The GeoChristian

The Earth. Christianity. They go together.

Around the web 12/3/2010

A few items of interest (to me at least):

Ark Encounter — Answers in Genesis is planning a $150 million Noah’s Ark tourist attraction in northern Kentucky, complete with a full-scale Noah’s Ark. Local businesses and politicians (the governor of Kentucky was at the announcement) will love this, as it will likely bring in a large amount of cash to the area. Young-Earth creationist Todd Wood commented: “What do I think? Personally, I don’t really care. I can easily think of dozens hundreds thousands of more important projects to spend $150 million on, but it’s not my money.”

King James Bible UK commemorative coin — The United Kingdom will issue a 2-pound circulating coin in 2011 commemorating the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Version of the Bible. The text on the coin is from John 1:1 — “In the beginning was the Word.” HT: World Coin News

Another date-setter to completely ignore — In regards to his future return to Earth, Jesus said, “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only” (Matt 24:36 ESV). Harold Camping and Family Radio, however, know better than Jesus. According to wecanknow.com, “the date of the rapture of believers will take place on May 21, 2011” and “God will destroy this world on October 21, 2011.” Camping teaches that all churches are apostate and that people should leave their churches and listen to his radio stations instead. Goofy. Cultic.

Bonhoeffer at FoxNews.com — Excerpts from two chapters of Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas are available from FoxNews.com. The chapters are entitled “Nazi Theology” and “The End of Germany.”  Good reading.

EPA at 40 — The Evangelical Ecologist writes about the EPA at Middle Age – How’s Our Biggest Baby Boomer Doing?

At its worse, EPA has the potential to become the upper left hook of the socialist nanny state.

And I hope she and her successors succeed. Because when EPA’s at its best – when its rules are crafted and enforced and moderated in the open and in full dialogue with industry and our elected representatives – the Agency is an enabler for enormously positive change.

Students’ religious freedomMontana Valedictorian Wins Religious Free Speech Case

In 2008, Butte High School officials required Renee Griffith and other outstanding students to turn in their speeches for review prior to graduation. The Court assessed Griffith’s rights were violated when school administrators told Griffith she couldn’t mention God or Jesus in her valedictorian speech.

She refused to make the changes, was prohibited from giving her speech, and was in fact barred from participating at all in her graduation ceremony.

On Nov. 29, the Montana Supreme Court confirmed Griffith had the right to mention her God under both the U.S. and Montana constitutions.

Grace and Peace

December 3, 2010 Posted by | Around the Web, Environment, Young-Earth creationism | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The books that have most influenced me

Here are my “top 10” books that have had an impact on my life. Some of them have impacted millions of other people; a few may not be on the “top 10” list of anyone else on the planet.

I would put the Bible as the #1 book, but it needs to be on its own list. None of the following books would even be in the same category in terms of their influence in my life.

  • Knowing God, by J.I. Packer — This was the first major Christian book I read, back when I was twenty years old. It laid an excellent foundation for my life and doctrine. A lot Christian books are fluffy or ephemeral; this one will still be read centuries from now (if the Lord’s return is delayed that long).
  • Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis — Another 20th century author whose works will still be read a few hundred years from now. Lewis’s work helped to solidify my faith as a college student.
  • Operation World, by Patrick Johnstone (new edition is by Jason Mandryk) — This is subtitled “The Definitive Prayer Guide to Every Nation.” This book helped to establish a lifelong desire to pray and work for the day when people “from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev 5:9 NIV) would stand before the throne of Christ.
  • The Pursuit of God, by A.W. Tozer — “The man who has God for his treasure has all things in One.” I received this as a graduation present from Grace Bible Church in Bozeman, Montana.
  • The Cost of Discipleship, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer — Bonhoeffer, martyred by the Nazis, offers the most Christ-centered theology of life and discipleship I have read.
  • Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, by Ronald Sider — The title is a good description of the book. Not all would agree with Sider’s policy solutions (some would say too liberal or even socialist), but the heart of the book—an overview of poverty in today’s world and in the Bible —is solid. This book opened my eyes and heart to the deep poverty that much of the world lives in.
  • In Six Days, by Charles McGowen — I read this short presentation of young-Earth creationism when I was in tenth grade in high school, and was thoroughly convinced. Now I can see that just about everything in the book was utterly, totally, completely wrong, but it did get me started down the path that led to me majoring in geology and writing this blog.
  • Earth, by Frank Press and Raymond Siever — A university textbook on my “most influential textbooks” list? When I was a college Freshman, a friend was majoring in geology, and he had this book. I paged through it in his room, and changed my major to geology (though not right away like I should have).
  • Evolution: Nature and Scripture in Conflict? by Pattle Pun — I was still a young-Earth creationist when I started studying geology as an undergraduate. This book, from an old-Earth Christian perspective,  may have helped prevent me from having a crisis of faith when I saw that most of what I had read in YEC literature quite simply did not work as an explanation for the geological record.
  • Pollution and the Death of Man, by Francis Schaeffer — To care about the Earth is not something we should do in addition to Christian discipleship; it is part of Christian discipleship. Schaeffer is still very popular among conservative Evangelicals, but most of them, unfortunately, have not read or taken to heart this work.

