Book Review: Language of God

The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief

My Rating: Must read

Level: Parts can get fairly technical, but Collins does a good job keeping it understandable; medium length (300+)

Summary

The book is broken into three parts, with two to six section in each. There is also an introduction and an appendix on bioethics. The three parts are: The Chasm Between Science and Faith, this is mostly autobiographical; The Great Questions of Human Existence, he starts with the physics of the beginning of the universe, then evolution, then his work on the Human Genome Project; and Faith in Science, Faith in God, which is the best part of the book and goes into what he calls the reactions to the evidence of science – Atheism/Agnosticism, Creationism, Intelligent Design, and BioLogos. 

My Thoughts

I appreciate what Collins has done with this book. I think it serves as a great intro for either people who are familiar, on the theological side, with the other ‘views’ of creation or as an intro to the science aspect of evolution, as understood by an evangelical Christian. The last section of the book serves as a mini ‘four views’ type book where we briefly reviews other positions and then states the issues he sees in them. If you are interested in this topic (creation/evolution) I think this book is a great place to start and then you can move on to deep dive type books such as Four Views on Creation (my review) for a better understanding of the different views (a mix of theology and science) or Four Views on the Historical Adam (my review) for more of a Biblical/Theological understanding. 

The strength of this book is probably the science aspect of it, and how well Collins explains and helps you understand it, especially on the DNA/Genome side of things. He also does a good job of using church history to explain the various views of Genesis over the last two thousand years (which is not a monolithic ‘literal’ only understanding, as many Young Earth would have you believe). This book can also contribute to the discussion of the so called ‘science vs. faith’ controversy. Collins has both a PhD and a MD, so his science credentials are pretty solid, while also being a devote and steadfast in his belief in historical orthodox Christianity. I would hope that many people with many views (especially non-religious) would read this book and try to gain some understanding. Overall, anyone with any interest in evolution, creation, or Christian beliefs, this book is a must read.  

Age of the Earth Discussion Video

Watch me and friends from church discuss the age of the Earth (I’m the one who was freeze framed with my eyes closed):

I’ll point out for those curious, this was not meant to be a debate, but instead a discussion of general positions people hold, and which positions we hold in particular. There was so much more all of us wanted to say, but as you can see from the length of the video, we already failed our 45 minute hard stop. It seemed like every question and tangent could have been its own hour long discussion. 

As you can see, I’m not the best speaker, and apparently my mom was correct in that I cannot sit still and fidget too much. So I wanted to clarify or expand on a few things here. Like I said, this wasn’t a debate, so we didn’t really interact with each other’s positions that much, but this is my site, so I can do what I want. 

I thought that there would be a little more on the Literary Framework Interpretation, so I kind of cut it short, but it works better as a visual anyway. The main argument is that we have a symmetry where God creates ‘realms’ so to speak, and then fills those ‘realms’, then as Ruler of all and uncreated, He rests on the seventh day (which also establishes the Sabbath, which we didn’t get much into). It looks something like this:

Creation KingdomsCreature Kinds
Day 1: LightDay 4: Luminaries
Day 2: Sky/WaterDay 5: Birds/Fish
Day 3: Land/VegetationDay 6: Land animals/Man
The Creator King
Day 7: Sabbath

For people who are interested in a non-literal, chronological reading of Genesis 1, I think this a good understanding. Of course, and I thought we’d talk more about literal vs literary, very few people actually have a literal view. If they did, they would have to believe that there is a dome above the Earth (the firmament) that separates the waters from above. Very few people believe this anymore. Martin Luther was adamant that you had to have this view, while Calvin was a little more understanding that conception of cosmology has changed (though he was still a strident geocentrist).

I think that is something we have to wrestle with if we try a truly literal view from Old Testament cosmology. This was the debate around Galileo, that the Earth simply could not revolve around the sun. Why? Because the Psalms and Job said that the Earth is fixed on its foundation and cannot be moved. This is even attested to in the New Testament where we learn that the plan of salvation goes back to before the foundation of the world.

That is what changed my position, as I tried to state in the video. Nothing about science, but by learning about Ancient Near East cultures and their cosmology. Understanding Genesis in its place and world, helps you to understand the purpose.

As for evolutionary science, I don’t really care. If something came out tomorrow and all of sudden all scientist agreed that evolution was wrong all this time, that would not change my interpretation of Genesis. However, as it stands now, someone’s feeling or opinions are irrelevant to the science of evolution, it is established fact (for now, I suppose it could change). However, I maintain that this isn’t the point of Genesis and so to reiterate, I’ll end with the J.I. Packer quote I read last night:

I believe in the inerrancy of Scripture and I maintain it in print, but exegetically I cannot see that anything Scripture says, in the first chapters of Genesis or elsewhere, bears on the biological theory of evolution one way or the other.

Primer on Creation

Michelangelo - Creation of Adam (cropped).jpg

Edit – My editor has recommend that I not post a 4,500+ word article, but instead make it 2-3 posts. However, as always, I will ignore this advice (despite it’s applicability; this is also the reminder that I write what I want, and believe you have no problem following along). I don’t write for acclaim or money (clearly). So, enjoy.

Biblical interpretation is obviously something that I have great interest in. Probably the two most difficult areas in the Bible are Genesis 1-11 and Revelation. That is, unless you grow up in a highly conservative or fundamentalist church, like I did. In that case, there is no room for discussion or thought, you either interpret them ‘literally’ or you are not a Christian.

Later, in my 20’s, I started to study the Bible for myself and my understanding and found the views I had been taught, despite their claims, are not the most common either today or historically (not the topic today, but quite the opposite of historical, Dispensationalism is one of the newest theological frameworks around). I have since read many books (especially in the Counter Point series) about Creation, Adam, Genesis 1-11 and commentaries (and hermneutic guides) on Genesis (as well as Romans).

While my view had been a literal 24-hour creation of the universe 6,000-10,000 year ago and that it was highly controversial or dangerous to think otherwise, my later study showed this to not be the case. This is not really the view outside of American Evangelical Christians (in fact JI Packer has stated that there may be political undertones to this belief, not Biblical study).

Yesterday, the church I attend started a year long Bible reading plan. Next Sunday’s sermon will be on Creation (always a good place to start), and due to the aforementioned concerns, I will be taking part in a panel that will discuss creation (titled incorrectly on our website as a panel on the age of the Earth), which I will post later.

All that to say, I have been reviewing my notes, research, and books on Creation, so good way to get my thoughts out is to write them down. What proceeds is a broad overview of what I consider to be the three views in Creation, their support and issues, and then a list of resources. Hopefully, you may find this helpful.

Young Earth Creationism (YEC)
This is what most people in America think about as ‘Creationism’. It is also what New Atheist and other people antithetical to Christianity refer to as a ‘Christian belief’. The view is very simple, God created the universe some 6,000 years ago based on the ‘simple’/’literal’ reading of Genesis, and the calculations of Ussher, a 15th century monk who used the genealogies in Genesis to work backwards to devise a timeline of creation. Adam was the result of special creation (as were all living things), the world was created in six, literal, 24-hour days. People lived for 100’s of years old before the Flood, Noah was a real person who survived a global flood that destroyed all humanity up to that point, I don’t hear/read much about the Tower of Babel, but I assume it should be taken literally and that there was only one language at the time.

