Archive for the ‘apologetics’ Category

Answering Bart Ehrman

Probably the most popular alumnus from Moody Bible and Wheaton College is a well-known scholar in the area of textual criticism and the historical Jesus. Unfortunately for both of these schools his name is Bart Ehrman. He is the darling of the media, taking the place of the now deceased Robert Funk, when they need someone to tear down Christianity in the name of “scholarship.” His books have made inroads into some churches so pastors should at least be aware of the issues at hand. The new website The Ehrman Project brings together numerous scholars to answer Ehrman’s criticisms and questions. Check it out.

 

Broken clocks and such

“We unbelievers are entitled to regard the Bible as magnificent literature. More is demanded from the faithful. Yet these days, even some soi-disant Christians would claim that the miraculous elements of the New Testament are only metaphors. To me, that is agnostic slop. Faith is more than literature. Faith is an epiphany of abasement, ardour and rigour, in the hope of grace, redemption and joy. But there is an entrance fee. If you do not believe in the literal truth of the Incarnation and the Resurrection, you are not a Christian.”

~Atheist, Bruce Anderson

HT: Trueman

Logic chopping in the naturalist universe

“If” we are nothing more than advanced primates (assuming a purely naturalist explanation of life).

“Then” would it be wrong for one to murder his neighbor?

“Since” any other primate doing this is merely the natural order of things (assuming a purely naturalist explanation of life).

Comments?

I have only come here seeking knowledge

Philosophers have long marveled at the world. But that’s not exactly accurate. Some philosophers have marveled. Most have responded to the overwhelming weight of reality with pontification and soft-boiled verbiage. The rest have just whined about what a terrible, hard, godless world it is. The world hurts their feelings, and so they fire back dissertations full of insults– calling it an accident, pointless, a derivative of chaos, occasionally even going so far as to deny its existence. But the world doesn’t care. It has thick skin, and all the most important thinkers have become part of it.

[N. D. Wilson, Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl, 11]

The Problem with the Evidentialist Approach to Apologetics:

It reaffirms to the unbeliever the very self-autonomy that he needs to repent of in order to come to Christ and be saved.

 Agree?

Disagree?

Too harsh?

Too simplistic?

Or right on?

“When” have we reached a culture?

If you follow the SCI-FI show LOST, the island philosopher/shaman John Locke asked a question in the season opening that was really interesting. After seemingly jumping time again he said, “when am I?” Not “where am I?” but “when.” So in the spirit of LOST I offer a question for your consideration. Since many believe it is a forgone conclusion that we should reach the culture, when has this ever been done and how do we know when we have reached a particular culture? For extra credit, what is a “culture”?

Maybe someone can point this out for me but I have not found anyone grapple with this in some of the “reach the culture” books (various takes on this: Calvin, Kuyper, Dabney, H. Van Til, C. Van Til, Niebuhr, Mohler, Driscoll, Carson, et al.) and conferences that I have listened to.

Feel free to discuss in the comments below.

Nothing to see here, move along

I read an interview recently that the nice folks at Logos conducted with Hugh Ross. I’m confident that Ross is an intelligent man and a well-meaning scholar but his continued proposal of a “two-book” revelation (i.e., God speaks in Scripture and creation with the same force and effect) is misguided and should be seen for what it is. Mankind will never see Christianity as something scholarly, noble, or worthy of saving unless Christians sell their birthright and kiss the feet of Baal.

At any rate, Ross fails to grapple with a key distinction when it comes to the revelation of God. I offer a few basic ideas in this regard. 1) God only saves through the special revelation of Christ which is exclusively found in the Scripture. 2) External evidences add nothing to the final revelation of God’s will. 3) If you don’t believe you won’t believe. Calvin is good on this:

“God alone is a fit witness of himself in his Word, so also the Word will not find acceptance in men’s hearts before it is sealed by the inward testimony of the Spirit.” (1.7.4)

“Let this point therefore stand: that those whom the Holy Spirit has inwardly taught truly rest upon Scripture, and that Scripture indeed is self-authenticated; hence, it is not right to subject it to proof and reasoning. And the certainty it deserves with us, it attains by the testimony of the Spirit. For even if it wins reverence for itself by its own majesty, it seriously affects us only when it is sealed upon our hearts through the Spirit. Therefore, illumined by his power, we believe neither by our own nor by anyone else’s judgment that Scripture is from God; but above human judgment we affirm with utter certainty (just as if we were gazing upon the majesty of God himself) that it has flowed to us from the very mouth of God by the ministry of men. We seek no proofs, no marks of genuineness upon which our judgment may lean; but we subject our judgment and wit to it as a thing far beyond any guesswork!” (1.7.5)

Do atheists love their children too?

In 1985 Sting’s Cold War protest song “Russians” asked the question, “do Russians love their children too?” The implication is that cultural-political distinctions are meaningless when we ask searching questions about issues such as caring for our loved ones. How does such logic hold-up when applied to comparisons between atheists and Christians?

A question I have heard in many conversations goes something like this: “How can a Christian worldview claim ethical/moral exclusivity when non-Christians do ‘good’ works all the time?” Simply stated, “why do unbelievers do good things?” Michael Wittmer’s brief discussion of this is helpful:

I believe that, thanks to common grace, non-Christians throughout the world love their children, care for ailing parents and spouses, and sometimes even sacrifice their lives for strangers (e.g., the New York firefighters who on 9/11 ran up the stairs of the World Trade Center while everyone else was fleeing down).

But non-Christians perform these acts of love despite rather than because of their worldview. I propose that the Christian faith alone supplies the rationale for altruistic love. When Christians love others they are acting in sync with their ultimate beliefs. When non-Christians love others they are behaving better than their beliefs allow. They are borrowing from the Christian worldview, acting as if the Christian faith is true.

The Anatomy of Unbelief in the Gospel of John

The Anatomy of Unbelief (Part 1)

Text: John 5:39-47

Four Underlying Reasons Why People Reject Jesus Christ:

  1. A Lack of Willingness: They are simply unwilling to come to Him (39-40).
  2. A Lack of Love: They have no love for God in their hearts (41-42).
  3. A Lack of Humility: They are blinded by their own pride (43-44).
  4. A Lack of Faith: They do not believe what God has said (45-47).

The Anatomy of Unbelief (Part 2)

Text: John 6:1-66

Three Steps on the Path to Apostasy:

  1. An Initial Desire to Enjoy the Temporal Pleasures of What Jesus Provides (1-26)
  2. An Underlying Failure Embrace the True Significance of Who Jesus Is (27-52)
  3. An Eventual Unwillingness to Accept the Harder Truths of What Jesus Teaches (53-66)

Are the Gospels reliable?

Our good friend, Nathan Busenitz, has now finished an excellent series on the reliability of the New Testament Gospels. Nathan takes the reader on a tour of historical issues and is careful to answer objections raised along the way. There is much food for thought in this ten-part written series that would serve well not only for apologetics but as an excellent tutorial for those new to the faith or for others just wanting a refresher course (see here).

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