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Posts Tagged ‘Apologetics’

I referred to a question a few days ago that Mark Driscoll asked in his book, Vintage Jesus: Timeless Answers to Timely Questions, ultimately everybody answers the question of who Jesus is and responds in kind.

There is so much conjecture and opinion.  SocietyVS – a regular visitor to this blog said:

I see Jesus as the Christ – Messiah – at the right hand of God in His court – but not God.

A new friend, Steve, responded:

So what do you do with Isaiah?

He said some interesting things about the Messiah:

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

And what do you do with John?

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1)

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” (John 1:14)

If the Bible is any good at all, the conclusion is inescapable.

What does Jesus have to say about Himself.  A walk through the Gospels we can see that Jesus claims to be God in numerous ways.  Driscoll mentions ten.  I am going to list the first five in this post.

1.  Jesus said He came down from Heaven.

For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me, (John 6:38, ESV).

If you read John 6:41-66 you will see that this comment got Him into trouble with the Pharisees, and confounded his own disciples.

2.  Jesus said He was more than just a good man.

A lot of people will say that Jesus is a good teacher and that He (they wouldn’t capitalize he) was a good man.  They tried saying this back in His day as well.

And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone, (Mark 10:17-18, ESV).

Jesus healed on the Sabbath and that really infuriated the Pharisees.  He also called God his Father and that also put Him on their “bad” list.

This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God, (John 5:18, ESV).

3. Jesus said He is the Son of Man.

Jesus uses this title around 80 times in all four Gospels.  This is a title that we see in the book of Daniel.

In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence.  He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed, (Daniel 7:13-14, NIV).

This passage indicates that he isn’t human.  He is given messianic dominion and authority.  This person is worshiped.  David speaks of this person is Psalm 110.

The Lord says to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool.”

The Lord sends forth from Zion
your mighty scepter.
Rule in the midst of your enemies!
Your people will offer themselves freely
on the day of your power,
in holy garments;
from the womb of the morning,
the dew of your youth will be yours.
The Lord has sworn
and will not change his mind,
“You are a priest forever
after the order of Melchizedek.”

The Lord is at your right hand;
he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath.
He will execute judgment among the nations,
filling them with corpses;
he will shatter chiefs
over the wide earth.
He will drink from the brook by the way;
therefore he will lift up his head.

4.  Jesus performed miracles.

Driscoll states, “Jesus was a great leader and teacher, but his ministry also included the miraculous – one line of evidence that he was in fact God and more than just another spiritually enlightened person,” (pg. 20).  Jesus says to those challenging Him to view these miracles as evidence.

Do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”  Again they sought to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands, (John 10:36-39, ESV).

Nearly forty specific miracles are mentioned in the New Testament and nearly a third of the Gospel of Mark deals with His miracles.

5.  Jesus said He is God.

Many cults wrongly deny Jesus’ divinity.  But Scripture clearly illustrate how Jesus said he is God.  His hearers understood his claim.

But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?”  And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”  And the high priest tore his garments and said, “What further witnesses do we need?  You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned him as deserving death, (Mark 14:61-64, ESV).

Also we see in John 8.

Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”  So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple, (John 8:58-59, ESV).

When Jesus names himself “I am,” he was declaring himself to be the same God who revealed himself by the title “I AM”.  In John 10 we see that the Pharisees wanted to stone him for blasphemy.  Why?  Because they understood Jesus was saying that He was God.

So before we make up our minds and say that Jesus isn’t God we really have to closely examine what He said about Himself.  I hope that you will do just that and check out the next post.

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1.  Epistemic Hubris

Have you heard this from someone recently? That “WE CANNOT KNOW, with certainty, what God has revealed so anyone who thinks he does is proud? We must, rather, (they say) embrace God as mystery?”

In light of this shouldn’t we be asking the following: Is not this assertion itself a dogma with affirmations and denials? Is not this itself a statement of knowledge? Is “we cannot know with certainty” not itself an assertion of KNOWLEDGE (a dogmatic assertion) as THE WAY to look at Scripture? Whether conscious of it or not, this is what is called “double-talk” and those who believe this are doing the very thing they claim to despise, even in the very speaking of it.

Good point!

