Sunday, January 31, 2016

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Norman Geisler on Voting

"...we should vote principle over party...morals over money...[and] conviction over convenience."1

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnote:
1. Norman Geisler, "We the People...," 2008.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Answering a Poor Pro-Abortion Choice Argument

Recently I was engaged in a discussion about abortion.  My contention was that abortion is murder and that we should do what is necessary to protect the lives of innocent child in the womb.1 The pro-abortion choice individual I was discussing the matter with stated that I had no right to stick my nose into other people's business and asked me how many children I had personally adopted.2  Thus implying that if I wasn't planning on adopting numerous children, I had no right to speak against them being murdered in the womb.  Even if you only know a little bit about logical argumentation, you will recognize that this is, as the late Christopher Hitchens would say, "a complete non-sequitur."  In other words, the conclusion does not follow from the premise as the following illustration I believe will demonstrate:

Imagine that you live in a small suburban neighborhood.  Your next door neighbor is a dear friend of the family and has grown very old.  His daughter Dana comes over each day and takes care of him. Without her help, he surely would not be able to live on his own.  He is dependent upon her.

One morning, you get a call from Dana saying that her brother Donald has decided that because their Dad is dependent upon their care to live, his life should be terminated so that they will not be inconvenienced by him any longer and can collect the money from his estate. While you are on the phone you look out the window and see Donald pull up into your elderly neighbor's driveway.  You notice that he is wearing gloves and has one hand in his pocket.  Further, he is looking around suspiciously.  What should you do?  I would argue that with the information you have, it would be your moral obligation to stop Donald from entering the house and at the very least question him. If he were to confirm, in his angry, exasperated state, that he was planning to kill his father, it seems obvious that you should do everything in your power to stop him.  How silly would it be for someone at this point to suggest, "You shouldn't stop Donald from killing his dad unless you are going to take care of his dad!"  Obviously, no one would think to say such a thing because life is valuable and should be preserved whenever possible.

In the same way, one does not have to agree to adopt an unwanted child before they speak out against them being murdered. Some are not able to adopt, but there are numerous ways to help children who need homes.

In conclusion, it simply does not follow that one cannot speak out against the murder of the unborn until they have committed to adopting children themselves.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnotes:
1. As Alan Shlemon explains here, regardless of the embryo's size, level of development, environment and degree of dependency, "there is no morally significant difference between the embryo that you once were and the adult that you are today."
2. I have a best friend who recently adopted a boy from Ethiopia and my wife and I helped both financially and with fund raising.  Further, we have discussed adopting ourselves in the future but currently are unable to do so for a few reasons.
3. This would be the equivalent of saying that no one had the right to speak out against the holocaust unless they were planning on taking care of a Jewish person themselves.  Perhaps they were unable, but it was still right to speak and act in favor of the Jews.

Video: How Can Parents Help In Their Kids' Apologetic Development?


For more from Brett Kunkle, see here.

For more from the One Minute Apologist, see here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Thoughts on the Claim that Christianity is a Relationship and Not a Religion

The word religion has become somewhat of a negative term in our culture, both in Christian circles and non-Christian circles. As a result, some Christians have sought to distance Christianity from the term religion. Believers will say things like,“It’s not a religion, it is a relationship” or, “Reject religion, embrace Jesus.”  

I appreciate the desire of my fellow believers to emphasize the relationship with Jesus that is at the core of Christianity, but Christianity is, and always will be, a religion. And religion, properly defined, is not a bad thing.1 Religion deals with our duty toward God. What we as followers of Christ should claim is that Christianity is a religion that offers a relationship with the Creator of the universe. We do not trust in our religion to save us, but in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Religion becomes a problem when people begin to trust in their outward acts of worship to save them or their legalistic works to make them right with God.  Our good works are an outworking of the God who is at work in us.

Yes, Christianity is a religion, but it is a religion that at the core centers on a living, active relationship with Jesus Christ. So Christianity is both a religion and a relationship.  I believe to suggest otherwise is to invite confusion.

What do you think?  Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnote:
1. James didn't think so!  "Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world." (James 1:27)

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Featured Resource: BeliefMap Apologetics- For Navigating Life's Biggest Questions

BeliefMap is a Christian apologetics ministry created and maintained by Blake Giunta.  This ministry strives to produce a growing online “pocket-apologist,” an encyclopedic resource providing users with academically respected points and counterpoints in debates over life's big questions.

To find out how it works, checkout this short (3 min) video tutorial:


To find out what is so great about this resource, go here.

You can find answers to frequently asked questions here.