All physics, biology, and geology (among others) and incorrect in their views of the age of the earth and evolution and should be rejected. Any views otherwise are an attempt to harmonize science and the Bible, which is incorrect, the Bible should lead. The reason that things appear older or different than this account are due to the affects of the flood or human/science error.  Common among people of his belief is that this is the main view of Christians today and most in history. Also, it is likely that your salvation is in question if you do not believe.

Pro’s – this is a very simple reading that I suppose many people could come away with if they just read the first few chapters of the Bible. No issue whatsoever with a ‘historical Adam’ and the idea of original sin. This is important because Paul calls Christ the second Adam and if we don’t come from two original people, then how did we inherit sin? I’m hesitant to also list, but, death before the fall. YEC’s see Paul as saying there was no literal death before the fall.

Issues – Many, first of all, everything about most (all?) science that exist. However, this is not a site that cares (to an extent) about science, but my focus is on theology. Though, I will say that YEC’s think that the Flood jacked up everything and gave it the appearance of old age to (possibly) test our faith. On objection I have to this is that it is unbiblical, the Bible never states that salvation hinges on a belief in ‘literal’ view of creation and that God tested our faith.

If anything, this goes to my main concern about this belief. Why would God give us a test, but not tell us he is testing us? Further more, it breaks the first rule of hermenuetics, what did this mean to the original hearers? The ancient Isrealites would not have thought about Genesis over and above physics/evolution. They would thought of it against the common(ish) world beliefs at the time – Gilgamesh and Enu Elish, among others – we were created from blood/sweat/beer/ and mud/dust/clay either out of violence or to serve our (many) gods. Instead, we were made, over and against chaos, by the one true God, for His good pleasure, in His image, to be His stewards over the earth.

Similarly, this is not necessarily the ‘historical view’ of Creation. Now, I will make a caveat here, the concept of Evolution did not exist until less than 200 years ago, but the ideas of how to interpret Genesis 1-11, and the age of the earth are ancient. Philo, not a Christian, but a Jew in the first century (as were Jesus, all the Disciples, and all the authors of the New Testament except Luke) took an ‘allegorical’ view of Genesis. Not just 1-11, but the whole thing. For early Christian, we have Irenaeus in the second century, writing in Against Heresies, that the early parts of Genesis should not be taken literally. Similarly, we have Origien and Alexandrian School, in the third, writing that Genesis was allegory. Augustine, whom coined the idea of original sin, similarly did not support a ‘literal’ reading.

We can jump ahead to Charles Hodge who support old earth (but unclear on evolution, however writing as a contemporary); B.B. Warfied, who wrote the book on the Biblical Inerrancy,  who supported both old age and evolution; to Grudem and Ericson, the most prolific Systematic theologians of the 20th century (yet, both still alive in the 21st) who did not reject old earth, to pastors or theologians like JI Packer, Keller, Longmen, Windham, and Kline accept evolution. There is also the fact that YEC is rejected by the Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church, all the so-called Mainline churches (I understand this maybe a point of support for), but also YEC only is not supported by either the SBC or PCA (or even the OPC); they all support all views. Also, looks at current (evangelical) seminary professors at Westminster (and WSCAL), all the RTS’s, all the SBC schools, Gorden-Conwell, and you will find little support for YEC. So, even if it is correct, it is incorrect to say that it is the orthodox and historical view.

Excurses – RC Sproul has a great lecture you can find online that discusses Luther and Calvin. Luther was clearly YEC, literal view of Genesis. Calvin was a little (uncharacteristically) squishy, seeming to believe something like literal unless proven otherwise. Sproul’s point is that they were both ardently anti-geocentricty. Yet it exist, it is unargued truth, today; and they were still both great theologians and reformers.

It is clear the science is against YEC and that their claim about historical understanding is incorrect. I’ll also just say again, you have to view the reading in the way it was originally hear, compared to other creation stories of the time, and the it’s ‘couplet’/’framework’ nature, and the lack of ‘this is the account of’ that tells hearers this is historical as 21st century westerners understand it. There are also issues with the genealogies used to calculate age, i.e. they don’t always match, not because they were wrong, but because this wasn’t a record keeping exercise, but a theological point.

Finally, if everything is ‘literal’ then everything is literal, this includes your reading of Genesis and Romans. Yet, again, the man that coined original sin did not see Adam as historical. So, clearly there is room for different views. If Adam was elect out of the others, for no reason, that is not different than most Old Testament Patriarchs or the New Testament view of election. Clearly, for many old and great theologians in church history, the ‘historical Adam’ is not an issue. To say so, is to believe that a view of Genesis that isn’t ‘literal’ is just a capitulation to science over and above the Bible, but as I have shown, there was much discussion long before Geological Age or Evolutionary Theory. So, the issue must exist in interpretation of the theology, not science. Ironically, I feel they are the ones reacting to modern science, not the other way around.

Old Earth Creationism (Progressive Creationism, Day-Age Creationism) (OEC)
Old Earth Creationism essentially says that we don’t need to take the first few chapters of Genesis ‘literally’ and that there is clearly some literary framework happening. Science says that the universe/earth is billions of years old, and as that is indisputable, we should take it for it’s word. However, though science is clear on evolution, we should not accept that aspect. One of the subsets of this view is the specific ‘day-age’, that is the world was created in six ‘days’, but those days are not 24 hour days as we know them. So, it allows for an old earth, yet the creation story is still there and that is the order of creation and evolution cannot exist.

In the above YEC, I hit most of the major issues, so the remainder will be a little shorter.

Pros – This is actually the view of most of the history of the church, and likely, at least the plurality of views today, in the Evangelical world. I won’t review them again, or list even more, but if you were to go through even more pastors/theologians, this view would likely have the most support.

Issues – still the basic issue of science, which is clear on evolution. To hold this view, there is disconcordance in picking and choosing which sciences you believe – you would hold to correct physics and geology (and I would argue, correct hermeneutics), but dismiss archaeology and biology (and chemistry to a lesser extent, among others). I’ve often been accused of having an ‘all or nothing’ problem, but I do take issue with picking and choosing which science to believe. Similarly, there is the simplicity issue, why would some science seem correct, but others not? What would God being doing here? Also, still, if holding to full special individual creation, no issue with Adam.

I already mentioned the early Christians and others who hold a non-literal view of Genesis (at least 1-11), so for a historical argument, if you take these passages as allegorical (as has been the actual history), then you’d have no issue with all the science. I guess my biggest critique of this view (which, I should, was my view for quite some time, but ultimately, I fond it untenable) is that you are trying to have it both ways. Which, I think uncritically, people find reassuring, it sounds nice to pick a ‘high’ view of the Bible, while still accepting some science, but in reality, I think you are missing both and sell both a little short.

