By Dr. J. Scott Bridger, Associate Professor of Global Studies & World Religions
A slightly different version of this blog post originally appeared on the site of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary here.
One of the questions I frequently encounter by Christians in the West is whether or not the Arabic word Allah can be used to refer to the God of the Bible. Many well-meaning Western Christians have sought to disassociate the God of Islam from the God of the Christianity. In doing so they’ve focused their efforts on driving a wedge between the Allah of the Qur’an and the God of the Bible. “The Allah of Islam is not the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” is a slogan that encapsulates this concern. While on the face of it this is a true statement, unfortunately, the linguistic question surrounding the legitimacy of using Allah in Arabic (or in other “Muslim” majority language contexts) oftentimes gets entangled with the broader theological discussion related to the identity of God in Islam versus Christianity. In order to clarify some of the issues involved in this discussion, it is important to understand something of the history of Arabic-speaking Christianity. It is also important to separate the linguistic question related to the legitimacy of using Allah to refer to God in Arabic from the theological question pertaining to the nature and character of the word’s referent.
by Kirk Spencer
Philosophy in a Hot Room
It is said that modern philosophy was born in an oven. Supposedly the philosopher René Descartes spent a cold morning in a hot room (stove-heated) attempting to doubt everything. It all sounds “half-baked” to me, but I’m willing to give it the benefit-of-the-doubt. But…even if it never happened, it is a fascinating (and appropriate) story. For, in this hot room—real or proverbial—Descartes discovered he could doubt a multitude of things. He could doubt earth and sky. He could doubt mind and body. Descartes even doubted the goodness of God. And, then when he doubted a good God, (in his doubt) he had to deal with a deceiving god (or evil demon) that was deceiving him into believing all kinds of things—even the possibility that he himself was deceived into believing that he (Descartes) existed, even when he didn’t.
by Joe Wooddell
I used to run a lot more than I do now, but I still love to run. Different runners have different habits. Some enjoy listening to music while others prefer silence; some relish trail running, while others appreciate pavement; and some love variety from day to day while others favor predictability. The weather, one’s diet, and the time of day affect different runners in different ways. Nearly all runners, however, understand and value the difference between training paces and race pace. We train at diverse paces: we do speed work, tempo runs, and long runs, among other things. But on race day we have a slightly different plan, typically hoping to achieve some ideal pace (e.g. a six or seven or eight minute mile) toward which all of our training has been directed. It’s called race pace, and it varies depending on the length and terrain of the course, not to mention our time of life.
Over at the Southern Baptist Texan, Barry Creamer responds to a recent Boston Globe article, discussing the tug of war between biomedical research and bioethics. Here’s a snippet: Continue reading
by Barry Creamer
If this issue is so obvious, why were the justices split 5-4, and why are so many people “so obviously wrong” to everyone who disagrees with them? The answer is simple. The disagreement is rooted in competing worldviews. Christianity is not bound by a worldview, but people, including Christians, are. And worldviews are neither chosen by their adherents nor necessarily consistent, even within an individual. As I contend below, an individualistic worldview has led our culture to its current position on gender, sexuality, and marriage. A communitarian worldview would have maintained traditional marriage as normative. And while believers are attracted to that part of a communitarian worldview, we are also sufficiently individualistic that we should be able to understand how the culture has arrived at its current position—even though we adamantly and justly disagree with that position. I do not agree at all with the court’s decision in Obergefell. And as surely as I will continue to affirm the authority and content of scripture I will also affirm traditional Judeo-Christian teachings about human sexuality, gender identity, and marriage. Continue reading
by Kirk Spencer
It’s been an interesting week. The confederate flag was removed across the country and the N-Word was spoken by the president of the country.
It reminds us that symbols and words are like living things. They change. Usage and perceptions alters their meaning over time. And so, if a flag comes to represent racism in America, it is time to lower it and put it in a museum with a card (which no one will read) telling what it meant “back-in-the-day.” And, if words become offensive, don’t say them. For instance, I agree with our president; it is “not polite to say (the N-word) in public…” Now he didn’t say “the N-word.” He said the actual word itself in the same sentence in which he said that saying this word—the one which he is actually saying—is not polite to say. Our president was correct in pointing out the impoliteness of the N-word (though not in actually using it in telling us this). Continue reading
by Joe Wooddell
After Game 3 of the NBA finals (Cleveland over Golden State 96-91), it finally dawned on me why I so dislike some of what LeBron James does. What’s not to like? 40 points in the game, 41% field goal percentage, 33% from three-point range, 83% at free throws, 12 rebounds, 8 assists, and 4 steals. Possibly he is the greatest basketball player ever. So what’s the problem with this 6’8” 250 lb. legend? What I would have said immediately after the game is that he’s a whiner. But I think that’s just a symptom of a deeper issue, which I’ll share in a moment. Continue reading