Simeon Hawkins was a high school history teacher in the UK before emigrating to New Zealand with his wife in 2010. Since then, he’s completed a Grad Dip in theology at Laidlaw College and been the youth pastor at St Paul’s, Symonds street for the past 6 years. Simeon has a comfortable, compelling and interactive teaching style, bringing his topics alive with lots of illustrations, media and whiteboard scribbling. His primary passions are in Biblical and Church History, Apologetics, reading Scripture well, contextual Creation and generally making potentially complex issues digestible and fun. He lives with his wife and two small children in Auckland.
The world of first century Palestine was a vibrant and three-dimensional place, but with 2,000 years distance between them and us it can feel dry, irrelevant and at times a different world altogether. Who were some of the groups the Gospels refer to like Herodians, Sicarii and Pharisees? What were Jewish concepts of Messiah and how did that permeate daily life? What’s the big deal about the temple? Who was Pilate if there was King Herod? When we can understand some of the political, social, religious and economic situations, Scripture can hit us with sudden HD clarity.
Dan Brown’s daVinci Code would have us believe the Council of Nicaea was a power-hungry conglomerate selecting scriptures that suited their agenda. This is one example of countless accusations of church corruption or inaccuracy based on a total misunderstanding or ignorance of Church history. As Christians living a life of faith, it is crucial we know our stories, own our mistakes, learn our lessons and celebrate our successes. Get equipped to answer those ill-founded accusations and at the same time, encouraged that God would use such a broken collection of followers to change and shape the world.
The Reliability of Scripture:
Christ revealed in Scripture is the sole foundation for the Christian faith. If that cannot be trusted, then our measure for morality, Salvation and truth is gone. This areas includes topics like How did the Bible come to us in its present form? Can English translations be trusted as accurate to the original? Is there any non-Biblical evidence that supports the claims of Scripture? Once we can establish the complete reliability of Scripture, then we have a framework and measure from which to navigate our life and to bring life to others.
Christianity pivots on one central figure: Jesus Christ and him crucified. Jesus’ death on the cross and subsequent resurrection is essential; without it, there is no forgiveness, salvation, or future hope in the age to come. Explore not only the certain death of Christ, but the beautiful significance of his sacrifice from an Old Testament atonement perspective. Also consider the evidence for and against the resurrection, and weigh up if there is any credibility to alternative theories like disciple hoaxes, common graves, mistaken identities or slipping Jesus a Micky Finn giving the appearance of death. Fortunately, our faith is based on evidence as solid as the rock which was rolled away.
Supernatural movies and series’ drop weekly from the Hollywood machine, clouding our conceptions of the spiritual realm but also highlighting the widespread interest and hunger to explore the supernatural. How can we separate Hollywood from Scripture? Are there such things as ghosts, demons or angels? If so, what can we know about them and do they have any bearing on our life? Let’s open the only true supernatural authority and discover what it says and were the boundaries are on what is and is not ok to do.