Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Trinity Is Not a Contradiction


I found this concise explanation at ligonier.org via The Gospel Coalition:

Classically the Trinity was defined in these terms:

God is one in essence and three in person.

I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard or seen this formulation described as a “contradiction.” Why is it called a contradiction? We are accustomed to thinking in terms of “One person equals one essence.” This equation may be a convenient one, but it’s not a rationally necessary one. The Trinity is indeed unusual and mysterious, but it is not inherently or analytically irrational.

If the formula for the Trinity asserted that God is one in essence and three in essence or that he is three in person and one in person, we would be engaging in the nonsense of contradiction. Something cannot be one in A and three in A at the same time and in the same relationship. That’s contradiction.

The classical formula of the Trinity is that God is one in one thing (one in A, essence) and three in a different thing (three in B, persona). The church fathers were careful not to formulate the nature of God in contradictory terms. The distinction among persons of the Godhead may be “essential” to Christianity, but the distinction itself is not an essential distinction about God. That is, though the distinction among persons is a real and necessary distinction, it is not an essential distinction.

Lest we seem to be guilty of equivocation here, let me explain further. When I say that the personal distinction among the Godhead is not an essential distinction, I mean by “essential” that which refers to being or essence, not to that which is “important” or “necessary” for other reasons. The distinction is “essential” in the sense that it is important and necessary for our understanding. It is not “essential” in the sense that it distinguishes being or essence in God.

The formula is not meant to say that essence and person are the same things. Essence refers to the being of God, while person is used here as substance within being. Essence is primary and persona is secondary. Essence is the similarity, while personal is the dissimilarity in the nature of God. He is unified in one essence, but diversified in three personae.

This excerpt is taken from Not a Chance by R.C. Sproul.

But don't take my word for it, read the book, don't wait for the movie.

Have a little hope on me, Roger

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Tough Topic Tuesday: Four Views on Revelation, Pt. 1

Many Christians I know seem to be very excited about the book of Revelation.  Whether they are discussing "blood moons" or the next economic downfall, most are very intrigued by what is going on in our world and seem determined to line up current events with the book of Revelation.  While I too find the book of Revelation fascinating, I fear that many believers and unbelievers are unaware that there is more than one way to understand the book of Revelation.

Over the next 4 weeks in this series we will be exploring an article written by Pat Zukeran entitled "Four Views on Revelation."  My goal in the forthcoming posts is simply to make people aware of the various views on Revelation.  I certainly lean toward one of the 4 views we'll be considering, but do so with a loose grip.  Please feel free to share what you think of each view in the comments and thank you for your readership!

The Idealist View

The first view of Revelation is the idealist view, or the spiritual view. This view uses the allegorical method to interpret the Book of Revelation. The allegorical approach to Revelation was introduced by ancient church father Origen (AD 185-254) and made prominent by Augustine (AD 354-420). According to this view, the events of Revelation are not tied to specific historical events. The imagery of the book symbolically presents the ongoing struggle throughout the ages of God against Satan and good against evil. In this struggle, the saints are persecuted and martyred by the forces of evil but will one day receive their vindication. In the end, God is victorious, and His sovereignty is displayed throughout ages. Robert Mounce summarizes the idealist view stating, “Revelation is a theological poem presenting the ageless struggle between the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness. It is a philosophy of history wherein Christian forces are continuously meeting and conquering the demonic forces of evil."

In his commentary on Revelation, late nineteenth century scholar William Milligan stated, “While the Apocalypse thus embraces the whole period of the Christian dispensation, it sets before us within this period the action of great principles and not special incidents; we are not to look in the Apocalypse for special events, both for the exhibition of the principles which govern the history of both the world and the Church.”

The symbols in Revelation are not tied to specific events but point to themes throughout church history. The battles in Revelation are viewed as spiritual warfare manifested in the persecution of Christians or wars in general that have occurred in history. The beast from the sea may be identified as the satanically-inspired political opposition to the church in any age. The beast from the land represents pagan, or corrupt, religion to Christianity. The harlot represents the compromised church, or the seduction of the world in general. Each seal, trumpet, or bowl represents natural disasters, wars, famines, and the like which occur as God works out His plan in history. Catastrophes represent God’s displeasure with sinful man; however, sinful mankind goes through these catastrophes while still refusing to turn and repent. God ultimately triumphs in the end.

The strength of this view is that it avoids the problem of harmonizing passages with events in history. It also makes the book of Revelation applicable and relevant for all periods of church history.

However, there are several weaknesses of this view. First, this view denies the book of Revelation any specific historical fulfillment. The symbols portray the ever-present conflict but no necessary consummation of the historical process.  Rev.1:1 states that the events will come to pass shortly, giving the impression that John is prophesying future historical events.

Second, reading spiritual meanings into the text could lead to arbitrary interpretations. Followers of this approach have often allowed the cultural and socio-political factors of their time to influence their interpretation rather than seeking the author’s intended meaning.  Merrill Tenney states,

The idealist view . . . assumes a “spiritual” interpretation, and allows no concrete significance whatever to figures that it employs. According to this viewpoint they are not merely symbolic of events and persons, as the historicist view contends; they are only abstract symbols of good and evil. They may be attached to any time or place, but like the characters of Pilgrim’s Progress, represent qualities or trends. In interpretation, the Apocalypse may thus mean anything or nothing according to the whim of the interpreter.

