Adelaide Chapter

Archive for the ‘History’ Category

While Christianity is growing in non-Western countries, regular church attendance in Western countries has experienced steady decline over the last 100 years. Not only this, but Western social values have diverged from traditional Christian positions and Christianity is often scorned and ridiculed. Many are so prejudiced that they assume that Christianity is not worth considering. Any caring Christian should be concerned. What are the causes of this? Is it inevitable or what can we do about it?

The format of this meeting is slightly different. We have 2 speakers who provide complementary perspectives.

Dr Gordon Stanger

Gordon obtained his geology degree in University College London, and a PhD on ‘The Hydrology of the Oman Mountains. Since then he has worked for the Institute of Hydrology (UK), Flinders Uni (8 years), as a ‘Chief Technical Advisor’ (for the United Nations Development Program in Yemen), a stint as a visiting Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science (Taiwan), and as a water resources and/or climate-change consultant in about 30 other countries.

Dr Kevin Rogers

Kevin Rogers is the director of Reasonable Faith Adelaide. He is also a researcher, lecturer and research supervisor at the University of South Australia.

Gordon and Kevin’s combined presentation is available on YouTube.

Various forms of human slavery have been practiced for thousands of years and professing Christians have practiced it as well. We know that devout Christian politician William Wilberforce led the British campaign to prohibit the export of slaves from Africa, so where did he find his mandate to take this stand – was it the Bible?

From ‘Gone with the wind’

Both the Old Testament (Jewish scriptures) and the New Testament (Christian scriptures) seem to accept slavery as part of the social order to provide labor for manual tasks. Is the Biblical perspective morally defensible?

Stephen White

Steve’s talk is available on YouTube.

Are Allah and the Christian God the same? That is a rather interesting question. Opinions are split and there are good arguments for both options.

Obviously Christianity and Islam are different, but they both claim that there is one God and only one God. So is this “one God” they each claim to worship someone totally different in each case? Or, if there IS only one, is it simply a matter of different perspectives, different interpretations, or different views of this one God?

Brian’s talk is available on YouTube.

We all know about the 10 plagues of Egypt, which are often the traditional perspective from our days at ‘Sunday School’. However, modern branches of science (especially hydrology, geology, Egyptology, and biology) put the Plagues of Egypt into a different perspective. There were certainly miracles, but the nature of these miracles may not be quite what you thought.

Theologically, the main theme was bringing God’s chosen people out of bondage and into freedom, with all the New Testament symbolism that this entails. In particular, the Passover has obvious parallels with salvation and the Church’s communion rites, but there is more to it than that. The ten plagues of Egypt were a slap in the face to Egypt’s pantheon of false Gods, and proclaim a strong Biblical theme of true versus false religion.

Gordon is a geologist, hydrologist, water resources specialist, and a climate-change impact analyst. He is semi-retired and is a keen advocate of ‘sensible Christianity’.

Dr Gordon stanger

Gordon’s talk is available on YouTube.

Form Criticism is a branch of Biblical Criticism that was highly influential within mainly liberal theological colleges from the early to late 1900s. The primary assumption of Form Criticism, as applied to the gospels, is that stories about the events and sayings of Jesus were passed on through many stages of oral re-telling and were progressively modified to suit the needs of the church at that time. The gospels that we now have are captured snapshots of the evolving oral tradition and thus have limited historical value.

This belies the claims of the gospel authors themselves and the testimony of the early church fathers. Are the gospels the result of an unreliable chain of oral tradition, or are they based on eye-witness accounts?

Kevin Rogers is the director of Reasonable Faith Adelaide and is a member of Ingle Farm Baptist Church. He is also a PhD student, research fellow and lecturer at the University of South Australia.

Kevin Rogers

Kevin’s presentation is available on YouTube.

Some have cast doubt about many of the large numbers in the OT, as being absurd. In particular, use of the Hebrew word “aleph” as being translated 1000. E.g. ‘600 of aleph’ (600,000) as the number of Israelites of fighting age, implying that the total number of Israelites including old men, women and children, must have been about 2.5 to 3.0 million. This number is inconsistent with other passages of the Bible, which describe Israel as a ‘tiny nation’. There is a strong case that aleph = 1000 is a mis-translation, based upon internal (Biblical) and external (archaeological and scientific) arguments. This would bring many aspects of the Torah and Kings / Chronicles narratives into line with rationality, and hence believability.

Gordon obtained his geology degree in University College London, and a PhD on ‘The Hydrology of the Oman Mountains. Since then he has worked for the Institute of Hydrology (UK), Flinders Uni (8 years), as a ‘Chief Technical Advisor’ (for the United Nations Development Program in Yemen), a stint as a visiting Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science (Taiwan), and as a water resources and/or climate-change consultant in about 30 other countries.

Dr Gordon Stanger

He has worked for AusAID (as was), World Bank, Asia Development Bank, and a large swag of development agencies, large and small. He has contributed to numerous books and international symposia, and am the author of ‘Dictionary of Hydrology and Water Resources’. He is currently working on his farewell opus; a trilogy called ‘sensible Christianity’. Most recently he became the project leader for ‘Climate-Driven Migration’ for an NGO called SafeGround (one time co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize).

His talk is available on YouTube.

‘The Spanish Inquisition’ is a term that rouses thoughts of torture and a fiery death. It is a term that sits uncomfortably with modern views of a God of Love and acceptance of everyone whatever their beliefs and life choices.

Whilst the ‘Inquisition’ is largely used to describe the events in medieval Spain, the Roman Catholic institution to root out heresy started in France in 1184 and officially continues to this day in the Catholic Church under a different name.

This presentation will look at the reasons for the Inquisition, its victims, and compare it with the civil law and processes current at the time.

Stephen White has had a career as a physicist and is now retired. He has been a very supportive member of the Reasonable Faith Adelaide committee for a number of years.

Stephen White

Steve’s talk is available on YouTube.

Papias (c 60 AD to c 130 AD) was bishop of Hierapolis in western Turkey. He provides the first extant record about the authorship of the gospels and the manner of Christian oral tradition.

His writings are highly debated and controversial, as they impinge on basic questions such as

  • Who wrote the gospels?
  • Are the gospels based on eye-witness sources?
  • Are the gospels an accurate record of what Jesus said and did?
Kevin Rogers

Kevin Rogers is the director of Reasonable Faith Adelaide. He is also an engineering lecturer and researcher at the University of South Australia.

His presentation is available on YouTube.

Mary the mother of Jesus was and is highly revered within the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox traditions of the Christian church.

Mary and child in Hagia Sophia

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 Sabolidis

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?

Hillsong

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.

A Kenyan congregation

Still, Church historian Dr Matthew James Gray from Tabor gives it a shot.

Dr Mathew James Gray

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.

Matt’s talk is available on You Tube.