Thursday, December 31, 2015

Do Muslims and Christians Worship the Same God? Perspectives from a former Muslim

In this article, Nabeel Qureshi of NZIM addresses this question in response to recent events at Wheaton College earlier this month.



Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Video: Correct, Not Politically Correct- How Same-Sex Marriage Hurts Everyone by Frank Turek


Some of the questions Dr. Frank Turek deals with in this talk are:
  • Did Jesus Say Anything about Homosexuality?
  • What is the Same-Sex Marriage Debate Really About?
  • What is the Same-Sex Marriage NOT About?
  • Why Does the Law Matter?
  • Who Could Same-Sex Marriage Possibility Hurt?

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Tough Topic Tuesday: The Problem of Evil, Pt. 6

In the post we continue to consider the evidential problem of evil.  For review, it is as follows:


Evidential Version: "It's Improbable that God could have Good Reasons for Permitting Suffering."

The evidential version differs from the logical version because the evidential version makes a more modest claim.  The evidential version says that it is improbable that God exists when one considers all the apparent unnecessary suffering that occurs in the world.

It was argued here that we’re not in a position to say that it’s improbable that God lacks good reasons for permitting the suffering in the world.

This week it will be shown that relative to the full scope of the evidence, God's existence is more probable than not.  Recall that the evidential version of the problem of evil is probabilistic.  It argues that God's existence is improbable when one considers all the supposed unnecessary suffering that occurs in the world.  However, when the full scope of the evidence is considered, we have stronger reasons to believe God exists.  Consider just some of the arguments for God's existence:

1. The Kalam Argument
2. Argument from Contingency
3. The Fine-Tuning Argument
4. Information Argument from DNA
5. The Moral Argument
6. The Ontological Argument
7. The Argument from Reason
8. The Argument from Consciousness
9. The Argument from Jesus's Resurrection
10. The Argument from Religious Experience

For more arguments, see here.

The theist can admit that God's existence is improbable relative to the suffering in the world alone; however, that suffering is outweighed by the successful arguments for God's existence.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Monday, December 28, 2015

Authentic Sayings of Jesus: John the Baptist's Final Message to Jesus

The subject account, found in Matthew and Luke, can be added to the list of authentic sayings of Jesus. This account records that John the Baptist while in prison sends some of his disciples to Jesus with the question: "Are You the One who is to come or should we expect someone else?" (Matthew 11:3 and Luke 7:19).1 The saying "the One who is to come" in this passage mirrors John's statement of one "coming after me" in Mark 1:7 and John 1:27 and thus the Matthew and Luke passages are independently attested by Mark and John - and Mark is a very early source.

This passage is also shown to be authentic by the embarrassment that John seems to be doubting that Jesus is the Messiah.  Embarrassment is another one of the six conditions that provide greater probability that a saying or event is historical.

Jesus provides John with the following answer:

Go and report to John what you hear and see:  the blind see, the lame walk, those with skin diseases are healed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor are told the good news. And if anyone is not offended because of Me, he is blessed (Matthew 11:4-6; cf. Luke 7:22-23).

Hear Jesus is referencing signs from prophecies in Isaiah 26:19, 35:5-6, and 61:1; the latter of which clearly mentions being the Messiah. William Lane Craig points to a passage from Dead Sea scroll 4Q521 for support that these signs were considered signs of the coming of the Messiah during Jesus' day.  The passage reads as follows:

[For the hea]vens and the earth shall listen to his Messiah [and all t]hat is in them shall not turn away from the commandments of the hold ones...He will honor the pious upon the th[ro]ne of the eternal kingdom, setting prisoners free, opening the eyes of the blind, raising up those who are bo[wed down.]...and the Lord shall do glorious things which have not been done, just as he said.  For he will heal the injured, he shall make alive the dead, he shall proclaim good news to the afflicted.2

This Dead Sea Scroll passage adds historical congruence (fits in with known historical facts concerning the context in which the saying or event is said to have occurred3) and coherence (the saying or event is consistent with already established facts about Jesus4) on top of independent attestation and embarrassment to support the conclusion that Jesus saw himself as the Messiah.5

We will continue to identify the authentic personal claims of Jesus next week.

