Thursday, August 28, 2008

Building Something Special at Houston Baptist University

I'm addicted to the Christian university.

The first time I attended one was at Baylor University where I received my Ph.D. in religion and politics. Even though ideas about the faith were in controversy on the campus, it was just so good to be at a place where we talked about it. I felt like a whole person, rather than a partial person with his faith tied behind his back.

After Robert Sloan left Baylor to become president of Houston Baptist University, I followed him to HBU. I've finished my first year and have watched the university grow. New buildings, new faculty, and most important, new students. It is thrilling to see a big new group of freshmen hanging out together on campus.

We've got a big vision for the campus. If you're interested in seeing what I mean, check it out here in The Ten Pillars.

We're also publishing a great new magazine on Christian thought. You can get a free subscription here.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Letter to a Friend about Sam Harris and Doubts about the Faith

[Name withheld],

I started looking through the stuff you copied for me. One thing jumped out right away from [Sam] Harris. I had forgotten this quote:

"I no more believe in Zeus, Isis, Thor, and the thousands of other dead gods that lie buried in the mass grave we call 'mythology.' I doubt them all equally and for the same reason: lack of evidence."

This is one of the most absurd statements I have ever seen. I promise you that I am open and susceptible to counterarguments about Christianity, but this one is utterly ridiculous. To say that there is some equivalence between, for example, Christ and Thor is to reveal incredible illiteracy about history and religion. Sam Harris is not qualified to write on the topic, especially not with the degree of certitude he claims. It is as though I started a conversation with someone who told me he was quite certain the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor. I'd be suspicious of anything else he said.

The simple fact is that there is evidence, substantial evidence of the claims about Christ. Far more than for Zeus, Isis, etc. If Sam Harris thinks otherwise, it is because he entered the subject with his mind made up and thinking he had no need to perform research.

On the other hand, the bits you highlighted about the tragedy of being insecure in faith and doubt and faith not being at war make a lot of sense to me. The only people without a doubt would be the ones who participated with the Israelites in the amazing acts of God or the early Christians who actually saw the risen Christ. I have become a believer in Christ because I think the Christian faith, both historically and personally, offers the best explanation for why the world is the way it is and why we are as we are. I hope it is true. I can say with little difficulty that it is substantially more likely than the alternatives. I suspect it is Christ or nothing. And I find it very hard to believe in nothing. It wouldn't explain anything about creation, would it?

Thanks for the article. I enjoyed the interaction between Warren and Harris. Anything you want to talk about (or email about), please let me know. I enjoy talking about this stuff.


So, I Preached a Sermon . . .

My pastor asked me to preach in his place last week while he was away. I've always known that if I had the opportunity, I'd preach on the resurrection of Christ.

The result is at this link (look for Hunter Baker on the uniqueness of Christianity on 8/17/2008) . I started out a bit rough. Forgot to turn on the microphone for the first 30 seconds, then had a few minutes of depending heavily on the erudite phrase "and uh . . ." But it gets better after that.