4/30/2008

Mohler and Homosexuality

New Attitude’s blog has posted links to Al Mohler’s recent writings on homosexuality. You can find the links here.

Part of New Attitude’s posted excerpt:

Christians must resist the temptation to speak the truth in a manner that falls short of the good, the beautiful, and the true. We betray the truth when we speak of it with an ugly spirit, or attach it to base arguments or mean-spirited impulses. We must reunite what the secular world has divided and present Christian truth in all of its power, its beauty, and its goodness. – Al Mohler

4/24/2008

Intelligent Design

The Intelligent Design (ID) movement makes much of the argument from irreducible complexity. Dr. Michael Behe has become famous for a simple example, the mousetrap. He points out that the mousetrap will not perform its function without all of its parts. The wooden base, the metal hammer, a spring, a catch and a metal bar to hold back the hammer are all necessary parts. One component by itself will not catch a mouse.

Mainstream evolutionary science has a counter-argument. To paraphrase Dr. Kenneth Miller, if you disassemble the mousetrap, each component can serve as something useful on its own. If we take away the catch and metal bar, we have something left that can serve as a paper clip. The spring could make a simple two-section key chain. The wooden base makes a paperweight. Evolutionary processes like random mutation and natural selection can combine and retain the useful parts as the complicated evolves to perform the complex function. The useful parts are combined into the mousetrap.

(Both arguments above are paraphrased from Richard Milner and Vittorio Maestro, “Intelligent Design?,” Natural History Magazine, The American Museum of Natural History, 2002. This article was reprinted here.)

For argument’s sake, I’ll grant Miller’s position. But why do any of the individual parts of the mousetrap serve a purpose? Splitting the mousetrap into different parts for different purposes just compounds the problem for the evolutionist.

A person must still make each of the individual parts of the mousetrap in such a way as to allow them to serve as a paper clip, a keychain or a paperweight. An intelligent person looks at problems he must solve, and he makes solutions from the parts of the trap. In other words, there is a purpose for each individual part.

As an industrial engineer, I know that the industrial processes used to make each part of a mousetrap are not easy to maintain. It would not be easy for an inexperienced person to keep the manufacturing equipment running. It takes some expertise to make the catch, metal bar, spring and even the wooden base, especially in a high-volume manufacturing environment.

Whether we take the entire mousetrap or each individual part, it takes intelligence to make the components and direct them to serve their purpose. What is true of the mousetrap components is equally true of the parts of the cell, only more so.

This is the teleological argument. It is the argument from purpose, not necessarily the argument from design. It is formidable. To quote Aquinas:

…whatever lacks intelligence cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence; as the arrow is shot to its mark by the archer. Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end… (1.2.3 of The Summa Theologica. Volume 1. Translated by the Fathers of the English Dominican Province)

The evolutionist seems to have two choices: give intelligence in some form to the smallest parts of the cell or admit there is no such thing as intelligence at all for anyone or anything in his worldview. One option gets him off the hook for the purposes he finds. We have no evidence for option one, and we can dismiss it.

The other option gets him off the hook by eliminating any purpose at all whatsoever from the universe. Friedrich Nietzsche would be proud of this one. Nihilism would reign to the despair of all men everywhere. We could ignore the evolutionists’ and atheists’ arguments because, after all, they would not have a purpose anyway. What could something with no purpose be but meaningless?

It seems evolutionary theory falls under the weight of its proponents’ analogies.


[Joe Carter over at The Evangelical Outpost is posting some wonderful things on these topics. Find them here, here, and here.]

4/23/2008

Bad news for the Southern Baptist Church. One leading research group is officially declaring the denomination in decline. Read details here. An excerpt:

“This report is truly disheartening," said [Tom] Rainer. "Total membership showed a slight decline. Baptisms have now declined for three consecutive years and for seven of the last eight years, and are at their lowest level since 1987. Indeed, the total baptisms are among the lowest reported since 1970. We are a denomination that, for the most part, has lost its evangelistic passion."

Expelled – You should see this film.

I had the opportunity last night to see the new movie “Expelled” with Ben Stein (see here for information). I did not enjoy the movie. The documentary is not meant to be enjoyed.

This movie outlines a problem facing scientists who speak up for the set of theories referred to as “Intelligent Design” (ID). The interviews tell several scientists’ stories, and their stories were devastating to me. I have always thought of science as the unbiased search for truth based on observation and deduction. (For an article on ID that shows some evidence of the treatment the movement gets from mainstream scientists, go here.)

I knew that some of the books I have read by leading atheists showed considerable bias against theism (see the search labels Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins on the sidebar), but it seems even the mainstream scientific establishment is not immune. If the ID theory is wrong, why is it attacked in this fashion? It can’t be the only theory out there that is disagreed with. Why target it at this level? Other people put forth contrarian arguments without loosing their jobs.

Time is also taken to interview scientists from the Discovery Institute, a research group promoting ID (see here). The Discovery Institute scientists are approaching this topic by essentially trying to dodge the theological implications of their research. It seems they want to stress the scientific evidence for their positions to the exclusion of theology, perhaps in an effort to enhance credibility.

In some ways, I do not blame them. I have found that arguments drawn from philosophy without appeal to specific revelation to be powerful influences on my thinking. I have also found the same with scientific evidence.

