Thursday, December 30, 2021

TruthB.O.M.B. Book Review - Jesus Conversations by Dave Sterrett


 B - Background

Dave Sterrett founded Disruptive Truth, a non-profit organization that is training Christians in evangelism and cultural engagement. He is the author/co-author of several books, including Why Trust Jesus, We Choose Life and I Am Second. Dave works as an account executive in oncology biotechnology and is passionate about helping cancer patients.

O - Overview

Sterrett is clear about what one will gain by reading his book:

"In this book, we are going to examine biblical examples, conversational strategies, and tips to help you grow in knowledge.  Jesus said the greatest command is to 'love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength'(Mark 12:30).  This book will help equip you in wisdom as you are growing to 'always be prepared to give an answer to anyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope you have' (1 Pet. 3:15).  I will share effective conversational starters and ways to memorize and explain the gospel"
[p. 3].

Sterrett's overall goal is to inspire and equip Christians to share their faith in a winsome and informed manner.

M - Main Arguments

Sterrett begins the book by arguing for the necessity of evangelism and emphasizing how the Holy Spirit can use anyone, regardless of their skill or knowledge level, to share the gospel with the lost.  

He then moves to the practical topic of how to start a conversation about spiritual matters.  His advice here is amazingly workable and should encourage those who tend to be shy about engaging others in dialogue about matters of faith.  Those familiar with Greg Koukl's book Tactics will see his influence here.  Ultimately, Sterrett encourages readers to "[r]eject passivity, pay attention to those around you, and courageously initiate a conversation..." [p.43].

This reader found it refreshing that the author then moves to the important discipline of Scripture memory and memory tools to explain the gospel.  Sterrett's goal here is to equip believers to clearly communicate "the gospel essentials in a way an unbeliever can easily and quickly understand" [p. 76].  And, not only are two different ways to remember the gospel offered, but readers will also learn three diagnostic questions that the author contends will allow a person to discover their need of the gospel.

Sterrett then proceeds to explain the importance of focusing on the essential truths of the gospel when sharing the good news and the usefulness of knowing apologetics-how to defend one's faith-in the project of evangelism.  This reader greatly appreciated Sterrett's suggestion of using the acronym G-O-D when discussing the existence of God with unbelievers.  Each letter in the acronym represents a fact about the universe that the author argues is best explained by God's existence:

G - The standard of all GOOD in the universe.
O - The powerful ORIGIN of the universe.
D - The grand DESIGN of the universe. [p. 129]

He explains:

"When we evangelize, these three arguments may not necessarily convert a skeptic to Christ immediately.  However, you can encourage them to go where the evidence leads.  Perhaps these three arguments will help someone leave their atheism and believe that there must be something or someone out there" [p. 140].

Sterrett ends the book with helpful advice regarding how to interact with members of other religions and by reminding believers that they are ambassador's for Jesus Christ.  He writes:

"Do you ever think of yourself as being an 'ambassador for Jesus Christ?'  Everywhere we go-whether it's because of work, or going out and having fun, participating in a sport, or attending a conference-we should think of ourselves as ambassadors of Jesus" [p. 159].

B - Bottomline

Brian Auten and I had the opportunity to interview Dave Sterrett about Jesus Conversations on the Apologetics315 Podcast.  And while I can confidently recommend the book, it pleases me to know that I can even more so recommend Sterrett himself.  He both talks the talk and walks the walk.  Dave Sterrett is a committed follower of Jesus Christ with a heart for the lost and one can't help but be infected by his desire to share the gospel as you read these pages.

Jesus Conversations is the ideal book for the believer who desires to learn to share their faith or the believer who may have lost their zeal for doing so.  

You can get your copy here.  To learn more about Dave Sterrett and his ministry, go here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad


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Book Review: We Choose Life- General Editor Dave Sterrett

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

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Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Video - A Molinist Response to Schellenberg’s Hiddenness Argument by Tim Stratton


In our podcast with Dr. Tim Stratton, we briefly teased his upcoming talk at the Evangelical Philosophical Society on J.L. Schellenberg's divine hiddenness argument.  Well, here it is!  

Enjoy!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

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Apologist Interview: "The Free Thinking Theist" Tim Stratton

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Book Recommendation: See the Strange by Brett Davis

I always enjoy exploring the Christian faith from angles that don't always line up with current or popular theological trends. See the Strange definitely fits that bill. I recently dove into this excellent book about the most misunderstood and misinterpreted book in the Bible - "The Revelation of Jesus Christ", more commonly referred to as just "Revelation" (and it's singular, not "Revelations"). The following are quotes from the book that will give you a nice taste of how Brett Davis tackles a subject even my pastor won't preach about.

“The worst books about Revelation treat it as a coded history of the future, predictions that we can tick of as they get fulfilled – except that those ticks have so far always turned out to be mistaken. Some of the worst books about Revelation read it as a nightmare to be inflicted on the world by a God who gloats over human suffering.”

“No one in church history has agreed on how to exactly read the letter of Revelation. That is absolutely obvious; there is no consensus. But our obsessive decoding of the future is really recent…If seeing the future was God’s primary reason for inspiring John to put quill to parchment, then Revelation has been a big fat failure for the church historic.”

