Chapp article
Wed, 10 Nov 1999 23:14:14 EST

I recently stumbled across a very well-written and lucid article [sorry - but
it's not online] that may be of interest to this list. "To the 'Unknown
God': The Church and Science at the Areopagus" by Larry S. Chapp (Pro
Ecclesia, 1999, v. 8, no. 3, p. 274-307) critiques Paul Davies work (he of
"God and the New Physics") using the theology developed by Hans Urs Von
Balthasar as a starting point. I know almost nothing about Balthasar, but
gather that his work is strongly Trinitarian in emphasis. As such, Chapp's
article has greater theological depth than so many science-Christianity
papers that simply concentrate on a generic god (e.g. using classic natural
theology or ID approaches).

Curiously Chapp's approach from within Catholicism reaches some quite similar
conclusions to Howard Van Till's work from within Calvinism. Chapp even
quotes Howard, describing the quoted section as a "beautiful passage".

I also want to quote a footnote of Chapp's in which he comments on biblical
literalism; much of it also applies, I believe, to the reductionistic nature
of concordism:
"The fundamental problem of biblical literalism is that it shares in the same
relentless reductionism of scientific materialism. They share a naively
univocal concept of truth as simply "the way things are as they are
empirically established". In the case of the scientific materialist "the way
things are" is determined solely on the basis of a reductionistic and
positivistic empiricism. The biblical literalist turns to a stock set of
ready made propositions drawn from a superficially empirical reading of the
Bible. The Bible "means" only what can be established empirically in the
literal definitions of its words. The Bible is a self-evident,
self-interpreting set of empirically true propositions -- a book of
"factoids" that can be easily understood by any dispassionate observer. And
one "factoid" is just as important, just as "empirically true" as any other
-- Noah's ark is just as empirically true as David's temple, and Jonah's fish
is as empirically true as Israel's exile in Babylon. The biblical literalist
thus adopts the fundamental empiricism of scientific materialism; the world
of empirical relations seems strangely devoid of theological content and the
Bible itself is viewed as an "add-on" to this nexus of empirical relations.
Thus conceived, it explains the biblical literalist's obsession with
"proving" the Bible to be true through empirical investigations -- the world
of the empirical is affirmed as our primary reality into which the Bible is
"inserted" and, therefore, the realm from which we must seek support for the
Bible's claims" [p. 280].

Karl V. Evans