When I did finish, I clutched it to my chest and just sat in bliss for a while.

Changed My View

I guess it depends how “changed my view” is taken, but John Owen’s trilogy on the Mortification of Sin really made me think about sin in my life and helped introduce new paradigms of thought into how to fight it. I reviewed and discussed Owen’s work here.

Most Uneven Book

The Poverty of Nations by Wayne Grudem and Barry Asmus was a very uneven book, in my opinion. The economics behind it seems solid to me–if based upon a perfect world–but the theological justification for various aspects of the economic theory was suspect. I reviewed the book here.

Favorite New Author Found

Brandon Sanderson. He finished up the Wheel of Time series and I had to read more of him. I then read the Mistborn Trilogy and was blown away. I’m so excited I discovered this author.

List of Books Read in 2014

  1. 5 Views of Biblical Inerrancy
  2. Robert Jordan, Fires of Heaven
  3. Stephen Meyer, Darwin’s Doubt –finished 1/30/14
  4. D.A. Carson, Exegetical Fallacies – finished 1/5/14
  5. Edward Feser The Last Superstition –finished 2/8/14
  6. David Weber, Mission of Honor - finished 2/9/14
  7. Winfried Corduan, In the Beginning God – Finished 1/15/14
  8. Scott Murray, Law, Life, and the Living God- finished 1/5/14
  9. Luther and Erasmus on Free Will
  10. Divergent by Veronica Roth- Finished 2/11/14
  11. Reading Genesis 1-2: An Evangelical Conversation – Finished 2/15/14
  12. Genesis Unbound by John Sailhamer – Finished 2/16/14
  13. On Divine Foreknowledge- by Luis de Molina/Alfred Freddoso finished 1/17/14
  14. What’s Your Worldview by James N. Anderson – finished 2/20/14
  15. Nature Red in Tooth and Claw by Michael J. Muray – Finished 2/23/14
  16. A Visual Defense – Velarde- Finished 2/19/14
  17. Faith Beyond Reason – C. Stephen Evans- Finished 1/1/14
  18. Imaginative Apologetics edited by Andrew Davison- finished 3/7/14
  19. Paradigms in Pilgrimage – by Stephen Godfrey and Christopher Smith- finished 3/9/14
  20. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins- finished 3/11/14
  21. The Politics of Secularism in International Relations by Elizabeth Hurd – finished 3/11/14
  22. Farside by Ben Bova 3/13/14
  23. New Earth by Ben Bova 3/14/14
  24. The Capture by Kathryn Lasky finished 3/20/14
  25. Junia, A Woman, An Apostle by David Williams- Finished 3/13/14
  26. The Ethics of Abortion by Christopher Kaczor- Finished 3/22/14
  27. The Myth of Religious Violence by William Cavanaugh- Finished 3/23/14
  28. Hollywood Worldviews by Brian Goadawa – Finished 3/25/14
  29. The Open Secret: A New Vision for Natural Theology by Alister McGrath – Finished 3/28/14
  30. Three Views on Eastern Orthodoxy and Evangelicalism ed. James Stamoolis- Finished 4/3/14
  31. The Bible, Rocks, and Time by Davis A. Young and Ralph F. Stearley- Finished 4/6/14
  32. Theology and Contemporary Critical Theory by Graham Ward – finished 4/9/14
  33. Samson the Nazirite – comic by Luis Serrano et al. – Finished 4/9/14
  34. How God Became Jesus –edited by Michael Bird – Finished 4/11/14
  35. Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan – Finished 4/13/14
  36. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin – Finished 4/14/14
  37. 1984 by George Orwell – Finished 4/16/14
  38. Genealogy and History in the Biblical World by Robert Wilson – Finished 4/20/14
  39. The Lord’s Supper by John Stephenson – Finished 4/23/14
  40. A Rising Thunder by David Weber – Finished 4/24/14
  41. Leviathans of Jupiter by Ben Bova – Finished 4/28/14
  42. Four Views on The Historical Adam- edited Barrett and Caneday – Finished 4/29/14
  43. Genesis 1 Through the Ages – by Stanley Jaki – Finished 5/9/14
  44. 3 Views on Creation and Evolution – edited Moreland and Reynolds – Finished 5/12/14
  45. A Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan – Finished 5/13/14
  46. The New Atheist Novel by Arthur Bradley and Andrew Tate – Finished 5/15/2014
  47. Man and Woman, One in Christ by Philip B. Payne – Finished 5/20/14
  48. Crown of Slaves by Eric Flint and David Weber – Finished 5/23/14
  49. Heresy: A History of Defending the Truth by Alister McGrath – Finished 5/26/2014
  50. Evermore: Edgar Allan Poe + Mystery of the Universe by Harry Lee Poe- Finished 5/28/14
  51. Chance and the Sovereignty of God by Vern Poythress – Finished 5/30/14
  52. Path of Daggers by Robert Jordan – Finished 6/3/14
