Showing posts from March, 2012

American Atheists Gather Forces—A good thing or a bad thing?

It is intriguing to observe in the US the rise of the atheism movement. So much so, that on Saturday there was an Atheists rally in in Washington with Richard Dawkins as the main event—the so-called “Reason Rally.” This was followed by the American Atheists’ annual convention. They are the ones who put up billboards stating “You KNOW it’s a myth. This Season, Celebrate Reason.”

The organiser David Silverman was raised Jewish but rejected the faith of his heritage and is now president of the American Atheists. He calls the event the atheists “coming out,” intentionally using the language of the gay rights movement. They see themselves as an oppressed minority and are uniting to have a more public voice—why not? Free speech is essential to western culture. At the rally he stated “we will never be closeted again.” He states, “I respect people; I respect humans. I do not respect religion.” Mmmm. Sounds rather contradictory. In fact, it would make a good Tui’s sign. Still, I am sure he is …

The Last Days of Dispensationalism—A Great Read

Late last year I read Alistair Donaldson’s book, The Last Days of Dispensationalism: A Scholarly Critique of Popular Misconceptions. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock, 2011). Now I promised Alistair I would blog on it, and so here we go.
For those who don’t know, Alistair is a lecturer teaching Biblical Studies at Laidlaw College’s Christchurch branch—and a really good bloke! The book is based on his Masters research. It is a nice easy read, a great achievement for any scholar.
In the book Alistair goes to town critiquing the theological construct ofcommonly called Classical Dispensationalism. He avoids more recent developments such as Progressive Dispensationalism, which I reckon he should have interacted with—but hey, there is a limit on what a man can do. He has assured me he will write on this in the future, which would be good, because many Progressive Dispensationalists agree with some aspects of his critique.
He looks closely at the Dispensational hermeneutic (method of interpreta…

UK Government and Crosses—Do the right thing and back off.

A most interesting storm is brewing in the UK that is of interest to Christians of all faiths. In 2006, Nadia Eweida was suspended from British Airways for wearing a cross. Nurse Shirley Chaplin was banned from working on the wards after refusing to hide the cross she wore on a necklace. The UK Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone has instructed government lawyers to oppose these women as they go to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg to claim that they are victims of discrimination. The debate revolves around Article Nine of the European Convention on Human Rights which states:
“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.” The women are claiming that this right has been violated. Government lawyers are counter-arguing that …

After-Birth Abortion—What the?

I know its older news now, but I can’t help commenting on the view expressed earlier this month in the paper, “After-birth abortion: why should the baby life?” It was written by two supposed “academics,” Alberto Giubilini (University of Milan) and Francesca Minerva (University of Melbourne), and published in the Journal of Medical Ethics. These “ethicists” argue that killing a new-born baby is morally equivalent to abortion and should be permissible. They contend that a foetus and new-born are the same in their lack of self-awareness. New-borns are unaware potential persons without any knowledge of their own existence and without any sense of a future—so killing them painlessly is morally neutral. This is particularly so where a mother has to raise a child alone, faces financial challenges, or has to face the pain of adopting the child out—it may be better to kill the new-born than place it in an orphanage etc. The editor of the journal has defended publication because it is a “well-…

Good On You Harold Camping

So Harold Camping—the guy who predicted the end of the world on Sept 6, 1994, and then May 21 and then Oct 21 this year—has retired and apologised. He has confessed that he was wrong and regrets leading people astray. Apparently, he has held to his view from 1992 when he developed a numerical system to work out the end of time. Anyone who knows the Bible well, particularly Jesus’ statement that no-one knows the day or the hour, knew from the first that he was wrong and didn't take him seriously. In a statement he says:

“even the most sincere and zealous of us can be mistaken… Yes, we humbly acknowledge we were wrong about the timing… God has humbled us through the events of May 21… We humbly recognize that God may not tell His people the date when Christ will return, any more than He tells anyone the date they will die physically…we now realize that those people who were calling our attention to the Bible’s statement that ‘of that day and hour knoweth no man’, were right in thei…

To Circumcise or Not to Circumcise—that is the question

I got a surprise the other day when I tuned into to Radio Talk-back to hear people discussing circumcision. My ears pricked up (pardon the pun), as any serious student of the Bible knows that circumcision is a critical theme in Scripture. The discussion revolved around a recent Sydney study which has found “overwhelming evidence” that circumcision has a number of medical benefits. Supposedly it reduces the risk of infections, cancer and other painful conditions. For example, the risk of urinary tract infection and kidney inflammation is supposedly 10x greater for the uncircumcised. Apparently, the risk of prostate cancer, penile cancer, HIV and STD’s like syphilis is three to eight times greater. Of course the latter problems can be in the main, resolved by maintaining a Judeo-Christian sexual ethic and keeping away from drugs.

Apparently in NZ 10% of boys are circumcised. Unless there are medical reasons, circumcision is self-funded at about $300-1000. The proponents of the study arg…

“Jesus Heals Every Disease and Every Sickness"—does he?

A Shortened Version of This is Found on the Laidlaw College Blog ( The Napier Equippers Church has taken down their “Jesus Heals Cancer” sign. As my previous blog on this indicates, I consider that this sign was too ambiguous and a potential cause of offense and so should be taken down ( I congratulate the church leaders for doing so—it shows wisdom, humility and concern for others.

However, they have now replaced the sign with this: "Jesus heals every sickness and every disease” – Matthew 4:23. There are some good things about this. First, it removes the word “cancer” which is especially offensive. Secondly, it is a quote from Scripture. Thirdly, the media seem satisfied (and threatened court action will likely be dropped). However, may I suggest that there are real issues with this new sign?

Matthew 4:23 reads: “Jesus went around the whole of Galilee, teachi…

Jesus Heals Cancer-Please Take It Down?

Is it wise for a church to put up a sign saying “Jesus heals cancer”? The Napier Equippers Church are all over the media for their controversial sign outside their church. This raises the question, is it a good idea?

Let me first say that I have great respect for my brothers and sisters in Christ in Napier, and do not question their good intentions and sincerity. I hope my words do not offend.

Secondly, let me add that I do believe that God heals and that he can, does and, has healed cancer. I know of acquaintances who have made extraordinary recoveries from seemingly hopeless situations. So, I am a believer in the power of God in the present to heal.

I can sort of sense where they are coming from. If the intention is to say that “Jesus sometimes heals cancer,” or “we believe that Jesus can heal cancer,” or “Jesus has healed some people of cancer,” or “Jesus and oncologists can sometimes heal cancer,” then I can sort of hear where they are coming from. If they are suggesting to people, …