The Upside-Down Kingdom of God (Making Sense of Christianity #5)

There is something backwards about the way God works.

Think of the stories we have in the Bible.  God wants to bring salvation to the world through a specific people.  God needs to start a nation through an individual, so who does He choose?  Maybe a general of a mighty army, someone who could demolish all of God’s foes.  Maybe a mighty king, who would have all the wealth in the world, who could buy anything the new nation of God’s chosen people might need.  Maybe a mighty religious leader who God could use as his perfect mouthpiece.  Who does God choose?  A sort of wandering gypsy named Abraham, who is way too old to have children, let alone start a new nation.  Continue reading

Did Easter Really Happen? (Making Sense of Christianity #4)

In the “Making Sense of Christianity” series of posts, we have been discussing whether or not the Bible is a reliable source of Truth.  In this post, we will examine the Easter Story more specifically.

The Easter Story is the climax to the Old Testament narrative.  At the end of the Old Testament, we know that humanity has sinned and that God has promised redemption through the line of David and through the Covenant(s) He has made with Israel.  We are waiting for the Messiah, the Anointed One who is to come and bring the Kingdom of God to earth, the One who will finally set things right.  Through the first four books of the New Testament, we are told the story of Jesus, the Messiah who has finally come.  Jesus indeed starts setting things right, but in ways we do not expect.  Jesus takes the place of a servant, washing feet, healing beggars and the sick, eating with adulterers and tax collectors.  Then we have the Easter story.  Jesus the Messiah dies, most unexpectedly, but then Jesus lives again, ushering in the Kingdom of God.

But for those of us who live so many years after the events supposedly took place, we have a burning question:  Did the Easter Story really happen?  What evidence do we have to believe that Easter actually happened?  Continue reading

The Gospel of Paul (Making Sense of Christianity #3)

“Gospel of Paul? This guy’s lost his mind!”

Yeah, I can hear you now. Okay, I admit it, Paul didn’t have a gospel in the same way Matthew, Mark, Luke and John had a gospel. Paul did indeed have good news for us, though. In 1st Corinthians 15:3-8, Paul sums up his “gospel” that he says he received from others. Paul does this summary in a list form: Christ died for our sins, he was buried, he was raised on the third day, and he appeared to individuals and groups, the last being Paul on the road to Damascus.  This list is the content of Paul’s gospel. Essentially, it agrees with the 4 gospels–Jesus the Messiah died, was buried, was resurrected and then appeared to witnesses. From a historical point of view, though, Paul’s gospel just might be a stronger foundation to start building a historical case from. Continue reading

Women in the Bible-The New Testament (Making Sense of Christianity #2)

This post is the second half of our discussion on Women in the Bible.  We started our discussion with Women in the Old Testament, and we will continue now with stories of women from the New Testament.

Jesus’ Mother Mary—Gospels

Just as Eve is the first lady of the Old Testament, in many ways, Mary the mother of Jesus is the “first lady” of the New Testament.  Mary’s story has been retold so many times that we often lose the sense of wonder and awe that this young woman inspires.

A young virgin girl named Mary is visited by an angel and told that she will give birth to a son who will be called the Son of the Most High.  God will give him the throne of David and he will reign over Jacob’s house.  Continue reading

Women in the Bible–The Old Testament (Making Sense of Christianity #1)

If we were going to read a collection of books that were written thousands of years ago, how would we expect it to treat women?  What would be some of the characteristics that we would expect?  We would not expect women to be given very much freedom—after all, women couldn’t even vote in America until the early 1900s.  We would expect women to be viewed more as property than people.  We would expect women to be taking on stereotypical feminine gender roles—cooking, cleaning, taking care of the kids, etc.  We would expect to see men given a higher status than women on a very regular basis.

In light of these expectations it is no less than shocking to read how the Bible treats women.  Continue reading

Is the Bible a Trustworthy Source of Truth?

One place that many, many people have found Truth is in the Bible.  But is the Bible a trustworthy source of Truth? 

In order to explore that question, I will be starting two different series of posts.  One series, called “Making Sense of Christianity”, will explore many different subjects and how the Bible addresses or intersects with them.  How does the Bible deal with women?  How does it coincide or come into conflict with archaeology?  How does it line up with historical fact?  Many issues including these will be addressed, and as they are addressed, we will discover what these findings say about the trustworthiness of the Bible.

The second series, called “Answering the Critics”, will examine the writings of some prominent authors who have questioned the historical reliability of the Bible and Christianity–people like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Bart Ehrman.  As we are examining each author, we will discover whether what they are saying is accurate, and who is more trustworthy–the author or the Bible.

I am looking forward to both these series, and if you have any ideas for either of them, or maybe questions about the reliability of the Bible, feel free to leave them in the comments!