Mary the mother of Jesus was and is highly revered within the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox traditions of the Christian church.
The reformers believed that there was a lot of superstition surrounding Mary to the point of inappropriately worshipping her as a divine figure or praying to her as if to Christ or God. So there was and is a reaction against Mary within the Protestant traditions. Perhaps this was an over-reaction.
Christopher Stabolidis will take us through how Christ’s mother Mary came to be called “the Mother of God” by the Church. There actually was a good reason. Chris’s talk is available on You Tube.
Where is Christianity at today?
On one level, it is impossible to answer that, given we’re discussing a phenomenon that includes 2 billion people from an astonishing array of backgrounds, cultures, denominations, and with varying levels of devotion.
Still, Church historian Dr Matthew James Gray from Tabor gives it a shot.
The answer is that the Church is the same as it always has been, and also completely different to what it’s ever been before. This is because the Christ that is its Head, it is always the same, yet is also incarnating into the shifting cultures and situations that humanity experience. Exploring this, in light of its past, as well as peering into the future a little, is an exciting and fascinating topic to dive into.
On the 29th November 1947, by a majority vote of its members, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a plan to create an independent Jewish state in the region of modern Israel. Then, on 14 May 1948, the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel was proclaimed.
So Israel was born; or re-born. It is the only Jewish majority state in the world, which is something that hasn’t existed for over 2500 years. So:
How did it happen?
Why then, and not previously?
What happened when the State was proclaimed?
What, broadly, has happened over the following 70 years?
John Lennox has challenged whether science can prove everything? However, in this presentation, Dr Leonard Long will address the question, “Can science prove anything?” Science is practised within a belief system based on unprovable presuppositions, and can study only the patterns of behaviour of an already given functional, predictable, universe. Scientists who wander into bad philosophy will be critiqued, as will scientism – the overblown belief in science.
So Leonard’s address includes the following topics:
Nature of science,
Ideological corruption within science, and
Interference of politics and funding within science.
When it comes to talking about the development of science as we know it in the West, the standard pop level narrative usually goes something like:
“From the time of the Ancient Greeks, figures such as Aristotle were the fathers of science, and then unfortunately the Roman Catholic Church came into power during the Middle Ages/Medieval period (5th century to around 15th century) and during this 1000-year period, science was stagnated, that is, until science finally broke free from its religious roots in the early modern period i.e. the scientific revolution from the 16th century onwards. At this point modern science developed rapidly (finally) due to the fact that scientists were no longer religiously constrained as they once were.’”(Nathan Bossoh)
However, if we ignore “pop level narrative” and look at actual history we see something very different.
Brian Schroeder argues that, rather than hindering the rise of modern science, Christianity was actually the underlying philosophy and the driving force behind it.
My philosophy lecturer once said, “All philosophy is a commentary on Plato”. There is much that is impressive about Greek philosophers, such as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. In Athens Paul referred to Stoic philosophers as a point of contact in proclaiming the Jewish Messiah. Early Christian apologists integrated Platonism with Christian belief but others were not so keen. Tertullian, a notable early church father, put it this way: “What has Athens got to do with Jerusalem?” What is the relationship between the wisdom of God and the wisdom of the world? Are they different?
These questions are considered here by Geoff Russell.
The French term “expérience de mort immente” (experience of imminent death) was proposed by French psychologist Victor Egger as a result of discussions in the 1890s among philosophers and psychologists concerning climbers’ stories of the panoramic life review during falls. In 1892 a series of subjective observations by workers falling from scaffolds, soldiers who suffered injuries, climbers who had fallen from heights or other individuals who had come close to death (near drownings, accidents) was reported by Albert Heim. This was also the first time the phenomenon was described as a clinical syndrome.
Professor Kenneth Ring (1980) subdivided Near Death Experiences (NDEs) into a five-stage continuum. The subdivisions were:
Seeing the light
Entering the light
The following explanatory models have been proposed for NDEs
Spiritual or Transcendental models
Physiological (organic) explanations
So what should we make of NDEs? Cardiac surgeons are objective observers of people who “die on the operating table”. They have to write clinical reports that are subject to review. Some of their patients come back to life after being pronounced dead. What do surgeons think about NDE? Are NDEs a preview into the afterlife?
Stephen White tells us what he has found. His presentation is on You Tube.
In modern Western Cultures today it seems that there is more “moral” outrage and indignation about “right” and “wrong” than ever before. It appears that our anger is growing and that, increasingly, we seem splintered into ever smaller groups with ever opposing yet solidly entrenched views with little hope of consensus on any issue of importance. There seems little doubt that this moral anger and outrage is being fuelled by social media. In light of this increasing debate about right and wrong, investigation and civil conversation about “morality” and its implications would be valuable.
Tom Daly presents the “moral argument for God” and examines more closely what we actually mean when we claim something to be “good/bad” or “right/wrong” and if this tells us something about ourselves, our ideas, our anger and also something about the existence of God. We will consider the moral argument for God in light of mankind’s ability to discern right and wrong, and the fact that we seem to be moral beings at our core. Yet scientism tells us that we are merely amoral matter that has developed ideas and feelings of morality by the amoral process of evolution, which, at its core, has what we feel to be the immoral notion that the strong eat the weak. Hopefully we can “reason together”.
From the time of Constantine I, the relationship between the Church and state radically changed. It was so revolutionary that the New Testament writers would have found it impossible to fathom, or possibly to abide. Certainly, many since (on the side of the Church, and on the side of the state) have lamented this change, then and now. Christianity and the Roman government became Christendom, a strange union. Having said that, it isn’t as clear-cut as that. This was a stormy romance at times.
Dr Matthew James Gray explores some of the key moments of the later Greco-Roman empire, opening a window into the volatility, complexity, beauty and tragedy of the emperors and their bishops.