“What if the strangeness of Revelation is not something we need to entirely decode or un-strange? What if Revelation’s oddness and intrigue mean to help us?”

“No part of Revelation means to drive us to bull headed predictions, or over-reaching analysis, or ever-changing flowcharts. All of Revelation means to drive us to our knees. We should remind ourselves early and often that Revelation is primarily meant to be absorbed not analyzed. When we slip into obsessive over-analysis of dissecting and decoding, we are slipping further and further away from the point of the book.”

“…whatever Revelation is, it’s something that these seven churches would have (mostly) understood. Jesus didn’t send a coded puzzle meant for comfortable Christians in the twenty-first century. Jesus sent a stylized letter originally meant for struggling Christians in the first century. If we cannot imagine the original hearers of Revelation understanding our interpretation of this letter, then our interpretation probably needs to be rethought.”

“Jesus inviting us into His life is harder than us inviting Jesus into ours. It takes a longer time. It’s more painful. It requires us to surrender our fantasies about the throne…The invitation of Jesus is difficult because Jesus invites us to die.”

“This, by the way, is the task of every local church. We must cultivate spaces like this altar. Spaces that are ruthlessly vulnerable, brutally honest, fearlessly realistic. There are no questions off-limits within the church. The saints are nothing if we are not honest about our confusion and truthful about the world.”

“What changes the world - what saves the world – is when the church faithfully witnesses to self-giving love of the Lamb. Even when it’s hard. Even when the world despises the truth. And even when forgiveness and mercy are overpowered by hatred and violence.”

“…perhaps we need to remind ourselves that God’s purposes are meant to be eaten not read, ingested not intellectualized, lived not analyzed. The often painful love of the cross is meant to be corporately embodied, not merely cognitively understood.”

“Sometimes people worry that a credit card or the latest technology might be the mark of the beast. Perhaps a better question asks about the consumerism of the credit card itself. When we buy into a system that tells us that more money will bring more security, or that lifelong debt is worth immediate pleasure, or that sweatshops are a reasonable price for affordable goods, or that our money is primarily for us – when that’s the pattern, we should be examining our credit cards. We’re entertaining the lies of the beast.”

“Chemotherapy feels like wrath for the cancer. And it doesn’t look pretty for anyone watching. But the goal of chemotherapy is healing. The goal of chemo is new life. And this is the final treatment – seven blistering bowls of vintage love distilled to destroy evil.”

“This final cycle of seven signals the end of evil’s story. No more delay, no more intermission…and no more repentance. Everyone who wants God – who wants real and everlasting Life – has turned to God. Everyone else would rather “curse the name of God” than live with him or sing his praise. They would rather “gnaw their tongues” than use them for the Song of Life.”

“We’re always being offered counterfeits, and we frequently settle for them. We crave intimacy, we settle for “casual” sex. We thirst for inner peace; we settle for numbing pain. We hunger for satisfaction; we settle for the next big purchase. We ache to be truly known; we settle for applause and popularity. We yearn for significance – to know our lives matter – but we settle for busyness. We’re parched for True Life; the Enemy offers to quench our thirst with death. We thirst for the cup of salvation; we settle for the cup of abominable things.”

“God is the One who can seal away the Enemy at anytime with no battle at all. He’s the omnipotent ground of all reality. And when the final battle arrives between God and Satan – Goodness and Evil, between Life and Death – it’s not a fair fight. It’s actually no fight at all.”

“Revelation ends with Jesus calling us awake with the promise of his coming. The promise of his coming; not the threat of his coming. The entirety of Revelation is framed as challenge and encouragement to the Church. This book does not aim threats at an unbelieving world. The coming of Jesus is the best good news the world will ever know. May we never talk about it otherwise.”

Check it out, but don't take my word for it, read the book, don't wait for the movie (and don't read those other books or watch those bad movies).

Have a little hope on me, 

Roger (now the Reasonable Faith Delmarva Chapter Director meeting in Georgetown, Delaware)

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Unanswered Questions- Jeff Myers

 While attending church recently, I picked up a Power for Living pamphlet and discovered an article taken from an excerpt of the book Unquestioned Answers: Rethinking Ten Christian Cliches to Rediscover Biblical Truth.  The author is Jeff Myers.  I found the article insightful and recommend that you check out his website here.  



Below is a snippet of the ten "unquestioned answers" explored in the book:



God Bless,

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Book Preview: Jesus Conversations by Dave Sterrett

 

About the Author

Dave Sterrett founded Disruptive Truth, a non-profit organization that is training Christians in evangelism and cultural engagement. He is the author/co-author of several books, including Why Trust Jesus, We Choose Life and I Am Second. Dave works as an account executive in oncology biotechnology and is passionate about helping cancer patients.

About the Book

How are we to talk about Jesus to someone who does not believe the way we do? Very few of us feel comfortable articulating the truthfulness of Christ’s death and resurrection to a peer outside of the church. Sometimes Christians feel intimidated by the objections of unbelievers who may say, “That’s right for you, but not for me” or “That’s just your opinion.” Jesus Conversations provides questions, answers, and relational tips in overcoming these conversation stoppers. Along with biblical insights and apologetics, readers will see firsthand examples and stories of ordinary people who share the gospel while visiting nursing homes, throwing parties, renting out bars for open- minded skeptics, and more.