Evolutionary Creationism (EC)
Evolutionary creationism accepts both the Bible (though not as some) and science. There is the very common ‘framework theory’ of Genesis, as far as Biblical interpretation goes, as well as the acceptance of all (not just some) science.

Pros – I believe this would be the view of the early church, based on readings of both the Greek and Latin Church Fathers, as well as early (AD) Jewish writers and Midrash. They would have no problem with the later (to them) science of both old earth and evolution, because they didn’t see any of that as the point. They don’t (and neither do quite a few modern others, as I listed above) view the first few chapters of Genesis as a science or history (as modern westerner’s view it) book, but just as theology. God created the world (universe) and all that is in it; this over and above any other religions or non-religious view of how the universe and life came to be.

Issues – None with science (other than those adamant that there is not God, but that is not our focus here, very few people actually doubt a god/higher power of some sort). From theological perspective, as mentioned above, occasionally, you run into Christians who are militant about the YEC view. However, as I’ve shown, this was at most ever, the plurality view (but was always close enough that theologians for 1900 years have had to discuss). The early church (I believe) over allegoricalized all of Genesis (a mistake, I believe, as we have indicators such as ‘this is the account’ and the various view of the NT writers), when just the ‘primordial’ or ‘pre-history’ of 1-11 is truly in dispute.

The issue of Adam. I’ll admit this is the stickiest point. Though, maybe that is due to my individual upbringing. Again, the early church say most of Genesis as allegory (again, again, not my view, I support ‘theological history’), yet, as with Augustine (but to be fair, his mentor Ambrose, did no share his view), did not have an issue with original sin. These early fathers, as well as our non-Protestant brothers today, do not see an issue of whether Adam was real or not (but not ‘non-existent’, more of whether he was ‘chosen’ or archetypal [representative]’). As a broad theological concept (my personal views below), we need to remember that we don’t sin because Adam sinned. I didn’t inherit, from Adam, some deformed gene, that caused me to sin. I sinned (and continue to sin) because I am a sinner, and because humans are flawed individuals who fail to keep God’s standards. This isn’t genetic, this is a component of what it is to be created and not the Creator.

I think this view is hard for people. I get it, I really do; I’ve been there. It appears that you are synthesizing the Bible with science. Hopefully, I’ve shown that to not be the case, that the issue of interpretation is actually quite old. Honestly, though, the hard part is learning. It is studying, and thinking about ancient cosmology, early and modern hermeneutics. It is thinking about what Moses (who I believe gave us the first five books of the Bible) and Paul (I accept every book attributed to him) thought about history and cosmology, and how those may differ from the modern concepts, yet our theology is the same (God is the creator and sustainer of all that ever existed, exists, ever will exist). It is hard because we read in modern English (though so did Warfield and Hodge, among even more modern theologians), while Luther read German and Greek/Hebrew, Calvin new French, wrote in Latin, read Greek/Hebrew, Augustine only Latin, Paul had Greek and Hebrew, Moses only Hebrew.

As Modern American Evangelical Individualist, we want to believe that we can open our Bibles and simple walk away with the clear/plain/simple meaning, but that belies the history/language/genres/complexity of the Bible. I believe in the perspicuity of Scripture for salvation, but let’s remember in Peter (in the Bible) says that Paul’s writing are hard to understand. That is why I believe that careful study of the Bible is essential for modern Evangelicals (more below).

Other Views(ish)
I feel (hope), I’ve given a faithful overview of the different perspectives on Creation. There are a few more, which I figured I’d shortly address, though they lack (or are incorporated in) the depth of the views above.

Theistic/Deistic Evolution – This is more or less consistent with Evolutionary Creationism, but without the God of the Bible/Christianity aspect. I’d add Jewish people and (most) Muslims (though some would fall more into an ‘Old Earth’ but no evolution view) in this view as their interpretation is Genesis 1-3 would be viewed the same, but we don’t view God (Trinity, Resurrection of Christ, etc) the same. Also, I did read about agnostic evolution, which essentially accepts all science and says whether or not a deity exists or was involved is irrelevant.

Intelligent Design – I didn’t include this as separate view above, as some books have, because it actually incorporates all views above (except for Agnostic). Their guiding principle is that science can’t tell us everything, and that God was active in creation and evolution (if the person support evolution). I feel like the term is often just used for ‘creationist’ but it is actually a distinct and diverse group/movement.

Creation Doesn’t Exist – God doesn’t exist/isn’t involved. The universe was created by the Big Bang (though we don’t know how that happened) and then evolution created all life (though we don’t know how it moved from inorganic to organic life).

My View
As you have likely deciphered, I am neither YEC or OEC. I am more sensitive to OEC, because in all honestly I can’t rule out the specific special creation of Adam and Eve, thought I doubt that is the most likely. I struggle with YEC. I try to accomodate and be faithful to their beliefs, but they often (there are certainly exceptions as the video I will link in a week or so will show) antagonist and militant. Likewise, they make claims (forget science for the moment) that are demonstrability false. There is clearly a broad arrange of views, all of which (if supported with thought) should carry some weight. I’m given to understand that roughly half of the Elders of my church of YEC. While I personally disagree, I have no doubts in these men having the ability to study the Scripture for themselves, while being magnanimous towards other view.

So, all that to say, I support old Earth (clearly) and generally support Evolution. The science is there for it all, but I can’t full rule out (though again, not my main view) the idea of a special creation for Adam and Eve. I view Genesis 1-11 as historical theology. It is real but it is not historicity, as we know it as modern westerners. I know that God created the Universe (we are not an unexplained accident) and through His laws, with His providence, we became humans as we know it. As for Adam and Eve, I think they were specifically chosen, representative people (likely neo-lithic) that God separated as the first of those He would call and would be our history (we have Father Abraham without being his literal, genetic descendants).

As for Paul, in Roman, who call Jesus the second Adam, I do believe there is a categorical issue here. Supposedly, some atheist/agnostics struggle with the fact that Jesus calls Jonah’s captor a fish, while the OT calls it a whale. My question is, what did you expect Jesus to do? Was He supposed to have a side note lesson on taxonomy? Was He supposed to point out to fishermen that though they called everything in water fish (we still refer to lobsters, crab, etc. as ‘shell’ fish, though they aren’t fish) some weren’t? That some were actually mammals? You are really missing the point, if you are looking for pure science here (again, as modern westerners know it, who’s to say that all animals that live in water aren’t one category, while all those on land are another?).

While I believe Adam and Eve were real, I don’t expect that, if they weren’t, it would have been Paul’s job to fix our understanding. Again, the issue here is Theology, specially, the theology of the Cross, the Atonement, the Propitiation of our sins; none of these really have much to say about ancient cosmology. Maybe you are thinking, well, then, it doesn’t matter, but see below.

