According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for
this world to recreate, reclaim, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of
explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. - anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. - anon
... Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument.
There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is
irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a
power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table
to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace,
reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants
us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. - anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Book Review: "Incarnational Humanism" by Jens Zimmermann



Incarnational Humanism
A Philosophy of Culture for the Church in the World


INTRODUCTION

Having left its Christian roots behind, the West faces a moral, spiritual and intellectual crisis. It has little left to maintain its legacy of reason, freedom, human dignity and democracy. Far from capitulating, Jens Zimmermann believes the church has an opportunity to speak a surprising word into this postmodern situation grounded in the Incarnation itself that is proclaimed in Christian preaching and eucharistic celebration.
To do so requires that we retrieve an ancient Christian humanism for our time. Only this will acknowledge and answer the general demand for a common humanity beyond religious, denominational and secular divides. Incarnational Humanism thus points the way forward by pointing backward. Rather than resorting to theological novelty, Zimmermann draws on the rich resources found in Scripture and in its theological interpreters ranging from Irenaeus and Augustine to de Lubac and Bonhoeffer.
Zimmermann masterfully draws his comprehensive study together by proposing a distinctly evangelical philosophy of culture. That philosophy grasps the link between the new humanity inaugurated by Christ and all of humanity. In this way he holds up a picture of the public ministry of the church as a witness to the world's reconciliation to God.


  • Proposes a distinctly evangelical Christian philosophy of culture
  • Builds on centuries of Christian reflection on the nature of humanity and human culture
  • Engages Irenaeus, Augustine, Henri de Lubac and Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  • Responds to current postmodern concerns and the challenge of pluralism
  • Provides a vision of common humanity from an orthodox Christian perspective
  • Contributes to contemporary discussions on the purpose of education and educational institutions


  • CONTENTS

    Preface

    1. Without Roots: The Current Malaise of Western Culture
    The West's Cultural Heritage: Christianity or Enlightenment?
    The Exhaustion of Secularism
    The Return of Religion

    2. The Beginnings of Incarnational Humanism
    Greco-Roman Antecedents
    Patristic Humanism
    Christology and the Incarnation
    The Imago Dei
    The Heart of Patristic Humanism: Deification
    The Correlation of Reason and Faith
    The Fruits of Reason: Education as Transformative Participation in the Divine Word
    The Foundation of a Common Humanity
    Eucharistic Humanism and Human Solidarity
    Conclusion

    3. The Further Development of Christian Humanism
    Medieval Humanism
    Conclusion
    Renaissance Humanism
    Introduction
    The Retrieval of Patristic Theology
    The Incarnation and the Imago Dei
    Humanistic Education
    The Importance of the Incarnation
    Christian Humanism after the Renaissance
    Conclusion

    4. The Rise of Anti-Humanism
    The Beginning of the End: The Unity of Mind and Being in Kant and Hegel
    Nietzsche's Anti-Platonism and the Birth of Anti-Humanism
    Nietzsche's Anti-Humanism Heirs: Michel Foucault and Martin Heidegger
    Martin Heidegger: From Anti-Humanism to Hyper-Humanism
    Conclusion

    5. Still No Incarnation: From Anti-Humanism to the Postmodern God
    Levinas's Humanism of the Other
    The Disincarnate God of Continental Philosophy
    Gianni Vattimo: Incarnation Without Transcendence
    Weak Thought or Weak Theology? Vattimo's Heideggerian Christianity
    Problems With Vattimo's Incarnational Ontology
    Conclusion

    6. Incarnational Humanism as Cultural Philosophy
    God's Presence in the World: Sacred and Secular
    God's Presence in the Church
    The Heart of the Church: The Eucharist
    The Sacrament of the Word
    Eucharistic Humanism: The Link Between Church and World

    Conclusion

    Bibliography

    Name Index

    Subject Index

    Scripture Index



    The Human Fossil Record, Parts 1-10b

    The BioLogos Forum: The Human Fossil Record
     
    In this series, James Kidder provides an intriguing study on transitional fossils and the evolutionary history of modern humans. He begins by discussing the fossil record, explaining how new forms are classified. He then explains the physically distinguishing trait of humankind—bipedalism. From the discovery of Ardipithecus, the earliest known hominin, to the australopithecines, the most prolific hominin, Kidder focuses on the discovery, the anatomy, and the interpretation of these ancestral remains. 
     
