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Knowing Creation: Perspectives from Theology, Philosophy, and Science, reviewed by Stephen Vantassel

Section 4 Scientific Perspectives

For the last article, I chose Mark Harris’ piece on Isaiah 55:12, mentioned above, because it engages an important issue on the interpretation of scripture, our understanding of metaphors. Harris takes up the question of how scriptural teaching about creation’s worship of God is to be understood. He begins by showing that a purely personification interpretation of the passages fails to account for all the evidence. He argued that to treat nature naturalistically without doing the same for humans is inconsistent. Interestingly, he does not jettison the personification theory entirely. Rather it should be considered alongside of Fretheim’s relational view, Horrell’s eschatological view and Bauckham’s being themselves view.

I found the paper intriguing. However, I wonder if he considered how recognizing the ontological distinction between humans and the rest of creation impacts his view. It seems to me that his very approach assumes a flattening of the distinction between humans and the rest of creation. In addition, he did not address Christ’s statement that the rocks would cry out if the people did not (Luke 19:40). Does this mean that the rocks were not praising God at that moment or that they would do so audibly for all to hear? I found it strange that Harris’ more literal reading flies in the face of other writers who contend that Genesis 1-2 should not be read literally or more accurately, plainly.

Summary

Readers should understand that there is no unifying vision for the doctrine creation in this book. Nevertheless, for those interested in looking at some of the key debates in different ways, this book should be engaged.

Reviewed by Stephen M. Vantassel

 

Publisher’s page: https://www.zondervan.com/9780310536130/knowing-creation/

Preview Knowing Creation, Vol. 1: https://books.google.com/books?id=0YEoDwAAQBAJ

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Category: In Depth, Summer 2019

About the Author: Stephen M. Vantassel, Ph.D. theology (Trinity Theological Seminary), M.A.T.S. Old Testament (Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary), B.S. Biblical Studies (Gordon College), is a tutor of theology at King’s Evangelical Divinity School in Broadstairs, U.K. and Assistant Editor for the Evangelical Review of Theology and Politics. His dissertation on the role of animals in Christian theology was published in expanded form in Dominion over Wildlife? An Environmental-Theology of Human-Wildlife Relations (Wipf and Stock, 2009). He lives with his wife in Lewistown, Montana. He regularly posts articles at kingsdivinity.academia.edu/StephenMVantassel.

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