Re: [asa] ASA Newsletter

From: Bill Powers <>
Date: Sun Sep 06 2009 - 23:34:32 EDT


I admit that the process of coming to faith is unclear to me. Surely,
we must hear the Word. But because I believe that faith that takes root
is unconditional and in a real sense supra-rational, I don't see exactly
how a rational obstacle can occur. In a like manner, I believe that
unbelief is unconditional and supra-rational. The arguments and
rationales that people employ are more a front and support for a
position that they bound to. One might say that belief and unbelief are
something like Quine's core beliefs, which themselves are immune to
evidence and argument.


On Sun, 6 Sep 2009, dfsiemensjr wrote:

> Bill,
> Have you considered Romans 10:17: Faith is from hearing, and hearing
> through Christ's word... ? If misinformation about science and/or
> scripture keeps one from hearing, there will be no faith. Just the Word
> without the work of the Spirit is also without effect, of course. Recall
> also that the action of the Spirit was likened to the wind (John 3:8),
> whose path is not understood. Romans 10;14 is also relevant in indicating
> that the Spirit works through the messenger. It strikes me that our walk
> becoming uncomfortable can only happen when we are in a faith
> relationship.
> Dave (ASA)
> On Sun, 6 Sep 2009 19:30:06 -0600 (MDT) Bill Powers <>
> writes:
>> George:
>> The distinctive between what I was saying and what I read you to be
>> saying is that I don't believe we can know (indeed, I doubt) that
>> such
>> things as the tension or the obstacle (as you would have it) between
>> science and religion keep people from faith. It is because faith
>> comes
>> through the Holy Spirit, as you remind us, that I, for one, do not
>> believe that such rational tensions have much influence, although
>> they
>> can make our walk of faith uncomfortable.
>> Perhaps my view of what coming to faith looks like are uncommon, and
>> I
>> know there are those who claim they have "come to faith" in their
>> efforts to disprove the faith, but I don't see the rational aspects
>> associated with faith (one might say the play of faith and reason)
>> to be
>> critically important, although they may be used by some to support
>> either faith or disbelief.
>> In any case, I think my description of the issue is more general
>> than
>> yours since I don't require that the tension keep one from faith,
>> but
>> merely serve as a tension with faith.
>> thanks,
>> bill
>> On Sun, 6 Sep 2009,
>> wrote:
>>> In a general sense we certainly do know how people are brought to
>> faith - through the message of Christ (Romans 10:17). That is the
>> means the Holy Spirit uses. Now indeed we do not know why that does
>> sometimes produce faith & sometimes (in spite of I Timothy 2:4)
>> apparently doesn't. & of course the message of Christ can come to
>> people in many different ways.
>>> Having said that, I can't really see a fundamental difference
>> between what I said & what you're saying, or why your formulation in
>> terms of "a powerful tension between science and religion" is either
>> more conservative or more reliable than mine. OK, sometimes the
>> powerful tension is sufficient to keep people from accepting the
>> claims of the gospel. Sometimes the tension is overcome through
>> reflection on both science and the gospel. & sometimes a person
>> will make a leap of faith in spite of those tensions.
>>> Tension, obstacle - put it as you will. It may be that spurious
>> scientific claims (e.g., "Science has shown that there is no God
>> acting in the world") threaten to convince a person that Christian
>> claims must be false. Or it may be that misrepresentations of
>> Christianity (e.g., "The need for a savior stands or falls with the
>> historical character of Genesis 3") make someone doubt the validity
>> of the gospel. Perhaps issues of theodicy (e.g., "How could a
>> loving God make use of suffering and death to create life?") raise
>> doubts. All those obstacles/tensions involve science, & are
>> susceptible to removal by an adequate understanding of the
>> relationship between science and theology.
>>> & yes, this can be thought of in terms of the relationship between
>> Christ & culture, science being an important aspect of the latter.
