I’m reading about George Muller and I’m very challenged by his lifestyle rather than encouraged. So I pause.
The Father asks why.
I describe the spirit of the day; work hard, achieve through effort and performance.
I was struck on the way home yesterday that we in the church use very dated language.
I cycled by a church on in South London and they have a huge banner declaring that only by the name of Jesus are we saved – which is indeed true, but to the un-churched around us, that means absolutely nothing. Saved from what, exactly?
In Jesus’ day, the Jews didn’t have a word for religion as it was an intrinsic part of their life, so they understood concepts of sin, grace, judgement, blessing etc. They would have understood that to be ‘saved’ is to be rescued from death and judgement – but now we are in a time where people are increasingly spiritual but have no anchor as we live in a pick‘n’mix culture, most people would associate save with either football, money or electronic filing.
And I’m not sure what language we use ; the weighty concepts of eternal heaven and hell, righteous judgement and grace have become watered down and form part of everyday casual language.
I’m stuck and need some help here, any thoughts?
Here is stolen blurb from anywhere that sells the book :
In this compelling volume, Ravi Zacharias examines the mystery of evil. This brilliant writer and gifted teacher traces how secularization has led to a loss of shame, pluralization has led to a loss of reason, and privatization has led to a loss of meaning.
My thoughts :
This book was really hard to put down as I found it to be written so well. It is more than a presentation of apologetics, its pages are woven with historical fact, current affairs, personal stories and a cry of the heart. Ravi plainly paints a picture of current Post Modern Western thinking and explains how we got here and exactly why it is killing us from within. As a man who has travelled internationally for many years, and is actually a foreigner in his home land (born Indian, Canadian resident) he has a unique perspective.
The book methodically moves from the Enlightenment, to Modernism to Post-Modernism with relevant stories from his own life or news items placed to highlight the fallout of the type of thinking.
It is a bit heavy with the language, but he simply explains such terms as pluralism and autonomy and uses the famed logic of the more vocal New Atheists to follow thought patterns through to their natural conclusion.
A part that stands out in my mind was a story about the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park. The Exhibition was a showcase of the glory of the British Empire in both conquest and technological might. One exhibit was a train that laid its own track, which whilst it was a marvel of technology and ingenuity, was also very illustrative of the time ; the train tracks had no solid foundation and so were only as strong as the rails, in the same way, current thinking of the time rested on reason and logic that had no baseline to refer back to, only self.
Reading it was definitely an education, and it is a book I’d go back to again.
First sentence | Last sentence :
“There is an ancient Eastern parable instructively titled ‘The Wealth Is Nearer Than You Think.’” | “But that may be only a veneer for the real battle, that of the heart”
In a nutshell :
If you insist that there are many ways in life and that morality is based on personal values and rights rather than a baseline moral code, then you can’t cry out agaist evil as it is only evil in your sight, according to your personal morality. This is the logical and reasoned conclusion of secularism. But this doesn’t sit right deep within and needs addressing, and quickly, before it’s to late.
Did you find this review helpful? Leave a comment and let me know!
In part 1 I said that that Easter has an interesting history with 2 parts, namely Pagan and Christian.
I’ve touched on the Pagan history, so now for the Christian history.
The week leading up to the crucifixion has been called Passion Week by the RC church, and is the final week of Christ’s life.
The movements, teachings, death & resurrection of Jesus in this last week can be found in the following passages:
The word Easter, or any Greek/Latin/Hebrew root/derivative is not actually mentioned anywhere in the New Testament and so as a festival is unknown to the Bible. At the time of the crucifixion, the Jews were preparing for the Passover, which is an annual celebration to mark the release of the captive Israelites from Egyptian slavery ; so strictly speaking, Christians should mark the death and resurrection at the same time as Passover.
Without launching into a 5000 word preach, it’s worth noting 2 things ;
a) That the huge symbolism of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and the timing of His death weren’t wasted on the Gospel writers, or those who had open hearts :
(To get into it a bit more, read Exodus 12:1~11 in conjunction with the above passages)
b) At the last supper Jesus instigated an event to mark His death in the form of Holy Communion (or whatever else you desire to call it) that is unique to Christianity and is a daily reminder of the cross :
By looking at the Pagan festival of Easter, and comparing that to the Christian version (for want of a better word) it is easy to see how they have been tangled up over the centuries, particularly by those who were trying to evangelise the Europeans. They both happen at a similar time of year, and they are both concerned with new life. Also, over time Christians have adopted Pagan symbolism, giving the same reasons for the images, like the egg representing new life, possibly as a way to be more appealing, or as a way to kind of ‘sneak in’ with the Pagan crowd.
