Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Alvin Plantinga on Apologetics

"Perhaps the main function of apologetics is to show that...[we] have nothing whatsoever for which to apologize." [1]

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnote:

1. Alvin Plantinga, "Christian Life Partly Lived," in Philosophers Who Believe, ed. Kelly James Clark (Downers Grove, Ill.: Intervarsity Press, 1993), p. 69 as quoted by Alex McLellan in A Jigsaw Guide to Making Sense of the World.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Debate Video: Karl Giberson vs. Stephen Meyer- Should Christians Embrace Darwin?


This video features theistic evolutionist Karl Giberson and Intelligent Design theorist Dr. Stephen Meyer debated the topic, "Should Christians Embrace Darwin?"

Useful commentary can be found here and here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Monday, April 28, 2014

How to Train Your Kids

If you are a parent and were unable to attend this live event Stand to Reason hosted this past Thursday with Brett Kunkle you can watch it here.

Kunkle suggested many resources to aide in this most important task facing Christian parents and they are all listed at the link.

Stand firm in Christ,
Chase

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Has Science Buried God?

I had the privilege of attending the Pensmore Dialogues at Patrick Henry College on April, 4 and hearing Dr. John Lennox speak on the topic “Has Science Buried God?”, a common claim of skeptics today.  What follows is a brief summary of his lecture.

Those who would argue that we have no more need of God because of science may be somewhat confused regarding the matter.  The reason for this is that there are several areas of confusion about the subject.

First, there is the charge that the conflict is between science and religion.  But is that where the conflict really lies?  No.  This is the first area in which there is confusion.  The conflict is not between science and religion, but actually about the nature of ultimate reality.  On the one side is the worldview of materialism - the universe is all there is, was or will be.  On the other is theism - there is more to reality than mass/energy.  The reason the conflict is not between science and religion is because science grew out of a religious cultural foundation – medieval Christianity.  The early fathers of science believed they would find law in nature because there was order in the universe, the result of creation by a natural Lawgiver.

There are those that argue that belief in God is a delusion, like our childhood beliefs in Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, etc.  But is that really the case?  How many people have come to believe in Santa Claus when they were adults?  But how many millions have come to believe in God as adults.  There are also arguments from psychology.  Religious belief is the result of a delusion that comes from a wish fulfillment for a father figure.  But can’t that argument be reversed and applied to atheism as well?  Is it possible that atheism is the result of a delusion that comes from a wish fulfillment that one does not want to have to answer to any ultimate authority?

Second, there is confusion over the nature and identity of God.  Some argue with the school yard rhetoric akin to “my dad can beat up your dad” by saying “we’re all atheists, I just lack belief in one god more than you.”  For others, the central dilemma comes down to “who created the creator?”  But upon examination, we find that the ancient gods are profoundly different from the God of theism.  The ancient gods were the product of some activity within the universe.  But the understanding of the Christian God, as revealed in the Bible, is that He is not a created being, He is a necessary, self-existent being.  Everything - all matter, energy and space - is contingent on His existence.  He is not a god of the gaps, a place holder for something we cannot explain.  He is in fact the God of both what we do understand and what we do not understand.  He is the God of the whole show.

Third, there is confusion about the nature of scientific explanation.  Some would say that science is the only way to determine what is true.  But this is an example of a statement that fails its own test.  If it is true, then it had to be determined scientifically.  But how can it be scientifically determined that science is necessary to determine what is true? 

And what do we mean by the “nature” of scientific explanation?  Just exactly how does science explain gravity?  Well, it does a great job of mathematically describing the effects of gravity and how objects behave when subjected to gravitational forces.  But what exactly is gravity?  What about energy?  We can measure it, quantify it, predict it, describe how it’s created and used, but what exactly is energy?  We know they are “forces”, but no one knows what they are.  We must remember that there is a difference between explanations of function and explanations of purpose.  Even school children know the difference when asked to choose between automotive engineering principles and the workings of an internal combustion engine or Henry Ford when explaining the existence of a Model T motor car.

This confusion also effects the “who created the creator” question, which is a complex question, that is a question that has hidden assumptions.  In this case, the assumption is that the creator is himself a created being.

A classic example of this type of confusion is Stephen Hawking’s statement, ‘Because there is a law of gravity, the universe can and will create itself out of nothing.”  For one thing, to say there is something, a law of gravity, is in direct contradiction to nothing.  The law of gravity is not no-thing, nor is a quantum vacuum.  Likewise, to say that x creates x, presupposes the existence of x to explain the creation of x.  The laws of nature depend on the existence of the nature they describe in order to explain their own existence.  This all leads us to the logical conclusion that nonsense is still nonsense, even if spoken by the world’s brightest scientists.