Unless interpreters are grounded in the grammatical, historical, and contextual method of hermeneutics, they leave themselves open to alternate interpretations that may even contradict the author’s intended meaning. [1]

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnote:
1. All references are included in the original article found here.


Monday, September 28, 2015

Planned Parenthood and Baby Parts: How Did We Get Here?

In the subject blog series, Brian Fisher of Online for Life writes of how our society has gotten to the point where the trafficking of baby body parts can be discussed so casually. He also describes the foundations of Planned Parenthood. Below is an excerpt taken from the series:

Evil of this magnitude doesn’t happen overnight. It never has. When slavery was brought to the United States in 1619, it wasn’t delivered to colonists on a 200-foot slave ship outfitted with chains, crowded bunks, and whips to keep its “cargo” in line. No, slavery first came to our country in the form of indentured servitude, with a promise to work for seven years in exchange for a trip to and establishment in the New World. Within a century, that system evolved into the horrific practice of slavery that has left an immutable stain on our society.

Similarly, Germany’s Third Reich didn’t come to power one day and then Hitler began slaughtering Jews the next. No, it happened slowly over time. First, through economic persecution, then through Kristallnacht. Next, the Jews were segregated into ghettos, and slowly, town by town, they were deported on trains that took them to concentration camps… and almost certain death.

The same can be said about legalized abortion in America. Since the early 1900s, there has been a slow uptick in the acceptance of abortion in our culture. It began when radical eugenicists hijacked the women’s rights movement, followed by the strategic establishment of abortion clinics within predominantly African-American communities. And finally, gentle euphemisms were introduced into our society that delineate preborn babies as “tissue” and abortion as “choice.”

This is an eye-opening series. Fisher is committed to providing this nation with the wake up call that it needs.

You can read part one here. Part two can be found here.

Stand firm in Christ,
Chase


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Friday, September 25, 2015

N.T. Wright on the Resurrection of Jesus

"It will not do … to say that Jesus’ disciples were so stunned and shocked by his death, so unable to come to terms with it, that they projected their shattered hopes onto the screen of fantasy and invented the idea of Jesus’ ‘resurrection’ as a way of coping with a cruelly broken dream. That has an initial apparent psychological plausibility, but it won’t work as serious first-century history. We know of lots of other messianic and similar movements in the Jewish world roughly contemporary with Jesus. In many cases the leader died a violent death at the hands of the authorities. In not one single case do we hear the slightest mention of the disappointed followers claiming that their hero had been raised from the dead. They knew better. ‘Resurrection’ was not a private event. It involved human bodies. There would have to be an empty tomb somewhere. A Jewish revolutionary whose leader had been executed by the authorities, and who managed to escape arrest himself, had two options: give up the revolution, or find another leader. We have evidence of people doing both. Claiming that the original leader was alive again was simply not an option. Unless, of course, he was."

Courage and Godspeed,

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Resource- Making the Case: Abortion by Tim Challies



The above is a slideshow offered by Tim Challies that goes with his excellent article Making the Case: Abortion.   This is great for preaching, teaching, or just reading through yourself.

More from Challies here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Helpful Resources Regarding "Homo naledi"

The media has been featuring stories about the apparent new hominin fossil Homo naledi.  I wanted to offer some resources that I have found helpful on the topic.




Please share any resources you have found!

As the past has demonstrated, healthy skepticism is recommended!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Baby Noah at 12 Weeks


This is a picture of baby Noah who was miscarried at 12 weeks. As this article explains, "At 12 weeks’ gestation, Noah’s reflexes were becoming more refined. Like other pre-born humans at this stage, he responded to touch, and moved around in his mother’s womb...He started to close his fingers and curl his toes; his liver and kidneys were functioning, and most of his systems were fully formed."

This is no glob of tissue.  These are not spare parts to profit from.  Take a look.  This is a human being. This is a child.  It boggles the mind that this view even needs defended.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad


Monday, September 21, 2015

Quote: Bart Ehrman on the Post-Resurrection Appearances

“It is a historical fact that some of Jesus’ followers came to believe that he had been raised from the dead soon after his execution. We know some of these believers by name; one of them, the apostle Paul, claims quite plainly to have seen Jesus alive after his death. Thus, for the historian, Christianity begins after the death of Jesus, not with the resurrection itself, but with the belief in the resurrection.”[1]

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad




Footnote:
1. The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings. Third Edition. (New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.276), Emphasis mine.

Video: Daniel- Standing Strong for God in a Secular Society by Dr. John Lennox


The other talks in this series can be found here.

You can checkout Dr. Lennox's new book Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism here.

To learn more about Dr. Lennox, go here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad


Saturday, September 19, 2015

B.O.M.B. Video Review- Mining for God

B-Background

Mining for God tells the story of Brandon McGuire who grew up with a middle class view of Christianity.  After college he spent three years in Africa. There, he witnessed and experienced a practice of Christianity quite unlike that of the American church.

When he returned to the United States he began wondering why this difference existed and began asking people "What is Christianity?" and the responses he received revealed a more fundamental problem.  As McGuire discussed Christianity with various people with various beliefs, he began to see that people here in the States are especially confused in regard to the Christian faith.  In truth, some seemed to outright reject many of Christianity's central doctrines.  He began to wonder what ideas had led to the apparent misunderstanding of Christianity or the rejection of it.  Mining for God explores the American mind and brings to the surface the big ideas that have influenced the way we think about ourselves and about God.

