This Saturday’s conference talk topics revealed

» 26 September 2014 » In Uncategorized » No Comments

imagesFolks, there is still a bit of time left to order tickets for The Faith Explained Conference online at this link: http://goo.gl/Rdgl6M. After tonight, one can only buy tickets at the door.

Here are the topics of tomorrow’s presentations:

Cale Clarke: Jesus, Alive Forevermore: The key question is this: Did Jesus rise from the dead? If this didn’t happen, nothing else matters, as St Paul himself said: “If Christ is not risen, our preaching is useless, and so is your faith”. We’ll examine the evidence for the bodily resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.

Dr. Craig Evans: Talk #1: How Old and How Reliable are the Bible Manuscripts? Many scholars say that one can’t trust the text of the Bible – that it has been hopelessly corrupted over time. Is this true? What do the latest discoveries tell us about the trustworthiness of the Scriptures?

Talk #2: Jesus and Archaeology: Learn how archaeology helps us to understand – and in many cases to confirm what we know of – Jesus of Nazareth.

Cardinal Thomas Collins: Discipleship: What does it mean to truly follow Jesus in the 21st century?

I can’t wait…see you there!

 

 

 

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Bible Study (Genesis) Thursday; The Faith Explained Conference this Saturday!

» 23 September 2014 » In Uncategorized » No Comments

GenesisYou’ve no doubt heard about The Faith Explained Conference this Saturday, Sept. 27, featuring Cardinal Thomas Collins, Dr Craig Evans, and me. If you don’t have tickets yet, grab them at this link: http://goo.gl/Rdgl6M, but hurry, as online sales will end soon.

However, that’s not the only big event we’ve got this week: if you’re in the Toronto area and are looking for a Catholic Bible Study, join us this Thursday night at 7:30 at St Justin Martyr parish in Markham as we begin The Faith Explained Bible Study of the book of Genesis.

The Bible’s first book is endlessly fascinating, and we’ll be exploring a lot of important questions people ask about it. Just what does Genesis teach, for example, about creation?

One of the best Catholic scholars out there, Dr Brant Pitre, has put together a good shortlist of what we need to believe about creation, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC). The axiom about Church teaching as an interpretation of Scripture holds here:

Fundamental Catholic Doctrines on Creation

1. Creation is a work of the holy Trinity (CCC 290-92)

2. The world was created for the glory of God (293)

3. God created the world from his free will and divine love (295)

4. God created the world ex nihilo (“out of nothing”) (296-99)

5. God created an ordered and good world (299)

6. God transcends creation and is present to it (300)

7. God upholds and sustains creation at every moment (301)

8. God’s providence guides creation towards its perfection (302-305)

9. God gives his creatures free will to share in his providence (306-308)

10. If Creation is good, why does evil exist? (309)

a. Reality of physical evil (310)
b. Reality of moral evil (311)
c. God can bring good out of an evil (312-314)

(source: BrantPitre.com)

For much more, join us for our series on Thursday evenings.

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William Lane Craig on the value of apologetics

» 12 September 2014 » In Uncategorized » No Comments

UnknownThe Faith Explained Conference on September 27 (go here for tickets: http://goo.gl/Rdgl6M) is fast approaching, and I can’t wait! As we explore our conference theme of “Jesus: Yesterday, Today, and Forever” (Hebrews 13:8), we’ll be spending some time in the presentations on apologetics – offering a reasonable basis for Christian faith.

William Lane Craig is one of the foremost Christian apologists and philosophers active on the world stage today. Over at his Reasonable Faith site, Craig has posted a great talk that he presented at Calvin Seminary on the value of apologetics. Here’s a snippet:

Having sound arguments for the existence of a Creator and Designer of the universe or evidence for the historical credibility of the New Testament records of the life of Jesus in addition to the inner witness of the Spirit could increase one’s confidence in the veracity of Christian truth claims. On Plantinga’s epistemological model, at least, one would then have greater warrant for believing such claims. Greater warrant could in turn lead an unbeliever to come to faith more readily or inspire a believer to share his faith more boldly. Moreover, the availability of independent warrant for Christian truth claims apart from the Spirit’s witness could help predispose an unbeliever to respond to the drawing of the Holy Spirit when he hears the Gospel and could provide the believer with epistemic support in times of spiritual dryness or doubt when the Spirit’s witness seems eclipsed. One could doubtless think of many other ways in which the possession of such dual warrant for Christian beliefs would be beneficial.

