Gun control: the time for it came 2000 years ago

Ben Witherington wonders if, following the tragic massacre in Virginia, the time has come for Christians in the USA to support gun control.

From my UK perspective I simply cannot imagine why any Christian could possibly fail to support gun control. This is an idea whose time should have come decades or centuries ago. Indeed it came two millennia ago, when Jesus told his disciples to put away their swords.

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Towards a better model of the atonement

Theologians have studied the atonement for centuries, indeed for nearly two millennia, and have put forward a number of different models of it, all or at least most of which are helpful to some extent, but none of which is a complete and adequate description of how God in Jesus dealt with the problem of human sin.

So it would be presumptuous of me to put forward anything as a new model of the atonement. More probably what I am saying here is the same as or very similar to what someone else has put forward before. But I am not consciously dependent on anyone else here. And I think the model I am presenting here, while certainly not more complete and adequate than any other model, may help us all to understand the atonement better.

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Steve Chalke, Spring Harvest, UCCF and the Atonement

Adrian Warnock seems to have scooped the interesting news that Spring Harvest is breaking its partnership with UCCF (the Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship) and the Keswick Convention because they cannot agree about Steve Chalke and what he wrote about the atonement. Dave Warnock, no relation, seems to consider this totally bad news. But in my first comment on Adrian’s post, I actually welcomed this split. So, what is happening here?

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TTLB Ecosystem Confusion

I seem to have been evolving quickly through the TTLB Ecosystem, which seems to be a fun way of ranking blogs. Only a couple of days ago I was still on the bottom rung as an “Insignificant Microbe”. But by yesterday I had jumped five places up N.Z. Bear’s evolutionary ladder to “Slimy Mollusc”. And today I am one step higher still, a “Flippery Fish”. Why the sudden change?

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Best Bible poll; British and American Bible differences

For the first time for a long time I have actually posted something on this blog every day for a week. That was not a deliberate decision so much as an indication that I have not been too busy with other things. Next week may well be busier, but I will try to keep posting at least several times a week.

But today’s post is only a pointer to posts elsewhere, because that is what I have been busy with today: I have posted twice to Better Bibles Blog.

First, I posted about the UnSpun Best English Bible Translation poll. This gives you the chance to vote for which Bible translations you like – and don’t like. Follow the link to cast your vote.

Then I posted something which I had meant to write for some time, on British and American Bible version differences. I have found some differences between American and Anglicised editions, in more than just spelling, apart from the well known one between “rooster” and “cock”. Again, follow the link to read more.

Thinking Blogger award

Henry Neufeld has given me a Thinking Blogger award. Thinking Blogger award I am apparently one of his “5 Blogs That Make Me Think”. Thank you, Henry!

With this award comes a tag to nominate five more Thinking Bloggers. Well, one of my first candidates would be Henry himself, especially for his recent review of The God Delusion, but he doesn’t qualify because he already has the award. So here are my five nominations:

  1. Jeremy Pierce for Parableman, especially for his long and continuing Theories of Knowledge and Reality series.
  2. Ben Witherington for his often thought-provoking posts.
  3. Eddie Arthur for his fascinating miscellany at Kouya Chronicle.
  4. Suzanne McCarthy for her recently revived Suzanne’s Bookshelf, as well as for her posts (which don’t officially count for this award) at Better Bibles Blog.
  5. Finally, an award to Adrian Warnock, although this is a bit double-edged. I am giving this not so much because he thinks himself, although he does when he is not simply quoting one of his preacher idols, as because by annoying me he makes me think, if only to clarify in my own mind why I disagree with him.

Strange Bedfellows

Some people have strange bedfellows.

Today I read (thanks to Suzanne for reminding me of what I first saw yesterday) first that Justin Taylor and Al Mohler, conservative Christians, are taking up common cause with President Ahmadinejad of Iran against a woman with a young child who has chosen to serve in the armed forces. Now I would not encourage a woman to leave her child in this way, but I would uphold her right to do so if she chooses to. The strange thing about it, however, is the way that Taylor and Mohler are agreeing with someone one might expect to be their sworn enemy, who is certainly the sworn enemy of their country. But perhaps Ahmadinejad’s vision of a patriarchal theocracy, and expectation of the imminent return of the Hidden Mahdi, are not really so different from Taylor’s and Mohler’s patriarchal and possibly theocratic vision, and perhaps their expectation of the imminent return of Christ. It is no accident that their religion and Ahmadinejad’s are both described, mainly by their enemies, as “fundamentalist”.

Meanwhile Henry Neufeld has posted (all at once) a new series reviewing Richard Dawkins’ book The God Delusion (due out in paperback in May, but already well discounted in hardback). I have not read the book so will not comment on it myself. But Henry reveals an even stranger set of bedfellows than Mohler and Ahmadinejad. Henry notes that

Dawkins sees two possibilities–religion of all related varieties on the one side, and atheism on the other. He downplays moderation of all types.

Later he quotes Dawkins:

The teachings of ‘moderate’ religion, though not extremist in themselves, are an open invitation to extremism.

and continues:

One of the most common arguments I face from fundamentalists and also some conservatives is the “slippery slope” argument. If you give anything away, it’s only the first step to giving everything away. But this is a fallacious argument because it has built in the assumption that the correct position will result from choosing one of the extremes. Perhaps the position in the middle is the most correct, and in that case we would have a “slippery slope” on either side.

See also my own recent criticism of the “slippery slope” argument. The new point which Henry makes is that Dawkins is using exactly the same type of fallacious argument as do the fundamentalist Christians against the possibility of the kind of moderate position which (in general terms) Henry and I share. The same Al Mohler who wrote favourably of Ahmadinejad had just a few days earlier railed against a Christian speaker (the same one whose view of the atonement I discussed recently) who dared to question the fundamentalists’ preferred model of the atonement. Mohler tellingly ended his post:

We are left with an unavoidable choice. We must stand with the Apostle Paul … Or, we must stand with Dr. John and Mr. Fraser … On this question there is no middle ground.

“No middle ground” seems to be Mohler’s refrain, and it also seems to be Dawkins’. No doubt it is also Ahmadinejad’s. For all of them, either you agree with them completely, or you are completely in error and your opinions do not even deserve proper respect. Dawkins, it seems to me, should be also be called a fundamentalist.

Meanwhile I want to stand with Henry and others to defend the middle ground of Christian faith, based on the Bible but moderate, intelligent, not dogmatic and open to the surrounding culture, from the attacks of fundamentalists of all varieties.

Some Facts on Global Warming and Carbon Dioxide in the Atmosphere

I drafted this article primarily for possible publication in Baddow Life newspaper. But I was also upset to find my Christian brother Michael Kruse spreading disinformation from Newsweek about global warming. For example, the Newsweek article states that

one overlooked mystery is why temperatures are not already higher

but fails to note that the way in which different factors partially counteract one another has been explained in detail by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The article also refers to

unmeasured output from the sun

when NASA has measured this output in detail since 1978, and has clearly demonstrated that there is no increase to cause the observed global warming since 1980. Michael Kruse shows in his comments, in reply to my ones, that he has been taken in by this disinformation. So, partly in response, I present some facts here, including ones whose existence the Newsweek article denies, presumably because they don’t support its presupposed conclusions.

There seems to be a lot of confusion and misinformation around about global warming and how it may be caused by carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels. Some people have put about exaggerated scare stories about continents being made uninhabitable, whereas others try to deny that there is any problem. So it may help to give a summary of the measurable facts of the matter.

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