Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ok, I'm finally posting a Rob Bell video

I'm probably one of the only bloggers in the Christian blogosphere who hasn't posted something about the whole "Is Gandhi in hell?" controversy. Personally, I like his take on that issue. This is a video on a different topic, though: resurrection.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Renewing the church without evangelism? Not likely.

There is an article on the FTE website that offers some steps to renew the church. I have to admit, I found myself agreeing with a few of the points the author made, but the article was pretty condescending toward evangelicals. And there was one suggestion that I found quite troubling: "Remind yourself that you don't have to take God to anyone. God is already with everyone. So, rather than taking the approach that you need to take the truth out to people who need it, adopt the approach that you need to go find the truth that others have and you are missing. Go be evangelized."

Surely there is a need for Christian humility (which many Christians have embodied in the long history of our faith). Nevertheless the implicit claim in this statement is that the basic truths of Christianity--that God created and loves the world, that human beings live in ways that are inconsistent with God's will, that Christ died on the cross that we might have life, that God raised Jesus from the dead, that we have a new life in Jesus Christ--either are not true or don't matter. Sorry, but that doesn't seem to be a recipe for renewal to me. This sounds like the same brand of relativism that is killing "mainline" Protestant churches.

You can see the whole article here.

Friday, April 8, 2011

WOC Website on Autism

I'm glad to say that my conference is getting more serious about ministry with people with disabilities. A step in the right direction is a new website that is being developed on Autism. Eventually, this site will include resources related to ministry with people with disabilities more broadly. If you have an interest in this area, check out the site.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

If you happen to be in Cincinnati....

I'm delivering two lectures at Armstrong Chapel UMC on April 7 and 14, beginning at 7:00 p.m. The first will be on the historical signficance of crucifixion, what it meant in Jesus' day and how ancient people might have heard the message about the cross. The second will be on the present theological signficance of the crucifixion, with special attention to Christian understanding of atonement. If you want to learn more about these lectures at Armstrong Chapel, click here.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The earliest picture of Jesus? Not so fast....

Several years ago, I stood in line for quite a long time, and indeed paid good Canadian money to the Royal Ontario Museum, to see the ossuary box that had allegedly held the bones of James, the brother of Jesus. I did not go to Toronto just for this purpose, thank goodness, but was at a meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature. Many other scholars stood in line as well. The story was, after all, fascinating, and, if true, of real historical significance. Unfortunately it was not true. The so-called "James ossuary" was a forgery, though apparently a very clever one.

Lately the blogosphere has been abuzz with news of the "lead codices," which are owned by a Bedouin named Hassan Saida. There are several interesting aspects of these codices, but what has obviously garnered the most attention is the fact that one of them is alleged to bear the earliest pictorial representation of Jesus. If this artifact is authentic, it would be a monumental find.

The fact of the matter is, at this stage many aspects of the codices seem fishy. I mean, really fishy. I mean, Moby Dick fishy. (Ok, Moby Dick was a whale, but you get my point). As the instance of the James ossuary shows clearly, without very detailed scrutiny of an artifact, even experts can be fooled. The fact that the codex covers are made from cast, rather than inscribed, lead, is highly suspicious. There is suspicion around a number of the characters involved. There is considerable translation work that needs to be done on the codices. And the talk around the blogosphere is highly skeptical: check out these links:



This seems to be no great discovery for archaeologists, but for bloggers it's pure gold.