Bruce Waltke and the Reformed Theological Seminary

April 12th, 2010 Matt Jones No comments

[Update]Check out Bruce Waltke: Myth, Evolution and Genesis 1-3, an new note from Dr. Waltke. [/Update]

Bruce Waltke, professor emeritus from Regent College, has resigned from the Reformed Theological Seminary because of making statements about “why the church must accept evolution” (even if he would rather have said “should” as opposed to “must”). There have been a number of blog posts and comments in response to this news. Many of them, which I will link to below, have said things much better than I so I will keep my comments short. Both parties have been very amicable in the split; you can read Waltke’s statement here and RTS’s statement here. As I said, very cordial in nature. But being mature Christians and wanting to avoid any unnecessary schisms and problems within the church doesn’t give RTS a free pass here.

If you have read my blog before, you know that I have a background in the sciences and definitely don’t buy into the Young Earth Creationist stories. I believe they have incorrectly interpreted Genesis and its creation narrative. Waltke is an expert in Old Testament Theology and Genesis is something that he has spent lots of time around. He is definitely one to understand the cultural and literary context of the creation narrative. If he can find a place for evolution in that narrative, I think we should be fine with it as well.

A few of the blog posts worth checking out:
John Stackhouse: RTS, Bruce Waltke, and Statements (and Non-Statements) of Faith:

Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS) has dismissed Dr. Bruce Waltke because he recently stated publicly two radical convictions: (1) that a Bible-believing Christian could believe in evolution; and (2) that the church needs to beware of becoming a cultural laughingstock for retaining anti-evolutionary views that cannot be supported scientifically.

Whats pathetic about this action is that those points werent even radical in the nineteenth century, when Darwin himself had a number of orthodox defenders. So RTS apparently is not quite ready to catch up with almost two centuries of theology/science dialogue.

Read the full post. There are also some good discussion happening in the comments (along with a number of asinine comments as well).

Regent College’s Cosmos by Ross Hastings: Resignation of Bruce Waltke over issues of science and faith:

Our own majority view on this Cosmos project is that Genesis 1 and 2, as interpreted in light of its literary genre and in light of its ancient near eastern context, is about theology and not chronology. As such it permits a harmonization with the best theory true science can offer for the way in which our cosmos and humans came into being. Do we insist as a faculty at Regent that all must hold to this to teach here? This would be to exalt a non-confessional issue as a ground for unity in a manner that mitigates against the apostolic appeal for unity which is based on foundational, Trinitarian essentials (Ephesians 4:4-6)

Wonderfully said! I think this is a key distinction that Creationists miss: interpretation in light of literary genre and cultural context. Creationists seem to think they don’t interpret, they just have a “plain reading” of the text. They say this without realized that they ARE making an interpretation when they make those statements.

Conrade Yap: Another Video Bites the Dust (On Dr Bruce Waltke’s Resignation from RTS):

From day one, the Internet has the potential to provide both information as well as misinformation. Given the spread and ease of information distribution electronically, it is important for us to be wise and discerning on the use of information. Right use leads to enlightened minds and grateful hearts. Abuse leads to unhealthy controversies and bitter arguments.

Thanks for providing some perspective Conrade!

Anyone want to add their $.02? Any Young Earthers want to chime in?

Some of my previous and related posts:
The God of the Bible is also the God of Science
Creation Science
Science vs. Religion

Also, some notes from Waltke and Peterson’s Regent Tradition Conference back in 2005.
Feel free to check them out!

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“A Solid Foundation” Hebrews 11:1-10, 13

April 11th, 2010 Matt Jones No comments

All Saints Church - Bill Berger

“Faith is to believe what we so not see, and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe.” -Augustine

Biggest thing we can do is to believe what Jesus said and actually live it out. Need faith in order to deal with the difficulties of life. Faith is rational, personal, foundational, and grace-full.

Faith does take thinking. Cf v.6: conviction - validate through evidence. Cf v.3: to understand. IS a thinking faith. If the seeing world is all there is, there is no way to judge what is right and wrong. We will be unsure of moral knowledge. But the world cannot be all there is, something is giving us a new sense of reality and it takes thinking to get there. Faith is more than reasoning, but it is definitely not less.

Most think of faith as a lack of questioning. But the look at the heroes of faith shows something different. Moves past the rational pursuit to become real and personal. Being called personally. This is where tension arises: we can give intellectual, but where the important interaction is is when we make it our own, when we seek.

The move from a rational beleif to a personal encounter with God. You are now seeing things as you have never seen them before. Why? Because there is much more to this world than we can see.

Has your faith moved from the rational to the personal?

Abraham: Why? God: I’ll tell you later. This world has no foundation, nothing we can stand on. Things break down. We need another foundation that will not fail us because everything here will. We will lose the things of this world we build as foundations (we often even value safety over Jesus). That is building our lives on sand. The foundation is who is Jesus and what does it mean to follow him?

The Gospel should be keeping us from being superior (we are broken and cannot fix ourselvs) nor inferior. Fortunately, the Gospel is also Grece-full. Cf John 8: Abraham would have rejoiced to see my (Christ’s) day. Christ says if I don’t live up to my word, I will pay the price; also, if you don’t live up to your word, I will still pay the price. He is not calling us to do anything he hasn’t already done. When we obey, our lives will be turned around.

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Easter @ All Saints: Hebrews 11:32-40

April 4th, 2010 Matt Jones No comments

This is my first attempt at posting my notes during an All Saints gathering as a blog… bear with me!

