timdyer

Aug 272012
 

Watching the local news last night I was surprised and disappointed to see that a story about a sporting coaches possible sacking before  space pioneer Neil Armstrong’s death. I love my sport but we are talking about the first man who walked on the moon and his passing. The news service got it wrong last night!
I have read a number of articles about Armstrong over the last 24 hours and I have read of a humble and caring man who avoided the spotlight rather than looking forward. A quality  individual who many people respected and looked up to. If you have a moment read this article as we remember a man who will never be forgotten for taking “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”.

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/first-man-on-moon-neil-armstrong-dies/story-e6frf7jo-1226458658529

Apr 202012
 

With the atheism conference here in Melbourne over recent weeks I was sent this article which is a good read in response to atheists, it comes from the blog of Chris Roe

 

Esteemed cosmologist and popular atheist Lawrence Krauss wrote: “It sometimes surprises me, although it shouldn’t, how religious devotees feel the need to regularly reinforce their own convictions in groups of like-minded individuals”.

Cop that, atheistsCop that, atheists

It is curious then, that he has made the long trip down-under to join the faithless as part of the weekend’s Global Atheists Convention.

Following a debate with analytic philosopher William Lane Craig last year, a frustrated Krauss took a passing swipe at the historical evidence for Christianity. As a student of history, I am getting weary of the a priori assumptions of secular fundamentalism that infect the blogosphere and are routinely trotted out as fact. Don’t get me wrong, theists circulate more than their fair share of bullshit too – but it benefits nobody when the discussion degenerates into the intellectual equivalent of a freestyle gangsta rap battle.

So here are five myths of popular atheism that we need to leave behind!

Myth 1 – The Chicken or the Egg?
First on the agenda is the assertion that There is No God. While the scholarly opinion of the likes of Dawkins, Krauss and Sam Harris is best articulated by the London bus campaign “There’s Probably No God”, their assault on religious belief suggests a deeper conviction. It’s the great unwinnable argument that is carried on by True Believers on both sides. The debate can be entertaining and thought provoking but, as philosopher Alain de Botton points out, it has ground to a “sterile stalemate”. Nobody changes their worldview because they lose an intellectual arm-wrestle. The punters that attend these public debates are about as open minded as a footy fan at the MCG.

Myth 2 – The Unhistorical Jesus
Quoting again from Mr. Krauss, “many historians believe that Jesus never existed”.  He is of course paraphrasing The God Delusion, but even Mr Dawkins has retracted this point: “Maybe I alluded to the possibility that some historians think Jesus never existed, I take that back. Jesus existed.”

For Dawkins it’s a moot point and “petty”. But if it’s of no consequence to popular atheism then why is it so often repeated? As a person of spiritual conviction who attempts to live according to Jesus’ teachings it is of great importance to me that I understand both the man and the message within the context of history. There is indeed a small collection of historians that have challenged the existence of Jesus of Nazareth but they are about as numerous and credible as holocaust deniers.

Myth 3 – Religion is The Cause of All Wars
Really, which ones?  The Babylonian conquests?  Alexander the Great? The Mongol invasion?  WW1? WW2? Vietnam? Korea? Cambodia? Iraq parts 1 and 2? Generally the answer will be some sort of mumble about the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition and Northern Ireland. Yes, it is true that atrocities have been, and continue to be, perpetrated in the name of religion. But really, lets not get hysterical. The greatest slaughters in the World’s bloodiest century – the 20th – were perpetrated by godless regimes who between them racked up more than 153 million corpses.

Many of the prime targets under these despots were and remain people of faith. Richard Dawkins was dismissive when right-wing broadcaster Bill O’Reilly linked atheist regimes to genocide, replying: “it’s just incidentally true that Mao Zedong and Joseph Stalin happened to be atheists… what drove them was a political ideology that had nothing to do with atheism”. I agree with Dawkins that the causes of human conflict are much more nuanced. The common denominator in the history of human conflict is not religion or the lack of it but an unquenchable desire for power.