The overall point, from my perspective, is that the ancients, the early church, the Reformation church, and the church in our modern times all have different views of science and history and what the world means. We have words for which some do not even have concepts, and I think that matters when we consider these issues. However, we are all in agreement that God (the Father) created (with the Son and Holy Spirit) the world, He gave us the Law, he intervened in history (likely to a great and much older extent than we know), He sent His Son, who lived a perfect life, died for us, we were accounted his righteousness, He rose again and was ascended to the right hand of the Father, whom sent the Holy Spirit. That’s where we are today. We know that Christ is only way, and we shouldn’t attack other Christian with whom we share this belief. I know that some are happy to point out that even ‘evolutionist’ question some aspects of evolution. First, that is how science works. Second, none of them reject evolution. Surely, we, who believe in Christ, can find unity to answers those who say that there is no god, instead of eating our own, bones and all.

What it Matters
This is a Biblical Interpretation issue, not a salvation one. I believe that a Christian can hold any of these views and be a faithful believer. This is not what people call a ‘primary issue’, most pastors/theologians would say it is tertiary, though I would actually say it is secondary. I don’t want people fighting or splitting churches over it, but I do think people should care. I polled (informally) about 10 people to get their views, and all but one said tried to hold both young-earth and science in tension together. They essentially said that they believed in science, but also read the Bible ‘simply’, but (and this is the worst part), didn’t really think much of it, because it doesn’t matter all that much.

Just from an intellectual stand-point, that is some serious cognitive dissonance. From Biblical view it is certainly far from ‘mediate on your laws day and night’, ‘give a defense of what you believe’, and the accounts of Paul and the Apostles ‘reasoning with’ non-believers.

Again, I get it, it is not a salvation issue, but honestly, sit and think, can you claim to take the Bible seriously, can you claim you want to study the Word and really know it, if you don’t even understand/try to understand/or form opinions on the opening chapters? I’d say no. There is no excuse for lack of Bible study if you consider yourself a Christian who is serious about the Bible. I’ll preface this with the fact that in is really intended for people like me, middle and upper middle class families, whom are educated and have no material needs unmet: you have no material needs and are educated. There is no reason not to pick up a commentary or at least an ‘expensive’ study Bible.

People don’t like this, but it is honestly insulting to those that came before us that we have so much information and study materials at hand, and neglect them all. I’ve mentioned this before, but I have a Bible from my great-granddad, who was a Pentecostal preacher. He bought it 100 years ago (1920), and I have the original receipt. According to the BLS inflation calculator, it cost him about $130 in his time, and he was a dirt farmer/preacher who never had indoor plumbing until later in life when he retire (50’s, I believe), and never owned a TV. Forget study Bible notes, his Bible didn’t even have cross references, let alone footnotes. Let us not forget the people who were literally killed for printing the Bible in the common language. We have more access now than ever before, and honestly, we seem to just not care. End rant; but you really should know your Bible, and what you believe about it (to some extent) and why.

Resources
I’ll start with a few website/thinktanks/groups:
Though I can’t really recommend Ken Ham (due to his like of charity or understanding), here is the preeminent YEC group – https://answersingenesis.org/
For the middle view (OEC) – https://reasons.org/
For Evolutionary Creationist – https://biologos.org/
For the Intelligent Design movement – https://www.discovery.org/

For commentaries*, I pretty much only use those recommended by Piper and Sproul (or the Gospel Coalition), they are typically written by professors at conservative Evangelical seminaries (as listed above). I’ll note that none support YEC, and they are maybe 60/40 on support of Evolution:
New Bible Commentary (I have a special affinity of this commentary as I have the the ’21ist Century Version’, but I inherited the original [circa 1970’s] from my Granddaddy, who use it for teaching his Sunday School class of 40 years. Coincidentally, it is edited by big Evangelical names like Carson and Piper calls it the best over one-volume commentary that exist).
Expositors Bible Commentary
Word Biblical Commentary (one of the more technical ones, but fully Evangelical).
Tyndall Commentary
Commentary on Genesis by Wendham and Zondervan (also technical, but Evangelical).
Broadmen Bible Commentary (official Commentary of the SBC)

Systematic Theologies* that are helpful in the ‘Anthropology’ and ‘Sin’ Categories (again, could not find any support for YEC; either predated or mixed on Evolution):
Systematic Theology by Hodge
Systematic Theology by Grudem
Christian Theology by Erickson

Books that review reading/hermeneutics or issues in Genesis (either 1-11 or more broadly), again, these are only conservative Apostles Creed supporting protestants (I’m unclear if Enns still considers himself Evangelical due to the determinant of the current political climate, though he was a professor at Westminster, the premier modern Reformed Evangelical Seminary):
Collins – The Language of God (written by the guy that headed the Human Genome Project, also a born-again, Evangelical Christian).
Enns – Evolution of Adam and Inspiration and Incarnation
Longmen – How to Read Genesis and Controversies in the Old Testament (my review)
Couner Point Series – Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design (my review) and Four Views on the Historical Adam (my review).

Study Bibles (again, no clear YEC*):
Reformation Study Bible (GE Sproul)
ESV Study Bible (GE Grudem)
Biblical Theological Study Bible (GE DA Carson)
The New Oxford Annotated Study Bible (to be fair, moderate to liberal, but it is the study Bible of people who care in Anglican and Catholic views).
I read no moderate/progressive ‘study Bibles’, and ‘liberal’ study Bible do not exist as liberals do not study the Bible as such (personal growth).

* I want to make it clear, none of these view are completely inline, nor do they reflect my specific view of everything. My point is that YEC is fairly unattested to in the academic literate (again, only considering the conservative, Evangelical, mostly reformed professors, think all the SBC’s, all the RTS’s, and Westminster/WSCAL). These are works that should make you consider what you believe, in light of the scholarship of true believers, outside of ‘scientific literature’. This is more important than science, this is our understanding of the Bible.

Book Review: Four Views on Creation, Evolution,& Intelligent Design

Four Views on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology)

My Rating – Put it on your list

Level – Medium length, moderately to highly (especially the last chapter) scientific/technical language (from three of the authors)

Summary
The format is the now standard Counterpoint Series – Essay/Argument, responses from the other three authors, then a rejoinder. Also, intro and conclusion from an editor (this time, from one that is affiliated with one of the other authors, which I don’t think I’ve seen before, however, he does acknowledge this up front).

The four views are Young Earth Creationism, Old Earth/Progressive Creationism (also often known as Day-age Creation), Evolutionary Creationism (also known as Theistic Evolution, but she explains why they is a weak and broader term than her view, which I found compelling), and Intelligent Design.

My Thoughts
I was torn on how to rate this. Three of the authors made this a five star, must read, but the first author was just a disaster. I would give him a zero if possible. I’ve read probably 10 of the Counterpoint books and his essay was the weakest one I’ve ever read. He weakens not just this book, but the entire series.

Ham has no education or training in either science or theology and it shows. He doesn’t seem to understand how science works, and is unrelenting in his belief that his theological interpretation is the only valid one. His understanding of church history (claims that his view is the historical one, which is demonstrably false) and Hebrew is also lacking. His responses boiled down to ‘na-uh’, putting things in ‘scare quotes’ the he didn’t agree with, and questioning the salvation of the other authors.

