Re: [asa] ASA Newsletter

From: Bill Powers <>
Date: Mon Sep 07 2009 - 14:54:32 EDT

OK, George. I think we agree for the most, and perhaps most important,


On Mon, 7 Sep 2009, wrote:

> To be clear: I do not think issues connected with science are an _insurmountable_ obstacle to faith. Nor do I think that such issues are the only ones with which apologetics or evangelism need to be concerned.
> Faith is not simply a matter of rational acceptance of propositions. It's fundamental aspect, what distinguishes "saving" faith from mere agreement that certain events have happened or even theological claims about the significance of such events is trust, /fiducia/. Simply believing that Jesus is the Son of God and that he died and rose again is not in itself saving faith. Not even acceptance of the theological proposition that he died & rose for the forgiveness of sins is i saving faith. What is crucial is confidence that I can trust in the God revealed in Christ in le & n death.
> So coming to saving faith is not simply a matter of being convinced by cogent arguments. But if a person is confronted with the claim that science has proven that the dead do not rise (a la Hume) then there is clearly an obstacle to trust in a God supposedly revealed in the cross-resurrection event. It's by no means an insurmountable, especially when we bear in mind that it is indeed the Holy Spirit who works faith where & when the Spirit wills. But it is an obstacle, one which (in this case) some appreciation of the limis of science may help to remove. That's all I'm saying. It doesn't seem very radical.
> Shalom,
> George
> ---- Bill Powers <> wrote:
>> 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 Mon Sep 7 14:55:25 2009

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