Apologetics is Taking Off in East Tennessee!

First of all, I want to take an opportunity to remind everyone of the God’s Not Dead Apologetics Conference to be held at 6pm this Friday at Freedom House Church of God, Knoxville, TN.

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Previously, it was announced that the conference would be held in the youth room. We have moved up to the main sanctuary. In addition to the speakers I have already profiled, Darris Brock will be speaking on the importance of critical thinking, Allie Peters will be speaking on the problem of evil, and Ray Weedon will be speaking on the fine tuning of the universe.

Next month, on the 12th, Dr. Hugh Ross will be speaking at Blount Christian Church in Maryville, TN.

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Dr. Ross is a Christian astronomer and pastor, as well as the president and founder of the science and apologetics ministry Reasons to Believe.

I am very excited about these upcoming events and the future of Christian apologetics in eastern Tennessee. I look forward to meeting you all at Freedom House and Blount Christian!

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An Argument from Liberty?

Have you ever heard the observation that free societies have only ever arisen in cultures with a Judeo-Christian worldview? I’m not going to argue for that view here, because quite frankly I have never studied the issue in depth.

A recent episode of the Tom Woods Show is the catalyst for this post. On the September 11th episode, Tom’s guest was Linda Raeder, Associate Professor of Political Science at Palm Beach Atlantic University. She and Tom discussed her book John Stuart Mill and the Religion of Humanity. According to Professor Raeder, Mill was not the proponent of liberty many think him to be, but instead held secularism in a sort of cultic religious awe, and wanted a totalitarian secular society. She also said that free societies have only come to fruition in Judeo-Christian cultures.

As I said, I haven’t studied the subject in depth, so I can’t say for certain whether Professor Raeder is correct or not. I confess that I am sympathetic to her views. However, I would like to study this line of thinking more thoroughly before attempting to make a case for it. After all, where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17, ESV).

What do my readers think? Is there such a thing as an “argument from liberty” for God? Are there any resources you would recommend?

Will They Not Say That Ye are Mad?

Christian Scholar vs Muslim. SHOCKING ENDING & Fu…: http://youtu.be/Y0_iluq6uus

I first saw this video on The Dividing Line webcast with James White. I do not want to simply repeat the same points which Dr. White made, so I suggest readers watch or listen to this episode of The Dividing Line for themselves.

Suffice it to say, this video is embarrassing for Daniel. It clearly demonstrates the vital need for Christians to be well versed in apologetics, sound doctrine, and most of all the Bible. I am not sure where Daniel received his religious education, but if they taught him apologetics he either forgot or never caught on. He clearly learned a little church history from somewhere, but fails to use his knowledge to make any cogent rebuttal to the Muslim, Dr. Fazal Rahman, in the video. He gets his theology wrong too. But as I said, this is addressed in greater detail by James White.

The Bible does not merely suggest, but commands Christians to be, “…prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15, ESV). Unfortunately, many Christians would not do any better than Daniel did in this situation. I could stand to be better versed in witnessing to Muslims myself.

I also want to address the end of the video, in which Daniel got rather emotional, and began to preach badly, and (allegedly) speak in tongues. The preaching was bad because Daniel failed to make any coherent point. The biblical passage read seemed to have stirred Daniel up into a passionate frenzy, but he failed to convey any substantive reason for Dr. Rahman to trust in Jesus for his salvation.

I am also not convinced that the tongues were genuine. I do not say this because I believe the gift of tongues ceased at the close of the Apostolic age. I am a Pentecostal, and I believe that tongues and all the other spiritual gifts listed in Scripture are functioning today. I doubt it was genuine because it failed to match any description of tongues described in the New Testament. At best, even if Daniel’s outburst was the manifestation of a true gift of the Spirit, Daniel was out of order.

Writing of the gifts of the Spirit, Paul advised that “…all things should be done decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40, ESV). This is because tongues, and the other gifts of the Spirit, are not toys to be played with, but tools God has given for specific purposes.