>> Indeed, in today's world it's an unavoidable feature of culture -
>> which just reinforces my point.
>>> Shalom,
>>> George
>>> ---- wjp <> wrote:
>>>> George:
>>>> You say, "today a lot of the obstacles that keep people from
>> coming to
>>>> Christian faith have to do with science - some real & some not.
>> &
>>>> eliminating those obstacles is a task that ASA ought to be able
>> to help
>>>> with."
>>>> Since I don't believe I, or anyone, outside of the Holy Spirit,
>> has
>>>> access to how or when people "come to faith," I cannot provide
>>>> evidence for whether or against what you say.
>>>> However, I would suggest that a more conservative and more
>> reliable
>>>> claim, and one nonetheless important, is that many today,
>> Christian
>>>> and non-Christian know and experience a powerful tension between
>>>> science and religion.
>>>> It seems to me that such tensions are no more than those
>> tensions
>>>> between Christianity and Culture that Niebuhr spoke famously of
>> in
>>>> Christ and Culture. It occurs to me that the ways he spoke
>>>> of might equally well be applied to the relationship between
>>>> Christianity and Science. Are such relationships exhaustive.
>>>> bill
>>>> On Sun, 6 Sep 2009 12:17:02 -0400, <> wrote:
>>>>> Agreed that general apologetics is not a distinctive ASA task -
>> i.e., one
>>>>> in which it has special competence - & thus shouldn't be our
>> primary
>>>>> focus. But today a lot of the obstacles that keep people from
>> coming to
>>>>> Christian faith have to do with science - some real & some not.
>> &
>>>>> eliminating those obstacles is a task that ASA ought to be able
>> to help
>>>>> with. That doesn't mean that it should be our main emphasis but
>> we should
>>>>> at least be able to be a resource for others engaged in
>> competent
>>>>> apologetics - with stress on "competent."
>>>>> Shalom,
>>>>> George
>>>>> ---- David Clounch <> wrote:
>>>>>> ASA members,
>>>>>> Regarding the issues raised pertaining to Africa, my feeling
>> is those
>>>>> sorts
>>>>>> of matters really are of concern to ASA members only.
>>>>>> Probably many members will disagree with me. Its just that
>> when it
>>>>> comes to
>>>>>> strategies for outreach and mission it seems to me you have to
>> get you
>>>>>> ducks in a row before starting to catch grenades.
>>>>>> As far as the ASA doing basic apologetics for Christianity in
>> general,
>>>>> I'm
>>>>>> not against the ASA doing that. I'm just surprised the ASA has
>> to do it
>>>>> at
>>>>>> all. It just seems slightly misplaced. (So if I am wrong
>> here, please
>>>>>> tell me so.) Is it not true there are many many other venues
>> that
>>>>> perform
>>>>>> that function? Would it not be more appropriate for someone
>> with
>>>>> questions
>>>>>> or challenges to Christianity itself to go to a more
>> appropriate venue?
>>>>> I
>>>>>> am ambivalent about that. I never had the expectation that it
>> is the ASA
>>>>>> that had the answers in this area. Or the charter to develop
>> those
>>>>>> answers. I suspect the enemies of Christianity do not really
>> want
>>>>> answers.
>>>>>> Are they really trying to understand, or are they are just
>> making
>>>>> trouble
>>>>>> and trying to distract?
>>>>>> My personal opinion is it is far more important for us to
>> dialog with
>>>>>> Muslims, for example, than it is to dialog with atheists. We
>> have
>>>>> something
>>>>>> in common with Muslims, and Muslims are far more likely to ask
>> a
>>>>> question
>>>>>> that gives them insight into Christianity than is any
>> westernized
>>>>> atheist.
>>>>>> In fact I would suspect the entire population of China and the
>> old
>>>>> Soviet
>>>>>> Union makes for better dialog than do western atheists. The
>> same goes
>>>>> for
>>>>>> non-believing Africa.
>>>>>> So, if we are going to have to regurgitate CS Lewis's moral
>> argument
>>>>> for
>>>>>> God's existence, and that sort of thing, etc,
>>>>>> ad nauseum, perhaps we should do it in a form that is more
>> likely to be
>>>>>> digested by those who are really trying to understand?
>>>>>> Dave C (ASA member)
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Received on Sun Sep 6 23:35:33 2009

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