Category: Apologetics

Can I say anything new about the resurrection of Jesus?

I have been re-reading NT Wright’s chapter on the “The Surprise of Resurrection” in Jesus: the final days, where he corrects some doubtful christian ideas about the resurrection, and offers reasons why we should regard the gospel accounts as basically historical. Understanding resurrection Pagans in Roman Empire in the first century might believe in an … Continue reading Can I say anything new about the resurrection of Jesus?
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How Reliable were the Early Church’s Oral Traditions?

How reliable were the early church’s oral traditions? In terms of assessing the reliability of the Gospels, this is an extremely important question. First century Jewish culture was what scholars today would call an “orally dominated culture.” While a certain percentage of people could read and write (see below), information ...
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Evangelism – learning from unbelievers

There’s a saying in chess that, if you are in doubt about your next move, choose the move your opponent would like least. I reckon a similar, but opposite, saying might apply to christian evangelism: if you are wanting to evangelise, try to choose the behaviour your friend would most appreciate. A recent study by … Continue reading Evangelism – learning from unbelievers
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Apologetics is “dangerous” stuff!

Are you the sort of christian whose faith is built more on reason and evidence than an experience of God? Do you enjoy answering sceptics’ questions about Jesus and the Bible? Perhaps even enjoy arguing with atheists online? Have you considered that apologetics might be dangerous for your faith? (Well, sort of! But read on!) … Continue reading Apologetics is “dangerous” stuff!
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When thoughtful christians begin to doubt

In my previous post (When sensitive and thoughtful people begin to doubt) I looked at 4 different sets of musicians who were christians earlier in their lives, but had struggled with faith since then. Now I want to share a few thoughts on how churches and parents might help their youth to be able to … Continue reading When thoughtful christians begin to doubt
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When sensitive and thoughtful people begin to doubt

Do you know someone who appeared to be a strong christian, and then began to doubt the truth of the whole thing? I’m guessing they were likely someone in their twenties, brought up as believers but suddenly facing questions they didn’t have answers for and issues they couldn’t easily resolve. And I’m guessing many of … Continue reading When sensitive and thoughtful people begin to doubt
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Is the Book of Acts Reliable?

(Note: We apologize that certain German vowels didn’t translate onto this site). Introduction The book of Acts is of critical importance in the contemporary debate about the historical Jesus. The reason for this is straightforward. Those who deny that the original, historical Jesus made divine claims for himself, performed miracles ...
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Wednesday Miscellany

A few unfinished scraps and fragments are cluttering up my “drafts” folder, so it’s time for another “Miscellany” post. There’s a common thread that runs through what follows—something like “the truth and how we tell it”—but nothing cohesive enough for a single post, evidently. 
***
Andrew Sullivan thinks it’s impossible for human beings not to have a religion, “even in our secularized husk of a society.” I happen to agree with him—both about humans being irreducibly religious and about our society being a “secularized husk.” What a great description of a society that claims not to have left religion behind but is morally zealous in ways that rival the most enthusiastic evangelists from days long past.
According to Sullivan, our religious impulses have not disappeared, they have simply migrated to other domains. In America, the right’s religious fervour is concentrated in the attaining and securing of power. Salvation comes via the levers of politics. The left embraces an activistic narrative of social and moral progress. Here, too, salvation often comes via politics. Both views function as religions for their adherents.
This is perhaps nowhere more evident than in this paragraph where Sullivan compares the “Great Awakening” with the “Great Awokening”:

And so the young adherents of the Great Awokening exhibit the zeal of the Great Awakening. Like early modern Christians, they punish heresy by banishing sinners from society or coercing them to public demonstrations of shame, and provide an avenue for redemption in the form of a thorough public confession of sin. “Social justice” theory requires the admission of white privilege in ways that are strikingly like the admission of original sin. A Christian is born again; an activist gets woke.

The article has me thinking that whatever else the old religions may or may not have going for them, at least they were explicit about what they were. Few things get as tiresome as politics and irreligion masquerading as religion.
***
Those I work with on the preaching schedule for our church regularly hear me say something like, “We need to have a guest speaker soon. I’m getting sick of hearing my own voice.” I usually say this with a bit of a grin on my face. Sometimes I’d just like a break from sermon prep. But there’s a deeper reason. I really do believe that people benefit from encountering Jesus through a different set of theological goggles than my own.
The other day, I heard a preacher I respect talk about a mid-life/mid-faith course correction he had undergone. He finally encountered the “unvarnished Jesus,” he said. I wonder about that. I know what he’s trying to say. He came to a truer, deeper understanding of Jesus, one more faithful to the gospels, one less encumbered by the trappings of his own culture and the theological biases in which he was raised. I get all that. But do we ever encounter an “unvarnished Jesus?”
I don’t think so. This is one of my worries as someone who preaches 40+ times a year—that my congregation gets a Jesus that is heavily refracted through what I think is important, through what I prefer to ignore, through my agenda for the church, through my constellation of existential anxieties. It’s not that I think my Jesus is wrong or deficient. But I’m just barely smart enough to know that he’s incomplete.
Thank God for other voices. And thank God that preaching is only one way that the risen Christ encounters people on the road.
***
One of the albums that’s been getting regular play in the headphones these days is Muse’s new one, “Simulation Theory.” I’m a sucker for anthemic rock full of grandiose lyrics, and Muse has always supplied both of these in abundance. Usually, after a few songs I’m just about ready to march out to protest something or stick it to the man. Just about.
There’s a song on their most recent album called “Thought Contagion” that takes direct aim at our post-truth, fake news times with megalomaniacal leaders spurred on by populist mobs.

