Saturday, May 31, 2014

Examining the Soul

J. Warner Wallace has recently been writing much on the nature and fate of the soul and the purpose of humans being material and immaterial beings. He has been asking questions such as "What happens to our souls when we die?" and "What does the Bible teach about the nature of the soul?" You can read about these and other topics related to the soul here.

Stand firm in Christ,
Chase

Friday, May 30, 2014

Video: God of the Gaps? by Greg Koukl


When someone offers God as the best explanation for a body of evidence are they merely appealing to a "god of the gaps?"  In this brief video apologist Greg Koukl responds to this common claim.

For more resources from Greg Koukl, see here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Thursday, May 29, 2014

William Lane Craig on Those Who Don't Come to Christ

"...when a person refuses to come to Christ, it is never just because of lack of evidence or because of intellectual difficulties; at root, he refuses to come because he willingly ignores or rejects the drawing of God's Spirit on his heart.  No one in the final analysis really fails to become a Christian because of lack of arguments; he fails to become a Christian because he loves darkness rather than light and wants nothing to do with God.  But anyone who responds to the drawing of God's Spirit with an open mind and an open heart can know with assurance that Christianity is true, because God's Spirit will convict him that it is.  Jesus said, 'My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me; if any man's will is to do his will, he shall know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority' (John 7:16-17 RSV).  Jesus affirms that if anyone is truly seeking God, then he will know that Jesus' teaching is truly from God." [1]

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnote:
1. William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith 3rd. Edition., p. 47.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Book Highlight: Grand Central Question

Chapter 1:  Grand Central Questions

As we continue our highlighting of Abdu Murray's book Grand Central Question, Chapter 1 begins with just a few of the numerous central questions of life that every major worldview seeks to answer:  What accounts for human suffering? Where is God when tragedy strikes? Do people have objective value? With the help of Ravi Zacharias, Murray filters out four main questions under which all other life questions fall. They are as follows:

1. What explains existence? Or, is there a God?
2. Is there an objective purpose and value to human existence?
3. What accounts for the human condition?
4. Is there a better life or a salvation from our present state?

A worldview should address all the central questions of life or else it is not a full view of the world. Murray also notes that “any worldview worth believing should also be internally consistent as it answers these questions…[it’s] answers to one set of questions (say, answers to questions about human origins) should not contradict its answers to another set of questions (say, answers to questions about meaning and purpose)” (p. 31). 

But what is a worldview? Murray provides James Sire's definition of a worldview as:

a commitment, a fundamental orientation of the heart, that can be expressed as a story or a set of presuppositions…that we hold…about the basic constitution of reality, and that provides the foundation on which we live and have our being (pp. 30-31).

Murray then umbrellas all major views and religions under these three worldviews:  naturalism, pantheism, and theism.

To be worthy of our attention each of these worldviews must provide clear answers to the four fundamental questions mentioned above. However, each of these worldviews places emphasis on answering one of these questions and claims to answer that one question better than the others. Murray calls this a worldview’s Grand Central Question. How a worldview answers its Grand Central Question defines it and determines how well it answers the other fundamental questions cohesively. The book is Murray’s exploration of how each of these three worldviews answers its Grand Central Question and how the gospel of Jesus of Nazareth answers that same question.

Secular Humanism  

Murray will be examining naturalism through a secular humanist lens as it is its most influential form.  He writes:

The humanism in secular humanism refers to the objective meaning and value of human beings. It is the affirmation of human dignity and value. The secular in secular humanism refers to the idea that human dignity and value can be realized without reference to any higher power or transcendent being (pp. 35-36).

Thus secular humanism’s Grand Central Question is number 2

Pantheism

Pantheism means “all is God.” Therefore distinctions between the divine and nondivine and between individual persons or things are considered to be illusions. Further Murray writes:

Pantheism’s most prevalent forms are Hinduism, Buddhism and their Western counterparts, which include New Age beliefs, Scientology and the so-called New Spirituality…Nearly every pantheistic religion or view espouses some form of reincarnation and a cyclical view of death and birth (p. 37).

Murray examines pantheism broadly and its Grand Central Question is number 4.

Islam

Due the rate of its growth and its influence, Murray selected Islam to represent theism in his examination. He was born into Islam and followed it for much of his life. He writes:

Islam is a staunchly monotheistic religion. Monotheism, called Tawhid by Muslims, is a key doctrine of Islam. Tawhid is not just the idea that there is only one God, but also that the one God is indivisible and does not exist as a “godhead”… For Muslims, doctrines like the Trinity and the incarnation of God in Christ are anathema, because they diminish God’s greatness by suggesting that which is unthinkable. To even conceive of God as existing in a differentiated state or as a being who dwells in bodily form with his creation is to conceive of a less-than-perfect God, a God who is not great (p. 38).

Therefore, Islam’s Grand Central Question is number 1.

