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  • Best Links of the Week

    The Danger of an Unconverted Seminary

    Which is your favorite?  Did I miss anything extraordinary?

    1.  “The Danger of an Uncoverted Seminary” – a very worthwhile read, from a mainline perspective, on thedechristianization of the West and how seminaries ought to be adjusting to this shift.  We’ve never been more like the 1st/2nd centuries – pluralism, syncretism, and a world where the velocity of ideas was ever quicker due to new trade routes.

    2.  Very disturbing Gallop Poll showing that 53% of democrat leaning voters think positively about “socialism.”  This is insanity.  People need to read history.  Also included in the poll were voters impressions of:  small business, free enterprise, entrepreneurs, capitalism, big business, and federal government.  Also, 63% of all polled (both democrat and republican) thought Barack Obama was a “socialist.”

    3.  Google has been doing lots of stuff this week: “Is Google Planning to Add Storeviews to Google Maps?“;  “Google Creates Experimental Fiber Network…(capable of 1Gb/s)“; they also are launched an offensive on Facebook over their Gmail client – “Google wants to be Facebook and Facebook wants to be Gmail“.

    4.  Ligonier has a huge compilation of links on the New Perspectives on Paul, from Turretin to present.

    5.  Proposed Obama 2011 budget cuts could drastically reduce charitable giving from taking away line item deductions for those in 28% and higher tax brackets.

    6.  A fascinating piece on First Things entitled, “Vampires and the Anthropic Principle.”

    7.  First Things has an interesting info-graphic and analysis of the 210,000,000 Facebook profiles and friend networks:  “The Localism of Facebook Nation

    8.  “The Government Has Your Babies’ DNA

    9.  Steven Pearlstein of the Washington Post writes on the fallout of the Amazon v. MacMillan.

    10.  Only 4 men have been to all 44 Superbowls, here is their story.

    11.  “Physicist Discovers How to Teleport Energy“:  infinite possibilities here.

    12.  A very scary article from GQ about cell phone radiation and brain cancer.  The writer talked to several investment bankers in their late 30s/early 40s who have been using cell phones since the brick days… and have brain tumors.  This is not a tin foil hat, conspiracy theory article, it is cogently written.

    13. Awkwardfamilyphotos.com – self-explanatory, hilarious, and definitely awkward.

    14.  “The Beauty of Waves“:  series of photos from LIFE Magazine of beautiful waves.  Photography done by Clark Little.

    15. Several people in the Philippines have been murdered by singing the triumphalist Frank Sinatra song, “My Way,” read the NY Times article.

    16.  12 really random things you can buy on the internet (I fancy both the tanks and the giant floating hamster balls).

    17. NY Times article on the ‘Shortage of Men on College Campuses.’

    18.  Foxnews on proposed new government administration to study climate change.  File under:  big government and waste of money.

    19.  NY Times Op-Ed chilling story on “The World Capital of Killing.”

    20.  “Will the Baby Boomers Bankrupt Social Security” – CNBC article

    21.  Ed Stetzer on potential upcoming shifts in pastoral ministry.

    22.  Low intelligence second most important indicator (behind smoking) as predictor of heart disease.

  • Top 15 Books on Status of American Evangelicalism

    No Place for Truth by David Wells

    These books represent the best analysis on the present status and recent history of evangelicalism.  This list is meant to be informative and not to be alarmist or disconcerting.  I think the classic Dicken’s line, ‘it was the best of times, it was the worst of times‘ will apply the Christ’s church til He return.  It is implicit also in this list that works commending a Christian worldview, like Nancy Pearcey’s Total Truth, are must reads.  I have also omitted more esoteric debates including books on open theism, federal vision, new perspectives on paul… etc.  The purpose of this list is zoomed out than those specific issues.

    1.  No Place for Truth by David Wells  [e, p, s]

    How modernity crept in and screwed up evangelicalism.  Absolute classic.