The editor even pointed out in the conclusion that he refused to shorten his essay, due to be the only one to support Biblical authority (the editor also expressed dismay over the lack of charity). Obviously, this is incorrect as there are multiple conservative (SBC, PCA, etc.) pastors, theologians, commentaries authors, Hebrew scholars, and seminary professors that do not share his view. I assume when he said he wouldn’t meet the standards everyone agree to, that he threaten to leave the project, and it is a shame that the editor and publisher didn’t just allow this to happen and move on without him. The book would have been far superior with his absence.

Now back to the good part. Ross was likely my favorite writer of the group. He made compelling arguments for the ‘Day-age’ view of creation. So, he uses the more general ‘framework theory’ of Genesis 1, not that they are literal days. He agrees with geology and physics that the world is Billions of years old, but not with biology that we evolved (explicitly reject the ‘common descent’ evolution). He sees God involving himself in the changes to species throughout time, creating new ones in history. He also had a fascinating argument that one reason there have been no new species since humans came on to the scene is because God rested from creation. Not sure if I believe it, but compelling and interesting nonetheless. He take the order of creation to be literal, so expects that science will prove that at some point. I generally agreed with his interpretive view, but I wonder about picking some science and not others.

Haarsma took the Evolutionary Creation view, making the point that creation is the point and evolution modifies it, not the other way around, as with Theistic Evolution. Also, ‘theistic’ is no necessarily the God of the Bible. She accepts science on both age of the earth and evolution. She also takes the ‘framework view’ which is common among Evangelical scholars. She doesn’t take the creation order as literal and supports common ancestry. Her organization (Biologos) seems to be focused on evangelism to those in the scientific field, so she starts with accepting science, and then moving to God and Christ.

This is a different approach from Meyer. His group, The Discovery Institute, isn’t focused on evangelism or apologetics, but instead focuses on the issues within the science, and the argument that the science itself calls for a creator. In that way, his group does not have faith statements for the God of the Bible or Christ and has other religious and non-religious people within his organization; though he himself is a committed orthodox Christian. His focus was entirely on the science of biological evolution, and did not make much of a theological argument (which is fine, that is how his organization works). He accepts all science on age of the earth and biology in regards to evolution, his point is to argue that is was directed by God (which is not really different than Haarsma essay). His article was maybe the most interesting, but certainly the most technical, so get ready, it might take awhile.

Three of the authors have PhD’s in science, and then there is Ham. Due to this, there are some technical aspects of the writing in all chapters. There is also the academic argumentation that occurs in, well, academic/scientific research, but for some reason it seems odd in this book. Maybe that was an editorial decision. It is also likely, unavoidable, though, were I the editor, I don’t think I would allow arguments that use scientists who point out issues with evolution, yet still fully support it. That is just how science and research work, and the fact that these issues don’t sway those scientist somewhat undermines the argument.

Most of the authors cited widely, with the exception of Ham, who only cited himself (which is fine if you are published) or his organization (or their printing arm). He also labeled others who disagreed that were cited elsewhere as ‘atheistic’ regardless of what they actually believed, I assume in an attempt to scare people. Again, I would just cut him out entirely, so I’ll ignore the other issues with him.

Another editorial change would be to lock down some definitions. There seemed to be at least four working definitions for evolution alone, which sometimes lead to people talking past each other. I would have liked to see some more discussion of ‘special creation’ for those who support evolution, but I guess Haarsma mentions a few things that makes her views clear, while Meyer stuck to science and no theological arguments.

I’m actually still torn on the inclusion of Meyer. His arguments were inline with the others, with huge agreement with Haarsma. It is just that his tactic is different. Ultimately, I think he brought a lot of value, but due to his nature, it didn’t leave much for the others to interact with. Haarsma and Ross, agreed with him and his critiques of science, respectively. As I mentioned above, he article was maybe the best, but as he isn’t really arguing a different ‘view’, it left the chapter feeling a little disconcordant.

If you have interest on the science (mostly settled) and theology (all over place) of creation, this is a book to put on your list. As for age of the earth, if you are a committed young earth, this book will help you understand the old age arguments and show how it doesn’t have to end your faith. If you are trying to understand young earth, you should probably look elsewhere, as Ham is a street corner preacher that yells at people as the pass bye. Certainly there are better sources out there. The strength of the book is evolution science (though Ross and Haarsma have PhD’s/academic careers in the astro-physics realm, which does come up and is quite good), so if that is what you are interested in (while still maintaining a Christian belief, or if you don’t want to see the Christian belief that discusses evolution seriously) then this book is a must read. If you interest is the theology of evolution, this is still good, but the Four Views on the Historical Adam (my review) is better. If you are trying to read everything you can about all these, put it on your list.

 

Covid Thoughts: Misc. 1

Recently I started writing down thoughts and events that are happening during the Pandemic. Then I read a story at the NY Times about Why You Should Start a Coronavirus Diary. So, I’m breaking out a little of what I had written into categories and then expanding a bit. I usually write book reviews, or try to have solid content on Theology or Biblical Studies, or even occasionally wade into how I think a Biblical Worldview should influence political thought, but I had never really thought about just writing down in Journal format (with one exception). This is somewhat ironic, as the word blog is a portmanteau of Web and Log (diary).

I’m a putting it all into one word doc and saving maybe for my future grandkids or something, to understand the day to day, from our families view, of what life is like right now. I’m posting it here, in case anyone else finds it interesting or relates. We are also interviewing Sprout in video form, maybe for her grandkids, so she can say in her own words what life is like dealing with the ‘sickness’. I was fixing our neighbors fence about an hour ago and she told me the world is no fun right now. Obviously, I won’t post a video of her here, but I’d recommend if you haven’t heard of that idea yet, to record a few quick thoughts of your kids, or even yourself, you should give it a try.

I shared recently what it was like trying to find rhythm, what Sundays and at home worship looked like, about spending time with my daughter (there is also a follow up if you want to hear her playlist), the inexplicably controversial idea of wearing a mask, and the experience of grocery shopping.

I had planned to do a ‘Misc’ when all of this was over, or winding down, which I had hoped would be mid summer, but things are only getting worse and it seems all the work we did in spring has been wasted with our hasty ‘re-opening’, making all the early economic damage for naught. So, I figured I’d go ahead and list a few short thoughts as they come.

