A Little ‘About Me’

A graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary (ThM) and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary (PhD), my interests include education, hermeneutics, and biblical studies.  I pursued my theological training because of my desire to make the message of the Bible clear to people.  Theologically, I consider myself a conservative but not a fundamentalist.  I’ve moved into the Anglican tradition, where I am warmly accepted.  I understand the post-Evangelical and postmodern perspectives, but don’t know if I’m ready to move in that direction fully.  Recently I’ve been reading works on Genesis 1-3, evangelical approaches to inerrancy, and comparative literature relevant to the Hebrew Bible.  More recently, postmodernism is my topic of choice.  Ask me a question and I’ll give it my best shot.

14 Comments

14 thoughts on “A Little ‘About Me’

  1. Lee

    Jason, I am sitting her catching up on your blogs and i just read the post about the “tension” between the either..or and the both…and views and I thought it sounded a little like the communistic synthesis and antitheis, leading me toward a new synthesis view of either…and or possibly even a both…or view! These views would/could certainly be of some value in interpreting prophesy?! For example: The church will either experience a rapture before Christ returns to judge the world and afterward. Maybe.

  2. Good eye, Lee. Marx and Engels adopted this kind of ‘thesis-antithesis’ thinking to support their idea of communism. But Georg Hegel had already crafted this way of thinking beforehand. Nowadays we call it the Hegelian Dialectic. It is a way of handling conflicting ideas that many people find helpful. Using the Dialectic doesn’t make one a communist–I’m certainly not! But I’m pleased to see that you’re attempting to use it in Biblical matters and it does have bearing on my “either…or”/”both…and” post. The trouble I have with some apologists is that they think that all Christian theses should never succumb to an antithesis. Some think it is ludicrous to even suggest that we need to re-examine some Christian ideas, but I think it is very important that we do.

  3. Jason,

    It was indeed a pleasure to meet and spend some time together on Thursday. Your blog is good. Being trained in the hard sciences I do not take the time to even respond to things like “young earth creationism” but it is good to see a response that is so reasonable.
    With respect to evolution I have long felt that the real problem is that the process is understood to be accidental. Evidence strongly suggests that the process as such is accidental and exceedingly improbable. The improbability is so great that one rather famous evolutionist of the last century used the term “miracle” or “miraculous” to describe the evolution of humans. This scientist, Ernst Mayr, does not believe in God, but he uses the term to indicate that such evolution is a sort of once in a cosmos really, really, really lucky event. That is not a very satisfying, but it is an important concession.
    There have been meaningful responses to this problem in recent years. Generally, the best responses point out how improbable the “really, really, really lucky” phenomena are and suggest that providence either helps the process or acted before the fact to make the process possible. Michael Behe offers the best sort of argument of this form. His latest book, “The Edge of Evolution” has been unfairly attacked by many scientists and it is worth reading. Behe is a Christian.
    A different approach comes from Thomas Nagel’s “Mind and Cosmos.” Nagel argues, in affect, that until we can explain the evolution of consciousness as something other than just a lucky result in an undirected process we have not really understood the cosmos or the minds that exist in it. Nagel is an atheist, but his book is excellent.

    May Christ be with you.

    Warmest Regards,

    Tim

    • Jay Richards also wrote a book a few years ago that got him in hot water too which delineates the same kinds of observations: The Privileged Planet. My view of sovereignty makes things easy to reconcile evolution with the Bible…even if I don’t know how it works. Thanks for the other references.

  4. Jason,

    I have a question. A few months ago I heard a preacher on the radio, on Sunday morning, suggest that Paul Tillich, of whom I have read but very little, had some sort of scandalous sexual history. I should say here that I was not inclined to believe the preacher as I had heard Tillich’s name many times as an undergraduate philosophy major who did many courses in Religious Studies. In any case, I looked into it and discovered that Tillich’s wife had written a “tell all” book which revealed her husband’s tendency to habitually sleep with other woman. I was really surprised and could only conclude that my former teacher had intentionally remained silent about something that would have caused me to avoid reading Tillich. My question is quite simple: at Mid-America and ThM was Tillich a topic of conversation and if so were you told of his disappointing personal behavior?