  53. Junia: A Woman, an Apostle by David Williams – Finished 6/4/14
  54. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins- Finished 6/6/14
  55. To the Ends of the Earth by Haykin and Robinson– Finished 6/10/14
  56. Winter’s Heart by Robert Jordan – Finished 6/12/14
  57. Mass Effect: Revelation by Drew Karpyshyn – Finished 6/13/14
  58. Scientific Mythologies by James Herrick – Finished 6/14/14
  59. Pascal’s Wager by Jeff Jordan – Finished 6/16/14
  60. The Crossroads of Twilight by Robert Jordan – Finished 6/26/14
  61. All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka – Finished 6/29/14
  62. A Reformed Approach to Science and Scripture by Keith Mathison – Finished 6/30/14
  63. The Poverty of Nations by Wayne Grudem and Barry Asmus – Finished 7/1/14
  64. Holy War in the Bible edited Thomas, Evans, and Copan – Finished 7/3/14
  65. Death Before the Fall by Ronald Osborn – Finished 7/6/14
  66. Knife of Dreams by Robert Jordan – Finished 7/12/14
  67. The Evidential Force of Religious Experience by Caroline Franks Davis – Finished 7/14/14
  68. The Gathering Storm by Brandon Sanderson and Robert Jordan – Finished 7/19/14
  69. Migrations of the Holy by William Cavanaugh – Finished 7/21/14
  70. What Every Christian Needs to Know about the Qur’an by James White – Finished 7/22/14
  71. Do Historical Matters Matter to Faith ed. Hoffmeier and Magary – Finished 7/24/14
  72. The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer – Finished 7/27/14
  73. The Towers of Midnight by Brandon Sanderson and Robert Jordan – Finished 7/29/14
  74. Apologetics in the Roman Empire edited Edwards, Goodman, and Price – Finished 8/6/14
  75. A Memory of Light by Brandon Sanderson and Robert Jordan – Finished 8/6/14
  76. William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope by Ian Doescher – Finished 8/7/14
  77. The Story of Christianity Volume 1 by Justo Gonzalez – Finished 8/9/14
  78. Yukikaze by Chohei Kambayashi – Finished 8/11/14
  79. Liberating Black Theology by Anthony Bradley – Finished 8/12/14
  80. Ordained Women in the Early Church by Kevin Madigan + Carolyn Osiek–Finished 8/14/14
  81. Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey – Finished 8/15/14
  82. Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey – Finished 8/16/14
  83. The Genesis of Science by James Hannam – Finished 8/19/14
  84. Dragonquest by Anne McCaffrey – Finished 8/21/14
  85. The White Dragon by Anne McCaffrey – Finished 8/25/14
  86. In Search of Moral Knowledge by R. Scott Smith – Finished 8/25/14
  87. Questioning the Bible by Jonathan Morrow – Finished 8/26/14
  88. Star Wars: Crucible by Troy Denning – Finished 8/26/14
  89. The Philosophical Challenge of Religious Diversity edited Quinn/Meeker – Finished 8/30/14
  90. The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien – Finished 8/31/14
  91. Dune by Frank Herbert – Finished 9/1/14
  92. Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert – Finished 9/3/14
  93. A Case for Amillennialism by Kim Riddlebarger – Finished 9/6/14
  94. Star Wars: A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller – Finished 9/7/14
  95. The Resurrection of God Incarnate by Richard Swinburne – Finished 9/7/14
  96. Matilda by Roald Dahl – Finished 9/8/14
  97. Star Trek: New Frontier- House of Cards by Peter David– Finished 9/9/14
  98. Star Trek: New Frontier- Into the Void by Peter David – Finished 9/10/14
  99. Star Trek: New Frontier- The Two-Front War by Peter David – Finished 9/11/14
  100. Star Trek: New Frontier- End Game by Peter David – Finished 9/12/14
  101. Torch of Freedom by David Weber and Eric Flint – Finished 9/19/14
  102. The Stories We Tell by Mike Cosper – Finished 9/20/14
  103. Dinotopia by James Gurney – Finished 9/20/14
  104. Gods of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs – Finished 9/22/14
  105. The Creationists by Ronald Numbers – Finished 9/27/14
  106. Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament by John Walton – Finished 9/27/14
  107. Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson – Finished 9/28/14
  108. Discovering Biblical Equality edited Pierce and Groothuis – Finished 9/28/14
  109. Christ Among the Dragons by James Emery White – Finished 9/28/14
  110. Ancient Conquest Accounts by K. Lawson Younger, Jr. – Finished 10/5/14
  111. Shadow of Saganami by David Weber – Finished 10/7/14
