Apologetics Class 3/11/2018

Today in our apologetics class, Lord willing, I will be showing the following video lecture by Abdu Murray titled “Does Prayer Really Help?”

Below is the note-taking form with discussion questions I will hand out to the class:

Does Prayer Really Help?  Abdu Murray – 3/11/2018

Abdu Murray’s Testimony

  1. I thought I_________ was true, and that if it was true, you should believe it too.
  2. Relativism – “what’s true for you is true for you, what’s true for me is true for me” – Nonsense.
  3. He used to ask people, “Why are you a Christian?” Most common response, “I don’t know…”  Another common response was, “Its tradition.”  If its tradition, how do you k______ it’s t_____?
  4. Most Christians had no response to the objections Abdu would raise.
  5. Dave and Pete came to his apartment at university every Thursday to share their f___.  He grew to love Dave and Pete, because they wanted me in heaven, and he wanted them in heaven.
  6. Abdu, looking for contradiction in the Bible, comes across Luke 3:7-8 (John the Baptist):
    … do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father,’ for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham.”
    He was saying, you’re relying on your t_________ (children of Abraham) to save you, but t___________ doesn’t save, truth saves.  Abdu realized that John the Baptist was agreeing with him, and those words applied to him as well – he was in love with tradition and not with truth.
  7. Apologetics is about p_______________ – why the Christian faith is true.  It was the B___________ that got Abdu thinking about all this in the first place.
  8. May you never speak with lofty a_______________ and a closed Bible.  Use that Word of God!
  9. There are plenty of things you can lose if you’re a Muslim and you become a Christian.
  10. He began to see the beauty of the Gospel and that God is a t_____ God, when all of that became real to him, not just intellectually, but also in his spirit/heart, he gave his life to the Lord.

Does Prayer Really Help?

  1. He studied different religious systems, Hinduism, Buddhism, atheism, Confucianism, Etc.
  2. He’s convinced that the Christian worldview is u______________ t_________. It teaches us who God is, and who we are in relation to God. It conforms to reality.
  3. Does prayer help? Depends on what you mean by prayer & depends on what you mean by help.
  4. George Carlin made some very serious challenges against the Christian faith.
  5. Carlin prayed to God, and got what he wanted half the time, so did an experiment. He prayed to Joe Pesci instead. The results were the same. Therefore, he concludes, maybe there is no God?
  6. Carlin says, when you don’t get what you want, you say “it wasn’t part of the divine plan”. That’s a c_________ o__________. You’re just “talking to the wall”.
  7. In your darkest times, you may think I’ve been praying the same thing for 15 years and nothing has changed. Am I just talking to nobody? Is anybody l____________________?
  8. George Carlin presents a caricature of prayer-he only has it half right. So, only having it half right, he gets it all wrong. God is not a “Divine v______________ m______________”.
  9. The common misconception of prayer: it is the avenue through which we ask God for “stuff”.
  10. Matthew 6:7-13 (The Lord’s Prayer). Unfortunate name for it-isn’t the prayer the Lord actually prayed, because the prayer requests forgiveness. Yet we know that He needed no forgiveness.
  11. Don’t babble & don’t pray a “f______________”. God wants your heart, speak from your heart!
  12. 2 examples of short, simple prayers: 1) tax collector: “God have mercy on me, a sinner.” (Luke 18:9-14). 2) The father who prayed, “I believe, help me with my unbelief” (Mark 9:24).
  13. If the Lord already knows what you need, then w_________ a_________ Him?
  14. Prayer not just about asking for a bunch of things, but asking for our needs, based on God’s w__
  15. Plenty of things we want, but only a f______ things we need. We have way more than we need!
  16. He wants to change what we think we need to c______________ us so that we seek Him.
  17. Familiarity breeds contempt. The more you h_______ something, the less important it is to you.
  18. Abdu comes from a worldview where it is considered blasphemy to call God your Father.
  19. It is it is Christianity alone that allows you to call the One who created the universe “D_______”. It isn’t just D_________, or father, but His very name is holy.
  20. It is only the Christian faith that allows for God to be father, and yet majestic, at the same time.
  21. You begin to see who you are through prayer. You are a c___________ of the k__________!
  22. The primacy is for God’s will to be done. But God gives us our needs every day. It’s God’s basic will that you have your n________ m_____. He wants to give you more, but that’s his basic will.
  23. What needs? Food & clothing – yes, but the very next words are forgive us our debts. Our most fundamental need isn’t food, but to be forgiven. We’re in desperate need of daily f___________
  24. Every other worldview says we can f__ ourselves. Malcolm Muggeridge said that the doctrine of original sin is the most hotly-contested doctrine of all, yet it has the most evidence in its favor.
  25. If you want evidence that humans are in need of a Savior, just turn on the news for 5 minutes.
  26. If I could put your t____________ for the last 24 hours on screen for everyone, how many of you would say, “oh no problem!” or how many of you would run out of this room screaming?
  27. Jesus does not tell you what you want to hear. He says, “out of the heart comes evil thoughts, adulteries” (Matt. 15:19). i.e. you’re evil, come follow Me! That’s a terrible recruiting poster. He’s not telling you what you w________ to hear, He’s telling you what you n________ to hear.
  28. Story about woman whose only son was murdered-ended up inviting that murderer to live next to her. He was so impacted by her example of forgiveness, that he gave his life to the Lord.
  29. Your job in prayer is not to get s_________ from God, it’s to get in c________________ with God. He wants to give you character, and not stuff. He wants to change the world through you.
  30. Prayer is not about conforming God’s will to your will, it is about conforming your will to God’s will. If this is what you mean by prayer, it a______________ w_____________!
  31. Example from Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 (…there was given me a t____________ in my flesh…)
  32. Idols will eat you alive, what you need is contentment!
  33. The best thing you can get from God this side of heaven is c_______________.  What a gift!
  34. Matt Chandler w/ brain cancer – “I now get to live the faith I preach”.
  35. Have I been treating prayer as my A___ machine?  Or have I been seeking God’s will for my life?
  36. What God wants you have more than anything is to be l___________ His Son!

