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Think Christianly

Think Christianly: December 2009

Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Year of Great Apologetics Resources and Great Christian Debates

Well, tomorrow is another year. Thank you for being a part of Think Christianly. We are excited about the next year!

If you are wanting to become better equipped to defend your faith, then it would be hard to find a better resource page than that of Apologetics 315. Here is their end of year post with links to lots of outstanding material. (Thanks Brian for all your work!). For all of their resources, click here. Defending the faith once delivered (Jude 3) is a team effort.

Here is a portion of that post with links to some of the big debates:

In the area of debate, there were a number of notable ones this year:
• The Origins of Life debate with Meyer, Sternberg, Prothero & Shermer.
• The Alvin Plantinga & Daniel Dennett dialogue.
• Bart Ehrman vs. James White: Did the Bible Misquote Jesus?
• List of Michael Licona Debates here.
• William Lane Craig debates Christopher Hitchens here.
• Frank Turek has two debates with Hitchens here and here.
• Douglas Wilson debates Christopher Hitchens here.
• William Lane Craig debates Francisco Ayala on Intelligent Design here.
• William Lane Craig debates Richard Carrier on the Resurrection here.
• Douglas Geivett debates John Shook on the Existence of God here.
• Michael Licona debates Bart Ehrman on the Resurrection here.
• James White debates Dan Barker on Jesus' existence here.
• William Lane Craig debates George Williamson on God's existence here.
• Dinesh D'Souza debates Daniel Dennett on God as a man-made invention here.
• Dinesh D'Souza debates Christopher Hitchens here.
• William Lane Craig debates Lewis Wolport on God as a delusion here.
• J.P. Moreland debates Clancy Martin on the existence of God here.
• Mary Jo Sharp debated Ehteshaam Gulam on the resurrection here.
• Phil Fernandes debated Eddie Tabash on God's existence here.
• Richard Dawkins talked to John Lennox about science and God here.

Happy New Year!

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Light, darkness, and the meaning of it all (according to C.S. Lewis)

"If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning."--C.S. Lewis

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Facebook and the Fusiform Gyrus : A Neurologic Perspective on Social Online Networking for the Cultivation of Global Bioethics

Yes, this title is a mouthful...but facebook, neuroscience, and global bioethics...all in one presentation? who could pass that up? Seriously, these are important things to consider as the world becomes socially that is. This was a paper from the recent conference: Global Bioethics: Emerging Challenges Facing Human Dignity.

Abstract: "Online social networking has become a major international cultural phenomenon. Facebook, for example, hosts more than 200 million active users, 70% of whom reside outside the United States. Facebook also hosts a number of bioethics discussion groups, which have the potential to enlarge the global bioethics community, crossing national boundaries and bridging cultures. Online networking offers a number of practical advantages over traveling to conferences and professional society meetings. These include savings in time and expense, immediacy of communication, demographic inclusiveness, greater participation among younger people whose careers are being shaped, and a democratic forum for expression of a broad range of ideas from many perspectives. Some disadvantages include potentially unmanageable volumes of information, vulnerability of participants to uncharitable criticism, lack of participation by older people who could share insights drawn from life experience, dissemination of unverifiable assertions, and overt or subtle commercial influence over content. Interpersonal interaction and dialogue in community are essential to bioethics. Bioethical discourse in the online realm of virtual reality, due to the nature of the medium, has the potential to become more personal, and hence in some ways more effective, than journals. The ability to share facial images, audio and video content, and social as well as cognitive feedback engages social brain systems important for ethical reflection. Such functions include cognitive empathy in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, emotional empathy in the orbitofrontal cortex-ventrolateral region, and interpretation of facial expression in the fusiform gyrus and its connections. An understanding of the neurology of social behavior underlying shared ethical dialogue may contribute to the further development of online media useful in the cultivation of a robust global bioethics community that is appropriately sensitive to regional and universal moral concerns. Online discourse cannot, however, adequately take the place of meeting face-to-face and being present to others."

Listen Now

Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity Site.

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Monday, December 28, 2009

Christian Discipleship of the Mind

I came across this great quote (HT / Apologetics 315)...

