Save the Apologists Too

In the life of every person there is a defining moment. For the Christian apologist it comes in the form of compromise. As I have read many Christian apologists and as I try and interpret the subtext of their messages I spot some that seem to have compromised the Christian faith they are claiming to defend.

For some its rejecting biblical inerrancy in exchange for some kind of human authority; for some its leaving the biblical moral code for modern culture and all that it gives a person. That little moment is when we are one thing and we exchange it for another. Some think that being a Chameleon in Christian circles keeps one in the good graces of public opinion. But those folks don’t realize there are too many ‘sherlocks’ are out there and if they find you are saying one thing here and another over there, they quickly expose your change of colors and with it damage your reputation.

For me, I recognize Christian apologists get hit hard. If they engage the enemy of their souls for very long, they get scars. The battle rages on and only a few ever make it past the goal post without being tackled by bigger and stronger temptations. What can an apologist do these days? Who can support the category of apologists that have defined themselves as ‘in the know’ scientifically and decided that science and evolutionary theory are right, for them, the earth is very old and dinosaurs, men and animals all lived out their days dying and birthing…until some marked place in time where the actual count down to Christ began. Who can support the apologist that sits ‘in the know’ over his fellow apologists and inwardly laughs at the silliness of inerrancy or perspecuity. These apologists have no authoritative bible, just a bible that ‘other’s follow’ and their credentials concerning biblical texts, grammar, linguistics place them in a position to undermine anyone who believes what is written as it is written. For them, their appeal to a very small company of elite textuaries gives them a modern gnostic-style appeal. New converts only dream of understanding the bible, whereas these professionals dream of not knowing what they know.

The battle rages on, some think presuppositionalism is the end all, others the classical method, for others evidential methodology alone settles the issue with hard facts. Its time we realize we cannot know it all and no matter what methodology we choose, God has a part to play in it. We are wired in various ways, we think differently because we have learned how to arrive at trust-worthy conclusions differently from one another. For some, this potpourri will not suffice because for them it’s a compromise to add or subtract one or more methodologies. This is why Fideism is beat like a step-child by most apologists…yet are not miracles a defining mark of the supernatural God we love and serve? Yes, they would all say, but miracles cannot be easily categorized as doctrine, heresy, principle or philosophy. God’s “at-will” workings fit no mold and for those Christian-Humeans (David Hume thinkers) who reject miracles for lack of evidence it must be hard to read a bible with miracles and promises that “greater works shall you do” when someone in your tribe has declared such power and gifts died with the apostles.

There’s no lack of difficulties today for the apologist. The best most Christian apologists can do is remain faithful to the scripture, remain faithful to their denominations, creeds or confessions, remain faithful to their own logic and philosophy and pray…if they do pray, that God would forgive their stupidity and grant them grace to persevere in the face of little to no help from their own Churches. Why no help from their Churches? Because usually in any congregation there might only be one or maybe three that enjoy apologetics and seek to grow in it in order to be useful to their own congregations and the Church at large. But if there are difficulties, who can empathize with them? Only the Lord Jesus himself. The pastors are usually not interested, besides (what could an apologist know about Christian battles?) the leadership knows the apologist is way past their own basic knowledge of scripture and they know the apologist needing help will recognize the trite and clique’ words they offer to others.

Sometimes the apologist wants to be loved for just being in the battle, he/she wants to be acknowledged as trying to be a front-line soldier, engaging the enemy where he lives and in what he says about Christ, the Church and the scriptures. The apologist might want someone to just care about them.

You see, no matter if you are an apologist and you subscribe to O.E.C. and hold to human authority as the final strength of your argument; or, if you are Y.E.C. you are known for believing a bible that many say you cannot substantiate through science, or you are a believer in the bible, but the bible is not inerrant to you, or you think that there is no hell, or you think miracles are gone the way of the Dodo, as genuine and true believers in Christ ( generalizing the true Christian apologist) you are doing what you can with with God gave you. Every apologist takes his shots from both apologist and  unbelievers. When you go to bed, tired from the battle from unbelievers and being beat on from other believers, the Christian apologist vainly sleeps knowing he has very few friends and even less supporters. A man can even have a wife that cannot fathom why anyone would want to debate, argue, rationalize, study, learn, interpret and weigh out the thoughts of so many enemies to the faith…for no earthly rewards whatsoever. The Christian woman apologist may be in the exact same shoes and even less supporters among her girlfriends. For all the Christian apologist claims to know, he knows very few front line soldiers that don’t mistake him for the enemy.

Apologetic conventions…I’d love to attend one. But you wonder that its a misnomer; Christian apologists are hardly ever pack hunters, they are usually all guerrillas in the spiritual battle.  Ever seen a herd of Christian apologists? Not likely…you can spot a pastoral convention with a hundred cars in the parking lot, you can recognize a gathering of sheep to pray, study scripture or be taught…but try and find an apologist support group and you will run out of gas or ‘gigs’ looking for one.

Christian apologists love to ‘iron sharpens iron’ however, when our fellow apologist come in bloody from the battle, the last thing they need is ‘sharpening’, they need some compassion and some tenderness.

As a Christian Apologist…a 50 cent one…Save your fellow apologists too, not just the angry atheist, the loony cultist or the misguided Christian. Save your Christian apologist, recognize they can be misguided, unbelieving, angry, frustrated, disappointed, hated, misunderstood, rejected and most of all the kind of Christian that other Christians would say “see ya….wouldn’t want to be ya”.

Some Christians dare to stand next to the Christian Apologist and offer pot-shots at enemies to the faith. They laugh and pretend to some sort of superiority because they supposedly know something someone else does not. The investment in real academics for the sake of Christ and the lost does not lead the Christian Apologist to make ‘potshots’ at an enemy of the faith. He knows well, the enemies of the faith do not die from the vitriol of trolls, they die because the Holy Spirit used Spirit directed words to break down the strong-holds within the mind of a sinner. He knows the Spirit of God must do the work only God can do and must do in order for the Apologist’s words to be of any effect at all.

If there was ever an argument for the ‘perfect’ not yet here, the Christian apologist and all they are and do must testify to the imperfections of men. Even with bible in hand, we know in part and we prophecy in part, we see through a glass darkly, though face to face, we do not know as we are known.  We do not live with such knowledge now and those who would dare to claim they hold perfection, that perfection has not taken them or their flocks past partial truth, incomplete knowledge and for certain they cannot foretell a future with unbelief as the signature in black.

 

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VICTOR STENGER A Christian Response to His Atheist Primer 1

victor stenger

Victor Stenger Physicist and PhD wrote an article published in the Huff post blog Feb 28th 2014 called How to debate a Christian apologist.  Please read the article here.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/victor-stenger/how-to-debate-religion_b_4876997.html

After reading the article I decided to answer his atheist debate primer by responding to the polemic myself. In his articles he offered the Christian answer to various atheist assertions. Under these Christian statements he adds his own retort to help the atheist appear smooth and keep the audience from taking sides against the atheist debater. My reasons for responding are simple. First, I will attempt to show Dr. Stenger’s coaching the atheist debater ends up coaching him into a substantial defeat. Second, I wanted to use this article of ‘defending atheism’ against the Christian apologist as a means of training myself and other Christian apologists. Thirdly, this Christian author enjoys subjecting the New-Atheist light regime to critical examination, so once examined, the arguments of the New Atheist do not frighten younger Christians. I will attempt to expose the darkness of atheist-thinking to the light of Christian-thinking and a biblical worldview. With all educational heavy-weights, they use what they believe is sound reasoning and critical analysis upon the Christian claims. These atheist apologists usually pull no punches when it comes to reproaching the Christian as a novice-thinker and logic-lightweight. It does the Christian good to see these men such as Dr. Stenger, are not heavy-weight philosophers nor do they share some DNA that makes their logic irrefutable. In short, like the hot-air filled Dr. Dawkins they are deflated easily once the source of their lofty words are exposed.


I believe Dr. Stenger’s article is plain ole damage control. The good Dr. is recognizing the atheist debater is losing his shirt when debating the Christian apologist and to help stem the tide of continual debate failures Dr. Stenger wrote up a few ‘primer’ pieces so the atheist will not appear utterly foolish in debating someone who knows more about atheism and what it asserts than the atheist does.

Over the years I have debated many atheists in person and online in informal one-on-one scenarios. What the Christian will find as I have is each atheist attempts to nuance his personal atheism in such a way that when the Christian apologist attacks the assertions of the atheism, this specific atheist claims “that’s not what I believe”. Because there is no formal external dogmas within atheism this act of ‘dodging’ the Christian apologists assertion is part of what it means to debate or discuss atheism with an atheist. The Christian apologist learns debating atheism one-on-one with another atheist cannot proceed like it would with a cultist so pseudo-christian cult where various dogmas differentiate between it and orthodox Christianity. As can be seen by Dr. Stenger’s comments, the appeal to ‘differences’ in atheist views is supposed to dislodge the Christian Apologist argument by insinuating the Christian apologist is referring to beliefs held by other atheists not present to defend themselves.

