The Unbreakable Chain of Salvation. Part 1: The Meaning of “Foreknowledge” in Rom. 8:29

Questions about God’s foreknowledge and his election of certain people to salvation are frequently raised during my talks in churches and colleges. These questions are raised not out of mere curiosity, but out of a desire to be assured of one’s salvation. Such an assurance may be enjoyed only if we believe that God is the author of our salvation from beginning to the end, that salvation is by God’s grace alone and that the history of the church with its ups and downs is not the result of arbitrary human choices, but represents the working out of God’s eternal plan of salvation. Hence, the doctrine of God’s sovereignty in predestination and election (monergism) is a most comforting doctrine.

I. The Salvation Chain
 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified (Rom. 8: 29-30).

When Paul states that to those who love God and are called according to his purpose all things work together for good, he is not thinking only of those things that can be seen round about us now, or those events that are taking place now; no, he includes even time and eternity. The chain of salvation he is discussing reaches back to that which, considered from a human standpoint, could be called the dim past, “the quiet recess of eternity,” and forward into the boundless future.One very important fact must be mentioned: every link in this chain of salvation represents a divine action. To be sure, human responsibility and action is not thereby ruled out, but here (Rom. 8:29, 30) it is never specifically mentioned. [William Hendriksen Romans (Baker Books, 1981), p. 281] Continue reading “The Unbreakable Chain of Salvation. Part 1: The Meaning of “Foreknowledge” in Rom. 8:29”

Evaluating Theological Interpretation of Scripture

An interview with Brian Collins, author of Scripture, Hermeneutics, and Theology: Evaluating Theological Interpretation of Scripture. Greenville, SC: Exegesis & Theology, 2012.

You may download a free PDF of the book HERE (a whopping 448MB).

Highlights from the interview. LINK

Modern Historical Critical Methods Renders the Bible Irrelevant
Collins cites Don Carson, “Historical critical methods that are “anti-supernatural” and “determined by post-Enlightenment assumptions about the nature of history” do render the Bible irrelevant. Notably, that is what those methods were designed to do. In short, modern historical criticism has failed in its promise of objective interpretation while also rendering the Bible irrelevant. Theological interpretation of Scripture must integrate exegesis and theology to regain the relevance of Scripture today.

To regain an interpretative method that respects the authority of Scripture and its relevance, Collin begins with A.N.S Lane’s historical survey of the major views on Scripture and tradition in church history. Continue reading “Evaluating Theological Interpretation of Scripture”

Poetry and Physicists

Alexander Pope gave us the immortal lines, “Nature and Nature’s laws lay hid in night: God said, Let Newton be! and all was light.” Pope’s pairing of poetry and physicists should be pleasurable and profitable. However, it is commonly perceived that physicists suffer from a woefully inadequate  aesthetic sense as they cannot help but dissolve mysteries into cold mathematical equations. Was it not John Keats who complained that Newton merely “unweave the rainbow” to its prismatic colors?

Lamia (1819)
Do not all charms fly
At the mere touch of cold philosophy?
There was an awful rainbow once in heaven:
We know her woof, her texture; she is given
In the dull catalogue of common things.
Philosophy will clip an Angel’s wings,
Conquer all mysteries by rule and line,
Empty the haunted air, and gnomèd mine—
Unweave a rainbow, as it erewhile made
The tender-person’d Lamia melt into a shade. Continue reading “Poetry and Physicists”

Science and Theology as Analogous Research Programmes – Science and Christianity: Part 6/6

Richard Dawkins, the famous British atheist, famously asserts that since science works, it must be true and we must believe what it says. If Christianity clashes with science, so much the worse for Christianity. For this reason, some college students are persuaded to abandon their Christian faith once they conclude that it has been discredited by science.

The perception that science has discredited Christianity is based on two assumptions. First, the results of science are empirically verified and indubitable in contrast to the unverifiable claims of Christianity. Second, Christianity not only lacks explanatory power; it is in conflict with the empirical findings of science. For example, God becomes redundant once evolution explains the origins of species and inflationary cosmology explains the origin of the multiverse. We are reminded of the famous incident when Napoleon Bonaparte questioned Pierre Laplace why his large book on cosmology never mentioned the Creator, to which Laplace retorted, “I had no need of that hypothesis.”

However, neither Dawkins nor Laplace should be given the last word. There are other eminent scientists who do not agree that there is conflict between science and Christianity. Furthermore, science itself faces several intractable problems. Continue reading “Science and Theology as Analogous Research Programmes – Science and Christianity: Part 6/6”

Models of Integration of Science and Faith – Science and Christianity: Part 5/6

Critical Integration From a Christian Perspective
Our approach to integrating science and Christian faith should be characterized by intellectual integrity and passion. This does not imply that non-Christians do not share these qualities. I am only pointing out that Christians ought to display these qualities as a distinctive of their faith. Arthur Holmes explains,

The Christian believes that in all that she does intellectually, socially or artistically, she is handling God’s creation and that is sacred. . . . The scholar’s love of truth becomes an expression of love of God, just as the citizen’s love of justice in society can be an expression of hunger for righteousness, and the artist’s love for the creative and the beautiful expresses love for the Creator” [Arthur Holmes, Idea of Christian College (Eerdmans, 1987), p. 48]

We should recognize that some disciplines may be less directly open to any specific ‘Christian’ approach, such as in mathematics and the physical sciences. Nevertheless, the attitude of the Christian should be an openness to the possibility of integration. Continue reading “Models of Integration of Science and Faith – Science and Christianity: Part 5/6”

Evidence Shows Sexual Orientation can Change: Debunking the Myth of “Immutability”

In Evidence Shows Sexual Orientation Can Change: Debunking the Myth of “Immutability,” I gave a report on academic studies over the last two decades based on four large data sets drawn from surveys about sexuality. These studies are both “population-based” (representative of the population as a whole) and “longitudinal” (meaning they survey the same individuals at intervals years apart, allowing us to measure change over time).