In conclusion, Easter as we know it in western culture is a mixed bag of ideas, histories, fact and fiction, and what is presented to the world is a very watered-down version of the Pagan traditions, foil wrapped and loaded with calories, with a bit of God thrown in for good measure. And most people carry on with it without any real thought as to what they are doing, just stuffing their faces with over priced chocolate.
I believe that it is good to be respectful toward nature, and to marvel at life and how it is renewed annually, and that it is proper to mark historic events, such as the crucifixion. But really, I am not limited to a few days in the year – I (we) have been given the Communion meal to mark and declare the death of Christ, which can be done daily. That is the true Christian Easter.
*Picture credit – Ortho Cuban
“…always being prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” – 1 Peter 3:15
I don’t think I have ever expressed why I am a Christian. Definitely how and when, but not why.
Let me tell my tale, being mindful of the end of the verse, which many Christians are not.
For me, it simply makes sense. I have looked at the logic and reason of science and have become lightly acquainted with other faiths and New Age practices – even the random branches of Christianity – and they all fall short of Jesus.
As a teen, I was always mindful of life, its complexities and the unanswerable questions, and I found that I had ultimately it came down to choosing between belief in the spiritual/supernatural or reason and logic. The spiritual took me down the route of horror scopes, tarot and superstition, which all seemed interesting, but at the same time hollow as many different people all did similar things that weren’t actually the same, even though they came from the same root. My only experience of tarot cards and palm reading was very discomforting – I was asked a barrage of questions about many different things, and then presented with answers that seemed, very coincidentally, so match what I’d been saying. What nailed it for me was when I was asked if there was anybody I’d ‘like to contact’. I spoke about my granddad who has recently died, and so this woman tried to reach him. She kept mentioning a name that meant nothing to me and in the end was just a bit ‘oh well’ and dismissed it. I was not convinced.
Faiths like Islam, Judaism and Sikhism, again, looked interesting and colourful, but seemed to me to be full of rules, ritual and conditions. They started to go down the road that I was looking for, being grounded in the supernatural, but they just didn’t taste right.
Science really fascinated me as I am a person who likes to know how things work, what makes them tick, even, where is the tick? I was taught evolution in school as fact, I was taught the big bang, and I even contributed to class with my thoughts on the Chaos Theory. The problem with science is that it can tell you to the finest of detail how, but it can’t answer why. If I was to believe the reason and rationale of the scientist then I am ultimately an intelligent collection of carbon atoms with no meaning or purpose beyond myself, who was born entirely by chance in a universe that exists by chance. The existence of my species is dependent on reproducing strong and healthy offspring to continue the cycle of a meaningless life. Why is all this? There is no why, just now, with its enlightened reasoning. Consuming the flesh of another species is necessary to absorb vital nutrients to maintain health, kissing is a simple exchange of chemicals which releases hormones and music is nothing more than compressed or stretched airwaves. Sounds delightful.
And then we have Christ.
“For God so loved the world,that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16
He says, rather wildly, that he is the truth and the way to eternal life. No rules, no superstition, no logical reasoning, just him. And then there is clarity because he answers the why, he gives the reason. We are here because God created us and loves us. Our purpose is to love him back and believe in Christ. And the greatest expression of that love is faithful obedience. Suddenly eating becomes a meal to be enjoyed with friends, and the nutritional benefits are a bonus. Kissing is a wonderful and intimate moment that conveys love, affection, closeness and strengthens a bond. Music moves us to the depths of our soul, evokes memories or stirs action. The science is still there, but it is intermingled with love. It turns the black and white TV of a life through logic and reason into a full colour HD plasma with surround sound. Science continues to say how, and Jesus tells us why.
I am a Christian because Jesus offers life with a reason and purpose.
I believe that there is an eternal life, and that Jesus is the only way to it. I believe that the other faiths and ideas that the world has to offer either don’t answer the deep questions of life, or present too many hurdles to ever reach the goal. I also believe that Jesus is for everyone, and not just a select few. Yes, he exposes my flaws, yes it is hard work at times, and yes it makes me different, but in exposing flaws they can be rectified, being hard produces strength of character and endurance, and being different means I stand apart from the crowd.
Now, any questions?
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