Here is a link to the full debate in MP3 audio.
That’s right, this past week at the University of Texas at San Antonio students were able to trade their Bibles or Qu’rans in for pornography. And who was leading the way? The Atheist Agenda, a student organization the university that had their first “smut for smut” event back in 2005.
According to My SA News, “In the view of club members, religious texts are as smutty as pornography because they contain violence and torture and spark religious wars. But mostly, it’s a public relations stunt meant to ignite debate and attract new members to the club.”
I don’t have much to say for this. It seems to me that the group is just looking for a lot of attention.
Psalm 53:1 says, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, doing abominable iniquity; there is none who does good.” Read the rest of Psalm 53 here.
Amazon Link: The Modern Search for the Real Jesus
The Modern Search for the Real Jesus is an introductory survey of the historical roots of “Gospels Criticism,” as it has been done since the enlightenment. The book is written by Robert B. Strimple. The basic outline of the book starts in the 18th century and develops the first stages of Gospels Criticism, which has come to be known as the “Old Quest” for the historical Jesus. This quest was basically terminated with the likes of Albert Schweitzer and some rationalist critics who saw the “Old Quest” as fundamentally flawed in its approach to the historical nature of the Gospels themselves. Then, finally in the 20th century, Rudolf Bultmann appeared and gave a ‘watershed’ theory that would ultimately result in a “New Quest” for the historical Jesus. If I could summarize the book into funny categories, I would divide Strimple’s history of ‘Modern’ Gospels Criticism into these three basic categories: 1) Finding your own personal Jesus, 2) Burning everyone’s Personal Jesus, and 3) Solo Fide (Only Faith) – Jesus doesn’t matter anymore. Yes, that is how I felt after I read through the book and processed the basic thought patterns of each transformation of Gospels Criticism. Ultimately, instead of trying to summarize what each person said and thought, the most important thing to understand about Gospels Criticism is that everyone basically subscribed to three principles of history: 1) Any historical work can never be sure, it is only ‘probable’ that something happened, 2) If we cannot see it duplicated today, then it never could have happened in the past (i.e. – no miracles, resurrections, etc.), and 3) Every effect has to have a sufficient cause. Given these three principles, it should become clear that any ‘divine’ activity is strictly prohibited from being ‘known’ in history.
The full worth of this book should be seen in the comprehensive understanding that is given to every figure addressed throughout the book. Each person’s primary methodology in Gospels Criticism is clearly explained with the practical implications laid out for each. I especially enjoyed all the comments by Strimple throughout the book that he set in parentheses (). It became clear, after reading the first two parts of the book, why Strimple divided the various critics into the areas noted above. The “Old Quest” really was obsessed with creating Jesus in their own personal image. Then the “Old Quest” ended in flames with the old critics being called on the carpet for making Jesus in their own image. Finally, the last portion of the book, resolved the events of the burning of the old quest by showing how Bultmann and his disciples embraced the fruits of rationalistic historical criticism – since you really cannot know anything about the ‘historical’ Jesus, a radical faith (without Jesus) is the only real means of finding personal fulfillment in studying the Gospel writings.
One of the more helpful aspects of understanding the “Old Quest” is what Strimple calls their ‘apologetic’ purpose. The very first two critics Strimple mentions saw themselves as apologists for Christianity given the new era of rationalistic enlightenment. In their sincerity, they saw themselves as making Christianity palatable for a modern person who didn’t know what to do with all the miracles and faith claims of the Bible. But this of course lead these early critics to deny the very heart of the good news of Jesus – that he not only died for sins but that he was resurrected from the dead and lives today in heaven, at the right hand of God, saving people from Satan, death, and sin through the work of his Spirit. That is where the liberal critics step in. Knowing that most of the things that were important to historic, orthodox Christians were now gutted from the Gospel accounts, these liberal critics sought to reconstruct Jesus into a ‘real’ historical figure that people could actually appreciate and follow after – since after all, everyone knows that Jesus had to be a great guy – even though his followers added all that non-historical data to his life in the Gospel accounts. But in the end, they only made Jesus look like themselves (i.e. – a deist, a Hegelian, or a liberal protestant) Strimple, in effect, captures the heart of each Gospels critic as he traces their work through to their ultimate conclusions. This leads us to the last two sections of the book.
Strimple very clearly lays out the downfall of the “Old Quest” by means of the skeptical “radical” critics and the climactic work of Albert Schweitzer. Thus, the downfall of the “Old Quest” can be categorized by two claims from the ‘fire-starters’ noted above: 1) The Gospels were heavily influenced by followers of Jesus, so much so that they are primarily theological works, not historical work. 2) The “Old Quest” critics ended up reconstructing the life of Jesus to look a lot like their own worldviews, which was essentially the same thing the “Old Questers” were accusing the Gospel writers of doing to Jesus! This second claim is one of the only positive things that Albert Schweitzer gave to the history of Gospels Criticism.
Finally, in the last portion of the book, Strimple gives us a very helpful picture of the Bultmann’s thinking and how he and his disciples proceeded to embrace the ultimate futility of the modern Gospels Criticism movement. First, I would like to note the partial ‘breath of fresh air’ that I experienced when reading the sixth chapter on Martin Kähler, the supposed forerunner to Bultmann. Kähler’s work, while not affirming the inerrancy of Scripture, seemed to be thoroughly affirming of orthodox Christian doctrine and faith. But, in the end, his impact on Gospels Criticism was not revival. It was instead food for thought that pushed Bultmann to the conclusions that he drew. Strimple strongly presents the ultimate foolishness of Bultmann’s existential and a-historical conclusions about the Jesus of history. Recalling my third section title in the summary above, Bultmann basically proposed that faith is the only means for a person to be justified in seeking out a life of ‘authentic existence.’ This is the concept of ‘solo’ fide – only faith – where Bultmann concluded that knowing the history of Jesus didn’t matter. Instead, what the Gospel writers were trying to accomplish was to show their reads how to live a truly authentic life. And that authentic life could come in any form, not just Christian religion. Thus, it was the ‘left-wing’ disciples of Bultmann who really ‘got it’ and carried out Bultmann’s conclusions to their ultimate end – ‘who cares about Jesus anymore, we just want an authentic existence!’