You’ve been bitten by a true believer
You’ve been bitten by someone who’s hungrier than you
You’ve been bitten by a true believer
You’ve been bitten by someone’s false beliefs
Thought contagion
Thought contagion

It’s an understandable response to a truly odious cultural phenomenon. But the language is interesting, isn’t it? Nasty beliefs that we disagree with are described in the language of predation and disease. It’s “true believers” that are the problem. They spread their ugliness like a virus and if we’re lucky (or smart/virtuous) enough, we’ll stave off the infection. Our beliefs (i.e., right-thinking people’s beliefs) are the result of rational reflection and general decency. We are not “true believers” but “free thinkers.” At least so we are pleased to tell ourselves.
My skepticism of human nature and how we form/maintain our beliefs has a broader application than Muse’s, I think. “Thought contagions” seem to me come in all kinds of different strains, and we’re all more vulnerable to them that we might want to admit.
***
I was recently invited to speak on a panel next year about evolution and faith. One of my co-panelists evidently comes from an apologetics organization and wanted each of us to articulate our “positions” on evolution beforehand to aid in his preparation. I’ll confess that I groaned inwardly when the email came through.
There are two reasons for my groaning. First, the thought of going into battle in the Christian apologetics wars holds pretty much zero appeal to me. There was a time when this might have excited me, but that time has evidently passed. Haggling over the age of the earth and the one correct interpretation of a handful of bible passages isn’t something that exactly sets my pulse a-racing these days.
Second, I really dislike this assumption that we ought to be able to produce a “position” on an “issue” on demand. “Positions” on “issues” very often end up relegating more important things (like people) to the sidelines. I’d much rather talk about what’s going on behind the positions about issues. What views of God are operating? What existential hungers are being fed or starved?  What unspoken hopes and fears are lingering around the periphery? And so on.
I’ll likely lose the battle over the age of the earth. My “position” probably isn’t as well-fortified as it ought to be. But who knows, maybe an interesting conversation or two will materialize once the swords are set aside and truth is treated less as an artifact to protect than a puzzle to explore.

Syndicated from Rumblings

Podcast: Dear Greg: My Husband is Anti-Theist, What Should I Do?

A godly house with an unbelieving spouse. Greg discusses unbelieving partners.   Send Questions To: Dan: @thatdankent Email: askgregboyd@gmail.com Twitter: @reKnewOrg http://traffic.libsyn.com/askgregboyd/Episode_0418.mp3 Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher | Google Play | RSS Art: “First World War: A Ward in a Hospital Ship” by: Godfrey Jervis Gordan date: 1917
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The Point of the Book of Job

The point of the book of Job is to teach us that the mystery of evil is a mystery of a war-torn and unfathomably complex creation, not the mystery of God’s all-controlling will. Given how Christians are yet inclined to look for a divine reason behind catastrophes and personal tragedies, ...
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How a deep and growing divide is killing Protestant christianity – or maybe renewing it!

Right from the earliest days, there have always been disagreements within the christian community. Some are resolved, but some lead to major splits, new denominations or new doctrinal positions. I have the feeling that a major, and probably irreversible, divergence is brewing in the western Protestant church, between those we may label “evangelical” and those … Continue reading How a deep and growing divide is killing Protestant christianity – or maybe renewing it!
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Podcast: How Can We Be Confident in Christianity With SO Many Other Religions in the World?

Greg considers the abundant religious perspectives available to us, defends faith in Christ, and considers whether agnosticism is appropriate—all in less that 6 mind-bending minutes!

Send Questions To:
Dan: @thatdankent
Email: askgregboyd@gmail.com
Twitter: @reKnewOrg

http://traffic.libsyn.com/askgregboyd/Episode_0259.mp3

Subscribe:
iTunes | Stitcher | Google Play | RSS

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7 Shocking Things Atheists Have Denied

Morality. Logic. Themselves. It seems like when some atheists try to deny the existence of God, they also need to deny the existence of some very fundamental things. In this video, I talk about the seven strangest denials I have heard from various atheists.

 

Filed under: Evangelism & Missions
Syndicated from Holy Spirit Activism

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