I believe that the demands of the Kantian term “world view” have become significantly stricter today than they once were–at least to Christian communities–and that there are at least seven questions today that Christianity must answer satisfactorily in order to remain a viable intellectual option for modern philosophers, scientists, and historians.
- How would evolution–a long and painful process for living creatures–square away with Christianity? What would this mean for St. Paul’s belief, that physical death entered the world through Adam’s sin?
- Why do Christians believe in the miracles of Jesus, but not necessarily the miracles of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), St. Genevieve of Paris, or (for Protestants) modern miraculous interpretations of the Eucharist? Is it inconsistent to believe that miracles happened then, but not now? Do miracles happen today?
- What does it mean to believe in Jesus’ resurrection from the dead?
- What does it mean for the Bible to be “the inspired Word of God?” How does the Old Testament square away with the cross of Christ?
- What does the Bible really say about marriage?
- What does the Bible really say about “hell?”
- How do we face the famous Problem of Evil without patronizing victims of horrendous evil, such as trafficked women and children, holocaust survivors, and refugees?
The list could go on and on. Its purpose is to serve as a primer for inquiry into several important questions that I believe Christianity must answer in order to remain a viable option for those who are looking for the truth, if such a thing is to be found at all. I believe that it is, and that the cross of Christ is an aesthetic portal into the mind and heart of God Himself.
Personally, I have come up with answers to these questions myself. Don’t take my word for it, but here are some thoughts to guide the reader.
- The Spiritual realm should constitute a powerful response to evolutionary evil and suffering. Satan has been fallen for far longer than humanity.
- I personally do believe that other miraculous events have happened in history. I presently believe that Muhammad did perform miracles, although I reject his prophethood for other reasons that I consider to be more profound. I do believe in the miracles of St. Genevieve of Paris (and am thankful to Dr. Richard Carrier of Cambridge for pointing me in her direction), and I reject naturalism as an all-exclusive “world view.” If doing so is intellectually dishonest, then I openly confess intellectual dishonesty, for at the price of the philosophically unthinkable, I have come to a moral joy that would not otherwise be possible.
- I think that Jesus’ resurrection was physical and spiritual. The body, as St. Paul would say, was obviously of a different quality than the original; however, I do believe that the original body was raised, that Paul believed so, and that there are decent reasons to believe so. It would not be fair to St. Paul’s thought to claim that he did not believe that something profound happened to the crucified body of Jesus Christ that only God the Father Himself could have achieved, in my humblest opinion.
- 2 Timothy 3:16-17 is basically my guiding hermeneutic. “All Writings are breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the person of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, paraphrased from the ESV.) Writings here are understood to be the Hebrew Bible, although they can reasonably be applied to what now constitutes the “New Testament.” Does this verse imply that the laws of Deuteronomy reflect “God’s timeless wisdom?” I certainly hope not, and furthermore think not. Humans have emerged from a remarkably barbaric history. If the Pentateuch is not approached with this understanding, then the abounding misunderstandings that are applied (with good reason) by Christianity’s opponents will continue to resound unchecked and unchallenged.
- A “Biblical model of marriage” is male and female because alternative understandings of marriage didn’t exist in the past, and certainly didn’t exist in Judaistic contexts. Does this mean that gay marriage is inherently incompatible with the designs of the Christian God? No. I do not think that it does.
- The Bible says much less about hell and the Eschaton than most Christians I have encountered are willing to admit. My views on the matter should be clear from a quick glance at the titles of my blog posts.
- If only more Christians went to the book of Job for our Theodicy. Bart Ehrman is right to say that God has not answered this question yet. I believe he has hinted at an answer in the cross of Christ, which is now to me the most beautiful moment in history. However, we cannot look in the face of the sex slave, of the racially discriminated, of the falsely imprisoned, and of the persecuted and even *pretend* to know *why* God has permitted their situation. We can only be “moved with compassion,” enter into their suffering with them, and face the evil in their lives existentially, being to them a nexus of Christ in the cosmos. I am so tired of seeing what Gregory Boyd calls “pat answers” to the problem of evil.
Paul Copan:  Is God a Moral Monster? Making Sense of the Old Testament God.
Gregory Boyd:  Is God to Blame? Overcoming Pat Answers to the Problem of Evil;  God at War: The Bible and Spiritual Warfare;  Satan and the Problem of Evil: Constructing a Trinitarian Warfare Theodicy;  The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Tradition.
Robin Parry “Gregory MacDonald”:  The Evangelical Universalist.
David Bentley Hart:  The Doors of the Sea: Where was God in the Tsunami?
Craig S. Keener:  Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts.
Marilyn McCord Adams:  Horrendous Evil and the Goodness of God.