NOTE: This review was written for the journal Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith and appears in its September 2003 issue (vol. 55, No. 3, pp. 199-200). I thank the American Scientific Affiliation for permission to reproduce it here. It has been slightly reformatted for this webpage.
The Message of Creation
Author: David Wilkinson
Publisher: InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois
Reviewed by: Allan H. Harvey, firstname.lastname@example.org
Englishman David Wilkinson earned a Ph.D. in astrophysics, and is now a Methodist minister and scholar in apologetics. He uses his scientific background not only in the expected places (relating God's creative activity to science), but also frequently in his illustrations. This should suit ASA readers well.
I am pleased that this book is not limited to "the usual suspects." Of the twenty passages considered, only five are from Genesis. Wilkinson recognizes that Biblical teaching on creation is much richer than "origins," so he also takes the reader through songs of praise for the Creator, descriptions of Jesus as Lord of creation, lessons to be learned from the Creator, and the ultimate fulfillment of creation. Helpful applications are drawn for each; many of these stray from the topic of creation but they are always germane to the passage.
Perhaps the book's most praiseworthy aspect is its focus on the message of Scripture. While the typical science-related questions are not ignored, the author relentlessly insists that our goal should be to receive the messages God is trying to convey in these passages, and that most if not all of our Creator's messages don't depend on our interpretation of exactly how and when he did the creating.
Wilkinson also insists on the centrality of God's most exalted message: Jesus Christ. In numerous places, Christ is advocated as Lord of creation and as the center and foundation of our faith. Warnings are given against basing our faith (and our apologetics) on things other than Christ, including science and human philosophical arguments.
Readers of this journal may want to know where the author stands on issues like the age of the Earth and evolution. I must reemphasize that such issues are peripheral to the book, as Wilkinson continually focuses on the messages of the Bible. For example, his exposition of the ways Christians relate Genesis 1 to science is relegated to an Appendix, and even there he says, "The writer of Genesis, inspired by the Holy Spirit, is more concerned with who God is than how he made the Universe." In that context, the author finds no reason to reject any of modern science, though he roundly rejects the scientism of those who see science as the only source of worthwhile knowledge. He says little about the Intelligent Design movement, but he does criticize reliance on the design argument for tending to promote a "god of the gaps" and remove Jesus Christ from his rightful place as the focus of our faith and our apologetics.
The book is written well and at an accessible level. The author has wide-ranging interests, referencing not only Calvin and C.S. Lewis but also The Matrix and Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. While British in tone and in some of its illustrations, it is still readable for those of us who think footballs are oblong and have barely heard of David Beckham. Slightly frustrating were several footnotes pointing to books that are not in print in the U.S.
The Message of Creation would be an excellent resource for ASA members, pastors, and anybody who wants to delve into what the Bible has to say about our Creator. It could also be used for group study. The church would benefit greatly if more people followed Wilkinson's approach of focusing not on alleged science/faith conflicts, but rather on the message of God's written word and the centrality of his incarnate Word.
|Disclaimer: The views expressed in this review are the opinion of the author of this review alone and should not be taken to represent the views of any other person or organization.|
Review originally written January 2003, published September 2003.
Page last modified August 31, 2003