July 13, 2020

Open Mic: September 2016


Open Mic: September 22, 2016

It has been awhile since we’ve hosted an Open Mic day, but today provides a good opportunity for one.

I’ll be playing in the annual Daniel Mercer Foundation charity golf tournament to support youth services here in our area. Daniel was a young man in our community who died ten years ago from a brain tumor. He was bright, vibrant, and athletically gifted, and our families became close through the experience of walking together through something no one wants to face. For me, it was one of most formative experiences of my life, and it happened during the time when I was transitioning from parish ministry to hospice chaplaincy. It is an honor every year to gather with friends and loved ones to honor Dan’s memory and to enjoy the fellowship of those who love him still.

This also gives you an opportunity to bring topics to the table and discuss them.

Just remember a few simple guidelines, which represent simple courtesy:

  • Know that you are welcome here. You don’t have to agree.
  • Try to be concise and clear in your comments.
  • When in a conversation, stay on topic.
  • Don’t dominate the discussion.
  • Listen well.
  • Watch your language and how you treat others.

With these simple parameters in place, the floor is yours today.

Enjoy God’s gift of conversation…and each other.


  1. Dan from Georgia says

    Watching Star Wars Episode 2 on cable while at work….after watching The Force Awakens, just can barely stomach Episodes 1 and 2 (3 was an improvement!).


      • Dan from Georgia says

        I took a look/perused the article and his follow-up on Episode 7…good reading!

        • There’s an interesting fan edit/argument online that, after the confrontation between Han Solo and Kylo Ren, the planet should have immediately fired and THEN destroyed those solar systems. It changes the whole mood and everything just works so much better. Plus you don’t have people standing on a planet watching other solar systems blow up somehow…

    • A friend of mine gave me the Harmy “despecialized” versions of the Original Trilogy on DVD. A true friend indeed… 😉

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        He certainly deserves to be on your Christmas card list.

      • Harmy is awesome, I remember following his posts when he first started. Some day I need to burn those to a blu-ray so I can watch them properly.

    • Current Guilty Pleasure:

      Pre-screening “Star Wars: Rebels,” the cartoon series, before my child watches it.

      It’s duty, I tell you. Duty.

    • Obi-Wan was the one redeeming aspect of those prequels.

    • Dan, This is your boss and you are fired for watching movies while at work !!!!!!

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        And double fired for that movie being Episode 1!

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says


          (Actually, I feel sorry for Jar-Jar. Attempt at a comedy-relief character that just Epic Failed.)

          • And nobody had the guts to go and tell George that it wasn’t working. He was a “genius” and couldn’t be wrong of course.

            Everybody but me seems to have adored the last one. Apparently everybody but me got just what they wanted – a rehash of the highpoints of the first three movies. A pastiche of a pastiche. All I can say is that’s not why I go to the movies.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Wait until they do a remake of the pastiche of a pastiche.

            (I’m sure there’s a High Concept pitch session underway for exactly that…)

          • Richard Hershberger says

            “Everybody but me seems to have adored the last one.”

            I found it meh. I took my eight-year-old daughter. We had a short time before watched Ep. IV on DVD. She already knew the characters, as they are still marketed to that age group, and she is in touch with age-appropriate youth culture. She professed to enjoy Ep. IV, and wanted to see Ep. VII with me in the theater, which she also professed to enjoy. But there clearly is not great passion behind it. She is familiar with Star Wars because kids her age and socio-economic class are, but it is nothing like the cultural phenomenon the first film was when it came out, when I was in junior high, when I thought it perfectly reasonable to stand in a line that went around the entire building twice, to see the film yet again.

            My own reaction to Ep VII was that it was heavy on fan servicing, hitting all the notes so long as you didn’t think about it too much. In other words, it was paint-by-numbers. I am happy that my daughter didn’t react to it as being the defining cultural moment of her generation.

