Thursday, April 27, 2017

Is it Egotistical for God to Command Us to Worship Him?

It is undeniable that the God of the Bible commands us to worship Him.  Jesus, quoting the Old Testament (Deu. 6:13), declared, "It is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only."

As an unbelieving friend recently asked me, "Doesn't this make God arrogant?"  I believe that on a superficial level, one could certainly draw this conclusion.  However, as I shared with my friend, when all the details are considered, this assumption proves hasty.

First off, God commands us to worship Him, but He also gives us free will.  So while He surely commands it, He does not force us to worship Him.  Are there consequences for not worshipping him?  Yes.  But nonetheless we still have a choice.

Second, if God truly did create all things and sustains them by His will (Rev. 4:11), it seems the Bible is correct in asserting that He is worthy of worship.  Furthermore, if God has truly expressed His love through Jesus on the cross by paying for our sins, so we wouldn’t have to (and so that we could have eternal life), it seems that He is worthy of worship.  When one understands who God truly is and what He has done for us, the natural outward expression is thankfulness and worship.

Third, it should be noted that we all worship something.  It may be money, self, security or our spouse, but we all worship something.  God realizes (after all, on the Christian worldview, He created us!) that we can only find true, lasting fulfillment in Him; therefore, He commands us to worship Him so that we can experience the peace and security that comes with doing so.  I know I have experienced that in my own life.  So, on this view, God’s commands for us to worship Him are actually acts of love, not arrogance.

Ultimately, if God exists (and I believe we have good reasons to believe He does), then He alone has the right to command us to worship Him and He alone is worthy of that worship.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

For Further Investigation

Why does God demand, seek, or request that we worship Him?

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Did Jesus Appear to the Women First or to the Disciples?

The Gospels of Matthew and Mark state that the women were the first to see the risen Jesus.  However, in 1 Corinthains 15:5, Paul says that Peter or "Cephas" was the first one to see Christ after the resurrection.  Is this an example of a so-called Bible contradiction? I think not.

It is important to understand that in 1 Corinthians, it was not Paul's goal to give an ordered list of those who appeared to Jesus, but to list the most important appearances for the purpose of defending the resurrection.  We must remember that in the first century, only a man's testimony would have been considered legal or official.  Therefore, it makes sense that Paul would only list Peter and not the women.

For this reason, we can safely conclude that Jesus appeared first to Mary Magdalene, then to the other women (just as the gospels report), and then to Peter and the disciples.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Related Posts

Article: Ten Principles When Considering Alleged Bible Contradictions by J. Warner Wallace

When Was the Fig Tree Cursed by Jesus?

How did Judas Iscariot Die?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Book Review: Dictionary of Christianity and Science

Introduction

To describe the historic relationship between Christianity and science as contentious would seem to many a grand understatement.  In defense of the view that Christianity and science are compatible, many would argue that the entire scientific enterprise was founded by those who believed in a Creator God and desired to learn more about Him.  Others, such as the late paleontologist and science writer Stephen Jay Gould, contended that "religion and science were two completely different realms of thought and action." [p. 337]  He referred to them as "non-overlapping magisteria," or NOMA.  And New Atheists such as the late Christopher Hitchens would have us believe that religion was our primitive first attempt at explaining the world around us, but that science now offers a superior explanation to the important questions of human existence.  Is it any wonder that the editors of the Dictionary of Christianity and Science write:

"Possibly more than at any other time in history, views about the relationship between science and Christianity in Western culture are both polarizing and confusing.  Thus reasonable dialogue about the intersection of these two topics and clarification of their respective concepts and implications is essential." [p. 11]

This reader could not agree more.  I know that in my own interactions with people of various stripes, Christianity is treated as a pre-science view that has been proven deficient.  This attitude has even crept into the church!  How can the Christian find common ground with someone who holds such a view?

Furthermore, there exist "in-house" debates that center around the intersection of Christianity and science that can be rather combative and potentially divisive.  As the editors point out, "Evangelical Christianity does not have a shared mind regarding science." [Ibid.]  It is important that believers learn to discuss these secondary issues respectfully and thoughtfully while striving to understand the various views within Christendom.  How can a believer learn to do so?