  • We finally know someone personally who has Covid. Some time early last week a friend of mine from church, and member of the community group I lead, woke up with the common symptoms and went to get tested. He has not yet heard his results. A few days later, his wife became sick. Interestingly, her results are already back, and she tested positive. He tells me it was much worse than any flu and that his was considered moderate, especially for his age group (late 50’s).
  • I went to church on Father’s Day. It was odd, but good. The worship leader was hit with come emotion to actually hear responses during the call to worship. I counted about 40 people in the room (it holds about 450 and we limited it to 75 people, all the chairs in ‘pods’ and everyone was required to wear masks). There was no childcare, so it was mainly people with older kids (teen+). Only one of the elders (because they are old). So, maybe only one person my age, and he was alone, as was the elder in attendance, and we were the only three to come alone. I had expected to see more fathers there.
  • We’ve been gone the previous two Sunday’s visiting Mrs. MMT’s family, but I go back again this Sunday to run sound (if not, she would have gone). With cases spiking, I wonder what attendance will look like.
  • The trip was nice, everyone quarantined so that we could have a bubble with her parents and sister’s family. It was surreal, and you could almost forget everything was happening. In fact, I did. I had to make a quick run to the gas station the day before we left, and just causally walked in with no masks. Then I saw the check out area had plastic covers and the attendant was wearing a masks. Unfortunately, it made me look like one of those people, the ones that don’t wear masks because of their ‘freedom’. It was also hard to leave, there was a layer of sadness thinking about going back home, having to wear masks. I even hugged everyone, twice in some instances (typically, a head nod from across the room is sufficient physical interaction for me).
  • Schools. It is the only thing we are thinking/talking about some days. The risks are extremely low for Sprout to be infected, and still quite low for her to spread it. We are also low risks, but then we could spread to others as well. It is hard to balance with the educational/emotional/psychological impacts of her not attending in person. Or the near impossibility of doing school with her while we work (which neither of us is doing form home anymore). It is also a lonely feeling. Inexplicably, my division (eight people) her office (six) has no one with kids at home, just a few empty-nesters and mostly people who have no children. On top of that, we live in a rich area, so most of the women in our church don’t work (or at least not full-time). So, we are struggling to have anyone to talk to about two working parents during this time.
  • I wrote about rhythm early on, but a new one has been forced on us. I work in a public facility and my office is one of the most outward facing, so most of my people in the office three days a week, I’m in four, by only seven to noon, then switch to get the kids. Mrs. MMT’s boss decided that even though there was no policy requiring being in the office every day before the pandemic, now there need to be. It is wild to see just poor leadership, but not unexpected I guess. You learn a lot about who people truly are during a crisis. I’d lay it out, like I did previously, but our scheduled seem to change every week or two, and school is only three weeks away on top of the other uncertainty. Also, it seems unavoidable at this point that we will shut down again, probably in six(ish) weeks, would be my guess.

That’s it for now. I have a few more longer posts still to come, and probably another misc or two. Everyone stay safe out there and wear a mask.

 

BLM, Protests, and Removing Confederate Memorials

I’ve gone back and forth on whether I wanted to post something about all that is going on. However, I didn’t feel like I had much new to add to anything, and then there was the somewhat confusing message of people were maybe not supposed to write things last week. I am supportive of Black Lives Matter and the protesters (Mrs. MMT and I have been trying to figure out a way to go to one while juggling the kids), and removing Confederate names/flags/statues.

I wrote about Black Lives Matter and the police almost four years ago, so check that out if you want further thoughts from me. I also wrote about removing the Confederate Flag (with little more detail here, but that goes pretty tangential) and I would extend those thoughts to statues and base names (I didn’t even know Benning and Bragg were Confederate Generals).

I’m not sure I have much more to add, then what I’ve already written. This, again, was one reason I was hesitant to put anything up. But then a good friend of mine wrote something on his blog (it is good, go read it), so I felt I should at least do something. I think the writers at the Gospel Coalition are feeling the same way, so they wrote a short post that refers back to an older, longer one, about Confederate monuments and whether Christians should support them.

This may be naive, but this time does feel a little different. Maybe we are making some more progress and taking a few more strides. Hopefully, I won’t have to write another post in another four or five years, but I doubt it. There are still people who are in denial that there even is a problem. Think of all the officers (like Officer Karen) that keep talking about how they are being singled out, or categorized all as one group. The tone deafness of these complains is mystifying, this is basically what black people have been saying for decades. I think people noting this irony is actually helping to change some minds. Public support seems to be growing that there are more problems than we’d like to admit and we need to remove memorials. That is encouraging, but on the other hand there is often a rush to support gun laws after a dozen or so children die, but then we don’t do anything. We have to keep praying and doing what we can to move towards more equality.

Book Review: Seaworthy


Seaworthy: Adrift with William Willis in the Golden Age of Rafting

My Rating – Must read

Level – Quick, easy (with the exception of nautical terminology), medium length (250+)

Summary
Seaworthy is the apparently true, but often unbelievable, story of William Willis and his adventures rafting across the Pacific, his attempts to cross the Atlantic, and a wild, nonsensical story of a jailbreak in Guiana. The book is broken into 11 chapters, all with random names (three are names of his rafts/boats) that doesn’t tell you much of what is happening. The final chapter, Full Stop, is something like a conclusion and final thoughts.

The opening chapter has a 73 year old Willis being unable to cross the Atlantic in a small boat. Then circles back to his early life at 14, then a bit of an excursus into jailbreak that I just can’t fully believe (not doubting the author, but the original source), then to the building of his first raft that he will take from South America to Samoa (this is really four chapters and the heart of the book), but even with in this, there are the stories of other sailors/rafters/academics/physicians/crazy people, his attempt at normal life, then his attempts to fully cross from South America to Australia, before ending full-circle back to crossing the Atlantic from New York.

My thoughts
I ended up reading this book by accident. I thought my dad offered it to me by putting it on my things one day when I brought my kids to see them during the Covid Pandemic (my mom put it there it get it out of the hands of one of the Nuggets) but was interested because I thought it was corollary story from an autobiography I had read about someone shipwrecked (it isn’t). Regardless, this book is nuts. I read it in a few hours and it might be the best work of narrative non-fiction I have ever read. Willis is absolutely insane and the Pearson’s writing is outstanding.

He does a good job of painting Willis  as who he really was. Not some hero or someone necessarily even looking for fame, but a fairly flawed individual, who was unnaturally determined (and stubborn) yet still lacked follow-through, took short cuts, and often didn’t seem to think of much outside of himself. The Seven Little Sisters adventure is fascinating, as are the forays into other trips by various people and the historical accounts of similar voyages. As I mentioned above this is the meat of the book, while the longer trip (all the way to Australia, but broken into two trips) gets less narrative.

It looks like you can get some used copies of this book for under five dollars, and that prices alone is worth it for the Devil’s Island chapter. This is a story so wild, I really struggle to believe it. If it weren’t for his mishaps and essential failures, I couldn’t believe it. Willis seemed to run head long into things, often with no plan or thought (or just a vague idea of one), yet the ball would bounce his way and things would turn out (mostly) alright in the end. Even if you aren’t interesting in sailing, survivalist/endurance, etc. this book, well written and about a character that is far stranger than fiction, is a must read.

 

 

Covid Thoughts: Grocery Store

Recently I started writing down thoughts and events that are happening during the Pandemic. Then I read a story at the NY Times about Why You Should Start a Coronavirus Diary. So, I’m breaking out a little of what I had written into categories and then expanding a bit. I usually write book reviews, or try to have solid content on Theology or Biblical Studies, or even occasionally wade into how I think a Biblical Worldview should influence political thought, but I had never really thought about just writing down in Journal format (with one exception). This is somewhat ironic, as the word blog is a portmanteau of Web and Log (diary).