I would like to add a few honorable mentions:

  • Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, by Ralph Winter (ed.) — Why do we do missions? How do we do missions? Etc.
  • Evidence that Demands a Verdict, by Josh McDowell — Some parts of it are better than others, but it certainly had a strong influence on me in my college days. Today I would recommend The Reason for God by Timothy Keller instead.
  • A Survey of Bible Doctrine, by Charles Ryrie — Not quite my theology on some points any more, but still a good introduction. Today I would recommend Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology.
  • For the Beauty of the Earth, by Stephen Prediger-Bouma — Much more comprehensive than Schaeffer’s Pollution and the Death of Man.
  • Life Together, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer — The best book on having fellowship in Christian community.
  • The Silence of Adam, by Larry Crabb — Christ-centered perspective on being a man. Realism rather than triumphalism.

Pick one and read it!

Grace and Peace


For the opposite end of the spectrum, here are a few dishonorable mentions. These are books that were highly recommended to me, and I just couldn’t force myself to complete them:

  • Revival Lectures, by Charles Finney — Sin, sin, and more sin. Repent of everything before you can come to Christ. Sin no more if you want to stay in Christ. Spiritual perfectionism. About a third of the way into the book I started to ask myself, “Once I do everything Finney wants me to do, what do I need Jesus for?” This is Christ-less Christianity. To Finney, Christ is an example, but not a sin-bearer.
  • The Bondage Breaker, by Neil Anderson — A demon behind every problem. Extraordinarily speculative. But the solution is Jesus, not finding and casting out demons.

On the same note, a life goal of mine is to never read any of the Left Behind series or The Prayer of Jabez.

October 27, 2010 Posted by | Apologetics, Christianity, Environment, Geology, Old-Earth creationism, Young-Earth creationism | , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Dietrich Bonhoeffer — Life Together

I spent the weekend at a retreat in the St. Francois “Mountains” in southeastern Missouri with the members of my church, Christ Community Church in St. Louis. Our speaker was Glandion Carney, an Anglican priest and conference speaker with Renovaré.

The theme of the retreat was All in: “All in” for discipleship and spiritual formation, “all in” for fellowship, and “all in” for missions. Glandion quoted extensively from Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German Lutheran pastor who was executed by the Gestapo shortly before the end of World War II. Being that this is one of my top-ten favorite books, I’d like to share some quotes (which I have done before):

Chapter 1 — Community

Christianity means community through Jesus Christ and in Jesus Christ. No Christian community is more or less than this.

He [the Christian] knows that God’s Word in Jesus Christ pronounces him guilty, even when he does not feel his guilt, and God’s Word in Jesus Christ pronounces him not guilty and righteous, even when he does not feel that he is righteous at all.

If somebody asks him, Where is your salvation, your righteousness? he can never point to himself. He points to the Word of God in Jesus Christ, which assures him salvation and righteousness.

…the goal of all Christian community: they meet one another as bringers of the message of salvation.

Christian brotherhood is not an ideal, but a divine reality.

Chapter 2 — The Day with Others

Christian prayer takes its stand on the solid ground of the revealed Word.

It is not in our life that God’s help and presence must still be proved, but rather God’s presence and help have been demonstrated for us in the life of Jesus Christ. It is in fact more important for us to know what God did to Israel, to His Son Jesus Christ, than to seek what God intends for us today.

Our salvation is “external to ourselves.” I find no salvation in my life history, but only in the history of Jesus Christ.

It is not our heart that determines our course, but God’s Word.

Prayer should not be hindered by work, but neither should work be hindered by prayer.

Chapter 3 — The Day Alone

But silence before the Word leads to right hearing and thus also to right speaking of the Word of God at the right time.

The most promising method of prayer is to allow oneself to be guided by the word of the Scriptures.

A Christian fellowship lives and exists by the intercession of its members for one another, or it collapses.

Chapter 4 — Ministry

Only he who lives by the forgiveness of his sin in Jesus Christ will rightly think little of himself…. Because the Christian can no longer fancy that he is wise he will also have no high opinion of his own schemes and plans.

The beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them.

We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God. God will be constantly crossing our paths and canceling our plans by sending us people with claims and petitions. We may pass them by, preoccupied with our more important tasks, as the priest passed by the man who had fallen among thieves, perhaps–reading the Bible.

Chapter 5 — Confession and Communion

He who is alone with his sin is utterly alone…. The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everybody must conceal his sin from himself and from the fellowship…. The fact is that we are sinners!

The misery of the sinner and the mercy of God–this was the truth of the Gospel in Jesus Christ.

We must ask ourselves whether we have not often been deceiving ourselves with our confession of sin to God…. And is not the reason perhaps for our countless relapses and the feebleness of our Christian obedience to be found precisely in the fact that we are living on self-forgiveness and not a real forgiveness?

