Saturday, October 31, 2015

Video: The Cold-Case for God's Existence by J. Warner Wallace


This talk is a great preview to J. Warner Wallace's excellent new book God's Crime Scene.  You can see our review here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Friday, October 30, 2015

Atheist Philosopher Quentin Smith on the Big Bang

“The idea that the Big Bang theory allows us to infer that the universe began to exist about 15 billion years ago has attracted the attention of many theists. This theory seemed to confirm or at least lend support to the theological doctrine of creation ex nihilo. Indeed, the suggestion of a divine creation seemed so compelling that the notion that “God created the Big Bang” has taken a hold on popular consciousness and become a staple in the theistic component of ‘educated common sense’. By contrast, the response of atheists and agnostics to this development has been comparatively lame.” 1

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnote:
1. Quentin Smith as quoted by Mike Licona here.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Video: Why Abortion is Unjust Discrimination


The above is a great video by Stand to Reason.  It demonstrates that the abortion-choice argument is unjust discrimination.

The video was originally found here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

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

Introduction

Dave Sterrett
 is the founder of Disruptive Truth, a non-profit organization that is disrupting culture with the truth of the Gospel.  When his book Aborting Aristotle arrived in the mail this reader was very grateful.  It could not have come at a more appropriate time.  Like many, I have been deeply troubled by the contents of the videos released by the Center for Medical Progress that reveal Planned Parenthood has not only been aborting babies, but selling their body parts.  One evening, after viewing some of the videos, I found myself unable to sleep and lying on the floor in my daughter's room, trying to comprehend what I had just seen.  I have always known that abortion is a brutal process, but these videos graphically demonstrate just how gruesome the business (and make no mistake, that is what it is) of abortion has become. 

As I recall my own reaction to the videos I am further reminded of how emotionally charged the topic of abortion can be.  This is one of the primary reasons this author believes Dave Sterrett’s book is an important contribution to the ongoing abortion debate.  The author not only persuasively makes the pro-life case using logical arguments and sound philosophical principles, but he also takes a unique approach to the discussion. 

He explains:

“This book seeks to examine...essential differences philosophically and will investigate the naturalistic worldview about humanity that is frequently held by much of the scholarly defenders of abortion.  There are some metaphysical or meta-ethical ideas (including law of non-contradiction, substance, transcendence, and intrinsic personhood) that were taught by Aristotle and the scholastics influenced by him that are frequently denied by defenders of abortion.  These philosophical convictions influence their ethical stances on the abortion debate.” [p. 1]

 Sterrett’s goal is not to simply provide the reader with responses to common pro-abortion choice arguments, but to demonstrate that the very pre-suppositions abortion defenders bring to the table are false. 

The author explains the layout of the book as follows:

“In the following chapters, I will frame the abortion debate with specific consideration to the key metaphysical topics that shape the ethical debate on abortion.  First, I will provide a case for the reality of metaphysics and demonstrate that materialistic naturalism is not the best explanation of reality.  Later, I will focus on particular metaphysical concepts including sanctity, substance and personhood that influence that ethical debate on abortion.” [p. 5]

In Chapter 1
, Sterrett contends that both Aristotle and Thomas Jefferson were alike in some respects.  Both were brilliant and influential in their time.  Not everything they taught was true and some of what they taught was morally reprehensible (for example, Aristotle was in favor of infanticide), yet both had much to offer society, but because of some of their moral failings we have “thrown out the good that these men have provided us through their teachings.” [p. 7]   The author argues for the remainder of the chapter that we would be wise to revisit the teachings of these great thinkers and siphon from their works that which is good.   Namely, the metaphysics of Aristotle and Jefferson’s “notion of ‘law,’ his classical notion of ‘right to life,’ and his notion of an intelligent, transcendent ‘Creator.’” [p. 7]

The chapter ends by demonstrating that Christianity has historically been against abortion and that while “Christianity’s position on abortion is contrary to Aristotle’s defense of abortion, [it is] not contrary to Aristotle’s logic and metaphysics.” [p.12]

In Chapter 2
, Sterrett explains:

“Metaphysics has been defined as the branch of philosophy that deals with the first principles of things…Metaphysics also applies to concepts such as being, knowing, substance, cause, identity, time, and space.” [p. 13-14] 

It is the author’s contention that many ethicists “believe…one can bypass certain metaphysical or meta-ethical concepts regarding humanity and dive right into the ethical discussion.” [p. 14] However, Sterrett reasons that this is precisely where abortion choice advocates go wrong.  He explains how “many contemporary orators of society are convinced that Aristotle’s philosophy of the law of non-contradiction, ontological existence, substance, and human rights are irrelevant or unknowable” and then goes on to make the astute observation that “the ethical beliefs of society’s influencers have molded many people’s beliefs about abortion and human dignity, whether society realizes it or not.” [p. 22]

In Chapter 3
, the author contends that to deny the metaphysics of persons is self-refuting and he also defends Aristotle’s correspondence view of truth.

As I have been writing this review it has been this reviewer’s fear that some would scoff at the idea of “metaphysics” and argue that metaphysics is based solely in religion.  This type of objection, argued by such abortion choice advocates as Paul Simmons, actually demonstrates the point the author is making.  Quoting philosopher Francis Beckwith, Sterrett shows “All positions on abortion presuppose some metaphysical point of view, and for this reason, the abortion-choice position…is not entitled to a privileged philosophical standing in our legal framework.” [p. 27]

To deny the importance of metaphysics or “first things” in the abortion debate is to invite contradiction.

