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“I am the Lord of the Dance,”said He, Part 2

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October 29, 2010 Tags: Christian Unity
“I am the Lord of the Dance,”said He, Part 2

Today's entry was written by Darrel Falk. You can read more about what we believe here.

Part 1 of Darrel's series can be found here.

I have just returned home from the Vibrant Dance of Faith and Science Conference in Austin, Texas.

This is likely the first conference of its sort ever held. Although no young earth creation organizations were represented, many from Reasons to Believe and The Discovery Institute were there. Several of us who hold to the evolutionary creation perspective were asked to speak and lead breakout sessions as well.

I first learned of this meeting about a year and a half ago. At the time, we at BioLogos were very hesitant to participate and initially turned down the invitation. Not knowing the organizers, and based upon the prescribed set of speakers in the breakout sessions, our initial thoughts were that the BioLogos invite was largely tokenism. To be honest, we suspected that we were included largely to provide the impression that the view which accepts that mainstream biology is correct—was on the table. We doubted that it really was.

However, about a year ago, I had my first conversation with Larry Linenschmidt, one of the two organizers of the meeting. He stressed that our representation would be more than tokenism and indicated that some people whose work I highly admire would also be present. He assured me there would be broad representation of topics in the breakout sessions—that the deck would not be stacked. He also told me that the overarching theme of this meeting was Christian unity and that all speakers and participants would be held to a very high standard in this regard. I learned that he and his co-organizer, Dan Heinze, would visit with each speaker to ensure that all clearly understood the intended tone of the meeting. Upon receiving those assurances, I told him I would be honored to participate; the meeting’s purpose aligned nicely with ours.

The meeting proceeded at a grueling pace. It started each morning at 8:30 a.m. and went almost non-stop until about 9:00 p.m. On the first day, I did a 55 minute plenary talk at 4:00 p.m., a plenary testimony soon after dinner, and then led a breakout session immediately after that. On the second day, I participated in a plenary panel discussion and led another breakout session in the evening. Finally on the third day I participated in a panel discussion. Many of the speakers had a similar schedule; indeed mine was likely not as heavy as that of some of the others. Every detail of the meeting was planned in intricate detail and I have seldom, if ever, been to a meeting so carefully organized.

There was one session I was invited to co-lead about which I have always been very hesitant. The organizers knew how concerned I was about this session—a direct exchange in a breakout with Stephen Meyer. I have held the position that I would not engage in a public interchange with those who view creation so differently unless we who hold the pro-mainstream-biology position first met informally with those who hold the alternative view. The purpose of such a meeting would be to focus on that which we have in common—which is almost everything when one is a follower of Jesus. I wanted such a meeting to take place—a time of prayer, Bible study, worship, along with a time of thinking together about aspects of our projects where we have common goals and vision. I have wanted that meeting to take place before we publically engaged issues about which we disagree.

So although I had been especially hesitant about this one session, the organizers assured me that since they were travelling to personally meet with each speaker, I could be assured that even this session would exemplify Christians working together in a spirit of Christ-centered unity. We might differ on scientific and theological details, but we each would be held accountable to work within this context. I appreciated that.

It is hard to imagine anyone not recognizing how sensitive these discussions are. On the creation issue, the spirit of acrimony rather than the spirit of love, has too often ruled the day within the Christian community. This has done great harm to the cause of Christ. I know firsthand how fragile these discussions are and I was extremely hesitant to accept until the private meeting I desired had taken place. But the organizers, who I have appreciated so much, reassured me. I agreed to a breakout session with Steve Meyer.

Five days before the meeting, the Discovery Institute posted a statement about the upcoming event:

“Next week the Vibrant Dance of Faith and Science becomes the God and evolution showdown in Austin…”

The posting then went on to state:

Attendees have three days of speakers and sessions but should prepare for a rumble on Thursday, October 28, when Stephen Meyer and Doug Axe will go up against Darrel Falk and Randy Isaac in a debate on the origin of life…

The way this was described by the Discovery Institute was exactly what had concerned me most about this meeting. Knowing that this may have been inadvertently put up by someone who was not aware of the intention of the meeting, I immediately contacted the organizers and asked that the statement be taken down and that it be replaced with a statement which indicated an assurance that the Discovery Institute was committed to enter into our breakout session, not in the spirit of a “God and evolution showdown” or a “rumble” but within the Spirit of Christian unity. I felt the task was difficult enough as it was that unless we both clarified our mutual commitment from the start it had the potential to harm the Church.