Grace and Peace

P.S. I have some reservations about the Renovaré/Richard Foster/Dallas Willard approach to the Christian life, as it is a bit too mystical and subjective for me at times. Bonhoeffer’s approach is more focused on external realities, continually re-directing our focus back to what God has done outside of us at the cross. The mystical approach often directs our eyes inward, which can take us to all sorts of places other than Christ. Perhaps my preference for Bonhoeffer over Foster is an INTP thing. Having said all that, I was richly blessed by the retreat.

October 4, 2010 Posted by | Christianity | , , | 1 Comment

Happy New Year with a Bonhoeffer quote

A Dietrich Bonhoeffer quote:

I believe that God can and will bring good out of evil, even out of the greatest evil. For that purpose, he needs men who make the best use of everything.

I got this from the Internet Monk, who adds these comments:

By all reports, Bonhoeffer made the best use of everything. He preached to the prisoners. He prayed with them. He composed poems and liturgy. He led music. He befriended the guards. He wrote theology. He wrote letters. He encouraged his parents, his friends and his fiance.

He made the best use of everything.

The prosperity disease tells us to worship and seek to manipulate a God who will give us prosperity while others suffer. It promises protection and a way to have more.

Bonhoeffer and Jeremiah [29:4-7] tell us to be useful to others. To live a normal, human life with God’s hope in the midst of it. To find reasons to do what we can wherever we are, rather than find reasons for all we cannot do because of those same circumstances.

May we make the most of everything God gives us in 2009, for the glory of God and in the service of others.

Grace and Peace

January 2, 2009 Posted by | Christianity | | 1 Comment

Life Together quotes #2

Last week, I gave a few quotes (here) from the first two chapters of Life Together, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German Lutheran pastor who was executed by the Nazis in the final days of World War 2. Here are quotes from the rest of the book:

Chapter 3 — The Day Alone

But silence before the Word leads to right hearing and thus also to right speaking of the Word of God at the right time.

The most promising method of prayer is to allow oneself to be guided by the word of the Scriptures.

A Christian fellowship lives and exists by the intercession of its members for one another, or it collapses.

Chapter 4 — Ministry

Only he who lives by the forgiveness of his sin in Jesus Christ will rightly think little of himself…. Because the Christian can no longer fancy that he is wise he will also have no high opinion of his own schemes and plans.

The beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them.

We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God. God will be constantly crossing our paths and canceling our plans by sending us people with claims and petitions. We may pass them by, preoccupied with our more important tasks, as the priest passed by the man who had fallen among theives, perhaps–reading the Bible.

Chapter 5 — Confession and Communion

He who is alone with his sin is utterly alone…. The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everybody must conceal his sin from himself and from the fellowship…. The fact is that we are sinners!

The misery of the sinner and the mercy of God–this was the truth of the Gospel in Jesus Christ.

We must ask ourselves whether we have not often been deceiving ourselves with our confession of sin to God…. And is not the reason perhaps for our countless relapses and the feebleness of our Christian obedience to be found precisely in the fact that we are living on self-forgiveness and not a real forgiveness?

I highly recommend this book for its Christ-centered approach to Christian fellowship.

Grace and peace

December 9, 2008 Posted by | Christianity, Quotes | | Leave a comment

Life Together quotes

life_togetherI’m re-reading Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, subtitled “The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community.” At 122 pages, it is not a long book, but it is a gem.

I know that Bonhoeffer was a bit liberal theologically, but the Christ-centeredness of his writings puts to shame much of what goes on in Evangelicalism today.

Here are some quotes from the first two chapters of the book:

Chapter 1 — Community

Christianity means community through Jesus Christ and in Jesus Christ. No Christian community is more or less than this.

He [the Christian] knows that God’s Word in Jesus Christ pronounces him guilty, even when he does not feel his guilt, and God’s Word in Jesus Christ pronounces him not guilty and righteous, even when he does not feel that he is righteous at all.

If somebody asks him, Where is your salvation, your righteousness? he can never point to himself. He points to the Word of God in Jesus Christ, which assures him salvation and righteousness.

…the goal of all Christian community: they meet one another as bringers of the message of salvation.

Christian brotherhood is not an ideal, but a divine reality.

Chapter 2 — The Day with Others

Christian prayer takes its stand on the solid ground of the revealed Word.

It is not in our life that God’s help and presence must still be proved, but rather God’s presence and help have been demonstrated for us in the life of Jesus Christ. It is in fact more important for us to know what God did to Israel, to His Son Jesus Christ, than to seek what God intends for us today.

Our salvation is “external to ourselves.” I find no salvation in my life history, but only in the history of Jesus Christ.

It is not our heart that determines our course, but God’s Word.

Prayer should not be hindered by work, but neither should work be hindered by prayer.

Grace and Peace

December 3, 2008 Posted by | Christianity, Quotes | | 2 Comments