Culture-Making: An Obligatory Disagreement

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Andy Crouch’s Culture-Making has yielded some treasures of insight, helping me make something of my cultural and physical world (“making something of the world,” in both of its possible senses, is his helpful definition of “culture”). But I have to disagree with his take on the historicity of the Genesis accounts.

American evangelicalism’s hunger for cultural acceptance—a hunger Crouch rightly criticizes elsewhere in this book—has left it terribly vulnerable to the power of prevailing cultural presuppositions. Biological macro-evolution is one of those presuppositions, and its pressure has produced one small, awkward chapter—an “interlude,” Crouch calls it—which calls the Bible into question. Here’s an excerpt:

I am not sure the biblical writers would have been terribly troubled by the failings of Genesis 1–11 as literal cosmological history…. [Genesis 1–11] are less a finely documented history than a story that invites our trust…. If there is some way, in the new heavens and new earth, to have access to the whole story of this wonderful broken universe, I will not be surprised if I find that the biblical authors missed some of the details about how God created the universe and the human race. But I am confident I will not feel in any way deceived by them—indeed, I believe I will be unspeakably grateful that, prompted by the Holy Spirit, they told stories that made the best possible sense of the world.” (118, 120)

A faithful reading of the early chapters of Genesis—and of the other portions of Scripture which regularly rely on them—simply does not allow for Crouch’s view. I side rather with Crouch’s insight from this very interlude: “The most important things in our life are learned by trust, not by deduction from experiment.” (120) The vast majority of macro-evolution’s adherents have never done a serious study of the evidence. Neither have I. Most of us will never have that capacity. What little we could manage would fall far short of scientific rigor. Instead we all choose what we consider to be a reliable authority—or that Authority chooses us!

I don’t deny that the facts support my case, only that anyone can come to the facts without prior faith commitments that will exercise some considerable influence over what the facts will say.

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