The organizers asked the Discovery Institute to take the statement down; it was not granted. I was told that it was an Associate Director of the Discovery Institute who had denied the request. I felt strongly that there was a need to publically acknowledge that the tone of the post was not consistent with the nature of the meeting. I also felt that it was important to make a public statement about our commitment to work together in the Spirit of Christ. Because an Associate Director of the Institute acknowledged that he knew about it and wouldn’t grant the request, I pulled out.

BioLogos remains more concerned than ever about ensuring that we all—together as Christians—can come to peace with mainstream science, including biology. We do not think it is fundamentally flawed even though we know there are those who have misused it for their own philosophical agendas. We look forward to ongoing discussions with those who see things differently---but not where it has been announced to be a showdown and not where it has been presented as a rumble.

Darrel Falk is former president of BioLogos and currently serves as BioLogos' Senior Advisor for Dialog. He is Professor of Biology, Emeritus at Point Loma Nazarene University and serves as Senior Fellow at The Colossian Forum. Falk is the author of Coming to Peace with Science.

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Jon Garvey - #37922

November 1st 2010

As for Acts, Irenaeus (no fool) writing in 180 quotes it extensively as the work of Luke (over 30 times), having managed to get a copy in Gaul. And his contemporary Tertullian, quoted it extensively as authentic down in Carthage. Pretty extensive distribution for a forgery written 10 years or less before.

But that may have been helped by its having been wormholed back to long before it was written, to be quoted by Clement of Rome, Polycarp and Justin Martyr.

beaglelady - #37932

November 1st 2010

I know suggesting time travel is weird, but it has to me more plausible than that Luke himself wrote his books.

Time travel?  Are you giving Dan Brown ideas for his next novel?

Cal - #37940

November 1st 2010


Yep, I see it now. How did Moses part the Red Sea? He was apart of a secret organization of Y.H.W.H ( Young Humanity With Honors). This organization was a reborn Humanity after a devastating attack on Earth and had developed super powers. Upstarts of this organization, like Moses and Samson, were given dangerous missions defying logical odds to train against the alien hordes ready to return. Jesus, the leader of Y.H.W.H, saw a young Hebrew man that would create the descendant who founds Y.H.W.H, Jan Cahner (sound it out). He takes the bullet to ensure that humanity has a fighting chance against the aliens.

Dan Brown is a genius!

Jon Garvey - #37941

November 1st 2010

@beaglelady - #37932

Don’t knock Dan Brown - most Gnu theology and history comes from his authoritative works. If he wants to educate the world into the Catholic Church’s diabolical use of time technology to suppress the several million true gospels that were ditched in favour of PseudoLuke and his PseudoFirst Century PseudoGospel, the Truth owes him a debt of gratitude.

Papalinton - #37949

November 1st 2010

Hi Cal
“Theophilus may be a name but its also a titular designation.  It means lover of God, this could be directed to any person who was in search of God, there is no proof this is for any particular individual, only speculation.”

Yes that is how Apologetics overcomes the problematic nature, and it is to be expected. In the original Greek, Luke calls Theophilus “kratiskos”, a term used biblically with the following meaning, as set down in Strong’s Biblical Concordance (G2903)-
1.  mightiest, strongest, noblest, most illustrious, best, most excellent
2.  used in addressing men of prominent rank or office

In discussing the word ‘Theophilus’, Strong’s asserts that it is a single individual to whom Luke is addressing his gospel and Acts.  In addition, someone with the title ‘kratiskos’ is likely not to be an obscure, lower-class individual, but rather, a person of rank.

“In Rome’s eyes, Paul was another crazy Jew who hated Rome ..”  But how many just ‘another crazy jew’  gets to appeal to Caesar himself?


Cal - #37955

November 1st 2010


I don’t know why you’re reading this much into Luke’s introduction. I’d say in Luke’s mind that Theophilus katiskos is equivalent to “Honorable lover of God”. Anyone on that pursuit is “most illustrious and noble”. Much of the New Testament uses Greek words without the usual pronouncement. Jesus is a king yet he does not have a physical throne and a physical country like any other king that would be defined by the word. Expand your mind instead of breeding a spirit of conflict. Break out of your cynical mold! (This does not mean stop being skeptical)

In Imperial Rome, Augustus had established himself as the highest court. Any Roman Citizen, no matter his make or build, was allowed to appeal to Caesar. Any! That means anyone from the esteemed Roman aristocrat on the Palatine, wealthy merchant of Gaul, destitute and dirty commoner from Capua or “crazed Jew” from Judea. If one was a Roman citizen, one could appeal to Caesar.