Finally, there is confusion over the nature of faith.  Every scientist has a faith that is essential to their work in science.  That faith is trust based on the evidence.  Scientists have faith in the regularities of nature and the applicability of mathematics.

There are those who are working hard to redefine faith as believing in something for which there is no evidence.  But this is simply a modern rhetorical ploy.  They will also point to Jesus’ statement to Thomas in the Gospel of John as evidence that belief is really a blind faith.  Because he saw Jesus, he believed.  But blessed are those who have not seen, yet have believed.  You see, there it is, blind faith.  There are two problems with this.  First, seeing is only one type of evidence and second, read the next few verses.  The whole book of John is written to be evidence. 

Ultimately, the issue can be boiled down to the question about what is at the root of our being.  For the atheist, mass/energy is primary and mind is a derivative of that.  For the theist, mind is primary and mass/energy derives its existence from mind. Two Biblical statements demonstrate this relationship: “In the beginning was the Word (the Logos, purpose, meaning)” and “…and God said…”  God has given us the immeasurable dignity of being created in His image, with the curiosity and intellect to ask questions and explore creation.  Perhaps it is time to begin life’s biggest adventure: getting to know the Creator revealed to us through the Son.


That you may know, Roger

Friday, April 25, 2014

Greer Heard Forum: Robin Collins - "God and the Fine-Tuning of the Universe for Discovery"


"On Friday, February 21st, 2014, philosopher and theologian, Dr William Lane Craig, was invited by the Greer Heard Forum to debate Dr Sean Carroll, an atheist theoretical physicist. The topic of debate was, "God and Cosmology: The Existence of God in Light of Contemporary Cosmology." The rigorous debate was concluded by a lengthy question and answer period with the audience.  The debate video can be found here.

On Saturday, Dr Robin Collins, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and chair of the Department of Philosophy at Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania, spoke on the topic "God and the Fine-Tuning of the Universe for Discovery." [1]

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnote:

1. Text found here.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Article: "The Greatest Good for the Greatest Number?" Assessing Utilitarianism by Paul Copan

In this featured article philosopher, speaker and author Dr. Paul Copan considers the view of utilitarianism.

As Copan explains, utilitarianism "is a consequence-based ethic that looks at what will bring the “greatest happiness” to the most people. Whatever brings happiness is “good”; and, the more happiness, the better it is. In this ethical view, the outcome or consequences are more important than the means of getting there."

This article will equip the follower of Christ to intelligently respond to this type of ethical theory.

You can check it out here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The First Premise of the Moral Argument

One version of the moral argument for God's existence is as follows:

1. If God does not exist, objective moral truths do not exist.
2. Objective moral truths exist.
3. Therefore, God exists.

A useful tactic one can employ in persuading someone of the truth of the first premise is to simply point out that traditionally atheists have agreed with it.  Peter S. Williams provides the following examples in his excellent article Can Moral Objectivism Do Without God?:

 Jean-Paul Sartre

"when we speak of 'abandonment' – a favorite word of Heidegger – we only mean to say that God does not exist, and that it is necessary to draw the consequences of his absence right to the end. The existentialist is strongly opposed to a certain type of secular moralism which seeks to suppress God at the least possible expense. Towards 1880, when the French professors endeavoured to formulate a secular morality, they said … nothing will be changed if God does not exist; we shall rediscover the same norms of honesty, progress and humanity, and we shall have disposed of God as an out-of-date hypothesis which will die away quietly of itself. The existentialist, on the contrary, finds it extremely embarrassing that God does not exist, for there disappears with Him all possibility of finding values in an intelligible heaven. There can no longer be any good a priori, since there is no infinite and perfect consciousness to think it. It is nowhere written that 'the good' exists, that one must be honest or must not lie, since we are now upon the plane where there are only men. Dostoevsky once wrote: 'If God did not exist, everything would be permitted'; and that, for existentialism, is the starting point. Everything is indeed permitted if God does not exist, and man is in consequence forlorn, for he cannot find anything to depend upon either within or outside himself."

Paul Kurtz

"The central question about moral and ethical principles concerns their ontological foundation. If they are neither derived from God nor anchored in some transcendent ground, they are purely ephemeral."

