mid-week apologetics booster (5-29-2014)

Here are a few items I ran into this week – thought I’d pass them along:

  1. Darwinism on Trial – 1:29:46 video by Phillip E. Johnson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwj9h9Zx6Mw
  2. From Atheism to Christianity: a Personal Journey Philip Vander Elst http://www.bethinking.org/is-christianity-true/from-atheism-to-christianity-a-personal-journey
  3. Very Funny video from QQFM (Quick Questions for Mormons): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzypKxr9knA&list=PL689A16786941C0CE&feature=player_embedded
  4. Greg Koukl  – Why Isn’t Sincerity Enough? – http://str.typepad.com/weblog/2013/02/why-isnt-sincerity-enough.html
  5. Evolution News – Crop Circles as an Intelligent Design Test: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2013/01/crop_circles_as068691.html
  6. http://coldcasechristianity.com/2012/is-christianity-intolerant/
  7. http://coldcasechristianity.com/2012/is-the-christian-faith-evidentially-reasonable/
  8. Evidence for a Young Earth – Very Little Salt in the Sea: https://answersingenesis.org/evidence-for-creation/9-very-little-salt-in-the-sea/
  9. The hope movie (The story of God’s promise for all people): http://www.thehopeproject.com/?language=en
  10. Why do Christians like Dan Barker walk away from the faith: http://winteryknight.wordpress.com/2013/03/07/why-do-atheists-like-dan-barker-abandon-their-faith-2/
  11. James MacDonald pouring his heart out in a 9 minute portion of a message about hell:
    http://coolgadgetssoftware.com/walk-in-the-word_2010-08-05_whats-down-with-hell-part-4_20100719163048-l….mp3
  12. howchristianitystarted
  13. howotherreligionsstarted

Enjoy and have a great week!

mid-week apologetics booster (5-22-2014)

Hello Everyone,

I sincerely hope you’re having a blessed week, living out the situations that God has you in.  I wanted to pass on a few more things to keep you thinking:

  1. I was able to find that little video that Frank Turek showed in his presentation last week on the ‘problem of evil’ and the goodness of God.
  2. Warner Wallace wrote a book called “Cold Case Christianity”.  I’ve referred to it in the class and I would highly recommend it.  His (very unique) approach is that of a cold case homicide detective.  In this short article, he responds to a criticism about his evidential approach.  What I like about this is that he takes the critic’s statement and substitutes anything that refers to the Bible or Christianity with the Book of Mormon or Mormonism – the result sounds ridiculous.  He makes his point powerfully that it was an evidential approach that both drew him into Christianity and kept him out of Mormonism.
  3. For those of you that like to hear about intelligent design and science related arguments for the existence of God, here is a good (but long) lecture given by Stephen Meyer in November 2011, author of Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design.
  4. Great C.S. Lewis quote: ‎”One of the greatest difficulties is to keep before the audience’s mind the question of Truth. They always think you are recommending Christianity not because it is true, but because it is good. And in the discussion they will at every moment try to escape from the issue ‘True-or False’ into stuff about a good society, or morals, or incomes of Bishops, or the Spanish inquisition, or France, or Poland—or anything whatever. You have to keep forcing them back, and again back, to the real point. Only thus you will be able to undermine…their belief that a certain amount of ‘religion’ is desirable but one mustn’t carry it too far. One must keep on pointing out that Christianity is a statement which, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important.
  5. 2 Free online books written by famous apologist Gary Habermas:
    1. The Thomas Factor: Using Your Doubts to Draw Closer to God
    2. Dealing With Doubt
  6. Small Section from the chapter “Hurdling Social Barriers” of a book called “How to Give Away Your Faith” by Paul E. Little:
    bookpt1bookpt2
  7. Good article on the topic of hell entitled “Why would a loving God send people to Hell?”.
  8. If you like debates, here is a page full of them.
  9. Warner Wallace quote: Christians believe that people are condemned for their sinful behavior – the “wages of sin is death” – not for what they fail to do. The quoted challenge is like saying that the sick man died of “not going to the doctor.” No, the person died of a specific condition – perhaps cancer or a heart attack – which a doctor might have been able to cure. So too with eternal punishment. No one is condemned for refusing to believe in Jesus. While Jesus can – and does – provide salvation for those who seek it, there is nothing unjust about not providing salvation to those who refuse to seek it.
  10. Here is a page that shows that large sections of the Book of Mormon were plagiarized from the King James Bible.  It shows the King James text on the left and the plagiarized Book of Mormon text on the right.

