Mike Jones - Does the Christmas Story still hold together?
On Christmas Eve the Guardian or its blog will often run a story like “No Virgin Births” Most of us never spend the time to take a look at what gets said and so if we are not Christians, we assume these headlines are right, and if we are evangelicals we wonder whether evangelicalism is rational. Is it rational to be a Christian who reads the Bible seriously?
Does the Christmas story hold together?
This is the first of three posts which look at what people are actually arguing about in the media & have a look at the Gospels of Luke and Matthew as they describe what happened that first Christmas.
I wonder, Who do you agree with? - 2015’s Christmas Eve debate
Most Christmas articles are pretty basic - What was the star? How many magi were there? So far this year all we have is a Grinch pastor preaching anti-Santa sermons in a mall in the USA!
However, on Christmas Eve 2015, Dr GilesFraser wrote an article on the Guardian blog rejecting the virgin birth. On the same day, Dr Ian Paul rebutted Giles Fraser’s approach line-by-line.
When I first read them, the arguments went over my head. I didn't have time as a vicar on Christmas Eve to think. Later on I got out my laptop, cut and pasted the articles and went through the arguments. How do you do that? Ask yourself What they are saying and Why they say they are saying that.
Greg Toukl in his book Tactics makes a helpful point. When an article tells you what someone thinks, you have been informed. When an article tells you why s/he holds their view, you are hearing their argument and you can think about whether their reasons stand up to scrutiny.
In most articles and twitter spats you get a whole host of thoughts with no real reasons. Yet for there to be some learning rather than an exchange of assertions you need more than that.
Writers often go wrong because .
· their reasoning is weak,
· their facts mistaken,
· their views biased
· or you may flatly disagree with their assumptions.
To work this out, you can do it with pen and paper or a laptop. One year, I did that with my 15 year old to look at the argument in Dawkin’s God Delusion and she decided that he would have failed Religious Education GCSE (our exams for 16 year olds).
In the next blog we will get pen and paper (well Onenote anyway) and try it in practice…
© Mike Jones 2017