Friday, September 30, 2016

Notable Apologist Profile: Justin Martyr by Ted Cabal

Taken from The Apologetics Study Bible, p. 1900.

Born in Palestine, Justin (c. 100-167) spent his early years immersed in philosophy.  Though a professional philosopher (Platonist), he was impressed with the courage of Christians facing death for their faith.  He converted to Christ in A.D. 130 through the witness of an old Christian man who spoke to him of the true "philosophy."  This truth was revealed through biblical prophets foretelling events to come and was confirmed by miracles.  Justin's heart was stirred and thereafter he spent his days seeking to introduce others to Christ.  Faithfulness to his confession of Christ ultimately led to his beheading at Rome- hence the name Justin Martyr.

Justin would go on to write several apologetic treatises, including two addressed to the Roman emperors Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius.  In these works Justin sought to prove the injustice of the persecution of Christians.  He defended Christians from false charges such as atheism.  Their refusal to bow before pagan idols and worship the emperor stemmed from their worship of the true God, who is invisible as Creator of all things.  Demons are the true source of the hatred instigated toward Christians.  Traces of truth that may be discovered in pagan philosophers writing before Christ were borrowed from the Hebrew Scriptures or else are due to the pre-incarnate Christ as Logos (the rational power guiding the universe) enlightening them.  The biblical prophets accurately prophesied the coming of this Christ as the central figure of history.

Courage and Godspeed,

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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Article: Do Christians and Muslims Worship the Same God? by Doug Groothuis

Some would claim that Christians and Muslims worship the same God, but is that truly the case?

In today's featured article, philosopher Doug Groothuis argues that the Christian God is very different from the God of Islam.

Groothuis writes:

"If indeed Muslims and Christians worship the same God, there would be little need for disagreement, dialogue, and debate between them. If I am satisfied to shop at one grocery store and you are satisfied to shop at another store, why should I try to convince you to shop at my store or vice versa? Do not both stores provide the food we need, even if each sells different brands? The analogy is tidy, but does it really fit? Deeper questions need to be raised if we are to settle the question of whether Christians and Muslims worship the same God. First, what are the essential teachings of Christianity and Islam? Second, what does each religion teach about worshipping its God? Third, what does each religion teach about the other religion? That is, do the core teachings of Islam and Christianity assure their adherents that members of the other religion are fine as they are because both religions "worship the same God"?"

You can checkout the entire article here.

Courage and Godspeed,

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Is Apologetics Practical?

Many times it is necessary for the Christian case maker to make an apologetic for apologetics.  We must be equipped to defend and persuade fellow believers that apologetics is vital and biblical.

I recall once sitting across the desk of a pastor who said, "Apologetics is useful, sure, but
I am meeting with men and women who's marriages are falling apart.  How is apologetics going to help me then?"

At the time I didn't have an answer for him and I actually thought the point was a valid one.  However, one day while reading the book of Titus this assumption was challenged.  In this letter to Titus the Apostle Paul is writing to give him [Titus] "personal authorization and guidance in meeting opposition, instructions about faith and conduct, and warnings about false teachers." [1]

It was Paul's qualifications for elders that caught my eye.  He writes:

"...holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.  For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain." [2]

Did you catch that?  What was "upsetting whole families?"  It was the empty talkers and deceivers.  For me a light bulb went on.  This pastor's assumption was that apologetics could have nothing to do with a man's marriage falling apart and his family being "upset."  However, my experience has demonstrated otherwise.

I recollect teaching a Sunday school class and a young lady came in looking very distraught.  She went on to explain to the group that her husband, who was the spiritual leader of their household, had become an atheist.  What was the reason for the sudden change?  Her husband had been visiting atheist internet sites and had come to believe that his Christian faith was without foundation.  He no longer wanted his son in a Christian school and refused to come to church.  He even began to harass his wife about her Christian beliefs. Needless to say, their household was upset!  Had this gentlemen been equipped to "be able to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict" his trust in Christ would have been confirmed and his household would have been stronger for it.

Now, don't misunderstand me.  I'm not arguing that apologetics is the answer to everything.  Surely it is not. However, I believe apologetics is much more practical than many think and that it does directly impact marriages and families.

Courage and Godspeed,

1. Holy Bible, Updated New American Standard Version, Introduction to Titus, p. 1144.
2. Titus 1:9-11; NASB.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Understanding the Cosmological Argument

When someone commits to becoming a Christian case maker it can be overwhelming.  There are so many arguments and counter-arguments to master.  I think a great place to start is to learn just one argument and know it well. Imagine if every Christian committed to mastering just one argument for the existence of God, the reliability of the Bible or the resurrection of Jesus.  I believe more people would begin to at least consider what Christians had to say.

