Christians and Israel

It’s not often that New Zealand gets international political attention, but we certainly did so this week when our government co-sponsored a UN resolution condemning the construction of Israeli settlements.

As expected, my Facebook feed has been lighting up like a busy switchboard as Christians I know react with outrage. That’s because many Christians today see the modern state of Israel as a fulfillment of biblical prophecy. For them, criticism of Israel is like ice cream on a sensitive tooth.

I’m aware that this is a highly controversial topic, but I’ve never bought into that line of thinking myself. I’m also aware that people who hold the above view (let’s call them Christian Zionists) are often unwilling to consider other interpretive options. So, I’m not writing this blog post to convince them. Instead, I want to offer some thoughts for the people who’ve seen or heard Christian Zionism, and felt a bit confused, or uneasy, or overwhelmed.

Here’s some good news: you don’t have to land there. And, here’s some mixed news: there probably aren’t any easy answers. The truth is, this subject, more than most, calls for nuance. So, let me try to offer some…   Continue reading

5 Books for 2016

It’s list-making time, and I never let that opportunity go by. These are the 5 books that impacted me most in 2016.

5. C.S. Lewis: A Life – Alister McGrath

I will never look at Lewis the same way after reading this book. McGrath doesn’t put his subject on a pedestal, and though at times you feel that you are learning more about McGrath’s opinions of Lewis than of Lewis himself, this is still a fascinating and informative read.

4. Reading Revelation Responsibly – Michael Gorman
Simply the most helpful book on Revelation that I’ve ever read. Gorman doesn’t pull his punches, which may not win him friends among dispensationalists. However, this is a book which brings Revelation to life. Far from a dry academic treatment, it caused me to think about how this piece of apocalyptic literature applies to our world today. Continue reading

What Do You Want?

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What’s on your mind?

Facebook asks me this question every time I log on.  As I scroll down my timeline I feel encouraged to give my thoughts on topics religious, political, and just about everything in between.

“What do I think about this?” I wonder.

Over the last few years, however, two books have made me think twice (ironically) about whether what’s going on is quite so simple as that.

In his book The Righteous Mind, Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist, uses the metaphor of an elephant and a rider. The elephant represents our subconscious world: our emotions, intuitions, and flash reactions (disgust, attraction, etc). The rider is our intellect and reasoning.

Through much research, Haidt’s conclusion is this: elephant’s rule. We have an intuitive response to almost everything, and our minds then work to justify that response. We think we’ve arrived there by “thinking”, but actually we’re far less rational then that. Haidt puts it like this… Continue reading