Gandhi: Saint or Sinner?

When people talk of great spiritual leaders, Gandhi and Jesus are often mentioned in the same breath. Jesus was a great man with great teachings, whose values and actions positively influenced Western civilization. Gandhi was a great man with great teachings, whose values and actions positively influenced Eastern civilization—particularly in India.

Christians have long disagreed. Jesus was not merely a man, and Gandhi was not really a great man. Indeed, when you consider the state of India—where Hinduism and Islam have made it home to one third of the world’s poor, where until recently over half of its citizens lived below the poverty line, and where many of its citizens are considered so unclean that their mere touch can contaminate a member of a higher caste—it would be surprising if a Hindu man from this place were not as depraved and inhumane as his religion.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal confirms that Gandhi was not the saint Westerners have assumed. This image arose largely because of his “martyrdom”, followed by Martin Luther King Jr’s ignorant adoption of him as a role model—and fueled by the fact that Gandhi prohibited journalists from publishing anything about him that he had not first extensively vetted and edited.

The article goes into some detail, listing many of Gandhi’s morally questionable actions and attitudes. I’d encourage you to read the whole thing, but here’s a sampling:

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Is there Evidence for God? Craig v Krauss streamed live at Auckland Uni

The Evangelical Union and the Reason and Science Society, along with Thinking Matters, will be streaming the upcoming debate between William Lane Craig and Lawrence Krauss at the University of Auckland on Thursday 31 March 1-3 pm.

If you’re in the city and free for lunch, come along and join us for what should prove to be an interesting exchange. Christian philosopher, theologian, and blogger Matt Flannagan has also kindly agreed to take some Q&A at the conclusion of the debate.

What: Is there Evidence for God? Krauss v Craig Debate Streamed Live (Q&A with Matthew Flannagan)
When: Thursday 31 March 1-3pm
Where: Cap and Gown Lounge, Level 2, 34 Princes St (AUSA building), The University of Auckland.

Visit the Facebook page here.

Lawrence Krauss is a professor at Arizona State University and an internationally known theoretical physicist with wide research interests, including the interface between elementary particle physics and cosmology. He received undergraduate degrees in both Mathematics and Physics at Carleton University. He received his Ph.D. in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the author of numerous books including a national best-seller, The Physics of Star Trek.

William Lane Craig is a Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology in California. He specializes in philosophy of religion and philosophy of time and, as a theologian, in historical Jesus studies. Dr Craig pursued graduate studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, the University of Birmingham (Ph.D), and the University of Munich. He has written over a hundred articles in professional journals and authored or edited over over thirty books including the Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology and God, Time and Eternity.

Reviews of Rob Bell’s Love Wins

We’ve given a lot of coverage to Rob Bell’s new book Love Wins this week, and though it’s starting to feel toxically oversaturated, the issues Bell’s book has brought up have justified the attention. Before we finally move on, here are some of the reviews of Love Wins from across the interwebs and beyond.

Kevin DeYoung (Pastor at University Reformed Church), God Is Still Holy and What You Learned in Sunday School Is Still True: A Review of “Love Wins” : “…there are dozens of problems with Love Wins. The theology is heterodox. The history is inaccurate. The impact on souls is devastating. And the use of Scripture is indefensible. Worst of all, Love Wins demeans the cross and misrepresents God’s character.”

Mark Galli (Christianity Today), Rob Bell’s Bridge Too Far: “If there is a criterion driving these distinctions, it seems to be based on what Bell thinks contemporary people can swallow. I couldn’t see any other criteria at play. Given the complete lack of quotes from any other writer or tradition, one is led to the unfortunate conclusion that what makes one extraordinary biblical claim a time-bound metaphor and another literal truth is that Bell says so.”

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Is religion in New Zealand headed for extinction?

A new study says yes. The BBC reports:

The study found a steady rise in those claiming no religious affiliation.

The team’s mathematical model attempts to account for the interplay between the number of religious respondents and the social motives behind being one.

The result, reported at the American Physical Society meeting in Dallas, US, indicates that religion will all but die out altogether in those countries.

The team took census data stretching back as far as a century from countries in which the census queried religious affiliation: Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland.

Joe Carter provides some good perspective on what he wryly calls a “peculiar prediction”.