Well, that ought to be enough for you to chew on this week.  Hopefully you’ll find something interesting in there.

mid-week apologetics booster (5-15-2014)

Hi All,

I truly hope you’re having a blessed week.  Here are a few things to bring some light into your midweek:

****************************************************************

Rubber Crutches – By Greg Koukl (http://www.str.org/quickthoughts/rubber-crutches#.UnUEglNRqSo)

Everyone has a crutch.  Will yours hold you up?

When people ask me, “Isn’t Christ just a crutch?” I have a simple reply.  I tell them, “You’re right.  Christ is a crutch.  But you’ve asked the wrong question.”

No one makes fun of a lame person who uses a crutch.  So the real question is, “Am I lame; am I crippled?” because crippled people need crutches.

The fact is, everybody leans on something.  As a Christian I lean on Jesus, because He’s a crutch that can hold me.  What about you?

When I was a kid and someone told a dumb joke, we’d say, “That’s as funny as a rubber crutch.”  The point is “rubber crutches” aren’t funny.  As it turns out, though, a lot of people are leaning on rubber crutches.

The real question is not whether you have a crutch or not.  Everybody does.  The real question is, “Can your crutch hold you?”

What’s your fancy?  What is it that makes your life work for you?  A relationship?  A secure job? Your bank account? Your health? Power?  All of those are rubber crutches.

If whatever you’re depending on for security and significance can be here today and gone tomorrow, then you’re in trouble.  You’re leaning on a rubber crutch.  And that’s not funny.

Yes, Christians lean on Christ.  Call it a crutch if you want, but our crutch can hold us.

One person put it this way:  A Christian is one who has come to the end of his rope. He admits his deep need.  He knows he’s crippled in many ways, and needs help.  When you finally come to your senses and realize you’re deeply crippled and dying, Christ isn’t “just” a crutch—He’s an iron lung.

****************************************************************

A friend of mine has provided a link to this amazing, high quality video series on Mormonism:

http://www.goodnewsforlds.com/video.html

I would highly recommend it to everyone.

Here is a collection of additional links/articles I ran into this week that were interesting:

http://evangelism.intervarsity.org/how/apologetics/6-commandments-answering-tough-questions

http://winteryknight.wordpress.com/2009/03/06/how-every-christian-can-learn-to-explain-the-resurrection-of-jesus-to-others/

http://pleaseconvinceme.com/2012/what-does-the-evidence-reveal-about-the-book-of-mormon/

http://pleaseconvinceme.com/2012/can-we-trust-the-book-of-abraham/

http://pleaseconvinceme.com/2012/is-there-any-possible-defense-for-the-book-of-abraham/

https://beready315.wordpress.com/category/biblical-christian-apologetics/page/3/

http://beready315.wordpress.com/page/5/

http://www.str.org/quickthoughts/rubber-crutches#.U3IZgyiQ8dU

http://podbay.fm/show/259695657/e/1275362862?autostart=1

http://www.tilledsoil.org/apologetics-application-tips-dangers/

Have a great week and I’ll see you Sunday!  Sunday’s lesson is “Lesson 12 – So What if it’s True?”

