Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians, testified that the resurrected Christ Jesus appeared not only to the apostles but also to more than 500 other people (1 Cor. 15:6)! There were quite a few witnesses whom skeptics could examine, but instead of fading away as a conspiracy, the truth of Jesus’ resurrection was so strong that the church continued to grow and the gospel of Christ Jesus spread from Jerusalem and the Mediterranean beyond into Europe.
Is Christianity private or public? Does the truth about Christ Jesus, who is the object of my faith, depend on my own private beliefs, or is there something verifiable that can be “fact-checked”? The reason I pose these questions is because we are living in a time when the determination of truth and untruth have turned inward, making one’s own personal beliefs the measure of what is true or not.
While examining and verifying evidence and testimony may be found in courts of law, in the press and many political and personal interactions it is common to observe persons passing off as truth what are merely their own feelings, opinions, and beliefs, often without evidence or verifiable testimony.
The resurrection of Jesus was a very public miracle.
Not so with the resurrection of Christ Jesus. The resurrection of Jesus was a very public miracle witnessed by many and supported by evidence at the time it occurred and afterward. The evidence is recorded in Scripture. There are about 5,250 ancient Greek manuscripts of books and parts of the New Testament that record Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. The earliest is dated to about 90 years after his death (Rylands Library Papyrus 52).
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By Ben Davis — 1 year ago
The West may learn too late that there are only two options before us: Christ or chaos. Once we abandon God, as Dostoevsky warned, everything becomes permissible. And when everything is permissible, we lose, not only any meaningful basis for evaluating the behaviour of other cultures, but any effective means of slowing the moral decline of our own.
Since FIFA announced Qatar would be hosting the 2022 World Cup, the international football association has copped a world of criticism. Western nations, in particular, have threatened to boycott the tournament and its sponsors in protest of the predominantly Muslim country’s rejection of “Progressive” ideology.
No shortage of opinion pieces have been penned lamenting ‘human rights abuses’ in Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal and punishable by up to three years in prison. Social media has been flooded with calls for players to boycott the competition, or at the very least, sport gay-pride uniforms or LGBTQAI+ symbolism alongside their national emblems.
In a mark of revolt, the U.S. men’s national team ditched their red, white, and blue crest, for the rainbow flag. A similar theme was adopted for their Qatar-based training facilities and press room backdrop. Other nations have threatened to do the same.
Amid all the pearl-clutching, however, is a glaring assumption that Qatar is in violation of some universal moral standard to which they must be held accountable. The problem is, the West is no longer able to coherently identify the moral standard they’re trying to impose on the world. So, like spoilt children, they stomp their feet and issue threats because the other kids don’t want to play by their made-up rules.
Non-Western nations know it better than most Westerners. To undermine, challenge, or criticise Qatar’s culture, you must first assume a moral standard of which their society falls short. You must assume a measure of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ that Qatar is guilty of violating. But what is that moral standard and who gets to define it for the rest of the world?
For decades, so-called Progressives have insisted that morality is defined by the culture. After all, this is what the term “Progressive” implies. But if morality is defined at a social level, then what basis does one society have in criticising another? What ground is there for imposing one culture’s moral standard on a society that has developed their own? There can be no logical justification for this unless moral relativism is rejected, and a transcendent moral standard assumed – a standard to which one culture reflects more than the other.
It’s no good, at this point, to suggest that morality is democratically defined, or that ‘rights’ are determined by the consensus of the majority. This would mean “Progressives” could never condemn as ‘immoral’ anything previous generations deemed morally acceptable.
By Bill Muehlenberg — 1 year ago
There is much in this book worth thinking about and reflecting upon, even if one may well end up having almost as many questions as answers after going through its 480 pages. I still have a number of very real questions and do not agree with everything being said. A number of further articles will be needed to fully and properly present what he is saying, and how I might react to it. This is a significant and valuable volume looking at some key issues and questions that have been debated for many centuries now.
This book is getting a lot of attention – and opposition. But it is worth being aware of:
In America at least plenty of folks are talking about ‘Christian nationalism’ – usually used as a term of abuse and derision. The secular left (and some Christians) see it as some sinister plot along the lines of what is found in The Handmaid’s Tale.
So when a Christian author comes along seeking to make the case for Christian nationalism, all hell tends to break loose. Already a number of books have appeared on this, both pro and con. The most substantial and significant volume seeking to make the case for it is by Stephen Wolfe.
This is the second of several pieces that looks at his new book which is getting a lot of attention, as well as causing no small amount of controversy. Given that it is a tightly argued and carefully crafted work of nearly 500 pages, dealing with rather complex and difficult topics, a short review can hardly do it justice.
Thus I am doing a series of articles on this volume. Yesterday I looked at one particular aspect of the book.
Here I just want to offer some big-picture preliminary thoughts, before I can even attempt to try to both describe and assess the case he is seeking to make. So here are some prefatory remarks that are worth making. Stay tuned for future articles which will be a bit more in line with a proper book review.