In Chapter 4, Sterrett deals with the work of David Boonin, author of A Defense of Abortion.  According to the author, Boonin states that “…because some humans may lack precise knowledge concerning certain specifics about fertilization or when the child experiences pain, the metaphysical or ontological reality must not exist.” [p. 30]

Sterrett rightly points out that “The one who argues this seems to be confusing epistemology (the study of knowledge) with ontology (metaphysics or the nature of being).” [p. 30]

In Chapter 5, this reviewer was pleased to see Sterrett argue that naturalistic materialism is not the best explanation for reality.  He writes:

“Many proponents of abortion choice who reject metaphysics hold a naturalistic philosophy generally about reality, and specifically about homo sapiens.  I believe there are good reasons why naturalistic materialism, which is frequently assumed or believed by proponents of abortion, is not the best explanation for reality.” [p. 37]

This reader appreciated how the author conceded that “there are some overlaps and disagreements concerning definitions of the words naturalism, materialism, and physicalism” and as a result, he is careful to define exactly what he means by “naturalistic materialism.”  Sterrett calls upon the works of Peter Singer, Michael Tooley, and Richard Dawkins to arrive at his definition “that there are not supernatural causes, moral transcendence and nonphysical mind, but that everything in reality, including human beings, are purely material and physical.” [p. 40]

Employing the works of philosophers William Lane Craig, J.P. Moreland, Quentin Smith and Thomas Nagel, the author concludes the chapter by showing that even scientists hold certain metaphysical assumptions that their unverified scientism cannot sustain.

In Chapter 6, the author moves from critiquing naturalistic materialism to offering a positive case for natural theology and goes even farther by challenging the idea that an argument should be dismissed because it has divine implications.  Further, he explains that if God exists, “this has implications of dignity.” [p. 53]

This reader was delighted to see Sterrett call upon the works of some of the greatest theologians and thinkers of past and present to argue that God is the best explanation for a first efficient cause, God is the best explanation for a necessary entity and that God is the best explanation for objective moral truths.  Regarding the latter, the author argues that if God does not exist “there not adequate ontological reasons to affirm the existence of objective moral truths.” [p. 70]

In Chapter 7, Sterrett argues that “Aristotle’s ancient concept of substance is still relevant and compatible with science. [p. 71] As he explains, “The substance view says that there is a unity between the personhood and nature of a human being.” [p. 76] This reader was also pleased to see the author deal with David Hume’s skepticism towards substance as he notes, “Hume’s empiricism seems to have influenced...many contemporary naturalistic ethicists.” [p. 79]

In Chapter 8, drawing upon his defense of substance theory, Sterrett defends the premise that “all human beings are persons.” [p. 82] The author notes that the majority of defenders of abortion believe strongly in a separation between human beings and personhood.  Sterrett explains that it is important to understand some distinctions when debating the issue of personhood and that this separation is unmerited.  The personhood of an individual is an ontological reality.

In Chapter 9, Sterrett challenges the view that a person is someone because of what they can do.  On the contrary, he states that personhood is not linked to functioning, but rather that it is the underlying unity of the individual.  He calls upon the expertise of Francis Beckwith once again to explain:

“What is crucial morally is the being of a person, not his or her function.  A human person does not come into existence when human function arises, but rather, a human person is an entity who has the natural inherent capacity to give rise to human functions, whether or not those functions are ever attained…A human person who lacks the ability to think rationally (either because she is too young or she suffers from a disability) is still a human person because of her nature.  Consequently, it makes sense to speak of a human being’s lack if and only if she is an actual person.” [p. 95]

Sterrett concludes that “Beings do not come into existence because of certain functions, rather they maintain a unity, even if functions are not working properly.” [p. 96]

In Chapter 10, Sterrett concludes the book by discussing the similarities and differences he has with ethicist Peter Singer and other abortion choice advocates.  He writes:

“It may seem difficult for a philosopher of religion to share areas of agreement with someone like Peter Singer who supports human infanticide, bestiality, and incest.  It does seem inconsistent that an ethicist teaching at the Center of Human Value openly respects some animals more than some human babies and the elderly.  I certainly have disagreements with Peter Singer and other defenders of abortion choice.  While there are fundamental differences, there are also some areas of ethics held by Singer and other abortion choice advocates that a non-atheist philosopher and even a Christian can also affirm.” [p. 101] 

The author goes on to list the areas of agreement such as: 1. there can be a greater purpose in some suffering 2. humans are responsible for what they could have prevented 3. racism is wrong 4. and animals should be treated with respect. 

This reader was glad to see Sterrett point out that “those in favor of abortion frequently emphasize hypotheticals, while defenders of life use Aristotelean logic with premises about real life.” [p. 107]   The author explains that “Although there are some helpful aspects of shorthand with symbolic logic as well as clearness, sometimes the hypotheticals, though coherent, miss what is real.” [p. 108] 
Further, as Sterrett rightly points out, “...these analogies frequently do not exist in real life.” [p. 108] The author uses Judith Jarvis Thomson’s well-known violin as an example and points out the many problems with it.

Conclusion

I have had the pleasure of reading and reviewing four other books by Dave Sterrett and have always enjoyed his work.  However, it is this reader’s opinion that Aborting Aristotle is Sterrett’s best work to date.  Not only is his writing logically airtight and his arguments philosophically sophisticated, but his approach to the abortion issue is utterly unique.  Sterrett is not content to simply show why abortion choice advocates arguments fail, but he goes further and argues that the very assumptions they bring to the debate are in error.  As he notes:

“We must be brought back to the Aristotelian scholastic philosophical tradition combined with the notion that human beings are contingent upon the existence of the Necessary Being, who is the Natural Law Giver and the Creator of human existence.  These classical truths could help progressive ethicists who are blinded by an incoherent naturalistic worldview, become open-minded about the dignity and personhood of unborn human beings.” [p. 114]

Philosophy matters and in Aborting Aristotle Dave Sterrett shows that in some cases it is a matter of life and death.