"As a disciple, the Christian philosopher is enthralled with Jesus, he trusts Him, and wants everything in his life to enhance Jesus' reputation among the nations. The Christian is here primarily to serve a Name, not to make a name, and the disciple recognizes that in Jesus all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge reside."- J.P. Moreland


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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Jesus Era House Found in Nazareth Dec 22 (Expanded Dec 24)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Conservative-Christian Big Thinker (Robert George)

I came across this fascinating article on Dr. Robert George and it is worth a read. There are plenty of "big thinkers" out there in the Christian world - Alvin Plantinga, J.P. Moreland, N.T. Wright, Darrell Bock, William Lane Craig, Francis Beckwith (just to name a few), but they are right to focus on George of Princeton in this article.

(article) "On a September afternoon, about 60 prominent Christians assembled in the library of the Metropolitan Club on the east side of Central Park. It was a gathering of unusual diversity and power. Many in attendance were conservative evangelicals like the born-again Watergate felon Chuck Colson, who helped initiate the meeting. Metropolitan Jonah, the primate of the Orthodox Church in America, was there as well. And so were more than half a dozen of this country’s most influential Roman Catholic bishops, including Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, Archbishop John Myers of Newark and Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia.

At the center of the event was Robert P. George, a Princeton University professor of jurisprudence and a Roman Catholic who is this country’s most influential conservative Christian thinker. Dressed in his usual uniform of three-piece suit, New College, Oxford cuff links and rimless glasses , George convened the meeting with a note of thanks and a reminder of its purpose. Alarmed at the liberal takeover of Washington and an apparent leadership vacuum among the Christian right, the group had come together to warn the country’s secular powers that the culture wars had not ended. As a starting point, George had drafted a 4,700-word manifesto that promised resistance to the point of civil disobedience against any legislation that might implicate their churches or charities in abortion, embryo-destructive research or same-sex marriage. Two months later...."(For more of this thoughtful and fair New York Times article, click here.)

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Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas from think Christianly

"The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"—which means, "God with us."--Matthew 1:23

"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4We write this to make our joy complete."--1 John 1:1-5

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

8 Ways to Thrive (not die) with Family

Here is a helpful post on conflict and family gatherings from the Hub...

"As we continue our series on conflict, what an opportunity many of us will have this Christmas. :)

Yes, we all know family is a blessing and wonderful, but quite honestly, most of us know it can be very stressful as well. Here are a couple of reminders as we enter what should be restful, sweet, good, memory making times.

1. Take a deep breath – Is what your mother, brother, or sister-n-law said, or going to say really worth ruining the sweet time you have? I know that words are extremely powerful, but for many of us, we need to learn how to ‘give them less power.'

2. Watch your tongue – As you have heard and will hear many times, An OUNCE of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If most of us would just take a deep breath, relax ONE moment before we speak, we would either say less damaging things or when someone says something Potentially damaging to us, we choose not to react.

3. Stop thinking of the past all the time. This is huge in family. Whenever someone in our family makes a comment to us, we see it in light of the previous 20, 35, or 50 years. It's time to forget some of that (I know it's hard, but it's necessary). A short memory can be quite helpful in these situations.

4. If your comment does not build someone up, then keep it to yourself. Many times in family, we think it is our job to 'share all the difficult stuff.' You know what, unless you have an active, ongoing, close relationship with a family member, chances are ‘more critique', or ‘less positive' opinions should be shared by a person's friend, not a family member.

5. Unsolicited advise is almost always received as criticism, not help.

6. We only have a few days together. Let's be friends:) Friendships are positive. Let's let our family times be positive.

7. Christmas is about Christ's generosity of Spirit, not a spirit of negativity, stress, hurt, and history. If we will slow down enough to get the right perspective on our eyeballs, then He will give us what we need to make it much more enjoyable.

8. Don't stay too long! Proverbs says,'Don't stay too long in your brother's house.' That's from the wisest man who ever lived. Amen.

Remember this week, God is with you.

Merry Christmas from all of us here at The Hub! (See more of their excellent resources here)

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

What is the real story of Santa Claus (a.k.a. St. Nicholas)? A Christian Perspective

Daddy, is Santa Claus real?

Where did the belief in Santa Claus come from? Here are some resources...