O-Overview

McGuire's documentary is professionally done and features interviews with some of the top thinkers in apologetics, philosophy and ancient history today.  I believe that one of the strengths of the video is that the content shared is powerful, but not overwhelming.  It is both applicable to those versed in apologetics and those who may be new to this type of content.  The back cover of Mining for God states it well: "Whether you would consider yourself a Christian or not- there is something of value for everyone in this film." Indeed.  Regardless of your current views on God, religion and the nature of man, I believe you will find this video helpful as you think through these important questions.

M- Main Arguments

The video identifies three main ideas that have significantly impacted the American mind and the way we think about Christianity and religion: naturalism, relativism and the problem of evil.

It is argued that if naturalism is true then it follows that our existence is ultimately absurd.  Those familiar with Dr. William Lane Craig's work in this area will be pleased to see that he is interviewed in this segment and shares some of his points regarding "The Absurdity of Life Without God."

Also featured is Reasonable Faith's animated video on the Kalam Cosmological Argument.  Coupled with the argument from the information found in DNA, this evidence is used to suggest that naturalism fails as an adequate explanatory paradigm and that theism is superior.

The documentary goes on to argue that America has been infected by relativism and that relativism has led to the view that all religions teach basically the same doctrines.  Religion is now treated like a desired flavor or personal preference, not something that can be objectively true or false.  We have a cafeteria approach to religion; we take what we like and leave what we don't.  Mining for God does a great job of pointing out the clear differences between many of the world's main religions and refuting this oft repeated mantra.

The problem of evil then takes center stage and the documentary rightly argues that all religions must deal with the evil found in the human heart.  We are all morally broken people.  It is contended that Christianity uniquely deals with the problem through Jesus Christ's death on the cross.  Jesus's death on the cross solves the sin problem.  The payment for sin is made in full by Christ.

Of course, this solution is only meaningful if it is true.  Scholars Mike Licona, Gary Habermas, William Lane Craig and Nabeel Quershi are interviewed to argue that Jesus' resurrection from the dead is a historical reality.  Those familiar with Habermas' "minimal facts" argument will pleased to see it featured here.  This segment further argues that the resurrection defeats naturalism.

B-Bottomline

One of the points made by the documentary that struck a chord with me is the idea that people are to busy to stop and ask important questions about their existence.  This is so true.  I know numerous people who are bright and successful, but these questions don't seem to be a priority to them.  They are busy following their favorite celebrity or keeping up with their friends on social media.  All the while I suspect many of them, as the film argues, find within themselves a longing for something more.  As C.S. Lewis said,“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”  This documentary will help people seek and find the "other world" referred to by Lewis.

Mining for God
is a unique tool for educating both believers and unbelievers about the truth of the gospel and the evidential grounding enjoyed by Christianity.  Some may never read a book by Gary Habermas or William Lane Craig, but this video will introduce them to their works, and the works of many others, in a highly engaging way!  Mining for God is ideal for a church movie night, small group, or a study with unbelievers.  McGuire has created a thought provoking, but not preachy, documentary.  I highly recommend it!

You can order your copy here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

* Many thanks to "White Sail Films" for the review copy!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Prager U Video: God and Suffering with Peter Kreeft


Many believe the problem of evil and suffering to be the greatest argument against the existence of God.  In this short and concise video philosopher Peter Kreeft demonstrates why the argument of evil and suffering, while difficult and sometimes heart wrenching, fails to disprove the existence of God.  

Enjoy!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Peter Singer on the Moment of Conception

"Whether a being is a member of a given species is something that can be determined scientifically, by an examination of the nature of the chromosomes in the cells of the living organisms.  In this sense there is no doubt that from the first moments of its existence an embryo is conceived from human sperm and eggs is a human being." [1]

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnote:
1. Peter Singer, Writings on an Ethical Life (New York: HarperCollins Publishers Inc., 2000), 127 as quoted by Dave Sterrett in Aborting Aristotle, p. 77.



Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Mt. Airy Bible Church Presents- 2015 Defending the Faith Apologetics Conference

Friday and Saturday October 2-3, 2015

Featuring:

Paul Copan

J. Warner Wallace

David Wood

Schedule

Friday Oct 2nd:

6:45 - 7:00 Worship

7:00 - 8:00 Paul Copan - Did God Sanction Slavery in the Old Testament?

8:00 - 9:00 David Wood - What Every Christian Needs to Know about Islam

9:00 - 10:00 J. Warner Wallace - Cold Case Christianity

Saturday Oct. 3rd:

8:45 - 9:00 Worship

9:00 - 10:00 J. Warner Wallace - God's Crime Scene

10:00 - 10:15 Break

10:15 - 11:15 Paul Copan - The Historical Difference the Christian Faith Has Made

11:15 - 12:15 David Wood - The Problem of Evil and the Skeptics Dilemma

12:15 - 1:00 Lunch

1:00 - 1:30 Q and A - Paul Copan, J. Warner Wallace, David Wood

1:30 - 2:30 J. Warner Wallace - Alive: The Cold Case for the Resurrection

You can register here.

You can find directions to Mt. Airy Bible Church here.

Mt. Airy always puts on a great event and I hope to see you there!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Tough Topic Tuesday: God, Government, and Gospel

This is Pt. 4 of our posts working through this work by Pastor Wayne Grudem.  The purpose of the series is to explore the relationship between God, the Government and the Gospel.

Pt. 1 is here.  Pt. 2 is here.  Pt. 3 is here.  Pt. 4. is here.