 

mid-week apologetics booster (5-8-2014)

Hi All,

I trust that you’re having a fantastic week.  I ran into this article below (at the bottom of this post) and I thought it would be helpful.  Also here are 2 snippets (here and here) from Greg Koukl’s weekly radio program.  In one, a guy calls in saying someone is trying to convince him that the Holy Spirit is not a person based on Matthew 11:25-27 – Greg gives a very good response.  Second, Greg answers the question “If I think Christianity is true, does that make me a Christian?”.  You can get the full broadcast here:

http://www.str.org/podcasts/weekly-audio/michael-krueger-on-bart-ehrman-s-new-book-april-22-2014#.U2uAdFeQ8dU

and here are the topics:

Commentary: Christianity Is Rational and Defensible (00:00)

Commentary: Does Evil Contradict a Good God? (01:00)

Interview: Michael Krueger on Bart Ehrman’s New Book (02:00)

Caller/topic:

  1. Is Heaven a special place now? (00:17)
  2. What advice can you give to someone evaluating the arguments for the age of the universe? (00:35)
  3. Is God in time? (01:16)
  4. Is the Holy Spirit a person? (01:41)

Have a great week!

 

Here is the article:

http://www.equip.org/articles/witnessing-tips-apologetics-truth-and-humility/

Witnessing Tips: Apologetics, Truth, and Humility

Article ID: DA152 | By: Douglas Groothuis

 

Recently when I was discussing philosophy with an earnest undergraduate student, she informed me that she rejected the idea that she could know “the truth” because this would condemn everyone who disagreed with her. Since philosophers have traditionally exulted in winning arguments instead of eliminating them, I asked why she shunned victory in favor of terminal agnosticism. She explained, “If I claim to know the truth, then I must also claim that whoever disagrees with me is wrong, and that would make me intolerably arrogant.” This student was suffering from a case of dislocated humility. Instead of being rightly humble about her ability always to know truly or infallibly, she was instead humble over the mere possibility of discovering the truth. She identified the very idea of possessing truth with pride. I suggested a shift in perspective: What if we view truth as something that might be discovered by diligent seekers? Then one who claims to know the truth need not be arrogant. She need not view herself pridefully as the owner or creator of truth, but could rather behave as a humble servant of truth who wants to make it known to others for their own good. She could thus humbly enter into dialogue over the matter by giving arguments and evidence to support her views. The student reluctantly admitted that she had never thought of it that way before, and said she would think more about it. I prayed she would, because until she grasps the concept of attainable truth, she will never comprehend the identity of Christ, who is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). This encounter highlights how crucial humility is to the Christian’s apologetic task in a world steeped in relativism. On the one hand, we must place humility in the right place. We should never misplace our humility by disparaging the only thing that will ever set anyone free — the truth itself. The central claims of God’s revelation should be understood, explained, and defended. I thank the one true God that this journal and those involved in apologetics ministries are providing sound reasons for the faith and are challenging the critics of Christianity. On the other hand, ambitious Christian apologists often lose something indispensable in the very process of defending the indispensable. In refusing to jettison the idea of truth, we often jettison humility instead. We can become, as the student feared, arrogant. We may hold the truth falsely. It is dangerously easy for apologists to become prideful when we identify the truth with our ego instead of with God Himself. Instead of contending for “the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3), we may end up contending for our own infallibility. We should heed Blaise Pascal, who wrote in his Pensees (Thoughts on Religion and Some Other Subjects) that “it is false piety to preserve peace at the expense of truth. It is also false zeal to preserve truth at the expense of charity.” Several facts can point us toward the fruitful partnership of true piety and true zeal. First, Christian truth is best defended when it is held both firmly and humbly — in the manner one would hold a newborn child. It is infinitely precious and therefore worth defending; but it is a gift not of our own making. We lay no claim to its greatness or even to the fact that we recognize it as truth (Eph. 2:8-9). We know by grace that grace may be known. If we speak of “our faith” we should emphasize that the truth is not our possession; rather the truth possesses us. No one put it better than G. K. Chesterton in Orthodoxy who confessed concerning Christianity: “I will not call it my philosophy; for I did not make it. God and humanity made it; and it made me.” Second, our knowledge of biblical truth should grow over a lifetime. Orthodoxy will always exceed my present understanding of orthodoxy. The humble apologist will defend Christianity’s core claims to the best of his ability — the inspiration of Scripture, the Trinity, the Incarnation, justification by faith, and so on — while remaining open to discussion about less central and more debatable issues such as the particularities of eschatology or church government. Third, Jesus said that the meek, not the belligerent, will inherit the earth. No matter how winsome the presentation, the gospel will offend those with hardened hearts; but we should avoid increasing the offense through arrogance. Paul is a model when he says, “We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” (2 Cor. 4:7). The principles of Paul’s pastoral instruction to Timothy apply to all apologists: “And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 2:24-25). Our aim should be to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). Fourth, no matter how adept our advocacy of the faith, we must glory in the Lord and not in our apologetic prowess. Without humility, even the best arguments will ring hollow. Our aim in defending the gospel is to set people free, not to defend ourselves or acquit ourselves of all error. The humble apologist stands valiantly for God’s absolute, objective, and universal truth, even as he stands on feet of clay with an ear open to correction. Fifth, whatever our skill at defending the faith, any humble presentation of Christian truth is a powerful tool in God’s hands. The Lord opposes the proud and exalts the humble (Matt. 23:12; James 4:6). Christian humility is an arresting apologetic in and of itself. Those who with plain speech forget themselves in service of Christ outshine those who eloquently defend only their egos. Let all apologists pray with Albert Outler: “Lord, protect us from the mindless love that deceives and the loveless truth that kills.” Amen.