One family of arguments worth studying are the cosmological arguments for God's existence.  They include, but are not limited to:

  • The kalam cosmological argument
  • The Thomistic cosmological argument
  • The Leibnizian cosmological argument
In this post by Carl Weitnauer of Reasons for God, each of these arguments are explained and research links are provided for further study.  Weitnauer also includes links to answers to common objections to the arguments.  This page is a great place to begin studying the cosmological arguments for God's existence.

So learn and argument and start sharing it!

Courage and Godspeed,

Related Posts

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Saturday, September 24, 2016

Paul K. Moser on the Existence of God

"Many sane, educated and generally trustworthy people claim not only that God exists but also that they have genuine knowledge, including justified true belief, that God exists. Because claims are typically cheap and easy, however, the claim to know that God exists will prompt the following response, usually sooner rather than later: How do they know? This common four-word question, although irksome at times, is perfectly intelligible and even valuable, as far as it goes. It seeks an explanation of how the belief that God exists exceeds mere belief, or opinion, and achieves the status of genuine knowledge. In particular, this question typically seeks an explanation of how, if at all, the belief that God exists is grounded, justified, reasonable, or evidence-based regarding affirmations of truth. A plausible goal behind our four-word question is, at least for many inquirers, to acquire truth in a manner that includes an adequate indication of true belief. These truth-seeking inquirers aim not only to avoid false belief and lucky guesswork, but also to minimize the risk of error in their beliefs (at least in a way befitting to the acquisition of truth). We should aim for the same, as people who seek truth but who are faced sometimes with facts and other realities at odds with our opinions. In seeking truth about God's existence, in particular, we thus should seek truth based on evidence for God's reality. Such evidence, if available, would indicate that it is true that God exists, or (in other words) that God is real rather than fictional."

Courage and Godspeed,

HT: The Poached Egg

Friday, September 23, 2016

Can You Relate to Puddy?

Recently, I was listening to a Haven Today program entitled Heaven, Hell, and Hope.  It was part of a week-long series entitled "Honest Evangelism."  During the program, they play two audio clips, one of Penn Jillette's encounter with a Christian who shared his faith with him.  I had heard this previously.  But the second clip was an interesting segment from Seinfeld.  In this episode, Elaine is dating a Christian named "Puddy."  I will admit that I found the clip funny but at the same time I also believe it gets it right when portraying many Christians today.  We claim the benefits of knowing Jesus but don't make it our priority to share it lovingly with others.

Check out the clip below and feel free to share your thoughts!

God Bless,

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Book Preview: Making Sense of God by Tim Keller

About the Author

Timothy Keller is the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, which he started in 1989 with his wife, Kathy, and three young sons. For over twenty years he has led a diverse congregation of young professionals that has grown to a weekly attendance of over 5,000.

He is also Chairman of Redeemer City to City, which starts new churches in New York and other global cities, and publishes books and resources for faith in an urban culture. In over ten years they have helped to launch over 250 churches in 48 cities. More recently, Dr. Keller’s books, including the New York Times bestselling The Reason for God and The Prodigal God, have sold over 1 million copies and been translated into 15 languages.

About the Book

Skepticism is healthy if it leads us to question the assumptions of our age. But our modern culture has elevated skepticism to such an ultimate value that belief in anything seems faintly absurd. Yet human beings cannot live without meaning, satisfaction, freedom, identity, justice, and hope—and these things all require a faith dimension.

In an earlier book, The Reason for God, the author made a case for Christianity; Making Sense of God starts further back, addressing people who strongly doubt that any version of religion or faith makes sense or has anything of value to offer the contemporary world.

In his trademark accessible prose, New York Times best-selling author Timothy Keller invites those who have dismissed Christianity as irrelevant to reconsider. As the founder of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, Dr. Keller has spent decades engaging with skeptics of all persuasions, from the hostile to the hopeful, in personal conversations, sermons, and books, which have sold over two million copies.
You can order your copy here.

Courage and Godspeed,

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Video: Jesus vs. Mithra

Here is the latest video from Inspiring Philosophy.  This one deals with the claim that Jesus is merely a "copycat" of the ancient Persian deity Mithra.  

For more on Mithraism, go here.

Courage and Godspeed,