Recent Reads

This semester our theme for Thursday nights is “God Questions?”  We are looking at questions people on campus have about God, religion, the Bible and so on.  Last night we discussed the Bible and slavery.  Modern-day slavery, human trafficking, is an issue that more and more Christians are learning about and taking steps to end.  Yet if you read arguments against the Bible, one common point they bring up is that in the Bible God allows slavery.  So if we are opposing slavery, how do we deal with scripture?  My answer was basically, recognize progressive revelation (or as William Webb calls it, the Redemptive-Movement Hermeneutic).

Along those lines, next week we are going to discuss gender issues.  Does God favor men?  Is God a man?  Can women be pastors?  I read two articles about this issue; here they are: Complementarian Gymnastics and Complementarians are Selective Too.

The week after that we are going to discuss homosexuality.  That was the issue that led to the most questions.  This past week I noticed some interesting posts on this subject: A Student’s Insight to Approaching GLBT students and Ask a Gay Christian.

A few other articles that caught my eye recently:

David Brooks’ article “It Feels Right” is a must-read for people who work with college students (And I think I’ll have to pick up the book Lost in Transition by Christian Smith pretty soon).

When asked to describe a moral dilemma they had faced, two-thirds of the young people either couldn’t answer the question or described problems that are not moral at all, like whether they could afford to rent a certain apartment or whether they had enough quarters to feed the meter at a parking spot.

“Not many of them have previously given much or any thought to many of the kinds of questions about morality that we asked,” Smith and his co-authors write. When asked about wrong or evil, they could generally agree that rape and murder are wrong. But, aside from these extreme cases, moral thinking didn’t enter the picture, even when considering things like drunken driving, cheating in school or cheating on a partner. “I don’t really deal with right and wrong that often,” is how one interviewee put it.

The default position, which most of them came back to again and again, is that moral choices are just a matter of individual taste. “It’s personal,” the respondents typically said. “It’s up to the individual. Who am I to say?”

Rejecting blind deference to authority, many of the young people have gone off to the other extreme: “I would do what I thought made me happy or how I felt. I have no other way of knowing what to do but how I internally feel.”

Roger Olsen argues that hell is not part of the gospel.  He still believes in hell as a revealed truth from scripture, akin to the Trinity.  Olsen fears people will pile on, so he explicitly encourages the reader to read the whole post.:

So why believe in and teach the reality of hell if it isn’t part of the gospel?  Well, for the same reason we believe in and teach the Trinity–it’s either part of revelation or (as in the case of the Trinity) a necessary implication of what is revealed.  But there are many things revealed in Scripture that are NOT “the gospel”–unless you are going to claim that everything revealed is part of “the gospel” which would then mean that the apostle’s sermons in Acts were incomplete presentations of the gospel.

Here are 10 myths many religious people believe about atheists.  When engaging with atheists this is a list we should keep in mind, because throwing out certain mantras can lead to the end of the conversation.  While these myths are “debunked” in the article, I think some are actually true if presented better.  For example, many atheists are very moral people who live decent lives filled with meaning.  The question is whether atheism as a view of the world gives reason for morality and meaning.  Personally I believe that if there is no god than any morality or meaning we have is just created and thus life, ultimately, is meaningless.  You can choose to live morally, as your culture defines it.  But if you choose otherwise there is no reason anyone can give for you to change your mind.

Great article on why evangelical conservatives should support Mitt Romney.

Finally, I loved this list of 50 rules for Dads of Daughters.

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