You would think – and the man in the pub almost certainly thinks – that the further in time we are away from the life and times of Jesus the less we can know about him with any degree of certainty. If true that would be reason enough not to give Christianity a second look. But the facts work in exactly the opposite direction. The more time that has elapsed the more evidence we discover, for example, that the gospels that record the life and death and resurrection of Jesus are the gospels of antiquity and are a reliable record with regards the events that took place. And yet over that same time there remains an unbroken silence with regards any other 1st century documents that work the other way.
The Christian in the 21st century has more good reasons to believe that his faith is true than believers at any other time since the death of the apostles.
Here’s a great presentation of some of the arguments from Dr. Daniel B. Wallace of the Ehrman project.
1. Christianity is not just for Sunday. BIogs can help people connect their faith to what is going on in the world around them Monday to Saturday and yet do so in just a few minutes a day.
2. Nothing in the world is going to encourage Christians to keep thinking great thoughts about Christ through the week. Blogs can help lift our eyes so that we set our hearts and minds on Christ.
3. We need a Christian perspective and sometimes a Christian corrective on much that is broadcast in our media. Blogs offer a forum for a Christian response which would only come after a number of weeks for regular Christian newspapers.
4. Blogs help us in our evangelism by offering an apologetic against bad arguments and godless ideas as well as a response to hot topics (see 3 above).
5. Blogs can be a place for evangelism offering a shop window into the Christian faith as non-Christians stumble across our site.
6. Blogging as a form of public journaling keeps the author thinking and keeps their thoughts fresh as they write. Blogging is therefore a good discipline for pastors amongst others.
7. Blogging is a great way of teaching on topics best digested in bite-size pieces. So a series of posts on say parenting may work best over a short series with maybe one key application a day to work on and pray through.
8. Blogging can start a conversation on a topic that enables people to take it further. A review of a book encourages people to read it, links to other sites deepens an understanding by providing complimentary perspectives and more info.
10. Some issues are not for everyone so rather than a spot in a church meeting people can pick and choose from a variety of topics by using for example the tag cloud.
11. Blogging is a way of creating awareness of issues unknown to us eg. highlighting the needs of the suffering church.
12. Blogging is a great way to share ideas and develop ministries. eg. You might make new connections as you share what is going on in your own church with others.
this decision does affect the human rights of the defendants to manifest their religion and forces them to act in a manner contrary to their deeply and genunily held belief
Wouldn’t life be simple if before Darwin came along all Christians interpreted Genesis 1-3 as literal history. The following quote from Origen, written around 231 AD, shows how far from the truth such a view of church history would be.
Now who is there, pray, possessed of understanding, that will regard the statement as appropriate, that the first day, and the second, and the third, in which also both evening and morning are mentioned, existed without sun, and moon, and stars— the first day even without a sky? And who is found so ignorant as to suppose that God, as if He had been a husbandman, planted trees in paradise, in Eden towards the east, and a tree of life in it, i.e., a visible and palpable tree of wood, so that anyone eating of it with bodily teeth should obtain life, and, eating again of another tree, should come to the knowledge of good and evil? No one, I think, can doubt that the statement that God walked in the afternoon in paradise, and that Adam lay hid under a tree, is related figuratively in Scripture, that some mystical meaning may be indicated by it.
What Origen, one of the great church Fathers, makes apparent is that as long as there has been a church there have existed a whole variety of views on how to handle the early chapters of Genesis. All held with a passion by Bible-believing Christians.
Luther writes in the introduction to this Commentary on Genesis of chapter one:
There has not been anyone in the church who has explained everything in the chapter with adequate skill.
And so it is then that in our own day a growing number of Christians both eminent scientists and leading churchmen who are making a case for the compatibility of the early chapters of Genesis with the theory of evolution. I want today to draw attention to three leading Christian Biologists and three world-renowned Christian Pastors and theologians by way of a sample. At this stage I’m not seeking to comment on their views.
Leading evangelical scientists who have written in support of theistic evolution include:
Dr. Francis Collins – A physician and geneticist who was appointed Director of the National Institutes of Health (US) by President Obama. He is a winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom (the highest civilian honour given by the president, for revolutionizing genetic research) and has also received the National Medal of Science. He is the author of The Language of God and founder of the Biologos Forum.