Stand firm in Christ,
Chase

Footnotes:
1. All Scripture references come from the Holman Christian Standard Bible.
2. Craig, William Lane Craig.  Reasonable Faith:  Christian Truth and Apologetics; Third Edition.  Pages 303-304.
3 and 4. Ibid. Page 298.
5. Ibid. Page 304.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Paul Davies on the Physical World

"People take it for granted that the physical world is both ordered and intelligible. The underlying order in nature-the laws of physics-are simply accepted as given, as brute facts. Nobody asks where they came from; at least they do not do so in polite company. However, even the most atheistic scientist accepts as an act of faith that the universe is not absurd, that there is a rational basis to physical existence manifested as law-like order in nature that is at least partly comprehensible to us. So science can proceed only if the scientist adopts an essentially theological worldview."1

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Five Reasons You Can Trust the Story of Christmas is True by J. Warner Wallace

In this Free Bible Insert J. Warner Wallace shares 5 reasons why you can trust the story of Christmas is true.  They are as follows:

1. The Supernatural Nature of the Virgin Conception Shouldn't Disqualify It

2. The Claim of the Virgin Conception Appears Incredibly Early in Christian History

3. The Birth Narratives in Luke and Matthew are Not Late Additions

4. The Virgin Conception Was Not an Invention of Early Christians

5. The Virgin Conception Wasn't Borrowed from Anther Source

He briefly unpacks each reason here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Should Parents Let Their Children Believe in Santa Claus?

I have written before on this question here and I think it's an important one. William Lane Craig gives possibly the best answer to this question that I have read to date.

You can checkout his response here.

What about you?  How do you deal with the Santa issue at Christmas time with your own children?  Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Video: Are Miracles Even Possible?


We will continue our series on the problem of evil next Tuesday.  

Christmas will soon be upon us and during this time followers of Christ remember and celebrate the virgin birth of Jesus Christ.  Clearly, the  claim that Jesus was born of a virgin is miraculous.  So if miracles are impossible, then Jesus could not have been born of a virgin.

In this featured video by Inspiring Philosophy, David Hume's arguments against miracles are considered and refuted.

Enjoy!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad


Monday, December 21, 2015

Authentic Sayings of Jesus: Peter's Confession

Peter’s Confession

Last week’s post stressed, through citing William Lane Craig, that the person of Christ must be at the center of a Christian’s apologetic. Thus of utmost importance to this defense are the authentic personal claims of Christ.  The subject saying is found in Mark 8:27-30:

Jesus went out with His disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the Road he asked His disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” They answered Him, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, one of the prophets.”  But you,” He asked them again, “who  do you say that I am?” Peter answered Him, “You are the Messiah! [the anointed or holy one]” And he strictly warned them to tell no one about Him.  (Bracketed text added).

The probability that this saying is authentic is greater given the independent attestation of John 6:69 where Peter responds to Jesus, “We have come to believe and know that You are the Holy One of God!”1 Independent attestation is one of six sufficient conditions that provide greater probability that a saying or event is historical.

Check back next week as we continue to identify the personal claims of Jesus Christ.

Stand firm in Christ,
Chase

Footnotes:

1.  Craig, William Lane. Reasonable Faith:  Christian Truth and Apologetics; Third Edition. Page 303.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Did Jesus Even Exist?

It is common this time of year for numerous articles to come out in various publications making all kinds of outlandish claims about Jesus of Nazareth. Perhaps none of these claims are more ridiculous than Jesus never existed. We have dealt with that question in the past here.

In this featured blog post, New Testament scholar Michael Kruger responds to 5 common arguments used by so-called "Jesus Mythers."

You can checkout the post here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Video: Leibniz’ Contingency Argument


This excellent video is the latest in a series put out by Reasonable Faith, the ministry of Dr. William Lane Craig.

You can checkout the other videos here.

Enjoy!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Counterpoints: Dr. Jerry Coyne and Dr. William Lane Craig

 


DR. COYNE: 

I have it all summed up in this aphorism I like to use which is that in science faith is a vice, and in religion it is a virtue. (1)


DR. CRAIG: 

The very differentiation between vices and virtues is a philosophical, not a scientific, distinction, and science is fraught with assumptions that cannot be proven scientifically. So faith is operative in science in many different ways in terms of belief in the validity of inductive reasoning, in belief in the laws of logic, in belief in mathematics, in the ethical values that guide scientific research and reporting, in the belief that we are able to have knowledge of an external world rather than merely an illusion. It is outrageously naive to think that science operates without faith. (2)


1.  For the complete Dr. Coyne Interview with Sam Harris, please go here      

2.  For the complete Reasonable Faith podcast, please go here



Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Tough Topic Tuesday: The Problem of Evil, pt. 5

Last week we introduce the evidential problem of evil as follows:

Evidential Version: "It's Improbable that God could have Good Reasons for Permitting Suffering."

The evidential version differs from the logical version because the evidential version makes a more modest claim.  The evidential version says that it is improbable that God exists when one considers all the apparent unnecessary suffering that occurs in the world.

