Johnny Lin, Senior Lecturer & Director of Undergraduate Computing Education
at the Univ of Washington (right) with respondent Linda Eastwood, Affiliate
Faculty at McCormick Theological Seminary (left) with questions moderated
by Jay Phelan, Senior Professor of Theological Studies at North Park (center)

Continuing from my last post on Sessions 1-4 of the 2016 Symposium on the Theological Reading of Scripture, here I introduce and reflect on the remaining Sessions 5-8. 
    Session 5 featured a paper by Joshua Moritz, Lecturer of Philosophical Theology and the Natural Sciences at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif (my old stomping grounds BTW), entitled Made as Mirrors: Biblical and Neuroscientific Reflections on Imaging God. The response was given by Tyler Johnson, pastor at Albert City Covenant Church, Albert City, Iowa and one of our seminary’s alumni. 
    This was another paper that made my head spin as I tried to wrap my mind around two concepts that I simply have not thought about it. First, in discussing the image of God, Dr. Moritz argued that homo sapians alone and no other homonids, including Neanderthals with whom we share genetic material, were created in the image of God even though other hominid species possessed the same capacity for complex language, advanced tools types which indicate a high degree of metacognition and symbolic thought, abilities for art and the abstract, and other cognitive functions. So the imago Dei not only distinguishes human beings from other animals but also from other homonids who did not belong to homo sapiens
   Moritz is able to make this claim because secondly, he defines the imago Dei not as innate capacity unique to homo sapiens (e.g., Karl Barth believed that our freedom to act against instinct is what reflected God’s image because above all else God is free). Moritz defines God’s image in terms of election. Out of all the other homonids, only homo sapiens were elected by God to a particular priestly office. This is a historical election, not classical or Calvinist, because this election forms the starting point and basis for a particular vocation or call to service unique among homo sapiens
   To hear more, follow the video below of the session (jump to 2:50 for the start of the paper)   

    Session 6 featured a paper by Susan Eastman, Associate Research Professor of New Testament at the Duke Divinity School and this year’s NT Lund lecturer, entitled Paul and the Person: Perspectives from Cognitive Science and Philosophy. The response was given by A. Andrew Das, Professor of Religious Studies at Elmhurst College. There was some overlap with her Lund lectures on Paul and the body but in many ways the paper was also an advancement from what she shared earlier.
   One of the best parts of her paper was her analysis of what she called Paul’s grammar. She noted that Paul’s syntax of identity looks something like this: It is no longer I who [verb] but [subject+verb] in me. This grammar occurs in two places for Paul: 1) Romans 7:17 (and again in v.20) where Paul says “It is no longer I doing it, but sin dwelling in me.” and 2) Galatians 2:20 where Paul says: “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” Galatians 2 is parallel to Romans 7 as its qualitative opposite.
    Eastman noted that past commentators like J. Louis Martyn and even her own doctoral supervisor Richard Hays were wrong in thinking that somehow the subject of “I” is replaced by another agency: either sin, or Christ. Rather, she argues that “I” still remains the subject. Paul is not talking about a replacing the “I” but a new constitution of the “I” from the ground up where in relationship to sin, I  get damaged and experience death but in relationship to Christ, I live. Paul describes a genuine intersubjectivity with distinct subjects but with sin, it vacuates human agency and destroys the person. But with God the intersubjectivity allows for the “I” to remain intact without entertaining a competition where one is undone by the other. Worth every minute, click below for the full session (jump to 6:58 for the start of the paper) 

    Session 7 featured a paper by Johnny Wei-Bing Lin, Senior Lecturer and Director of Undergraduate Computing Education at the University of Washington in Seattle who also serves as an Affliate Professor of Physics at North Park University. The title of his presentation was Knowing in Part: The Demands of Scientific Religious Knowledge in Everyday Decisions. The response was by Linda Eastwood, Affliliate Faculty at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago.
    Dr. Lin presents several working models on how science and religion impact everyday decision making where the components of revelation, reason, intuition and feeling all have their contribution to make in each respective model. I was surprised to see how both can potentially work cooperatively with one another quite well and in fact already inform many every day decisions in real life. Click below for the session (and jump to 3:40 for the start of the paper).

   The last session of the symposium, Session 8, featured a paper by Hans Madueme, Assistant Professor of Theological Studies at Covenant College in Georgia, entitled ‘A Rock of Offense’: The Problem of Scripture in Science and Theology. The response was given by Matthew Maas, Assistant Professor of Neurology and Anesthesiology at Northwestern University. 
   Dr. Madueme, who completed his medical degree and internship before deciding to pursue a doctorate in theology, reflected on the relationship between science and Scripture. He argued that while conflict between the two bodies of knowledge can act as a catalyst for Christians to make new theological conceptualizations and re-articulate doctrine for a new generation and setting, there are also times when some conflicts between science and theology should not be alleviated by theological revision. To hear more on those instances where doctrinal truth should challenge some scientific theories where the phenomenalogical data has yet to be confirmed, watch the video of the session below (jump to 0:55 for the start of the paper).

That’s it. Enjoy and be blessed! MJL