Friday 22 February 2013

An apologetic person

Post by Edwina Hine

Ahh.. the joys of facebook.... most of the time,  the links friends and accquaintances send me are encouraging or  amusing. Occasionally I do read posts that stop me in my tracks. A recent post on Facebook (a repost of an image from an atheist website) did particularly rankle. The image and caption can be viewed here. The post grated on me for several reasons, but it was my own lack of ability to come up with a suitable comment / response to the post that rankled or more precisely really angered  me the most!! Surely I should be able to construct a thoughtful response to a post that evoked such strong disagreement within me.

It seemed clear that I should be able to lovingly yet firmly respond to the post but I will admit finding the right words is still posing a challenge. In my mulling over the issue I have re-read Case #20 "To Give a Reason".

Reading this past edition of Case reminded me of the value in being an apologetic person, rather than just a Christian who can muster up a good and appropriate response in the face of criticism or ridicule. Lang Craig's article entitled "Christian Apologetics – Who Needs It?" especially highlighted how apologetic people not only alone, but in community, can help to create a receptiveness towards Christianity, and a preparedness to listen not just to ridicule. Craig sees an agenda that moves beyond individual encounters, responses and half-baked apologetic responses:

"It is the broader task of Christian apologetics to help create and sustain a cultural milieu in which the Gospel can be heard as an intellectually viable option for thinking men and women."

The articles  within Case #20 authored by David Höhne, Andrew Bain, Richard Gibson, Mike Thompson, Michael Jensen, and William Lane Craig all in their own way point us towards Peter's commission 'to give the reason for the hope that you have'. (1 Peter 3:15)

As Trevor Cairney wrote in a previous post that commented on David Höhne's contribution to Case #20 (here):

"...we are to demonstrate ‘a beautiful way of life’ that commends God to others. Our defence should not be just rational argument; we must use our ‘head, heart and hands’ and live as apologetic people in apologetic communities—with ‘our whole lives as both a defence and commendation of the grace of God in Christ’. The church is not separate from culture, and yet it should stand out against it."

The post I read on Facebook challenged me to think seriously about my faith and how we need to be prepared to give an answer to detractors and live different apologetic lives always remembering that "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" 1 Corinthians 1:18

Case Subscribers may enjoy retrieving their copies of "To give a reason" (Case #20) published 2009 and view the articles to which I refer to in this post. The William Lang Article can be viewed here. For blog followers who are yet to become CASE Associates you can subscribe HERE or order a single copy of edition #20 HERE

Monday 4 February 2013

Peace in Our Time

The British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain was hailed as bringing peace to Europe after signing a non-aggression pact with Germany in 1938. In a speech on the 30th of September he declared that the agreement represented ‘peace for our time’–an ironic declaration as Germany invaded Poland less than a year later and Europe was plunged into war.[i] A similar phrase is found in The Book of Common Prayer’s exhortation, ‘Give peace in our time, O Lord’. Yet in our time, peace is far from perfect.

The latest issue of Case magazine has the theme ‘peace in our time’, and gives focus to our discussion of this most basic human desire. The Bible has much to say about peace. We are to ‘strive for peace with everyone’ (Heb 12:14a ESV), and we are to be ‘peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God’ (Matt 5:9 ESV). However, the foundation of true peace requires the forgiveness of God. It is a peace made possible by Jesus’ ‘blood of his cross’ (Col 1:20 ESV). It is ‘peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Rom 5:1 ESV). Peace doesn’t simply mean that we are to seek a reflective space, freedom from conflict, tranquillity, or even the ability to focus on God. No, in its most basic form, it simply signals that we have been reconciled to God. All that we do and say in the name of peace should be shaped by this understanding.

There are four essays on the theme. Andrew Sloane helpfully challenges a simplistic understanding of peace by drawing on the biblical concept of shalom in the form of Sabbath rest. Acknowledging how difficult it is to ‘rest in peace’ in the midst of the busyness of our time, he points out that this rest is a gift from God. But it is also a practice that critiques the false picture we can so easily have of where our significance lies.

In a fascinating article, Mike and Nikki Thompson discuss another view of peace in our time, namely how peace is presented in children’s literature. What are the transcendent meanings that are inevitably communicated in much pro-peace literature? The romantic conception these books project of the child as ‘believer, imaginer, redeemer’ and peace-maker is a view that is at odds with the Bible’s teaching on how peace is achieved.

Many things influence the ease with which Christians can live as ‘peaceful aliens’ in this world. Focussing on the impact that public, civic and social institutions can have on this, Bruce Kaye urges Christians groups and churches to seek a better understanding of how the institutions operate in which we spend so much of our lives. This understanding he suggests will give Christians a greater insight into where to focus their energies in order to best witness to the coming Kingdom of Jesus in these contexts.

Dani Scarratt my co-editor of Case magazine, observes that around the world, blasphemy is becoming an increasingly pressing issue - one that threatens peace in our time. Her essay explores the biblical teaching on blasphemy in an attempt to gain a deeper understanding of what blasphemy is, and what an appropriate Christian response to it is. Should Christians fight for God’s honour, or is now the time to hold our peace?

The issue is completed with the discussion of two works of significant Christian scholarship. In an extended review, Shane Waugh takes us through philosopher Nicholas Wolterstorff’s recently published 'Justice in Love'. Wolterstorff seeks to understand the concepts of justice and love, defending the proposition that justice and love are compatible, and works through the implications for the peace that is brought through forgiveness. In the second review, David Scarratt does some hard yards for us as he reviews Hill and Kruger’s 'The Early Text of the New Testament', which considers the stability of the wording of the books of the New Testament in light of pre-4th century manuscript evidence.

There is much here that will challenge us in this latest edition of Case. Our hope is that you will find it helpful and encouraging. In a world that stretches us, intimidates us, and leaves us feeling inadequate - and, at times, failures - it is good to seek the peace of God. For ‘the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus’ (Phil 4:7 ESV).

[i] BBC On This Day, 30th September 2005. Downloaded 11th January, 2013.