Posts tagged ‘apologetics’
Every so often I am simply astonished by how theologically minded individuals can perform radical surgery on the Bible to cop out of adherence to moral depravities. What further amuses me is the blatantly ignorant “there are no Biblical contradictions” statement. Biblical depravity and contradiction always rears its head whenever criticism of the Old Testament is at hand. Defenders of Biblical integrity then argue that we cannot know God’s plan and so examples of child sacrifice and genocide may be brushed aside – sometimes God just needs to get his hands dirty to get the job done (and because those Egyptians and Hittites were going to sheol anyway). But do these sweeping apologetic brushes do for the law what they can do for their god’s character?
Any Biblical scholar, Christian or otherwise, knows that the Jewish religion is built on a strictly adhered to and enforced law of God, the Mitzvah: the 613 commands found in the Torah. This law is somewhat problematic for contemporary Biblical literalists for several reasons, the most obvious being that it just isn’t cool to put people to death for everything anymore…
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. – John 14:6 (NASB)
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” -Matt 26:18-20 (NASB)
And if we really believe this, we will share this news with the world. Because Jesus told us to. Because he is the only way. And I did.
I witnessed with all the faithfulness and fervor that I could muster, because I believed it all. I would hang out at the bus depot and airport handing out Jack Chick tracts to strangers (this was the pre-9/11 world). I would pray outside bars and stripjoints, hoping to catch people as they walked outside and convince them of their sinful ways. I would tell my mother and father, brother and sister about the Jesus that I knew, our Savior who was the only way to our salvation…
On my previous blog entry, Dan made the following comment in an attempt to save us:
A common claim made by atheists/skeptics is that they do not have enough proof of God to actually believe, and that one doesn’t need absolute knowledge to deny the existence of a deity. Well, to be right, you do. You are, however, content with making absolute claims without absolute knowledge.
The atheist would likely then reply: “You seem to believe 100% that God exists without absolute knowledge to substantiate your claim.”
Let’s look at the following verse, which I’m sure many of you have read several times but now overlook: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they [unbelievers] are without excuse.”…
If Roopster doesn’t mind me clogging up his blog, let me share with you something I wrote for a friend on Lewis’ Trilemma (which as I understand Lewis actually got from Chesterton). This is presented thusly on p55 of Mere Christianity:
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic–on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg–or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
If you type this into Google, you’ll find thousands of Christian websites that apparently feel this is a high point of Christian apologetics. It’s actually illogical and uninformed, and it does not reflect well on people who accept it as serious thinking…
Blessed are they that have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when [men] shall reproach you, and persecute you, and say all kind of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven… You are the light of the world. (Matthew 5:10-14a)
It could be argued that this is the beginning of the Christian persecution complex – or at least the reason for it. Of course, the early church had plenty of “valid” reasons to be persecuted – their core beliefs were directly opposed to the established Jewish community from which they arose and, furthermore, the early Christians, especially of the Pauline variety, were downright treasonous in the eyes of the Caesar-worship of the time. These beliefs had little to do with morality, and everything to do with loyalty. Martyrdom – not the kamikaze murderous kind of present extremism – became an increasingly noble cause. In the time of Ignatius – writing in the late 1st century, possibly predating some canonical gospels and pseudo-Pauline epistles – martyrdom was perhaps the single greatest act of faith that a Christian could show (see Ignatius’ letter to the Romans). It was, after all, the ultimate act of following Christ…
Here’s a typical Christian claim (from A Christian on the Sidelines):
The Agnostic/Atheist is attempting to explain religion through empirical methods while Theists attempt the same by using theology. The mixing of these concepts into the other field is a clear injustice to both disciplines.
But is this really true? Is it true that theology sits on the primary, or even exclusive rights to say something about religion and gods? I happen to think that this is false; in fact, I think theology is little more than the rational analysis of theologians’ imaginations. Since theologians often have a rather good imagination, I will in this post use my imagination. For completeness, I’ve written about this before, but what I will say now isn’t exactly the same.
Imagine that I believe that the Moon is made of cheese. Now, being naturally curious, I start thinking about the implications of having a satellite made of cheese for Earth, and what current observations can tell us about the type of cheese that the Moon is made of, and countless other issues that a moon made of cheese would raise. After some time, I come to the conclusion that not only the Moon, but all other celestial bodies are made of cheese. Then I start publishing my investigations into the heavenly bodies and the material they’re made of. Only, I don’t publish my papers through the usual scientific means; instead, I found a whole new field, which I call Astronomical Cheesology.
In my last semester of my undergraduate studies, I took a seminar course on the early Christian church in Thessalonika. Much of the source material was, of course, Paul’s “first” letter to the Thessalonians – that is, the first letter that shows up in the Christian canon and that we have available to us. During my research for my term paper I came across some interesting statements regarding Paul, made by some very famous people in the last several centuries (there are several lists like this on the internet). It appears that Benjamin Franklin serendipitously anticipated this onslaught against Paul when he declared at Samuel Hemphill’s synod trial, “A virtuous heretic shall be saved before a wicked Christian.” Has modernity and postmodernity declared war on Paul? Are the attacks warranted? How do contemporary theologians defend such assaults?
St. Paul then, it seems, preach’d another and quite different Gospel from what was preach’d by Peter and the other Apostles. (Thomas Morgan, The Moral Philosopher, 1737)