E. Wrong view #5: Do Politics, Not Evangelism

The fifth view says that the church should just try to change the laws and the culture and should not emphasize evangelism. I do not know of any responsible evangelical leaders or prominent Christian groups today who hold this view or say that Christians should just “do politics, not evangelism.”

But this was a primary emphasis of the Social Gospel movement in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with its campaigns to get the church to work aggressively to overcome poverty, slums, crime, racial discrimination, and other social evils. These were good causes in themselves, but this movement placed little if any emphasis on the need for individuals to place personal trust in Christ as Savior or the need to proclaim the entire Bible as the Word of God and worthy of our belief. The Social Gospel movement gained followers primarily among liberal Protestants rather than among more conservative, evangelical Protestant groups.

Christians who encourage greater Christian involvement in politics today need to hear an important word of caution: If we (and I include myself here) ever begin to think that good laws alone will solve a nation’s problems or bring about a righteous and just society, we will have made a huge mistake. Unless there is simultaneously an inner change in people’s hearts and minds, good laws alone will only bring about grudging, external compliance with the minimum level of obedience necessary to avoid punishment. Good government and good laws can prevent much evil behavior, and they can teach people and show what society approves, but they cannot by themselves produce good people.

Genuine, long-term change in a nation will only happen (1) if people’s hearts change so that they seek to do good, not evil; (2) if people’s minds change so that their moral convictions align more closely with God’s moral standards in the Bible; and (3) if a nation’s laws change so that they more fully encourage good conduct and punish wrong conduct. Item 1 comes about through personal evangelism and the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Item 2 takes place both through personal conversation and teaching and through public discussion and debate. Item 3 comes about through Christian political involvement. All three are necessary. This “do politics, not evangelism” view is certainly wrong. The church must above all proclaim that “the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). People definitely experience a change in their hearts when they believe in Christ: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17).

What then? Is there a correct view that is different from these five wrong views? The view I propose next is “significant Christian influence on government.” “Significant Christian influence on government” is not compulsion (view 1), it is not silence (view 2), and it is not dropping out of the process (views 3 and 4), nor is it thinking the government can save people (view 5). It is different from each of these wrong views, and I think it is much closer to the actual teaching of the Bible.

For those interested in seeing Grudem defend his "significant Christian influence on governement"view, go here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Monday, September 14, 2015

Greg Koukl on "What Is a Soul?"

Once a seven-year-old boy called my radio show and asked, "What is a soul?" Simply put, I told him, your soul is your invisible self. Think of a soul like a hand in a glove. A soul makes the body move much like your hand makes the glove move. When you remove your hand from the glove, the glove can't do anything. The same thing happens to a body when the soul leaves. It just lies there.

I went on to make two clarifications to my young caller. First, souls aren't actually in bodies in exactly the same way a hand is in a glove. Our hands are physical, but our souls are not. Souls are invisible, but they are still real. They are united to our bodies in  a deep and profound way.

Second, if we wore gloves all the time and never took them off, some people might say we didn't really have any hands at all because they never saw them.  They'd say that gloves were the only things that were real, that hands didn't actually exist.

This would be a mistake because when we look closely at gloves, it becomes very clear that they would not be able to do the things they do all by themselves. Hands do things that gloves alone can't do.

In the same way, souls do things that mere physical bodies can't do.

Stand firm in Christ,
Chase

Footnotes:
Koukl Greg. Precious Unborn Human Persons. Page 41. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Book Preview- Aborting Aristotle: Examining Fatal Fallacies in the Abortion Debate by Dave Sterrett

About the Author

Dave Sterrett is the founder of Disruptive Truth, a non-profit organization that is disrupting culture with the truth of the Gospel. In the last decade, Dave Sterrett has been a director, spokesman or board member for some of the most innovative Christian organizations that are reaching millennials and Generation Z with the hope of Jesus.

Dave Sterrett is the author or co-author of nine books, including the Wall Street Journal best-seller I Am Second (Thomas Nelson), Why Trust Jesus? (Moody Publishers), Aborting Aristotle (St. Augustine’s Press), Is the Bible True…Really? (Moody Publishers), The Apologetics Study Bible for Students (B&H), and the forthcoming book We Choose Life: Authentic Stories, Movements of Hope (Hendrickson). He has contributed articles for the Washington Post, Billy Graham’s Decision Magazine, and the Gospel Coalition. He has been cited on CNN, USA Today and the Christian Post.

About the Book

The abortion debate has returned. More than forty years have passed since the landmark decision Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in the United States. But the abortion debate continues to rage among ethicists and the influencers of society in politics, government, and the arts. Dave Sterrett’s Aborting Aristotle examines these essential differences philosophically, while investigating the naturalistic worldview about humanity that is frequently held by many of the scholarly defenders of abortion.

Each year 44 million babies are killed from intentional abortion around the world.1.29 million babies are aborted right here in the United States. These are not just merely cold statistics: These are human beings . . . real babies.

Sterrett reveals the unreasonableness of abortion and argues against abortion even in the difficult circumstances. In the ancient world, infanticide was defended by Plato and Aristotle. Christians who believed in the sacredness of human life stopped infanticide and intellectually argued against the practice. Peter Singer, professor of ethics at Princeton, hopes the time has come for atheists to reassess the morality of infanticide “without assuming the Christian moral framework that has, for so long, prevented any fundamental reassessment” [Peter Singer, Practical Ethics (Cambridge University Press, UK; 1993), 173.] Dave Sterrett takes on Peter Singer, along with other scholarly defenders of abortion, including David Boonin, Michael Tooley, and Judith Jarvis Thomson. Although he is against Aristotle’s teaching in favor of abortion, Sterrett argues that Aristotle had much good in his metaphysical and logical teachings that Western education has forgotten.

