Archive for October, 2017

Conspiracy Theories

Monday, October 30th, 2017

As political conspiracy theories fly about in the political sphere, it’s interesting to note that such theories have not fared well in the realm of Bible studies.

One theory that goes back to early times and is revived every few years is the notion that the disciples stole the body of Jesus, buried it secretly, and then pretended that they saw him alive. Another theory had him surviving the crucifixion and then pretending he was resurrected.

There are massive amounts of evidence why such conspiracies are unlikely. For example, if Jesus never died, what happened to him after Easter? Wouldn’t he have lived a normal life on earth–instead of “ascending” into Heaven, as the Bible teaches? And if the disciples had hidden his body, their deception would surely have been discovered by local authorities who were anxious to prove that Jesus was not the Messiah risen from the dead.

Another fanciful theory, for which there isn’t a shred of contemporary evidence, is that Jesus was secretly married to Mary Magdalene.

There’s nothing like a secret plot to spur the human imagination. Happily, for Christians, the evidence is strong that Christ was who he said he was. —J. Douglas Ousley

 


Good Heavens

Wednesday, October 25th, 2017

Like many of you, I avidly read the newspaper accounts of new astronomical discoveries. I was particularly pleased recently by the news that two neutron stars had been observed as they collided. The results in astrophysical terms were as predicted, and scientists couldn’t have been more pleased.

I can’t begin to explain exactly what all this means. Dark matter and black holes are mysteries to me–layperson terms for almost inconceivably complex mathematical equations.

Yet as a person who believes in a Creator God, I find these discoveries deeply satisfying. I know that the universe could just “happen” to exist. I just can’t believe that this all occurred by chance. “The heavens declare the glory of God…” —J. Douglas Ousley


Middling Way

Monday, October 16th, 2017

For centuries, the Anglican Church has been proud to see itself as the via media–the “middle way” between the Roman Catholic Church on the one hand and the Protestant churches on the other hand.

We have hoped that are unique traditional structure and our freedom of thought might even combine the best of both worlds. In any case, we want to be a meeting ground where other Christians could gather.

And it is true that we are probably the most diverse church body in Christendom. For example, we have within our communion conservative and liberal Evangelicals, conservative and liberal Anglo-Catholics, and extremely liberal and traditionalist Broad Church Christians.

Unfortunately, these factions seem far apart–though maybe less so than five years ago (the current Archbishop of Canterbury seems to have lowered the temperature of the conflicts.) Nevertheless, at this moment we are all still together. At this moment, we still represent a middle way. —J. Douglas Ousley


Carrying On

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017

Now being discussed is a federal law that would essentially make it legal to carry weapons in every state. Someone with an “open” or “concealed carry” permit valid in one state would be able to bear his weapon in every other state.

The value of this proposed law is not entirely clear to me. Even if the 22,000 concertgoers in Las Vegas had been armed, it’s not clear how effective they would have been in shooting back at the sniper on the 32nd floor. Even an armed security guard at his door apparently couldn’t stop the man. Moreover, carrying weapons increases the chances of suicide and escalating quarrels.

I recognize that the Second Amendment is not about to be repealed. I know clergy who own weapons for hunting and I have friends who have pistols for personal protection in their homes.

But carry permits–open or concealed–are surely superfluous for the vast majority of Americans. —J. Douglas Ousley


More or Less Christian

Monday, October 2nd, 2017

A friend recently gave me a book of essays that he had edited on various early Church historical topics. One essay noted that in a homily, the church father Origen “distinguishes within Christ’s army the front-line troops who fight Satan hand to hand and the many camp followers who support the combat forces but do little or no fighting themselves.”

This is a useful distinction. Many “camp followers” simply don’t have the time to attend church every Sunday, serve on committees, observe feast and fast days, offer private prayers, and so on. They might be able to do some of these things, but they are more than willing to support the “front-line troops.” (We might call the latter, “the pillars of the church.”)

If all the camp followers went to church every Sunday, most of our churches would be packed! As it is, we should be grateful for whatever support we get, including support from those who have neither the time nor the inspiration to fight on the front lines. —J. Douglas Ousley