Archive for the ‘Apologetics’ Category

Redeeming Words

My new blog project exists to redeem Christian terminology from misuse and misunderstanding.

Check it out: Redeeming Words

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I’ll Be Over Here:

So coming back to this particular blog doesn’t seem to be happening anytime soon. However, the other blogs to which I’ve been contributing have been revamped and that’s where I’ll be spending most of my blogging time. Hope to see you over there!

Re: Fundamentals KJV Only Debate Blog

Darrell Bock on Paul’s Christianity

Jesus was a revolutionary leader of a Jewish reform movement against religious legalism and political oppression. Years later, Paul came around and elevated him to a god-like status. The latter is the Christianity we’ve inherited.

This is the argumentation of the day when it comes to refuting Christianity. And I believe it’s fueled by man’s hatred of the Church. This is why I detest the Emergent ideas of repainting the entire faith as if we’ve got it wrong for 2,000 years. Oh believe me, we’ve gotten many things wrong. Christians have done terrible things. And I stick by the motto “Reformed and Always Reforming.” But this doesn’t suggest we’ve been duped all along. The fundamentals have stayed the same. Jesus claimed he was Lord and exalted Himself. Paul wasn’t giving anything new, just elaborating on established truth given to him by Jesus Himself.

Continuing in the stream of a previous post, here’s what Darrell Bock recently said about the Jesus-Paul connection in a recent interview with John Dickson:

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Encouraged by the Ignorance of Others

doubtYou know that feeling you get when you realize your own shortcomings are not so much greater than others’? Like the fact that the great Apostle Paul struggled with sin is comforting to us who have to fight the flesh daily? It reminds us that we’re all part of this sin-cursed world and we all have a fallen nature.

So when it comes to ignorance, it ought to be no surprise that there are people out there that are just as dumb as I am at times. And while their ignorance is encouraging, it’s also very discouraging.

Last week, I had two different episodes involving atheists. Well, I think they are atheists of some sort. Maybe agnostic. But most certainly antagonistic – toward the Christian faith, that is. Both would describe themselves as intelligent, but I was taken back a bit by two specific things that were said.

The first one occurred at a coffee shop. It’s a privately owned cafe and coffee roastery that I’ve worked out since it opened. Though I don’t officially work there anymore, chances are you’ll see me there if you visit. Last Saturday, I was putting some finishing touches on my sermon preparation for the next morning.  I came to get away from distractions at home, but obviously this was no better.

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The Sovereignty of God Conference (with amazing cell phone pics), Day 1

sovGodconfToday, the Sovereignty of God conference, put on by the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, hosted by Bread of Life Fellowship in Haledon, NJ, came to a conclusion. The speakers included pastors from New Jersey as well as James White and Eric Redmond.

Well, I’m no Tim Challies, and I didn’t live-blog it, but I’m going to give a quick recap because this conference was a tremendous blessing to me.

How refreshing it was to attend a conference that had little to do with ourselves, our circle, convention, or denomination, or that promoted anyone’s agenda. The only agenda was the promotion of God’s sovereignty – a true conference on doctrine about God. And I say that it hit the nail on the head.

This conference was much more than expounding on a particular theological position, namely Calvinism. Despite the fact that there’s so much controversy and so many pot-shots going back and forth, the purpose wasn’t to arm us Calvinists with better arguments and more proof texts. Sure, some of the debate points were mentioned, but the emphasis was on the truth of God’s sovereignty as revealed in His word and the implications thereof. Instead of leaving me with ammunition to propagate the agenda of spreading 16th century soteriological nuances, I was left with a sense of awe about our mighty God. I was also given a humility about how I go about thinking about our sovereign God, communicating our sovereign God to others, and serving our sovereign God each day.

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Christ and the Scriptures, Part III: Jesus’ Bibliology

biblecross31In the final post in this series, I want to consider what Jesus Christ personally taught about the scriptures. What our Lord said about and did with the scriptures are of utmost importance to all matters of bibliology because of the following argument, which I have tried to articulate in this series thus far:

1. The Christian faith is primarily and initially spiritual, not intellectual. The Christian is a believer because of a work that God has supernaturally performed in his heart, not because he intellectually “figured it out.”

2. Working in the person’s heart, the Holy Spirit testifies to Christ, while Christ draws men to Himself, given by the Father. This trinitarian phenomenon results in the believer’s first and foundational affirmation: that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the Son of God.

3. Since believers come to Christ first spiritually, they should come to Christ first theologically. That is, a Christocentric model logically follows the believer’s own conversion and spiritual growth.