Discussion Questions

  1. What was the main point made by George Carlin related to prayer?
  2. Does unanswered prayer mean that God does not exist or Christianity is not true?
  3. What request that you’ve been praying to God for a long time about, where you’ve not received an answer yet?  Have you wondered why there is no answer?  Is it according to God’s will?
  4. What other Scriptures tell us about prayer?  What are great examples of prayer in the Bible? (Philippians 4:6-7; Luke 18:1-8 [the persistent widow]; Luke 18:9-14 [the Pharisee & tax collector]; Psalms 55:22; Psalms 139:13-16,23-24; Psalms 86:11; Psalms 119:11; Psalms 51:1-17; Revelation 4:11)
  5. According to Abdu Murray, does prayer work?  What about according to you?




mid-week apologetics booster (3-8-2018)

Good morning friends,

Here are your weekly links:

  1. American Atheists Hide Behind the Fairy Tale of Evolution – The American Vision: https://americanvision.org/11504/american-atheists-hide-behind-fairy-tale-evolution/
  2. Why Belief in God is a Rational Position Straight Talk with Claudia K: http://straighttalkwithclaudiak.com/why-belief-in-god-is-a-rational-position/
  3. 3 Startling Truths about the Early Church from the Pre-New Testament Texts Bellator Christi: https://bellatorchristi.com/2017/03/28/3-startling-truths-about-the-early-church-from-the-pre-new-testament-texts/
  4. Atheist Garage – Adam4d.com: http://adam4d.com/atheist-garage/
  5. The Right and Wrong Reasons to Pursue Apologetics THINKAPOLOGETICS.COM: https://chab123.wordpress.com/2013/08/09/the-right-and-wrong-reasons-to-pursue-apologetics/
  6. 10 Things Every Christian Should Know About Islam: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/10-things-every-christian-should-know-about-islam/
  7. Dinosaur Questions and Answers – creation.com: https://creation.com/dinosaur-questions-and-answers
  8. Fearfully and Wonderfully Made Part 1 | Origins :: Cornerstone Network: http://origins.ctvn.org/2012/11/12/fearfully-and-wonderfully-made-part-1/
  9. Fearfully and Wonderfully Made Part 2 | Origins :: Cornerstone Network: http://origins.ctvn.org/2012/11/19/fearfully-and-wonderfully-made-part-2/
  10. Neanderthal Man and the Bible: http://aliveapologetics.blogspot.com/2012/03/neanderthal-man-and-bible.html
  11. The Three D’s of Tolerance | Cold Case Christianity: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2016/the-three-ds-of-tolerance/
  12. Islam’s Claims of Biblical Corruption Actually Impeach the Qur’an: http://apologetics-notes.comereason.org/2014/10/islams-claims-of-biblical-corruption.html
  13. Keep Praying for Melinda | Stand to Reason: https://www.str.org/blog/keep-praying-melinda#.WpxfBOjwaUk
  14. China, officially atheist, could have more Christians than the U.S. by 2030 – Houston Chronicle: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/China-officially-atheist-could-have-more-12633079.php#photo-15118937
  15. The Impossibility of Life’s Evolutionary Beginnings: http://www.icr.org/article/10456/
  16. Science and God | Andy Bannister: http://www.andybannister.net/science-and-god/
  17. Can Christians Answer One Simple Question? – Sean McDowell: http://seanmcdowell.org/blog/can-christians-answer-one-simple-question
  18. Is Global Sea Level Rising?: http://www.icr.org/article/10403/
  19. Something Fishy about Global Warming Claims – Institute for Creation Research: http://www.icr.org/article/10460/
  20. Top 101 Theological Questions in 2018 (According to Google) – Theolocast: http://theolocast.org/blog/top-101-theological-questions-in-2018-according-to-google/
  21. Is Christianity Useful Anymore? The Younger Generations Don’t Seem To Think So: https://crossexamined.org/christianity-useful-anymore-younger-generations-dont-seem-think/
  22. Who Decided What Books to Include in the Bible? 5 Principles | The Stream: https://stream.org/decided-books-include-bible-5-principles/
  23. Are There Different Degrees of Punishment in Hell? | Cold Case Christianity: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2014/are-there-different-degrees-of-punishment-in-hell/
  24. Fact Check: extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence: http://candidapologetics.weebly.com/blog/fact-check-extraordinary-claims-require-extraordinary-evidence
  25. What does it mean to say Christianity is true? THINKAPOLOGETICS.COM: https://chab123.wordpress.com/2018/03/05/what-does-it-mean-to-say-christianity-is-true-3/
  26. Extremely Early Testimonies to the Deity of Christ: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/geneveith/2018/03/extremely-early-testimonies-to-the-deity-of-christ/
  27. 5 Ways Progressive Christianity and New Age Spirituality Are Kind of the Same Thing – Alisa Childers: https://www.alisachilders.com/blog/5-ways-progressive-christianity-and-new-age-spirituality-are-kind-of-the-same-thing
  28. How Can We Know Prayer Works? A Response to Neil deGrasse Tyson Relevant Belief: https://relevantbelief.com/2018/02/24/how-can-we-know-prayer-works-a-response-to-neil-degrasse-tyson/amp/?__twitter_impression=true
  29. Does Prayer Make Any Difference? | RZIM: http://rzim.org/just-thinking/does-prayer-make-any-difference/
  30. Why Doesn’t God Answer All My Prayers? | Cold Case Christianity: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2018/why-doesnt-god-answer-all-my-prayers/

Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. 2 Timothy 2:14-16

Blessings to you all

mid-week apologetics booster (2-22-2018)

Good morning friends,

Here are your weekly links:

  1. Two trees, one root: the link between evolutionism and Eastern spirituality – creation.com: https://creation.com/evolution-linked-with-eastern-spirituality
  2. Studying the Works of Our Creator: http://www.icr.org/article/10434/
  3. A Response to Joy Behar: ‘More People Should Listen When Jesus Speaks’: https://www.christianpost.com/amp/a-response-to-joy-behar-more-people-should-listen-when-jesus-speaks-218006/
  4. 10 Biblical Reasons Jesus Is God | Answers in Genesis: https://answersingenesis.org/jesus-christ/jesus-is-god/10-biblical-reasons-jesus-is-god/
  5. How to Turn a Conversation Toward Spiritual Things | Radical Worldview: http://radicalworldview.com/how-to-turn-a-conversation-toward-spiritual-things/
  6. Benny Hinn Is My Uncle, but Prosperity Preaching Isn’t for Me | Christianity Today: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2017/october/benny-hinn-costi-uncle-prosperity-preaching-testimony.html
  7. 11 False Assumptions about Christianity – Do you know how to graciously refute these common assumptions?: https://corechristianity.com/resource-library/articles/11-false-assumptions-about-christianity
  8. The Nature of Apologetics | SES: http://ses.edu/the-nature-of-apologetics
  9. If You’re Sick of Thoughts and Prayers Because Shootings Still Happen, You Don’t Understand Christianity: http://christianmomthoughts.com/if-youre-sick-of-thoughts-and-prayers-because-shootings-still-happen-you-dont-understand-christianity/
  10. A Lifestyle of Peace: Philosophy, Jesus Christ & Apologetics: Seven Honest Questions Regarding Christianity: A Challenge: http://www.lifestyleofpeace.com/2017/02/seven-honest-questions-regarding.html
  11. What do Christians mean when they say ‘God spoke to me?’ | Fox News: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2018/02/18/what-do-christians-mean-when-say-god-spoke-to-me.html
  12. Can There Be Any Meaning in a Universe without God? | Stand to Reason: https://www.str.org/blog/can-there-be-any-meaning-universe-without-god#.Woq9LajwaUk
  13. Why we all need to be trained in Christian Apologetics Take the test Truth, Faith and Reason: http://truthfaithandreason.com/defending-your-faith-101-why-we-all-need-to-be-trained-in-christian-apologetics-take-the-test/
  14. Greg Koukl – Tactics & Calvinism | Stand to Reason: https://www.str.org/videos/greg-koukl—tactics-calvinism#.Wo1f36jwaUl
  15. A BIBLICAL CASE FOR LIMITED GOVERNMENT – J.P. Moreland: http://tifwe.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/JP-Moreland-Limited-Govt.pdf
  16. Converting from Atheism – 7 years ago today: http://christianapologeticsalliance.com/2012/09/22/converting-from-atheism-7-years-ago-today/
  17. The war on Christians | The Spectator: https://www.spectator.co.uk/2013/10/the-war-on-christians/
  18. The Scientific Evidence for Intelligent Design on Vimeo (Casey Luskin): https://vimeo.com/77175512
  19. Does Distant Starlight Prove the Universe Is Old? | Answers in Genesis: https://answersingenesis.org/astronomy/starlight/does-distant-starlight-prove-the-universe-is-old/
  20. 7 Positive Ways You Can Respond to Criticism – Dr. Ray Pritchard, Christianity.com Blogs: https://www.christianity.com/blogs/dr-ray-pritchard/7-positive-ways-to-respond-to-criticism.html
  21. Bloody Mosquito Fossil Supports Recent Creation: http://www.icr.org/article/bloody-mosquito-fossil-supports-recent
  22. Sun Paradox Challenges Old Earth Theory: http://www.icr.org/article/sun-paradox-challenges-old-earth-theory
  23. Mike Licona explains the As, Bs, Cs, Ds and Es of New Testament reliability | WINTERY KNIGHT: https://winteryknight.com/2013/10/29/mike-licona-explains-the-as-bs-cs-ds-and-es-of-new-testament-reliability-3/
  24. Taking the Bible Literally (Stand To Reason Solid Ground – 11 pages): https://www.str.org/sites/str.org/files/Media/Default/Publications/Enhanced%20Solid%20Ground%2011-13%20Do%20You%20Take%20the%20Bible%20Literally%20-1.pdf
  25. Rubber Crutches | Stand to Reason: https://www.str.org/quickthoughts/rubber-crutches#.Wo1lH6jwaUl
  26. Highly Reluctant Jesus Follower – Of all people surprised that I became an evangelical Christian, I’m the most surprised (KIRSTEN POWERS) | Christianity Today: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2013/november/fox-news-highly-reluctant-jesus-follower-kirsten-powers.html?paging=off
  27. Spiritual Spackle: Reaching the Lost: Apologetics and More: http://spiritualspackle.blogspot.com/2013/11/reaching-lost-apologetics-and-more.html
  28. Young Earth Creation Science Argument Index: http://www.oldearth.org/young_earth_creationist_argument_index.htm
  29. My Blind Faith Failed Me | The Stream: https://stream.org/blind-faith-failed/

