And, sadly, penance is the right word. In the world of evangelicalism today to be a creation-care advocate is just cause for ostracization, if not execution. “Sir, do you recant your belief in human caused climate change?” I do not. “And do you still refuse to acknowledge Donald Trump as our savior?” I do. “Ready, aim, FIRE!”
Thank you and, if I may borrow an idiom not my own, bless you for any and all efforts in that direction. Sadly I lack standing to make the same case to the groups which you do. May I add you to my list of hero’s?
Thank you for the blessing! Two people who kept me, at a few points, from denying the faith were my godly father and C. S. Lewis. And, strangely, my feeble attempts to parse humanism/naturalism all the way back to the Big Bang. I could not even imagine billions of years of cosmic and planetary development without an intelligent and aware somebody somewhere steering things toward intelligence. I once put the unimaginable into a sort of free verse.
ORPHAN OF THE UNIVERSE
In the beginning was unconscious, senseless cause.
Then magnum crepitus:
Nothing exploded into something;
Immateriality burst into materiality;
Purposelessness caused a cosmos; and
Randomness feigned design.
For millions of eons after the beginning, something was here,
But nothing was aware that something was here.
There was no plan and no person in the universe—
Then lifelessness created life;
Obliviousness became consciousness;
Impersonality gained a face;
Asexuality engendered sexuality;
Ignorance developed knowledge;
Instinct evoked insight and thought;
Thought formed the word;
Nonsense found meaning;
Life begot love;
Amorality gained a conscience
And organized an ethic.
So this undesigned, complex bundle of matter became a designer.
This unplanned, carelessly erected builtling
Became a careful planner and builder.
This cosmic anomaly wrote poetry.
This uncreated creature created music and art,
And it weeps in wonder over the
Stunning beauty and mystery of its
Purposeless, meaningless environment.
Mankind: sad orphan of the universe,
Naturally selected survivor of chaos,
Aware that it’s a what with no answer
And a why with no because.
Wow, what a poem. Thank you. Difficult.
I would be honored to stand next to you. But … remember that blatant politics are verboten on this forum. Insinuation, on the other hand …
Guilty as charged. The strange thing is, my current agent began his career editing some of Schaeffer’s books in the 1970s. Should I fire him for that offense? haha
I think BioLogos has a series on “creation care” coming soon. Maybe @HRankin can give us an update.
Yes. Give us something on the thread Your Favorite Poem Ever
Great to hear that. One of the first books on creation care after Schaeffer’s was “Earthkeeping” which was a 1980 collection that included a number of folks from Calvin College where BioLogos has its cyber-location. One was Calvin DeWitt, who was my first mentor in that arena. I live ten minutes away from Calvin College but a graduate of Bob Jones University. Which can explain a lot!
We have some creation care articles already on the site - but be on the lookout for more in the future!
Thank you for taking the time to put your experiences in writing. I agree with what you say about “easy believism” – deep as a mud puddle. It’s also reassuring to read of someone else who continually struggles to understand rightly.
One thing I’d like to ask: Your story features the role of many influences on you and your way of understanding. But it doesn’t mention the Holy Spirit. Do you feel some part of your current understanding is from the Spirit’s teaching (John 16:13)?
I know for myself lately, I’m putting more and more trust in Him to lead me into the understanding He wants me to have, rather than human “authorities” exclusively. (Being an engineer, that has been a difficult transition for me).
Thanks again for a wonderful testimony.
What I do know is that our task is to take two sources of one truth, Scripture and Nature, and study them until we find how they together lead us on the true path to knowledge and wisdom.
The way I say it is: “Both the Bible and God’s Creation are His work and His testament; within the limits of our understanding, they should say the same thing.”
A mind once stretched by new ideas, data, questions, never snaps back fully to its original dimensions.
Many Christian institutions of higher learning have moved over the centuries from conservative origins to more moderate, multi-faceted, diverse, inclusive, progressive, liberal points of view. Harvard was founded quite conservatively, religion-wise, but it moved toward less conservative views such that some conservative ministers got together to form Yale in reaction, now look at Yale. Same with Princeton, home to plenary verbal inerrancy, but that changed in the 1920s, and in reaction to Princeton’s move some conservative ministers founded Westminster Theological Seminary.
The most conservative Christian institutions of higher learning are founded in reaction to older institutions that moved away from such strict conservatism. These younger institutions at first try to isolate or insulate themselves from all those pesky questions raised by religious scholars worldwide. But eventually they begin interacting and find themselves in endless discussions, then some members of the conservative institutions start to agree hesitantly with the validity of some of those questions. Look at how long it took Wheaton and Westminster to open up to scholarly questions regarding ancient Mesopotamian cosmologies and creation myths. But they did. (One Wheaton professor even wrote a book about the Civil War as a theological conflict.) And a prof. at Gordon-Connell even wrote a book summarizing so many ancient Near Eastern parallels to Israelite religion that it is raising questions among conservative believers:
Ancient Near Eastern Themes in Biblical Theology Kindle Edition
by Jeffrey J. Niehaus (Author)
Niehaus points to parallels between ancient mythological gods and the Israelite god, including covenants, divinely inspired laws, and the claim that gods led conquests and supernaturally dictated plans for how they wanted their temples designed, etc.
