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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Supernaturally Biased

The two-day event featuring “progressive Christian” Marcus Borg at Brenau University at the end of this week is entitled “Religion in the 21st Century.” Bill Coates, senior pastor of First Baptist Church Gainesville (one of the event sponsors), says that Borg “speaks of an emerging paradigm to see faith and practice faith in an age of science and technology.”

Of course, the implication here is that in our “modern” age of science and technology, we need a new approach to understand our faith. We need a new way to understand Christianity without having to believe in things like virgin births, water turning to wine, the instant healing of the blind and leprous, the raising of the dead, and so on. Because, of course, science tells us that these things are not possible.

In other words, if it can’t be explained in the natural, then it must not be true. Sadly this is the view of many (so-called) Christians. This is certainly true of the “Jesus Seminar” of which Dr. Borg has been affiliated for decades. As I noted in my last post, the Jesus Seminar is a group of self-described scholars who attempt to discover the “historical Jesus.” According to apologist Greg Koukl, “they have rejected as myth the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, the virgin birth, all Gospel miracles, and a full 82% of the teachings normally attributed to Jesus--all dismissed as legendary accretions with no historical foundation.”

As J.P. Moreland put it in 1995, the Jesus Seminar operates from an “unfalsifiable presupposition” that is rooted in naturalism. Thus, he notes, any event in the Bible that is deemed supernatural is automatically dismissed as unhistorical.

Though the Brenau event implies that we are experiencing something new in terms of science and religion (or, more precisely, Christianity), a bias against the supernatural is almost as old as the devil himself. Writing on “Religion and Science” in 1945, C.S. Lewis demonstrates the absurdity of attempting to disprove the supernatural through mere natural means.

“Science studies nature,” notes Lewis. “And the question is whether anything besides Nature exists—anything ‘outside.’ How could you find that out by studying simply Nature?” Of course the answer is, you can’t. “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”

Certainly ours is not a blind and ignorant faith. Though we can’t prove or disprove the supernatural through natural means, this does not mean that there is no evidence for what we believe. As the Apostle Paul noted as he stood before King Agrippa, “What I am saying is true and reasonable.” For the things upon which our faith rests were not “done in a corner.” We know in whom we believe. The evidence is within Scripture as well as outside of it.

Noted Jewish archaeologist Nelson Glueck wrote: “It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted (his word) a biblical reference.” He asserts that the “incredibly accurate historical memory of the Bible…is fortified by archaeological fact.”

The great archaeologist William F. Albright states that “There can be no doubt that archaeology has confirmed the substantial historicity of the Old Testament tradition.” Millar Burrows of Yale, a leading authority on the Dead Sea Scrolls, observes that “Archaeology has in many cases refuted the views of modern critics. It has shown in a number of instances that these views rest on false assumptions…” He explains such unbelief: “The excessive skepticism of many liberal theologians stems not from a careful evaluation of the available data, but from an enormous predisposition against the supernatural.”

Copyright 2013, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World

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