April 2, 2012

Why I’m a Christian: Emi

by Max Andrews

I was raised in a Methodist church.  The largest Methodist church in my city with about a block of parking, a huge church.  Where I’m from people often refer to it as the “Six Flags Over Jesus” church.  I was baptized and confirmed here.  My parents were married by the minister and had been official members of the church since it began.  The more members the church had, the more it seemed to me to be full of people who sat in church and lifted their hands when they sang and really loved Jesus.  But I quickly realized the only time they truly seemed to love God was here.  Sunday morning and Sunday night during services.  I saw them gossiping about other kids (which happens naturally when you’re in your pre-teens of course), but more than that I saw the “popular” kids really tormenting those of us who weren’t as popular.  It got to where I, and others, never wanted to go to that church.  I dreaded it – I pretended I was sick, or that I had too much homework Sunday night to go to Youth services.  The more I encountered these “Christians” I assumed all Christians were like this – hypocrites.  People were so rich in this church and yet would just pass the offering plate to the next person, not leaving anything.  They didn’t want to donate their time or money to spreading the Word even in our own community.  It always felt wrong to me, I always wanted to do more. Continue reading

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April 2, 2012

Why I’m a Christian: James

by Max Andrews

I have written elsewhere of my long, difficult spiritual journey. I was a disobedient, rebellious person even after I started becoming convinced of the Truth. I have wandered down many dark paths, seeking for answers but often refusing them when they were right before my eyes. But now I thank my Lord and Savior that he is long-suffering and merciful and kept goading me until I admitted defeat and surrendered to Him.

During this long journey, I looked for wisdom in many places. I have read the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads, Buddhist sutras and the Book of Mormon, the teachings of the Baha’i and pagan/occult works. It wasn’t until after my mother died in 1976 that someone led me to the Bible- and I could tell immediately that this book was different. I had found the explanation for why I- and the whole world- was such a mess. More importantly, I had discovered the One who had the solution. It would be many years before I would really have the desire to live by the precepts taught in the Bible, but thereafter that Book and its Author would never let go of me. Continue reading

April 2, 2012

Tell Us Why You’re a Christian

by Max Andrews

The popular atheist PZ Myers has had a running series on his acclaimed blog, Pharyngula, titled “Why I’m an Atheist.” I see this shared on Twitter all the time and it’s very sad to read these atheist testimonies. All too many of these posts are stories of people who claim to have been Christian and have left the faith. I wanted to start a counter-series here on your story. The series will be, “Why I’m a Christian.” All you would need to do is send me an email at maxeoa[at]gmail[dot]com and tell me why you became a Christian and why you continue being a Christian. Your story can be however long you want it to be. Unless you note otherwise (if you want last name, last initial, anonymity, etc.), I’ll only use your first name. I hope to spread your stories to demonstrate the glory and work of God in your lives. Another benefit in doing this is so we can encourage other Christians to persevere in the faith and hopefully some of your stories will resonate with the hearts others–Christian and non-Christian. Please share this with anyone you think may be interested. I’ll post them as they come in.

April 1, 2012

VT Debate and Quote Mining

by Max Andrews

During the VT debate on the existence of God one of the atheists quoted a section of my blog concerning the issue of teleology and suicide.  The quote read:

If there is no God to provide meaning, value, and purpose, the only consistent option for humanity is suicide.[17]  Any becoming of life-affirming or life-denying acts are illusory.  Absolutely nothing can be a positive or negative act for the individual since there is nothing to determine a differentiation.  One is forced to face Nietzsche’s abyss and face the reality that no rope can scale the depth of nothingness.  One is only left with despair, guilt, and angst.  If one can determine that despair, guilt, and angst are not preferred then his only option is to eliminate such emotions and thoughts.  If there is no God, the only remedy for absurdism is to participate in Nietzsche’s abyss of nothingness:  suicide.

This was taken from a previous post of mine on how God provides meaning and purpose. In this quote I had a footnote reference to elaborate on one of these points.  This footnote (17) reads: Continue reading

March 31, 2012

Parallelomania and the Chronological Fallacy

by Max Andrews

Pagan Copycat Theory: The story of Jesus Christ as presented in the gospels is a myth incorporating various aspects of other ancient pagan religions.

