Taking the cross seriously (Was: Re: The Origins Solution)

From: george murphy (gmurphy@raex.com)
Date: Tue Oct 16 2001 - 17:38:46 EDT

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    Vernon Jenkins wrote:

    > George,
    > I here address two of the points you made when you last wrote.
    > (1) In response to my statement,
    > I'm not sure what to make of your closing sentence. How about the
    > 'wisdom' of subjecting God's revelation to the demands of a doctrine
    > which has captivated and inspired those atheistic monsters of recent
    > history, Hitler and Stalin?
    > you offer the somewhat trite rejoinder,
    > I know of a man who rejected the theory of evolution & today is in
    > prison for robbing a liquor store!
    > Allow me therefore to put the matter a little more succinctly. Where is
    > the logic in believing that the opposites, 'survival of the fittest' and
    > 'thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself', are able to live together
    > amicably, and on equal terms? Clearly, such a 'shot-gun' marriage must
    > require one party to defer completely to the other - for as the Lord
    > points out, "No man can serve two masters:..." (Mat.6:24). Your average
    > atheist appears to understand the absurdity of the union quite well -
    > but, strangely, not the Christian disposed to accept evolution's dubious
    > scientific credentials!

            Several points here:
            1) God's self-revelation is in the hiddenness of Golgotha: Nothing
    is less like our natural idea of what God is like than a man dying on a
    cross. Here God becomes a participant in the evolutionary process - on the
    side of the losers in the "struggle for survival." This hiddenness is
    typical of the biblical God (Is.45:15) - not just that God can't be seen but
    that God reveals under the form of the opposite.
            Natural selection is not the way we expect an all-good &
    all-powerful God to create. Suffering & death are, as Luther puts it, of
    God's "alien work" which is to be distinguished from God's "proper work."
    God brings life out of extinction, just as he "justifies the ungodly, ...
    gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not
    exist" (Rom.4:5, 17).
            2) Competition & the cruder versions of "survival of the fittest"
    are not the whole story in evolution. In spite of the claims of some
    Darwinians (though not, apparently, Darwin himself) sacrifice and altruism
    can play a significant role in the process. The recent book by Elliott
    Sober & David Sloan Wilson, Unto Others (Harvard, 1998) is a thorough
    treatment of "The Evolution and Psychhology of Unselfish Behavior."
            3) Ethics is not just acting out biological urges unreflectively.
    In spite of the fact that "getting even" seems to come naturally, Jesus
    calls us (Mt.5:38-39) to transcend the law of proportional retribution of
    Ex.21:23-24, as the latter was to take the place of the unlimited
    retribution represented, e.g., by Gen.4:23-24.
            4) It's a considerable overstatement to say that evolution
    "inspired" Naziism and Soviet communism. Both of these movements tried (in
    quite different ways) to use evolution, but their
    inspirations lay elsewhere. Moreover, the fact that under Stalin natural
    selection was rejected in favor of the transmission of acquired characters
    (Lysenko) is significant. In any case, the fact that
    Hitler & Stalin used evolution should carry no more weight than the fact
    that Osama bin Laden believes (I would guess) special creation.
             5) As I have pointed out before, the idea that "the average
    atheist" (though it's usually an un-average atheist like Simpson or Dawkins
    who is cited) becomes a theological expert when discussing "thesistic
    evolution" has little to recommend it.

    > George, I put it to you again: are you really exercising 'wisdom' when
    > you accept and propagate this doctrine?
    > (2) Then, in response to my statement,
    > Again, speaking of God's 'fingerprints', what is now your considered
    > opinion regarding the explosive package of numerics that inhabits the
    > Hebrew of Genesis 1:1? In my view they have much to tell us about the
    > character of God, of his _modus operandi_ , and more (leading even to
    > the destruction of the wisdom of the wise!?) - hard information we can
    > hardly afford to spurn in these hazardous days!
    > you say,
    > We have already established that the destruction of the wisdom of the
    > wise takes place through the crucified Christ. I suggest that
    > concentration on the cross and its implications will be far more
    > profitable than any numerics.
    > But as you must know, I have never claimed Bible numerics (as presented
    > on my website) to be a substitute for the gospel. How could they be? The
    > very idea is absurd! You appear to be missing the fundamental truth that
    > they are an _integral part_ of God's revelation to man. In particular,
    > the coordinated geometries of Gen.1:1 strongly convey the impression of
    > having been deliberately contrived, first to capture our attention, and
    > thereafter to achieve some serious end. To date, no naturalistic
    > explanation of these phenomena has been forthcoming - nor can there be
    > in the circumstances! Thus, by a process of elementary logic we deduce
    > they are there by divine intent.

            Bitte - I never said that you substitute numerics for the gospel.
    But in talking about what destroys "the wisdom of the wise" you seem
    reluctant to focus where Paul says we should, on the cross. All too often
    in the Christian tradition the cross has been viewed as God's "Plan B" - a
    very important Plan B, one that is crucial for the salvation of human
    beings, but not as a fundamental criterion for all theology. That is why I
    keep insisting that something like Luther's "theology of the cross" is so
    necessary: The identification of God with the Crucified One ought to affect
    all our theology - not just redemption but creation, providence, & all
            (Caveat 1: By mentioning Luther I certainly don't mean that all
    Christians should follow him slavishly. I don't. But I think his claim
    that "true theology and the recognition of God are in the crucified Christ"
    is profoundly true.)
            (Caveat 2: When I say this kind of thing people always ask me "But
    what about the resurrection?" Yes - the resurrection of the crucified.
    Part of the "scandal" of the cross is that the living Lord is present in the
    church - & in the universe - AS the crucified - cf. Jn.20:20.)



    George L. Murphy
    "The Science-Theology Interface"

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