Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Hudson Taylor on Prayer

“Perhaps if we had more of that intense distress for souls that leads to tears, we should more frequently see the results we desire. Sometimes it may be that while we are complaining of the hardness of the hearts of those we are seeking to benefit, the hardness of our own hearts and our own feeble apprehension of the solemn reality of eternal things may be the true cause of our lack of success.” 

Courage and Godspeed,

1. From Hudson Taylor in Early Years: The Growth of a Soul, pp.178ff.

HT: Apologetics315

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Argument from Conscience

Here is an interesting argument I read in Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli's book Pocket Handbook of Christian Apologetics that I found thought-provoking:

Since moral subjectivism is very popular today, the following version of, or twist to, the moral argument should be effective since it does not presuppose moral objectivism.  Modern people often say they believe that there are no universally binding moral obligations, that we must all follow our own private conscience.  But that very admission is enough of a premise to prove the existence of God.

Isn't it remarkable that no one, even the most consistent subjectivist, believes that it is ever good for anyone to deliberately and knowingly disobey his or her own conscience?  Even if different people's consciences tell them to do or avoid totally different things, there remains one moral absolute [1] for everyone: never disobey your own conscience.

Now where did conscience get such an absolute authority-an authority admitted even by the moral subjectivist and relativist?  There are only four possibilities: (1) from something less than me (nature); (2) from me (individual); (3) from others equal to me (society); or (4) from something above me (God).  Let's consider each of these possibilities in order.

1. How can I be absolutely obligated by something less than me- for example, by animal instinct or practical need for material survival?

2. How can I obligate myself absolutely?  Am I absolute?  Do I have the right to demand absolute obedience from anyone, even myself?  And if I am the one who locked myself in this prison of obligation, I can also let myself out, thus destroying the absoluteness of the obligation which we admitted as our premise.

3. How can society obligate me?  What right do equals have to impose their values on me?  Does quantity make quality?  Do a million human beings make a relative into an absolute?  Is "society" God?

4. The only source of absolute moral obligation left is something superior to me.  This binds my will morally, with rightful demands from complete obedience.

Thus God, or something like God, is the only adequate source or ground for the absolute moral obligation we all feel to obey our conscience.  Conscience is thus explainable only as the voice of God in the soul. [2]

What do you think of the argument?

Courage and Godspeed,

1. The word "absolute" as it is used here is appropriate because the author's contend that "...that no one, even the most consistent subjectivist, believes that it is ever good for anyone to deliberately and knowingly disobey his or her own conscience..."  This is different from the argument and context I blogged about last week here.
2. Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli, Pocket Handbook of Christian Apologetics, p. 24-26.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Book Highlight: Grand Central Question

Chapter 9:  God’s Triune Greatness

We now come to the above chapter in our journey through Abdu Murray’s book Grand Central Question in which we begin to see that a Trinitarian conception of God provides a superior answer to the Grand Central Question of Islam:  How is God great? 

Islam affirms that God is entirely different from us yet in the area of his nature and personhood he is exactly the same. Just as humans do, God has one nature and is one person under the Unitarian conception of him.  To Murray it seems that the doctrine of the Trinity is a better fit with Islamic theology.  He writes:

Given the Muslim view of God’s utter differentness, it is surprising that Islam makes God to exist in the same way we do. What would not be surprising is to find that God exists totally differently than we do. He is one in being, but three in personhood. He transcends our notions of existence, and because he is so much higher than us, this transcendence actually shows God to be great.1

But how does God existing with one nature and as three persons show him to be great? Aseity and selfless love. God is self-contained and depends on no one for anything. While the Muslim believes this; under their unitarian conception of God it is impossible for he would have to depend on created beings to be relational. And the Qur’an states the he is “full of loving kindness” in Sura 85:14. The Muslim response to this charge has been that God’s love of a creature is from eternity and that his love is different. Yet how can actual love exist without an actual object? It cannot.  Additionally, if God is the source of love how can humanity have a different kind? It cannot. Humanity merely expresses love differently.  As an eternal tri-personal being, God depends on no other being to be relational. He is love.

The God who is great expresses love perfectly, and perfect love is selfless. It is others-centered. But how can love be perfectly others-centered if God is an absolute singularity, having one nature and one personhood? How can God express relational aspects of who he is independent of the existence of creation if he exists in such a way? It is quite impossible to see how.

The Trinity makes it possible. For God to have no lack in relationship, to have no lack of love or the expression of it, he must exist, from eternity, as a being in community.2

In the next chapter, Murray writes of God’s greatest expression of his perfect love; the incarnation.

Stand firm in Christ,

1. Page 200.
2. Page 208.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Sovereign Zone Argument

This argument is a justification for abortion that states that a woman has the right to do anything she wants with anything within the sovereign zone of  her body. It is distinct from the Right to Refuse Argument which is used as a justification for abortion by stating that a woman has the right to refuse to allow the unborn the use of her body.

Do you think this is a valid justification for an abortion?

See here for a response to this argument. Do you think this is an effective response to the argument?

Sound off in the comments section!

Stand firm in Christ,

Friday, July 25, 2014

Book Preview Video: The Case For Christianity Answer Book by Lee Strobel

In this brief video, author, speaker and apologist Lee Strobel discusses his new book The Case for Christianity Answer Book.

Learn more here.  You can purchase one here.  

For more from Lee Strobel, see here.  

