Showing posts from December, 2012

Why Did God Create Atheists Knowing they Will Go to Hell? (Part 1 – Opening Thoughts)

In my time debating the truth of Christianity, I have observed some skeptics (not all) ask questions for the same end to which Rumpelstiltskin asked people to guess his name. They ask questions not expecting an answer, but rather to watch the people asked squirm; i.e., they ask questions with unwarranted confidence that the people asked will not have the answer. Don’t get me wrong: it’s not that the questions they ask aren’t worth asking. Rather, the motivation is false; the questions are being asked not to get information to make an honest evaluation of the facts, but rather they ask because they want to hear the Christians stumble about trying to answer. I heard one such Rumpelstiltskin call in to a talk radio program a few days ago. His words were something to the effect of:   Hey, Jim, I can prove that God doesn’t exist. God’s omniscient, right? Well I’m an atheist and that means that God knew when he created me that I would be going to hell, right? I have a question: wha

Whither Born Jesus? Is Aviram Oshri Right?

In looking at my Yahoo! mail page, I came across the article I expected to find much earlier in the month. It was entitled Whither the birthplace of Jesus? O little town of Bethlehem vs. the littler village of Bethlehem of the Galilee . The sum and substance of the article is that an Israeli archaeologist, Aviram Oshri, has made the claim that Jesus was not born in Bethlehem of Judea, as reported in both the Gospels of Matthew and Luke (and as alluded to in John ). Instead, he argues that Jesus was born in a little town of Bethlehem of Galilee. The article quotes Mr. Oshri as saying: I had never before questioned the assumption that Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea. But in the early 1990s, as an archaeologist working for the IAA, I was contracted to perform some salvage excavations around building and infrastructure projects in a small rural community in the Galilee. When I started work, some of the people who lived around the site told me how Jesus was really born there, not in

The Unexpected Gospel of the Slaughter of the Innocents

With the recent school shooting in Connecticut, I wouldn't be surprised if Christmas sermons leaned a little more than usual this year on the incident of Herod slaughtering the baby boys in Bethlehem. I would however be surprised if many Christian sermons bothered to talk about the Old Testament verses being referenced by Matthew (or whoever authored/compiled/redacted/whatever the Greek text of The Gospel According to Matthew --but for ease of reference I'll go with Matthean authorship hereafter). That's because many Christian preachers would have good reason to be nervous about looking into why Matthew cites this incident as fulfilling a prophecy from Jeremiah. I on the other hand think Matthew's reference is hugely important and relevant, not only in regard to Christian hope for innocent victims, but also in regard to Christian hope for those who slaughter the innocent! ...what? Hope in Christ, and in the grace of God, for Herod and for his murderous thugs?!

The Crucified God by Jürgen Moltmann: a Christmas Reflection

   The Crucified God by J ü rgen Moltmann is not a very Christmasy book. It has no mangers or babies wrapped in swaddling clothes. It's not about the birth of Christ but the death and resurrection. I always used to read it at Christmas, however, and I still think of it when Christmas comes around; I think the birth of Christ is about the death of Christ and the death is about the resurrection. The Crucified God ( J ü rgan Motlmann ). I haven't read it in a few years because in 2007 we had an apartment flood and I haven't seen my copy since. Last a mentioned this and a good friend sent me a new copy! I'm reading it again now. It's one of the best books to read for Christmas because it sets the atonement in context with the incarnation and orients it in Hegelian fashion toward the resurrection as a synthesis of incarnation by the father and rejection by the father.. This book has it all, moving passages that reflect for of and for Christ, and abstruse theological an

Does God need the devil to scare people into church?

Our old friend, the increasingly irrelevant Bill Maher , has said that Christianity uses the devil to scare people into church. Alan Shlemon of Stand to Reason has put up a short (5 minute) video responding to this claim. Rather than duplicate his effort, I just want to refer to Alan's video as a good response.

Jesus' Wife Papyrus? Seriously?

Remember the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife”? A couple of months ago, Professor Karen King, from the Harvard Divinity School, announced she had discovered a tiny 4th century fragment of papyrus in Coptic language containing the phrase "Jesus said to them, 'my wife'", reports Vatican Insider. *** Right from the start - as Vatican Insider wrote in a previous article on the subject - there were those who expressed their doubts about the authenticity of the fragment, pointing out a number of oddities. But now, Andrew Bernhard, an ancient Gospel scholar who studied at Oxford, goes much further, explaining that according to him “this fake” was forged. ( How thefake papyrus on Jesus' 'wife' was created ) Doubts? I know that I had doubts when I reported on the fragment. But I thought that it had been put to bed that this particular “Gospel” was not authentic. But then, today, I was surprised to come across the article entitled Jan publication of Jesus' wife re