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“The Language of God” Book Club–Chapter 6

How should we interpret the Bible? What is the role of tradition? What is the role of science? Who gets to decide whether traditional interpretations need to change?

 

Confessions of an Evolving Baptist

“Being confronted with evolution may have been the catalyst for asking the difficult questions, but the real problem for me was not evolution – it was biblical literalism.”

 

Biblical Credibility and Joshua 10: What Does the Text Really Claim?

Once we recognize that no one takes the text literally, and that we have often failed to account for the details in the text regarding the time of day, we can begin anew to try to understand the text as an ancient text rather than as a modern one. As such, we must begin with the idea that the text operates in the world of omens, not the world of physics and astronomy.

 

Series: Apologetic Issues in the Old Testament (3 entries)

This series, by Old Testament scholar Richard S. Hess, was first published as an appendix to Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith (Downers Grove: IVP Academic; Nottingham: Apollos, 2011).

 

Series: Excerpts from "Origins: Christian Perspectives on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design" (7 entries)

These excerpts from Origins: Christian Perspectives on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design, written by BioLogos president Deborah Haarsma and her husband Loren Haarsma, offer a sampling of the book's many topics, from exploring our disagreements and agreements on origins as Christians to explaining scientific processes to looking at how we read Genesis.

 

Series: Excerpts from “Evolving: Evangelicals Reflect on Evolution” (9 entries)

We need to hear stories from others who have wrestled with evolution and Christian faith. What arguments made them change their views on science? How did they hold fast to their relationship with God? The essays in this series will eventually comprise a book, provisionally titled, “Evolving: Evangelicals Reflect on Evolution.”

 

Denis Alexander on Understanding Creation Theology

In this video Conversation, Denis Alexander asserts that contemporary Christians are not taking the early chapters of Genesis seriously enough.

 

A Scientific Commentary on Genesis 7:11

Although committed to the principle of sola Scriptura, Calvin recognized that the Bible would have been written in terms its original recipients would have understood. Calvin inherited the medieval cosmology of his time, a way of viewing the world heavily influenced by Greek thought and one which was about to receive shocks from astronomers such as Copernicus and Galileo. But not just yet.

 

Augustine of Hippo and Two Books Theology, Part 2

Augustine had a great deal to say about those chapters in Genesis that are especially controversial within Christianity today.

 

Series: To Serve and Preserve—Genesis 2 and the Human Calling (3 entries)

In this series, David Buller pays careful attention to the original language and cultural context of Genesis 2, revealing that our responsibility to care for creation is a sacred task given to us by God, not merely a modern secular activity. By taking Scripture seriously, we learn that we have a God-given mandate to be diligent stewards of His creation.

 

Series: Genesis Through Ancient Eyes (5 entries)

In this talk, originally delivered at the BioLogos President's Circle meeting in October 2012, Dr. John Walton discusses the origin stories of Genesis 1-3, and why their focus on function and archetypes mean there is no Biblical narrative of material origins.

 

Series: Pre-Modern Readings on Genesis 1 (3 entries)

Many people assume that until Darwin came along, devout Christians everywhere read and understood Genesis in the same way. But Dr. Pak points out that some of the most revered figures in Christian history--Origen, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, and Calvin--offered insightful but distinctive interpretations of the text that are often overlooked today. First presented at a symposium in Raleigh, NC, Dr. Pak's paper is presented here as a three part series.

 

Series: Biblical and Scientific Shortcomings of Flood Geology (6 entries)

Gregg Davidson and Ken Wolgemuth seek to remove the stumbling block of the Genesis flood in this four part series. Though many believe in an ancient world-wide flood, the evidence given does not hold up to geological scrutiny, but points rather to something regional instead. It is their hope that Christians will not walk away from faith in Christ simply because a global flood is not supported by science. Looking at natural phenomena like the Grand Canyon, salt beds, and fossil deposits, they reveal reasons for these deposits and structures while showing that their origin did not stem from a violent flood that covered the planet.

 

Series: Science and the Bible (22 entries)

This ongoing series written by historian Ted Davis begins with a brief synopsis of his personal background, and then goes on to reveal his passion for debunking “the now-common view that the history of science and Christianity is one of ongoing, inevitable conflict.”

 

Series: The Meaning of mîn in the Hebrew Old Testament (3 entries)

The related ideas of the “fixity of species” and “natural kinds” have been prominent in the science and faith conversation. Some Christians take Genesis to mean that God created (bara) fixed species (mîn). But does the text truly indicate such a concept? Biblical scholar Dr. Richard Hess looks at the Biblical context and meaning of the Hebrew mîn, and suggests that when Christians use it to frame our understanding of the entire created order, we may be asking too much of this single word.

 

Series: The Genesis of Everything (5 entries)

Theologian, historian and Christian apologist Dr. John P. Dickson addresses the history and interpretation of Genesis 1. Making no claims about human biological origins, Dickson urges us to treat the early chapters of Genesis as a literary and historical statement, and listen carefully to it on those terms.

 

Series: Chosen by God: Biblical Election and the Imago Dei (6 entries)

At the center of the theological and cultural controversy surrounding biological evolution stands the question: “How do human beings—creatures uniquely created in the image and likeness of God—fit into the scientific picture of life’s origins and development?” In this three-part series, Dr. Joshua Moritz endeavors to address this question by exploring what Scripture means—and does not mean—by the designation “image and likeness of God”.

 

Series: Scripture and the Authority of God (7 entries)

N.T. Wright explores the context and manner in which Scripture is authoritative. He does so by questioning the meaning of an authoritative book as well as the application of such authority. Wright encourages us to flee from the controlling “list” mentalities that belittle the richness of God’s Word, and rather to understand it as a narrative inspired by God and recorded by ancient persons. Ultimately, God “organizes” his people through his Son Jesus and by the Holy Spirit, and not through extracted rules from the Bible.

 

Series: Creation, Evolution, and Christian Laypeople (8 entries)

The six-part series by Dr. Keller considers three main clusters of questions lay people raise with their pastors when introduced to the teaching that biological evolution and biblical orthodoxy can be compatible. As a pastor and evangelist, Keller takes these concerns seriously and offers suggestions for addressing them without requiring believers to adopt a particular view or accept a definitive answer.

 

What do Biblical scholars today say about Genesis 1-2?

In recent decades, evangelical Biblical scholars have reconsidered non-literal interpretations of Genesis. The Accommodation view of St. Augustine and John Calvin is supported by recent discoveries about ancient cultures. Literature from these cultures shows interesting parallels and differences with Genesis accounts. The differences are striking, such as stories where creation is a battle among many gods rather than the acts of one sovereign Creator. The similarities, however, show how God accommodated his message so that the Israelites could understand it. For example, the Egyptians and Babylonians thought the sky was a solid dome. This solid dome appears in Genesis 1 as the firmament created on day 2. God did not try to correct the “science” of the Israelites by explaining that the sky was a gaseous atmosphere. Instead, God accommodated his message to their cultural context. Many evangelical Biblical scholars have concluded that Genesis is not meant to teach scientific information.

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