History and the Miraculous

This morning I awoke to yet another installment from one of the Biblical studies discussion groups to which I subscribe. Seldom do I have the time or interest to following the discussions these days. But around Easter time people tend to submit thoughts or items that for many reasons interest me. This morning I was directed to an essay by Dr. John Dickson, the director of the Centre for Public Christianity and an honorary associate of the Department of Ancient History at Macquarie University. In his essay, “Facts and friction of Easter,” Dickson writes of the extremes his finds between skeptics, accommodationists and apologists when it comes to the resurrection of Jesus. Much of what he writes is fair enough. But here’s an excerpt that contains some thoughts that I believe are vulnerable and worth pondering.

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Derren Brown, Tricks of the Mind, part 2

Continued from part 1

The Historicity of the Gospels

Here I must quote Derren at length. I wish I could simply reproduce his paragraph without any breaks for commentary and interaction. That simply is not possible since he makes so many revealing or vulnerable assertions.

There are plenty of arguments like this, but all are based on the notion that we can take the New Testament stories as accounts of real events. But to decide that the Bible is history, one must ignore the vast amount of impartial biblical research that shows it really isn’t – in other words, to decide that one’s personal conviction means more than clear evidence. (14, italics added; to be continued below)

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Derren Brown, Tricks of the Mind, Part 1

Derren BrownA few months ago, a friend brought Derren Brown (a well-known British magician) to my attention, noting that a number of “episodes” from his programs could be watched on YouTube. I watched a number of them and found them, overall, to be fun and fascinating, with a few quite stunning and a few less than profound.

For the past fifteen years I’ve read about and into “the New Age movement,” often suspecting that some of the more prominent spokespersons were charlatans, or at least employed the methods and means of charlatans. Thus I’ve had a keen interest in “the debunkers,” those who expose the fakery and deception so often found among claimants to supernatural powers.

Thus I decided to purchase Derren Brown’s book, Tricks of the Mind (Amazon-UK, not available in the U.S. yet) and see if I could pick up some new pointers. I suspect I will, but in the meantime, I’ve been rather disappointed at his naïve and rather sophomoric departure from, and critique of, his former (and my current) Christian faith.

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