In the most recent issue of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Southern Baptist Journal of Theology (13.4 2009), Professor Tom Nettles reviews The End of Christianity: Finding a Good God in an Evil World. Let’s just say Professor Nettles was entirely unimpressed with Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's Research Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Center for Cultural Engagement, Dr. William Dembski and his attempt to contribute an original theodicy from an old earth perspective. Indeed one might conclude Nettles took off his gloves and punched Dembski right in the theological nose.
Swinging a right cross, Nettles concludes:
Dembski now has developed his own way of handling the apparent historical narrative of creation, Fall, pre-flood development, and Flood. The old earth demanded by the naturalistic assumptions of contemporary astrophysics and geology must be honored and the ancient text must give way. Even if hidden in the verbal haze of intentional-semantic logic, Genesis 1 simply did not happen; even though the Bible presents it as having happened, Dembski says that it did not. His theodicy is necessary only because he has created a massive theological and exegetical difficulty by denying that the creation was ever “very good” (Gen 1:31) in chronological time and squeezing millions, if not billions, of years of suffering and death into the world prior to the curse pronounced in Genesis 3. Whereas Paul sees the creation “subjected to futility” and concurrent with human bondage until the redemption of the body (Rom 8:20-23), Dembski sees the subjection to futility as an act of creation” (p.84 emphasis mine)
Ouch! I'd say denying biblical revelation while enthroning naturalism is a serious blow, wouldn't you?
Do not think, however, Dr. Nettles’ review goes without reply. Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Dean of Theology, Dr. David Allen takes Southern’s Professor to the gym and spars toe to toe. In fact, when Allen gets through demonstrating how Nettles completely botched the assumptions behind Dembski’s theodicy, Dr. Nettles appears winded, rubber-kneed, and probably now wishes he could take his review back.
Read Allen’s review (link below). If for no other reason, read Allen’s review to see an example of how learned, skilled theologians--even theologians as skilled as Nettles--are, at times, susceptible to flawed interpretations and/or unwarranted conclusions concerning the writings of others.
With that, I am…