Being the very thing you think you are against

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Apostle Paul from his letter to the Romans

For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate – I do

The difference between Paul and these other apostles below is that Paul sees his inconsistency, his double standard, his weakness and he dispises them.

Apostle means sent one – everyone is sent – is going somewhere bringing something.

The apostles below, as they bring,

do not see their inconsistencies for they are blind,

their double standard for they believe they are the standard,

their weakness for they delight in their strength.

And they love what they think they are. And that is a problem – theirs and ours.

That is why there is little hope for them – for life around them – for life under them.

What can we say or ask of these new apostles?

Can anti-fascists be quite fascistic in their antics? I think they can.

Can anti-racists be quite racist in their antics? I think they can.

Can those who once advocated tolerance become the most intolerant of all? I think so.

Can those who were racially disrespected disrepect another race? I think they can.

Can the word phobia be used to ward off critique and investigation? I think it can.

Can those advocating free speech mean nothing of the sort? I think they can.

Can those labelled liberals be quite illiberal? I think they usually are.

Can sinful man sinfully think he is not a sinful man? I think we sinfully do.

Apostle Paul from his letter to the Romans

What a wretched man I am!

Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?

Thanks be to God – who delivers me – through Jesus Christ our Lord!

The universe began to exist – who made God

If your question or objection to this argument is Who made God? then you haven’t understood the first premise of the argument. Spot the word begins.

Try the question again and define God as at 3:48min in the video and the way theistic people do (believers in God) and see why that question is a bit on the nonsense side.

Who made God? Who made the unmade One? Oh dear ….

You might want to argue with the first premise (whatever begins to exist has a cause) and dispute it, refute it (maybe) but that requires more ex nihilo (from nothing) belief than the average theist  can muster. I truely do believe the atheist has more faith than me.

Monday Music Classic – literally

I absolutely love this album of Arvo Part’s work. Tasmin Little is a delicate giant on the violin. I have selected this piece as one of the many pieces for my fantasy funeral. The whole album is superb and I highly recommend you track down the Tasmin Little version of the album. I first came across it on cassette tape. Say what?

This particular piece is beautiful, thoughtful, steady, transcendant, and heart opening. Spiegel im Spiegel means mirror in the mirror. Deep. You will have heard this and many of the other pieces as a background on films and documentaries. You may want to find a space and listen to it quietly. Enjoy.

Reproductive rights and wrongs

I want to encourage you to read and think about this piece about public scorn and ‘acceptable’ and unacceptable reasons for the exercise of reproductive rights for women – in this case abortion.

inconsistency

This story is a British story but the questions it asks are universal. The writer is Trevin Wax whose blog I have followed for years. Click on his name to go to the original source.

Trevin Wax at Kingdom People

A woman in the United Kingdom faces an unplanned pregnancy that prevents her from taking the next step in her career. She makes the choice to abort.

And Great Britain erupts in judgment and anger toward the woman.

What gives?

Why the outrage toward a woman exercising her “reproductive rights?”

In this case, the woman is Josie Cunningham, a model who was given the opportunity to appear on Big Brother. Her 18-week pregnancy would keep her out of the show and stifle her career plans. So she made a choice, and when asked, explained her rationale to The Sunday Mirror:

I’m finally on the verge of becoming famous and I’m not going to ruin it now. An abortion will further my career. This time next year I won’t have a baby. Instead, I’ll be famous, driving a bright pink Range Rover and buying a big house. Nothing will get in my way.

The subsequent torrent of tweets and personal attacks toward Josie Cunningham is surprising… and sickening. Here’s why:

Surprising

What’s surprising about the response is how much of the judgment is coming from self-professed pro-choice people. In other words, it’s the people who argue for a woman’s right to choose an abortion who are heaping ridicule and scorn on a woman who has done just that. A number of viewers have said they will boycott Big Brother if Cunningham is a contestant.

I don’t expect any of this outrage to translate into legal battles to make abortion less of an option, but I wonder what it tells us about the turning tide of cultural sensibilities. Is the pro-choice movement being chiseled away from the inside out? Does pro-choice now mean “abortion in extreme circumstances should be legal” rather than “abortion in any circumstance should be legal?”

Continue reading

Comic Gospel – Cosmic Gospel

You don’t earn a place in heaven.

You can’t earn a place in heaven.

You can’t contribute to earning a place in heaven.

You got nothing.

You are without hope.

…………………………………………………………………………………….

Unless you want to hope in the God of the great exchange.

What is the gospel? Check this out. This is it!