The truth is, “sexual orientation” is a multi-faceted concept, involving a combination of attractions, behaviors, and personal identity. These four studies all demonstrate that significant change in each of the elements of sexual orientation is possible. The percentage changing from homosexuality to heterosexuality ranged from 13% to 53% (while the percentage changing from heterosexuality to homosexuality ranged only from 1% to 12%). In one survey of “same-sex attracted respondents,” up to 38% of men and 53% of women “changed to heterosexuality” in only a six-year period.

Confirmation of this has come from a surprising source. Scholar Lisa Diamond (who herself identifies as a lesbian) has long studied and written about the “sexual fluidity” of women. In a 2016 article with her colleague Clifford Rosky, she declared, “Given the consistency of these findings, it is not scientifically accurate to describe same-sex sexual orientation as a uniformly immutable trait.”[Source: Peter Sprigg, Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at the Family Research Council] Continue reading “Evidence Shows Sexual Orientation can Change: Debunking the Myth of “Immutability””

Facing Up to the End of Science – Science & Christianity: Part 4/6

A Review of John Horgan, The End Of Science: Facing the Limits of Knowledge in the Twilight of the Scientific Age (Basic Books, 1996, 2015)

My grandfather preached the good news of the Bible
My father preached the good news of Socialism
I preach the good news of Science

The above slogan once seemed eminently reasonable since science has delivered unparalleled knowledge and technology to create modern civilisation. However, in recent years there has been increasing suspicion that science may be serving its profound knowledge in a poisoned chalice. Science creates more problems than it solves – problems all too familiar in the form of environmental disasters and weapons of mass destruction.

Perhaps many scientists remain blissfully unaware, if not indifferent, to this deep unease. After all, the prevailing image of the scientist is someone dressed in white clinical apparel working quietly in sanitised labs, oblivious to the hassles and tensions of life outside. But, we wonder, how can the dull routines of the lab, such as cleaning test tubes and animal cages, sustain the motivation for scientific research in the face of increasing doubts and criticisms? John Horgan, a senior writer for Scientific American and author of the book The End of Science, exploits his literary expertise effectively to offer vivid introductions and personal insights into the aspirations, audacity and hubris of some of the major icons of the scientific pantheon: Richard Dawkins, Francis Crick, Murray Gell-Mann, Stephen J. Gould, Roger Penrose and Ilaya Prigogine. Continue reading “Facing Up to the End of Science – Science & Christianity: Part 4/6”

The Scope and Limits of Science: A Response to Scientism – Science & Christianity: Part 3/6

Science as Sacred Cow
Science is an amazingly successful discipline, but in recent times it has been distorted into ‘scientism’ which asserts that science is the ultimate discipline that is capable of describing all reality. Science has become the measure of all truth and the only reliable path to true knowledge about reality and the nature of things. For scientism, any truth claim must be analyzed and tested according to the ‘scientific method’ before it can be accepted. Conversely, anything that cannot be explained by science is not worth pursuing. In short, science has been elevated as a sacred cow for modern society.

However, scientism is subject to several criticisms. First, the claim of scientism is just a claim. It is a self-refuting claim as it is in principle not open to scientific verification. Second, scientism simply ignores the unresolved “hard problems” of knowledge such as the nature of consciousness, the origin of the universe and the fundamental laws of nature, the origin of life and the nature of consciousness which suggest there are limits to scientific explanation. Presumably, all reality does not include problems that seem intractable to scientific explanation. Continue reading “The Scope and Limits of Science: A Response to Scientism – Science & Christianity: Part 3/6”

Kairos Forum on Genesis, Adam and Evolution: Recordings

Kairos Forum on Genesis, Adam and Evolution
Date of Forum: 20th Oct 2018

Are the Genesis creation days 24 hours long or ages of time? How do we read the Book of Genesis in its literary context? Was Adam a historical figure? How do Christians who are committed to the historical reliability and infallible authority of Scripture answer these questions in the light of contemporary science?

Session 1/3
Dr Living Lee “A Theistic Approach to Geology, Evolution and Fossil Evidence”

Dr. Living Lee, formerly professor of geology offers a robust understanding of the earth as an ancient creation based on his expert knowledge of the latest developments in the science of geology. Continue reading “Kairos Forum on Genesis, Adam and Evolution: Recordings”

Pigs and Prayers & Epistle of Barnabas

Believers who insist on observing the dietary laws given by Moses in the Book of Leviticus recoil at the idea of eating pork since they regard the pig to be ritually unclean. Abstinence from pork becomes a paramount symbol of religious commitment as their strong and instinctive sense of revulsion is accepted as the “feeling of rightness” that confirms a trustworthy “doctrine felt as fact.” Their friends may be bewildered as they wonder whether such an ancient scruple could serve as a benchmark of spirituality in modern society. However, it is advisable for these friends to approach this matter gingerly as their casual remarks could become a cause of offence.

But what if the set of scruples is based on a misunderstanding of Moses? This was the contention of the anonymous writer of the Epistle of Barnabas (70-135 AD). Continue reading “Pigs and Prayers & Epistle of Barnabas”