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Christianity

Christianity

Regarding Haiti: An Imperative

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Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter — when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? … If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings. » Give here or here.

C. Michael Patton on Teaching Something To Believe In

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What are “people crying out for”? I don’t think it is too difficult to answer. Lewis Sperry Chafer, founder of Dallas Theological Seminary, used to end each class with this admonition: “Men, give them something to believe.” That is what people are crying out for: Something to believe. Truth. Not only this, but an understanding of the truth that they have ownership in. It is a stimulation of their minds, so that their hearts can be satisfied. It is teaching. Real teaching. Biblical teaching. Theologically and historically sound teaching. Teaching that relieves the scandal of their own minds which, in most cases I am afraid to say, have never really had a chance to believe. Like really believe. Not simply because of emotional persuasion. Not simply because they have a deep down feeling. Not because their parents or pastor believe this or that. But because they have seen for themselves, and now they know.

Exploring Kenotic Christology

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This collection of essays, by a team of of Christian philosophers, theologians, and biblical scholars, explores the viability of a kenotic account of the incarnation. Such an account is inspired by Paul’s lyrical claims in Philippians 2:6-11 that Christ Jesus though God in nature, “emptied himself” or “made himself nothing” by becoming human. The biblical support for such a view can be found throughout the four gospels, and the book of Hebrews, as well as in other places. A kenotic account takes seriously the possibility that Christ in becoming incarnate, temporarily divested himself of such properties as omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. Several of the contributors argue that this view is fully orthodox, and that it has great strengths in giving us a picture of God who is willing to become completely vulnerable for the sake of human beings, and one that is completely consistent with the very human portrait of Jesus in the New Testament. The proponents of kenotic Christology argue that the philosophical accounts of God’s nature that have led to rejection of this theory ought themselves to be subjected to criticism in light of the biblical data. Some essays test the theory by raising critical questions and arguing that traditional accounts of the incarnation can achieve the goals of kenotic theories as well as kenotic theories can. The book also explores the implications of a kenotic view of the incarnation for philosophical theology in general and the doctrine of the Trinity in particular, and it concludes with essays that examine the validity of the ideal of kenosis for women, and a challenge to traditional Christology to take a kenotic theory seriously.  ~ Publisher’s Description

The Cambridge Companion to Christian Philosophical Theology

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This Companion offers an up-to-date overview of the beliefs, doctrines, and practices of the key philosophical concepts at the heart of Christian theology. The sixteen chapters, commissioned specially for this volume, are written by an internationally recognized team of scholars and examine topics such as the Trinity, God’s necessary existence, simplicity, omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, goodness, eternity and providence, the incarnation, resurrection, atonement, sin and salvation, the problem of evil, church rites, revelation and miracles, prayer, and the afterlife. Written in non-technical, accessible language, they not only offer a synthesis of scholarship on these topics but also suggest questions and topics for further investigation. ~ Product Description

Disturbing Divine Behavior

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How should we understand biblical texts where God is depicted as acting irrationally, violently, or destructively? If we distance ourselves from disturbing portrayals of God, how should we understand the authority of Scripture? How does the often wrathful God portrayed in the Old Testament relate to the God of love proclaimed in the New Testament? Is that contrast even accurate? Disturbing Divine Behavior addresses these perennially vexing questions for the student of the Bible. Eric A. Seibert calls for an engaged and discerning reading of the Old Testament that distinguishes the particular literary and theological goals achieved through narrative characterizations of God from the rich understanding of the divine to which the Old Testament as a whole points. Providing illuminating reflections on theological reading as well, this book will be a welcome resource for any readers who puzzle over disturbing representations of God in the Bible. ~ Synopsis

I Told Me So

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Think you’ve ever deceived yourself? Then this book is for you. Think you’ve never deceived yourself? Then this book is really for you. “Socrates famously asserted that the unexamined life is not worth living. But Gregg Ten Elshof shows us that we make all sorts of little deals with ourselves every day in order to stave off examination and remain happily self-deceived. Most provocatively, he suggests this is not all bad! While naming its temptations, Ten Elshof also offers a “strange celebration” of self-deception as a gracious gift. In the tradition of Dallas Willard, I Told Me So is a wonderful example of philosophy serving spiritual discipline. A marvelous, accessible and, above all, wise book.” ~ James K. A. Smith • “In this wise, well-crafted work Ten Elshof helps us to identify, evaluate, and respond to our own self-deceptive strategies, as he probes — with occasional self-deprecation and unavoidable humor — the bottomless mysteries of the human heart. His reflections on interpersonal self-deception and “groupthink” are especially helpful. To tell me the truth, I’m glad I read this book. You will be too — I promise.” ~ David Naugle • “Ten Elshof’s discussions are erudite, biblical, searching, and laced with soul-restoring wisdom. All of this together means that this book is solidly pastoral. What it brings to us is appropriate to individuals, but it especially belongs in the context of small groups and local congregations.” ~ Dallas Willard