  112. Encountering Religious Pluralism by Harold Netland – Finished 10/11/14
  113. Children of Dune by Frank Herbert – Finished 10/12/14
  114. Mere Creation edited by William Dembski – Finished 10/14/14
  115. Foundations of Dialogue in Science and Religion by Alister McGrath–Finished 10/14/14
  116. Reformation Thought: An Introduction by Alister McGrath – Finished 10/18/14
  117. Experience of God and the Rationality of Theistic Belief by Jerome Gellman –10/19/14
  118. Dinotopia: The World Beneath by James Gurney – Finished 10/19/14
  119. The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson – Finished 10/20/14
  120. The Intellectual Origins of the European Reformation by AlisterMcGrath Finished 10/21/14
  121. Star Wars: Darth Plagueis by James Luceno – Finished 10/24/14
  122. Dragonsong by Anne McAffrey – Finished 10/25/14
  123. Companion to Reformation Theology edited David Whitford – Finished 10/28/14
  124. Martin Luther’s Understanding of God’s Two Kingdoms William Wright Finished 10/31/14
  125. Perspectives on an Evolving Creation edited Keith Miller – Finished 11/1/14
  126. Storm from the Shadows by David Weber – Finished 11/2/14
  127. Dragonsinger by Anne McAffrey – Finished 11/3/14
  128. Star Trek: New Frontier- Martyr by Peter David – Finished 11/6/14
  129. The Bible and Homosexual Behavior by Robert Gagnon – Finished 11/7/14
  130. The New Mormon Challenge eds. Beckwith, Owen, and Mosser – Finished 11/8/14
  131. 4 Views on the Book of Revelation eds. Pate and Gundry – Finished 11/11/14
  132. The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson – Finished 11/11/14
  133. Star Wars: The Courtship of Princess Leia by Dave Wolverton – Finished 11/14/14
  134. Dragondrums by Anne McAffrey – Finished 11/15/14
  135. The Defense of the Faith by Cornelius Van Til – Finished 11/16/14
  136. Christian Apologetics by Cornelius Van Til- Finished 11/18/14
  137. Shadow of Freedom by David Weber – Finished 11/18/14
  138. Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara by James Gurney – Finished 11/18/14
  139. Naturalism Defeated? Edited by James Beilby – Finished 11/19/14
  140. Understanding Spiritual Warfare: Four Views edited Beilby and Eddy – Finished 11/22/14
  141. Eisenhorn: Xenos by Dan Abnett – Finished 11/23/14
  142. Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers by John Owen – Finished 11/24/14
  143. Of Temptation by John Owen – Finished 11/24/14
  144. Indwelling Sin by John Owen – Finished 11/24/14
  145. Eisenhorn: Malleus by Dan Abnett – Finished 11/28/14
  146. Theology’s Epistemological Dilemma by Kevin Diller – Finished 11/29/14
  147. Eisenhorn: Hereticus by Dan Abnett – Finished 11/30/14
  148. Adam, the Fall, and Original Sin eds. Madueme and Reeves – Finished 12/2/14
  149. God Emperor of Dune by Frank Herbert – Finished 12/4/14
  150. Divine Foreknowledge: Four Views edited Beilby and Eddy – Finished 12/5/14
  151. Star Trek: New Frontier – Fire on High by Peter David – Finished 12/6/14
  152. Roman Catholic Theology and Practice by Gregg R. Allison – Finished 12/9/14
  153. Divine Providence: The Molinist Account by Thomas Flint – Finished 12/9/14
  154. 4 Views on Hell edited by Gundry and Crockett – Finished 12/9/14
  155. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien – Finished 12/11/14
  156. The Only Wise God by William Lane Craig – Finished 12/11/14
  157. From the Corner of His Eye by Dean Koontz – Finished 12/12/14
  158. On the Cessation of the Charismata by Jon Mark Ruthven – Finished 12/12/14
  159. Peril in Paradise by Mark Whorton – Finished 12/13/14
  160. Scholastic Metaphysics: A Contemporary Introduction by Edward Feser- Finished 12/15/14
  161. Firebird by Kathy Tyers – Finished 12/15/14
  162. Handel’s Messiah: Comfort for God’s People by Calvin Stapert – Finished 12/16/14
  163. Fusion Fire by Kathy Tyers – Finished 12/18/14
  164. Crown of Fire by Kathy Tyers – Finished 12/21/14
  165. The Fathers of the Church by Hubertus Drobner – Finished 12/22/14
  166. Mere Existentialism: A Primer by Max Mailikow – Finished 12/23/14
  167. Molinism: The Contemporary Debate edited Ken Perszyk – Finished 12/23/14
  168. Insurgent by Veronica Roth – Finished 12/25/14
  169. As You Wish by Cary Ewers and Joe Layden – Finished 12/27/14
  170. Matilda by Roald Dahl – Finished 12/28/14
  171. Searching for an Adequate God edited Pinnock and Cobb – Finished 12/31/14