I’m a putting it all into one word doc and saving maybe for my future grandkids or something, to understand the day to day, from our families view, of what life is like right now. I’m posting it here, in case anyone else finds it interesting or relates. We are also interviewing Sprout in video form, maybe for her grandkids, so she can say in her own words what life is like dealing with the ‘sickness’. I was fixing our neighbors fence about an hour ago and she told me the world is no fun right now. Obviously, I won’t post a video of her here, but I’d recommend if you haven’t heard of that idea yet, to record a few quick thoughts of your kids, or even yourself, you should give it a try.

I shared recently what it was like trying to find rhythm, what Sundays and at home worship looked like, about spending time with my daughter (there is also a follow up if you want to hear her playlist), and the inexplicably controversial idea of wearing a mask. Today’s entry is pretty short and to the point, the experience of grocery shopping.

20200529_084703This is me about to head to the grocery store today. Obviously, still wearing a mask, but have dropped wearing gloves as they have been shown to be unhelpful and the risk of surface contamination is must less than originally feared (this is how science work, hypothesis based on existing conditions and prior knowledge, then tested against updated data). You can also see that I have, unfortunately, not been able to get a hair cut yet.

The first drip during the pandemic was odd. We usually go to the store at the end of the week, so this was a full week of people being at home. I didn’t wear a mask, but had gloves, and when I cam back home, I took my shoes off in the garage and went straight upstairs to put my jeans and shirt in the laundry. I took a travel pack of Clorox and we also whipped everything down before putting it away.

As most of you know by know, there were massive shortages of many things, and then went a few returned, limits were placed on most. Some of the shortages or other issues we ran into:

Toilet Paper – This is the most famous of the shortage, and one that was pretty much stabilized. We were told to stay inside for two weeks, so people started buying 10 and 20 packs of paper. It took a few weeks for people to realize that they had bought nearly years worth of paper. Luckily, third party sellers (Amazon) stopped allowing people to sell them (as well as banning hand sanitizer) and most grocery stores stopped returns. As of today, which is the end of Week 10 as I’ve counted it, Aldi has had single ply packs for about three weeks, and I haven’t seen any in Publix. With one exception, and I don’t know the exact time. It was maybe Week 5 or 6, and I was there fairly early for some reason, and they were unloading all the toilet paper, I asked the guy for the biggest pack they had. He told me the limit was two, and asked if I wanted another. I told him, I didn’t want to be one of ‘those people’, but he said they fact that I cared meant I wasn’t, but that I should take another anyway, because so they would soon all be gone again. We haven’t even finished the first pack, so I feel good about that.

Baby Wipes – This might not have affected too many people, but the same jackassess who took all the toilet paper, also took a all the baby wipes. Normally, I suppose I wouldn’t care, but I happen to be quarantined with two infants, so this really started to piss me off. Luckily, as a gift, my mom bought me a giant pack (over 1,000) of wipes, and around the same time I found the toilet paper, I also found a three pack of wipes (as in three containers of 100 bound together) and grabbed two of those.

Paper Towels – This was another thing that was hoarded, and I’m not entirely sure why, unless they were back up toilet paper. All the stores were instantly out, and it wasn’t until around the time I found toilet paper did they have them again. I don’t know what normal people do, but Mrs. MMT uses paper towels like a villain from Captain Planet, so this was a huge issue for us (except it really wasn’t, we just used cloth napkins to eat and old washcloths to clean).

Hand Sanitizer/Soap/Clorox Wipes (and bleach for injecting) – This wasn’t really a big deal for us. Of course, all the stores were cleaned out instantly. People were hoarding hand sanitizer and then trying to sell it on mark up (this jackass is my favorite story). I wasn’t too worried about this, for two reasons, I read a story early on about the ridiculousness of sanitizer being empty while soap sat on the shelf (it was soon gone, but I grabbed a pack first) and we happened to have a few of the foam ones from the hospital. Also, we somewhat randomly (long story) had a few triple packs of full containers of wipes and maybe 10 travel packs.

Meat – This has been the wildest one. The first week, there was pretty much everything. It was right before St. Patrick’s, so I grabbed two corned beefs (they last a long time, I have one in there now that is use by the end of June). The next week I went, there was nothing. No meat at all, Aldi had a curtain over the section. The next week had some ground beef and dark meat chicken, so we smoked a bunch of wings. Publix was the same; this was the pattern for about a month. Close to Easter, there were a few hams, so we grabbed some of them, and pork was back, so I smoked shoulder. Still no white meat until maybe Week 8. Everything seems back to normal now, but warning of shortages(ish) are coming. The first problem was people hoarding, not it is not being able to process all the meat due to the amount of people out sick. I’ve read a few things that said we have plenty of meat, it just may not be the cuts (or not cut at all, like whole chickens) that Americans are used it. Of course, prices could always go up; which then makes all the right-wing ‘free-marketers’ want government investigations into ‘gouging’.

Bread – Most of the bread we eat comes from the Publix bakery, which seems to have no issues, at least in our area. Early on, all the sugar bread in the middle isles was gone, as were hamburger/hotdog buns. Maybe Week 3, Aldi had no bread at all, but I think that was a logistical/shipping issue. Bread hasn’t been an issue.

Frozen Fruit/Veggies – When this thing started the Nuggets were eating baby food, which for us means veggies blended up. So, I did hoard a little when it came to frozen veggies (especially whatever the ‘California mix’ was, which was cheap and they liked it) and grabbed a couple of bags of frozen fruit. Aldi always had some, but Publix until week 4 or so, was almost completely out of veggies. Have you ever been to a liberal city in a red state? People there are always quick to smugly point out that they are ‘blueberry in a tomato soup’ or something along those lines. That is kind of how it is where I live, but with it being South/Not South. The northside of this metro is basically Ohio or New Jersey. So, all frozen veggies were out except: butter beans, black eyed peas, okra, cut okra, collards. At least we were set.

Formula – When this started, we were going through about three containers of formula a week, so I’d usually grab four to have a little lead time. Sometimes Aldi only had three, so other weeks I’d get five or six. However, a few weeks in, they put a limit of two. I put four in the buggy anyway. I figured I could explain that I had two babies (show pictures if needed) and they’d understand. They did understand, and were sympathetic, but the limit is actually in the system; they literally could run the extra. It wasn’t too big a deal, I’d just hop back in line and buy the other two. Luckily, we are off formula now.

IMG_20200529_123607_01

Eggs/Milk – Of formula and straight into three to four gallons a milk a week. Luckily, by this transition, there was no more limit (though Aldi, due to how good the price it, usually has a four or six limit, I don’t remember which). There was never a shortage of milk. There was a fun on eggs maybe a week or so after the run on meat. We go through two or thee dozen a week, but never had issues, except the price has almost doubled. Still cheap and easy, though.

