Welcome 2021! | Jesus’ Creed
Fall 2020 has been a difficult semester. Last winter, before COVID-19 became a household word, I agreed to double-teach in the fall to fill a need in our department. (In exchange I have a light load this winter term.) Teaching in an unstable environment with evolving expectations and constraints, with a new course and another requiring a significant adaptation to the spatial separation in the discussions, than this either online or in person… in other words, the workload has been considerably more than doubled. Writing regularly and even thinking about science and the Christian faith have taken a back seat. It’s time to pick up the pace.
I recently received a copy of a new book by Denis Lamoureux »The Bible and ancient science”. Much of the content in this book will be familiar to those who have read Denis’s many other books, especially his great book “Scalable creation”.
Like many Christians, Denis found the questions raised by the intersection (or conflict) of science and our faith troubling. Unlike many, however, he took the time to explore the issues in depth. When he felt called to engage in the battle between science (especially evolution) and the Christian faith, he began by pursuing a doctorate in theology. This challenged many of his preconceptions of how to read scriptures as the word of God. A second doctorate in biology, focusing on the evolution of the jaw, convinced him that the theory of evolution is based on strong empirical evidence. This training led him to a career as a science and religion teacher at St. Joseph’s College, University of Alberta (see his website here). This latest book focuses on a series of hermeneutical principles to help guide Christians toward a deeper understanding of the scriptures. Drawing on his long experience in teaching the subject to students, he has developed a useful guide for lay Christians. In a series of articles, we’ll reflect on many of these principles.
The first important point – before getting into the principles of interpretation – is that the Bible is the word of God. Far from dismissing or undermining the divine nature of Scripture, Denis begins by emphasizing it.
The Bible is a precious gift from God. It reveals who our Creator is and who we are. The scriptures establish the fundamental beliefs of the Christian faith. The Word of God affirms the creation of the universe and living organisms, the sin of all men and women, the offer to restore our relationship with the Lord through the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross, and the hope of eternal life. The Bible is an everlasting source of spiritual living water for our thirsty souls. (p.11)
Even those who disagree with some of Denis’s conclusions will find it difficult to deny his appreciation of Scripture and its importance to Christians. The goal is not to undermine Scripture, but to learn how to interpret it correctly. The central question of relevance in the discussion of science (evolution) and the Christian faith is the nature of the Bible: is the Bible a book of science? More specifically, does he teach science? Of course, the purpose of the Bible is not to teach science. Ideas that we now think of as “scientific” tend to be incidental to the primary purposes of Scripture, but do they intentionally reveal information about the world of God? If so, how and what?
Denis maintains that the Bible is not a book of science. Quote from his website “Instead, it is inspired revelation from God that offers infallible and life-changing messages of faith. Sacred Scripture does refer to the natural world, but it presents an ancient understanding of nature.Viewing the Bible as a book of science misinterprets the message, sometimes meaninglessly and sometimes quite badly.
In the next article on this book, we will begin to examine some of the principles of interpretation that will help make sense of the relationship between modern science and the scriptures.
If you want to contact me directly, you can do so at rjs4mail[at]att.net
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