Sunday, October 04, 2015

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Debate Video: David Wood vs. Shabir Ally- "Is Jesus the Son of God?"

This video features the first of six debates between Christian David Wood and Muslim Shabir Ally.

Their fifth debate will take place Monday, October 5 at 6:30 (EST).  

You can learn about their debate series here.

Courage and Godspeed,

Friday, October 02, 2015

How Does One Develop the Mind?

During the recent intro sermon to the "Foundations" series at my home church, the congregation was challenged with the question "How does one aim to be transformed by the renewing of the mind?"

J.P. Moreland gives some good suggestions in the article below taken from the Apologetics Resource Center:

First, it is a mind that has formed the habit of being focused on God constantly throughout the day. It is a mind preoccupied with God and directed regularly towards Him in prayer and meditation (Ps 16:8; Is 26:3, Lk 18:1; Ro 12:12; 1Th 5:16-18). But how can one do this and still perform one’s daily tasks? Fortunately, people can do more than one thing at the same time. While driving a car or centering one’s attention on some other task, one can still be aware of God in the boundaries of one’s attention. And one can bring God to the center of prayerful focus at various times throughout the day. There are two habits that facilitate focusing on God constantly. First, memorize four or five Bible passages that really speak to you. Now make it a practice to pray these passages to the Lord all throughout the day. As you pray through a passage phrase by phrase, use it to pray about things of concern to you. Second, regularly ponder these passages or other scriptural readings, thinking of what they mean. of how you can internalize them, and how you can promote them to others.
The second aspect of a mature Christian mind is one that sees all of life in light of a Christian worldview and is growing in intellectual excellence. A worldview is the sum total of the things one believes, especially in regards to reality, truth, knowledge and value. A Christian worldview is a biblically grounded set of beliefs about all of life, from work, recreation, and finances, to God, life after death, and morality. One tries to think of all of life in light of the teachings of Holy Scripture and, more specifically, of the Lord Jesus. There is no secular/sacred separation in such a mind. All of life is an occasion for discipleship and worship for a mature Christian mind. Further, an intellectually excellent mind is one that is informed, that makes important distinctions when a less mature mind fails to do so, and that develops deeper and deeper insights into issues of importance. To develop such excellence, one must regularly read and expose oneself to excellent teaching. Try to tread books that are a bit challenging to understand. One must also be willing to engage others – believers and unbelievers – in conversations about important worldview issues. Such regular practice, if combines with a growing ability to listen non-defensively, will bring motivation and opportunity for regular growth in intellectual excellence.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Bill Nye the Abortion Choice Guy, Pt. 1

Bill Nye may be known as the "science guy," but he is unbelievably ignorant when it comes to the issue of abortion. In a recent viral video, Nye's arguments were so bad that we decided to respond to each one.  We will take each claim in the order they appear in the video.

Claim #1: Human embryos should not be protected by law, because many of them perish from natural causes before they implant in the womb.

Response: James D. Agresti of Life News responds to this claim appropriately:

"That statement is irrelevant to the issue of abortion, just as the statement that “all people eventually die” is irrelevant to the issue of murder. Both of these issues are about people actively ending the lives of others, not nature taking its course." [1]

Agresti also goes on to point out that Nye's logic and his use of the phrase "didn't become a human"suggests that Nye does not believe that life begins at fertilization and this is absolutely contrary to modern science.  

Agresti explains:

"The science of biology has revealed that there are four empirical attributes of life (growth, reproduction, metabolism, and response to stimuli), and the science of embryology has shown that all of these are present at fertilization.

Furthermore, the sciences of genetics and embryology have proven that the genetic composition of humans is formed during fertilization, and as the textbook Molecular Biology explains, this genetic material is “the very basis of life itself.”

In accord with these facts, the medical textbook Before We Are Born: Essentials of Embryology and Birth Defects states: “The zygote and early embryo are living human organisms.” And an organism, in the words of Webster’s College Dictionary, is 'any individual life form considered as an entity.'" [2]

The irony of Nye's video is that he implores us to "respect the facts."  We implore Mr. Nye to take his own advice.

