Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas Thoughts

Four of us Kirk pastors went to see The Nativity Story last week. Although there are a couple of cliché jolts (the light from the star at the end; the adjustment of history to have the wise men arrive just after the shepherds) it is a wonderful presentation of what the wondrous event might have been like.

Most of us, perhaps, have wondered how Mary told her family that she was pregnant and what their reaction was. The same goes for Joseph. What was it like to see and hear an angel? What was the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem like?

Apart from such questions artistically answered, the main strength of the film is the sense of real history that it gives. All of the trappings of Christmas sometimes bury the reality of Jesus beneath cultural and personal traditions. This movie is a good way to be reminded of the reality of His birth.

It is vitally important that we emphasize the historic truth of Jesus' birth, life, death, and resurrection. There alone is the basis for our faith that brings to us through Jesus hope, healing, abundant and eternal life. The Christmas Story is not a myth but the greatest moment of world history.

Richard Dawkins, a popular science writer and critic of all things Christian, especially in his new book The God Delusion, decries all of what we believe as an incredible fairy tale. A BBC editorial takes him to task:
Fairy tales are make-believe, swirled in the mists of obscurity. “Once upon a time, in a far-away land, in an age long ago…” Christianity is rooted in history: in Bethlehem of Judea, during the reign of King Herod. We know the location down to a mile or so, and the time to within a year or two. As Dorothy Sayers said, Jesus Christ is the only god with a date in history. This is no fantasy, but verifiable fact.
...CS Lewis commented... about fairy tales. “I’ve been reading romances, visionary literature, legends, myths all my life,” he continued. “I know what they are like. Not one of them is like this. Of this text there are only two possible views. Either this is reportage--pretty close up to the facts--or else some unknown writer in the second century suddenly anticipated the whole technique of modern novelistic realistic narrative,” Lewis concluded. The account of Jesus’ birth is as far from a fairy tale as could be.
The whole point of the Christmas story is that God entered into humanity. This was not just a visitation. It was joining humanity to experience all that we do, yet without sin. It was a plan destined for pain, suffering, death, and resurrection for Jesus, providing hope, healing, salvation, and eternal life for all who believe in Him.

Our culture has settled for a mythical Jesus, brought out once a year, dusted off, displayed, and then relegated back to storage until the next Christmas. We, the church, cannot afford to join this in any way. The reality of Jesus in our lives and in history needs to be repeated aloud frequently so that those still in darkness might find His light. I'm truly thankful for a movie (of all things) that helps so much in this mission.

Keep praying--keep the faith,
Tom

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Tom -

FYI - John Cornwell wrote an excellent critique of the Richard Dawkin's book in the 24 Dec London times:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2092-2517335,00.html

Ford Brett

Ted D Rossier said...

Interesting critique, but Mr. Cornwell has positions which are not Biblical and with which I cannot agree, even in the context of apologetics. Articles like this do more harm than good because they compromise on vital points, such as the fact that Darwinian evolution is absolutely inconsistent with the Genesis account. Horses, dogs, lizards, and fish were created as horses, dogs, lizards, and fish (Days 5-6). Fish did not turn into dogs. Lizards did not turn into horses.

Add to that the slaps in the face to those of us he calls "fundamentalists", in other words those that hold to the doctrine of inerrancy, and what you have really is a religious liberal talking to an atheist liberal. Hardly helpful and ultimately damaging.

Ted Rossier

Arthur said...

Excuse me Ted, but you will have to explain to me (a professional Scientist) how Darwinian evolution theory is inconsistent with the fact of the Biblical account of Creation. It just simply isn't. I don't think you have a proper understanding of scientific principles. Maybe you should just stick to the law. In my opinion far too many people (including many Scientists) have a gross misunderstanding of what science can or cannot prove.

Arthur

Ted D Rossier said...

Arthur,

I don't see how I can explain it any better than I did in my post above. God created the plants, animals, and us, all "according to their kinds." That means that one kind of animal did not become another.

It is within the realm of sound textual interpretation that this process took a very long time (from a human standpoint). I'm one of those that does not see the "Old Earth" vs. "Young Earth" debate as very important, except to the extent that we want to understand the Genesis account (and the rest of the Bible) as accurately as possible.

As a scientist, and a Christian, surely you would agree with me that science will never contradict Scripture. When we see an "apparent" disconnect between the two, what do we do? We start with God's Word and go from there. We do not place our limited understanding as paramount over God's revelation.

Darwinian "macro-evolution", that is, fish turning into horses, etc. has not a shred of credible scientific evidence, and is clearly contra-indicated by Scripture based on any reasonable interpretation.

That having been said, a lot of Darwin's ideas (and those that came after him) are perfectly legitimate in context with the Bible, such as the genetic stuff, minor changes in animal attributes over time, adaptation to environment, speciation, etc. But most of what we know today as "evolution theory", that is, abiogenesis, coupled with animals starting out as lower order and then transforming into higher order, was developed after Darwin's work by scientists operating in an atheistic worldview.

It's also rather arrogant of you to tell me that I can't understand scientific principles because I'm not a scientist. Try and give me a little credit.

Ted

Arthur said...

Ted,

You said:

“God created the plants, animals, and us, all "according to their kinds." That means that one kind of animal did not become another.”

I have no problem accepting that as truth.

“I'm one of those that does not see the "Old Earth" vs. "Young Earth" debate as very important, except to the extent that we want to understand the Genesis account (and the rest of the Bible) as accurately as possible.”

I have no problem with accepting the possibility that the Earth is only thousands of years old even though carbon dating places the apparent origin of life on Earth billions of years ago.

“As a scientist, and a Christian, surely you would agree with me that science will never contradict Scripture.”

In as much as I believe the relevant parts of scripture refer to what God wants as far as our relationship with him, each other, and our salvation, I would have to agree with you.

“ When we see an "apparent" disconnect between the two, what do we do?”

Science deals with the study of Natural Law. Science has never successfully described the Natural Laws under which God operates (I believe it is ridiculous to assume it ever will); therefore it cannot describe God’s actions in the sense of Natural Law. Since Creation is the act of an omnipotent, intelligent, God, Science can neither confirm nor contradict it. I would fully expect there to be a disconnect between God’s actions and what Natural Law says. So what do we do? Believe the Bible.

“Darwinian "macro-evolution", that is, fish turning into horses, etc. has not a shred of credible scientific evidence, and is clearly contra-indicated by Scripture based on any reasonable interpretation.”

In my opinion, there’s not a shred of credible scientific evidence that contradicts it. My personal experience with genetic algorithms leads me to suspect that the validity of Darwinian evolution theory is at least plausible. A few hundred million generations can produce a lot of genetic diversity. Also, a contra-indication of Darwinian macro-evolution by Scripture should not be taken as credible scientific evidence since Scripture is referring to God’s intervention which is clearly outside the realm of Natural Law.

“It's also rather arrogant of you to tell me that I can't understand scientific principles because I'm not a scientist. Try and give me a little credit.”

Ted, I didn’t say you can’t understand scientific principles, and I certainly didn’t say your lack of understanding was because you’re not a Scientist. I said, I don't think you have a proper understanding of scientific principles, and that many Scientists don’t either. It is true however that I am somewhat arrogant at times.

Arthur

Ted D Rossier said...

Arthur,

I responded in the thread above, where Rick weighed in as well.

Ted