Archive for apologetics

Bishop Barron – long interview

I’ve enjoyed a lot of Bishop Barron’s postings inspired by things going on in pop culture. So I was intrigued when YouTube recommended this longer form interview between him and Dave Rubin. Barron is especially interesting here discussing gay marriage, since he’s talking to a married gay man.

Here’s part one of two:

The part about gay marriage is in part two, about 10 minutes in.

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Dawkins is Agnostic, Not Atheist

“New Atheist” Richard Dawkins describes himself in this interview (which includes a brief video snippet) as an agnostic, rather than an atheist. Interesting, coming from the author of The God Delusion. And fair enough. Atheism is a belief every bit as much as faith in God. Dawkins is smart enough to realize that claiming a faith in God’s non-existence undermines his arguments against those who claim a faith in God’s existence.

I haven’t read much Dawkins, but I saw he also wrote a book called The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True. I’d be more interested in reading that than The God Delusion. I wonder, as well, if you replaced Rowan Williams in that interview with a postmodernist thinker, how he’d react to the idea that reality is just a social construct.

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Mistakes in the Bible

The blog “God Didn’t Say That” has a useful discussion of three types of errors that occur in Biblical manuscripts.

We’re used to mass-produced Bibles printed by machines, so we forget the type of errors that are found in handwritten manuscripts. (Try, someday, to copy a page from the Bible by hand, and when you’re done, count the errors you made. Then take a moment to give thanks you only have to copy a single page.)

Generally speaking, these errors aren’t all that significant, because they occur in a few manuscripts (duplicates of an ancestral manuscript where the error first occurred) but not in others. The article is interesting, though, because it describes the different types of errors and discusses the different approaches that translators use to deal with them.

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The Best Apologetic

Twenty-odd years ago, I became a Christian, and part of the reason was apologetics, or defenses of the faith. God used several books, including C.S. Lewis’ wonderful Mere Christianity, to overcome my objections to the Christian faith.

By the time I got to seminary, however, I was really pretty bored with apologetics. It’s not that I had decided they were unimportant–far from it: as my faith became more important in my life, I realized how important those apologetics had been. But I’d moved on, and they weren’t very helpful to me any more. (Although I do still pick up my copy of Mere Christianity every couple of months and re-read a chapter or two.)

It turns out I’m not alone. In this article, Max Lucado, a best-selling Christian writer, says that the best apologetic is compassion.

Though Christians do need to respond intellectually to explain their faith, the long-time pastor recognized, “When the church argues back with society, I don’t know if we get very far.”

“But if we can say our passion is to help the poor and the forgotten, you cannot argue with that,” he noted. “Nothing convinces people of our Lord better than to live like he lived. We cannot live like he lived without being compassionate.”

That rings true for me. Jim Noble, the pastor who led me to Christ, told me, “Maybe you could believe in God if you saw him at work, and [his church] is a great place to watch.”

He was right. I had some baggage I needed to deal with, and my apologetic reading helped me do that. But it was seeing God at work in and through the community of faith engaged in works of compassion, that enabled me, finally, to put my trust in Christ.

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The World Turned Upside Down

The book of Acts records the conflict between the first Christians and the pagan communities they were evangelizing. Those communities said they were advocating customs unlawful for Romans to adopt (Acts 16:20), that they were “turning the world upside down” (Acts 17:6).

Have you ever wondered what they meant by that?

An article in the BBC News today describes the excavation of a mass burial of 97 infants in the Thames Valley of England. Archaeologists believe might have been a brothel. Key quote:

And infanticide may not have been as shocking in Roman times as it is today.

Archaeological records suggest infants were not considered to be “full” human beings until about the age of two, said Dr Eyers.

Let’s hear it for turning the world upside down.

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How to Invite People to Church

Jon Acuff hits the nail on the head again, with this post about how to invite people to church. “It’s funny because it’s true.” (Acuff’s Stuff Christians Like is worth bookmarking. I’ve been reading it for about two years, which is almost in dog or internet years. Once, I even quoted from “The Prayer Ninja” in a sermon.)

Why is it we have so much difficulty inviting other people to church? I can think of two reasons. The first is that we really don’t care all that much ourselves. People don’t usually have much trouble expressing their opinions about things they care about, whether they’re books or TV shows or movies or restaurants or politics. Is our problem that we don’t really care anymore?

Look at Timothy. Either he lost his passion, or Paul was concerned he might. It wasn’t a question of faith — Paul wasn’t worried about that. What concerned Paul was passion: “rekindle the gift of God that is within you … for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice.” For another example, look at what Jesus said to the church in Ephesus.

The other thing that might make us hesitate to invite someone is how our church treats visitors. I’ll talk about that in my next post.

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From Dream to Waking

I read this today:

I am certain that in passing from the scientific points of view to the theological, I have passed from dream to waking. Christian theology can fit in science, art, morality, and the sub-Christian religions. The scientific point of view cannot fit in any of these things, not even science itself. I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.

It’s from an essay, “Is Theology Poetry?” by C.S. Lewis.

Wow.

As it happens, I’m also reading Paul Davies’ Cosmic Jackpot: Why Our Universe Is Just Right for Life, which I thought was about the Cosmological Anthropic Principle. But it turns out it’s more meta than that. (Or maybe the Anthropic Principle is that meta.) Anyway, one of the interesting conclusions I’ve drawn by the halfway point is that science really can’t fit itself in. Science can explain all kinds of things in the world, but it doesn’t seem able to explain itself.

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