In the next "Bill Nye the Abortion Guy" post we will deal with Nye's ridiculous claim that opposition to abortion is based on an “interpretation of a book written 5,000 years ago” that makes people “think that when a man and a woman have sexual intercourse they always have a baby.”

Courage and Godspeed,

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Trinity Is Not a Contradiction

I found this concise explanation at via The Gospel Coalition:

Classically the Trinity was defined in these terms:

God is one in essence and three in person.

I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard or seen this formulation described as a “contradiction.” Why is it called a contradiction? We are accustomed to thinking in terms of “One person equals one essence.” This equation may be a convenient one, but it’s not a rationally necessary one. The Trinity is indeed unusual and mysterious, but it is not inherently or analytically irrational.

If the formula for the Trinity asserted that God is one in essence and three in essence or that he is three in person and one in person, we would be engaging in the nonsense of contradiction. Something cannot be one in A and three in A at the same time and in the same relationship. That’s contradiction.

The classical formula of the Trinity is that God is one in one thing (one in A, essence) and three in a different thing (three in B, persona). The church fathers were careful not to formulate the nature of God in contradictory terms. The distinction among persons of the Godhead may be “essential” to Christianity, but the distinction itself is not an essential distinction about God. That is, though the distinction among persons is a real and necessary distinction, it is not an essential distinction.

Lest we seem to be guilty of equivocation here, let me explain further. When I say that the personal distinction among the Godhead is not an essential distinction, I mean by “essential” that which refers to being or essence, not to that which is “important” or “necessary” for other reasons. The distinction is “essential” in the sense that it is important and necessary for our understanding. It is not “essential” in the sense that it distinguishes being or essence in God.

The formula is not meant to say that essence and person are the same things. Essence refers to the being of God, while person is used here as substance within being. Essence is primary and persona is secondary. Essence is the similarity, while personal is the dissimilarity in the nature of God. He is unified in one essence, but diversified in three personae.

This excerpt is taken from Not a Chance by R.C. Sproul.

But don't take my word for it, read the book, don't wait for the movie.

Have a little hope on me, Roger

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Tough Topic Tuesday: Four Views on Revelation, Pt. 1

Many Christians I know seem to be very excited about the book of Revelation.  Whether they are discussing "blood moons" or the next economic downfall, most are very intrigued by what is going on in our world and seem determined to line up current events with the book of Revelation.  While I too find the book of Revelation fascinating, I fear that many believers and unbelievers are unaware that there is more than one way to understand the book of Revelation.

Over the next 4 weeks in this series we will be exploring an article written by Pat Zukeran entitled "Four Views on Revelation."  My goal in the forthcoming posts is simply to make people aware of the various views on Revelation.  I certainly lean toward one of the 4 views we'll be considering, but do so with a loose grip.  Please feel free to share what you think of each view in the comments and thank you for your readership!

The Idealist View

The first view of Revelation is the idealist view, or the spiritual view. This view uses the allegorical method to interpret the Book of Revelation. The allegorical approach to Revelation was introduced by ancient church father Origen (AD 185-254) and made prominent by Augustine (AD 354-420). According to this view, the events of Revelation are not tied to specific historical events. The imagery of the book symbolically presents the ongoing struggle throughout the ages of God against Satan and good against evil. In this struggle, the saints are persecuted and martyred by the forces of evil but will one day receive their vindication. In the end, God is victorious, and His sovereignty is displayed throughout ages. Robert Mounce summarizes the idealist view stating, “Revelation is a theological poem presenting the ageless struggle between the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness. It is a philosophy of history wherein Christian forces are continuously meeting and conquering the demonic forces of evil."

In his commentary on Revelation, late nineteenth century scholar William Milligan stated, “While the Apocalypse thus embraces the whole period of the Christian dispensation, it sets before us within this period the action of great principles and not special incidents; we are not to look in the Apocalypse for special events, both for the exhibition of the principles which govern the history of both the world and the Church.”

The symbols in Revelation are not tied to specific events but point to themes throughout church history. The battles in Revelation are viewed as spiritual warfare manifested in the persecution of Christians or wars in general that have occurred in history. The beast from the sea may be identified as the satanically-inspired political opposition to the church in any age. The beast from the land represents pagan, or corrupt, religion to Christianity. The harlot represents the compromised church, or the seduction of the world in general. Each seal, trumpet, or bowl represents natural disasters, wars, famines, and the like which occur as God works out His plan in history. Catastrophes represent God’s displeasure with sinful man; however, sinful mankind goes through these catastrophes while still refusing to turn and repent. God ultimately triumphs in the end.