However, it can be argued that we’re not in a position to say that it’s improbable that God lacks good reasons for permitting the suffering in the world. 

Once again, William Lane Craig explains:

"As finite persons, we’re limited in space and time, in intelligence and insight.  God sees the end of history from its beginning and providentially orders history to His ends through people’s free decisions and actions. In order achieve his purposes God may have to allow a great deal of suffering along the way.  Suffering that appears pointless within our limited framework may be seen to have been justly permitted by God within His wider framework."1

To sustain this point, Dr. Craig draws upon so-called chaos theory:

"In...chaos theory scientists have discovered that certain large-scale systems, for example, the weather or insect populations, are extraordinarily sensitive to the smallest disturbances.  A butterfly fluttering on a twig in West Africa may set in motion forces that will eventually issue in a hurricane over the Atlantic Ocean.  Yet it's impossible for anyone observing that butterfly fluttering on that branch to predict such an outcome.  We have no way of knowing how the alteration of some seemingly insignificant event can radically alter the world."2

Now, this is "not to appeal to mystery but rather to point to our inherent limitations, which make it impossible for us to say, when confronted with some example of suffering, that God probably has no good reason for permitting it to occur."3

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnote:
1. William Lane Craig, On Guard, p. 158.
2. Ibid., 158.
3. Ibid., 160.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Authentic Sayings of Jesus: The Centrality of the Person of Christ to a Christian Apologetic

The Christian religion stands or falls with the person of Jesus Christ. Judaism could survive without Moses, Buddhism without Buddha, Islam without Mohammed; but Christianity could not survive without Christ.  This is because unlike most other world religions, Christianity is belief in a person, a genuine historical individual-but at the same time a special individual, whom the church regards as not only human, but divine. At the center of any Christian apologetic therefore must stand the person of Christ; and very important for the doctrine of Christ's person are the personal claims of the historical Jesus.1

In coming posts we will therefore identify the sayings of Jesus which are authentic.  And these sayings will provide us with clarity on Jesus' self-understanding.

Stand firm in Christ,
Chase

Footnote:
1.  Criag, William Lane. Reasonable Faith:  Christian Truth and Apologetics; Third Edition. Page 287.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Quote: Former Abortionist turned Pro-Life Advocate Dr. Anthony Levatino Describes a Second Trimester Abortion

"The toughest part of a D&E abortion is extracting the baby's head.  The head of a baby that age is about the size of a large plum and is now free floating inside the uterine cavity.  You can be pretty sure you have hold of it if the Sopher clamp is spread about as far as your fingers will allow.  You will know you have it right when you crush down on the clamp and see white gelatinous material coming through the cervix.  That was the baby's brains.  You can then extract the skull pieces.  Many times a little face will come out and stare back at you."1

We must not be silent!



Courage and Godspeed,

Chad

Footnote:
1. As quoted by Dave Sterrett in We Choose Life, p. 15; I apologize for the graphic nature of this quote, but the truth must be told.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Article: In Defense of Apologetics by Tim Keller

Originally found here.

Apologetics is an answer to the “why” question after you’ve already answered the “what” question. The what question, of course, is, “What is the gospel?” But when you call people to believe in the gospel and they ask, “Why should I believe that?”—-then you need apologetics.

I’ve heard plenty of Christians try to answer the why question by going back to the what. “You have to believe because Jesus is the Son of God.” But that’s answering the why with more what. Increasingly we live in a time when you can’t avoid the why question. Just giving the what (for example, a vivid gospel presentation) worked in the days when the cultural institutions created an environment in which Christianity just felt true or at least honorable. But in a post-Christendom society, in the marketplace of ideas, you have to explain why this is true, or people will just dismiss it.

Is Apologetics Biblical?

There are plenty of Christians today who nevertheless say: “Don’t do apologetics, just expound the Word of God—-preach and the power of the Word will strike people.” Others argue that “belonging comes before believing.” They say apologetics is a rational, Enlightenment approach, not a biblical one. People need to be brought into a community where they can see our love and our deeds, experience worship, have their imaginations captured, and faith will become credible to them.

There is a certain merit to these arguments. It would indeed be overly rationalistic to say that we can prove Christianity so that any rational person would have to believe it. In fact, this approach dishonors the sovereignty of God by bowing to our autonomous human reason. Community and worship are important, because people come to conviction through a combination of heart and mind, a sense of need, thinking things out intellectually, and seeing it in community. But I have also seen many skeptics brought into a warm Christian community and still ask, “But why should I believe you and not an atheist or a Muslim?”

