John Loftus’s Outsider Test for Faith (OTF) has become rather infamous. More infamous than is warranted, since Matt Flannagan (among many others) has shown its incoherence. But ignoring that, Paul Manata now crushes the OTF‘s relevance by asking the question: should we take it, or shouldn’t we? “The answer, if you’re wondering, is that hardly anyone should take an outsider test.”
Jayson Bradley, writing for Logostalk, the Logos Bible Software Blog reminds us that on this past Friday, June 17th was the birthday of John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist church. He would have been 308. He writes;
Like any looming figure in Christian history, Wesley has his share of both theological supporters and detractors. But there are very few that will question the fervency and urgency Wesley felt when it came to evangelism and church work. As Prime Minister, Lord Baldwin, said of Wesley, “I am supposed to be a busy man, but by the side of Wesley, I join the ranks of the unemployed.”
To celebrate Wesley’s birthday, he shares five little known facts about his life. In his words,
- John Wesley came from a huge family.
The child mortality rate in eighteenth century England was unbelievably high. Statistics suggest that 70% of all deaths were children under ten. So it is not surprising that many families had an abundance of children. John Wesley’s mother—Susanna Wesley—was the 25th of 25 children and she went on to bear a number of children as well. John was the 15th of 19 children. Susanna lost nine of her children in infancy. When Susanna died in 1742, she was only survived by eight of her children.
- John Wesley was a victim of bullying as a child.
John, a short and intelligent boy, was bullied relentlessly as a child. This abuse affected him for the rest of his life. Accounts tell of how, as an adult, Wesley would tremble when discussing the barbaric treatment he received from his peers.
- John Wesley vehemently opposed slavery.
Wesley was inspired to join the anti-slavery movement when he read a pamphlet by Quaker abolitionist Anthony Benezet. He was so moved that he frequently preached against the slave trade and authored Thoughts upon Slavery—a pamphlet publicly decrying the practice. Wesley’s last letter was written to convert and fellow abolitionist William Wilberforce. In it he wrote:
“O be not weary of well doing! Go on, in the name of God and in the power of his might, till even American slavery (the vilest that ever saw the sun) shall vanish away before it.”
This letter was written in 1791, and sixteen years later Parliament finally outlawed England’s participation in the slave trade.
- John Wesley is one of history’s most traveled men.
- John Wesley is credited for coining the phrase “agree to disagree.”
Biographer Edward T. Oakes states that Wesley traveled over 250,000 miles by horseback in his lifetime—that’s ten times the circumference of the earth.
Wesley often found himself at odds with George Whitefield. Whitefield, who shared Wesley’s enthusiasm for evangelism, clashed openly with Wesley on issues of soteriology. Eventually, the rivalry between Wesley and Whitefield’s theologies introduced an impassioned partisanship among their followers.
In a memorial sermon delivered after Whitefield’s passing, Wesley minimized the schism saying:
There are many doctrines of a less essential nature . . . In these we may think and let think; we may agree to disagree. But, meantime, let us hold fast the essentials . . .
This sermon is widely recognized as the first time “agree to disagree” appeared in print.
Next month in Tauranga, Joe Fleener and Bryan Winters will be discussing universalism and the Christian understanding of salvation. Both will be offering different perspectives, with Bryan defending universalism and Joe defending the traditional Christian approach.
With the recent controversy surrounding Rob Bell’s defense of universalism and its place in evangelical orthodoxy, it should be an interesting event.
Our Eternal Destiny. Who goes to heaven and who goes to hell?
Saturday 2nd July
7:00pm to 9:00pm
Bethlehem Community Church, 183 Moffat Rd, Bethlehem, Tauranga
About the speakers:
Bryan Winters has an Honours degree in Geography and Economics and has been a school teacher in New Zealand, West Africa and London. He now works in IT sales and consulting where he has worked in Australia, Singapore and New Zealand.
Joe Fleener holds a Masters of Divinity and has served as a fulltime Bible College lecturer in New Zealand in the areas of Old Testament, Church History, Apologetics, Christian Worldview and Ethics before entering his current role as Associate Pastor of Howick Baptist Church in Auckland. He blogs at the Kiwifruit Blog and you can follow him on twitter at @jfleener5.
In this video, Dr Peter Williams presents new and old evidence that the Gospels are eyewitness accounts, drawing attention to details that would be very difficult to get right otherwise. The lecture was given at Lanier Theological Library and lasts for about 50 minutes, followed by 10 minutes of Q & A.
The book Dr Williams mentions, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony, is available on Amazon.
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Thinking Matters is a ministry that encourages New Zealand Christians to think more deeply about what they believe and why they believe it, so they can present the Christian faith as both rational and true.
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