Friday, February 27, 2015

Did Jesus Exist?

This article cites Tacitus and Josephus as extrabiblical evidence for the existence of Jesus. The author sensibly views part of one statement by Josephus as having been added to by later Christian forgers.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Then and Now

In 2008, Joan and I  went to the Bathurst Memorial Entertainment Centre to hear Tatiana Kolesova, the second place winner in the Sydney International Piano Competition, perform a magnificent program of Chopin, Liszt, Tchaikovsky, Schubert, Haydn and Stravinsky.

One of her three encores intrigued us: Joan told me it was Gluck's Dance of the Blessed Spirits, but this didn't satisfy me, because I was thinking of its opening and had forgotten its middle.

When we got home, I looked up the Dance of the Blessed Spirits and found Dominique and Valerie Kim, aged twelve and ten, playing it beautifully, and showing that the music we had heard was indeed the middle part of that work. (We later discovered that Ms Kolesova had performed Sgambati's Arrangement of a Melody from Orfeo.)

We then spent the next hour sampling some of the 68 videos Mr Kim of San Diego had put up of his talented daughters playing flute, violin and piano. There are a lot of child prodigies on Youtube, but not all of them play musically!

Joan and I kept going back to the site and listening to Valerie and Dominique's beautiful playing. 

Today Mr Kim sent out a link to part of Valerie's Juilliard recital. Wow!

Mr Kim's website has 5000 subscribers and has had 5 million views. Not because the girls wear revealing outfits or do fancy tricks, but because of their wonderful musicianship.

Here is 9 year old Valerie, playing part of the Bruch Violin Concerto.

And here she is, last week playing Kreisler's Tambourin Chinois

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Mark Durie's comments on the martyrdom of 21 Coptic Christians

Mark Durie has written a  perceptive  2 part article about the recent kidnapping and beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians.

Dr Mark Durie is a theologian, human rights activist and Anglican pastor.

In his well-researched article, Dr Durie says  I choose to honour [these Coptic Christians] today by writing to acknowledge the truth about why they were killed, and in particular the explanation given by their killers. 
I also wish to record, as a Christian and a pastor, my intense protest at theWhite House official statement of February 15 2015 concerning this event.  This makes no mention of the reason the twenty one were killed: their Christian faith.  This culpable denial dishonours them, as it dishonours me and Christians everywhere.  

The White House statement claimed that “ISIL’s barbarity knows no bounds. It is unconstrained by faith, sect or ethnicity.”  Not true.  The Islamic State’s actions are constrained by its theology, and in this case its targets are also determined on religious grounds; they were Christians.  It is not an endorsement of the killers’ Islamic beliefs to acknowledge that these jihadis follow a form of Islam, and that their sect and faith does constrain their behaviour accordingly. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Amelia Schwarze on domestic violence and abuse within Christian marriage

Amelia Schwarze wrote a thoughtful article for The Bible Society's webpage entitled On Christian marriage, submission and abuse  In this article she carefully articulates a sensible definition of domestic violence and argues passionately for victims of domestic violence within the church.

She says that she expects that the rate of domestic violence within the church would be the same as for the general population. I hope this isn't true.

From reading  later Facebook comments she has made, I understand that Mrs Schwarze has personal acquaintance with some female victims of domestic violence.

The article makes me reflect on the small amount of contact I have had with people who seem to have been abused by their fellow church member.

I am pleased that she does not argue for abandoning the biblical teaching on husbands and wives as many do, but praises the efforts of Phillip Jensen in presenting this teaching in such a way that makes clear what isn't "acceptable conduct on the part of husbands in a Christian marriage."

When I was growing up, in the 1950s and 60s,  people used to whisper about families where others were being mistreated, but I got the impression that this was as far as it went. I'm pleased that people are learning to speak out and to address these issues today.

I also wish that folk would realise that there are also male victims of domestic abuse. Sometimes this is not even contemplated when these issues are raised, despite the clear evidence available.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

In Praise of Slow Opinions

The trick to writing on the Internet and getting heard is making a very loud, very extreme argument. The Internet does not reward nuanced takes or people who wait a week and a half to think something through, and the Internet especially does not reward people who say, You know? I'm not sure I've figured out what I think on this yet.
At several of the most formative moments in my life, I encountered three philosophers whom I greatly admire. All three of them are Christians, as it happens; all three also are colleagues and friends of one another, and they all prompted a revolution in the field of academic philosophy, which I peer into every so often from my perch way out on the edges. Those men are Nicholas WolterstorffAlvin Plantinga, and Richard Mouw.
In three separate settings, on three separate occasions, I heard people ask these men questions in public settings—events they won't even recall, but that made a great impression on me. Each time, the questioner asked something relatively benign (so benign, I don't remember what the question even was). Each time, the eminent philosopher, a leader in his field, an authority and well on his way to being a sort of legend, responded the same way: “You know, I haven't thought that through yet. So I'm not sure what I think.”
I was knocked flat every time. And I've never heard it elsewhere.
This is from Alissa Wilkinson's article In Praise of Slow Opinions

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Michael Patton on The Apocrypha

This is a very good article on the value of the Apocrypha, and its subordinate place, compared with Holy Scripture.

The oldest song in the world

Here is an opportunity to read about, view and listen to the oldest known song in the world.

I do wonder if the rhythm is correct! Sounds too modern.

The oldest instrument in the world

Here is an opportunity to view, listen to and read about the oldest musical instrument so far discovered. It is believed to be a neanderthal flute.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Does God suffer?

Five years ago I wrote a post, commenting on Kevin DeYoung's article Tis Mystery All, the Immortal Dies: Why the Gospel of Christ’s Suffering is More Glorious Because God Does Not Suffer.

I thought he argued his case well, and was pretty convinced he was right. But Craig Bennett has upset the apple cart by linking to Donald Macleod's persuasive article The Crucified God.

I think Macleod and DeYoung would be in agreement on much of this, though I think we would end up with Macleod arguing against impassibility and DeYoung arguing for it.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

A million monkeys?

Someone once said that if you sat a million monkeys at a million typewriters for a million years, one of them would eventually type out all of Hamlet by chance. But when we find the text of Hamlet, we don't wonder whether it came from chance and monkeys. Why then does the atheist use that incredibly improbable explanation for the universe? Clearly, because it is his only chance of remaining an atheist. At this point we need a psychological explanation of the atheist rather than a logical explanation of the universe. —Peter Kreeft

I read this at The Poached Egg

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Critique of Carson, Keller and Piper explaining Gospel Coalition position on women in ministry

I'm posting this link to a critique of Carson, Piper and Keller on The Gospel Coalition position on women in ministry so that I can find it again if need be. Not because I agree with it.