It is this reviewer's contention that the Dictionary of Christianity and Science answers these questions.  This volume will aid readers in developing the skills necessary to think clearly and factually about the most important scientific topics of the past and present.

Further, I would challenge the unbeliever who is under the impression that Christianity and science somehow contradict to consider the arguments therein.  At the very least, you will learn that Christians, while certainly not agreeing on everything, are serious about science.

Book Layout

This volume provides entries by more than 140 contributors on over 450 key terms, theories, individuals, movements, and debates at the intersection of Christian faith and contemporary science.   The entries are arranged alphabetically.

The dictionary includes three types of entires: 1) Introductions 2) Essays 3) Multiple-View Discussions.

The Introductions strive to outline the central facts about a topic in a summative format.  The Essays, as one would imagine, are longer entires that further explore a given topic and offer references to important figures and works related to the given matter.  Finally, the Multiple-View Discussions are different in that they "are not meant to be dispassionate." [Ibid.]  As the editors write:

"...on key subjects that have stimulated ongoing disagreement and have bearing on the broader relationship between Christian and scientific thought, representatives of significant viewpoints have written pieces that vigorously yet charitably propose their point of view.  Argumentation against and anticipation of opposing views' critiques are included.  It should be noted that the viewpoint authors did not read one another's entries prior to publication.  These viewpoint pieces rely on current research and attempt to present others views accurately, yet the thrust of each piece is to persuade rather than merely to inform." [p. 11]

Strengths of the Book

This volume is an invaluable tool for various reasons.

First, the work is comprehensive in scope.  The amount of topics covered are vast and many of the subjects dealt with are often overlooked in the church.  Examples include global warming, psychology, and quantum physics.  Whether we as believers recognize it or not, these types of issues directly impact our faith and how we think about the world around us.  This volume enables the reader to think clearly about these topics and even offers resources for further investigation.

Second, this volume goes out of its way to fairly represent those with opposing views.  One place this was especially evident is in Jonathan McLatchie's piece on atheist and biologist Richard Dawkins.  Dawkins, an outspoken public critic of religion, is treated with charity, and his notable accomplishments are highlighted.  Further, when speaking of Dawkins' refusal to debate philosopher William Lane Craig, McLatchie even allows Dawkins to have the last word by quoting the famed atheist speaker's response.

This type of balanced writing is evident throughout the work and should be modeled by all who desire to practice Christian charity.

Third, the "Multiple View Discussions" mentioned above are helpful.  The entries are fair-minded and for the most part focus on the key issues surrounding the topic being discussed.

Fourth, simply put, the entries are very well written.  The shear amount of topics and the various authors make this work difficult to put down.  This reader sat down to read one entry and ended up reading several!

Fifth, this work succeeds in demonstrating how theological issues intersect with science by addressing challenges to the Christian faith through modeling a proper understanding of science and theology.  For example, in Paul Moser's entry on the so-called "problem of divine hiddenness," Moser demonstrates how a proper comprehension of science and God directly impacts this challenge.  He writes:

"According to various skeptics about God's existence...the claim that God exists must be evaluated along the lines of a typical scientific hypothesis.  If, however, God is a personal agent who has redemptive purposes in hiding from people at times, we are not dealing with a typical scientific hypothesis in the claim that God exists.  Instead, we are dealing with a claim about a unique personal agent who is no scientific object but is intentionally elusive at times and nonetheless worthy of worship."[p. 351]

Finally, it was nice to see a balanced view of science represented in this dictionary.  One frustrating aspect of secular scientific resources is that one never learns of the numerous contributions to scientific thought that theists have made.  Stephen Meyer's work on the information found in DNA or J.P. Moreland's extensive work on methodological naturalism and scientism are ignored simply because they have theistic implications.  In this work, that is not the case.  Both theist and non-theist scholars and thinkers are represented.

Conclusion

The editors of this work recognize that some may not be pleased with their work:

"Well-established camps, often with their own publications, organizations and events, disagree on fundamental issues.  While no book can claim perfect objectivity, the aim of this volume is to represent various evangelical camps and viewpoints as fairly as possible on their own terms.  Such an approach will not please everyone. Readers who would prefer settled conclusions might be disappointed."

