The Good News

Discussion of the Best News in the World, the Gospel of Jesus, and related topics

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I love this song!  Thanks Adele!

National Day of Reason

A day of reason is desired by some.  God gave all of us a brain with minds so that we use them every day.  Part of that function is reason but there is oh so much more the human brain helps us do.   I wonder sometimes if others don’t experience what I experience in my brain.

A US representative to the House wants a Day of Reason to coincide with the National Day of Prayer.   It is fine with me to explore the merits for a day of reason but not to overlap it with the National Day of Prayer.   Human reasoning is not even close to the realm of prayer.

The Huffington Post starts the article this way:

Each year, on the first Thursday of May, elected officials gather in Washington, D.C., and around the country for the National Day of Prayer. It’s a day when public servants from the president on down encourage Americans of all faiths to pray and contemplate the role of the divine in their lives. But 20 percent of Americans identify as religiously unaffiliated or simply don’t believe in God

In the past non-believing Americans were glad to let the believing Americans do the work of prayer and seeking God for the greater good of all people of this nation.  Now supposedly “reasonable” people want to superimpose on top of the National Day of Prayer something I suspect they believe is superior to prayer and that is ‘reason’ and a day honoring reason.

I am a person of reason.  I am a person of many things.  Even making requests to my God involves lots of reason in it.  But, others  do not see that and don’t believe that prayer involves reason.   It does!   So, in our prayers we reason–we reason with God.

Representative Honda, thank you, we are already “reasoning” on the National Day of Prayer. Therefore, we don’t need something dedicated to “reason” superimposed on the National Day of Prayer.   Reasoning is already occurring and it is reasonable to reason in prayer.  (Prayer involves more that reason.)

Part of the bill:

Resolved,

    That the House of Representatives–
      (1) supports the designation of `National Day of Reason’; and
      (2) encourages all citizens, residents, and visitors to join in observing this day and focusing upon the employment of reason, critical thought, the scientific method, and free inquiry to the resolution of human problems and for the welfare of humankind.

See (2) above:  Why visitors?  This is really meant to be compelling if visitors to the USA are to stop and do as commanded here.   This could be considered an insult by some visitors.

(2) above:  This sounds good.   May I point out–I know what the scientific method is and it is NOT the be all, end all atheists presume it is.  There are many human and sociological/psychological/medical issues and many needs the scientific method can’t touch nor address and is useless regarding.

Please stop making the scientific method a god.   It can never be one.

The real point to be made here is that the House of Representatives, the Senate, the SCOTUS, the President and many functions of government under them are to be about this endeavor every working day.   Why don’t we just build that into their job descriptions if not already and see that this cause of problem solving and welfare of citizens are advanced to a greater degree.  Let’s don’t just contemplate it on one day.  Let’s focus on it every work day!!!

Read all from the Huffy Post.

You Raise Me Up!

 

 

Author’s book on Hitchens gets him on Fox, MSNBC

Larry blog photo.PNG

Larry Taunton, a Christian author in Birmingham [Alabama], has recently made TV appearances on the right-leaning Fox News and on the left-leaning MSNBC.

The Faith of Hitchens.jpg

Tauton’s book, released on April 12, 2016

 

Taunton’s book, ‘The Faith of Christopher Hitchens,’ was released on April 12, 2016.

Taunton’s new book on famous atheist Christopher Hitchens, who died in 2011, has gotten rave reviews from prominent atheists, and prominent Christians.

 

It’s a hot topic among liberal and conservative intellectuals.

Taunton, founder of the Christian ministry the Fixed Point Foundation in Birmingham, became friends with Hitchens in 2008 when the bestselling atheist author of “God is Not Great” began challenging Christians to debates.

Their friendship became so close they went on two long road trips together, with Hitchens reading aloud from the Gospel of John on one of them.

As Hitchens suffered and died from esophageal cancer, Taunton believes he was giving Christianity a kind of final review. Hitchens, who was baptized as a child in the Church of England but declared himself an atheist and burned his Bible at 15, never recanted his atheism.

But Taunton believes Hitchens gained a new appreciation for evangelical Christians who actually believe the Bible. “For the first time in his life, he was engaging evangelical Christians,” Taunton said. “He found them to be different from the veneer of Christianity in Britain. When he began debating these evangelicals, he began to like them.”