I recommend our readers checkout this excellent tool and add it to your apologetics arsenal!  I wish I would have thought of it!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Tough Topic Tuesday: The Problem of Evil, Pt. 10

As we conclude our series on the problem of evil, we wanted to offer some helpful tips in dealing with the emotional problem of evil.  The emotional problem of evil "concerns people's dislike of a God who would permit suffering."1  It also may include those who are angry at God for allowing an event to happen in their life.

Philosopher and theologian William Lane Craig contends that "for most people suffering is not really an intellectual problem but an emotional problem."2  This is important to remember when discussing this problem with others.  Further, we should still go through the intellectual responses to the problem of evil when necessary because, as Craig once again explains, "...by working through it we can respect their opinion (that their problem is intellectual) and help them to see the real problem."3

As I shared last weekmany times, the person who puts forth the problem of evil and suffering is suffering or has greatly suffered. We must not minimize this. So when the problem of evil is brought up by those to whom we are talking, we must proceed with caution and tread lightly.

Here are a few suggestions:

1. Many times, words don’t help.  Sometimes the person just needs you to sit and listen to them or cry with them.  I recall once hearing a story of a man who was diagnosed with a terminal illness and lay dying in his bed.  People would visit him and tell him God had a purpose for his suffering or share Bible verses with him and while they meant well, it left the man cold.  Then, a stranger, whom he didn't recognize, entered the room, sat beside his bed, and wept.  Then he got up and exited the room. The man said this offered him more comfort any words someone could have shared with him.

2. If you decide to share a Bible verse, be discerning.  Unfortunately, I have heard many well meaning Christians share a Bible verse with someone when they are in the midst of their suffering as if it is a magic pill that should take their pain away.  Bible verses can be very encouraging at times; however, when someone has just found out their spouse has cancer, looking at them and saying, "Just remember, the Bible says, '...that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them'"(Rom. 8:28) may not be so wise.  I believe that verse is true; however, sometimes flippantly offering a Bible verse instead of holding the person's hand or providing for their needs sometimes can appear insensitive.  Should we share verses with others to encourage them?  Absolutely!  We just need to make sure we prayerfully do so!

3. Sometimes people suffer because of their own sinful choices.  I know I have.  In these situations, it is imperative that we point out our brother or sister's sin; however, we should not kick them while they are down.  We need to point them in the right direction, but also hold them up and encourage them.

4. One of the biggest mistakes someone can make is to try to have a rational conversation when the person is not being rational.  Sometimes this is the case with someone who is suffering.  When they are "in the pain," they can't hear our words or benefit from our advice.  In situations such as these, it is best to let the individual know you are there for them when they are ready to talk and you understand they are hurting.  When it comes to suffering, sometimes people just have to get through the hurt and anger before they are ready to talk.  That is okay.  Just be there for them.  Your presence offers more comfort than you realize.  Staying calm and not losing your patience with them demonstrates you will love them even when they are at their worst and is a powerful witness for Christ.

5. Pray for them and with them if they are willing.  If they unwilling, do not force them and let them know that if they change their mind, you will be happy to pray with them.

6. Finally, for the Christian, remember that the God who is allowing the suffering had the guts to take His own medicine. In other words, look to the cross of Jesus Christ.  Craig puts it well:

"On the cross Christ endured a suffering beyond all understanding: He bore the punishment for the sins of the whole world.  None of us can comprehend that suffering.  Though He was innocent, He voluntarily underwent incomprehensible suffering for us.  And why?--because He loves us so much."4

Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!

Courage and Godspeed,

Chad

Footnotes:
1. William Lane Craig, On Guard, p. 153.
2. Ibid., p. 169.
3. Ibid.
4. Ibid., p. 170.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Authentic Sayings of Jesus: Parable of the Wicked Tenants of the Vineyard

In the subject parable found in Mark 12:1-9, Jesus speaks of the owner of a vineyard sending his servants to the tenants of the vineyard to gather its fruit.  The tenants beat and reject all of the servants sent, so in the end the owner decides to send is only beloved son to accomplish the task.  The tenants, recognizing the son as the heir to the vineyard, end up murdering him to take possession of the vineyard.

This parable is multiply attested in the skeptical eyes of the Jesus Seminar as it is found in the Gospel of Thomas.   The parable also shows Semitisms (traces in the narrative of Aramaic or Hebraic linguistic forms1) as it fits with a Jewish milieu with its images and themes such as Israel as the vineyard, the owner as God, rebellious tenants, and the figure of a son-all of which are found in rabbinic parables.  Further, interpretative nuances rooted in the Aramaic targums of Isaiah 5 are found in this parable.  Finally, we see the dissimilarity criterion, as it is unlikely the Christian church added meaning into the parable later as concern over the ownership of the vineyard after it is taken from the rebellious tenants and the resurrection of the slain son are not present.2

For these reasons, this saying of Jesus is deemed authentic.  Craig writes that this parable also tells us about Jesus’ self-understanding.  It tells us that Jesus “thought of himself as God’s only Son, distinct from all the prophets, God’s final messenger, and even the heir of Israel itself.”3

This series identifying authentic sayings of, or events surrounding, Jesus will continue again next week.

