28 May 2010

From the brainium of....

by Dan Phillips

Warning: a lot of this is going to be an uncharacteristically stream-of-consciousness post. It's a post about posting. Kind like The Garr... er, this TV show from the '80s. Hate that kind of post? Don't read! Insist on reading anyway so you can complain? Embrace the concept having your name displayed with "removed by administrator" under it { echo } for all eternity { /echo }. Or for awhile, anyway.

So I have several post-ideas in my head, but nothing fully-formed enough for the demanding standards of Pyro readers... or anyway, for the demanding standards I have for posts I'll offer to Pyro readers. This one being an exception. Instead, you get a peek into my processes, if you want one. If you don't, then... hey, why are you still here?

Before I'll post something at Pyro, it has to be bullet-proof. I know it will be read by all sorts of folks, friendly and un-, mature and im-, Christian and non-, far-better-educated and not, with shoulders both bechipped and chipless. So I do the very best God enables me to do to tailor it to help, serve, and/or withstand the scrutiny of each.

As part of that discipline, I do my best proactively to anticipate and head off misunderstandings and silly dodges or shallow counters or kneejerk reactions. Still, I've never found a way to counter the wisdom of Proverbs 27:22. If a category-5 reader is dead-set on misunderstanding or not "seeing," no effort suffices.

HSAT, I have two posts that aren't There yet. They're ideas for the next two posts in the sufficiency of Scripture series. But the combination of work, family, and a project I hope to tell you about next week have kept me from sitting down and doing the necessary prep for those particular posts.

Other posts on The Intrawebs caught my eye, but aren't really quite up to a full post. The one on types of commenters (linked above) is interesting... but I don't think I could make a whole Pyro-worthy post.

Christianity Astray Today caught my eye twice. Once for an essay on "Lost" that I think might actually deserve some of the opprobrium one or two people flinged flang cast at mine.

The other is an irritating little article, ostensibly about Profs. Waltke, Longman, Walton and other OT scholars who have gotten into some degree of agua caliente for things they've said about Genesis. But it is an article that seems to have no purpose for being. It's titled Adamant on Adam, but there is no pay-off to the title whatever. It's just there to be cute, as far as I can tell.

The piece narrates what happened after Waltke basically likened anyone who doesn't kowtow before evolutionists to cultists; or after Longman made some ridiculous comments about the historicity of Adam. But reading the article, it looks like everyone's still friends, it was no big deal... and you really don't get why (for instance) RTS let Waltke go. Not a good reason, anyway. The profs are unrepentant, their reputations intact... you get the impression that the institutions are just reluctantly doing what they do out of concern to keep donors happy, and nothing else. No big issues here.

Ah, but this is probably the money-quote for CT's perspective:
Tensions continue between Christian scholars and their institutions over how to present the findings of science while upholding theological convictions
Well, there it is, isn't it? On the one hand we have "Christian scholars" (presumably every last one of them, in monolithic lockstep; anyone who differs can't really be a scholar) and "the findings of science" (again, a monolith — the findings are sure, and all of Science is agreed on interpretation). On the other hand we have "their institutions."

CT evidently is not able to find any dissenters. It can find Howard Van Till, who sneers that "The general constituency of the evangelical community is lagging way behind the teachers at its own colleges and universities." Perhaps; but lags behind in what regard?

You know, I expect that sort of thing from CNN, Reuters, AP.

But from Christianity Today?


Well, okay, now that I mention it, yes, I do expect it from them, anymore.

It's sad when you're old enough to remember CT as a great, cutting-edge Christian magazine. You probably weren't born yet. Those days are long, long gone.

One last thing in the works: I have something of an announcement to make, but am not quite ready. A less compulsive person would just go for it, but I'm waiting to have something in hand. Then I'll spill.

So now you know all that. A post made up of things not ready for a post.

Dan Phillips's signature


Fred Butler said...

I believe a Category #5 reader has become a noun from now on.

So when they start commenting here, we can say, "There's a CAT5 posting comments."

I sort of like it.

FX Turk said...

If I can say it without going too far, I like this DJP posting style better. Dan usually posts insightful, thoughtful and thorough pieces which are finally polished as well. A sort of meal with many prepared courses.

This post is a hot red steak taken from the side of the beast to the fire to your plate in a few minutes with all the hot bloody and smokey goodness of rare beef, and just for good measure a baked potato covered in salt and butter.

Yum. I love it! More please.

GrammaMack said...

"a project I hope to tell you about next week...something of an announcement to make." Another book contract? A call to a church? I'm excited for you already!

Anonymous said...

He's been asked to write a new finale for "Lost"...

