The Ascension: a Beginning, Not an Ending

If one read the four Gospels as if they were four separate biographies of Jesus, one might be forgiven for thinking that the Ascension narrated the end of the story. We have read narratives of Christ’s birth, His baptism, His temptation in the wilderness, His ministry, His crucifixion, His resurrection, and now at the last we come the narrative of His ascension, concluding the story of His life with a heavenly happy…

Self-righteous Rage

In 1986 the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association organized a conference in Amsterdam which brought together over 9000 people who came to learn how to present the Gospel in Billy Graham style to those around them, most of them from Third World countries. By all accounts, it was a resounding success in accomplishing the goals it set for itself. And outside a large hotel adjacent to where the conference was being held sat…

With a Little Help from My (Dinosaur) Friends

Who would have thought that dinosaurs would feature in Christian apologetics? Like everyone of my vintage, I loved dinosaurs when I was a child, and later thrilled to Jurassic Park (yep; I’m that old). But for all their reptilian roaring wonderfulness, dinosaurs never figured prominently in the world of my apologetic attempts to convert people to the Christian faith. Dinosaurs of course existed (we can view their re-assembled skeletons in museums), but—whatever.…

The Indomitable Courage of Women

The myrrh-bearing women are an image of the Church. Taken together they reveal the broad catholicity of the Church, for they were a diverse lot, and included both the conventional married woman, Mary the mother of Joses, and the highly unconventional Mary Magdalene. They also reveal the primacy of devotion to Jesus, for their mutual devotion to Him was the only thing that bound them together. And, not least, they also reveal…

A Reason for the Hope that is in Us

“Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believe.” These words of Christ, spoken to Thomas and recorded in John 20:29, have often been misunderstood. Some suggest that Christ was offering a blessing to those who believe in Him without any evidence at all, who accept Him on blind faith. This is not what Christ meant, for Thomas never accepted Christ on blind faith in the absence of any evidence. Indeed,…

The Mathematics of Misery

One of the many memorable lines from the classic The Princess Bride says it admirably. In that film, the then-mysterious Man in Black says to the Princess, “Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.” This is not cynicism, but consensus, for it expresses a universal feeling. Life is filled with pain and loss, with sickness, bereavement, and death. And, to put it in historical perspective, let us remember…