Saturday, December 20, 2014

Movie Reflection: Exodus- Gods and Kings

I just got back from the 8:45 pm showing of "Exodus: Gods and Kings" starring Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton.  I went into the movie with many questions and below are some of the answers I discovered while viewing the film.

Will Christian Bale use his Batman voice as Moses?

Sadly, no.  Imagine- "Let my people go..." in that voice!

Will the movie honor the biblical narrative?

There were scenes in the movie that were breathtaking.  The enslavement of the Hebrews was portrayed on a very large scale and the 10 plagues issued by God were very well done.  However, that was about it.  Director Ridley Scott has admitted to not believing the biblical narrative and this movie is a reflection of that.  Naturalistic explanations are offered for the 10 plagues and we really don't get a parting of the Red Sea, but more of a lowering of the Red Sea.  Moreover, Moses' encounter with God at the burning bush was most disappointing.

The Moses we encounter in this film is much different than the biblical Moses.  This Moses wields a sword and is a warrior.  He doesn't come before Ramses as recorded in the Bible, but sneaks up on him at night and holds a sword to his throat.

When I see a biblical movie I don't expect it to follow every jot and tittle, but this movie went far beyond creative license and bordered on silly at times.  So, did it honor the biblical narrative?  No. Not even close.

How will the movie represent God?

God is represented as a petty, vengeful brat at times.   He actually appears to Moses throughout the film in the form of a 10 year old boy.  Moreover, He is aloof and far off and doesn't clearly communicate with Moses.  Moses is often times left trying to figure out what is going on and just making educated guesses.  For example, when the 10th plague is coming, the death of the firstborn son, Moses instructs his people to kill a lamb and sprinkle the blood on the doorposts.  Then he says, "If I'm wrong pity the lamb.  If I'm right, we will bless them for all eternity."  I'm fairly sure Moses know exactly was was going on there!

Let us just say that God was represented in a way that would have pleased Richard Dawkins.

Will the movie be entertaining?

I found the movie to be dull and uninspired.

Conclusion

I went to the film with an agnostic friend of mine and his girlfriend.  During the drive home I said, "I believe the account in Exodus.  I think we have good reason to trust the account and if God exists,  miracles are possible.  However, I understand Ridley Scott does not believe the account, but let us assume, for the sake of argument, that the Old Testament is just a book of stories.  These 'stories' have inspired people for thousands of years.  Why not honor that fact by representing them fairly and accurately?"

This movie was truly a missed opportunity.  Scott and crew have managed to take one of the most beloved and inspiring narratives ever written and transform it into an dull and sluggish tale.  I guess truth really is better than fiction!

If you have any questions about the film, please feel free to ask in the comments.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Friday, December 19, 2014

Charlie Campbell on the Deity of Christ

“The Jehovah’s Witnesses, having been misled and misinformed by their leaders, continue to persuade people that the deity of Christ was a late invention by false teachers in the fourth century at the Council of Nicaea. Nothing could be further from the truth. In addition to the testimony of the Old Testament prophets (e.g., Isaiah 9:6), the disciples (e.g. John 20:28), and Christ Himself (John 8:58)—all who affirmed the deity of the Messiah—there is also the testimony of the church fathers in the second century, long before the fourth century Council of Nicaea. Men like Ignatius (A.D. 30 – 98 or 117), Justin Martyr (A.D. 100 - 165), Irenaeus (A.D. 120-202), and Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 150 - 215), over and over in their writings, affirm that Jesus was God incarnate.” [1]



Courage and Godspeed,

Chad

Footnote:
1. Taken from Always Be Ready, Apologetic Quotes Worth Thinking About.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Video: How Can Pastors Equip Their Churches to Defend the Faith?


For more from J. Warner Wallace, see here.

For more from the One Minute Apologist, see here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

An Interview with Joel Furches

Joel Furches, author of Christ-Centered Apologetics: Sharing the Gospel with Evidence, took time out to answer a few of our questions about apologetics and his new book.

Q: Can you tell us how you got involved in apologetics and how long you have been doing it?


I grew up in a pretty sheltered Christian environment. I went to a Christian School, to church, and vacationed at Christian resorts. All my friends and all of the friends of our family were Christians.

Of course, when I went to college, my parents helped me pick a Christian College.

So in my first Bible class in my freshman year, when my professor opened the Bible and began to talk about how the Old Testament was a compilation of Babylonian and Egyptian myths edited, and re-written over generations by a number of Hebrew scholars hundreds of years after the fact, all of which had different agendas, I was completely unprepared for this.

