It seems inescapable. The news shows another story of an unexpected and tragic death from this year’s flu epidemic and my facebook feed is flooded with friends and fellow moms desperately trying to avoid the illness. I too have the severity of this flu season on my mind. The last few weeks have included daily doses of homemade elderberry syrup, lots of garlic thrown into everything, dutifully doling out vitamins to my family, and even sometimes choosing to stay home to avoid the possible germ exposure. In the midst of winter, I can be prone to slip into a germophobe, anxiety-ridden state of mind, fearing that ‘something bad’ will happen. Continue reading “How Am I Managing My Worries About the Flu Epidemic?”
Sheep dotted the pastures of the Welsh countryside quickly moving outside my window as our train sped down the tracks. With a measure of resolve, I pried my eyes away from the beautiful landscape and returned to my reading. A Holy Book lay open before me in my lap. (To be accurate it was a translation of the Holy Book I returned to reading because the book was written in English, not in Arabic.) I had only read a few pages, but I had quickly realized the Qur’an, the Holy Book of Islam, was vastly different than the Christian Bible, even though I encountered familiar people in the writings, such as Abraham, Isaac, and Ishmael.
It was difficult, at the start, for me to enter into the first person point of view and stream-of-consciousness writing style of the surahs (chapters). However, I continued to read through the series of unexplained narratives over the course of the next few weeks in my quest to read the Qur’an cover to cover. Continue reading “Encountering Islam”
A while back I wrote a post about 3 Things Christian Apologetics is Not. Specifically I highlighted that Christian Apologetics is not an apology, winning an argument, or a new idea. However, I chose to save what exactly apologetics is for another post…and this is that post! Apologetics is perhaps a rather ill fitted term in our English language. As mentioned previously, anyone unfamiliar with the term will most likely think that Apologetics has to do with some sort of apology. While Christianity in general probably has a bit of apologizing to do, apologetics deals with an entirely different arena.
When was the last time you had a conversation with someone who has a different view than you on a deeply held belief? How did that go? Was it a civil discussion, or were there quickly defenses put up and verbal attacks sent out? Oftentimes it seems that our society is set up to be polarizing regarding the topics about which people care about the most. Such topics might be: politics, sexuality, parenting, equality, religion, etc. It seems we can easily paint a false ‘us versus them’ picture that excludes the chance that the other side, that ‘they,’ might have come to their beliefs in any sort of a thoughtful or informed manner.
In my own life, I can often paint the false ‘us versus them,’ or ‘me versus you,’ picture. Instead of have the discipline to take the time to listen to the other person’s point of view and to value their thoughts, I analyze their words for a mistake that I can point out. I can be so focused on trying to get my point across that I fail to listen to their point. Because I have this tendency, I am immensely grateful for a couple of online courses I have taken through RZIM academy that require ‘Interview’ assignments.
In these assignments we are instructed to interview someone who does not identify as the same religion that we do specifically for the purpose of understanding their worldview. I have found these intentional assignments to be refreshing and thought-provoking. In the past, I have interviewed friends, or friends of friends, however this time I had the opportunity to do something a little different. Please find my most recent interview below…
Could God create a boulder so heavy that even He could not lift it? Perhaps you are already familiar with the question but, if you have never encountered it, the reasoning goes like this:
The Christian God is said to be All-Good, All-Powerful, Everywhere, and Knowing Everything (or if you want to sound very intelligent you could say that the Christian God is said to be omnibenevolent, omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient). For the above stated question, let us look at specifically at God’s characteristic of being All-Powerful, or omnipotent. The argument goes as follows: Continue reading “Could God Create Boulder so Heavy that Even He Could Not Lift It?”
What are your thoughts about Jesus of Nazareth, the claimed Christian Christ and Messiah?
In my experience people tend to like Jesus, and when you examine his teachings it is easy to see why folks find him amicable. Jesus tells us to be kind to others1, to show forgiveness2, and to care for the poor and the weak3. The second half of his most important, and only, command is to love others4 (the first being of course to love God). Yet, despite the acceptance of Jesus’ wisdom recorded in the Bible, many find it hard to believe that he was anything more than a man trying to bring peace to a society in discord.
For those outside of the Christian religion, it seems that Jesus, the Son of Man, has been misconstrued at best (or manipulatively twisted at worse) into some kind of divine being—namely, the Son of God. Where did this notion that Jesus was anything more than a mere mortal come from? It could be argued that it came from Jesus himself, however non-Christians may object and claim that earlier accounts of history and the Gospels were interpolated or corrupted in order to turn Jesus into a deity. Is there another way we can evaluate the claim that Jesus, the son of a carpenter, is the Christ?
