Music Recommendation, 13th April

Gwen Smith: Broken into Beautiful

One of the best things about being a Christian is the positive transformation that appears in your life (if you choose to accept it). Gwen’s song expresses this transformation: God turns worthless into precious, hungry into satisfied, broken into beautiful. This song highlights the sense of weariness felt when you do everything in your own strength; in contrast, accepting that you need God in your life permits Him to step in and change things. Which definitely takes the pressure off…

When I were a lad …

Many of my fellow Christians seem to believe that the nation is suffering from moral decline and that Britain is no longer a Christian country.  So my question is simply this:

When exactly was the golden age of Christian morality?

Britain has a pretty bloody imperial history and significant wealth came from its slave trade, so presumably we have to rule out any time before the 19th century.  The Victorian era wasn’t exactly a great advert for Christian morality with swathes of the population in crippling poverty, the workhouses and child labour.  Of course, the first half of the 20th century is scarred by two world wars and up until at least the 1980s, society wasn’t exactly a bastion of gender, racial, religious or sexual equality (and to be fair we’ve still got a long way to go with these issues).  But then, presumably the last 30 years of rampant consumerism, wars over oil and political dishonesty form part of what the critics deplore as unChristian behaviour.

I’d appreciate your thoughts and comments.

Does nature abhor a miracle?

One of the strongest objections to the Christian faith is that it must be legendary because the events it celebrates are unscientific. In particular, the bible records many miracles throughout its Old and New Testaments, most notably the resurrection of the crucified Jesus.

Crucially, such an objection is based on a false premise. Science and the scientific method can never tell us what is and is not possible. All that science can tell us is what things might typically happen in a given situation and hopefully why. That’s because the scientific method is based on experimentation and observation, so anything that is not a common enough occurrence to be observed is unlikely to make it into the model.

Now, by their very nature, miracles are exceedingly rare and seem to defy the natural order – we wouldn’t bother calling them miracles if they didn’t! Even in the bible, which claims to be a record of God’s relationship with the Jews, miracles are not commonplace. Of course, they feature prominently because they are the sort of things worth recording when they happen, but they provoked the same sense of awe and reverence as they would today precisely because they were totally unexpected.

In fact, most scientists would agree that science cannot possibly predict everything. Indeed, one of the central tenets of certain interpretations of quantum mechanics is that everything is possible, it’s just that once you’ve done the calculations most events have a practically zero probability of being observed.

It is right that we should exhibit an informed scepticism about events that seem contrary to our own experiences and seem to defy scientific principles. But as science can never tell us what happened at any given time and place, we need to use historical methods, which include studying writings about the events and examining any archaeological evidence that might be available.

So with all this in mind, I urge you to take a fresh look at those miracles you thought could not have possibly happened and with all the historical and archaeological evidence available to you, reexamine your conclusions. I’m not asking that you agree with me, just that you try to get as complete a picture as the evidence will allow.

Happy hunting!

An Easter riddle

As another Easter passes and Christians around the world remember the events that form the bedrock of our faith, I am reminded again that everything hangs or falls on the historicity of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

My challenge to you therefore is simply this: what happened on that first Easter Sunday, that turned a bunch of cowardly followers of the crucified Jesus into zealous evangelists who would proclaim Jesus as the Son of God across the Western world and would all (save one) go to horrific martyrs’ deaths for their faith?

May God bless you and your families this Easter!