HT: Reformation Theology via Christian Striver

2.  Crisis in Swaziland

One in three Swazi women have suffered some form of sexual abuse as a child; one in four experienced physical violence, a new United Nations survey revealed.

The study by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is the first of its kind conducted in a country where anecdotal evidence suggests an alarming number of female children are victims of abuse. More disconcertingly still, the mushrooming population of orphans and vulnerable children in Swaziland provide yet more opportunities for sexual exploitation to occur.

In two years, 200,000 Swazi children will have been orphaned by AIDS – more than one-fifth of the current population, according to UNICEF. With HIV prevalence at 33.4 percent among people aged between 15 and 49, the country has the world’s highest infection rate. As a result, life expectancy has halved from nearly 60 years in the 1990s to just over 30 years today.

Source: IRIN

HT: Seth Barnes – he lists ways you can help, so check his blog post out.

3.  And just because… Love for the Ewoks – awesome tribute of these furry creatures from the Return of the Jedi.

HT: Joshua Griffin

4.  Pray for Myanmar

Source: NASA

I would encourage you to donate too – Food for the Hungry is a great organization who plans to respond to the needs there.

John Piper also lists six ways we can respond.

5.  The Federal budget crisis is explained over at SmartChristian.com.

6.  Al Mohler wrote earlier this week about the birth of Trig Paxson Van Palin on April 18.  He is the son of Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin.  Palin’s son, Trig, was diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome.  It didn’t matter to the Palin’s, they chose life.

The Palins would not even consider aborting their baby. “We’ve both been very vocal about being pro-life,” Governor Palin said. “We understand that every innocent life has wonderful potential.”

She loves her baby boy and is proud of him. “I’m looking at him right now, and I see perfection,” Palin told the Associated Press. “Yeah, he has an extra chromosome. I keep thinking, in our world, what is normal and what is perfect?”

Some ethicists now go so far as to argue for a “duty” to abort a baby with a Down diagnosis. This is an assault upon the dignity of every human being. The fact that so few Down syndrome babies now make it to birth is a sign that America is making its own pact with the Culture of Death.

HT: Justin Taylor

7.  John Piper asks “Do People Bore You?”  He wants to encourage us to move toward people as the lack of doing just that is a barrier to personal evangelism.

8.  You can read about the history of unbelief as M.Z. Hemingway writes “Skepticism, Agnosticism and Atheism: A Brief History of Unbelief” over at Modern Reformation.

The last two years have been good for atheism. A rash of books making the case for unbelief, including Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion (2006) and Christopher Hitchens’ God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (2007), have sold millions of copies. Strident atheist Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass, one of his atheistic tomes designed to rescue children from belief in God, was made into a movie. Even pop star Elton John got into the act, calling for a ban on religion. Leaders of the so-called New Atheism are aggressive and proselytizing. They don’t just condemn belief in God; they also condemn respect for belief in God.

But how new is the New Atheism? It is said best in Ecclesiastes 1:9: “There is nothing new under the sun.” To be sure, explicit and public atheism is a somewhat new phenomenon. But atheism, agnosticism, and good old-fashioned doubt have strong and lengthy histories worth learning. Because atheism is parasitic on theism and even more on Christianity, to learn the history of atheism is to learn the history of the church.

Take the New Atheist creed of “no heaven, no hell, just science,” which articulates the widely held division in modern thought between faith and reason. To fully understand the story of that division, it is wise to consider the creation of the world as told in Genesis. We learn from Moses that the Creator is distinct and different from the created world. Where ancient mythologies saw gods as personifications of natural phenomena such as rain and fire, ancient Israel viewed nature as separate from God and man. God created nature and man was its steward. Nature is not to be worshiped, God alone is. Nature and the natural process in and of themselves are not divine. God, apart from a few notable exceptions, doesn’t speak to his people through nature but through historic events such as deliverance from Egypt. It is wise to remember as we proceed that this separation between nature and God is a biblical precept.  (Be sure to read the rest)

HT: The Wittenberg Door

9.  Stand to Reason’s publication – Solid Ground, offers a crash course on critical thinking.

HT: Barry Carey

10.  Matthew Lee Anderson asks, “can men and women be friends?”  He doesn’t think so.

My provisional answer, which is driven largely by my experience, is that any young people seeking to find a spouse would do better (oddly) to cultivate friendships with their same sex while viewing the opposite sex through a strictly romantic lense.  Keeping the roles and relationships separate allows us to have more clarity on our own feelings and behaviors in each relationship.  I have seen many a person (guy and girl!) unwittingly become emotionally tied to someone who was “just a friend,” only to be heartbroken when they pursued someone else.

