Wednesday, February 08, 2012

How to engage in debate with “capital C” Conservatives

T Michael Law and Chris Hays have responded to Kevin DeYoung's (unhelpful) blogpost: "10 reasons to believe in an historical" Adam. I don't think that there is a real debate here (on this issue, if T&C are Manchester United FC, DeYoung is Sutton Coldfield’s under 11s FC), so what I wanted to draw attention to, apart from the numerous terrific points T&C make, was their courteous and patient manner. It is so easy, when reading the kind of things DeYoung claims to either ignore it, or mock it. But apart from the fact that such a response does not demonstrate love for an intelligent Christian brother, it doesn't help anybody! T&C are modelling precisely the kind of scholarship that could be of real benefit to many evangelicals who are struggling with guilty consciences, watching the conservative worldview seem to crumble around them, propped up only by certain Bible verses pressed through a modernist/historicist mill. They avoided commenting on irritating language (e.g., DeYoung’s writes of those who question the historicity of Adam and Eve as “self-proclaimed evangelicals”!), and kept things as factual as possible. I think that there is a challenge here for many of us. It is not that we should make time to respond to every neo-fundamentalist unhealthy "defence of the faith", but T&C are pointing us in the right direction.

Go have a read of their post, and ponder these things!


At 2/08/2012 4:38 PM, Anonymous Brandon Jones said...


I didn't find the response too courteous. It read to me like, "I can't believe there are people out there who actually believe in a literal reading of Genesis 1-11 in the twenty-first century. Poor guys, they better consult us before they embarrass themselves again."

There were some good points in the post, but none that were too convincing to me as someone who stands more with DeYoung on the matter.

For example, gotta love the argument, "If Adam was so important, why doesn't the Hebrew Bible mention him more?" Or "the Septuagint consistently translates ages a hundred years more than other versions of the Hebrew Bible." Or "look at these texts about the Exodus that borrow terms from other ANE creation stories, creation was God slaying a monster." From what I can tell there are some texts that use this terminology for the sea and others, notably Genesis 1 itself, that do not. Robert Chisholm recently talked about this.

I'm no OT scholar and the server for DeYoung's post is down right now so maybe the tone of DeYoung's post calls for no charity at all. But I certainly had a different reaction than you did reading the response. Thanks for sharing though, because I do appreciate reading things outside my own tradition.


At 2/09/2012 12:46 AM, Blogger Doug said...

That seems a fairly uncharitable assessment of Sutton Coldfield's Under-11s

At 2/09/2012 8:19 AM, Blogger Terry Wright said...

Actually, it seems that Sutton Coldfield Under-11s aren't that bad:

At 2/09/2012 8:02 PM, Blogger CrazyVol said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 2/09/2012 11:51 PM, Blogger Chris Tilling said...

Thanks for your thoughts Brandon, it seems you too are demonstrating the same kind of spirit that I saw in their blog post: having a definite opinion, but engaging respectfully with those who disagree.

Doug and Terry, thanks for the laughes!!

At 2/25/2012 4:29 AM, Blogger Edwardtbabinski said...

I think there is still something to the conservative's concerns. I'm an agnostic myself. But there's still something there.

Because without an historical Adam and Eve what kind of "fall" are we talking about? Jews get by without too much trouble since they view the story in Genesis as an expulsion story, not a story about an irredeemably evil "fall" that cursed us all to the threat of eternal torment.

Let me put it another way. Life has gone through heck evolving over vast periods of time, from running for one's life from other forms of life to dying from exposure to the elements, to mass extinction events. If you accept evolution's common ancestry then all that suffering preceded Adam, things were never "paradise."

On the other hand, as a social species of large brained mammal, we also knew conviviality, communion with one another, living in a society appropriate to that of other large brained mammals like apes, dolphins, and elephants. So although the world was never paradise, it wasn't some horrendously sinful hell either with nothing but disobedience filling the earth (that God had to flood, ha).

Things have been as they are in other words.


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