Description: APOLOGETICS FOR A POST-CHRISTIAN AGE | trevor j major Home Mission Manukau Outlines About trevor j major APOLOGETICS FOR A POST-CHRISTIAN AGE Aug 26 2014 Signs of the Apocalypse? [Someone is ranked 27591061 in the world (amongst the 40 million domains). A low-numbered rank means that this website gets lots of visitors. This site is relatively popular among users in the united states. It gets 50% of its traffic from the united states .This site is estimated to be worth $1,333. This site has a low Pagerank(0/10). It has 1 backlinks. has 43% seo score. Information

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APOLOGETICS FOR A POST-CHRISTIAN AGE | trevor j major Home Mission Manukau Outlines About trevor j major APOLOGETICS FOR A POST-CHRISTIAN AGE Aug 26 2014 Signs of the Apocalypse? [Someone handed me this DVD and asked for my thoughts. Here it goes…] Review: 7 Signs of the Apocalypse, Directed by Tim Prokop, written by Lee Fulkerson. DVD. A&E Television Networks, 2009. “Is it possible that we are experiencing the seven signs of the apocalypse?” Originally developed as a feature-length documentary for the History Channel, Seven Signs promises to show how prophecies in the Book of Revelation might be coming true right now. There are lots of clips showing death, doom, and destruction. There are lots of weasel words: could, might, etc. The rest of the 94-minute running time consists of interviews with talking heads because, you know, this is a documentary. Continue reading Comments Off on Signs of the Apocalypse? Aug 18 2014 The Trinity is Not Tritheism A critique of Naji I. Al-Arfaj, Just one Message. Al Hofuf, Saudi Arabia: Author, 2001. [available from multiple sources online] Someone shared the above booklet with me, and asked for my response. The headings below correspond to the headings in Al-Arfaj’s booklet. Continue reading Comments Off on The Trinity is Not Tritheism Jun 2 2014 Whatever Will Be, Will Be? The following is not a word-for-word recounting of the story I heard in my college-level class on natural hazards, but it’s pretty close. When people in Illinois are expecting a tornado, they do the sensible thing and seek cover. When people in Alabama are expecting a tornado, they sit outside and drink iced tea. People in the American South, you see, are know-nothing fundamentalists. They don’t buy into all that science-is-our-savior jazz. God decides who will live and who will die, not the National Weather Service. I was offended. Some of my best friends drank iced tea. If they ever got close to a twister, I could count on them to say it sounded like a freight train. I could also count on them to duck and cover. Hard to see through the trees. This twister was part of the deadly outbreak across the Southeastern U.S., April 25-28, 2011 [credit: NWS/Wikimedia]The tornado story can be traced back to a paper published in 1972 by John Sims and Duane Baumann.[1] They were trying to explain why tornadoes in the South were so deadly, compared to other parts of the country. As far as they could tell, it had nothing to do with external factors such as population density or the severity of tornado outbreaks. They began to look for cultural differences. Surveys revealed that people in the South were prone to saying things like this: “As far as my own life is concerned, God controls it.” Sims and Baumann detected a commitment to fatalism: the belief that God is actively determining every aspect of their lives. If a tornado was going to hit their house, then there was nothing they could do about it. Midwesterners, they concluded, saw God as a kindly but distant father figure. Whether they survived a twister was up to them. God couldn’t be expected to intervene. Forty years later, the Sims and Baumann paper is still widely cited, but is it true? Is a Bible-toting Southerner his own worst enemy? After conducting a thorough analysis of tornado data, Walker Ashley identified a number of external risk factors peculiar to the American South, including the nature of the tornado season and the abundance of manufactured homes.[2] The bottom line is that people in the South are more likely than their Midwestern counterparts to be caught unawares in vulnerable structures, and so are more likely to die when a tornado hits. It turns out that Sims and Baumann were wrong about the external factors. They were also wrong about the cultural differences. According to research conducted by Dov Cohen and Richard Nisbett, people in the South are no more fatalistic than people in the Midwest.[3] And yet the Sims-Baumann legend lives on because it confirms our prejudices. It plants the image in our heads of Joe Bob leaving everything up to Jesus while the Big One bears down on his doublewide trailer. But this is not just a story about stereotypes. It’s also a story about worldviews. Fatalism – the idea that whatever happens, must happen – is not a Christian belief. Sure, you can find people in the church who think this way, but that doesn’t make it right. Fatalism is fundamentally incompatible with a Christian worldview because it denies both the freedom to choose and the notion of personal responsibility. Sims and Baumann’s Midwestern alternative – a benevolent God who leaves us to our own devices – is no less problematic. This is the absentee landlord of deism. This is the God who wants our respect, but not our prayers. So, if the urban legend is true, all Christians in tornado-prone areas are either deists or fatalists, depending on whether they live north or south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Surely that can’t be right. We expect a few people to get basic theology wrong, but how could so many people miss the core commitments of their own religion? Or maybe it’s not them. Maybe the fault lies with the people who are asking the questions. Academics have a hard time getting the questions about Christianity right because they have a hard time getting the content of Christianity right. As a group, college professors are notoriously secular, and most can’t abide the sort of religious conservatism that prevails in the Bible Belt.