    2.  The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind by Mark Noll  [y, l, e, p, s]

    The scandal of the evangelical mind is that it is so scarce and scant.  You may also want to read Os Guinness’ Fit Bodies Fat Minds, addressing evangelicalism’s intellectual laziness and preoccupation with the temporary.

    3.  The Democritization of American Christianity by Nathan Hatch  [e, p, s]

    Fascinating analysis of the democritization of Christianity in America.  His historical analysis is keen and well-researched.

    4.  Christianity and Liberalism by J. Greshem Machen  [e, p, s]

    This classic work delineates the liberalism of the early 20th century as being a completely other faith than the historic orthodox Christian faith.  86 years later it is still relevant.

    5.  God in the Wasteland by David Wells  [e, p, s]

    Wells continues where he left off in No Place for Truth, by challenging evidenced consumerism in evangelicalism.

    6.  The Courage to Be Protestant by David Wells  [e, p, s]

    The title is a play on Paul Tillich’s The Courage to Be.  Tillich’s work was a classic in early 20th century Protestant liberalism.  Wells draws connections between the emergent movement as really being a form of rehashed 20th century era liberalism.  Wells is also scathing on the level and abuse of marketing in modern evangelicalism.  As far as Wells goes, his Above All Earthly Pow’rs s also a worthwhile read:  in terms of analysis Pow’rs is to post-modernity what No Place for Truth was to modernity.

    7.  The New Shape of World Christianity:  How American Experience Reflects Global Faith by Mark Noll  [e, p, s]

    I am surprised by the lack of press for this book.  Noll examines the history of Christianity in America and draws parallels in key growth areas (Southern hemisphere and the East).  Noll is actually rather positive amid the torrent of bad press on what American Christians are exporting.  This is an important work because we are good to be reminded that American evangelicalism is not the height of church history.  Further, the church is Christ’s and she will prevail.  I think Noll has his fingers on the pulse of what is going on and what is next, we would be wise to listen to what he has to say.

    8.  Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism by George Marsden  [e, p, s]

    This is a must read if you seek to understand our history.  Also an important work is Revival and Revivalism by Iain Murray.

    9.  Reclaiming the Center:  Confronting Evangelical Accomodation to Postmodern Times by Various Authors  [y, l, e, p, s]

    Various heavyweights chime in on the necessity of remaining faithful to the preaching of the Word and to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  If you like this work, I suggest also Os Guinness’, Prophetic Untimeliness:  Challenging the Idol of Relevance.

    10.  Christless Christianity by Michael Horton  [y, l, e, p, s]

    This books has caused a bit of a stir.  You can read John Frame’s book review here.  I have yet to read the book, but I thought it a worthwhile mention to engage in present dialogue over the status of the Gospel in evangelicalism.  From what I gather, Horton has guys like Joel Osteen in view when he speaks of a Christianity without Christ.

    11.  Young, Restless, and Reformed by Colin Hansen  [y, l, e, p, s]

    This book is an important first look at the growing demographic of young Reformed folk.  This is an area that needs further analysis and hopefully a good work will come soon.

    12.  Respectable Sins:  Confronting the Sins We Tolerate by Jerry Bridges  [y, l, e, p, s]

    Bridges is 100% right when he highlights several sins that evangelicals strangely tolerate:  gossip, anger, pride, jealousy, anxiety, and selfishness to name a few.

    13.  Why Johnny Can’t Preach:  The Media Have Shaped the Messengers by T. David Gordon  [e, p, s]

    Gordon applies Marshall McLuhan’s keen insights to shed light on the dearth of serious bible teaching in evangelicalism.

    14.  Confessions of a Reformission Rev by Mark Driscoll  [y, l, e, p, s]

    I think Mark Driscoll is a very important voice in evangelicalism, moreso than many of my fellow Reformed brethren.  This book is a humorous yet insightful look into the story of the planting of Mars Hill Church in Seattle.  There are many lessons weaved into the narrative that are wise and memorable.