The Lost World of Genesis One

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Here is a book that calls out to be read and discussed-widely and thoughtfully-by serious-minded Christians, inquiring scientists, high school science teachers and students. Those entrenched on either side of the creation/evolution debate owe it to themselves and others to read and consider carefully John Walton’s evidence, arguments, insights and remarkable conclusions. • “This book presents a profoundly important new analysis of the meaning of Genesis. Digging deeply into the original Hebrew language and the culture of the people of Israel in Old Testament times, respected scholar John Walton argues convincingly that Genesis was intended to describe the creation of the functions of the cosmos, not its material nature. In the process, he elevates Scripture to a new level of respectful understanding, and eliminates any conflict between scientific and scriptural descriptions of origins.” ~ Francis S. Collins

Roger Ebert on Catholicism and Belief in God

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When I was in first or second grade and had just been introduced by the nuns to the concept of a limitless God, I lay awake at night driving myself nuts by repeating over and over, But how could God have no beginning? And how could he have no end? And then I thought of all the stars in the sky: But how could there be a last one? Wouldn’t there always have to be one more? Many years later I know the answer to the second question, but I still don’t know the answer to the first one. … I no longer lost any sleep over the questions of God and infinity. I understood they could have no answers. At some point the reality of God was no longer present in my mind. I believed in the basic Church teachings because I thought they were correct, not because God wanted me to. In my mind, in the way I interpret them, I still live by them today. Not by the rules and regulations, but by the principles. For example, in the matter of abortion, I am pro-choice, but my personal choice would be to have nothing to do with an abortion, certainly not of a child of my own. I believe in free will, and believe I have no right to tell anyone else what to do. Popes come and go, and John XXIII has been the only one I felt affection for. Their dictums strike me as lacking in the ability to surprise. They have been leading a holding action for a millenium. ¶ Catholicism made me a humanist before I knew the word. When people rail against “secular humanism,” I want to ask them if humanism itself would be okay with them. Over the high school years, my belief in the likelihood of a God continued to lessen. I kept this to myself. … ¶ Did I start calling myself an agnostic or an atheist? No, and I still don’t. I avoid that because I don’t want to provide a category for people to apply to me.

James McGrath on History and The Golden Rule

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One doesn’t have to be committed in advance to history’s inability to deal with miracles in order to begin to realize that one cannot claim that Christianity is grounded purely in history while other traditions are at best shrouded in myth. One simply has to apply the most basic Christian principle to one’s investigation of the competing claims … treating others as you would want them to treat you. The Golden Rule. And so what does it mean to do history from a Christian perspective? … It doesn’t mean defending Christian claims to miracles and debunking those of others, nor accepting Biblical claims uncritically in a way you never would if similar claims were made in our time. It means doing to the claims of others what you would want done to your claims. And perhaps also the reverse: doing to your own claims, views and presuppositions that which you have been willing to do to the claims, views and presuppositions of others. Once one begins to attempt to examine the evidence not in an unbiased way, but simply fairly, one cannot but acknowledge that there are elements of the Christian tradition which, if they were in your opponent’s tradition, you would reject, debunk, discount, and otherwise find unpersuasive or at least not decisive or compelling.

