Review of “Resurrection: Theological and Scientific Assessments” (Peters, Russell, Welker)

Resurrection: Theological and Scientific Assessments edited by Ted Peters, Robert John Russell, and Michael Welker, Grand Rapids, MI.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2002, xvii + 326 pages, paperback, $ 29.00.

This large paperback is an analysis, by authors of varying degrees of orthodoxy, of topics surrounding Big Bang cosmology and the theology of resurrection. The basic thesis of the symposium is stated by Russell in his essay. As far as the universe is concerned, “the far future scenarios are still freeze or fry.” (p.6). The cosmos will either peter out or burn up some 100-500 billion years from now. Whence, then, resurrection? The answer to that question is not to be found in biblical literalism, says Peters (p. xii). But then, this abandonment leaves all the authors groping for epistemological solid ground. Still, the always thoughtful John Polkinghorne eventually reaches some fairly conservative conclusions (pp.50, 54-55). And Peter Lampe, though no conservative, has some good information about the worldview of the Corinthians in Paul’s day (pp.103-108). All the contributors are hung up on “natural law” to the extent that it virtually ousts providence. This sets them against revelational theology, and so compels them to work within naturalistic boundaries, pushing them out enough to allow for occasional divine interventions. The book is not likely to excite much enthusiasm with readers of this Journal.

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