Peter Hitchens on ‘Does God Exist?’

Peter Hitchens is a conservative British columnist, author, and speaker. He is the only sibling of the late Christopher Hitchens, one of the world’s most hostile and perceptive atheists. Peter Hitchens also happens to identify as a Christian.

In this debate at Oxford University, which was attended by some of the world’s most famous atheist thinkers, Hitchens offers a fiery, raw defence of belief in God. While I personally wouldn’t take his approach to defending the existence of God, I did find his presentation to be fascinating.

Worth a few minutes of your time.

Blessings,

Matt

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Some Christian Thoughts on SSM

Same-sex marriage is all people seem to talk about in Australia at the moment. I guess it’s good to thrash this issue out. More and more people are asking for a change to how we define marriage. It seems that the majority of secular, post-Christian Australia is in favour of it. And some fairly conservative Christians I know are in favour of it too. So yeah, I guess it’s a great thing to be thinking through.

A quick google search will uncover a host of different perspectives on this issue. If you want to find out what people are saying (on all sides), then just ask Dr Google.

However, if you want a really good analysis of the issue, check this blog post by Aussie Christian apologist Akos Balogh. He raises some good points from a biblically-grounded, clear-thinking Christian perspective. Of course, not everyone will agree with what he says.  But whatever you think about this topic, it’s worth a read.

Quote of the week – the uniqueness of ancient Hebraic monotheism

Christianity is not a new religion, nor a made-up religion. It is the fulfillment
and continuation of the religion of the ancient Hebrews. It is a uniquely historical religion, built upon God’s self-revelation to real people in the real world.

Drawn quotes and a frameThe Old Testament showcases how amazingly unique ancient Israelite religion was: in the midst of  polytheistic and superstitious cultures around it, the ancient Hebrews claimed that there was only one God. They asserted that there was one supreme being who created and upholds all reality. Furthermore, they said this God was separate from his creation – he was not part of it. Neither did he need any help to create the universe. And perhaps most amazingly, he didn’t have an “image”. There were no statues or carvings or amulets to be made. This one true God insiste
d on it. He is to be worshiped, yes. But as the supreme spiritual being his essence cannot be captured or portrayed adequately through the skills of moral craftsmen.

The emergence of this Hebraic monotheism is completely unexpected and unique. Here’s what one scholar said about this:

“There is absolutely no parallel in the ancient Near East for a people resisting the current universal religious thought patterns, challenging the prevailing world views and producing a national religion and literature that in its fundamentals goes against the stream of the entire existing tradition of which historically, culturally and geographically it is a constituent part. The phenomenon defies all attempts at rational explanation, for a linear, evolutionary development of monotheism from polytheism is not otherwise attested.”

[quote is from Nahum M. Sarna, “Paganism and Biblical Judaism,” Great Confrontations in Jewish History: The J. M. Goodstein Lecture Series on Judaica, 1975, edited by Stanley M. Wagner and Allen D. Breck (Denver: University of Denver, Department of History, 1977/5737), reprinted in Studies in Biblical Interpretation (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 2000/5760), 17.]

Quote of the week – Concern for the poor, a Christian idea

Recently I saw a person on Facebook arguing that Christianity’s main contribution to Western culture was to make people feel guilty, whilst trying to force a rigid morality on them. And in some ways you can understand why a person would say that. Often the church has failed to be clear with its message of hope in the gospel and given people the impression that the main message of the Bible is “be a good moral person”. That’s not it. The main message of the Bible is we need to be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ in order to find the kind of life and hope God intended for humanity.

However, the claim that Christianity hasn’t made many good positive contributions to society at large is manifestly erroneous. This is especially true with regard to our Western concern for the poor and the downtrodden. Scholar Edwin Judge makes the following observation:

“In the classical world of Greece and Rome it was regarded as philosophically illogical and positively immoral to focus one’s care and attention on the weak and poor of society. And now everyone in the West thinks the opposite. Christianity turned the world upside down!”

Things to click (4)

Hi.

Here’s another round-up of interesting things you can read on the interwebs. Each one tackles a different topic from a Christian perspective. But why bother? Why bother taking the time out to reading any of this? It’s because Christians need to think more. We should be people who look at the world around us, and seek to understand it from a biblical, Christ-centered perspective. It says in Psalm 36:9 “In your light, we see light.” Only in seeking our Maker’s perspective on reality can we truly begin to understand reality.

I hope as you click and read, God’s light shines on you so that your life will be filled with the light of his truth.

(1) Do you enjoy reading the Bible? Or do you find it a bit tedious and strange? Here are some tips on how to actually like reading the Bible.

(2) The popular atheist Richard Dawkins had a minor stroke recently. That got lots of people talking about him. Especially Christians. This blog post suggests Christians have good reasons to thank God for him.

(3) Recently a controversial educational program was introduced in some Australia primary schools. The main beef that many people have with it is, in the words of one person, that “children are being taught about sexual orientation and transgender issues at school in a taxpayer-funded program written by gay activists”. It’s worth reading some Christian reflections on the issue.

(4) While we’re on the topic of gender, one ongoing issue in the contemporary church is that of leadership roles in the church. Are leadership roles (presiding over mixed gender meetings) purely for men, or both men and women? Egalitarians suggest it’s both men and women. Complementarians stubbornly insist that it’s only men – a view which sounds bizarrely archaic and misogynistic to many today. Here is a defense of being “pro-woman” but complementarian at the same time.

(5) At Wavell Heights Presbyterian Church our Bible teaching is a mixture of topical and ‘expository’ preaching. However, we favour sequential expository preaching. Here are some benefits of teaching this way.

Blessings.

Soli Deo Gloria.