But the LORD is the true God; he is the living God, the eternal King. When he is angry, the earth trembles; the nations cannot endure his wrath. Jeremiah 10:10

Blessings to you all

mid-week apologetics booster (12-14-2017)

Good morning friends,

Here are your weekly links:

  1. How I Can Believe in a God Who Sends People to Hell: https://corechristianity.com/resource-library/articles/how-i-can-believe-in-a-god-who-sends-people-to-hell
  2. Taking Jesus to Work – Christian Research Institute: https://www.equip.org/article/taking-jesus-work/
  3. How Apologetics Builds a Tougher Faith | A Well-Designed Faith: http://welldesignedfaith.net/2017/12/05/how-apologetics-builds-a-tougher-faith/
  4. Atheist billboards say Church is ‘Fake News,’ cause outrage – This was interesting unfortunately, the audio is pretty bad. Frank Turek was apparently invited on Fox News for a very short debate with an Atheist. The atheist was in studio, while Frank was over skype, so his audio cuts out several times | Fox News Video: http://video.foxnews.com/v/5672661343001/
  5. Why Doesn’t God Answer My Prayers? – YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOUNKYUR-t8
  6. Were Jesus Disciples Gullible?: http://www.reasonsforgod.org/2012/09/were-jesus-disciples-gullible/
  7. 10 Answers Every Creationist Should Know | adamlickey.com: https://adamlickey.com/2012/10/02/10-answers-every-creationist-should-know/
  8. Why would a loving God send people to Hell?: https://creation.com/hell
  9. If God Exists, Why Does He Allow Evil? – Watermark: http://www.watermark.org/message/2231
  10. 10 best evidences for creation – 9. Very Little Salt in the Sea | Answers in Genesis: https://answersingenesis.org/evidence-for-creation/9-very-little-salt-in-the-sea/
  11. Mormonism Disproved – Plagiarism: http://www.mormonismdisproved.org/plagiarism.html
  12. Fishless Fishermen’s Fellowship – YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVBXrknp9x8
  13. Does Faith, Not By Sight Contradict Apologetics? The Sojourner: https://thesojourner.org/2017/12/08/does-faith-not-by-sight-contradict-apologetics/
  14. Has the Family Tomb of Jesus Been Found? – Risen Jesus, Inc.: https://www.risenjesus.com/has-the-family-tomb-of-jesus-been-found
  15. Is Apologetics a “Sad Replacement” for Bible Study? | Confident Christianity: http://confidentchristianity.com/?p=1436
  16. Marvels of the Monarch | Answers in Genesis: https://answersingenesis.org/creepy-crawlies/insects/marvels-of-the-monarch/
  17. Is Morality Determined by Its Popularity? | Answers in Genesis: https://answersingenesis.org/morality/is-morality-determined-by-its-popularity/
  18. Who Were The First Apologists? A Look At The Apostles THINKAPOLOGETICS.COM: https://chab123.wordpress.com/2012/07/27/who-were-the-first-apologists-a-look-at-the-apostles/
  19. Mike Licona vs Shabir Ally – Is Jesus God? – YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grDPJmb3gAs
  20. Blue Stars Confirm Recent Creation | The Institute for Creation Research: http://www.icr.org/article/6943/
  21. The Biblical Literacy of Teenage Believers | Theological Matters: https://theologicalmatters.com/index.php/2012/09/05/the-biblical-literacy-of-teenage-believers/
  22. Hell and the Gospel | Stand to Reason: https://www.str.org/articles/hell-and-the-gospel#.Wi0xUt-nGUk
  23. Pascal on God’s Hiddenness – Apologetics 315: http://www.apologetics315.com/2012/09/pascal-on-gods-hiddenness.html
  24. Friendship Evangelism Is Neither Friendship Nor Evangelism | Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry: https://carm.org/friendship-evangelism
  25. Seven Common Comments Non-Christians Make about Christians – ThomRainer.com: http://thomrainer.com/2012/09/seven_common_comments_non-christians_make_about_christians/
  26. As God Is Man May Be? | Mormonism Research Ministry: http://www.mrm.org/lorenzo-snow-couplet
  27. Crop Circles as an Intelligent Design Test | Evolution News: https://evolutionnews.org/2013/01/crop_circles_as/
  28. The Case for the Pre-Existence of Christ: The Birthday that was Not the Beginning: http://crossexamined.org/case-pre-existence-christ-birthday-not-beginning/
  29. ANOTHER FATAL FLAW OF NATURALISM AND EVOLUTION: http://mannsword.blogspot.com/2017/12/another-fatal-flaw-of-naturalism-and.html
  30. Army atheist yells, God save me, as shells explode – CMI Mobile: http://creation.mobi/atheists-prayer-answered
  31. Jesus Is Evidence That God Exists | Cold Case Christianity: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2015/jesus-is-evidence-that-god-exists/
  32. No, Christmas Is Not Based on a Pagan Holiday | Come Reason’s Apologetics Notes: http://apologetics-notes.comereason.org/2015/12/no-christmas-is-not-based-on-pagan.html
  33. Are Young People Really Leaving Christianity? | Cold Case Christianity: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2017/are-young-people-really-leaving-christianity/
  34. The First Question to Ask of an Ancient Holy Book: Is It Ancient? | Cold Case Christianity: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2017/the-first-question-to-ask-of-an-ancient-holy-book-is-it-ancient/