The True Saint Nicholas: Why He Matters to Christmas by William J. Bennett

The Legend of St. Nicholas: A Story of Christmas Giving

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Approaching Holidays Prompt Atheist Campaign

"An unusual holiday message began appearing this week in the nation’s capital on the sides of buses and trains.

“No god? ... No problem!” reads the advertisement featuring the smiling faces of people wearing Santa Claus hats. “Be good for goodness’ sake.”

Over the next two weeks, 270 of the ads will go up on city buses and trains in the Washington area as part of the holiday kickoff to campaigns sponsored by secular groups in cities around the country and abroad. If last year was any indication, the signs are likely to spark a theological war of words.

“We don’t intend to rain on anyone’s parade, but secular people celebrate the holidays, too, and we’re just trying to reach out to our people,” said Roy Speckhardt, the executive director of the American Humanist Association. “To the degree that we are reaching out to the godly, it’s just to say that you can be good without god. So their atheist neighbor down the street shouldn’t be vilified as though he is immoral.” Signs similar to those in Washington..." (more)

And then there was this interesting exchange. (click here to watch)

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Barna Studies the Research - Year-in-Review Perspective

Here is the full article. But here is one observation worth noting here:

“Ultimately, in a culture where people are busy, distracted, confused and trying to keep it all together, there is less loyalty to a faith brand than to self. The purpose of faith, for most Americans, is not so much to discover truth or to relate to a loving, praiseworthy deity as it is to become happy, successful, comfortable and secure. For a growing percentage of citizens, their sense of spirituality, more than Christianity, facilitates those outcomes.”

We have a great opportunity to grow and focus in 2010 as Christians.

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Do you want to avoid bad consequences in life?

"He who walks with the wise grows wise,
but a companion of fools suffers harm."--Proverbs 13:20

Who has the most influence on your life?

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Friday, December 18, 2009

CNN - Shroud from jesus' time found?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Thinking Christianly About the Adult / Embryonic Stem Cell Moral Debate

Stem Cell research can be a very confusing and contentious issue. Here are some helpful, distinctively Christian resources:

Lines That Divide Documentary

Stem Cell Research

Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity

Moral Choices (3rd Edition) by Scott Rae

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Always Keep Growing

Paul on the the need to press on...

14But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."--2 Timothy 3:14-17

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

New Think Christianly Podcast Available - How Should Christians Think About Islam?

I know it's been a while, but here is the latest tC podcast on Islam. Click here.

Add to iTunes.

For more on Islam, see my recent post.

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Monday, December 14, 2009

The Cost of Not Forgiving

I came across one of the most powerful / convicting insights on forgiveness:

"Only one thing I know costs more than forgiving someone. Know what it is? Not forgiving them. Non-forgiveness costs your heart. Frederick Buechner wrote that of all the deadly sins, resentment appears to be the most fun. To lick your wounds and savor the pain you will give back is in many ways a feast fit for a king. But then it turns out that what you are eating at the banquet of bitterness is your own heart. The skeleton at the feast is you. You start out holding a grudge, but in the end the grudge holds you."--John Ortberg

Matt. 18:21-35

21Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?"

22Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

23"Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

26"The servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.' 27The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

28"But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded.

29"His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.'

30"But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.

32"Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' 34In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

35"This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."

Sunday, December 13, 2009

World Magazine's 2009 Daniel of the Year - Stephen Meyer

"WORLD's 12th annual Daniel of the Year does not save lives abroad, as Britain's Caroline Cox and Sudan's Michael Yerko do. Nor does he regularly save lives of the unborn, as Florida's Wanda Cohn does through her pregnancy center work. No, Stephen C. Meyer, director of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture, fights to show that those lives have eternal value because they are the work of a Creator and not the product of chance.

This fall Meyer came out with a full account of what science has learned in recent decades: Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design (Harper One, 2009) shows that the cell is incredibly complex and the code that directs its functions wonderfully designed. His argument undercuts macroevolution, the theory that one kind of animal over time evolves into a very different kind. Meyer thus garners media scorn for raining on this year's huge celebration of the birth of Charles Darwin 200 years ago and the publication of On the Origin of Species 150 years ago...." Read More

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Only True God

I was thinking about this verse today and thought I would pass it along.

