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American Jesus: Pawn or King?
In Stephen Prothero’s book American Jesus, the Boston University Professor of Religion details how Jesus became a national iconoclast and icon. The purpose of Prothero’s book is to discern the “cultural Jesus:” the Jesus understood by Americans both historically and today.
Two Purposes for the Miraculous
Modern man is quick to deny the miraculous. “Miracles are impossible”—says the Bultmannian—since Nature is the whole story. “Miracles are improbable”—says the Humean—since laws of nature are exceptionless and miracles are violations of these exceptionless laws. “Miracles are not necessary”—says the scientists—since science is quickly closing all gaps in knowledge, gaps that pre-moderns used to plug by invoking God.
Five things I learned on my literary tour of England
This summer I had the opportunity to teach on C. S. Lewis and his apologetics for our seminary while at Oxford University. To teach on one of my favorite authors, in Oxford where he lived and taught most of his adult life, is a dream come true. To say I am a fan of Lewis is a bit of an understatement. I visited all the sites connected to Lewis—the Kilns where he lived, Magdalen college where he taught, The Eagle and Child where he so often ate, Holy Trinity Church where he worshipped and is now buried.
Was Jesus just a Great Moral Teacher?
The question of Jesus’ identity has perplexed and fascinated us since he arrived on the scene 2,000 years ago. In our own day we seem to have a Jesus for everyone: Super-hero Jesus, Common Guy Jesus, Homosexual Jesus, Traditional Marriage Jesus, Democrat Jesus, Republican Jesus, Mormon Jesus, Oriental Jesus, and so on. Pick a cause or an agenda, and there is a Jesus waiting in the wings, ready to offer his support. Why does everyone want a piece of Jesus, yet so often, not the whole? That is, why are we so ready to ascribe to Jesus the status of a great moral teacher, a teacher who we can use for our own personal or political agenda, yet we hesitate to call him Lord?
Daniel Dennett, the Future of Religion, and Disenchantment
Earlier this week, the Tufts university professor of philosophy and new atheist provocateur Daniel Dennett wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal explaining Why the Future of Religion is Bleak. The basic thrust of the article is that religion thrives whenever information and knowledge is repressed and/or personal or corporate calamity leads the ignorant masses to turn to deity for a crutch. In the age of the internet and mass media, religious dogmatist are no longer able to dupe their followers into thinking there is truth to their religious doctrines, and thus, the future of religion is bleak.
Does Jesus answer our biggest questions?
Aristotle said, “All men desire to know.” He was right. We long to be rightly related to reality. We long to know the truth and to find ourselves in a story that is satisfying. I believe that we can know the truth, and when we find it, we will find answers that satisfy our soul. The answers to our perennial questions of existence, meaning, purpose, love, beauty, morality, and God are found in Jesus Christ and the religion he founded.
The High Cost of Cynicism and Unbelief
In a comical scene that turns tragic, the Dwarfs in C. S. Lewis’s Narnian tale The Last Battle vow to never again allow themselves to believe in Aslan. Why? They had been duped into thinking that Puzzle (the donkey) was Aslan and once King Tirian revealed the truth about Puzzle, the Dwarfs become mystified at how easily they had been fooled. They determined to never be fooled again. They would rather remain in unbelief and cynicism than believe in Aslan, out of fear of being “taken” once more.
The Argument from Reason to God
Naturalism is the view that there are no supernatural beings. The natural world is causally closed: there is nothing outside the box, nothing transcendent, nothing that impinges on the world from beyond. Thus, the basic level of analysis is physics: all reality, at rock bottom is captured by tiny bits of matter (quarks? strings?) that are properly understood by the discipline of physics. On this picture, a deep puzzle—conflict even—arises: how is it that our world is intelligible, if man is just a product of chance and necessity? Whence reason?
God, the reasonable, and the possible
In my philosophy of religion class we are working through the excellent book Debating Christian Theism, edited by Moreland, Meister, and Sweis. The strength of this book is that it places leading defenders of opposing views on the nature and existence of God in dialogue. The book highlights the current state of play in the God debate as well as the strength (and firm ground) of the arguments for God in the face of atheism. It also highlights what I think is a kind of double standard that is sometimes applied to theistic arguments by its detractors.
Do not be an Accidental Christian
This past weekend, the second annual Stand Firm Apologetics Conference was held here at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The keynote speaker for the event was J. (Jim) Warner Wallace, who has carved out a name for himself as a cold-case homicide detective turned apologist for Christ.