The Christian Gospel

Christianity does not focus on one Grand Central Question, but provides a central narrative. Murray writes:

This narrative is that the triune God purposefully created humanity to be in relationship with him, but humanity rejected that relationship and thus rejected its very purpose. But God redeems humanity through his incarnate Son, Jesus, restoring the relationship and thus restoring our purpose (p. 39).

The gospel’s answers to all of the Grand Central Questions derive from this narrative.

Murray also provides a summation of the analysis of there worldviews that takes place in the book:

Where secular humanism seeks to provide an answer to the question of human purpose in a way that satisfies reason, the gospel offers a rational answer that also provides a sense of existential fulfillment. Where pantheism offers a means to escape from the human condition by relying heavily on mysticism, the gospel faces the human condition by undergirding spirituality with realism, evidence and God’s compassion. And while Islam expresses its idea of God’s greatness in pure reverence and obedience, the gospel highlights God’s greatness by espousing a consistent theology that is supported by history and philosophy (pp. 39-40).

Stand firm in Christ,
Chase

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Is God relevant in the midst of suffering? Wrestling with pain and the human experience.

The following is a review of a presentation given by Bruxy Cavey at McMaster University for the Veritas Forum:


I learned a new word listening to this lecture – prolegomena, which means – a preliminary discussion or introductory essay, especially to a book or treatise.

Bruxy’s prolegomena begins with the story of Steven which left his family with profound disruption and emptiness.  I will leave you to listen to the lecture for the story.  It is one which my family has experienced with my son sharing the existential reality with Bruxy.

He continues the prolegomena describing how suffering is woven into the human experience.  Sometimes it’s a philosophical puzzle, sometimes a deep spiritual quest, sometimes it’s just gut wrenching and emotional.

In the west we live lives of great insulation from suffering. We have mechanisms to live life as though suffering doesn’t exist.  We can lull ourselves into the idea that a normal life is a pain free life.  Yet around the world, suffering is far more normal.  When suffering strikes, we in the west act as if it is surprising.  We do not live in tune with the suffering of the rest of the world.  We are troubled by a school shooting that kills 20 children and teachers, but we were not troubled the day before when more than 20 children died.  Everyday 30,000 children die from poverty related causes.  Do you ever wish you could go back in time and prevent a horrible tragedy, like a school shooting?  But here’s the thing, we are already there and can help prevent 30,000 children from dying tomorrow.   We need to move beyond thinking and talking about the problem and take action to help deal with the problem.

End prolegomena.  The question, is God relevant?  The answer, yes.  How?  God relates, reveals, rallies and renews.

God renews all things in the end.  We all have a sense that something is wrong.  Without God, there is no ought-ness in the world, there is only is-ness.  With God, we all know and feel the sense of something out there, the way things ought to be.  So the question arises, is this the best of all possible worlds?  Possibly.  The Bible gives us bookends, Eden and the New Jerusalem.  We live somewhere in between these 2 worlds.  If God is love and we are made in His image to have loving relationship with Him, then love is the core DNA of the divine.  But true love necessitates choice.  To choose yes to something is to choose no to a myriad of other options.  Love could not exist in the Garden of Eden without a choice for another option.  Forced perfection is not a loving existence.  Where we are headed is a place where our choices matter and will become inviolate.  This is different from Eden because our choices help us to get there.  Is it possible to have your choices narrowed as a function of love?  Yes, it happens in every marriage.  Those who are married choose to give up other choices.

God rallies people as partners.  We have a sense of responsibility for what’s gone wrong and have the creative ability to help make things right.  We are created to be rulers, creators, servants and keepers of creation.  Rulership means that I’m in charge so I better take care of that for which I am in charge of.  It’s interesting that the first thing God says to Adam and Eve are “Be fruitful and multiply” and the second thing is He tells them what they can eat.  So essentially, the first two things God says to Adam and Eve are “go have sex and have something to eat.”  It is through the sexual union between a man and a woman that we can become co-creators with God with the ability, in partnership with someone else, to create life in His image.  We can reach into the realm of nonexistence and bring a new living soul into existence.  But the power to create can also become the power to destroy.  We can also note that Adam was placed in a garden, not a jungle or forest or a city, but a garden – that which is an intentional meeting place between human and divine creativity where we work together with God.  Adam was put there to work and take care of the garden.  The Hebrew words for work and take care of are the same used to describe what God does for us.  To serve and to keep.  How I serve the Lord is how I take care of others.  We were made to love like God, not judge like God.  That’s what the tree of knowledge had done to us.  Knowing good and evil, we have become the judges.

How could God create a world like this, a world full of rape, abuse, murder, slavery, loneliness, poverty, starvation and country music.  Ok, let’s take God out of the equation.  All the evil and suffering are still there.  Therefore, we cannot blame God as being the source.  We are.  The human heart is the source of all that is evil. 