      • Dan from Georgia says

        Hmmm…maybe that’s why my security badge didn’t work today…lol!

  2. I’m reading the Sin of Certainty, and I’m struck by how Enns’s critique of placing belief ahead of faith applies both to the critical intellectual seeker and the unquestioned stereotypically conservative evangelical. In some ways the seeker can be the one who is leaning too much on belief instead of actually trusting God, playing with the doubts and ideas in his or her mind in much the same way that the unquestioned conservative evangelicals are very uptight about making ironclad defenses of the faith and of their guarded ideas. Both attitudes are probably the same sin.

    • Good insight. Count me among those who play too much with the “doubts and ideas” in my own mind. Mea culpa, though I’m trying to get away from the idea that mistakes, even willful ones, are always sin. Sin is such a loaded word, and should be used very carefully and sparingly.

    • Very true.

    • Reading it, too – 2/3rds through it. I’m taking a really long time to read this very easy read. At times, I feel confirmed in what I call my “sea of doubt,” while other times I feel that my sea expanded and the waves are building. Unless Enns crashes and burns in the last 1/3rd, this book will move into my recommended books list along with Disunity in Christ by Christina Cleveland. Which, if you haven’t read, you must.

      • I found some of the book repetitive, but found the last quarter of it extremely solid. I think you’ll like how he closes it.

    • “In some ways the seeker can be the one who is leaning too much on belief instead of actually trusting God …”

      I’ve noticed how some ‘true believers’ don’t have faith in the Holy Spirit and try to set ‘churches’ up with legal joining contracts which require members to sign, and set in place a ton of ‘rules’ to control ‘followers’ . . . . no ‘trust’ there in the power of the Holy Spirit, no. Sad for those members. The ‘red light’? little of the euangelion and a lot of judgment and ‘church discipline’

      • But surely we need some means of making sure that a wandering sheep is really one of “us” before we go integrating it into the herd. Doctrinal and ecclesiological cross-breeding can get messy and create confusion as to which sheep belong to which herd. And the integrity of the herd is, of course, paramount over lesser considerations. As to the Holy Spirit, He had better toe the line or we’ll replace Him with a kick drum and some top-notch motivational preaching.

    • Enns’s critique of placing belief ahead of faith applies both to the critical intellectual seeker and the unquestioned stereotypically conservative evangelical

      I haven’t read the book yet…but is that similar to the common YEC retort that it takes equal amounts of faith to believe evolution is true?

      • The only faith required to accept that evolution is true is the faith that you can accept the evidence of your own senses. The fundamentalists are in complete denial and therefore simply exclude themselves from all serious conversation. What fascinates me are the various responses from non-fundamentalist Christians to the reality of evolution. Evolution has been a hard morsel to swallow and digest for Christians of all stripes.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says

          > The fundamentalists are in complete denial and therefore simply exclude
          > themselves from all serious conversation.

          This. It is important to identify what Conversation is: it must has a foundation of common ground and mutual respect. The Fundamentalist can grant neither.

      • I haven’t read the book yet…but is that similar to the common YEC retort that it takes equal amounts of faith to believe evolution is true?

        To me it means that the conservative retort of embracing “simplicity” and not “overthinking” cuts both ways. Sometimes the ones who want to defend a circular, narrowly defined biblical system are really the ones who are overthinking it, and the one who is searching for a more universal expression of faith is the one who actually better grasps simplicity. But it’s also dangerous for me—who identifies as someone seeking a more universal kind of faith—to think that I’m right and that the people I disagree with are wrong, because when I do so I am actually doing the exact same thing that the systematic evangelical Bible defenders are doing—I’m replacing simple trust in God with my own internal thought system.

  3. Who do you consider the living theological giants? Please keep your list to 10 or less, and feel free to share any reasoning behind your choices.

    • Status as a theological giant should only be bestowed at least 50 years posthumously.

      • Oh come-on Eeyore, play along.

        (I will create a second thread for the older ones though).