April 4th, 2010: Easter Gathering: “What Could Be Better” Hebrews 11:32-40 - Bill Berger

How do we get relief from life’s brutalities?
If you have “this”, you can handle anything life throws at you.

Faith to hold on to: What is it? What is it about? “Heroes” of the faith? Two divisions: v32-35: weakness turned to strength. Climax in v35 - raised back to life. If we end here, we will be lacking because it doesn’t always end happy. If our faith is based on the happy ending, we are doomed. Life has its brutality, even if we “pray hard enough” it cannot be overcome. It is unstable faith. But it doesn’t end in v35. v36: others suffer. Even with their faith and obedience, they suffered, they lost. We want “divine room service” - the happy ending.

How did they keep going? Looking toward a better life. Actually looking toward a better resurrection. Belief that death will be reversed some day, a completeness, Shalom. Having a hope filled with assurances. We can face anything with the faith and hope of the coming resurrection. Not just faith that this life will have happy endings or faith the still produces loss, but a faith that look forward to the resurrection.

We are to rest in God whether living or dying, comforatable or in pain. We have the hope and can handle anything.

v39-40: what gave them the faith? Even if not given what was promised in faith: God provided something better! We are made perfect in Christ’s resurrection! They were great because they were not afraid of death, they had assurance through hope in God.

How can we be so sure? How can we be sure? Certain? We find it impossible to be happy because we don’t know what death will bring. How can we be so sure? The answer: Christianity gives something besides stories; the person, the man, God in the flesh who died and rose again for us.

There is no possible explanition for the Early Church inless the resurrection was true. The evidence supports the claims. The people that witnessed the risen Jesus knew it was reality, would die for their beliefs. They had the assurances.

If we are sure Christ rose, we can say “Jesus lives and so can I.”

Jesus showed up with his wounds still intact. God knows us and knows what our rational minds need. The reality of the nails through Jesus wrecked his followers’ agenda for him. To believe in Jesus will lead to eternity.

What ultimately will defeat evil is that faith that has assurances in Jesus and his resurrection. We can hope for a future that is sure.

Shalom and happy Easter!
He is risen!

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The Gospel: Good Friday leads to Easter

April 4th, 2010 Matt Jones 2 comments

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I love theology; discussing Theos and any and all ideas relating to Him. But it annoys me when many Christians feel we need to go “deeper”. Yes, I am a proponent of deep theological studies. But I think most of the time we need to focus on what is quintessential to our lives: The Gospel. Really, why would we ever need to go deeper than that? We are broken, we cannot make up for our shortcomings, God in his infinite mercy and grace sends his only Son to atone for us, to be the innocent slain lamb. We are truly justified by grace. His resurrection was the final blow; God reigns. That is deep. The Gospel. Simple yet crucial and beautiful.

On Friday, we saw the beautiful tragedy. There, Jesus’ work was finished and the effects of that work are still being felt. We live in the post-Easter world. Jesus returned and holds the priesthood forever. He is calling us to be a part of his Kingdom, his family. That is an offer that no other religion can offer; I think it is worth checking out.

Previous posts:
The Resurrection including Updike’s Seven Stanzas at Easter:

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.

The Passion of Jesus Christ
The Seven Words of Jesus on the Cross - from the Good Friday gathering at All Saints.
The Reality of Easter
??????????: Some thoughts on John 19:30

Happy Easter! He is Risen!

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The Seven Words of Jesus on the Cross

April 2nd, 2010 Matt Jones No comments

Easter at All Saints

Tonight’s Good Friday gathering at All Saints was a perfect reminder of what we have been waiting for during the Lenten season. It was contemplative and thoughtful. Bill, along with a number musicians and artists, brought us through Jesus’ final words on the cross. I wanted to share them with you for your Good Friday’s edification.

John 19.26-27: When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, Woman, behold, your son! Then he said to the disciple, Behold, your mother! And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

Luke 23.34: And Jesus said, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. And they cast lots to divide his garments.

Luke 23.43: And he said to him, Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.

Matthew 27.46: >And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani? that is, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

John 19.28: After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), I thirst.

Luke 23.46: Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, Father, into your hands I commit my spirit! And having said this he breathed his last.

John 19.30: When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, It is finished, and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Thank God for the beautiful tragedy of Good Friday. I look forward to the resurrection and Easter Sunday.

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Logic and the Universe

March 28th, 2010 Matt Jones 5 comments

'Science joke. You should probably just move along.'


Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic.

-from “The Sayings of Muad’Dib” by the Princess Irulan

This quote from Dune by Frank Herbert has always stuck with me. I think it resonates with truth; both the science lover and person of faith can connect to this statement, or at least should be able to. I am a very rational person, always looking for the logical argument, the reasoning behind everything. While things can often be explained away, it is undeniable that we can only explain away so much. Why do we love? Why am I so amazed by what is to be found in the universe? Why are relationships so important? Why is humor so great? Explain those things away until they have no meaning; why bother?

The reality is that God has made the universe rational so we can figure things out and learn more about this world, but what lies behind that construct is the illogic of our loving God. Evidence of that irrationality is all around us: Jesus came and died for us, God loves us even though we consistently turn our backs on him, a painting evokes an emotional response, music brightens your day, laughing for hours on end with close friends. Why would I want to explain those things away when they are beautiful in their own right.

Yes, the world is logical and I do have the need to study that logic and discover how things work and fit together. But I also embrace the reality that God is not constrained by logical frameworks. I should be happy about that. If the universe were purely logical, my failures as a person would have me doomed. Thank God for the illogic of grace: broken and redeemed.

Maybe this doesn’t make any sense: it is late… and I don’t have to be logical. ;)

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