Next, God reveals His heart of unconditional love.  The New Testament uses the word agape.  This is the love that is initiated by God, unconditional toward you, not because of something you do that earns it but simply because God chooses to love you.  You are agaped by God, you can’t help it and there’s nothing you can do to get God to love you more or love you less.  You mess up, He loves you.  You perform really well, He loves you.  This saves you from two extremes: God doesn’t care about me and if I just do better.  God is revealed as father.  In middle eastern culture, the father was the stern authority figure.  Yet in His parables, Jesus recasts the father figure into one of the delighted lover of his kids.  God also nurtures and cares for us as a mother.  God wants to embrace us in an intimate covenant as lover.  He is also our advocate, to know that we have one who is on our team, cheering for us, working to bring good out of the suffering.

Finally, God relates to our greatest suffering.  Jon Stott said, “I could never myself believe in God if it were not for the cross.  In the real world of pain how could one worship a God who was immune to it.”  God knows what it’s like to hurt, to be victimized, abandoned, betrayed, to suffer great loss.  Michael Green stated, “In Jesus, God has come to share our pain.  God is no absent academic who writes a book on the problem of pain, He has gotten involved.  He has allowed pain at its most severe to strike Him. We worship a suffering God. That is the best answer to the problem of undeserved suffering.”  The cross – when God comes down among us, we do to Him what we’ve been doing to one another.  Then He rises from the dead and does not exact His vengeance like some angry pagan god but says, “I forgive you, let’s start again, be reborn, live a new life.”


John chapter 9, Jesus heals a man born blind.  The disciples ask a theological and philosophical question – who sinned that this man must be born blind?  Jesus says neither.  He rejects Karma, we will not re-victimize the victim.  He rebukes the question.  This is an opportunity for God’s glory to be revealed and He heals him.  What does He mean?  Stop asking questions and talking about it, but step in and do something.  Jesus makes mud, puts it on his eyes and sends him to the pool of Siloam to wash, at which time he is healed.  The religious leaders launch an investigation because it was unlawful to make mud on the Sabbath.  Jesus is saying, “Religious people, here’s mud in your eye.”  It is time to break down the traditions and walls we have built to keep us feeling safe and go out make a difference.  It’s time we love radically and care for those suffering around us.

Watch the video of the lecture here.

To learn more about Bruxy Cavey you can visit his website or check out his church - The Meeting House, "a church for people who aren't into church", at this site.

Have a little hope on me,
Roger

Sunday Praise: "Alabaster" by Rend Collective Experiment

Stand firm in Christ,
Chase

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Abdu Murray on Appealing Only to the Mind

"Christian apologists (me included) struggle with the temptation to focus too heavily on answers that appeal only to the mind. We can completely denude the gospel of its existential power and profundity by trying to outsmart challengers to the faith or just win debates. The late Francis Schaeffer was intensely focused on using the right balance of argumentation and grace. "You are not trying to win an argument or to knock someone down," he said. "You are seeking to win a person, a person made in the image of God.  This is not about your winning; it is not about your ego. If that is your approach, all you will do is arouse their pride and make it more difficult for them to hear what you have to say."

Stand firm in Christ,

Chase

Footnotes:

Murray, Abdu. Grand Central Question. Page 40.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Video: Was Jesus Intolerant? by Dr. Frank Turek



"No other figure in history has had so much publicity... good or bad. So what is it about Jesus that keeps people talking? And what does his provocative life have to do with you today? Explore the life of Jesus in this series featuring exclusive scenes from the Son of God movie. 

In this message, Dr. Frank Turek uses the story of Jesus overturning the tables in the temple to teach us how tolerance is passive, but love is active. Learn what God says about how as Christians we are called to be hard on sin but loving toward people." [1]

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnote:

1. Text taken from here.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Article: Who is Jesus, According to Other Religions? by J. Warner Wallace

In this outstanding article, J. Warner Wallace explains what other religions believe about Jesus.  The religions covered in the article include:

1. Judaism 
2. Islam
3. Ahmadiyya
4. Baha'i
5. Hinduism
6. Buddhism
7. The New Age Movement

It would be useful to print out this article and study it!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Share Your Thoughts: Memorializing the Unborn

As I posted last week, I just began reading Grand Central Questions by Abdu Murray. Murray opens the first chapter by describing a trip that he and his wife took to New York City where they visited the 9/11 Memorial. He writes that one of the unique features of the memorial, which I was unaware of, is that next to the names of the women who were pregant that perished in the attack are listed the words “and her unborn child.”

Is our society being inconsistent by memorializing the unborn that perished in that attack yet not memorializing the 60 million unborn that perished through abortion? Are the unborn that perished in the 9/11 attack significantly different in some way that makes them worthy of being remembered?

Provide your thoughts in the comments below.

Stand firm in Christ,
Chase

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

16 Steps to Generating Advanced Life

On May 15, 2014, Dr. Hugh Ross posted the Today’s New Reason to Believe (TNRTB)


Sixteen steps punctuate the history of life on Earth. Each of these steps is critical for making

possible the entry of advanced life. The likelihood of all these steps occurring from a naturalistic perspective is essentially zero. This zero probability does not take into account either life’s origin or the origin of the mind and the human spirit.