Dr. Dennis Alexander – The Director of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, St Edmund’s College, Cambridge, where he is a Fellow. For many years he was Chairman of the Molecular Immunology Programme in Cambridge. Since 1992 he has been Editor of the journal Science & Christian Belief. He is the author of Creation or Evolution: Do we have to choose?
Professor R.J. Berry – Professor of Genetics at Univeristy College London between 1974-2000 and winner of the Templeton UK Individual Award for progress in religion. He has written God and the Biologist: Faith at the Frontiers of Science.
We might not be surprised to find scientists who believe endorsing an evolutionary model of creation but what may be surprising to us are the growing number of high-profile, well respected pastors and theologians who are ready to recognize evolution as a model compatible with the Genesis account.
Tim Keller – Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York. In his New York Times Top 10 book The Reason for God he writes:
For the record I think God guided some kind of process of natural selection, and yet I reject the concept of evolution as All-encompassing Theory. (p.94)
For a fuller statement from Keller visit here.
John Stott – Rector Emeritus of All Souls Church, London. Time magazine, as recently as 2005, voted John Stott as one of the 100 most influencial people in the world.
Stott writes in his BST commentary on Romans:
The evidence of Genesis 2-4 is that Adam was a Neolithic farmer. The New Stone Age ran from about 10,000 to 6,000 BC.
When considering the human fossil record and skeleton record he concludes by suggesting that homo habilis and homo erectus were:
All pre-Adamic hominids, still homo sapiens and not yet homo divines, if we may so style Adam .
JI Packer – British born theologian and author. In 2005 Time magazine voted him one of the 25 most influencial evangelicals in North America.
The following is taken from Wikipedia entry on Packer and evolution:
In 2008 Packer wrote an endorsement for a book called ‘Creation or Evolution: Do We have to Choose?’ by Denis Alexander. The book advocates theistic evolution and is critical of Intelligent Design. Packer said of the book: ‘Surely the best informed, clearest and most judicious treatment of the question in its title that you can find anywhere today.’ This perhaps reveals Packer’s current position in the evolution/intelligent design debate.
However, he has also expressed caution as to whether the theory of evolution is actually true, ‘its only a hypothesis… its only a guess… so as science, in terms of philosophy of science… evolution is by no means proven and as a guess it is very strange and contrary to all analogies…‘ He also said, ‘the biblical narratives of creation… don’t obviously say anything that bears one way or another on the question of whether the evolutionary hypothesis might be true or not…‘
The most recent information on Packer’s position on evolution comes from his foreword to Reclaiming Genesis by Melvin Tinker. Reclaiming Genesis is a ‘pro-evolution’ book with the subtitle ‘The Theatre of God’s Glory – Or a Scientific Story?’ in it Packer writes “Melvin Tinker is fully on wavelength in this lively and enlivening series of expositions. His book is wise, popular, and powerful. I heartily commend it.”
It’s hard to imagine that human eyeballs on toast could be the title of my favourite track from 2010 but it is. I’ll let Peter Broderick explain the title in his own words;
In order for this song to make sense, you have to imagine that I am a chicken. More specifically, a chicken in a factory farm, being raised for consumption by humans. When I wrote this song, I had just finished reading the book Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. This brave and wildly informational book stirred up so many things inside me, when I sat down at the piano to write vocals over the top of this piano melody, I imagined myself as a chicken and these words just came out.
Battery Cages will be made illegal in the EU from 2012.
HUMAN EYEBALLS ON TOAST
feathers and a cage too small
chemicals that make us tall too fast
all my friends look the same
all of us feel the same pain
artificial sunlight here
perfectly calibrated year
and it feels wrong
so every time i see a man
i dream about his face in a frying pan
human eyeballs on toast
but when they seared off my beak
i realized just how weak we are
and if i had a bigger brain i’d surely find a way
to take my own life
i’d end it all right here before my meat is how they want it
but that might be the only part of my body
that you haven’t tried to change
my altered life is the worst miracle my peanut can’t imagine
There are a growing number of evangelical Christians including eminent theologians and scientists who are ready to embrace evolution as the divine mechanism through which God created the world and human beings. See Creation & Evolution: Do we have to choose by Denis Alexander the director of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion at St Edmund’s College, Cambridge, a molecular biologist and an author on science and religion for one example.