We need to be careful of saying, “Just believe,” because what we’re really saying is, “Believe because I say so.” That sounds like a Nietzschean power play. That’s very different from Paul, who reasoned, argued, and proved in the Book of Acts, and from Peter, who called us to give the reason for our hope in 2 Peter 3:15. If our response is, “Our beliefs may seem utterly irrational to you, but if you see how much we love one another then you’ll want to believe too,” then we’ll sound like a cult. So we do need to do apologetics and answer the why question.

No Neutral Ground

However, the trouble with an exclusively rationalistic apologetic (“I’m going to prove to you that God exists, that Jesus is the Son of God, the Bible is true,” etc.) is that it does, in a sense, put God on trial before supposedly neutral, perfectly rational people sitting objectively on the throne of Reason. That doesn’t fit with what the Bible says about the reality of sin and the always prejudiced, distorted thinking produced by unbelief. On the other hand, an exclusively subjectivist apologetic (“Invite Jesus into your life and he’ll solve all your problems, but I can’t give you any good reasons, just trust with your heart”) also fails to bring conviction of real sin or of need.

There will be no joy in the grace of Jesus unless people see they’re lost. Thus a gospel-shaped apologetic must not simply present Christianity, it must also challenge the non-believer’s worldview and show where it, and they, have a real problem.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Tough Topic Tuesday: The Problem of Evil, Pt. 4

For the past three weeks we have considered the logical version of the problem of evil (Pt. I, Pt. II, Pt. III) and found it wanting.  This week we turn our attention to the evidential version of the problem of evil.

Evidential Version: "It's Improbable that God could have Good Reasons for Permitting Suffering."

The evidential version differs from the logical version because the evidential version makes a more modest claim.  The evidential version says that it is improbable that God exists when one considers all the apparent unnecessary suffering that occurs in the world.  William Lane Craig explains:

"The atheistic claim here is that suffering in the world renders it improbable that God exists.  In particular, it seems highly improbable that God could have good reasons for permitting the suffering in the world.  So much of that suffering appears to be utterly pointless and unnecessary.  Surely God could have reduced the suffering in the world without reducing the world's overall goodness.  So the suffering in the world provides evidence that there is no God."1

In the coming posts we will offering 4 responses to the evidential problem of evil.  

How would you respond to this challenge?  Please feel free to share in the comments!

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnote:
1. William Lane Craig, On Guard, p. 157.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Video: Cosmology- A Religion For Atheists? by William Lane Craig


Text taken from here:

"In the film The Theory Of Everything, Stephen Hawking (portrayed by Eddie Redmayne) claims that cosmology is 'a religion for intelligent atheists'. The question haunts the film as it haunts Hawking's books.

Dr William Lane Craig examines this claim - critiquing both dialogue from the film, and Prof. Hawking's own publications. Does a beginning to the universe entail a creator? Does Hawking's latest "no boundary" Big Bang model eliminate the need for God? What hope is there, in a Godless universe? And is philosophy 'dead' as Stephen Hawking claims?

Dr William Lane Craig's Kalam Cosmological Argument is the most widely discussed argument for the existence of God in contemporary western philosophy. He is Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology and Houston Baptist University. He's published over 40 books and over 150 articles in peer-reviewed journals. He is most known online for his lectures and debates with leading atheists and skeptics.

This lecture was delivered at Highfield Church, Southampton, in the UK. Still images from The Theory Of Everything (Universal Studios and Focus Features) have been included under and constitute Fair use for Academic Purposes."

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

HT: Peter S. Williams via Twitter

Thursday, December 03, 2015

When Pro-Abortion Choice Rhetoric Hurts

I have been reading through Dave Sterrett's We Choose Life, an outstanding collection of stories from men and women who are dedicated to rescuing babies, mothers, and fathers from abortion.  

In the book, contributer Rebecca Kiessling writes about when, at the age of 18, she learned that she had been conceived out of rape.  

She writes:

"I remember feeling ugly, unwanted, and very much devalued and targeted by our society. I instantly thought of what people say about abortion:

'I’m pro-life—well, except in cases of rape,' or,'I’m pro-choice—especially
in cases of rape!' 

I realized that there were multitudes of people who
didn’t even know me but were standing in judgment of my life, and
who were quick to dismiss it just because of how I was conceived. I
felt like I was now going to have to justify my own existence, that I
would have to prove to the world that I shouldn’t have been aborted
and that I was worthy of living. I wanted to have all of my assets lined
up so that people would see me as a person of value at a time in my
life when I felt like I was being devalued every day."1

When pro-abortion choice advocates argue that abortion is justifiable in cases of rape or incest, they are implicitly devaluing the life of the individual who has been conceived that way.  I wonder if they even consider this?  An 18 year old conceived out of rape is no less intrinsically valuable than an 18 year old conceived out of a loving, consensual relationship.  Would any right thinking person argue that we should have the right to kill the 18 year old conceived out of rape?  Of course not!  In like manner, a pre-born child conceived out of rape is no less intrinsically valuable than a pre-born child conceived out of loving, consensual relationship.

