Saturday, May 18, 2013

Biblical Christianity in African Perspective - O'Donovan

Chapter One:  Who and what are we to believe?

In this chapter O'Donovan asks six basic questions.

A.  What does it mean to believe in something or someone?
Belief is a form of trust which is informed by what we learn and which ultimately governs our actions.  These actions show confidence in the ability or the power of the person or thing trusted.
O'Donovan counsels:  "If you are wise you will only put your trust in someone who has given evidence of being worth of your trust." (8)
This leads to the next question.

B.  What is truth?
He says, "Truth is a statement of what is real or what is right as compared with what is false or what is wrong.  Truth is a statement about the ultimate realities of life."  (9)

C.  Where can we find the truth?
Of course the question then arises, is there any way we can be sure that what we believe is, in fact, the truth?

O'Donovan points out that while all teachers and teachings claim to teach the truth  Jesus said that He was the embodiment of all that is true.  "I am the Truth," He said.  But is there a way to test His claims?O'Donovan says that a good test of character is to see whether or not the person lives for the good of others or uses their power for the good of others.

O'Donovan then compares Jesus with a number of other religious teachers.  Jesus was born of a virgin and He alone lived a sinless life.  Even the Quran agrees with this in Sura 4:171.  Everything He did throughout His life and even in His death was for the good of others.
C. S. Lewis examined the life and claims of Jesus from three different angles.  Was He a liar?  Was He a lunatic?  Or was He who He claimed to be: the Lord of all?  An examination of Jesus words and deeds shows that He was not a liar nor a lunatic and therefore we only have the third option left.
While other teachers taught people how to live, Jesus showed them how to live.  He led a model and exemplary life.
O'Donovan rightly says that if one want to know the truth of a person's words, one needs to listen to what his enemies have to say about him.  He says, "The statements of Christ's enemies are some of the strongest proofs in history that Jesus really did perform great miracles of love and power to help people." (12)
Considering all the facts leads us to believe that Jesus is who He says He is and is therefore worthy of being followed.

D.  How does what we believe affect our actions?
There is a direct relationship between what we believe and how we act.  What you believe about God, man, life, sin, sickness, tragedy, and death will be shown in the way you live your life.

E.  What will happen when you believe the truth and what will happen when you believe what is false?
O'Donovan tells the story of how a doctor bled George Washington to death because, at the time doctors believed that, as the sickness was in the blood, one got rid of it by bleeding the patient!

F.  Who are we to believe?
We have to answer the question:  When we compare all the faiths of this world, who has the truth and who is worthy of our trust?

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