        • Burro {Mule] says

          Stanley Hauerwas
          NT Wright
          David Bentley Hart

          …for academic theology

          The big question, though, is if we have any Spirit-filled Elders like St. Paisios

          • Adam Tauno Williams says

            > …for academic theology

            Yep, probably a good list for that. But that is a rather small pond.

          • I concur with Mule.

            Finn, I think the pond out there is actually really big; PhDs in theology are not a dime a dozen, but there are certainly a lot of them. These three pretty much fill up the pond.


      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        I’m with Eeyore, the ‘stickyness’ of someone is very difficult to forsee.

        Who knows – this Enns guy might be pivitol to the next turn in Christianity… or ten years from know we all might be “Oh, yeah, that guy”.

        And there is the question of: what bequeaths “giant” status?

        • “what bequeaths “giant” status?”

          That is why I opened it up for providing reasons for the names people choose.

        • MIchael Bell says

          Just finished reading “Inspiration and Incarnation” by Peter Enns. Long overdue. The book was mind blowing. Things I sort of knew but he put it altogether for me.

    • Dylan

    • Francis is not a ‘theologian’ in the talking/writing sense;
      but he is very much so in the way he moves through the dusty halls of an ancient Church and brings warmth and light
      …….. I think it could be said he is in the category of a ‘kneeling theologian’, yes

      he’s opening doors long shut and he’s asking even non-Catholics to share their opinions on issues important to the Body of Christ . . . . . he prays with Jews and with Muslims . . . . he visits prisoners and travels to poor communities in the way of a priest, which he is . . . . just a priest with a much larger parish now 🙂

      • Adam Tauno Williams says


        And I would place a reasonable confident wager his legacy will outlast many a ‘famous’ scholastic theologian.

    • Bono

    • I don’t read enough of theology, but Eugene Peterson’s spiritual theology series helped shape a lot of my (relatively recent and still ongoing) growing up in Christ years.

      +1 on Heaurwas.

    • Benedict XVI
      Robert Spitzer
      Donald Senior

  4. above the mountains
    fog drifts like a hazy dream
    that fades from the mind

  5. Who do you consider the theological giants of the 19th and 20th Centuries, but had been dead for at least 50 years (per Eyeore). Please keep your list to 10 or less, and feel free to share your reasoning.

    • Simone Weil
      Dietrich Bonhoeffer

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      Reinhold Niebuhr – but not quite 50 years dead yet.
      Dietrich Bonhoeffer
      Martin Luther King
      – these guys actually come up in not-strictly-theological conversations; which is absolutely key IMO for “giant” status. The academy is too small a pond for giant status. Well read ‘real’ people know who they are and have at least some gist of their thinking.
      As far as bringing Religious thinking to bear, but not perhaps Theology, I would be tempted to include Tolkien. He comes up a lot, in a crazy range of circles. Lewis is big, but his reach – I suspect – is not aging as well.

      • Tolkien was the first person I thought of too. And by extension, Peter Jackson lol

        Love or hate, those movies did distill a lot of Tolkien and brought it to the public, and will have a huge influence going forward.

        • The Hobbit movies were over-blown productions, but Jackson did GREAT for the LotR trilogy!

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Yeah. Hobbit had every sign of padding. There’s a story going around that Jackson originally intended TWO parts to The Hobbit but got overridden with “You HAVE to Make a TRILOGY”. So to stretch it out to three, he had to pad. And pad. And pad.

          • I was just happy to have 3 more films worth of behind the scenes documentry! I loved the LotR appendices.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says

            >The Hobbit movies were over-blown productions

            Yes, they are to LotR what the prequals are to Star Wars; only, possibly, The Hobbit(s) are even worse. More like watching a LotR themed Mario Cart than a movie.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says

          > Love or hate, those movies did distill a lot of Tolkien and brought it to the public

          I am ambivalent about the movies; enjoyable movies, and much of Tolkien shines through, but some of Jackson’s B-movie directorship and socially-conscious pandering comes through as well.

