Showing posts from 2016

Thoughts on NIcholas Kristof and Pastor Timothy Keller's Conversation: "Am I a Christian?"

I am not a big fan of Pastor Timothy Keller. I mean, I have read a couple of his books and there is nothing particularly wrong in what he has to say that I have seen, but for some reason his books have left me largely uninterested. But today, I came across an interview that he did with Nicholas Kristof of the Gray Lady where the aforementioned liberal/progressive op-ed columnist for America's Newspaper of Record decided to use Pastor Keller as the expert to ask his questions about the truth of Christianity around Christmastime. The article entitled " Am I a Christian, Pastor Timothy Keller? " was run two days before Christmas, and asked questions akin to, "Does everyone who does not believe the truth of the entire Bible go to hell?" and "Why aren't the Gospels clear or consistent on Jesus' resurrection?" Over at Breitbart News, Charles Hurt read Kristof's article and interpreted it as an attack on Christianity by Mr. Kristoff on one of Ch

Is Inerrancy a Heresy? Part 1

Our crew here isn't composed of people who have the same views about inerrancy; my own view has caused some dyspepsia among those with more, ah, fundamental views. But calling that doctrine a heresy is pretty extreme. Over the next two weeks I'll share a 2013 item I wrote about someone who does exactly that. *** A reader requested that we examine the book The Ultimate Heresy by Rodger Cragun, which we will do in two installments over the next two issues. The peculiar stance of this book is that the concept of Biblical inerrancy is a heresy. Cragun, not surprisingly, has more than a few problems with his approach and overall theory. First, Cragun spends an inordinate amount of time -- about half of the book -- showing from the Bible itself that the Bible is never called "the Word of God, " and showing that the phrase, when used, refers to something else, like a single specific prophecy. Really now. For those who may have missed it, I discovered that w

Christmas Is For the Worst of Monsters (but I rather wish it wasn't)

So, last night I got to be sexually violated in absolutely unspeakable ways. Fortunately, I was only dreaming. I have stress dreams which often turn nightmarish, eight to ten hours every night -- for about forty years now. I can wake up and deal with whatever I was dealt with living and maybe dying through the night before. I've had a lot of practice. But for very many people in the world today, and for vastly many more throughout all history, that living hell isn't a dream they can wake up from. It happens in their waking life (and also, I suppose, in their dreams). Maybe all their lives, for years or months or weeks or days, or decades, until they die. Christmas is for them, of course -- although when I say "of course", let me pause a moment to give cultural context: here in modern Western Civilization we might easily think "of course, whatever good Christmas means, it must be for victims of the worst injustice". But that expectation is a result of C

Should Philosophy of Religion Be Ended?

According to Peter Boghossian, John Loftus, James A. Lindsay, Jerry Coyne, and others, the academic discipline known as Philosophy of Religion has no legitimate place in a modern secular university. Now our friend over at the Skeptic Zone blog, IM Skeptical, has joined their ranks . Taking a paper by James N. Anderson and Greg Welty, "The Lord of Non-Contradiction: An Argument for God from Logic," as emblematic for the entire discipline of Philosophy of Religion (or PoR), he proceeds to critique their argument and draw this grand conclusion: "It [theistic philosophy] is entirely based on theistic assumptions. It does not provide any assurance that those assumptions are true. Those assumptions are never properly justified."   Now I certainly would not accept Skeptical's critique as valid. For example, he disputes Anderson and Welty's premise, "The laws of logic are necessary truths" on the grounds that, well, no one knows what is possi

"Unseemly to the Last Degree" -- the Importance of the Incarnation

J. Warner Wallace (the popular "Cold-Case Christianity" apologist, who converted from atheism pretty late in his life), put out a Christmas post a few days ago: "Christmas is Christmas Because Jesus is God" , which among other things serves as a quick link gathering to prior articles of his on how the Gospels report Jesus talking about himself (or about Himself, to put it in divine caps in English). Those are fine, although from a sceptical standpoint (as JWW is well aware, but not everything can be covered in a short internet post, or even in multi-volume tomes!) the more salient way to put it would be: "Even if the Gospel authors weren't, in various ways, just making up what Jesus said and did concerning himself, and those reports are accurate to that extent," which of course most sceptics are going to be highly sceptical about, JWW included once upon a time, "Christmas is Christmas because Jesus did a good enough job convincing enough p

Atheists often resort to the question "who created God?"

  Atheists often resort to the question "who created God?" when theists ask the origin of the universe, the theist says "God doesn't need a cause he's eternal." The atheist then says "so is the universe so there's no difference." There is a vast difference. But how to prove that? Failing proof we can at least understand why God and the universe are on a different par, that is what the tie breaker does. The issue was couched in terms of brute fact. The universe is a brute fact, if it is not created by  by God, but God cannot be a brute fact. The tie breaker is the basic difference. The essential difference is summed up in the old existentialist distinction of Jean-Paul Sartre between being-in-itself vs. being-for-itself. Within that framework we are looking at God as the origin of both being and love. God is not the result of any  purpose higher than himself, but that doesn't mean he is bereft of purpose. Just as God is the final cause