Sterrett’s book equips followers of Jesus to become winsome and confident in communicating the truths of the gospel to nonbelievers. It would be most effective for college students and will resonate with those who are familiar with the I Am Second movement.

Key points and features:
  • Provides strategies and practical insights to help Christians become courageous in engaging in conversations with those who might not believe in the authority of the Bible.
  • Practical, relatable, and accessible.
Notable Recommendations

"Looking for a practical, natural way to share your faith?  If so, I am confident you will both enjoy and benefit from this book.  Dave Sterrett offers simple strategies all of us can use to meaningfully engage people around us in conversations about Jesus."

- Dr. Sean McDowell
Author of Chasing Love and Evidence that Demands a Verdict

"An important resource to help Christians give an answer to people who don't believe the Bible-with 'gentleness and respect' Jesus modeled so well."

- J. Warner Wallace, Dateline-featured Cold-Case Detective 
Author of Cold-Case Christianity 

"Jesus Conversations flow naturally from Dave Sterrett's deep mind and heart.  He sees the insufficiencies of our lost and hurting world, and the brilliant truth and compassion of Jesus Christ.  I'm inspired anew to share the reasons for the hope within me, because of love." 

- Kelly Monroe Kullberg, Founder, the Veritas Forum
Author of Finding God beyond Harvard: The Quest for Veritas

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

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Monday, November 08, 2021

Video - Learn to Make a Maximal Case for the Resurrection


In this final video in a series, Erik Manning of Testify explains how to make a maximal case for the resurrection of Jesus.  He also recommends resources to help you learn to make the case.

You can checkout the entire series at Manning's YouTube Channel here.

Enjoy!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad


Sunday, November 07, 2021

1 Timothy 2: 8-15 - Men and Women in the Church

 David Guzik, pastor of Calvary Chapel Santa Barbara, provides an expository message discussing the roles of men and women in the church as written in 1Timothy 2: 8-15.  

The message focuses on the following:

  • 1 Timothy Chapter 2: What does it say?
  • How teaching and truth fits in with the rest of the Bible
  • Answering modern objections

I highly recommend this message if you are looking for a good resource to examine this passage.





God Bless,

Friday, October 15, 2021

William Lane Craig Answers a Popular Atheist Rejoinder

 

In his latest "Question of Week," response, philosopher and theologian Dr. William Lane Craig was asked to how he would respond to a popular atheist claim.  The claim is as follows:

"I don't know what it would take to convince me that God exists. But if God does exist, then He would know what it takes to convince me of His existence (and He should also be capable of accomplishing this task). And the fact that He has failed to do so at this time means only one of two things: He truly does not exist, or He doesn't want me to know that He exists (or He simply doesn't care)."1

I myself have heard the popular atheist Matt Dillahunty make similar statements.2

Dr. Craig's response was as follows:

"Notice that the objector assumes that God has middle knowledge: 'if God does exist, then He would know what it takes to convince me of His existence.' But then the objection is undone by such knowledge: for in that case God may have known that no matter what evidence He provided, the hardened heart of the excuse-maker would have resisted it and failed to come to love and serve God. Recall that God isn’t interested in merely convincing people to add another item (God) to their ontological inventory. Rather He wants each person to come into a love relationship of worshiping and knowing God. Even if He supplied coercive evidence of His existence, that is no guarantee that the excuse-maker would freely come to love and worship the being whose existence he has been forced to acknowledge. Hence, God is under no obligation to provide greater evidence that He has, since He knew that it wouldn’t do any good.

The conclusion of the objection 'The fact that He has failed to do so at this time means only one of two things: He truly does not exist, or He doesn't want me to know that He exists (or He simply doesn't care)' is a non-sequitur. For another explanation is that God knew that providing more evidence wouldn’t do any good. Yet another explanation, however, is that God will provide such evidence to our buck-passing friend in the future once his heart has softened and is more open to God’s overtures. Either way the blame, for now, falls on the unbeliever himself, not on God."3

What do you think of WLC's response?  How would you answer this popular atheist response?  Please share in the comments!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad


Thursday, October 14, 2021

Christianity, Science and Galileo


The story of Galileo and the Catholic Church is often used to suggest that the Christian church has historically been against the advancement of science.  However, as J. Warner Wallace argues in his newest book Person of Interest, there is more to the story:

"Galileo (an Italian astronomer who lived in the sixteenth and seventeenth century) was correct in his description of the solar system, but the Catholic Church at the time held to a geocentric view of the sun and planets (with the earth at its center).  Galileo was investigated as a heretic by the Roman Inquisition in 1615, which rejected heliocentrism as contradictory to the Holy Scripture.  Galileo was convicted and spent the rest of his life under house arrest.

This historic episode...seemed to solidify-at least for me-a long-standing Christian tradition of science denial.  It seemed to start early, and it appeared to continue today.  

But the truth about Galileo and Pope Urban VIII (the man who opposed Galileo's theory) is much more nuanced than I was originally led to believe.  The pope was a fan of Galileo many years earlier (when Urban was known as Cardinal Maffeo Barberini) and even defended Galileo on one occasion on an unrelated scientific proposal.