The Wheel of Time “Winter’s Heart” and “Crossroads of Twilight” – A Christian Reflection

cot-jordanRobert Jordan’s epic fantasy series, “The Wheel of Time,” has much to reflect upon from a Christian perspective. Here, I’ll be examining books nine and ten, “Winter’s Heart” and “The Crossroads of Twilight.” There are SPOILERS from both books here. Please do not share spoilers from later books for the sake of readers.

Violence and the Sword

In Winter’s Heart, we find that great restrictions are placed on the use of weapons in Far Madding, a city which has great buffers against use of the Power. The question is, does violence cease when weapons are taken away? A guard in the city explains the reasoning:

“No need for any man to defend himself in Far Madding… The Street Guards take care of that. Let any man as wants start carrying a sword, and soon we’d be as bad as everyplace else…” (538)

However, the guardsman apparently was scarred–from some previous conflict. Moreover, the pages preceding this quote and afterwards spoke of how violence continued whenever the Guards were not immediately in sight. Yes, it may have been thwarted to some extent, but people still found ways to fight and murder. How is it that in a place which attempted so much to restrict violence, violence was perpetuated? It seems that it is because people continued to find ways to do violence, despite said restrictions. The world is in need of redeeming from its own self-centeredness and focus on doing harm.

Deism

Perhaps the most lengthy theological discussion which has occurred in The Wheel of Time yet is found in Crossroads of Twilight, as Rand reflects upon the way things are playing out:

Did he think the Creator had decided to stretch out a merciful hand after three thousand years of suffering? The Creator had made the world and then left humankind to make of it what they would, a heaven or the Pit of Doom by their choosing. The Creator had made many worlds, watched each flower or die, and gone on to make endless worlds beyond. A gardener did not weep for each blossom that fell. (558)

The quote speaks to a kind of deism found in The Wheel of Time. The Creator laid down the pattern, which continually repeats throughout history. It weaves as the Creator willed it. But the Dark One continually tries to make the pattern “fall into the shadow.” One wonders, then, whether Rand al’Thor is correct here. After all, the Creator has held off the Dark One from utterly overthrowing the Pattern–perhaps only through setting it up in such a way that it could correct things. But even that much foresight refutes the notion that the Creator would not have cared whatsoever about the suffering of men cursed to insanity.

I look forward to seeing how theology develops in the Wheel of Time as the final battle approaches.

Fatalism

The Pattern itself is something which garners much discussion, and it seems to point to a kind of fatalism found in the beliefs of many in the universe. For example, Perrin has a discussion with an Aes Sedai about how the Pattern weaves in Crossroads of Twilight:

“You are ta’veren, yes, but you still are only a thread in the Pattern, as am I. In the end, even the Dragon Reborn is just at thread to be woven into the Pattern. Not even a ta’veren thread chooses how it will be woven.” [Annoura–the Aes Sedai–said]
“Those threads are people,” Perrin said wearily. “Sometimes maybe people don’t want to be woven into the Pattern without any say.”
“And you think that makes a difference?” Not waiting on an answer she lifted her reins and [galloped off]. (588)

The notion of fatalism is prevalent throughout the series, but one wonders whether it will hold sway. After all, it really does appear as though some people are able to change things for the better or worse, even working against the Pattern (or going outside/beyond it).

Back to Our World

These themes hare found in many discussions outside of the world of fantasy. Is God so distant that we may not approach Him? Are our destinies simply wrapped up in uncaring fate? Can we stop violence by taking away all weapons? These are questions which speak to moral and transcendent spheres of reality, and interaction with them is beneficial. The Christian view would note that the “Creator” in fact cared so much about creation–each individual–that God sent the Son to redeem the world. It’s a powerful message–one which goes beyond that found in the world of fantasy and takes us into a new plane of reality  in which we are redeemed people living in Christ.

We need not worry about fatalism or the possibility of evil overcoming a plan simply wound up and left to unravel. Instead, God intimately cares for and about each individual.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Sources

Robert Jordan, Winter’s Heart (New York: Tor, 2000).

Robert Jordan, Crossroads of Twilight (New York: Tor, 2003).

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

Sunday Quote!- Can Adam be (merely) a federal head?

afos-mrEvery Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!

Can Adam be (merely) a federal head?

