Just for Carl – 2.0

You may have read elsewhere on this blog (post:  “Just for Carl – 1.0”) that my good friend Carl asked that I report daily on my studies here in Oxford and provide some comment as to how I found the different sessions.  Obviously, I have failed miserably to do that.  I’m almost through my third week. So, to try to catch-up, I have listed below most of week 2’s topics.
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Week 2
1. What Keeps People from Exploring Questions of Faith?
2  Introduction to Apologetics 
3. Ethics of Wealth 
4. Where was the Church during the Civil Rights Movement? 
5. Logic and Logical Fallacies 
6. Can you trust the Bible? 
7. Globalization as a Challenge to Religion
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It is unfortunate that I cannot provide more substance on each of these matters.   A quick snapshot of one of these topics (“Wealth Ethics”) is below.  I will select one or more in the future and feature as a separate post(s), but the material is just too weighty – at least for me – to provide any reasonable summary in a short amount of time.  I have started to understand existentially the comment about trying to take a drink from a fire horse.  Truthfully, though, the quality of our lecturers and the opportunity to learn about and to discuss these topics in a very intimate group is extraordinary.
Wealth Ethics
What responsibilities to we have to our fellow-man, to each other, when it comes to sharing our wealth?  Legally, probably none outside of a taxation system that redistributes wealth.  But is there a duty rooted for in a moral duty?  When those of us in the United States we focus on this question for any length of time do we recognize the extraordinary imbalance when we see the deprivation in many areas of the world?  This is was brought home to be in a meaningful way when I began to participate in mission trips to the marginalized and extremely poor in rural Guatemala, which I discuss in one of the early chapters of my book.  Part of what we did in Oxford was to see if the Bible offered any guidance?
Tim Keller (Redeemer Presbyterian of New York City) has said that the only person that encounters Jesus and leaves “sad” is the rich young ruler:  “If you want to be perfect,” Jesus said to him, “go, sell your belongings and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then, come, follow me.”  When the young man heard that command, he went away grieving, because he had many possessions.  (Matthew 19:21-22).  Does the Bible establish a ridiculous standard that none of us can ever meet, or is there something more nuanced or profound here, or would we rather skip over these passages quickly?  As much as I have used this approach far too often in the past, I’ve learned (after many years) that even if I ignore difficult questions or problems – they still don’t go away.
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