Thursday, August 28, 2014

Video: Contradictions in the Bible? with Mike Licona

In this short video, scholar Mike Licona offers a concise answer to a potentially thorny question.

You can find more of Mike Licona's work here.

You can find more from Bobby Conway, "The One Minute Apologist," here.

Courage and Godspeed,

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Cross Examined.Org App Now Available for Your Mobile Devices

I recently discovered the CrossExamined.Org App and downloaded it to my mobile phone.  I would highly recommend it as a resource for your apologetic tool kit.  The best part of the app, in my opinion, is the "Quick Answers" that is broken into four categories: Truth, God, Bible, and the 4Es (Evolution/Creation, Evil, Ethics, and Eternity).

For more information, you can click here or search for it on Google Play, The Apple Store, or your Windows Phone.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Biologist William Provine on Natural Selection

"Natural selection does not act on anything, nor does it select (for, or against), force, maximize, create, modify, shape, operate, drive, favor, maintain, push or adjust.  Natural selection does nothing.  Natural selection as a natural force belongs in the insubstantial category already populated by the Necker/Stahl phlogiston or Newton's 'ether'...Having natural selection select is nifty because it excuses the necessity of talking about the actual causation of natural selection.  Such talk was excusable for Charles Darwin, but inexcusable for Darwinists now.  Creationists have discovered our empty 'natural selection' language, and the 'actions' of natural selection make huge vulnerable targets." [1]

Courage and Godspeed,

1. William B. Provine, The Origins of Theoretical Population Genetics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001), 199-200 as quoted by John Lennox in Seven Days that Divide the World, p. 180-181.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Wishing it Were True

While investigating the validity of Christianity, Sheldon Vanauken corresponded with C.S. Lewis to discover how he went from agnosticism to faith. Within the correspondence Vanauken wrote:

And so I wish it were true and would accept any humbling, I think, for it to be true. The bad part of wishing it were true is that any impulse I feel towards belief is regarded with suspicion as stemming from the wish

Below is the response Lewis provided. Note that wd. is for would:

And now, another point about wishes. A wish may lead to false beliefs, granted. But what does the existence of the wish suggest? At one time I was much impressed by Arnold's line 'Nor does the being hungry prove that we have bread.' But surely, tho' it doesn't prove that one particular man will get food, it does prove that there is such a thing as food! i.e. if we were a species that didn't normally eat, weren't designed to eat, wd. we feel hungry? You say the materialist universe is 'ugly'. I wonder how you discovered that! If you are really a product of a materialistic universe, how is it you don't feel at home there? Do fish complain of the sea for being wet? Or if they did, would that fact itself not strongly suggest that they had not always been, or wd. not always be, purely aquatic creatures?Notice how we are perpetually surprised at Time. ('How time flies! Fancy John being grown-up & married! I can hardly believe it!') In heaven's name, why? Unless, indeed, there is something in us which is not temporal.

Feel free to give your thoughts on the response provided by Lewis.

Both quotations are taken from Vanauken's A Severe Mercy.

Stand firm in Christ,

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering

Chapter Seven: The Suffering of God

On page 147, Dr. Keller states, “…in teaching unique to the Christian Faith among the major religions, God also made himself vulnerable and subject to suffering.  The other side of the sovereignty of God is the suffering of God himself…the main reason that Christians insist that God can be trusted in the midst of suffering is that…God himself has firsthand experience of suffering.

We can’t overemphasize the importance of this…God is sovereign and uses suffering as part of his often inscrutable purposes.  Yes, he is Lord of history, but he is also the vulnerable one who entered that history and became subject to its darkest forces.  Yes, God often seems to be absent, but Jesus himself experienced the searing pain of that absence.”

So how does the sovereign God become the suffering God?  We understand that the more we love someone, the more their suffering affects us.  The Old Testament describes God as one who loves his creation such that it grieves him when we pursue our own way.  Genesis 6:5-6: “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination and intention of all human thinking was only evil continually.  And the Lord regretted that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved at heart.” (Amplified – 1965).  Other examples can be found in Hosea 11:8-9 and Jeremiah 31:20.  It is remarkable that the transcendent God loves us so much that his heart feels pain and grief.