Julian Baggini 


"If there is no single moral authority [i.e. no God] we have to in some sense 'create' values for ourselves ... [and] that means that moral claims are not true or false… you may disagree with me but you cannot say I have made a factual error."

Richard Dawkins

"The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose [i.e. no God], no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference."  Dawkins concedes: "It is pretty hard to defend absolutist morals on grounds other than religious ones." [1]

Another example that could be added to the list is one we recently featured by atheist Joel Marks:

"The long and the short of it is that I became convinced that atheism implies amorality; and since I am an atheist, I must therefore embrace amorality.  I call the premise of this argument 'hard atheism.'  ... A 'soft atheist' would hold that one could be an atheist and still believe in morality.  And indeed, the whole crop of 'New Atheists' are softies of this kind.  So was I, until I experienced my shocking epiphany that the religious fundamentalists are correct: without God, there is no morality. But they are incorrect, I still believe, about there being a God.  Hence, I believe, there is no morality." [2]

Apart from God there exists nothing to ground or anchor (moral ontology) objective moral truths.  That should be the main point we strive to drive home in arguing for the truth of premise 1.  However, I believe it is also helpful to point out that atheists have traditionally agreed.

For readers who may be new to the moral argument, I teach a simpler version here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnotes:

1. Peter S. Williams, Can Moral Objectivism Do Without God?, 2011. 
2.  Joel Marks, "An Amoral Manifesto I," Philosophy Now 80 (August/September 2010): 30 as quoted by Abdu H. Murray in Grand Central Question.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ten Common Christian Expressions Requiring Translation

In this blog post, J. Warner Wallace takes common "Christianese" sayings and puts them in a way the secular culture can understand. Here are the common sayings:

1. "God has put you (or something) on my heart. / God told me."
2. "Be 'born again.' / Have a spiritual rebirth."
3. "You need to come to repentance. / Experience a conversion."
4. "Deal with your sin."
5. "Invite Jesus into your heart."
6. "Make Jesus the Lord of your life."
7. "Have faith."
8. "Be saved."
9. "Be washed by the blood of the Lamb."
10. "Be Sanctified."

Find the translations here.

Stand firm in Christ,
Chase

Monday, April 21, 2014

How to Train Your Kids

Brett Kunkle of Stand to Reason will be hosting a live training event this Thursday from 7:00 - 8:00 P.M. Pacific Time. There are several ways to participate in this interactive event. Learn more here.

This event is highly recommended as Kunkle has much experience not only from being involved in youth ministry but even more so from raising his own five children.

Stand firm in Christ,
Chase

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sunday Praise: "Christ is Risen" by Matt Maher

Happy Resurrection Day!

Stand firm in Christ,
Chase

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Loud Absence: Where is God in Suffering?

In this lecture given at Columbia University on September 11, 2012, Dr. John Lennox discusses the problem of evil and suffering. 

He admits that it the most difficult question to answer and that there are no simplistic answers.  Cancer looks different in the eyes of the oncologist than it does to the patient who has been informed they have only months to live.  Evil and suffering must be dealt with on both the intellectual side using reason and the existential side with pastoral care and concern.  In the end the pain and suffering we are most concerned with is our own.

When confronted with the problem, we must deal with the “why” question.  But this is a right brain question, it cannot be broken down, analyzed and rationalized.  Yet answering “why” helps us makes sense of how evil and suffering fits into a worldview and also provides perspective and hope.  If my worldiew cannot meet the objections and difficulties, then it is not worth believing.

Some skeptics argue that there is too much suffering, so there can be no God.  If we grant that, then the problem evaporates and there is nothing we can call evil and suffering.  But does this really solve the problem?

Richard Dawkin’s would have us believe that there is no such thing as right or wrong or justice or evil, that we are just machines for reproducing DNA and we “dance to its music”.  But were people like Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and other assorted mass murderers and rapists just “dancing to their DNA”?  Yet Dawkins is outraged by evil in spite of his philosophy.  His outrage presupposes an objective standard and he expects others to agree.  If matter/energy is all there is, there is no transcendent, no God, how can there be such a standard?  If there is no good and no evil, the concept of morality disappears and moral outrage is absurd.

But we find ourselves to be moral beings, outraged at evil and suffering.  The existence of objective moral standards is consistent with the existence of God and very difficult to explain without Him.  But the existence of God gives rise to the problem.  Isn’t it obvious that God is part of the problem, not the solution?  What of all the evil and acts of violence committed by those who call themselves Christians?  How do I respond?  I am completely and utterly ashamed of it.  I am ashamed that the name of Jesus Christ has ever been associated with violence.  Those who commit violence in the name of Christ are not obeying Christ, they are disobeying everything he taught.

