Archive for the 'Atheism' Category
Bishop NT Wright has come under a little heat in TimesOnline this morning with regards to his view on the embryo study plan. Atheist writer, David Aaronovitch, thinks Tom Wright has been making outrageous claims about atheists and secularists lobbying for the right to kill unborn babies and elderly folk. We await a response from the Bishop…
(HT – David MacGregor)
After watching those Ehrman lectures I was wondering to myself how I might pastor people who came to me distressed after reading a book like ‘Misquoting Jesus‘ or far less scholarly literature like the ‘Da Vinci Code‘. So I did some searching around to see how many people have written academic responses to these sorts of works but written them at a popular level – as Ehrman himself does. Now we all know about the glut of literature written in response to the ‘Da Vinci Code‘ but what else is out there?
What I noticed, without having read much of it at all, but through reading reviews by other top scholars, is that there seems to be a whole lot of really decent literature out their refuting people like Ehrman, Price, Pagels and of course Mr. Brown. Top evangelical scholars like Darrell Bock, Daniel Wallace, NT Wright, and others have written quite a few works. And so in once sense I’m glad that Ehrman and co. wrote these books because its made a whole lot of good Christian scholarship, in this area, available to so many more people than we previously had. As has always been the case in history, the church is writing theology for each occasion and there is some quality coming out.
Being the birthday and all its time for another trip down memory lane. We’ve already had one trip back into the archives to find posts that I wished had received a bit of a wider readership but today’s nostalgic trip picks up the posts that drew a bit of heat and fire for various reasons. I suppose you can’t really write a blog with conviction and not stir up the pot from time to time. Well here are the posts that either stirred up others or posts where I got a opinionated:
Charismatics and Conservatives Together (15/09/07) – funny that the controversy this post stirred up had little to do with Charismatics or Conservatives coming together. Go figure.
Witherington and Progressive Revelation (21/09/07) – on this one, as much as I respect and admire him, as much as I and read his blog daily, I just couldn’t stomach Dr. Witherington’s understanding of the unfolding of doctrinal accuracy through the course of redemptive history. In fact I still can’t stomach it or justify it from scripture.
Reading Romans 7 and the Evangelical Conviction (11/10/07) – proof that even your own teammates shoot you sometimes (just kidding Kim – all’s forgiven).
“God is Dead” – But was he ever alive? (26/10/07) – a catchy title goes wrong…
Why I don’t Stone People (14/11/07) – I seem to have a fan base of atheists who visit this blog quite regularly. This post resulted in a bit of frivolous banter between us.
What is the Gospel – An Open Forum (28/11/07) – ok so this post didn’t really draw all that much heat, except for that one guy disagreeing with me, Tim Keller, I mean who does he think he is? It’s not like he’s got a Facebook appreciation group that’s bigger than all my friends combined!
Proudly South African (17/12/07) – who knew that being a patriot would rattle the cages a bit?
Golden Compass Christian Hernia (17/12/07) – I managed to unsettle some folks twice in one day! There’s a simple math formula for topics like the Golden Compass if you haven’t figured it out yet. It goes like this: Golden Compass + Christian Blog = Controversy + Lot’s of hits! I couldn’t resist throwing my two cents in.
So far 2008 has been controversy free. Although I’m probably not going to shy away from the posts that stir a bit let’s just pray that I stir in godly way – there is such a thing.
This whole Golden Compass thing is really causing a ridiculous number of Christians to get their knickers in a knot. The Facebook group entitled “Do NOT Support the Golden Compass” had 158 873 members at the time of me writing this post. That’s 158 873 people who haven’t read 1 Corinthians 5 and Paul telling the Corinthian church not judge non-Christians for behaving like non-Christians. Seriously what do you expect? People might say ‘but they kill God in the end!’ – but if you start judging here where do you stop? Should I be picketing the sequel for Finding Nemo if it ever comes out?
I think the movie is great gospel opportunity. It puts God-talk on the table and its a great chance to talk about the God who really was killed by non-Christians 2000 years ago. Let’s focus on the main things and not have hernias over talking polar bears!
It’s amazing how many different denominations join forces and mobilise with such efficiency when something like this happens. Church groups join together to draw up petitions, preachers call on their congregations to boycott the media, churches march in protest, etc, etc. I often wonder how effective the Christian church would be if they put as much energy and zeal into fighting more pressing problems. I know some churches do good work in in improving society, but imagine if the same kind of mass mobilisation from different denominations was used to fight issues such as crime, unemployment or poverty. Imagine the difference it would make!
