Weekend Reads: Dealing with reason and reasons to persevere

Books
by Caleb Nelson
Posted 4/18/15, 08:02 am

Not a Chance: God, Science, and the Revolt against Reason

By R.C. Sproul and Keith Mathison

Not a Chance: God, Science, and the Revolt against Reason (Baker Books, 2014) is a patient examination of the nonsense latent in much popular and even academic cosmology. Ultimately, the book argues, such nonsense is a revolt against rationality that will destroy the scientific enterprise and the possibility of human knowledge.

R.C. Sproul and Keith Mathison both teach theology at Reformation Bible College in Florida. Although two written by two theologians, this is really a work of philosophy. Their discussions are lucid enough that those with no philosophical background can appreciate and even enjoy the arguments. Briefly, the book’s major contention is expressed in its title: If “chance” really exists as an entity with the ability to effect results (not just as a name for descriptive mathematical probabilities), then human knowledge is finished. After all, chance-as-force does not exist. It is literally nothing. And nothing, adds Sproul (quoting from Martin Luther), “is not an imperfect little something.”

Nonetheless, it is astonishing how many cosmologists and philosophers think that it is an imperfect little something. They talk of “fluctuations” in nothingness. What’s there to fluctuate? They talk of the universe “exploding into being.” Did it explode out of nonbeing? If so, then it created itself, and logically it had to exist before it existed.

Sproul’s demolition of the theory that electrons jump instantaneously from one energy level to another without traversing the intervening space is something to behold. “Does it mean that the electrons move and don’t move at the same time? Do they change positions without changing positions? … [T]o ask such questions is to answer them.” In short, admitting that we don’t know how electrons move is acceptable; positing that they move without moving is nonsense.

If your nonsense-sniffer needs to be calibrated, Sproul and Mathison are the men for you.

On the Brink: Grace for the Burned-Out Pastor

By Clay Werner

According to the blurb on the cover, On the Brink: Grace for the Burned-Out Pastor (P&R Publishing, 2014) is “Life infusing, heart enflaming, and ministry anchoring.” That and the title make me think Clay Werner really likes compound adjectives. While combining words is acceptable at times, perhaps Werner has this habit because of his fixation on the compound noun “God-man.”

Really, the Lord Jesus is all over this book. Like Jesus at His death, Werner is a mere 33 years old. He’s been a pastor for only seven years, but he has obviously been chewed on, beaten down, hated, and metaphorically crucified in a multitude of ways. Just as the problems he’s faced are far from unique to pastors, neither does his solution contain anything pastor-specific.

The Christian life is about knowing Jesus. To know Him is its own reward, and the reward for all the suffering, heartache, and trial that we endure in His service on this earth. This is really Werner’s thesis. He puts it this way: “Moving forward isn’t about sin management, but about worship realignment. Deep down, at your core, Christ must become more satisfying than anything and everything else.” This is why ministry (or life) is worth it. This is the payoff: “The times of greatest difficulty can often bring about the moments of greatest intimacy with Christ.”

That’s the ultimate perk of a pastor’s job: No matter how much people may hate you, Jesus loves you. Only, again, this is true not just for pastors, but also for parents, for dentists, for tax collectors, and for every Christian. If your life is about your own comfort, you will burn out. But live for the sake of participating in Christ’s life, through prayer, worship, and fellowship, and you too will flourish in His “indestructible life” (Hebrews 7:16). 

Caleb Nelson

Caleb is the pastor of Harvest Reformed Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Gillette, Wyo.

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