Posts Tagged ‘Echoes of a Voice’

Deeper Waters Podcast 10/4/2014: James Sire

October 2, 2014

What’s coming up on this week’s episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

To begin with, for those who have not been able to hear the podcast lately, it’s through no fault of our own. The one who hosted our show decided that their ministry needed to be more focused towards youth and for some strange reason, Deeper Waters didn’t fit in with that. (We’ll see how much of that changes when these youth go to college and meet a Bart Ehrman type.) Fortunately, we have recently found a new host for our shown, the Universal Pentecostal Network. (Not affiliated with the denomination)

Anyway, what is coming up? Well this Saturday, we’re going to be interviewing one of the members of what has been called the first wave of apologetics and has been doing apologetics long before a number of us were even born. Many of us doing apologetics today owe what we do in part to my guest if not directly, then indirectly, seeing as he probably helped many others find out about the field. My guest is Dr. James Sire.

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James W. Sire has retired as senior editor and campus lecturer for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. He holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Missouri (1964), an M.A. in English from Washington State University (1958) and a B.A. in Chemistry and English from the University of Nebraska (1955).

He served as an officer in the U. S. He has taught English, philosophy and theology at a number of universities, serving as associate professor of English at Nebraska Wesleyan University and Northern Illinois University. Over the past thirty years, he has taught short courses at the University of Delaware, Regent College (Vancouver), Wheaton Graduate School, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Biola University, University of the Nations, Evangelical Theological Seminary, Osijek, (Croatia), Biblical Theological Seminary, Wroclaw (Poland) and many other academic institutions in the U.S. and Europe.

Dr. Sire is the author of several books including The Universe Next Door,(now in its 5th edition; adopted as a text on worldviews in over 200 universities and seminaries; over 350,000 in print; translated into eighteen languages), Scripture Twisting,  Discipleship of the Mind, Chris Chrisman Goes to College, Why Should Anyone Believe Anything at All?, Habits of the Mind: Intellectual Life as a Christian Calling, Václav Havel: The Intellectual Conscience of International Politics, Naming the Elephant: Worldview as a Concept,Learning to Pray Through the Psalms, Why Good Arguments Often Fail, A Little Handbook on Humble Apologetics, Praying the Psalms of Jesus,Deepest Differences: A Christian-Atheist Dialogue with Carl Peraino, and Rim of the Sandhills (eBook). His most recent publications are Echoes of a Voice: We Are Not Alone (May 2014) and Apologetics Beyond Reason: Why Seeing is Believing (August 2014).

He has lectured on over 250 university campuses in the U.S., Canada and Europe. During  one typical academic year, Dr. Sire spoke on over 20 campuses in the U.S. and several in Croatia, Yugoslavia, Romania, Belgium and the Netherlands. His most recent lectures were sponsored by his Bulgarian publisher and given in June 2012 in Sofia. He has addressed groups of undergraduates, graduate students and faculty with talks that range from pre-evangelistic and evangelistic to academic and analytic on topics of interest to students and faculty in the arts, humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and technical fields.

He counts among his current interests (1) the application of worldview thinking to the integration of Christian faith and the academic disciplines (2) the critiques of worldview analysis as a major form of Christian critical thought and of understanding modern and ancient cultures and (3) the nature of signals of transcendence and their relation to Christian life, especially apologetics.

My first introduction to Sire came in Bible College when I was recommended to read Scripture Twisting and later for a class we were assigned as our textbook The Universe Next Door. That latter book has often been a textbook used in classes and is still to this day an excellent introduction to the subject of worldview thinking.

We’ll actually be talking about three books of his this time. We’ll be looking at the past with Rim of the Sandhillsthen we’ll see why he still believes in Christianity today with looking at his book Echoes of a Voice, and finally see what he thinks we should be doing in the future with Apologetics Beyond Reason.

This is an interview I’m looking forward to to hear someone we could all see as a great mentor in apologetics. I hope you’ll be listening in. I will be recording from 3-5 PM EST this Saturday.

In Christ,

Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Echoes of a Voice

August 19, 2014

What do I think of James Sire’s latest book? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

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This is James Sire’s latest book where he looks back over the years and tells why he still believes. James Sire’s main area of focus is the English language and so by studying the literature he has read from all over the world, Sire seeks to draw out a transcendent reality that he sees throughout the literature. It does not matter if it is Christian literature at all. All that matters is that it is literature.

Naturally, there is some truth to this. If the Heavens declare the glory of God, we should not be surprised if some of that comes down to the Earth as well. Augustine has said that God has made us for ourselves and our hearts are restless until they find their peace in Him. If this is the case, then will we not find what James Sire refers to as “echoes” of this here?

I certainly agree with a point made early on in the book that everything here is a pointer to God. Sire is not alone in this. For instance, Peter Kreeft in his book “Heaven: The Heart’s Deepest Longing” reminds us that everything that is here is either a pointer to Heaven or to Hell. If we follow the path even when we see something that we think is evil, we will eventually find God. (In fact, this is one reason I find the problem of evil so unconvincing. It starts off with evil and then you have to ask how you know good from evil and then that gets you to an objective moral standard and then you get to God. That’s a highly abbreviated form of course, but the general bit of it is still there.)

Sire has a great favor for the transcendental argument. His is found mainly in literature. That’s fine for him and I understand it. I can’t say I connected the same way, or it could just be I’m unfamiliar with the literature that he cites. It does not mean that I do not see God in any literature, but at the same time, I am not one who really finds the time to read much fiction.

Still, I think for those of us who do not, we can look and see how transcendence shows up in other places. Something that you learn about analyzing worldviews is that after you do that, you don’t watch a movie the same way again for instance. You’re always looking at that movie and trying to figure out where the author is coming from. That also includes TV shows, video games, songs, and other forms of media.

I also would have liked to have seen more on transcendence on every day experiences. When it comes to transcendence, these are the areas that I find it most. Some times of depression for me have been ended just by seeing the joy of my cat playing with a toy for instance and seeing him as a reality pointing to something beyond himself. 

Of course, we have other transcendent moments in this life. One that I think we need to think on more as Christians for instance is the joy found in the sexual union of husband and wife. Chesterton said years ago that the man who knocks on the door of a brothel is looking for God. The reason so many people get addicted to sex or even to other things like alcohol, gambling, shopping, food, etc. is that everyone is looking for something transcendent.

Maybe you’re like me and you don’t really go through fiction that much. If not, then Sire’s book could be a reminder to you to try to view what you are interested in through the same lens that Sire views fiction through.

Now if you are a great lover of fiction or poetry or other works like that, this is the book for you. You will probably find a much greater connection and hopefully, and I know Sire will agree with me on this one, find the one that is really being pointed to, the one who transcends all.

This book was also given to me for review purposes by James Sire and I wish to thank him for that here.

In Christ,

Nick Peters