Brilliant Adam Ford – rapier wit and comic-smith

the greatest exchange in the history of ever

Notness

Words have meaning. Distinctions are important. We get so confused over several things – what is the Gospel? (check out Gospel in my categories) and others including evangelism.

Jared C. Wilson posts a piece on evangelism notness from Bobby Jamieson at 9Marks.

What Evangelism Isn’t

From Reaching the Lost: Evangelism, the Bible study guide from 9Marks.

Evangelism is not:

Personal testimony. Talking about what God has done in your life may encourage Christians and intrigue non-Christians. And there’s certainly a place for this in evangelism. But simply sharing about what God has done in your life isn’t necessarily evangelism. Evangelism is telling others about what Jesus Christ has done to save every sinner who will ever turn from their sin and trust in Jesus.

Social action. When we care for the poor, defend the defenseless, and work for a more just society we may commend the gospel, but we haven’t shared it. Evangelism is telling others the gospel. Contrary to the opinion of some, that can’t be done without words!

Apologetics. Defending the faith against unbelievers’ objections can lead to evangelism, but apologetics is not evangelism. Apologetics is a useful tool, but if we’re not careful it can actually distract us from evangelism, which is telling the good news about Jesus Christ.

The results of evangelism. We can share the gospel. We can’t make anyone believe it. Thinking that we haven’t evangelized unless people have been converted is a serious error that can cripple Christians with a sense of failure and guilt. But if we recognize that our job is merely to tell others the good news about Christ and call them to repent and believe, we are liberated to simply preach the gospel and pray for God to change hearts.

emphasis mine

Holy Week – Easter Week – Day 8 Sunday

It has been my aim this week to provide for you some stimulus for heart and mind. To capture your attention and direct it toward the most important moments in human history. Don’t be fooled this is not a week about culture, life, philosophy, post modern allegiances and religious preferences. This thing. These things – crucifixion & resurrection either happened or they didn’t. If they didn’t, then I need to wrap up this Jesus blog sharpish and start my Fat Donkey weight loss blog. [30 Posts already exist in my head]. I haven’t because I do think they did happen – in time, in history, in a place, and in front of people.

If this Jesus thing is not your bag, I hope it’s because you have considered Christianity’s truth claims and found them wanting (if so please tell me why, so I can depart this possible illusion – dearhumbledonley@gmail.com ). I hope it’s not because you just haven’t got round to it. The story, the reasons, the consequence of this easter week do not run like a side show soap opera. They push themselves front and centre and shout “life and all its questions are held within the life, death and resurrection of the one called Jesus of Nazareth – the eternal divine word made flesh”. Ignore at your peril. Or ignore because it’s a fantasy. There is nothing inbetween.

I am grateful the the sterling work of Justin taylor and his motley crew. Between Two Worlds is my favourite theological blog. Keep the good work up JT.

Final piece from Justin Taylor at Between Two Worlds

The following video, filmed in conjunction with our book The Final Days of Jesus, features short explanations from and interviews with New Testament professors Doug Moo and Andreas Köstenberger on the importance of women being the first to discover the empty tomb and the meaning of Easter Sunday.

Stop being so passive – start thinking

Today is a day of remembering, of reflecting and boy is it a day of celebrating! But it is also a day of thinking and reasoning.

From the work of accessible scholar & author of Rob Bowman over at Parchment & Pen

In this article I will summarize, as briefly as possible, fourteen evidences for the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The summaries of each point are deliberately brief and undeveloped. No pretense is made here of having anticipated every response that skeptics might make. Nor is this an exhaustive list of evidences. Rather, it is a simple overview of many of the factual elements that contribute to the historical case for Jesus’ resurrection. No one point is by itself absolute proof that Jesus rose from the dead, but the evidence is cumulative (that is, each piece adds further weight to the total) and integrative (that is, the various facts fit together in a meaningful whole). The result is a very strong case that Jesus (a) died, (b) was buried, (c) rose from the dead, and (d) appeared alive to a variety of persons (1 Cor. 15:3-8). At the end of this article is an annotated bibliography of 14 books that examine in great detail the issues touched upon in the list of 14 evidences.

