Simeon Stylites was a laugh a minute. He lived 37 years on a sixty foot pillar 1400 years ago! He wanted to be spiritual and get closer to God! Unfortunately the hermit had misunderstood the message of the Bible! He believed that the earth and the body were evil and to be shunned. One day a fly landed on one of his pus-filled wounds caused by the inclement weather. He spoke to the fly thus: "Eat what God has given you." He inspired thousands of people to follow his 'pillar' lifestyle. There are four ways of looking at this story.
Have you ever thought about flies? They can ruin a picknic without trying very hard. Ponder how different religions and philosophies look at these irritating insects. The Egyptians worshipped them as gods. Plato said flies are just prisons for badly behaved souls? Materialists contend that flies are just items for sale? (£1 per item) Do you know what Scripture tells us about them? The book of Colossians tells us that bluebottles were made by and for Jesus? Jesus is Lord of all… even bluebottles.
In 1998 Geoff Smith spent 147 days buried in a coffin six feet under a pub garden in Mansfield reclaiming a world record set by his mother, Emma, thirty years earlier. Food, water and human waste were transported through a plastic tube!
There are three ways of looking at this story.
Glenn Hoddle was born in the suburbs of London in 1957. He became one of the most exciting and gifted footballers ever to play for England. In 1998 he was sacked from his job as the manager of the England team because of the following comments he made in an interview –
Is it possible to be an agnostic? Many would say yes! I say – no!
The idea of being an agnostic goes completely against the idea of 'worldview'. Worldviews are not intellectual ideas. Worldviews are the 'Big Stories' that can mug us and captivate our lives and imaginations. These stories are often invisible and under the surface. You have to dig them out. It’s hard work! We are talking about the deep, spiritual commitments that drive our lives.
- Follow me Sobek, the crocodile god. I am a fertility god and far more powerful than Heqet, the ugly frog god. I am virile beyond belief…
- Follow me Baal! I am a Canaanite fertility god and I promise to bless your harvests if you will only give me your children…
- Follow me Artemis, the goddess of hunting. I love my gladiator servants who kill wild animals in the Colisseum. I sponsor temple prostitutes and a tidy silver shrine business.
Jesus claimed on several occasions that He had the authority to forgive sins. For many this is a deeply offensive thing to say. The uniqueness of Jesus Christ is challenged by many people today. It is very instructive to think deeply about people who believe that they can find God without Jesus. As we have seen before, some people will go to extreme lengths to earn their salvation. Consider this true story about a 'raised arm baba'. How do you respond to Amar's self-torture? Do you admire him or do you feel sad for him?
David's blog on Dalits and the caste system is well worth exploring in terms of worldviews. Why are so many Dalits / untouchables believed to be cursed from birth? The following true story is illuminating. A Dalit woman living in India was asked why she wouldn't take her baby son to the doctor. He was very ill. She replied that the illness was part of the boy's karma. He was being punished for something he had done in a previous life. She asserted that it was the boy's fate to suffer!
Why is talking about faith often awkward and filled with clichés? Why do our conversations about faith rarely grip people and intrigue them?
Mark Roques has spent his life tackling this issue and is convinced that our evangelism can be transformed if we 'do an Apostle Paul' and learn to understand and engage with the beliefs that shape our world.
In this course Mark will move us step by step through the world of religious and secular beliefs, equipping us to talk about the Christian faith in a way that is both engaging and insightful.
Films seduce and indoctrinate us in the same way as soap operas, but there is greater variety and the opportunity to discern the difference between the real and unreal worlds. Consider this sequence of films: