Apologia Report 6:20

Rich Poll

Research Resource Manager for the Christian Research Institute, Rancho Santa Margarita, California, from 1984 to 1995 and now editor of Apologia Report, Rich developed a popular freeware computer database called CRI TEXT. This database was principally constructed from the full text of the FYI and BBS-FYI research bulletins that Rich wrote and published in-house for CRI's research staff and used as training tools for new staff. Apologia Report continues in this tradition of providing students in Christian apologetics information on new resources in the ongoing defense of the gospel worldwide. More on Rich.

"The Politics of Cloning" by Eric Cohen -- observes that "With the exception of a few fringe cloning advocates, there is near universal consensus that cloning human beings with the intention of bringing them to birth ought not to be tried--at least not yet."
   Cohen sees the true ethical conflict centering on a "much larger set of moral and political issues: whether allowing human cloning to produce stem cells for research is the first step toward the cloning of newborns; whether the possible benefits of the new genetics justify the potential horrors; and whether we want to create whole new biotech industries that depend on a ready supply of human embryos, to be created, used and destroyed."
   And, as if to isolate the gravity of the possible consequences, Cohen alludes to "research already underway, including the creation of genetic hybrids of human and animal embryos, [which] raises the specter that our worst science-fiction nightmares may soon become possible. As of now, such experiments remain perfectly legal."
   The ultimate boundaries of power in this debate are framed by these unanswered questions: "Who regulates and what is regulated? What is allowed and what is banned? What guidance, if any, do prevailing ideologies and parties ... supply for this next war of the gods?"
   Cohen lists the "many interests in this debate: religious conservatives and pro-life groups who see the new genetics as an affront to human dignity; biotech companies that stand to profit from the unregulated science of the future; reproductive-rights activists who see cloning as a personal choice that the government should not meddle with; and patient's rights groups who see in the new genetics a new source of hope." Cohen follows with a further summary describing each group in turn.
   In the end Cohen waxes prophetic as he warns: "It seems likely that it will be our generation that must make this choice - a decision upon which the future of the American experiment, and perhaps the fate of mankind itself, may ultimately hinge. That we are unprepared is the understatement of the pre-genetic age." Los Angeles Times, Jun 3 '01, ppM1, M6. <http://www.latimes.com/>

Goddess Unmasked, by Philip G. Davis [1] -- reviewer John Bolt finds that Davis "effectively challenges the two reigning ideas of the movement: (1) that goddess spirituality was the shaper of the original primordial society and (2) that a female-centered civilization with a female deity, then and now, would be a utopian, peaceful, earth-friendly, ecologically whole society."
   Davis finds that "there is no credible evidence that a matriarchal society with a single female deity ever existed. Furthermore, current claim for the benefits to be gained by a radical feminist spirituality with a female deity also ignores the literature and practice of actual living goddess religions in the world today, particularly in Asia."
   Bolt also repeats "Davis's summary: 'Goddess spirituality appears to be a recent flowering of the Romantic reaction to the nationalistic materialism of the Enlightenment, which nevertheless borrows and builds upon the latter's assault on the Judeo-Christian tradition.'"
   Davis surveys the "European tradition of esoteric religion" in such a way that Bolt finds it "reads like a good page-turning mystery story." Bolt concludes: "This volume is a necessary and valuable expose of the shoddy scholarship and devious agendas of goddess spirituality, a helpful tool in dealing with a significant threat to church and society, to gospel truth and liberty." Calvin Theological Journal, 36:1 - 2001, pp168-169.

"Some Christian Bookstores Pull Best Sellers by Author Tommy Tenney" by Ken Walker -- summarized: "Southern Baptist and Assemblies of God stores yanked the book The God Chasers [2] off shelves because of doctrinal disputes." According to Walker, Tenney said "the decision stemmed from Tenney's unwillingness to turn his back on his roots in the United Pentecostal Church (UPC). ... Though his father is a UPC superintendent, Tenney left the denomination during the 1980s and says he doesn't adhere to its views." Charisma, Jun '01, pp30-31.

God of the Possible, by Gregory A. Boyd [3] -- Roger Nicole's substantial and unfavorable review is both comprehensive and instructive. He begins with a look at the premise of open theism followed by a helpful chart listing key biblical passages used to support the view with brief summaries of their interpretation - for and against.
   Nicole offers a systematic reflection regarding the theological impact of open theism with respect to inspiration, theology proper, creation, and providence.
   A survey of historical precedents relative to the openness debate is also included. Reformation & Revival Journal, 10:1 - 2001, pp167-194.
   This debate appears to be far from any conclusion. The most recent issues of Christianity Today (May 21, pp38-45 [cover story]; June 11, pp50-56) have continued to bring attention to the controversy. With a desire to avoid the pro vs. con essay approach, CT packaged opposing views in the context of a personal e-mail exchange. The dialog (funded in part by a grant from the Lilly Endowment) pits openness spokesman John Sanders, author of The God Who Risks [4], against a newcomer to us, Christopher A. Hall. Little is said to justify Hall's selection to defend the traditional view. Elsewhere we learned that he is a consulting editor for CT and associate professor of biblical and theological studies at Eastern College in St. Davids, Pennsylvania, and associate editor of the "Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture". In 1997 he wrote "Adding Up the Trinity: What is stimulating the renewed interest in what many consider the most enigmatic Christian doctrine?" for CT. <http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/7t5/7t5026.html>

"Other Worlds, Suffused with Religion" by Kimberly Winston -- having passed on this item earlier, we gave it another look and felt that it was worth including here in spite of it being a bit dated.
   Michael Collings, a professor of English at Pepperdine University "who has written extensively about science fiction ... says he is seeing more new science fiction/fantasy that incorporates religion, partly perhaps in response to the turning of the millennium, but more because of a growing sense that science alone will never offer sufficient explanation."
   Of particular interest is the sidebar, "The Mormon Link" (page 38). It turns out that "[s]cience fiction writers are more often Mormon than any other religious denomination. That's according to www.adherents.com, a Web site that tracks religious affiliation....
   "'Mormon theology does dovetail with science fiction quite nicely,' Preston Hunter, a computer programmer and avid science fiction fan who created the site, told PW. 'Mormons have an outlook on God and the universe similar to science fiction writers that other Christian churches do not.' ...
   "Is there something special about Mormonism that fosters this kind of literature?" LDS member Orson Scott Card, "winner of the coveted Hugo and Nebula Awards for science fiction, says the answer is yes. 'Mormons are theologically not so far removed from science fiction. We literally believe that God has created sentient beings on other worlds, that there really is faster-than-light travel and that God can go hither and yon. In many cases, we are writing about a universe we have already thought about from childhood on.' ...
   "Marion K. Smith, professor of science fiction writing and literature at Brigham Young University, told PW the link between Mormonism and speculative fiction is well-rooted in Mormon cosmology and theology." Publishers Weekly, Apr 16 '01, pp35-39.
   And, perhaps there is a connection here, as we have noted in Apologia Report in the past (AR 5:9), to the unusual popularity of C.S. Lewis among Mormons?

Sources, Monographs:

1 - Goddess Unmasked: The Rise of Neopagan Feminist Spirituality, by Philip G. Davis (Spence, 1999, paperback, 350 pages, ISBN 1-8906-2620-1)

2 - The God Chasers, by Tommy Tenny (Destiny Image, 1999, paperback, 152 pages, ISBN 0-7684-2016-4)

3 - God of the Possible: A Biblical Introduction to the Open View of God, by Gregory A. Boyd (Baker, 2000, paperback, 175 pages, ISBN 0-8010-6290-X)

4 - The God Who Risks: A Theology of Providence, by John Sanders (IVP, 1998, paperback, 356 pages, ISBN 0-8308-1501-5)

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