But by the time Galileo published his findings on the heliocentric planetary model, Barberini was Pope Urban VIII.  He interviewed Galileo several times after ascending to the position and gave him permission to write about the Copernican heliocentric theory if he treated it as a hypothesis.  But Galileo eventually published his treatise as more than that, and to make matters worse, he included a mocking conversation between characters representing an astronomer and the pope.  Galileo's portrayal of the pope's character (named 'Simplico,' or 'Simpleton' in English) was...less than flattering.  Urban VIII was not pleased, and Galileo found himself judged as much for his delivery as his content.  By comparison, years earlier, Tycho Brache and Copernicus also proposed heliocentric systems of their own, but neither suffered the same fate as the obstinate and evocative Galileo. 

Any apparent conflict between Roman Catholic leadership and Galileo, therefore, does littler to prove that Christianity was (or is) hostile to science.  It proves only that these two men had a complex relationship and that the timing of history did not happen to favor Galileo's proposal."1

Wallace goes on to point out that Galileo himself never saw his Christian faith to be at odds with science:

"He saw no contradiction between his beliefs as a Catholic and his findings as a scientist.  Galileo once quoted Cardinal Caesar Baronius, agreeing 'that the intention of the Holy Ghost is to teach us how one goes to heaven, not how heaven goes.'  Galileo believed the Bible had much to say about the nature of the real world, even tough it was not intended to provide an exhaustive description of the universe.  He was therefore content to live out his life as both a Jesus follower and a scientist: 'Whatever the course of our lives, we should receive them as the highest gift from the hand of God, in which equally reposed the power to do nothing whatever for us.  Indeed, we should accept misfortune not only in thanks, but in infinite gratitude to Providence, which by such means detaches us from an excessive love for Earthly things and elevates our minds to the celestial and divine.'"2

So, it seems that if Wallace is right, the Galileo story fails to provide an example of the Christian faith denying science.  

What do you think of Wallace's explanation?  Sound off in the comments below!

You can learn more about Wallace's new book here.

Checkout our podcast with Wallace here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnote:
1. J. Warner Wallace, Person of Interest: Why Jesus Matters in a World that Rejects the Bible, p. 195; 197.


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Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Video - The Chick-fil-A Argument for the Resurrection of Jesus


Erik Manning of Testify has recently released this creative video.  Please enjoy it and I encourage you to subscribe to Manning's YouTube Channel Testify here.  

Enjoy!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Do the Gospels Contain Legendary Embellishments?

 

In Investigating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ: A New Transdisciplinary Approach, author Andrew Loke offers 4 reasons why he believes skeptics who claim that the later accounts in the Gospels (e.g. the young man at the tomb in Mark becomes an angel accompanied by earthquakes in Matthew) contain legendary embellishments are in error.  

He writes:

"First, the amount of details does not seem to follow a consistent pattern when we compare the later accounts with the earlier ones.  For example, following the argument for embellishment, one might expect a larger number of eyewitnesses and resurrection appearances in the later accounts compared to the earlier ones, but the opposite is the case: Paul's account in 1 Corinthians 15, which is the earliest, contains the greatest number of eyewitnesses ('more than five hundred brethren') and the largest number of appearances.  It is more likely that the authors took into consideration the needs of the audiences when they decided the amount of details to include.  Second, some of the details can be understood as clarification rather than embellishments.  For example, the inference that the 'young man' in Mark 16:5-7 is an angel can be justified by the context, which describes him as dressed in white and conveying divine revelation.  He does not simply report what he found, but gives it an authoritative explanation and goes on to convey a message from Jesus himself, recapitulating what he had said privately to the Twelve in Mark 14:28, and conveying not comment but command (France 2002, pp. 675-679; compare the use of 'young man' for angel in Tob. 4:5-10, 2 Macc. 3:26, 33, etc., see Gundry 1993, p. 990).  Thus, the latter account in Matthew can be understood not as an embellishment but a clarification; in other words, Matthew merely makes the identification of the young man as an angel more explicit.  Third, the inclusion of more details does not have to be regarded as embellishment, rather, it 'could simply be a matter of a later writer adding new and truthful traditions that were known to his own community, purposely filling in the gaps' (Habermas 2013, p. 477).

Concerning the apparent lack of agreement, Wright notes that first-century writers who intended to tell others what actually happened took for granted that they were not obligated to mention every event or every detail of an event.  (Wright (2003, pp. 648-649) observes, for example, 

'when Josephus tells the story of his own participation in the various actions that started the Jewish-Roman war in AD 66, the story he tells in his Jewish War and the parallel story he tells in the Life do not always correspond in detail.' 

Many of the differences between the Gospels can be explained by literary devices which were also employed by other ancient historians, such as Plutarch (c. AD 45-120) (Licona 2016).  In several biographies Plutarch frequently covers the same ground, thus creating a number of parallels and editing his materials in ways similar to the writers of the New Testament Gospels, compresses stories, sometimes conflates them, inverts the order of events, simplifies, and relocates stories or sayings (Evans, in Licona 2016, p. x).  When it comes to the editing and paraphrasing of the words of Jesus, the authors of the Gospels were far more conservative than the compositional practice of Jewish Scriptures (ibid.).  Indeed, a comparison of the paralleled periscope of Jesus' aphorisms and parables shows a high degree of stability and reliability of transmission (McIver 2011)."1

So, if Loke is right, these are at least 4 plausible explanations for some of the differences we see in the later accounts in the Gospels.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad


Footnote:
1. Andrew Loke, Investigating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ: A New Transdisciplinary Approach, Kindle. 


