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The (mine)fields are white for harvest

I don't know how many hands this poisoned chalice has passed through before it's reached me, but...

On Wednesday I'll be a panelist for a public event called "A Question of Faith".  It will be modelled on BBC's Question Time and will be chaired by Peter Owen Jones - he of Around the World in 80 Faiths fame.

Members of the public will ask questions in four areas:

  • Faith and Community Wellbeing
  • Family
  • God
  • Prayer

The other panelists will represent Muslims, Jews, Mormons and Pagans.

Please pray that I'd have the wisdom, clarity and courage to negotiate any number of potential minefields!

To help me prepare, I'd love if you could pose any curly questions you think might be asked in the comments.  Over the next few days, I'll have a go at answering and we'll see if we can hone my responses before Wednesday.

So... hit me with your best shot(s)...

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0 thoughts on “The (mine)fields are white for harvest

  1. John B

    I may be offtrack on this, as I haven't seen either of these BBC programs here in America, and I don't know what is meant by the expression "curly questions". But I'm guessing that this is a moderated public forum for asking challenging questions of clergy from different religions. In an American context I'm thinking of several panels hosted by Larry King over the years. So assuming it's a British variation of something like that, I pose these (hopefully) curly questions:

    Should homosexuals have the same civil liberties as heterosexuals? Does legal equity for homosexual couples harm heterosexual couples? Is same sex marriage sinful?

    In the kind of forum that I'm envisioning, these types of questions come up regularly here, at least for the Christian representatives, though not pressed so much with the other religions.

    If the forum is more theological than cultural, then I think that there are different questions to anticipate. A lot depends on the nature of the audience, especially whether many are Bible readers.

    I'm praying for you and thanking God for providing such a wonderful opportunity for your witness to Christ.

  2. Tim V-B

    Bishops in the House of Lords // Should the church be established?

    Doesn't religion oppress people (e.g. women, homosexual people, slaves)?

    Something about faith being kept out of public life / it should only be a private thing.

    Church schools - good or bad.

  3. woldeyesus

    Three questions:

    1. What Is the religion of Jesus Christ: Christian, Muslim, Jew, Mormon or Pagan?

    2. Is the church, as we know it, Biblical?

    3. What ever happened to the universal worship of one, true and knowable God, as he is, in Spirit and truth or through "a new and living way", ie., that Christ died for?

    God bless you.

  4. Glen

    Anonymous - that one's easy. All these other ones are *hard*!

    Lots to think about there. And thanks John for deciphering - you've translated me correctly :)

    I'll try to think through some answers in the next day or two.

    Any more suggested questions (or answers) are welcome...

  5. woldeyesus

    If I were a member of the public, I would want to know what is being done today by Jews, Christians, Muslims, and all others to understand the universal legacy of the "tree of life" as it exists in all cultures of the world!

  6. Si

    "What would Abraham be today - Pagan, Muslim, Jew, Mormon, Christian?"

    Or perhaps that's a wish list question from me rather than one that will actually get asked, as it gets straight down to who God is and what the gospel actually is.

  7. Tim V-B

    What do you mean, Woldeyesus? What do you have in mind when you say "Christianity"? I have in mind people who follow Christ, gathered together in local congregations to hear his Word, receive his Word (through Baptism and the Lord's Supper) and proclaim his Word to others - aiming to make disciples of all nations.

    Most of your comments both intrigue me and confuse me! I'd love to hear what you mean by "the universal legacy of the "tree of life" as it exists in all cultures of the world." Seems to me that Jews and Muslims cannot understand such things, as they (by definition) are not trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ.

  8. woldeyesus

    I hope the following, focusing on Christ firsthand, will throw a little more light on what I mean.

    Authentication of Christ’s death-defying divine identity and authority is based on the once-and-for-all exercise of his synchronized and absolute rights over death and life as taught in advance (Matt. 16: 13-18-28), publicly demonstrated on the day of the crucifixion (Ibid, 27: 50-56), recapitulated over forty days for unbelieving disciples (Acts 1: 1-5), propagated on the day of Pentecost (Ibid, 2) and left open-ended for posterity as “a new and living way” of worship outside all religions (John 4: 21-24)! AMEN.

    Isn't this the GOOD NEWS of Jesus Christ?

  9. Rich

    Some ideas I heard expressed on CBC radio this morning. (Could easily have been the BBC!)

    Isn't "organized religion" a thing of the past?

    Isn't truth a matter of personal choice?

    Religion is still valuable for two reasons only:

    - To make me a better person by following the moral guidelines of my chosen religion (precepts Buddhism / the Ten Commandments in Christianity etc.)

    - To make me happy by giving me a sense of meaning and purpose. (Believing in "a higher force" as an antidote to the the emptiness that can follow from believing everything is a result of time plus chance.)

    Hope all goes well Glen! Praying for you.

