Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Book Review: The Battle for the Bible

Genre:  Religion & Spirituality
Author: Harold Lindsell
Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars

In reviews of several books now I have repeatedly said that the veracity of Christianity rises and falls not on evolution but on weather Adam was a historical figure and whether it could honestly be said that he, Adam, was created by God and whether it could be said in any context that he was the first man. I will even concede that 'first man' does not have to mean first hominid but simply the first man to have consciousness.

If Adam did not exist and if he was not the first man than not only is the Bible a lie at worst and a fable at best but it also eliminates the claim by Christ and his deciles that he was God because Jesus spoke of the historical Adam. Without Adam there is no truth and no historicity to the Bible and I cannot stress that enough. This is the issue that those who claim to be Christian's must face up to and it demands rigorous intellectual honesty. If one takes the position that Adam is supposed to be taken as an allegory than Christ himself is a liar.

Higher criticism and the liberal theological movement in the United States at the turn of the last century did not, apparently, think their liberal conclusion through to it's logical end. The modified Bible they argued for left no room to find any truth and left a weakened and broken Christ.

Harold Lindsell, former vice-president of Fuller Theological Seminary, rightly understood the battle has it had been fought and correctly understood that error anywhere within the Bible made the entire Bible unreliable as a document of history and faith. In The Battle for the Bible Lindsell drew a line in the sand against liberal theology and scholarship and argued for the complete infallibility and inerrency of the Bible. This book, as the title page states, rocked the evangelical world when it appeared in print in 1976 and may have had a major impact on the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrency written two years later by 200 of the world's leading conservative theological scholars.

This book makes fascinating reading with its history of the liberal movement and the conservative response. I note that this book was reissued and reprinted within the last year indicating the importance of this issue to conservative Christianity.

Conservatives have rightly defined the battle Christianity faces but I think that evolution has cost them the war. The first man, Adam, cannot be spiritualized away. He is essential to Christian theology and evolution has destroyed the historicity of Adam in all but a remnant.

(Originally posted to Multiply January 15, 2009)

"Owing to the Extreme Laziness of the Negro in the Cotton-fields of the Southern United States"

The Maine I grew up in was as white as the snow that blanketed the state in the winter months. If there was a colored person within two hundred miles I never saw them although my father tells me there were indeed negros in our town in the summer time - the servants, butlers, chauffeurs, and cooks, of the rich people who spent the summer in their palatial summer 'cottages.' I simply never saw them, I suppose.

The only people of another race I knew as a kid were Tommy and his mom and dad. Tommy and his family were Passamaquoddy Indians but as Indians they were an extreme disappointment to me. They looked and acted just like everyone else and nothing like the Indians on television and at the movies.

Race was never mentioned when I was a kid and the only thing I ever heard that came close to racism was the phrase someone would spout from time to time about being free, white, and twenty-one and I missed the significance of that until I was much older.

I was probably five or six before I saw my first black person and while that was a memorial experience it is more remembered for the circumstances surrounding it then the shock of seeing someone whose skin was a different color.

My mother and I were travelling by train from Portland, Maine to Pittsburgh and had to change trains in New York City. That was over fifty years ago but some of the memories of that day are still sharp in my mind. This was my first time in a city and my prevailing memory is of the smell of New York as opposed to the crisp, cool, summer breeze of Maine. I also have sharp memories of how everything was gray: gray roads, gray sidewalks, gray buildings, and gray dirt blowing in the wind. Even the sky and air was gray. It was a stark contrast to the deep blue skies, brilliant white clouds, green trees and grass, and frothy blue ocean waves of Maine. My head was on a pivot trying to take in what seemed to me to be very bleak and stark.

Then came the second shock as a colored porter came to take our baggage from one train to another. I am sure my chin must have dropped to my chest in astonishment.

"Be quiet."
"But, Mom ..."
"I said be quiet, Kenneth."
"Yea, but Mom, he ..."
"Kenneth Merrill I told you to be quiet. We will talk later."

I had missed the warning sign of being called "Kenneth" but I was wise enough even at that tender age to know that when my mother dropped into the southern vernacular of using my complete first and middle name I had better do what she said or I would get my arm yanked out of it's socket.

Red in the face and biting her lip by mother pulled me along behind the black porter carrying our luggage. It wasn't until we were on the train and another black porter had shown us where we would be sleeping and then showed us to our seats, and a black conductor had taken our tickets, and we had eaten in the dining car where a black waiter took our order and served our food that quietly and under the covering noise of train wheels clattering on the tracks that my mother explained that some people had skin that was a different color and that didn't make them any different than we were and I had never seen them before because they didn't live in Maine where we lived. And if I ever stared like that again she would beat me into a pile of greasy snot!

Well, of course by then the novelty had worn off anyway. There were black people everywhere on that train doing whatever job was theirs to do and the only real astonishment left was that there was anyone, black, white, or purple, who waited on people as poor as we were. I had never seen such luxury.

My grandfather, my mother's father, was Jewish and when I became a teen my grandfather made sure I understood his history and his culture and I was taught about and came to understand anti-semitism and in my adult life have spent years as part of a group that combats, exposes, and confronts racial hatred on the Internet.

I truly do not think I have any racist inclinations in me. Yes, I know a few racist jokes and have told a few in my life but only to people who I know are not themselves racists and who see the humor for what it is and would laugh just as heartedly at jokes that were at a white person's expense. (Most of my best jokes are Jewish and were told to me by my grandfather.) Xenophobia? Sure. I am positive there is Xenophobia within me. I wouldn't be real comfortable walking down certain streets in some of our major cities but no racism.