In fact Niehaus pointed out so many parallels that a Christian at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary wrote:
“Niehaus does not offer an easy path at all to reach the conclusion that God has indeed shown Himself unique and sovereign against the backdrop of the (not real) gods of the neighbors of His covenant people Israel. The majority of the book leaves the reader unengaged as they are not shown a true contrast to what they want to know to be biblical supremacy, showing the covenantal love of the Creator of the universe for His children. Instead, the feeling a reader may walk away with is one of frustration with the lack of differentiation.”
Niehaus even stretches his creative theological imagination so far as to argue that the only possible explanation for the enormous number of parallels between ANE and later Israelite ideas of gods, temples, priests, laws, covenants, sacrifices, creation tales, cosmologies, etc., was supernatural “demonic” foresight of what Yahweh was planning for Israel. Since ANE ideas and practices were developed prior to the founding of Israel the demons were supposedly trying to make Israel appear like it wasn’t so uniquely nor inspired via pre-loading all the unique aspects of Israel into the ANE just to fool modern day scholars who began discovering ancient clay tablets and translating them in the nineteenth century.
Niehaus’s hypothesis reminds one of Philip Henry Gosse’s, namely that the fossil record from dinosaur bones and even their fossilized poo was not the result of animals living and dying in the past, but instead, Gosse hypothesized that such fossils were created instantly and supernaturally by God inside the rocks themselves at creation. It also reminds me of Dembski’s hypothesis that the effects of “the fall” were retroactively catapulted back into the history of the earth and cosmos, i.e., the past featured no pain, death, extinctions, not until after Adam arose in the future and sinned.
Ron, Thanks for sharing your story. I read all of Francis Schaeffer’s apologetics in high school and college. Later I learned about a book critiquing his views:
Francis Schaeffer’s Apologetics: A Critique Paperback – 1976
Frank Schaeffer, the son of Francis Schaeffer, helped forge with his father the Religious Right and anti-abortion movement in the U.S. in the 1970-80s. But Frank later grew disenchanted with Evangelicalism and left it for Eastern Orthodoxy. He wrote three semi-autobiogaphical novels about growing up in an Evangelical apologist’s family, then wrote about his move to Eastern Orthodoxy.
Finally, Frank Schaeffer left Christianity altogether, and wrote several books about that as well: http://www.amazon.com/Frank-Schaeffer/e/B000AP9HNQ/ref=sr_tc_2_0
Thanks for these references. Not to blame his father at all–but can you imagine the pressure of growing up in the shadow of a father with a history like that? I would struggle, too.
A world famous philosopher, on an isolated retreat, under so many people’s eyes–then to work in communications; it almost reminds me of Josh Harris’ history. It is worthwhile to have patience and understanding. I know that his siblings say his memories of their mom were somewhat confused; but I’m sure he had terrific stress.
I know university philosophers, both Christian and nonChristian. None of them consider Francis S. to be world famous, nor world renowned. Many haven’t heard of Francis S. or heard very little about him. Check Philosophy Abstracts to see how little he has ever been mentioned or cited when compared with world famous philosophers. Francis S. was an apologist, (not a very convincing one in my opinion). His son’s memories were of Francis S.’s all too human side, and even of his father being seduced by, or allowing himself to be used by, right wing theocrats.
Maybe I put it wrong. Well known apologist may have been a better word. I also don’t agree with many of what I understood his ideas were. His son was in a fishbowl though, I would imagine. Again, not to blame the parents… Sorry this is a diversion from the thread.
Thanks, Doug, and you’re welcome.
Perhaps it’s due to my Presbyterian upbringing but I tend to think of the Father and the Holy Spirit as interchangeable, and in some respects, I suppose they are. When I speak of God drawing me to Himself, I would say that IS the Holy Spirit. I think it’s easy for humans to conceive of God the Father since we are well acquainted with fathers in general, and Jesus as well since he is God’s Son and we’re well acquainted with sons in general, but the Holy Spirit is something that my 21st Century mind doesn’t consider as much. I’m swimming (as John Walton would put it) in my own cultural river I suppose. Maybe I need to crawl out onto the bank and think more along those lines.
You’re a writer?
Yes, I’m currently peddling a book. My career started in magazine journalism, then I became a teacher who wrote a few articles and edited a few books to make ends meet. Here’s the story I wrote about the transition: School of Hard Knocks