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Sunday, February 28, 2010

A test for orthodoxy?

Occasionally there’s a Jehovah’s Witness outside Central Station spruiking her heterodox, Arian-resurrected theology. As she’s a true believer, I’ve given up talking to this woman but the other day she was there discussing matters with a man that I’d not seen before. I just had to insert myself into the conversation.

Although not a JW, the man was clearly an Arian. I asked him if Jesus was the Creator. He replied that he wasn’t, that the Father, or as they claim, Jehovah God, is the sole creator. I then cited Colossians and John 1 where Paul and John state that through, for and by Christ everything has come into existence. The man then said that Christ was creator by virtue of the Father handing that responsibility to him. I expressed how queer that was, that someone is called a creator, the Father, yet does not create. I argued that it would be like my hiring someone to design a house but calling myself the architect. He tried to extricate himself from this impasse by claiming that no matter who the Father gives it to, he still remains the creator. Of course this is pure evasion and intellectually dishonest to boot.

Thinking about it later I could see similarities with Peter Jensen’s position. Peter, as has long been known, is an evolutionist*. Quite naturally Peter, along with all theistic evolutionists, has to play some irrational semantic games and alter the meaning of words in order to mould Scripture to fit a pagan worldview. Somehow – the details, scientifically or theologically, never exactly laid out – God is able to allow chance to create while never surrendering his office of creator. At this point I tend to think that Peter and the others are trying to turn a circle into a square but still have it called a circle. Beats me!

Anyway, the point I want to make is that Peter’s allegiance to evolution puts him outside of Christian orthodoxy, by a theological mile. If a metaphysical principle is creating the enormous amounts of novel biological information that life requires, then it isn’t our Lord doing it. New biological information is the product of thought, of teleonomic conception, not the randomisation processes being acted upon by natural selection that evolution posits as being its source (This is superbly argued in the triple-PhD Wilder-Smith’s book, God: To be or not to be?). Peter can’t have his square and circle be the one object: Either Christ, acting through will and thought, brings forth biological information, and thus life, or it’s chance randomisation of matter, the metaphysical principle of materialism. The two are incompatible and irreconcilable.

* Lest it be said that we are misrepresenting Peter’s views, the following is a quote from Doctrine 1 while he was principal at Moore College: “There is a division of opinion about how God created the world [Actually, there isn’t, Peter. The difference lies between those that truly believe the Bible is God’s unchanging revelation to mankind and those, like yourself, that believe it can change as science, so-called, “proves” God has less and less to do with. Just ask Jack Spong.]. From the standpoint of these notes the ‘theistic evolution’ account offers the best understanding….By ‘theistic evolution’ we mean that God created the world through the process of evolution [there’s that square-circle again folks!].” Doctrine 1, Unit 7, p. 105.


sam drucker said...

And so, John, what do you say in reply if Archbishop Jensen says (and I expect he would) "Well, no, it is not the process that is creating but the Godhead using the process."?

Sam Drucker

John said...

Yes, Sam, I would expect the Archbishop, if he would deign, to say that. Of course, if he did, I'd have to ask him to flesh it out a bit and tell me exactly how anyone, let alone God, can use chance to create by.

The only person who has somewhat honestly faced the quetion was Polkinghorne who said, in true neo-platonic manner, that all things in plentitude are produced, including evolutionary deadends. He means that, in actual fact, God has no control over what is produced but that just everything that could be, is.

Now Jensen, I believe, doesn't intend that. He merely believes, without even thinking about what it entails (or not!), that God can work on chance to produce life. I can't even begin to get my head around that because it is absolute semantic nonsense. Chance is chance and thus is no thing. It has no ontology and can't do a thing. God can make nothing become something but not be chance. It is by his intellect but chance involves no intellect.

Theistic evolutionists espouse no meaning. It is up to them to explain what they mean by their nonsense.

John said...

Again, Sam, Jensen and his clan completely misunderstand the philosophy of evolution, as well as making the unforgivable error of believing that evolution actually occurs and has been observed to occur.

With regard to the former, evolution was constructed IN ORDER to remove God from consideration of origins', not in order tgo include him. It was never brought to the table to demonstrate that is how God created. Christians just stupidly and cowardly went along with the pagan idea believing it a realit. In other words, they capitulated to the heathen.

Theistic Evolution is a form of deism - God steps back and, as you say, allows a process to create. Evolution serves as a metaphysical principle and has all the attributes of God as it works in his place. In the evolutionary scheme of things, if evolution is to have any rational meaning, it itself must create out of nothing the bucketloads of new biological information. Under orthodox Christian belief it is the Lord who creates, as new biological information arises from thoughful processes of mind, not a principle in which chance per definizioni rules out thoughtful action. (And vice versa: thoughtful action eliminates chance, which is just how the scientific project and the scientist work!)

The other stupid error by which these heretics delude themselves and, worse still, others, is that evolution has occurred. Knuckleheads. There are enough books and articles that show this is fantasy and pure pagan madness.

One needs to ask why have they kept their mina in a handkerchief and why do they put God's light under a basket?

sam drucker said...

This subject needs to be opened up.

The episcopal head of the largest evangelical episcopalian diocese in the world has made a statement in the Moore Theological College Doctrine 1 paper for PTC which will influence the reading of Scripture for thousands of Episcopalians - because PTC notes are going out worldwide now.

If any reader of these comments can point me to anything in which Archbishop explains his Theistic Evolution position as it relates to the nature and activity of God as revealed in Old and New Testament history then please let me know because it will help to avoid mistating Archbishop Jensen's thinking.

Until then we are left to try and get into the mind of Archbishop Jensen, pick our way through, avoid causing him brain damage, and produce his theological and philosophical position which makes some sense. Here we go!

John, I note your comments thus far but perhaps they jumps too far ahead. From here on consider your self speaking to Archbishop Jensen as I try to logically justify his position.

Scripture tells us God created all things and Science tells us Evolution through Natural Selection is the means life arose on earth and produced life forms extant on earth.

I accept both propositions and since Evolution is ongoing I believe God is continuing his creative work today.

I am not a Deist so I reject the idea of God setting a process (Evolution) in motion then stepping back and letting it run its own course.

I believe God is intimitely involved in his creation and is involved in the evolutionary process.

Sam Drucker for
Peter Jensen

John said...

Well, Peter, how does God intimately involve himself in a process which by definition does not involve being involved?

You just can't say anything and expect it to mean something. Have you not heard of a concept called intellectual responsibility?

sam drucker said...

But John, God is involved. He is the one who directs the change.

All the way from assemblage of amino acids to proteins to cells to living things God has been and still is directing change.

God is all powerful

Sam Drucker for
Peter Jensen

John said...

So, Peter,

1. God is also directly directing all those mutations that cause such pain and suffering in babies?

2. The Bible lies because Genesis says that God rested from his work and that it was all very good on Day 7 yet you say God is still ACTIVELY creating and thus his creating work is unfinished? Who to believe, you, Peter, or God's infallible word?

3. Our senses lie because we don't see amphibians becoming reptiles (or whatever) yet you say they do?

4. So evolution is not undirected chance but directed design? Makes a lot of sense, semantically speaking that is.

sam drucker said...

John, I have given further thought to your questions. I apologies for the delay but I have not before had to go into detail to explain my position in accepting the theory of Evolution and how it relates to Scripture. In reply I advise:

1. I am sure we both agree man is the peak of God's creative activity on earth. With this established, I am comfortable with the idea of God using Evolution by Natural Selection from lower life forms to animals until deciding to create man from some form of ape creature. This included implanting in that man the image of God. On the basis of scientific research I conclude God has continued to use Evolution through Natural Selection in the natural world and this is ongoing until God brings it all to an end. However, whether there is change within mankind through Evolution I am uncertain but, if it is, I doubt that it is any significant change. We ought not conclude that suffering was not part of God's creative process through Evolution in the animal kingdom. Upon the creation of man there was to be something better in store for man and his offspring - no suffering. However, this ideal was destoyed by the rebellion of man against God. This rebellion (sin) brought into the world the suffering of babies etc which you speak of.

