My tutor used to tell me that to be a good evangelist, you need to be a good atheist. You need to have looked into all the arguments and rebuttals and come up with your own re-rebuttals. You need to be able to play Devil's advocate, and for obvious reasons, many within my church tradition aren't very good at that. I rather enjoy it. Not because I am trying to persuade people with my words - I'm not very good at that - but because I see the benefit in having my faith stretched. I think it can take it. The way I see it, if this Christianity thing is demonstrably a load of rubbish, then my life becomes a heck of a lot easier. If not, then dealing honestly with objections to it gives me more personal and intellectual integrity.
A refreshing counterpoint to the constant bulletins about the Sexual Orientation Regulations that threaten to take over our communal noticeboards:
Compare and contrast.
- Kevin Vanhoozer, Is there a meaning in this text?
In the absence of a really good library, getting Accordance has helped me get back into theological geekery in a big way. One of the modules I got with it was the NET Bible, or “New English Translation”. As a straight translation for reading I'm not all that fond of it, but the notes that come with it are solid gold. I'll just give you the notes from Mark 1:1 as an example:
As I mentioned earlier, my survey of computer Bible software turned up Accordance as the least bad option. Well, I want to revise that opinion. It's actually really good!
I don't tend to like apologetics, and I think last night I realised another reason why not. I think it's because, at bottom, apologetics is an attempt to persuade the other person of the rationality of your position. And this is always a losing proposition, because if they're not convinced of your rationality, then how are they going to be convinced by your reasoning? The starting point is just too far apart. So I don't tend to go in for apologetics, and prefer to let the Holy Spirit get on with His job and I get on with mine. I only tend to do apologetics when something annoys me. Like last night.
Damn, I missed it again! Yesterday was the feast day of St Nikolai Kasatkin, Enlightener of Japan, one of the most important unsung figures of Japanese missiology.
Look, I realise this might be seen as trying to provoke a reaction. I'm not. I've just had three thoughts hit me at once, and found a common strand in them.