I highly recommend this book!  You can get your copy here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad


Many thanks to Dave Sterrett for the review copy!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Tough Topic Tuesday: Four Views on Revelation, Pt. 4

This is post 4 in our 4 part series featuring the article "Four Views on Revelation" written by Pat Zuckeran.  Our goal in this series is to help readers gain a basic understanding of each view.

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


The Futurist View

The fourth view is the futurist view. This view teaches that the events of the Olivet Discourse and Revelation chapters 4-22 will occur in the future. Futurist divide the book of Revelation into three sections as indicated in 1:19: “what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.” Chapter 1 describes the past (“what you have seen”), chapters 2-3 describe the present (“what is now”), and the rest of the book describes future events (“what will take place later”).

Futurists apply a literal approach to interpreting Revelation. Chapters 4-19 refer to a period known as the seven-year tribulation (Dan. 9:27). During this time, God’s judgments are actually poured out upon mankind as they are revealed in the seals, trumpets, and bowls. Chapter 13 describes a literal future world empire headed by a political and religious leader represented by the two beasts. Chapter 17 pictures a harlot who represents the church in apostasy. Chapter 19 refers to Christ’s second coming and the battle of Armageddon followed by a literal thousand-year rule of Christ upon the earth in chapter 20. Chapters 21-22 are events that follow the millennium: the creation of a new heaven and a new earth and the arrival of the heavenly city upon the earth.

Futurists argue that a consistently literal or plain interpretation is to be applied in understanding the book of Revelation. Literal interpretation of the Bible means to explain the original sense, or meaning, of the Bible according to the normal customary usage of its language. This means applying the rules of grammar, staying consistent with the historical framework, and the context of the writing. Literal interpretation does not discount figurative or symbolic language. Futurists teach that prophecies using symbolic language are also to be normally interpreted according to the laws of language. J. P. Lange stated,

"The literalist (so called) is not one who denies that figurative language, that symbols, are used in prophecy, nor does he deny that great spiritual truths are set forth therein; his position is, simply, that the prophecies are to be normally interpreted (i.e., according to the received laws of language) as any other utterances are interpreted – that which is manifestly figurative being so regarded."

Charles Ryrie also states,

"Symbols, figures of speech and types are all interpreted plainly in this method, and they are in no way contrary to literal interpretation. After all, the very existence of any meaning for a figure of speech depends on the reality of the literal meaning of the terms involved. Figures often make the meaning plainer, but it is the literal, normal, or plain meaning that they convey to the reader."

Futurists acknowledge the use of figures and symbols. When figurative language is used, one must look at the context to find the meaning. However, figurative language does not justify allegorical interpretation.

Futurists contend that the literal interpretation of Revelation finds its roots in the ancient church fathers. Elements of this teaching, such as a future millennial kingdom, are found in the writings of Clement of Rome (AD 96), Justin Martyr (AD 100-165), Irenaeus (AD 115-202), Tertullian (AD 150-225) and others. Futurists hold that the church fathers taught a literal interpretation of Revelation until Origen (AD 185-254) introduced allegorical interpretation. This then became the popular form of interpretation when taught by Augustine (AD 354-430).  Literal interpretation of Revelation remained throughout the history of the church and rose again to prominence in the modern era.

The futurist view is widely popular among evangelical Christians today. One of the most popular versions on futurist teaching is dispensational theology, promoted by schools such as Dallas Theological Seminary and Moody Bible Institute. Theologians such as Charles Ryrie, John Walvoord, and Dwight Pentecost are noted scholars of this position. Tim LaHaye made this theology popular in the culture with his end times series of novels.

Unfortunately, there have been and continue to be popular preachers who mistakenly apply the futurist approach to connect current events to the symbols in Revelation. Some have even been involved in setting dates of Christ’s return. Although their writings have been popular, they do not represent a Biblical futurist view.

Critics of this view argue that the futurist view renders the book irrelevant to the original readers of the first century. Another criticism is that Revelation is apocalyptic literature and thus meant to be interpreted allegorically or symbolically rather than literally. Hank Hanegraaff states, “Thus, when a Biblical writer uses a symbol or an allegory, we do violence to his intentions if we interpret it in a strictly literal manner.”

One of the key elements in the debate, particularly between preterists and futurists, is the date of writing for Revelation. Preterists argue for a pre-AD 70 date while futurists hold to a date of AD 95. There are several reasons for the later date. First, Irenaeus, in his work Against Heresies, states that John wrote Revelation at the end of Emperor Domitian’s reign, which ended in AD 96. Irenaeus was a disciple of Polycarp, who was a disciple of the Apostle John. He thus had a connection with a contemporary of the Apostle John.

Second, the conditions of the seven churches in Revelation appear to describe a second-generation church setting rather than that of a first-generation. For example, the Church of Ephesus (Rev. 2:1-7) is charged with abandoning their first love and warned of the Nicolaitan heresy. If John had written Revelation in AD 65, it would have overlapped with Paul’s letter to the Ephesians and Timothy. However, Paul makes no mention of either the loss of first love or the threat of the Nicolaitans. Ephesus was Paul’s headquarters for three years, and Apollos served there along with Aquila and Priscilla. The church of Smyrna did not exist during Paul’s ministry (AD 60-64) as recorded by Polycarp, the first bishop of the city. Laodicea (Rev. 3:14-22) is rebuked for being wealthy and lukewarm. However, in his letter to the Colossians, Paul commends the church three times (2:2, 4:13, 16). It would likely take more than three years for the church to decline to the point that chapter 3 would state there to be no commendable aspect about it. Also, an earthquake in AD 61 left the city in ruins for many years. Thus, it is unlikely that in a ruined condition John would describe them as rich.