Every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the Feast, according to the custom. After the Feast was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he was saying to them. Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. Luke 2:41-52

Blessings to you all

mid-week apologetics booster (11-23-2017)

Good morning friends,

Here are your weekly links:

  1. Praying for Unsaved Loved Ones | Stand to Reason: https://www.str.org/podcast/clear_thinking/praying-for-unsaved-loved-ones#
  2. Can There Be One Right Religion? – Sean McDowell: http://seanmcdowell.org/blog/can-there-be-one-right-religion
  3. Four Differences Between New Testament Servitude and New World Slavery | Cold Case Christianity: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2014/four-differences-between-new-testament-servitude-and-new-world-slavery/
  4. 4 tremors that have made Darwin irrelevant: http://mobile.wnd.com/2017/11/4-tremors-that-have-made-darwin-irrelevant/
  5. How Do I Glorify God in My Job? | Desiring God: https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/how-do-i-glorify-god-in-my-job
  6. Forgo Kids for ‘Mother’ Earth: http://www.frc.org/updatearticle/20171116/lib-kids
  7. Isn’t the Bible Full of Errors? – bethinking.org: https://www.bethinking.org/is-the-bible-reliable/isnt-the-bible-full-of-errors
  8. Evidence For Resurrection Leads Atheist Lecturer & Writer To Christ | Reasons for Jesus: http://reasonsforjesus.com/evidence-for-resurrection-leads-atheist-lecturer-writer-to-christ/
  9. Celebrating Thanksgiving In America – WallBuilders: https://wallbuilders.com/celebrating-thanksgiving-america/
  10. Biblical Faith VS. Blind Faith | Crossexamined.org: http://crossexamined.org/biblical-faith-vs-blind-faith/
  11. How I Got 100 Average Church Goers to Attend An Apologetics Conference: https://www.apolothink.com/home/how-i-got-100-average-church-goers-to-attend-an-apologetics-conference
  12. How Your Faith Can Withstand Intellectual Assault Discover: https://cccdiscover.com/how-your-faith-can-withstand-intellectual-assault/
  13. Why the Claim Its Primitive or Infantile to Believe in God is False – Discover: https://cccdiscover.com/why-the-claim-its-primitive-or-infantile-to-believe-in-god-is-false/
  14. What Is a Worldview?: http://www.ligonier.org/blog/what-worldview/
  15. 7 Common Myths about Old-Earth Creationism Reflections: https://reflectionsbyken.wordpress.com/2016/01/26/7-common-myths-about-old-earth-creationism/
  16. Why the Mike Pence Rule is as Christian as it is Wise | The Stream: https://stream.org/mike-pence-rule-christian-wise/
  17. How does church appear to someone raised in a non-Christian home? | WINTERY KNIGHT: https://winteryknight.com/2017/11/21/how-does-church-appear-to-someone-raised-in-a-non-christian-home/
  18. Here’s Why We Should Still Celebrate the Pilgrims at Thanksgiving: http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/20/heres-still-celebrate-pilgrims-thanksgiving/
  19. False Beliefs Lead to Sexual Sin | Stand to Reason: https://www.str.org/blog/false-beliefs-lead-sexual-sin#.WhXGeMqp7qA
  20. The Most Reluctant Convert in all of England: Why Former Atheist C.S. Lewis Became a Christian: http://reasonsforjesus.com/the-most-reluctant-convert-in-all-of-england-why-former-atheist-c-s-lewis-became-a-christian/
  21. Matthew 7:1-6 Why the Confusion About Judging? | Dr. Mike Spaulding: http://www.drmikespaulding.com/?p=1993
  22. Is Religion Part of Culture? Should Culture Decide Your Religion?: http://www.cltruth.com/2017/religion-part-culture-culture-decide-religion/
  23. The Death of Jesus & the Defeat of Islam – Risen Jesus: https://www.risenjesus.com/the-death-of-jesus-the-defeat-of-islam
  24. Why doesn’t God intervene to end suffering? – YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lSm53M-54Q0&feature=youtu.be
  25. What You Can Learn From the Pilgrims – great 48 minute audio podcast from Frank Turek where he interviews Bill Federer about the history of the pilgrims (it would be great to listen to with the family at Thanksgiving): http://subspla.sh/7277698

“Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. Exodus 22:22-23

Blessings to you all

mid-week apologetics booster (11-26-2015)

Good morning,

Happy Thanksgiving!  Here are some links.  Maybe you’ll have some time to look at a few of these over the long weekend.  Especially pay attention to the first one:

  1. What You Can Learn From the Pilgrims – great 48 minute audio podcast from Frank Turek where he interviews Bill Federer about the history of the pilgrims (it would be great to listen to with the family at Thanksgiving): http://subspla.sh/7277698
  2. They Did Not Honor Him or Give Thanks — Why Thanksgiving is Inescapably Theological | AlbertMohler.com: http://www.albertmohler.com/2015/11/23/they-did-not-honor-him-or-give-thanks-why-thanksgiving-is-inescapably-theological/
  3. Celebrating Thanksgiving in America: http://www.wallbuilders.com/LIBissuesArticles.asp?id=17984
  4. Religious Roots: Not All Turkey and Touchdowns – The Imaginative Conservative. From the Mayflower Compact: Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the first Colony in the northern Parts of Virginia; Do by these Presents, solemnly and mutually, in the Presence of God and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation: http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2012/11/religious-rootsnot-all-turkey-and-touchdowns.html
  5. A (Not Too) Serious Christmas Quiz: http://apologetics-notes.comereason.org/2014/12/a-not-too-serious-christmas-quiz.html
  6. Why Do Christians Follow Some Biblical Commands and Not Others? Brett Kunkle of Stand to Reason explains how some commands in the Bible were for a specific group of people at a specific time in history. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90_ZvhdXFWo
  7. Is Mormonism a cult? https://carm.org/is-mormonism-cult
  8. Do Christians really put their friends off Jesus? http://www.premierchristianity.com/Blog/Do-Christians-really-put-their-friends-off-Jesus
  9. Honoring the 41st Anniversary of the Discovery of “Lucy,” Google Offers a Misleading Doodle – Evolution News & Views: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2015/11/honoring_the_41101151.html
  10. Why We Need to Know Facts About the Bible: http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/why-we-need-to-know-facts-about-the-bible
  11. What Is the Point of Prayer? | Reasonable Faith: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/what-is-the-point-of-prayer
  12. 121 Quotes on Why We Need Apologetics: http://www.thepoachedegg.net/the-poached-egg/2014/12/121-quotes-on-why-we-need-apologetics.html
  13. Is Jesus Really God? By Mark Mittelberg — Think Eternity: http://www.thinke.org/blog/jesus-god
  14. 911 Call to Parents of Christian Kids in College: Get the EpiPen Ready: http://ratiochristi.org/boosters/blog/post/911-call-to-parents-of-christian-kids-in-college-get-the-epipen-ready/3806#.VlYuFb3n_qC
  15. What are the historical arguments for the empty tomb story? (includes video debate): http://winteryknight.com/2015/07/24/what-are-the-historical-arguments-for-the-empty-tomb-story-2/
  16. Grounded in the Gospel | Zeitgeist: http://groundedinthegospel.com/blog/zeitgeist
  17. Dare to be a Daniel? https://www.worldmag.com/mobile/article.php?id=35120
  18. Earth-like planet hyped by science-fiction-crazed atheists likely uninhabitable | WINTERY KNIGHT: http://winteryknight.com/2015/11/20/earth-like-planet-hyped-by-science-fiction-crazed-atheists-likely-uninhabitable/
  19. The Reliability of the New Testament | Stephen J. Bedard: http://www.stephenjbedard.com/reliability-new-testament/
  20. What Distinguishes a Text as Scripture? Authority Matters: http://apologetics-notes.comereason.org/2015/05/what-distinguishes-text-as-scripture.html
  21. Are Moral Truths An Illusion? http://crossexamined.org/are-moral-truths-an-illusion/
  22. Nancy Pearcey’s mission to reinvigorate the evangelical mind – On Faith & Culture: http://jonathanmerritt.religionnews.com/2015/06/10/nancy-pearcey-apologetics-influential/
  23. Inclusivism: http://www.str.org/articles/when-catholicism-hinders-the-gospel