The Oxford Handbook of Philosophical Theology

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Philosophical theology is aimed primarily at theoretical understanding of the nature and attributes of God and of God’s relationship to the world and its inhabitants. During the twentieth century, much of the philosophical community (both in the Anglo-American analytic tradition and in Continental circles) had grave doubts about our ability to attain any such understanding. In recent years the analytic tradition in particular has moved beyond the biases that placed obstacles in the way of the pursuing questions located on the interface of philosophy and religion. The result has been a rebirth of serious, widely-discussed work in philosophical theology. The Oxford Handbook of Philosophical Theology attempts both to familiarize readers with the directions in which this scholarship has gone and to pursue the discussion into hitherto under-examined areas. Written by some of the leading scholars in the field, the essays in the Handbook are grouped in five sections. In the first (“Theological Prolegomena”), articles focus on the authority of scripture and tradition, on the nature and mechanisms of divine revelation, on the relation between religion and science, and on theology and mystery. The next section (“Divine Attributes”) focuses on philosophical problems connected with the central divine attributes: aseity, omnipotence, omniscience, and the like. In Section Three (“God and Creation”), essays explore theories of divine action and divine providence, questions about petitionary prayer, problems about divine authority and God’s relationship to morality and moral standards, and various formulations of and responses to the problem of evil. The fourth section (“Topics inChristian Philosophy”) examines philosophical problems that arise in connection with such central Christian doctrines as the trinity, the incarnation, the atonement, original sin, resurrection, and the Eucharist. Finally, Section Five (“Non-Christian Philosophical Theology”) introduces readers to work that is being done in Jewish, Islamic, and Chinese philosophical theology. ~ Product Description

Terry Eagleton on Religion and Its Critics

Go Religion has wrought untold misery in human affairs. For the most part, it has been a squalid tale of bigotry, superstition, wishful thinking, and oppressive ideology. I therefore have a good deal of sympathy with its rationalist and humanist critics. But it is also the case, as this book argues, that most such critics buy their rejection of religion on the cheap. When it comes to the New Testament, at least, what they usually write off is a worthless caricature of the real thing, rooted in a degree of ignorance and prejudice to match religion's own... If the agnostic left cannot afford such intellectual indolence when it comes to the Jewish and Christian Scriptures, it is not only because it belongs to justice and honesty to confront your opponent at his or her most convincing. It is also that radicals might discover there some valuable insights into human emancipation, in an era where the political left stand in dire need of good ideas. I do not invite such readers to believe in these ideas, any more than I myself believe in the archangel Gabriel, the infallibility of the pope, the idea that Jesus walked on water, or the claim that he rose up into heaven before the eyes of his disciples. If I try in this book to "ventriloquize" what I take to be a version of the Christian gospel relevant to radicals and humanists, I do not wish to be mistaken for a dummy. But the Jewish and Christian scriptures have much to say about some vital questions — death, suffering, love, self-dispossession, and the like — on which the left has for the most part maintained an embarrassed silence. It is time for this politically crippling shyness to come to an end.

Eric Reitan on Finding God in the Bible

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I happen to think we can discover in the Bible a God worthy of worship — the God of radically universal love attested to by Martin Luther King, Jr. But we can’t discover this God if we think of the Bible as a monolithic treatise written by God himself. When the Bible is read in that way, we don’t derive a picture of a God worthy of unfettered devotion. What we get is a picture of a capricious deity, sometimes merciful and loving, at other times jealous and tyrannical. If this way of reading the Bible is the only legitimate one, then the proper conclusion to draw — given God’s essential goodness — is that the biblical god is not God. ¶ But there are other ways to read the Bible. We can read it as a human testament to the encounter with God, one that evolves as human misconceptions crash up against a divine reality that transcends our understanding. In short, we can treat it as a rich historical archive unified by a common struggle: the struggle of flawed human beings to understand and respond to the divine, and to live as the people of God. We can see this struggle as ongoing, and the voices recorded in the Bible as participants in an enduring conversation that we ourselves have every right to participate in — rather than as a blunt authority intended to silence conversation.

Reasonable Faith

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Perfect as a textbook yet excellent for lay readers, this updated edition builds a positive case for Christianity by applying the latest thought to core theological themes. J. Gresham Machen once said, “False ideas are the greatest obstacles to the reception of the gospel” — which makes apologetics that much more important. Wanting to engage not just academics and pastors but Christian laypeople and seekers, William Lane Craig has revised and updated key sections in this third edition of his classic text to reflect the latest work in astrophysics, philosophy, probability calculus, the arguments for the existence of God, and Reformed epistemology. His approach-that of positive apologetics-gives careful attention to crucial questions and concerns, including: the relationship of faith and reason, the existence of God, the problems of historical knowledge and miracles, the personal claims of Christ, and the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus. He shows that there is good reason to think Christianity is true. As Craig says, “If you have a sound and persuasive case for Christianity, you don’t have to become an expert in comparative religions and Christian cults. A positive justification of the Christian faith automatically overwhelms all competing world views lacking an equally strong case.” ~ Publisher’s Description