    Hominid Brain Development
     
    By James Kidder | November 25, 2011
    It has become an article of faith for those espousing both the young earth creation model and many who hold to the intelligent design model that transitional fossils do not exist and therefore evolution has not taken place. Support for this position usually entails attacking the weak areas of the fossil record or defining transitional fossils in such a way that none could ever be found.
    Comments (0)
     
     
    By James Kidder | January 5, 2011
    One of the most fruitful and exciting areas of research in palaeoanthropology is the search for the last common ancestor to the higher apes and humans. This question is inextricably tied to concepts of what separates humanity from the animals around us. This is a question that has spiritual as well as physical ramifications.
    Comments (232)
     
     
    By James Kidder | February 10, 2011
    In the early 1920s, a young anatomist named Raymond Dart took a job at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Keenly interested in comparative primate anatomy, Dart had been advised to go to the Wit by the famed anatomist Sir Grafton Eliot Smith and, upon arrival, began work on the ancestry of South African primates.
    Comments (4)
     
     
    By James Kidder | April 4, 2011
    In my previous post, I described the discovery of the first Australopithecus in South Africa by Raymond Dart. Beginning with the work of Dart and venerable palaeontologist, Robert Broom, an extensive range of discoveries has been made that continues to the present day.
    Comments (58)
     
     
     
    By James Kidder | June 16, 2011
    Up until approximately three million years ago, australopithecines were restricted in variation to Australopithecus afarensis, the successor to Australopithecus anamensis. This hominin has been found in the north at Hadar, Ethiopia, and as far south as Tanzania. Subsequent to this time period, however, the australopithecines as a genus underwent a dramatic expansion and, eventually, would be found in all of eastern and possibly central Africa.
    Comments (60)
     
    By James Kidder | June 20, 2011
    It is tempting to look at these remains and think privately, “these are nothing but apes. What is the fuss?” Such has been the viewpoint of the Institute for Creation Research’s Duane Gish (Gish and Research 1985) and John Morris. This is incorrect. There was never any doubt in any of the researcher’s minds that from A. afarensis, the australopithecines walked upright, albeit with a gait not quite like that of modern humans.
    Comments (11)
     
    By James Kidder | August 26, 2011
    Thus far, we have journeyed from the forests of the late Miocene/Early Pliocene at 4 and half million years ago to the open savannah at a little over one million years ago. We have seen perhaps our first forebears, Ardipithecus ramidus in Northeast Africa, walk upright, albeit awkwardly at first—the first primate to do so.
    Comments (5)
     
     
    By James Kidder | November 17, 2011
    In the previous post, I detailed the arrival of early Homo on the landscape and the differences of these forms from contemporary australopithecine species. The australopithecines, while possessing bipedal locomotion and, perhaps, rudimentary tool use, were characterized by having small brains, largely ape-like faces, reduced stature and primitive characteristics reminiscent of their ape ancestry.
    Comments (11)
     
    By James Kidder | April 12, 2012
    One of the persistent questions involving paleoanthropological research is the timing of that first migration out of Africa. Work by several researchers beginning in the 1890s had uncovered remains of hominins in both East and Southeast Asia, but because of problems understanding exactly how remains decayed or were preserved in those environments, very few concrete dates could be determined.
    Comments (16)
     
     
    By James Kidder | July 28, 2012
    Up to this point, all human fossils had been found on the surface, eroding out of the side of a bank, or as a result of farming. It had not occurred to anyone to go looking for human ancestors. Dubois was attempting was something that had never been done before: discovery of hominin material through the tools of archaeological excavation.
    Comments (29)
     
     
    By James Kidder | July 29, 2012
    While both Lantian and Hexian were significant finds, the Zhoukoudian site in China boasted the single largest collection of Homo erectus fossils ever found at one site, as well as presenting one of the greatest mysteries in paleoanthropology.
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    The Sorrows and Joys of Teaching Evolution at an Evangelical Christian University

     

    August 24, 2012

    "The BioLogos Forum" frequently features essays from The BioLogos Foundation's leaders and Senior Fellows. Please note the views expressed here are those of the author, not necessarily of The BioLogos Foundation. You can read more about what we believe here.
     
    Today's entry was written by Dennis Venema. Dennis Venema is an associate professor and department chair for the biology department of Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia. His research is focused on the genetics of pattern formation and signaling.
     