John Lennon would have us “Imagine” a world with no religion, no heaven, no hell.  But John Lennox asks us to “Imagine” a world with no Taliban, no Northern Ireland, no 9/11, no Hitler, no Stalin, no Mao, no Pol Pot.

Then there is the problem of justice – we all feel we deserve to get justice.  If atheism is true, then death is the end and there is no ultimate justice.  Millions never have and never will get justice.  The promised utopia has never come.  How can you believe in justice when the vast majority of humanity will never get it?  For the Christian, justice will be served, but it is not the justice of an angry God.  The only thing that gets God angry is that which destroys life – sin.

But there are those who don’t like a God who judges.  Why doesn’t He just stop evil?  Well, what if He did, but he starts with you?  But you really don’t want Him intervening in your life.  We are not just spectators.  G.K. Chesterton responded to the question “What is wrong with the world?” in the London Times with the following, “Dear Sir, I am, Yours Faithfully, G.K. Chesterton”.  We must recognize that we are part of the problem.  So to ask, “If God exists, then why is there evil?” is the wrong question.  The correct question is “If God exists, then why does He tolerate me?”

God could have created us without the capacity for moral evil.  Yet He has created creatures without that capacity, we call them animals.  We have created things without that capacity, we call them robots.  (A side note, for an interesting exploration of this, see Star Trek the Next Generation episode “In Theory”)  God created us with free will and the ability to choose and in doing that God took a risk.

This doesn’t apply to natural evil.  Earthquakes are the result of techtonic plate activity.  But that is essential to life.  It becomes an evil to us when we build inadequate structures in areas susceptible to them.  Could God have made electricity that doesn’t electrocute?  Fire that doesn’t burn?  A world that can sustain life without techtonic plate activity, hurricanes, bacteria, . . .?  What about other “earthquakes”, like heart attacks, cancer, etc.?

Dr. Lennox and I admit that we have no ultimate answer.

Then there is another question: We see glimpses of the good and beautiful even in tragedies, but what of the preventable evil and suffering?  We can argue about what a good God could, would, should or might have done.  If we grant the world is like this, with good and evil, pain and beauty, hatred and love, is there any evidence anywhere that there is a God who can be trusted with it?  Has God made provision big enough with the fact that humans have gone their own way?

This brings us back to justice.  There must be a judgment, and I will have to face it.  Atheism has no way out.  But how does Christianity face it?  At the cross – the heart of Christianity.  If Jesus is God, and He was crucified for that claim, then what is God doing on a cross?  The answer to this question is the most profound answer of all – God suffered with us.  He has not remained distant but He has become a part of it.  He suffered for me, who made a mess of my own life.  There are some who cannot live with the mess, they have no way out, there is no meaning, so they commit suicide.  But there is a way out, a source of meaning.  The death of Christ is not the end, He rose from the dead.  If I could see what God has done with those who have suffered, instead of questioning, I’d probably bow my head and worship.  God knows how to compensate.

To watch the video of this lecture, go here.


That you may know, Roger

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Quote: Atheist Philosopher Michael Ruse on Consciousness

"Why should a bunch of atoms have thinking ability?  Why should I, even as I wrote now, be able to reflect on what I am doing and why should you, even as you read now, be able to ponder my points, agreeing or disagreeing, with pleasure or pain, deciding to refute me or deciding that I am just not worth the effort?  No one, certainly not the Darwinian as such, seems to have an answer to this...The point is that there is no scientific answer." [1]

Do you agree with Ruse?  What do you think the best explanation of consciousness is?  Share below in the comments!




Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnote:
As quoted by Lee Strobel, The Case for the Creator, p. 247.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Video: Does God Exist?- Frank Turek vs. Dennis Normark


This debate took place in Randers, Denmark and was between Christian apologist, speaker and author Dr. Frank Turek and Dennis Normark who is an anthropologist, author and one of Denmark's leading atheists.

Turek argued that the following is evidence for the existence of God:

1. Beginning of the Universe
2. Fine Tuning of the Universe
3. Objective Moral Values
4. The Resurrection of Christ

Normark mainly argued that:

1. God is imagined in our minds
2. What is "moral" is what the majority of people decide upon
3. Science is based on facts while religion is based on feelings

This was one of the more entertaining debates I've watched in awhile and both men presented their case with conviction, but respect for one another.  During the Q and A I wished I could pull up a chair and chat with both gentlemen. 