Before I go any further, let me make one minor criticism. This large book has no index. So before I could adequately discuss it or properly review it, I had to create my own index. That I did over a 24-hour period, listing at least the major issues and points of note. In what follows I will include page numbers along the way.
And before listing my preliminary concerns, let me try – as foolish as it might be – to give the skimpiest of outlines of his case. It would run something like this:
There was, even before the fall, the need for some sort of social organisation and order.
Love of family, kinship, and even liking one’s nation are not necessarily bad things (although they can become bad).
There is no neutral public square. If it is not one informed by Christianity, it will be informed by some other competing worldview.
There is a place for like-minded Christians having communities and nations reflecting their beliefs and values – including the use of civil rulers to help affirm and maintain this to some extent.
Wolfe says his intent is this: “[M]y goal is to reinvigorate Christendom in the West – that is my chief aim” (119). But that term, like ‘Christian nationalism,’ needs to be carefully defined – which Wolfe seeks to do. However, as mentioned, I will seek to tease all this out much further in some sort of proper book review – or two! So stay tuned. But here are a few prefatory remarks.
First, this is an important book. That is because it deals with some very important topics, especially including the two things we are NOT supposed to discuss in polite society: politics and religion. These are topics that have been discussed for millennia by philosophers, theologians, historians, political scientists, and ethicists. They are bound to be big topics, and thus not easily digested or understood in short sound bites or quotes.
But to say this book is important is not to say that I necessarily agree with all of it. Das Kapital is important, as is The Origin of the Species (not that I am lumping Wolfe’s book in with these two). One can differ quite a bit with significant titles. But they are worth being aware of and interacting with.
Also, like most authors writing about such topics, there will be a starting point, a worldview, or a set of presuppositions that guide the writer. If one has fundamental differences with those starting points, then chances are the argument as a whole may not be embraced.
Wolfe certainly has his own points of reference. First of all, he is an American, and much of this book of course reflects Christianity in America, along with the rest of the West. In many respects America did have a unique founding – many would argue a Christian founding – so those from other nations may not be fully in sync with what is being presented here.
By Tom Ascol — 2 years ago
Love is the fundamental principle of the Christian life. If you get love right—abhor what is evil and hold fast to what is good—then you will want to pursue a life that is holy, right, and good. Do not let anyone deceive you about the nature of genuine love. Love is what the God who IS love says in His Word.
You probably have heard the phrase, “love is love.” Over the last few years it has been made famous by yard signs, songs, movies, and even a comic book. The “love is love” campaign was started six years ago as an LGBTQ+ advocacy initiative with the purpose of “spreading positive images of the LGBTQ+ community, with a focus on increasing visibility in spaces where LGBTQ+ issues may not be well-understood.” The phrase, “love is love” has even earned an entry in the Urban Dictionary where it is defined as “meaning that the love expressed by an individual or couple is valid regardless of the sexual orientation or gender identity of their lover or partner.”
This notion of love is often used as a trump card to shut down any critique of various perverted opinions and actions that are being pushed into contemporary cultural values. A man wants to have sex with a man or a woman with a woman? Who are you to object, because “love is love.” Adults sexually preying on children? Don’t call them pedophiles, call them “minor attracted people.” Because “love is love.” Will Smith and his wife want to commit unfettered adultery? Who are you to judge, because, you know, love is love.
But love is not love. At least real love isn’t. Otherwise, the Apostle Paul would not have exhorted Christians in Rome by saying, “Let love be genuine” (Romans 12:9a). He is saying that our love must be without pretense or hypocrisy. Why does he put it like this? Because he recognized in his day what modern believers need to recognize in our own, that there is much pretend love in the world.
John Calvin acknowledged this reality in the sixteenth century, as well. He said, “It is difficult to express how ingenious almost all men are in counterfeiting a love which they do not really possess.” In other words, not everybody talking about love is expressing the genuine article.
Genuine love has some intrinsic qualities. These qualities are exemplified in the negative and positive exhortations that Paul adds immediately after calling for genuine love. He writes, “Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good” (Romans 12:9b). Genuine love hates evil. It is repulsed by evil. What this means is that if you are a genuine loving person, you will hate evil. On the flip side, genuine love clings to what is good.
We see these intrinsic qualities demonstrated in God Himself. God is love and as such, He hates. Proverbs 6:16-19 lists seven specific things that God hates. Psalm 5:5 says He hates “all evildoers.” In Isaiah 61:8 He says, “I hate robbery and wrong.” Jesus says in Revelation 2:6 that He hates the works of heretics. It is because God is love that He hates.
But God, who is love, is also good and does good (Psalm 119:68). His will is good. Christians whose minds are increasingly being renewed by the Word of God will come to recognize this more and more (Romans 12:2). Paul came to understand this which is why he called God’s law holy righteous and good and stated, “I agree with the law, that it is good” (Romans 7:12,16).