Men and women seeking to marry should not deny the role that sexuality plays in their interaction with the opposite sex.   To do so is ultimately to fall prey to a gnosticism–that is, a denial of the body–which ironically leads to a weakened ability to control the impulses of the body.  Is there any wonder why affairs often start between people who claim to be “just friends?”

I don’t agree with his position entirely, while I do recognize his concerns.  I do think platonic relationships are possible between the sexes.  Since I am a married man I exercise caution – like never meeting privately when alone… pursue relationships as a couple, not an individuals, etc.  Even in my role with Serve Our Youth Network (when I sometimes have to meet with females for recruitment/networking purposes) I do not meet with individual females even in public at night – it seems too date-like.

What do you think?

11.  Michael Patton is asked if he allows women to teach men.  I don’t agree entirely with his position, but I liked his reasoning.

12.  C.J. Mahaney did a blog series on Modesty – check it out.

13.  Tim Challies’ review of Shane Claiborne’s book The Irresistible Revolution.  Pretty insightful, and pretty much brings to light some of the concerns that I have with Shane Claiborne while at the same time recognizing that he does rightly criticize the North American church and that is needed.

14.  Great quote from Puritan theologian John Owen which serves as a warning for pastors.

“It is not to learn the form of the doctrine of godliness, but to get the power of it implanted in our souls. And this is an eminent means of our making a progress in the knowledge of the truth. To seek after mere notions of truth, without an endeavor after an experience of its power in our hearts, is not the way to increase our understanding in spiritual things….Men may have in their study of the scripture other ends also, as the profit and edification of others; but if this conforming of their own souls unto the power of the word be not fixed in the first place in their minds, they do not strive lawfully nor will be crowned.”

HT: Irish Calvinist

15.  Joe Carter’s thoughts on the Evangelical Manifesto.

16.  Here are 12 spiritual lessons from Narnia: Prince Caspian.

17.  Christ Against the Multiculturalists by Stephen H. Web

A snippet below… read the whole thing.

Here is how the game is played: They will first try to convince you that you are a racist, a sexist, and an enemy of social justice. Then they will argue that the victims of racism, sexism, and cultural elitism have a privileged view of these issues. It is as if the victim of the crime were to be given the first, last, and only word in a trial, with no cross-examination and no other witnesses called. Your job as a student in the multicultural classroom is to grant unquestioned authority to those who come from underprivileged or marginalized backgrounds. You have to do this because, you will learn, because Western culture has exploited every other culture, and your experiences are so shaped by Western culture that you cannot question those who criticize you. And thus you will become a good cultural leftist (which is the shape liberalism takes in the academy), or, if you are not convinced by these arguments, you will learn how to fake it for the sake of getting a good grade.

All of this is profoundly anti-Christian, which is why Christian students are typically the most radical questioners of higher education. Because Christians believe in a universal human nature, they also believe they can make universal truth claims about human nature. That does not mean that every statement about human nature is true. Of course not! A central part of education is learning how to argue by testing your own ideas about human nature against the ideas found in great books and the ideas espoused by your teachers and fellow students. Christians believe, for example, that because we are created in the image of God, every single person is of infinite worth, but Christians also believe that humans are fallen creatures, in need of grace and forgiveness. Christians are thus able to appreciate both the majesty and the misery of human actions. That is a powerful framework for questioning what you read and hear. What Christians do not believe is that every culture has its own truths and that the only way to learn about another culture is to refrain from seeking the universal truth.

18.  Brett Kunkle of Stand to Reason shares that relativism is alive and well in the church.

19.  How not to be involved in your kids’ lives.  HT: Dennis Babish

20.  Here is not just a crummy, but downright heretical church sign.

HT: Suzannah Paul via Crummy Church Signs

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Today marks the 35th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision making abortion legal in the United States.  Since 1973 over 50 million children have been aborted.

There is some good news in that abortion rates have lowered to levels not seen since the 1970s.