The Q and A is especially interesting and covers a wide range of topics such as:
  • the moral argument
  • the historical Jesus
  • the age of the earth
  • free will
  • determinism
  • the argument from reason
  • the meaning of life
Turek did a good job presenting evidence for his position while Normark made some interesting assertions, but in my opinion failed to sustain them with good argument.  Further, he clearly did not understand the moral argument.
Let us know what you think!  Who won?  Why so?

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Article: Did God Use the "Big Bang" to Create the Universe? by gotQuestions.org

In my opinion, the "Big Bang" is powerful confirmation of the first verse of the Bible:

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."  - Genesis 1:1

In this featured article, gotQuestions.org (a young-earth ministry) offers a very fair assessment of the "Big Bang" evidence.  

They write:

Prior to the 20th Century, it was not clear if the universe ever had a beginning. Had it always existed? No one knew. It was a matter of faith. Then a succession of discoveries throughout the 20th Century showed beyond a reasonable doubt that the universe did have a beginning. It wasn't always here.

First, Einstein's Theory of General Relativity, published in 1916, suggested that the universe had not always existed. Unsettled by the implications of his own theory, however, Einstein added a “cosmological constant” to make his equations support the possibility of a static (and therefore eternal) universe. Then the works of Georges LemaĆ®tre and Edwin Hubble in the 1920s demonstrated that the universe is expanding and that Einstein's cosmological constant was a mistake. This left a lot of astrophysicists very unhappy. Many felt that LemaĆ®tre, a Roman Catholic priest, was trying to inject religion into physics by suggesting that the universe had a beginning.

Over the next several decades, physicists tried to salvage the eternality of the universe by proposing everything from the Milne model (1935) to the steady state theory (1948). But with the 1964 discovery of cosmic microwave background radiation—predicted by Big Bang theorists in the 1940s—the Big Bang theory became the preeminent cosmological model. The question was no longer, did the universe have a beginning? The question became, how did it happen?

As more and more astrophysicists focused their attention on what happened in the first few moments, months and years of the universe, some Christians became upset that the new theoretical models didn't match up with their interpretation of Genesis. Just as many astrophysicists felt that the expanding universe theory was a ploy to inject religion into science, many Christians have come to feel that the Big Bang is an effort to undermine the biblical account of creation. Other Christians, however, feel that the Big Bang is consistent with the Bible’s account and welcome such compelling evidence for the creation of the universe.

Keep in mind that the Big Bang wasn't a sudden explosion of energy in some empty part of space at some distant moment in time. According to the theory, all space, time and energy came into existence together in that “bang.” Before the Big Bang, there was no time. There was no space. Then, suddenly, an exceedingly dense, incredibly hot, infinitesimal ball of something – everything – appeared somewhere, somehow for reasons unknown and began to expand rapidly with our whole world inside of it.

It is hard not to see the evidence for the Big Bang as a stunning example of where science and theology intersect. Astrophysicist Dr. Robert Jastrow phrased it this way in his book God and the Astronomers(New York, W.W. Norton, 1978, p. 116): “For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.” Why? Because, as Jastrow explained in a subsequent interview, “Astronomers now find they have painted themselves into a corner because they have proven, by their own methods, that the world began abruptly in an act of creation to which you can trace the seeds of every star, every planet, every living thing in this cosmos and on the earth. . . .That there are what I or anyone would call supernatural forces at work is now, I think, a scientifically proven fact” (“A Scientist Caught Between Two Faiths: Interview with Robert Jastrow,”Christianity Today, August 6, 1982, pp. 15, 18).

If Christians are to have objections to the Big Bang theory, it should only be in the atheistic presuppositions that often go along with the theory. The idea itself, that the universe came into existence due to an explosion, is not necessarily incompatible with the biblical creation account. As one Christian theologian has stated, "I am not necessarily opposed to the Big Bang theory. Rather, I know who banged it."

_________________________________________________________________________________

What about you?  Do you believe the "Big Bang" is evidence for God's existence?  Why or why not?

To learn more about the evidence for God from cosmology, go here.  

And I encourage you to follow J. Warner Wallace's example here- don't "obsess" over the Genesis debate!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Monday, April 14, 2014

Video: Christianity in the Public Square for the Public Good by Ravi Zacharias and Nabeel Qureshi



This is a talk offered by The Veritas Forum to equip you to have a productive dialogue with your neighbors.