mid-week apologetics booster (5-1-2014)

Hi All,

I trust you’re having a great week – I am.  I wanted to pass along a few things that I thought might be helpful.

First off, here is a 1 hour 14 minute youtube video of Nabeel Qureshi speaking at Biola University on the topic of “Islam Through the Eyes of Muslims – Apologetics to Islam”.  It is basically him relating his testimony and how God used apologetics to convert him to Christianity.  This guy was a devout Muslim apologist and was accustomed to being able to humiliate Christians with questions they couldn’t answer, until he met a guy who could actually answer his questions and knew what he believed and why he believed it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P10rHuAb4MU&feature=youtu.be&t=5s

Secondly, since there was a little discussion on miracles this past Sunday, I thought I would pass along a relevant blog I wrote about my particular profession (Software Development) back in 2012:

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Analogies about God from the realm of Software Development

Miracles

As a developer of a piece of software, I completely control its behavior.  The “average” user of my software is restricted to using it in the prescribed fashion and abiding by its “rules”.  However, as the software developer – the “creator” of this software, I may know how to make the software to behave in ways that are not possible for the average user (a secret key combination to enter or a particular login ID or a particular URL parameter).  If an average user was asked if it was possible to perform certain actions with the software, they would say no.  If I were to demonstrate one of these “impossible behaviors” in front of that user they may call it a miracle.  However, since I, as the creator of the software, control the “natural laws” for my software, I can make it do anything I want – even violating (or suspending) the “natural laws” which I put in place.

In the same way, God, the creator of the universe (all time, space, matter and energy), has put “natural laws” into place.  But at any time, God can temporarily alter or suspend those laws, causing what we would call a miracle.  Miracles are hard to believe, yes, but are philosophically rational because God is the one Who put the laws into effect in the first place.

Omniscience / Providence / Sovereignty

As a developer of software, I put logging, monitoring and instrumentation into my program.  When a user of my software performs an illegal action, hopefully I have foreseen that this will happen and I put error trapping in place with notifications to the user that they are doing wrong – the program does not just “die” every time the user performs an illegal action.