The strength of this view is that it avoids the problem of harmonizing passages with events in history. It also makes the book of Revelation applicable and relevant for all periods of church history.

However, there are several weaknesses of this view. First, this view denies the book of Revelation any specific historical fulfillment. The symbols portray the ever-present conflict but no necessary consummation of the historical process.  Rev.1:1 states that the events will come to pass shortly, giving the impression that John is prophesying future historical events.

Second, reading spiritual meanings into the text could lead to arbitrary interpretations. Followers of this approach have often allowed the cultural and socio-political factors of their time to influence their interpretation rather than seeking the author’s intended meaning.  Merrill Tenney states,

The idealist view . . . assumes a “spiritual” interpretation, and allows no concrete significance whatever to figures that it employs. According to this viewpoint they are not merely symbolic of events and persons, as the historicist view contends; they are only abstract symbols of good and evil. They may be attached to any time or place, but like the characters of Pilgrim’s Progress, represent qualities or trends. In interpretation, the Apocalypse may thus mean anything or nothing according to the whim of the interpreter.

Unless interpreters are grounded in the grammatical, historical, and contextual method of hermeneutics, they leave themselves open to alternate interpretations that may even contradict the author’s intended meaning. [1]

Courage and Godspeed,

1. All references are included in the original article found here.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Planned Parenthood and Baby Parts: How Did We Get Here?

In the subject blog series, Brian Fisher of Online for Life writes of how our society has gotten to the point where the trafficking of baby body parts can be discussed so casually. He also describes the foundations of Planned Parenthood. Below is an excerpt taken from the series:

Evil of this magnitude doesn’t happen overnight. It never has. When slavery was brought to the United States in 1619, it wasn’t delivered to colonists on a 200-foot slave ship outfitted with chains, crowded bunks, and whips to keep its “cargo” in line. No, slavery first came to our country in the form of indentured servitude, with a promise to work for seven years in exchange for a trip to and establishment in the New World. Within a century, that system evolved into the horrific practice of slavery that has left an immutable stain on our society.

Similarly, Germany’s Third Reich didn’t come to power one day and then Hitler began slaughtering Jews the next. No, it happened slowly over time. First, through economic persecution, then through Kristallnacht. Next, the Jews were segregated into ghettos, and slowly, town by town, they were deported on trains that took them to concentration camps… and almost certain death.

The same can be said about legalized abortion in America. Since the early 1900s, there has been a slow uptick in the acceptance of abortion in our culture. It began when radical eugenicists hijacked the women’s rights movement, followed by the strategic establishment of abortion clinics within predominantly African-American communities. And finally, gentle euphemisms were introduced into our society that delineate preborn babies as “tissue” and abortion as “choice.”

This is an eye-opening series. Fisher is committed to providing this nation with the wake up call that it needs.

You can read part one here. Part two can be found here.

Stand firm in Christ,

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Friday, September 25, 2015

N.T. Wright on the Resurrection of Jesus

"It will not do … to say that Jesus’ disciples were so stunned and shocked by his death, so unable to come to terms with it, that they projected their shattered hopes onto the screen of fantasy and invented the idea of Jesus’ ‘resurrection’ as a way of coping with a cruelly broken dream. That has an initial apparent psychological plausibility, but it won’t work as serious first-century history. We know of lots of other messianic and similar movements in the Jewish world roughly contemporary with Jesus. In many cases the leader died a violent death at the hands of the authorities. In not one single case do we hear the slightest mention of the disappointed followers claiming that their hero had been raised from the dead. They knew better. ‘Resurrection’ was not a private event. It involved human bodies. There would have to be an empty tomb somewhere. A Jewish revolutionary whose leader had been executed by the authorities, and who managed to escape arrest himself, had two options: give up the revolution, or find another leader. We have evidence of people doing both. Claiming that the original leader was alive again was simply not an option. Unless, of course, he was."

Courage and Godspeed,