Extracurricular Activities – August 24, 2013
At heart, the root of her concern is exaggeration, hyperbole in the accounts of martyrdoms, and perhaps the possible ‘persecution’ complex of various of the earliest Christian writers. In response to this she has trotted out what has become a somewhat standard lament, to wit— ‘yes there were some persecutions, yes there were some martyrs, but the whole thing has been greatly exaggerated (in some cases to promote a sort of ‘cult of the martyrs’), the persecutions were not systematic, were with rare exception not Imperially instigated, were in fact sporadic and regional, and so on, and so on…’
While I am certainly prepared to admit that there is some hyperbole, and even some careless reporting in some early Christian accounts about martyrdom, this certainly cannot be said of all of them, and it especially cannot be said of eyewitness reports, to take one example, the reports of Eusebius of what happened in Palestine, including in his own town, Caesarea Maritima, during his lifetime.
I am not a scientist, but I respect science. I respect science so long as science does what science can do. I disrespect science when science pretends to do what it can’t. That is, I respect science until it builds its own Tower of Babel....science goes Babel on us when it tells us that because pleasure is in the frontal cortex it is nothing but chemical reaction; science goes Babel on us when it denies the glorious mysteries of beauty, of the eye of faith, and the splendor of perceptions.
John Stackhouse Shares Advice from C.S. Lewis on Testing Theological and Ethical Interpretations of Scripture
As we consider various understandings of hell and the Last Judgment, or sexuality and sexual ethics, or the particularity of the gospel in a welter of religious alternatives, Lewis’s illustration helps us test our views. Are we opting for Interpretation A because it initially makes us feel better and connects with what we view to be the key themes of the Bible…but we haven’t yet pressed it into the smaller, less familiar places of Scripture to see if it truly coheres with, and illuminates, the full Bible we have as God’s Word? Might we instead elect Interpretation B that, however much it might conflict with our preferences or expectations and our favourite passages on the subject, actually settles into place as a view that solves a variety of problems to which we hadn’t paid enough attention and in fact now makes sense of what previously seemed inconveniently puzzling or even contradictory?
"What do I wish someone had told me before seminary?" Perhaps this question was on the mind of Samuel Pearce (1766-1799) when he sat down to answer an overdue letter to a young man preparing to enter the Bristol Baptist Academy in 1798...When Pearce penned this letter to a young seminary student, he had been sick for several months. He would preach his final sermon to his dear congregation in less than three weeks. His time on earth was drawing to a close, and he was aware of his pending death. What advice would a dying minister give to a young seminarian? Here is a summary of Pearce's letter.
Over TGC, Matthew Barrett opines the recent trend of pastors bringing tablets rather than Bibles to church in his interesting piece Dear Pastor, Bring Your Bible to Church. He argues that something is lost aesthetically and even theologically by his change in media. In sum, as good as tablets are, we should still be preaching from a printed Bible.
I have to say that this is not a new problem. The church has long had to wrestle with how to adapt to the changing literary media of the day. This happened with the advent of the printing press during the Reformation and with the substitution of the codex for the scroll in the ancient church.
Extra-Curricular Activities is a weekly roundup of stories on biblical interpretation, theology, and issues where faith and culture meet. We found each story interesting, thought-provoking, challenging, or useful in some way – but we don't necessarily agree with or endorse every point in every story.
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