March 26, 2017

The Internet Monk Saturday Brunch: 3/25/17

THE INTERNET MONK SATURDAY BRUNCH

”It is talk-compelling. It puts you in a good temper, it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings, it sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week.”

Welcome to our Saturday brunch. We’re in Lent, so each week we’re highlighting some of the foods people partake of during these days. Creativity with regards to food and food preparation is, of course, traditional during this season because Lent is known as a time of fasting, and over the centuries folks have developed ingenious ways to enjoy less, or different kinds of food in Lent.

A great example is the Lenten emphasis on FISH.

Here’s a good article that gives some background: Lust, Lies, and Empire: The Fishy Tale Behind Eating Fish on Friday.

It sounds like the plot of a Dan Brown thriller: A powerful medieval pope makes a secret pact to prop up the fishing industry that ultimately alters global economics. The result: Millions of Catholics around the world end up eating fish on Fridays as part of a religious observance.

This “realpolitik” explanation of why Catholics eat fish on Friday has circulated for so long, many people grew up believing it as fact. Some, myself included, even learned it in Catholic school. It’s a humdinger of a tale — the kind conspiracy theorists can really sink their teeth into. But is it true?

“Many people have searched the Vatican archives on this, but they have found nothing,” says Brian Fagan, a professor emeritus of archaeology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, whose book, Fish On Friday, explores the impact of this practice on Western culture.

The real economic story behind fish on Fridays turns out to be much better.

Let’s start with a quick lesson in theology: According to Christian teaching, Jesus died on a Friday, and his death redeemed a sinful world. People have written of fasting on Friday to commemorate this sacrifice as early as the first century.

Technically, it’s the flesh of warmblooded animals that’s off limits — an animal “that, in a sense, sacrificed its life for us, if you will,” explains Michael Foley, an associate professor at Baylor University and author of Why Do Catholics Eat Fish On Friday?

Fish are coldblooded, so they’re considered fair game. “If you were inclined to eat a reptile on Friday,” Foley tells The Salt, “you could do that, too.”

Alas, Christendom never really developed a hankering for snake. But fish — well, they’d been associated with sacred holidays even in pre-Christian times. And as the number of meatless days piled up on the medieval Christian calendar — not just Fridays but Wednesdays and Saturdays, Advent and Lent, and other holy days — the hunger for fish grew. Indeed, fish fasting days became central to the growth of the global fishing industry. But not because of a pope and his secret pact.

Oh, there’s a lot more too. Go to the article and find out about herring and cod, and Henry VIII and fish as “popish flesh,” as well as Vatican II and MacDonald’s Filet-O-Fish.

 

A Few Lenten Fish Recipes:

FIND YOUR HAPPY PLACE

The World Happiness Report was recently released, measuring the “subjective well being” of the people in a given country. Here is a chart with a few of the happiest and least happiest places on earth:

According to the BBC, the report…

…mainly relies on asking a simple, subjective question of more than 1,000 people every year in more than 150 countries.

“Imagine a ladder, with steps numbered from 0 at the bottom to 10 at the top,” the question asks.

“The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you. On which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand at this time?”

But the report also tries to understand why some countries might be happier than others, looking at statistics in such factors as economic strength, social support, life expectancy, freedom of choice, generosity, and perceived corruption.

The United States came in 14th place. Happiness levels in the U.S. have been falling, and an entire chapter of the report is devoted to asking why. In the end, they conclude, “America’s crisis is, in short, a social crisis, not an economic crisis.” They cite such factors as “rising inequality, corruption, isolation, and distrust.”

I said several times during the election that if Donald Trump were elected president, I would move to Norway. Well, I didn’t do it, but maybe there’s still time.

MUST EVERYTHING BE POLITICIZED?

RNS has been reporting on the kerfuffle at Princeton University with regard to Tim Keller.

First, David Gibson reported:

Keller will receive the 2017 Kuyper Prize for Excellence in Reformed Theology and Public Witness at the venerable mainline Protestant seminary in New Jersey on April 6 and will also deliver a lecture on evangelization and “church planting.”