Taunton finished the manuscript for “The Faith of Christopher Hitchens: The Restless Soul of the World’s Most Notorious Atheist,” a week before a near-fatal bicycle wreck in Birmingham. Taunton was hit by a car and is still recovering.

“I’m getting better a little every day,” Taunton said in an interview with AL.com on Thursday. “They weren’t sure I would live.”

Christian speaker nearly killed in bike wreck talks faith

Christian speaker nearly killed in bike wreck talks faith

Larry Taunton, the Christian speaker who debates atheists, rode his bicycle down a hill in Birmingham three months ago on a Saturday morning and hit the grill of a car with such force that it threw him at least 15 feet into the air.

He has been well enough to make TV appearances to promote the book, which was released Tuesday. He appeared with Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s “Hardball” on Monday night.

“He read the book and he loved it,” Taunton said of Matthews. “He knew Hitchens, and he liked Hitchens. He thought it was a compassionate take on friendship. I don’t know if I can write anything ever again that gets universal praise from both the left and the right. This book is getting quite a reaction. The reception has been so kind, no nice. The atheist Michael Schermer loved the book.”

As a sponsor and participant in debates between Christians and atheists, Taunton became friends with British scientist Richard Dawkins also. He recently visited Dawkins in England, since recovering from his accident. Dawkins has been recovering from a stroke.

“I could empathize with what he was feeling,” Taunton said.

The Hitchens book, published by Thomas Nelson, is already in its second press run.

“Amazon ran out two days ago,” Taunton said on Thursday. “The book has been in high demand. It’s gotten a lot of visibility.”

Hitchens did two debates in Birmingham hosted and moderated by Taunton, in 2009 and 2010. They also debated each other in Billings, Montana, then drove together to Yellowstone National Park.

“I discovered Christopher is not defined by his atheism,” Taunton said. “Atheism is a negative and you can’t build a philosophy around a negative. Christopher was searching for a unifying system of thought. They’re accusing me of saying he converted. I make no such claim. It’s not my claim that Christopher converted, it’s that Christopher was contemplating conversion. I think I substantiate it in the book.”

More than anything, Taunton said, Hitchens’ stay at Taunton’s house leading up to his first debate in Birmingham had an effect on him. “There are fans of Christopher Hitchens who think that Christopher hated people of religious belief,” Taunton said. “I know for a fact that wasn’t true.”
Hitchens met Taunton’s adopted, HIV-positive daughter, Sasha, and was deeply moved by her life and faith. “Sasha’s impact on him was huge,” Taunton said. “It’s because of her own innocence. He was powerfully moved by her, an argument he couldn’t refute… At the end of the day, the most powerful apologetic is love.”

Birmingham's Larry Taunton touts 'The Grace Effect' to counter atheist arguments

Birmingham’s Larry Taunton touts ‘The Grace Effect’ to counter atheist arguments

New book by founder of Fixed Point Foundation tells of his friendship with prominent atheist and adoption of child from Ukraine.

Hitchens appreciated integrity and people who really believed what they said they believed, Taunton said. He hated phonies, especially people who said they were Christians but secretly admitted they didn’t really believe it.

Taunton asked Hitchens after the Billings debate why Hitchens didn’t attack him personally. “He said, ‘Because you believe it. You really do believe what you’re saying. You really are in pursuit of my soul out of compassion.'”

Before Hitchens’ debate with a liberal Anglican bishop at Westminster Abbey, he told Taunton, “You’re with me on this one,” Taunton said. “Christopher had become this unlikely defender of the faith. He would defend me in front of a snarling crowd. He spoke so highly of me in a way that moved me. It mattered to Christopher that he knew he wasn’t a trophy I was pursuing. He knew I cared about him. He respected it and appreciated it. Christopher was appreciative that he knew that he mattered to me. Christopher valued friendship above ideology.”

After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Hitchens famously broke with his leftist friends and supported the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “After 9/11, when he became a neo-con, he found an enemy in Islamo-fascism,” Taunton said.

“One of the unifying factors with evangelicals was with Islam,” Taunton said. “Christopher could not get over the blindness of the left. He could never get beyond their willful blindness to the dangers of Islam. Christopher felt a rising alarm about Islam. I agreed with everything Hitchens said about Islam. I recognize that not every Muslim is a terrorist. But if you read the Quran and the Hadith, If you take those writings seriously, infidels must pay a tax, convert or die.”

