On 7 Types of Atheism

Recently, I finally read Seven Types of Atheism by English philosopher John Gray and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I am not going to provide a proper review of the book but rather some of my thoughts and impressions about it. For a proper review, I suggest one by Andrew Wilson who first brought the book on my radar which you can read here.

What Gray incisively does is by exploring the history of ideas he demonstrates how modern atheism is not a monolith and in many popular forms still remains heavily indebted to Judaeo-Christian monotheism. As a Christian I must admit there was a certain pleasure in reading Gray, who is himself a committed atheist, absolutely take to task popular atheism for thinking itself intellectually and morally superior to monotheistic faith. For example his critique of new atheism is is quick and delightfully devastating. Continue reading “On 7 Types of Atheism”

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Covenant Relationship

The Problem with a “Personal Relationship with God” Part III

A covenant is basically an ancient contract. It brought two parties into a formal relationship with one another. They were very common in the ancient Near East (ANE) so unsurprisingly there are many examples of covenants in the Bible as well. Most importantly, covenants defined the terms of the relationship between God and his people and how that relationship unfolded through the course of the biblical narrative. They are therefore sometimes described as the backbone of the Bible since the narrative framework of the Bible depends on them. So instead of talking about something as ambiguous as a “personal relationship with God” we should use the definite biblical language of covenant. Continue reading “Covenant Relationship”

The Problem with a “Personal Relationship with God” Part II

As humans we can only conceive of God using human metaphors and analogies, which is why God communicates with us in human terms, but like any good symbol or metaphor, such language is a pointer to something other than itself. The human relational language Scripture employs provides useful and effective metaphors that point to the reality of our relationship with a being who is categorically beyond us. So God in the Bible is portrayed human terms but it also emphasises how God is unlike us. For example, a powerful metaphor for God the Bible often uses is that he is our Father but he is not characterised as a father in a physical sense. So because God is both like and unlike us, a relationship with him is also like and unlike a relationship with other humans. Continue reading “The Problem with a “Personal Relationship with God” Part II”

The Problem with a “Personal Relationship with God”

One of the terms in Christian pop theology that I do not like is a “relationship with God.” Now relationship is a perfectly good word in itself that should be used in talking about God because there is such a thing as a relationship with him. My problem is the word does not mean anything terribly specific the way it is used. This partly due to the fact the English word “relationship” could refer to all sorts of associations without clearly describing what the exact nature of that connection is. This is compounded by when Christians generally talk about a relationship with God, what they mean is just as ambiguous. There is no particular definition in mind of what sort of relationship it is and what it precisely means. Continue reading “The Problem with a “Personal Relationship with God””

Religion vs. Relationship

There is popular but deeply misguided view that people subscribe to about Christianity which is it is not a religion but a relationship. In this view a relationship is something dynamic, personally involving and exciting while religion is rigid, stultifying and impersonal. Relationship is what all personal beings crave but religion is some that is externally imposed.

With a little thought it can be easily seen that the over-simplistic distinction between religion and relationship is a false dichotomy. For devout people religion is intensely personal and interesting. Conversely, there are no meaningful relationships without some kind of structure and routine such as regularly interacting with one another. Moreover, in relationships external demands are placed on one another just like in religion. For example friends have obligations to one another just as family members and colleagues do. While religion and relationship mean different things they are certainly not mutually exclusive.

Christocentric Worship and Christian Pop

In the last couple of months, coming across the insights of Dr. Matthew Gordley based on his book New Testament Christological Hymns has really changed what I think Christian music properly is. Gordley’s work shows that there are shared defining features of New Testament (NT) christological hymns and NT hymns more generally. This critical study of NT hymns resulted in a quite specific conception for me of what good quality religious music is according to NT standards. I applied this biblical standard to contemporary Christian music and the differences between them were noticeable. Continue reading “Christocentric Worship and Christian Pop”

The Bible and the Development of the Trinity

In the discussion of the Bible and its relation to the Trinity there is a particular term Trinitarians use which I think is misleading and that is “development.” The word and other related terms and ideas refer to the course of the historical development of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity from the 1st to the 4th centuries, the New Testament to the Nicene Creed.

As a point of historical fact, it is perfectly acceptable to say it developed because the doctrine did not appear out of thin air but there were a series of events that led to it. It is also correct to say that the path to the Trinity began with the New Testament (NT). The problem with the term development is how it is often used to suggest that given what the New Testament says, the formulation of Trinitarian doctrine was inevitable. Continue reading “The Bible and the Development of the Trinity”