Between Two Wor(l)ds: Worldview And Observation In The Use Of General Revelation To Interpret Scripture, And Vice Versa -- By: Dennis E. Johnson
Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 41:1 (Mar 1998)
Article: Between Two Wor(l)ds: Worldview And Observation In The Use Of General Revelation To Interpret Scripture, And Vice Versa
Author: Dennis E. Johnson
JETS 41:1 (March 1998) p. 69
Between Two Wor(l)ds: Worldview And Observation In The Use Of General Revelation
To Interpret Scripture, And Vice Versa
* Dennis Johnson is associate professor of practical theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in California, 1725 Bear Valley Parkway, Escondido, CA 92027–4128.
To his great dismay, Harald Alabaster was caught between two worlds. A. S. Byatt’s novella “Morpho Eugenia,” from which the recent film Angels and Insects was made, is set in Victorian England in the decade following the publication of Darwin’s The Origin of Species. Globe-trotting naturalist William Adamson has been cast into hard times by a shipwreck, and Alabaster, with a dilettante’s interest in insects but no organizational skills, becomes Adamson’s patron. He takes him into his household to bring order to his chaotic collection of rare specimens. Yet the real burden of Alabaster’s heart is the writing of a book that will prove scientifically that his romantic brand of Christianity is compatible with Darwin’s new theories. Adamson is to help with this apology by arguing against its thesis—a task that he undertakes most willingly since, despite his surname, he long ago abandoned the fundamentalist belief that he is Adam’s son, embracing instead a coldly consistent Darwinian naturalism, a view of “nature red in tooth and claw,” purposeless and amoral. In one of their discussions Alabaster admits his distressed confusion:
The world has changed so much, William, in my lifetime. I am old enough to have believed in our First Parents in Paradise, as a little boy, to have believed in Satan hidden in the snake, and the Archangel with the flaming sword, closing the gates. I am old enough to have believed without question in the Divine Birth on a cold night with the sky full of singing angels and the shepherds staring up in wonder, and the strange kings advancing across the sand on camels with gifts. And now I am presented with a world in which we are what we are because of the mutations of soft jelly and calceous bone matter through unimaginable millennia—a world in which angels and devils do not battle in the Heavens for virtue and vice, but in which we eat and are eaten and absorbed into other flesh and blood. All the music and painting, all the poetry and power is so much illusion. I shall moulder like a mushroom when my time comes, which is not long. It is likely that the injunction to love each other is no more than the prudent instinct of sociability, of parental protectiveness, in a creature related to the great ape.… I began my life as a small boy whose every action was burned into the gold record of his good and evil deeds, where it would be weighed and looked over by One with merciful eyes, to whom I was walki...
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