As the seminary said in announcing the award, Keller “is widely known as an innovative theologian and church leader, well-published author, and catalyst for urban mission in major cities around the world.”

But Keller is also a leader in the Presbyterian Church in America, or PCA, which is the more conservative wing of U.S. Presbyterianism and does not permit the ordination of women or LGBTQ people.

That has prompted criticism from those who believe that a seminary such as Princeton, and one associated with the more liberal Presbyterian Church (USA), or PCUSA, should not be honoring Keller at all.

Maybe this is one of the reasons the U.S. is not a very happy place these days.

Can we please find it possible to honor someone for actual achievements and learn to respect and appreciate the good in his/her life and work without expecting that person to line up perfectly with all our cultural and political standards, even our “biblical” standards?

Can’t we listen to a reasonable argument anymore, like that offered by seminary president Craig Barnes? He weighed in “that ‘censorship’ was antithetical to the seminary’s mission and identity;” it is, Barnes wrote, “a core conviction of our seminary to be a serious academic institution that will sometimes bring controversial speakers to campus because we refuse to exclude voices within the church. Diversity of theological thought and practice has long been a hallmark of our school,” he wrote, noting that speakers from other wings of Protestantism as well as from the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches have spoken there.

APPARENTLY NOT!

In a follow-up article, Gibson wrote, “Faced with mounting criticism for its decision to give a major award to the Rev. Tim Keller, founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan and one of the country’s best-known conservative Christian thinkers, Princeton Theological Seminary has reversed course and said Keller will not receive the honor.” And President Barnes, who had so eloquently defended the choice earlier, slunk away from his commitment, saying the school did not want to give the impression of “endorsing” Keller’s views. Ridiculous.

As Jonathan Merritt, a progressive himself, opined in a piece directed toward his peers, “If Christians like Tim Keller are unworthy of honor and deserve to be marginalized, American Christianity is in serious trouble.”

Let me say it without reservation: American Christianity is in serious trouble. On all sides.

QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK…

Several alert readers notified me of this article in Salon about “The rise of ‘network’ Christianity,” which, apparently, is a new name for a movement that has been variously described over the years as Christian nationalist, reconstructionist, dominionist, theocratic, part of the New Apostolic Reformation, and advocating the “Seven Mountains” approach to gaining power and control over American culture.

Brad Christensen and Richard Flory have written a book about what they now call the “Independent Network Charismatic” movement, or INC. They write:

INC Christianity is the fastest-growing Christian group in America and possibly around the world. Over the 40 years from 1970 to 2010, the number of regular attenders of Protestant churches as a whole shrunk by an average of .05 percent per year, while independent neo-charismatic congregations (a category in which INC groups reside) grew by an average of 3.24 percent per year.

Its impact, however, is much greater than can be measured in church attendance. This is because INC Christianity is not centrally concerned with building congregations, but spreading beliefs and practices.

The influence of INC Christianity can be seen in the millions of hits on many of their web-based media sites, large turnouts at stadium rallies and conferences, and millions of dollars in media sales. In our interviews with leaders, we found that Bethel, an INC ministry based in Redding, California, for example, in 2013 had an income of US$8.4 million in media sales (music, books, DVDs, web-based content) and $7 million in tuition to their Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry.

According to the director of media services at the Kansas City-based International House of Prayer (IHOP), their website receives over 25 million hits every year from all over the world…

The authors note that “[m]ost INC Christian groups we studied seek to bring heaven or God’s intended perfect society to Earth by placing “kingdom-minded people” in powerful positions at the top of all sectors of society,” following the “seven mountains” approach.

One sympathetic website writes breathlessly about how the election of President Trump is the breakthrough to revival and reformation of the U.S. that they have been waiting and praying for:

With a Kingdom-friendly administration, led by many Kingdom-minded department heads, such as in education, energy, state department, etc., God is going to use these people to bring changes in attitudes and belief systems. Along with a powerful move of God’s Holy Spirit bringing another Great Awakening, we will see God’s involvement in every sphere of society in ways we’ve never seen in our life-times. There will actually be a significant reversal of the moral values decline we have seen for many decades.

