Reading through the Institutes

I got pointed to a “Read Calvin’s Institutes in a Year” schedule about 3 months ago and it is proving itself very refreshing. Here’s a great quote I ran across this morning:

For each man’s mind is like a labyrinth, so that it is no wonder that individual nations were drawn aside into various falsehoods; and not only this–but individual men, almost, had their own gods.  For as rashness and superficiality are joined to ignorance and darkness, scarcely a single person has ever been found who did not fashion for himself an idol or specter in place of God. 

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13 Reasons Why… Life: You are not alone.

Here’s the next installment of this series over at the church’s website.

http://www.meadowviewpca.org/13-reasons-life-not-alone/

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A Series I’m Attempting

Because the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” is proving to be a dangerous and abiding presence in popular discussions, I’m trying my hand at a series that is related to it over at the website of the church where I serve.  If you have an adolescent in the home, check out the first installment: http://www.meadowviewpca.org/13-reasons-good-reasons-live/

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Review of Stephen Meyer’s book “Darwin’s Doubt”

Darwin's Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent DesignDarwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design by Stephen C. Meyer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I feel somewhat unqualified to give this volume a thorough or critical review since my BS is in Environmental Science and I do not have a command of the peer-reviewed literature on many of the relevant disciplines Meyer touches on. That being said, Meyer appears to have a thorough command of the peer-reviewed literature and consistently refers to it throughout his book to make his case, frequently using the words of convinced-and-published Neo-Darwinists to demonstrate so. Another feather in Meyer’s cap, one that I do feel qualified to grant him, is his ability to use both inductive and deductive reasoning well. This is a skill seldom displayed in the science-centric articles I have come across over the years.

Probably the most enjoyable part (for those who dwell in the light of geekdom) was the amazing crash course in evolutionary studies that Meyer gives his readers. I learned so much about the Burgess shale, epigenetic information, developmental genetic regulatory networks, protein folds, combinatorial space, etc. that I feel like I can now digest some of Meyer’s primary source materials (peer-reviewed, scientific journals) with enough of a rudimentary understanding to be able to read with a more critical eye.

But Meyer’s strength is also the book’s weakness. Some of the chapters are so very dense, saturated with technical terminology, that it was a strain to keep up. I found myself mentally checking out and having to review what I had just been over.

Ultimately, this reviewer felt Meyer did a solid job of two things: 1) critiquing the Neo-Darwinian claim that the diversity of animal life (with special reference to the Cambrian explosion) arose through the accumulation of random mutations and “edited” by virtue of natural selection; and 2) making a solid case for Intelligent Design based solidly on a broad and detailed understanding of the evidence found within the published, peer-reviewed scientific literature and the history of science from Darwin on. Combine these two things with Meyer’s ability to handle inductive vs. deductive reasoning well, and a reader who has a high tolerance for difficult reading is in for a treat.

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Another great quote from CS Lewis

I don’t know how he does it.  His seemingly casual analogies and metaphors just cause a page to explode, driving home the import of whatever he’s talking about.

To shrink back from all that can be called Nature into negative spirituality is as if we ran away from horses instead of learning to ride. There is in our present pilgrim condition plenty of room (more room than most of us like) for abstinence and renunciation and mortifying our natural desires. But behind all asceticism the thought should be, ‘Who will trust us with the true wealth if we cannot be trusted even with the wealth that perishes?’ Who will trust me with a spiritual body if I cannot control even an earthly body? These small and perishable bodies we now have were given to us as ponies are given to schoolboys. We must learn to manage: not that we may some day be free of horses altogether but that some day we may ride bare-back, confident and rejoicing, those greater mounts, those winged, shining and world- shaking horses which perhaps even now expect us with impatience, pawing and snorting in the King’s stables. Not that the gallop would be of any value unless it were a gallop with the King; but how else— since He has retained His own charger—should we accompany Him?” – from Miracles

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Princeton, why am I not surprised?

In another blaring case of an institution speaking out of both sides of the mouth, Princeton Theological Seminary declared that it would rescind its offer to Rev. Tim Keller of the Kuyper award for Excellence in Reformed Theology and Public Witness as well as affirmed its commitment to “the critical inquiry and theological diversity of our community.”  Evidently, Rev. Keller’s good status as a minister in a denomination  that doesn’t permit the ordination of women or LGBT individuals is a step too far for the “diversity” of their community.  Or, if Orwell’s animals were describing the situation here, they might say that, though everyone in the Reformed community is equal, Keller’s views make him not quite as equal as those at PTS.  Thankfully, Keller is evidently a classy enough guy to accept their invitation to come and speak regardless of the snub.

But the irony here just keeps right on coming.

kuyper-keller

The award that PTS has rescinded for Keller is named after Abraham Kuyper, a Dutch statesman and theologian from the late 19th-early 20th century, known as one of the earlier voices that began speaking into a North American context about the concept of a worldview (from the German Weltanschauung).  In other words, Kuyper helped American Christians begin to think of biblical truth as applicable to all areas of life (e.g. industry, art, science, etc.) and not just as it relates to the church, salvation, and the hereafter.  Here’s the ironic part.  Kuyper delivered a series of lectures at PTS in 1898 in which he issued some warnings to the American theological community about what he called “Modernism”, a distinctive of which Kuyper said “denies and abolishes every difference, [and] cannot rest until it has made woman man and man woman, and, putting every distinction on a common level, kills life by placing it under the ban of uniformity.” (Lectures on Calvinism (1943), 27)  So Kuyper, for whom the award is named, would have decried the demolition of distinctions that is today’s zeit geist, and Keller, in apparent agreement with Kuyper, is denied the award by the institution for reasons that Kuyper warned it about 120 years ago.

If that wasn’t rich enough, I discovered through my highly sophisticated research on the interwebs that Keller wouldn’t have been the first “holy man” to receive the Kuyper award who belonged to a religious order that doesn’t ordain women.  In 2010, PTS awarded it to Lord Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, an Orthodox Jewish movement that “…has yet to officially accept women in its rabbinate…” (see context here).   But we Americans have short memories, tender toes, and institutions like PTS apparently determine their standards by licking a finger and holding aloft to see the direction the winds of cultural change are blowing.  So I guess the moral of this story for all who seek honor in the hoary halls of PTS is, you better not be a conservative Protestant.

Sorry Keller.  I hope your speech is at least well-received.

 

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St. Patrick’s Day funny

Where else can one find the perfect harmony of St. Patrick’s day, obscure theological heresies, and a gratifying reference to Voltron?

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