4. To begin with the Bible, as noble as it seems, is backwards, because no one can hold the Bible in the esteem of a Christian without first being a Christian. We do not believe in Jesus because we first accept biblical authority, we accept biblical authority because we first believe in Jesus. The danger of reversing this causes us to try to squeeze Jesus into our pre-made biblical constructs. Rather, Jesus should have preeminence in our theology to the extent that, if Jesus said or did something contrary to our understanding or theological framework, we should abandon that framework to follow Christ.

So what exactly did Jesus teach about the scriptures?

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Christ and the Scriptures, Part II: Christology and Bibliology

biblecross41In my initial post on this subject, I took a step back from the answer, “The Bible tells me so” to “how do you know the Bible is the Word of God?” I hope to answer that question in this post. I also seek to expound on the relationship between Bibliology and Christology and how that relationship pertains to the Bible version debate.

We do not arrive at truth ourselves. No amount of intellect or scholarship can uncover the deep things of God. Truth must be revealed. It is revealed only by God. In order for a man, dead in his sins, to be awakened to truth, he must undergo a supernatural experience in which God quickens him to receive that truth. The prime thing to which he is awakened is the truth that the Lord Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Only those with the Spirit of God can truly say Jesus is Lord (I Corinthians 12:3). If the basis of knowledge for embracing Christ is God Himself, then the basis of knowledge for learning about Christ must be God Himself.

Therefore, before issues of eschatology, before one understands the nature of the church, before one can engage in the Bible version debate, and even before one understands his role as a Christian, the regenerated one submits to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit has done a work in his heart, and the Holy Spirit’s role is to testify of Christ (John 15:26). The Christian starts with Christ.

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Christ and the Scriptures, Part I: the Basis of Knowledge

biblecross2

“Because God told me so!” 

In contrast to a contemplative analysis of philosophical systems and the epistemic weighing of evidence, the above statement seems way too elementary to provide a basis for knowledge. However, I think it’s more accurate.

God is Truth. Jesus Christ is God. Jesus Christ is Truth. All Truth comes from Him. The basis of knowledge is God. That means truth exists outside of ourselves. It is not something we can conjure up from within, nor is it something we can attain by taking matters into our own hands. Only God can reveal truth to us.

Since man by nature is alienated from God, it is impossible that he can find truth apart from God. I think that’s pretty much Theology 101, yet sometimes we forget that when it comes to apologetics and our approach to doctrine in general.

In this next series of posts, I will attempt to highlight the relationship between Christology and Bibliology and how that relationship pertains to all other doctrine. I do not expect it to be a perfect foundation that provides the solution to every doctrinal problem. I do, however, think that having the right order in this regard will be pivotal in understanding some current issues. In particular, this will play out significantly in how I approach the Bible version issue.

I want to be very clear at the onset: this is my thinking. That should be obvious seeing how this is my personal blog. But I know the tendency for some is to look at what’s being said and declare, “well, that doesn’t represent  my perspective.” I know that. I’m using this to explain what constituted a shift in my thinking. I do believe that some out there can relate. I hope it is a benefit.

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Islam, the Religion of Peace. . .and Charity!

muslimsI read an article in the paper this morning concerning a Muslim charity. It appears that one of the largest of these charities in the United States was funding terrorism. Surprised?

We obviously should not be. Muslim charities aren’t all that charitable after all. 

But what about all that “religion of peace” talk? Doesn’t Islam mean “peace”? And what about your Muslim neighbor and my Muslim friend who appear to be peace-loving citizens?

Well, I’m not going to delve into why Islam is violent and not peaceful. You can see that for yourself with a just a few minutes of research. From the violent admonitions in the Koran to modern day terrorism, Islam is filled with hate, violence, and intolerance of the ugliest sort. Our dear friends who love peace yet consider themselves Muslims just aren’t following their religion faithfully. 

A professor of mine was able to communicate all of this in a very short lesson: he pointed to a world map and asked us to find one country, just one country, that has a dominating Islamic influence in which there is any sort of peace at all. What Muslim country has not been riddled with violence?

This rant serves no purpose other than to expose true Islam to Christians. I’m not worried about what anyone else thinks of it. But if you’re a Christian, I urge you to not buy into the lie that Islam has anything to do with peace.

Encouraging Sunday Video, 11.16.08

These are inspired by my attempt to hand a young Jewish man a gospel tract today and his annoyed response. It reminded me of a burden I had for the Jews that, by God’s grace, has been rekindled. The first one is real significant to me – it’s so cool that I found this video of the “2 Nice Jewsih Boys”, a radio show I used to listen to every week in high school.

