Saturday, March 18, 2017
Friday, March 17, 2017
From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands (Act 17:26, NIV).
I recently got into a debate with a former evangelical Christian turned atheist. Here are some bits and pieces from my replies I thought might be helpful to some. Apologies if there's still a lot of filler or fodder in here as I wasn't necessarily all that discriminating in what I left in or took out. Also sorry I don't have the time to better organize this (e.g. topically). It's mostly just a quick copy and paste job in chronological order. And keep in mind I'm not a biblical scholar, theologian, or philosopher so I'm open to correction.
Kean's book on the afterlife seems to have some overlap with Patricia Pearson's book that came out in 2014, which I reviewed here. There's also some overlap with Tsakiris' interview of Pearson. I'll refer to perspectives like those held by people such as Tsakiris, Pearson, and Kean as a paranormal view of the afterlife.
Thursday, March 16, 2017
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
One of the most substantial problems for Catholicism in the early responses to Christianity is the absence of any reference to a papacy. Remember, Catholics often tell us how important the papacy allegedly is. We're supposed to think that it's the foundation of the church, central to Christian unity, an infallible source of Christian teaching, and so on. We're told how valuable the papacy is in the abstract and how practical it is, how it's such a good idea on so many levels to have such an office. We're often pointed to John 17:21, as if Jesus was referring there to denominational unity under Roman Catholicism and the papacy. Well, if we need to submit to the papacy "so that the world may believe" (John 17:21), shouldn't we expect the world to know that the papacy exists and to refer to it when discussing Christianity? Isn't that especially true during the earliest centuries of church history, when, according to many Catholics, there was such widespread and consistent unity under the Pope? What if, instead of acknowledging such unity and responding to it along the lines of John 17:21 or focusing on the papacy as one of the most foundational issues to be addressed (as we'd expect if Christianity was Roman Catholic at the time), the early responses to Christianity show no knowledge that a papacy even exists and sometimes make comments suggesting its nonexistence?
Something worth considering in this context is what Celsus, a second-century pagan critic of Christianity, said about Christian disunity and how Origen, a Christian, responded. See here.
Neither Celsus and his Jewish sources nor the other earliest non-Christian sources who comment on the religion refer to a papacy. And we have much more than documents like Justin Martyr's Dialogue With Trypho and Origen's Against Celsus to go by. Larry Hurtado notes:
"Whatever their actual success, clearly some Christians made impressive efforts to disseminate their works, not only among fellow believers, but more widely as well. Here again, it is difficult to find an equivalent effort by other religious groups of the day….Philo of Alexandria's Embassy to Gaius might serve as a kind of precedent. But the sheer number of Christian apologia [apologetic] texts is unprecedented." (Destroyer Of The Gods [Waco, Texas: Baylor University Press, 2016], 132-3, n. 90 on 249)
Men like Aristides and Tertullian wrote apologies in which they responded to objections to Christianity and anticipated potential objections. They address the deity of Jesus, his virgin birth, his resurrection, the second coming, the inspiration of scripture, how to interpret various passages of scripture, Christian moral standards, the apostles, Christian teachers, the nature of the church, and many other topics. But they say nothing of a papacy, to explain it, defend it, anticipate objections to it, or anything else.
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Published on Oct 14, 2016
Lecture by Larry Hurtado “A New and Mischievous Superstition: Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman World” given September 10, 2016 at the Lanier Theological Library in Houston, TX.
Monday, March 13, 2017
(Spoilers contained below.)
I recently watched Kubo and the Two Strings. It's a beautifully rendered stop-motion animated feature film. It looks, sounds, and even "feels" exquisitely crafted. The voice acting is superb as well. Regina Spektor's rendition of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" was a pitch perfect way to close out the film. Overall I loved the movie.