Theological Retrieval for Apologetics

In my Theological Retrieval for Evangelicals I give a number of reasons why I think retrieving the theology of the historic church is valuable in our culture right now. One that I don’t discuss, but have been thinking more about lately, is its role in apologetics and cultural dialogue. People tend to think of theological retrieval as primarily an academic interest, but I think it is useful in a wide variety of practical contexts, including apologetics. Here are two great examples of retrieval “at work.” First, in his 2009 debate with Christopher Hitchens, which I have enjoyed watching many times,…

Is 6-Day Creation the Only Long-term Viable Option? A Response to Tim Challies

[Update: Just to be clear, the Tim Challies quote just below is an excerpt from Thomas Purifoy’s article, not Tim’s own language. Please read this response with that in mind.] I like Tim Challies, and benefit from his blog regularly. Recently he promoted the film Is Genesis History? on Facebook, linking to an article by the film’s director Thomas Purifoy, which includes this assertion: I wanted to offer a few brief thoughts in response, because many of those who read this statement may not be aware of other perspectives on this issue. My comments here come in a larger context…

How Carl Sagan Strengthened My Faith

I’m about 37 years behind on this, but I finally got around to reading Carl Sagan’s Contact (it was originally published in 1980, and made into a film in 1997). I was interested in the book because I’m interested in the larger science-religion relationship in our culture, in which Carl Sagan is a kind of iconic figure. I want to understand scientific worldviews in the way that Atticus Finch talks about as “seeing the world through another person’s eyes”—that is, in a careful, generous, un-caricatured way. Contact, as the best-selling English-language science book of all time, is a good entry…

A Review of Adam and the Genome

Dennis R. Venema and Scot McKnight, Adam and the Genome: Reading Scripture After Genetic Science (BrazosPress, 2017). $19.99. 224pp. The aim of Dennis R. Venema and Scot McKnight’s Adam and the Genome: Reading Scripture After Genetic Science is to harmonize the Bible and evolution, particularly with a view to recent genetic evidence and the challenge it poses to traditional beliefs about Adam and Eve. The first four chapters deal with the scientific issues and are authored by Venema, a professor of biology at Trinity Western University associated with the BioLogos Foundation; the next four deal with the Bible and are…

If God Made the World, Why is it So Old?

According to standard geological timeframes, we human beings are a thing of yesterday. I remember reading somewhere (I cannot remember where) that if earth’s history were compressed into a 24-hour day, then all of human history would comprise roughly the last two seconds of that day (not two minutes). Amazing. From the perspective of sheer time, Planet Earth has had much more to do with sponges swaying in the ocean or spiders scurrying along the forest floor than human beings engaging in relationship and art and worship. As a Christian theologian, I have really wrestled with this. Sure, our relatively…

Is Animal Suffering and Death Before the Fall Bad?

Perhaps the most momentous issue involved in the debate between young-earth creationists and various varieties of old-earth creationists is animal death/suffering before the human fall. In his book A Biblical Case for an Old Earth, David Snoke writes, “in my experience, this is [i.e., whether animals died before Adam and Eve sinned] is the fundamental issue of Bible interpretation caught up in the debate.” My experience has been the same as Snoke’s. It is here, in the realm of animal death/suffering, that we push through the hermeneutical issues of how to read Genesis 1 into the deeper consequences of different…

How Did Nature Become Fallen?

My article “On the Fall of Angels and the Fallenness of Nature: An Evangelical Hypothesis Regarding Natural Evil” is now out in the April edition of Evangelical Quarterly. I hope it does not seem self-serving to share about the article on my blog, but a number of people have asked me about it since I referenced it in my correspondence with Doug Wilson on creation issues several weeks back. So I want to give a brief outline of the argument here, in hopes it might be helpful to others, and to try to open up avenues of dialogue around this…