The nuanced atheist has a self-manufactured belief structure; the spongy-ness of atheist thought soaks up whatever appeals to the self-described atheist. Normally our nuanced atheist gathers from various sciences and other atheist thinkers. The atheist blog, even You Tube are good places for the atheist to go learn new arguments to support their own personal ideology. Facebook has also become the bully pulpit for internet atheists to confront Christian doctrines and philosophy.

The New Atheists are of a stripe that attacks Christianity and attempts to turn others away from belief in Christianity. The use of various arguments against Christianity is only one tool; if that doesn’t work its followed by shaming them by ad hominem attacks or bandwaggoning their own  favorite PhD. New attacks to Christianity arrive by the media. In some article, essay or book the latest Dr. So-and-so has provided some kind of science admixed with atheist philosophy to serve their purposes and season the meal they serve the public. Because it is labeled ‘science’ the impression they want to give is their information is ‘fact’ and not ‘blind faith’. This tactic works well on a public that wants only sound-bites, not a discourse in technical terms. I shall attempt to show several of Dr. Stenger’s statements originate from blind-faith. What the atheist condemns in Christians is used openly by atheists writers trying to prove their arguments.

Let us begin with an analysis of Dr. Stenger’s article, putting his ideas and answers alongside the Christian Apologist rebuttal.

Dr. Stenger has said he has participated in a number of events (Christian vs Atheist debate) and watched others that include arguments that have all been refuted by the atheist many times. If this were true, those refutations would have been headliners for every atheist blog and repeated ad nauseum on You Tube or played on the media. But in reality we find a far different story. Debates with Dr.William Lane Craig have been crushing defeats for every atheist so far. When Dr. William Lane Craig and the panel debated Dr. Dawkins and his panel it was obvious the atheist never mounted a real attack on Christianity nor did they really prove their own point. In fact the atheist panel under-whelmed everyone with side stepping. No serious attempt was even made to undermine the argument of Dr. Craig by any of the atheist panel. See it for yourself here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__m6LzS5EbY . I need not elaborate on the failure of Sam Harris in his debate with Dr. Craig and the Disaster of Dr. Dawkins had with John Lennox. When it comes to debating the issues the Christian Apologist clearly can prove his points and leave without them being overcome by any atheist argument presented thus far.

Dr. Stenger says “Atheists…with one or two exceptions don’t make a living promoting atheism” he evidently realizes this lack of expertise in presenting their own case makes it a “tougher job preparing for these debates”.

I think it might be important to understand that if the original argument from the atheist was as sound, rational and empirically provable as the atheist wants us to believe, there would be little necessity to answer minor issues dragged up by Christians attempting to derail valid atheist argument. But as Dr. Stenger wisely notes, these statements or questions from the Christian take a lot of steam from the atheist argument. In short, they must be addressed. This is nothing short of a confession of inadequate argument arising from the atheist.

During the debate rebuttals Stenger is concerned the atheist is not well versed in points the Christian Apologist will make and because of that, ignore or be unable to defend himself against them. The failure to give a cogent reply supplies the impetus for Dr. Stenger’s primer.

I believe this is a very important point to consider. Instead of Dr. Stenger working on polishing the original atheist argument so that it makes the best impression, carries the most weight and delivers the knock out punch, he moves over into the very arena that he earlier warned the atheist layperson not to go “It is unwise for a layperson to debate a theologian”. He is moving from his expertise in physics to theology and philosophy. This is important for every apologist to consider, the empiricist cannot conquer ideas with observations, bare data, experiments or theories, they must be inserted into a philosophy that addresses the intangibles of life where we all live. What intangibles? I think it is these; is it true?, is it real? is it logical? is it important to me? What is the value of arguing for atheism if the atheist believes it to be irrelevant to a persons well being or understanding the world he lives in? He does not argue as though it is unprofitable, the whole atheist-engine is based upon the intangible basic belief  ‘truth is better than falsehood’. So with that ethic driving the debate between Christian and Atheist the very platform for establishing materialism or naturalism from the atheist perspective rests upon the intangible explained only by the philosophical.

What comes next is in my opinion appalling. Dr. Stenger says “In a debate, impressions are more important than the substance of an argument and not answering the point makes a bad impression”. When the most important things of life are being debated; things like God, religion, faith, scientific knowledge, truth, reality; these are no trifles and true substance in ones answers to these topics means everything. By merely creating the impression that you have a substantive argument verses actually having true substance contained in your argument is a tremendous distinction to make. Anyone wanting truth over falsehood considers creating the appearance of substantive argument deceptive; especially when it is come to light substance and evidence were missing. Its one thing to fail to defend your position, its another to know your position is indefensible but cloak it with pretended facts. 

It is in the next section that Dr. Stenger forms his primer for the atheist debater. He suggests memorizing these as canned responses so the atheist will appear as smooth as the Christian apologist. Again its important to note that Dr. Stenger is placing high value on appearances, these “canned responses” as he calls them are essentially anecdotal. The atheist debater has no in-depth knowledge of what he is responding with so when called out by the Christian apologist the atheist may likely rebut with only his own observations and biased commentary. A valuable point for the Christian Apologist to understand, if this sort of anecdotal response is given by the logic-claiming atheist he/she is contriving an informal fallacy. Accordingly there may follow hasty generalizations or inductive reasoning giving the Christian apologist answers in the form of post hoc fallacies. What is important to understand is this is a cat-bag for the atheist debater. Once he has opened this bag and let one cat out ( a piece of anecdotal evidence) he will forever be unable to re-bag that cat in front of the Christian Apologist. This is an important warning to the Christian apologist as well and a savvy atheist debater will eat his lunch over a trivial point and minimize the much greater and important points the Christian apologist is attempting to show. In at debate similar to a wrestling match, these are ‘point makers’ and the audience remembers these point makers later.

Dr. Stenger quotes Dan Barker an apostate and atheist who says the audience will not remember 10% of what was said but will remember an “impression” made by one or the other debaters and go home with that impression being influential on future learning. There is some truth behind the nature of debates, the idea of one side prevailing over the other makes for the ‘draw’ so curiosity and plain ole partisanship meet together.

Now Dr. Stenger sets forth the philosophical statements of the Christian and coaches the atheist debater on how to reply.

The Christian statement will be bold and Dr. Stengers commentary will be analyzed and contained in my response under each statement. For the sake of brevity I will not quote all of Dr. Stengers comments on each Christian statement; please read the article by Dr. Stenger or place it alongside for comparison. I gave the link at the front of this article.

God can be proved to exist by logic alone. For example, we have the ontological argument, which appears in many forms. It was first proposed by St. Anselm in the 11th century. He defines God as “a being than which no greater can be conceived.” If such a being only exists in the mind, then we could conceive of a greater being. But we cannot imagine a greater being than God, so God must exist in reality.

Here Dr. Stenger states that this logic is offered in many forms but all of them have logic flaws; namely it attempts to prove too much. He then says it can prove non-existent things or even a perfect pizza. I think maybe Dr. Stenger was writing some humor about the perfect pizza, the pizza I’ve had has been eaten by others and they conceive a greater pizza…so that example doesn’t fit. The logic offered here is sound reasoning, its not unreasonable to think the greatest being to be conceived is actually in existence and that being is God. But that being said, the scripture presents a clearer answer. 1Co 1:21  For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 

Putting it precisely God cannot be known by human logic. God’s existence is understood intuitively by the human mind as it understands human morality, truth and judgment. But knowing God beyond the intuitive human mind is the work of the Holy Spirit. This is why the unbelieving mind may give assent to God’s existence or something transcendent but it also uses the same logic to point them to extraterrestrials or even perfect pizzas. These arguments are meant to point to the reasonableness of a ‘belief in God’ not to knowing the God of scripture through logic. The scripture assigns this to the work of the scripture itself and the revelation of truth by the Holy Spirit of God. 

Pizzas, flying spaghetti monsters etc are not what’s in the scope of St. Anselm definition and these are normally used to poke fun at the Christian. 

This next paragraph is a nightmare for Dr. Stenger. In his attempt discredit the use of logic in the Ontological argument for God, and probably the other arguments too, he begins by effectively nullifying the use of syllogism. He starts off saying ” no logical deduction can tell you anything that is not already embedded in its premises.” That is the point good Dr.; in order to make a logical argument major and minor premises are made so that conclusions to the argument can be understood as valid or invalid. What comes next is amazing. Dr. Stenger says “Only by observation can we demonstrate whether the premises accurately describe or reflect the real world.” I would ask Dr. Stenger, have you not heard that logical positivism has been debunked?