Stand firm in Christ,
Chase

Footnotes:
1.  Craig, William Lane. Reasonable Faith:  Christian Truth and Apologetics; Third Edition. Page 298.
2.  The multiple attestation and dissimilarity criteria are defined earlier in the series.

3.  Ibid. Page 311.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Listening to Young Atheists: Lessons for a Stronger Christianity by Larry Taunton

In this featured article, director of the Fixed Point Foundation Larry Taunton shares what his organization learned when they "launched a nationwide campaign to interview college students who are members of Secular Student Alliances (SSA) or Freethought Societies (FS). These college groups are the atheist equivalents to Campus Crusade: They meet regularly for fellowship, encourage one another in their (un)belief, and even proselytize. They are people who are not merely irreligious; they are actively, determinedly irreligious.

Using the Fixed Point Foundation website, email, my Twitter, and my Facebook page, we contacted the leaders of these groups and asked if they and their fellow members would participate in our study. To our surprise, we received a flood of enquiries. Students ranging from Stanford University to the University of Alabama-Birmingham, from Northwestern to Portland State volunteered to talk to us. The rules were simple: Tell us your journey to unbelief. It was not our purpose to dispute their stories or to debate the merits of their views. Not then, anyway. We just wanted to listen to what they had to say. And what they had to say startled us."

The results are telling and surprising.  You can checkout the entire article here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Friday, January 22, 2016

Book Preview: The Fate of the Apostles by Sean McDowell

About the Author

Sean McDowell is an assistant professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University. He has two Masters Degrees in Theology and Philosophy from Talbot Theological Seminary and earned his Ph.D. in Apologetics and Worldview Studies from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is an internationally recognized speaker, best-selling author, and was 'Educator of the Year' for his hometown, San Juan Capistrano, in 2008.1

About the Book

The Book of Martyrs by John Foxe written in the 16th century has long been the go-to source for studying the lives and martyrdom of the apostles. Whilst other scholars have written individual treatments on the more prominent apostles such as Peter, Paul, John, and James, there is little published information on the other apostles.

In The Fate of the Apostles, Sean McDowell offers a comprehensive, reasoned, historical analysis of the fate of the twelve disciples of Jesus along with the apostles Paul, and James. McDowell assesses the evidence for each apostle’s martyrdom as well as determining its significance to the reliability of their testimony. The question of the fate of the apostles also gets to the heart of the reliability of the kerygma: did the apostles really believe Jesus appeared to them after his death, or did they fabricate the entire story? How reliable are the resurrection accounts? The willingness of the apostles to die for their faith is a popular argument in resurrection studies and McDowell offers insightful scholarly analysis of this argument to break new ground within the spheres of New Testament studies, Church History, and apologetics.2

To learn more about the book, go here.  To get your copy, go here.

For more from Sean McDowell, see here.

* We will be reviewing this work in the forthcoming weeks so stay tuned!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Quote: Frank Turek on Evil and the Existence of God

"Evil is like rust in a car: If you take all of the rust out of a car, you have a better car; if you take the car out of the rust, you have nothing.  Evil is like a cut in your finger: If you take the cut out of your finger, you have a better finger; if you take the finger out of the cut, you have nothing.  If other words, evil only makes sense against the backdrop of good.  That's why we often describe evil as negations of good things.  We say someone is immoral, unjust, unfair, dishonest, etc.

So evil can't exist unless good exists.  But good can't exist unless God exists.  In other words, there can be no objective evil unless there is objective good, and there can be no objective good unless God exists.  If evil is real-and we all know it is-then God exists."1

Checkout Turek's latest book, Stealing from God.  Our review is here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad
Footnote:
1. Frank Turek, Stealing from God, p. 117.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Cold-Case for the Resurrection by J. Warner Wallace


In this talk, speaker, author and cold-case homocide detective J. Warner Wallace explains how he applied his training as a detective and examined the evidence for the resurrection.

To checkout Jim's case for the resurrection in print, checkout his short book Alive here.

