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Out On the Web: Links for the End of Summer

September 24, 2012

We’ve got a couple posts in the works for the relatively near future but we want to start this week by tipping the hat and lending the link to a few noteworthy activities on the Web in recent weeks and months. Be sure to check these out, and, if you are so inclined, feel free to leave a note below to bat around any of your impressions.

  • Charity and Its Fruits, a classic work on love by Jonathan Edwards, is out in a new edition edited by Kyle Strobel (PhD, University of Aberdeen). Kyle talks about the project and the importance of this book in a new interview with Justin Taylor. The publisher has also made the book’s introduction available as a free preview.
  • You may have heard of evangelical author Randy Alcorn from his 2004 book Heaven. He’s posted an interesting and lengthy exchange with the publisher of a new volume telling the allegedly “true story” of one woman’s trip to heaven to meet angels and talk with Jesus (Mary Neal’s To Heaven and Back). Is it fair to merely say that such tales are “not theology?” Or do they, in fact, shape the theological imagination of readers … especially when publishers agree to present them as “a true story?”  Most troubling to me is the publisher’s intonation that it simply does not matter if a personal spiritual experience is inconsistent with Scripture and orthodox theology — it simply is “true” for the individual and the way in which it shapes her. Alcorn has some important words about the sub-genre, the place of religious experience, and the responsibility of Christian publishing.
  • Peter Enns responded at length to a review of his book The Evolution of Adam, by Hans Madueme (Covenant College). It is an especially good read for the way in which Enns strives to identify the real points of impasse between his position and that of conservative Evangelicals. “The problems I see with Madueme’s thinking pervade the entire review and rest on the core assertion that his dogmatic structure is the first and final court of appeal for handling difficult matters of biblical interpretation, one of which is Adam vis-a-vis evolution. This train of thought recurs in the defensive strategies of traditionalist evangelical responses when dogma is challenged.” Madueme, in short, acknowledges that his views on Adam and evolution are (in the face of modern scientific consensus) constrained by his reading of Scripture, by the Christian tradition, and by dogmatic considerations. Enns believes this is precisely why the real arguments of his book (which does not intend to conform to tradition) have not been engaged.
  • The thought-provoking film Hellbound? opened in select theatres recently (and/or is coming to your area soon), and if it garners much attention is sure to create a stir. Robin Parry posts a trailer and gives a helpful review of it here. In part, Parry writes: “The documentary is not a neutral guide that treats all views as equally plausible. It offers a clear critique of the traditional view of hell as eternal torment and it recommends, at very least, an openness towards universalism as a neglected view within the tradition.  What is especially good is that there is a focus throughout on the here-and-now implications of our views on hell. How should we treat those who disagree with us? How should we handle conflicts? How should we treat evil in society?” (Shameless local plug: Jon will be hosting a Q&A night and follow-up teaching session at Richmond Alliance Church October 20-21 if anyone in the Vancouver, B.C. area is interested.) Anyone have any preliminary thoughts? Or are we mainly hoping to avoid the sequel to the Love Wins fiasco?

Additional reporting by Jon ‘Desiree’ Coutts

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