In his foreward to the book Should Christians Embrace Evolution Wayne Grudem summarises at least eight reasons for rejecting theistic evolution.
If evolution was the mechanism through which God created then;
1) Adam and Eve were not the first human beings, but they were just two Neolithic farmers among about ten million other human beings on earth at that time, and God just chose to reveal himself to them in a personal way.
2) Those other human beings had already been seeking to worship and serve God or gods in their own ways
3) Adam was not specially formed by God or ‘dust from the ground’ (Gen. 2:7) but had two human parents.
4) Eve was not directly made by God out of a ‘rib that the Lord God had taken from the man’ (Gen. 2:22), but she also had two human parents.
5) Many human beings both then and now are not descended from Adam and Eve.
6) Adam and Eve’s sin was not the first sin.
7) Human physical death had occurred for thousands of years before Adam and Eve’s sin – it was part of the way living things had always existed.
8) God did not impose any alteration in the natural world when he cursed the ground because of Adam’s sin.
I’m meeting with a number of ministers today and tomorrow to assess these eight claims that evolution and biblical account of creation are irreconcilable.
If you’re interested in a summary of some of Denis Alexander’s views you might be interested in the following.
Ever wondered how to encourage students to feed themselves by reading great books?
1. Meet 1-2-1 to read with students ie teaching students how to read by reading with them
2. Book clubs – ‘opt in’ open invitations to join a group. The group could meet for 2 hours. In the first hour people read the material silently and in the second hour you discuss. A variation on this is to read an audiobook by listening to it together and then discussing.
3. Reading weeks eg end of term or end of year getaways with the aim of read through one book, talking and praying in the big points.
4. Peer-to-peer reading initiatives. Pick a book and encourage students to read it with each other in small groups of 2 or 3. Invite students to feedback in the student meeting on how it’s going
5. Regularly review books in services and student meetings
6. Get students to review books in student meetings – teach them how to review a book well
7. Blog about books
8. Give books away in meetings – really. Maybe after reviewing a book offer a free one to the first 2 people who put a hand up.
9. Get good books into the hands of students through a good book stall
10. Get into good reading habits yourself and modelling to students how to read well
11. Mention good books in sermons and talks
12. Offer a challenge eg ‘1,000,000 word challenge’. If you read for 15 minutes a day, six days a week you’ll read a million words in a year. That’s 20 decent size books.
13. Provide ideas on what to read by giving a balanced book list. Maybe put 12 books on the list to encourage them to read one book a term and one for the summer for each of their three years.
14. Teach on the value and need for reading: Seminar(s) on ‘why read, what to read, how to read’
15. Focus on getting leaders to read. Develop habits in young leaders not just to be buyers of books but readers.
16. Read books as a church staff team or as a student team.
17. Read 4 books a year with apprentices or ministry trainees
18. Help students to read classic books by running a short series in church maybe something like ‘books that changed the world’ eg Pilgrim’s Progress
19. Inspire the reading of classics by watching a film on Luther and then reading Freedom of a Christian or watching the Francis Schaeffer story and reading a Schaeffer book.
20. Inspire the reading of classics by doing a short biography in a service of the life of the author
21. Compel students to read evangelistic books that they will then give away to their friends.
Mock the Christian?
Have you watched Come fly with me, the new comedy by Little Britain stars Matt Lucas and David Walliams? As with LB it’s very much a character-based comedy and in parts is quite funny with some of the characters pretty well-observed. But they can’t resist having a pop at Christians.
Meet Precious Little
Matt Lucas comments: “Precious Little is a lady who works at the coffee kiosk. A jolly West Indian lady, middle-aged, who enjoys gospel music and she’s a Christian and is seemingly never able to open her kiosk, she’s always missing a vital ingredient – the coffee’s gone missing, or the water isn’t working, or the cups have gone missing. And then there’s something mysterious going on – I’m not going to tell you any more!”
Let’s look at Precious from episode 2:
And so the joke runs through each episode that Precious deliberately sabotages the Coffee shop, providing her with the excuse to close the shop and find something else to do. Continue reading »
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