Monthly Archives: January 2014

Four Views on the Historical Adam

How are we to understand the teaching of Genesis regarding Adam as an historical person? What is your view?

Want to know more about the debate? Get a copy of Four Views on the Historical Adam, part of the Zondervan Counterpoint series of debates within the Christian community among scientists, Old Testament scholars, New Testament scholars, Ancient Near East literary scholars, church leaders/pastors and others in-between about how we are understand the message of the Bible.

Introduction #1 — Matthew Barrett, California Baptist University:

Introduction #2 — Ardel Caneday, Northwestern College:

Young-Earth — William D. Barrick, The Master’s Seminary:

Ancient Near East Literature/Archetypal View — John Walton, Wheaton College:

UPDATE: For a summary of each view discussed in the book, BibleGateway has a succinct description of each perspective. Extended audio talks given by each one of the four main contributors from the 2013 Evangelical Theological Society have just been made available.

Memory: Kenneth Curtis

Thanks to the remarkable vision of Kenneth Curtis (died 2011), Christian history comes alive.

Thanks to the remarkable vision of Kenneth Curtis (died 2011), Christian history comes alive. Enjoy the feast.

I am a total Christian history fanatic now. Even though I grew up in Williamsburg, “History Town”, Virginia, I had a so-so interest in history for many years. But Ken Curtis changed all of that.

I met Ken Curtis in the early 1990s when I was working on my seminary degree. I thought the class would be a dull recitation of dates and names. Boy, was I wrong. Here comes this heavyset man with a thick Bostonian accent walking into class with great passion. He lived and breathed the great moments of church history. From the Early Church to the Reformation, Ken’s zeal was contagious.

And he had films.

Ken Curtis got his big start in the film business in 1972 with the story of David Wilkerson, a young pastor working in the tough gang ghettos of New York City, titled The Cross and the Switchblade.  But Ken’s real heart was for church history. Sometimes we get so focused on our own problems and our own little world that we forget that God has been in the Kingdom building business for centuries. When we get overwhelmed with life’s challenges, it really helps to take a step back to figure out where we in our current circumstances fit within God’s long term plan. Ken Curtis knew that the church needs to remember the past for the sake of understanding the present and even guiding us for the future. With this vision, Ken Curtis was able to scrounge up enough money to put together a series of classic Christian history films, including several available here at Ken’s Gateway Film’s Vision Video.

I was hooked. Ken Curtis made the history of the church come alive on film. I have used Ken’s stuff several times over the years in Sunday School classes to help fellow Christians remember the faithfulness of God over the centuries. But Ken’s work was not limited to film. Ken’s family and friends have continued to publish a weekly church bulletin insert, Glimpses. But perhaps Ken’s greatest legacy is the Christian History magazine he founded. With over one hundred issues, Ken and his group have been able to publish high quality issues on almost every subject imaginable. While I throw out most magazines after awhile, I have never thrown out an issue of Christian History.

The magazine floundered in the late 1990s with the advent of the Internet, and Christianity Today picked up the magazine, only to kill it a few years later due to poor sales, yet another casualty of the demise of print journalism these days. However, just before Ken Curtis died of cancer a few years ago, his group at the Christian History Institute resurrected the magazine. There are print editions still available, but now they also publish full-color PDF versions on-line. They ain’t got much money, but they are committed to providing the PDF versions free of charge to folks who can not afford it. In honor of Ken’s legacy, the Christian History Institute wants to help the church to remember with high-quality photos and artwork, very accessible reading and interviews with the top scholars of the world.

At our recent Facts and Faith Symposium, many of the evaluations indicated a real interest in learning more about church history. The timing could not be better. The Christian History Institute has published a recently new issue, Debating Darwin.  If you have an interest in how the church responded to the challenge of Charles Darwin in the 19th century, one of the topics that came up during the Symposium, you can find no better place to do your research than to start by downloading the PDF or getting the full print edition delivered to your door.

And if we ever have a future Symposium on Christian History, there stands a great chance of viewing some of Ken’s amazing films. Enjoy!