Preterists who favor the AD 70 date pose the question, “Why doesn’t John mention the fall of the Temple which occurred in AD 70?” Futurists respond that John wrote about future events, and the destruction of the temple was twenty-five years in the past. He also wrote to a Gentile audience in Asia Minor which was far removed from Jerusalem. Preterists also point to the fact that the Temple is mentioned in chapter eleven. Futurists respond that although John mentions a temple in Revelation 11:1-2, this does not mean it exists at the time of his writing. In Daniel 9:26-27 and Ezekiel 40-48, both prophets describe the temple, but it was not in existence when they described a future temple in their writings.

What did Jesus mean in Matthew 24:34 when He said, “[T]his generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened”? The common futurist response is that Jesus was stating that the future generation about which he was speaking would not pass away once “these things” had begun. In other words, the generation living amid the time of the events He predicted will not pass away until all is fulfilled.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

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

Friday, October 23, 2015

Professor of Physics J.M. Wersinger on the Big Bang

"At first the scientific community was very reluctant to accept the idea of a birth of the universe...Not only did the Big Bang model seem to give in to the Judeo-Christian idea of a beginning of the world, but it also seemed to have to call for an act of supernatural creation...It took time, observational evidence, and careful verification of predictions made by the Big Bang model to convince the scientific community to accept the idea of a cosmic genesis...[T]he Big Bang is a very successful model...that imposed itself on a reluctant scientific community." [1]



Courage and Godspeed,

Chad

Footnote:
1. J.M. Wersinger, "Genesis: The Origin of the Universe," National Forum (Winter 1996), 11, 9, 12 as quoted by Dr. William Lane Craig in On Guard, p. 91.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Article: Does God Condone Slavery? by Amy Hall

In this featured article, Amy Hall of Stand to Reason tackles the difficult question, "Since God regulated slavery in the Old Testament, does this automatically mean that He approves of slavery?"

You can check it out here.

For more great answers to tough objections I encourage you to visit Stand to Reason.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Common Objection #26- "Science Can Account for Everything!"

As William Lane Craig once pointed out in his classic debate with Dr. Peter Atkins, there are a number of things that cannot be scientifically proven, but that we are all rational to accept.

1. mathematics and logic

2. metaphysical truths (such as, there are minds that exist other than my own),


3. ethical judgments (you can't prove by science that the Nazis were evil, because morality is not subject to the scientific method),


4. aesthetic judgments (the 
beautiful, like the good, cannot be scientifically proven), and, ironically

5. science itself (the belief that the scientific method discovers truth can't be proven by the scientific method itself) 
[1]

To check out our responses to other common objections, go here

Courage and Godspeed,

Chad

Footnote:
1. A debate between William Lane Craig and Peter Atkins; as quote by Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek in I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, p. 126-127.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Online for Life Resource Center

Online for Life started a free resource center to aid the pro-life apologist in defending the preborn. The library offers hundreds of eBooks, graphics, articles, and videos that tackle some of the most difficult questions about abortion. You can sign up here.

Here is a sample of what is available in the library; specifically from Brian Fisher in this case:

In order for the Bible to make the claim that Jesus was fully God and fully man at the same time, Christ had to be completely human. That meant that He had to develop as every other human develops—from conception. If He had come to earth as a teenager or an adult, we could claim that Jesus wasn’t truly human. If a human being today sprang into being as a child or a 10-year-old, we would all question her humanity. Is she an alien? Is she really alive? Is she some sort of clone?

No, Jesus came to earth through conception to prove His full humanity. We were all conceived. He was conceived. We all developed in the womb. He developed in the womb. We were all born. He was born....


The Incarnation—the conception of the very Son of God—is one of the most powerful reminders for the Christian to protect human life in all circumstances. After all, Jesus was not a blob of tissue in Mary’s womb; He was our Savior.

