Browsing articles from "December, 2010"
Dec 10, 2010
neil

How atheists are made (sometimes)

A couple of days ago we considered the remarkable story of how atheist and arch-enemy of Christianity AN Wilson rediscovered his Christian faith.

In a follow up article in the Daily Mail Wilson set out some of the reasons he had become an atheist along with his route home to faith. I hope by looking at it together it will give us renewed confidence in our faith and a fresh desire to share it with others.

Like having spots

One of Wilson’s key insights looking back on his life is that his atheism rested not on the fact that Christianity is no longer believable but that it has become so deeply unfashionable. Our culture is much more than secular (in which it would simply ignore matters of faith). Our culture is in fact deeply anti-religious. It’s not satisfied to leave Christianity alone it seeks out opportunity to give it a good beating.

Wilson, in his article, examines how the media-pundits and intelligencia in British society systematically attack and ridicule Christianity.

‘Like most educated people in Britain and Northern Europe (I was born in 1950), I have grown up in a culture that is overwhelmingly secular and anti-religious. The universities, broadcasters and media generally are not merely non-religious, they are positively anti.

To my shame, I believe it was this that made me lose faith and heart in my youth. It felt so uncool to be religious. With the mentality of a child in the playground, I felt at some visceral level that being religious was unsexy, like having spots or wearing specs.

This playground attitude accounts for much of the attitude towards Christianity that you pick up, say, from the alternative comedians, and the casual light blasphemy of jokes on TV or radio.

It also lends weight to the fervour of the anti-God fanatics, such as the writer Christopher Hitchens and the geneticist Richard Dawkins, who think all the evil in the world is actually caused by religion.

The vast majority of media pundits and intelligentsia in Britain are unbelievers, many of them quite fervent in their hatred of religion itself.

The Guardian’s fanatical feminist-in-chief, Polly Toynbee, is one of the most dismissive of religion and Christianity in particular. She is president of the British Humanist Association, an associate of the National Secular Society and openly scornful of the millions of Britons who will quietly proclaim their faith in Church tomorrow.

‘Of all the elements of Christianity, the most repugnant is the notion of the Christ who took our sins upon himself and sacrificed his body in agony to save our souls. Did we ask him to?’ she asked in a puerile article decrying the wickedness of C.S. Lewis’s Narnia stories, which have bewitched children for more than 50 years. Or, to take another of her utterances: ‘When absolute God-given righteousness beckons, blood flows and women are in chains.’

The sneering Ms Toynbee, like Richard Dawkins, believes in rational explanations for our existence and behaviour. She is deeply committed to the Rationalist Association, but her approach to religion is too fanatical to be described as rational.’ Continue reading »

Dec 9, 2010
neil

No better time

Is there a better time to invite your friends, colleagues, family, neighbours…

Let us ‘make the most of every opportunity’ Col.4:5

Share the Good News of Christmas from Crossway on Vimeo.

Dec 8, 2010
neil

Why I believe again

As a young Christian the man we had to contend with was AN Wilson. He just seemed to have it in for us Christians.  He wrote a biography of CS Lewis in which in page after page he worked hard to  erode my confidence in the man, his faith and his reasoned defense of Christianity. But Wilson wasn’t satisfied to rob me of CS Lewis.  He followed it up with a booklet entitled ‘Against Religion: Why we should live without it’ and then he wrote a book on Jesus himself denying his deity and reducing him to the place of a merely misguided end-time ‘prophet’ of liberal Christianity. Perhaps my biggest problem was not Wilson but the media’s delight in him and his books. Time and again his  views were splashed across the papers and Christians were once again in retreat.

Born-again unbeliever

Here is how AN Wilson describes his own conversion to atheism:

I can remember almost yelling that reading C S Lewis’s Mere Christianity made me a non-believer – not just in Lewis’s version of Christianity, but in Christianity itself. On that occasion, I realised that after a lifetime of churchgoing, the whole house of cards had collapsed for me – the sense of God’s presence in life, and the notion that there was any kind of God, let alone a merciful God, in this brutal, nasty world. As for Jesus having been the founder of Christianity, this idea seemed perfectly preposterous. In so far as we can discern anything about Jesus from the existing documents, he believed that the world was about to end, as did all the first Christians. So, how could he possibly have intended to start a new religion for Gentiles, let alone established a Church or instituted the Sacraments? It was a nonsense, together with the idea of a personal God, or a loving God in a suffering universe. Nonsense, nonsense, nonsense.

