Monthly Archives: December 2010
One online radio program that I listen to fairly regularly is the Reformed Forum, hosted by Camden Bucey. It is dedicated to intelligent discussions of contemporary Reformed theology and consistently has excellent topic choices and guests who are experts in their field. Today’s show deals with the issue of black liberation theology, especially as it has been viewed by Anthony Bradley‘s book Liberating Black Theology: The Bible and the Black Experience in America. Bradley teaches at the King’s College in New York and blogs at The Institute. The book is a re-working of his doctoral dissertation that he completed at Westminster Theological Seminary. The interview is very informative. What struck me most about it was Bradley’s comment that black liberation theology is fundamentally not pastoral and that is it’s biggest problem. He explains that when someone has cancer, or their kid is on crack, black liberation theology has no answers.
On November 26, 2010 the Munk Centre in Toronto, Ontario hosted the sixth in its series of debates. The question to be resolved was “Is Religion a Force for Good in the World?” Answering in the negative was renowned wordsmith, literary critic, journalist and author Christopher Hitchens. The affirmative was answered by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. I desperately wanted to attend this debate if only to witness a showdown between two articulate, charismatic, witty and educated opponents. If it were at all possible, I also envisioned getting my copy of Hitch-22 signed by its author. Alas, it was not to be, so I’ve had to settle for watching it online (see below).
You might find it odd, if you know anything about me, that I come away from watching the debate favouring Christopher Hitchens. Of course, I am no friend to atheism, nor was I particularly convinced by his argument. Where I came to “side” with him was not so much on his atheism. Rather, this debate was less one about atheism vs. Christianity, or even atheism vs. theism. It was rather a debate between an atheist and a religious pluralist. I dare say, I think I can’t stand religious pluralism more than I can’t stand atheism. Blair converted to Catholicism after he completed his political career and is now some sort of spokesman for religion. It must be said, however, that Blair’s take on religion is a mushy form of “why can’t we all get along?” wearing a t-shirt with Desmond Tutu on the front.
Were I to debate Hitchens on this question, my opening words would attempt to clearly define what I meant by religion. If by the term I was to defend a catch-all that included Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Wicca and the religion that crazy guy in Allan Gardens mumbles in his crack-induced haze–I would gladly concede defeat without uttering another word. Yet, if by religion I mean that revealed in the pages of the Hebrew and Greek Testaments that has its focus set squarely on Jesus Christ as the Incarnate Second Person of the Trinity–I humbly submit that I would not only argue for the validity that it is a force for good in the world, but I would win (not because of my skills, but because this definition of religion is a necessary precondition for any discussion of “good.” I’d win at the outset just by affirming my position!).
A much better rendition of this debate was had between Christopher Hitchens and Douglas Wilson. It was originally staged in the pages of Christianity Today, it then went on into book form with Is Christianity Good for the World?, and then went on tour across the eastern seaboard of the United States and was captured in the documentary Collision. For anyone dissatisfied with the Hitchens/Blair pairing, I would highly recommend Hitchens/Wilson instead. Wilson does all that I would hope a defender of Christ would do–including win.
So, below is first a video from the Munk debate; afterwards a trailer for Collision and finally the video for the Westminster Seminary part of the Hitchens/Wilson debate.
“At this point, however, the defender of the Mosaic tradition is met with the claim that the new discoveries of archaeology as to the duration of man’s existence on the earth have proved too much and so overthrown the chronology of the Old Testament. The date 4004 B.C. for the starting point of human history is declared to be a preposterous one and is cited as conclusive evidence that Old Testament chronology is hopelessly unscientific. It is to be noted, therefore, that this date which still appears in some editions of the Authorized Version was calculated by Archbishop Ussher about 1650 A.D. and was first placed in the margin of the version in 1701. It is no part of the text. It rests in the main upon the assumption that the genealogies in Gen. v. and xi. are intended to supply the reader with the materials for an exact chronology of the entire extent of human history from creation to the birth of Abram. Against this assumption is the fact that no such use of these genealogies is ever made in the Bible, Old Testament or New Testament. And is has long been recognized by conservative scholars that there are other serious objections in the Bible itself to this widely accepted view. The chronology of Genesis is quite in accord with the view that man had lived on earth many centuries before 4004 B.C.”
–cited in Oswald T. Allis, The Five Books of Moses 2nd ed. (Philadelphia: The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1949), 238-239.
Here is my good friend Matt Fenn, who blogs at Pondering Christ, giving his testimony at a conference dedicated to former Jehovah’s Witnesses. Matt is a former Witness and has a powerful testimony. He is also a phenomenal defender of Christian orthodoxy against the Watchtower. The second video is particularly good–in it he explains how God used Philippians 3 in his life. If you ever get a chance to hear about how some unsuspecting JW’s came to his door, you’ll laugh your head off. If you’re a pastor and are thinking about doing a conference on cults or Jehovah’s Witnesses, I would suggest getting Matt to come and speak. He’s excellent, as you can see from these video clips.
5 March 2011
25 Ballyconnor Ct.
The Canadian Baptist Historical Society (CBHS) traces its origins back to the nineteenth century when Baptists passionate about their heritage began a process of preserving critical documents and studying the Baptist presence in Ontario and Quebec. Its primary focus is on the history of all Baptists in the Canadian context, but the study of Baptists around the globe is also a part of its mandate. Scholars, pastors, students and those interested in Baptist history are all warmly invited to attend meetings of the society. The CBHS is always interested in paper proposals for its meetings, and if you have a proposal for next year’s meeting please send it to Gord Heath.
The CBHS has also recently started to publish a series of books on Baptist history. Volume one is Baptists and Public Life in Canada (anticipated publication 2011). Volume Two is Baptists and War (anticipated publication 2012). Other volumes are expected in subsequent years.
This year’s annual meeting is at Tyndale Seminary.