          I find it hard in the movies to get entirely past the muddling of the character of Faramir, who is a key moral anchor in the texts, and whatever it was that Jackson was doing with The Curse Breakers – who arrive as a ghost army and sweep away all remaining resistance – to me that cheapens the entire battle. If they could have arrived a day earlier there would have been no battle! [and, going 105% geek, they were not sworn to fight that battle].

          Aside: I like Tolkien – warts and all – and he had some warts. He was a nationalist; but he was self-aware of that [you see that self-awareness in characters of the Hobbits]. The race relations of his age are visible [west good, east (or dark) bad]. And we was a curmudgeon and a near Luddite; a bit taken with Jeffersonian visions of innocent agrarian societies. Being set in Fantasy also allows the memes to be easily re-purposed, with minimal political baggage, to whatever situation. What both he and Lewis had, seen especially in their letters, was a self-awareness we do not get to see much anymore; which may in large part be due to the death of the letter.

          • Agree with the Faramir critique. I enjoyed several of Jackson’s touches/changes (I thought the elves showing up at Helm’s Deep to be a brilliant tweak), but Faramir’s character shouldn’t have been tweaked at all.

        • Ah, Tolkien’s LOTR trilogy and related films (Catholicism in technicolor) 🙂


    • While dead 32 years: Karl Rahner in the 20th.
      John Henry Newman in the 19th

  6. Who do you consider your Mt. Rushmore of theologians throughout Christian History? Please try to keep your list to 4 if possible, but no more than 10 (I know, I know, Mt Rushmore currently only has 4, but we can make room). Feel free to provide reasoning for your choices.

    • Dietrich Bonhoeffer
      Saint John of the Cross
      Saint Gregory of Nyssa
      Saint Paul

    • Burro {Mule] says

      Stanley Hauerwas
      NT Wright
      David Bentley Hart

      for academic theology

    • Burro {Mule] says

      St John the Theologian
      St Maximos the Confessor
      St Symeon the New Theologian
      St Gregory Palamas

      St Maximos is just now being rediscovered and retranslated in the West, and is undergoing something of a fashion wave. He is a great counterbalance to St. Augustine’s pessimistic anthropology

      • Mule, what do you say about Alexander Shmemann?

        • Burro [Mule] says

          I’ve never read anything by him except Byzantine Theology. Something about him smells “off” to me for an Orthodox theologian. As a bridge between the East and West, he is exemplary. For a spiritual Jacobite like me, too Modernist.

          • I’ve read several of Schmemann’s books. To my mind, they sound very much like the 1960s in general. I think if we could read and understand him in Russian, it would improve his flavor… I like him, but I like other theologians better.


          • Mule,

            I read A’s son Serge Schmemann’s “Echoes of a Native Land” and enjoyed it, mostly for the insight it gave into Russian culture and mindset. Helped me understand “Andrei Rublev” better, among other things…


    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > Mt. Rushmore of theologians throughout Christian History

      1. JESUS!
      2. JESUS!
      3. JESUS!
      4. JESUS!

      Ha! You’ve been **JUKED*! 🙂

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Unless you’re Net Orthodox. Then it’d be:
        1. ORTHODOXY!
        2. ORTHODOXY!
        3. ORTHODOXY!
        4. ORTHODOXY!

    • Randy Thompson says


      OK, I cheated. There’s seven.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        Augstine is certainly a giant; even very secular people read The City Of God as literature. After numerous discussion though I find myself increasing skeptical of him – he seems like a Fatalist without the courage to embrace Fatalism [something Calvin would pick up in a few centuries]. His dualism I also find to be convenient; read from a political science perspective, in the days of a nation-state experiencing multiple stresses [*1] he can sound like the weary notes of isolationism and escapism [which will always serve to fulfill their prophetic tone].

