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January 17 Rethinking the Christian Faith

Vision Viewpoint Mountain “Rethinking” Christianity and the Christian Faith                                                                                                                 

Radio Broadcast (Hartford, WI) – Defending Christianity and the Christian faith

1.    “…Greeted by a band of theologians sitting there for centuries”

I don’t know that it’s a fad as yet. However, there are certainly many individuals “out there” in society who are addressing their individual versions of “I am rethinking my aversion to Christianity today” position. (I’ve watched this same phenomenon occur in society concerning the Home school movement since the late 1970’s. Of course, the vast majority of homeschoolers are Christian families.)

Names such as Dr. Richard Dawkins (atheist) – certainly no friend of the Christian faith – and famous UK politicians Roy Hattersley (atheist, author, politico) and Matthew Perris (atheist, journalist, author and politico) are among the many who are publicly stating some version of “rethink”.

Dr. Robert Jastrow is in the same class, but not as an atheist (at least as far as this author is aware).  He is one of those scientists who have made statements addressing some aspect of Christianity’s integrity vis a vie, the accuracy of the biblical record. His statement, made first back in the late 1970’s, shocked the scientific community:

For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.
What many do not realize is that Dr. Jastrow was aware of the crisis in scientific thinking (most people are not aware of  the crisis known to scientists for several decades). That crisis continues  to show itself in the utterly contradictory interpretations among the sciences as evolutionary thinking continues to skew research conclusions.

Dr. Jastrow is one of the top scientists of the 20th century, by anyone’s definition.  A brief list of some of his credentials is sufficient information to show his status in the scientific world:

     He was the first chairman of NASA’s Lunar Exploration Committee, which established the scientific goals for the exploration of the moon during the Apollo lunar landings.

     At the same time he was also the Chief of the Theoretical Division at NASA (1958–61).

     He became the founding director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in 1961, and served until his retirement from NASA in 1981.

     Concurrently he was also a Professor of Geophysics at Columbia University.

     After his NASA career he became a Professor of Earth Sciences at Dartmouth College (1981–1992),

     He was a Member of the NASA Alumni Association.

     Dr. Jastrow was also a Founder and Chairman Emeritus of the George C. Marshall Institute

     Director Emeritus of the Mount Wilson Observatory and the Hale Solar Laboratory.

2.“The Christians were always different…”

Dr. Richard Dawkins – the renowned atheist – is certainly not a friend of the Christian faith. He has been outspoken in his denunciations of creationism and the accuracy of the Bible. However, he too has shown some apparent “second thoughts” (especially in the wake of Islamic terrorist attacks around the world, referenced in this quote):

There are no Christians, as far as I know, blowing up buildings. I am not aware of any Christian suicide bombers. I am not aware of any major Christian denomination that believes the penalty for apostasy is death. I have mixed feelings about the decline of Christianity, in so far as Christianity might be a bulwark against something worse.

Other renowned atheists have contributed their “second thoughts” as well. Veteran British politician Roy Hattersley  is considered something of an authority on the origins of the Salvation Army, since he wrote a best-selling biography of William and Catherine Booth. 

It wasn’t too surprising that a recent BBC program3 about the Salvation Army’s effectiveness sought his opinion on the subject. The narrator, Peter Day, put it to Hattersley that, “This sort of thing, a sort of social entrepreneurial drive which starts off out of a particular place and circumstances—those sorts of things often run out of steam after a generation or two. Is the Salvation Army in danger of running out of steam?”

Hattersley’s response was immediate:

 

My view of society is very different from that which was held by Booth and [John] Wesley. I am an atheist. But that does not prevent me from admiring the strength of their different convictions. Nor did it stop me from realizing the crucial part that Wesley’s ‘respectable’ Christianity played in the development of modern Britain.

I don’t think the Salvation Army is remotely in danger of running out of steam. And I think it remains a vibrant organization because of its convictions. I’m an atheist. But I can only look with amazement at the devotion of the Salvation Army workers. I’ve been out with them on the streets and the way they work amongst the people, the most deprived and disadvantaged and sometimes pretty repugnant characters. I don’t believe they would do that were it not for the religious impulse. And I often say I never hear of atheist organizations taking food to the poor. You don’t hear of ‘Atheist Aid’ rather like Christian aid, and, I think, despite my inability to believe myself, I’m deeply impressed by what belief does for people like the Salvation Army.

Matthew Parris is yet another author, journalist, UK politician wrote in The Times a remarkable article entitled …
“As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God”

The subtitle is even more revealing:  Missionaries, not aid money, are the solution to Africa’s biggest problem—the crushing passivity of the people’s mindset.
“Removing Christian evangelism from the African equation may leave the continent at the mercy of a malign fusion of Nike, the witch doctor, the mobile phone and the machete.” – atheist Matthew Parris

Parris’s article was written from a very personal perspective, dwelling particularly on his experience in various countries in Africa during his childhood and an extensive tour across the continent when in his twenties. He wrote:

…travelling in Malawi refreshed another belief, too: one I’ve been trying to banish all my life, but an observation I’ve been unable to avoid since my African childhood. It confounds my ideological beliefs, stubbornly refuses to fit my world view, and has embarrassed my growing belief that there is no God.

Now a confirmed atheist, I’ve become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people’s hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good. 

He continued: “The Christians were always different. Far from having cowed or confined its converts, their faith appeared to have liberated and relaxed them.”
As a child more than 45 years ago, Matthew Parris grew up in southern Africa, and often stayed with Christian missionaries  who were friends of the family. In his twenties, he traveled throughout Africa.  The observation that Christians, whether black or white, were ‘different’ from other people continued to goad him wherever he went, driving from Algiers to Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, through the Congo to Rwanda, Tanzania and to Nairobi, Kenya. 

–    submitted, Wayne C. Sedlak, ICHR


Thought for the day: “Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton was the one who asked why.”


The Millstone Testimonies is a documented rehearsal of a thesis:

…That the Hand of God was apparent to the people of the colonies and responsible for their victory. Go here to find the Millstone Testimonies. The Millstone Testimonies are histories that draw upon Christ’s statement: And whosoever shall offend one of [these] little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. Mark 9:42

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