Let me help you; how do you know what is right or wrong from observation? Can you observe the logic of your scientific philosophy? Can you observe the scientific method in its propositional form? If you cannot observe it, then you have disqualified your own reasoning to use “only by observation can we demonstrate…”. The philosophy behind the scientific method is taken for granted, it is not of itself falsifiable because it is a preference, a philosophical approach to scientific investigation. Yet, offering such a narrow view of what is true and real by means of the scientific method disqualifies the scientific method itself. Remember this is a battle in the arena of the intangibles; the atheist no matter how much he wants to confine himself to the observable world cannot interpret it from the observed data alone. 

Defeaters like that one which are built into Dr. Stengers primer will lead the atheist debater into instant defeat. Using logic to undermine the use of logic and unwittingly nullify the use of the scientific method lets all the cats out of the cat-bag never to be gathered again. Placing this argument at the head of the debate only to be ‘pinned’ by the Christian apologist later shows clearly that logic used illogically powerfully impresses the audience that you are unable to defend your views. The potential conclusion may be…the atheist is wrong.

Science and religion are compatible as evidenced by the fact that many scientists are believers.

Dr. Stengers commentary here is essentially low-brow. It confines itself to ad hominem attacks on Christianity without producing one shred of evidence for his claims. The ad populum fallacy shows it head here proving nothing. 7% of scientists that are members of National Academy of Sciences are theists with no citation made. Afterwards the following ad hominem compartmentalization tripe. None of this adds anything to atheism, nor does it subtract anything from Christianity. Science and Religion are incompatible because of epistemic sources? There is no Christian looking for an aspirin recipe in the bible, nor is any Christian asking the scientific community to produce faith in a test tube. God is the creator, He has both faith and chemistry available in this world and the Christian can avail himself of both. This dichotomy is insisted upon because the New Atheist regime wants to perpetuate Christianity as rejecting logic and science because it is incompatible with the claim they make that Christianity is blind faith. But, again this is where the atheist debater will encounter much difficulty. The Christian faith is built upon the empirical evidence of Christ’s birth, life, death and resurrection. The miracles of God, healings and the prophetic coming to pass are all part of verifiable historical event. Unfortunately the atheist is resistant to look into these things unless of course it is only to cast endless skepticism upon those events.

Science was the result of Christianity, which introduced the use of rational thinking. Galileo, Newton, and other early scientists were Christians.

 The Dark ages, denoting that time from about the end of the 4 century to the 13th century had a great deal of troubles. The Visigoths pulling down the old establishments, the scriptures being tucked away from humanity in monasteries and the increasing power of the Roman Catholic church and its superstitions all tended towards dampening the human spirit. Instead of progress, lawlessness, instead of freedom, feudalism, instead of Christianity taking humanity forward, biblical Christianity was persecuted by the religious intolerance of popes and killed by Muslim raiders. The Islamic effect upon Europe cannot be mistaken as adding light to humanity, instead it made for more religious bondage. The departure from scripture added the spiritual darkness to a world embroiled in wars and power struggles. The superstition and ritual of the times darkened men’s hearts. Biblical Christianity did nothing to aid in darkening those days, men departing from the truth did that himself. The Dark Ages or the Medieval times were called so by those who thought their own century was more enlightened than previous. To others it was simply the lack of historical documents revealing this period in human history.

Science and religion were never at odds with each other. The Christian views science as a way of learning about the world that God had made. There was not a conflict of scientific investigation and religious devotion. What was discovered did shock the superstitious and called into question the ritualistic devotion. The Roman Catholics in power didn’t want its power base shaken with new ‘ideas’ that drew into question their authority on matters that were purely contrived for the sake of enslaving people to the priests. It was good that God brought in the janitors to sweep away such enslavement. The Humanism of the pre-enlightenment period were not atheists, Voltaire would have been more of a deist and Petrarch one of the first humanists sought for God that resembled more of a return to biblical Christianity. The atheist mindset had not invaded science to the ejection of God, it wasn’t until the later French and German philosophers in decrying the errors of the Roman Catholic Church demanded and pushed for separation from religious enslavement.

It was precisely because Christianity is not antithetical to science that Christianity birthed scientific endeavor. Galileo broke away from the old Greek Aristotelian-ism that still held the Scholastics. Dr. Stenger wants to put science into Aristotle’s lap, but Galileo moved it out and placed it in his own as time would prove. It is an important note for every Christian Apologist, atheism is entrenched itself in a stationary tower. It does not recognize that Christianity is a moving target. Christianity moves along, it receives scientific knowledge, it gains by cultural understandings, it flows under various governments without demanding the government to be toppled. The atheist even now attempts to lock Christianity in the dungeon of ancient political-religious governments or ancient mindsets that belong to centuries past. What the atheist shoots at can only be said to be ‘where the Church was’. It gains favor from the angry atheists by continuing to decry religious oppression, yet cannot find a modern Christian oppressing anyone. This same thinking flows over into the division between science and religion, whereby the atheist harps upon religion stifling scientific endeavor when in fact no such hindrance occurs from Christianity. Abundant cases can be made for secular powers oppressing the Christian and stifling his rights and privileges.

Galileo was not a Catholic on pains of burning, he was one voluntarily. One would think that Dr. Stenger has been reading too many atheist blogs that label any ancient scientist with a religious preference a slave to it on pains of death. History tells us Galileo was threatened for his Heliocentric views because they upset the powerful Roman Church. I would love to see the source for Galileo’s idea that observation rules over revelation. A devout Catholic would hardly have made such a short statement like that without explanation. Context means everything.

The obvious presence of design and complexity in the world, especially in life, proves there was a designer.

Dr Stenger obviously adhering to the theory of Evolution believes intelligent design is an ancient belief, Darwinism replacing such thinking. But, the difficulty arises when the scientist is asked to prove the simple has actually created the complex. In short added more DNA information to its simple structure. This is a monumental problem for all evolutionist because no scientist has been able to show anything but loss of DNA information and what mutation does occur does not create new species. The hype behind evolution is macro evolution gave us complex organisms. The only proof behind it is micro-evolution gives us species mutations and nothing more. The idea of a common ancestor is one of blind faith as no scientist can connect the DNA backwards toward a proof of evolving pre-species. A great deal of talk is generated about this issue, but when it comes to hard data, the jury is out and remains out. As such Dr. Stenger mounts no argument that undermines the design theory. T.O.E is tantamount to belief in a flat earth, only those in academic power attempt to hold to this theory while it has no basis in fact.

Snowflake formation hardly validates species mutation into another species. The idea is to extrapolate “we found a plastic laser gun in the back yard” therefore the inductive reasoning follows “there must be a Starship Enterprise out there some where”. This is a classic Darwin-of -the-gaps answer. A great deal of books are written on the subject of Evolution, each one extrapolating from some mutation, some gene potentials, some chemical capabilities; these speculations conclude that our current genetic make-up is the basis for what we have evolved-into. Yet, its not the observations or the experiments that demand T.O.E as the proper interpretation, unfortunately it appears from instances of resistance to Design theory that its the scientist himself that demands to see what it wants

Many Christians believe in evolution

Dr. Stenger believes that theistic evolution and Intelligent Design are one and the same. They are not the same. It would behoove Dr. Stenger to read up on Intelligent Design. William Dembski has written a book called Intelligent Design The Bridge Between Science and Theology. Published by Intervarsity Press, Downers grove. In the book he makes no claim at pointing people towards a Judeo-Christian God, what he does do is show the reasonableness of the claim that complexity in various animals or man has the ear-marks of an intelligent designer. He also goes on to show that there is genuine scientific methods to be used in verifying designer ear-marks.

I will give Dr. Stenger credit there are very few Christian theistic-evolutionists. Dr.Stenger again demanding science eject God as though science cannot be science if God is believed. I wont read much into this non-sequitor other than its a bias of his own not scientific in the least.

Science still has not shown how life began.

Dr. Stenger rejects the idea that God was necessary to bring life from non-life. He remarks that the basic ingredients of life are copious in space. He then references the Miller-Urey experiment in 1953. If you are an atheist debater and want to die a sudden death in a Christian vs atheist debate follow Dr. Stengers coaching here. Allow me to quote Lance Ponder in an article Creative Science 25 Life from Non-Life

In his last paragraph he mentions the Miller Urey experiment and it goes as follows. 

