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The Thoughtful Christian—Full Article

The Thoughtful Christian David S. Dockery As the workday concluded on the Trinity campus prior to the Thanksgiving break, two students visited my office with a bag full of delicious cookies. I thanked them for their kindness and their thoughtfulness, reminding them how meaningful it was for me that they would remember those in the administration at this time of year. I then shared the cookies with others on the hallway, who likewise expressed appreciation for my consideration and thoughtfulness. As I packed my briefcase to go to the house, I included a new book that arrived on my desk that day. One of the endorsements on the back of that new book lauded the “wise insights to produce a lucid and thoughtful proposal.” Thoughtful in the first instance describes a kind-hearted remembrance. Thoughtful in the second instance expands the description to include the idea of being considerate. The third usage points to the kind of reflective thinking that is […]

Sin: Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be—Full Article

Sin: Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be by Cornelius Plantinga Jr. “Everything’s s’pposed to be different than what it is here.” —Simon (Danny Glover) in Grand Canyon In the 1991 film Grand Canyon, an immigration attorney breaks out of a traffic jam and tries to drive around it. He doesn’t know where he’s going and he’s alarmed to note that each street seems darker and more deserted than the last. Then, a nightmare. His fancy sports car stalls. He manages to call for a tow truck, but before it arrives, five local toughs surround his car and threaten him. Just in time, the tow truck shows up and its driver—an earnest, genial man—begins to hook up to the sports car. The toughs protest: the driver is interrupting their meal. So the driver takes the group leader aside and gives him a five-sentence introduction to sin: Man, the world ain’t s’pposed to work like this. Maybe you don’t know that, […]

Jesus Christ and Religious Diversity—Full Article

Jesus Christ and Religious Diversity by Harold A. Netland Nathan the Wise, the last play written by the eighteenth-century philosopher and dramatist Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, contains a fascinating reworking of the classic parable of the three rings. The parable first appears in the fourteenth century in Boccaccio’s Decameron, but Lessing modifies it slightly so that it expresses nicely the Enlightenment call for religious toleration and condemnation of religious dogmatism.1 If it were updated slightly, it could be taken as an expression of early twenty-first century views as well. Lessing’s version of the story is set in Jerusalem in the twelfth century during the Third Crusade. The play revolves around the complex relationships of three characters, each representative of one of the three great monotheistic religions: Nathan, a Jew; Saladin, the Muslim sultan; and a Christian Templar Knight. Nathan finds himself in the great Saladin’s palace. The sultan tests Nathan by asking him which of the three monotheistic religions is the […]

Who Was Jesus of Nazareth?—Full Article

Who Was Jesus of Nazareth? by Craig L. Blomberg Jesus of Nazareth has been the most influential person to walk this earth in human history. To this day, more than two billion people worldwide claim to be his followers, more than the number of adherents to any other religion or worldview. Christianity is responsible for a disproportionately large number of the humanitarian advances in the history of civilization—in education, medicine, law, the fine arts, working for human rights, and even in the natural sciences (based on the belief that God designed the universe in an orderly fashion and left clues for people to learn about it).1 But just who was this individual and how can we glean reliable information about him? A recent work on popular images of Jesus in America alone identifies eight quite different portraits: “enlightened sage,” “sweet savior,” “manly redeemer,” “superstar,” “Mormon elder brother,” “black Moses,” “rabbi,” and “Oriental Christ.”2 Because these depictions contradict each other at […]

Naturalism in a Biblical Worldview—Full Article

Naturalism in a Biblical Worldview by Kirsten Birkett “You,” your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. . . . [A] modern neurobiologist sees no need for the religious concept of a soul to explain the behavior of humans and other animals.1 I am attacking God, all gods, anything and everything supernatural, wherever and whenever they have been or will be invented.2 Whatever knowledge is attainable, must be attained by scientific methods; and what science cannot discover, mankind cannot know.3 I am a secular humanist. I think existence is what we make of it as individuals. There is no guarantee of life after death, and heaven and hell are what we created for ourselves, on this planet. There is no other home. Humanity originated here by evolution from lower forms over […]

