Thursday, August 25, 2011

Summer Reading: Should Christians Embrace Evolution?

Recently finished reading this one, along with several other books this summer on the them or origins (evolution and creation).

Should Christians Embrace Evolution: Biblical & Scientific Responses
edited by Norman C. Nevin

From the back cover:
We are witnessing an aggressive attack on the credibility of the Christian faith. Christians are increasingly called to embrace Darwinian evolution — or acknowledge that they are altogether opposed to science.

But for the contributors to this volume, this is a false premise. Committed to the authority of Scripture, the need for careful exegesis, and the importance of rigorous scientific investigation, these thirteen scientists and theologians offer valuable perspectives on a controversial area of debate for concerned Christians who are determined to draw their own conclusions.

“Helpful to [anyone] who wants to expose their thinking to top-quality, cutting-edge arguments.” ~ Richard A. Carhart, Professor Emeritus of Physics, University of Illinois, Chicago.

“The experts in science and theology who have contributed [these] chapters … will be very helpful to Christians who are struggling to sort out conflicting claims and arrive at the truth.” ~ Phillip E. Johnson, Author of Darwin on Trial, Cofounder of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture.

“This is a most helpful compilation, which is designed to make one think very seriously about the whole issue of evolution and the Bible. To those who love the Scriptures, and seek to be faithful to them, this will prove enormously helpful.” ~ Rt. Revd. Wallace Benn, Bishop of Lewes

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Summer Reading: Did Adam and Eve Really Exist?

The kids may be back in school, but there is still a good bit of summer left. So I'm still working on my summer reading. Earlier, I read C. John Collins' Genesis 1-4: A Linguistic, Literary, and Theological Commentary. Now, I am following that up with this.

Did Adam and Eve Really Exist? Who They Were and Why You Should Care
by C. John Collins

From the product description:
“We need a real Adam and Eve if we are to make sense of the Bible and of life,” argues C. John Collins. Examining the biblical storyline as the worldview story of the people of God, Collins shows how that story presupposes a real Adam and Eve and how the modern experience of human life points to the same conclusion.

Applying well-informed critical thinking to questions raised by theologians and scientists alike, Collins asserts that only a real man could participate in God’s plan to use his human partners to bring blessing to the whole creation, a blessing that requires “redemption” for all people since sin entered the world.

Did Adam and Eve Really Exist? addresses both biblical and Jewish texts and contains extensive appendices to examine how the material in Genesis relates to similar material from Mesopotamian myths. Collins’s detailed analysis of the relevant texts will instill confidence in readers that the traditional Christian story equips them better than any alternatives to engage the life that they actually encounter in the modern world.

C. JOHN COLLINS (PhD, University of Liverpool) is professor of Old Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary in St Louis. With degrees from MIT and Faith Evangelical Lutheran Seminary, he pursues such research interests as Hebrew and Greek grammar, science and faith, and biblical theology. He is the author of The God of Miracles.

“Dr. Collins has presented a careful defense of the existence of the historical Adam and Eve. This methodologically rigorous study reflects a critical awareness of contemporary discussions on both biblical and extra-biblical literature and further contributes to the wider discussion on science and religion. Perhaps more importantly, he has successfully demonstrated the theological significance of this traditional reading, all the while using language that an informed layperson can digest and engage. This work deserves to be widely circulated.” ~ David W. Pao, Chair of the New Testament Department, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

“Working through questions of myth and history, Bible and science, harmonization and complementarity, Collins brings fresh arguments to stimulate wide-ranging thought and improved appreciation of the way the first chapters of the Bible affect the whole.” ~ Alan Millard, Emeritus Rankin Professor of Hebrew and Ancient Semitic Languages, The University of Liverpool

“I could hardly imagine a more honest book on this controversial topic. Its openness (in a user-friendly format) is no naivety—it is combined with undeniable competence on the ancient Near East, recent literature, and methodological discussions. Standing firm on vital issues, accepting diversity on others, the reader meets in C. John Collins a sensitive and godly guide.” ~ Henri A. Blocher, formerly Gunther Knoedler Professor of Systematic Theology, Wheaton College Graduate School

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Summer Reading: Four Views on Tithing

Perspectives on Tithing: Four Views

Was the tithe just for  Old Testament Israel or is it also applicable to Christians under the New Covenant? Must a tithe go only to your local church or can it be received by any Christian organization? Do we tithe on the net or the gross amount?

