Wednesday, March 27, 2013

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume V, Issue XV

The Meaning of the Miraculous

For many Centuries man has acknowledged  the miraculous. This week the Jewish community celebrates their deliverance from Egypt and the beginning of their journey to the Promised Land. A dialogue set in a meals has all generations together consider the preservation of their people that could only be seen as a work of G-d. Previous generations always saw G-d, or some miraculous force as Creator. The Patriarchs saw Him as Provider and Deliverer! The relatively recent concept of Evolution (Charles Darwin in the Nineteenth Century) has created a philosophy of Naturalism that either outright rejects or quietly diminishes the Theistic explanation.

I once attended an Easter service at a large church in Richmond. The minister asserted that the Resurrection was not important! I don't remember anything else he said. I was astonished because Christ's Resurrection would seem to be a cornerstone of Christianity. Many voices today denounce Faith. They may not directly denounce it, but in the academy it is the subject of "open discourse" such as that experienced by Ryan Rotella at FAU [click to read]. Rotella was asked to leave a class. His "offense" was refusing to participate in an excercise where students were required to "stamp on Jesus." Dennis Prager [click to read] has more details. Though the school ultimately apologized to Rotella, it justified its so-called "open discourse" in doing so.

Running from the Resurrection

In fact, among many in academia today you are likely to hear some variation of the following: "There are other reasons why I consider Christianity to be an ill-chosen creed, such as the morals actually taught in the Bible, many of which are abhorrent to a compassionate and just man, or other details of its theology which run counter to observable facts." writes atheist Richard Carrier in introduction to his argument against Jesus' resurrection from the dead.

Here in his introduction, Carrier gives what I believe is his real reason for being uncomfortable with a physical resurrection. A G-d who can so control the laws of nature can ask 'unreasonable' things of us as well. A 'Compassionate and Just Man,' in Carrier's world can support abortion on demand because it is not 'abhorrent' to his viewpoint that abortion is a kind response to the needs of women with unplanned pregnancies. The beating heart of the unborn child need not be seen here as an 'observable fact.' Likewise, the 'restrictive' definition of marriage as a relationship defined by Scripture in specific terms may be viewed as archaic and discriminatory.If G-d didn't design it, He cannot write the specifications.

The elimination of Christianity as an authoritative source allows us to personalize moral decisions. In a culture that elevates self-actualization, this is virtue. It spares us the heavy lifting required to weigh moral absolutes with human frailty.

Jesus, meeting a Samaritan woman at a well, is a prime example of what I mean by this heavy lifting. Balancing compassion for the woman with his observation that she has not been a faithful wife, Jesus creates a constructive dialogue. He does not condemn her, nor does He overlook the complexity she has created in her relationships. He speaks truth and ultimately the dialogue that results sets her free. Here Absolute Love and Absolute Truth are in no way mutually exclusive. In the end her search for 'Living Water' trumps her desire to live as she pleases. [2.]

A G-d who can part the Red Sea, Create worlds and has power over death is pretty much to be respected. A G-d who changes human lives in intimate communion with his Creation is amazing.

Before Jesus appeared, the concept of Resurrection is found in Scripture. Sometimes it is very clear and other times it is a logical assumption consistent with the text.

Resurrection Foretold

"And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors." -- Isaiah 53:9-12

The famous Messianic text above talks of triumph after death. Other texts that may be seen as prophetic of Resurrection are: Genesis 3:15, Psalm 2:7, Psalm 16:9-11, Psalm 22:14-25, Psalm 30:29, Psalm 40:13, Psalm 110:1, Psalm 118:21-24, Hosea 5:15-6:3, Zechariah 12:10.

Resurrection Documented and Verified

"I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better, fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than the great sign which God hath given us that Christ died, and rose again from the dead." says Dr. Thomas Arnold, formerly Professor of History at Rugby and Oxford Universities. Simon Greenleaf, one of the most skilled legal minds ever produced in this nation, top authority on the question of what constitutes sound evidence, developer of the Harvard Law School, after a thorough evaluation of the four Gospel accounts from the point of view of their validity as objective testimonial evidence, concluded:

"It was therefore impossible that they could have persisted in affirming the truths they had narrated, had not Jesus actually risen from the dead, and had they not known this fact as certainly as they knew any other fact." [3.] Dr. Henry M. Morris PhD writes more on The Importance of the Resurrection [click to read]. His point is that the foundational truth of the Christian faith has plenty of evidence to support it.

A G-d who can part the Red Sea, Create worlds and has power over death is pretty much to be respected. A G-d who changes human lives in intimate communion with his Creation is amazing.

A Caterpillar becomes a butterfly. Nature itself suggests the possibility of miraculous transformation and new life! Rice Paper Butterfly, or Paper Kite Butterfly, Idea leuconoe.
Illustration © 2013, by Kristina Elaine Riley for HOPE Publications, Pvt. ltd.


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