The piece the excerpt above is from can be read in its entirety here


Stand firm in Christ and firm for the preborn,
Chase

Monday, October 19, 2015

Notecard Answers for Why I Believe the Bible

In this article from the Gospel Coalition, Erik Raymond gives a good overview of basic answers for why you can trust the Bible:
As Christians we are to always be ready to give a defense of the hope that is within us (1 Pet. 3:15). The basis of this hope is our confidence that the Bible is God’s Word. It is trustworthy and sufficient.
There are many times when our confidence in the Bible can come under attack. Consider a temptation to doubt the truth of God’s Word when you or someone close to you is diagnosed with a severe medical condition. Are you tempted to doubt the sufficiency and truthfulness of God’s promises? Or consider the moment of great temptation to sin. Like Eve you are appraising the way the desire can bring satisfaction to you and meet your need. You weigh this against God’s Word. At some point you have to remind yourself of the truthfulness of the Bible. Finally, consider a conversation with an unbelieving friend who is sanctioning their lifestyle because the Bible is not true. In each of these scenarios you need to have some quick, simple, and compelling truths on retainer.
I’ve put these 5 together as something of a quick reference notecard for why I believe the Bible. I’m sure there is an acronym or something clever but I’ve not thought of it.
(1) The Biblical Argument.
By this I simply mean that the Bible claims to be God’s Word. This claim is not just in a remote passage or book but throughout. We read in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,”. The source of the text, the Word is God himself. There is no flinching on this fact from Genesis to Revelation. The fact that the Bible claims to be God’s Word and proves to be so throughout history needs to be on my mind when dealing my doubts or a skeptic’s.
(2) The Historical Argument.
Here I am simply saying that overall the people and places in the Bible show up in history. When we read of descriptions of times and events we often find these same things in extra-biblical history. Further, when archeologists dig and uncover ancient artifacts it often shows us that biblical events that were not previously discovered were in fact true. And finally, the history of events from within the Bible in terms of prophecy, they happen. Consider the Babylonian captivity, King Cyrus, and the details concerning the life of Christ. Within the canon of Scripture it unfolds with historical consistency.
(3) The Empirical Argument.
Personally speaking, I have experienced a substantial change. The day I was converted I walked out of my house cursing God and then I came home praising him. How does this happen? My experience tells me that this is not some ordinary book. I’ve been moved to tears reading other books but this book actually reads me, wrecks me, and rebuilds me. What’s more, I’ve seen and experienced this same thing with other people. This change is not limited to gender, ethnicity, geography, or even time. This book claims to change lives and it actually does.
(4) The Logical Argument.
There is a single, coherent theme throughout the book that the glory of God is paramount. If God were to write a book this is how he would write it. If man were to write a book this is not how he would write it. It has the “ring of truth” as Lewis would say. Man would tend to diminish his defects and exaggerate his virtues; the Bible seems to do the opposite. It maintains the dignity of humanity but also shows its brokenness. It is here that we see the glory of God on display. This brings me to another aspect of this argument. If you survey all world religions most will agree that there is a problem and they exist to help us with this problem. However, it is only biblical Christianity that actually maintains a God who does not compromise. Every other plan of salvation has God bending his righteousness in order to show love. Man and God partner together to achieve salvation. However, with the Bible God does not compromise. He maintains and demonstrates his righteousness while showing forth his love! On the cross God is both the just and the justifier (Rom. 3:26). This means that he does compromise. Think about this: the Bible maintains that all of God’s attributes are in tact, no dimples, defects, or deflation! However, without the cross (and outside of the Bible) you have a god who compromises something in order to bring salvation. This reminds me of God’s infinite wisdom, love, mercy and grace—as well as his authorship of the Bible.
(5) The Christological Argument.
This seals the deal. Here is it is an a nutshell: since Jesus rose from the dead he is God, therefore, his view of the Bible is the right one. Jesus believed the Bible was divinely inspired (Mt. 4:2Mt. 22:31-32), authoritative (Lk. 4Jn. 10:34-3612:47-48); powerful (Mt. 5:17-18Jn. 6:63Jn. 17:17); and about him (Lk: 24:25-27, 44-47; Jn. 5:46-47). Furthermore, he believed the Bible was historically accurate, “”In the Gospels we see Jesus reference Abel, Noah, Abraham, Sodom and Gomorrah, Isaac and Jacob, manna in the wilderness, the serpent in the wilderness, Moses as the lawgiver, David and Solomon, the Queen of Sheba, Elijah and Elisha, the widow of Zerephath, Naaman, Zechariah, and even Jonah, never questioning a single event, a single miracle, or a single historical claim. Jesus clearly believed in the historicity of biblical history.” (DeYoung, Taking God at His Word). Having Jesus’ bibliology is never a bad idea.
Conclusion
In the midst of temptation you will hear the words of doubt again, “Did God really say?” You and I need to be ready to muzzle the serpent with truth. Continue to tutor yourself with the reality that God’s Word is in fact God’s Word. Do this in the good times as well as the difficult times. Keep on studying and delighting in this truth that you might be able to properly deal with doubts both from within and from without.
But don’t take Erik’s word for it, read the book – don’t wait for the movie.
Have a little hope on me,

Roger

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Debate: Michael Licona vs. Shabir Ally- Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?


In this featured video from ThomisticTheist, Mike Licona and Shabir Ally debate the question, "Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?"

Enjoy!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Friday, October 16, 2015

"The Woman is the Final Arbiter in the Abortion Decision."

I have decided to read through Dave Sterrett's excellent book Aborting Aristotle for a second time and I am currently working on my review.  In his work, Sterrett deals with the works of various abortion choice advocates and their arguments.  One particular argument the author directly addresses is that of Paul Simmons who claims that "the woman is the final arbiter in the abortion decision" because men "do not know personally or experientially the threat and burden of an unwanted pregnancy." [p. 28-29].  

Sterrett responses as follows:

"Why is he, as a man, who does not know pregnancy personally or experientially, able to be an 'artiter' on the abortion debate for anyone who disagrees with his view of abortion rights?" [p. 29]

Sterrett goes on to point out that "if Simmons is correct that men should not have the 'final say' or be the 'arbiter' then he has invalidated Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision on abortion, because it was decided by seven men (7-2) on the Supreme Court in 1973. [p. 29]

It seems that Mr. Simmons' argument ultimately self-destructs.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Win an Autographed Copy of J. Warner Wallace's "Cold Case Christianity"

Speaker, author and cold-case homocide detective J. Warner Wallace has kindly donated an autographed copy of his outstanding book Cold-Case Christianity for a Truthbomb giveaway!

For those unfamiliar with the book, you can see our review here.  As I have written before:

"Due to it's unique approach, accessibility and depth, I believe Cold-Case Christianity is the best book I have read to date on the reliability of the gospels and the NT. Wallace effortlessly weaves the evidence for Christianity into exciting narratives from his cold-case investigations and while working through it, the reader not only learns just how reliable the NT is, but they also learn to how to think. Readers who work through this invaluable resource will look at the gospels and the NT through new eyes and have their confidence in the NT strengthened."