But then there is Jesus.  He experienced the ordinary pressures, difficulties and pains as well as weariness, thirst, distress, and grief such that he often prayed with loud cries and tears.  He knew how it felt to be misunderstood by his friends, rejected by his family and hometown and to be tempted.  Don Carson is quoted that, “The God on whom we rely knows what suffering is all about, not merely in the way that God knows everything, but by experience.”

In the final week of his life, what we refer to as the Passion, Jesus was abandoned, denied and betrayed by his closest friends and forsaken on the cross by his father.  The ultimate suffering is the loss of love, the disruption and loss of family relationships.  And we see that “God knows what it is like to suffer, not just because he sees it in far greater clarity than we, but because he has personally suffered in the most severe way possible…the agony of loss by death, the separation from a beloved…[and] the disruption of his own family (the Trinity) by the immensity of his own wrath against sin.”

From the secular view, suffering is random and meaningless, it cannot be part of any plan, therefore there can be no God who is in control of history.  Yet if God has not suffered, how can we trust him?  “If God is no exception – if even he has suffered – then we cannot say he doesn’t understand, or that his sovereignty over suffering is being exercised in a cruel and unfeeling way, or that he is a cold king who let things happen without caring about what we are going through…Because suffering is both just and unjust, we can cry out and pour out our grief, yet without the toxic additive of bitterness.  Because God is both sovereign and suffering, we know our suffering always has meaning even though we cannot see it.  We can trust him without understanding it all.”  We understand why children need to trust their parents without understanding, why cannot we trust God when we don’t understand?  “We should trust him because he earned our trust on the cross.”

While Christianity does not offer a complete explanation for why God allows much evil and suffering, it does give a final answer for it.  The bible teaches that God will not suffer injustice forever, there will come a day when all will be judged with justice.  In Revelation, chapter 5, John describes God on his throne holding a sealed scroll that contains the meaning and purpose of history, his great plan.  When asked who can open the scroll, we see the one at whom every kind of evil was thrown, who was abandoned, betrayed, denied, tortured and killed.  A wounded lamb is hardly what we would imagine able to issue Gods decrees with strength and power, yet that is the whole point.  It is a wounded lamb that cannot just judge evil, but can also undo all the damage that evil has done.

Henri Blocher is quoted stating, “Evil is conquered as evil because God turns it back upon itself.  He makes the supreme crime, the murder of the only righteous person, the very operation that abolishes sin.  The manoeuvre is utterly unprecedented.  No more complete victory could be imagined.”  He also stated, “The requirement of [justice]…that evil be punished by death…permits our Brother and Head to intervene in love and take over the debt in place of the guilty party…At the cross, evil is conquered by the ultimate degree of love in the fulfillment of justice.”  The answer at the end of history will be completely satisfying and infinitely sufficient.  As Dostoevsky wrote, “something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, for the comforting of all resentments, for the atonement of all the crimes of humanity, of all the blood that they’ve shed; that it will make it not only possible to forgive but to justify all that has happened.”

Revelation ends with the suffering of Jesus ending suffering.  No more evil, suffering, sin or pain.  Also, our future is not an immaterial bliss, but a new earth.  Christianity gives a hope like nothing else.  Secularism offers no future hope for good of any kind.  Other religions teach of a future paradise of consolation.  Christianity offers restoration.  “[Because] the joy will be even greater for all that evil, this means the final defeat of all those forces that would have destroyed the purpose of God in creation, namely, to live with his people in glory and delight forever.”

Next week Chapter Eight: The Reason for Suffering.

Until then, don’t take my word for it, read the book – don’t wait for the movie,
and have a little hope on me,

To learn more about Timothy Keller and his work at Redeemer Presbyterian Church, you can check out his 
personal website, his Facebook page or the church homepage.

Keller, Timothy (2013), Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering. Penguin Group. ISBN 978-0-525-95245-9

Friday, August 22, 2014

Richard Dawkins says aborting babies with Down syndrome is the “moral and sensible” choice.

So, we know that Richard Dawkins is okay with "mild pedophilia." [1]  Now he is claiming that aborting babies with Down syndrome is the “moral and sensible” choice.