Odds have not stopped hopeful evolutionists in their daunting task to demonstrate how life might have arose from non-life. The principles of abiogenesis were most famously put to the test in the 1953 experiment was performed by Stanley Miller with the help of Harold Urey. They reproduced an artificial atmosphere to simulate what they thought might be early earth conditions. They then added the necessary soup components into that atmosphere, then applied electricity. The result was the spontaneous organization of organic molecules. The initial results were hailed as a huge step forward in human understanding of origins. Only later did the various problems with the experiment come to light. First, the simulated atmosphere, made up primarily of methane and ammonia, is universally rejected as impossible as an early Earth atmosphere. Very high electric charges had to be used to cause formation of the organic (carbon-based) molecules. The molecules generated were actually cyanide and formaldehyde, both of which are lethal to living cells. Although the Miller-Urey experiments have now been discredited and generally disavowed even by Evolutionists, the basic idea still lingers. Some text books in use today still provide a false impression that these experiments effectively demonstrated how life arose. Thus far every successful attempt to organize atoms, molecules, chemicals of any other level of complexity has involved the careful and purposeful implementation of an intelligent design under tightly controlled conditions not found in nature. It seems, then, that for man to create he must play at God, imitating Him with purpose, design, and very careful hands.

http://blogs.bible.org/impact/lance_ponder/creative_science_25_-_life_from_non-life

The very thing the Evolutionist use to dismiss God’s creative handiwork is an example of Intelligent Design itself. Yet at the heart of the experiment was the creation of chemicals that kill living cells. The big bang proved the universe had a beginning. Everything that begins has a cause. Therefore the universe had a cause, which was God (Kalām cosmological argument).

To Dr. Stenger its important to say “no laws of physics were necessarily broken to produce the universe”. That is to say roughly “I have blind faith that the explanation for the Beginning of the Universe can be explained by natural causes”. Then another use of faith in Quantum Mechanics to fill the gaps of knowledge for the Big Bang. Instead of addressing the Kalam Cosmological argument itself it was easier to skip to the faith he has in future scientific explanation from a naturalistic point of view.

The universe began with a singularity that marked the beginning of time.

Dr. Stenger now pulls back from the ‘singularity’ explanation to more fantastic ones. I said earlier that Dr. Stenger would fall upon Blind faith to resolve his difficulties arising from these statements. Here is one that highlights such a blind faith. He answers that the creator for the Singularity theory Stephen Hawking, abandoned it about 10 years ago. For him Modern Cosmology has turned to the science-fiction namely Multiverse theory. He says our universe is just one of endless universes that are infinite and eternal…therefore no need for a creator. Its does beg the question…”How does Dr. Stenger know this”?

I can’t help but wonder why the good Dr. has abandoned his own philosophy?

Dr Stenger said; “Only by observation can we demonstrate whether the premises accurately describe or reflect the real world.”

Since we have no way of knowing of another universe yet and have not yet found one, it can only be a blind faith, a belief without good evidence to support that belief. But that does not stop him from offering this to the atheist debater as ‘proof’ of an eternal universe, therefore no big bang and no Creator God needed. The multiverse theory is science fiction, abstractions done to create ‘possibilities’ in order to speculate the outcome of our own universe and the particulars of events. If we will permit multiverses as a reasonable cause for our own universe, then God is no stretch of the imagination by any means.

We cannot detect universes beyond our own. Therefore they are not science

Dr Stenger answers that science deals with theory all the time, its a part of how science proceeds to learn. Fair enough, but just what constitutes a “border” of our universe and one of the other multiverses? How does Dr. Stenger know the cosmic microwave has found its way to us from another universe and it does not belong to our own universe? This line of argumentation takes us into more and more speculation without the slightest evidence for any line of reasoning. In short, those with faith in multiverses existing offer far less than the Christian does. For the Christian claims the God he knows enters our universe and our world and directly effects it by his power and will. This is verifiable, the multiverse sets with the mythologies of ancient beings and for all we know has flat earths.

Where did the mass and energy of the universe come from?

These questions only take Dr. Stenger farther down the path of blind faith and speculation. Now Quantum tunneling is funneling in mass and energy by an earlier universe. Again, this ranks right up there with science fiction. Now, there is nothing wrong with speculation, but its anecdotal and offers us only mental abstractions. Again Ocham’s razor should be slicing off more and more of Dr. Stengers elaborate claims. At this juncture the Christian Apologist need do nothing. The atheist debater has no substantive answers unless your a sci-fi fan and these answers appeal to your imagination.

How can something come from nothing?

Dr. Stenger decides here to revert to Aristotle and claim the eternal universe idea. Its not original but its been scientifically faulted and even Dr. Hawking hasn’t nailed it down yet. Remember, when you have no substantive explanation from science, its not an improvement to jump to science fiction. Its desperation. The Christian Apologist need only remind his listeners that science fiction does not qualify as substantive argument; Dr. Stenger has done nothing to undermine the Christians claims at this point. The reality we all live in tells us “nothing” cannot produce “something”. Its a mental impossibility to conceive of it. We may imagine it, but we cannot reason it from anything in our world.

This will end Part one of this Christian response to Victor Stenger.

Dr Horton review of Jesus Calling

There is more to Christianity than the mindset of various theologians who have decided that anything experiential in terms of intimate encounters with Christ or the Holy Spirit are errant and turn people away from the word. What those theologians lack, they should seek. Instead they condemn those who have obtained what they don’t have and denounce the practices of those who operate on a level they do not.

I have not read Jesus calling by Sarah Young. But I have extensively read Andrew Murray. I can only say Dr. Horton is as wrong about Andrew Murray as one can get. He is wrong to dissuade people from reading him, he is wrong for turning folks away from what Andrew teaches.

I fully embrace the doctrines of grace, but that is not to leave out Andrew Murray. To the detriment of the body of Christ Dr. Horton undermining the ministry of Andrew Murray and the excellent teaching Bro. Murray gives. It might be because Dr. Horton is not happy unless all things are Presbyterian, but the body of Christ is more than Dr. Horton’s little world of walking with Christ. Its bigger because God is bigger than Dr. Hortons version.  Please see the full article here by Dr. Michael Horton.  http://www.whitehorseinn.org/blog/2013/03/05/review-of-jesus-calling/#comment-63883

Reading through the various posts that equate Murray with every kind of loon or falsehood is guilt by association which is a sin, and which was done to Christ himself “he sitteth with sinners” Mar 2:16  And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? 

But, because it resembles the same spirit the pharisees have, I condemn such an attitude in anyone posting such and I think Dr. Horton goes too far. His discerning has turned to division, his warnings of falsehood imitate the bad spirit the disciples had in this context…Mar 9:38  And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us.

Mar 9:39  But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me.

Instead, we seem to become offenders, people who for their own reason expect everyone to be followers “of them”.

Today instead of love its discrediting the miracle, lampooning the ministry, even guilt by association whereby their books are supposedly in error. The real error is the spirit in which this review takes us away from Christ and places it upon “following us”. The Spirit in which Andrew Murray spoke was never to follow him or imitate some ancient style of worship. He directed people to Christ and sent them there time after time, tirelessly reminding the believers their real power comes from faith in Him. Its beyond me to understand why anyone would attempt to bash Andrew Murray when he is superior to them in helping Christians walk with Christ. His fear is that such ‘experience’ will undermine the word of God. I say nonsense. The word of God is meant to be practiced therefore experience is exactly what God wants. The bible is not hum-drum and Andrew Murray never expressed anything of the sort in any of his writings. This strawman is now exposed and linking his burn down of this strawman cannot be for any reason Andrew Murray gave him. 

There is more to the Body of Christ than those who import a special privlege into their own world. I make no argument for heresies, abuses and misuses of scripture, or exploitation of the believers. But I do take issue with those who seem to think they have a corner on truth and practices. In short if its not their way is the highway. Well, I believe those who write articles to condemn various books or teachers had better have better evidence than its ‘not the reformed method’. If half of our current bible teachers could write sermons like Spurgeon, or guide willing souls like Murray, or take them out of the musty shelves of theology into the living theology of word and experience together they would never quibble about such things. But, quibbling appears in place of real understanding on how to walk with Christ in prayer, intercession, faith and fellowship the reader is bullied into condemning those teachers because God didn’t make them in the same mold as their critics.  Before anyone claims hypocrisy on my part for condemning Dr. Horton’s rejection of Andrew Murray I will clarify. I am a fan of Dr. Horton, I have his systematic Theology “The Christian Faith“. I recommend the book and appreciate Dr. Horton. I seek to emulate his study, diligence and quality in ministry. But, I disagree completely with painting bull-eyes upon all things charismatic and shooting them down. I realize he is a cessationist and he red-flags anything thats’ divergent from cessationism. I am not a cessationist, I am a Charismatic/reformed believer and thankfully I am one. I don’t toss out 1Cor 12-14 as filler for the modern Christian and needy for the 1st century Christian.

