A few weeks back, influential New York minister Tim Keller spoke at a forum run by the US Ethics and Public Policy Centre, during which he made some comments on the issue of gay marriage. What he said attracted a lot of discussion, but was apparently misunderstood by some, and he subsequently issued an explanation.
Christianity is changing. Of course it has always been changing – I read once that christianity owes a lot of its success to its adaptability to circumstances and culture. But like most other things, it seems to be changing faster these days.
I recently wrote about how academics in christian universities and colleges in the USA are finding their professional conclusions coming into conflict with the faith statements of their colleges. But this is an issue that to some degree affects all christians.
How should we respond when secular learning seems to contradict traditional christian belief?
It is a circular argument, but it has been made often, from David Hume down to present day sceptics. There is no believable evidence for genuine miraculous healings, they say. But what about all the stories of people being healed? We know they can’t be true, they say, because no-one has ever shown scientifically that healing can occur.
So New Testament scholar Craig Keener decided to break the circle.
When it’s all said and done about the Bible, sometimes more is said than done. But the purpose of the Bible is not to simply read, but to lead us to action. What does the Bible call us to do if we choose to follow Jesus?
The Bible is divided into two ‘Testaments’. It is obvious that the Old Testament tells about Hebrew history and religion before Jesus, while the New Testament tells about the coming of Jesus and what happened next.
But is that all? Can the differences between the two Testaments tell us something important about the Bible and how we should read it?
Christians have probably argued more about the Bible, and how to interpret it, than almost anything else. Many churches say they believe the “Bible alone”, echoing the Reformation doctrine of sola scriptura. Yet I believe there is always a gap between the claim and the actual belief.
I am a christian who believes the Bible reveals God to us, but I want to try to show you that everyone disbelieves some parts of the Bible.
Jesus told a very striking story. You probably know it. A man owed a large amount of money but couldn’t pay, so he asked his banker for extra time to make the repayment. And he was given time. But then he called in a small debt he was owed, and refused the poor man’s entreaties for extra time.
When the banker heard about what had happened, he was angry that the grace he had extended was not passed on.
Jesus drew the devastating conclusion: we who have received great grace from God will be judged by whether we pass that grace on to others.
It is a phenomenon reported by pollster George Barna, observed by many of us and experienced by some – feeling dissatisfied with church. Not just complaining that something isn’t perfectly the way we like it, or disliking the people, but feeling deeply alienated from the church system and knowing deep down that Jesus never meant it to be like this.
The question is, what to do about it? Tell yourself everyone else can’t be wrong so it must be you, and just grin and bear it? Quit church altogether? Join another church (often only to find it’s different, but still the same)? Give all your energies to making change? Or start a new church?
I was asked recently how many christian denominations there are worldwide. It’s hardly an important question, but some critics of christianity use the number of 30,000 to 40,000 to argue that a true God couldn’t be behind christianity because god would communicate better.
One Laptop Per Child is a US-based charity which is seeking to create affordable educational devices for use in the developing world. Due to the difficulty in providing and funding teachers in some locations, it has tried the innovative, perhaps crazy, idea of leaving laptop or tablet computers with kids without any instructions.
Outcomes have been mixed, and interesting, and have something to teach us.
I’ve been a Bob Dylan fan since 1963, when he was often described as a “protest singer”. But after only a few albums of “protest music”, he turned his back on it all, and wrote a song with the refrain:
“Ah but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.”