Human Flourishing—Full Article

Human Flourishing:Toward a Theology of Work and Rest by Danielle Sallade Many people are discussing what constitutes genuine human flourishing.1 One helpful definition comes from theologian Nicholas Wolterstorff, who ties the concept of human flourishing in the Christian tradition to shalom. A flourishing life will be a life lived in right relationship with God, with one’s environment, with neighbors, and with self. “A flourishing life is neither merely an ‘experientially satisfying life,’ as many contemporary Westerners think, nor is it simply a life ‘well-lived,’ as a majority of ancient Western philosophers have claimed.”2 It is a life that both goes well and is lived well. I have the privilege through my vocation in campus ministry of serving current university students. My colleagues and I desire for our students to mature in their Christian faith during their college years. We long for them to flourish, borrowing from Wolterstorff, in right relationship with God (through justification in Christ), with their environment (caring […]

Homosexuality—Full Article

A Christian Perspective on Sexual Identity by Mark A. Yarhouse Several years ago I was talking with a colleague about our mutual interest in teaching in Christian higher education. She shared with me that she enjoyed being a more liberal voice in a conservative environment. She could push students beyond their place of comfort to reflect on difficult topics. I understood what she was saying, but as I thought about it further, I realized that most people like to be able to do that; most instructors like to challenge their students, and our culture supports challenging norms and sources of tradition. Some would argue that our entire education system is challenging traditional assumptions and structures in ways that call many beliefs and values into question. Perhaps the greater challenge lies in identifying truths that are sustained over time, regardless of a changing sociocultural landscape. Of course, some topics necessitate a balancing act in which an accurate understanding of what is […]

Do Christians Have a Worldview?—Full Article

Do Christians Have A Worldview? by Graham A. Cole He took the blade. It was bright silver. He loved the way it glistened. It felt good in his hand. He cut deep into her chest again and again. He showed no emotion, no recognition of her humanity. She lay motionless, her life gone. He made no attempt to cover the body. Later that night over a beer he openly talked to a stranger in the bar about what he had done. The stranger felt ill. What are we to make of this? Should someone have called 911? Should he have been arrested? Is this a Hannibal Lecter story? It all depends. To make sense of it, this narrative fragment needs placing in a larger picture or frame of reference. We need to know more. Now suppose I were to inform you that the setting earlier that night was a back alley late at night and that the woman had been […]

A Christian Perspective on Islam—Full Article

A Christian Perspective on Islam by Chawkat Moucarry Islam claims that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam itself are three God-given religions. All prophets (including Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad) preached essentially the same message: God is one, and everyone must obey and worship him because on the day of judgment people will be sent to paradise or to hell according to whether or not they believed in their Creator and complied with his laws. This theological inclusiveness is only apparent since Islam is believed to be the only saving religion (3:19, 85).1 It comes at an exceedingly high price for the Christian faith. Indeed, Islam denies the reliability of the Christian Scripture, which contradicts the Qur’an on at least three key issues: God’s holy Trinity, the uniqueness of Jesus Christ, and God’s saving grace supremely demonstrated in the death and resurrection of Christ. The first four sections of this essay examine and respond to Islamic criticisms of the Christian faith. In its […]

Atheism—Full Article

Atheism: Five Arguments for God by William Lane Craig It’s perhaps something of a surprise that almost none of the so-called New Atheists has anything to say about arguments for God’s existence. Instead, they do tend to focus on the social effects of religion and question whether religious belief is good for society. One might justifiably doubt that the social impact of an idea for good or ill is an adequate measure of its truth, especially when there are reasons being offered to think that the idea in question really is true. Darwinism, for example, has certainly had at least some negative social influences, but that’s hardly grounds for thinking the theory to be false and simply ignoring the biological evidence in its favor. Perhaps the New Atheists think that the traditional arguments for God’s existence are now passé and so no longer need refutation. If so, they are naïve. Over the last generation there has been a revival of […]

Christianity & Sexuality – Full Article

Introduction Why Is Sex So Fascinating? God and Sex Why is sex so fascinating? That’s one question. But why pay any attention to what Christians believe about sex? That’s quite another. And yet the very fascination of sex is a pointer to a religious dimension. Every time a lover “worships” his beloved, every time a woman says it will be “hell” to live without her man, whenever someone says to a lover, “take me to heaven,” or describes a woman as a “goddess,” they use religious language. Ian McEwan’s haunting novel Atonement is better known because of the movie. In the novel, when the lovers Robbie and Cecilia first begin to make love, both in the modern sense of sexual union and in the older sense of a declaration by word (“I love you”), McEwan comments that Robbie “had no religious belief, but it was impossible not to think of an invisible presence or witness in the room, and that […]