Courage and Godspeed,

Thursday, July 24, 2014

B.B. Warfield on Catechism

"No doubt it requires some effort whether to teach or to learn the Shorter Catechism.  It requires some effort whether to teach or to learn the grounds of any department of knowledge.  Our children-some of them at least-groan over even primary arithmetic, and find sentence-analysis a burden.  Even the conquest of the art of reading has proved such a task that 'reading without tears' is deemed an achievement.  We think, nevertheless, that the acquisition of arithmetic, grammar, and reading is worth the pains it costs the teacher to teach, and the pain it costs the learner to learn them.  Do we not think the acquisition of the grounds of religion worth some effort, and even, if need be, some tears?" [1]

Not sure what "catechism" is?  See here.  [HT: Apologetics315]

My wife and I have found this catechism very helpful with our own children.

Courage and Godspeed,

1. As quoted by Voddie Baucham, Jr. in Family Shepherds.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Presenting the Moral Argument Clearly

The Moral Argument for God's existence is a powerful tool for the Christian Case Maker to have in his evangelism toolkit.  However, like any argument we present, it is important to be as clear as possible with our terms so that the argument can be rightly understood. [1]  

A popular version of the Moral Argument goes like this: [2]

1. If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.
2. Objective moral values and duties do exist.
3. Therefore, God exists.

Premise 1 has been traditionally affirmed by many atheists as demonstrated here and it seems reasonable to conclude that in the absence of God, moral values are just the by-product of Darwinian evolution and social conditioning.  And if this is the case, as atheist Richard Dawkins says, "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]  Thus, as Chad Williams explains, "...if someone wants to negate the affirmation of premise (1) the burden of proof will lay squarely on them. It will be their responsibility to erect a basis for objective moral values in the absence of God." [4]

Premise 2 can be demonstrated to the sincere seeker of truth by pointing to some very clear moral truths such as:

1. Torturing people for fun is wrong.
2. Raping someone is wrong.
3. Killing innocent people is wrong.
4. Abusing a child is wrong.

Most will admit that the above are not just socially unacceptable or "taboo," but really, really wrong. We know this from our moral experience. [5]  Again, as Craig states,"People who fail to see this are just handicapped, the moral equivalent of someone who is physically blind, and there's no reason to let their impairment call into question what we see clearly." [6]  For those interested in learning how to handle those "hardliners" that even push back against these very clear moral truths, please see my talk on the subject here.

Please notice that I am using the word "objective" rather than"absolute."  This is strategic, as Dr. William Lane Craig explains here:

So, when you present the moral argument for God's existence, using the word objective rather than absolute can help you avoid common misunderstandings regarding the nature of objective moral values and duties and make the argument more clear for your listener.

Courage and Godspeed,

1. The speakers at Stand to Reason are some of the most clear and concise I have heard.
2. For those curious about what makes a good argument, see here.
3.  Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden, p. 55.
4. Chad Williams, "What is the Moral Argument,"
5. For more on our moral experience, see here.
6. Ibid., p. 141.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Take a Stand on Biblical Inerrancy: Featuring Norman Geisler

In this interview with Richard Greene of Decision magazine, Dr. Geisler addresses the topic of Biblical Inerrancy.  This includes his response as to why the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy was produced in 1978.

You can read the interview here.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Book Highlight: Grand Central Question

Chapter 8:  God’s Greatness and the Preservation of the Gospel

Continuing through Abdu Murray’s book Grand Central Question brings us to this chapter in which Murray takes a hard look at the Qur’an. Muslims believe that the Qur’an is perfect. It is not inspired in the sense in which Christians believe the Old Testament and New Testament was inspired. To the Christian, these Testaments are thought to have come to us by God using the unique personalities of the writers. However, to the Muslim, the Qur’an is a recitation. In fact that is was Qur’an means. Muhammad wrote down a word for word dictation from the God.

In light of this, the Qur’an affirms that the Taurat (Torah), the Zabur (Psalms of David) and the Injeel (Gospel) were God’s self revelation to man. Murray points to verses such as Sura 3:3, 5:44-47, and 2:76-78. Even the understanding of the earliest Islamic commentators was that these verses were speaking of Jews and Christians being mistaken in their interpretation of the Torah and the Gospel not that these biblical texts had been changed. Until the ninth century, when the Bible was translated into Arabic, Muslims assumed that there were no inconsistencies between the Qur’an and the Gospel. At this time Ibn Khazem articulated and advanced the argument that the Bible had been corrupted because if it had not been then the Qur’an was wrong about the historical facts regarding the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. And it cannot be the case the Qur’an is wrong.

Murray writes where this argument leaves the Muslim:

The Muslim belief that the Bible is corrupt (to resolve the Bible’s contradiction of the Qur’an) creates a thorny theological problem. The Qur’an says that God revealed the Taurat, Zabur and Injeel. In other words, the Bible is God’s revealed word, his very self-revelation to humankind. But if the Bible was corrupted, then one of two consequences necessarily follows:  either (1) God was unable to preserve the Bible, or (2) God was unwilling to preserve the Bible. There is no third option.1

The first option is unacceptable to the Muslim because if God cannot preserve his self-revelation then he is not all-powerful. The second option leaves us wondering; if God was unwilling to preserve the Bible how can we trust that he will preserve the Qur’an? This also makes God responsible for millions, if not billions, entering eternal damnation due to shirk; belief in blasphemies such as the Trinity, the incarnation and the cross. In the chapters to come, Murray will contend that these doctrines actually manifest God’s greatness; eliminating the tension the Muslim faces.

Stand firm in Christ,

1. Page 187.