Here is how you can win:

1. Follow this blog!

2. Comment on this post

Please make sure that if you leave a comment, your blogger profile links to an email address where we can contact you if you win. If not, please leave your email address with your comment.

We will pick a winner one week from today!

Thank you to J. Warner Wallace for the book!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Refuting 5 False Theories About Jesus

In this short article from The Gospel Coalition, Kyle Dillon briefly examines five popular theories about Jesus and general guidelines for how Christians can respond.  The theories include:

1. Jesus the Pagan Myth:  The stories of his birth, life, death, and resurrection were borrowed from pagan myths.
2. Jesus the Failed Prophet:  Jesus mistakenly predicted the world would end within the lifetime of his disciples.
3. Jesus the Moral Philosopher:  Jesus was a cynic philosopher renouncing worldly goods and social conventions.
4. Jesus the Violent Revolutionary:  Jesus message was a call for national liberation from Rome but ended in failure.
5. Jesus the Ahistorical Existentialist:  What is important is an individual’s experience of God, not the imaginative, irrelevant facts of the Gospel stories.

When Jesus is studied within a first-century Galilean historical and geographical context, he states, “we can arrive at certain conclusions about what he must have been like.”  A historically plausible portrait of Jesus should include the following:

1. He was comprehensible:  His words and actions fit in the historical and geographical context and his message was understandable to first century Jews.
2. He was crucifiable: His words and actions were offensive enough to make the authorities want to kill him.
3. He was consequential:  He left an impact such that his followers were willing to suffer and die for their testimony that he rose from the dead.

But don’t take my word for it, read the article – don’t wait for the movie.

Have a little hope on me,
Roger

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Tough Topic Tuesday: Four Views on Revelation, Pt. 3

This is post 3 in our 4 part series featuring the article "Four Views on Revelation" written by Pat Zuckeran.  Our goal in this series is to help readers gain a basic understanding of each view.

Pt. 1 is here.  Pt. 2 is here.

The Historicist View

The third view is called the historicist approach. This view teaches that Revelation is a symbolic representation that presents the course of history from the apostle’s life through the end of the age. The symbols in the apocalypse correspond to events in the history of Western Europe, including various popes, the Protestant Reformation, the French Revolution, and rulers such as Charlemagne. Most interpreters place the events of their day in the later chapters of Revelation.

Many adherents of this position view chapters 1-3 as seven periods in church history. The breaking of the seals in chapters 4-7 symbolizes the fall of the Roman Empire. The Trumpet judgments in chapters 8-10 represent the invasions of the Roman Empire by the Vandals, Huns, Saracens, and Turks. Among Protestant historicists of the Reformation, the antichrist in Revelation was believed to be the papacy. Chapters 11-13 in Revelation represent the true church in its struggle against Roman Catholicism. The bowl judgments of Revelation 14-16 represent God’s judgment on the Catholic Church, culminating in the future overthrow of Catholicism depicted in chapters 17-19.

There are several criticisms of this approach. First, this approach allows for a wide variety of interpretations. Adherents have a tendency to interpret the text through the context of their period. Thus, many saw the climax of the book happening in their generation. John Walvoord points out the lack of agreement among historicists. He states, “As many as fifty different interpretations of the book of Revelation therefore evolve, depending on the time and circumstances of the expositor.”  Moses Stuart echoed the same concern in his writings over a century ago. He wrote, “Hithertho, scarcely any two original and independent expositors have agreed, in respect to some points very important in their bearing upon the interpretation of the book.”

Second, this view focuses mostly on the events of the church in Western Europe and says very little about the church in the East. Thus, its narrow scope fails to account for God’s activity throughout Asia and the rest of the world. Finally, this view would have little significance for the church of the first century whom John was addressing. It is unlikely they would have been able to interpret Revelation as the historical approach suggests.

Prominent scholars who held this view include John Wycliffe, John Knox, William Tyndale, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, John Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, Charles Finney, C. H. Spurgeon, and Matthew Henry. This view rose to popularity during the Protestant Reformation because of its identification of the pope and the papacy with the beasts of Revelation 13. However, since the beginning of the twentieth century, it has declined in popularity and influence.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad
Footnote:
1. All references are included in the original article found here.

Monday, October 12, 2015

A Hypernatural Discussion

Daniel Dyke and Dr. Hugh Henry, contributing writers to Reasons to Believe, describe hypernaturalism as a third option to naturalism and supernaturalism in this piece.  They also discuss how hypernaturalism would explain miracles like the parting of the Red Sea or the coin found in mouth of a fish which Jesus used to pay the temple tax.  Here is an excerpt:

God the Creator is necessarily outside of the universe He made—hence, He is able to control the forces of nature. Natural law is God’s servant. God has the authority to use the forces of nature to implement His will. Hence, through hypernaturalism, many of God’s miracles can be explained as a combination of divine power and natural law.

Additionally, in this article, they write of how hypernaturalism is a more plausible explanation for the origin of the universe and of life.

Enjoy!

Stand firm in Christ,
Chase

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Quote: Journalist Brian Stewart on Christianity

"I've found there is no movement, or force, closer to the raw truth of war, famines, crises and the vast human predicament, than organized Christianity in action. And there is no alliance more determined and dogged in action than church workers, ordained and lay members, when mobilized for a common good. It is these Christians who are right 'on the front lines' of committed humanity today ­and when I want to find that front, I follow their trail.

It is a vast front, stretching from the most impoverished reaches of the developing world to the hectic struggle to preserve caring values in our own towns and cities. I have never been able to reach these front lines without finding Christian volunteers already in the thick of it, mobilizing congregations that care, and being a faithful witness to truth ­ the primary light in the darkness, and so often the only light.

