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Showing posts from July, 2005

Communion hymn

The Terrible Swede has posted a communion hymn, apparently a new addition to hymnody, that I thought was well worth the link. The third stanza took my breath away -- though it makes its point better if you've read the previous stanzas before you get there.

My Article on Acts Has Been Published on Peter Kirby's Site

After three years, several drafts, plenty of late nights, and valuable feedback, my article, A Discussion of the Genre, Historicity, Authorship, and Date of Acts, is now available at Peter Kirby's Christian Origins.

Special thanks to the Cadre's own BK and Nomad for comments on earlier drafts, to Peter Kirby for his valuable comments and for placing the finished product on his website, to my Mom who is one of finest editors in the business (or out of it), and to my wife Jenny, who also provided excellent feedback as well as having a high tolerance level for my distractions and research budget. Thanks to the others who along the way have given feedback or encouragement regarding my thoughts and ideas regarding Acts.

I fully realize that in many ways my inquiry into Acts is still maturing. I hope that through additional research and by interacting with the inevitable and welcome comments and criticisms, I can continue learning about this fascinating piece of ancient literat…

Are you prepared to evangelize a Muslim?

Part I: Answering Muslim Questions

It’s past time that we should be ready, but many of us are still under-prepared. The opportunity to evangelize Muslims has been growing for a long time – but now the time is more urgent. Certain Muslim groups have prepared conversion campaigns targeted at Christians, and those who are not knowledgeable about the Bible, the atonement, the Holy Spirit, and the nature of Christ may find their own relationship to God at risk. Those in Christian leadership positions would do well to do more than simply know and defend their own stands. They would do well in guarding their sheep to make sure that their people are also prepared to understand and defend their faith. In this first part, we will look at general preparation, then a number of specific Muslim attacks commonly made against Christianity. In a future post, I hope to review other points of spreading the good news to Muslims.

General Preparation

Before discussing apologetics, it is necessary to l…

Convincing New Article Debunking Earl Doherty

A friend of mind who goes by the name GakuseiDon has written a powerful rebuttal to Earl Doherty's ideas about the second-century Christians and their attitudes about the historical Jesus. To Doherty, there were many Christian leaders in the second century who denied that Jesus existed historically. As GakuseiDon shows, Doherty's arguments are wholly unpersuasive, based on misreadings, misunderstandings, and mistranslations of the text, as well as contradicted by several more persuasive explanations. My personal favorite is summarized by Mr. Don here:

Most of the second century apologists’ ire was directed towards Marcion and the Gnostics. Strangely enough, even MJ authors like Theophilus wrote against Marcion, though his work is not extant. But in no case is there any mention of heresies involving a group of Christians who believed that Christ never walked the earth.

Doherty briefly notes the lack of writers who openly and in unmistakable words rejected the figure of a histo…

Would you allow this testimony? (Part I)

The following is a short story about a trial with a not-too-hidden analogy. In the trial, the judge is asked whether certain testimony will be allowed to raise a reasonable doubt about the guilt of a defendant. The testimony proposed, to my knowledge, has never been permitted in a criminal trial, but then I don't know of any case where anyone has ever tried to have it admitted. I am asking you to sit in the place of the judge in the case and give me your opinion as to whether the case should be admitted.

Judge Pohler sat back in his chair almost disappearing behind the large oak bench spread before him, removed his wire-framed glasses and rubbed his aching eyes. He had been up most of the previous night working on his rulings on the pre-trial motions in this second degree murder case, and found it difficult to remain focused on the opening statements. The trial was expected to be relatively short for a capital trial due the presence of three eyewitnesses to the murder.

According t…

Are American Christians Bad Christians?

Following a link provided by dokeo kago grapho soi kratistos Theophilos, I read this article, entitled “The Christian Paradox, How a Faithful Nation Gets Jesus Wrong.” The point of the article appears to be that although America is predominantly Christian, American Christians are bad Christians.

The author of the article, Bill McKibben, is a writer for Mother Jones and appears to be coming from a political rather than a religious perspective. He begins by noting that although many Americans claim to be religious, only about one-third of Americans attend church on a weekly basis. That is a fair enough criticism. I too wish more American “Christians” regularly attended services. But it seems like something of a concession that Christianity has lost, not gained, influence in America. As we will see, however, McKibben nevertheless seems to lay the blame for most of America's ills at American Christianity's doorstep. He never seems to consider the possibility that many of th…

Answering Pro-Abortion Arguments: Introduction

Here is the beginning to a new series giving persuasive, reasonable, and rational answers using science and philosophy to objections often raised from pro-abortion advocates. Many assertions are shouted by both sides of the abortion issue without really addressing the crux of the debate: the status of the unborn. Often we hear conclusions that assume the unborn is not a human being. The pro-life advocate needs to confront these blanket statements with an attractive manner butressed with an equipped mind familiar with the discussion at hand.
Where does science stand on the humanity of the unborn? Is there such thing as a "pre-embryo substitute" (clump of cells) rather than a human organism? "The term 'pre-embryo' is not used here for the following reasons: (1) it is ill-defined because it is said to end with the appearance of the primitive streak or to include neurulation; (2) it is inaccurate because purely embryonic cells can already be distinguished after a fe…