        There may be a reason that as Evangelicalism feels increasingly stressed Augustine becomes more popular.

        [*1] I am in the camp that the Roman Empire never “fell”, it would divide, but many of its institutions, its legal customs, and even its infrastructure would live on, if not remain dominant, for many more centuries to be the foundation for the next thing. “The Fall” narrative is historically very dubious – but it makes a great rhetorical device.

    • Y’all know I can’t stop at four.

      St John the Theologian
      St Irenaeus of Lyon
      St Athanasius
      St Basil the Great
      St Macrina, sister of St Basil and St Gregory of Nyssa, who called her his teacher – she never wrote anything that we know of, but her conversations with her brothers would certainly have influenced their thought
      St Maximos the Confessor
      St Gregory Palamas

      My greatest “kneeling theologians”: St Isaac of Nineveh and Julian of Norwich.

      Not one of “the greatest,” but I think Ilaria Ramelli’s work will be looked upon with esteem in 50 years’ time.


    • Was Once a Mystic says

      Abbess Hildegard von Bingen!!
      St. julian of Norwich
      St. John of the Cross
      Joan of Arc.
      …ya know women are great theologians too.

  7. Hit ’em straight CM. Speaking of golf, there was an old golfing couple and she was on her death bed. She asked, “Will you remarry when I’m gone?” He replied uncomfortably, “I suppose.” She asked, “Will you golf with her?” Again, uncomfortably, he replied, “I guess so.” Finally she asked, “Will she use my clubs?” He responded, “Well no, she’s a lefty!”
    Terrible. Just terrible.

  8. Augustine

  9. Therese of Lisieux
    Dorothy Day
    Joan Chittister
    Charlotte Moon (a kneeling theologian)
    The Nuns On The Bus (every single blessed one of ’em)

  10. I officiated my first funeral yesterday. I’ve been walking with the gentleman who passed and his wife for the past 4 months. He’s been defying 6 years of various caner diagnoses, treatments, remissions, and relapses.He outlived every prognosis. But it all finally caught up to him this past year.

    Our first meeting, and introduction to each other, was to meet in order to plan the funeral service. Simple, cremation, no funeral home. So I had to take care of all the details. In the midst of these ongoing conversations, the three of us ‘clicked.’ The wife carried most of the conversations, and the gentleman did not want to talk about matters of faith all that much — until he did, with two weeks to go in his life, in hospice care.

    It was the first kind of conversation like that I’ve ever had. I’ll never forget it.

    And if a funeral can be described as ‘good,’ then yesterday’s was. Not that I thought I was especially poignant. But the widow, family, and friends were all tremendously pleased. For the one or two that asked how long I’d been at this, they were shocked that this was my first.

    But it went exactly as I imagined and prayed it would.

    This seems to be one of the parts of ministry that I ‘get.’ I seem to be cut out for tough conversations, to be in the presence of grief, and to apply the scriptures and the hope of the Gospel in gentle and meaningful ways that integrate with people’s stories right where they are.

    It’s not a part of the calling I would have asked for, really. But it is the grace of God. I know I owe it to the losses I’ve experienced and the processing of my own pain and wounds in life. And to good theology. And to lots of years of reading Internet Monk.

    So, I’m celebrating a bit as I cross another off another ‘first’ of many firsts in pastoral ministry off the list. I figured this crowd would appreciate it.

    • Thanks for sharing this, Sean. Glad it went as well as could be expected. Good luck and God’s blessing upon you as you if you do more of these.

    • May the Lord continue to help you, Sean.

      There’s nothing that makes me feel so close to God and so grounded to earth and people at the same time than a Good Funeral.


  11. Let’s see…

    Just finished re-reading “The Innkeeper’s Song” by Peter S. Beagle. A very intricate, meaty fantasy book, best read in small bites rather than one big sit-down. When I first read it (ages ago), it was upon a recommendation of a friend and it took me SEVERAL chapters to get into it because of the ever-changing perspectives, but once I got into it…Wow. This second reading, many years later, was just as rewarding.