The speakers are Ravi Zacharias and former Muslim Nabeel Qureshi of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.

Enjoy!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Saturday, April 12, 2014

ISWA is a great place for our lady readers to go to get equipped to defend the Christian faith. ISWA has created textbooks that are tailored to the busy woman as they do not take a great amount of time to read. There are also plenty of other resources on their site.

The textbooks can be found here.

Stand firm in Christ,
Chase

Friday, April 11, 2014

Video: How Do Women Get Engaged in Apologetics? with Mary Jo Sharp


For more from Mary Jo Sharp, go here.

For more from the One Minute Apologist, see here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Stephen T. Davis on Apologetics

"In truth, faith needs apologetics. It needs it to answer both the negative arguments of the resurrection and to construct positive arguments in favor of it. Apologetics will not create faith, but perhaps, for some, it will pave the way for it or make it possible. What is destructive of genuine Christian faith, in my opinion, is not apologetics, but unfounded beliefs, unjustified commitments. Unsound arguments are irrational leaps of faith. It is the aim of apologetics to prevent Christian faith from amounting to anything like that."

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

HT: The Poached Egg

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Video: Seven Days that Divide the World by John Lennox


This is a lecture by Dr. John Lennox, Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University, at the Union Club in New York City on January 31, 2013. Dr. Lennox explains a method for reading and interpreting the first chapters of Genesis without discounting either science or Scripture.

You can checkout Lennox's book on the topic here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

The Best Question to Ask When Starting a Conversation About God

J. Warner Wallace blogged about a question that he has found to be very helpful in initiating a discussion on spiritual matters. It is a question he picked up from James Boccardo's book Unsilenced.  Wallace considers this question the most essential evangelistic question to ask:  What do you think happens when we die?

He has seen the value of this question in three ways:

1. It is diagnostic. The question will very quickly help you to understand the worldview of the person you are talking to.

2. It is disarming. Many people are willing to talk about this question because many people have given thought to it.

3. It is directed. It provides the foundation for talking about the human condition and the Gospel which provides the answer to the human condition.

The entire post can be read here.

Stand firm in Christ,
Chase

Monday, April 07, 2014

Article: A Simple Reason Why the Qur'an Cannot Be the Word of God by Jonathan McLatchie

In this featured article Jonathan McLatchie of the CrossExamined.org blog argues as follows:

1. Either the Bible is the Word of God or it is not.

2. If the Bible is the Word of God, the Qur’an is not.

3. If the Bible is not the Word of God, the Qur’an is not.

4. Therefore, the Qur’an is not the Word of God.

For those wanting to know what makes a good argument, go here.

McLatchie goes on to thoroughly defend the argument and writes:

"...the argument developed above represents a formidable challenge to the Islamic religion, and I challenge any Muslim to show me where I have erred. In order to maintain his Islamic faith, a Muslim must reject one or more of the Premises of the syllogism given at the start of this article. If he cannot do so, the conclusion follows necessarily and inescapably."

You can checkout the entire article here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Saturday, April 05, 2014

The Five Minute Pro-Lifer

The Life Training Institute (LTI) provides three steps to be taken to defend the pro-life position in 5 minutes or less. The three steps are:

1. Clarify the issue. It boils down to the question, what is the unborn? If the unborn are members of the human family then killing them for the benefit of others is morally wrong. On the other hand if they are not a member of the human family then killing them for any reason requires no more justification than having a tooth pulled.

2. Defend your pro-life position with science and philosophy. Embryology has confirmed that at conception the zygote is the beginning of a new human life. Philosophy tells us that there is no morally significant difference between the embryo you once were and the adult you are now. This is where the acronym SLED is helpful. The factors of size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency cannot allow us to say that as an embryo you had no rights but now you do.

3. Challenge your listeners to be intellectually honest. This can be done by asking tough questions.

You can read the article in full here. LTI has plenty of other excellent resources to aid in graciously defending the pro-life position.

Stand firm in Christ,
Chase

Friday, April 04, 2014

Article: Sympathy for the Devil by Dr. Brian Mattson

I haven't been able to see Darren Aronofsky's Noah film yet, but after a friend sent me this article and I saw Amy Hall at Stand to Reason featured it here, I thought it was worth checking out.

Dr. Brian Mattson is the Senior Scholar of Public Theology for the Center for Cultural Leadership.  In his article entitled Sympathy for the Devil he contents that Aronofsky did not use the biblical text at all to make his movie.  Mattson contends that Aronofsky's film was based upon Kabbalah and Gnostic sources.