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Friday, September 10, 2021

Book Preview: Person of Interest by J. Warner Wallace

About the Author

J. Warner Wallace is a Dateline-featured cold-case homicide detective, popular national speaker, and bestselling author. His is a Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and Adjunct Professor of Apologetics at Talbot School of Theology (Biola University). Relying on over two decades of investigative experience, Wallace provides the tools needed to investigate the claims of Christianity and make a convincing case for the truth of the Christian worldview.

About the Book

Detective J. Warner Wallace listened to a pastor talk about Jesus and wondered why anyone would think Jesus was a person of interest.
Wallace was skeptical of the Bible, but he’d investigated several “no-body, missing person” cases in which there was no crime scene, no physical evidence, and no victim's body. Could the historical life and actions of Jesus be investigated in the same way?

In Person of Interest, Wallace describes his own personal investigative journey from atheism to Christianity, as he carefully sifts through the evidence from history alone without relying on the New Testament manuscripts.

Creative, compelling, and fully illustrated, Person of Interest will strengthen the faith of believers, while engaging those who are skeptical and distrusting of the New Testament.

Notable Recommendations 

“Every so often a novel approach to Christian apologetics comes along.  I am more than pleased to endorse Person of Interest.  What a boost to the field of Christian evidences!”

- Gary Habermas, author of The Historical Jesus

"I could hardly put the book down.  With a panoramic perspective, if offers a fascinating journey into some lines of evidence most of us haven't even considered!"

- Craig S. Keener,  author of The Historical Jesus of the Gospels

"Person of Interest is a brilliant book, I've been studying the historical Jesus for decades, and Detective Wallace made some fresh insights I have not thought of before.  I could not recommend this book more highly."

- Sean McDowell, author of The Fate of the Apostles 

To order your copy of Wallace's latest book, go here.  You can find out more about Person of Interest here

To learn more about Detective Wallace and his work, go here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad


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Monday, August 23, 2021

Apologetics315 Interviews: Interview Reflections

 

In our thirty-fifth podcast, Brian Auten and I answer the mailbag and then review the past 14 episodes and the interview guests, sharing insights and things learned.

0:29 – News from the world of Gozer
4:39 – Mailbag feedback
12:10 – The Stephen C. Meyer interview
15:58 – The Ken Samples episodes
19:17 – Katy Faust and Them Before Us
24:11 – The Michael J. Nelson interview
29:40 – The Ted Wright archaeology interview
31:45 – The rhetoric interview with Jim Beitler
33:32 – Apologetics for parents with Michael D’Virgilio
36:58 – The Molinism interview with Tim Stratton
38:41 – The Christian Enneagram with Marcia Montenegro
41:23 – Spiritual warfare reading (Karl Payne book)
45:27 – The Miracles interview with Craig Keener

You can listen here.

Find more daily apologetics resources here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

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Friday, August 20, 2021

Apologetics315 Podcast: Miracles Today with Dr. Craig Keener

 

In this interview, Brian Auten and I sit down with Craig Keener to discuss his new book Miracles Today: The Supernatural Work of God in the Modern World.  Are miracles happening today? How do we evaluate miracle claims? How do we know if witnesses are credible? Many accounts and stories of healing and miracles are discussed.

The show notes are as follows:

0:42 – Introduction to Dr. Craig Keener
6:49 – Welcome to Dr. Keener; what compelled you to write a book on miracles in the world today?
10:40 – How this book is different than his previous miracles book
11:32 – What is a miracle and how do we define them? A discussion of Hume’s definition
15:20 – What criteria do we use when assessing miracle claims?
17:39 – Are some miracle claims ambiguous? What type of miracle accounts does the book discuss?
19:47 – Two accounts of dramatic healing
23:36 – What sort of environment do these miracles happen in? An account of deteriorated hip bones being healed.
29:14 – What role do presuppositions play in how we look at miracle claims? How high is the bar for evidence?
33:28 – Does “uniform human experience” invalidate miracle claims?
37:27 – “That account is too old,” “That account is too far away,” and other objections
43:06 – Do we have any miracles on video? (Yes)
47:07 – What would you say to someone who has been praying for a miracle or healing and has not experienced it yet? A discussion on cutting edge evangelism and miracles
51:44 – Does God heal amputees?
52:22 – Responses to common “internet objections”
54:38 – What about people being raised from the dead?
59:20 – Cumulative evidence of multiple claims, and the height of skepticism; how to critically evaluate claims
1:00:17 – What would you say to someone wanting God to prove himself to them through an appearance or miracle?
1:02:26 – How has your faith been strengthened by researching miracles?

You can listen here.

Order Dr. Keener's new book here.  And you can checkout more of his work here.