So the question is: do natural theology and Christian evidences warrant Christian belief? I think that they do. In my published work I have formulated and defended versions of the cosmological, teleological, axiological, and ontological arguments for God’s existence and have also defended theism against the most prominent objections lodged by atheist thinkers to belief in God, such as the problem of evil, the hiddenness of God, and the coherence of theism. Furthermore, I have argued for the authenticity of Jesus’ radical personal claims and the historicity of his empty tomb, his post-mortem appearances to various individuals and groups, and the unexpected belief of the earliest disciples that God had raised him from the dead. Moreover, I have argued, using the standard criteria for assessing historical hypotheses, that the best explanation of these facts is the one given by the disciples themselves: God raised Jesus from the dead.

The entire address, which is well worth your time, can be found here.

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Pope Francis and Diego Maradona

» 02 September 2014 » In Uncategorized » No Comments

Yes, that Diego Maradona, he of the infamous “Hand of God” goal in the ’86 World Cup. Maradona was in Rome Monday night not simply to see his fellow Argentine Pope Francis, but to play, along with other futbol luminaries Javier Zanetti and Roberto Baggio, in a unique event billed as an “Interreligious Match for Peace”. Zanetti indicated that the “friendly”, played in front of a huge crowd at Rome’s Olympic stadium, was the “express wish of Pope Francis” who wanted to show the power of sport for building bridges of peace.

And this isn’t the only event Francis has dreamed up in this regard: the Vatican press office today spelled out more about an upcoming conference on sport:

On the occasion of the Interreligious Match for Peace, the Pontifical Council for Culture has organized a three-day seminar, called “Sports at the “Service of Humanity: From the ‘Results-Oriented Culture’ to a ‘Culture of Encounter”’. The seminar began on Monday, and ends on Wednesday.

In a video message for Brazil’’s World Cup Soccer championship earlier this year, Pope Francis said, “Soccer can and should be a school that promotes a ‘culture of encounter’. One that leads to harmony and peace between peoples.” With that idea in mind, the Pontifical Council for Culture, together with international Catholic sports associations, has organized a two-day seminar to coincide with Monday’s Interreligious Match for Peace to reflect on the theme of ““Sport at the Service of Humanity”.”

Organizers want the discussion to focus on sports as a means of encounter and dialogue rather than what it seems, in many cases, to have become: a lucrative business for a lucky few and a place for winner-takes-all competitiveness. In our highly consumeristic society, we must, they say, “replace the money and the medals with the human being”. One of the objectives of the seminar is preparing for the international Vatican Global Conference on Sport and Faith to be held in the Vatican in September 2015.

I don’t know about you, but I think this is brilliant on Pope Francis’ part. Sport is a huge cultural force that, if you’ll pardon the pun, is an overlooked arena for the furtherance of the Gospel. The soccer match, seminar, and conference is yet another creative evangelistic move by the Holy Father.

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Is that Craig Evans….or Tom Selleck?

» 01 September 2014 » In Uncategorized » No Comments

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Here’s a blast from the past: Dr Craig Evans, looking very Magnum, P.I.-ish, delivering a lecture on Jesus and the Dead Sea Scrolls, back in ’99.

Catch the good Doctor in person, along with Cardinal Thomas Collins and me, at The Faith Explained Conference in Toronto on September 27. Get your tickets at http://goo.gl/Rdgl6M while you still can!