Papalinton - #37961

November 1st 2010

Hi Cal

Further on the comment above,  the later dating of Luke and the Acts fits almost glove in hand when posited at the time of Bishop Theophilus of Antioch, that Luke himself originates from Antioch and that the christians were first so-called at Antioch.
If christ had a large following originating in Judea beginning decades earlier, why would they not have been named there?  Why Syria?  It is evident Antioch played a significant role in the development of christianity. 

Theophilus is the first church father clearly to discuss the canonical gospels.  Indeed in the “Introductory Note” to one authoritative translation of Ad Autolychum [Theophilus’ apology], Rev. Marcus Dods remarks:  “He was one of the earliest commentators upon the Gospels, IF NOT THE FIRST; and he seems to have been the earliest christian historian of the Church of the Old Testament.”  [www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf02.iv.i.html]  This is an astonishing admission as Rev Dods is referring to one of Theophilus’ lost works, i.e. his commentary on the Gnostic-christian ‘heretic’ Marcion [fl.c.155-166CE], the originator of the New testament.


Papalinton - #37964

November 1st 2010

@ Cal   [cont]

All this fits neatly, without shoe-horning when it comes to unravelling the era of the canonical gospel’s composition.  Moreover Dods further acclaims Theophilus’ ability in his apology to describe “the Antioch of the early christians”, which is fitting for the bishop of the place where Christ’s followers were first named christians.

In fact, it may be surprising for many to discover that it was the Syrian city of Antioch, rather than anywhere in Judea, that christ’s followers were first named “christians”.

The fact that Luke [Luke 1:1-4] is superseding “many” narratives also fits in with the idea that this Gospel and indeed Acts, was composed at the end of the second century.


Papalinton - #37965

November 1st 2010

Hi Jon Garvey

“Meanwhile, 30 years earlier, the heretic Marcion, writing c 140,  ...”

No, logic and a careful study of history best fits a later dating of Luke in the second half of the 2ndC CE as it presents us with some greater clarity on the tradition beginning in the late second century that Luke’s gospel supposedly had been corrupted by Marcion during the middle of the second century.  It is far more likely that the author of Luke may have based his gospel on Marcion’s “Gospel of the Lord”, rather than vice-versa.


Cal - #37969

November 1st 2010


That’s a whole lot of non-sensical reasoning to dig yourself out of a poor argument to pick. First, Christian is to mean “little Christ”. Why Antioch? Perhaps because it was one of the closest, non-Hebrew cultural focal points where Christians went to speak about God. It is most commonly proposed that Christian was a derisive title that stuck for the purpose many derisive titles stick, power in overcoming the attack and giving the word a positive connotation (Americans adopting Yankee).

No serious historian of any stripe, even those anti-theist, propose that Luke dates so far back. Have you considered other theories that “fit like a glove”? Like the fact that there is a Saduccee aritocratic Judaic priest named Theophilus ben Ananus who lived in the mid 1st century. It would explain why Luke focused on Jesus refuting the saducees opposition to an afterlife and Jesus performing what must be done for a Jewish male.

However the most likely position is that Luke is talking to any “illustrious,noble friend of God”, who was interested in the story of this Jesus of Nazareth.

Noting Jon’s strong evidence and your circumstantial polemic, I’d side with Luke being an early figure rather than an established Bishop.

Cal - #37971

November 1st 2010


rather than a later man writing to an established Bishop**

Papalinton - #37978

November 1st 2010

Hi Jon Garvey
“As for Acts, Irenaeus (no fool) writing in 180 quotes it extensively as the work of Luke (over 30 times), having managed to get a copy in Gaul. And his contemporary Tertullian, quoted it extensively as authentic down in Carthage. Pretty extensive distribution for a forgery written 10 years or less before.”

Tertullian [ ca 160-220CE]  was born probably at about the time Luke was being penned and Iraeneas [ca 115-202CE]  would have been around 45.  Any ship sailing around the Mediterranean could have the book in Carthage or Gaul within months if not weeks.  And even if it took ten years to travel there,  it is still a perfectly reasonable time frame.


BradK - #37979

November 1st 2010


I haven’t been following this debate and don’t even know for sure what is being discussed, but this statement…

“The timeline for Luke and Acts would best fit in the second half of the second century, especially since it is asserted by ancient authorities that Luke [or the writer of the Gospel of Luke] himself was from Antioch. There is no appearance in the historical record of any other ‘Theophilus’ earlier than the bishop of Antioch [fl.c. 168-c.181/188CE] “

...is incorrect.  For evidence of this, it should be noted that two different Jewish high priests in the first century bore the name Theophilus.  Theophilus ben Ananus was the brother-in-law of Caiaphas and Jonathan ben Ananus, who he succeeded as high priest in 37AD.  Mattathias ben Theophilus, the son of the aforementioned high priest, was high priest just before the Jewish Revolt in 66AD.  There was also another Mattathias ben Theophilus who was high priest late in the 1st century BCE. 