Perhaps the greatest testimony to the truth of Jesus being the Messiah is his resurrection. An early founder of the Christian church, Saint Paul the Apostle, even goes on to say that if the resurrection did not happen then Christians are to be the most pitied people in the world:
“17 And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. 18 In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! 19 And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.”
1 Corinthians 15:17-19
Recently I have been intrigued by the degree to which the Christian faith hinges on the resurrection. I have also been surprised to discover that there are a number of facts readily agreed upon by historical and New Testament scholars that point to Jesus’ resurrection as being an event that truly happened. Here is a quick summation of the facts:
Minimal Facts on the Resurrection
(as presented by Gary Habermas5)
1) Jesus died by crucifixion;
2) Very soon afterwards, his followers had real experiences that they thought were actual appearances of the risen Jesus;
3) Their lives were transformed as a result, even to the point of being willing to die specifically for their faith in the resurrection message;
4) These things were taught very early, soon after the crucifixion;
5) James, Jesus’ unbelieving brother, became a Christian due to his own experience that he thought was the resurrected Christ;
6) The Christian persecutor Paul (formerly Saul of Tarsus) also became a believer after a similar experience.
What are we to make of these agreed upon facts? What are your thoughts and questions about these facts? This topic has been hanging on the edges of my mind for some time now. However, I discovered that it was impossible to put all of my thoughts into one succinct and comprehensive post. Instead, this is intended to be a quick, food for thought, introductory summary. In the coming weeks I plan to cover the nuances of the resurrection, objections to the evidence and the questions I still hold in future posts. But for now…
Share with me: What are we to make of these agreed upon facts? What are your thoughts and questions about these facts? Seriously, call me up, write me a note, send me a message or comment somewhere. I would love to hear your thoughts.
Hello dearest reader of mine,
I do apologize for the lack of posts in the recent past. If you’ll remember, my goal was to write at least one blog post a week. However, I am due to take the GRE this coming Saturday, and so I have been spending my free time on last minute studying. To that end, I have not had the chance to regale you with my refreshing and amusing thoughts.
Fear not, brave and faithful reader, for I have plans to pen the thoughts in my head as soon as this exam is good and completed. In the near future you can look forward to posts on the topics of the historical facts of the resurrection, how God is currently working in my life, and another part in the Oxford: Then and Now series.
Until then, I wish you all the best!
I often have friends ask me why I count my time in Oxford as one of the most shaping periods of my life, especially when they learn that it wasn’t the classes with Oxford professors or ‘being abroad’ that impacted me the most. When I share about the Oxford Study Centre’s unique worldviews course, naturally the curiosity of my friends is piqued. Some of them have taken a worldviews course before so they wonder if there is anything different about the course with the Oxford Study Centre. Others question if traveling to England is really necessary. Surely, they think, I should be able to learn the same sort of material somewhere closer to home.
Yet it is exactly the setting of the Oxford Study Centre that infuses its worldviews course with the exhilarating elixir of that heady Oxford intellectualism. Continue reading “Flexing the Intellectual Muscle”
Perhaps the most important learning I undertook while a member of the Oxford Study Centre was discovering the coherency, reliability, and excitement of the Bible. Upon entering the course, I thought I knew about the Bible. I mean, I had attended Sunday school as a young child and learned the routine Bible stories. As I got older I always listened to the Bible readings and sermon during church. Heck, on my personal bookshelf there were two or three different translations of the Bible that I would peruse now and again. To top it all off, when I was a freshman at Messiah college I even completed the mandatory Bible 101 course.
Yet, despite all of the exposure I had to the Bible, I didn’t really know what to make of it. Continue reading “As Ogres are like Onions, so the Bible is like Shrek”
When you hear the words Christian Apologetics what first comes to your mind?
Recently, I was sharing my hopes for this blog with my dad. Excitedly, I rattled off the three areas about which I plan to write: personal stories of God working in my life, the truth of Christianity, and Christian Apologetics. He took a moment to consider what I had shared, and then proceeded to ask, “So that third point means what? You’re going to apologize…for Christianity?”
When I first heard the term Apologetics I remember having the same thought. However over the past few years, I have learned more about what apologetics is as well as the things it is not.
Here are the top three things Christian Apologetics is not that I had thought it was at one point or another: Continue reading “3 Things Christian Apologetics is Not”