Monday, March 7, 2011

Leaking Happiness

The written word.  It's a powerful thing.   Our history is littered with important documents: The Torah, The Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence, The U.S. Constitution.  These are works that have shaped not only our history, but the very culture that is Western Civilization.  There are other works that have left a mark on history, whether you agree with them or not.  Darwin's Origin of the Species forever altered the way many people view creation.  Descartes'  Meditations left a wake that the philosophical world still bobs around in. 

I was reminded last week of the power of the written word.  Charley has been learning about love at the Christian pre-school she goes to and parents were asked to write a 'love-letter' to their child.  I wrote a page, describing how she was my favorite birthday present ever (Mandy found out she was pregnant with her on my birthday in 2006) and that I loved the way she laughed, and the way she has to hug everyone in a room before she leaves.  When my wife picked her up from school later that day the teacher said, "Charley made me cry today."  She then proceeded to explain to my wife how, as the letter was read, Charley began to cry.  When I asked Charley why she cried when the letter was read, she sheepishly tried to explain deep feelings with a four-year-old's vocabulary, "it just made me so happy that it leaked out."

Even though I have said to Charley, "I love you" a million times over, there was something about having it written down that affected her deeply.  Just as the works of men like Jefferson, Darwin and Descartes have impacted our world, that one page letter impacted her little heart in a way that I did not expect.  In fact it has convicted to write more love letters to my children.  I want them to have a physical reminder of their father's love for them.

God has left us a written love-letter that is the Bible.  When was the last time you wept for joy over the following words, "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life"?  Or what about the wonderful promise, "Perfect love casts out fear" or "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!"  I think we need to let the happiness 'leak out' so that the world may be infected with the love of God.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Jesus Inquest by Charles Foster

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is by far the central tenet of the Christian faith.  It is at once the core of our doctrine and the source of new life in Christ Jesus.  When I saw Charles Foster's The Jesus Inquest was available, I jumped at the chance to read it.  The book is extremely well-researched and is set up in a debate-type dialogue where the debaters (x and y) alternately present their side of the argument.  The book covers a plethora of topics centered on the resurrection ranging from the death of Christ (did he actually die?) to Scriptural integrity to different theories concerning the body (including some that are largely ignored by other apolegetics books).  He even delves into what the earliest Christians actually believed and where their doctrine of resurrection originated (the Gospels, mythology, or somewhere else?)  Overall I believe the author gave a very balanced and fair treatment of the subject matter at hand.

My biggest objection to the book is his source theory for the New Testament.  He seems to outright reject the Apostolic authorship of Matthew and questions the authorship of the other Gospels.  If I were an agnostic or atheist, this gap in the armor is where I would attack viciously. If the Biblical account cannot be validated by either eye-witnesses (Matthew, Mark, and John) or by those closely associated with the witnesses (Luke), then what authority does it carry?  While the book, overall, builds a strong argument for the resurrection of Christ, my fear is that Foster's argument rests on a shaky foundation of poor textual critique.