2. You will note from Genesis 2:2-3 that the 'seventh day' is not identified with the same boundaries of evening and morning such as with the other six 'days' of the creation 'week'. This prompts me to look at all the other 'days' from a different perspective. Something not clearly defined is going on here. Further, Hebrews 4 raises questions as to what that rest on the 'seventh day' actually means. Finally, it is reasonable to read the "very good" as being very good for God's purposes. In this, my acceptance of Evolution would fit comfortably with God having chosen to create through evolutionary process i.e. a means very good for God's purposes.

3. You forget Evolution occurs slowly over a long period of time and our brief time on earth gives insufficient time to observe significant change in species.

4. This is where the Atheists have it all wrong. Change is directed by God according to his purposes. Chance is the wrong terminology because there is an intelligent mind behind it all and it is the mind of God. Though, at times, we don't understand the workings of God we rest knowing it is all one of the glorious mysteries of God who is unsearchable.

I hope that helps clarify my position.

Sam Drucker for
Peter Jensen

John said...

1. OK then, extreme pain in animals caused by mutations that weren't exactly on the money, were part of God's original plan? After all, evolution isn't all smooth sailing i.e. no pain no [genetic] gain, so to speak.

2. Gen 2:2 plainly states that on the 7th day God rested from all the work he HAD done. Sound fairly like our equivalent of a pluperfect i.e. finished action before some past time i.e. the 7th day.
Furthermore, in Ex 31 God speaks directly to Moses and states "for IN six days the Lord made the heavens and earth." Now, if you, Archbishop, want to twist that to mean that God kept on creating after the 6 days, then may God have mercy on you for your deception and leading people from the true one God.

3. Even though we can't see it because it's too slow, even though no person, including scientists, has ever seen it, even though the Bible doesn't mention it but does state clearly that its opposite occurred, you stil believe it occurred. What a knucklehead.

4. So God's creating work is on-going and He never rested. Why does the Bible say he rested after the 6 days of creation?

Paul says we can know that God craeted by looking at the creation. If evolution is true, then all those mutations i.e. mistakes, are evidence of God's intelligent creative activity. Please explain.

sam drucker said...

Look, you hillbillies ... um, er, ... let me start again.

I appreciate very much the enthusiasm our friends the Young Earth Creationists have for Scripture. That I and others within the Church find a different interpretation of Genesis having regard to the observations of science place us on different planes of understanding.

It does us no good at all to be in constant conflict over our different interpretations of a passage of Scripture which has no bearing on the Christian's chief aim i.e. to share the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ with the lost.

I detect you are becoming a trifle emotional in our conversation and, as I encourage Clergy to avoid confrontation on this issue, I am saying to you that we best let the matter rest here.

I have enjoyed sharing with you my understanding and trust it helps you see things as I see them.

Yours sincerely,
Sam Drucker for
Peter Jensen

Duane said...

I'm giving this article some exposure on my site John. Hope you don't mind.

John said...

Not at all Duane.

Lloyd Geldard said...

Can you supply a fuller reference for the esposement of theistic evolution in Moore Collge Doctrine notes. Year printed ? edition ? reprinted ? stipulated author ? Who taught that unit ? Over what years to your knowledge have said notes been used ?

Reason for request is current relevance and the importance for posterity of a historical chronology of the ascendancy of such teachings at Moore Collge and throughout Sydney Anglicanism. You may be interested to hear thatPeter Jensen gave a sermon at the St Matthias Sunday evening church back in 1983/84 wherein he explicitly stated that he was a theistic evolutionist.