    Now reading “The Everything Box” by Richard Kadray. Edgy, off-beat humor, maybe a bit sacrilegious at times, but meh…it’s a fun read! If you’re curious, pick up a copy and just read the first chapter/prelude. You’ll know then if it’s your cup of tea or not.

    I think I mentioned this in a previous Open Mic, but if you like Brit humor, the series “The Detectorists” is a MUST. Toby Jones and Mackenzie Crook play two friends who are members of a small metal detecting club in a small town in England. Well-written, great characters, good humor AND drama…oh, and for a comedy series, the cinematography is at times outstanding!

  12. Randy Thompson says

    I’m reading “place” literature now. Books written by people with deep roots in a specific place they love. In no partiular order:

    “The Outermost House” by David Beston (Written in the 1920’s, it describes living for a year alone in a remote cottage in Eastham, Cape Cod.)
    “A Year in the Maine Woods” by Bernd Heinrich (A biologist writes of his year living in the Maine woods.)
    “On Eagle Pond” by Donald Hall (A memoi and description of life on the family farm in rural New Hampshire–not far from where we live.)

    There have been a couple others, too, but I can’t at the moment remember the book titles or authors’ names. One was written thirty years ago and was a detailed account of living on a Vermont farm, tracing the changes of the land, livestock and wildlife through the year’s seasons. The other was written in 1948, and was a memoir of a New York writer and his family, who were weekenders for decades in Connecticut’s Litchfield Hills. In Cornwall, to be specific.

    Oddly enough, I’ve found most of these books at estate sales or yard sales.

    There is something warm and enduring about each of these books. You fall in love with each author’s place, and, in so doing, you learn to more deeply love your own place. You are reminded profoundly that life is way more than news cycles, political elections, and internet ephemera.

    I’m sensing I need to take another shot at Annie Dillard’s “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek,” which I haven’t read in years, and in some of Wendell Berry’s essays.

  13. This week on the “Wrestling with Scripture” thread the frequent commenter Christiane opined that some teachers of Young Earth engage in “cult control” by positing absurdities about the character of God in order to protect their view.

    She wrote, “The worst evidence for this is that YEC gurus have suggested that God tried to ‘trick’ mankind by making the Earth appear ‘older’ than it is.”

    This is a common objection. So I’d like to pose a question.

    Suppose you were at the wedding at Cana the night Jesus turned water into wine. You’re a scientist so you take the wine home and look under your microscope. According to the people who were at the wedding, the wine spontaneously came into existence sometime that night. But under your microscope, it appears to be just like any other wine, which requires a lengthy process in order to produce the wine.

    Is Jesus a trickster? A cult leader? Surely not! After all, if He were, we might have to revisit Jesus shaped spirituality!

    Creation and life itself should be seen, as Wendell Berry and before him, Shakespeare have said, as a miracle. Therefore, that a created universe would look old is no more absurd than Jesus making wine in an instant, and that wine looking old. If we can trust Jesus, we can trust Genesis.

    • Is it your argument that evolution must be false because God can change, and has done so, the physical elements of an object? Or, that because God can create out of nothing, the earth and its contents must have been so created in the form that we see them now? Your argument should rely on more than just water to wine, but on every one of Christ’s miracles, particularly those that resulted in bodily cures or even resurrection. If Lazarus could have undergone an MRI, would there have been evidence of prior decay? Would there have been physical evidence of his resurrection? I don’t see the logic in your argument, Ben.

      • It’s like asking what the distance between Tatooine and Alderaan (RIP) is. Answer: as long as it takes.

        Most of these stories would not pass muster under scientific investigation. And I personally think that’s a good thing. It means God created this world with laws and rules that he rarely violates willy nilly. God has chosen to limit himself and his power via creation. Remember scientific investigation is the study of God’s creation, if you are a believer. Does the science show something that disagrees with holy text? Then you have a problem with God, not with science.