Now this is something the media and government officials rarely acknowledge, for religion confuses many ­ and anyway, we all like to blow our own horns. So front line efforts of Christianity do not usually produce headlines, and unfortunately this feeds the myth that the church just follows along, to do its modest bit.

Let me repeat, I've never reached a war zone, or famine group or crisis anywhere where some church organization was not there long before me ­ sturdy, remarkable souls, usually too kind to ask 'What took you so long?'

I don't slight any of the hard work done by other religions or those wonderful secular NGOs I've dealt with so much over the years. They work closely with church efforts, they are noble allies. But no, so often in desperate areas it is Christian groups there first, that labour heroically during the crisis and continue on long after all the media ­and the visiting celebrities ­have left.

Now I came to this admiring view slowly and reluctantly. At the start of my career, I'd largely abandoned religion ­for I, too, regarded the church as a rather tiresome irrelevance. What ultimately persuaded me otherwise and I took a lot of persuading ­ was the reality of Christianity's mission, physically and in spirit, before my very eyes. It wasn't the attraction of great moments of grandeur ­ although I admit covering this Pope on six of his early trips abroad, including his first one to Mexico and then epic returns to Poland, certainly shook any assumptions I had of Christianity as a fading force.

No, the millions upon millions gathered was impressive; but I was more moved by quiet individual moments of character, and courage that seems to anchored to some deep core within Christianity." [1]

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

1. Brian Stewart, Christians are on the Front Lines of Compassion; I originally heard this quote in a presentation by Dr. Paul Copan.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Video: Information Enigma- The Cambrian Information Explosion


Text taken from here:

Information drives the development of life. But what is the source of that information? Could it have been produced by an unguided Darwinian process? Or did it require intelligent design? The Information Enigma is a fascinating 21-minute documentary that probes the mystery of biological information, the challenge it poses to orthodox Darwinian theory, and the reason it points to intelligent design. The video features molecular biologist Douglas Axe and Stephen Meyer, author of the books Signature in the Cell and Darwin’s Doubt.

To learn more about this new documentary go here.  Spread the word!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Bill Nye the Abortion Choice Guy, Pt. 2

A friend of mine recently described Bill Nye the "science guy" as the Mister Rogers of science.  I imagine this is how many readers think of Mr. Nye.  Another friend laughed as he told me a story about a middle school science teacher he had who would put on a Bill Nye video for the students while she sat at her desk and painted her nails!  He lamented that while he really wants to like Bill Nye and be in his corner, sometimes Nye speaks about things that he clearly doesn't know very much about or addresses issues that one would think he would be smart enough to leave alone.

The Bill Nye of our childhood is no longer.  The Bill Nye of today is buddies with Richard Dawkins, believes creationism is "inane," [1] and is pro-abortion choice.  So much for Mr. Rogers.

Last week we featured Pt.1 of our response to Mr. Nye's viral video "Can We Stop Telling Women What to Do with Their Bodies?"  In the video, Nye demonstrates that he doesn't understand the science of embryology or the Bible.  This week we look at his second false claim.

Claim: Opposition to abortion is based on an “interpretation of a book written 5,000 years ago” that makes people “think that when a man and a woman have sexual intercourse they always have a baby.”

Response: I challenge anyone reading this to show me where the Bible says that "when a man and woman have sexual intercourse they always have a baby."

Moreover, I have listened to some of the best speakers the Pro-life Movement has to offer including Greg Koukl, Scott Klusendorf, Jay Watts, and Abby Johnson and I have never heard them use such an argument.  Their arguments are grounded in good science and sound philosophy, something Nye's arguments are sorely lacking.  To be sure, their arguments are consistent with the Bible, but in no way do they rely upon it.

Once again, the words of James D. Agresti are instructive:

"The Bible says no such thing, and everyone who has ever had repeated sex without birth control knows that a baby does not always result. Furthermore, miscarriages (technically called “spontaneous abortions”) are often visibly obvious to those who have suffered them. These are not modern revelations of science but realities that have been obvious since the dawn of mankind.

Contrary to Nye’s straw man, Biblically-based opposition to abortion is not rooted in unscientific fallacies but in principles about the value and uniqueness of each individual from the moment of conception. Incidentally, these principles are consistent with science. Beyond the scientific facts that show life begins at fertilization, modern science has also revealed that each human embryo is biologically unique and irreplaceable.

Genetically speaking, with the exception of identical twins, once a woman conceives an embryo, the odds against her conceiving the same one again are greater than 10600 to one. For a point of comparison, there are roughly 1080 atoms in the known universe.

Even among identical twins (who have the same DNA), the burgeoning science of epigenetics has shown they still have biological differences that make each of them incredibly distinctive." [2]

Once again, when one argues the case for life using good science and philosophy their case doesn't need to rely upon the Bible, but the case for life surely is consistent with what is revealed in Scripture.

I think Mr. Nye needs to "respect the facts" and admit his false claims.  He needs to take his own advice and "be objective."

Next week, in our final post of the series, we will deal with Mr. Nye's claim that there are "more important things to be dealing with" than abortion and that we need to "respect people" (accept those people in the womb apparently).

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnotes:
1. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/01/150125-bill-nye-science-guy-evolution-creation-book-talk-culture/
2.  James D. Agresti, Bill Nye the Science Guy Claims Laws Protecting "Unborn People" are "Based on Ignorance," Sept. 28, 2015.

