Re: Faith Crisis

From: george murphy (
Date: Sun Feb 17 2002 - 07:59:24 EST

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    Glenn Morton wrote:

    > >-----Original Message-----
    > >From: []On
    > >Behalf Of Jim Eisele
    > >Sent: Saturday, February 16, 2002 11:23 AM
    > >Another conviction just hit me. What you believe about Genesis One can
    > >easily provoke either a faith crisis or a Genesis One crisis. If
    > >anyone has
    > >any questions at this point, I'm not asleep yet.
    > >
    > You are correct Jim. But for many of us this is not a surprise. But a crisis
    > of faith is only partly due to what one beleives about Genesis. It is also
    > dependent upon what the scientific data actually shows. If the fossils were
    > scattered willy-nilly through the entire geologic column a believe in a
    > literal flood would not cause the crisis. The data would match the belief.
    > The crisis comes when the data or epistemology conflicts with one's belief
    > about Scripture.
    > My personal crisis began in 1983 when I went on a carbonate field trip to
    > south Texas and looked at the sedimentation of limestone rocks. The data
    > challenged my YEC beliefs. I saw tiny burrows throughout the limestone made
    > by clionid sponges who were eating the limestone by taking tiny 6 micron
    > radius bites. One can see this same thing going on in limestones being
    > deposited today.
    > This data made it difficult to remain a YEC. I had a moral choice before
    > me--ignore the data (be dishonest) and remain a YEC advocate or change my
    > views. That was the point at which I began to change but it was a full ten
    > years before I gave up and accepted evolution. It was the data which forced
    > the change not the belief and it was the mismatch of data and belief which
    > forced the crisis.
    > I mentioned epistemology above. I personally still struggle because I can't
    > reconcile a non-historical Scripture with its divine inspiration. I hear
    > what people say, that the resurrection is the sine qua non of Christianity
    > and it is. Often with this goes a pooh-poohing of the OT miracles like the
    > floating ax head, the talking snake etc as these are not so important to the
    > Christian faith. I agree with that. But when it comes to the NT miracles
    > should we pooh-pooh them as well? Is the feeding of the 5000 false? is the
    > story of Ananias and Sapphira false? Did Peter not heal lots of people? Did
    > Peter have a 'Get-out-of-jail-card' rather than a miracle? Did Jesus really
    > walk on the water? Did he raise Lazarus from the dead? These miracles too
    > are not crucial to Christianity so why should they be accepted when the same
    > logic forces or allows for rejection of OT miracles? And if one is logically
    > consistent and pooh-pooh's them, then that leaves only one miracle which we
    > are then supposed to believe as rock solid fact--the resurrection.
    > Is it rational to believe that all the miracles of the Bible are false save
    > the resurrection? I wouldn't think so. And that is where the non-concordist
    > pathway would lead me, I fear.
    > So I won't have another go round on this with George or anyone else, I
    > simply WILL NOT respond to any replies.

            I don't want to provoke Glenn, but should explain my view on this briefly,
    especially since I have been cited at other times as believing that the resurrection
    is the only biblical miracle that really happened. That isn't the case.
            Indeed, I think that some of the biblical miracles didn't "really happen" as
    historical events. I don't think, e.g., that the sun (or earth) really "stood still"
    for Joshua. This doesn't mean that I simply ignore this story: It says something
    about the experience of the people of Israel and serves a theological function in the
    context of scripture. But I don't believe that for ~24 hours the velocity of the
    earth relative to the sun was zero.
            Other miracles - besides the resurrection - did occur. The question I raise
    is not about the brute fact of them happening but about how to understand them. I
    don't think that most miracles are best understood as instances in which God simply
    "violated" the laws of nature. Rather, they can be thought of as very rare events
    whose possibility God has put into creation, so rare that we can't see the
    regularities that would enable us to encompass them in general laws. But with some
    we can see connections with everyday events - e.g., the feeding of the 5000 & God's
    usual provision of food.
            This is actually a quite traditional understanding of miracles. That
    doesn't prove that it's true, but it isn't just an innovation of mine.

            Let me also make a personal comment on the "crisis of faith" issue. I grew up
    in the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church, a pretty conservative body in which evolution
    was rejected and there were some inclinations toward young earth views. But the
    focus in the Lutheran tradition in general, and in my upbringing in particular, has
    been evangelical in the strict sense - i.e., on the message that sinners are freely
    justified and saved for Christ's sake. To oversimplify considerably, you run into
    more of a problem in this tradition by questioning Romans than Genesis. I did have
    to go through some intellectual struggles to get free of YEC & anti-evolution views &
    have had faith crises, but the latter weren't about Genesis, because that's not where
    my faith was centered.
            (OTOH, the downside of this tradition is that one can focus on justification
    in an existential sense and pretty much ignore creation. I've commented recently
    here on that tendency in Bultmann.)



    George L. Murphy
    "The Science-Theology Interface"

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