For more from J. Warner Wallace, see here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Tough Topic Tuesday: The Problem of Evil, Pt. 9

In this series we have been considering what many believe to be the most powerful argument against the existence of God- the problem of evil.  As we have noted, the problem of evil takes on three forms: 1) the logical problem of evil 2) the evidential problem of evil 3) and the emotional problem of evil.  In the final two posts of this series we will consider the emotional problem of evil.

A few years ago I was participating in an online discussion about the existence of God.  Atheists and theists were discussing the various arguments for and against the existence of a Creator.  I will never forget one of the individuals who was sharing in the discussion.  We were examining the various evidences and he shared that he was a former believer who had walked away from God because his young son had been run over by a car and killed.  In his mind, if God existed, He wouldn't have taken his son from him.  My heart broke for this gentlemen and that day I learned a valuable lesson.  A lesson that I believe is most important to remember when discussing the problem of evil and suffering with others and it is this- Many times, the person who puts forth the problem of evil and suffering is suffering or has greatly suffered.  We must not minimize this.  So when the problem of evil is brought up by those to whom we are talking, we must proceed with caution and tread lightly.

Next week we finish the series by suggesting some ways we can respond to the emotional problem of evil in a thoughtful, respectful and loving manner.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Monday, January 18, 2016

Authentic Sayings of Jesus: Assertion of His Authority in the Temple

Of the above subject Craig writes the following:

At his trial, according to the Synoptics, a centerpiece of the case brought against Jesus was a saying on his part having to do with the temple’s destruction and Jesus’ rebuilding it in three days (Mark 14:58), a saying also attested in John 2:19.  In Jewish thinking God is the one who built the temple (Ex. 15:17; Jub. 1.17; cf. 1En. 90.28-29; 11q Temple 29.8-10) and who threatens the destruction of the temple (Jer. 7:12-13; 26:4-6, 9; cf. 1 En. 90.28-29).  The charges brought against Jesus, that he threatened the destruction of the temple and promised to rebuild it, show that he was being charged with arrogating to himself divine roles.  Jesus’ refusal to respond to these charges provokes the high priest’s direct demand:  “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed?”  (Mark 14:61 AT).  The connection between the charge and Ciaphas’s question may be seen by the messianic reading given to 2 Samuel 7:12-14 by one of the Dead Sea Scrolls.  The passage in Samuel concerns David’s desire to build for God a temple, and the Lord’s reserving that right for David’s son Solomon:

             When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your         
             offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.            
             He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.  I 
             will be his father and he will be my son. (2 Sam. 7:12-14 RSV)

In scroll 4Q174 this passage is quoted and interpreted as a prophecy of the Messiah:  “He is the branch of David who will arise with the interpreter of the Law who [ ] in Zi [on in the la]st days according as it is written:  ‘I will raise up the tent of David that has falle[n]’ (Amos 9:11), who will arise to save Israel” (1:10-13). It is the Messiah, the Davidic branch prophesied by Isaiah and Jeremiah (Isa. 11:1; Jer. 33:14-16), who will build the temple and will be God’s Son.  Caiaphas’s question, given such messianic expectations, would have been natural, demanding whether Jesus claimed to be the Messiah, God’s Son, who would fulfill this prophecy by destroying the present temple and replacing it with his own.  Jesus’ pretension to be the Messiah could in turn be presented to the Roman authorities as treasonous; hence, his execution as “King of the Jews.” The conspiration of so many factors, each enjoying ratification independently by factors such as multiple attestation, Palestinian milieu, dissimilarity, and so forth, make for an extraordinarily powerful case that Jesus of Nazareth did regard himself as the promised Messiah.1

This series identifying authentic sayings of, or events surrounding, Jesus will continue again next week.

Stand firm in Christ,
Chase

Footnotes:

1. Craig, William Lane. Reasonable Faith:  Christian Truth and Apologetics; Third Edition. Page 307.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

A Review of Patterns of Evidence: Exodus by Ted Wright

I finally had a chance to watch Tim Mahoney's Patterns of Evidence: Exodus.  The film follows Mahoney's investigation into whether or not the events recorded in the book of Exodus actually occurred.

Overall I enjoyed the film and thought it was well done.  While watching the film I recalled that Ted Wright wrote a review of the film and I wanted to share that here.  It brings some clarity to some of the points made in the film.

I recommend checking out Wright's review here and Patterns of Evidence: Exodus!  The open-minded skeptic will find it challenging and the believer will find it encouraging!


Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Friday, January 15, 2016

Quote: Os Guinness on Evangelism and Apologetics

"Almost all our witnessing and Christian communication assumes that people are open to what we have to say, or at least are interested, if not in need of what we are saying. Yet most people quite simply are not open, not interested and not needy, and in much of the advanced modern world fewer people are open today than even a generation ago. Indeed, many are more hostile, and their hostility is greater than the Western church has faced for centuries…Our urgent need today is to reunite evangelism and apologetics, to make sure that our best arguments are directed toward winning people and not just winning arguments, and to seek to do all this in a manner that is true to the gospel itself."

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Video: Can We Know if God is Real? - Nabeel Qureshi


For more from Nabeel Qureshi and Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, go here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Articles on the Reliability of the New Testament

A few days ago I tweeted some articles from bethinking.org on the reliability of the New Testament.  I wanted to share them here.

1. The Historicity of the New Testament by J.P. Moreland

2. Archaeology and the Reliability of the New Testament by Peter S. Williams

3. Recent Perspectives on the Reliability of the Gospels by Gary Habermas
Enjoy!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Tough Topic Tuesday: The Problem of Evil, Pt. 8

In the post we continue to consider the evidential problem of evil. For review, it is as follows:

Evidential Version: "It's Improbable that God could have Good Reasons for Permitting Suffering."

The evidential version differs from the logical version because the evidential version makes a more modest claim. The evidential version says that it is improbable that God exists when one considers all the apparent unnecessary suffering that occurs in the world.


Thus far, we have offered three responses to this problem.

1. We’re not in a position to say that it’s improbable that God lacks good reasons for permitting the suffering in the world.  See here

2. R
elative to the full scope of the evidence, God's existence is more probable than not.  See here

3. T
he evidential problem of evil fails to call God's existence into question because evil is actually evidence for the existence of God.  See here

Finally, we will argue that suffering makes more sense under Christian doctrine.  It is important to remember that the problem of evil is everybody's problem.  Meaning, that regardless of what your worldview is, if you desire to be consistent, you must account for evil within that view.

As William Lane Craig argues, Christianity entails doctrines that increase the probability of the coexistence of God and suffering.1

1. The chief purpose of life is not happiness, but the knowledge of God.

Craig explains:

"One reason that the problem of suffering seems so puzzling is that people naturally tend to assume that if God exists, then His purpose for human life is happiness in this life.  God's role is to provide a comfortable environment for His human pets.

But on the Christian view, this is false.  We are not God's pets, and the goal of human life is not happiness per se, but the knowledge of God- which in the end will bring true and everlasting human fulfillment.  Much of the suffering in life may be utterly pointless with respect to the goal of producing human happiness; but it may not be pointless with respect to producing a deeper knowledge of God."2

2. Mankind is in a state of rebellion against God and His purpose.

Most even causally familiar with Christianity are most likely aware that Christianity teaches that people are living in rebellion against God.  We need a Savior because we are all sinners (Rom. 6:23). We have made gods of the things in this world instead of worshiping the true God.  As a result, we stand morally guilty before God.

Once more, Craig explains:

"The terrible human evils in the world are testimony to man's depravity in his state of spiritual alienation from God.  The Christian isn't surprised at the moral evil in the world; on the contrary, he expects it.  The Scriptures indicate that God has given mankind up to the sin it has freely chosen; He doesn't interfere to stop it but lets human depravity run its course (Rom. 1:24, 26, 28).  This only serves to heighten mankind's moral responsibility before God, as well as our wickedness and our need of forgiveness and moral cleansing."3

3. God's purpose is not restricted to this life but spills over beyond the grave into eternal life.

Those who place their trust in Christ for eternal life may endure suffering; however, "when God asks His children to bear horrible suffering in this life, it is only with the prospect of a heavenly joy and recompense that is beyond all comprehension."4

Consider the life of the Apostle Paul.  He suffered beatings, imprisonments and numerous other hardships, yet he was able to write:

"We do not lose heart...For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, because we look not to the things that are seen, but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."5

4. The knowledge of God is an incommensurable good.

To know God is the fulfillment of human existence.  One more time, Craig explains:

"...the person who knows God, not matter what he suffers, no matter how awful his pain, can still truly say, 'God is good to me!' simply by virtue of the fact that he knows God, and incommensurable good."6

We will conclude our series on the problem of evil next week when we consider the emotional problem of evil.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad


Footnotes:
1. For our purposes, these points will only be summarized.  If you want a more comprehensive explanation of each point, see William Lane Craig's book On Guard, p. 163-169.
2. Ibid., p. 163.
3. Ibid., p. 166.
4. Ibid., p. 166.
5. RSV as quoted by William Lane Craig, On Guard, p. 166.
6. Ibid., p. 167.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Authentic Sayings of Jesus: The Plaque Nailed to Jesus’ Cross