Why does the history of life appear the way it does? Naturalists, materialists, deists, and most theistic evolutionists would answer that the chemicals on early Earth spontaneously self-assembled into a simple cell that was able to reproduce. From there, the cell's daughters evolved to produce all the life-forms that have ever existed throughout the past 3.8 billion years. Such a history requires that life make at least 16 transitional steps in order to generate advanced life-forms.

1. Cells containing only a few hundred gene products must transition to cells containing several thousand gene products.
2. Respiration systems must transition from anaerobic to aerobic.
3. Cells must develop nuclei.
4. Cells must develop mitochondria.
5. Cells must transition from free-floating to colony life.
6. Single-celled organisms must transition into multicellular organisms.
7. Asexual organisms must transition into sexual organisms.
8. Organisms must develop eyes or eye precursors.
9. Organisms must evolve differentiated organs and appendages.
10. Organisms with ectoskeletons must evolve into organisms with endoskeletons.
11. Very-small-bodied organisms must become large-bodied organisms
12. Non-animal life must transition into animal life
13. Non-vascular plants must transition into vascular plants
14. Non-chordate animals must evolve into chordate animals
15. Animals must develop a mind, free will, and emotions.
16. Advanced animals must develop a spirit, symbolic cognition, and symbolic relational capability - in other words, they must become human.

That's quite a list for undirected natural processes to complete. Evolutionary biologist Francisco Ayala notes that, from a Darwinian perspective, each step is highly improbable. Taking into account just a few of these steps, Ayala determined that the probability of intelligent life arising from bacteria to be less than one chance in 10 1,000,000. (1)

Physicists John Barrow, Brandon Carter, and Frank Tipler calculated the probability of all 16 steps occurring to be less than one chance in 10 24,000,000. (2) To get a feel for how miniscule this probability is, it is roughly equivalent to someone winning the California lottery 3,000,000 consecutive times where that individual purchases just one lottery ticket each time. Realistically, this probability is indistinguishable from someone winning the California lottery 3,000,000 consecutive times where the individual purchases no tickets at all.

The probability determination of one chance in 10 24,000,000 presumes that each of the 16 steps is at least naturalistically possible, even if it is extremely improbable. But the last two steps present a problem for a naturalistic model. Consciousness, the mind, and the spirit are not reducible to physics and chemistry. In other words, the mindless, the spiritless, and that which lacks consciousness (undirected evolutionary processes) cannot create that which is mindful, spiritual, and conscious. Barrow, Carter, and Tipler merely considered the origin of the genes that govern some of the mind's and spirit's operations.

Their probability determination also fails to consider that no naturalistic explanation for the origin of physical life exists; naturalistic explanations aren't even possible. All naturalistic models for life's origin require a supply of building block molecules and time for those building block molecules to self-assemble. Yet overwhelming evidence now demonstrates that neither the time nor the building blocks were present for the origin of life on Earth. (3)

Moreover, the 16 steps imply that no category of life has permanently disappeared in spite of the fact that mass extinctions have occurred throughout life's history. The steps are additions to life, not replacements. If life appeared on Earth without a plan, purpose, or goal, then why have all categories remained?

It makes better sense that the Creator would act to ensure that no category of life permanently disappears. A Creator could intend that all life fulfill a role in equipping humanity to carry out our purpose and destiny. Psalm 104:24 provides an apt two-sentence summary of the origin of life and the 16 steps: "How many are your works, O LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures."

References:

(1) Francisco Ayala quoted by Frank J. Tipler in "Intelligent Life in Cosmology," International Journal of Astrobiology 2 (April 2003): 142.

(2) Brandon Carter and W. H. McCrea, "The Anthropic Principle and Its Implications for Biological Evolution [and Discussion]," Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A 310 (December 20, 1983): 347–63; John D. Barrow and Frank J. Tipler, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle(New York: Oxford University Press, 1986): 510–73.

(3) Fazale Rana and Hugh Ross, Origins of Life (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2004): 63–133.

Reasons to Believe emerged from Dr. Ross’ passion to research, develop, and proclaim the most powerful new reasons to believe in Christ as Creator, Lord, and Savior and to use those new reasons to reach people for Christ.  To learn more about Dr. Ross and Reasons to Believe, go here

That you may know, Roger

Monday, May 19, 2014

Video: Investigating the Resurrection of Jesus by Chad A. Gross


This video features a talk I gave on May 4, 2014 at Faith Christian Fellowship in Williamsport, MD. Patterned after Alive by J. Warner Wallace and The Case for the Resurrection by Gary Habermas and Mike Licona, I argue that the best explanation of the established facts in regard to Jesus's resurrection is that God rose Jesus from the dead.