In the first biblical instance of tongues, when the early Christians were baptized in the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost (or Shavu’ot), they supernaturally spoke in the languages of Jews who had traveled from around the world to celebrate the festival. The Galilean followers of Jesus did not know or speak these languages previously (or afterward as far as we know). As a result, thousands of Jews experienced conviction, repented, and put their trust in Jesus Christ.

The unknown tongues referred to by Paul in 1 Corinthians chapters 12-14, also had a purpose, and Paul wanted to ensure the gift was used correctly. For starters, when speaking tongues in a public setting, Paul warned the Corinthians of the futility of speaking in an unknown tongue without an interpreter.

1 Corinthians 14:6-13 ESV

Now, brothers, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching? If even lifeless instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is played? And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle? So with yourselves, if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air. There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning, but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me. So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church. Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret.

Since Daniel made no attempt to interpret the language he spoke, according to the Apostle he was pointlessly “speaking into the air.” Some might object that it was not pointless to the extent that Daniel was edifying himself (per 1 Corinthians 14:4). But was Daniel there to edify himself, or defend Christianity and hopefully lead the Muslim to faith in Jesus? Was Daniel’s “tongues” directed at himself or an audience? For the purpose of apologetics and evangelism, Daniel may as well have been responding to the Dr. Rahman in Mandarin Chinese, a Native American tribal language, or Klingon for all the impact it made. Also, as I previously stated, I am not convinced that Daniel was moved in his behavior by the Holy Spirit. I have no good reason to believe Daniel was edifying anybody, including himself.

Paul even warned the Corinthians that unknown tongues spoken without interpretation would only convince non-Christians that Believers were crazy.

1 Corinthians 14:23-25 ESV

If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds? But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.

The reaction to Daniel’s “tongues” was that Dr. Rahman declared, “It looks like the Muslims have won!” Regrettably, in this instance he was right. It was apparent to Dr. Rahman, as well as the YouTube viewers that Daniel was not equipped to respond to Dr. Rahman’s dawa tactics. When he failed to refute Dr. Rahman, he began to shout and spew meaningless gibberish, ultimately blaming his carnal tantrum on the Holy Spirit. This was compelling evidence that Daniel was not acting according to the leading of God’s Spirit, but according to his own vanity.

Manifestations of the Spirit can be emotional, but never ineffectual. When the Spirit moves, He moves with purpose and is always victorious. Hopefully, Daniel was humbled and learned something from this exchange. At the very least, may it be a lesson for the rest of us.

How Apologetics Saved My Faith | Pastor Matt

http://pastormattblog.com/2013/07/24/how-apologetics-saved-my-faith/

The linked blog by Pastor Matt Rawlings really encouraged me to continue studying and using apologetics in my Christian witness. It really is important that we provide outstanding answers to tough questions about the nature of God, the Bible, and the world around us. If you need some evidence that apologetics works, or if you are a Christian apologist in need encouragement, please read.

Ecclesiastes 7:19 ESV

Wisdom gives strength to the wise man more than ten rulers who are in a city.

Did God Actually Say…?

Why do we believe what we believe? Recent neuroscience suggests that most of our beliefs are unconsciously directed by a thousand different sights, sounds, tastes, and feelings before we even begin to rationally consider them. In fact, some studies suggest that our conscious thoughts and feelings rarely (if ever) deviate from the unconscious thoughts and feelings, even though from our point of view it seems as though we have made an educated deduction based on facts we have weighed carefully in our minds. We think we have rationally considered our opinions, when in reality our opinions were formed almost automatically at a subconscious level. We tell ourselves that we are forming rational opinions, when in reality we have only rationalized how we come to believe what we believe after finally becoming conscious of our thoughts.

Of course, if we take this interpretation of the data too far we end up sawing off the very limb we are sitting on. The studies themselves must be more than the inevitable result of biochemical fatalism to be trustworthy or meaningful.

The most recent Unbelievable podcast featured a former Seventh Day Adventist pastor, Ryan J. Bell, who has decided to try atheism for a year. Unfortunately, he seemed to be taking his cues from the New Atheists. He defined faith as “saying we know what we cannot possibly know.” At one point he even referred to God as a “sky friend.” He admitted he was skeptical of “foundations.” At the same time he wanted to hold on to conventional views of morality-and use them to question Christianity. The other guest on the show, New Zealand philosopher and apologist Matt Flannagan, did a fine job of picking Bell’s views apart. Even Justin Brierly, typically quite neutral, asked some compelling questions of Bell.