I want to include this allegorical conversation in the same vein as “The Screwtape Letters” by C.S. Lewis.

Cessationism, is in my opinion simply a hold over from the enlightenment. Rationalism creeps in the Church and decides what is God and what is not…all according to the prevailing logic of the time. Of course the enlightened mind is not going to rest on humanism alone, it needs some bible to back it up. So, find some texts quick…yep that text in Corinthians that tells us tongues will cease and knowledge will vanish away. What is perfect? Well the bible is perfect so this must be God replacing the gifts with a Zondervan.

Borrowing from Screwtape, I imagine a conversation about Gifts going something like this.  Mind you, C.S. Lewis didn’t write this segment, I am borrowing his ‘devils apprentice’ idea for a moment so as to give those who have read the Screwtape letters a little background.

Probie: But what about the fact Paul isn’t really talking about the bible in 1 cor 13?

Screwtape: That doesn’t matter, what matters is that its reasonable, rational, fitting to a skeptical mindset. Besides its embarrassing for academics to be lumped in with loonies, quacks, heretics and soothsayers.

Probie: But what if God’s people are none of those things while seeking and receiving God’s gifts?

Screwtape: No matter, discourage seekers them by speaking of the abuses by the clergy, the falsehood of false prophets, and don’t forget Hume to help us really put the screws to anyone saying he’s witnessed miracles. The best antidote for spirituals is to insinuate they are just the opposite, they are quacks, heretics, demonic, impersonators of good.

Probie: But what if they are not?

Screwtape: That does not matter, what matters is the appearance of order, logic, reason and spirituality.

Probie: But the cultist can imitate that too;

Screwtape: Yes, and don’t say that too loud. Its important to vacuum out true spirituality from theology. Its far more important to create a whole theology of the Spirit with the complete absence of the manifestations of the Spirit. We want them to think they can have a bible from the 1st century, fight for it and then openly deny what it teaches by listening to rationalism masquerading as good theology. All of this fits into the plan to make a Church that does not resemble the Church in the New Testament at all. Its important to persuade them that being devoid of Spiritual gifts is really spiritual, being against spiritual gifts of what the Spirit truly wants. We do this with holiness too, its just that after a while it becomes so obvious that compromise has set in, they immediately set out to pray for revival and repent.

Screwtape’s conclusion: The whole idea is to divorce the 21st century Christian from the activities of the 1 century Christian so that imitating Christ becomes something other than following scripture, it becomes an invention of the next ‘non-charismatic leader’ that pulls them farther and farther away from any resemblance of Christian life contained in scripture.
Probie: One last question; What about the excesses abuses and misuses within the Charismatics, doesn’t that prove the gifts are ceased because there is nothing but fakes out there?
Screwtape: Probie you are a failure at logic 101, the abuse of anything doesn’t prove its in-validity, it only proves it can be twisted and that’s the point. Its to twist the gifts for some so that their personal disposition caters to rejecting what is clear in scripture. We want people with academic bents to fight with those who have experiential mindsets, we want division over what is available in scripture so that those who have it are induced to be embarrassed by it and those who don’t believe it are induced to never seek it because they don’t trust themselves to do much of anything without thinking it all the way through. Rationalism for them is making sure they know all that is going to happen before it does…Its a laugh on them… they need to be prophetic in order to even ask for the prophetic. I know it’s contradictory but hey, thats’ what we are about. This is a great help to the legions of darkness, for the twisting and perversion of spirituals helps us and it helps us even more when a segment of the believers resists those who have those gifts and induce them to question them. Killing faith to seek or to use spirituals is what our kingdom is working at.” So says Screwtape. 

Lastly, I consider it on the level of diabolical to toss out the believers that we do not agree with. Instead of allowing a wide berth for various ministries, we fracture, become factious and pretend that Christ is endorsing our little petty litmus tests.

God is more Post Modern than you thought Pt. 2

In my first article at approached the idea that God may have already been acquainted with what we call post-modernism and in fact warned against it.

Gen 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”
Gen 3:2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden,
Gen 3:3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'”
Gen 3:4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.
Gen 3:5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Gen 3:6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.
Gen 3:7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
Gen 3:8 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
Gen 3:9 But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”
Gen 3:10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”
Gen 3:11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”
Gen 3:12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”
Gen 3:13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
Gen 3:14 The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.
Gen 3:15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
Gen 3:16 To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”
Gen 3:17 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
Gen 3:18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field.
Gen 3:19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
Gen 3:20 The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.
Gen 3:21 And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.
Gen 3:22 Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—”
Gen 3:23 therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken.
Gen 3:24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life. ESV

The scriptures record this event in order that we may understand that the very first sin is in accord with the mood of Postmodernity. The idea that questioning authority is not our original thought, it was a thought given to them by Satan himself. Irregardless of whether you disagree with talking snakes and deadly trees the truth remains; what is common to sinful men is the fact that they act autonomously, using their own reason and will to define truth and determine what is false and what is true. From this they determine whether or not to use history as a guide and judge for themselves the relevance of truth of past generations as a viable truth for their own generation and finally determine who they believe themselves to be. 

In light of these things, let us consider something of paramount importance. The question was asked, , “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” Earlier God had given both Adam and Eve the command not to eat of the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but now the question was raised as a sub-text “why the prohibition”? It must be that God is keeping you back from knowledge and that such knowledge does not come with death attached to it. Is this not the postmodern idea? That the commands of those in authority are in effect withholding something beneficial to us? Is that not exactly what was stated in my previous post?

The truth is again just another form of containment, but this time it’s built on words and ideas that may have nothing to do with me or my world. Truth, becomes the law of the oppressor, the prison guard that forbids expression of all that is contradictory to that so-called ‘truth’. The postmodernist says “who wants truth that is nothing more than a verbalized power play”? Historical interpretation again deals with the idea that language does not convey truth to the postmodernist, but an interpretation of events tailored to give one side advantage over another.

What is not recognized is that giving the person what they want can also be manipulative and effect a coercion to entrap and enslave them. There is no one with insight so keen and intuition so sharp that he can avoid all manipulation and yet pretend to own no objective truth. He has no way to interpret manipulation from true freedom, whatever truth he seeks to avoid on one end is pushing to entrapment on the other end. The old old story of the fall of Adam and Eve is not near so irrelevant as postmodernism would have us believe.

There is another danger that forces us to rethink the postmodern mood; the danger of what we autonomously declare to be good and helpful to us is bound to destroy us without remedy. So it is with postmodernism, it has run away from the old meta-narratives that warn of dangers spoken from the mouths of modernists; but what the postmodernist has judged to be good. As was said earlier

Any meta-narrative that prohibits or denies my freedom of expression sexually, morally, verbally or in acts or deeds through art, literature, invention or some form of creativity is an enemy to me.  The postmodernist says I am trapped and condemned by such a narrative. When objective truth is used, it is generally regarded as not objective but subjective and therefore oppressive.

What is it that brought about the fall of Adam and Eve? What helped them to decide to hazard a disobedience to a known command? Satan said “Gen 3:4…You will not surely die.
Gen 3:5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” They believed a lie, a direct contradiction of what God had said. But the disobedience didn’t come by a simple change of mind on their own, a lie was needed to redirect their course of action. For many post-moderns they claim the lie is from the mouth of the modernist that warns them of error and declares truth based upon external sources from themselves. We find now that the postmodernist has no one to trust, he cannot even trust himself to rightly discern the path to take. Am I believing a lie? Or, Am I being told the truth but slanted in order to entrap me somehow? Who can I trust? For many, the answer lay in hap-hazarding their lives in what gives them personal pleasure. To make it simple a trip into nihilism with an avoidance of tackling heavy questions satisfies a number of post moderns. For these people, their course is set upon the guide posts that direct them to personal satisfaction and any deviation from that is not tolerated in their mind.

Lastly, what was not so apparent to Adam and Eve, is held out to us in bold relief; the only way for us to know ‘independent knowledge of good and evil’ is to become evil to gain that knowledge. This is what took place. You may verbalize it in various ways; becoming immoral in order to have the knowledge of morality both good and evil, becoming alienated from God in order to know what God knows. The reality of Adam and Eve is they could only enter into such a knowledge by becoming an enemy to God; in order for Adam and Eve to experience such a knowledge they must reject other explicit knowledge that kept them safe from harm. For what the sinful man desires, he cannot obtain, he is unable to be moral because he is naturally immoral and his parents before him all the way back to Adam were immoral and they understood morality only from the perspective of being immoral.

