Why I (Don’t) Believe – The Resurrection – Part I

A couple years ago a young lady, a college student perhaps, going by the handle Young88Apologist, took the time to read through one of my posts and left a long comment challenging my conclusions. There was nothing new to the comments, but what made her comment stand out in my mind is that she strongly recommended I reconsider my position by listening to an audio series produced by Pastor Chip Ingram, of Living on the Edge Ministries.

She couldn’t have known, of course, that I was very familiar with Pastor Chip, as he had been my pastor at Santa Cruz Bible Church from 1990 until I moved my family out of the area in 2001. I was very active and dedicated, running music and drama programs for most of my time there. Even though the church grew to 2,500 people, I had the opportunity to be personally acquainted with him and his family.

I was pretty surprised that, of all the apologists out there, she would choose the one guy I knew. Since then, I vacillated on whether I wanted to take the time to listen to the series. It’s over 4.5 hours of listening time, and I’m pretty sure I know what he’ll say. I may even have been there when he said it (I’m not sure when the series was originally recorded, but they consist of recorded sermons.)

So recently I’ve been interested in meeting my critics where they are and checking out some of the material they find so convincing. Continue reading

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Science, Schmience

As my little cadre of readers know, my former pastor Chuck and I are engaged in a little debate around R.C. Sproul’s Not a Chance, in which Sproul takes on the idea of Chance as a factor in Existence. In doing so he contacted a scientist buddy or two, one of whom at least is also a bible-believing Christian, it seems. This guy, “Bob,” provided some commentary after reading through my blog that was half interesting, half a festering lump of offensive arrogance.

I’ll deal with the latter in a subsequent post, but I’m going to reproduce his comments here then address the points he brings up to see if they hold water. Continue reading

Your Best Shot

Well, after a rather lively, lengthy, but ultimately empty exchange, our recent Anglican Priest visitor has apparently surrendered. Well, he ran away, waving a white flag, proclaiming victory for himself and reveling in my impending damnation. So it looked a lot like a surrender.

Why is it Christians are just so delighted by the thought of others suffering eternal torture at the hands of a loving god?

But I digress. Back to the topic at hand.

As in this last exchange, I have been deeply disappointed by the level of rational engagement I get from theists here and in other social media forums, such as Facebook. Continue reading

And I Feel Fine

It’s the end of the world as we know it.

It’s the end of the world as we know it.

It’s the end of the world as we know it,

And I feel fine.     – R.E.M.

The end of the world as we know it. I can tell you from experience that most Evangelical Christians live like it’s going to happen tomorrow. They don’t follow Christianity as a live for today, just be a good person sort of thing. They are intensely interested in the future and modern politics. They are convinced the rapture is right around the corner, followed quickly by the Tribulation and the return of Jesus Christ. What is written in the Left Behind books they believe is really going to happen. Continue reading

Cruel and Unusual – Hell and Punishment

Does the punishment fit the crime?

This is a key concept in modern society.  In the name of justice, fairness, reasonableness, compassion, and many other related motivators, western society is adamant that no criminal suffer unreasonably for the wrong they committed.  Even a state willing to execute criminals finds itself concerned about limiting the suffering of the condemned.

According to Evangelical Theology, the biblical god created Hell to punish the unrighteous.  Hell is the eternal aftermath of judgment.  Since god created Hell, as his perfect punishment, one would expect that punishment to reflect his nature.  Theologically, Hell is the execution of god’s perfect Justice.  But if god is omnibenevolent, perfectly good, loving, merciful, and forgiving, as well as just, we would not be remiss to expect his final punishment to also embody those aspects too.  After all, god is who he is, and nothing he does can ever fall outside his nature.

So, how does one get to Hell? Continue reading

Do We Have a Right to Question God?

I want to take a little digression from the list, if I may.  I’d like to ask a question.

Do we have a right to question an All-Powerful Capital G-O-D God?

It’s interesting, I started this draft a couple days ago.  I was involved in some good-natured debating with Christian friends on Facebook and the thought about the struggle it is for Christians who are bothered by doubts about the bible, God, Jesus, etc., to be open about those doubts, especially when they’re involved in ministry.

This post was supposed to simply be a mental exercise, a conversation without much context other than general observation. Continue reading

The Devil Made Me Do it – or – Who is Responsible for the Evil Men Do?

Continuing on from my previous post, I want to delve into the issue of responsibility.

In that post I stated the following:

“Let’s say you are an architect and you build a beautiful theater for the purpose of housing the world’s most beautiful works of musical, dance, and theatrical arts.  It is gorgeous and perfect for its purpose – the best sight lines, the best acoustics, the best of everything.  But you design into it one simple flaw – the doors open inward instead of outward.  When a fire starts, and 2,000 people are trapped inside to burn alive, who is responsible?  Did they die because they chose to go to the theater?  Or did they die because the designer created that theater with a fatal flaw?”

Obviously a conversation of this sort tends to bleed over into other topics, such as hell, eternal punishment, free will, and the like.  We’ll get to those.  I want to keep it narrow in the interest of keeping the blog posts down to a reasonable length. Continue reading

The Birth of Dr. Evil, or, Where Did Evil Come From?

Where did evil come from?

This question is the root of some of my strongest objections to Christianity, and the source of many subtle but significant contradictions that, to my mind, demonstrate the manmade qualities of the Christian faith.

As an aside, I will state for current and future reference that when I relate specifics of Christian theology, I will use as my primary references either J.I. Packer’s “Concise Theology” (hereafter CT) or, when the short version won’t suffice, Norman Geisler’s 4 volume “Systematic Theology” (hereafter ST.)  I don’t think anyone will argue that these books don’t well represent the state of current Evangelical Christian Theology.

There are a few details we need to determine, then we’ll put them together and see if they fit. Continue reading