Beans/Pasta – This one was another that had a big run, then limits, though some of the limits have now been relaxed or removed. We are usually pretty well stocked with these, especially dry beans. Legumes are a staple for us and we eat them more days than we eat meat, and always use them to supplement meat. Similarly, we make a lot of soups with beans. They are also perfect for the Nuggets. All of our kids started on butter beans and it is one of their favorites (and mine) now. Luckily, they never went out of stock, and my parents grow them, so no issues there. Dry pasta seems to be back, but fresh or specialty is still short. It is more perishable, so I wonder if this is a logistical or change in production focus situation.

Medicine – When this first hit, people really started grabbing all the Advil and Tylenol because that is what doctors where telling people to take to treat themselves at home. This wasn’t too big a deal for us, though the first few times I went to the store, everything was out, brand name and generic. The only problem we had was that all of the children’s medication was out as well. There was no Motrin and only one generic Tylenol the first time I went out. This was problematic because both of the Nuggets had ear infections.

That is about it for the weird waves of things being in and out of stock. The Nuggets transitioned to eating solid foods and out of formula since this has started. Sprout went from eating two meal a day at school to all at home and likewise Mrs. MMT went from having business lunches almost every day, to eating them all at home. People often look at me like I am hoard, due to what feeding a family of five three meals a day, seven days a week looks like.

I’ll have only one pack of chicken, but four gallons of milk, three to four dozen eggs, three to four bunches of bananas (breakfast for the Nuggets, good for PB&J for Sprout), three to four bags of grapes (just because Mrs. MMT is crazy), and usually a 10 pound bag of potatoes, among other various things.

I admit I was nervous at first, and did try to load up our freezer. Then for the first maybe four or five weeks, I’d buy thinking in terms of having food for two weeks, but go every week, that way we had some lag time, just in case. I also doubled our supply of dry and canned beans. Things seem generally normal now, and I’m not too worried. I think the food supply has stabilized, and the hoarding/rush buying has stopped. I’m sure there will be blips and other issues over the next few weeks/months. I stopped taking a list around Week 3, because meals would just be whatever they had, but things are normalized enough now, that I’ll probably take one next week.

Somewhat related, the liquor store was always full; despite all the jokes wondering why there was a run on toilet paper but now booze when we were now all stuck with our wife and kids all day long. The clerks would make jokes about needing to see ID, despite the fact that I was wearing a mask. In my ID, I’m clean shaven with also buzzed hair. My hair now is easily over 6 inches long and I have a beard, which I didn’t trim for the first 6 weeks, so I pulled down my mask once and they guy agreed he wouldn’t recognize me either way. One of the Publix people appreciated me being willingly to pull down the mask, he obviously had been fighting too many people about it. Twice at Aldi, I was told they ‘knew’ I was old enough (mid-30’s, so that’s fair), but I asked why. One told me because I laid the wine bottle down on the conveyor belt (instead of up, which falls) and the other because I made a dad joke. I thought that was pretty funny.

20200409_090054

This was before I received any proper masks (I use this for fishing), still used gloves and a grocery list, and, of course, before my hair was too crazy. It was really been an odd time.

Book Review: Future Church

Welcoming the Future Church

My Rating – Probably not worth your time

Level – Easy, short book

Summary
I’m struggling to summarize this book, partly because I didn’t like to very much and I think he missed the mark. His goal to to explain to church leaders how to reach young adults. There is an intro which is about Millennials, then three sections of the book – teach, engage, deploy – each with subchapters, followed by a conclusion.

The teach section is actually fairly interesting and is about how he puts his messages (sermons) together. Engage is more or less a revamped seeker-sensitive plan from the 90’s. Deploy is how he runs his ministry, which is helpful for people involved in church, but again, pretty well follows the ‘attractional’ model of a few decades ago, and sadly never mentions discipleship.

My Thoughts
Pokluda tries to use the subtitle ‘reach, teach, engage’ (this doesn’t match the three section of the book, but like was likely a publishers decision) young adults, but I’m not sure it worked. I suppose, overall, the book is about reaching young adults, as he is a young adult minister or leads this ministry at his church. However, I think it is problematic to use both a generational moniker (Millenials) and to say ‘young adults’. I understand why he did this, but in 10-20 years, the young adults will be a different generation. Also, I don’t see anything unique to Millenials, with the possible exception that we are getting married/having kids later. This is a somewhat interesting issue, driven partly by the unfortunate need that in the modern U.S. economy, a college degree is basically entry level, and partly because the Church spent a whole generation arguing about who should married (whether Christian or not) instead of explaining the meaning and importance of marriage, and finally the skyrocketing divorce rate we observed from our parents (boomers) generation.

Overall, the book missed the mark. I suppose for church leaders of older churches, there could be some useful information, but as I mentioned above, it is mostly ‘attractional’ model church building with the focus on numbers. I find some of interesting, but didn’t realize the book would be so programmatic. I thought the purpose of the book would be different (and this is on me for literally judging the book by it’s cover), focusing on the ‘future’ church in more a ethnic/nationality change. While most of the people on the cover are hipsters, they are fairly diverse. I know the future church (in America, this is already the case worldwide) will be non-white, and first generation Americans, as white America continues to liberalize and leave the church. As I said, that was my mistake, but I was expecting demographic data, not church programming.

I liked ‘Adulting‘, the author’s first book, and Pokluda is a good writer, clear and engaging, and he was some solid thoughts in this book, but I just don’t think it was ready for publication. Or the publishers took his ideas in a different direction. Either way, I don’t see this book as really worth your time.

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Addendum – I generally hate any discussions of generational strife. New generations are never as innovate or special as they think, and they are never as bad or naive as the prior generations believe. Their is a painful irony, that the generation that was originally derided as the ‘me’ generation now complains that the generation they raised is selfish (especially despite most research that shows the millenials are more concerned about doing good than other generations).

The generation that invented the word ‘parenting’ mocks us for inventing the word ‘adulting’. The generation that gave us ‘participation trophies’ (which were never for us, we were five, they were for them, a trophy to show off for their good ‘parenting’). They laugh that our generation for paying our own money to take classes on cooking, sewing, budgeting, etc. Why? Because they never taught us, and cut the education budget so that many schools no longer taught Home Ec. Similarly, this book shares the concern that Millennials are knowledgeable about theology and Biblically Illiterate. It is beyond my understanding that this is considered a flaw of the younger generation and not the failure of the ‘parenting’ generation. My five year old knows the Lord’s Prayer and Apostle’s Creed (don’t @ me, I know this doesn’t save her or actually mean she understands anything), things I didn’t know until I was in my 20’s. She calls Sunday ‘Church Day’.  It is my job to make sure she can read and understand the Bible. I can’t fathom blaming her for her lack of knowledge. She may reject the Bible some day, but she is going to know it. If she doesn’t know it, how can that be on her?

Finally, can we stop with ‘authenticy’? Millenials are not special in believing they are authentic. You can read Sex, Death, and Fly-Fishing, by a middle-age guy (at the time) written over 30 years ago, and he talks about the importance of his generation being authentic. I’m drawing a blank, and this is already too long, but there are writers who were young adults in the 1920’s talking about the problem of ‘inauthentic’. I’m sure if you went even further back you’d find more. Anyway, rant against generational theory finished.