I found only two negatives in this survey of Modern Gospels Criticism: 1) Strimple did not always connect the three parts together very clearly as he structured the book into chapters. Yes, he made it clear why he segregated the book into the three parts, but as I read, the information was sometimes so much that I did not always track with who came first and why someone influenced another person. It might just be the case that undertaking any such survey like this is always prone to that weakness. 2) Though I attribute this second issue to when Strimple wrote the book, I would have liked to have seen a fourth section covering what has more recently been called the “Third Quest” for the historical Jesus. The book dates itself by not addressing anything beyond what has taken place directly after Bultmann.
The Modern Search for the Real Jesus is a short, yet comprehensive, book that will accurately introduce a well read student of the Bible to the historical roots of Gospels Criticism. I say ‘well read’ because the book contains several references to the German language and also deals with fine distinctions and critical methodology. This book is primarily going to benefit someone seeking to be a pastor or Bible scholar, both of whom will run into these methods and conclusions in much of the scholarly commentary work done on the Gospels today.
Dinesh D’Souza and Peter Singer debate at Princeton University:
“Can There Be Morality Without God?”
James Grant says…
A. N. Wilson was once a Christian, but â€œconvertedâ€ to atheism, rubbing shoulders with Dawkins and Hitchens and others. but now he has started to believe again. Why? He mentioned several reasons in this article, â€œWhy I Believe Again.â€ It really is worth your time to read it.
He mentions watching people die, including his mother, and becoming convinced that purely materialists explanations for human existence do not work. He also explains that his atheist friends seem like people â€œwho have no ear for music, or who have never been in love.â€ But one of the crucial steps in moving away from unbelief was a book on Nazi Germany:
- I havenâ€™t mentioned morality, but one thing that finally put the tin hat on any aspirations to be an unbeliever was writing a book about the Wagner family and Nazi Germany, and realising how utterly incoherent were Hitlerâ€™s neo-Darwinian ravings, and how potent was the opposition, much of it from Christians; paid for, not with clear intellectual victory, but in blood. Read Pastor Bonhoefferâ€™s book Ethics, and ask yourself what sort of mad world is created by those who think that ethics are a purely human construct. Think of Bonhoefferâ€™s serenity before he was hanged, even though he was in love and had everything to look forward to.
Once again, Colbert hands Bart Ehrman a rattle snake and tells him to chew on it! Just kidding, but please observe as Stephen Colbert uses standard Christian apologetic arguments against Dr. Ehrman’s claim. I especially love the final example about the elephant, even though his telling of the story isn’t quite as eloquent as I would present it. 🙂
|The Colbert Report||Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
[HT: James Grant]
Stan Guthrie moderates a Christian Book Expo panel with Lee Strobel, William Lane Craig, Douglas Wilson, Christopher Hitchens, and Jim Denison.
The New Atheists usually make two charges against Christianity: (1) that it is untrue and (2) that it is harmful. A panel of apologetics experts responds to an atheist critic with evidence from Scripture, science, and history about why the faith is both reasonable and good for the world. Christianity Todayâ€™s Stan Guthrie moderated this panel on March 21, 2009 for the Christian Book Expo in Dallas.
Go to the link above to watch the video recording of the event. Here is a link to download the audio in mp3. This is a really good discussion panel and everyone did a great job, even Christopher Hitchens. I can only pray and hope that one day God will save Christopher so that his name will finally be fulfilled.
James White offers some good reflection on the agenda of Bart Ehrman and his latest book by reviewing an interview Dr. Ehrman had on NPR:
Penn, from The Penn and Teller magic show, posted a video log on a recent experience he had with a Christian businessman after one of his shows. It is very telling and absolutely spot on. I encourage you to listen to it and see how you stand up in light of Penn’s analysis.
Note: Penn is a very loud and outspoken atheist and believes that much of “religion” is bad for the world. This video is simply amazing in light of what I’ve heard him say before about Christianity and other world religions.
I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. If you believe that there’s a heaven and hell, and people could be going to hell, and you think, ‘Well, it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward’… How much do you have to hate somebody not to proselytize?
[HT: Ed Stetzer]
Dinesh D’Souza was interviewed by Marcia Segelstein for our Salvo Magazine in “The Apologist.” An excerpt::
Segelstein: How has Islamic terrorism played into this new “missionary atheism”?
D’Souza: Quite simply, it is what has given atheists the confidence to market their claims. For a long time now, atheists have been accusing religion of being ignorantâ€”of being unscientific and preferring blind faith over critical reasonâ€”but that could have been attributed to just harmless error. Atheists can now argue, however, that religious people are not merely ignorant; they’re also dangerous. Religion is not merely irrational; it’s also toxic. It sets man against man. It produces carnage. It causes people to fly planes into buildings after reading holy books. Atheists have been able to surf on the wave of 9/11 by generalizing the crimes committed in the name of Islam to crimes committed in the name of God. This has given modern atheism a certain sort of relevance, currency, and confidence.
The interview is worth your time. D’Souza lets Hitchens, Dawkins, and others get away with precious little. Hitchens, he notes, is not an atheist, but an “anti-theist.”
[HT: James M. Kushiner]