I recently finished reading the thought-provoking book, Adam, the Fall, and Original Sin. One area of interest was an essay examining differing views of Adam. Against the notion that Adam could be a mere federal head for humanity (among many other hominids and humans that existed at the time–a kind of theistic evolutionism), the author wrote:

Adam’s imputed sin has no ontological basis [on this view]. If only Africans and Asians, let us say, are true physical descendants of Adam, God will still impute Adam’s sin to Britons and Americans since Adam was also the federal head of all his contemporaries (among whom would have been their ancestors). This divine decree seems unfair and arbitrary since it is not grounded in an antecedent natural reality. (217, cited below)

I found this to be an argument that could trouble those who hold to Adam as mere federal head (rather than “natural head”–here being used to mean that Adam and Eve were the first of all humans and all are descended from them), but I think a few responses would be possible from the theistic evolutionist perspective. First, one could argue that there need be no grounding in a natural reality for Adam’s federal headship. After all, divine fiat should settle the question! Second, one might instead argue that God’s decree of Adam as federal headship itself just is the ontological basis. That is, there is an ontological basis for the condemnation: God’s decree. Third, one might argue that the federal headship of Adam went alongside the giving of the human soul to Adam and Eve and that the other humans were also given souls with Adam as their federal head. I think other possibilities are possible as well.

What do you think? Does this argument undermine the possibility of theistic evolutionism? Are the possible responses good rebuttals? Are there other possible responses?

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Sunday Quote- If you want to read more Sunday Quotes and join the discussion, check them out! (Scroll down for more)

Source

Michael Reeves and Hans Madueme, “Threads in a Seamless Garment: Original Sin in Systematic Theology” in Adam, the Fall, and Original Sin edited Hans Madueme and Michael Reeves (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2014).

SDG.

Really Recommended Posts 1/23/15- Creationism, Gender Jokes, and more!

postHere’s a set of awesome posts for your to peruse, dear readers. We have topics that range from all over the board, including some new details on the fragment of Mark’s Gospel that was found a few years ago, a difficult challenge for young earth creationism, discussion of gender based jokes, and a parenting challenge. Let me know what you think in the comments here, and be sure to let the authors of the articles know your thoughts as well! Thanks for reading.

Earliest Fragment of Mark’s Gospel Apparently Found- Scholars who argue that the Gospels couldn’t be earlier than 200AD have already been shown to be wrong by discoveries of fragments from earlier dates. Now, a fragment of Mark’s Gospel has been found which apparently dates to pre-90AD. Frankly, this exposes the fraudulent argument about how the Gospels were apparently written so late no one could have known about the events. If this is but an early fragment, how many other copies were there, and how much earlier was the original? Wintery Knight also sums up some information from various sites about the find in his post on some new details.

The Lost World of South American Ungulates: A YEC Ungulate Problem- Can the YEC paradigm adequately account for the diversity of species? It may be easy to simply hypothesize God built in adaptability, but when it comes to examination of individual species, does it succeed?

5 Reasons Not to Use Gender-Based Jokes in the Pulpit- Here’s a fascinating post and it really applies to more than simply “from the pulpit.” I’d suggest this applies just in general to gender jokes. A follow up post shares some thoughts that the readers of this first post responded with.

How to Get your Christian Parenting Priorities Right- What do you think of when asked what you want for your kids? Here’s a challenging post to rethink our parenting priorities for our kids.

 

“Leave it to the Early Church”- A Young Earth challenge

3vce-mrIt’s no secret: I consume just about any book I can get my hands on related to the debate over the duration and means of creation within Christianity. Recently, I read through Three Views on Creation and Evolution, part of the Zondervan Counterpoints series. The young earth creationists (John Mark Reynolds and Paul Nelson) in this volume were more even than many I have read, and I appreciated their contribution in many ways and even found myself agreeing with portions of it. However, they did make a few remarkable claims, one of which will be my focus here. Namely, they suggested we leave interpretation of Genesis behind us and just assume the early church got it right.

Here is the quote:

Our advice, therefore, is to leave the issues of biblical chronology and history to a saner period. (100)

Why should we do that, you ask? Well, before offering this advice, Reynolds and Nelson argue:

Whatever the truth of the matter may be in regard to biblical history, we are… least likely to find it. Nothing about the education of most moderns leaves them disposed to be sympathetic to traditional readings of the biblical text… The almost overwhelming temptation is to “trim” [the portions of text which may be hard to swallow]. Suddenly, new ways of reading the text of Scripture are discovered, which to no one’s surprise allow for accommodation between at least some of the reigning paradigms and traditional religion. (99-100)

I find this simply astonishing! There are a number of reasons to reject this entire line of reasoning immediately. First, it is, in effect, poisoning the well. Second, it abandons any notion that new evidence can challenge established traditions. Third, it begs the question. Fourth, it undermines the need for the church to be semper reformanda - always reforming. We’ll examine these briefly in order.

Poisoned Well

The way Nelson and Reynolds present their argument poisons the well against any who would disagree with them. The insinuation is that the only reason anyone would come to a different conclusion is either because they don’t have an “educational” background which allows them to consider traditional readings or because they are in such a hurry to compromise the text to align with science. Although it is certainly possible that many readings come from these motivations, to suggest that we must put a ban on any future looks at the interpretation of Genesis shows the authors seem to think these motivations apply to all novel interpretations.