The small community I live in is a melting pot of cultures and races. There are, obviously, us white folk but also large populations of First Nations (Native Americans), Indians (as in from India), Latinos, Asians (Filipinos, Japanese, Koreans, Chinese, Thais) but, oddly, except for Winston, the millwright from Trinidad who I worked with until he won the lottery and immediately retired, and a hand full of Nigerian refugees who were strangely settled here to freeze their asses off by the Canadian government,  and one other family of blacks. I guess black people don't like British Columbia any more than they liked Maine.

I confess that even though I have worked for anti-racism campaigns all my life that being 'free, white, and twenty-one' has shielded me from any racism directed at myself (except for being called race traitor for defending Blacks and Jews against discrimination). The truth is that all the education in the world, all the experience in combating and confronting racism, will not allow me to ever understand what it is to be on the receiving end of racism. I don't understand people who are bigots and I do not understand what it is to be on the receiving end of racism. I cannot and will not ever understand the black experience and it would be foolish to think I ever will.

In the community I live in I just do not ever see racism at all. Years ago there was some as the first waves of Indian immigrants settled into the community but as they worked and bought houses and raised children that all went away. Racism here is as scarce as black people in Maine.

So, it shocks me when I see or hear overt racism. My wind wobbles as I try to get my head around what I am seeing or hearing.

In the photos I posted today was a picture of one of the old magazines that Ace has collected, a copy of the British magazine Chamber's Journal, Part 4, dated April 1, 1911, a little less than one hundred years ago.

On page 269 there is a story titled "Cotton-Picking By Machinery."

It reads:

"Owing to the extreme laziness of the negro in the cotton-fields of the Southern United States, inventive effort has been centered for many years on the perfection of a method of picking cotton by mechanical agency.. It has been a puzzling search, since the conditions to be fulfilled are exceedingly difficult. The inventor of the book-typewriter, however, has apparently achieved some success, and from the present trend of development it would appear that the doom of the coloured cotton-picker is sealed,"

The article goes on to say:

" machine drawn by two mules and driven by one man accomplishing as much in a single day as has hitherto been done by forty niggers."

My chin has dropped as surely as it did when I was five or six. Of course I know what such sentiments were prevalent in those days but to actually hear or see it expressed? Well, frankly, I am shocked. Now I know there will be money who might read this who will be shocked that I shocked, who will be shocked at my naivety but ... I can't help it. If I live to be a hundred I will never understand racism, I will never understand hate. I don't get it. I simply do not get it, I do not understand it when it is directed against Blacks or Jews or Asians or against nationalities, Pakistanis, Israelis, Chinese. I just don't get it. 'Some' people doing something I don't think is right doesn't taint everyone in that division.

(Originally posted to Multipy January 12, 2009)

Book Review: Right Thinking

Genre:  Religion & Spirituality
Author: Earl D. Radmacher
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

It has been my extraordinary privilege to have on three occasions been able to spend an entire weekend listening to a series of lectures by Earl Radmacher. Twice he has been a guest in my home. If I sometimes seem to wax nostalgic for ther past it is because of the faith and testimony and friendship of men like Dr. Earl D. Radmacher, former President of Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon and one of the finest men I have ever met in my life.

I first heard and met Earl in 1980, I think, when he was doing a lecture series at Fairmont Hot Springs on a top of the same title as this book: Right Thinking. Earl later did that same lecture series here in my home town at my invitation.

In the early 80's (this book was written in 1977) Dr. Radmacher was concerned with the rise of intellectualism within the church and within society as a whole. It was a fear, I believe, that was warranted as evidenced by the post-modern world we live in today where truth is whatever someone wants it to be. It is exactly where we are today that Earl was warning about thirty years ago and, I believe, we have drifted further from truth and wandered farther into anti-intellectualism than he could have ever imagined.

Earl's book was written primarily to those of the Christian faith but the broad principals he also paints can be appreciated by anyone. This book is long out of print but I encourage everyone to try to obtain a copy as it is worth every single word and is a shining example of clear, careful thinking and as such is something that is sorely and profoundly missing in this age.

Dr. Radmacher, I have for years deeply appreciated your friendship and support. I no longer share your particular soteriology but you are a shining example sincerity, intelligence, and morality in an age quickly descending into chaos. You have been an inspiration. Thank you.

(Originally posted to Multiply January 12, 2009)

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Where the Deer, Antelope, Llamas, Horses, Dogs, Cats, and Chickens Roam

Sunday my Mother and Father drove out to Chris' for a tea and muffin. Tess' mother burned something on the stove, filling the house with smoke, and making it reek. While the smoke cleared and the smell went away we drove out also.

(Originally posted to Multiply January 12, 2009)

In the Meadow We Can Build A Snowman

Okay. That was false advertising. There are no meadows. There are no snowmen either. Just some scenes from along the river.

I walked over 3,000 kilometers in a 213 day straight stretch last year. I slacked off on December 14, giving in to extreme cold, laziness, and depression. Yesterday was the day to start walking again, to start getting back into the groove. I feel much better on all levels when I walk.

The weatherman fore casted 12 inches of snow for yesterday. Thankfully it didn't arrive and with any luck it won't come today either. It also warmed up from out sub-zero weather. Yesterday was a balmy 1 degree.

(Originally posted to Multiply January 11, 2009)