There are a few folks out there who even propose that one of these men could have been the addressee of Luke’s writings.  See here as one example:  http://mostexcellenttheophilus.wordpress.com/thesis/

Papalinton - #37981

November 1st 2010

Hi Cal

“Like the fact that there is a Saduccee aritocratic Judaic priest named Theophilus ben Ananus who lived in the mid 1st century.”

Other than the jewish high priest Theophilus [37-41CE] briefly mentioned in Josephus [Ant., XVIII, 5, 3] - a highly unlikely candidate for Luke’s pen-pal, particularly since Josephus certainly says absolutely nothing about what would constitute a stunning conversion to christianity- there is no other, other than Theophilus of Antioch.

And with the jewish high priest living well before Luke why would Luke address the gospel to a dead man?


Cal - #37982

November 1st 2010


Again, it is not likely it is addressed to one person in particular, but just because it was penned to someone doesn’t mean that the person was convinced of the argument. Justin Martyr wrote an apology to Marcus Aurelius, and he did not care for it or made any attempt to respond to it. BradK also filled in a blank I did not mention.

You’re on shaky ground friend.

Jon Garvey - #37986

November 1st 2010

@Cal - #37982

Papalinton likes shaky ground. It means you can’t see the cracks in the argument so clearly.

Papalinton - #37988

November 1st 2010

Hi BradK
“Mattathias ben Theophilus, the son of the aforementioned high priest, was high priest just before the Jewish Revolt in 66AD.  There was also another Mattathias ben Theophilus who was high priest late in the 1st century BCE.
There are a few folks out there who even propose that one of these men could have been the addressee of Luke’s writings.  See here as one example:  http://mostexcellenttheophilus.wordpress.com/thesis/ “.

Why would Luke write to a Jewish High Priest? to any Jewish high priest about things christian?  My understanding is that the Jews rejected wholesale jesus as the messiah,  whereas in the case of Theophilus of Antioch, who’s conversion was truly a ‘big deal’, historically.


Papalinton - #37989

November 1st 2010

@ BradK [cont]

I suspect searching for any Theophilus names, especially sons of Theophilus [Matathias] is a function of Apologetics in the attempt to find a possible reason, any reason, to fit the christian narrative, while a more than plausible resolution aligning both historiogrpahical certainty and the timing of the writings of Luke and Acts.  Apologetics is the search for ‘facts’ to fit the narrative, or a story in search of ‘facts’.  It is the antithesis of historical research as a means of exercising due diligence.  Exegesis does does replace or is synonymous with historical research.


BradK - #37990

November 1st 2010

Indeed, who says the author of Luke-Acts had to be writing to a Christian?  Personally, if I were going to subscribe to the theories of Lee Dahn or Richard Anderson and accept that Paul was writing to a high priest named Theophilos, I’d find Mattathias ben Theophilos to be a more likely candidate.  The language used in Luke and Acts to refer to Joseph ben Caiaphas as simply Caiaphas and to Portius Festus as simply Festus as well as addressing Antonius Felix as “most excellent Felix” (“kratistos Felix” just as the “kratistos Theophilos” in the opening addresses of Luke and Acts) make it seem more likely that Theophilos would be a surname/family name.  That form of address would fit though.

There is also a theory that Luke-Acts was written as a defense of Paul in Rome.  And I believe the Jerusalem School of Synoptic Research also posits Luke as the earliest of the synoptic gospels, which would place it necessarily earlier than the late second century AD. 

There are a lot of possibilities regarding the authorship/dating of Luke-Acts.  Most scholars seem to date it in the late 1st century/early 2nd century.  Papalinton, your view of it being written so late would be a very minority scholarly view, wouldn’t it?

BradK - #37995

November 1st 2010

Why would Luke write to a Jewish high priest?  If the author of Luke-Acts were the same Luke mentioned in Acts and in Paul’s letters, then he could have been writing on behalf of Paul to one of his accusers, no?  Maybe upon the occasion of the ascension of a new high priest in Jerusalem?  There is external evidence (e.g. 2nd Timothy?) pointing to the possibility that Luke was with Paul in Rome, right?  Due diligence in historical research doesn’t ignore external evidence either, right? 

All this is somewhat beside the point though.  We can wildly speculate on all kinds of things, like dating Luke-Acts late in the second century.  That is very much a minority view that needs a lot of support, isn’t it?

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