I for one agree with Live Action President Lila Rose who said:

"It's sick and twisted for anyone to advocate for the killing of children with disabilities...Dawkins's ignorant comments serve only to further stigmatize people with Down syndrome...w
hile many people with Down syndrome, their families, and advocacy groups are fighting discrimination on a daily basis, Dawkins calls for their murder before they are even born...those with Down syndrome are human beings, with innate human dignity, and they, along with the whole human family, deserve our respect and protection." [2]

Dawkins goes on to claim he is "morally based."  However, as argued here, his atheism leaves him with no moral foundation.  In the end, if God does not exist and atheism is true, it is just as Dawkins says:
"If the universe were just electrons and selfish genes, meaningless tragedies . . . are exactly what we should expect, along with equally meaningless good fortune. Such a universe would be neither evil nor good in intention . . . . The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference." [3]
Thankfully, we have many good reasons to believe otherwise and that is what this blog is all about.

Courage and Godspeed,
Footnotes:1.  Just what is "mild" pedophilia?  All pedophilia is deplorable.  Anyone who thinks otherwise has something wrong with them.2. Dustin Siggins, Sick and twisted’: Down’s advocates, pro-life leaders slam Richard Dawkins’ abortion remarks, August 2014.3. Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker, p. 133.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Kenneth Samples Summarizes 10 Ways Christian Belief Creates a Hospitable Environment for Scientific Inquiry

1. The physical universe is an objective reality, which is ontologically distinct from the Creator (Genesis 1:1; John 1:1).

2. The laws of nature exhibit order, pattern and regularity, since they are established by an orderly God (Psalm 19:1-4).

3. The laws of nature are uniform throughout the physical universe, since God created and providentially sustains them.

4. The physical universe is intelligible because God created us to know himself, ourselves and the rest of creation (Genesis 1-2; Proverbs 8).

5. The world is good, valuable, and worthy of careful study because it was created for purpose by a perfectly good God (Genesis 1).  Humans, as the unique image bearers of God, were created to discern, discover and develop the goodness of creation for the glory of God and human betterment through work. The creation mandate (Genesis 1:26-28) includes scientific activity.

6. Because the world is not divine and therefore not a proper object of worship, it can be an object of rational study and empirical observation.

7. Human beings possess the ability to discover the universe's intelligibility, since we are made in God's image and have been placed on earth to develop its intrinsic possibilities.

8. Because God did not reveal everything about nature, empirical investigation is necessary to discern the patterns God laid down in creation.

9. God encourages, even propels, science through his imperative to humans to take dominion over nature (Genesis 1:28).

10. The intellectual virtues essential to carrying out the scientific enterprise (studiousness, honesty, integrity, humility and courage) are part of God's moral law. [1]

Courage and Godspeed,

1. Kenneth Samples, Without a Doubt, p. 192-194; this is a summary that Doug Groothuis offers in his book Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith, p. 102-103.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The One Minute Apologist Interviews Brett Kunkle on Mormonism

In these featured videos Brett Kunkle of Stand to Reason explains how we can know if Mormons believe in the same Jesus as Christians and how to respond to a Mormon testimony.

For more from the One Minute Apologist, see here.

Courage and Godspeed,

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Was the Apostle Paul Anti-Semitic?

Some have charged that the Apostle Paul was guilty of anti-Semitism because in 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 he wrote:

"For you, brothers, became imitators of God's churches in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, since you have also suffered the same things from people of your own country, just as they did from the Jews.  They killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and persecuted us; they displease God, and are hostile to everyone, hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved.  As a result, they are always adding to the number of their sins, and wrath has overtaken them completely" [HCSB].

However, this accusation clearly misunderstands the text, as the study notes in the Apologetics Study Bible explain:

First of all, "Paul-a Jew himself-was not speaking of all Jews but only of the small minority in Judea involved in anti-Christian persecution.

Furthermore, logically Paul could not have meant "all Jews," because many of those who followed Jesus (including himself) were Jews.  Paul taught that our sins are the reason Jesus died; we all share responsibility in His death (Rm. 4:25; 1 Cor. 15:3; Gal. 1:4; 1 Tim 1:15)." [1]

This is a good lesson for both the Bible believer and the Bible critic- always read verses in their context using good reason!

Courage and Godspeed,

1. The Apologetics Study Bible, see study notes, p. 1791.