This will lead to scientists abandoning their “faith in the theory of evolution,” the number of abortions will be greatly reduced or eliminated, there will be a great “wave of acceptance” of Christianity by the Jewish people, morals and family life will be restored, “clean and biblical movies” and TV will become popular. Furthermore, “Left-wing media will decrease and truth-seeking media will increase,” and “People will be so excited about miracles taking place in huge religious rallies that they will have to talk about it to keep viewers tuned in.”

These are just a few of the “blessings” INC Christianity is looking forward to in days to come.

Sigh. And again I say, American Christianity is in serious trouble.

THIS WEEK IN MUSIC…

Picked up tickets for one of the items on my bucket list the other day. In June, we’ll be heading over to Cincinnati to hear Paul Simon in concert.

I’m sure we’ll hear this song from my youth. Its message may be just as relevant today.

Fridays with Michael Spencer: March 24, 2017

Balloonfest-052, Photo by dancingdentist

From a 2007 post by Michael Spencer

What do you do when God answers your prayers?

I am a fairly consistent reader and user of the Book of Psalms in my devotional life and worship leadership. Along the way, I’ve noticed that many of the Psalms are prayer or report episodes of prayer in the Psalms. In many of these Psalms, the Psalmist talks about the specifics of what he has done or plans to do as a direct result of God answering his prayer.

Without being exhaustive, I did a quick survey of portions of the Psalter that particular gave evidence of the Psalmist taking specific actions as a result of answered prayer. Some of the scriptures- all from Psalms- were:

Psalm 18:49; 22:22,25; 26:1-12; 34:1-11; 35:1-10; 40:1-3,9-10; 51:7-9,12-17; 57:7-9; 66:13-20; 115:12-19.

In these portions of the Psalms, you will read about many responses to answered prayer: Public and private worship, paying vows, making sacrifices, giving public testimony, evangelism, teaching, praise in music and song, continuing prayer, missions.

The pattern is exemplified in these portions of Psalm 40.

40:1 I waited patiently for the Lord;
he inclined to me and heard my cry.
2 He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the Lord…

9 I have told the glad news of deliverance
in the great congregation;
behold, I have not restrained my lips,
as you know, O Lord.
10 I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart;
I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;
I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness
from the great congregation.

There is a desperate situation, and a cry unto the Lord. God hears and God acts. The grateful worshiper then does public actions to celebrate, magnify and proclaim the goodness of God.

God puts a new song in my mouth, but MANY will hear. The “great congregation” of God’s people will hear the story of God’s deliverance from my own lips. I have not hidden or restrained my response to God, but made it know publicly and verbally.

Many other Psalms follow this same pattern.

What do you do when God answers your prayers?

This pattern in the Psalms tells us that the evidence of God’s prayer-answering presence is the constant praise, worship, service and sacrifice of the people he has answered. It sounds as if worship routinely brings together people who say “God is real. God has heard. God has answered me.”

More than that, those whom God has answered are publicly, significantly changed. In response to God, they begin new patterns of service and Kingdom activity for the Lord. Sinners and transgressors will hear. The nations will hear. Vows will be paid. Public testimony will never cease.

When I read these words, I cannot help but think about the pervasive assertions of atheism that seem to be everywhere in our culture; a worldview that says no prayer, anywhere, anytime, by anyone has ever been answered. That’s an amazing claim because, as surely as thoughtful Christians are aware that many prayers aren’t answered in the way one might hope, our faith resolutely resounds with confidence that God does answer prayer and sometimes does so in ways that are astounding. God rescues his people as he did in Psalm 40 and other Psalms.

