Friday, August 19, 2011

The Twilight of Atheism

"The Twilight of Atheism" (Alister McGrath) - I had been told to read McGrath by some people at Biologos. Earlier, I read his "The Reenchantment of Nature". I was tired of the Biologos stuff, so this title seemed a good change.

McGrath connects the "empire of atheism" to modernity. He sets its rise at the fall of the Bastille, and its decline at the fall of the Berlin wall (p1, the same dates Oden uses for modernity, although McGrath does not cite Oden).

I'm finding myself annoyed with McGrath's style. He does not present things from a Biblical basis - there are no references to Scripture. His stand on key doctrines is often unclear, and sometimes hinted as being heterodox.

This is seen in his treatment of Hell:
"Darwin's rejection of God actually has little to do with the specifics of evolution, and much more to do with a general cultural dislike of some of the more noxious aspects of the hell-and-brimstone preaching of certain Victorian evangelicals " (p 104)
I can assume he means noxious to Darwin and the Victorians...
He sets this aside, until its sudden reappearance later:
"The most fundamental criticisms directed against Christianity have to do with the moral character of its God, and often focus specifically on the issue of eternal punishment. No theological issue posed greater difficulties for Victorian England." (p 274)
His advice?
"Christianity must provide answers - good answers - to such fair questions and never assume that it can recycle yesterday's answers to today's concerns." (p 274)
In charity, I can read that to say that we must always be careful to contextualize the Gospel message for our hearers. We must work to have the message make sense.

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