Blog Archives

q&r: genesis and evolution?

What is your opinion on evolutionary theory vs. creation theory?

I have been apart of a discussion where both sides were argued, the evolutionary theory being that God instigated or created the cellular/atomic structure that began evolution, and that Adam and Eve are the result of the human evolution from cells to animals to primates to people, and the garden of Eden only begins after all the evolving is finished. I had not really heard this theory before, and find it somewhat uncomfortable, as I was a pure creationist at the time, but given that believing either theory doesn’t really change anything in the course of Jesus coming here and dying, I really don’t know what to think.

I’m not sure that anyone really knows what to think. Knowledge is a clumsy beast, though humans seem to think they can completely tame it.

Evolution is far from proven, but according to the majority of biologists it is the best theory (or theories) we have right now. Might it be developed in the future? Yes. Will it be changed? Yes. Will it be disproven? Maybe. Would that “prove” creationism? No – disproving evolution does not prove creationism.

There is a lot I could talk about here, including the false paradigm of debating faith and science, and also issues in modern scientific philosophy. What is my personal opinion? At this point I believe in evolution, inasmuch as it is the best option out there that I know of. Many people will disagree, and that’s fine.

But that is a moot point, since I am no biologist. What is important for me as an exegete is how we read the Bible. The pertinent question is, does the Bible have anything to say about the prehistory of the world and humanity? Read the rest of this entry

“god bless you!”: what is blessing?

When something becomes customary in a culture, such as the recitation of the phrase “(God) bless you!” following a sneeze, it often happens that the meaning of that custom is lost in habit.

So what does it mean to be “blessed” in a biblical sense?

Some people understand it to mean something like good fortune.

Others see blessing as referring to material wealth, as in some strands of contemporary Christianity.

Some Christians think blessing refers to God’s favour, and this can be understood in a great number of ways (including material wealth as above).

For others blessing is almost a physical thing to be passed on (as with some understandings of the story of Isaac, Jacob and Esau).

I have constantly wondered what blessing is. Read the rest of this entry

sodom and gomorrah: punished for homosexuality?

Saturday just gone was an important day in Australia for LGBTQI* people.

The Australian Labor Party (the current government) voted on its policy position regarding same-sex marriage at its National Conference; it voted to change its platform in support of changing the Marriage act to include same-sex couples.

In addition was a rally held in the Sydney CBD, with somewhere between five to ten thousand participants, calling for marriage equality in Australia.

In response to these events many Christians I know on Facebook posted comments critical of the push for the recognition of same-sex marriage.

Some, on both sides of the argument, were reasoned and thoughtful, recognising that there are in fact different viewpoints on the matter. They merely sought to offer an opinion in a respectful way.

Others were not so gracious.

But what struck me most was the amount of Christians posting quotations from the Bible, completely out of context and, by my judgement, absent of any form of exegetical investigation.

Something that I found fascinating was the repeated quotation of verses pertaining to Sodom and Gomorrah. Read the rest of this entry

rethinking bible “heroes”: how wise was solomon?

In my last post I looked at the character of Joseph in Genesis and suggested that perhaps he became a far more sinister character than is often thought.

I also suggested that the way we perceive some Bible characters could have more to do with our taste for imperial theology than with thoughtful reflection.

In this post I will turn my attention to Solomon.

Solomon

Most Seasoned Bible readers are aware that Solomon did not, as is often said, “finish well.” He married a lot of foreign wives for the sake of international diplomacy and compromised himself with their gods.

Despite this ending it is often thought that Solomon ‘started well.’ But how true is this? By comparing aspects of Exodus and Genesis with Solomon’s story in Kings we might be surprised by what we find. Read the rest of this entry

rethinking bible “heroes”: joseph the imperial henchman

Sometimes when we read the Bible we impose our own worldviews and values on the text.

One area in which this is apparent is that of “Bible heroes.” Are these people all we crack them up to be?

In the space of a few posts (maybe consecutive, maybe not, I haven’t thought about it yet) I’m going to explore some of the characters in the Bible who may have been misunderstood, for better or for worse.

Joseph

No, I am not talking about the stepfather of Jesus.

The son of Jacob’s story can be found in the later chapters of Genesis. He is often esteemed as a great man of God, someone to be imitated. Joseph, it is said, overcame great hardship, even his own attempted murder and imprisonment, only to be put into a position of great authority in Egypt by God: Read the rest of this entry

tgif (trash goes into flight): the bastardisation of creativity

Turn on the radio and you’ll find yourself bathing in the cesspool that is popular music.