[4] Think back to that reply: “God is in control.” What, exactly, does that mean? Is it a concession to fatalism? Who knows? We would have to ask some follow-up questions. I suspect this is what we would find: Christians can believe that worry is useless, especially when the situation is beyond their control (Luke 12:29). They can believe that God is fully in charge of His own creation (Hebrews 1:3). They can believe all of that, and still duck into a tornado shelter, or buckle their seatbelt, or look both ways before they cross the street. Southerners probably get that. Sims and Baumann apparently never did. And this is coming from someone who doesn’t even like boiled okra. [1] John Sims and Duane Baumann, “The Tornado Threat: Coping Styles of the North and South,” Science, 1972, 176:1386-1392. [2] Walker Ashley, “Spatial and temporal analysis of tornado fatalities in the United States: 1880–2005,” Weather and Forecasting, 2007, 22:1214-1228. [3] Dov Cohen, and Richard Nisbett, “Are there differences in fatalism between rural Southerners and Midwesterners? Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 1998, 28: 2181–2195. [4] E.g, Gary Tobin and Aryeh Weinberg, Religious Beliefs & Behavior of College Faculty. San Francisco: IJCR, 2007. Comments Off on Whatever Will Be, Will Be? Jun 2 2014 Hear Me Roar! Around 1 BC, a lovely fellow by the name of Hilarion writes a letter to his pregnant wife Alis: I ask and beg you to take good care of our baby son, and as soon as I receive payment I shall send it up to you. If you are delivered of a child, if it is a boy keep it, if a girl discard it. This is a reference to the very common practice of exposure in ancient Greece and Rome. Fathers favored bouncing baby boys; girls and sickly boys, not so much. Infanticide played a central role in Rome’s founding myth. Twins Romulus and Remus are thrown into the River Tiber by their great uncle, survive, and are raised by a wolf [credit: CellarDoor85/Wikimedia].Exposure was was not always fatal. A few infants were picked up and sold to be raised as slaves, beggars, prostitutes, and gladiators. A fortunate few might have been adopted into good families. Ancient writers took special note of practices that went beyond the norms of Greco-Roman culture. Aristotle observes that Jews rear all their children, not just the ones they want. Josephus makes exactly the same point four centuries later when he defends the Jewish way of life against its pagan critics. In this tiny snapshot of family life we see a truly staggering difference between the prevailing pagan worldview and the Biblical worldview. The Hebrew Scriptures show a deep respect for family and children. Adam and Eve are instructed to be “fruitful and multiply” (Ge. 1:28). The Mosaic Law specifies penalties for babies who are harmed by violence (Ex. 21:22-25). Josiah is marked out as a good king for cracking down on child sacrifice (2 Ki. 23:10). Naturally, as Jews converted to Christianity, they brought these Biblical values into the early church. It is hard to imagine that they would countenance the practice of exposure among their Gentile brethren. The New Testament builds on this respect for children. Jesus shows compassion for children (Mt. 19:13-15). Fathers are warned against inciting anger in their children (Eph. 6:4). And, most of all, the nativity accounts of Jesus show that life begins at conception and never depends for its value on the judgment of men—neither betrothed husband Joseph nor murderous King Herod. These attitudes must have had a profound effect on pagan women who came into contact with Christianity. As a man, I can hardly put myself in their position. Even so, it must have been heart breaking for a woman to carry a child to term and give birth, only to be told that her beautiful baby daughter is to be discarded because she is (like her mother) “only” female. Christians not only had a different view of children, they had a different view of men. There was no double standard on sexual behavior: men were just as accountable as women (Heb. 13:4). Divorce was limited and rare (Matt. 19:9). Although husbands were the head of the family, they were expected to love their wives as Christ loved the church (Eph. 5:25). They were to treat their wives as fellow heirs of the grace of life (1 Pet. 3:7). Early Christianity was pro-life across the board and so, in a very real sense, pro-women. Sadly, the benefits for women declined over time, for two important reasons. First, church interests became increasingly entangled in state interests. As the imperial church came to mirror the world, it lost its distinctive appeal to society’s most vulnerable groups. And second, theologians began to develop views on marriage and women that flatly contradicted Biblical teaching (which Paul anticipated in 1 Tim. 4:1-3). Priests, forbidden from marriage, would simply avail themselves of concubines which, by the way, were a vestige of pagan Rome. Some might argue that the modern state now protects the interests of women and children to a degree that the early church never could. Even if the average Christian woman of the 1st century was better off than her pagan neighbor, she would still have to submit to her husband at home and to male authority figures within the church. This continues to get under the skin of radical feminists, which is why they will always push for more state involvement in marriage, family, and faith. Feminists have all but won the culture war on this front. “I am woman, hear me roar,” right? And yet, when we look at the price of victory—abortion (the new child sacrifice), divorce, homosexuality, population decline in the West (just like the Roman Empire in its waning years), sex selection (biased against girl babies in many cultures), legalized prostitution, sexual promiscuity, rampant STDs, cohabitation (the new concubinage), men avoiding marriage, etc., etc.