Levels of prejudice

The British police certainly don't have a reputation for violence. Living in Southern Texas as I do, where the neighboring state of Tamaulipas finds a large percentage of the police force on the payroll of the drug lords, where inquisitive reporters and honest police are killed with near-total impunity, British police have occasionally seemed like boyscouts on a not-particularly-challenging assignment. That's been changing for years, of course; stunningly rapidly in the last few weeks.

Which raises the question, "What the blazes happened last week?" An article in the Independent about the British police's execution-style killing of a Brazilian national has a picture captioned, "Wrong place, wrong time." Deep buried in the article, only an oblique reference to the other thing: wrong color.

It would be an inexcusably selective use of the facts to imagine that the British -- or whites -- or Westerners -- have an exclusive on prejudice; that's a u…

On a Related Note: Jesus Never Addressed Abortion

In Weekend Fisher's (WF) last post on slavery, WF pointed out that when it comes to social issues, "Jesus did not set himself out as a political change agent on a "social reform" platform to target one of them at the expense of others." In fact, Jesus primarily addressed the concerns of the time: idolatry, hypocracy in the Jewish leadership, love for your neighbors/enemies, and the need to lives in accordance with the will of the Father. (Oh yeah, Jesus also spent some time on that bit about salvation through Him, but that is another matter.)

Of course, another issue that draws the same type of accusation is the idea that Jesus never addressed abortion so it must be alright. This argument is usually advanced by those who believe in abortion on demand, and starts with the contention that abortion was legal at the time of Jesus' ministry, and therefore if He was really concerned about it, He should have mentioned it. But His failure to address the issue means …

Atheist claims that Jesus approved of slavery

The topic of slavery is always a hot-button topic, but in many cases the charges are made simply against Christians. Anyone who is paying attention already knows that Christians are fallible enough, sometimes failing to pay any attention at all to the teachings of Christ.

Recently, atheist activist Michael Martin has joined the numbers of those who claim that Jesus himself is immoral because we do not find him calling out specifically to abolish slavery, which Martin calls "one of the most heinous practices in the history of the human race".

Actually, the human race has quite a wide variety of heinous practices. Jesus did not set himself out as a political change agent on a "social reform" platform to target one of them at the expense of others. War, hatred, killing, all forms of crime, corrupt governments, corrupt economic systems, systematic oppression -- the list goes on of all the heinous practices and institutions with which we have filled our history. J…

God, “gods” and the First Commandment

Yesterday, while discussing Christianity in a chatroom, the discussion turned to the question of the Trinity. Now, I have an approach to the question of the Trinity that begins with a "no-brainer" question. "No-brainer" questions are questions that anyone should be able to answer immediately and without much thought because the answer is intrinsically obvious if you know anything about the subject – questions like, "Who is buried in Grant’s Tomb?" or "In what town was the Battle of Gettysburg fought?" or "Which weighs more: a pound of feathers or a pound of lead?" My no-brainer question for opening discussion with the Trinity is "Does the Bible teach that there is one God?" My usual proof text is Deut. 6:4: "Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one."

Yesterday, a woman answered that the Bible teaches there are many gods, and the proof is found in the First Commandment: "I am the Lord your God, who broug…

Is Christian Exodus being Discriminated Against by Google?

Google has refused to enroll a self-avowed Christian organization known as Christian Exodus the ability to participate in a Google-run advertising program known as "Adsense". According to the News Report from WorldNetDaily:

Despite accepting advertisements for such groups as homosexual singles sites, Google is coming under scrutiny again for allegedly banning commercials for a Christian organization.

ChristianExodus.org, the group looking to have like-minded people move to one state to help restore godly values to government, says it's been rejected from placing ads on Google AdSense.
I think that we need to be real careful here for a couple of reasons. First, I am not certain that this group is necessarily being discriminated against. Second, I have concerns about this group being identified as a Christian organization.

On the first point, I am certain that Google has some smart attorneys working for it. These attorneys are certainly aware of the laws relating to non-disc…

Jews, Not Christians, Apparently Started Burials in Catacombs

From Jewish Catacomb Predates Christian Ones :

Scholars have long believed that early Christians were the first to bury their dead in Roman catacombs. But Dutch experts from Utrecht University who dated organic material from a Jewish catacomb in the city say it appears that early Christians inherited the practice from Jews.

"Perhaps it doesn't clinch the argument, but it makes it very likely," said Leonard Victor Rutgers, an antiquities professor who led the university's team.
This bit of news, while interesting to those who follow early Christian history, seems to have no real impact on historical Christianity. Am I wrong?