Saturday, 26 April 2014

Is your Christianity out of shape?

I have been reading this morning a quote from J.I.Packer, where Packer is urging Christians to take more seriously the heavenly hope, the newer and greater Narnia. He says, 'We have recast Christianity into a mold that stresses happiness above holiness, blessings here above blessings hereafter, health and wealth as God's best gifts. and death especially early death, not as thankworthy deliverance from the miseries of a sinful world, but as the supreme our Christianity out of shape?Yes it is, and the basic reason is that we have lost the New Testament's two world perspective that views the next life as more important that this one and understands life here as essentially preparation and training for the life hereafter.' as cited by Gordon Bridger in his BST on Obadiah.

I found this quite a wake up call as I didn't realise that I felt this way but recently I have seen a Christian friend die fairly young and have only seen it as a disaster, of course it is a disaster for his family who are left behind and I know that he is with God, delighting in Him but I realised this morning that I have a very earthy grasp of the things of this world and this time perspective. Seeing the horrors of life on earth perhaps through the lens of  something like humanism/deism. In my mind  I have never brought into the  'too heavenly minded to be of any earthly good idea', in fact I agree with C.S.Lewis that those Christians who have impacted the world the most are the ones who are very heavenly minded. Take for instance the Puritans and their successors into the C18th who had as Packer again says,  lived one step away from eternity which is why they were such giants of the earth. I intend to change to see beyond the veil and get a more heavenly perspective. 

Let us as Christians pursue with vigour the coming kingdom and live for Christ in this world as we wait our heavenly hope.


Sunday, 6 April 2014

Why I am not an Atheist

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. (Psalm 19:1-2 ESV).

I grew up in a household where I quickly found that I didn't share my parents faith. My parents faith was private to them but it dictated their world view. I don't know how old I was when I came to realise that to my child like brain that their faith was unbelievable. When I was 15 however I rejected their faith completely walking away from it forever. You see at 15 someone shared the news with me that God had sent his only Son into the world to save me, and that even though I was a sinner, God would forgive me because of what His Son, Jesus did on the cross. Right there and then it completely made sense, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that God was real, that I was a sinner and that God was willing to save me.
My parents Atheism had never made sense to me, there was never a day that I can remember where I wasn't sure that there was a god. Yet this idea of god seemed so far away and didn't seem to answer the void that in my very rare silence I would be aware of. I knew there was a god, although it would be several years before I came to see that it was the God revealed in the Bible. As a youngster with shockingly glow in the dark blond hair and a temper I was kind of hoping for the gods of the vikings to be the gods I could place my trust in. I read several of the Norse tales and enjoyed them very much but looking back they were too like me and didn't seem interested enough even if they existed to bring the universe into being.
Whilst I wasn't aware of the arguments for design such as the Kalam cosmological theory or Thomas Aquinas' understanding of the Prime mover, I was aware that I lived in a big universe and that everything was designed. I have since read Richard Dawkins both his The Blind Watchmaker and The God Delusion he tries to argue against design by talking about evolution creating the appearance of design which is a contradiction in terms. This just seems like special pleading to me. I still find the idea that left on its own for billions and billions of years nothing will turn into all the complexity we find on this planet, let alone all the complexity of the universe. 

Not only does the universe and all that I observe point me to special creation and an understanding of the creator, the church itself points me to Jesus, its very existence. You see when I first became a Christian I was convinced not by evidence but my an overwhelming sense of the presence of God, an overwhelming sense of my own sinfulness and an overwhelming sense of judgement and mercy. The moment I asked for forgiveness I know I received it as I felt like I had had a bath on the inside. Then I wanted evidence I began to read, I had read as a boy but had given up the practice as a teenager. Now I wanted to know about Jesus and his church so I read, and I found that people I read about in scripture appeared in history books. Paul and Peter especially who suffered martyrs deaths as did most of the Apostles. Yet they believed that Jesus had risen from the dead because he appeared to them. They believed not so much because they were convinced by the empty tomb, an empty tomb would be fairly convincing but someone could say his body was stolen and doubts would creep in.  Yet  the resurrection appearances of Jesus, appearing to a vast amount of people over the course of several weeks, it would take some convincing out of that experience. A resurrected man speaking to you and commanding you to go and tell would make you do exactly that. Now I know you could say it was visions of mad men who were mistakenly convinced that Jesus had risen but this was not something they expected, dead men didn't rise and they didn't expect him to. Paul wasn't even a follower of Christ it was the last thing he expected or wanted. Yet these first followers of Christ were so convinced they gave their lives for this truth. The church grew out of this not a legend that developed,  not that the stories grew more fantastic over time due to an oral period because this wasn't the case they were written down very soon after the events recorded.  I find Christianity easy to believe I find the idea of the universe coming from nothing, The personal coming from the impersonal as unbelievable  I also find the evidence for Jesus to be overwhelming this is why I am a Christian and not an Atheist.