The facts I defend are:

1. Jesus died by Roman crucifixion.
2. The disciples believed that Jesus rose and appeared to them.
3. The church persecutor Paul was suddenly changed.
4. The skeptic James, brother of Jesus, was suddenly changed.

The explanations I consider are:

1. Apparent Death
2. The Disciples were Lying
3. Hallucinations
4. Copycat Savior

I want to personally thank J. Warner Wallace of Stand to Reason, Brian Auten of Apologetics315 and the Truthbomb team for their continued encouragement, support and friendship.

Enjoy!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnotes:
1. 1 Peter 3:15
2. Acts 17:2
3. My testimony is given here in brief form.  I hope to write it out in detail one day.
4. 1 Cor. 15:12-17
5. You can view a brief video here where Craig Hazen explains how Christianity is testable.
6. John 10:30
7. John 14:9
8. Romans 1:4- "...who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord,"
9. Sura 2:23-24, Qur'an:

"An if ye are in doubt concerning that which We reveal unto Our slave (Muhammad), then produce a surah of the like thereof, and call your witnesses beside Allah if ye are truthful. And if ye do it not-and ye can never do it- then guard yourselves against the fire prepared for disbelievers, whose fuel is of men and stones" 

10. Moroni 10:4-5, The Book of Mormon:

"And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” 

11. For more on how Jesus's resurrection confirms the truth claims of Jesus Christ, see The Case for the Resurrection by Habermas and Licona, p. 26-20. 
12. You can order your own copy of Alive here.  These are great for handing out!
13. To read Wallace's testimony, checkout his book Cold-Case Christianity.  Our review is here.
14. Jim being attracted to the idea of Jesus being intelligent further demonstrates the need for Christians to exalt the genius of Jesus Christ.  As demonstrated here and here, Jesus was very comfortable using logic and evidence in discussion.
15. The "dead-body" scene used here is found in both Alive and Cold-Case Christianity.  For my purposes here, I tried to keep everything as basic as possible so that the audience could see the power of reasoning abductively.  
16. The 3,400 number is given by Mike Licona in his massive study of the resurrection The Resurrection of Jesus, p. 19.
17. You can find an excellent online article presenting some of the evidence for these facts here.
18. Some of the facts I use in my talk are different from the ones Jim uses in his work.  This is simply because the facts I present here are the ones I am comfortable defending.  The reality of the empty tomb is also an excellent fact to add to one's case.  My goal here was to keep the case as concise as possible. However, as Habermas and Licona note in The Case for the Resurrection (p. 48), there are a total of 12.
19. To see the 17 non-Christian sources mentioned, go here.  Habermas's work in The Historical Jesus can also be seen online for free here.
20. Here is a great article by Greg Koukl on the reliability of the New Testament.
21. In TrueU 3: Who is Jesus? Habermas states that if scholars have more than one source for a given event from antiquity they consider that to be acceptable.
22.  John Dominic Crossan, Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography, p. 145.
23. Gerd Ludemann, What Really Happened to Jesus? A Historical Approach to the Resurrection, 80.
24. 
William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith, 3rd Edition, p. 380.

25. As quoted by Gary Habermas, The Risen Jesus and Future Hope, p. 22.
26. For a very readable account of the medical evidence mentioned I recommend Lee Strobel's interview with physician Alexander Metherell in Chapter 11 of The Case for Christ.
27. 
William D. Edwards et al., "On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ," Journal of the American Medical Associiation (March 21, 1986), 1455-63; as quoted by Strobel in The Case for Christ, p. 273.

28. One of the most helpful treatments of conspiracy theories ("The disciples were lying.") can be found in Chapter 7 of J. Warner Wallace's excellent book Cold Case Christianity
29. My definition of hallucinations comes from philosopher Kenneth Samples in his book Without a Doubt, p. 144.
30. Gary Habermas and Mike Licona, The Case for the Resurrection, p. 107.
31. Dr. William Lane Craig stated in his recent series of talks with Dr. Lawrence Krauss that the "copycat savior" hypothesis is approximately 100 years out of date.  The 3rd talk can be found here and includes links to the other two.
32. For more on Osiris, see The Case for the Resurrection by Habermas and Licona, p. 91 or J. Warner Wallace's excellent article here.

33. Gregory Boyd in his interview with Lee Strobel:

"...the mystery religions were do-your-own-thing religions that freely borrowed ideas from various places.  However, the Jews carefully guarded their beliefs from outside influences.  They saw themselves as a seperate people and strongly resisted pagan ideas and rituals" [p. 161].

34. I meant to say "antidote," not "anecdote."  My apologies.
35. John 14:6
36. C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1970), 101.  