But the LORD is the true God;
he is the living God, the eternal King. --Jeremiah 10:10

This OT confession by Jeremiah is similar to the one Paul utters in 1 Timothy 2:3-5:

"This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus."

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Friday, December 11, 2009

But who do you say that Jesus is?

When Jesus took his disciples to Caeserea Philippi, he asked a very important question. Around Christmas time, we need to each answer that question. Here is a sermon that I preached as we began our Christmas Series, Vintage Christmas. (Text: Mark 8:27-30; 2:1-12)

Click here to listen

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

More U.S. Christians mix in 'Eastern,' New Age beliefs

I came across an interesting article describing the religious landscape today and why we as Christians need to know the times and be ready to act. Here are some of the more striking conclusions:
  • "Forty-seven percent to 59% of Americans have changed religions at least once, a Pew survey in April found. The top reasons for most: Their spiritual needs weren't being met, or they liked another faith more or changed religious or moral beliefs."
  • "The percentage of people who call themselves Christian has dropped more than 11% in a generation, and so many people declined any religious label that the "Nones," now 15% of the USA, are the third-largest "religious" group after Catholics and Baptists, according to the American Religious Identification Survey last March."
  • "Despite Americans' overwhelming allegiance to someone they call God (92%), in Pew's 2008 U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, 70% said "many religions can lead to eternal life," and 68% said "there's more than one true way to interpret the teachings of my religion."
Click Here To Read The Rest

The Apostle Paul reminds us that the Church is the "the pillar and foundation of the truth" (1 Tim. 3:15)...we must continue to equip and engage and be faithful in an increasingly pluralistic society.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Supreme Court will decide appeal of Christian student group

This story will be one to keep an eye on. Diversity, tolerance, identity, religious freedom, and other issues will be talked about.

See LA Times article...

Here is the press release from the Christian Legal Society:

U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear lawsuit against UC-Hastings

High Court will hear case involving right of religious student organizations
to determine their own leadership

WASHINGTON — "The U.S. Supreme Court Monday agreed to decide whether a public university can refuse to recognize a religious student group because the group requires its leaders to share its religious beliefs. Attorneys with the Christian Legal Society and the Alliance Defense Fund Center for Academic Freedom represent a student chapter of CLS, which Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco refused to recognize because the group requires all of its officers and voting members to subscribe to its basic Christian beliefs.

“Public universities shouldn’t single out Christian student groups for discrimination. All student groups have the right to associate with people of like-mind and interest,” said Senior Counsel Kim Colby with the CLS Center for Law & Religious Freedom. “We trust the Supreme Court will not allow Hastings to continue to deprive CLS of this right by forcing the group to abandon its identity as a Christian student organization.”

“Christian students have the right to gather as Christians for a common purpose and around shared beliefs,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Gregory S. Baylor with the ADF Center for Academic Freedom. “It’s completely unreasonable--and unconstitutional--for a public university to disrupt the purposes of private student groups by forcing them to accept as members and officers those who oppose the very ideas they advocate.”

CLS Litigation Counsel Timothy J. Tracey, now with ADF, argued the case Christian Legal Society v. Martinez before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in March. The appellate court refused to reverse a district judge’s decision against CLS, so the case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court."

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Senators Push for Amendment to Restrict Funding for Abortion Coverage in Bill

Abortion is again coming to the forefront in the health care debate. So how should the pro-life issue be discussed? See article here...

The Case for Life Website

First, there are the moral, philosophical, and scientific issues...and the best book on the topic is The Case for Life by Scott Klusendorf.

Then there are the Political and Legal issues...and the two best are Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice by Francis Beckwith & Politics for the Greatest Good: The Case for Prudence in the Public Square by Clarke Forsythe.

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Monday, December 7, 2009

Morality is important...

“Most people would not want to live in a society in which morality was unimportant, in which conceptions of right and wrong carried little weight. In fact, it is unlikely that any sort of civilized society could continue unless it had concern for important moral values such as fairness, justice, truthfulness, and compassion. Ethics are important because they give direction to people and societies, who have some sense that they cannot flourish without being moral.”—Scott Rae

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Saturday, December 5, 2009

What's the best way to reduce seasonal stress?