Sterrett draws upon current scientific knowledge of the human embryo to provide reasons for a restoration of the Aristotelian scholastic philosophical tradition that could help ethicists become more open-minded about the dignity and personhood of unborn human beings.

You can order the book here.
Visit Disruptive Truth here.
Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

* We will be reviewing Aborting Aristotle on Truthbomb soon!

Friday, September 11, 2015

"Feminists for Life" on Pre-born Children

"If we take any living member of the species Homo sapiens and put them outside the realm of legal protection, we undercut the case against discrimination for everyone else.  The basis for equal treatment under the law is that being a member of the species is sufficient to be a member of the human community, without consideration for race, gender, disability, age, stage of development, state of dependency, place of residence or amount of of property ownership." [1]

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnote:
1. Feminists for Life Debate Handbook (Kansas City, MO: Feminists for Life of America, n.d.), 9. as quoted by Randy Alcorn in Why Pro-Life?

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Article: Persuasion- The Centre Piece of Effective Evangelism by Peter May

In this featured article, Peter May argues that effective evangelism must be persuasive, but persuasion has been overlooked.

He writes:

"Persuasion is a pivotal word in understanding evangelism, but it has for a long time been overlooked. I have been to countless ‘training sessions’ and read numerous books on evangelism, where neither the word nor even the idea have been mentioned at all. Even a Dictionary of Apologetics and an Encyclopaedia of Apologetics on my shelves do not have entries under the ‘P’ word. Yet, if you take persuasion out of evangelism, you are left with unpersuasive evangelism."

Checkout the article here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Video: The Abortion Debate- Scott Klusendorf vs James Croft


This is an interesting debate on the topic of abortion.  Klusendorf and Croft both make their cases respectfully and thoughtfully.  

For more from Scott Klusendorf, see here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad


Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Tough Topic Tuesday: God, Government, and Gospel

This is Pt. 4 of our posts working through this work by Pastor Wayne Grudem.  The purpose of the series is to explore the relationship between God, the Government and the Gospel.

Pt. 1 is here.  Pt. 2 is here.  Pt. 3 is here.


D. Wrong View #4: Do Evangelism, Not Politics


A fourth wrong view about Christians and politics is promoted by evangelicals who essentially say, “We should just preach the Gospel, and that is the only way Christians can hope to change peoples’ hearts and change our society.” I call this the “do evangelism, not politics” view. It claims that the church is only called to “preach the Gospel,” not to preach about politics.

1. God calls Christians to do “good works”

Of course, we must insist that people can never earn their salvation by doing “good works.” The Bible insists that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23), and it also says, “by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight” (Rom. 3:20).

But after people have trusted in Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sins, then what should they do? How should we live now as Christians? The Bible says we should be doing “good works.” In fact, right in the place where Paul writes a magnificent proclamation of justification by faith alone, he adds an important sentence about good works. First he says,

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Eph. 2:9).

Then he immediately adds,

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Eph. 2:10).

In another place he says, “As we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10). Certainly that means that we should do good to others, as we have opportunity, by being a good influence on laws and government and by having a good influence on the political process.

Jesus left us here on earth in part because he wants to allow our lives to give glory to him in the midst of a fallen and sinful world: “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).

If a pastor teaches his people how to raise their children, that’s “good works.” If he teaches them how to have good marriages, that’s “good works.” If he teaches them to love their neighbors as themselves (Matt. 22:39), that’s “good works.”

Should churches teach their people how to do “good works” in families, in hospitals and in schools, and in businesses and in neighborhoods, but not in government? Why should that area of life be excluded from the influence of the “good works” of believers that will “give glory to your Father who is in heaven”?

2. Influencing government for good is a way to love our neighbors 

Jesus’ command, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:39) means that I should seek good laws that will protect preborn children. It means that I should seek good laws that protect marriages and families. It means I should seek good laws that protect children from corrupting moral influences that want to use classrooms to teach that all kinds of sexual experimentation outside of marriage are fine and that there is nothing wrong with pornography.

In short, Jesus’ command to “love your neighbor” means that I should seek the good of my neighbors in every aspect of society, including government, by seeking to bring about good government and good laws. 

3. Obeying what God tells us is doing spiritual good because it glorifies God 

I cannot agree with people who say that Christian political involvement will do “no spiritual good.” If it is commanded in the Bible and it’s what God tells us to do, then by definition it is doing spiritual good. “This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments” (1 John 5:3)—therefore, following his teachings regarding government is one way of showing love to him.

In addition, when Christian influence brings about good laws that do good for society, we should expect that some people will realize how good God’s moral standards are and they will glorify God as a result. People will “see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). Even in the Old Testament, Moses told the people of Israel:

[The other nations] when they hear all these statutes, will say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people” (Deut. 4:6).

4. Good and bad governments make a huge difference in people’s lives, and in the church 

When people say that the kind of government we have doesn’t make any difference to the church or to the spiritual lives of Christians, I think of the difference between North Korea and South Korea. These countries have the same language, the same ethnic background, the same cultural history, and live in the same location of the world. The only difference between them is that South Korea is a robust, thriving democracy with free people and North Korea is a Communist country with the most repressive, totalitarian government in the world.