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Video Interview: Christianity and the Tooth Fairy by John Lennox


"Children believe in the tooth fairy until their reasoning capabilities mature and they recognize this belief is neither grounded nor relevant. Does belief in Jesus Christ require a suspension of logic? Can Christianity be proven to be true?
In an interview held at The Veritas Forum, University of California, Los Angeles on 6 April 2011, UCLA law professor Daniel Lowenstein questions Oxford mathematician John Lennox about Christianity and the grounds for faith. This is followed by audience Q&A.
The interview lasts for about 55 minutes, followed by a Q&A session of about 30 minutes." [1]
Courage and Godspeed,
Chad
Footnote:
1. Text taken from here.


Friday, May 16, 2014

Video: Did Jesus Rise from the Dead? by William Lane Craig




"On Thursday, April 10th, 2014 Dr William Lane Craig spoke on the 'Objective Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus' at Yale University. Dr. Craig is one of the leading theologians and defenders of Jesus' resurrection, demonstrating the veracity of his divinity. This is the biggest claim in history!

After the lecture, Dr Craig had a lengthy question and answer time with students from Yale. In this video, Dr Craig answers the question, 'Should we dismiss the credibility of the New Testament documents?'" [1]

For more great resources from Dr. William Lane Craig, see here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad


Footnote:
1. Text taken from here.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Paul Copan on God, Materialism and Value

"If God doesn't exist, human dignity, worth, and moral duty must have emerged from valueless processes.  In fact, and in contrast, from valuelessness, valuelessness comes.  On the other hand, God's existence offers a ready explanation for the existence of value in the world.  If goodness somehow existed as part of the furniture of the universe (reflecting Plato's theory of forms), then it would be an astonishing cosmic coincidence that creatures would evolve over billions of years and somehow be duty-bound to moral values just waiting 'out there' ...as though these values were somehow anticipating the emergence of humans!  Again, God's existence connects preexisting goodness (God's character) with these valuable creatures (in God's image)." [1]


Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnote:
1. Paul Copan, True for You, But Not for Me, p. 99.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Article: Are There Any Good Reasons to Believe in Heaven (Even without the Evidence from Scripture)? by J. Warner Wallace

In this featured article, speaker, apologist and author J. Warner Wallace writes, "...even without the guidance of the New Testament authors, there are good reasons to believe we will live beyond the grave."

Jim then goes on to offer 7 reasons to support his claim.

You can checkout the entire article here.

To sign-up for Jim's daily email, go here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Book Highlight: Grand Central Question


I will be reading through the subject book by Abdu Murray in the weeks to come and providing highlights along the way.  Murray focuses on three main worldviews and the question that is central to them:

Secular humanism:  What is the inherent value of human beings?
Pantheism:  How do we escape suffering?
Islam:  How is God great?

In the opinion of Josh McDowell, Murray shows in these pages how the gospel answers life's fundamental questions coherently.

For now we begin with the Prologue:  What Truth Costs - What Truth is Worth. Here Murray reminds us that truth is costly and the cost varies from person to person. It may be the family or the immoral lifestyle one may lose by embracing Christ, but it costs something. He reminds us of this because Jesus reminded his own disciples of this in Luke 14:27-33. And because the truth is costly, Murray notes "how duplicitously we can act when it comes to the truth. We can offer platitudes to imply we want the truth, no matter what it may mean, but we seldom act accordingly" (Page 17).

He then suggests three ways to bring the cost of truth to the surface in order for it to be addressed before the tough intellectual questions can be addressed:

1. Answer questions with questions.
2. Listen carefully for the cost.
3. Show that the truth is worth the cost.

Thank you to InterVarsity Press for the review copy.

Stand firm in Christ,
Chase


Monday, May 12, 2014

Jesus as God in His Parables

A common criticism leveled toward the deity of Christ is that Jesus never said, "I am God." We have dealt with that objection here.

However, it should also be noted that Jesus made a declaration and defense of his claim to be the divine Son of God through His parables.  As Patrick Zukeran and Norman Geisler point out in their book The Apologetics of Jesus, Dr. Philip Payne wrote his doctoral dissertation at Cambridge University on this topic and stated:

"Out of the fifty-two recorded narrative parables, twenty depict Him [Jesus] in imagery which in the Old Testament typically referred to God.  The frequency with which this occurs indicates that Jesus regularly depicted Himself in images which were particularly appropriate for depicting God." [1]

Building on Payne's above point, Geisler and Zukeran conclude:

"Applying these images to himself indicated Jesus's self-understanding as the divine Son of God and communicated this truth to his audience.  In the parables he revealed his divinity, defended his claim, and validated his ministry.  Entrance into the kingdom of God and one's eternal destiny depend on how a person responds to Jesus's words.  The authority to judge and grant eternal life is reserved for God, and this is the authority Jesus claims for himself." [2]

Jesus's logic can be summarized as follows:

1. In the Old Testament, God refers to himself as X.
2. I am X.
3. Therefore, I am God. [3]

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnote:
1. Norman L. Geisler and Patrick Zukeran, The Apologetics of Jesus, p. 80.
2. Ibid., p. 80.
3. Ibid., p. 80.



Sunday, May 11, 2014

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Why Is God Not Obvious?


