A terrible burden

In his book, Making Sense of God, Timothy Keller has two excellent chapters on identity. He makes the point that when our identity is received from God we are relieved from finding it in others, in our work, or in our own shifting views. He says:

Your work is still part of your identity, as are your family, your nationality, and so on. But they are all relieved of the terrible burden of being the ultimate source of your self and value. They no longer can distort your life as they do when they are forced into that role. They are, as it were, demoted to being just good things. Work is no longer something you use desperately to feel good about yourself. It becomes just another good gift from God that you can use to serve others.

Making Sense of God: An Invitation to the Skeptical by Timothy Keller

The story of reality

Book: Koukl, Gregory. The Story of Reality: How the World Began, How It Ends, and Everything Important That Happens in Between. Zondervan, 2017.

(for a full review, click the title above) Screen Shot 2017-04-23 at 10.15.00 AM

 

Point: There is a Story of everything. It is a reasonable story and one for everyone, although many have chosen not to believe it. It is a story about God, man, Jesus, cross, and resurrection.

Path: Koukl takes the reader through the Big Story, taking time to address concerns, questions, critiques, and misrepresentations. It is a patient tour of the greatest Story of all time. He addresses each of the five key words he has delineated in order to summarize the story.

 

Favorite Quote: More to the point, what good would it do the disciples to steal Jesus’ remains, then lie about a resurrection? The basic rule with lying is this: Invent a story that benefits you, not one that gets you beaten, whipped, stoned, crucified upside down, or beheaded. My personal view is that any skeptic who is attracted to that explanation is simply not skeptical enough.

Stars:  4.5 out of 5

It would be worth another read and I would recommend it to someone who:

  • Is thoughtfully considering the Christian story
  • Is relatively new to their Christian faith
  • Is interested in sharing the gospel story in a more thoughtful way

Other books along this theme would be:

Keller, Timothy. Making Sense of God: An Invitation to the Skeptical. Viking, 2016.

Lewis, C. S. Mere Christianity. New York: HarperCollins, 2001.

Apes

How do beliefs in individual freedom, human rights, and equality arise from or align with the idea that human beings came to be what they are through the survival of the fittest? They don’t, really. Russian philosopher Vladimir Solovyov sarcastically summarized the ethical reasoning of secular humanism like this: “Man descended from apes, therefore we must love one another.”

Timothy Keller, Making Sense of God

Science and God

“If everything has to have a scientific explanation and proof, then this ‘is to banish not only God from the world but also love, hate, meaning— . . . world that is self-evidently not the world we live in’.”

Timothy Keller quoting Paul Kalanithi in Making Sense of God, kindle loc 238)

Quran and the Bible

As soon as I entered the apartment, I went straight to the bookcase and retrieved my old Quran and my study Bible. I sat down on the couch and opened the Quran first. I flipped through the pages, looking for verses of comfort, at first carefully reading each page for the subject matter, then more quickly thumbing through the index, and then frantically flipping from page to page, hoping for something, anything, that would comfort me.

There was nothing there for me. It depicted a god of conditional concern, one who would not love me if I did not perform to my utmost in pleasing him, one who seemed to take joy in sending his enemies into the hellfire. It did not speak to the broken nature of man, let alone directly to the broken man in need of God’s love. It was a book of laws, written for the seventh century.

Looking for a living word, I put the Quran down and picked up the Bible…Within minutes, I found these words: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

(Qureshi, Nabeel; Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus. Kindle 4217)

WikiTheology: What if Jesus never existed?

Here is an explanation of WikiTheology. For similar posts, see why we have armswhy we don’t eat snowy owlswhy Hell might not be what you think, and why your stomach still growls.

¿Qué pasaría si Jesús nunca existiera?

Amigo: ¿Cómo puedes estar seguro que Jesús aún existe?

Yo: Piensas que Jesús es el Papa Noel del primer siglo? (Lo siento si todavía crees que él es real!)

Amigo: Sí. Quizá alguien le inventó intencionalmente, o involuntariamente. ¿Qué pasaría si fuera una leyenda, pero se convirtió a una realidad en las mentes de la gente? ¿Cómo sabemos que Jesús era una persona real?

Es una pregunta interesante. Si alguien supone que la Biblia fuese el único registro de Jesús del primer siglo (que hasta ahora lleva como nombre – “a.C y d.C”), sería la teoría de la conspiración del…universo.

Dejando la version histórica de la Biblia, creo que todavía existe más pruebas de la existencia de Jesús que muchos otros líderes espirituales o figuras históricas.