—we have to wonder whether winning the culture war simply amounts to winning back the pagan past. Is that a good thing? Are we, as a society, better off for all of that? And especially, are women and children really better off now that the radical feminists have everything they ever wanted, and more? [A version of this article appeared originally in Think magazine, January 2013, p. 19.] Comments Off on Hear Me Roar! | tags: abortion, church history, ethics, family, feminism, politics, popular culture, worldview | posted in Think Nov 14 2012 Ordinary Miracles According to Bill Gates, we need a miracle to fight global warming. Specifically, we need an energy miracle. Gates quickly explains: “When I use the term ‘miracle,’ I don’t mean something impossible. The microprocessor is a miracle. The personal computer is a miracle.”[1] Like any good speaker, Gates knows what his audience is thinking when he uses the term ‘miracle.’ They will naturally think that the Nerd-in-Charge has thrown up his hands in defeat. A technological solution would require a miracle and, as everyone knows, miracles are impossible. But not to fear: if we think of “miracles” as solutions to difficult problems then, all of a sudden, the impossible becomes possible. Clean energy is a long way from Moses parting the Red Sea or Jesus turning water into wine. Apparently, if we want to borrow quaint religious words from the Bible then we have to lower our sights, a lot. We have to start thinking in terms of perfectly ordinary miracles. The modern attack on miracles can be traced to an obscure Jewish philosopher by the name of Baruch Spinoza (1632-1688). According to Spinoza, all of nature is God, and so the laws of nature are as fixed and unchangeable as God himself. As Spinoza put it, “nature cannot be contravened.”[2] If anything, claims of miracles distract us from our faith because they point beyond nature, and hence, beyond God. David Hume (1711-1776), the Scottish skeptic, gave us the version that most college students are forced to read and adopt today: “A miracle is a violation of the laws of nature.”[3] Hume had no time for Spinoza’s pantheism, but the line of reasoning was the same: the laws of nature cannot be broken; miracles, if they happen, would have to break the laws of nature; therefore, miracles cannot happen. We know we are in trouble when apologists buy into the same underlying premise. Sure, an unbreakable law of nature cannot be broken, these guys will concede, but God is the great lawgiver. He “can make or break it” as He sees fit.[4] This takes us into a dangerous rhetorical minefield. Do we really want to insist that the great lawmaker is also the great law breaker? And then there is the whole problem of God decreeing the laws of nature. Unlike Spinoza and Hume, we no longer view the laws of science as fixed and unchangeable, and we no longer view the universe as a mechanical clock. Newtonian gravity and other laws have been replaced or modified over the years. With some humility we have come to realize that the laws of science are our best attempts at describing the observed regularities of God’s amazingly complex and often surprising creation.[5] Miracles are exceptions to these regularities, not violations of immutable natural laws. Every law of nature includes the possibility of God’s intervention, but intervention is not the same as contravention. Besides all of that, the Spinoza-Hume approach begs the question. One way to beg the question is to restate in your conclusion what you already stated in your premises. In this case, by claiming that miracles break the unbreakable the skeptics already have their conclusion, namely, that miracles are impossible. Before the skeptics came along and told us what our own words should mean, theists had a pretty good understanding of miracles. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) offered the following definition: “Those things must properly be called miraculous which are done by divine power apart from the order generally followed in things.”[6] The keyword is ‘generally.’ A law of nature is a generality, and no more. So let us not speak of the miraculous when we really mean to speak of the pleasantly wonderful: of spontaneous cancer remissions, of lone survivors and, of all things, microprocessors. The miracles of the Bible were neither ordinary nor quaint. They communicated a clear message, were consistent with God’s character, and always had a sound theological footing. [A version of this article appeared originally in Think, November 2012, p. 7.] [1] “Bill Gates on energy: Innovating to zero!,” TED video, February 2010, 7:10-7:28. [Online] [2] Baruch Spinoza, “Of Miracles,” Theological-Political Treatise, 6:5. [3] David Hume, “Of Miracles,” An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, 10:1:90. [4] Paul Little, Know Why You Believe, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2008, p. 139. [5] William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith, Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2008, p. 262. [6] Thomas Aquinas, “Of Miracles,” Summa Contra Gentiles, 3.101. Comments Off on Ordinary Miracles | tags: attributes of God, David Hume, miracles, popular culture | posted in Think ? Older Entries Search this blog Categories Bulletin Article (18) Gospel Advocate (6) Think (40) Uncategorized (12) Upon the Rock (3) Links Alkire Rd Church of Christ Focus Press (Think magazine) Gospel Advocate South Auckland Church of Christ Upon the Rock Tag cloud Charles Darwin faith church history Islam medical ethics academic bias politics media bias resurrection nihilism miracles prophecy Jesus evolution gnosticism inspiration atheism problem of suffering music gambling world religions Calvinism materialism Richard Dawkins economics abortion knowledge C.S. 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