Is this not the foundation for the greatest heart-ache and the worst of all disasters in the annuls of human history? It is the idea that God’s authoritative word is made to be a hindrance to the knowledge and freedom of humanity. This age old lie is still being promoted under a new banner, the banner of postmodernism. This is not about forcing religion down anyone’s throat or about making people conform to some stereotype behavior, it is about the reality that there is a God that can be known and his love can be known and experienced. This God is not the product of a tyrannical leader seeking to oppress, it is not the conspiracy of many trying to enslave masses, this is the reality of what scripture teaches. God is supposed to be known and loved and our human abilities demonstrate the powerful creative strength of God to make so many individuals with unique characteristics, all of them in some way revealing the true God as creator and originator of uniqueness.

The fall of Adam and Eve show how mankind developed its waywardness, how humanity ever seeks to find a unity of knowledge but cannot conform to that knowledge and cannot agree on what is true and what is false without a guide. You see, God is more postmodern than you thought; He is individual, He is informed and able to discern clearly the path for each of us to take, He is not seeking to quench individual beauty and creativity, he seeks to give to each of us a joy that only comes from finding trust in Jesus Christ and finding hope in Jesus that the future is not a gamble but secure and waiting for us. Jesus Christ is not a buzz-kill, He is in fact the creator of all joy and the reason why humanity loves power, strength, truth, happiness, creativity, community, peace and love. Its because all these things abide in him and are given to us as part of his life giving power through the Holy Spirit.

Jesus said it this way.

Joh 15:1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.
Joh 15:2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
Joh 15:3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.
Joh 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
Joh 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
Joh 15:6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.
Joh 15:7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
Joh 15:8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.
Joh 15:9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.
Joh 15:10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.
Joh 15:11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
Joh 15:12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
Joh 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
Joh 15:14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.
Joh 15:15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
Joh 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.
Joh 15:17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

The commands of Jesus are for our receiving great things from God, loving one another, knowing and loving God himself and finding community even with those who are your enemies. I believe this is what postmodernism wants, but alas, estranged from God it cannot obtain. But when a man puts his faith in Christ, believes that Christ will forgive his sins and disobedience to God’s word, Jesus will bring forgiveness and cleanse us from all sin and transgression. We will have a new start, a new spirit and a new desire to know God and depend upon him as was originally meant for human kind to do. For the first time, you may obtain knowledge about the world that is not poisoned by your own disobedience and your own immorality, you will be finally free.

John MacArthurs Distracting Extremism Regarding Charismatic Movt at Strange Fire Event Pt. 1

John MacArthurs Distracting Extremism Regarding Charismatic Movt at Strange Fire Event Pt. 1.

As a Continuationist I find John MacArthurs broadbrushing unhelpful and divisive. I give a whole hearted agreement with Dr. John Mac that false prophecies, erroneous and heretical teachings and manifestations that border on lunacy should be rebuked and resisted by the godly. But saying that Charismatic worship is blasphemous is dangerously close to blasphemy. The Charismatics are not Samaritans that ‘know not who they worship”, these believers know Christ and though some have succumb to erroneous teachings, that does not make their offerings of praise and worship false, nor their willingness to live by the word of God and obey it something equal to falsehood and hypocrisy.

The above article expresses my own opinion of the matter. Thanks to Wallace Henley for writing this piece.

 

Christian Apologetics Manifesto: Nineteen Theses To Shake the World With the Truth

Christian Apologetics Manifesto: Nineteen Theses To Shake the World With the Truth

By Douglas Groothuis

On this rock I will build my church,
and the gates of death will not overcome it—Jesus Christ (Matthew 16:9).

This is a manifesto to ignite the holy fire of apologetic passion and action. As did Jeremiah, we should have “fire in our bones” to communicate and commend Christian truth today (Jeremiah 20:9). This manifesto is not a sustained argument or a detailed development of themes. Rather, as a manifesto, it proclaims a short series of interrelated propositions crying out for both immediate and protracted reflection, prayer, and action. These challenges issue from convictions formed through my nearly thirty years of apologetic teaching, preaching, debating, writing, and Christian witness.

Because of (1) the waning influence of the Christian worldview in public and private life in America today, (2) the pandemic of anti-intellectualism in the contemporary church, and (3) the very command of God himself to declare, explain, and defend divine truth, I strongly advise that the following statements be wrestled with and responded to by all followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.

1. Christian apologetics involves the presentation and defense of Christianity as an integrated worldview that is objectively, universally, and absolutely true, reasonable, knowable, and existentially pertinent to both individuals and entire cultures. Apologetics involves rebutting unbelieving accusations against Christianity (2 Corinthian 10:3-5; Jude 3) as well as giving a constructive and persuasive case for Christian theism (Philippians 1:7; 1 Peter 3:15).

2. Any intellectual discipline, church practice, or teaching that minimizes or denigrates the importance of apologetics is unbiblical and must be repented of (Matthew 4:17; Acts 17:16-34; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; 1 Peter 3:15; Jude 3). The degradation of apologetics can only lead to the further vitiation of the life of the church. “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6).

3. The fundamental issue for apologetics is not how many apologists one has read, or what apologetic method one embraces (although that must be worked out carefully). Rather, the essential issue is whether or not one has a passion for God’s transforming truth—reasonably pursued and courageously communicated—and a passion for the lost because of the love of God resident and active in one’s life (Romans 9:1-3; 10:1). Like the Apostle Paul at Athens, we should both be “greatly disturbed” because of the rampant unbelief in our day. We, like that great apologist, should also be intellectually equipped and spiritually prepared to enter the marketplace of ideas for the cause of Christ (Acts 17:16-34).

4. The apologist must be convinced of the truth, rationality, pertinence, and knowability of the Christian worldview, which is derived from Holy Scripture as it is logically systematized and rightly harmonized with general revelation (truth knowable outside of Scripture). This is an intellectual goal for a lifetime as the disciple of Christ seeks to love God with one’s mind and take more and more thoughts captive to obey Christ (Matthew 22:37-40; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5). The apologist should never rest content with an ad hoc or piecemeal worldview, as is so typical of those afflicted with postmodernist pastiche sensibilities.

5. In light of (1), (2), (3), and (4), fideism—the claim that Christian faith finds no positive warrant from reason or evidence—should be rejected as unbiblical and harmful to the great cause of biblical truth (Isaiah 1:18; Matthew 22:37-39; Romans 12:1-2). Fideistic confessions such as “I just know that I know in my knower,” do little to challenge unbelief or induce unbelievers to consider the saving truth of the gospel. Moreover, members of other religions can use the same technique to attempt to support their false beliefs. This is especially true for Mormons, who rely so heavily on subjective feelings to verify objective claims. Fideism strips Christianity of its rational witness to the reality of God’s holy revelation to humanity.

6. Any theology, apologetics, ethics, evangelism or church practice that minimizes or denigrates the concept of objective, absolute, universal and knowable truth is both irrational and unbiblical. As such it must be rejected and repented of. Thus, the postmodernist view of truth as socially constructed, contingent, and relative must be rejected by Christian apologists. Anything that might be true in postmodernism can be found elsewhere in better philosophical systems. What is false in postmodernism (the vast majority of it) is fatal to Christian witness. Without a strong, biblical view of truth apologetics is impossible.

7. The work of the Holy Spirit in bringing people to saving faith should not be artificially separated from faithful apologetic engagement. Many Christians wrongly think that the ministry of the Holy Spirit is exclusively non-rational or even irrational. The Spirit is free to win and woe unbelievers in a host of ways—including dreams, angelic visitations, healings, visions, meaningful coincidences, and so on—but we must remember that He is “the Spirit of truth,” as Jesus said (John 16:13). There is no reason to separate the work of the Holy Spirit from rigorous and skillful argumentation for Christian truth. The Holy Spirit can set the redeemed mind free to argue logically and winsomely; he also reaches into the unbeliever’s soul through the force of arguments. Apologists should earnestly pray that the Holy Spirit will make them as intelligent and knowledgeable as possible.

8. All apologetic endeavors should manifest the virtues of both humility and courage through the empowering of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8; Galatians 5:16-26). If we have been bestowed by Almighty God with truth to defend rationally, this is because of God’s grace, not our own goodness (Ephesians 2:1-8; Titus 3:5-6). There is no room for pride, which goes before a fall. If Almighty God has bestowed us with saving truth to defend rationally, we should take it to the streets and not shrink back from appropriate encounters with unbelief. There is no room for cowardice. As Paul counseled Timothy, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).
Humility should not be confused with uncertainty or timidity. One may be confident in one’s worldview and defend it publicly without being arrogant. The grand apologist, G.K. Chesterton explains this perfectly and memorably.
But what we suffer from to-day is humility in the wrong place. Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition. Modesty has settled upon the organ of conviction; where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed. Nowadays the part of a man that a man does assert is exactly the part he ought not to assert himself. The part he doubts is exactly the part he ought not to doubt—the Divine Reason.