Love, Lover, and Beloved


“The following dissertation concerning the Trinity, as the reader ought to be informed, has been written in order to guard against the sophistries of those who disdain to begin with faith, and are deceived by a crude and perverse love of reason.”(1) Thus begins Augustine’s dissertation on the Trinity, written for those whose perverse love of reason prevents a heart of faith. Perhaps this is a warning for all of us who work so hard to logically make sense of something as ineffable and mysterious as the divine nature of God. Writing over a thousand years later, Leonardo Boff intoned a similar warning: “We should never forget that the New Testament never uses the expressions ‘trinity of persons’ and ‘unity of nature.’ To say God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit is revelation; to say that God is ‘one substance and three Persons’ is theology, a human endeavor to fit the revelation of God within the limitations of reason.”(2)

“The following dissertation concerning the Trinity, as the reader ought to be informed, has been written in order to guard against the sophistries of those who disdain to begin with faith, and are deceived by a crude and perverse love of reason.”(1) Thus begins Augustine’s dissertation on the Trinity, written for those whose perverse love of reason prevents a heart of faith. Perhaps this is a warning for all of us who work so hard to logically make sense of something as ineffable and mysterious as the divine nature of God. Writing over a thousand years later, Leonardo Boff intoned a similar warning: “We should never forget that the New Testament never uses the expressions ‘trinity of persons’ and ‘unity of nature.’ To say God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit is revelation; to say that God is ‘one substance and three Persons’ is theology, a human endeavor to fit the revelation of God within the limitations of reason.”(2)

If reason is conscribed by logic, then at our best, we must speak of the Trinity in analogical terms. In other words, we look for analogies from our human experience, analogical images, pictures, or descriptions that offer an analogous explanation for that which is unexplainable. For Augustine, love best illustrated the nature of the Trinity. “Now when I, who am asking about this, love anything, there are three things present: I myself, what I love, and love itself. For I cannot love love unless I love a lover; for there is no love where nothing is loved. So there are three things: the lover, the loved and the love.”(3) From this analogy, Augustine argues that God’s nature is indeed relational and personal as it is expressed in a divine community of love. It cannot be said that God is love (1 John 4:8) if God is alone and monadic. Instead, love resides both in God’s nature as a personal being and in relationship to the beloved (Jesus Christ) by love (Holy Spirit).

“The following dissertation concerning the Trinity, as the reader ought to be informed, has been written in order to guard against the sophistries of those who disdain to begin with faith, and are deceived by a crude and perverse love of reason.”(1) Thus begins Augustine’s dissertation on the Trinity, written for those whose perverse love of reason prevents a heart of faith. Perhaps this is a warning for all of us who work so hard to logically make sense of something as ineffable and mysterious as the divine nature of God. Writing over a thousand years later, Leonardo Boff intoned a similar warning: “We should never forget that the New Testament never uses the expressions ‘trinity of persons’ and ‘unity of nature.’ To say God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit is revelation; to say that God is ‘one substance and three Persons’ is theology, a human endeavor to fit the revelation of God within the limitations of reason.”(2)


If reason is conscribed by logic, then at our best, we must speak of the Trinity in analogical terms. In other words, we look for analogies from our human experience, analogical images, pictures, or descriptions that offer an analogous explanation for that which is unexplainable. For Augustine, love best illustrated the nature of the Trinity. “Now when I, who am asking about this, love anything, there are three things present: I myself, what I love, and love itself. For I cannot love love unless I love a lover; for there is no love where nothing is loved. So there are three things: the lover, the loved and the love.”(3) From this analogy, Augustine argues that God’s nature is indeed relational and personal as it is expressed in a divine community of love. It cannot be said that God is love (1 John 4:8) if God is alone and monadic. Instead, love resides both in God’s nature as a personal being and in relationship to the beloved (Jesus Christ) by love (Holy Spirit).

While at best an analogy, Augustine’s definition communicates two key scriptural truths about God: God is both personal and relational in God’s very nature. God is not a distant being, removed from Creation, but God is personally involved in creation. Indeed, God is so personally involved that God even participated in our humanity through Jesus Christ. This is what the theological doctrine of the Incarnation communicates. As a personal God, therefore, God is relational. God is love, as the Epistle of John tells us, and that love is shared in the divine community of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Indeed, through love God reaches out to the creation and calls it back into relationship through the redeeming work of Jesus Christ by the transformational work of the Holy Spirit.

While this analogy isn’t intended to answer all of our logical reasoning concerning the nature of God as Trinity, it does lead us to a vital application for the Christian life. We too, as image-bearers of God, do not reflect that image solely in our own persons by ourselves. Instead, to bear the image of God as personal, relational Trinity is to be in community with one another. Relationships, as they image God, are intended to reflect the divine community of love, redemptive and reflective of the very love of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Therefore, we might ask, as a redeemed community of love, how ought we to reflect the reality of the Trinity in our world? How might we draw others into redeemed community and away from loneliness, isolation, and self-destruction?

To understand the Trinity is not simply to analyze it logically “through a crude and perverse love of reason.” Rather, to understand the Trinity is to live in the light of its implications for human communities. Far more than a logical construct of a paradoxical nature, the Trinity is to be the way in which we image God in this world through the community of believers—and not as isolated individuals. We are to call others into that community enfolded in the life of the Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—love, lover, and beloved in divine community.
Margaret Manning Shull is a member of the speaking and writing team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Bellingham, Washington. 
(1) St. Augustine, “On the Trinity,” Basic Writings of St. Augustine, Volume 2, Ed. Whitney J. Oates (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1992), 687.
(2) Leonardo Boff, Trinity and Society (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1988), 156.
(3) St. Augustine, “On the Trinity,” Basic Writings of St. Augustine, Volume 2, Ed. Whitney J. Oates (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1992), 790.

Published on October 6, 2015 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. http://www.rzim.org/

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Have a little hope on me, Roger