Encouraging Sunday Video, 11.9.08

I guess it’s not “encouraging” to think about distortions of true Christianity, but oftentimes false teaching is used to stir us to think more about the Truth and cherish it more. What is encouraging is the fact that, even though liberalism is alive and well in Christianity today, conservatism is surging. Dr. Michael Horton’s new book, Christless Christianity, confronts the erosion of truth and provokes us back to the Bible.

Encouraging Sunday Video, 10.12.08

God, Amputees, and Love

“Why won’t evolution heal amputees?” was the question I asked the other day to counteract the new atheist ‘gotcha’ question, “why won’t God heal amputees?” I did not reverse the table in order to refute evolution so much as to demonstrate how empty a question like that is. As I have stated in that post, Christianity is a faith, and as such, many questions will go unanswered until eternity. Nonetheless, unanswered questions do not negate truth. 

My argument is, if there’s a worldview that must account for the pain and suffering in the world, and lack of healing for amputees, it has to be the one that teaches progression and greater complexity. That system is evolution. Christianity has consistently taught that we live in a fallen state, and sin is the cause of all the world’s ills. Regenerating limbs would be great evidence for evolution, wouldn’t it?

So it is demonstrable that the question at hand is not good for either side. It does not prove nor disprove Christianity or evolution. But as pointed out in the comments, it may have a more stinging effect on certain types of Christianity. Perhaps charismatic faith-healers would benefit from pondering such a question. In fact, as I pointed out, I believe this is the kind of argumentation that conservative Christians have been throwing their way for years.

But there’s another problem that must be addressed. The question might not disprove the existence of God, but does it do harm to the concept of a loving God?

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God, Amputees, and Evolution

Continuing in the discussion about amputees and God, I’d like to posit the question toward those who believe in a naturalistic world view. One definition of evolution says that it is a “process of continuous change from a lower, simpler, or worse to a higher, more complex, or better state.” Biologically, socially, and individually, we use the term “evolution” to denote this sort of change – a progressive, better change.

The Bible, on the contrary, teaches us a worldview that is consistent with what we see. It is well known that the Bible speaks of a curse that came upon all the world as a result of sin. The sin nature that is inherit in every individual plays out in society with effects such as rebellion and disease. All around us is suffering of the worst sort – and for the Christian, this is all coincides with what is read in the Word of God. The Bible teaches the exact opposite of evolution: de-evolution, or degeneration.

So what’s the problem?
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God, Prayer, and Amputees

Recently, there have been charges brought against Christianity based on the supposed failure of God to respond to a given request. The challenge usually begins with an attempt to pray for something that is supposedly a good thing to pray for, such as the healing of amputees or the curing of cancer. When the prayer is not answered, it is assumed that no answer came because either God is weak or apathetic to the needs of people, or because no God existed to have heard the prayer. Some even go so far as to say that this is “scientific proof” that God does not exist. A good example is a more popular video which features the question “Why Won’t God Heal Amputees?”.

Many Christians have responded to these challenges by quickly pointing out the malicious spirit in which they are given and have simply dismissed them on that basis. Many of these charges are, in fact, superficial challenges. Be that as it may, we are still obligated to give an answer. There may be ulterior motives and logical shortcomings throughout these challenges. However, at the root of it all, I believe it is a deep misunderstanding about the nature of prayer which produces such a challenge.

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Doubting Hearts Trusting God

Matthew 11:2-4
“Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? Jesus answered and said unto them….”

After all that had been said and done by the Lord up to this point, the scene was not so victorious from the perspective of John the Baptist. Being imprisoned by Herod, the voice of one crying in the wilderness was now swarmed by discouragement and loneliness. We don’t know his actual thoughts, but as John received word of all the miracles and wondrous works preformed by Jesus, it is no stretch to assume that John wondered why he remained in prison. So, he sent two of his disciples to ask Jesus a simple question. “Are you the Messiah, or should we look for someone else?”

By many, this question is said to be a “lapse of faith” on the part of John. However, there is no reprimanding in Jesus’ response. In His loving grace, He answers. What a comfort this is for all of us hard headed, high minded children of God. When we have questions our Lord answers.

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Lessons in Apologetics from Mount Carmel

Perhaps this is a bit allegorical, but I’ve noticed some parallels between Elijah’s situation and ours. He was living in a nation once devoted to the Lord, yet turned over to false religion. The spiritual climate was apathetic at best, thanks to the compromise of God’s children. He was a preacher of warning and truth in a land destitute of anything godly. While Israel was an ancient theocratic state with many differences with America (and in no wise do I say that America is the new Israel), the similarities still remain.