Myth 4 – The Gospels are not reliable history but are instead a construct of the church
Krauss again: “there are no definitive eyewitness accounts of these events, and in the case of the claimed resurrection the scriptures were written decades after the claimed event, and the different accounts are not even consistent.”  For a start, as any historian, or judge for that matter, will tell you, the accounts would be far more suspicious if they did synchronise too closely.

I am the first to agree that the gospel writers, like all biographers, have an agenda. The purpose of these documents is not to provide a chronological account of the life and times of Jesus. They are attempts to collect his teaching and construct a narrative that explains his life. In particular, the writers are working overtime to explain through the Jewish scriptures why Jesus’ shock crucifixion was not a failure but a victory.

Contrary to popular opinion, a publicly disgraced and crucified leader was not a bonus for early Christians! To suggest that dating the gospels in the decades after Jesus’ death makes them unreliable is to imply that one could not construct an accurate portrait of a figure like Martin Luther King today by conducting interviews with his surviving friends and family.

Myth 5 – The Jesus story is a conflation of near eastern myths
In a key scene in Bill Maher’s 2008 film “Religulous”, Maher ambushes an actor dressed as Jesus with the revelation that his story is borrowed from the Egyptian account of Horas. Various facts comparing the accounts are scrolled across the screen to a rocking soundtrack and we all laugh at the dumb Christian. Ironically, as any Egyptologist will tell you, the joke is on those who get their mythology from comedians.  Even a quick visit to Wikipedia will demonstrate that there is no obvious correlation between the accounts.

As for links to Mithras and Krishna, the weight of scholarship dates these well within the Christian era. Instead, the New Testament is infused with thousands of quotes and illusions to the Jewish Scriptures. The Christian faith began as a Jewish sect, spread to the Hellenic Jews and then the wider Greco-Roman world. If you want to tie Jesus to the mythology of the past, look no further than the Judaism he and his followers practiced and preached.

Well, that’s enough from me. No doubt I’ve given the True Believers on both sides plenty of ammunition. All I ask is that we keep an open mind to truth and try to avoid lazy history.

Apr 032012
 

From time to time I like to post an article that I found helpful, alarming or funny. This falls into the alarming category.

By Ruth Limkin

If it wasn’t so serious, it would be funny.

I just watched the video of this morning’s Sunrise segment which discussed Christian Schools wanting to retain the right to employ men and women whose values and lifestyles align with their organisational values. The article they were discussing was about proposed changes to anti-discrimination laws which may remove exemptions currently afforded to religious organisations.

A submission by Christian Schools Australia asked for the current protections for religious organisations to remain. It made the point that ‘parents chose to enrol children in a Christian school because they desired an education based on Christian values and beliefs’ and that ‘teachers were regarded as role models who taught the doctrines and values of the faith to students by way of example’.

Sunrise had a panel discussing this which was comprised of four journalists. Perhaps now predictably, Christian schools were pilloried and were even accused of ‘caveman-like’ behaviour. One of the commentators stated he had Christian values and assumed the place of expert by proceeding to minimise the orthodox beliefs held by the majority of the Christian church as ‘only man’s interpretation’.

Not once in the whole discussion did they ever afford to religious organisations the very thing which the panel held to be non-negotiable – tolerance.

Of course, most of us know that the tolerance so often espoused these days is not tolerance at all. It is a co-opted catch-cry used to shut down debate and to accuse others of being narrow-minded, as opposed to differently-minded. Often, tolerance is demanded from the very organisations or people who have tolerance denied to them.

Surely it seems the height of hypocrisy to set oneself up as the ‘truly tolerant’, and then demand that everyone think the same as you.

Sadly, that’s so often the state of current conversations in Australia and it’s not helping anyone. It’s truly time to find a better way.

********

 

Apr 032012
 

 

 

 

I wonder sometimes where time goes. The other day I was looking through an old picture album of one of my kids of when they were little and it seemed just like yesterday they were in nappies. Time Flies, one day they were 1 years old and now they are only a few months away from getting their L’s! I have been encouraging myself I bit lately to make the most of each day, not to let it be just another day that flies by. To be honest I find this hard at times because we fall into a routine that causes us stop making the most of each of our days. What about you, are your days just flying by? Not making the most of each day?
Something that has flown by is the last time I posted a blog, sorry to those who check back for an updated post, I hope to be a bit more regular from now on!