14 Evidences

  1. JESUS’ EXISTENCE. That Jesus was a historical individual is granted by virtually all historians and is supported by ancient Christian, Jewish, and pagan sources. Yet modern skeptics often feel that their best strategy for denying the evidence of his resurrection is to deny that he even existed.
  2. JESUS’ DEATH. The most popular counter to the Resurrection in non-Christian and heretical beliefs is to deny that Jesus died on the cross (e.g., this is the position of Islam). However, historians regard the death of Jesus by crucifixion as ordered by Pontius Pilate to be as historically certain as any other fact of antiquity.
  3. CRUCIFIED MESSIAH. Crucifixion was a horrible, shameful way to die, so much so that it would never have occurred to anyone in the first century to invent a story about a crucified man as the divine Savior and King of the world. Something extreme and dramatic must have happened to lead people to accept such an idea—something like his rising from the dead.
  4. JOSEPH’S TOMB. All four Gospels agree that Jesus’ body had been buried in the rock tomb owned by Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Jewish high council (the Sanhedrin). This is an unlikely Christian fiction, because Christians blamed the Sanhedrin for their role in having Jesus executed.
  5. WOMEN WITNESSES. The four Gospels all agree that the first persons to find the tomb empty were Jewish women, including Mary Magdalene. It is very unlikely that anyone would make up such a story, since women’s testimony was devalued compared to men’s and since Mary Magdalene was known as a formerly demon-possessed woman. If the empty tomb story were fiction, one would expect that Joseph of Arimathea, already identified as the tomb’s owner and a respected male leader, would be credited with the discovery.
  6. ANCIENT THEORIES. The earliest non-Christian explanations for the origin of the Resurrection belief (mentioned in John and Matthew) were that the body had been taken from the tomb—either moved to another burial place or stolen to fake the Resurrection. These explanations conceded three key facts: Jesus died; his body was buried in Joseph’s tomb; the tomb was later found to be empty.
  7. TOMB WAS GUARDED. Critics routinely dismiss Matthew’s story about the guards being bribed to say that they fell asleep, giving the disciples opportunity to steal the body (Matt. 28:11-15). But Matthew would have no reason to make up the story about the guards being bribed except to counter the story of the guards saying they fell asleep (see v. 15). Either way, the guards were there: the body had been in the tomb, the tomb had been guarded, and the body was no longer there.
  8. PAUL AND LUKE’S INDEPENDENT ACCOUNTS. Paul’s list of resurrection witnesses in 1 Corinthians 15:5-7 coincides with Luke’s account at several points, but in wording and in what is included Luke’s account is clearly independent of Paul. For example, Paul calls Peter by his Aramaic nickname “Cephas,” not Simon or Peter; he refers to “the twelve,” Luke to “the eleven”; Luke does not mention the appearances to James or the five hundred. Thus Paul and Luke give us independent accounts of the appearances they both mention.
  9. CLOPAS AND THAT OTHER GUY. Luke gives the name of one of the two men on the road to Emmaus who saw Jesus (Clopas) but not the name of the other man. If he was making up names he would presumably have given both of the men names. The fact that he identifies only one of the two men by name is best explained if that man, Clopas, was the source of Luke’s account. In short, this fact is evidence that the account came from an eyewitness.
  10. BROTHER JAMES. Although Luke does not mention the resurrection appearance to James (the Lord’s brother) mentioned by Paul in 1 Corinthians 6, Luke does report that James had become a leading member of the apostolic group (see especially Acts 15:13-21). Since Jesus’ brothers had rejected Jesus during his lifetime (John 7:5), Paul’s reference to Christ appearing to James is probably based on fact.
  11. JOHN’S EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT. The author of the Gospel of John emphatically states that he was an eyewitness of the death of Jesus, of the empty tomb, and of resurrection appearances of Jesus (John 19:32-35; 20:2-9; 21:7, 20-25). Either he sincerely had these experiences or he was lying; appeals to legend or myth are out of the question here.
  12. ANCIENT SKEPTICISM. Luke reports the skepticism of the men disciples the morning the tomb was found empty (Luke 24:22-24), and John reports Thomas’s skepticism about Jesus’ resurrection (John 20:24-26). These accounts (see also Acts 17:32; 1 Cor. 15:12) demonstrate that the perception of ancient people as gullible hayseeds who would believe any miracle story is a modern prejudicial stereotype.
  13. PAUL’S CONVERSION. Paul was a notorious persecutor of the early Christians prior to his becoming an apostle. His explanation, that Christ appeared to him and called him to faith and the apostolic ministry, is the only plausible explanation for his 180-degree change. Moreover, Paul’s experience was entirely independent of the experience of the other apostles.
  14. PAUL’S GENTILE MISSION. Paul’s encounter with the risen Jesus did not result merely in him accepting Jesus as the Jews’ Messiah. Instead, he saw himself, a trained and zealous Pharisee, as commissioned by Jesus to take the good news of the Messiah to uncircumcised Gentiles. The fact that Paul embraced such a calling against his former passionate beliefs and training makes any appeal to hallucination or delusion implausible.

