I have been considering the implications of Peter Enns’ suggestion that, in the light of the evidence, we should understand the Old Testament differently than we have done in the past. In a comment on the post Interpreting the Old Testament, Brisancian has asked a number of questions about how we can know what’s true.
I thought the questions were important enough to answer in a new post. Quotes from Brisancian’s questions are shown as blockquotes.
Last post I looked at how some studies show that many christians are prejudiced towards groups such as gays, atheists and Muslims, and are less likely than other people to show love to members of these groups.
Jesus told his followers, quite definitely, to love their enemies, and warned them against hatred. Yet today, the public image of christians is somewhat tarnished – some christians are seen to be loving and caring, but others are seen to be prejudiced and intolerant, especially towards groups like gays and Muslims.
I originally wrote this post shortly after bushfires near Sydney destroyed 200 homes and took 2 lives. But since then, Typhoon Haiyan has caused much havoc, hardship and loss of life in the Philippines, totally dwarfing the bushfires.
But whether it is the fires or the typhoon, their ferocity and the apparent randomness of the destruction lead us to ask questions about God …..
Last post I blogged about atheists at US universities, many of whom grew up in ‘fundamentalist’ churches. This post, we look at conservative christians who went through a period of examining their faith, but chose to continue to believe in Jesus, albeit their beliefs about God changed somewhat.
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.
Most of us doubt our faith at some time, and it isn’t much fun. Tim Keller said: “Believers should acknowledge and wrestle with doubts”. But the book of James says a person who doubts is “like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” (James 1:7). How do these things fit together?
I imagine we all have doubts about all sorts of things we think are true, whether it is religious belief, politics, personal relationships or other choices we make. For many christians, especially those raised in christian families, adult life requires many aspects of belief to be re-considered.
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.
There are a number of things about our world, and about the christian faith, that seem hard to explain if God is loving – for example, the pain and suffering people experience, hell, the commands in the Old Testament to kill and even wipe out whole tribes and God’s disapproval of homosexuality.