      • My argument is simpler than what you say, Bass. The statement was made, and is often made, that belief in a Young Earth requires you to believe in a God who lies, and that this is a terrible thing. It surely would be, if true. My point is that it need not be true. The wine Jesus created looked like aged wine. The Earth, under a YEC paradigm, looked like an older Earth. Adam was created as an adult, not a baby, and so forth.

        We don’t believe Jesus was a liar. Claiming that YEC must make God a liar doesn’t follow. It’s also a cheap shot argument that (are you listening, Chaplain Mike) needlessly impugns the motives and faith of Christians with whom you disagree on the questions of origins.

        Once again, we see the superior tolerance and open-mindedness of the theistic evolutionists at work…

        • …speaking of cheap shots…

          YEC does not automatically equal appearance with age. If YEC insists that everything was created with the appearance of age, to the point where using God’s creation to study God’s creation implies that everything was NOT created in one instance (or six instances, whatever), even though we ‘know’ that to be true, then we do have a problem with a deceiver God. And ergo, Jesus is a liar.

          Gen 1-2, maybe even 1-11, are myths. Legends. Stories. Creation tales. Pre-scientific. Modeled after other stories. Whether Jesus was aware of that or not is a good question. But you know what? He wasn’t there either. 100% God, 100% man, and that man would not know beyond what he read in the pages of a book.

          • So you’ve swallowed the reductio. Jesus shaped spirituality, I gather, is not your thing.

            Hey, at least you’re not just yanking my chain. You’re giving me the Hell-bound unbelief and snark straight up. I can respect that.

            As for the fate of your eternal soul, well, I’m not as sanguine. May God grant you faith and repentance.

          • Snark?

            I don’t accept the existence of Hell, either. It’s not Biblical. But that’s a different discussion.

            Oh well.

        • So I guess that means that some of the fossils that we see were never really living creatures, just made to seem to have been alive.
          And that the Green River formation with yearly layers that represent millions of years (they say 6 million) also never really happened, just made to look that way.

          I was a YEC until I did some training in geology and the overwhelming weight of the evidence convinced me otherwise.

    • I guess you could say the same thing about many of Jesus’ miracles. Healings that were instant may well have looked like they happened over time. One difference between Jesus’ miracles and creation, though, is that people were indeed around to see the miracles, and there was no doubt about their anomalous nature. Jesus didn’t generally try to hide them. There was no willful deception.

      With the creation, nobody was there to witness it, and there’s no subsequent explicit explanation of how it was done, so making it simply appear old but not bee seems a lot closer to willful deception.

      Still, it’s probably not the best argument against YEC. For me, a better argument for me is the nature of the text itself. It’s a prescientific ancient near-eastern document, and trying to wrest some kind of scientific accuracy out of it is just not going to work well.

    • Apples to oranges, but I see the point you are trying to make. Does denying YEC equate to denying the supernatural?

      • No. Many Christians happily believe in the miracles of the New Testament and possess true faith in Christ despite having an incorrect view of Genesis 1. If they followed the hermeneutic they apply to Genesis 1 *consistently* across the canon, that would create numerous problems. Most of them don’t, to their credit.

        None of us, including me, is consistent or totally reasoned in our theology. We get all kinds of things wrong! The imputed righteousness of Jesus covers us.

        • Ben, why should one have a “consistent hermeneutic” across the whole Bible? That makes no sense to me. One’s hermeneutical approach varies according to genre and other literary factors. I don’t read the Gospels like I read Genesis because we’re talking about very different kinds of literature, not to mention the great differences in the life setting of the audiences and the authors’ purposes in writing. My reading of a “miracle” in Jonah (which I read as a legendary tale, or short story), doesn’t impact my view of Jesus’ miracles, which are purported to reflect the “witness” of those who were with him. And so on.