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Scott Hahn on the Queenship of Mary

» 22 August 2014 » In Uncategorized » No Comments

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On this feast of Mary’s Queenship, here’s a brief video by Dr Scott Hahn explaining the link between the Assumption of Mary and her special role as Queen Mother of Christ’s Kingdom. Be sure to check out the wonderful work of Professor Hahn and all of his associates at The Saint Paul Center for Biblical Theology.

 

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Craig Evans Responds to Bart Ehrman: How God Became Jesus

» 21 August 2014 » In Uncategorized » No Comments

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Don’t miss Dr Craig Evans live at The Faith Explained Conference on September 27. Cardinal Thomas Collins will also speak, so grab your tickets here while you still can! Check out Dr Evans’ response to Bart Ehrman in this YouTube clip.

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How to help Iraqi Christians

» 18 August 2014 » In Uncategorized » No Comments

Following talks that I’ve given lately, I’ve fielded a lot of questions about the persecution of Iraqi Christians. All of us have been horrified by what we’ve heard; very often we’re at a loss about what to do. Josh Canning over at Canadian Catholic has penned a nice post offering three practical action steps:

1. Write your MP (Member of Parliament in Canada; American readers can contact their elected representatives at State and Federal levels):

  • Sometimes we plan to do this and procrastinate. Please do it now. It does influence policy, and I am posting a letter below that you can cut and paste if you like.

2. Give

  • CNEWA launched an emergency appeal to help fleeing families in Iraq. How much should you give? $100 is a good bold number to start with. Maybe you can’t give that much, maybe you can give more. Just make it sting a little. It helps! (Canadians give here or here; Americans can give here.

3. Pray

  • Let us, as a people of God, beg him daily for solutions to this crisis. Pray personally. Get together and pray in groups. Have Masses said for this intention. And fast from something.

When part of the body hurts the whole body feels it. Let’s ache with and for our suffering family, and be generous.

Sample Letter to an MP

Hon. MP _______,

As a member of your riding, I am writing to ask you to advocate for a greater government response to the tragic events happening right now in Iraq. There is a genocide taking place against Iraq’s Christian community. Along with the archbishop of Toronto, Thomas Cardinal Collins, I ask that all bureaucratic barriers be removed to accept Iraqi refugees who are being displaced, hunted down and murdered by the Islamic State (formerly ISIS).

The number of victims is vast and rapidly growing. Women, children and the elderly are dying of exposure. Please do what you can to ensure our government will do its part to urgently provide the humanitarian support needed.

Thank you,

(Your name)

PLEASE SHARE THIS POST

Josh’s full post is well worth reading – and sharing.

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Pope Francis’ latest homily from Korea

» 17 August 2014 » In Uncategorized » No Comments

The Holy Father highlights the need for reconciliation, which is of particular concern for the future of the Korean peninsula.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As my stay in Korea draws to a close, I thank God for the many blessings he has bestowed upon this beloved country, and in a special way, upon the Church in Korea.  Among those blessings I especially treasure the experience we have all had in these recent days of the presence of so many young pilgrims from throughout Asia.  Their love of Jesus and their enthusiasm for the spread of his Kingdom have been an inspiration to us all.

My visit now culminates in this celebration of Mass, in which we implore from God the grace of peace and reconciliation.  This prayer has a particular resonance on the Korean peninsula.  Today’’s Mass is first and foremost a prayer for reconciliation in this Korean family.  In the Gospel, Jesus tells us how powerful is our prayer when two or three of us join in asking for something (cf. Mt 18:19-20).  How much more when an entire people raises its heartfelt plea to heaven!

The first reading presents God’’s promise to restore to unity and prosperity a people dispersed by disaster and division.  For us, as for the people of Israel, this is a promise full of hope: it points to a future which God is even now preparing for us.  Yet this promise is inseparably tied to a command: the command to return to God and wholeheartedly obey his law (cf. Dt 30:2-3).  God’’s gifts of reconciliation, unity and peace are inseparably linked to the grace of conversion, a change of heart which can alter the course of our lives and our history, as individuals and as a people.