Why is it that God does not seem to approach in a much more obvious way? One answer has been that God’s existence is not a matter of reality and facts. Isn’t it more of a faith position, anyway? Isn’t it more about a leap in the dark than an embrace of evidence?

I would agree that God isn’t “forcefully obvious,” but I don’t think that this confines God to being a “take-it-or-leave-it” matter of faith. I think it makes more sense to see God as clearly visible, whilst not being forcefully obvious.

Did you know that the Bible actually recognizes the validity of the question we are asking? First, we see passages that affirm the human perception that God seems hidden. In Job 23:8-9 we read, “But if I go to the east, he is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find him. When he is at work in the north, I do not see him; when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him.”

Interestingly, there are also many examples of God appearing as if veiled in darkness, whilst still simultaneously offering his presence.(1) For instance we read that, “The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.” 

Jesus, too, invites people to trust in him and then leaves and hides himself. In John we find the story of a paralytic man who is healed, but then Jesus slips away into the crowd. Luke records that as news about Jesus spread, “he often withdrew to lonely places.” Later, Jesus tells the disciples that, “Before long, the world will not see me any more, but you will see me.” Interestingly in many of these cases, God provides a clear sense of presence, while at the same time veiling the fullness of that presence.

So perhaps an unavoidable part of the Bible’s answer to why God seems hidden is because it’s true. But why? And what about those times when we need a present God most, when God could offer us real hope in times of suffering?

Well, when Jesus resisted the crowd, he concealed his identity until exactly the right moment in time to explicitly disclose it. This was a wise decision as the consequences of more explicit or obvious disclosure led fairly quickly to a successful campaign to have him executed. Could it be that God isn’t unavoidably obvious, but clear in a more qualified sense? Crucially, there is also no reason why something of this nature might not require some learning to begin to perceive or see on our part.

For example, imagine that I said that it is obvious, but not forcefully so, that you will need your passport to fly internationally. Now, notice carefully that you have to learn this bit of information. It is certainly not like a forcefully obvious brick wall that you cannot avoid. But it would still perhaps be a case of a failure to grasp the obvious if you arrived at the airport with your bags packed but without your passport. It’s this second sense (of non-forceful obviousness or avoidable clarity) that the case for God can be confidently approached.

But might this idea of God hiding merely provide a clever way for Christians to cling onto God in a scientific and evidence demanding age? This has been argued. Yet Christians do not claim that God doesn’t show himself, but rather that God chooses the means of the showing. And hiddenness may well be necessary to bring focus to the way God declares his existence through Jesus Christ. In fact, divine hiding creates the possibility of a more obvious disclosure or uncovering.

Atheist Bertrand Russell famously quipped that if he were faced with God when he died, he would demand an explanation for why God made the evidence of his existence so insufficient. We might be tempted to think he was being entirely reasonable. But perhaps the evidence we demand for God is directly related to who we think God is and what we think God’s purposes are. Hiddenness would make no sense if God’s aim was simply to relate to us as an object of knowledge that offered no real relational connection or friendship. If this was the divine purpose—that we would simply acknowledge God’s existence—then I am sympathetic to Russell’s demand for more evidence.

But let us suppose that God was unwilling to make an approach to human life merely through the intellect. Instead, let us imagine that God is seeking a relationship that is based upon a deeper and more profound personal insight or perception. Have you ever asked what kind of a relationship God might want with you?

Moreover, God has indeed been revealed plainly in the reality of a redemptive plan and action. The gospel is described as a mystery now made known. Many Christians can recall moments, or even seasons spanning years, where God has been plainly and clearly at work and life has been saturated with the presence and grace of Father, Son, and Spirit. 

Faith isn’t a blind faith, but a response to the evidence. It is based on real events that can be investigated. A leap in the dark has never been the offer, as it is about stepping into the light.

So perhaps the evidence that we demand is a consequence of who we think God is and what we think God’s purposes are? If God loves you and wants you to freely choose to return that love then perhaps sending his Son for you is enough to catch your attention?

Tom Price is Academic Tutor at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics and a member of the speaking team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Europe.

(1) Cf. Psalm 10:1; 22:1-2; 30:7; 44:23-24; 88:13-14; 89:46; Isaiah 45:15.

Published on May 8, 2014 in A Slice of Infinity.  “Our gift and invitation to you, that you might further examine your beliefs, your culture, and the unique message of Jesus Christ.”

To learn more about Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, go here

To receive A Slice of Infinity in your daily email, go here

Video: Jesus, the Gospels, and the Telephone Game




Skeptical scholars often compare the way the Bible's accounts of Jesus were passed on with the children's telephone game, where children whisper a complicated message from one to another. In the process the message is corrupted, and at the end everyone has a good laugh. But how good is the comparison between this game and the way the Gospel stories were passed on?