Mark 15:26 and John 19:19 record the charge brought against Jesus as “the King of the Jews" as displayed by a plaque placed above Jesus as He hung on the cross.  Thus the event is multiply attested.  This title of Jesus was never a title given to Him by Christians, so the criterion of dissimilarity also allows this event to be added to the list of authentic sayings of, or events surrounding, Jesus.1  

This title demonstrates that Jesus was not arrested and executed simply for being a troublemaker or disturber of the peace - He was executed because He claimed to be the Messiah. We see support for this in an account from Josephus in A.D. 62 of Jesus, son of Ananias, who would consistently stand in the temple and shout ominous things. This Jesus was arrested and questioned about who he was, where he came from, and why he was saying these things. He gave no answer to these questions and was deemed insane and released. Jesus, son of Ananias, did not claim to be the Messiah.2 

This series identifying authentic sayings of, or events surrounding, Jesus will continue again next week.

Stand firm in Christ,
Chase

Footnotes:
1. Craig, William Lane. Reasonable Faith:  Christian Truth and Apologetics; Third Edition. Page 305.

2. Ibid. Page 306.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Pastor Michael C. Sherrard on Politics in the Pulpit

"Christianity is an all-encompassing worldview. Meaning, it is a set of true beliefs that affect all of life. The gospel itself has implications that go beyond ones eternal destination. We see this truth in Paul’s ethics. Pauline ethics might be summed up this way: because Christ humbled himself and died on a cross, so should you be humble and willfully offer up your life for the good of others (Phil 2:1-11). Our faith manifests itself in ways that benefit others, if it is a real faith...When politics are ignored in the pulpit the message to the world and the church is clear: Christianity is irrelevant. It tells the world that what we care about is our little club, and it tells those in the club not to worry about what goes on outside...We understand that we are to seek the good of others. We understand that Christ did not redeem us for irrelevance, but to be agents of renewal. Therefore, let us turn our attention again to society and utilize all the tools at our disposal. As we eagerly await the Kingdom to come, let us not neglect the land we have be given. Let us be political."1

You can checkout Sherrard's post, "Why the Pulpit Must be Political" here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnote:
1. Michael C. Sherrard, "Why the Pulpit Must be Political," 
http://www.michaelcsherrard.com/blog/2015/12/15/q1tec7um688u9wuzwushvi700pjpe1.

Friday, January 08, 2016

Is the Gospel of Thomas as Reliable as Matthew, Mark, Luke and John?

In Lee Strobel's handy book The Case of for Christianity he explains why the Gospel of Thomas is not as reliable as the traditional four gospels.

Strobel writes:

"The Gospel of Thomas is, by far, the most prominent of the gnostic gospels...and its proponents claim it is as reliable as Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the New Testament.

However, the biblical gospels were written in the first century, whereas the Gospel of Thomas was written, at the earliest, about a hundred years later-in the second century.  So it was much further removed from Jesus' life.

Worse, its teachings run the gamut from unbiblical to illogical.  For example, Thomas proclaims that salvation comes from understanding oneself authentically-a message diametrically opposed to the biblical gospel.  It also claims Jesus said, 'If you fast, you will bring sin upon yourselves, and if you pray, you will be condemned, and if you give to charity, you will harm your spirits.'

It gets worse, Thomas quotes Jesus as saying, 'Lucky is the lion that the human will eat, so that the lion becomes human.  And foul is the human that the lion will eat, and the lion still will become human.' Huh?

In addition, Thomas portrays Jesus as anti-women.  At one point, Simon Peter says to him, 'Make Mary leave us, for females don't deserve life.'  Jesus allegedly responds, 'Look, I will guide her to make her male, so she too may become a living spirit resembling you males.  For every female who makes herself male will enter the domain of Heaven.'

This is obviously in sharp contrast to the teachings of the real Jesus, who elevated women in a very counter-cultural way.

For these reasons and more, I'm a doubting Thomas regarding the Gospel of Thomas-and I'm confident the real Thomas, the authentic one in the New Testament gospels, would have doubted and rejected it as well!"1

For more on the non-canonical gospels attributed to Thomas, see here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnote:
1. Lee Strobel, The Case for Christianity, p 61-63.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Audio: Why I Am a Christian- Understanding Truth by Brett Kunkle

A few years ago I had the pleasure of sitting in the audience at Mt. Airy Bible Church when Brett Kunkle gave this talk entitled, "Why I Am a Christian."  This is one of the best talks I have heard on the nature of truth and how we can know it.