Apart from the dreary drone of hype and bragging manipulation that goes on in some Christian circles, many ordinary Christians have testimonies of extraordinary answers to prayer. Life-changing, faith-defining answers and stories of the wonders God has done, large and small.

And many of us see our ordinary prayers answered in what seem to be unspectacular ways every day.

We’re in a drought. I’ve been praying for rain in my classes for every class period (5 a day) for about a month. Today it’s raining. My children are safe. My marriage is whole. I’m able to work. My ministry continues.

My friend Keith is getting on with his life even though he’s seen much pain. I’ve made it safely to dozens of speaking engagements. God has met my financial, physical and spiritual needs out of his abundance in Christ Jesus.

But what have I done in response to those answered prayers?

The Psalms suggest that I should take the story of God’s faithfulness to the congregation, and encourage others. I should pay my vows. I should support missions, testify to the lost, sing and make a new song. I should be a public evidence of the goodness of the Lord.

I shouldn’t restrain my voice, privatize my response and take God’s grace and goodness for granted.

I should be a different man with treasure, time, talent and testimony. I should be more devoted to the church and more aware of others sinking in the pits God has lifted me out of.

While the cynic and the unbeliever says no prayer has ever been answered, I should be God’s surprising punch line to that joke.

What do you do when God answers your prayers? Consider the Psalmist and become a lifelong exhibit to the goodness of a God who hears and answers in his sovereign, compassionate kindness.

• • •

Photo by dancingdentist at Flickr. Creative Commons license

Adam and the Genome 7: Chapter 3- Adam’s Last Stand? (Part 3)

Adam and the Genome 7: Chapter 3- Adam’s Last Stand? (Part 3)

We continue our review of the book,, by Dennis Venema and Scot McKnight. Today, Chapter 3- Part 3

As Christians become increasingly familiar with the argument for common descent and begin to understand it, they, not unreasonably, begin to wonder where Adam fits in.  Where in the phylogenic tree did the man Adam exist?  As I hope you dear readers are starting to see, science is good at answering some questions (and sometimes good at raising more questions than it answers), it is simply unable to weigh in on the historicity of Adam and Eve as individuals.  What science can conclude is that if they were historical, they were not the sole parents of all humanity, but part of a larger population.  Beyond that, science cannot say.

When modern humans first arose in Africa about 200,000 years ago, there were other hominin species alive who had migrated out of Africa prior to our species coming into being.  Homo erectus was already widespread in Africa and outside it.  The ancestors of Neanderthals had left Africa at least 100,000 years before our species arose and had spread to the Middle East, Asia, and Europe.  Modern humans left Africa in significant enough numbers to leave evidence of that migration about 50,000 years ago.  The ones that stayed behind became the ancestors of present day sub-Saharan Africans, and the rest of us derive from that smaller emigrating group of an estimated 1,200 more or less.  As they left, they encountered the other hominin species that had left previously.

What were the nature of those encounters?  Well, since the advent of paleogenomics, we know that Neanderthal DNA is nearly identical to our own yet just outside the range of present day variation.  They are our “kissin’ cousins”, and apparently some “kissin’” went on, if you know what I mean, and I think you do, as some modern humans have 1-4% of Neanderthal DNA in their genomes. As Dennis says:

“Of course, this raises the whole “species question” again: if humans and Neanderthals interbred, then aren’t we just members of the same species?  Recall that attempting to demarcate species is and attempt to draw a line on what is in fact a continuous gradient.  So we “sort of” are the same species, because we did interbreed to a limited extent, and some present-day members of our species, yours truly included, descend in part from Neanderthal stock.  Are dogs, coyotes and wolves the same species or distinct?   What about lions and tigers?  It’s a similar question.  As a species, then, we had to shift our Facebook relationship status to “it’s complicated” when it comes to Neanderthals.”