And what a difference that makes in people’s lives. There is just a handful of Christians in North Korea, and they must exercise their faith in secret. Severe, persistent persecution has hindered the church so greatly that there is no missionary activity, no public worship, and no 9 publication of Christian literature. Millions of North Koreans are born, live, and die without ever hearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. By contrast, the church in South Korea, where the government has allowed freedom of religion, is growing, thriving, and sending missionaries around the world. It has one of the highest percentages of evangelical Christians of any nation (around 25%).

What is the only difference? The kind of government they have. One country is free and one is totalitarian. And in between these extremes fall many other nations of the world, governments more or less free and more or less conformed to God’s principles for government as taught in Scripture. Where God’s principles are followed more fully and people are allowed more freedom, the church will often thrive and people’s lives are better in hundreds of ways.

Governments do make a difference to the church and to the work of God’s kingdom. This is why Paul urged that prayers be made “for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Tim. 2:2). Good governments help people to live a “peaceful” and “godly” life, and bad governments hinder that goal.

Governments can allow churches to meet freely and evangelize or they can prevent these things by force of law (as in Saudi Arabia and North Korea). They can hinder or promote literacy (the latter enabling people to read a Bible). They can stop murderers and thieves and drunk drivers and child predators or allow them to terrorize society and destroy lives. They can promote and protect marriages or hinder and even destroy them. Governments do make a significant difference for the work of God in the world, and we are to pray and work for good governments around the world.

5. Christians have influenced governments positively throughout history 

Historian Alvin Schmidt points out how the spread of Christianity and Christian influence on government was primarily responsible for outlawing infanticide, child abandonment, and abortion in the Roman Empire (in AD 374); outlawing the brutal battles-to-the-death in which thousands of gladiators had died (in 404); granting of property rights and other protections to women; banning polygamy (which is still practiced in some Muslim nations today); prohibiting the burning alive of widows in India (in 1829); outlawing the painful and crippling practice of binding young women’s feet in China (in 1912); persuading government officials to begin a system of public schools in Germany (in the sixteenth century); and advancing the idea of compulsory education of all children in a number of European countries.

During the history of the church, Christians had a decisive influence in opposing and often abolishing slavery in the Roman Empire, in Ireland, and in most of Europe (though Schmidt frankly notes that a minority of “erring” Christian teachers have supported slavery in various centuries).  In England, William Wilberforce, a devout Christian, led the successful effort to abolish the slave trade and then slavery itself throughout the British Empire by 1840.

In the United States, though there were vocal defenders of slavery among Christians in the South, they lost the argument, and they were vastly outnumbered by the many Christians who were ardent abolitionists, speaking, writing, and agitating constantly for the abolition of slavery in the United States. Schmidt notes that two-thirds of the American abolitionists in the mid– 1830s were Christian clergymen who were preaching “politics” from the pulpit, saying that slavery should be abolished.

The American civil rights movement that resulted in the outlawing of racial segregation and discrimination was led by Martin Luther King Jr., a Baptist pastor, and supported by many Christian churches and groups.

There was also strong influence from Christian ideas and influential Christians in the formulation of the Magna Charta in England (1215)15 and of the Declaration of Independence (1776) and the Constitution (1787)16 in the United States. These are three of the most significant documents in the history of governments on earth, and all three show the marks of significant Christian influence in the foundational ideas of how governments should function. These foundations for British and American government did not come about as a result of the “do evangelism, not politics” view.

Schmidt also argues that several specific components of modern views of government had strong Christian influence in their origin and influence, such as individual human rights, individual freedom, the equality of individuals before the law, freedom of religion, and separation of church and state.

As for the present time, Charles Colson’s insightful book God and Government (previously published as Kingdoms in Conflict) reports dozens of encouraging narratives of courageous, real-life Christians who in recent years, in causes large and small, have had significant impact for good on laws and governments around the world.

When I look over that list of changes in governments and laws that Christians incited, I think God did call the church and thousands of Christians within the church to work to bring about these momentous improvements in human society throughout the world. Or should we say that Christians who brought about these changes were not doing so out of obedience to God? That these changes made no difference to God? This cannot be true.

I believe those changes listed above were important to the God who declares, “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:24). God cares how people treat one another here on earth, and these changes in government listed above do have eternal value in God’s sight.

If the Christian church had adopted the “do evangelism, not politics” view throughout its history, it would never have brought about these immeasurably valuable changes among the nations of the world. But these changes did happen, because Christians realized that if they could influence laws and governments for good, they would be obeying the command of their Lord, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). They influenced governments for good because they knew that “we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10).

6. Doesn’t the Bible say that persecution is coming? 

Sometimes people ask me, “Why should we try to improve governments when the Bible tells us that persecution is coming in the end times before Christ returns? Doesn’t that mean that we should expect governments to become more and more anti-Christian?” (They have in mind passages like Matt. 24:9–12, 21–22; 2 Tim. 3:1–5.)

The answer is that we do not know if Christ will return next year or 500 years from now. What we do know is that while we have opportunity, God tells us not to give up but to go on preaching “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27) and doing “good works” (Eph. 2:10) and loving our neighbors as ourselves (Matt. 22:39). That means we should go on trying to influence governments for good as long as we are able to do so.

If all the Christians who influenced governments for good in previous centuries had given up and said, “Persecution is coming and governments will become more evil, so there is nothing we can do,” then none of those good changes in laws would have come about. Instead of giving in to such a hopeless attitude, courageous Christians in previous generations sought to do good for others and for governments, and God often blessed their efforts.

