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A Look at Christmas – Some Different Viewpoints

 

Image result for christmas pictures of baby jesus in the manger

Merry Christmas everyone!

Around the world, people (Christians and non-Christians alike) are celebrating this perennial winter holiday.

Here are some interesting articles I recently came upon that explores what the Bible says about the Virgin Birth (really technically the “Virgin Conception”) and the genre of the gospels as well.

The Not-So Virgin Birth of God” and “Six Problems with the Virgin Birth: Biblical and Historical Perspective“.

And an interesting article on how the date of December 25 came to be celebrated as Jesus’ birthday.

Here are our group’s personal reflections on Christmas and the Virgin birth as well from earlier in the year.

Some things to chew on for this Christmas season.

 

 

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“Silence” – a film by Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorsese’s new move “Silence” opens this Christmas day.

It is based on Shusaku Endo’s book.

For historical background on the movie and the book, check out our post (the last essay on the bottom) about this topic here.

 

 

 

 

A Look Into Jesus’ Conception

https://i0.wp.com/cdn.biblicalarchaeology.org/wp-content/uploads/lorenzo-lotto-nga.jpg

“The Nativity”, Lorenzo Lotto (1480 – 1556/57), 1523, oil on panel, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

 

This week, we will take a mini-break from Confessions and discuss the topic of the Virgin birth and Christology.

 

We will be going over an article from the November/December 2014 issue of Biblical Archeology Review titled “How Babies Were Made in Jesus’ Time” by Andrew Lincoln.  A brief synopsis of the article can be found here; for the complete article you have to order from the website.

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Was God Pro-Choice?

 

 

Every election year, many Christians (Evangelical and Catholic) gather together to make the issue of abortion a major topic in politics.  They cite the sanctity of life all together and tell how abortion is murder of the unborn.  Many also claim that abortion is impermissible on any grounds because of the Bible, even in cases of rape, incest, or even if a woman’s life is in jeopardy due to complications in a pregnancy.

 

OK, maybe God being “pro-choice”as the title states might be a bit of an anachronism, but it seems rather clear that in some instances he does sanction abortion or at the very least, permit ways to allow for a woman to have a miscarriage if she’s pregnant due to adultery.

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Chapter 25: Culture Wars (1960 – Present) – Part II

Pope John Paul II (1920 - 2005)

Pope John Paul II (1920 – 2005)

It has been a long journey that dated back almost two years ago in April of 2013 when we first started reading Diarmaid MacCulloch’s Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years.  And now we have come to its conclusion.

Please read the remainder of Chapter 25, the last chapter of the book, where we will cover: A Cultural Revolution from the Sixties, Old-Time Affirmations, and Freedom: Prospects and Fears.

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Chapter 25: Culture Wars (1960 – Present) – Part I

Vatican II Council 1962

Vatican II Council 1962

 

 

Next week we will be covering the final chapter of MacCulloch’s book, Chapter 25.  Please read the first two sections, The Second Vatican Council: Half a Revolution and Catholics, Protestants and Liberation, and answer one of the following questions:

 

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The Evolution of Satan

Statue of Satan at the Satanic Temple in Detroit, MI.

Statue of Satan at the Satanic Temple in Detroit, MI.

 

Great article and post on the development of Satan/the Devil in Judeo-Christian thought and theology through the centuries over at isthatinthebible.wordpress.com.

Highly fascinating.

“Princes of Darkness: The Devil’s Many Faces in Scripture and Tradition”

UPDATE: Chapter 24: Not Peace but a Sword (1913-60) – Part I – Mussolini, the Vatican State, and the Armenian Genocide

 

Lateran Treaty

The Pope was gifted the Vatican statehood by dictator Benito Mussolini in the Lateran Treaty of 1929. Here Cardinal Gaspari (representing Pope Pius XI) and Mussolini sign the treaty.

 

 

Last Tuesday we completed and went over the first half of Chapter 24.

 

In this first half of this chapter, we’re covering the groundwork of our modern age into the 20th and 21st centuries.  Here we saw the decline of Christendom in Europe.  During our discussion, we all agreed that Christendom was faltering for the most part as a dominant political (and even social/spiritual) institution from the 18th century onwards, but its decline was precipitated by the start of World War I.

 

To say the least, the start of the 20th century was marked by brutality and upheaval of enormous proportions, especially with the onslaught of World War I.

 

Here are our essays for the first half of this chapter.

 

 

Chapter 24: Not Peace but a Sword (1913-60) – Part I

Happy New Year!

For our first meeting of 2015 for next week, please read the first three sections of Chapter 24: A War That Killed Christendom (1914-18); Great Britain: The Last Years of Christian Empire; Catholics and Christ the King: The Second Age of Catholic Missions.

 

American soldier dies during a German gas attack during WWI.  May, 1918.

American soldier dies during a German gas attack during WWI. May, 1918.

 

 

Please answer one of the following questions:

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UPDATE: Chapter 22: Europe Re-enchanted or Disenchanted? (1815 – 1914) – Part I – First-wave feminism, Ultramontanism, and Hegel

 

 

 

This past Wednesday we had a rather lively discussion on the notion of visions in Christianity – visions of Mary for Catholics and just general visions by Pentecostals or other generally charismatic sects.  It’s quite interesting that the Mother Mary almost never (to my knowledge) appears to Protestants – visions of Mary almost always occur to poor girls in small villages that are going through war or political strife.  For Protestants, claims of visions or other prophetic utterances seem to be hit or miss according to the limited experiences we discuss from our own personal encounters.

 

There was also some discussion on whether or not missions (in general throughout history) isn’t a form of Western imperialization in some respects.  We tend to go there and not only want to preach the gospel to them, but also hope and pray that they’ll receive the same benefits and even the comforts of an affluent Western lifestyle.  Has the Western mindset of the gospel been diluted and mixed with the gospel of Western standard of living and materialism?  There was also some thoughts as to whether or not Marcion was right in stating that the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament are NOT one and the same.  Christianity has moved so far away from Judaism and its understanding of God that when you compare the two, they seem worlds apart.  It is arguable, but it’s an interesting thought nonetheless.

 

Here are our submissions from our meeting this Wednesday.