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Vibrant Dance 2: The Implications of My Position on the Core Christian Doctrines

{RJW Note:  The second “panel” discussion was really each speaker taking 10 minutes to address the title issue. So this session was not a lot of back and forth but just a serial lecture by each panel member, again moderated by Craig Blaising (CB). The panel members were:  TB(eall), JD(uncan), WK(aiser), JR(eynolds), BW(altke), JW(alton). Also Genesis 1 and 2 are abbreviated as G1 and G2 respectively. Again, this post will be in the form of a pseudo-transcript. Not everyone took the full ten minutes, so some are shorter than others.}

CB:  Looking at the core Christian doctrines, is your view essential to the faith? In other words, if someone holds or does not hold your view, are they missing a core doctrine of faith?

WK:  Look at the Apostle’s Creed and as long as we stick to that, we’re fine. Yet a real implication of having an eternal God is a demand for non-eternal matter. Genesis IS important because it sets up the meta-narrative of the whole of Scripture. Atheists begin with a eternal universe, but the Bible begins with an eternal God, which offers meaning and gives the origin of universe. The universe cannot explain itself. Beliefs about age of earth and length of days are secondary to the fact that God created. By naming things, in ancient times, you claim authority and ownership of them. So therefore speaking things into existence, God claims ultimate authority and by creating us in His image, He imparts special status to us. Other (ancient near east) ANE creation accounts are very different and more materialistic, more like us, than the Bible. The God of the Bible is continuously active, not a Deist or Scientific God that winds things up and steps back to watch it unfold. The Bible makes enormous claims—Christ claims to have created the universe and now rules it. Creation was created for us—its pinnacle. Other ANE views are without purpose for the universe.

BW:  Amen to all WK said. I don’t feel that it contradicts traditional Christian doctrines to say that the days are anthropomorphisms. He thanked the organizers, then talked of unity in Christ—who is one’s brother or sister? David would have said it was anyone who was in a covenantal relationship with God. For him, that sign was circumcision, so for us in Christ, that would be baptism. If someone ascribes to that, then they are a brother. The same holds for those who ascribe to the 10 Commandments, and the signs of a new life, and one other. This conference is a symbol of the failure of our seminaries—that is where these discussions should be held, but they are too worried about catering to supporters. He wants an authentic apologetic to help our young people engage with university and culture, so they don’t lose their faith when hit by academic arrogant skepticism.

JD:  Amen to WK. There are four issues of importance:  1) affirmation of historical Adam, 2) good pre-Fall Creation, 3) a real Fall, and 4) the reality of a cosmology and cosmogony in Genesis. Otherwise we lose the whole meta-narrative of redemption. Not so important is the issue of days, but rather Adam’s headship, paradise, fall and redemption.

JW:  In spite of separations, there is a lot all agree on. He provided a foundation for core doctrines:  1) who is God? (creator); 2) what is the world (sacred space, made for us, but His place); 3) who are we (in His image, yet dust (worse state than the idea of common descent), 4) we are fallen (reality of sin and its impact on us), 5) what Scripture is and its interpretation. {All speakers were passionate about the authority of Scripture (innovative, but tied to authority)} We need to know on which hills to die, and sometimes Church hasn’t chosen well—and age of Earth isn’t a hill to die on.

TB:  Every doctrine is upheld and strengthened by his young earth view—inerrancy, the Fall, etc. He feels we must have a first Adam, otherwise we don’t need a 2nd Adam (Christ), and everyone on panel agrees with that. The strength of young earth creationism is that it is the most historical view, and the most consistent view throughout Genesis. It’s weaknesses:  some parts of Genesis 2 are “interesting” (pluperfect tense) {Pluperfect: had formed; perfect: formed}, it does not harmonize with evolutionary theory (in G2—God formed animals in garden for Adam), but he doesn’t think too much of evolutionary theory himself and disagrees with the uniformitarian assumption. {Uniformitarian is the idea that the Earth (and Universe) has behaved fairly constantly from the beginning, following uniform natural laws. My understanding is that many, if not most geologists have also rejected the uniformitarian hypothesis, and instead support a catastprophism hypothesis that the world has been subjected to a series of major catastrophes.} An example he gives is his belief in a global flood. He doesn’t believe evolution is not explicitly science. {I’m not sure about the double negative here. I think his thought was that he is skeptical of evolution being truly scientific.} Evolution’s problem is that it can’t explain how life actually started (biogenesis), nor can it explain the presence of the human soul. He also cited how much conflict occurs between evolutionary practitioners, the complex design of universe, beauty of universe, how mutations are nearly universally negative, etc. All of this adds up to make evolution mathematically impossible.

JR:  Most people didn’t recognize, receive or accept Jesus, even though they were the ones most expected to do just that. So by moving away from the text, people missed Him. So His job was to make it plain who He was/is, to draw people to Him. 1:  The Bible contains knowledge, which can be right or wrong, and is one of many traditions containing knowledge, so there is an art and science to interpretation, which leads to different interpretation so we should always hold our interpretations lightly. Some ideas matter more than others. 2:  God acts, and we can perceive that action. As Christians we cannot accept the notion that the cosmos is lying to us, and we should accept also the existence of miracles. God is not whimsical, but purposeful. Both science and religion search for knowledge to improve life, yet both can be wrong, change over time, and subject to interpretation. Is the contradiction between the two a real contradiction, or just between interpretations. Also, both should be open to new ideas regarding origins. Science deals with natural causation and religion with intelligent causation, primarily. But when one has information about the other, we need to listen and interpret carefully. It is bad theology to assume that if there is a natural causation, it must mean that God didn’t do it. {agent/mechanism yet again} Intelligent causation can use natural causation. Science must be able to prove that the appearance of intelligent causation is only due to natural causation in order for their naturalistic worldview to be accepted. Theologians tend to be more open minded than scientists on this issue.

Day 12 Praise:  Praise to the Eternal God, who knows the end from the beginning. He is sovereign and His will is to be accomplished, yet we have freedom to love or reject Him. He is worthy of praise that this is somehow a paradox rather than contradiction.


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