DJP said...

...or develop a whole new series called "Found"?


David Regier said...

If science controls the story of our origins, then it also controls the story of our future. And just as their story of origins keeps changing as they reinterpret the "data" to their own ends, so will they continue to assert different futures in order to manipulate people to their own ends.

Apparently, the "scholars" never read the story of the tower of Babel.

Unknown said...

At the risk of stirring up a firestorm, Waltke's and Longman's are not the same. One may try to land the charge that they stem from the same methodological fallacy, too much weight to science, but that is charge one must land.

Waltke clearly affirms the historicity of Adam, and could find sympathy within a Reformed view with the likes of Warfield and other stalwart American presbyterians of that era who affirmed a theistic evolutionist. Lee Irons has pointed out that Waltke is still confession to the creeds he has bound himself believing them to be doctrine's found in God's Word.

Our responses should (a) be careful to distinguish and (b) be carefully rooted in exegesis. Such exegesis should be rigorous and submissive to God's Word. Let's face it some (clearly not all) defend a literal 24-hour day in a manner that is simplistic and dogmatic rather than a deep submission to the text.

There is something to be said for how and why evangelicals are reactionary; there is also something to be said for those who want to push an agenda away from Scripture and its authority. Wanting to push an agenda so that we can retain academic respectability in the face of secularists is not the way to go. Guarding the fort because 'that's what we've been taught' is equally dangerous and I think we have to admit that some react because of this rather than because they are convinced by God's Word and a serious exegesis of it. In both camps there are those with sinister motives and protectionism and those who are trying equally hard to come to greater understanding and clarity over God's Word.

DJP said...

Well, Tim, I surely didn't say they were the same — except insofar as they both made statements about dealing with Genesis with which I vehemently disagree. As to the rest, yep, sure, I think you're right; I don't know anyone who disagrees.

Unknown said...

Sorry, then, I thought when you said "the profs were both unrepentant" you were implying Waltke and Longman were the same in their views and both equally violated the beliefs of RTS. As I understand it, it would be harder to sustain that Waltke violated confessional standards of the school. I think the difference does get lost by most, even if we disagree with both.

I have talked with people who have laid out their exegetical case for something like a day-age theory or old-earth creationalism only to receive curt responses and dismissals. Granted not everyone has the exegetical skill to lay out a counter case but too often response can be "that's not what we've been taught." I hope I didn't unduly read my own experience onto this post and meta.

I like your basic point though, it needs to be said. So often that those who bow to 'academic freedom' have created the same artifices of institutionalism and group-think, just a different group, without acknowledging the science is hardly settled. I think it was Carl Trueman over at Ref21 who pointed out that it was odd that one who is an expert on texts so used to nuancing arguments and recognizing ancient texts are hardly dogmatically clear would attribute such certainty and settled-ness to the science.

Lynda O said...

new project ...? Sounds exciting. So when is the Proverbs book going to be published? Looking forward to it.

DJP said...

Thanks, Lynda! The hope is for the Proverbs book to be out in March; but it's very early in the process yet.

mikeb said...


Old-earth creationism (OEC), the gap theory, the framework theory, (any future theory that tries to fit science into Gen. 1) does not equate to evolution. The former may "stretch" the text to find justification for their theories but evolutionists can not. Evolutionists have trouble reconciling a real Adam and Eve.

I think Dan was meaning Waltke should repent for saying believers who reject Darwinian Evolution are cultists. Cult being a pejorative here.

Steve said...

Central issue #4 ??

Fred Butler said...

Waltke clearly affirms the historicity of Adam, and could find sympathy within a Reformed view with the likes of Warfield and other stalwart American presbyterians of that era who affirmed a theistic evolutionist.

Yeah, we'll acknowledge this distinction just because it is a nice thing to do because we want to recognize his contributions in other areas of OT study, but Waltke's take on the creation as outlined in Genesis is, to be generous, problematic. I personally would go so far as to say aberrant and sub-biblical. There is something wrong with someone who claims to affirm biblical inspiration and historic creeds who feels the need to reinterpret Genesis in order to save face with so-called scientific paradigms and to not be thought of as "weird" by fellow academics.

Let's be honest. The biblical understanding of creation and origins cannot be harmonized with evolutionary dogma as much as the TE apologists at BioLogos claim it can be with their slickly produced web videos.

The understanding of creation and origins is not some secondary issue where we can agree to get along, as if it is differing opinions about whether or not Saul really saw the ghost of Samuel or a demon impersonating Samuel. Anyone who thinks they can bridge the chasm between two utterly opposite worldviews is living in a philosophical fantasy world.

Kurt said...