Good article from Focus on the Family..."While "dashing through the snow" could be written today as "speeding down the interstate to the mall," both statements sound stressful to me.

With the arrival of the holidays, many of us experience an odd mixture of excitement and dread as we prepare to celebrate the season.

We get excited about the lights, shopping and Christmas dinner with family, but we also fear the stress that past holidays have taught us to expect. From previous family misunderstandings and hurt feelings to scheduling conflicts, tight finances and the wear and tear on the body, holidays have a way of taking their toll on us.

I have found that the best way to lessen the stress of the holidays is to be prepared:
  1. Recognize stress triggers ahead of time, and plan to minimize their impact. For example: Realize that you will get several invitations to holiday parties, events or service opportunities, and limit the number of events you will commit to before the invitations come.
  2. Create a holiday budget together. Commit to sticking to the budget no matter how great the sales are!
  3. Try to resolve extended family issues before holiday gatherings, if possible. Sit down and discuss the problems rather than ignore them.
  4. Commit to dealing with spousal conflict after the emotion has died down: "Honey, we are both tired. Let's not try to solve this now. Let's talk in the morning over coffee." Use common sense, and be disciplined enough to handle conflict in the right way.
  5. Schedule time for each other: Go to bed at a decent hour. Exercise or take a walk together. Protect your "together" time.
Most of all, remember what this...(read the rest)

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Friday, December 4, 2009

Stephen Meyer & Richard Sternberg debate Donald Prothero & Michael Shermer on the topic: The Origins of Life

On November 30, 2009, Stephen Meyer & Richard Sternberg debated Donald Prothero & Michael Shermer on the topic: The Origins of Life.

Full MP3 Audio here. (2 hours)


For Stephen Meyer's phenomenal book, Signature in the Cell, see below...

(Thanks to the excellent Apologetics 315 for the heads up!)

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Myths Christians Believe about Wealth and Poverty by Jay Richards

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

On What Date Was Christ Born?

Michael Patton has a great post exploring the date of Christ's birth...

“The traditional date for the birth of Christ from as early as Hippolytus (ca. A.D. 165-235) has been December 25th. In the Eastern Church January 6th was the date for not only Christ’s birth, but also the arrival of the Magi on Christ’s second birthday, His baptism in His twenty-ninth year, and the sign at Cana in His thirtieth year. However Chrysostom (A.D. 345-407) in 386 stated that December 25th is the correct date and hence it became the official date for Christ’s birth in the Eastern Church (January 6th was still considered the day for the manifestations of the coming of the Magi, the baptism, and the sign at Cana.

Although the exact date may not be pinpointed it seems that there is a relatively old tradition of a midwinter birth, therefore a date in December or January is not in itself unlikely.

The one objection raised for the winter date...For more...

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Frustrations from the Front: The Myth of Theological Liberalism

Here is an insider's (Dr. Dan Wallace) report on the state of theological education and who is really being open-minded.

"Last week nearly 10,000 people invaded the French Quarter of New Orleans for a three-day conference. It wasn’t a convention of Mardi Gras mask-makers, a congregation of Bourbon Street miscreants, or an assembly of Hustler devotees. No, this was the combined annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature. This is a collective of the world’s religious scholars. SBL is the largest society of biblical scholars on the planet. The program of lectures and meetings is the size of a phone book for a mid-sized city. Too many choices! So many great biblical scholars were there: N. T. Wright, Jon Dominic Crossan, D. A. Carson, Bart Ehrman, Stanley Porter, Frederick Danker, Alan Culpepper, Craig Evans, Robert Stein, Joel Marcus, April Deconick, Elaine Pagels, John Kloppenborg, R. B. Hays, Peter Enns, Buist Fanning, Harold Attridge, Luke Timothy Johnson, Peter Davids, Craig Keener, Ben Witherington, Rikki Watts, Robert Gundry, Emanuel Tov, Walter Brueggemann, Eric Myers, Eugene Boring, J. K. Elliott—that’s just a small sampling of the names. Liberals and evangelicals, theists and atheists, those who are open and those who are hostile to the Christian faith—all were there...." More

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