For great daily apologetics resources, checkout Apologetics315

Many thanks to Dr. Keener for taking the time to chat with us!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad


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Monday, August 09, 2021

Apologetics315 Podcast: The Enneagram with Marcia Montenegro

 

In this podcast, Brian Auten and I chat with Marcia Montenegro about the Enneagram and the influence it is having in Christian circles.  Montenegro is a former astrologer who turned to Christ.

The show notes are as follows:

2:05 – Intro to Marcia Montenegro and her background
4:09 – Why talk to a former astrologer?
10:12 – Welcome to Marcia
11:17 – How Marcia got into the New Age movement and became an astrologer; how God led her out
25:19 – Is New Age fake, false or both? What’s behind it?
29:45 – Is there a spiritual dimension behind psychic readings?
30:31 – A couple stories of special knowledge from spirit guides
40:33 – What is the Enneagram and where did it come from?
59:43 – Marcia’s recent debate with Todd Wilson on the Unbelievable? radio show
1:01:10 – Is Marcia committing the genetic fallacy?
1:02:35 – No scientific evidence for the Enneagram
1:14:14 – What would you say to a Christian that things that the Enneagram is helpful and harmless?
1:20:14 – The swath of books by Christian publishers on the Enneagram
1:27:24 – More debate reflections; is the Enneagram just a passing fad?

You can listen here.

To learn more about Marcia and her excellent ministry, go here.  You can get the book Marcia co-authored on the topic, Richard Rohr and the Enneagram Secret, here.

For more helpful apologetics resources, checkout Apologetics315 here.

Many thanks to Marcia for taking the time to chat with us!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad


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Thursday, August 05, 2021

Apologetics315 Podcast: Too Good To Be False with Tom Gilson

 

In this interview, Brian Auten and I chat with Tom Gilson about his latest book Too Good to be False: How Jesus' Incomparable Character Reveals His Reality.  

The show notes are as follows:

0:30 – The Dukes of Hazzard intro
1:30 – Intro to Tom Gilson
5:01 – About Tom and his work and background
7:25 – Where did the idea for this book come from?
10:47 – A brief summary of the book
12:43 – Jesus didn’t have faith?
16:53 – You can’t make this stuff up
17:42 – What the argument is NOT and what it is
21:37 – Arguing for the best explanation
23:56 – The most common misconceptions and misunderstandings
26:27 – How would Bertrand Russell respond?
30:35 – The Facebook objection
34:13 – The book’s focus on Jesus and his character
34:36 – Positive feedback from readers
37:07 – Where to download a free chapter: thinkingchristian.net

You can listen here.

Order a copy of Tom's excellent book here.  Learn more about Tom and his ministry here.

For more great apologetics content from Apologetics315, go here.

Many thanks to Tom for doing the interview!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad


Related Posts

Book Preview: Too Good to Be False: How Jesus' Incomparable Character Reveals His Reality by Tom Gilson

Book Preview: Critical Conversations: A Christian Parents' Guide to Discussing Homosexuality with Teens By Tom Gilson

William Lane Craig on Jesus' Personal Claims

Monday, July 26, 2021

Apologetics315 Podcast: Molinism with Tim Stratton

In this Apologetics315 Podcast, Brian Auten and I chat with Tim Stratton about his book Human, Freedom, Divine Knowledge and Mere Molinism.

The show notes are as follows:

1:03 – Intro to Tim Stratton
1:41 – Why Molinism on the podcast?
3:20 – Welcome to Tim Stratton
3:54 – How Tim became a Christian
9:37 – God as a maximally great being
10:43 – Tim’s dissertation
11:18 – What does Tim find compelling about Molinism?
12:42 – The Mere Molinism Facebook group
16:14 – What is the problem that Molinism is trying to solve?
22:47 – How to briefly summarize Molinism?
23:41 – Defining terms: Middle knowledge and counterfactuals
31:39 – Scriptures that affirm counterfactuals / middle knowledge
41:53 – Why us the term “mere” Molinism?
46:22 – Can Molinism be applied to salvation?
48:21 – Does this chess analogy work?
52:10 – Objection: Molinism is not derived from scripture
58:23 – Objection: Who cares? That’s just for scholars and theologians
1:02:45 – How Molinism saved Tim’s marriage

You can listen here.

You can order Tim's excellent book here.

Learn more about Tim and his ministry here.

Find more great apologetics resources at Apologetics315 here.

Many thanks to Tim for chatting with us!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Related Posts

Book Preview - Human Freedom, Divine Knowledge, and Mere Molinism by Tim Stratton

Apologist Interview: "The Free Thinking Theist" Tim Stratton

Video: The Big Bang Theory? by Tim Stratton

Friday, July 23, 2021

Apologetics315 Podcast: Apologetics for Parents with Mike D’Virgilio

In this Apologetics315 Podcast, Brian Auten and I chat with Mike D'Virgilio about apologetics, parenting and his book The Persuasive Christian Parent. 

