There are a couple of ways of reading the two creation stories in the early chapters of the book of Genesis. Actually there are probably quite a few ways, but I’m interested in two ways just now. I’ll call these two ways the “literal” way and the “didactic” way, as one of these ways treats the creation stories as primarily serving the function of recounting literal history just like modern historians do, and the other way treats the main function of the creation stories as teaching truths about God, God’s relationship to human beings and our place in the world, using the story as a medium of doing so.
Any concerns raised about the possibility that this statement in Acts should be translated as “with the blood of his own” or “with the blood of his son” can at least in part be met with the response that so many of those who would feel it improper to speak of the death of God on the cross are also those who take the translation here to be the appropriate one and who are suspicious of the alternatives as concessions to liberalism. [↩]
Did Elijah ride up to heaven in a flaming chariot, ending his life on earth?
Don’t you hate it when you’ve got a favourite Bible story and then someone who takes the Bible just as seriously as you comes along and ruins it for you? The story of Elijah and the flaming chariot is well-known. It comes from the book of 2 Kings, chapter 2. Here’s the passage, from verse 9 to verse 12:
Is it really clear that the first Christians believed in the empty tomb of Jesus and in the resurrection of our bodies, leaving all the graves empty?
When we view history through Christian eyes, the resurrection of Jesus is the turning point. Without it, St Paul assured his readers, we are wasting our time with this whole Christianity thing. There is no salvation, no life beyond death, nothing, so let us eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die. The resurrection of Jesus is also vital to understanding conditional immortality. Because we don’t just naturally survive death in disembodied form, we need the resurrection in order to have eternal life (this is why St Paul’s comments, alluded to above, resonate so strongly with us). Without the resurrection, through which we receive immortality as a gift, there’s no other way that we could live forever. But do we need to think of the resurrection of Jesus as a bodily, physical, tangible event? Although this is what Christianity has historically taught, not everybody is convinced that this is really what the earliest Christians believed.
Check out the rest of the article, in which I explain that the earliest Christian community maintained that in the resurrection of Jesus, his body came back to life, setting the precedent for the resurrection of all the dead.
A lot of people fancy themselves as life coaches – especially in the age of the internet where they have access to an audience. If only people followed their advice, their lives would be so much better. People should look to you, you might think, as a dispenser of wisdom about what is best for people’s family, health and finances. Or maybe the reality is that you’re an insular, out-of-touch, privileged and frankly callous know-it-all who doesn’t even realise it and whose advice genuinely hurts people and is as painfully naïve as you are. But that doesn’t quite have the same ring to it now, does it?
Is the internet really a benevolent playground of truth about religion?
Some people read conspiracy theory websites and magazines. In fact, I’d wager that more people than ever before read them. As a result, more people than ever before believe ridiculous conspiracy theories. Although I have no desire to see people forced to stop reading such trash, I really wish they would. The fact that more such theories are available now than ever before does not increase the likelihood that people who read this material are going to stumble onto a true theory. It just means that there is more nonsense to choose from, leading to paranoid, sometimes hysterically funny, and often sad, unscientific and damaging beliefs and practices. I have little sympathy for anyone who would reply by saying something like “Dude, you’re just threatened. The truth is out there and now that it’s out there, you can’t stop people finding out.”
I suspect that my perspective on the proliferation of conspiracy theory websites and magazines is shared by most people. At least I hope it is. Such material gives a platform to views that frankly do not deserve it.