In this talk, Brett discusses:
  • Good reasons and bad reasons to believe something
  • How the gospel is shared in most churches
  • What is the message of Jesus Christ?
  • What does it mean to say that Christianity is true?
  • Objective truth vs. subjective truth
  • The relationship between truth and reality
  • Central truths vs. non-central truths
  • Four questions to answer when making a case for the truth of Christianity
Q and A Questions Answered
  • Do you believe it falls on the church or parents to teach children apologetics?
  • How can you best witness to Mormons?
  • How can you best witness to someone who doesn't believe God cares about every area of their life?
  • How can you best witness to someone who doesn't care or just wants you to leave them alone?
  • How can you graciously and effectively response to the accusation of intolerance?
I encourage you to take the time to listen to this excellent talk.

For those interested in listening to the other talks given at this conference, go here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Video: Religious IQ and Atheism by J.P. Moreland


Is atheism a matter of reason and religion merely a matter of blind faith?  Are there any good reasons to believe God exists?  Is atheism more rational or is theism more rational?  

These are just some of the questions addressed by philosopher J.P. Moreland in this talk.

Enjoy!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Tough Topic Tuesday: The Problem of Evil, Pt. 7

In the post we continue to consider the evidential problem of evil. For review, it is as follows:

Evidential Version: "It's Improbable that God could have Good Reasons for Permitting Suffering."

The evidential version differs from the logical version because the evidential version makes a more modest claim. The evidential version says that it is improbable that God exists when one considers all the apparent unnecessary suffering that occurs in the world.

We argued last week that when the full scope of the evidence is considered, we have stronger reasons to believe God exists.  In other words, the theist can admit that God's existence is improbable relative to the suffering in the world alone; however, that suffering is outweighed by the successful arguments for God's existence.

This becomes especially clear when one considers the moral argument.  We can all agree that much of the suffering in the world consists of evil acts committed by people against one another.  But, as William Lane Craig points out, if that is the case, we can argue the following:

1. If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist.
2. Evil exists.
3. Therefore, objective moral values exist (some things are evil!).
4. Therefore, God exists.1

At first glance, suffering appears to call God's existence into question; however, if one takes the time to think about the problem of evil more comprehensively, it can actually be argued that evil demonstrates God's existence!  As Craig explains:

"For apart from God, suffering is not really bad.  If the atheist believes that suffering is bad or ought not to be, then he's making moral judgments that are possible only if God exists."2

So, the evidential problem of evil fails to call God's existence into question because evil is actually evidence for the existence of God!3

Next week will be our final post on the evidential problem of evil and then we will finish up the series by addressing the emotional problem of evil and suffering.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnotes:
1. William Lane Craig, On Guard, p. 161.
2. Ibid., p. 162.
3. For more on how evil demonstrates God's existence, see here.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Authentic Sayings of Jesus: Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

The subject event was a profound statement by Jesus and can be added to the list of authentic sayings of, or events surrounding, Jesus.  Craig writes:

In every other account of Jesus’ movements, he goes by foot. What, then, is he doing when he mounts a donkey’s colt and rides down the Mount of Olives into Jerusalem? The answer is that Jesus is deliberately fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9-10…

Jesus is deliberately and provocatively claiming to be the promised king of Israel who will inaugurate his reign of peace.  His action is like a living parable, acted out to disclose his true identity.1

This event is multiply attested by Mark and John (Mark 11:1-11; John 12:12-19).  Additionally, the historicity of the event is bolstered by the dissimilarity criterion (the event or saying is unlike antecedent Jewish thought-forms2) as the account of the event in Mark is not accompanied by a citation of Zechariah 9:9.

Some object to the historicity of this account on the basis that the Roman authorities would have arrested Jesus as a result of such a display.  However, Mark records that Jesus entered the city, looked around in the temple, and then left.  Such an entry may not have even been noticed by the Roman authorities; especially with the Passover crowds. Even if they did notice they would not have understood the significance or viewed a man riding slowly into town on a donkey as a threat.

This series, identifying authentic sayings of, or events surrounding Jesus, will continue again next week.

Stand firm in Christ,
Chase

Footnotes:
1. Craig, William Lane. Reasonable Faith:  Christian Truth and Apologetics; Third Edition. Page 304.

2. Ibid. Page 298.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Book Review: We Choose Life- General Editor Dave Sterrett

We Choose Life is a timely book.  Due to the recent videos released by the Center for Medical Progress exposing Planned Parenthood and their barbaric practices, the abortion debate has once again taken center stage.