When Elijah contested the prophets of Baal at Mt. Carmel, he was showing to the children of Israel the glory of the One True and Living God. In a sense, then, he was engaged in apologetics: not how we think of it typically, with prepared speeches and footnotes and all, but a defense of the faith, which is the essence of apologetics:

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Agnosticism: The Impossible Belief

In the onset of the New Atheism there is a contingency of people who have reservations about the militancy of the followers of Richard Dawkins and the other champions of modern atheism. Rather than jumping wholeheartedly into the ‘Dawkinite’ camp, many direct their allegiance to a different line of thought – agnosticism.

The following is not intended to be a thorough examination of agnosticism and all it has to offer. However, I think a careful consideration of how agnostic ideas relate to Biblical thinking is needed.

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Encouraging Sunday Video, 8.10.08

Once again, we provide you with two – one for your funny bone, and one for your spirit:

Archaeological Affirmations (8/5)

Who is Nebo-Sarsekim?

A fragment of cuneiform - Tiny tablet provides proof for Old TestamentOf all the tours that are given at the British Museum, there are probably very few that include the Arched Room. The Arched Room is little more than a storage room, but it holds over 130,000 Assyrian tablets, some of which are 5,000 years old. Considering the immense number of tablets that the room holds, one is bound to think of finding anything of great significance as a pure ‘needle-in-haystack’ scenario.

However, a very intriguing ‘needle’ was found just a little over a year ago. Dr. Michael Jursa, an Assyriology professor at the University of Vienna, was studying in the Arched Room and came across a cuneiform tablet that was said to have been made in 595 BC. Dr. Jursa deciphered the inscription on the two inch tablet. His translation revealed what one reporter called, “a breakthrough for biblical archaeology – dramatic proof of the accuracy of the Old Testament.”

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A Message from Ken Ham

We’ve all heard the adage “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.” But, how often have we seen it? I have personally seen it lived out in its truest sense on a few of occasions, but none so honest, precise and Christ honoring as last night.

I attended a meeting in which Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis (AiG), was the keynote speaker. The meeting was held at a fundamentalist college that is known for its King James Only position amongst other “typical” positions that are popularly associated with fundamentalism today. To my knowledge, Ken Ham has never expressed any specific relation to fundamentalism nor to any denomination, for that matter. Yet, he brought a message that was more important than any denominational barrier. He overlooked whatever differences he had with the hosting school, as did the school with him, and a vital challenge was brought to the direct attention of God’s people.

As I watched, a vital challenge was placed before me.

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The Morality of Warning

Many preachers have used the illustration of a bridge being out to drive home the point of urgent evangelism. Usually, it is said that up ahead the bridge is out, and in order to warn people of the consequent destruction, some brave soul exits his car and begins screaming and waving his arms to warn drivers to stop before it’s everlastingly too late. From this scenario, we glean a necessary truth about evangelism: warning plays a major part in the evangelistic life.

I’d like to suggest that today we must add one more element to this common sermon illustration. Typically, we understand that in this situation, many will drive right past the preacher on the side of the road and fall miserably off the bridge. Those same people may even call that screaming preacher “crazy”. Now, however, there is more to the story. On the other side of the road, there is another guy. He is just as energetic, just as bold, and just as convinced he is right. He is holding a sign that reads: “Don’t trust the guy on the other side. The bridge is not out. He is lying to you.”

As we’ve noted before, there is a growing, offensive movement to undermine Christianity. It appears in the form of Jesusanity, the New Atheism, and other various forms of liberalism. It is not just one of unbelief – driving by the preacher and thinking he’s crazy. It is one that vehemently opposes all that Christians stand for – trying to convince the world that we’re wrong about the bridge being out. As I listen to more of this kind of thinking, I’ve realized that we’re actually accused of being immoral because we warn people of the coming judgment. Are they right? Are we immoral?

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Encouraging Sunday Video, 7.13.08

The honesty of the biblical penmen is just one of the Bible’s marks of Divine Authorship.

Archaeological Affirmations (7/10)

A few weeks ago, we published a post on confirmation of the Bible offered by Archaeology. The post was purposefully general. However, I would like to start addressing specific archaeological finds that affirm the biblical record and give us more evidence to believe. I cannot say how frequent or how consistent these will be, but I guess we’ll see.  

Evidence from Ebla

Ebla TabletTwo professors from the University of Rome, archaeologist Dr. Paolo Matthiae and epigrapher Dr. Giovanni Pettinato, began their work in 1964 excavating a site at Tell Mardikh in Syria. By 1968, they had uncovered a statue of King Ibbit-Lim with an inscription referencing Ishtar, the godess who “shines brightly in Ebla.” This was the first of many phenomenal discoveries to come.

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Encouraging Sunday Video, 7.6.08

Here’s two, serving distinct yet wonderfully compatible purposes to get you ready for this Sunday!