The recent discovery of the “Denisovans” complicates that relationship even further.  The DNA sequencing on a specimen from the Denisova cave in Siberia revealed a hominin neither Neanderthal nor us.  They share a more recent ancestor with Neanderthals then they do with any other species.  Present-day humans of Asian and Oceanic descent inherit 3-5% of their DNA from the extinct Denisovans.  Further, Denisovans contain DNA from yet another hominin species.  Some speculate that might have been Homo erectus, but we’ve yet to find intact DNA from Homo erectus, so it remains speculation.

So, as Figure 3-7 shows, not only is hominin evolution a branching bush, but there are cross-connections as well.  Sometime between 500,000 and 300,000 years ago, the common ancestral population of Neanderthals and Denisovans leave Africa, later splitting into two species.  As humans leave Africa 50,000 years ago they encounter Neanderthals in the Middle East and breed with them.  As this human population expands into Asia, they encounter Denisovans and interbreed with them.  The result is that present-day sub-Saharan Africans lack Neanderthal or Denisovan DNA, Europeans have Neanderthal, but not Denisovan DNA, and Asian/Oceanic people have both.  So what does this have to do with Adam and the Bible?  Nothing, absolutely nothing, and that is the point. Obviously, the bible authors had no idea of any of this, nor could they even have imagined it, any more than they could have comprehended quantum theory or plate tectonics or space travel.  So stop trying to CONCORD the scriptures with modern science, it simply can’t be done.  Why not just take the point of the narrative as THE POINT God is inspiring the authors to make.  The ancient understanding of science is BESIDE THE POINT.

When presenting genomic data to evangelical audiences, Dennis frequently gets questions about Mitochondrial Eve and sometimes Y-Chromosome Adam.  Mitochondrial Eve is an ancestor to every living human, likewise Y-Chromosome Adam is an ancestor to every living male.  Wait, what? If we descend from a population how can that be true?  The answer is that they are both true.  It has to do with how mitochondrial and Y-chromosome DNA are inherited.

Mitochondria are the components of a cell that performs energy conversion.  The have their own genomes distinct from the usual chromosome set that are called nuclear genomes because they are found in the cell’s nucleus.  In humans we have the nuclear genome consisting of 23 pairs from the mother and 23 pairs from the father and the mitochondrial genome.  Mitochondria are passed down only through eggs, as a result this snippet of DNA is passed down only from mothers to their children, not from fathers.

Similarly, the Y-chromosome has its unique pattern of inheritance; from father to son, and only to sons, since inheriting a Y-chromosome determines the offspring will be male.  These two forms of DNA, then, have a different pattern of inheritance from regular chromosomes, which can be passed on by either mothers or fathers to offspring of either gender.

Y-chromosomes hit a dead end if a male has only female offspring, and mitochondria hit a dead end if females have only male offspring.  So if we examine a pedigree, as before, shown in Figure 3-8, we can now trace mitochondrial and Y-chromosome variation.  We can see that the four children of generation III will inherit the mitochondrial DNA of their mother, who in turn inherited it from her mother (individual I-1).  The four children have only one ancestor from generation I for their mitochondrial DNA: their maternal grandmother.  Neither their maternal grandfather (I-2), paternal grandfather (I-3), nor paternal grandmother (I-4) contributes mitochondrial DNA to generation III.  Similarly, the two boys in generation III have only one ancestor in generation I for their Y-chromosome; their paternal grandfather.  The Y-chromosome of their maternal grandfather (I-2) has not been transmitted to generation III (nor II because this man had only daughters).

In contrast, you will recall that all four grandparents contributed regular chromosomal DNA to generation III, and that the DNA diversity in this generation requires at least four ancestors.  These children descend uniquely from one man (for their Y-chromosome DNA), one women for their mitochondrial DNA, but at least 4 ancestors for their regular chromosomal DNA.  This, in microcosm, is exactly why all humans can descend from one Mitochondrial Eve for our mitochondrial DNA, and one Y-Chromosome Adam for our Y-chromosome, and 10,000 other ancestors for our regular chromosomal DNA.  Both mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosome DNA are prone to being lost in a lineage over time because of their gender-specific inheritance patterns.  The population bottlenecks that we passed through as species also likely contributed to the loss of many mitochondrial and Y-chromosome lineages.  Regular chromosomal DNA, on the other hand, is much more resistant to loss because it can be passed down to offspring of either gender by parents of either gender.  Y-chromosomes require and unbroken line of male ancestors; mitochondrial DNA requires an unbroken line of female ancestors; but regular chromosomes simply require an unbroken line of ancestors to be passed on.   Dennis notes:

“Unfortunately, many antievolutionary organizations like to promote Mitochondrial Eve, and Y-Chromosome Adam without explaining these issue.  Typically, it enough for them to state that they are respectively the common female ancestor for all women and the common male ancestor for all men, to claim (or merely imply) that these data are consistent with Adam and Eve being the SOLE parents of all humans, and to leave it at that.  Thus, for their case to seem plausible, they count on their audience not completely understanding how these types of DNA are inherited—or perhaps they misunderstand it themselves.”

Of course, and especially since the 2011 cover article in Christianity Today, certain evangelical Christians have attempted to rebut the genomic evidence that humans descended from a population rather than a pair.  Their attempts are mostly arm-waving appeals to “speculation” and “evolutionary assumptions” and have yet to rise to the level that actual genetic scientists take seriously.  For example:

“Stephen Meyer, a Discovery Institute leader of the intelligent design movement, (claims that) Biologos leaders are using an unsubstantiated and controversial claim to urge pastors and theologians to jettison a straightforward reading of Genesis about the human race arising from one man and one woman.  They think ‘the science’ requires such a reinterpretation, but apart from the speculative models that make numerous question-begging assumptions, the science does no such thing.”

Biologos has a number of series of posts that critique Meyer and allow him to respond.  It’s a nice back and forth and non-acrimonious to boot, so kudos to both parties for not flaming each other. But as far as making a compelling case against the genomic science, Dennis again quotes young earth creationist scholar, Todd Wood:

“The population reconstructions are complex and not easily understood by lay-people right now.  So creationist responses lag behind the current science, and the best your typical creationist can do is cast aspersion on the science.  Until we have a creationist well-trained in modern theoretical population genetics, I think we will continue to have only unsatisfactory answer to these ancestral population reconstructions.”

Well, this is the point that Dennis ends the chapter.  I know it was “eyes-glazing-over” technical, but, as someone commented recently, it can’t be helped; sometimes reality is complex.  It is my opinion that before you can “pooh-pooh” the science, you have to at least make an effort to understand it based on what the scientists themselves say.  In other words, don’t base your judgement on the science on “creationist” critique, read it for yourself.  That is why I took the time to break this chapter into 3 parts.  It doesn’t look good, as a scientific proposition, that Adam and Eve, alone, are the first couple of the whole human race.  And now you know, at least dimly, the reasoning behind that.  That the genetic science will be refined in the future, I have no doubt, but overturned completely; it’s not going to happen.  So, from a genetics standpoint, it is Adam’s Last Stand.

However, I am going to go off on a tangent of my own (Dennis did not cover this) and speculate how Adam might be saved, in a manner of speaking.  I’m going to do that by introducing the concept of Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA).  In genetic genealogy, the most recent common ancestor (MRCA) of any set of individuals is the most recent individual from which all the people in the group are directly descended.  In a 2004 article in Nature, Douglas L. T. Rohde, Steve Olson, and Joseph T. Chang presented a paper on “Modelling the recent common ancestry of all living humans”.  You can read the article here.   Here is the abstract of the article:

 If a common ancestor of all living humans is defined as an individual who is a genealogical ancestor of all present-day people, the most recent common ancestor (MRCA) for a randomly mating population would have lived in the very recent past. However, the random mating model ignores essential aspects of population substructure, such as the tendency of individuals to choose mates from the same social group, and the relative isolation of geographically separated groups. Here we show that recent common ancestors also emerge from two models incorporating substantial population substructure. One model, designed for simplicity and theoretical insight, yields explicit mathematical results through a probabilistic analysis. A more elaborate second model, designed to capture historical population dynamics in a more realistic way, is analysed computationally through Monte Carlo simulations. These analyses suggest that the genealogies of all living humans overlap in remarkable ways in the recent past. In particular, the MRCA of all present-day humans lived just a few thousand years ago in these models. Moreover, among all individuals living more than just a few thousand years earlier than the MRCA, each present-day human has exactly the same set of genealogical ancestors.