          Consistency is a major problem in rightly reading scripture, not a virtue.

          • Mike,

            Obviously there are different genres of literature in Scripture and one should read carefully. The problem is that the “classification” of the different passages or books of the Bible is not clean cut. Do you see this?What looks like myth to you may not look that way to me, and vice versa.

            The Bible is full of rich typological symbolism. The events of the Creation week get “re-capitulated.” Likewise for the Exodus account. Judges 19-21 “feels like” the account of Lot at Sodom with his daughters. Do I read that as mythical or do I read it an inspired account of true events? Both/and? Who decides?

            Then there’s all of the chronological information in Scripture. Pages and pages of genealogies. So and so went here for so many days then went here for so many days or years. The Temple is this wide by this tall by this long. Even in the dryer stuff, you still have symbolism and significant numbers you have to interpret. So does that mean it isn’t literally true? How do you know?

            I’d recommend that people read James Jordan’s book Creation in Six Days. Peter Leithart also wrote a good parody for First Things where he treated the story of Abraham like some treat Genesis 1. Both men are more or less on the same wavelength. They respect the symbolism of Scripture, but they also believe it’s literally true in what it describes. Both/and not either/or.

            • I’m not claiming my view is absolutely true, Ben. What I am trying to do is give a reasonable response to your idea that one should have a “consistent hermeneutic.” Plenty of people disagree with me, but this is the way I see it at the moment.

              And here’s an even greater issue, one which those from my evangelical past usually either completely ignore or disagree with: The biggest mistake I think people make in reading the OT is not recognizing the Babylonian provenance of the final editing of the Hebrew Bible and its purpose as a book designed primarily for Post-exilic Israel to consider her past, present, and future.

              Viewed in that light, texts like Gen 1-11 take on an entirely different cast than what evangelicals are familiar with.

          • The Bible is full of rich typological symbolism. The events of the Creation week get “re-capitulated.” Likewise for the Exodus account.

            Which came first? Beware of linear reading of the Bible. If it’s discovered (for example) that Exodus was written centuries before parts or all of Genesis…that changes things, drastically.

  14. Does anyone have any advice on how to read the Bible, and just read it…without coming from the angle of “Bible study.” That has been my posture for so long, I don’t know how to read it any other way. Is this a problem for anyone else? I want to be able to read the text and just sit with it instead of always mining it for some nugget.

    • Try Max Lucado’s “The Story.” He shifts around the text to chronological order – for instance, placing individual Psalms in the midst of other “books” when the author’s might have written them – so that the Bible reads more like a story than as a “text”.


    • It’s a tough read for me, too, Will. What has helped me 1)bible websites with reading plans including chronological and various translations. I can put two different versions like ESV and CEV side-by-side at times to clarify the story. 2)YouTube videos on just the text that can be detailed or summary type. I like ProclaimHisWord, but there’s a few that will read the entire bible to me. 3)At times, I hopscotch by chapter to whatever interests me. It keeps my attention, and someday I’ll tie them altogether (I should live so long). However, the aforementioned reading plan, and the book in hand seems to work best most of the time. And I take notes. Hope this helps.

    • Try reading Eugene Peterson’s “Eat this book”. That helped me a lot in consciously unlearning old ways of reading the Bible (similar to you, with a “Bible study” slant).

    • Try a paraphrase like The Message. Very readable and more geared toward scripture as a story rather than a manual.

    • Where I have finally landed is that I need to read the bible with both mind and spirit. I do proper study and exegesis to make sure I understand the context (so that I do not get wonky ideas!)

      I then read it meditatively, like the Benedictines do in what is calledLlectio Divina. Traditionally, Lectio Divina has four separate steps: read; meditate; pray; contemplate. First a passage of Scripture is read, then its meaning is reflected upon. This is followed by prayer and contemplation on the Word of God. It is intended to promote communion with God and to increase the knowledge of God’s Word