Episode 124: The Lost World of Genesis

February 27, 2013

Featuring Matt Anderson and Ben De Bono

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9 comments on “Episode 124: The Lost World of Genesis

  1. Michael Feb 27, 2013

    Excellent discussion, guys. Good show. I especially appreciate how the two of you modeled how Christians with differing views can discuss such topics.

    I’m not mad at either of you, and mostly agree with Ben. Of *course* God worked within ancient understandings! That’s what God does, right? And isn’t that clearest in the Incarnation? God speaks to us in ways we are capable of understanding – maybe not always or exclusively, but I think generally, otherwise God would be a pretty poor communicator!

    Also, an excellent point about how we learn what “inspiration” means – again, completely consistent with our incarnational faith. We don’t (or shouldn’t) say “Jesus is fully human and fully divine” because we think we know, apart from him, what either of those terms means; instead, we learn the definitions of true humanity and true divinity from him. (This is all sounding very Barthian, no, Ben?)

    I love the fact that we don’t believe (or haven’t historically believed) that God dictated the Bible (the way Muslims believe God dicated the Qur’an to Mohammed). God used myth, law, history, poetry, epistles, parables to communicate God’s Word to us. God doesn’t hijack human intelligence and imagination – God “baptizes” them, inspires them, improves upon them. But the writers of Scripture were not simply taking dictation. (And, yes, God can even use editing – amazing!)

    One of my denomination’s statements of faith, our “Confession of 1967,” has this (among other things) to say about interpreting the Bible. I really like it:

    “The one sufficient revelation of God is Jesus Christ, the Word of God incarnate, to whom the Holy Spirit bears unique and authoritative witness through the Holy Scriptures, which are received and obeyed as the word of God written. The Scriptures are not a witness among others, but the witness without parallel… The Scriptures, given under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, are nevertheless the words of men, conditioned by the language, thought forms, and literary fashions of the places and times at which they were written. They reflect views of life, history, and the cosmos which were then current. The church, therefore, has an obligation to approach the Scriptures with literary and historical understanding. As God has spoken his word in diverse cultural situations, the church is confident that he will continue to speak through the Scriptures in a changing world and in every form of human culture.”

    Again, great episode. Well done.

    (Except for the needless potshot at Martin Luther. Take it up with the rabbis at Jamnia, de Bono!)

    Matt, if it makes you feel any better, you may be right that these views aren’t well known in ‘evangelical’ circles – I can’t really speak to that point – they’ve been well known and commonly accepted in ‘mainstream’ seminaries for decades (I’m only using scare quotes because labels are so inadequate), and so there are a lot of good books out there. Bernard Anderson’s “Understanding the Old Testament” and Luke Timothy Johnson’s “The Writings of the New Testament” are both good textbooks that present historical and form critical study of Scripture – and (especially LT Johnson) do so in ways that enhance faith, not in the least detracting from it.

    PS: Ben, I liked your comments on Narnia, but remember that the Roman church doesn’t have a monopoly on high views of the sacraments (though I will grant that you do a better job living it out than most Reformed/Presbyterian Christians I know do)! Nothing in “Dawn Treader” (or in your “stunningly Catholic” exposition of it) would be surprising or offensive to anyone who knows classic Reformed views of the sacraments. Just sayin’!

  2. Needless potshot at Martin Luther? No such thing 🙂 Only joking of course.

    I agree and disagree with your point about the Narnian sacraments. It’s certainly true that those in the Reformed, Anglican and Lutheran communions would not be terribly shocked by the sacramental view Lewis is presenting. On the other hand, I see at least two aspects of the narrative that push the Eucharistiic presentation in a very Catholic direction.

    1. In my reading, the sacrament is presented as salvific. It’s only by sailing through the Eucharistic waters that the ship comes to Aslan’s country. This is made even more explicit in Silver Chair where Jill’s “conversion” experience is (again, in my reading of the text) a Eucharistic moment.

    2. I do believe that the text presents us with an image of transubstantiation. I find this most explicit in SC where Aslan is literally present at the Eucharistic waters. The two are, in that scene, inseparable. Of course, you could interpret that as the more Protestant friendly consubstantiation. I’ll be curious to see, as I investigate Lewis’ Roman connections, where he fell in the con/transubstantiation spectrum.

  3. Ben,

    Don’t forget the Orthodox regarding the Eucharist…we like to claim Lewis as well, and jokingly refer to him as “our father among the saints”.

    Matt & Ben,

    I really didn’t think I would like the show, but it was great! I haven’t processed it all yet, and just ordered the “Lost World” book. Right now, I would say I fall more in line with Matt.

    One of my main concerns is regarding the existence of death. Death is the enemy of man and all creation, and resulted from the fall. I have a hard time embracing an purely evolutionary model of creation because of this.

    Thanks for the thoughtfulness.

    P.S. I don’t believe in the rapture either!

    • You’re quite right Theron. I was thinking a bit too exclusively in the western Christian tradition. Your comment is not only a welcome correction but further proof that C.S. Lewis is a remarkable ecumenical figure!

  4. What a terrific episode. It is so great to hear an Orthodox view of Genesis. I’ve been of the mind for about 15 years now that Genesis 1-11 are not history in the sense that a post-enlightenment person would understand it. With people like Answers In Genesis demonizing everyone who disagrees with them, it’s wonderful to hear a scholarly and I might add accurate look at scripture.

    I love Matt and Ben both but I do find myself siding more with Ben on this topic. It does seem that Matt tends to take a 20th century view of the rest of the Book of Genesis while only regarding Genesis One from the worldview of it’s writers. (Who were most likely not Moses…otherwise Moses wrote about his own death and burial in Deuteronomy…which seems tricky to do). I don’t entirely disagree with Matt, but I do entirely agree with Ben, at least on this topic.

    I realize that this is a new view for many, but it’s also an ancient view. It only seems new. The actual new look at Genesis is coming from people like Ken Hamm and Answers in Genesis.

    With that being said, I live about an hour from the creation museum in Cincinnati. I’d love to invite Matt and Ben down to Ohio so we can all three visit the museum together and ride the saddled dinosaur.

    Blessings,
    Rick

  5. “With people like Answers In Genesis demonizing everyone who disagrees with them”

    This has been a frustration of mine, too. I appreciate what they are trying to do, but really do not like the way they do it. Same goes for the other side, though.

    It feels like the discussion goes like this:

    Young Earth: “If you do not agree with us, you are a heathen and should probably not be surprised when you find yourself on the side with all the goats.”

    Old Earth Creationist: “If you do not agree with us, you are being intellectually dishonest and are causing the world to throw doubts on all of Christianity.”

    Not much of a discussion.

    The book I want to write, but will have to self-publish if I ever do, is a layman’s guide to why Christians believe each side of the debate. Basically, explaining how you can believe in an old earth without being morally bankrupt and you can believe in a young earth without being intellectually bankrupt.

  6. marksmess Mar 10, 2013

    I really enjoyed the discussion and love it when my view is challenged in an intelligent caring way. Could you post up the books you discussed so i don’t have to re-listen to the podcast again to find them.
    No offended, but challenged,

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