Jesus Is Risen! So What?

As we enter Holy Week, culminating in Easter this coming Sunday, BioLogos is publishing a number of short online articles about the resurrection of Jesus under the general rubric of “Resurrection: Answering the Skeptics.”

Resurrection.” Giovanni Bellini (1479)

I have contributed a couple of these articles, both of which have been published today.

Why Is the Resurrection of Jesus Important?

The first one is called “Why Is the Bodily Resurrection of Jesus Important for Christian Faith?

My approach is to view the resurrection as testimony to God’s valuation of the embodied nature of reality, which is evident in creation, the incarnation, and the new creation. In connection with the new creation, I draw on Paul’s notion of the resurrection of Jesus as the “firstfruits” of a harvest that is to come.

You can read the article here, including the discussion that ensued.

What Do We Do with the Multiple Accounts of Jesus’s Resurrection?

My second piece is called “Why Are There Multiple Accounts of Jesus’s Resurrection in the Bible?” Here I’ve tried to explain why the various accounts of the resurrection in the Gospels (which don’t quite harmonize with each other) isn’t a problem for me, but actually makes them more believable.

Facebook Live Discussion of the Resurrection

These two articles, along with others, are meant to lead up to the Facebook Live event this evening at 7:00 pm EST that BioLogos is hosting. As I explained in my blog posted last week, I will be joining three other Christians (one philosopher and two scientists) to answer questions about the significance of the resurrection.

You can join the discussion by going to the BioLogos Facebook page.

Can a Scientist Believe in the Resurrection?

In preparation for this event, you might be interested in reading some of the other BioLogos articles on the resurrection.

Yesterday BioLogos posted a two-part article called “Can a Scientist Believe in the Resurrection?”

In Part 1 four scientists responded to the following question:

As a scientist, you are trained to be skeptical about extraordinary claims—and the Resurrection is definitely an extraordinary claim. On what basis do you accept this claim as true?

In Part 2 three scientists responded to a related question:

Is belief in the Resurrection unscientific? What would you say to someone who challenges your scientific credentials because you believe that a dead man walked out of the grave?

N. T. Wright on the Resurrection

On the topic of the resurrection, I especially recommend Jim Stump’s “Still Surprised by Easter,” in which he shares what he (the senior editor at BioLogos) learned from reading N. T. Wright’s book The Resurrection of the Son of God over the Lenten season a few years ago.

I myself found Wright’s book extremely helpful when I was working on A New Heaven and a New Earth.

More on Science and the Resurrection

If you want to read a bit more, there is an excellent article on the BioLogos website called “Does Modern Science Make Miracles Impossible?” The author clearly shows that it is entirely coherent to accept that God usually works through natural processes and yet sometimes (as a sign of the coming Kingdom) brings about events that cannot be explained by natural processes.

The implication is that David Hume’s famous argument against the possibility of miracles is not really an argument, but simply a disposition.

This is precisely the thrust of an older, but illuminating article on the BioLogos website by historian Rick Kennedy called “Did David Hume ‘Banish’ Miracles?” I highly recommend this article for anyone (not just philosophers) interested in the topic.

And BioLogos just reprinted a helpful piece from the Huffinton Post called “Does the Resurrection Contradict Science?

I wish you good reading.

And I look forward to interacting with anyone interested tonight on Facebook Live.

 

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Why I’m Blogging on Biblical Faith and Evolution

My first blog post for BioLogos, entitled Why Christians Don’t Need to Be Threatened by Evolution, has been getting lots of comments, not only on the BioLogos website, but also on my Facebook page, and on other Facebook pages which have shared the post.

I added a comment to one of these pages, where the discussion was becoming a bit heated. This is what I posted:

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Perhaps I should make it clear that my BioLogos blogs are not written to try and convince anyone who is adamantly opposed to my views. I have been both a philosopher and a teacher for long enough to know that two people with adamantly divergent positions who simply want to win an argument can’t have a genuine conversation.

I am writing for those who want a genuine conversation, where all conversation partners respect the others. I’m especially addressing those who both trust the Bible as the source of revelation and who also want to take science seriously. Among such persons are those like myself who wonder about some points of seeming tension between what we take the Bible to be saying and what science seems to be saying.

So my blog postings are not apologetics for a particular position. They are meant to help those who want to think with me on these issues. If you’re not open to the conversation, there is no need to read on.

I have to admit that I find grandstanding and absolutist claims to be right quite unhelpful. Of course we all think we are right (unless we have some genuine perplexity about an issue). The question is can we listen (genuinely listen) to another point of view, including why the person holds that point of view?

So if you really want to think with me about, for example, how the understanding of God’s creation of the cosmos (heaven and earth) in Genesis 1 and other biblical texts relates to the scientific picture of a very ancient and immensely large universe, click on The Ancient Universe and the Cosmic Temple,  which will take you directly to the post on the BioLogos website.

Registering for the Genesis and Evolution Conference in the Buffalo Area (September 18-19, 2015)

Back in April I mentioned an upcoming conference in the Buffalo region called “Genesis Recast,” featuring Old Testament scholar John Walton, along with New Testament scholar Craig Evans, scientist Steve Schafner, and director of Mission Advancement for Christianity Today magazine Skye Jethani.

My previous blog post gave more information on the speakers, including their bios and a tentative schedule for the conference.

The purpose of the conference is to examine what the Bible says about creation (both of the cosmos and of the human race) in a manner that would free us from thinking that these ancient texts are in conflict with evolutionary science. A close reading of biblical creation accounts in their ancient context (and how later Jewish and Christian readers understood these texts) suggest that they are not attempting to teach science at all, but rather how the cosmos is meant to function, including our role in that functioning.

Indeed, the hyper-focus of many Church people on the Genesis creation accounts as a scientific alternative to evolution inhibits us from being grasped by the immense power of these biblical texts to speak to our contemporary lives and our journey of discipleship.

When we begin to understand the real purpose of biblical creation texts, we are freed up to investigate the evolutionary history of the cosmos and humanity, without thinking that such investigation is a betrayal of orthodox faith. Indeed, the scientific investigation of the development of creation over eons of time can be an awe-filled exercise in which Christians both stretch their minds and are amazed at the wonder of God’s creativity.

It is not an intrinsic contradiction at all to think that our Creator used evolutionary processes (which we are only beginning to understand) in bringing about the complex reality of our world.

The conference, however, is not focused on addressing evolution, although there will be an informative talk on what the fossil record and genetic studies tell us about human evolution.

Rather, the “Genesis Recast” conference is meant to bring the best resources of biblical studies to bear on helping ordinary Christians see the scriptural creation accounts in a new light, one that bears fruit for our ordinary living in God’s world. An important byproduct of this “more excellent way” is that we can begin to envision a relationship between faith and science other than the classic “warfare” model.

To that end there will be a concluding talk on implications of this new way of seeing for the Church today, especially how we can get beyond the infighting among Christians (and between Christians and scientists) on this issue.

The “Genesis Recast” conference will be held September 18-19, 2015 (Friday night and all day Saturday) at The Chapel at Crosspoint in Getzville, NY.

Tickets range from $7.00 for students registering in advance (on the website) to $30.00 for non-students registering both for the conference and for lunch with the speakers. You can see the full range of registration options, as well as more information about this important event on the dedicated conference website.

To register in advance (for the best rates), click on this link.