Posts Tagged ‘history’

All Things Work Together for Good

November 29, 2016

“All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purposes.”  Romans 8:28

Someone made the comment the other day that we didn’t have protests by the losers when Obama was elected, although there were surely people who disagreed deeply with his stated positions.  I wondered why that was.  It couldn’t be that the election wasn’t close.  People still protest, even when they are a small minority.  I think the reason is a philosophical difference in the outlook on history.

Most conservatives are also religious–not all, but most.  If a person believes in God, the tendency is to believe that God stands over and behind all governments–indeed all powers on earth.  This God is good, and therefore, whatever happens is ultimately allowed by God for His purposes is the underlying premise.  Human history is part of a grand plan of God for ultimate good.  Having this sort of philosophical underpinning, whether or not it is stated as such, doesn’t promote protest to have one’s own way.  It may promote protest that is issue based, such as the March for Life, where a cause is thought to be  godly, not personal.  But it doesn’t result in protest over the outcome of an election.

Grateful for Faith

August 8, 2009

I feel overwhelmed today.  I just feel so much gratitude for my Christian faith.  I remember a time when I wasn’t sure that God existed.  I didn’t know the history of Jesus, and how he rose from the dead.  I didn’t know all the proofs that he is God.  I didn’t know His promises of eternal life.  I was afraid of death.  I was afraid of bad happenings after death.  I was also afraid that death might be the end.

Humans are the only beings on earth with self awareness.  We know we exist.  We are able to wonder why we exist.  We are aware of our mortality.  We are able to wonder what happens after our death.  Our awareness would be cruel if we didn’t have any answers, or if our lives were so short and death was final.  What would be the purpose of all we learned and all the loves in our lives?  What would be the point of a love that was so great you couldn’t believe it would one day die, if that were all there was…the death of love.  But then I began to learn and discover the promises of Jesus Christ.

No other religion has the promise of the Christian faith.  With some religions the best I can hope for is some kind of melding with the eternal–a loss of my self.  With other religions, I can only hope for some eternal reward from a God who is quite unknowable, not at all personal, and quite arbitrary.  With other religions, notably atheism and agnosticism, I can hope for, well, nothing at all.  That is my best hope with atheism–that there is nothing following this life.

Christian faith offers a personal God, a God who has had our experience of human life and understands what that is like to be human.  Christian faith offers the promise of God that life can be forever.  Christian faith offers the love of God, grace, forgiveness and the promise of a future home being prepared just for us.  It is backed up by the historical evidence of Jesus life, the miracles that proved his credibility as God, and His resurrection which proves His promise of eternal life to be true.  The resurrection of Jesus is one of the best attested facts in history.  If one were to throw out His history, we would have to throw out history books completely. 

I’m grateful for the Christian faith’s promises, I am grateful for a God who loves his creatures, and I am grateful He never made it necessary for our faith in Him to be a blind faith.

America in its Adolesence

July 29, 2008

Sometime ago I had written a post about America, as a nation, behaving in much the same way as an individual behaves in adolesence.  Lately, I’ve been reading some relatively recent commentary on American history and learned I’m in good company.  A number of historians are looking at civilizations having life stages similar to that of human beings.  They go through the “new” period where growth encompasses everything, a time of adolescent identity seeking, a season of healthy maturity and then a decline.  There are some exceptions, notably China and India which are some very old cultures undergoing a resurgence, but are they truly the same culture they were or  are witnessing the birth of new cultures in those geographic locations?

America is experiencing the following symptoms of adolesence: it is self-absorbed, it lives in the present, it is hedonistic, and it is still seeking its cultural identity.

America is self-absorbed.  One only has to look at the space given to world news in our media.  To get coverage of world news having any depth or breadth, one has to go to foreign sources.  To the average American, the world is all about us.  America lives in the present.  One has only to look at the national debt to see we have yet to develop an adult view of financial reality.  We want everything now, but we don’t want to pay for it.  We’re hedonistic in that we want the right to do as we please regardless of our own good or the good of society.  And we are still seeking our cultural identity.  We have tried one ideal after the other and haven’t yet synthesized the set of ideals we will live for.  Our latest ideal is “tolerance” which is really a very passive one and is directly linked to the hedonism we’re also involved with.  When any critical thinking is rejected as intolerant you see the adolescent rejection of boundaries.

What will happen?  With individual adolescents, either a slow exposure to reality pushes or a significant emotional event catapults the individual into adulthood.  We’ve had some exposure to reality–terrorism, the weak dollar causing inflation, a long tedious struggle in Iraq, and the housing bust.  We’re being pushed.  God forbid the nation also has a significant emotional event.

Accurate Accounts of Jesus Life

May 6, 2008

Some time ago I mentioned in a post that one could learn of Jesus through reading the original four accounts of his life, death and resurrection.  I had a sarcastic comment asking if I had read original papyri.  What I meant were the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  Recently a lot of attention has been paid to the “other gospels”, such as the gospel of Thomas, the gospel of Judas, etc.  These aren’t the original accounts.  The proponents of including these “other” gospels in one’s picture of Jesus, may or may not realize they paint a very different picture of Jesus than the accounts written by his friends and contemporaries.  Like any other religion, Christianity had unusual sects and splinter groups.  Groups who misunderstood the message were even more common in those early days because of the difficulty of travel and communication.  This makes the spread of the original writings all the more extraordinary.  Today we have more than 10,000 manuscripts or fragments of the original New Testament writings dated within a century or so of the time of Jesus.  This is more than we have for any other writings of the time, or even later!  The writings spread all over the Roman empire—all the places where churches were founded.  What else is amazing—the copies all essentially agree, and they agree with the gospels and epistles we have today, despite 1900 years and numerous translations.  In contrast, the “other” gospel accounts exist in one or two copies, and were found with Gnostic writings.  Gnostics developed their philosophy in the century following Jesus, and they tried to spiritualize everything—explain Jesus appearance and his miracles, including his resurrection as spiritual experiences.  They were in many ways like unbelievers today, they didn’t want to believe what the four original gospels said occurred.

 

The Gospel of Thomas was found in Egypt, written in Coptic.  What is interesting about that is Thomas is believed to have gone to India—indeed there are monuments to Thomas in India.  Orthodox Rabbis (who hardly have a dog in the fight where Christian scriptures are concerned) have stated the writers of the so-called “Gnostic” gospels have no understanding of first century Jewish thought, as the apostles would.

 

I would venture this, where the Christian canon of scripture is concerned.  Rather than “stifle truth”, the 4th century church leaders, solemnized a list of books that had been widely accepted as valid for many years.  Their other criteria  was the necessity of apostolic authorship or apostolic authority.  The book must have been widely disseminated and accepted by most of the churches.  There was, as there is today, much writing that has little to commend it.  If one were writing the history of the twentieth century, how much credibility should they give to the National Enquirer or the Weekly World News?  Indeed, how much credibility should they give to stories that circulated on the internet.  What if I, today, decided to write a fictional Civil War diary?  I might have some political or philosophical point to make, or I might just be interested in telling a good story, never mind the facts.  Should my “Civil War Diary” have the credibility of one written by someone who was there?  My own book would be found out by my lack of proper language use for the time, and my misunderstanding of the time.  Some of the Gnostic writings fall into this category, but all “other” gospels and epistles were written without any connection to the actual apostles and that inner circle.

 

So, the “original” accounts, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were written by people who were contemporaries of Jesus, who were in partnership with the apostles if not apostles themselves, and we have so many fragments, manuscripts and references to these writings in other manuscripts from the era, we can find them trustworthy as history, or else be skeptical of all history.

 

Nonni