In this short video, Bible scholars Daniel Wallace, Darrell Bock and Craig Blomberg demonstrate how silly this comparison actually is.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Friday, May 09, 2014

R. Douglas Geivett on the Hiddenness of God

"We cannot foreclose on the question of God’s willingness to disclose himself and his purposes in some concrete, particularized way without first looking into the evidence for the authenticity of an alleged revelation from him; even if a quest for some particular truth of the matter is scandalous by today’s ephemeral standards, It will hardly do to accuse God of hiding from us if we have not sincerely sought him in appropriate ways, or if we have insisted on prescribing for God the conditions under which we would approve a revelation of himself."


Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnote:
1. "IS JESUS THE ONLY WAY?" IN JESUS UNDER FIRE, EDS. MICHAEL J. WILKINS AND JP MORELAND (GRAND RAPIDS: ZONDERVAN PUBLISHING HOUSE, 1995), 194.

HT: Afterall.net

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Video: Why I'm Not an Atheist by J. P. Moreland


In this talk, Dr. J.P. Moreland explains why he believes it is more rational to be a theist than an atheist.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad


Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Article: Advice to Young Aspiring Apologists by Jonathan McLatchie

In this featured articleJonathan McLatchie offers 13 lessons for those aspiring to be apologists.

This should be required reading for apologists of all ages.

You can check it out here.

We have also added this to our Apologist's Quiver found here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Share Your Thoughts: Alex McLellan and Atheism

In the book I am currently reading, A Jigsaw Guide to Making Sense of the World by apologist Alex McLellan, he states the following in regard to atheism:

"Atheism results in a world where there is no basis for rationality, human beings have no intrinsic value, life has no absolute meaning, and there is no hope for the future-all beliefs that strike us as deeply problematic.  It is not just that these conclusions are uncomfortable; they completely contradict our experience and fall short of our expectations." [1]

Do you agree with McLellan's conclusions?  Why or why not?



Further, for our atheist readers, how do you account for our rationality [ontologically], the intrinsic value of human beings, and objective meaning on your atheism?  Or do you deny these things?

Sound off in the comments below!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Saturday, May 03, 2014

World of Suffering

Woody Allen stated, “How do you expect me to believe in God when only last week I got my tongue caught in the roller of my electric typewriter?”  So begins Michael Ramsden in his this message entitled "World of Suffering".  This humorous quip demonstrates that there are really two different questions at the heart of the issue.  1 - Why do we see so much suffering and evil in the world? And 2 - Why me?

Often, the common objection is that if God is all loving, then why is there suffering?  But Christianity does not talk about God being loving, but that God is love.

Now, in order for love as a quality to exist, it must be between 2 beings.  One does not wake up in the morning, look in the mirror, admire themselves and say “I’m in love”.  Therefore, the idea of God as a monad does not make sense, for such a God needs to create someone to love.  This is why the Christian doctrine of the Trinity becomes so important, because love exists in the community of the Godhead.  (A thought for those who object to 1 God existing with 3 persons, the language is the same as that of 1 marriage with 2 persons.)  So in Christianity we have a God who wants to create a world in which love is a meaningful expression and experience.

Now suppose I hold a gun to your head and ask you if you love me.  You will probably, even with tears in your eyes, express that you love me.  Now suppose someone witnesses this and goes home and says how you expressed your love for me.  Does the fact that I was holding a gun to your head matter?  Of course it does.  Love is meaningless unless it is can be expressed freely.

So now we learn how the moral law exists to protect freedom.  Freedom is not being able to do whatever you want, however you want, whenever you want.  That is anarchy.  Freedom can only exist within a moral framework.  Yet we reject God and His moral framework.  We fail to realize that it is impossible to break the moral law.  Suppose I go on a roof with a red cape, a big S on my chest and wear my red underwear on the outside of my pants.  If I jump off the roof in an attempt to break the law of gravity, what will I break?  I will break myself while proving the law of gravity.  

The same is true if you try to break God’s moral law, you will break yourself while proving His moral law.  You don’t think this is true?  Have you ever been lied to, cheated, stolen from, stabbed in the back?  It hurts.  When moral law is broken, we get hurt.

But some will argue that God should have known what evil would do.  So if he knew about all the evil and suffering we would experience, why did He create anyways?  We see then answer when we look at how Jesus responded to the suffering of humanity.  He had compassion on the sick.  He wept over Jerusalem.  He did know how this world would be.  God’s plan to save humanity is not a plan B.
What is it that determines the value of something?  A gold wedding ring has value.  (Some may argue that a wedding ring is just a small metal band that cuts off your circulation.)  But if no one wanted gold, would it have any value?  No.  Gold has value because of the price that someone is willing to pay.  Now think about the price God was willing to pay for humanity, for you.  He paid the highest possible price that could be paid.  He held nothing back.  And when we look at ourselves and the world around us, this is the true mystery of the cross.  While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. God so loved the world…
I hope that you enjoy the British wit and wisdom of Michael’s message.  Go here to listen to Part 1, here for Part 2 and here for Part 3.

That you may know, Roger