  24. An Intro to Dismantling Alleged Discrepancies | A Clear Lens: http://clearlens.org/2015/11/18/an-intro-to-dismantling-alleged-discrepencies/
  25. Refugee Cost to bring them here vs. taking care of them where they’re at: https://www.afa.net/the-stand/immigration/2015/11/what-are-we-to-do-about-refugees/
  26. Two Things Terrorist Attacks Do NOT Tell Us About Religion: http://christianmomthoughts.com/two-things-terrorist-attacks-do-not-tell-us-about-religion/
  27. 10 Things Every Christian Should Know About Islam: http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/10-things-every-christian-should-know-about-islam
  28. The Rise of Islam: http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/rise-islam/
  29. Nabeel Qureshi (ex-Muslim, turned Christian apologist) – My response to the Paris Attacks: we need love and truth. Love for Muslims, but the truth about Islam: https://www.facebook.com/NabeelQureshi.RZIM/videos/1056491281038365/
  30. Generic view of religion undermines ability to respond to theological significance of Paris attacks: http://www.albertmohler.com/2015/11/19/the-briefing-11-19-15/
  31. What percentage of Muslims approve of radical Islam and terrorism? | WINTERY KNIGHT: http://winteryknight.com/2015/11/18/what-percentage-of-muslims-approve-of-radical-islam-and-terrorism/
  32. What Islam is Not (Video): https://shariaunveiled.wordpress.com/2013/06/02/what-islam-is-not-video-2/
  33. Do You Think Homosexuality Is Wrong? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBHodHT3pOk
  34. God Is Unchanging; Believe It – David Limbaugh: http://m.townhall.com/columnists/davidlimbaugh/2015/11/20/god-is-unchanging-believe-it-n2083010
  35. Saudi court sentences poet to death for renouncing Islam: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/20/saudi-court-sentences-poet-to-death-for-renouncing-islam

Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.  (John 20:30-31)

What is the Point of Prayer?

The following is a question from the Reasonable Faith site:

Dear Dr. Craig,

I have recently moved on from Christianity to agnosticism, but I regularly check out your Q and A section as much of the content there is more sensible and thought provoking than the kind of thing I hear from a lot of Evangelicals.

So I figured that if there even is a satisfactory answer to my enquiry, you’d know about it.

My question is this: what is the point of prayer? Here prayer is defined as an attempt to communicate with God.

God either can read our thoughts or he cannot. If he can read our thoughts, there is surely no need to try to transmit or broadcast them to him as he already knows what they are. If he cannot read our thoughts, then any thought-based effort to contact him is futile. It doesn’t matter what type of prayer it is (e.g. petition, thanksgiving, repentance), there is no point in making any effort to send it up to him.

Of course, Christianity generally holds that God is omniscient and therefore able to read our thoughts, so the first of these scenarios would be the applicable one. The characteristic of omniscience makes the concept of prayer all the more redundant as it means God already knows any information that might be communicated to him, and exactly what the best thing is to do about it, so prayer could not in any way influence his decisions.

I am well aware that the Bible commands us to pray in numerous instances, but in the light of this argument this strikes me as an incredibly arbitrary thing for a good God to command, and thus makes the reliability of the Bible all the more questionable to me.

Currently it seems to me that the idea of prayer is most sensibly explained as an addictive placebo that gives people a greater sense of control over their circumstances than they actually have.

But just maybe there’s something crucial I’ve missed, and if so I would be grateful if you could point out what that might be.


Joe, United Kingdom

Read WLC’s answer at: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/what-is-the-point-of-prayer

Below is my answer.

Hi Joe,

I’m glad that you’re still thinking about Christianity. That shows that God is still working in your life!