    The Sorrows and Joys of Teaching Evolution at an Evangelical Christian UniversityAs I settle into the lecture, only I really know what is coming a mere few PowerPoint slides hence. The class is an upper-level course in genetics, and the topic is changes in chromosome structure. Starting with fruit flies as an example, I sketch out comparisons between closely related species for which complete genome sequences are available. Students learn about the evidence for chromosome fusions and fissions, the reordering of genes along chromosomes in different lineages over time (an issue of synteny which we have discussed before), and how these lines of evidence support the hypothesis that the various fruit fly species we observe in the modern day derive from common ancestral species in the past. Perhaps my using of the genuine estimates for speciation dates raises a few eyebrows, since “millions of years” is something of a byword for some antievolutionary groups, and fruit flies have been separating into new species for tens of millions of years. Still, it’s pretty clear that this isn’t really rocking anyone’s world: they’re all just fruit flies, after all, and I like to talk about them, since they’re the organism I do my research on.
     
    After the “information dump” using the fruit fly examples, it’s time for a class discussion/application before the students drift off too much. Ok, here’s a slide that shows the chromosome structure of a group of organisms that other lines of evidence suggest are part of a group of related species. What do you observe? Do you think these species are related? If so, what explains the differences you observe?
    What the students don’t know is that the slide shows human chromosomes, and those of our closest living relative, the chimpanzee. Oblivious to this knowledge, they easily arrive at the correct answer: yes, the evidence is strong that these are quite recently diverged species, and that a chromosome fusion or fission event explains the differences in chromosome structure between them. When I tell them that every other species in this grouping has the higher chromosome number/structure, they correctly deduce that the species with the lower chromosome number should show evidence of a fusion event in the form of “telomere” sequences at the fusion point and an inactive “centromere” at the location suggested by comparison to the other, related genome.
     
    Easy.
     
    As I look around the room, I see the students are satisfied. I cover some difficult material in this course, and the students are obviously pleased that this topic is so easy to handle. The lines of evidence are easy to follow, and it’s easy to predict and test one’s hypotheses. Then, only after they’ve seen the evidence at least once without the baggage that will inevitably come, I ask them if they know what two species they’ve just compared.
     
    As a biology professor at a primarily undergraduate, evangelical, liberal arts and sciences university, I have the profound privilege of teaching the principles of evolutionary biology to a variety of students, both biology majors and non-majors. As one might expect, teaching this subject matter at times engenders controversy, crises of faith, anger and fear in students (and others). These types of sorrows are relatively well known and have been discussed here on BioLogos by several authors. Yet there are also great joys associated with teaching evolutionary biology in a Christian setting, and in this post I reflect primarily on these as a counter-balance to the more frequent stories of conflict and struggle.
     
    The sorrows …
     
    Lest anyone think that this post is an attempt to present an overly-optimistic or whitewashed view of teaching evolution in an evangelical setting, let me acknowledge and affirm that the pain that many (yes, most) evangelical students go through as they learn about evolution is substantial and real. I have had too many long conversations with students caught between their faith communities and the science to deny this reality. I have seen students struggle with their faith, close their minds to the scientific evidence, and even resolutely declare that no amount of evidence would ever be enough to convince them that evolution is real. I have seen anger, hurt and fear. I have seen students willing to discard the nearly the entirety of modern science in order to maintain a particular anti-evolutionary view.
     
    For me personally, the most difficult circumstances to watch are students who feel torn between the evidence and their faith. In some cases these are extremely bright students, who easily see the strength of the evidence, but feel the need to remain unengaged and uncommitted because they fear a backlash from their churches, or (especially) their parents. While an evangelical university can be a wonderful, safe environment for students to explore these issues, that environment doesn’t follow them home. These struggles are painful to watch, and I’ve spent more than a few hours in prayer for students facing them.
     
    … and the joys
     
    Yet for all these issues, I thoroughly enjoy teaching evolution at an evangelical university. Of course I do not enjoy the anguish it can produce for some of my students – far from it! Fortunately, conflict and emotional turmoil are not the whole story, and many evangelical students report that learning about evolution was a valuable, enriching experience, regardless of their views after the fact.
     
