Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

Russian Orthodoxy

November 25, 2014

Given the unsavory nature of Vladimir Putin, this article on Russian orthodoxy and Putin (a loyal son of the church, apparently), is somewhat interesting. I would think the church would be wise to distance itself from him, but the church-culture blend is so powerful….

Tim Keller on the Law

November 25, 2014

I like a lot of Tim Keller’s stuff, and here he takes on the question of Christian inconsistency on the OT law. There’s some helpful insight here, though I still am rather suspicious of the moral, ceremonial, civil subdivision of the law that seems to lurk behind his discussion. It’s a bit more complex than that. But in broad brush strokes, worth a look.

The Problem with Parody

November 25, 2014

This article saying idolatry is OK is a parody. It isn’t hard to see the target. And while I think it makes a point, it highlights for me the limits of humor. First, it isn’t really an effective argument or persuasive. Even if you want to argue the analogy (relatively fair game), making it into the parody form probably means those who disagree won’t agree. And let’s be frank – the analogy has enough problems that I don’t think it’s a great argument. Humor just doesn’t normally work this way. Some types of mockery might work against some arguments, but not strongly held ones or ones with a good degree of popularity, I think. To be more specific…

Problem #1 – the relative frequency and clarity of teaching on idolatry in both testaments is far greater than for many other issues. And it is especially powerful in the clear contrast to the polytheism of other surrounding cultures for much of biblical history. Problem #2 – there isn’t the possibility of genetic or other arguments that might cause some (whether advisedly or not) to reconsider the idolatry question (e.g., no “gene” for idolatry; no way an ethic of expressing love as an integral part of humanness could require a response). Try to take the kind of arguments that the more sophisticated and careful arguments on homosexuality and plug them into idolatry and it just doesn’t work. Comparing with the case of slavery for example (which the Bible never explicitly condemns) shows there are some more complex issues here. I still uphold the traditional view, just not so sure this is helpful.

Christianity and Islam Compared

October 22, 2014

I agree that some of the comparisons noted here might not work (and obviously there is an agenda in the comparison). Nevertheless, there is some value in these kind of historic studies. They make us think and be sure that we are thinking (and believing) clearly.

Sam Harris and Spirituality?

October 22, 2014

Perhaps. A review of his latest which has some interesting aspects. Can there be a spirituality with religion? I doubt it, but the very question says something about how humans are wired.

Augustine Quotes

October 21, 2014

Here’s a brief selection of some important Augustine quotes. Here’s one:

What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.

The Importance of Baptism

October 21, 2014

From Roger Olson, thoughts on the importance of baptism.

Beauty

October 21, 2014

Some thoughts on beauty. Here’s a bit of the history:

At any point before World War One, if you asked any philosopher or intellectual what was the point of art, poetry, music, painting, sculpture, architecture, all of them of each generation all the way back to Socrates would have said the purpose of art is to seek beauty. Socrates himself would have said that by beauty, by the strong love and longing created in the human breast at the sight of something sublime, we are drawn out of ourselves, and are carried step by step away from the mundane to the divine.

What has changed and what are the implications?

The End of the Rapture

October 21, 2014

The recent Left Behind disaster (apparently the disaster many of us expected) has prompted many comments on the rapture. And some of the criticisms are certainly deserved. N. T. Wright, whose work I generally appreciate takes his shot here. As a Brit, I sometimes suspect he hasn’t heard the best case for and explanations of the rapture, but I’ll take his comments under advisement. Here’s the Gospel Coalition’s representative, one which is skeptical but pretty balanced. The comments at the end are helpful:

And be aware that the secret rapture is one of those “secondary doctrinal issues” over which Christians can disagree. It grieves me to think of churches or Christians dividing over it. If you’re a secret rapture skeptic (as I am, if you couldn’t tell), will you be upset if you’re wrong and you get raptured? “Hey Jesus, why did you rapture me? Didn’t you read my TGC article?”

We could all use a dose of humility on these kind of issues.

Bible 3.0

October 20, 2014

Brian McLaren suggests we are entering a new era of Bible reading. Here’s a description:

Bible 3.0, as McLaren characterises it, is an approach that sees the Bible less as inerrant and more as being “in conversation with everything and everyone”.

I suspect this may be what is happening in many cases, though I’m a bit less sanguine about the outcome. There may be a better way.