I couldn't understand how my college professors called themselves Christian, and yet did not actually believe the Bible.

During my four years at college, I encountered a flood of denominational differences and a variety of different scientific and scholarly views on the Bible which made me realize that I was woefully ignorant regarding the knowledge that undergirds Christian beliefs.

While these experiences did not cause me to “lose faith,” they did leave me hungry for any kind of teaching that could tell me more about whether science, philosophy, and history gave any support to the things I had been taught my entire life.

Sadly, I didn't know about Apologetic material, and it didn't seem to be available as I was looking. Consequently, I languished in a kind of spiritual wasteland for a number of years. I wanted material that would teach me these things, but I could find little or nothing in the way of resources.

This all changed in a pretty unexpected way: when I got my first smartphone. The phone came with a podcast application which gave me access to a broad catalogue of podcasts that actually discussed the scholarship and science behind Christianity.


I subscribed to as many of these channels as I could, and spent all of my drive-time and down time listening to these. I began to purchase the books that they recommended and read through these.
In 2011, I found a freelance writing job for The Examiner. I originally subscribed to write a column on music, however that position wasn’t open. In searching for open positions, I was surprised to find that they wanted a local column on Christian Apologetics. I didn't go looking for this writing position; it found me.

I was actually uniquely qualified to write on Christian Apologetics.  My childhood, while not very informative in the Apologetics of Christianity, did give me a tremendous knowledge of scripture. My college experience had given me a solid education in liberal theology and Higher Criticism, and my personal study had given me a comprehensive knowledge of arguments coming from an atheistic worldview.

I have a strong background in psychology and sociology – as these were my primary areas of study in school.

This is how I began writing in the field of Apologetics.  My work with The Examiner served as a gateway into other apologetics and scholarly writing. For about two years, I wrote for Bible Translation Magazine during which time I contributed material about Biblical Criticism to a book published by the same company. I have also written guest columns for several other publications, been interviewed on a radio show about Apologetics, and I’ve even had one of my articles featured by an atheist radio show which attempted to disprove my argument.

Q: You just released your first book.  Tell us about that experience.

This project didn’t originally begin as a book. I had approached my church about teaching an adult class in Apologetics, and they had agreed. In looking through pre-existing curricula, I was not really satisfied by anything out there, and decided to write my own. In outlining, researching, and writing up the class, I prepared the framework for the book.

With the amount of material I had, I knew I could easily use the course as material for a book, and so I ran the idea past my editor at Bible Translation Magazine. He told me he would definitely publish it once I was done, so I began shaping it into a book.

The writing was relatively easy. I am an experienced writer, and I had all the raw material I needed to make the book a reality. The hardest part was going back through my research and referencing all of my sources.

Once I had a book, I submitted it to my editor at BTM.  After some minor disagreements over things like the title and format, my editor told me that he would not publish my book.  This was upsetting because I would not have put so much time and work into the project if I didn’t know for certain it was going to be published.

I began shopping it around to other publishers, and was picked up by CrossLink. Ultimately, this is the best thing that could have happened. BTM is a small-time operation which is essentially self-publishing. CrossLink is a major Christian publisher.  This reflects the quality of the material and writing in the book.

Q: In your book you offer a defense of the Gospels.   What are some of the reasons that have led you to the conviction that they are reliable?

In all honesty, the thing that impresses me most about the Gospels is the wisdom and authority with which Jesus speaks. It is astounding every time I read it. That a man from the first century could argue with the genius that Jesus possessed, and that his ministry could speak to people at all levels of education and intelligence across all cultures is the testimony which convinces me of their truth.

I don’t think that this is necessarily a bad apologetic argument, either. One would expect a book inspired by God to speak to the broadest possible audience, as the Bible seems to do. In fact, it is historically true that the Bible has been the most influential book in all of history – so much so, that all Western religious texts – from the Qu'ran to the Book of Mormon, even the Satanic Bible – live on its borrowed capital.

That this is backed by the hefty scholarship that I outline in my book makes it all the more persuasive.

Q: There are numerous apologetics books on the market.  What makes your book unique?

Apologetics is a fascinating and diverse field which covers a staggering range of topics and fields of thought. Christians who become heavily involved in Apologetics have no end of resources and interests that they can explore.