7. But won’t political involvement distract us from the main task of preaching the Gospel? 

At this point someone may object that while political involvement may have some benefits and may do some good, it can so easily distract us, turn us away from the church, and cause us to neglect the main task of pointing people toward personal trust in Christ.

Yet the proper question is not, “Does political influence take resources away from evangelism?” but, “Is political influence something God has called us to do?” If God has called some of us to some political influence, then those resources would not be blessed if we diverted them to evangelism—or to the music ministry, or to teaching Sunday School to children, or to any other use.

In this matter, as in everything else the church does, it would be healthy for Christians to realize that God may call individual Christians to different emphases in their lives. This is because God has placed in the church “varieties of gifts” (1 Cor. 12:4) and the church is an entity that has “many members” but is still “one body” (v. 12).

Therefore God might call someone to devote almost all of his or her time to the music ministry, someone else to youth work, someone else to evangelism, someone else to preparing refreshments to welcome visitors, and someone else to work with lighting and sound systems. “But if Jim places all his attention on the sound system, won’t that distract the church from the main task of preaching the Gospel?” No, not at all. That is not what God has called Jim to emphasize (though he will certainly share the Gospel with others as he has opportunity). Jim’s exclusive focus on the church’s sound system means he is just being a faithful steward in the responsibility God has given him.

I think it is entirely possible that God called Billy Graham to emphasize evangelism and say nothing about politics and also called James Dobson to emphasize a radio ministry to families and to influencing the political world for good. Aren’t there enough Christians in the world for us to focus on more than one task? And does God not call us to thousands of different emphases, all in obedience to him?

The whole ministry of the church will include many emphases. And the teaching ministry from the pulpit should do nothing less than proclaim “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). It should teach, over the course of time, on all areas of life and all areas of Bible knowledge. That certainly must include, to some extent, what the Bible says about the purposes of civil government and how that should apply to our situations today.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnote:

References available in the original document found here.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Greg Koukl on If There Is No Soul

What makes me the same person today as I was in the past? It isn't my body.  That's changing constantly. It isn't my memory, either. If it was, I'd literally be a different person every time I had a new experience or added to my memory.

I don't remember being conceived or being born. My first recollection is of my second birthday when I got bumped by a pickup truck and broke my leg. But my existence didn't begin on my second birthday when my memories began.  Further, if I lost my memory tomorrow, would I cease to exist?  If I had a Vulcan mind meld and got your memories, would I be you? If so, then who would you be?

First, if there is no soul, then you aren't the same one who was born on your birthday. There is a different you at every moment, with every change of your physical body. But you have an immediate awareness that you've been the same self for your entire lifetime. Therefore, you must have a soul.

Second, if there is no soul, then you don't have a right to do what you want with your body. You don't possess a body; you are your body. But we know intuitively that we are the possessors of our own bodies and are different from them. Therefore, our essential selves are immaterial. We are soulish beings.

Third, if there is no soul, there can be no true guilt. The legitimacy of guilt and punishment, however, is a notion that is so pervasive its reality is rarely in question. Humans must have souls capable of making free, moral choices for which they are properly held responsible.

All humans-even unborn humans-have souls. It's part of what it means to be human. That's why we continue to be ourselves over time, even when  our physical bodies change.

Stand firm in Christ,
Chase

Footnotes:
1.  Koukl, Greg. Precious Unborn Human Persons. Pages 38-39.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Can Atheism be true if Atheists can't agree?


On July 11, 2015, Unbelievable, hosted by Justin Brierley, presented a discussion with Andrew Whyte and Nabeel Qureshi on the subject “Can Christianity be true if Christians can’t agree on doctrine?”  As I was listening, I couldn’t help but wonder why the accusation being brought against Christians wasn’t itself applicable if applied to atheists.  To wit: if Christianity is false because Christians can’t agree on doctrine, then is atheism false because atheists can’t agree on…atheism?

A brief search revealed a rather divergence of beliefs among atheists:

If you consider yourself an atheist, are you Gnostic or Agnostic; Negative or Positive; Implicit or Explicit; Strong or Weak; Broad or Narrow; Unfriendly, Indifferent, or Friendly; Passive, Evangelical, Active, or Militant; Religious (Classic Buddhism, Atheistic Hinduism, Unitarians, Jains) or Non-religious?

Then there is Humanism – Secular Humanism, Renaissance Humanism, Posthumanism, Educational Humanism, Integral Humanism, Philosophical Humanism, Progressive Humanism, Literary Humanism, Cultural Humanism, Naturalistic Humanism, Scientific Humanism, Ethical Humanism and Democratic Humanism

Add to that Marxism, Naturalism, Enchanted Naturalism, Rationalism, Skepticism, Scientism, Materialism, Nihilism, Hedonism and now there is even Apatheism.

Isn’t there just too much diversity among atheistic beliefs?  Perhaps Andrew White, who posts videos about diversity among Christians, is willing to make a series of videos on the diversity among atheists about their various beliefs (or lack thereof).

Read the book, don't wait for the movie,
Have a little hope on me,

Roger

Friday, September 04, 2015

When we choose suffering

Why do we get pets?  Don’t we know how frustrated and angry they make us?  They do their business anywhere but where you want them to for weeks, sometimes for years.  They chew up furniture, pillows and various household items.  They get into the trash and spread it all over the floor like a CSI looking for a clue.  And don’t we know that sometime in the next decade we will be grieving their loss when their lives come to an end?  But we purchase them, bring them home and care for them.  We spend a significant amount of our resources to pay for food, training, grooming and vet bills.