And this illustrates all the more why this work is so very important.  We as believers need to learn how to discuss and even disagree on these important matters while maintaining unity within the Body of Christ.   As the editors continue:

"Yet the goal of this dictionary is to chart the outlines of evangelical thought on science and to suggest a framework for future discussions, not to bring such discussions to an end."[Ibid.]

This volume does preciously that.  It succeeds in providing a thoughtful framework to discuss these sometimes contentious issues, while equipping the reader with the necessary tools to learn more.

The Dictionary of Christianity and Science is a one-of-a-kind resource that will be useful for scholars, pastors, students, and any Christian wanting to better understand the most relevant issues and ideas at the intersection of Christian faith and science.  It is an indispensable resource for today's Christian case maker.

I highly recommend this work!  You can find sample entires here and here.

You can order your copy here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

*** Many thanks to Chris Reese and Zondervan for the free review copy!

Related Posts

Common Objection #31- "Intelligent Design is not Science!"

Nicholas Rescher on Scientism

Video: Science, Scientism, and the Knowledge of God by Peter S. Williams

Monday, April 24, 2017

Zero Reasons a Fetus is Absolutely Not a Person

In the subject post on Life Training Institute blog, Clinton Wilcox responds to the article titled "14 Reasons a Fetus is Absolutely Not a Person" by Wendy Gittleson. In the article, Gittleson poses the following questions in order to affirm that fetuses are not person:

  • If a fetus is a person then why don't they issue conception certificates?
  • If a fetus is a person then why do they go to an OB/GYN for medical care instead of a pediatrician?
  • If a fetus is a person then why can't we claim it on our taxes?
  • If a fetus is a person then why do we count age starting from birth?
  • If a fetus is a person then why is it often kept a secret for the first three months?
  • If a fetus is a person why does "God" kill so many of them?
  • If a fetus is a person then why doesn't it eat its own food?
  • If a fetus is a person then why does medicine put the life of the mother before that of the fetus?
  • If a fetus is a person then why can't it live outside the womb for several months?
  • If a fetus is a person does that mean a pregnant woman is two people? Can she drive in the carpool lane? Can she buy two items when a store advertises "one per customer" sales?
  • If a fetus is a person, why would a politician even consider a rape or incest exception?
  • If a fetus is a person, why is no one (I shouldn't speak too soon) suggesting the death penalty for women who have abortions?
  • If a fetus is a person then why is the smallest clothing size "newborn?"
  • If a fetus is a person then why aren't adoptions finalized until after the baby is born?
Read how Wilcox responds here.

Stand firm in Christ,
Chase

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Worldview and Apologetics in the News

Former atheist admits it was historical evidence that brought him to Christianity

North Korea threatens that ‘thermonuclear war may break out at any moment’

Pentagon announces review of nuclear posture amid North Korea tensions

Bill Nye: The Perfect Talking Head for a March Against Science

March for Science or March for Secularism?

Have Octopuses outsmarted Darwin?

Trump overturns Obama’s Planned Parenthood funding edict

Christians Homes Set on Fire in Muslim Mob Attacks on Believers in Egypt

Religious Freedom Endangered by LGBT Activism, Russell Moore, Rod Dreher Argue on 'Face the Nation'

Hank Hanegraaff's Conversion to Orthodoxy: Ken Ham's AiG Says Church Is Ritualistic, Lacks Gospel

Trump Signs Law to Let States Defund Planned Parenthood

Why don’t we care about the slaughter of Christians?

Everyone Thinks The Unborn Are Persons. Saying Otherwise Is Just Denial

Christian university will sever ties with Planned Parenthood

Hobby Lobby founder says willingness to lose company for religious freedom ‘was real easy’

'Bible Answer Man' Booted From Bott Radio Network After Hank Hanegraaff Joins Orthodox Church

Five Reasons Why Some Christians are Shroud Skeptics

For many at violent Berkeley rally, it wasn't really about Trump or free speech: They came to make trouble

Blood from human babies makes brains of elderly mice young again

ISIS Claims Responsibility For Paris Terror Attack

Muslims to March on Amazon Over Prayer Breaks

Trump Confidante: Let’s Betray Pro-Lifers and Saddle Trump With a Used SCOTUS Pick

Power Ranger window washers thrill kid patients at hospital [Love this!]