    Regards,

    Tim

  5. Note: the text above should read: “other women.”

  6. Stupid me, it should be DTS not ThM. Sorry about that.

  7. No, I don’t remember Tillich coming up at all at either institution, although if he did I believe that DTS would treat him more fairly than MABTS would. No question, both would condemn him. I read some of his stuff this year. He was sort of a celebrity to young theology students, and Hannah wrote her book to reveal that scandalous part of his life. I never read it, but apparently it was a terrible text that was poorly written. The textbooks and dictionaries just deal with his theology, probably because to dismiss him because of his lifestyle would be an unfortunate ad hominem against a man who made a big impact in the world of theology. He had some good points, but I can’t go as far as he does.

  8. Tim Kennelly

    I have not read the “Privileged Planet” but I have seen it discussed somewhere. Thanks for the suggestion, it is a work I might read at some point.

    I am not inclined to the opinion that there is something unfortunate in the avoidance of a theologian because of his morality, although I will admit there is room for abuse. But, more to the point, if one is going to read Tillich, one should know that this is whom one is reading. I would say likewise, and with greater emphasis, if one is going to read Heidegger one should understand that he is a Nazi.

    Regards,

    Tim

  9. I will add, I mean quite literally that Heidegger is a Nazi, a member of the Nazi Party in Germany when it is in power.

  10. One should consider an idea primarily based on an argument itself, not the character or behavior of the person giving it. That is why philosophers consider ad hominem a fallacy. A Nazi who argues that 2+2=4 is right even though his lifestyle may be morally bankrupt. Furthermore, that Nazi may violate the 2+2=4 principal in his private life. At home, he may say that 2+2=7 when he is at home or at the tavern, but that is a question of his character, not his public arguments.
    We’ve seen this throughout Christian history as well. I like John Calvin, but the fact that he burned someone at the stake troubles me…but his arguments were great.
    Martin Luther said some outrageous stuff: You can expel demons with a fart. Jews are worthless. etc. But his ideas were critical to the Reformation. Many celebrate him as a hero today though they certainly don’t accept his more ridiculous comments.
    I also know many people who converted to Christianity under the ministries of charlatan pastors.
    The list is enormous–Christian or not–of thinkers and leaders who’s ideas led to great change though they made rotten decisions.

  11. My point is not that one should not read Tillich but that one should know when reading him a little about him and in particular this detail because it is not what one should expect. Carefully reasoned arguments are a fine thing in theology, but the end of such discourse should be loyalty to God as revealed in Christ or a life live in such a way as to express such loyalty. I do not think it too much to hope to see such loyalty at the source, that is, in the life of the speaker. No doubt none of us is perfect, and Tillich might well have said many good things, but I would rather read Bonhoeffer or Schweitzer for what I regard as obvious reasons which are prior in importance to the arguments they might have made.

    Regards,

    Tim

  12. Tillich would say that he was loyal to the Christian message, so would Luther who was openly anti-Semitic. Which behaved worse and why? One’s perspective determines one’s idea of the Christian message. What you propose is admirable but keeps us ensconced in our own presuppositions of what we think the Christian message says. Consequently, this is a double-edged sword. The idea that good behavior validates good theology is how many good people who are theologically inept popularize bad theology.

    I prefer Bonhoeffer too, but I won’t disregard Tillich.

  13. Tim Kennelly

    Jason,

    I enjoyed this exchange. I will add one final comment which would be that I suppose many of us who do obviously sinful things suppose that we have remained loyal to Christ nonetheless.
    I like the suggestion that “[t]he idea that good behavior validates good theology is how many good people who are theologically inept popularize bad theology.” I might well be guilty of such things, being a shameless and outspoken fan of Albert Schweitzer and Moses Maimonides among others.
    I will suggest that we consider that bad behavior should at least make us take note.
    I hope you are well Jason. I am yet in Massachusetts and will likely be here more or less through October, and possibly longer.
    If you want to chat at some point, please feel free to write me. It would be a pleasure to hear from you. You are in my prayers.

    Regards,

    Tim

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