    Rich

  10. John B

    Here's a few more questions of the type that seem to come up frequently and are explicitly theological, instead of cultural like my first questions:

    - Should Christian beliefs in miracles, such as the bodily resurrection of Jesus, be regarded by a different standard of evidence than the accounts of miracles in other religions?

    - If the Bible includes figurative language, as well as historical accounts, is it possible that Christians have mistaken symbolic expression for actual fact (e.g., the six days of creation)?

    - Is the Christian faith factually true, and all other religions only myth or false?

    It strikes me that what underlies many of the questions in these forums, whether cultural or theological, is the objection to the exclusive truth claims of Christianity. One might well say that "Christ is true"; or better yet, "Christ is a truth"; or best of all, "Christ is my truth". But "Christ the Truth", no way! That's the big objection and the stumbling block.

    As to my own answers, they are as follows (in the order of the appearance of the questions in this thread).

    Yes, No, Yes, No/No, Yes, No, Good, Christian, In part, Wait for it!, Old, Don't know, Christian, No, No, No, Yes, Yes, Yes. ;-)

  11. woldeyesus

    I wish that any one who finds offense in the CLAIM of "Christ the truth" has the courage to go all the way to the promised HARD PROOF, viz.: his promised self-revelation (John 14:6, 21 in the same context) continuously viewable in the exercise of his divine identity and absolute authority over death and life, i.e., a critical mass that has set off a spiritual chain reaction that has not ceased! (Ibid, 10: 17-18; 19: 30-37; Matt. 27: 50-56; Acts 2; etc.)

    It worked for me!

  12. John B

    Hi woldeyesus - In a forum like "A Question of Faith", with people from several different religions participating on the panel, each with their own sacred books, I'm doubtful that any appeal to the authority of New Testament texts would be persuasive. There are many who would challenge the assumption that the New Testament is a divinely inspired text and in any sense the word or a work of God. While viewing scripture as a human work, many will also challenge the notion that Christians can infallibly interpret it. So the idea of deriving "hard proof" from a text that itself isn't regarded as authoritative, by way of exegesis that is considered to be prone to error, seems to be hopelessly at odds with the presuppositions that many will bring to the forum.

    Imitating Paul is always a good idea. Maybe in this case his address on Mars Hill is applicable. There he proclaimed that the god who the Athenians worshiped as unknown, is the living God who made humanity "that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us". Indeed, Paul showed the Athenians that some of their own poets knew of humanity's relationship with God, who in ancient Greek philosophy was described as him in whom "we live and move and have our being". God now commands repentance. He has appointed a man to judge the world and fixed the day of judgment. The sure sign of this is the resurrection of this man from the dead. Some who heard Paul were willing to explore his teaching further. And some would come to believe that Christ is the one, the living God who was unknown!

    Paul doesn't begin with a doctrinal "hard proof" from the apostolic witness to Christ, the living God who was unknown to the Athenians. He begins with the resurrection of Jesus, which illuminates the darkness, making the unknown God radiant!

  13. woldeyesus

    The hard proof of Christ's self-revelation, in the exercise of his divine identity and absolute authority over death and life (viewable by one and all), is not at all for reading in any Scriptures but for looking at SPIRIT-ACTIVE WORKS (including baptism in the Holy Spirit) signaled once and for all from his pierced side on the cross (John 19: 34-37; Quran S. IV 156-159; and the "tree of life" widespread in many cultures of the world).

  14. Pingback: Questions of Faith 1 « Christ the Truth

  15. Tim V-B

    Hi Glen,
    Love the answers you've given - but agree with someone that you need a 20 second version - even if you state at the start that it's a 20 second soundbite and there's more to say!

    Here's a few more I thought of recently:

    When Prince Charles becomes King, should he be Defender of The Faith or Defender of Faith?
    (trying to think what questions might come to the surface with news of William and Kate's wedding.)

    What can religions learn from each other?

  16. Si

    Tim, with today's events sparked by recent news, a Wills and Kate question would be something like "Do you have to be a monarchist to be Anglican?"

  17. Tim V-B

    Good question Si!

    Bishop Pete has made one very serious faux pas. So he's been suspended. But that got me wondering: if it's okay to suspend a bishop for some wrong comments about the royal family, how about suspending bishops when they deny Christian doctrine? (Apart from the fact that we'd suddenly have a big gap in the House of Bishops...).

    Glen - what detail do you know about the format of questions? Is the same question given to each person to answer? I ask because if so, then probably the questions will be of a general nature that each religion can answer. On the other hand, if questions can be directed specifically you may get some questions like what you make of the Pope's comments about condoms, or Women Bishops.

    Either way, we'll be praying!

  18. Glen

    I've only just got details of the format of the evening. It seems like they're expecting to address specific questions to specific panel members. I hope at least some might be generic Qs where everyone gets a bite at the cherry (cos that's what I've been preparing for) but we'll see. Hmmm.

    I've only just found out we're allowed a literature table too. Not sure what literature I can arrange between now and tomorrow night. More prayer needed!

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