As a user goes about the business of using my software, each action they perform is logged with their user ID, which component they were interacting with and the exact time down to the millisecond when the action occurred.  At any time I want, I can get a complete “transcript” of a user’s session and activities.  If the user says that the software has not behaved correctly, I can ask them what they were doing and what data they were inputting.  I will certainly be able to tell if a user is lying to me because I have the complete transcript of what they were doing.  When a user commits an illegal action or a performance problem occurs, as the creator of this software, I have designed a mechanism to notify myself that the user is experiencing troubles. Since I’m aware of all “troubles” occurring in my software, I can choose to intervene in the situation by either silently correcting the issue without the user’s knowledge (maybe making a database update or granting special access to perform an action behind the scenes) or to send a representative to contact the user or in extreme cases, I may even directly appear to the user.  Or of course, I can choose to let the user struggle with the temporary issue, knowing that in the end, they will be able to accomplish what they need to accomplish and will not be “harmed” in the process.   The user may wonder how it is that I have this comprehensive knowledge of their activities when I’m not physically present with them.  Yet, I know about their activities and problems because they are operating in the “world” of my software (my creation).

In the same way, God, as the designer and sustainer (maintainer) of the universe, is aware of all “goings on” in His universe.  He can choose to silently correct problems on our behalves or to send a representative (messenger, angel or another person) to contact and help us or in extreme cases in history, He has even decided to appear directly to us.  Of course, He is always at liberty to just let us struggle through the issue that we’re having, knowing that in the end, it will not hurt us and may even improve our character.

Get your own dirt!

Software Developers use a language and runtime environment created by a “higher power” (e.g. in the case of Java, James Gosling – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Gosling) and after having created a piece of software are of the opinion that they’ve truly created something; however, they are just re-combining existing software in new and different ways.

In the same way, genetic engineers and origin of life scientists think that they are creating new and different life forms or creating life from scratch, yet, they could not do what it is that they do without the existing materials (amino acids, proteins, DNA, and all other matter).  Those existing materials were created by God, but these scientists ignore the Creator of these materials that make their jobs possible.

This is illustrated well by the following popular story on the internet:

One day a group of scientists got together and decided that humankind had come a long way and no longer needed God. So they picked one scientist to go and tell Him that they were done with Him. The scientist walked up to God and said, “God, we’ve decided that we no longer need you. We’re to the point that we can clone people and do many miraculous things, so why don’t you just go on and get lost.” God listened very patiently and kindly to the man. After the scientist was done talking, God said, “Very well, how about this? Let’s say we have a man-making contest.” To which the scientist replied, “Okay, great!” But God added, “Now, we’re going to do this just like I did back in the old days with Adam.” The scientist said, “Sure, no problem,” and bent down and grabbed himself a handful of dirt. God looked at him and said, “Huh-uh! You go get your own dirt!”

God does not change, but does He change His mind?

When I write a software program, it can exhibit different behaviors and responses to events, user actions and data input. The program itself does not change – I write the code and deploy it and it may run for years without change, but conditional logic built into the program will cause a different response given different input.

In the same way, God does not change and does not “change His mind”. However, He has stated in His word that there are certain conditions under which He’ll behave differently based on the behavior of humans. Consider 2 Chronicles 7:14: If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land.

Notice the conditional logic in there? It could be written in java as follows:

if (people.humble() && people.praying() && people.seekingGod() && people.turnFromWickedWays()) {
God.setHearing(true);
God.forgiveTheirSins(true);
God.healTheirLand(true);
}

Also consider the story of Hezekiah in 2 Kings 20:1-6:
In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, “This is what the LORD says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.” Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, “Remember, O LORD, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly. Before Isaiah had left the middle court, the word of the LORD came to him: “Go back and tell Hezekiah, the leader of my people, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. On the third day from now you will go up to the temple of the LORD. I will add fifteen years to your life. And I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria. I will defend this city for my sake and for the sake of my servant David.’ “

This is a great case of God hearing prayer and changing His course of action.

My point here is that while it is true that God does not change and does not change His mind, He does have conditions that He has promised to respond to.

*************************************************************************

I hope this has been helpful.

 

I’m looking forward to Sunday’s class.  This will be part 2 of the lesson explaining the 6 E’s demonstrating that the New Testament authors told the truth.  This week we will be covering Excruciating Testimony, Expected Testimony and Extra-biblical Testimony.

See you Sunday!