Lessons Learned from Our 2013 Symposium

So, What did we learn?Can you defend your faith when challenged by others? Our Veracity blog founder, John Paine, has been thinking about this question, courtesy of J.I. Packer. But what are some of the obstacles that you and your fellow Christians face when given the opportunity to defend one’s faith? I have been meditating on these type of questions lately, as our Facts & Faith Symposium wrapped up about six weeks or so ago in November, 2013.  I would like share some of the things that I have been learning.

Our Symposium, sponsored partly by Veracity over three nights (#1, #2, and #3), covered the topic of Creation and how Science and the Bible relate to one another. OK, hang on for a minute. I admit that I am a bit of a science-geek. This is no surprise, as I am a computer engineer, so it comes with the territory. I know that there are a lot of friends of mine who could care less about science. As long as they can use their iPhones and work the microwave oven, technologies that have been brought to us by the miracle of modern science, then that is just fine with them.

I get that. Not everyone can be totally into “science-ish” type stuff, and I am no expert either. I still can not figure out how to connect a DVD player to a television screen easily, so if you ask me to help you hook up your home theater system, I will just end up staring at the puddle of wires for as long as you did. So, please do not get disappointed if I act like I have no clue as to what is going on.

Because you know what? I do not have a clue.

That’s what Google and YouTube videos are for.

But you do not need to be a science-geek to talk about the God of the Bible with your neighbors, friends and family. Working through our own theology of what it means to say that God is our Creator, that we are created in His image, the question of how we are to view the problem of suffering, death, and evil, and that we are fallen and in need of healing is crucial to the journey of personal discipleship. Our contemporary world is built on the foundations of modern science, and that scientific outlook presents challenges to the Christian faith were not there a couple of hundred years ago. So, it is difficult to avoid these challenges.

However, here is the interesting part. Thinking about the relationship between Science and the Bible with respect to Creation is but one example of the type of work Christians need to be able to do in order to effectively communicate the Gospel to a world today that finds it easier to ask Google instead of God for the answers to their questions. I have come to learn that the “Creation issue” is merely a case study illuminating a larger set of issues. Here is what I have learned:

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J.I. Packer: That’s Not Good Enough

Right between the eyes.  From a Calvinist.

HT: Justin Taylor, Crossway

The Calvinist: A Poem by John Piper

In the popular mind, the thought of a “Calvinist” conjures up thoughts of “predestination”, “horrible decree”, “hellfire and brimstone”, “condemnation”, and “rigid”. Basically, what you get is a sourpuss. Not a lot of fun and happy thoughts here, as “Calvinism” for a number of folks today gives Christianity a bad name.

I never thought that the power of a poem on video could viably challenge such as assessment. But I think I have found something that might do just that.

John Piper served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota for 33 years, and he is currently the chancellor for Bethlehem College and Seminary, and founder of John’s theological hero is the 18th century colonial preacher, Jonathan Edwards, probably the greatest American philosopher ever…. and a Calvinist.

What gets me about Jonathan Edwards is that he was able to have this awesome, even terrifying, view of God’s majestic sovereignty on the one hand, as well as a tender, joyous fondness for the “sweetness” of God on the other. How was he able to put these two things together?

John Piper’s most popular book is Desiring God, Meditations of a Christian Hedonist, which is nothing more than a contemporary exploration of Jonathan Edward’s faith and thought. John wrote a poem recently, and he invited a few friends to add their voices to help him read the poem: D.A. Carson, R.C. Sproul, Alistair Begg, Thabiti Anyabwile, Matt Chandler, and Sinclair Ferguson.

This really surprised me. It may not change your view of a “Calvinist”, but it might give you some pause to ponder. I would like to know what you think.

Additional Resources:

Just in case you thought that Calvinism was on the periphery of the evangelical church these days, you might want to rethink that and look into the recent CrossCon student missions conference, held in Louisville, Kentucky, the last week of 2013. The Gospel Coalition posted a number of videos from this new missions conference, an event designed to mobilize a new generation of young college students. I recently talked to one of the 4,000 students who attended. It was quite an experience from the report I received.

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