How about a cat-1 post :-)

Given the generally high-quality of your posts Dan, it doesn't surprise me at all how much work and consideration you put into them.

Good role-modelling points for the rest of us to follow too.

thanks again.

Stefan Ewing said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mel Kizadeck said...

Here's the conversation at the Phillip's house:

Dan: Well dear, what do you think of this post?

(Mrs. Dan holds the paper carefully by the corners and over the sink so as not to get any excess sarcasm on the granite counter)
Mrs Dan: I don't know dear, you may want to try using a smaller sledgehammer. You're going to drive the point so far it'll have to hitch a ride back home!

Dan: But it's the smallest one I have! Frank's are all bigger than mine!

Mrs Dan: What about Phil?

Dan: You're right. Phil's got all of the small ones but he's too busy watching Dancing with the Stars re-runs to pick up the phone!
I guess it'll just have to do.

End Scene

Loved the column actually, just thought I would have some fun given all the fun that those last two posts/meta gave me.

Anonymous said...

CT - a classic case of where one's left hand does not what the right hand is doing!

Death or Glory Toad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rob Bailey said...

Not plastic. Thanks, DJP.

DJP said...

Fred ButlerSo when they start commenting here, we can say, "There's a CAT5 posting comments."

I like it. Like a CAT5 cable, only no useful data is being transmitted.

one busy mom said...

or how about adding a category #11

#11: Axe to Grind (and grind,& grind,&grind,&grind,&grind,&grind,

Since this is also a virulent subset of CAT5, it could also be CAT5-VIR

just suggesting.....

Sharon said...

They're ideas for the next two posts in the sufficiency of Scripture series.

Ooooo, one of my very favorite subjects! In fact, John's series some years ago on "The Sufficiency of . . . " was a real encouragement to me. So I'm looking forward to your take on it!

A Musician by Grace

DJP said...

OBM - I like it.

bp said...

Category #12 – SarcRemarkers

Those who derive joy in giving short, pithy, sarcastic remarks, (usually aimed at another person’s comments) in order to receive virtual high-fives for their incredibly witty contribution.

Stefan Ewing said...


I'm deleting my comment from yesterday.

I was trying to point out the absurdity of focusing on doing everything in order to avoid breaking a single commandment, apart from God's grace.

Nevertheless, I put up the comment in a moment of exasperation, and it's not my nature to make sarcastic comments.

Bobby Grow said...

I know nothing of Longman, but Waltke, I do know. Not knowing his motivations he clearly seems to be prone to seeking the approval of men with his recent points on evolution and Evangelicals --- this is quite trendy for many young "evangelical" scholars as well (i.e. theistic evolution). It's interesting how these scholars are typically ignorant of the claims made by Intelligent Design; they just discount it as if it is some sort of subterfuge for an incipient Creationism.

Personally I think reading Gen. 1-11 with Modernist lenses and questions (including both sides of that coin -- e.g. evolution and "Creationism") is certainly misguided; and in the end hybrids the text, or loads it with expectations never intended by Moses and the Holy Spirit.

Anyway, there are plenty of other good OT scholars to follow; I don't feel compelled to listen to Waltke whatsoever (even though, at points, he might have some good things to say on the OT).

John said...

I'm not sure that kind of distinciton matters, mikeb. Its sort of like the regulative principle. Sure, we can have a clown and a motocross stunt rider at church - the Bible never disallows it. However silent the Bible may be on clowns and motorbikes, it is not silent on how to do church (which does not include the aformentioned). In the same way, the gap theory etc. is not disallowed by the text, but it quite clearly is not in the text nor what the text has in mind.

Evolution or Gap Theory, both look "beyond" the text to what happened in the "real" world. I propose that we come to the text on its own terms, and allow it to say what it will. I will now cede the floor to John Sailhamer, who will plug endgestalt hermeneutics. In Latin.

DJP said...

However silent the Bible may be on clowns....

1 Samuel 21:15 ?

John said...

:-) Forgot about mishtagea.

noah J. said...

Central Category 4#

CotnerMD said...

Okay, I can't figure it out... what's "The Garr..."? The only Garr I remember from the 80s was Teri Garr.

DJP said...

The dots are an ellipsis, indicating something is missing. You don't know a TV show from the 80s that was actually a show about being a show, of which the first seven letters were "The Garr-"?

CotnerMD said...

I grok ellipsis (ellipses?), and was somewhat of a TV hound in the 80s, and that's why it was driving me crazy that I couldn't figure it out! Astonishingly, as soon as I read your comment, the answer popped into my head. Why, I don't know -- I have never seen an episode.

DJP said...

...next letter "y"....