A Strange Faith

In the 2,000 years Christianity has been around, its history has been somewhat turbulent but overall it has been an astonishing success. Christianity has so deeply permeated the world we live in its pervasive influence has become nearly imperceptible to most people today. Christianity has obviously profoundly affected religion but also ethics, society, art, literature, politics, philosophy, law, science and economics as well. Since Christianity has been so thoroughly woven into the fabric of modern civilization, most Christians today are unaware of just how utterly bizarre their faith is, especially in the context of world history.

For our brothers and sisters around the world who live as minorities in countries where they are directly harassed and persecuted, they are fully aware of just how crazy it is to give your allegiance to King Jesus. For those of us in living in more comfortable circumstances we remain largely blissfully unaware of how weird it is to be a Christian. This is something as a church we desperately need to be reacquainted if we are to properly maintain our identity, accurately represent it in the world as well being able to circumspectly navigate challenges to the church in the world in whatever form they take. Unless you are informed, it is hard to tell just how unique a historical phenomenon Christianity is. There are some wonderful presentations by Larry Hurtado and John Ortberg, which you can find here and here, that provide a wonderful introduction to this topic. For this piece, I wish to briefly refamiliarize ourselves with the most bizarre aspect of Christianity, which is simultaneously the cornerstone of our faith and that is the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Continue reading “A Strange Faith”

Reasonable Unbelief

Modern Christian apologetics arose at a time in Europe when rationalism was on the rise. To combat this new wave of intellectual scepticism Christians also raised rational arguments of their own in defence of their faith. Because of this, Christian apologetics as we know it today is rationalist in nature. While it is just the way it is, it has been a constant point of criticism among some Christians for apologetics’ reliance on rationalism. Now there are some critics who advocate for true fideism, the position that faith is completely independent of reason, but fortunately they are few and far between. However, most apologists do recognise the inherent theological problems with the rationalist nature of their discipline. While they obviously think their discipline is incredibly important, they also acknowledge that the biggest hurdles to faith are not usually intellectual but emotional and psychological. For this reason, they are often acutely aware that it is not arguments that save, only God does. Noted Christian apologist Francis Schaeffer described apologetics as “pre-evangelism”, that is necessary ground work that needs to be done in preparation for the gospel to preached to someone.

While recognising that most apologists have a nuanced understanding of the role of reason in defending the faith and are usually careful not to overstate its significance, there is a reason why it remains a perennial source of criticism. In the middle of intellectual debate, you are going to present your strongest rational arguments, which in turn masks the problems with a rationalist approach in general. Now this is not a deliberate oversight but it is still a problem. It creates the impression that it is simply the rational choice to become a Christian and if you do not accept the arguments then you might be just incredibly foolish. Frankly speaking, the more I have understood the nature of our faith, particularly at its historical core, the more I recognise that there is nothing obvious or intuitive about it. While I am convinced that the faith is not completely irrational, as some militant atheist sceptics like to assert, I am equally convinced that it is not irrational to be sceptical even after you have been presented the best arguments for it.

Continue reading “Reasonable Unbelief”

Inside Critical Race Theory, the ideology behind the Woke Movement

The woke movement has gained unprecedented ground in the US and other parts of the anglosphere. Many in the church in those parts of the world have become convinced it is a worthy cause for Christians to partner with. However, most Christian commentators have only engaged with the popular slogans and platitudes and have failed to properly explore the intellectual and ideological underpinnings of the movement. This basis is something known as Critical Race Theory (CRT), a name that gained much notoriety since President Donald Trump’s executive order to ban it. What is CRT and what should Christians know about it? President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Rev. Albert Mohler, sat down with Dr. James Lindsay, one of the foremost experts on CRT, based on his book Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity—and Why This Harms Everybody (Pitchstone 2020), which he co-authored with Helen Pluckrose. Continue reading “Inside Critical Race Theory, the ideology behind the Woke Movement”

A Historian on the Great Awokening

Over about the last half decade, I have watched from distance with great interest the rise of intersectionality and identity politics, otherwise known as the woke movement, sweep over the United States and much of the anglosphere. In that time many commentators have remarked on it’s religious characteristics, particularly how much it resembles Christianity. While most are only able to do a surface comparison, classical and medieval historian Tom Holland traces the deep influence of Christian history on the present cultural moment in the English-speaking West. In the interview below, Mr. Holland with great care expertly discusses the enduring legacy of Christianity, the present social and cultural turmoil, the future and much more.

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The Genesis of Farming

At the heart of the debate between science and the Bible, is the question of origins. Modern readers of the biblical creation accounts, including Christians, tend to see these stories as an account of material origins. Therefore, they compare them with current scientific models since science seeks to describe and explain physical, material processes. However, as anyone familiar with the debate knows, things are not as straightforward. The attempt to harmonize biblical creation narrative with science is actually quite difficult. The reason why this is so hard, is that the creation stories are not particularly bothered with accounting for material creation or physical processes. Continue reading “The Genesis of Farming”