Is Christianity easy or hard?

Today is Saturday and this morning my intention had been to sleep late after a long week.  As is sometimes the case, I found myself partially awake (I was going to say half-awake, but upon reflection it felt closer to three-fourths awake) far earlier than I wanted to be and resolved that if I just stayed put I would eventually fall back asleep.  This is indeed what happened, but some thoughts came to me during that partially awake period that remained with me when I woke up for good a few hours later.  I don’t remember the path of my thoughts, but I was thinking about life, and God, and what I should be doing, and whether I should write about it, and my mind was drawn towards this saying Continue reading “Is Christianity easy or hard?”

Should Christians be vegetarians?

Before considering whether Christians should be vegetarians, let’s look a closely related question. Was Jesus Christ a vegetarian?  The answer to one question does not automatically provide the correct answer to the other – for example, one could ask whether Jesus worked as a carpenter, celebrated Jewish holidays, and claimed to be the Son of God (He did, but that doesn’t mean Christians should do the same) – but in thinking through moral questions it’s certainly a good place to start.

According to the Gospels, Jesus Continue reading “Should Christians be vegetarians?”

Is God short of cash?

And I can’t tell the difference between ABC News, Hill Street Blues
And a preacher on the old time gospel hour
Stealing money from the sick and the old
Well the God I believe in isn’t short of cash, mister!

– Bono (of U2), “Bullet the Blue Sky”, on the Rattle and Hum album

I really don’t like hearing churches ask for money. I’ve always thought that if I ever start a church someday (and this is an idea that has refused to leave me alone, despite my suspicions that I don’t have the right skills for such a thing), I would try Continue reading “Is God short of cash?”

Is divorce acceptable under any circumstances?

Many of the social issues in our media and politics today – abortion and gay marriage for example -are topics on which Jesus never spoke directly, at least not in any case that was recorded in the Gospels. Christians can consult other books of scripture, tradition, reason, and experience in order to try to draw the correct conclusions on these issues.  However, without direct teaching from Jesus, there is always going to be sincere disagreement.

One social issue on which Jesus did speak directly, however, Continue reading “Is divorce acceptable under any circumstances?”

Are there contradictions in the Gospels?

Yes, there are contradictions in the Gospels.  It is common for atheists to compile a list of contradictions and other difficulties, and for a Christian to respond.  See here and here for a good example of the back-and-forth.  Some Christians will try to defend each and every alleged contradiction as not being a contradiction at all, since they have committed themselves to the proposition that scripture is free from error (I have not).  I think that a fair-minded reading of any of these debates will result in Continue reading “Are there contradictions in the Gospels?”

Why did Jesus die for us?

For me, this is one of the most mysterious issues in Christianity.  Like many of the other posts on this blog, this one is not going to provide a precise answer, but rather some possibilities to consider.

Nevertheless, while I’m unclear as to the why and the how of it, I affirm that Jesus did indeed die for us. This is not a peripheral part of the Christian message. It does not at all appear to be something added on by the biblical writers or later Church leaders, nor is it something where Jesus has been misunderstood. Rather, it seems to be the abundantly clear teaching of the New Testament that Jesus gave up his life for our sake.

It is true that Jesus taught a lot about morality. But He didn’t present Himself as a moral innovator, but rather as one who illustrates (and calls us back to) timeless moral truths that we already knew inside our hearts. For example, Continue reading “Why did Jesus die for us?”

Didn’t Christianity just copy from earlier religions?

C.S. Lewis gives a good answer to essentially this question in God In The Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics.

I can’t say for certain which bits came into Christianity from earlier religions.  An enormous amount did.  I should find it hard to believe Christianity if that were not so. I couldn’t believe that nine hundred and ninety-nine religions were completely false and the remaining one true.  In reality, Christianity is primarily the fulfillment of the Jewish religion, but also the fulfillment of what was vaguely hinted in all the religions at their best.  What was vaguely seen in them all comes into focus in Christianity – just as God Himself comes into focus by becoming a Man.

One observation often made is that Continue reading “Didn’t Christianity just copy from earlier religions?”

Did early Christians expect the end of the world in their own lifetime?

Many of them probably did.  Clearly, throughout all of the Christian centuries, we find many examples of individuals or groups thinking that the “end is near”.  The clear teaching of the New Testament is that each Christian should be prepared for the end to come at any time.

There is one passage in the Gospels that might seem to suggest that Jesus predicted that the world would end within the lifetime of the first disciples.  Some skeptics point out that the world is still here, and claim this as evidence that Jesus was a false prophet.

The verse in question is “truly I tell you, this generation will Continue reading “Did early Christians expect the end of the world in their own lifetime?”