You read the article here and decide for yourself.  What do you think?

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Atheist Joel Marks on God and Morality

"The long and the short of it is that I became convinced that atheism implies amorality; and since I am an atheist, I must therefore embrace amorality.  I call the premise of this argument 'hard atheism.' ... A 'soft atheist' would hold that one could be an atheist and still believe in morality.  And indeed, the whole crop of 'New Atheists' are softies of this kind.  So was I, until I experienced my shocking epiphany that the religious fundamentalists are correct: without God, there is no morality. But they are incorrect, I still believe, about there being a God.  Hence, I believe, there is no morality." [1]



Courage and Godspeed,

Chad

Footnote:

1. Joel Marks, "An Amoral Manifesto I," Philosophy Now 80 (August/September 2010): 30 as quoted by Abdu H. Murray in Grand Central Question.


Wednesday, April 02, 2014

God's Middle Knowledge by William Lane Craig

This article was taken from A Faith and Cultural Devotional [pictured] by Kelly Monroe Kullberg and Lael Arrington.  While I don't recommend all the authors featured in this collection, it does boast the names of thinkers such as J.P. Moreland, Dallas Willard, Darrell Bock, R.C. Sproul and Greg Koukl.  Further, it covers some outstanding topics related to art, science, life, literature, theology and apologetics.

The article is on the doctrine of middle knowledge and is written by Dr. William Lane Craig.  I think it's a good introduction to the topic.

The article is as follows:

"Saul took his own sword and fell on it...Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord...So the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse."

- 1 Chronicles 10:4, 13-14

In these few verses we see in microcosm the mystery of divine soverenighty and human freedom.  On the one hand, Saul took his own life; on the other, God killed Saul.  How are we to make sense of this paradox?

Consider the proposal of the seventeenth-century Jesuit theologian Luis Molina.  Molina's theory of providence is based on his ingenious doctrine of divine middle knowledge.  According to that doctrine, God knows, logically, prior to his decree to create a world, what every free creature he could possibly create would freely do in any possible set of circumstances.

God's will is that every creature do the right thing in any set of circumstances.  But, alas, God knows that creatures would often freely sin in certain circumstances.  For example, God knew that if Saul were about to be taken by the Philistines, he would freely commit suicide.  Since that action is freely done, there's nothing God can do about that conditional fact.  He could, in light of his middle knowledge, decide not to bring about those circumstances or to place Saul in them.  But he cannot do anything about the conditional fact that if Saul were in those circumstances (which involve no supernatural intervention), he would freely fall on his sword.

Now, in planning a world of free creatures, God takes into account what various persons would freely do in various circumstances and how those circumstances and decisions would in turn affect others.  Being omniscient, God plans the world down to its minutest detail.  Everything that comes to pass therefore does so either by God's directly willing it or permitting it.  All the righteous actions are directly willed by God, but the sinful actions he merely permits, knowing that in the end his ultimate purposes will be achieved.

So, to return to Saul, God knew what Saul would freely do in those circumstances, and though he did not desire Saul to commit suicide, he permitted him to do so freely, knowing that by this means David would take the throne, which is what God wanted.  (This is obviously grossly simplified; Saul's suicide has an ever widening ripple effect down through subsequent history, which God also takes into account.)  Thus, Saul freely took his own life, but the chronicler, looking at it from the perspective of God's plan, says the Lord slew Saul.

In reflecting on Molina's theory, we must not lose sight of the fact that the circumstances do not determine how people will act, for these are freedom-permitting circumstances.  When the FBI conducts a sting operation, calculating that the drug dealer or child pornographer would take the cash if offered to him, the criminal always tries to use the excuse of entrapment.  But if the FBI has done its job right, the courts consistently rule that, under the circumstances, the criminal behaved freely and it is, therefore, he, not the FBI, who is liable.  So it is with God's sovereign direction of a world of free creatures.

Middle knowledge in the hands of a tyrant would be terrifying.  Therefore, it's vital to keep in mind that we're talking about a loving heavenly Father who wills the good of his creatures.  As Joseph said to his brothers, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives" (Genesis 50:20).

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What do you think?  Do you hold to the doctrine of divine middle knowledge?  Why or why not?

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Raising Your Kids for Christ

My pastor recently also asked me to offer tips to parents on how they can talk with their children about Christian truths and evidences.  As a proud father of two young girls (5 and 7), I understand that I have a responsibility to train up my children in the Lord [Proverbs 22:6].

