Unity and Diversity

We’ve looked at some key terms and some different methods of doing theology. Today I want to take an extended excursion to look at the issue of unity and diversity within Christian belief. To help explain I shall be utilizing a solar system, a sumo-wrestler and a mirror.

Should all Christians believe exactly the same things? Or is there room for disagreement? What defines authentic Christian belief? These are important and difficult questions in need of clear answers. By finding these answers we shall be equipped to answer many other questions, such as how denominations (such as Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Anglican, etc.) arose, if similar church splits can or should be avoided, and if other churches, such as Catholics, can rightly be called Christians. In setting up Thinking Matters, conceived as an inter-denominational organization to encourage and support Christian apologetics in New Zealand, we had to wrestle with these very issues, and still regularly are confronted with different perspectives and disagreements within our own ranks concerning what correct theology should be. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that there is a great diversity of opinion in Christendom about certain doctrines. But how much diversity of opinion can be permitted until someone can no longer rightly be called an authentic Christian? Read more

Ben Witherington in New Zealand

Ben Witherington III, one of the leading evangelical scholars alive today, will be visiting New Zealand for a conference at East City Wesleyan Church next weekend. Dr Witherington will be speaking on “The Johannine Literature: The Legacy of the Beloved Disciple” in two parts and also “Personal Observations about the Church around the Globe”. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to hear him.

If you’ve not encountered him before, Dr Witherington is Amos Professor of New Testament for Doctoral Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary and on the doctoral faculty at St. Andrews University in Scotland. He has authored over thirty books, including The Jesus Quest and The Paul Quest, both of which were selected as top biblical studies by Christianity Today. Dr Witherington was one of the NT experts consulted by Lee Strobel for The Case for Christ and is an elected member of the prestigious SNTS, a soceity dedicated to New Testament studies. Here’s an interview with Witherington and skeptic, Michael Shermer, on Strobel’s Faith Under Fire program.

His lectures will be apart of a conference on the Wesleyan Theological Tradition. On the Sunday he will be preaching at the morning service for East City and at cession|community in the evening. Download the conference brochure here.

Where: East City Wesleyan Church Centre 219 Burswood Drive, Botany, Auckland

Registration Fee: $20, not including the Saturday night event.

Conference Programme :

Friday 31 July

7.30pm  The Johnannine Literature: Legacy of the Beloved Disciple: Part 1

Saturday 1 August

1.30pm The Johnannine Literature: Legacy of the Beloved Disciple: Part 2

7pm Personal Observations about the Church around the Globe. Ticket price for this is $20 (it includes dinner).

Sunday Church Services

10am Morning service at East City Church (219 Burswood Drive, Botany, Auckland)

5.45pm cession|community (The Depot, Lloyd Elsmore Park, Pakuranga)

Scientist may have found how life began

On May 14th this year (2009) Reasons to Believe responded to two articles in the popular press. The first from the New York Times; “Chemist finds hidden gateway to RNA” and the second from Fox News; “Scientist may have found how life began.” The following is a transcript of their pod-cast Science News Flash with Joe Aguirre (JA) and Dr. Fuzale Rana (FR or “Fuzz”). Bracketed numbers are mine. Accurate transcript apart from a few omitted dead words.

JA: That’s a provocative title, and this is a headline grabbing discovery that you want to talk to us about.

FR: It is. This discovery was prompted by a paper published in today’s [May 14th] issue of Nature. A team of scientists in the Manchester University of England who discovered a novel prebiotic chemical route to generating building block materials that people think were critical for establishing the origin of life in an evolutionary perspective. This is very interesting, very exciting work, because not only have they discovered what they think to be a novel prebiotic route (to these building block materials) but their way of approaching the whole origin of life problem is radically different than anything that’s been done before. This is considered to be a ground-breaking study in that it is really going to overturn the paradigm – or at least they way people approach the paradigm (again from an evolutionary stand-point). So a real exciting discovery – excellent work experimentally speaking – and of pretty broad ranging significance, not only to the origin of life question, but also to the creation/evolution controversy. So hopefully we can un-package that. Read more

William Lane Craig in Israel

I went to Israel about 10 years ago, and so it brings back many memories as I look through some of the photos the Craig’s have provided from their recent trip.

Enjoy a few of their photos in this photo slideshow. Israel indeed has many stunning and very beautiful things to see.

You can read more about Bill and Jan Craig’s adventures in his latest newsletter here including various lectures given and the oneness that Jesus Christ brings between Arab and Israeli Christians.

Is the New Atheism Reasonable?

Last night I presented the talk ‘Is the New Atheism Reasonable?’ at Thinking Matters Tauranga.  It was split into two parts – the first was a bit of worldview and epistemology and the second more social commentary and history to refute the New Atheist claim that Christianity is somehow bloodthirsty.

To start my presentation, I looked at the question of Agnosticism and identified the two types: Soft Agnosticism and Hard Agnosticism. Read more