    One of the things I enjoy most is that teaching evolution is never dull in an evangelical setting. My students might snooze through a class on cellular respiration, or be tempted to surf Facebook when they should be applying their reasoning skills to problems in genetics, but whenever evolution is the topic I have everyone’s full attention. Whatever else, evolution matters. That intensity of student engagement is invigorating, and the students feel it too. Regardless of where students ultimately decide to “land” on the issue, many report that they enjoyed the process – the exchange of ideas, the discussions and debates, and the new understandings gained.
     
    In addition to the electrifying interest the topic holds for evangelical students, learning about evolution is also by nature a multidisciplinary enterprise and opportunity for personal growth. Students are not merely gaining a larger perspective in biology, but fitting that new understanding into their knowledge of Scripture, church history, and their own faith journey. Often in class students will contribute what they have learned in other courses to the discussion: courses dealing with the setting and context of Genesis, courses on church history, and courses on hermeneutics and exegesis frequently are drawn upon. It is for this reason that I feel learning about evolution in a Christian liberal arts university is one of the very best places to do so, providing the institution treats the topics fairly. In this setting, resources are available for all of the questions that evolution engenders for Christians, not merely the scientific ones. Moreover, faculty are generally able to assist students with resources that address these extra-scientific issues, and provide a safe and non-judgmental environment for students to learn. The ability to learn what can be faith-shaking material in a setting surrounded by professors committed to the academic and spiritual growth of their students can make all the difference. To be sure, this environment can be one of personal turmoil for students, but with that turmoil comes a rare opportunity for intellectual and spiritual growth in a way that other areas of biology simply cannot provide.
     
    Many of my students, regardless of whether they ultimately accept or reject the evidence for evolution, report that they have grown spiritually through their learning process. Contrary to popular opinion, in my experience most who do come to accept the evidence for evolution also report this growth. They feel closer to God, not further from Him. They feel that they have a deeper appreciation for, and understanding of, His creation. They feel that their faith is now more their own, rather than merely that of their parents. Most importantly, they feel free: that they need no longer be afraid of evolution, but celebrate it as the mechanism by which God has populated His world with “endless forms, most beautiful.”
     
    Seeing students experience that freedom is something that one cannot test on an exam, nor encapsulate as a teaching outcome – but it is a deep joy of my teaching career.
     
     
     
     

    St. John's Video Timeline Project - Interviews with Scholars on the Bible, Church, and Historical Eras


     
     
     
    St. John's Video Timeline Project
     
     
     
     
     YouTube Timeline - http://www.youtube.com/stjohnsnottingham

    Direct Timeline Website -  http://www.stjt.org.uk/
     
     

    THE ORIGINS OF THIS MULTIMEDIA PROJECT
     
    Over a number of years The Revd. Dr Tim Hull has approached distinguished scholars to talk to camera on their area of expertise.
     
    We are very thankful that so many have graciously and generously agreed to this request. Originally these interviews were used purely to enhance teaching and learning for our college students or those doing distance learning with St John’s, but more recently we have been developing a project that put these interviews (and many more to come) into interactive timelines.
     
    We are also very thankful to a number of organisations and educational trusts that are currently supporting the development of these timelines.
     
    The scholars who have been interviewed over the years, many of which appear on these timelines, are: Tom Wright, Anthony Thiselton, Keith Ward, Karen Kilby, Richard Bauckham, Larry Hurtado, Loren Stuckenbruck, Stephen Travis, Richard Burridge, James Dunn, Ian Paul, Graham Stanton, Denis Alexander, Elizabeth Fisher, Rodney Holder, William Lane Craig, Ben Fulford, David Wilkinson, Bruce Winter, David Clough, David Fergusson, Richard Swinburne, John Hedley Brooke, Rachel Muers, Gavin D’Costa, Nick Spencer, Tom Greggs, Steven Shakespeare, David Cheetham, Andrew Shanks, Mike Higton, David Firth, Paul T Nimmo, Walter Moberly, Peter Harrison, Hugh Williamson , David Fergusson, Paula Gooder ,David Shepherd,Thomas Renz, Stephen Williams, Christopher Rowland, Clive Marsh, Christopher Insole, John Cottingham, Simon Oliver, Stephen Plant , Richard Briggs, George Pattison, David Ford, Thomas Renz, Russell Re Manning and Stephen Mulhall.
     
    This project continues to grow, in fact we are in the process of arranging interviews with Darren Sarisky, Steve Holmes, John Binsom, Jonathan Tubb, Stephen Mulhall, Paula Gooder and more.