William Lane Craig to debate Harris and Krauss Live

Christian philosopher William Lane Craig will be participating in two big debates at the end of March and the beginning of April, and both will be streamed live over the web. For the first debate (March 30), Craig will be defending the evidence for God against Lawrence Krauss, a distinguished professor of physics and director of the Origins Initiative at Arizona State University. For the second (April 7), Craig will be debating the foundation of morality in a much anticipated contest with Sam Harris, a neuroscientist and popular New Atheist.

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What happens to those who haven’t heard the gospel?

One of the hardest issues that the Christian can face is the fate of the unevangelized. At a time when we are aware of both the religious diversity in the world and the fact that many people have yet to even encounter Christianity, it can seem arrogant and intolerant to defend Biblical texts like John 14:6 (“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.””) and Acts 4:12 (“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved”). For many, the idea that God could condemn individuals who have not had the opportunity to hear the gospel is repugnant. And it is this revulsion at this traditional understanding that has made answers such as the one put forward by Rob Bell in Love Wins even more popular.

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Should we trust the Bible or the Qur’an?

Brian Auten has posted a link to the audio from a recent debate between Jay Smith and Khalil Meek. The exchange was held at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary on March 17 with Smith, a Christian apologetist, defending the trustworthiness of the Bible and Meek defending the Qur’an.

Listen to audio here.

Jay Smith also has some good resources on debate.org.uk for those who might be wanting to reach Muslims:

Why does punishment in hell go on forever?

With Rob Bell’s recent questioning of the Christian doctrine of hell, Russell Moore suggests two reasons why hell is forever:

First, the revolt against God is more serious than we think it is. An insurrection against an infinitely worthy Creator is an infinitely heinous offense. We know something of this intuitively. This is why, in our human sentences of justice, we sentence a man to one punishment for threatening to kill his co-worker and another man to a much more severe punishment for threatening to kill the nation’s president.

Second, and more important, is the nature of the punishment itself. The sinner in hell does not become morally neutral upon his sentence to hell. We must not imagine the damned displaying gospel repentance and longing for the presence of Christ. They do indeed, as in the story of the rich man and Lazarus, seek for an escape from punishment, but they are not new creations. They do not in hell love the Lord their God with heart, mind, soul, and strength.

Read his whole post here.

HT: Stand to Reason

NY Times twists on horns of secular free will dilemma

“Do you have free will?” a recent article in the New York Times asks. “Yes, it’s the only choice.” So begins a fitful confrontation with the dilemma of free will in a world comprised only of the physical universe.

Although it never says it directly, the article appears to assume that the universe is deterministic. Everything happens as an unavoidable consequence of the events before; our choices are not free; and we are not morally responsible.

At the same time, it notes that “there seems to be a fairly universal gut belief in [free will] starting at a young age. When children age 3 to 5 see a ball rolling into a box, they say that the ball couldn’t have done anything else. But when they see an experimenter put her hand in the box, they insist that she could have done something else. That belief seems to persist no matter where people grow up”.

The article concludes that, “At an abstract level, people seem to be what philosophers call incompatibilists: those who believe free will is incompatible with determinism. If everything that happens is determined by what happened before, it can seem only logical to conclude you can’t be morally responsible for your next action.” Yet in our hearts, it says, we’re compatibilists who consider free will compatible with determinism. We believe that we do make choices, even though these choices are determined by previous events and influences. In fact, we must believe this to function properly, both at an individual level, and a societal one. Thus, “it’s the only choice”.

But this seems like a strange, even tendentious conclusion to draw. Did everyone surveyed actually believe the universe is deterministic? Or is that merely what the people in charge would like for these people to believe? Continue reading…

The Nature of Nature

With some big names and weighing in at over a thousand pages in length, The Nature of Nature looks to be a new landmark title in the discussion of science and naturalism. Based on a conference held at Baylor University back in 2000, editors Bruce L. Gordon and William A. Dembski have collected some great essays on topics such as scientific methodology, biological complexity, consciousness, scientific realism, and the multiverse.

Although published last month, the book is only now becoming more widely available (Amazon seems to have stock at the moment but you can also get it from the publisher, ISI Books, for $23.20 USD).

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