Atheist author Christopher Hitchens battles cancer but ready to debate David Berlinski in Birmingham

Atheist author Christopher Hitchens battles cancer but ready to debate David Berlinski in Birmingham

Pair will talk on topic: “How Atheism Poisons Everything”

Taunton recalls that after Hitchen’s last debate in Birmingham, U.S. soldiers lined up to greet him afterward.

“Some veterans of Iraq were lining up to meet Christopher,” Taunton said. “Military people are generally conservative, but they loved Christopher for his defense of the man in uniform.”

In the end, Hitchens had created too big a reputation on his atheism to convert to Christianity, Taunton said.

“Christopher was in a difficult place,” Taunton said. “He’s a dying man. He asked me why I thought he didn’t convert. I said, ‘You’ve created a global reputation as an atheist, your fortune, your reputation is based on it. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to admit you were wrong. You created a prison for yourself.'”

To see the Fox News interview, click here. (It’s good!)

Article from al.com.

MSNBC interview:

 

Dr. Ehrman’s Misquoting Questions

Below my comments is a quote from a text version of Misquoting Jesus by Dr. Bart D. Ehrman.

My response to his concluding questions are listed here:

In the book’s conclusion, Dr Ehrman raises some questions which can be addressed.

The scroll being worked on is upside down!

His first significant question is: “Was Jesus an angry man?” My response: Well, yes, He became incensed with what the Jewish religious hierarchy at the time had done to His law and teachings.  For, the Old Testament and the foundation of worship and who God is rests upon the Law and the Prophets.  They were Jesus’ Laws and the Prophets spoke of Him.

That He was angry is not an issue with one who can put it into context correctly. His responses and demeanor throughout His recorded life are amazing.  He is the one who gave us the Beatitudes and many other wonderful teachings. His is a model to emulate.

Read more of this post

Dr. Ehrman on the Historic Defense of Scripture

 

The following quote is taken from a text copy of Misquoting Jesus by Dr Bart D. Ehrman.

… Protestant biblical scholars were driven by the nature of their materials to reconsider and defend their understanding of the faith. They could not, of course, simply do away with the notion of sola scriptura. For them, the words of the Bible continued to convey the authority of the Word of God. But how does one deal with the circumstance that in many instances we don’t know what those words were? One solution was to develop methods of textual criticism that would enable modern scholars to reconstruct the original words, so that the foundation of faith might once again prove to be secure. It was this theological agenda that lay behind much of the effort, principally in England and Germany, to devise competent and reliable methods of reconstructing the original words of the New Testament from the numerous, error-ridden copies of it that happened to survive.

I conclude from these statements that textual criticism has saved the day.  We can reconstruct the original words of the text with some few exceptions.

 

From Atheism to Jesus Follower

I’ve covered much data from Lee Strobel in the past.  I was this piece and Christianity Today and felt it good to repost it.  Lee Strobel explains why he went from atheist to devout Christian.

Many atheists will not give him “credit” for being an atheist prior to faith.   We have many apologists in the community who were formerly opposed to the faith.   Jesus’ community has a rich tradition in that, starting with the Jew, Saul, who violently opposed Jesus and everything He stood for.

Lee Strobel, bestselling author of “The Case for Christ”, is now celebrating his 34th   Easter as a Christian. This, after spending his life prior to the book and his investigation into the reliability of Gospels as an atheist. After finding faith many years ago, he remains as convinced as ever in the truth of Jesus’s death and resurrection.

While still an atheist, it was his background as a journalist that prompted Strobel to investigate and conduct extensive research into Christ with the help of religious and historical expert.  He originally embarked on the project to discredit the veracity of Christ’s resurrection and dissuade his recently converted wife from life as a Christian, but in the end he was the one who was powerfully converted.

“For nearly two years, I explored the minutia of the historical data on whether Easter was myth or reality. I didn’t merely accept the New Testament at face value; I was determined only to consider facts that were well-supported historically. As my investigation unfolded, my atheism began to buckle,” he recounted in an article for Stream.

One of the first pieces of evidence he gathered was actually from atheist historian Gerd Lüdemann who declared Jesus’ death by crucifixion “indisputable.” This was supported by a thorough study by A. N. Sherwin-White of Oxford, who himself cited ancient eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ death.

As more evidence piled up that built the timeline for the events surrounding Jesus’ death and resurrection, Strobel recounted scholar Willian Lane Craig’s position that it would be unlikely for the story of the empty tomb to explode with no basis since its location was known to all and could have been verified by supporters of the idea and naysayers alike.

