Predestination?

The Christian doctrine of predestination is one of the deepest and most controversial in the church. The idea that God ‘predestines’ things to happen seems to many to be unjust, illogical, or just plain weird. This is especially true when we start talking about God ‘predestining’ people to receive grace. Why would God predestine some to be saved, and not others? How could that be fair? And what about free will? If God is truly loving and just, surely he simply offers us grace, and kindly lets us make up our own minds.

These are deep issues over which many godly Christians have puzzled and disagreed.

Here is a debate between two people who hold somewhat opposing views on this subject. Both men are very learned and deeply committed to the Scripture. They both love Christ, and desire to glorify God. But they differ.

The debate below is instructive, not only on the issue of predestination, but on how to disagree agreeably (something that Christians struggle with sometimes).

Yes, the video is long, and yes, it’s pretty heavy. But that only reflects the nature of the topic. I suggest you grab a coffee and sit back to listen and learn. It will be worth your time.

Advertisements

How to Read the Bible

Lots of people say they believe the Bible. The Mormons do. The Jehovah’s Witnesses do. The Roman Catholics do. The Presbyterians do. But the funny thing is, they all see to come to different conclusions about what the Bible is actually teaching.

So how do we work out what the Bible actually says?

Here’s a great video that gives some tips on how to read the Bible properly.

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.]

Are the Gospels based on Eyewitness Accounts?

The four gospel accounts of Jesus’ earthly ministry (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) have been under attack for a long time. Usually we are told they are corrupted and unreliable stories, filled with myths, mistakes and misinformation. But is that true? Is there any evidence to suggest they are reliable accounts that accurately record real events in real places?

In this video, Dr Peter Williams (Warden of Tyndale House, Cambridge) surveys a few lines of evidence that suggest the Gospels are not historical/religious fiction.