New Evidence

To put an interpretation of Genesis on an indisputable pedestal and say “that came from a ‘saner’ time and so we must follow it” undermines any possibility for new evidence to challenge established readings. Yet the fruit of research in many areas of biblical interpretation continues to yield great insight into the biblical text. Moreover, to make an interpretation like that indisputable is to perhaps set up stumbling blocks for future generations, who may in good faith find more evidence which challenges that interpretation.

Question Begged

By saying we need to leave the interpretation of Genesis to the past, Reynolds and Nelson have begged the question by assuming this interpretation is correct. In fact, they seem to assume it is so obviously correct that they don’t even bother to defend it. But of course this is not how theology ought to be done. We should not just relegate interpretations to the ecclesial past because we don’t want to face the challenges of today. Rather, we should explore the new evidence and new interpretations to see if they might in fact better match God’s revealed truths. By simply assuming we can leave an interpretation of Genesis as is, Reynolds and Nelson just assert their view is obviously correct without argument.

Semper Reformanda

The notion that the church needs to continually be reforming seems to be correct. When we find truths revealed in God’s natural revelation, we should be prepared to realize this may not align with our established paradigms. We need not reject these discoveries merely because the historical church didn’t know about them. Instead, we should realize that as an imperfect church waiting for our Lord’s return, we may get things wrong. We are always going to need to reform.

Conclusion

Thus, I think that any young earth creationist who simply asserts we must hold to the historic understanding of the text of Genesis is mistaken. Of course, I would also point out that the “historic” understanding is hardly what the modern young earth creationist would believe (such as the duration of the entire universe only lasting 6000 years in order to align with the creation days, etc.), but that is a matter for a different post. For now, it should be acknowledged that we should not just abandon attempts to understand God’s revelation in Genesis.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Origins Debate- Check out all my posts on the discussion within Christianity over the duration and means of creation.

Source

Paul Nelson and John Mark Reynolds, “Conclusion” in Three Views on Creation and Evolution edited by J.P. Moreland & John Mark Reynolds (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1999).

SDG.

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The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

Sunday Quote!- Charismata and Authority of Scripture

occ-ruthvenEvery Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!

Charismata and the Authority of Scripture

I have been reading through Jon Mark Ruthven’s On the Cessation of the Charismata, a book that is arguing against the position of cessationism. Cessationism is the notion that at least some spiritual gifts–things like healing, prophecy, etc.–mentioned in the New Testament did not continue beyond the New Testament era of the formative church [read more on the various views of spiritual gifts here]. One of the most controversial topics in this debate is the issue of authority. Ruthven is fairly blunt when he considers B.B. Warfield’s rejection of the spiritual gifts. The rejection was based, in part, on:

the implicit attack on the sufficiency of scriptural authority made by those claiming miracles and extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit… Such claims [of spiritual gifts]… represented a direct challenge to Protestant religious authority in that it was specifically based upon a closed canon of Scripture. (32, cited below)

Now I have not finished the book, so I’m not sure whether Ruthven would affirm this point. Indeed, he calls this a “polemical” argument against spiritual gifts, so I suspect he’s going to argue that the “continuationist” position–that which affirms spiritual gifts moving into the modern era–does not need to deny the closedness of the canon or affirm a denial of the sufficiency of Scripture. I’m looking forward to seeing how his argument proceeds, and whether he will indeed argue against this or affirm the openness of the canon.

What do you think? Do charismata–spiritual gifts–entail this position? If so, how problematic is it? What is your position? I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

“Are Miraculous Gifts for Today?”- A look at four views in Christian Theology- I provide a look at four positions on miraculous/spiritual gifts in contemporary theology.

Sunday Quote- If you want to read more Sunday Quotes and join the discussion, check them out! (Scroll down for more)

Source

Jon Mark Ruthven, On the Cessation of the Charismata (Tulsa, OK: Word & Spirit Press, 2011).

SDG.

Really Recommended Posts 1/16/15- Abortion, Jesus, Science Fiction, and More!

snowl-owl-post-arpingstoneI am really proud of this lineup today, folks. I feel like it’s gotta be one of the broadest ranges of topics I’ve had in a while and they are all very interesting reads, at least in my opinion! Several of them are not just about what the title implies, but about something interesting related to that topic (like the one on pro-life being not just about the pro-life position but about how it might relate to evangelism). I’m pumped to share these posts. Let me know what you think in the comments here, and be sure to let the authors know you enjoyed their posts as well!

How Pro-Life Apologetics Helps Strengthen Your Evangelism- The case for the pro-life position is, in my opinion, absolutely philosophically and scientifically insurmountable. Here, Wintery Knight shares some thoughts on how learning the ins-and-outs of pro-life apologetics can also help evangelism.

Ehrmann Errors on Jesus’ Authority to Forgive- Noted skeptic Bart Ehrmann has argued that the notion that Jesus is divine was a later development in Christianity. What might the Bible itself–the earliest documents we have on the topic–reveal?