But even Jesus’ opponents said that the tomb was empty, saying that the body was taken, although there was none who had a clear motive for doing so.

“We have nine ancient sources, inside and outside the New Testament, that confirm the apostles’ conviction that they encountered the resurrected Christ. Repeatedly, these sources stood strong when I tried to discredit them. Could these encounters have been hallucinations? No way, experts told me. Hallucinations occur in individual brains, like dreams, yet Jesus appeared to groups of people on three different occasions – including 500 at once!, ” Strobel said.

In the end, Strobel, a man armed with logic,education and skepticism, was finally convinced by the overwhelming evidence laid out in front of him and he completely embraced the truth not because he was afraid of death or needed a psychological crutch but because of the facts.

“I read books by skeptics, but their counter-arguments crumbled under the weight of the historical data. No wonder atheists so often come up short in scholarly debates over the resurrection. In the end, after I had thoroughly investigated the matter, I reached an unexpected conclusion: it would actually take more faith to maintain my atheism than to become a follower of Jesus,” he said.

Read More

Related:

Stream
More Tears
Strobel
The Case for Grace

Humanism and Jesus

I am reading an article on humanism in the Vermillion.  The Vermillion is a newspaper that is a part of the University of Louisiana, Lafayette.  I see the students are writing articles about Jesus and about hell, about sex and the big bang.  They are exploring and in some ways it is not fair to pick out an article on humanism in a school newspaper. The author of this article on humanism really explored one point related to humanism.  That point pushed back at “religion” so I thought it worth exploring.  Humanism has taken a back seat these days to atheism.  Some believe these are the same.  They are very close.

The author quotes Kurt Vonnegut.  He wrote: “Being a humanist means trying to behave decently without expectation of rewards or punishment after you are dead.”

That statement is so telling.  That statement pushes against “religion” of course but for so long religion is equated to Jesus in America by so many.  If not Jesus then Judaism.

Jesus nor Judaism ever proposed that you live the way you live because of some expectation in an afterlife.   Mr Vonnegut is not focused on an afterlife so he is living for the here and now.   I have news for many:  Jesus followers and Jews do not live in a way motivated by some expectation of what is going to happen in an afterlife.

Jesus gave His life so that we could have a grand life NOW.  Jesus’ gift to humanity has to do with THIS life.  He is all about quality of life on this earth NOW!  The afterlife will take care of itself.  I follow Him first because He is worthy of being followed.  The added bonus is that in following Him because He is worthy, I get what I need for right now.  Life, right now, is enhanced by what He offers us.  Jesus wants you to live a quality life right now in that He promised that this life can be rich and meaningful.

Jesus brings what is the best in this life.  His focus is that–what you and I need now to make life rich in the present.

But humanists apparently believe that Jesus followers are about rule keeping or some such because it gets them a pay day after death.  I have a confession:  I rarely think about anything after death.  The main reason is that I know that Jesus offers so much for the here and now and I can live in the moment with real joy and contentment because I am satisfied and fulfilled with life just the way it is.

Oh, Jesus is about community and supporting one another too, yes.  His plan for doing that is just about the best I have seen anywhere as well.

I am not living for the afterlife.  I am living for this life.  Thanks to the humanist student who reminded me of this.

 

China Cry

China Cry is the true story of love, courage, and struggles of one women-Nora Lam-whose Christian faith leads her to make the ultimate choice between life and death. Set in China some thirty years before the bloody Tiananmen Square massacre, this sweeping dram portrays the harsh reality of the repressive Communist regime and Nora Lam’s indomitable will to survive.

 

 

 

 

Racism is Still very Real!

I helped campaign for a local lawyer running for a judgeship this spring.  In passing out fliers of the lawyer who happens to be black female, I was scolded by a  white man.   It all began as soon as I showed him her flyer.  “I don’t want that!” “You are not supposed to be out here.” Then I got expletives of her and her even being in the race.

As he came out of the voting place I got more expletives directed towards me personally. Also, “I’d report you if I had time.”   I actually invited him to do that.  He had no substance and was reprehensible.

I am a Jesus follower and so is my lawyer friend.  She is my sister in Christ.  Even if she were not a Jesus follower, if I believed in her abilities I would still support her and campaign for her.  AND, I would take all that this man gave me and feel honored to be cursed for doing so.

We have to help other differentiate right from wrong.  Sometimes that involves pushing back on bad thoughts and statements.

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