–“Why should we consider the stories of Osiris, Dionysius, Adonis, Mithras, and other Pagan Mystery saviors as fables, yet come across essentially the same story told in a Jewish context and believe it to be the biography of a carpenter from Bethlehem.” (Freke and Gandy, The Jesus Mysteries, 9)

The Chronological Fallacy

  • In order for the copycat charge to work the parallel must chronologically precede the development of Christianity.
  • Some of the mystery religions developed after the birth of Christianity
    • Example:  Appolonious of Tyana was a contemporary of Jesus (3BC-97AD) but was not written about until 220-230AD
    • While several of the religions preceded Christianity themselves, many of the parallel claims about them do not.
      • While the Horus myth precedes Christianity by 3000 years, claims that Horus  birth was marked by a star in the east  or three kings adored him are found only in post-Christian secondary sources.
      • While there is evidence of Christianity employing some aspects of mystery religions late (4th -5th c.) evidence of borrowing earlier (3rd c.) suggests reverse: mystery religions borrowed from Christianity. Continue reading
March 30, 2012

Parallelomania and the Terminological Fallacy

by Max Andrews

Pagan Copycat Theory: The story of Jesus Christ as presented in the gospels is a myth incorporating various aspects of other ancient pagan religions.

–“Why should we consider the stories of Osiris, Dionysus, Adonis, Mithras, and other Pagan Mystery saviors as fables, yet come across essentially the same story told in a Jewish context and believe it to be the biography of a carpenter from Bethlehem.” (Freke and Gandy, The Jesus Mysteries, 9)

Common religious figures Jesus is usually compared to:

  • Appolonius of Tyanna (Greek)
  • Horus/Osiris (Egypt)
  • Dionysus – Bacchus (Greek/Roman)
  • Attis (Phrygian)
  • Mithra (Persian/Roman)
  • Zoroaster (Persian)
  • Krishna (Hindu) Continue reading
March 30, 2012

Unbelievable? The Conference: Giving a Skeptical World Reasons to Believe

by Max Andrews

Most of my blog followers are from North America but I do have several followers in the UK.  I want to promote this conference coming up hosted by Premier Christian Radio’s Unbelievable? hosted by Justin Brierly and partnering with Hugh Ross and Reasons to Believe.

We live in a sceptical world. Atheism has taken on an evangelistic tone in the UK. Secularists claim to have a monopoly on reason. So how should the Church respond?

Premier Christian Radio presents an apologetics day conference aimed at equipping everyday Christians with reasons for the truth of their faith. The conference will also focus on how to share these truths in a fruitful and engaging way.

This year’s Conference partner is Reasons To Believe – a Christian apologetics teaching and research organisation with the mission to spread the Christian Gospel by demonstrating that sound reason and scientific research consistently uphold, rather than erode, confidence in the truth of the Bible. Continue reading

March 30, 2012

The Artistry of Evil

by Max Andrews

It seems, by all evidences, that man is the only creature that can make evil artistic.  Not only can we be merely evil but we add artistry to it.  Consider this section from Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov.

“By the way, a Bulgarian I met lately in Moscow,” Ivan went on, seeming not to hear his brother’s words (Alyosha), “told me about the crimes committed by Turks and Circassians in all parts of Bulgaria through fear of a general rising of the Slavs.  They burn villages, murder, outrage women and children, they nail their prisoners by the ears to fences, leave them so till morning, and in the morning they hang them–all sorts of things you can’t imagine.  People talk sometimes of bestial cruelty, but that’s a great injustice and insult to the beasts; a beast can never be so cruel as a man, so artistically cruel. Continue reading

March 30, 2012

Why Does God Love Us? — I Don’t Know

by Max Andrews

One of my friends, who is also in the philosophy class I help teach, emailed me several weeks ago asking why God loves us?  It’s a great question.  In light of our sin and the darkness within us why would a perfectly moral and holy being love us?  I responded to her question and I thought I’d share it online here.  So, to jump to the end and give you my answer up front: I have no idea why God loves us.

This is one of those things that you can surely put the puzzle pieces together to say that God is just and that God is loving. Any philosophy of religion text or systematic theology can articulate the theological coherence of these things.  The hardest thing about this is that, like you, I still don’t get it. It’s certainly not a simple answer in my opinion.  I’m an existentialist at heart.  I think we find ourselves on the scene thrusted into existence without any ability to say otherwise. Continue reading

March 29, 2012

Famous Philosophy Majors

by Max Andrews

You may be quite surprised to find out which famous people have majored in philosophy.  BestCollegesOnline recently did an article discussing fourteen famous philosophy majors.  Most you’ll probably recognize.  If you don’t, you’re probably familiar with their associations or affects they’ve had in the world.  These people range from politics to comedy.  One person that was not mentioned was Bill Clinton.  When you realize Clinton was a philosophy major you won’t mock him when he asks what the definition of ‘is’ is.  Is ‘is’ an identity claim or is ‘is’ a predication?  Perhaps, we just laughed out of ignorance?  Anyways, enjoy the likes of Alex Trebek, Steve Martin, Bruce Lee, and … Continue reading