The show notes are as follows:

0:44 – Introduction to our Mike D’Virgilio and the topic of parenting with apologetics
4:25 – Mike’s background and how he got into apologetics
6:59 – What inspired Mike to write a book on apologetics and parenting
7:50 – J.P. Moreland’s endorsement, and the importance of using apologetics when raising your kids
11:43 – The plausibility of Christianity, and the threat of children falling away from the faith
16:06 – The importance of emphasizing the truth
18:07 – Emphasizing reality and the facts of life experience
20:47 – Embedding right expectations in our kids
23:06 – The outline of topics covered in the Persuasive Christian Parent book
25:23 – Plausibility structures, certainty, and epistemology
29:34 – Ways that we can approach bringing apologetics into our parenting
31:48 – Should we just let our children just find their own way, or are we brainwashing them?
33:30 – Loving the Lord with all our mind, AND training our kids
35:18 – Are there ways you would have raised your kids differently?
35:44 – Modeling and not being afraid to allow your kids to see you fail
37:06 – How to teach kids about controversial topics

You can listen here.

You can learn more about Mike and his work here.  Pick up his book here.

And you can checkout the resources available at Apologetics315 here.

Many thanks to Mike for doing the interview!

Courage and Godspeed,

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Nabeel Qureshi's Case for the Deity of Christ in the Gospel of Mark



Muslims often argue that the Gospels evolved over time.  Many take the consensus view that the Gospel of Mark is the earliest and that over time, the accounts of Jesus' life were embellished, and by the time we get the Gospel of John, we have a very different Jesus.  In their estimation, this is due to the fact that Jesus did not start out as God, but this idea was a later Christian invention.1

Before the late Nabeel Qureshi lost his courageous battle with cancer, he wrote a book called No God but One: Allah or Jesus?  In his book, Qureshi argues that "[n]ot only does Mark present Jesus as divine, but the very point of Mark's Gospel is that Jesus is Yahweh."2 In this post, it is my intent to recount Qureshi's argument for those interested in better understanding Jesus' divine claims and to challenge those who would argue that His divinity was indeed a later Christian fabrication.

Qureshi begins by explaining that, "[t]he more I learned about Mark, the more I realized that it was a very Jewish Gospel, written with the Old Testament in mind. If refers to Jewish sources over seventy times, with a strong preference for the book of Isaiah, and never once does it explicitly refer to a Graeco-Roman source."3 And with that foundation, he proceeds in arguing as follows:

"Mark starts with a reference to a passage in the Old Testament: Isaiah 40:3-5.  In that passage, a voice calls out: 'In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD [Yahweh]; make straight in the desert a highway for our God!...And the glory of the LORD will be revealed.' So Isaiah prophesies that Yahweh, the God of Israel, will appear, and a voice in the wilderness will proclaim His arrival.  Mark tells us in 1:4 that John the Baptist is that voice in the wilderness-the one whose arrival he proclaimed was Jesus.  In other words, Mark equates Yahweh with Jesus, saying: We have been waiting for a man to proclaim the arrival of Yahweh, our God.  John the Baptist is that man, and he has proclaimed the arrival of Jesus.

In fact, Mark combines his reference to Isaiah 40:3-5 with Malachi 3:1, where the text says explicitly that the messenger (again, John the Baptist) will appear before the Lord Himself comes to his temple. As in the Isaiah reference, this equates the Lord with Jesus.  For added emphasis, the Book of Malachi ends a few verses later by saying that if the Israelites do not accept the messenger, God Himself will come.

Thus, at the very beginning of his Gospel, Mark equates Yahweh with Jesus using multiple Old Testament references.  For the attentive Jewish reader, Mark's prologue functions very much like John: It proclaims that Jesus is God Himself.

Mark continues in 2:3-10, telling us that Jesus forgave a paralyzed man his sins. The Scribes at the scene thought to themselves, He is blaspheming, Who can forgive sins but God?  For the Jews, to blaspheme against God is an accusation that someone is not giving God His due respect, most commonly by saying the name Yahweh or by claiming divine status for oneself. Clearly, Jesus neither insulted God here nor uttered the divine name.  Their charge of blasphemy can mean only that Jesus thought Himself to be God by claiming the divine prerogative of forgiving sins.

In response, far from denying the blasphemous claim to be God, Jesus shows them His authority to forgive sins by healing the paralytic.  Not only did this demonstrate His spiritual authority, but also it reminded the Scribes, who know well the Hebrew Scriptures, of Psalm 103:2-3, which says, 'Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits-who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases" (emphasis mine).

When Scribes charge Jesus with claiming to be God, instead of denying it, He goes even further by healing a paralytic, thereby doing what only Yahweh does in Psalms.

Later in the same chapter, referring to Himself, Jesus says, 'The Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath" (Mark 2:28).  Unless we know the Old Testament well, it is easy to miss the fact that the Sabbath is the fourth of the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:8). When Jesus refers to Himself as Lord of the Sabbath, He is claiming lordship over the Ten Commandments even though there is only one such Lord: Yahweh.

In Mark 4:35-41, we find the troubled disciples out on the water in the midst of a storm with waves so high they broke over the boat and began to flood it. Amid adversity they call out to Jesus.  Jesus rebukes the wind and says to the waves, 'Quiet! Be still!' whereupon the sea is claimed and waves are hushed (v. 39). The disciples ask themselves in amazement, 'Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!' (v. 41).  By now, we should realize that Mark expects us to answer these rhetorical questions by turning to the Old Testament. In Psalm 107:25-30, men are on a stormy sea so perilous that their courage has melted and they are at their wits' end. 'Then they cried out the LORD [Yahweh] in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed' (vv.28-29).

