St. Augustine on the (Temporal) City of Man and the (Eternal) City of God

Citizens of two cities
It would be misleading to conclude that Augustine was preoccupied with inward and individualistic religion merely because he exhibited great personal sensitivity and had a profound understanding of human psychology in his book, Confessions. On the contrary, his wide-ranging interests moved him to commend a Christian faith that addresses diverse issues including biblical interpretations, philosophy of history, political science and ethics.

Augustine’s big tome, The City of God,/1/ a project spanning fifteen years, was spurred by accusations that the city of Rome fell to invading barbarians because Christianity undermined the moral fiber of the Empire. In response, Augustine goes beyond giving a straightforward reply and instead, constructed a comprehensive Christian social philosophy which would demonstrate the intellectual vigor of Christianity. To achieve this ambitious project, Augustine utilized all the tools of classical learning and pressed them into service of Christian scholarship. He displayed familiarity with the intellectual classics of mythology, history, theology and philosophy as he mounted acute polemics against pagan religions and philosophies. He was indebted to classical philosophy like Neoplatonism and the commonsensical wisdom of Cicero. He mastered the works of classical historians like Varro, Caesar’s librarian and author of 490 books, who was regarded as “the most brilliant of his age and most learned man in Rome” (City of God, 6.2) to buttress his case. However, he always maintained his independent Christian perspective. The sheer comprehensiveness of his project displays his confidence that Christianity alone gives a superior account for all aspects of life. All in all, The City of God is a manifesto on how to be an other-worldly but responsible citizen in the world. Continue reading “St. Augustine on the (Temporal) City of Man and the (Eternal) City of God”

The Miracle of Christmas Pt. 2/2: The Incarnate Christ is truly God and truly Man

Speaker: Dr. Ng Kam Weng

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The Incarnate Christ is truly God and truly Man

A brief explanation of the two natures of Christ according to the Chalcedonian Creed (AD 451)

Chalcedonian Creed (451)
Therefore, following the holy fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and body; of one substance with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ; even as the prophets from earliest times spoke of him, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the creed of the fathers has handed down to us.

Related post
The Logical Coherence of the Incarnation of Christ.

Bart Ehrman on the Date and Historical Reliability of Acts. A Challenge to Evangelicals to Renew Studies on NT Introduction

Bart Ehrman’s Challenge to Evangelicals to Renew Studies on NT Introduction
Bart Ehrman, in his youtube video “Christianity One Year After Jesus,” speaks favorably both of scholars who suggest that Luke was dependent on the writings of Josephus from the 90s AD, and other scholars who suggest that Luke was written around 120 AD. Ehrman eventually settles for around 80s AD for the date of Luke.

Not surprisingly, he also questions the historical reliability of the book of Acts. According to Ehrman, Acts says things which seem implausible given what else we know about the world at that time and what we know about early Christianity etc.

If one rejects the historical reliability of Acts, the earliest historical record of the birth of Christianity, everything else in the NT is called into question. NT history is then reconfigured according to the skeptical presuppositions of critics like Ehrman. Continue reading “Bart Ehrman on the Date and Historical Reliability of Acts. A Challenge to Evangelicals to Renew Studies on NT Introduction”

Series 2: Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity – Part 6: Is Christianity is then just a copy-cat religion?

Question: Earlier Ehrman claimed that pagan myths like Philostratus Life of Apollonius of Tyanna could have influenced how the four gospels were written. Some documentaries from National Geographic & Discovery Channel claim that Christianity borrowed he idea of resurrection and saviors from the Mystery religions and Mithraism. Is Christianity is then just a copy-cat religion?

Discussants: Dr. Ng Kam Weng and Mr. Micheal LimYou are welcome to join the discussion at:

Is Christianity is then just a copy-cat religion?

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Bart Ehrman’s Historical Revisionism. Part 3/3. Ehrman Misplaces Jesus among the gods

I. Skepticism Toward the Gospels’ Witness of the Deity of Christ
Bart Ehrman rejects the deity of Christ for two reasons. First, he insists that Jesus did not claim to be God during his lifetime and neither did his disciples. Second, Christian beliefs about Jesus Christ changed over time. The disciples initially regarded Jesus as a man, but after reportedly having experiences of visions of the resurrected Jesus, they concluded that since the exalted Jesus was no longer physically present on earth, God must have taken him to heaven. The Son of Man became the Son of God. At the beginning, there was no belief in the pre-existence of Jesus, but over time the pre-existent Christ was adopted in order to explain the incarnation. Ehrman postulates that the deification of Jesus was due to the influence of pagan mythologies and Jewish angelology.

Ehrman finds no evidence from the gospels that Jesus went about Palestine publicly declaring “I am God.” However, Ehrman fails to consider the historical context which led Jesus to refrain from making such a public declaration. Instead of weighing calmly Jesus’ declaration of deity, the Jews would have reacted violently to Jesus as one guilty of blasphemy. They did try to stone him, after all. It would have been futile for Jesus to try to convince the intransigent Jews who had already made up their minds to reject Jesus’  teaching, no matter what evidence he could offer to back up his claim. Continue reading “Bart Ehrman’s Historical Revisionism. Part 3/3. Ehrman Misplaces Jesus among the gods”

Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity. Part 5 – Was the Early Christian Belief in the Deity of Jesus Influenced by Non-Christian Ideas?

Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity

Part 4: Question: Bart Ehrman asserts that Jesus never claimed to be God. Instead the later Christians attributed divinity to Jesus because they were influenced by surrounding pagan ideas and especially by the influence of Jewish angelology at that time. How would you evaluate the historical basis for Ehrman’s assertion?

Discussants: Dr. Ng Kam Weng and Mr. Micheal Lim

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Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity. Part 4: What Was the Apostles’ Fully Developed Confession of Their Belief in the Deity of Christ?

Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity

Part 4: What was the apostles’ fully developed or definitive confession of their belief in the deity of Christ?

Discussants: Dr. Ng Kam Weng and Mr. Micheal Lim

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What was the apostles’ fully developed confession of their belief in the deity of Christ?

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Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity, Part 3: How Did the Apostles and Early Christians Come to Believe in the Deity of Christ?

Question: How did the apostles and early Christians come to believe in the deity of Christ?

Discussants: Dr. Ng Kam Weng and Mr. Micheal Lim

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEkm-BqnCFo

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Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity, Part 2: Why the Canonical Gospels are more reliable than Gnostic Gospels.


Question:
But critics like Elaine Pagels & Bart Ehrman argue that this  traditional history of orthodoxy is skewed because it grants greater authority to the canonical gospels and ignores the other (gnostic ) gospels. Why do you think the canonical four gospels provide more accurate historical information about Jesus than the gnostic gospels?

Discussants: Dr. Ng Kam Weng and Mr. Micheal Lim

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Why the Canonical Gospels are more reliable than Gnostic Gospels.

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Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity Part 1: Was there diversity of Christian beliefs in the early church as different sects competed for influence?

Question: Many secular university scholars argue that there was diversity of Christian beliefs in the early church as different sects competed with one another for influence. When the sect in Rome gained power it declared itself orthodox and condemned the other sects like Gnosticism to be heretical. What is your response?

Discussants: Dr. Ng Kam Weng and Mr. Micheal Lim

You are welcome to join the discussion at:
Part 1: Was there diversity of Christian beliefs in the early church as different sects competed for influence?

Please forward this message if you find the video discussion helpful.