Social Media Q&A: Episode 1

1. Did Adam or Eve have belly buttons? | I suppose that depends on the avenue you take. I don’t see a Biblical problem with God creating us by means of science (like evolution) and so I would say yes, they had belly buttons. Though there is a Biblical middle ground that scientist S. Joshua Swamidass proposed in his latest book “The Genealogical Adam and Eve,” where God may have made general humanity via evolutionary means and Adam and Eve via supernatural means. Under his proposal, I suppose you could say Adam and Eve didn’t have belly buttons.

2. Was Paul married? | Paul himself claimed to be single and saw that as a good thing for himself, so I suppose the question would then be, “Was he married before this?” Paul agreed that Jesus said divorce was almost always inappropriate, so in attempts to follow Jesus, it wouldn’t have made much sense for Paul to get a divorce since he told everyone else not to. This still leaves the possibility of a spouse who might have passed away, but we see no mention of that in Paul’s letters. If we want to believe that he was married because he was a traditional pharisee, we could possibly propose (as I think N.T. Wright maybe did) that he got saved while he was engaged and that the other family called off the engagement during the extended time Paul went on to study Christianity. But this still would just be cultural speculation.

3. What’s your argument for or against the concept of irresistible grace? | The whole Bible is one big story of how people resist God. Indeed, the name Israel means something like “strives with God,” so even our main characters are people who have a name recognizing their wrestling and disobedience. If we fast forward to Revelation we see that one of the main themes of the book is that God keeps calling people to repent and be saved and they keep saying no even unto death—they resist God’s grace until they can no longer receive it. God doesn’t overthrow our will to choose him, even when he takes great steps to win us over. He always leaves us with a choice. He wins us over by melting away for us, not by gracefully forcing us into a relationship.

4. What is the most uncommon fact you believe about scripture? | Scripture was made to be read with the Holy Spirit. Jesus proved this pretty well on the walk to Emmaus when he made sense of the entire Old Testament to his disciples in a way that they couldn’t understand before. If you don’t read the Bible with the Holy Spirit, you can read it and come away with a lot of improper things—even ammo against the Bible! But if you come to it with the Holy Spirit who inspired it, he’ll help you to read it rightly and see new things where you wouldn’t expect it.

5. Do you believe the OT is allegorical or historical, specifically the genesis account? | The answer to this varies from story to story in the Old Testament, so I can’t really give a good answer for the whole thing, so I’ll zoom in on Genesis. I think plenty of Genesis is historical, but it’s important to contextualize different parts of it. For example, the Creation story operates in a different way than much of the rest of Genesis. All ancient cultures had creation stories and Genesis is riffing off of plenty of them by what it says and doesn’t say. In some ways it’s polemic: “Oh, you all think the gods fought to create the world? The true God just speaks and things come into creation. You think the gods made different parts of creation? The true God did it all himself.” 

The creation story is brilliantly crafted to help illustrate theological points and explain what God’s order is, what his expectations are, and why we’re here. However, the creation story is not concerned with explaining science, for the writers were not from a scientific culture. And therefore, we disagree with plenty of what they have to say from a science perspective. They believed the earth was flat and that there was a snow globe ocean ceiling over the land the was held up by the mountains, while the sun and stars were spiritual beings that swam in or at least moved along that space ocean. When we say that the creation narrative is accurate on the beginning of the world, we are also saying all of these things are true.

Anyways, all parts of the Bible need to be read within their context and in their literary genre to better understand what they’re actually saying. And if we don’t do that, then history will accidentally become allegory and allegory will accidentally become history. Bible scholars can help us understand better where to draw these lines based on historical research and archeological evidence.

6. What do you believe is the biggest downfall of the 21st century American church? | The biggest downfall of the 21st century church is that we’ve listened to power instead of the prophets, essentially undoing the very basics of Christianity.

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