Understanding the Old Testament isn’t always easy. As well as Genesis-evolution, there are many apparent inconsistencies, within the Old Testament, and between the Old and New Testaments.
And those who have read a little about ancient Middle East archaeology, history and literature may have noted similarities between Biblical accounts of creation, the flood and the law, and earlier writings covering similar themes.
This 2005 book by a respected Old Testament scholar aims at addressing a few of these issues based on good scholarship, in a way that is helpful to christians.
I am interested in effective communication, not as an end in itself, but because if we want to make disciples, we need to train and equip each other effectively. And for this, sermons just don’t cut it.
Long before European invaders and settlers arrived in Australia in 1788, the aboriginal people had occupied this continent and developed a culture and lifestyle that could sustain them in some harsh environments.
A fascinating recent ABC documentary, First Footprints, gave a deeper insight into the lives of these pioneers.
Recently I posted on Rob Bell and some of the ways he gets up the noses of many conventional christians. One of the biggest furores was caused by his book, Love Wins, which hinted at universalism – that everyone, regardless of belief now, would turn to God in the next life.
Another way in which Christianity is changing is the number of churches that are getting involved in their local communities, offering help and counselling services to those who need them and finding ways to make their community a better and more caring place.
We can learn from three different churches in three different continents.
Taize is an ecumenical monastery in Burgundy, France. The Lakota are an American Indian nation on a reservation in South Dakota, USA. You might not expect them to feature in the same story, but recently they did. It is a moving story.
Jason Micheli joined more than a thousand pilgrims attending a Taize gathering, this time not in France but on the Pine Ridge Reservation, at the invitation of Lakota nation.
During a time of worship centred around the cross, he had some insights into the cross, human suffering and oppression.
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?
Many years ago, in a mis-spent youth, I completed some formal theological study. For one subject, I studied the prophet Isaiah. Just this week I prepared and led a study on Isaiah, and renewed my awe of this amazing man.
I really think he had the deepest understanding of God of any person who lived before Jesus, and more than most people since.
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?
So far, the matters we have been discussing seem, to me at least, to be fairly clear and straightforward. They have been based on clear statements in the Bible (or lack of them) and the clear views of competent scholars.
But today’s topic is very challenging, and I can’t claim to have many answers. I’ll be interested in any reactions please.