At this Mass, we naturally hear this promise in the context of the historical experience of the Korean people, an experience of division and conflict which has lasted for well over sixty years.  But God’’s urgent summons to conversion also challenges Christ’’s followers in Korea to examine the quality of their own contribution to the building of a truly just and humane society.  It challenges each of you to reflect on the extent to which you, as individuals and communities, show evangelical concern for the less fortunate, the marginalized, those without work and those who do not share in the prosperity of the many.  And it challenges you, as Christians and Koreans, firmly to reject a mindset shaped by suspicion, confrontation and competition, and instead to shape a culture formed by the teaching of the Gospel and the noblest traditional values of the Korean people.

In today’’s Gospel, Peter asks the Lord: “If my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him?  As many as seven times?”  To which the Lord replies: “Not seven times, I tell you, but seventy times seven” (Mt 18:21-22).  These words go to the very heart of Jesus’ message of reconciliation and peace.  In obedience to his command, we ask our heavenly Father daily to forgive us our sins, “as we forgive those who sin against us”.  Unless we are prepared to do this, how can we honestly pray for peace and reconciliation?

Jesus asks us to believe that forgiveness is the door which leads to reconciliation.  In telling us to forgive our brothers unreservedly, he is asking us to do something utterly radical, but he also gives us the grace to do it.  What appears, from a human perspective, to be impossible, impractical and even at times repugnant, he makes possible and fruitful through the infinite power of his cross.  The cross of Christ reveals the power of God to bridge every division, to heal every wound, and to reestablish the original bonds of brotherly love.

This, then, is the message which I leave you as I conclude my visit to Korea.  Trust in the power of Christ’’s cross!  Welcome its reconciling grace into your own hearts and share that grace with others!  I ask you to bear convincing witness to Christ’’s message of forgiveness in your homes, in your communities and at every level of national life.  I am confident that, in a spirit of friendship and cooperation with other Christians, with the followers of other religions, and with all men and women of good will concerned for the future of Korean society, you will be a leaven of the Kingdom of God in this land.  Thus our prayers for peace and reconciliation will rise to God from ever more pure hearts and, by his gracious gift, obtain that precious good for which we all long.

Let us pray, then, for the emergence of new opportunities for dialogue, encounter and the resolution of differences, for continued generosity in providing humanitarian assistance to those in need, and for an ever greater recognition that all Koreans are brothers and sisters, members of one family, one people.

Before leaving Korea, I wish to thank the President of the Republic, the civil and ecclesiastical authorities and all those who in any way helped to make this visit possible.  I especially wish to address a word of personal appreciation to the priests of Korea, who daily labor in the service of the Gospel and the building up of God’’s people in faith, hope and love.  I ask you, as ambassadors of Christ and ministers of his reconciling love (cf. 2 Cor 5:18-20), to continue to build bridges of respect, trust and harmonious cooperation in your parishes, among yourselves, and with your bishops.  Your example of unreserved love for the Lord, your faithfulness and dedication to your ministry, and your charitable concern for those in need, contribute greatly to the work of reconciliation and peace in this country.

Dear brothers and sisters, God calls us to return to him and to hearken to his voice, and he promises to establish us on the land in even greater peace and prosperity than our ancestors knew.  May Christ’’s followers in Korea prepare for the dawning of that new day, when this land of the morning calm will rejoice in God’’s richest blessings of harmony and peace!

Amen.

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Cardinal Collins to speak at The Faith Explained Conference Sept 27

» 13 August 2014 » In Uncategorized » No Comments

Thomas Cardinal Collins will headline The Faith Explained Conference on Sept 27, along with Dr. Craig Evans. Get your tickets right here:

Cardinal Collins is a phenomenal speaker with a rare gift for opening the Scriptures. Check out this clip from the Cardinal’s phenomenal Lectio Devina series on the Gospel of Mark below. See you on Sept 27!

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