This is a book about theological nuance. For some that might be immediately off putting; others may think that the authors have wasted their time in pursuit of an overly rigorous theological standard; some will no doubt cast doubt on the authors' intentions implying that Keller haters are going to hate and yet a few others will be greatly vexed that Mr Keller is the subject of such, any, debate. Me, I really enjoyed it! And I hope to demonstrate why if you fall into any of the above categories this book is still well worth a read.
Engaging with Keller: Thinking Through the Theology of an Influential Evangelical is written by half a dozen British Presbyterian ministers criticising Mr Keller's expression of his views on sin, Hell, the Trinity, social justice, hermeneutic, creation and Presbyterianism. As the authors are careful to point out they are not doubting Mr Keller's intentions or his profession to hold to reformed orthodoxy. As they consistently maintain: Mr Keller is a godly man seeking the glory of Christ. What they are calling into question is whether Mr Keller achieves his goal of teaching orthodox truth to post modern society without compromising on the message.
As should be fairly clear, the authors disagree with Mr Keller on the issues mentioned. Yet what is good about the book is that they do not allow their disagreement to become personal. They confine themselves to discussing the theological problems rather than straying into any form of personal attack. It is a mature, sensible, adult conversation they are having - would all such discussion be conducted so! Engaging with Keller typifies the irenic spirit so easily lost in theological debate and a graciousness that befits godly men. I found it a needed challenge to my own writing style to match the authors' graciousness.
In many ways I would love to be able to support theistic evolution for it would allow me to say that God is creator and yet still maintain my intellectual credibility in the eyes of the world. It would sidestep a debate that often gets bogged down in insults, anger and misunderstandings and it would avoid arguments that can often detract from talking about other issues of greater importance. If there is one view that I hold that will regularly result in insults (from both non-Christians and, tragically, Christians) then its being a six day creation literalist.
But my own 'intellectual credibility' forbids me from taking that path. It boils down to a simple question of ultimate authority: is it man's reason, as found in 'science'; or is it God, as found in his Word? Given that, as I will explain, theistic evolution is not supported by the Bible, how then can I accept the ideas of men above God? That is why my argument against theistic evolution is theological not scientific - the Bible is our ultimate authority on this matter.
At its essence I see the creation/evolution debate as no more than a choice between God's description of events or man's description. It would be foolish to accept man's opinion of creation above the Creator's opinion on creation!
This is hardly an unusual position to be in. Academic thought and biblical thinking have often battled with each other in various fields. After all, the resurrection is a subject where we happily reject the notion that it is a scientific impossibility and accept the truth of the Bible on the subject. The point is, being scorned for truth is not surprising, the world scorns us for the truth that homosexuality is a sin, abortion is murder and Sunday is the Lord's day. Why should we be concerned when a similar thing happens with creation?
As we venture into this debate let us bear in minds the words of Jesus: "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matthew 5 v 11 - 12)
Why the prospect of global warming worries me as much as nuclear Armageddon, an asteroid strike or the Large Hadron Collider. That is: not at all.
Forty years ago it was a very real danger that nuclear Armageddon was just a button press away. Twenty years ago and we were all going to die in an ice age. Over the last decade we’re all doing to die because of global warming. In the last year it was the turn of the LHC to become the next doom of mankind where it was going to create a black hole that would wipe the earth out of existence.
You would be forgiven for thinking that the Western World is obsessed with the apocalypse – the end of everything.
And the thing is some of the dangers are or were real and present: the prospect of a nuclear war between Russia and the USA was a reasonable possibility. Indeed, with the news coming out of Korea and Iran then it looks like nuclear war may be back on the agenda. An asteroid strike would require slightly more bad luck but it is a possibility rather than impossibility. Fortunately global warming is as about as scientific as the earth being flat.
The battle between science and religion (by which I mean Christianity) has always puzzled me. First, because I see no contradiction between the two and second because even if they were to battle it out then Christianity completely annihilates science. I hope that this post will go some way to explaining why I hold this view.
The idea that Christianity runs contrary to science is historically speaking a bit weird. Up until a century ago it would have been strange for people to think there a gap between the two. We have Francis Bacon, who invented the scientific method, Kepler the father of modern astronomy, Boyle the father of modern chemistry, Maxwell the father of modern physics, Ray who was in his time the leading authority on biology, Faraday who discovered electromagnetism and Steno the father of modern geography who all saw no difference between science and Christianity.
Now why do I give you such a list of esteemed names? Well, these men all had one thing in common: they believed in the God of the Bible, a rational and logical God who created a rational, ordered and structured universe that could be studying by applying the logical tool of science. Ironically enough, science advanced on the back of religion. Without a belief in the rationality of the universe born about by the rationality of God then these great scientists wouldn’t have bothered to study the natural world.
As Kepler said: “We are thinking God’s thoughts after him”