As I write this, Blizzard, my four year old Siberian Husky, is in an animal hospital with the possibility that he may not return home.

Does he “love” me?  I don’t think so.  I know he likes to eat ice cream, receive attention and go for walks and car rides.  I also know he does not like being brushed, bathed, having his nails clipped or being muzzled.  I think much of his behavior is explainable by Skinner and Pavlov.  But I know more than anything that I love him.

He wasn’t my first choice when I visited a group of adorable puppies the first time.  Ironically, a tragic accident brought him into my life instead the pup I had originally chosen.  So I brought him home, fed him, bathed him, cleaned up his business, cleaned up the trash messes, took him to training, “fought” with him trying to brush his coat and cut his nails, and I loved him.  Why?  Because I chose to.  The value of the opportunity to love and care for him was worth the possibility of the pain and suffering I could experience.

We must admit, that in this world we make choices that we know will result in pain and suffering, but we make them because the value of the choice to love transcends the cost of the pain and suffering.  As I think about this, I find myself reflecting about God and the problem of suffering from a new perspective.  He knew what we would do when He created us and the price He would choose to pay to redeem us.  He knows the depth of the mess we have made and grieves over our choices and loss.  He feels the pain of losing what He has cared for and loved.  It is no coincidence that Jesus was known as a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.  But the value of the choice and the opportunity to love transcends the cost of the pain and suffering incurred by both the Lover and the loved.

Have a little hope on me,
Roger

D. James Kennedy on Living with Integrity

"If we would be true to the purpose to which God called us, we must be people of integrity.  A person of Christian integrity is a person who is the same inside and out; the same on Saturday night and Sunday morning and every day of the week; the same whether the whole world is watching or no one is watching.  A person of integrity never has to worry about being caught in the act of being himself, because he is the same in private as he is in public." [1]

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad




Footnote:

1. D. James Kennedy, Led by the Carpenter, p. 29.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Video: Gary Habermas on Jesus and Islam


In this video, David Wood of Acts 17 Apologetics interviews historical Jesus scholar Dr. Gary Habermas.  Habermas argues that there is no evidence for the Islamic view of Jesus and that anyone who wants a view of Jesus that lines up with history will therefore needs to looks somewhere other than Islam.

He also nicely summarizes his minimal facts method of arguing for the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Hasn't Archaeology Shown That The Account of the Conquest of Jericho is Inaccurate?

Taken directly from Norman L. Geisler and Thomas Howe, The Big Book of Bible Difficulties, p. 136-137.

Problem: Joshua 6 records the conquest and destruction of the city of Jericho. If this account is accurate, it would seem that modern archaeological excavations would have turned up evidence of this monumental event. However, haven't these investigations proven that the account in Joshua is inaccurate?

Solution: For many years the prevailing view of critical scholars has been that there was no city of Jericho at the time Joshua was supposed to have entered Canaan. Although earlier investigations by the notable British archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon confirmed the existence of the ancient city of Jericho, and its sudden destruction, her findings led her to conclude that the city could have existed no later than ca. 1550 B.C. This date is much too early for Joshua and the children of Israel to have been party to its demise.

However, recent examination of these earlier findings, and a closer look at current evidence indicates that not only was there a city that fits the biblical chronology, but that its remains coincide with the biblical account of the destruction of this walled fortress.

In a paper published in Biblical Archaeology Review (March/April, 1990), Bryant G. Wood, visiting professor to the dept. of Near Eastern Studies at the University of Toronto, has presented evidence that the biblical report is accurate. His detailed investigation has yielded the following conclusions:

1. That the city which once existed on this site was strongly fortified, corresponding to the biblical record in Joshua 2:5, 7, 15; 6:5, 20.

2. That the ruins give evidence that the city was attacked after harvest time in the spring, corresponding to Joshua 2:6, 3:15, 5:10.

3. That the inhabitants did not have the opportunity to flee with their foodstuffs from the invading army, as reported in Joshua 6:1.

4. That the siege was short, not allowing the inhabitants to consume the food which was stored in the city, as Joshua 6:15 indicates.

5. That the walls were leveled in such a way to provide access into the city for the invaders, as Joshua 6:20 records.

6. That the city was not plundered by the invaders, according to God’s instructions in Joshua 6:17-18.

7. That the city was burned after the walls had been destroyed, just as Joshua 6:24 says.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Are Thoughts Nothing More Than Physical, Material States?

In his new book, God's Crime Scene, author, speaker and detective J. Warner Wallace explains what the ramifications are for the skeptic who believes that our thoughts are nothing more than physical, material states:

"...if our thoughts are nothing more than physical, material states, none of us would have the freedom to think rationally....Physical brains are subject to the laws of physics; mental states are subject to the laws of logic.  Those who think mental states are entirely physical hold a logically contradictory position.  In order to think rationally about their thoughts, they must have the freedom to do so, but this freedom is unavailable if the laws of physics are chemistry are controlling their thoughts.  The fact skeptics are free to believe their thoughts are entirely physical is evidence their thoughts are not entirely physical." [1]

You can find our review of God's Crime Scene here.

I encourage you to sign-up for Jim's daily blog post here.  In my opinion, he is writing some of the best apologetics content around!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnote:
1. J. Warner Wallace, God's Crime Scene, p. 132.