The South African blogsphere is getting quite a bit of mileage out of 5fm DJ, Gareth Cliff’s anti-Christian comments:
As I read through all the comments left on these posts and the details about the actual story two things depress me: Religious nut-jobs and militant atheists. It seems like every-time I read about Christians in the secular media its always the nut-job types passing around petitions and having a hernia because non-Christians are (wait for it…shock and horror!) behaving like non-Christians! Then come the militant atheists who portray all religion as a manipulative power tool. The only parts of religious history they seem to remember are the Spanish Inquisition and the Crusades.
Oh for some balance in the dialogue!
I’ve had a very relaxing weekend, Arsenal won and Man Utd lost so all is good in the world of football (and that’s not that weird sport that you Americans play where the ball barely ever touches your foot). Amongst the lazy happenings of this weekend there were a few links that caught my eye:
John Piper responds to what I thought were some silly comments by Ben Witherington.
Tim Chester is telling stories for a non-book culture.
Spirituality is being discussed at Emergent Africa. The definitions of spirituality being tossed around seem somewhat undefined to me, don’t you think?
Perspective from a different angle: An atheist shares about how his atheism has given him new found respect for nature. I found this fascinating yet I was also deeply saddened by it as I thought about the numerous Psalms penned about the glory of God revealed in nature.
A Friend of mine asked me to respond to the following piece of writing from the book ‘The End of Faith’ by Sam Harris:
…we must decide what it means to be a religious “moderate” in the twenty first century. Moderates in every faith are obliged to loosely interpret (or simply ignore) much of their canons in the interests of living in the modern world…The first thing to observe about the moderates’ retreat from scriptural literalism is that it draws its inspiration not from scripture but from cultural developments that have rendered many of God’s utterances difficult to accept as written. In America, religious moderation is further enforced by the fact that most Christians and Jews do not read the Bible in its entirety and consequently have no idea just how vigorously the God of Abraham wants heresy expunged. One look at Deuteronomy reveals that he has something very specific in mind should you son or daughter return from yoga class advocating the worship of Krishna:
“6 If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods that neither you nor your fathers have known, 7 gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), 8 do not yield to him or listen to him. Show him no pity. Do not spare him or shield him. 9 You must certainly put him to death. Your hand must be the first in putting him to death, and then the hands of all the people. 10 Stone him to death, because he tried to turn you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 11 Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and no one among you will do such an evil thing again.”
While the stoning of children has fallen out of fashion in this country, you will not hear a moderate Christian or Jew arguing for a “symbolic” reading of a passage of this sort. (In fact one seems to be explicitly blocked by God himself…
Deuteronomy 12:32 (New International Version)
32 See that you do all I command you; do not add to it or take away from it.
The above passage is as canonical as any in the bible, and it is only by ignoring such barbarisms that the Good Book can be reconciled with life in the modern world. This is a problem for “moderation” in religion: it has nothing underwriting it other than the unacknowledged neglect of the divine law.’
So the question i pose is ‘are religious moderates either ignorant or deliberately ignoring certain parts of the bible?’
‘is being uninformed a requirement for being religious in the modern world?’
Here’s my initial reply:
Context, context, context!!!
The Bible is an unfolding narrative of redemptive history.
Those laws were given to a group of people who lived in a theocratic state governed solely by God through the Mosaic law and his manifest presence in the Tabernacle.
So here’s my answer as to why I don’t obey that specific command:
1. I don’t live in an earthly theocracy.
2. The NT makes it abundantly clear that Christ both fulfills the law (I take that to be in a prophetic sense) and frees us from obeying the law slavishly.
3. Hence I interpret all of the Mosaic law (613 commandments) through the lens of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
4. Those laws were given for judgment inside the covenant community. According to Paul, in 1 Corinthians 5 we are to continue this internal judgment by expelling those who claim to be believers but refuse to repent of blatant sin – I still keep this law.
5. That same passage in 1 Corinthians 5 tells us not to judge those outside the church – and so I won’t stone people outside for idolatry.
6. The Gospel of Christ now judges people, I proclaim the message thereby bringing judgment on all who hear and refuse to repent and install Christ as king – and BTW this judgment is a hell of a lot worse than simply being stoned! Excuse the pun.
I could probably come up with more – but that’s a start.
I am NOT a Christian moderate – I am a radical, Jesus has called me to die to self and become a servant to all – in some ways its easier to stone someone then really obey that command.
Well Friedrich Nietzche did think so at one stage as Jeff points out.