9. Apologetics must be carried out with the utmost intellectual integrity (Titus 2:7-8; James 3:1-2). All propaganda, cheap answers, caricatures of non-Christian views, hectoring, and fallacious reasoning must be avoided. Sadly, some apologetic materials are too cavalier for serious use. One should develop competent answers to searching questions about the truth and rationality of Christian faith. This demands excellence in scholarship at all intellectual levels, even the most popular. This cognitive orientation takes time, money, and sustained effort. It will not happen by watching television or by otherwise wasting our limited time. Christians must thus cultivate the virtue of studiousness in order to grow deep in their knowledge of God, the Christian worldview, and how to bring the Christian message to bear on unbelief.

10. The artificial separation of evangelism from apologetics must end. Many evangelistic methods die when those evangelized ask questions related to apologetics. Therefore, all evangelistic training should include basic apologetic training as well. The Apostle Paul serves as a model for us in that he both proclaimed and defended the Gospel in the Book of Acts (Acts 17:16-34; 19:8-10). Jesus also rationally defended his views as well as propounding them.

11. Apologetics is meant just as much for believers with doubts and questions as it is directed toward unbelievers. Therefore, Christians with doubts should not be shunned or shamed, but given good apologetic arguments (as well as pastoral care) in dealing with their intellectual struggles. When follows of John the Baptist came to Jesus with John’s questions about Jesus’ messianic identity, Jesus did not rebuke them, but provided evidence for why John should believe that Jesus was the Messiah (Matthew 11:1-11). Jude also counsels us to “have mercy on those who doubt” (Jude 22). One way to show mercy to the doubter is to build him or her by giving reasons for Christian faith. The apologetic witness of the church is strengthened tremendously when Christians gain rational assurance that their faith is indeed true and cogent.

12. Since all Christians are called and commanded to have a reason for the hope within them (1 Peter 3:15), Christian teachers, pastors, mentors and educators of all kinds are remiss if they avoid, denigrate, or minimize the importance of apologetics to biblical living and Christian witness. The commonly heard canard, “No one comes to Christ through arguments” is patently false. Many people, such as the apologists C.S. Lewis and John Warwick Montgomery, were drawn to the gospel through apologetic arguments. By God’s grace, I have been able to help unbelievers see the truth and rationality of Christianity through apologetic arguments. Well-respected Christian philosophers and apologists, William Lane Craig and J.P. Moreland concur. Not all Christian teachers are equally gifted in apologetics, and some will emphasize this discipline more than others; but none should minimize the necessity of apologetics or preach around it when the biblical text requires otherwise.

13. Those outside of the leadership positions mentioned in (12) should humbly but boldly request that apologetics be made a constitutive part of these institutions if this is not already the case and pray to that end. We must stimulate each other to love and good deed in his area (Hebrews 10:24).

14. In light of (12) and (13), Christian colleges, seminaries, and churches should incorporate apologetics into their institutional/educational life, mission, and vision. Specifically, every Christian high school, college, university, and seminary should require at least one class in apologetics for every degree in their curriculum. Sadly, this is not now the case for most institutions of Christian learning. Moreover, every discipline should be taught from a Christian worldview, since all truth is God’s truth. This has significant apologetic value in and of itself. Duane Litfin, President of Wheaton College, has written very insightfully on this practice with respect to the Christian college.
Christian education within the church, especially the junior high level and above, should become more intellectually serious and thus more apologetically oriented. Classes should be taught by thoughtful teachers who engage students to outthink the world for Christ. These settings should become more like prayerful classrooms and less like chattering religious coffee and donut centers. Along these lines, churches should invest significantly in church library that is well stocked with books on apologetics and other topics.

15. Mission agencies should insure that their missionaries are adequately trained in the apologetic issues and strategies required for their place of service. The Great Commission requires that Christ’s followers disciple the nations by teaching them everything Jesus taught his original disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). Since Jesus prized the life of the mind and defended this theology and ethics rationally, Christians should bring the best arguments for Christianity and against non-Christian religions to bear on the mission field. The nations cannot be discipled apart from the full orbed teaching and defense of the Christian worldview as it relates to all of life.

16. Because apologetics is meant to be the presentation and defense of Christianity as true, reasonable, pertinent, and knowable, competent apologists should attempt to offer their arguments in as many public venues as possible. Therefore, qualified Christian apologists should learn to become public intellectuals: thinkers who have mastered their material and are willing and able to enter public discourse and debate in a way that challenges and engages the non-Christian mind as well as galvanizes other Christians to hone their apologetic skills. Areas of apologetic engagement include the following:

  • Writing letters to the editors of newspapers and magazines.
  • Writing op-ed pieces for newspapers.
  • Calling talk radio programs.
  • Engaging in public debates and dialogues on religious and ethical issues, particularly in university campuses, where young minds are being forged for a lifetime.
  • Making apologetic contributions to interactive web pages.Writing books oriented to those outside the typical evangelical market, published by secular publishers if possible.
  • Creating apologetics tracts for specific events.
  • Any other creative outreach—drama, poetry, cinema, and more.

17. Christians should also labor to present reasons for faith in as many private settings as possible. Many who are not gifted as public speakers or writers can shine in their interpersonal Christian witness. This can include apologetic encounters such as:

  • Inviting people into one’s home for apologetic messages and discussions.
  • Giving apologetic literature to friends, family, and coworkers.
  • Writing letters to friends, family, and coworkers explaining and defending Christianity.

18. Young Christians with an aptitude in philosophy and academic pursuits in general should be encouraged that these disciplines are just as spiritual as anything directly church-related. For example, being a Christian philosopher at a secular college or university is just as godly and spiritual than being a pastor, missionary, or professor at a Christian institution (1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17). As the Dutch statesman, theologian, and journalist, Abraham Kuyper said, “There is not one square inch of the entire creation about which Christ does not cry out, ‘This is mine!'” One may prudently apply one’s apologetic skills in these settings and extend the Christian witness.

19. All apologetics ventures—whether in writing, speaking, or dialogue—should be backed by personal prayer by the apologist and supporting prayer of the church (Ephesians 6:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:17). Certain apologetic ventures—especially those that deal with the occult and false religions—may require fasting in addition to prayer (Matthew 6:18-20; Acts 13:1-3).

May we who are redeemed through the blood of the lamb and who yearn to proclaim, explain, and defend the gospel of Jesus Christ take as our charge the Apostle Paul’s rousing conclusion to his glorious exposition of the meaning of Jesus’ resurrection.

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).

A shorter version of this manifesto, featuring sixteen theses, was published in Areopagus Journal, Volume 5, no. 1 (January/February, 2005), 28-29.
For a defense of this view of biblical truth, see Douglas Groothuis, Truth Decay: Defending Christianity Against the Challenges of Postmodernism (InterVarsity Press, 2000), especially chapters three and four.
On apologetic method, see Gordon Lewis, Testing Christianity’s Truth Claims (University Press of America, 1990), Steven Cowan, editor, Five Views of Apologetics (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 2000).
See Groothuis, Truth Decay; Millard Erickson, Truth or Consequences (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001); Gary Scott Smith, Truth and a New Kind of Christian (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2005). For a review of Brian McLaren’s influential defense of postmodernism in A New Kind of Christian (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2001), see Douglas Groothuis, “A New Kind of Postmodernist,” The Christian Research Journal, volume 25, number 3 (2003); available on-line at: HYPERLINK “http://www.equip.org/free/DP808.htm”http://www.equip.org/free/DP808.htm. For an incisive review of McLaren’s book, A Generous Orthodoxy (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004), see Jeremy Green’s review in Denver Journal, available on-line at: HYPERLINK “http://www.denverseminary.edu/dj/articles2005/0400/0406.php”http://www.denverseminary.edu/dj/articles2005/0400/0406.php.
G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (New York: Doubleday, 1959; orig. pub., 1908), 31
See Douglas Groothuis, “Television: Agent of Truth Decay” in Truth Decay, 281-295.
On the intellectual virtue of studiousness, see Jay Wood, Epistemology: Becoming Intellectually Virtuous (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1998); James W. Sire, Discipleship of the Mind (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990); Habits of the Mind (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2000); J.P. Moreland, Love Your God With All Your Mind (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1997).
See Moreland, Love Your God With All Your Mind, 131-134.
On Jesus as an apologist and philosopher, see Douglas Groothuis, “Jesus: Philosopher and Apologist,” The Christian Research Journal, volume 25, number 2 (2002); available on line at: HYPERLINK “http://www.equip.org/free/DJ700.htm”http://www.equip.org/free/DJ700.htm; see also Douglas Groothuis, On Jesus (Wadsworth, 2003).
On this, see Os Guinness, God in the Dark (Crossway Books, 1996).
J.P Moreland and William Lane Craig, Philosophical Foundation for a Christian Worldview (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003), 4-5.
Duane Litfin, Conceiving the Christian College (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2004).
For specifics on developing these kinds of values in Church education, see Moreland, Love Your God With All Your Mind, 195-197.
For specific suggestions on this, see Moreland, Love Your God With All Your Mind, 195-197.
See Darrow Miller with Stan Guthrie, Discipling Nations, 2nd ed. (Seattle, WA: WYAM Publishers, 2001).
On how to write a clear and persuasive letter to the editor, see Douglas Groothuis, “How to Write a Letter to the Editor,” The Christian Research Journal, volume 29, number 1 (2006).
On the philosophy of making and distributing evangelistic/apologetic tracts, see Douglas Groothuis, “Event Specific Evangelism” in Confronting the New Age (InterVarsity Press, 1988), 217-222.
On the spurious separation of sacred and secular, see Arthur Holmes, All Truth is God’s Truth (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1977), 1-30; Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Publishers, 2004); and Francis Schaeffer, A Christian Manifesto (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Publishers, 1981).
On the meaning of fasting, see John Piper, A Hunger for God: Desiring God Through Fasting and Prayer (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1997).