Perspectives on Tithing presents, in point-counterpoint fashion, four common views about how Christians are to give of their financial resources, addressing the questions that surround this issue.
  • Ken Hemphill (Empowering Kingdom Growth) and Bobby Eklund (Eklund Stewardship Ministries) contribute “The Foundations of Giving.”
  • David A. Croteau (Liberty University), who is the editor for the project and wrote the introduction, presents his view: “The Post-Tithing View: Giving in the New Covenant.” In addition, he also wrote the appendix on “A Short History of Tithing in the Christian Church.”
  • Reggie Kidd (Reformed Theological Seminary) offers “Tithing in the New Covenant? ‘Yes’ as Principle, ‘No’ as Casuistry.”
  • Gary North (Institute for Christian Economics) looks at “The Covenantal Tithe.”
  • Scott Preissler (Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) writes an excursus on “What’s Happened to Giving?”
The view I have the most affinity with is that of Reggie Kidd. His style was very irenic and measured, which is quite an accomplishment for a discussion of this controversial topic that can quickly turn vicious. His approach stands in contrast to the heavy-handed manner of Hemphill and Eklund, or the bombastic style of North. In a response to Kidd, North warns that if you reject his (North’s) exegesis of Hebrew 7 concerning the tithe, then there will be no peace for you. And if you disagree with North’s view, he makes it known in his own presentation that, well, you’ve been warned.

My own view on and experience with tithing can be found here, Learning to Tithe. As I said, it is most like that of Reggie Kidd, and contrary to Gary North, I have wonderful peace.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Summer Read: Scripture and the Authority of God

I've become a fan of N. T. Wright over the past couple of years and have read a number of his books. His style is a as readable, and helpful, as C. S. Lewis'. His eschatological viewpoint is one that I have held, more of less, for a while, and his books have brought it together for me in a greater way and moved it forward. His view on Scripture and the authority of God is one I think would be very helpful for the Church.

Scripture and the Authority of God: How to Read the Bible Today
by N. T. Wright

From the product description:
“But what does scripture say?”

That question has echoed through a thousand debates in the life of the worldwide church. All churches have officially endorsed strong statements about the centrality of scripture and its authority in their mission, life, doctrine, and discipline. But there is no agreement on what this might mean or how it might work in practice. Individuals and churches struggle with how to respond to issues such as war, homosexuality, and abortion, and especially how to interpret biblical passages that discuss these topics. These disagreements often serve to undermine our confidence in the authority of the Bible.

Bishop and Bible scholar N. T. Wright delivers a new model for how to understand the place of scripture and God’s authority in the midst of religious confusion. Wright gives new life to the old, tattered doctrine of the authority of scripture, delivering a fresh, helpful, and concise statement on how to read the Bible today, restoring scripture as a place to find God’s voice.

In this revised and expanded edition of the previously titled book The Last Word, Wright provides two case studies that delve into what it means to keep Sabbath and how Christians can defend marital monogamy. These studies offer not only bold biblical insights but also showcase Wright’s new model for how to interpret scripture and restore its role as the church’s main resource for teaching and guidance. Removing the baggage that the last 100 years of controversy and confusion have placed on this doctrine, Wright renews our confidence in the Bible and shows how it can once again serve as the living Word of God for our lives.

“This wide-ranging whirlwind-tour account of Scripture channeling God’s authority, with its tweaking of distortions back into shape and its first-class approach to Bible study, is masterly throughout.” ~ J. I Packer, Professor of Theology, Regent College

“In a fashion that is both old fashioned and new fangled at the same time Bishop Wright takes us through a sane and helpful study of what it means to treat the Bible as the authoritative Word of God. Highly Recommended!” ~ Ben Witherington, author of The Brother of Jesus

“[P]robing, provocative, insightful…This is a book of uncommon wisdom for all who read and love the Bible.” ~ Timothy George, Dean of Beeson Divinity School of Samford University and Executive Editor of Christianity Today

“Written by one of the leading Christian thinkers in the world today, this book is a refreshing and accessible resource concerning the perennial question of biblical authority that moves the discussion beyond the liberal-conservative impasse of our times. Highly Recommended.” ~ John R. Franke, Professor of Theology, Biblical Theological Seminary