The Big Book of Bible Difficulties

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Your most difficult Bible questions — answered. The Bible is full of difficult passages that are hard for believers to understand, let alone those who doubt Scripture. Where can you turn for solid answers on the thorny and complex parts of God’s Word? This comprehensive volume offers clear and concise answers to every major Bible difficulty from Genesis to Revelation, staunchly defending the authority and inspiration of Scripture. Written in a problem/solution format, the book covers over eight hundred questions that critics and doubters raise about the Bible. Three extensive indexes — topical, Scripture, and unorthodox doctrines — offer quick and easy access to the answers you need. Multipurpose in scope and user-friendly in format, The Big Book of Bible Difficulties offers the resources of five books in one: a critical commentary on the whole Bible, » an apologetics text, a Bible difficulties reference, a theology manual treating important doctrines, » and a handbook on verses misused by cults. Norman L. Geisler is cofounder and former dean of Southern Evangelical Seminary. He is the author of more than seventy books, including the Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics. Thomas Howe is professor of Bible and biblical languages and director of apologetics at the Southern Evangelical Seminary and Bible College. ~ from the Back Cover

True Story

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In this engaging narrative, James Choung weaves a tale of a search for a Christianity worth believing in. Disillusioned believer Caleb and hostile skeptic Anna wrestle with the plausibility of the Christian story in a world of pain and suffering. They ask each other tough questions about what Jesus really came to do and what Christianity is supposed to be about. Along the way, they have some surprising realizations that real Christianity is far bigger than anything they ever heard in church. And the conversion that comes is not one that either of them expects. Join Caleb and Anna on their spiritual journeys as they probe Christianity from inside and out. Get past the old cliches and simplistic formulas. And discover a new way of understanding and presenting the Christian faith that really matters in a broken world. ~ Product Description

Barack Obama on the (Black) Church

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Like other predominantly black churches across the country, Trinity embodies the black community in its entirety — the doctor and the welfare mom, the model student and the former gang-banger. Like other black churches, Trinity’s services are full of raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor. They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear. The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and
the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America.

The Reason for God

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In this apologia for Christian faith, Keller mines material from literary classics, philosophy, anthropology and a multitude of other disciplines to make an intellectually compelling case for God. Written for skeptics and the believers who love them, the book draws on the author’s encounters as founding pastor of New York’s booming Redeemer Presbyterian Church. One of Keller’s most provocative arguments is that all doubts, however skeptical and cynical they may seem, are really a set of alternate beliefs. Drawing on sources as diverse as 19th-century author Robert Louis Stevenson and contemporary New Testament theologian N.T. Wright, Keller attempts to deconstruct everyone he finds in his way, from the evolutionary psychologist Richard Dawkins to popular author Dan Brown. The first, shorter part of the book looks at popular arguments against God’s existence, while the second builds on general arguments for God to culminate in a sharp focus on the redemptive work of God in Christ. Keller’s condensed summaries of arguments for and against theism make the scope of the book overwhelming at times. Nonetheless, it should serve both as testimony to the author’s encyclopedic learning and as a compelling overview of the current debate on faith for those who doubt and for those who want to re-evaluate what they believe, and why. ~ Publishers Weekly

Robert M. Price on Biblical Harmonizing

Go The very admission of the need to harmonize is an admission that the burden of proof is on the narratives, not on those who doubt them. What harmonizing shows is that despite appearances, the texts still might be true.

Dictionary of Major Biblical Interpreters

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From Abelard to Zwingli, the history of Christian biblical interpretation has been shaped by great thinkers who delved deeply into the structure and meaning of Christianity’s sacred texts. With over two hundred in-depth articles, the Dictionary of Major Biblical Interpreters introduces readers to the principal players in that history: their historical and intellectual contexts, their primary works, their interpretive principles and their broader historical significance. In addition, six major essays offer an overview of the history of biblical interpretation from the second century to the present. This one-volume reference by Donald K. McKim, a revised and vastly expanded edition of IVP Academic’s Historical Handbook of Major Biblical Interpreters, will serve as an invaluable tool for any serious student of the Bible and the history of biblical interpretation. "The articles are full enough to be informative but not so detailed or technical as to be beyond the reach of the undergraduate reader. Together with the survey articles on specific periods, this collection of over two hundred articles on individual scholars offers an unrivaled overview of the history of biblical scholarship in all of its developments and vicissitudes. It is not only a valuable resource for the student; it is also intensely interesting." ~ I. Howard Marshall

J.P. Moreland on Rival Worldviews

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An important and, sadly, often neglected component of Christian apologetics is the task of showing how Christian ideas enhance and do explanatory work across the academic disciplines and how rival worldviews harm and fail to do commensurate work in those same fields. And given that the various aspects of the image of God are recalcitrant facts for rival worldviews such as naturalism and postmodernism, one would expect that in those fields that examine that image, Christianity would enhance and its rivals would harm work and practice in these fields in particular. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the field of psychology.

