Re: History and Goals (for TE)

John P. McKiness (
Thu, 25 Jun 1998 22:28:43 -0500


At 04:45 PM 6/25/98 -0700, Blaine wrote in response to Keith:
Keith B Miller wrote earlier:
>> My present understanding, though not at all firmly established in my mind,
>> is that the intimacy or immediacy of God's action through chains of
>> cause-and-effect in nature is not different from His "miraculous" action.
>> In fact, I suspect the distinction is only one of our perception.
>> At the same time, I find the idea of God endowing creation with genuine
>> freedom (though not autonomy) to be attractive. Such a conception gives
>> all of creation the same "free will" that we experience, and gives His
>> action in both human history and creative history a certain consistency.
>> At this point I do not have a clear idea of how to integrate these
>> perspectives - if such is possible.


I certainly agree with you above that "the distinction is only one of our
perception" and I agree with you (I believe we are in agreement here) that
God gave creation the space (freedom) to exist. However, as I read the
Bible, it appears to me that Adam (and possibly Eve) was the only portion of
creation which had free will until Jesus Christ came into existence. As a
Lutheran, following Luther, I believe that as Adam lost the Image of God at
the fall so I and the rest of humanity lost all hope of free will. I would
suggest that "free will" be reserved for our ability to choose between God
and notGod. We will have enough disagreement along denominational lines on
the term used this way without cluttering it up with other meanings.

So, I think we need a different term for our decision making ability on such
things as what color shirt to wear or whether to eat meat today or not. I
believe this is part of the space (freedom) that is built into creation
which God has given us by limiting Himself. I am at a loss for a term, I am
certain that there is one in the theological literature.

>> God's present action seems to be "invisible" to scientific demonstration.
>> Lastly, I think it is important to not visualize God's action in creation
>> as though He were Himself a physical entity.
>>Why must there be an apparent reserved place for God's action within our
>>description? How can we even possibly conceive of how spirit interacts
>>with the physical? We don't even have a clue as to how our own spiritual
>>nature relates to our bodies - or to how our minds and wills relate to our
>>Any responses?

I most certainly agree and would go beyond to continue to stress the
impossibility (and wrongness of attempting) of concord, or reconciliation,
between Christian faith and science (or culture). (For my Reformed friends
at Calvin College, I even believe it is impossible to reform science (or
culture) and unChristian to try; it is only possible to share the Word and
pray that the Holy Spirit will continue the work of saving the individuals
around us. Cultural things are a lost cause to me.)

> [snipped most of Blaine's response for brevity]
> The fossil and archeological evidence that has been gathered by
>anthropologists is open to interpretation in a variety of ways. If we
>base our harmony of science and the bible on a particular scientific
>model, and then that model is upset by a revision of the evidence, where
>does that leave our harmonization?
>What do you think? Have I misapplied the conclusions I drew from the
>embryology analogy to the broader Genesis situation?
>Blaine D. McArthur

As a trained geologist/paleo-type, anthropologist, and historian I agree
that harmonization between a particular scientific model and the Bible (dare
I say Christian model) is unwise. I think that as our understanding of
embryology improves we may one day answer back to God that we know the
physical processes involved but we still don't know Him apart from Jesus
Christ or understand why He thinks so much of us that He died for us or how
we relate to Him and creation apart from Christ and can only marvel at the
idea that He knew us before we were conceived (Jeremiah 1:5).