Thinking Out Loud

November 5, 2017

When Science and the Bible Contradict

The one where the astronauts come back from the International Space Station and tell you that they didn’t see the floodgates of heaven…

So I was flipping through the pages of an old Bible I haven’t used in at least a couple of decades and I found the above photocopied sheet sitting between two of the pages. I remember it clearly, but have no idea as to the source. From a scientific perspective, most of what’s in this image is just plain wrong. Did people once believe this? Is this someone’s concept of what they might have believed if they had owned King James Version Bibles? (Kinda like that drawing — see below — where someone takes the description of the ideal woman in Song of Solomon and shows what it would like literally?)

But what if you’re a kid in some previous era’s version of high school and based on the Bible, this is your model of what the world looks like, and modern science is trying to tell you it’s not true?  Or what if your Bible talks about “the rising of the sun” and suddenly you’re being told that the sun doesn’t arise at all but in fact the earth is revolving?

Surely that’s the end of Christianity then and there, right?
Apparently not. Christianity survived the destruction of such misplaced beliefs. And certain verses weren’t excised from the text, either.

The life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is bigger than science. It’s bigger than all the objections that people can raise.


Above: Some portions of scripture should not be taken literally. This was drawn in 1978 by artist Den Hart and appeared at The Wittenburg Door, a Christian satire magazine.

 

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September 1, 2017

The Problem of Reviewing The Problem of God

There is so much going on in this book. I feel like I’ve been handed an impossible task, somewhat akin from being dropped off a metropolitan core for a few days and told to write a review of the entire city. Every person. Every business. Every park and school.

Canadian Pastor Mark Clark has set himself to answer ten of the major objections to faith raised by outsiders, skeptics and seekers. It’s a tough assignment, even if you’re leaning heavily on the writings of Tim Keller and C. S. Lewis. Not as tough for Clark however as it would be for you or me, in part because this is his own story; the book is as much testimony as it is apologetics text.

I think that’s what make this one different. Until his later teens, Clark was camped on the other side of the border of faith. Partying. Drugs. Disbelief. So he has those still there clearly in view as he writes this; these are the type of people who made up the nucleus of Village Church when it was founded in 2010. Today they are in three locations on Canada’s west coast with satellites launching in Calgary and Montreal. Mark is part of a new generation of pastors and authors who really does his homework before speaking and writing and his passion and energy rock the house each week.

The ten “problems” form ten chapters:

But to say just that is too simple. Each one of these breaks down into several other subsections. These issues are complex and we’re given a look at each through several different lenses.

To repeat, the book stands somewhere between academic apologetics textbook (for its thorough treatment of each of the issues) and biography (for the times Clark references his own story.) It is the latter that makes this book what it is; an apologetics resource which wears a face and a name, and that makes it accessible to all readers. That last factor is important especially for potential as a giveaway to someone who is asking questions. (Read more about Mark at this CBC-TV story.)

I know I say this a lot — I choose my review books carefully — but this is definitely another of those “go back and re-read” and “keep handy for reference” titles.

The Problem of God: Answering a Skeptic’s Challenges to Christianity | Zondervan | 272 page paperback | September, 2017

Thanks to Mark at HarperCollins Canada for an opportunity to read this!

May 22, 2016

A Non-Christian Looks at My Faith

We had lost contact over the last decade, but I had been thinking about her just a few days ago. And then, in the grocery store parking lot, there she was.

The Christian bookstore was next door to a store where she worked part time. I would drop in periodically. My own context for being there created instant discussion.

Oh, did I mention that she is Wiccan?

I didn’t have a lot of experience with that particular religion, but I decided to just be myself and we got along well. See… Christians can have non-Christian friends.

So after catching up — sadly, I’d forgotten her first name — we started right back where we left off all those years ago; talking about faith. She has a lot of objections to Christianity of course, and I’ve never been afraid to tell her that I think she’s just looking for an out.

But the one she sprang on me Friday was a new one. Are you sitting down?

blank calendarThe changing date of Easter.

So of course the first thing I did was take the objection at face value. The date of Easter isn’t a theological problem. We remember Christ’s death and resurrection every time we have a Communion service. Catholics do this every time they attend Mass.

I then seized the opportunity to reminder her that Christianity is rooted in an historical fact, the life and death and resurrection of Jesus.

And she was willing to admit that Christmas was not the day that Jesus was born; at least probably not.

I also was willing to meet her half way when I mentioned there is a movement in Europe to standardize the dates of Good Friday and Easter.

Even then she kept coming at this date thing from different angles. “Usually it’s in April, but sometimes it’s in March;” she reminded me. Followed by, “How many times did this guy die and come back to life?” (Not sure I saw that one coming, either; nor do I get the logic.)

I simply used it as an opportunity to continue rhyming off why we can trust the Gospels’ record of Christ’s life and ministry.

And she agreed to track me down at some future date.

I hope it’s not ten years…


People will invent all types of excuses to dismiss the core tenets of the Christian faith. The problem of evil. Noah’s ark. The global flood. Talking donkeys. I have to admit that if I were writing the script, I would have left Balaam’s donkey out of the final draft.

But as excuses go, I thought the whole changing date of Easter thing was rather lame; but I think it’s an example of how people will use anything to avoid admitting the obvious: One man claimed to be equal with God, lived and taught in such a way that changed the world then and now, and kicked off a movement that shows no signs of slowing down. (Just to mention a few things.)

“…a person who denies spiritual realities will not accept the things that come through the Spirit of God; they all sound like foolishness to him. He is incapable of grasping them because they are disseminated, discerned, and valued by the Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 2:14 (The Voice)

 

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