A new study shows the rate of abortions is the lowest since 1974, the year after the high court’s Jan. 22, 1973, decision striking down state laws that made the procedure illegal.  In addition, the overall number of abortions has plunged 25 percent since 1990, when the number of legal U.S. abortions peaked at 1.6 million, according to a survey released yesterday by abortion-rights researchers, the Guttmacher Institute.

Although the study’s authors do not directly correlate state laws with the drop in rates, advocates on both sides of the abortion debate consider state restrictions one of the underlying reasons for the decline.

I thought that it would be appropriate to launch a series of blog posts called Against Abortion today.  In this series of posts I would like to explore a biblical framework for the pro-life movement as, I believe, there is some confusion among Christians today.  I would also like to look at common pro-choice questions/arguments that are made.  Also I want to explore ways that Christians, in particular, can engage this issue through non-political means.  Since many of us live is states where there is a political deadlock I would also like to suggest ideas for legislation that could, if states haven’t already adopted it, garner bi-partisan support.

I hope that you will contribute to this discussion, I’d love to read your comments.

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From Amy Hall of Stand to Reason:

Mormons often argue that because they live good lives, they pass the test given by Jesus in Matthew 7:15-23 to determine whether or not a person is following a true prophet of God:

“A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. . . . So then, you will know them by their fruits.”

This single test of behavioral fruit (they limit this passage to actions, to the exclusion of doctrine) proposed by many Mormons is necessary (since it’s true that we ought to see a change in behavior over time in those who truly love Jesus and His words), but it’s not sufficient. The Bible explicitly gives two doctrinal fruit tests for false prophets:

1. Do they teach the truth about God as revealed in the Bible? Deuteronomy 13:1-3 – “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen. . . .”

2. Do they teach the true Gospel as revealed in the Bible? Galatians 1:8 – “If we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!”

Read the rest.

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Well, ok the United States Postal Service.  One of my belated Christmas presents.  Every year when my family asks what I want for Christmas I always say books.  Mainly because in my current position I do not have a book fund, whereas when I was a youth pastor I had one.  So Christmas and birthdays are usually book bonanzas.  This is what I received today.

Kingdom Triangle: Recover the Christian Mind, Renovate the Soul, Restore the Spirit’s Power

By J.P. Moreland (Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology) (Zondervan, 2007)

Product description from CBD:

Why do the personal lives of many modern Christians mirror our surrounding culture? Calling us to reclaim Christianity’s potency within Western society, Moreland offers a penetrating critique of postmodernism and naturalism—the worldviews most responsible for the church’s waning influence. Drawing lessons from the early church, he charts the way toward 21st-century restoration.

  The second book I ordered is:

God & Government: An Insider’s View On The Boundaries Between Faith & Politics

By Chuck Colson (Founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries & Break Point) (Zondervan, 2007)

Product description from CBD:

Chuck Colson brings together his political experience and his Christian commitment of faith to take on the issues of church and state. Speaking plainly, clearly, and to the point, God & Government (a revised and updated edition of Kingdoms in Conflict) offers a uniquely challenging view of politics, power, and the evangelical pulpit in America. Colson tackles such issues as Christians in politics, civil disobedience, and political structures, and shows why Christians who truly understand the Kingdom of God and their role in the world are the most responsible citizens.

Discover why the church and state are kingdoms in conflict (as well as how an individual can be both a Christian and a patriot) in this provocative, practical and challenging look at the role of the church in society, the role of government in the world, and the role of Christians in each.

Last, but not least.. a Biblical studies reference work that I’ve wanted for some time now.

New International Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties

By Gleason L. Archer, Jr. (the late Dr. Archer last served as a Professor Emeritus of Old Testament and Semitics at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School)

(Zondervan, 2001)

Description provided by CBD:

Did God approve of Rahab’s lie? Why are many of the Old Testament quotes in the New Testament not literal? Does the Bible class abortion with murder? Where did Adam and Eve’s sons get their wives? Does 1 Corinthians 7:10-16 authorize divorce for desertion?

The New International Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties gives you informed answers and includes an eye-opening look at linguistic, cultural, numerical, relational, and other considerations. Referencing both the New International Version and the New American Standard Bible, this helpful resource makes scholarly insights accessible to everyone.

I’ll be blogging through the first two, the reference work is just a handy tool for when some folks who frequent here ask questions (and for my own personal growth too).

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