Thinking Out Loud

April 9, 2020

Author Digs Deep Into Genesis 1-11

Filed under: bible, books, Christianity, reviews — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:57 am

After reviewing Darrell W. Johnson’s book The Beatitudes in August, Regent College Publishing was gracious enough to send me another, The Story of All Stories: Genesis 1-11 by the same author, and once again I was not disappointed.

Johnson is among scholars who argue that these eleven chapters constitute “the first half of the Bible” and that everything remaining is the second half. At first I was rather dismissive of this approach, but after re-reading a few chapters for the second time, he won me over.

I would also put it this way, that in terms of both the literary forms and the themes of grace of redemption, Genesis 1-11 is a microcosm of the Bible as a whole. Just as the Bible is one unified story consisting of many smaller parts, each with its own genre requiring its own approach; so also are these early chapters — stories concerning Adam, Cain, Noah, Babel — significant dramas each requiring their own unique type of study.

I know that some might be intimidated by a book sold under the imprint of an academic institution, but proficiency in Hebrew or Greek is not required, and just as I did with Johnson’s book on the parables, I found this material remarkably accessible. There are insights here that I’ve missed previously or hadn’t heard mentioned in preaching, even though the texts are familiar. (Tangentially, I was always soft on the idea of the Genesis flood being a global event; convicted that was manifested mostly in the known world; but the author provided a convincing reason I had not considered.)

The highest praise I can give a print resource is to say that upon completion, my first act was to turn back to chapter one and begin anew. That was definitely the case here. The learn more, click this link.

Thanks to Josh at Regent College Publishing for an opportunity to discover this book.

174 pages paperback | $19.99 US | 9781573835695


July 17, 2017

Conservative Christians in Germany

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:54 am

It was interesting to learn that if anything frustrates Evangelicals in Germany, it is the emergence of conservative Christians who have decided to march under the banner of six day creation instead of, well, perhaps the message of Jesus.

Also at issue is the sovereignty of God. Perhaps this was really dumb on my part, maybe I was tired and missing something, or maybe I’d been away from my computer and the Christian blogosphere for too may days, but I didn’t see this as framed in terms of Calvinism vs. Arminianism — which I never thought to mention — but more in terms of a very narrow view of what constitutes man’s freedom in the everyday; perhaps something more akin to the debates on open theology.

On returning home however, I connected the dots and realized that Neo Calvinism is certainly having an influence there as it is doing here. Probably just as well we didn’t go there, as we had other places to visit and things to see.

But it was the creation thing that rather irked me. I am being greatly influenced by many writers who would belong to the theistic evolutionary view on this, but it’s too early to say I’ve changed my views. If God wanted to do what he did — and the not-so-peripheral issue of intelligent design has to always be on standby in any discussion of this nature — in six twenty-four hour days, then he certainly could. He wouldn’t need a secondary agency in order to accomplish this and he could certainly give this created world an apparent age. But why would he leave us so many indicators that point to something different?

Again, I’m somewhat undecided, or perhaps even apathetic. Let me explain.

My Christianity doesn’t hinge on the first two chapters of Genesis. Not for a moment. I no longer think I can see that as the Genesis so much as our Genesis. As a science professor who was also a Christian explained to me so clearly, to believe the Bible you have to include an Adam who walked with God in the cool of the evening.” I like that Genesis 3:8, which uses that phrase, also introduces our sin story.

But now we’re into the third chapter of the Pentateuch, long past the origins narrative.

What if I had grown up in a culture where evolution is a settled fact? Upon being given a Bible, how would I deal with the conflict or contradiction of Genesis 1 and 2? Perhaps I wouldn’t see it. Hopefully, the person who gave me the Bible would direct me to Mark and John and Luke and Matthew. Hopefully I would meet Jesus first and then, as I gained a deeper understanding of what God’s bigger plans and purposes are — the book of Hebrews would provide the perfect introduction — I would understand the system that was in place prior to the incarnation of the Christ.

To decide to that young earth creationism is the hill to die on is simply to walk into the arena of religious thought looking to pick a fight. There are better ways to be Evangelical than this.

Hunting for a graphic image to associate with this article I came across this article which raises some issues not discussed here. I don’t agree with some of the more inflammatory nature of his approach, but I think he’s making some good points.

The actual image used was from this Seventh Day Adventist article.

November 2, 2009

Genesis for the Comic Book Crowd

Filed under: books, cartoons — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:57 am

Time Magazine began the week joining other media who have noted the publication of The Book of Genesis by 66-year old American comic book illustrator Robert Crumb aka R. Crumb. In a November 1st online story, the magazine said:

R. Crumb - The Book of GenesisCrumb’s manuscript is — for a man who has said he doesn’t believe Genesis is God’s word — oddly reminiscent of those produced by monks before printing presses: a faithful, verse for verse copy, painstakingly rendered. He hardly needed to change a thing; Genesis offers a smorgasbord of the kind of behavior Crumb is given to portraying: the persistent, colorful, depressing failure of humans to not give in to their baser desires. It’s sufficiently literal that cultural conservatives could hardly be offended, but it has more than enough supernatural events, betrayals and epic storylines to satisfy the comic book reader.

Despite the above, the book is not selling through comic book stores, Crumb’s traditional core market.  That might have to do with the content and the price; the book retails for $24.99 U.S. in hardcover.

The story also links to a review by the more Evangelical Ben Witherington III, who writes at Beliefnet:

…This super-lapsed Catholic has decided to depict scenes from all 50 chapters of Genesis, with the emphasis on verbatim. Those of us who knew a bit about his snarky past were holding our collective breath… The kudos for this book are also coming in from other quarters–Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and chronicler of pop culture thinks Crumb is successfully translating the Bible into a new medium… In the end Crumb after long debating how to depict God (as a bright light???) fell back on the old stand by–God as the old white guy with the long white beard. I wonder what the Mormons would say about this Genesis.,

Contrast this with Crumb’s other works which include the Hot ‘n Heavy collection which introduced readers to a number of characters including the not-so-religious Fritz The Cat.

Don’t look for copies of this at Family Christian Bookstores, though it would be interesting to see if they would order it for a customer.

January 13, 2009

Buried Treasure: Short and Free Tim Keller Downloads

timothy-kellerWith some of the sermons at the Redeemer store being quite expensive compared with other churches offering sermons online, I was happy to stumble over these shorter clips from Redeemer with Timothy Keller answering some key questions in a Q&A format.   There’s a healthy mix of apologetics and ‘issue’ stuff.

Start streaming or downloading the Q&A session here.   If you haven’t read The Reason for God or The Prodigal God yet, maybe this will whet your appetite.

Suggestion:  Start with the first couple on Genesis 1 and 2, and then skip around…I’m listening to the one on the doctrine of election as a I type this.  (Don’t feel you need to agree with everything; but give him grace; these were time-pressed answers.)

September 23, 2008

How God Made The Clouds

Filed under: bible, Christianity, Faith — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:42 am

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