Dos de los historiadores más conocidos quienes escribieron algo de Jesús son Tácito y Josefo. Se podría hablar también de Julio Africano citando a Thallus, Plinio el Joven, Talmud de Babilonia, Luciano de Samosata, y Mara Bar-Serapion (para ver más puedes echar un vistazo a gotquestions.org).

Tácito, un historiador romano del primer siglo, dijo algunas cosas muy negativas de Jesús y sus seguidores. Anotó que los Cristianos fueron aborrecidos por sus “abominaciones”, eran parte de una “superstición maliciosa”, cuya religión era “malvada”, y eran parte de todo lo que era “horroroso y vergonzoso”. Ahí hablaba de Cristo, de quien recibieron los Cristianos su nombre, quien fue crucificado por Poncio Pilato. Es muy improbable que un Cristiano del primer siglo falsificara un párrafo como ese para soportar una religión falsa.

El segundo es Josefo, un historiador judío, quien escribió otros datos de Cristo. Jesús era “un hombre sabio”, “un bienhechor de obras maravillosas”, “un maestro”, “el Cristo”, matado por Poncio Pilato, y que apareció a sus seguidores después de su muerte. También hablaba de Santiago, “el hermano de Jesús, quien le llamaron Cristo”.

Es complemente aceptable (y yo diría, esencial) que evalúes a Jesús y lo que enseñaba acerca de sí mismo. También puedes decidir de creer que nunca fue un Jesús histórico, pero tienes que darte cuenta que la carga de la prueba está encima de tus hombros. Estás listo a correr este riesgo?

magnifying-glass

What if Jesus never existed?

Friend: How can you be so sure that Jesus even existed?

Me: You think that Jesus might just be the first century Santa Claus? (I don’t mean to burst your bubble if you still believe he is real!)

Friend: Yes. Maybe someone invented him intentionally, or unintentionally. What if he was a legend, that just became real in people’s minds? How do we know he was a historical reality?

That is an interesting question. If someone assumes that the Bible is the only record of Jesus from the 1st century bearing his name (B.C. and a.d.), then I suppose this could be the conspiracy theory of the…universe.

Putting aside the Biblical account, I believe there is still more historical evidence than many other famous spiritual leaders or historical figures.

Two of the most common historians who refer to Jesus are Tacitus and Josephus. One could also look to Julius Africanus quoting Thallus, Pliny the Younger, The Babylonian Talmud, Lucian of Samosata, and Mara Bar-Serapion (for more see gotquestions.org).

Tacitus, a Roman historian from the 1st century, had some negative things to say about Jesus and his followers. He noted that Christians were hated for their “abominations”, were part of a “most mischievous superstition”, their religion was “evil”, they were part of everything “hideous and shameful”. In there he states that Christ, from whom they got their name, was crucified by Pontius Pilate. It is very improbably that an early Christian would forge something like this in order to prop up a false religion.

A second source is Josephus, a Jewish historian, who had other things to say about Jesus. He was a “wise man”, “doer of wonderful works”, “a teacher”, “the Christ”, killed by Pilate, and he appeared to his followers after his death. He also spoke of James, “the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ”

It is completely acceptable (and I would say, essential) for you to question Jesus and his claims. You can even choose to believe that there never was a historical Jesus, but just recognize that the burden of proof is on your shoulders. Are you ready to take that gamble?

WikiTheology: Why is there still hunger if Jesus could solve that issue? 

Here is an explanation of WikiTheology. For similar posts, see why we have armswhy we don’t eat snowy owls, and why Hell might not be what you think.

¿Por qué todavía hay hambre si Jesús hubiera podido acabar con el hambre?

Amigo: Si el Nuevo Testamento es verdad, y Jesús pudiera alimentar a miles de personas, y hacer desaparecer al hambre, ¿Por qué no lo hizo?

Yo: ¿Por qué no dio provisiones interminables a la gente?

Amigo: Y a nosotros. Si Jesús pudiera solucionar el problema, ¿Por qué no lo hizo?

Yo: Es una buena pregunta. Sabemos que algo no es correcto en este mundo cuando hay tanta hambre. La vida no es para ser solo una lucha para sobrevivir. Si fuera así, no nos hubiéramos hecho esta pregunta!

Desde la perspectiva de la Biblia, tenemos que empezar desde el principio. En Génesis vemos que el hambre no es malo, Dios creó nuestros cuerpos para procesar comida y el hambre es la que nos indica que debemos comer. Entonces, no hay nada malo con el hambre. Pero sí hay algo malo con morirse de hambre. Si rechazamos la hipótesis de la evolución, morirse de hambre no empezó hasta que los hombres se rebelaron contra Dios. El pecado, el morirse de hambre, y la muerte vinieron como consecuencias de rechazar a Dios como rey (Génesis 3).