Whoa, slow down there cowboy! That’s a pretty harsh way to start, you can’t open with that!

Maybe you’re right. I suppose that lots of music on the radio is actually very good. But you have to admit that a good deal of it can hardly be called beautiful.

Yes, yes, you’re right on that one. But on the other hand beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and those songs you’re talking about tend to be very popular, hence why they are on the radio. Somebody must like them!

Of course, I’m not denying their appeal. But I think the problem with these songs goes beyond their appeal.

What do you mean?

Well, I wonder what makes a song beautiful, or creative. Surely much of what appears in the music charts cannot be said to be creative.

That opens up a big set of questions. What does it even mean to be creative? Read the rest of this entry

creation domination?

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.
– Genesis 1:28-31a

In my experience there is a lot of confusion about the meaning of the above passage from Genesis, not least in relation to the concept of “dominion”.

What is “dominion” anyway?

Some have seen it as God’s designing the world in such a way as to allow humans to rule over it and to do to it as they see fit. Such ruling is often seen as not excluding the abuse of the natural world in the name of human freedom, prosperity and comfort.

(As much as I wish this were a strawman argument, it is not…)

But this raises some logical problems in the Genesis narrative of which I will outline two. Read the rest of this entry

true “creationism” and the earth machine

Perhaps a major reason why climate change action is seen as so unnecessary by so many people is our view of our place in the world.

Indeed, the Industrial Revolution was built on the philosophy that the world works like a machine, and that it can be controlled by those who effectively see themselves as somehow separate to or greater than the great earth engine.

Such a mechanical view of the planet can be traced back to (among others) Isaac Newton and his mechanical laws of physics. Such laws reduced the world down to predictable rules.

But the world of science has changed, blown apart by Einsteinian relativity. The world and beyond is not the machine humans thought it was, and indeed it cannot be mastered the way humans thought could be done (though some will continue to say “Yes, we can!”).

The truth is that the earth is a living thing! It forms a bio-web of life which embraces millions of creatures.

Read the rest of this entry

a full-er fourfold gospel?

About nine months ago a friend and I were preaching at a Church and the subject was “The Kingdom of God.” Easy, right? Well, anyway, we decided to simply have a public conversation, and our preparation was to sit down for an afternoon and dialogue about the kingdom.

What came out of that conversation was exciting for us. In fact our discussion has largely shaped the way I articulate my framework from which to discuss the gospel and the kingdom.

A Generalisation - Contemporary Evangelical Salvation

Our basic premise was this – evangelicals have tended to see “salvation” as being primarily related to one’s own reconciliation and continuing relationship with God. Thus salvation has tended to focus on the dynamics between humans and God, and how that might affect an individual’s post-mortem fate. However, if we go back to the beginning of the Scriptural narrative in Genesis 1-11 we find that such a view of salvation is, though present, inadequate to make sense of the entire story. Read the rest of this entry

environmental as anything

Today I participated in the People’s Blockade Of The World’s Biggest Coal Port in Newcastle (New South Wales, Australia). Here’s something the organisation that organised and ran it (Rising Tide Australia) had to say;

Now, more than ever, we need to be turning up the heat on the coal industry, and their friends in government. The export coal industry is Australia’s single biggest, and fastest growing contribution to the global climate crisis.

Newcastle, already the world’s biggest coal port, is opening a major new coal export terminal over the course of this year, bringing the export capacity of the Hunter Valley coal chain to an incredible 178 million tonnes of coal per annum. That’s the climate change equivalent of 30 Bayswater Power Stations.  Within ten years, the coal corporations plan on exporting more than 300 million tonnes of coal per annum – a tripling of current export capacity.

Tripling coal exports means tripling coal mining. As Newcastle coal exports boom, more precious bushland will be razed, more waterways polluted, more communities ripped apart as the transnational coal companies carve their way westwards into the Liverpool Plains. The profits will be exported, but the devastation will stay here in the Hunter. The catastrophic effects of climate change will hurt all around the world.

This madness has to stop. The climate crisis is deepening, and time is fast running out. Politicians are failing to take action against the rampant coal companies, so we have to do it ourselves.

We had a great day paddling canoes around Newcastle Harbour in protest. But I was disappointed. Keep Reading…

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