I don’t want to be too hard on the guy just based on what I heard on a podcast. For all I know, he was playing the part. Nevertheless, by all appearances Bell’s views were rather typical of many atheists, agnostics, and “spiritual but not religious” folk I have encountered. That is to say that when it comes to authority, they don’t look to the Bible, or tradition, or even a church. They see themselves as the only authority worth considering, and their personal experiences and judgment reign supreme. In fact, many professing Christians today are their own authority, at least in practice.

Have you ever thought about why you believe what you believe?

We tend to take things like morality, math, and logic for granted. We assume that the laws of nature will remain the same. We learn in school that 2+2=4. We generally trust that our sensory perception of the world around us is a reflection of reality. Most people don’t question these things. Even nihilists who deny all objective meaning and purpose live as though everything had meaning and purpose. In fact, they know it does, and their actions betray their true beliefs.

None of these things make sense in a world without God. I don’t mean some vaguely theistic creator either; I mean the Christian God of the Bible. When atheists, or even people trying atheism like Ryan J. Bell, assert trust in morality, or logic, or science, they actually have to steal from the Christian worldview. In a world without God, made up entirely of matter, mere particles and waves, why should we expect anything need be logical, orderly, mathematical, or moral?

Such things make perfect sense in a worldview that says, “In him we live and move and have our being,” or even that, “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” If God did not exist, we would not even have any good reason to think that our senses were truthful, or that our thoughts meant anything.

The most important thing to know about reality is that science understands it well enough to rule out god, and almost everything else that provides wiggle room for theism and mystery mongering. That includes all kinds of purposes, including even ones that conscious introspection suggests we ourselves have. Conscious introspection was shaped by natural selection into tricking us about the nature of reality. We need always to be on our scientific guard against its meretricious temptations. Treating the illusions that rise to consciousness as symptoms, instead of guides to meaning and value, is crucial to enjoying life. It’s not easy, but taking science seriously is the first step, despite the difficulty consciousness puts in the way of understanding it.
~ Alex Rosenberg, from The Atheist’s Guide to Reality: An Interview with Alex Rosenberg

This is not what Alex Rosenberg actually believes. Despite his denial of the existence of God, meaning, and value, during his debate with William Lane Craig, he couldn’t help but bring up the suffering of his family members during the Holocaust. In a godless world without meaning or value, the violent torture and death of Dr. Rosenberg’s kin wouldn’t matter. To his credit, he admitted to everyone watching the debate that it did matter. However, in admitting this, he unwittingly admitted that God exists and he knows it.

I am reading a very interesting book right now by a missionary named Jonah Haddad entitled, Insanity: God and the Theory of Knowledge. When I’ve finished the book I’d like to write a full review, but what I’ve read so far is penetrating. Haddad observes that thought divorced from God is insanity, and all of us fallen human beings share in this insanity to one degree or another. God is the only true foundation of knowledge. Godless thought devolves into either skepticism or blind faith in our own autonomous reason. Our only sure intellectual rock is divine revelation. Haddad writes,

My purpose is to demonstrate the sanity of a “Christian” theory of knowledge by showing that the most reasonable theory of knowledge must be one informed by an understanding of God. That is, God as revealed both in his creation and in his Word, the Bible. Man-made systems of knowledge will only and always lead to insanity. True knowledge is something given to us, never something made by us. This is surely a bold claim that, for many, borders on insanity. However, it is a claim that I ask my readers, both Christian and not, to consider with utmost openness and honesty. We are liable to knowledge and obligated to truth by nature of who we are. So let us hasten to seek the truth, and in doing so, form a worldview that best allows for and values this truth.

And so we see men like Bell and Rosenberg deny the existence and lordship of Jesus Christ in one breath, but confirm their knowledge of Him in the next.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools.

Romans 1:18-22 (ESV)

We all know the truth about God. What will you do with this truth?