 

Dec 062011
 

 

 

 

 

I would like to share with you a recent devotion I had that might encourage you like it did for me.

“As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth.” (NLT) John Chapter 9:1

It’s peculiar to simply read the first verse of a section of scripture that is clearly the beginning of a story, but for a moment we’ll remain there. Jesus sees the blind man and the one known as the light from the first chapter in John notices the one who knows nothing but darkness. The healer known as the ‘Son of God’ stands before the helpless known as the ‘son born blind’.

Think about your life for a moment through this Christmas season. It would be my hope that through this season you have made space to spend time with Jesus and all your attempts at hiding or minimizing your sin have been drawn into the light.

So now you stand, fully aware that Jesus sees the real you. You have examined your heart and you see your transgressions and rebellion. No longer hidden, you stand exposed as Jesus just uncovered the lies you once tried to find rested among. Although we all know this story of John doesn’t end here, it’s terribly important that we don’t simply remain within this part of the story – diagnosed but not healed.

Read the verse again, but continue reading through verse eleven, John 9:1-11.

Although Jesus finds us in our sin, He has no plans to leave us there with simply a proper understanding of our current condition and diagnosis. The good news is truly good news because of his promise to heal. The story continues from the first verse to find a man, once fully aware of his blindness that is now healed and tells the world about the one who has healed him. Although many have told him he was blind, in this man’s entire life, no one has healed him.

Sometimes it feels safer to simply remain diagnosed as broken, when compared to the trust that is required as we walk with Christ into healing & restoration. Will you trust that the one who has revealed your brokenness is able to heal you? The sins and conditions Christ found you in are no longer your home or that which names you. Take a moment and think about the areas of your life that have been exposed within your heart during this Christmas season. Where does Christ want to heal you?

Nov 212011
 

 

 

 

 

If you are looking for some worship music to play on your ipod or in your sound system in the car or at home I would encourage you to purchase the music of Irishman, Robin Mark. I find myself time and time again listening to God speak to me through his music. I love the music of the Irish and Robin Mark continues to give the Irish a great name when it comes to beautiful music.

www.robinmark.com

Nov 212011
 

 

 

 

 

Mark Connor writes:
Jesus told us that the two greatest commandments are to (1) love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and (2) to love our neighbor as ourself. Life truly is all about loving God and loving people.

Of course, our love is simply a response of God’s love for us. We love Him, and others, because He first loved us. As we receive God’s love, we can begin to accept ourselves, even in our imperfect and frail state. This then enables us to love others … as ourselves.

Unfortunately, many people struggle to love others because in reality they hate themselves and have no love inside to give out freely to others. Unless we know that WE are loved, we will find it difficult to truly love others.

2,000 years of religious tradition have imbedded in us the mistaken belief that God’s love is something we earn. Giving that up isn’t easy.

Religion is all about what we have to DO to earn our way to God. Christianity is totally different. It’s all about what Jesus Christ has already DONE for us.

Tim Dyer says: That is good news!

Sep 132011
 

 

 

 

 

“Most of what Jesus said and did took place in a secular workplace in a farmer’s field, in a fishing boat, at a wedding feast, in a cemetery, at a public well asking a woman he didn’t know for a drink of water, on a country hillside that he turned into a huge picnic, in a court room, having supper in homes with acquaintances or friends. In our Gospels, Jesus occasionally shows up in synagogue or temple, but for the most part he spends his time in the workplace. Twenty-seven times in John’s Gospel Jesus is identified as a worker: ‘My Father is still working, and I also am working’ (Jn.5:17). Work doesn’t take us away from God; it continues the work of God. God comes into view on the first page of our scriptures as a worker. Once we identify God in his workplace working, it isn’t long before we find ourselves in our workplace working in the name of God.”

[From Eugene Peterson’s book The Pastor, p.281]