March for Politics, Scientism and Scidolatry


Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

You can checkout last week's edition here.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Why Are Christians So Easily Offended?

Last evening, this brief video came across my Twitter feed.  The funny thing is, I was just thinking about this as I clicked on the link.

The only thing I would add is the points made should also be considered in conversations with Christian brothers and sisters as we can be just as susceptible to the attitudes described when talking with an atheist or skeptic.  Especially when it comes to topics such as doctrine, Biblical Interpretation, or even addressing issues within the church.





God Bless!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Book Preview: E-book- “The Apocryphal Jesus” by Ken Ammi


About the Author

Ken Ammi is an Argentinean-American , a Jewish-Christian, an essayist and lecturer who writes at True Freethinker.

He was raised in a 100% secular manner and did attend private Jewish school.  He had his Bar Mitzvah in Israel (only secular Jews may be able to understand this oddity).  He was also involved in the New Age Movement and was a practitioner of Reiki, Tai Chi Chuan, Chi Kung and the I'Ching.

About the Book

The purpose of this work is to review that which various apocryphal texts state about Jesus and to do so for various reasons. One reason is that some people have the idea that such apocryphal text, by any other name such as alternate gospels, portray Jesus in very different terms than does the New Testament (hereinafter “NT”) or subsequent Christian theology. Such idea are promulgated largely by pop-researchers and popularizers of Gnosticism, zeitgeist-style theorists, Jesus mythicists, et al.

The book is a consideration of how 35 apocryphal texts portray Jesus.

As a whole I would say that Jesus is such an undeniable figure that even those seeking to change our view of Him must admit various true facts about Him. Thus, there are portions of the apocryphal texts which portray a Jesus consistent with the NT canon. That being said, I point out where each text contains that which I term “unique features” which range from simply extra-biblical to actually contradictory.

You can get your copy of this work here.

To learn more about Ken and his work, go here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Related Posts

Featured Essay: The Euthypro Dichotomy by Ken Ammi

How We Got the Bible: The Apocryphal Books

How Historians Examine the New Testament Documents

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Pt. 4- Four Dishonest Ways to Argue about Abortion

This post is the 4th (1st, 2nd and 3rd) and final in our series addressing dishonest arguments commonly offered by abortion-choice advocates.  The arguments featured come from Stand to Reason's "Pro-Life Defense" Quick-Reference Guide. This is an excellent resource that we highly recommend!

This week's featured argument is the one I have seen most commonly used.

4. Disguise your true position by appealing to the "hard" cases.

Rape is profoundly evil.  It is sometimes easy to forget this in a rush to oppose abortion.  But to truly arrive at a proper understanding of this, we simply cannot ignore everything we've discussed up to this point.  We've looked at a case for the full humanity of the unborn from the moment of conception.  If this case is correct, then are we dealing with one victim or two?

Can you think of any other situation where we would force-not ask, force-one innocent human being to give up his or her life so that someone else could feel better?  Does hardship justify homicide?

Can one horrible act of violence against an innocent human being-the woman-be redeemed by performing another act of violence against an innocent human being-the child?  Forget innocent people for a moment.  Would we allow the rape victim to shoot the guilty rapist to make her feel better?  If not, why allow the innocent child to be killed for the same reason?  Perhaps we simply do not believe the unborn are human.  If so, rape would no longer be the real issue.  The issue would be: What is the unborn?

Unfortunately, some abortion advocates will appeal to the "rape exception" not with the intention of protecting victims of sexual assault, but as a means of justifying abortion on demand for any reason at all.  Victims of rape deserve our best care.  However, the pain of such a violent act cannot be healed by destroying another innocent human being.  The child should not be punished for the crime of his father.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Related Posts

When Pro-Abortion Choice Rhetoric Hurts

Late-Term Abortion, the Life of the Mother and the 3rd Presidential Debate

Live Action, Snopes and Planned Parenthood's "Prenatal Care"