I will attempt to answer your question by making a few points. Please note that since your question is an internal critique of the Christian worldview, my answer will include liberal use of Scripture to make my case:

God wants us to pray to Him

You say “I am well aware that the Bible commands us to pray in numerous instances”. You are correct – the Bible says:

Be joyful always. Pray continually. Give thanks in all circumstances. For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

But the fact of the matter is that, yes, God commands us to pray, but He also wants to hear from His children. The book of Isaiah says “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD” (Is. 1:18). The Bible describes our relationship with God as that of a little child to a father (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6). It says we are members of God’s household (Eph. 2:19). That’s a good analogy, because most of us can relate to an earthly father and what our relationship with him is like. Our earthly fathers were not perfect, but we all have a sense of how they’re supposed to act.

You say “If he can read our thoughts, there is surely no need to try to transmit or broadcast them to him as he already knows what they are”. Jesus even says God knows what we need before we ask Him:

Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. (Matt. 6:8b)

And He promises to meet all our needs:

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:19)

But think about this… In a similar way that we know that a human father often knows what his child wants, but nevertheless, he wants her to ask him for it, God knows what we want and need, but still wants us to ask Him for it. The child stares at the cookie jar and starts to walk towards it. The father knows she wants a cookie. He plans to give her a cookie – IF SHE ASKS FOR IT. He still wants her to ask for it, even though he knows that she wants it and plans to give it to her. A human father does not want to just give a child something she wants with no opportunity to communicate with her. The human father knows what she wants, but he desires to have a relationship (fellowship) with her. He loves her and enjoys her company. He wants her to love not only the gift, but also the Giver.

Prayer can change God’s course of action

You say “prayer could not in any way influence his decisions”. The Bible does say God does not change (Malachi 3:6; James 1:17; Hebrews 13:8). That does not, however, mean that God does not have conditions established upon which He may change His actions. In fact, the Old Testament explains a conditional statement where God will act in a certain way depending on our actions:

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 will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chron. 7:14)

Notice the “if/then” logic in that statement from God… If His people do 4 things:

  1. humble themselves
  2. pray
  3. seek His face
  4. turn from their wicked ways

Then and only then will He promise to do the following 3 things:

  1. Hear from heaven
  2. Forgive their sin
  3. Heal their land

So, at least in that situation, God is making it clear that we human beings can influence His decisions and course of action. In several other places, the Bible records that prayer actually did influence God’s decisions. Here are several examples:

They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!” Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. The LORD said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived. (Numbers 21:4-9)

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’ “I have seen these people,” the LORD said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.” But Moses sought the favor of the LORD his God. “O LORD,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.'” Then the LORD relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened. (Exodus 32:7-14)

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.‘” (2 Kings 20:1-6)

So, it is clear that the Bible is reporting that prayer can influence the decisions and actions of God. The half-brother of Jesus, James, writes:

The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. (James 5:16b)

However, that does not mean that prayer always changes God’s course of actions. One notable example is Jesus praying on the Mount of Olives on the night of His arrest:

Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. (Luke 22:42-44)

Now, I’m sure that you’re aware that Jesus was praying here that He wouldn’t have to undergo the suffering and excruciating death on the cross (“this cup”) that was shortly to come. But it is clear that His prayer was answered with no, because He was ultimately beaten, mocked, scorned and crucified. So, if God the Father can say no to God the Son, we have evidence that although a “righteous man” is praying, God may still answer no. The book of Acts tells us that all of this happened according to God’s set purpose and foreknowledge, because God had His plan, which was ultimately the best plan. As Peter tells the crowd on the day of Pentecost:

Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. (Acts 2:22-24)

God even hears the prayers of people who don’t yet know His Son:

At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!” Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked. The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.” When the angel who spoke to him had gone, Cornelius called two of his servants and a devout soldier who was one of his attendants. He told them everything that had happened and sent them to Joppa. (Acts 10:1-8)

This centurion did not know Jesus. When Simon Peter came to his house, he told the centurion about the salvation that was available through faith in Jesus (Acts 10:23-48).

So, based on the record of the Scriptures, we can safely conclude that prayer does sometimes change God’s course of action. There is even extra-biblical evidence that prayers are answered. See the 2 volume set “Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts” by Craig Keener (http://www.amazon.com/Miracles-Credibility-New-Testament-Accounts/dp/0801039525/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1448460264&sr=1-1).

Prayer changes the person praying

Finally, prayer is something that is good for the person praying. When you pray to God and trust that He is hearing you and has your best interests in mind, just this act of praying can reduce or eliminate your anxieties. The psalmist says:

Cast your cares on the LORD and He will sustain you. He will never let the righteous fall. (Psalms 55:22)

And the Apostle Paul writes:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

Jesus says:

Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:28)

I’ve personally experienced great healing by praying for those who mistreat me. This also seems to be supported scientifically:

  1. Prayer Improves self-control
  2. Prayer makes you nicer
  3. Prayer makes you more forgiving
  4. Prayer increases trust
  5. Prayer offsets the negative health effects of stress

(For more specifics on these 5 points, see the article 5 Scientifically Supported Benefits of Prayerhttps://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/more-mortal/201406/5-scientifically-supported-benefits-prayer)