Easter

The Terrorist Who Came in from the Cold (Part 2)

This is a serialized adaptation of my Easter sermon in article form. This isn’t a traditional Easter message. Instead of simply presenting the resurrection, I challenge visitors to think about the bankruptcy of their secular worldviews, as compared to the Christian faith and message. This appeal culminates in a brief explanation of the resurrection, its place in the Christian story, and an appeal to “come in from the cold” (so to speak) and join God’s family.1  

We finished the first installment by asking you to consider the kind of evidence you rely on in everyday life. You don’t require absolute certainty and exhaustive knowledge for everything in your life. For example, you don’t know precisely how your phone works, but you know it does work, and that’s good enough for you to trust it. There is plenty of this kind of evidence for the Christian faith and message; more specifically, for the Christian way of looking at and interpreting reality. There’s more evidence for the Christian worldview than any alternative.

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The Terrorist Who Came in from the Cold (Part 1)

This is a serialized adaptation of my forthcoming Easter sermon in article form. This isn’t a traditional Easter message. Instead of simply presenting the resurrection, I challenge visitors to think about the bankruptcy of their secular worldviews, as compared to the Christian faith and message. This appeal culminates in a brief explanation of the resurrection, its place in the Christian story, and an appeal to “come in from the cold” (so to speak) and join God’s family.1  

When Jesus commands people to “repent and believe the Gospel,” what does He mean by that? What does it mean to “believe?” What does it mean to “have faith?”

Bad distortions

There are many distortions of what “faith” and “belief” are, in a Christian context. One is that “faith” is just blind faith opposed to evidence, even if it exists! Another is that “faith” is a “leap in the dark” based on no evidence at all, like one the learned Professor Henry Jones was obligated to take to save his father’s life. There are others, but these are the two I want to focus on, because they’re the most common.

Where do these wrong ideas of “faith” or “belief” come from? Some are pushed by Christians, in a well-meaning but terribly wrong way. Others are pushed by secular humanist evangelists, like Richard Dawkins. Whoever is pushing them, these distortions have nothing to do with what the Scriptures say “faith” or “belief” is, which is trust and allegiance based on evidence.

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Ye Humble Souls That Seek the Lord

Detail from The Resurrection of Christ (1524-1531), Pieter Coecke van Aelst

Ye humble souls, that seek the Lord,
Chase all your fears away;
And bow with rapture down to see
The place where Jesus lay.

Thus low the Lord of life was brought;
Such wonders love can do:
Thus cold in death that bosom lay,
Which throbbed and bled for you.

A moment give a loose to grief,
Let grateful sorrows rise,
And wash the bloody stains away,
With torrents from your eyes.

Then raise your eyes, and tune your songs,
The Savior lives again:
Not all the bolts and bars of death
The Conqueror could detain.

High o’er the angelic bands He rears
His once dishonored head;
And through unnumbered years He reigns,
Who dwelt among the dead.

With joy like His shall every saint
His vacant tomb survey;
Then rise with His ascending Lord
To realms of endless day.

Philip Doddridge (d.1751)

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Three Days that Changed Everything

A man named Jesus hung on a cross. Prior to that point, this man had endured the rejection of his people, arrest on false pretenses, an illegal trial in which he was falsely accused, beaten and abused, and ultimately condemned to die because of the spiritual arrogance of his accusers.

To the eyes of many, this man was a good teacher, perhaps even a prophet; certainly a healer, and a remarkable leader. But he claimed to be something more—much more. And then this—he hung on a cross to die among the lowest of criminals.

His followers abandoned him for fear of their lives. In the end it appeared he died in complete failure. There was no kingdom, no deliverance. To many it appeared he died humiliated, broken, and completely alone. He even cried out to the God he called his father: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me!?” This Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. But to him belonged the fate of crucifixion.

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From the Archives: Real Resurrection

cross(Originally posted March, 2012.)

April 5 is Easter, when Christians worldwide celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. We gather the first day of every week throughout the year for this same purpose, but Easter Sunday marks the anniversary of the event.

Or does it? “No, no,” some insist, “not the anniversary of the event, the commemoration of the experience.”

It has become something of a rite of spring for some leading voice among this or that mainline Christian denomination to assure the world that the resurrection of Jesus was not a historic event. In March 2008, for instance, the Dean of Perth at St. George’s Anglican Cathedral, the Very Reverend John Shepherd, insisted that “the resurrection of Jesus ought not to be seen in physical terms, but as a new spiritual reality.” He urged his hearers to understand that it is “important for Christians to be set free from the idea that the resurrection was an extraordinary physical event which restored to life Jesus’ original earthly body.” The physical resurrection of Jesus is not only unessential to Reverend Shepherd’s faith, it is apparently something of an encumbrance.

The fourth article in the Thirty Nine Articles of Religion—not long ago the Anglican Church’s official creed—claims that “Christ did truly rise again from death, and took again his body, with flesh, bones, and all things appertaining to the perfection of Man’s nature.” But not to worry, the Very Reverend John Shepherd assures us, religion is always evolving. Old, dusty documents like the Articles should not be permitted to exercise undue influence upon our enlightenment.

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