14 REFERENCES

It would be easy to list fourteen books devoted explicitly to the topic of Jesus’ resurrection. The following list of fourteen references includes only five such books. I contend that the cogency of the case for the resurrection of Jesus is significantly improved when it is set within a broader context of substantial background knowledge on God’s existence, miracles, the Bible, and specifically the Gospels and the historical Jesus; hence the tilting of this bibliography to books that contribute to such knowledge.

  1. Bauckham, Richard. Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006. Advances in significant ways the case for the origins of the Gospels in eyewitness accounts.
  2. Blomberg, Craig. The Historical Reliability of John’s Gospel: Issues & Commentary. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002. Since John is the one Gospel writer who explicitly claims to have been an eyewitness, a defense of his Gospel’s historical credibility is of great value to a defense of the Resurrection.
  3. Boa, Kenneth D., and Robert M. Bowman Jr. 20 Compelling Evidences that God Exists: Discover Why Believing in God Makes So Much Sense. Colorado Springs: Cook, 2005. Chapters 13-17 present an easy-to-read, popular-level presentation of evidences for Jesus’ existence, death, and resurrection. However, the rest of the book is also relevant, as the other chapters establish a context for believing the truth about Jesus in background knowledge about God’s existence, the reliability and inspiration of the Bible, and the transforming power of the message of Jesus Christ.
  4. Burridge, Richard A. What Are the Gospels? A Comparison with Graeco-Roman Biography. SNTSMS 70. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992. 2nd ed., Grand Rapids: Eerdmans; Dearborn, MI: Dove Booksellers, 2004. Important contribution to Gospel scholarship, proving that the Gospels belonged to the genre of ancient biographies, not fairy tales, legends, or myths.
  5. Chapman, David W. Ancient Jewish and Christian Perceptions of Crucifixion. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2010. Thorough study of the subject, complementing Hengel’s by focusing on the Jewish background and the early Christian church.
  6. Copan, Paul, ed. Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up? A Debate between William Lane Craig and John Dominic Crossan. Moderated by William F. Buckley, Jr. With responses from Robert J. Miller, Craig L. Blomberg, Marcus Borg, and Ben Witherington III. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998. An interesting published debate on the resurrection of Jesus; Craig and Crossan are leading defenders of their positions.
  7. Craig, William Lane. Assessing the New Testament Evidence for the Historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus, Studies in the Bible and Early Christianity, Vol. 16. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1989. Still one of the very best studies of its kind.
  8. Eddy, Paul R., and Gregory A. Boyd. The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007. Powerful refutation of the Jesus myth theory and a strong defense of the historical value of the Synoptic Gospels as sources of information about the historical Jesus.
  9. Ehrman, Bart D. Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth. New York: HarperOne, 2012. Tell anyone who claims Jesus never existed to read this agnostic’s critique of the Jesus myth theory and then call you in the morning.
  10. Habermas, Gary R., and Michael R. Licona. The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2004. Two of the leading scholars on the Resurrection teamed up to produce this readable, solid defense of its historicity.
  11. Hengel, Martin. Crucifixion in the Ancient World and the Folly of the Message of the Cross. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1977. Comparatively short but extremely informative study, demonstrating that no sane people living in the ancient Mediterranean world would ever have concocted the story of a crucified man as the central figure of their religion. Focuses largely on the pagan Greco-Roman cultural perspective.
  12. Keener, Craig S. Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts. 2 Vols. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2011. Massive tour de force case against Hume’s assumption that miracles are so scarce in the modern world as to be ipso facto lacking in credibility.
  13. Licona, Michael R. The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2010. Published doctoral dissertation, raising the level of sophistication for the “minimal facts” Resurrection apologetic by a couple of notches.
  14. Quarles, Charles L., ed. Buried Hope or Risen Savior: The Search for the Jesus Tomb. Nashville: B&H Academic, 2008. Scholarly, well-done essays refuting the “Jesus family tomb” hypothesis and in the process giving good evidence for Jesus’ resurrection.

Holy Week. Easter Week – Day 7 Saturday

Blogging from my Kindle today and yesterday so cannot copy and paste JT’s preamble. Arghhh. Not important. This video touches on the “where was Jesus on the Saturday?”- other than in the tomb. Where was his spirit so to speak? It is an interesting question which has importance. But there is a sense of the unclear, the unknown about it in the midst of all that is now becoming clear and known. If you are the type who when watching movies or LOST (best TV show ever, ever!) for example and you are only majoring in the apparently unresolved or still veiled story lines, then you are missing the big picture. What was unclear and unknown is now clear enough to see and know.

Justin Taylor at Between Two Worlds

Holy Week – Saturday