What follows are some of the tips I offered.

1. Family Devotions/Worship Time

It is my conviction that families should try to have a scheduled time each day to sit down, read, and discuss the scriptures, and to pray and praise the Lord.  This will look different for each family.  In our house, we do catechism questions [1] with the girls during dessert.  Before bed we read an account from the scriptures or learn about one of God's attributes. [2]  Lastly, we end our devotional time praying for others. Further, I sometimes lead the family in praise on my guitar.

2. Stop sharing "stories" with your kids

In my house we don't read Bible "stories."  We read Bible accounts.  I want to convey to my children that there are good reasons to believe that the events recorded in the Bible actually happened in space and time.  The Bible is not full of "stories" in the same way Cinderella is a "story," but gives an accurate account of history.  Therefore, I refer to it as such.  When my children ask me a Bible question I try to remember to say, "Let's check what the record says."

 I was very pleased the other night when my 5 year old daughter climbed into bed, grabbed her children's Bible and said, "I need to read an account from my Bible."

3. Share what you are learning

As parents we need to be actively learning how to make a case for the Christian faith and then share those arguments and evidences with our family. [3]  This can happen while driving in the car or over dinner.

4. Learn a new language

In addition to using words like faith and hope with our little ones, it important that when we talk about our Christian convictions we include words like trust, evidence, and logic.  Our children need to understand that Christianity is grounded in that which is logical and reasonable.  Therefore, when discussing our trust in Christ, we should emphasize the importance of sound thinking and reasonable conclusions.

5. Think out loud with your kids

A few days ago my 7 year old daughter came to the realization that there are many other so called "gods."  I pointed out that there are indeed numerous people who have worshiped all kinds of things as God and I asked her the following question- "If there are so many other people worshiping all these other so-called gods, how can we know that our God is the true God?"  She thought for a moment and said, "Because our God gave us the Bible!"  I thought that was a fairly good answer for a seven year old.  As she gets older we will talk about other good reasons to hold this conviction.

Challenge your kids with questions and think out loud with them regarding the answer.  If you don't know the answer, research it with them!

6. Teach Your Kids to Seek Answers to Their Questions

My daughters often ask me questions about the Christian faith or the existence of God and I'll freely admit that sometimes I don't know an exact answer.  When this happens I will answer the question to the best of my ability and then let them know that I am going to look into it for them.  Then I research the question and share the answer I found with them.  In doing this it is my goal to not only provide them with an answer to their question, but also to model a diligent search for truth.  As my children grow older my goal is to research answers to their questions with them so that they may ultimately learn to be independent seekers of truth.

7. Model Self-Control in Conflict Resolution

As the father of two young ladies, drama is in no short supply in the Gross household!  However, my girls know that my wife and I will not help them resolve a conflict or have a discussion with them until they have calmed down and are able to speak to us calmly.  Further, when we are having  a disagreement with them, we both try to remain calm and offer reasonable grounds for the decisions we have made.  This hopefully models for them how to engage in not only sound conflict resolution but will also transfer into their Christian defense as they get older.

8. Argue with your Kids

Some of you might be thinking, "Chad, I don't have a problem with this one!"  I don't mean that kind of arguing!  Allow me to explain.  My daughter and I were in a store awhile ago and she pointed out a Barbie doll that caught her eye and she said, "That Barbie is not dressed appropriately."  I continued by asking her why the outfit was inappropriate. She said, "Because her belly is showing."  I said, "What is wrong with that?"  She said that was only for God to see!  Ha!  We discussed the importance of dressing modestly and moved on.  But here is the point: I realized she said that because her mom and I have taught her what is appropriate for ladies to wear and what is not; however, I want her to understand why we hold these convictions.  Otherwise, she is merely parroting what we are saying and ultimately that is not going to teach her to own her worldview.  I don't want to just pass my faith on to my kids.  My goal is to equip them with the tools necessary to evaluate Christianity objectively and conclude that it is true.  Then they will live it out!

What about you?  What suggestions do you have?

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnotes:

1. We use Big Truths for Little Kids: Teaching Your Children to Live for God by Susan Hunt and Richie Hunt.
2. We use William Lane Craig's excellent children's book series What is God Like? to discuss God's attributes.
3. If you are just beginning to learn the arguments and evidences I recommend William Lane Craig's On Guard, J. Warner Wallace's Cold-Case Christianity and Greg Koukl's Tactics.