http://blogs.christianpost.com/bookstop/christian-apologetics-manifesto-nineteen-theses-to-shake-the-world-with-the-truth-8817/

New Town Shooting a partial Apologetic answer

NEW TOWN SHOOTING, A partial Apologetic answer

Most of you know this is a little dated and much discussion has been made over the issue. I offer this re-post in order to bring to memory that human life has great value and as my little article goes on to show, Atheism may have a feeling about it, but cannot in truth condemn it. Those who have not lost their moorings in objective moral truth can condemn such actions and can value human life equally for all humanity, not just an elite.

In the wake of this massacre of the innocents a rage has arisen to lash out at anything and anyone that might be culpable. The immediate response? Its to place a safety net around ourselves, a shield to distance ourselves from the fear grips all of us, anger burns within that such a tragedy, no, atrocity occurred while our children attend school. Small town USA, not New York or Chicago or Los Angeles were big city crime can include some very large numbers, but New Town, population a little over 1900 people. A fairly affluent community, middle incomers with around 100K income.

What has been the response? Ban guns, ban assault rifles, ban big rifle clips, ban weapons that can easily be made automatic-firing. The NRA is partly responsible say some; “It’s those gun nuts that put weapons like this in the hands of loonies that murder”. Some even looked so far as genetics to try and find the “type” of person that could do such a thing, they say “lets find out who they are!” While the elected officials scramble to find some solution that would have enough horsepower to carry them away from falling victim again to this kind of insane
murder/suicide, no simple answers appear to work. A country branded in their minds with secularism cannot discover the truth that bond men together and place value upon all human life. A Pluralistic society pretends to tolerate those differences within people, but because they are moving away from the Christian foundations that made pluralism remotely do-able all we find is hatred and violence arising because the pragmatic thing to do is remove the problem people.  We don’t know what a ‘killer’ looks like because he looks like everyone.

But before we get on the gun ban wagon, there’s another headline.

http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/12/14/15901085-villager-slashes-22-kids-with-knife-at-elementary-school-gates-in-china?lite

Just when you thought getting rid of guns would solve the problem we find its no problem to kill children with a knife. 22 children killed, another 28 elsewhere. Bombs take more in another kind of violence in another part of the world, huffing glue takes its thousands in South America; just where we are to turn seems like a spin to hit the pinata while we are in pitch darkness, not knowing even if there is a pinata to hit.

Just what is the Christian Apologist to say to all of this? I read on the internet an Atheist saying “This is proof there is no God, I rest my case”. But little did the Atheist finish typing that out, the glaring inconsistency of his own morality crippled any hope he had of making his case. For no sooner than he finished judging God, he parked his philosophy and dared anyone to prove it invalid. Well, some Christian Apologist did just that. With just a few sentences the Apologist answered that he must agree that God is a moral law giver in order for God to be culpable. In short, The Atheist denied that there was any objective moral law that could actually once-and-for-all label this atrocity “morally wrong”. To the Atheist, he chose to call this crime against children ‘wrong’ because he ‘thought so’. What he meant was that for him this atrocity was morally wrong, but could not base that decision in any morality outside of himself. He had to allow in his mind the relativism that permits a diametrically opposed morality so he could stay consistent. But in doing so, his consistency paves the way for im-moral monsters.

Now to the Atheist this seems very astute, but underneath it contains the very license to commit such crimes. Why? Because the only difference between this Atheist and the Murderer of New Town is one of opinion. It was the Atheist’s opinion that this atrocity was wrong, but for the murderer it was not, it was a solution to his problems. Do you see, when the Atheist opted to make morality a matter of personal choice he forged a link between his ideology and the non-condemnation of murderous actions; the link is simply how his a-moral opinion of the matter could not demand moral restraint of the murderers actions. Where is the restraint? We see that in the Atheist mindset It’s no where to be found, where’s the anger and rage? It’s just an emotion that has no more validity than the emotion of the shooter while killing. The Atheist validated the killers morality because the Atheist lifted up personal opinion of right and wrong and placed it into the hands of autonomous human beings,  he took it out of the context of God’s will for men into the arena of personal choice and thereby had no power to veto the killer who simply opted to act upon his own morals that were right in his own eyes.

Now, any one not duped into the Atheist amoral thinking says “NO, this is wrong all the time every time”. He appeals to a morality not self-discovered but transcendent, outside of himself that he imagines that is imposed upon every other human being. This kind of Morality is Absolute and is given by God and imposed upon the consciences of all men everywhere. We know that ethically right and wrong is worked out differently in various cultures, but, we know that murder is always wrong, theft is always wrong, lies and deception are wrong. When we speak of citizen to citizen human relation, and one man dealing fairly with another man, these Moral Absolutes are assumed by everyone.

If you steal from an Atheist its still theft even if his amoral philosophy leaves the loophole for you to exploit him through his personally-chosen-morality. While your personal morality may justify you stealing from him, it is fortunate that the world at-large has not believed the Atheist amoral philosophy. Otherwise he ( the thief)  may sit in court and hear the judge say “what is right for him is his own personal choice and you (the atheist) have no say in the matter, not you or God or the state, therefore he (the thief)  may keep what he possesses.”. It would not take seconds before civil order would collapse into anarchy. As ridiculous as this analogy is, a real truth emerges; human beings cannot function on moral relativism and societies that attempt to do so plunge themselves into mindless permissions of the wildest and most insane treatment of human beings.

When someone decides that God is culpable for the evil that has occurred, take a hard look at the people who committed those acts. Did they do what God’s commands have said? Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt no murder, thou shalt not bear false witness? You will suddenly see that they did exactly what God has forbidden them to do. Someone will say OK, but why didn’t God intervene? I mean those were just children; multiplied millions of testimonies will attest to the fact that God has intervened in multitudes of evil events. The last chapter on this terrible event has not been written and how God brings this out for good for his people can only be answered by God himself. But to judge God or pretend he does not exist because evil occurred begs the question “how do you know evil unless you believe in a good that is outside of yourself and outside everyone else?” The standard of Good cannot be located in any sinful human being. There is only One human being where God’s goodness and God’s judgment meet, that is Jesus Christ. If you create your own morality, you cannot impose that morality on anyone else. Because Jesus Christ is God and has come in the flesh, he alone imposes his morality on the whole world according to his standard. All other pretenders, and that’s exactly what they are, will be judged according to his moral standard; a moral standard that is in the minds and hearts of everyone in the whole world. Pretending God doesn’t exist or pretending your own personal morality is as good as anyone else s…well, that’s put to the test all over the world and it comes up as a horrifying end note to the pretense.

The Christian has an answer to evil, not a complete explanation for all the events that occurred, but an answer that can take the victims forward one day at a time into hope and healing. The Atheist, he cannot even offer a morality that absolutely condemns such an atrocity, let alone offer a solution built on moral relativism that is not fully self-destructive to the community at-large. Let God be glorified in restoring these families, may God heal and help everyone of them and those affected by this atrocity. May Jesus Christ be seen as the true life and hope that this world desperately needs. In Jesus Christ is forgiveness and the offer of eternal life where deliverance from this present evil world awaits. The Atheist offers meaninglessness which is a breeding ground for monsters; the Christian offers their Lord and Savior who is the hope of the afflicted.