I’ve been watching Christopher Benson take up on behalf of BioLogos this last period of time – I guess it’s over a couple of weeks now, but blogging distorts time. It may have only been last week. Anyway, it seems to me that Christopher wants to embrace the dryer-fresh smell of academia in spite of the tattered rags he may be pulling out of the wash.
Here’s what I mean by that: it seems to me that Christopher wants to embrace Science as a fully-competent competing source of authority with, for example, the Bible. And in that, he wants to be able to use Science to do the same kinds of things that the Bible can and should do for us – for example, to tell us who caused the creation of the universe, and whether it was a miracle or not. What’s not clear from BioLogos is whether this same skepticism about the Creation miracle will be applied to the Resurrection miracle – and whether they can tell us what will become of this faith once we have decided what to do about that.
So on the one hand, I am certain that someone can come up with a version of the Bible and what it is “really” telling us, that BioLogos, and by extension Christopher, would find wholly-acceptable which passes the academic sniff test. But on the other hand, I think what will be left will not be worth putting on – certainly not as something for which it is worth dying over.
See: that’s the actual problem – BioLogos wants something which they can accept as they are today, in the world they have defined, which doesn’t upset the apple cart or, frankly, make them suffer very much. Because you might have to suffer a little, for example, if as a professor of philosophy, you have to figure out how to teach Descartes when you know for a fact that Jesus Christ left an empty tomb to prove He is both Lord and Christ. Descartes’’ “Cogito Ego Sum” looks somewhat infantile when the actual great “I AM” is the one who defines all things, including the boundaries of life and death and right and wrong – and you might have to say something when it comes up in a survey of Western Thought.
You might also have to put it out there that, for example, man is not a product of adaptations and changes over a geological expanse of time – that whatever we think we see in the geological record, God made man for an explicit purpose, and that purpose is (just to be a broken record here) make perfectly clear by the fact that Jesus Christ left an empty tomb to prove He is both Lord and Christ. Even the ones who might say that it’s actually a gesture of extraordinarily-high Calvinism to attribute God’s providence to natural selection that finally winds up with Chris Benson and Frank Turk fussing over the meaning of the phrase “there was evening and there was morning, the [x] day” have to admit: that’s such a far-fetched abandonment of the intention of the Genesis text and all the derivative thgeological statements made in the rest of the Bible from that text that, even if it is actually what happened, it puts our ability to actually receive the Bible as anything but a massive fiction – however ethically or morally true – into question.
So what to do? I mean: I’m an advocate for reading the Bible literately, and in such a way that we treat it like the greatest single anthology of literature ever composed. Do we have any advice which we should invest some kind of epistemological seriousness in, or do we have to sort of grope around until we either fall into the right answer or the proverbial pit of despair?
Personally, I’m an optimist – I think we don’t have to grope around at all. The reason for my optimism, frankly, is that Jesus Christ left an empty tomb to prove He is both Lord and Christ. I mean: that is actually the reason to be optimistic about this stuff – that there really is a God, and whether you think there’s sin in the world or not (those voting “not” probably need to get out more), He took a really clear action to send Jesus into the world, to have him personally correct the people who were waiting for him, and then to have him die on a cross in abject humiliation and then, 3 days latter in accordance with Scripture, and as a fulfillment of prophecy, emerge from the grave as the first of many siblings who will, in fact, be glorified with Him in the final account.
Think about that: the key matter of the Christian faith which ought to substantiate the rest — the Jobs, the Noahs, the Abrahams, the Davids, the Adams – is a matter of historical fact. It’s not going to be replicated, so Science is utterly useless in telling us about it – just like, for example, the creation of all things. Let’s assume for one second that Science really can tell us how much and how long and which kind at the moment of Creation: it cannot tell us “what for”.
And that, to be blunt, is the point.
When Science begins to encroach on the ontological and metaphysical description of the world, my response is simply this: “when you can fully explain Jesus Christ, who left an empty tomb to prove He is both Lord and Christ, you can then continue in your journey to enlightenment.”
That’s the actual stain-fighting power in the universe, dear reader: that’s the actual place at which the human race can find the solution which makes the everything come out at the end with the pleasing aroma God intends to bring to this world. He’s going to bring us beauty for our ashes, and an oil of gladness for our mourning. He’s going to bring us clean wedding garments. And get this: it’s never going to be newer, or improved upon – especially by people who think that the cause of the stain isn’t very tenable and that the story which tells us these things is, at best, surreal.
The “what for” of all things is wrapped up in Jesus Christ, who left an empty tomb to prove He is both Lord and Christ. Every action we take which makes this fact less cogent, or less meaningful, or, God help, us less real and historical and human and tangible is to our fault, not to our credit. No matter what it smells like to those who, frankly, are dying.