Observations About Commenting on Young Earth Creationist Facebook Pages- Let’s clear the water: commenting on Facebook pages is almost always going to get into some random fight about something… probably something completely unrelated to the original comment. The greater the importance of the topic, the more off the rail it often gets. That happens everywhere. However, here, the “Geochristian” shares some insights specific to discussing young earth creationism.

In the Image of Man they Created God; Male They Created Him- God is not male. God is Spirit. It is not inappropriate to use biblical pronouns for God like “He”; however, the danger is that we begin to think of God as a kind of Grandpa in the sky. Here’s some insight into the problems with assigning gender to God.

Scientific Mythologies: How Science and Science Fiction Forge New Religious Beliefs- Here, Anthony Weber shares a brief book review along with some insights related to this wonderful work by James Herrick. I do highly recommend the book to my readers. I shared a Sunday Quote about it some time ago.

Book Review: “Salvation Applied by the Spirit” by Robert Peterson

sbs-petersonRobert Peterson’s Salvation Applied by the Spirit is an exhaustive look at the notion that the work of the Holy Spirit is bringing about union with Christ.

The first part of the book is comprised of a comprehensive (to my knowledge) survey of texts related to the notion of being “in the Spirit.” Peterson goes across the whole of the biblical witness in order to draw several conclusions, including the notion that being “in Christ” simply is salvation and that this is brought about by union with Christ, which is the work of the Holy Spirit.

This first section brings up many intriguing points of inquiry alongside the central theme of union with Christ. Included among these are the meaning and application of the Sacraments (the Lord’s Supper and Baptism), the doctrine of justification and its application, and more.

The second part of the book draws broad theological conclusions from the exegetical work done in the first section. Broadly, Peterson uses this to explain the work of the Spirit in santification, justification, and salvation. Other primary theological topics that are necessary for understanding these concepts–such as the Incarnation–are also briefly discussed.

The exegetical portion of the book is fantastic and provides not only a solid understanding of the Bible’s understanding of the Spirit’s work in salvation (and particularly that of Paul), but also several insights of the applicability of these discussions to other areas.

The discussion of the Sacraments and the Holy Spirit’s work therein, along with the Incarnational perspective, was interesting and somewhat neutral. The notion that the indwelling of Christ may come through a Sacrament like the Lord’s Supper was wonderful to see (from my perspective as a Lutheran), though the somewhat dismissive language of “symbol” applied alongside this discussion gave it a sense of schizophrenia related to the Sacraments.

The theological threads of the second part of the book are interesting, as was the choice to spend some time covering topics like the Incarnation while spending lesser time on things like the specific view of justification of the author. The latter synthesis of both a covenantal perspective similar to N.T. Wright’s and the emphasis on imputation of righteousness was intriguing and deserving of deeper exploration.

Perhaps the greatest downside to the book is an amorphous sense of audience. It is written at a level which laity will find understandable, but its length will likely be off-putting. Similarly, those looking for a technical discussion will be edified by the quantity of exegetical insights, but perhaps disappointed by the lack of depth. It seems a book a bit caught in the middle between wanting to convey information to the general audience while also appealing to readers with academic interest. Unfortunately, it ultimately doesn’t quite hit its stride with either.

Overall, this is a good book looking at an interesting topic. It would just benefit from being either more or less technical. It will benefit greatly readers interested in the work of the Holy Spirit.

Disclaimer: I received a review copy of the book through Crossway. I was not obligated by the publisher to give any specific type of feedback whatsoever.

Source

Robert Peterson, Salvation Applied by the Spirit (Downers Grove, IL: Crossway, 2014).

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more.

SDG.

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The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

Kathy Tyers’ “Firebird Trilogy” – Faith, Humanity, and Conflict in the Far Future

firebird-tyers

Kathy Tyers’ The Annotated Firebird trilogy is an epic space opera spanning several planets as they are embroiled in an interstellar and cultural conflict. Here, I analyze the series from a worldview perspective. On my other site, I have offered a review of the trilogy. There will be SPOILERS in what follows.

Faith in the Future

Throughout the trilogy, faith is front-and-center. The characters come from different faith backgrounds–Firebird is from a culture that worships the Nine “Powers”- essentially deified character traits; Brennan is from a people of exiles who have psychic powers and look to a coming Messiah from his line; others have no religious affiliation. This sets up a way to generate conflict among the characters but also have development.

Firebird is confronted by the notion that the “Powers” she worships are ultimately impersonal and thus seemingly without any power. Moreover, she is intrigued by  a system which is not based upon what she does but rather on the grace of a Holy God. It is a struggle throughout her conversion to accept this notion–that she herself does not need to do anything to earn her salvation. Her path of faith is one that is extremely interesting because it shows how the Christian worldview can come into dialogue with other religious traditions on a number of levels–on the level of salvation/soteriology; on the level of deity; and on many other levels.