Got that?  I didn’t think so. 

Anyway, what they are basically saying is that, based on reasonable modelling, it is scientifically possible that a common ancestor to all of humans could have existed just several thousand years ago.  Now, how reasonable is that supposition?  Well, it is YALE and M— I — (FREAKING) T!!!  In fact, Adam of the Bible could very well have been the ancestor of all Israel.  Now, to be sure, he was not the only human alive at the time.  But Genesis hints that there were other people around.  Where did Cain get his wife?  How did he found a city?  Who was he afraid would kill him as he wandered away?  It would explain the genealogies, which, according to biblical anthropologist Alice C. Linsley, were not genealogies at all but rather King’s Lists. (As an aside spend some time on Alice’s blog to get a refreshing look at the real history the bible chronicles.)

As Alice says in her article, “Are Adam and Eve Real?” :

…it is not necessary to insist that Adam and Eve are the progenitors of all humanity. Instead we may understand them as the first ancestors of the people who gave us Genesis. This concept of the first ancestors or heads of tribes and clans is found throughout the Bible. Midian is the head of the Midianites; Jacob is the head of the Israelites, and Lot is the head of the Moabites.

That makes sense to me.  And it preserves the essential truth of what the Bible is trying to convey to us.  But the Bible conveys this truth in the context of the views of ancient men, not in some woodenly, empirical, modernist mind set.  If you can’t get shed of that modernist mind set, then you aren’t really a conservative theologian, because the only thing you are conserving is a modernist mind set, and you are setting that up as the be-all and end-all of thought.  God chose to convey His truth to us through the medium of ancient writings; if you have a problem with that, then your problem is with God, not those of us trying to be faithful interpreters of what the ancients were trying to say.

• • •

Other posts in the series:

Psalms Week: Lives Built Around Praying the Psalms

My primary (and very limited) experience with praying the Psalms communally is with the Trappist monks at Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky. They pray the Psalms seven times a day, and cover the entire Psalter every two weeks. So … [Continue reading...]

Psalms Week: Entering into the Story

Save us, O Lord our God,    and gather us from among the nations,that we may give thanks to your holy name    and glory in your praise. • Psalm 106:47 When we read and pray the Psalms, we enter into the prayers of David … [Continue reading...]

Psalms Week: May Your Kingdom Come

The Book of Psalms is a wilderness book. It is also perfect for the messy, muddy, unpredictable season of Lent. It is filled with laments, the most common type in the book, but the Hebrew name for the book is Tehillim, which means … [Continue reading...]

Sermon: Breaking Down Boundaries…One Person at a Time (Lent III)

SERMON: Lent III Breaking Down Boundaries...One Person at a Time So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his … [Continue reading...]

The Internet Monk Saturday Brunch: 3/18/17

THE INTERNET MONK SATURDAY BRUNCH ”It is talk-compelling. It puts you in a good temper, it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings, it sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week.” Well, so far, … [Continue reading...]

Fridays with Michael Spencer: 3/17/17

From a 2009 post by Michael Spencer The following is from a 2008 interview with Richard Foster: What is the discipline that you think we need to be exploring more at this point? Solitude. It is the most foundational of the … [Continue reading...]

Adam and the Genome 6: Chapter 3- Adam’s Last Stand? (Part 2)

strong>Adam and the Genome 6: Chapter 3- Adam’s Last Stand? (Part 2) We continue our review of the book, Adam and the Genome: Reading Scripture after Genetic Science, by Dennis Venema and Scot McKnight. Today, Chapter 3- … [Continue reading...]