As a hesitant, doubting, religious man I’d never known how they felt. But, as a born-again atheist, I now knew exactly what Continue reading »

Dec 7, 2010
neil

People are embarrassed to believe in God

People are embarrassed to believe in God so confesses Victoria Coren in an article in the Guardian over the weekend. And so as a believer in God herself she bemoans the lack of quick-witted, thinking, believers able to stand up to the growing assault of radical atheism.

'me a Christian?'

She writes: ‘Lord Carey (previous Archbishop of Canterbury) complained last week that Britain is ashamed to celebrate Christmas as a religious festival. It’s bigger than that: people are embarrassed to believe in God at all. They feel silly.

There is a new, false distinction between “believers” and “rationalists”. The trickle-down Dawkins effect has got millions of people thinking that faith is ignorant and childish, with atheism the smart and logical position

Coren wants Christians to pick up the gauntlet and respond!  It’s time for Christians to expose the illogicality of atheism (after all you simply can’t prove a negative and Dawkins when pushed on the matter in debate with Professor John Lennox admits that he is an agnostic rather than an atheist).  We need to reveal the intellectual poverty of atheism in its answers to questions of morality and to demonstrate the falsity of the claim that religion is to blame for everything by showing how the course of human history and the Continue reading »

Dec 6, 2010
neil

Don’t starve yourself

Don Carson has said ‘we don’t pray because we don’t plan to pray’.  The same can be said of reading. In a culture saturated with more immediate forms of amusement we find it so much easier to be entertained than educated.  Reading takes effort, reading requires energy,reading means discipline, reading is never achieved without organisation. But reading is essential to our spiritual lives.

In a short series of posts I want to ask Why read? What to read? How to read?

Why read?

1. Read because it will grow you as a Christian

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15

The number of theological books should…be reduced, and a selection should be made of the best of them; for many books do not make men learned, nor does much reading. But reading something good, and reading it frequently, however little it may be, is the practice that makes men learned in the Scripture and makes them pious besides.

Luther

Just think how reading can change you!

Dec 5, 2010
neil

the main business

‘What were we made for? To know God. What aim should we set ourselves in life? To know God. What is the ‘eternal life’ that Jesus gives? Knowledge of God. ‘This is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent’ (John 17:3). What is the best thing in life, bringing more joy, delight, and contentment, than anything else? Knowledge of God. ‘Thus saith the LORD, Let no the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches; but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knowth me’ (Jer. 9:23f.).What, of all the states God ever sees man in, gives Him most pleasure? Knowledge of Himself. ‘I desire…the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings,’ says God (Hos.6:6).

In these few sentences we have said a great deal. Our point is one to which every Christian heart will warm, though the person whose religion is merely formal will not be moved by it. (And by this very fact his unregenerate state may be known.) What we have said provides at once a foundation, shape, and goal for our lives, plus a principle of priorities and a scale of values. Once you become aware that the main business that you are here for is to know God, most of life’s problems fall into place of their own accord.’

Jim Packer, Knowing God

Dec 3, 2010
neil

Facebook – Foe?

I’m a facebook fan as I pointed out in my earlier post but there are reasons to be cautious. Here are 13 factors that we need to bear in mind if we want to use this technology for the glory of God.

Don’t waste your life.

Procrastination. How much time is eaten up when we could be getting on with doing other, better things. Work, praying, hanging out with ‘real’ people.
Ill-discipline. How easy is it to stay up late into the night messing around – ‘just one more click’ we say to ourselves – even when friends have gone to bed we can continue ‘virtual friendships’.
Poor priorities. Fifty percent of Facebook users visit the site every day. I wonder whether even fifty percent of Christians read their Bible and pray every day. C.f. Psalm 1.
Addiction. As human beings we have sinful natures that are prone to addictive weaknesses. The very nature of certain technologies may make them harder to Continue reading »

Dec 2, 2010
neil

The reason for it all

Dec 1, 2010
neil

I wouldn’t sit there if I were you

Sawing off the branch you’re sitting on

Charles Darwin once wrote in a letter to a friend:

The horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy.

What Darwin is recognising here is that if our minds are nothing more than products of evolution from lesser animals there really has to be a doubt as to whether we should believe that they are an accurate guide to life the universe and everything.

Dawkins with some pride announces in The God Delusion that ‘our brains are themselves evolved organs’ (p.412) and because that is Continue reading »

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