So in the Old Testament, when men are caught in a storm at sea and fearing death, they call out to Yahweh, who calms the storms and hushes the waves. In Mark, when the disciples are caught in a storm at sea and fearing death, they call out to Jesus, who calms the storms and hushes the waves. Once again, Mark equates Jesus with Yahweh.

In another seafaring passage, Mark 6:45-52, the disciples are struggling to row against the wind. Amid the stormy waves, Jesus walks to them on the water. For those who know the Old Testament, the allusion is clear: In Job 9:8, when Job is speaking about Yahweh, he says, 'He alone stretches out the heaven and treads on the waves of the sea.' What Job says only Yahweh can do, Mark shows Jesus doing.

Having discussed the highlights of Mark 1-6, we see Mark's endeavor is clear: He portrays Jesus as Yahweh. But regardless of the clarity and multiple allusions, I was not yet convinced. What convinced me that Mark portrayed Jesus as Yahweh was the climax of the Gospel-Jesus' trail.4

He continues:

"In Mark 1:55-64, Jesus has been brought before the high priest and the Sanhedrin. Those who brought Jesus to this trail have been seeking to destroy Him since a time early in his ministry (3:6).  They hope to incriminate Him through His words against the temple, but without sufficient witnesses or a consistent accusation against Him, the trail is going awry (14:55-59). Then the high priest stands and demands that Jesus tell them who He is. It appears the high priest hopes Jesus can be incriminated through His identity claims. When Jesus responds, He gives the Sanhedrin more than they hoped for.

Jesus' words are: 'I am...And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.' The meaning of His words will not be clear to us if we do not know the Old Testament, but for the Jewish Sanhedrin, it was so clear that they condemned Him to death for blasphemy. What exactly did Jesus says? In Mark 14:62, Jesus makes a two-fold reference to the Old Testament, claiming the privileges and position of Yahweh for Himself. The first reference is to Daniel. Jesus quotes Daniel 7:13-14, an apocalyptic vision of the prophet Daniel, which states, 'In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

In this passage from Daniel, a being who looks human (one like a son of man) approaches God. Although he looks human, his entrance is on clouds-an entrance reserved for Yahweh in the Old Testament. Then the one like a Son of Man is given everlasting dominion, glory, and a kingdom, even though only God is supposed to have dominion and glory in the everlasting kingdom. Finally, this passage says that all people will serve the Son of Man, but this word 'serve,' whether in Hebrew and in Greek, always denotes a service due to God.

Thus, Daniel 7 introduces a Son of Man who rides the clouds, as only Yahweh can; He then receives everlasting dominion and glory over His own kingdom, as only Yahweh has; there, all people will serve Him with a divine service, as only Yahweh deserves. The Son of Man in Daniel 7 is a divine Son of Man. Throughout the Gospel of Mark, starting at 2:10, Jesus has called Himself 'the Son of Man,' though He never explicitly defines what He means by the term. In Mark 14:62, the climax of the Gospel, Jesus finally reveals to everyone who He is by quoting Daniel 7:13-14: He is the Son of Man from Daniel 7. He is Yahweh.

But claiming the title 'Son of Man' was not the only blasphemous act He commits before the Sanhedrin. As if to remove all doubt, Jesus also says He has the right to sit on the throne of God. When He says that they will see the Son of Man 'sitting at the right hand of power,' He references Psalm 110:1, which says, 'The LORD says to my lord: 'Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.'

Sitting at the right hand of God was a right that no one had dared claim, nor dared impute to anyone else, up to this point in Second Temple Jewish history. It implied sitting on the very throne of God, and it was tantamount to claiming to be God's heir, someone who shared sovereignty with God. According to a scholar of the Psalms, 'Sitting at the right hand of God,' ...has a very definite meaning: 'the king is installed into an associate rulership; in this position of honor in the power structure of God he becomes a participant in Yahweh's strength in battle and victory.'

After learning all this, I understood why the Sanhedrin wanted to crucify Jesus for blasphemy. When Jesus claimed to be the Son of Man from Daniel 7 and the Lord of David from Psalm 110, 'Both claims imply divine status, authority and power.' In response to the question 'Who are you?' Jesus' response is essentially: 'I am the One who deserves eternal worship from all mankind in My own kingdom, where I will sit on the very throne of God. I am Yahweh.'5

Qureshi concludes:

"After reading Mark through the lens of Jewish scripture I could not longer avoid the obvious. From introduction to climax, Mark's Gospel is an exposition of the deity of Jesus. The first biography of Jesus ever written is designed to teach that Jesus is Yahweh."6

So, when the totality of the evidence is considered, it seems that those claiming that Jesus does not become divine until the Gospel of John are mistaken. The deity of Jesus Christ is powerfully present in our earliest gospel. 

For a great debate on this topic, go here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnotes:
1. As Qureshi points out, this is also a position taken by famous scholar Bart Ehrman in his published work.
2. Nabeel Qureshi, No God but One: Allah or Jesus?, p. 252 (Advanced Reading Copy).
3. Ibid., p. 252.
4. Ibid., p. 252-255.
5. Ibid., p. 256-258.