Cuando leemos los evangelios, los libros dedicados a la vida de Jesús, vemos que él pasó hambre porque era completamente hombre. Comió lo mismo que los demás. Le encantaba comer y conversar alrededor de la mesa. No hay nada intrínsecamente malo con el hambre, el comer, y disfrutar de la comida. Tampoco no hay nada intrínsecamente bueno si rechazamos lo bueno del mundo material. Pero Jesús veía un problema con el hambre que lleva a una persona a una angustia física. Por ejemplo, cuando alimentaba a las cuatro mil personas, él estaba preocupado en que la gente no pudiera llegar a casa por causa de su hambre (Mateo 15:32ff). Pero, ¿El hambre físico era la preocupación principal de Jesús? No. Jesús sanaba las enfermedades, expulsaba a los demonios, y resucitaba a los muertos. Pero ninguno de esos temas, ni todos, eran la preocupación principal de Jesús. Él no vino simplemente para sanar la gente de sus enfermedades. Vino para tomar encima de sí mismo nuestra rebelión contra el Creador y restablecer nuestra relación con Él mediante su muerte sustitutiva. Dijo, “Porque el Hijo del hombre vino a buscar y a salvar lo que se había perdido” (Lucas 19:10). La manera en que lo hizo fue exactamente como él dijo varias veces a sus seguidores, “Tengo que morir” (Lucas 9:22, 44; 18:31-34). Si hubiese venido simplemente para mejorar nuestras vidas, hubiera podido hacerlo sin morir.

Y quizá el propósito último de Jesús nos lleva a la razón por la cual no absolvió el hambre cuando él podía hacerlo, o ¿por qué no nos creó sin la habilidad de tener hambre? Quizá el hambre físico puede dirigirnos a algo más grande. Quizá el dolor que sentimos en nuestros estómagos nos recuerda que somos débiles. Quizá la necesidad constante de orar, “Danos hoy nuestro pan cotidiano” nos hace clamar al Gran Proveedor. Quizá el alimento básico, el pan, fue creado para levantar nuestra mirada al Pan de Vida. Quizá mi hambre es algo que Dios está usando para darnos cuenta que Lo necesitamos. Quizá.

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Why is there still hunger if Jesus could solve that issue? 

Friend: “If the New Testament account is correct, and Jesus could feed thousands, and essentially make hunger obsolete, why didn’t he?”

Me: “Why didn’t he give the people an unending food supply?”

Friend: “And us. If Jesus could fix the problem, why didn’t he solve it all at once?”

Me: I think that is a very good question. We know that something isn’t right in this world when there is so much hunger. Life isn’t meant to just be a struggle for survival. If it were, we wouldn’t be asking ourselves this question! From the perspective of the Bible, we have to start at the beginning.

In Genesis we see that hunger is not bad, God created our bodies to process food and hunger is what we need in order to remember to eat. So there is nothing wrong with hunger. But there is something wrong with starvation. If we reject the evolutionary account, starvation didn’t enter in until after man’s rebellion. All sin, starvation, and death came about as a direct consequence of rejecting God as king (Genesis 3).

As we read in the accounts of the life of Jesus, the Gospels, Jesus experienced hunger. He was hungry because he was fully man. He ate as much as everyone else. He even enjoyed food and the conversation around the table. There is nothing inherently wrong with hunger, eating, and enjoying food. Nor is there something inherently good about rejecting the goodness of the material world. But Jesus did see a problem with hunger which leads to physical distress. For example, in the feeding of the four thousand, he was worried that the people wouldn’t be able to make it home because they were so hungry (Matthew 15:32ff).

But, was physical hunger the primary concern of Jesus? No. Jesus healed diseases, cast out demons, and raised dead people. But none of those, nor all of those, were the main concern of Jesus. He had not come to merely heal people of their ailments. He had come to take upon himself our rebellion against the Creator and restore our relationship with Him through his substitutionary death. He said, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). The way that he would do that was just like what he kept reminding his followers, “I have to die” (Luke 9:22, 44; 18:31-34). If he had merely come to make our lives a little easier, he could have done so without dying.

And maybe Jesus’ ultimate purpose points us to the reason why he didn’t absolve hunger when he could have, or why he didn’t create us without hunger in the first place. Perhaps physical hunger can point us to something greater. Maybe the pains we feel in our stomach remind us that we are weak. Maybe the constant need to pray, “Give us our daily bread” is meant to point us to our great Provider. Maybe the staple of bread is supposed to raise our gaze to the Bread of Life. Maybe my hunger is something God is using to open my eyes to my need of Him. Maybe.