    15.  Why We’re Not Emergent:  From Two Guys That Should Be and Why We Love the Church:  In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck  [y, l, e, p, s]

    The first book is a solid book on the emergent church.  I also wanted to end this list with on a positive note with Why We Love the Church.  Many times we can get so bogged down in self-criticism that we forget to praise God for all the truly good things he is doing in and through the church in America.

    What we need is always adherence to the same three things:  orthodoxy, orthopathos, and orthopraxis.

    (c=children; y=young adult; l=lay leader; e=elder; p=pastor; s=scholar)

  • Introduction to Apologetics, Part 3: Evidentialist Apologetics

    Mousetrap

    Irreducible Complexity

    Evidentialist Apologetics can be seen as a subset of classical apologetics mainly focusing on all the evidence supporting the Christian faith and its rationality.  Evidentialists can be looked at in three main overlapping categories:  those advocating A. Teleological Argument  B. The Intelligent Design Movement (which borrows from the Teleological Argument)  C.  Those promoting the reliability and historicity of the Bible, Jesus, miracles, and the resurrection.

    Teleological

    William Paley (1743-1805) was the first to popularize the Teleological Argument by reworking some of Aquinas’ fivefold argument.  The argument is essentially that there is too much order, specialization, and fine-tuning in our world and the Universe for it to have been a product of mere chance.  Therefore, an intelligent and wise being must have created all of these things.  This being is God.  The problem with Paley is that he employed the analogy of God as a watchmaker who set the laws that governed the timepiece in motion.  Paley’s argumentation was critical for a young Darwin in seminary.  The impersonal (nearly deistic) picture painted by Paley, led others (Darwin) to look for naturalistic laws that could in turn replace God.

    John Polkinghorne (1930-) has written extensively on the fine-tuning of the universe and has been an advocate of ongoing dialogue between science and religion (see also Michael Polanyi).

    Intelligent Design Movement

    The intelligent design movement is a movement of scientists, thinkers, and philosophers who are challenging scientific materialism (aka Naturalism or Neo-Darwinianism).  The aim of the movement is to get a seat at the table on the discussion of origins of life.  Many of their arguments are really quite sound science and present very damning (and in my view fatal) critiques of Darwinian macro-evolution.  Michael Behe (1952-) in his book Darwin’s Black Box argues that on the microbiological level many different things have the characteristic of irreducible complexity.  He employs the analogy of a mousetrap which has five pieces to it:  platfrom, spring, hammer, hold-down bar, and catch(cheese).  If you take away any one piece of the mousetrap then you have something that is functionally worthless, and therefore unable to catch any mice.  The mousetrap is irreducibly complex and is in its most simple state with its five components and therefore it has no functional precursor.  Behe then goes on to describe several things that have this characteristic of irreducible complexity, namely, the eye, flageullum, cilia, e. coli, adaptive immune system, and blood coagulation.

    Other noteworthy scholars are William Dembski (1960-), Nancy Pearcey (1952-), Michael Denton (1943-), and Phillip Johnson (1940-), many of whom are involved with the Discovery Institute.

    Reliability and Historicity of Bible, Jesus, Miracles, and Resurrection

    F.F. Bruce (1910-1990) spent his entire life defending the historicity of the Bible against the tsunami of doubt cast by higher and lower Bible criticism.  His New Testament Documents:  Are They Reliable is an absolute classic and a fairly easy read.  Josh McDowell (1939-) has written on the historicity of the person of Jesus in his popular book More Than a Carpenter.   In a similar vein Lee Strobel (1952-) has written on the historicity and Biblicity of Jesus.  N.T. Wright (1948-) has written probably the best defense of the resurrection of Jesus in his terrific volume The Resurrection of the Son of GodC.S. Lewis (1898-1963) has written many important apologetic works what lands him here is his defense of miracles.

    Up next is a look at presuppositional apologetics.

    November 3, 2009 • Apologetics, C.S. Lewis, Evidentialism, N.T. Wright, Nancy Pearcey • Views: 410