Sunday, November 11, 2018

What is a lie?

Some friends recently asked me ``What does the Bible say about lying?" A quick survey of the whole Bible showed how the issue of lies and lying goes far beyond "telling fibs".

Furthermore, I feel that hypothetical questions such as "If a Nazi soldier came to your door and asked if you were hiding Jews in your basement, would you lie?" derail the discussion.

Lies are in contrast to truth and faithfulness, qualities that are integral to the character of God and Jesus. Here are my notes.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

What is "double listening"?

This phrase was coined by John Stott in a book, The Contemporary Christian: An urgent plea for double listening, published in 1998.

Double listening concerns Christians listening to what the Bible says while also listening to what the world says. The world is interpreted, affirmed, and critiqued in terms of what the Bible says, while the Bible is interpreted in light of what learns from the world. Everyone does this, whether or not they acknowledge it. However, the challenge is to do it consciously, intentionally, humbly, diligently, creatively, consistently, and constructively.

The idea is helpfully reviewed by Alister McGrath in this lecture.

Two other books by John Stott that McGrath mentions are Issues Facing Christians Today and Christian Mission in the Modern World.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Looking forward to the party

I recently shared with some friends some thoughts on The Parable of the Great Banquet in Luke 14.
Here is the outline.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Politics, farming, science, and culture

On a flight, I enjoyed watching the feel-good Bollywood movie Basmati Blues. On the serious side
 it looks at a significant modern problem: wealthy multi-national corporations use scientific research to develop technologies that the companies market (in deceptive manners) in the Majority World and disregard the culture and needs of local communities. The fictional story reminded me of real controversies involving Monsanto and Nestle.
Unfortunately, the movie does fit the white saviour trope.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

An excellent book on Christian apologetics

Apologetics concerns discussing intellectual questions or objections that people, both non-Christian and Christian, have about Christianity. The field has a long history, and there are a plethora of books, particularly from the USA on the subject. From my perspective, the books vary significantly in quality and some have quite narrow perspectives or offer simplistic answers and strategies.

The introductory book that I highly recommend is Mere Apologetics by Alister McGrath. He presents quite a balanced approach with regard to different apologetic methods. He also has an emphasis on the audience and tailoring approaches, methods, and arguments to them, particularly when the audience is postmodern. Following C.S. Lewis, McGrath highlights the value of appealing to the imagination and emotions, not just the intellect. Because of this audience sensitivity, the book is relevant and useful in non-Western contexts, unlike many Western books. This is the view of some of my non-Western friends who also say it is particularly accessible and clear as an introductory book.

I quite like this lecture McGrath gave where he discusses the importance of C.S. Lewis for apologetics.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Government regulation can be important for free markets

Free markets can be a wonderful thing, creating prosperity and a better life for many. Consequently, there are some who oppose any sort of government regulation of business. However, if you visit a country where there is no such regulation (or laws are not enforced) one inevitably sees corruption, monopolies, exploitation of workers, pollution, and environmental destruction.
The grand challenge is to find a balance.

In this TED talk, MargretheVestager, makes a compelling case for why regulation, particularly of large corporations is important. Part of the issue is that many of these companies are actually not committed to free markets but rather to protecting their market share.
I found it interesting that she started with a Biblical view of human nature, referring to Genesis, and also emphasised values such as trust and community.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Dirty political tricks

On a recent flight I watched the movie Our Brand is Crisis. It chronicles the inward and outward battles of a burned out American political consultant who is drawn into a presidential election campaign in Bolivia. It is inspired by a documentary of the same name about the real election in 2002. On the one hand the dirty tricks, cynicism, and immorality are depressing. On the other hand, I fear it is pretty close to the truth.