The act of rape and incest are morally deplorable and inexcusable.  However, I implore my pro-abortion choice friends to stop using those conceived in this manner as talking points and treat them as people because as Rebecca Kiessling's story demonstrates, pro-abortion choice rhetoric hurts.

We Choose Life will be available January 1, 2016.  Please look for our review in the coming weeks.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Book Preview: Expository Apologetics- Answering Objections with the Power of the Word by Voddie Bauchman, Jr.

About the Author

Voddie Baucham Jr. (DMin, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) is dean of the seminary at African Christian University in Lusaka, Zambia. Author of a number of books, including Family Driven Faith, The Ever-Loving Truth, and Joseph and the Gospel of Many Colors, Baucham is also a pastor, church planter, and conference speaker.1

About the Book

Apologetics is for everyone.

The Bible is clear that all believers are called to defend their faith. However, if apologetics is the formal process that we have come to expect, this sounds like an impossible task. But what if apologetics could be part of natural, normal conversation—both from the pulpit and in everyday life?

Aimed at preparing you to clearly and confidently defend your faith, Expository Apologetics sets forth an approach to apologetics that is rooted in Scripture and eminently accessible. Filled with real-world examples and practical advice, this book will equip you with the tools you need to think biblically and converse persuasively—offering unbelievers “a reason for the hope that is in you.”2

You can checkout a sample of Bauchman's work here entitled, "Why There's No Such Thing as an Atheist."

You can get your copy of his new book here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnote:
1. Information found here.
2. Information found here.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Tough Topic Tuesday: The Problem of Evil, Pt. 3

This is post number 3 in our series considering the problem of evil.  Currently, we are assessing the success of the logical problem of evil that is as follows:

Logical Version: “It’s Logically Impossible for God and Suffering to Coexist.”

The argument goes something like this:

1. An all-loving, all-powerful God exists.
2. Suffering exists.

Usual assumptions…

3. If God is all powerful, He can create any world that He wants.
4. If God is all-loving, He prefers a world without suffering.

Argument: God is all-loving and all-powerful.  Therefore, He both can and wants to create a world without suffering.  Therefore, it follows that the world has no suffering.  But that contradicts 2, Suffering exists. Therefore, God must not exist. 1

Last week we addressed assumption #3 here.  This week we take a look at assumption #4- "If God is all-loving, He prefers a world without suffering."

Again, the question we must ask is "Is this necessarily true?"  I content that it is not.  Once again William Lane Craig is instructive:

"For God could have overriding reason for allowing the suffering in the world.  We all know cases in which we permit suffering in order to bring about a greater good (like taking our child to the dentist). The atheist might insist that an all-powerful being would not be so limited.  He could bring about the greater good directly, without allowing any suffering.  But clearly, given freedom, of the will, that may not be possible.  Some goods, for example, moral virtues, can be achieved only through the free cooperation of people.  It may well be the case that a world with suffering is, on balance, better overall than a world with no suffering.  In any case, it is at least possible, and that is sufficient to defeat the atheist's claim that 4 is necessarily true." 2

Consider the example of Jesus Christ.  Here we see God the Father allowing His only begotten Son to suffering and die for the greatest good- forgiveness of sins and the free gift of eternal life for those who freely choose it.

For assumption 3 or 4 to be successful, the atheist must show that free will is impossible and that it's impossible that a world with suffering would be better than a world with no suffering.

Finally, Dr. Craig explains that we can push the argument even further.  He writes:

"We can make it plausible that God and suffering are logically consistent.  All we have to do is come up with a statement that is consistent with God's existence and entails that suffering exists.  Here is such a statement:

5. God could not have created another world with as much good as, but less suffering than, this world, and God has good reasons for permitting the suffering that exists.

The idea here is that given human freedom, God's options are restricted, and it may be that a world with as much good as the actual world, but with less suffering, wasn't an option.  Nevertheless, God has good reasons for the suffering He allows.  If statement 5 is even possibly true, it shows that it's possible that God and suffering both exist.  And it surely is plausible that 5 is possibly true." 3

For reasons such as these, the logical form of the problem of evil is all but dead.

Next week, we will begin considering the evidential version of the problem of evil.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnotes:
1. William Lane Craig, On Guard, p. 154-155.
2. Ibid., p. 156.
3. Ibid., p. 157.