But Apologetics is not just a tool to appeal to the intellectual Christian: it is primarily a field intended to make the case for the truth of Christianity to a skeptical world. And the ultimate reason for a Christian to participate in conversations with non-Christians is to introduce them to Christ – in other words, Evangelism.

I would challenge anyone who is “into Apologetics” to think of the last time they had a conversation with a skeptic. How did that go? What did that look like? Did the discussion focus on the Gospel of Christ? Did the discussion even mention Christ?

On the same token, I would ask any person who does not know much about Apologetics to recall the last time they talked about their faith with a non-believer. Did they encounter roadblocks or challenges that prevented them from sharing the Gospel?

Evangelism and Apologetics should go hand-in-hand. Historically, they always have. When one looks at the Apostles and Evangelists in the New Testament, they share their Gospel with Apologetics.

My book focuses Apologetics where it always should have been focused: On Christ. Moreover, my book instructs the Evangelist in how to use evidence and reason as the mechanism through which they can communicate the Gospel message.

Q: What should readers expect to walkaway with after reading your book?

The reader will walk away with an extremely thorough case for the reality of the Biblical Jesus; backed with arguments and evidence under their belt.

Better still, my book discusses methods to speak to the cynical and skeptical culture in which we now live. It describes techniques and pitfalls that will allow them to communicate without combat, and to speak sympathetically instead of antagonistically.

A person who studies my book will be thoroughly equipped to share their faith with the confidence that history and scholarship provide.

To order Joel's new book, go here.

To checkout Joel on The Examiner, see here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Is Our Universe Simply the Winner of a Universe Lottery?

One formulation of the design argument for God's existence is as follows:

1. The fine-tuning of the universe is due to either physical necessity, chance, or design.
2. It is not due to physical necessity or chance.
3. Therefore, it is due to design.

Sometimes skeptics will offer a lottery example in order to justify the chance alternative.  In his book On Guard, William Lane Craig illustrates how this claim might sound:

"In a lottery where all the tickets are sold, it's fantastically improbable that any one person should win, yet somebody has to win!  It would be unjustified for the winner, whoever he may be, to say, 'The odds against my winning were twenty million to one.  And yet I won!  The lottery must have been rigged!'

In the same way, they say, some universe out of the range of possible universes has to exist.  The winner of the universe lottery would also be unjustified to think that because his universe exists, this must have been the result of design, not chance.  All the universes are equally improbable, but one of them, by chance, has to win." [1]

Dr. Craig goes on to explain why the above analogy betrays a misunderstanding of the design argument:

"Contrary to popular impression, the argument for design is not trying to explain why this particular universe exists.  Rather, it's trying to explain why a life-permitting universe exists.  The lottery analogy was misconceived because it focused on why a particular person won.

The correct analogy would be a lottery in which billions and billions and billions of white ping-pong balls were mixed together with just one black ping-pong ball, and you were told that one ball will be randomly selected out of the horde.  If it's black, you'll be allowed to live; if it's white, you'll be shot.

Now notice that any particular ball that is randomly selected is equally improbable: No matter which ball rolls down the chute, the odds against that particular ball are fantastically improbable.  But some ball must roll down the chute.  This is the point illustrated by the first lottery analogy.  That point, however, is irrelevant because we're not trying to explain why this particular ball was picked.

The crucial point is that whichever ball rolls down the chute, it is overwhelmingly more probable that it will be white rather than black.  Getting the black ball is no more improbable than getting any particular white ball.  But it is incomprehensibly more probable that you will get a white ball instead of a black one.  So if the black ball rolls down the chute, you certainly should suspect that the lottery was rigged to let you live.

So in the correct analogy, we're not interested in why you got the particular ball you did.  Rather we're puzzled by why, against overwhelming odds, you got a life-permitting ball rather than a life-prohibiting ball.  That question is just not addressed by saying, 'Well, some ball  had to be picked!'

In the same way, some universe has to exist, but whichever universe exists, it is incomprehensibly more probable that it will be life-prohibiting rather than life-permitting.  So we still need some explanation why a life-permitting universe exists." [2]

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnotes:
1. William Lane Craig, On Guard, p. 114.
2. Ibid., 114-116.

Monday, December 15, 2014

HBU Podcast: Christians Don't Need to Be Dumb

In this podcast, Dr. John Mark Reynolds sat down with Dr. Philip Nation and Dr. Jeremiah Johnston to speak on this issue and how it relates to Christian publishing.

Stand firm in Christ,
Chase