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Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Audio sermon: Why I believe in God

As part of a cluster of events this year responding to the New Atheism, our college faculty is doing a sermon series on the question, "Why I believe in God". I gave my sermon on Sunday at a church up in the Blue Mountains. If you'd like to know why I believe in God, here's an audio recording in three mp3 files (each about 6 or 7 minutes):

Why I believe in God (1)
Why I believe in God (2)
Why I believe in God (3)

My text is Matthew 5:14-16: "You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven."


Diana C Hereld said...

As a teacher, I love the way you begin with the concept of "telling vs. showing" and go from there. Really wonderful talk, thank you-

Phillip Mutchell said...

Sorry Ben I though I was reading something on experimental theology blog there, oops mea culpa.

Arni Zachariassen said...

"Jesus calls us not to be experts, but to be holy. He calls us not to give convincing explanations, but to show. He doesn't say, "Let your arguments persuade others." He says, "Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven." The life that has found its centre in God, the sanctified life, the life that is drawn from the wells of grace and joy, such a life is the only real apologetic, the only really convincing argument for the existence of God."


Rick said...

Thanks for the sermon, Ben! Loved it

Ryan said...

Really fantastic stuff. Thanks for the reminder to turn away from our "theological telescopes" to the God shown in Jesus.

Jason Goroncy said...

Thanks again Ben for witnessing to the truth of things - the good stuff of heaven.

Pamela said...

I believe in God too.

Derek said...

Thanks Ben.

Thomas Gokey said...

This is nice. For the last several years I've been trying to give as frank an answer to myself as I can as to why I'm still a Christian when there aren't any particular good reasons to believe in Christianity. When I give a frank answer it goes something like this: "I can believe in Christianity because of Gandhi. Thanks to Gandhi's example, I can understand the gospel of Jesus or imagine, a bit, what Jesus might have been like."

I've been a little embarrassed that this is all I can come up with, but it's reassuring to see someone else say something a little similar.

Sharon Keene said...

Thank you for this. You couldn't have known the timing for me personally; it's spot on. Concerned that I'm spending more time telling than showing, I left my church and organized religion this week. In this way, like Francis of Assisi and Henri Nouwen, I know that being out in the world, seeing Jesus and being Him is the way to be the shining light. The practice of the presence of God is the best proof that He is.

johnston said...

As a Christian who struggles with knowing whether God exists, and exists as revealed in Christ, I was hoping your sermon would be of some help to me. I respect your work as a theologian, but your sermon was of no help, whatsoever. I would be (have been!) told nearly the same message with different proper names in any other culture, from Hindu to LDS to Animistic. You claim that there is "no other possible explanation" for the holiness of the saints than that God, in Christ, is working through them. Except you give exactly no reason to believe this, unless your sincerity counts as an argument. You eschew popular Christian writers trying to prove God's existence and refute the New Atheists--I do, too, but because they often give poor arguments. But at least they are doing something that could conceivably help someone with doubts (don't get me wrong, I've seen people "cured" of doubts by light shows and musical dramas of the Cross and I'm sure your sermon, but your "apologetic" is going to be little help to people that have intellectual doubts--you know, are the claims of Christianity really true? as opposed to, how do I want to feel about them?).

DWLindeman said...

Dear Johnston: "The World Is Too Much With Us!" Kierkegaard, and in his own way, Keats, have said this, or rather "we are too much with the world". We are reminded of the facticities of this world, incessantly, by would-be cosmologists such as Stephen Hawking, however, I would group these apologists for naturalism and/or materialism, with the hubristic remarks of Heidegger, who suggested that we should resent that it was we (humankind, the human creature) who did not create the world. Existential bravado perhaps, but not existentialism per se. Does God exist? How is it that we exist? "Why Is There Not Nothing?", as Leibniz put it, and reiterated by Heidegger, as the most important question in philosophy. We may find ourselves flumoxed that we should be the "product of mystery", but I would propose that only God Himself understands the depths of His Own Mystery, and, that we should seize the opportunity to participate in the grace of His mystery, and in His own sacrifice through His only Son, Jesus the Christ. Joshuah, Jesus, "God With Us", we find ourslves stranded, and incomplete, I would say, without this particular awareness of how we exist as creatures in this world

DWLindeman said...

Of course there's nothing simple about epistemology of religion, especially among philosophers of religion who are also Christian. A concise argument contra Hawking and Mlodinow's reductionist cosmology, by UK philosopher John Haldane, can be found in his article "Philosophy Lives", in First Things, January, 2011, pp43-46. He brings in the argument of Aquinas, and others, who were: "acute enough to describe that original source of the being and character of things as an uncaused cause and not as the cause of itself", and going on to say, "since the idea that something could create itself from nothing simply makes no sense" p45.
I am not a philosopher of religion, but it has always seemed to me that arguments about God's existence should invariably acknowledge that they are not merely problems in logic, nor exclusively scientific, but inherently address the role(s) of creature (humanity) and divinity (God), so far as these roles are invariably relational and experiential, about being(s), and then also about the actuality of existence per se.

Ryan said...

For another good argument against philosophical reductionism from a "nonreductive physicalist" point of view, see Nancey Murphy and Warren Brown's book "Did My Neurons Make Me Do It?"

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