Editor Dave Sterrett, founder of Disruptive Truth, has assembled an excellent collection of essays that succeed in combining both argument and personal narrative to make a persuasive and gripping case for the preborn.  Sterrett explains:

"In this book, you will read stories from counselors, teachers, lawyers, nurses, business leaders, stay-at-home moms, and people from many other professions. We don’t all fight against the injustice of abortion in the same way, but we all believe that one person can make a difference. We have joined together to write We Choose Life because we realize that our society faces a crisis of staggering proportions, similar to that of the injustice of slavery in the early history of our nation." p.13

And Sterrett goes on to explain why we cannot be silent about the injustice of abortion:

"Think of it in this manner: What if you found out that thirty-five kindergarten students were murdered by a maniac two miles from your home? Wouldn’t that anger all of us? And what if you found out the same thing happened in a hundred cities across America? Thirty-five hundred children dead. What if it happened the next day, and then the next? How long would it take us to rise up and say, 'Not in my generation. Let’s end the killing'? Yet every day we are killing just as many Americans in the name of 'choice' or women’s 'health.'" p.14

The book includes 17 different essays written by various individuals of all walks of life.  The list includes former abortion workers, individuals conceived through rape or incest and men who confess to struggling with post-abortive guilt.  Further, as an added bonus, the work features an appendix written by Life Training Institute's Scott Klusendorf demonstrating to the reader how to make the case for life in 5 minutes or less.

One of the major strengths of this work was put well by philosopher Jay W. Richards in his recommendation of the book:

"There are many important books that make the intellectual case for protecting preborn human life. You'll find the core elements of that case in We Choose Life.  What makes this book different is that the contributors follow the model of Jesus in the Gospels: they tell compelling and sometimes heart-breaking stories that show, as profoundly as any argument, the dignity of human life at its most vulnerable."

I will confess that I like arguments.  I like syllogisms and premises.  That is how I think.  However, We Choose Life illustrates just how powerful an argument can be when it is coupled with a powerful personal account.

Throughout the various stories offered in the book, diverse topics arise that help the reader think through some of the most common arguments used by pro-abortion choice advocates.  Each author does a great job explaining how they came to hold their pro-life convictions.

Some of the questions answered in the book are as follows:
  • When does life begin?
  • What really goes on at Planned Parenthood?
  • Why do people stay at Planned Parenthood?
  • Is sidewalk counseling effective?
  • Is abortion okay in cases of rape or incest?
  • What if an unborn child is diagnosed with a disability?
  • Can I be forgiven for having an abortion?
One account that stayed with this reader was that of Rebecca Kiessling.  She was adopted at birth and when she turned 18  she received her "non-identifying information" and learned that she was conceived of rape.  She writes the following:

"I remember feeling ugly, unwanted, and very much devalued and targeted by our society. I instantly thought of what people say about abortion:

'I’m pro-life—well, except in cases of rape,' or,'I’m pro-choice—especially
in cases of rape!'

I realized that there were multitudes of people who didn’t even know me but were standing in judgment of my life, and who were quick to dismiss it just because of how I was conceived. I
felt like I was now going to have to justify my own existence, that I would have to prove to the world that I shouldn’t have been aborted and that I was worthy of living. I wanted to have all of my assets lined up so that people would see me as a person of value at a time in my life when I felt like I was being devalued every day." p. 72

I realized that behind a common pro-abortion choice rhetoric point is a person.  A person who should never be treated as if they are less valuable because of how they were conceived.

Further, this account illustrates another strength of this book.  It takes common arguments used by the pro-abortion choice crowd and not only offers intellectually satisfying responses, but connects it to real-life.  The heartache, the pain and the redemption experienced in the lives of these individuals is real and serves not only to demonstrate the destruction caused by the abortion industry, but also how Jesus continues redeem lives.

This reviewer honestly can't think of one person that would not benefit from reading this work.  If you are already pro-life, your beliefs will be strengthened and you will be inspired to share your convictions.  If you have made the decision to abort in the past and are struggling to forgive yourself, you will meet others who have struggled with the same emotions and have found peace and forgiveness in Jesus Christ.  If you are pro-choice, but opened to understanding the effects of abortion on individual lives, then this book will be very eye-opening and challenging.  Further, the essays are written by people who have been on both sides of the debate and the opposing side is represented fairly and compassionately.

The body of Christ must stand for the preborn.  We must give a voice to the voiceless.  We Choose Life offers the church a very affordable way to do just that.  This excellent resource is only $6.95 and is excellent for small group study or to give away.

The culture of death we currently find ourselves in must be combated with good reason, evidence and individuals willing to share their pro-life convictions.  We Choose Life offers all three in a very affordable package.  I encourage individuals and churches to take advantage.

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

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

* Many thanks to Hendrickson Publishers and Dave Sterrett for the review copy