Brennan’s walk of faith is quite different as he was raised a believer. His character’s viewpoint is filled with brief prayers to the “Singer”–a primary name for deity in the book. These asides never throw off the pace of the book but rather offer ways for the readers to engage in the genuine faith of the characters therein. It’s also a call to believers to take their own faith lives more seriously. How often do we offer a brief prayer over some issue or of thanks throughout the day? How might we integrate our faith better in our daily walk?

Overall, the picture of faith in the Firebird trilogy is one that expects truth in religious belief as well as evidence, confronts rival views in a compassionate way, and is lived out.

Humans who are “Waste”?

Another major theme in the trilogy is that of human lives and the way they are often deemed waste. Firebird’s society is run by a monarchy and nobility which dominates all life and expects to be viewed as ruling with divine right. This is used as an excuse for devaluing the lower classes. Moreover, Firebird herself is considered a “Wastling”- one who is far enough back in succession that they are dedicated to serve until they die in combat or commit an ordered suicide because they are no longer deemed useful.

This is, of course, an unjust state of affairs. It is one that must be confronted on a systemic level, and this is only beginning when the trilogy wraps up. However, I think the reader cannot help but reflect upon the notion that in our own society, we treat some people like “wastlings” to be discarded as unneeded and unwanted. We do not value human life as we should–as created in the image of God.

Another aspect of this devaluing of life is found in the society of the Shuhr–a people who are the radical offshoot from Brennan’s own society. They practice genetic cloning and seek to make themselves immortal. The way they pursue this is through the creation and mutilation of embryos. Frankly, this disrespect of human life is little different from our own society’s, which allows for the murder of the unborn on demand. By putting this theme into science fiction, Tyers confronts our own worldview in a dramatic fashion.

Brief Autobiographical Note

Permit me a brief autobiographical aside:

I remember when I was younger–probably about 12 years old–shopping a table at a book sale that was going on in the parish hall at my church. I saw the cover of this book that looked like science fiction and reminded me of Star Wars. I had to have it! There were three of them, a trilogy! I begged my parents and with some extra chores loaded on I received the books.

I devoured them almost instantly, used Legos to try to build spaceships from them. I went to a Christian bookstore and demanded more science fiction from the author. The bewildered staff searched in vain to find anything else from Kathy Tyers. Without any more to read, I forgot the author but the trilogy entered that hallowed place of unassailable nostalgic bliss that we create in our childhood.

Then, when I saw a newly released edition with notes from the author pop up in my recommendations on Amazon, I was instantly intrigued. Lo and behold, sequels were on the way! I purchased the trilogy again, but didn’t read it, fearful I would penetrate that nostalgic bubble and perhaps discover the series wasn’t as amazing as I’d hoped. Finally, after over a year of owning the book, I opened it up, read it, and now offered this look at the series. Check out my review of the book on my other interests site.

Conclusion

The Annotated Firebird is an excellent edition to pick up in order to experience the whole Firebird trilogy. It is a series which resonates strongly with the Christian worldview, but more importantly it does so without ever compromising on the story, world-building, or characters. Tyers has created a masterpiece.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Microview: “The Annotated Firebird Trilogy” by Kathy Tyers- I review the trilogy with a brief look at the plot and some positives and negatives in the book.

Popular Books- Check out my looks into other popular books (scroll down for more).

Source

Kathy Tyers, The Annotated Firebird (Colorado Springs, CO: Marcher Lord [Enclave], 2011).

SDG.

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The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

Sunday Quote!- An Eclectic Dialogue Between Christianity and Science

afos-mrEvery Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!

An Eclectic Dialogue Between Christianity and Science

I recently finished reading Adam, the Fall, and Original Sin, a series of essays from a variety of authors on these highly important subjects. There are a number of excellent articles in this work, and I highly recommend it. One great quote from the book was about Christianity and science and the way to integrate them:

[W]hy should we choose sides [between science and Christianity]? Theology should be eclectic in how it engages with science. Christians should engage scientific theories on a case-by-case basis. Different theories will invite different attitudes and responses (sometimes dialogue, sometimes conflict, sometimes independence, and so on)… This is partly because Scripture does not usually answer our scientific questions and partly because scientific claims are by nature revisable. (243-244, cited below)

I found this an enormously helpful quote and approach because I think too often Christians and non-Christians act as though “science” is this homogeneous whole, and that “Christianity” is itself a single entire unit. But realistically, this is not at all the case. Different theories and different theological points have their own spheres of influence and should be approached individually in order to see how they might overlap.

What are your thoughts? Is this a helpful way to view the religious and scientific dialogue?

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Sunday Quote- If you want to read more Sunday Quotes and join the discussion, check them out! (Scroll down for more)

Source

Adam, the Fall, and Original Sin edited Hans Madueme and Michael Reeves (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2014).

SDG.

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