The God Conversation

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In The God Conversation veteran apologists and communicators J.P. Moreland and Tim Muehlhoff say that often the best way to win over others is with a good story. Stories have the ability to get behind our preconceptions and defenses. They can connect both emotionally and intellectually, appealing to the whole person rather than just to the mind. The authors offer a wealth of penetrating illustrations, examples and quotes that respond to these issues and more. In these pages they enhance the logic and evidence found in other books defending the faith, with things your friends, relatives or coworkers will ponder long after a conversation is over. "This book is a well crafted intro into many of the most famous arguments for the existence of God, and other pressing problems that confound Christians in all ages. It’s divided into Seven Section over 11 chapters and an afterthougt. What seperates this book from many other apologetics works is it’s heavy reliance upon illustration. In dealing with ehtics it has a sidebar on the movie Munich and how it might be used as an illustration on dealing with that we intuitively know that somethings are morally wrong, etc… The use of a vertical line next to the illustrations makes them easy to find. The book covers The Problem of Evil, Pluralism, The Ressurection, Ethics and Moral Relativism, and the Design Argument, as well as an exceptional 2 pg afterword about listening before you speak with all your new found knowledge." ~ D. Westfall

What’s So Great About Christianity

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Is Christianity obsolete? Can an intelligent, educated person really believe the Bible? Or do the atheists have it right? Has Christianity been disproven by science, debunked as a force for good, and discredited as a guide to morality? Bestselling author Dinesh D’Souza (What’s So Great About America) looks at Christianity with a questioning eye, but treats atheists with equal skepticism. The result is a book that will challenge the assumptions of both believers and doubters and affirm that there really is, indeed, something great about Christianity. Provocative, enlightening, a twenty-first-century successor to C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, Dinesh D’Souza’s What’s So Great About Christianity is the perfect book for the seeker, the skeptic, and the believer who wants to defend his faith. D’Souza argues…

Misquoting Truth

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Were the New Testament documents widely distorted by copyists as Bart Ehrman, author of Misquoting Jesus, asserts? Can we in fact have no idea what was in the originals? Do we have no hope of knowing what
eyewitnesses said and thought? Are other documents left out of the New Testament better sources for understanding early Christianity? While readily conceding that Ehrman has many of his facts straight, pastor and researcher Timothy Paul Jones argues that Ehrman is far too quick to jump to false and unnecessary conclusions. In clear, straightforward prose, Jones explores and explains the ins and outs of copying the New Testament, why lost Christianities were lost, and why the Christian message still rings true today. ~ Publisher’s Description

Kingdom Triangle

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Here is penetrating analysis and critique of Western society’s dominant worldviews, naturalism and postmodernism, which have also influenced the church. Moreland issues a bold call to reclaim powerful kingdom living and influence through recovery of the Christian mind, renovation of Christian spirituality, and restoration of the Holy Spirit’s power. “Preachers need to understand the culture, but even more they need to have tools for leading their people out of the cultural confusion that characterizes our age. J. P. Moreland has provided a powerful guide for pastors….This is an important book for church leaders.” ~ Preaching magazine

Divinity and Humanity

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The doctrine of the Incarnation lies at the heart of Christianity. But the idea that ‘God was in Christ’ has become a much-debated topic in modern theology. Oliver Crisp addresses six key issues in the Incarnation defending a robust version of the doctrine, in keeping with classical Christology. He explores perichoresis, or interpenetration, with reference to both the Incarnation and Trinity. Over two chapters Crisp deals with the human nature of Christ and then provides an argument against the view, common amongst some contemporary theologians, that Christ had a fallen human nature. He considers the notion of divine kenosis or self-emptying, and discusses non-Incarnational Christology, focusing on the work of John Hick. This view denies Christ is God Incarnate, regarding him as primarily a moral exemplar to be imitated. Crisp rejects this alternative account of the nature of Christology. ~ Product Description