The movie ends with a segment designed to force people to face some of the historical movements that have embraced evolutionary thinking. This is the part of the movie that was most distressing to me. Ben Stein, a Jew, focused attention on a part of history that explicitly shows the barbarism of the human species. Evolutionary thinking is named as a “necessary condition” for this barbarism, but not a “sufficient condition.” In other words, not all evolutionists travel the path described, but many who have embraced this barbarism have based their thinking on a form of evolution or advancement of the species / race. Flawed human beings practice religion, and this is evident. However, it seems that not all of the dark chapters of human history are a result of religious wars and bigotry.

Expelled is a fine example of a documentary, and I hope you will see it. I also hope that the documentary will have as devastating an effect on you as it has had on me.

In a side note: R. C. Sproul interviewed Ben Stein for his radio show. The interview is a good commentary on the issues, and audio can be found here. Sproul is his usual self, and he interspaces some of his formal philosophical arguments in the discussion.

4/22/2008

Here I Go Again

“Justification may be defined as that act by which unjust sinners are made right in the sight of a just and holy God. The supreme need of unjust persons is righteousness. It is this lack of righteousness that is supplied by Christ on behalf of the believing sinner. Justification by faith alone means justification by the righteousness or merit of Christ alone, not by our goodness or good deeds.” – R. C. Sproul in Essential Truths of the Christian Faith, p. 188.



I am not feeling very well tonight. Not in the sense of illness, more in the sense of depression. I am less than pleased with my own recent performance.

Just when I think I’m getting better, along comes another opportunity to indulge the flesh, and I give in to temptation. It’s not that it was a matter that would be considered particularly bad by most. I just became very angry, and I lashed out at some friends. I apologized, but that doesn’t seem to help me much. I just fell into an old, self-destructive habit.

What does a Christian do when he sins? I’ve only found one way to help myself.

I admit I am wrong. Not some general, vague admission. Not some blurting confession to another person. A real, honest admission of guilt to Almighty God. I agree with the voice in the back of my head saying, “You have made a horrible mistake.” Not just lip service, full agreement. It doesn’t matter whether the voice is Satan’s or The Spirit’s. What it is saying is true.

Then I flee to Christ. I drink in the forgiveness He has earned for me. I remind myself of the great doctrine of justification. I relish my standing before God. I know, with certainty, that He has forgiven me. I remind myself each time. I pray for the power to do better.

I feel better already. I have no reason to feel guilty, because, in a very real sense, I am not guilty. I have been given a righteousness earned by Christ.

The current debate over justification is settled for me. It was settled the moment I faced my sin. Without the Protestant view of justification, what hope would there be?

4/20/2008

The Exodus

One thing that seems to come up quite a bit in online discussions is the supposed lack of evidence of the Israelites exodus from Egypt. Justin Taylor comments here, with an excerpt from the upcoming ESV Study Bible. It’s another reason to want a copy of the ESV Study Bible on its release.

Some more information is found here.

4/18/2008

The Four Gospels as Reliable Testimony, Part 3: Are Contemporary Alternative Gospels Good History?

Written accounts, such as The Gospel of Truth, the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary, The Gospel of Judas and the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, do not give us accurate information not contained in the Gospels we have in our Bibles. We know this, in part, because unreliable authors wrote these gospels long after Christ’s life, long after the lifetimes of eyewitnesses to that life.

It is interesting that several of the alternative gospels put forth as historical show dependence on Matthew, Mark, Luke and / or John. “…the Gnostic Gospel of Truth (A. D. 140-150, doubtlessly known at Rome when Maricon taught there) cites a body of authoritative books that is [nearly identical with the four gospels.]” This means a body of written Scripture had to have existed before any secret Gnostic Gospels appeared since one of the earliest of these “secret gospels” had to recognize the orthodox Canon in its very attempt to redefine the Christian faith. [1] One of the gospels, dated in the early 100s, is especially interesting.[2]

The Gospel of Thomas, a “collection of 114 sayings of Jesus,” is well known for its inclusion of material from Matthew, Mark and Luke. Given it was written after them, probably in the early 100s, this shows a dependence on the three synoptic gospels. Craig Blomberg, after years of research, says it like this: “…it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the author of The Gospel of Thomas knew the New Testament Gospels as they now stand…” The Gospel of Thomas does distort the historic gospel message with false teachings common in the Mid-100s to 200s, just like the other alternative gospels. [3] (Note that this is back-handed evidence of an early date for the gospel writings as well.)

The alternative gospels’ late dating is worth noting in more detail. The Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary, the Gospel of Peter, and the Infancy Gospel of Thomas were all written well into in the 100s A. D. [4] The Gospel of Judas was written in the Mid-100s to 200s.[5] The Gospel of Truth was written in the 140s to 180s. [6] In addition, The Gospel of Phillip was written in the 200s.[7]

Compare that with the dating of the gospels, alluded to before. Matthew is dated in the 50s or 60s by conservatives and 80s-100s by more liberal scholars. Mark is dated in the 60s to 70s or by liberals in 60s to 80s. Luke: 60s or 70s to 80s. John 90s or 90s-100s. [8],[9]
John A. T. Robinson, a noted liberal New Testament scholar who helped spawn the Twentieth Century “Death of God” movement, dated all of the gospels earlier than 70 A. D., although many scholars do not agree with him. [10]

N. T. Wright, The Anglican Bishop of Durham and prolific writer on New Testament history, says clearly:
There is no point in dressing it up: the canonical gospels are early, and the Gnostic ones are late. (By “early,” I mean within a generation or so of the death of Jesus; by “late” I mean no earlier than around the middle of the second century.) … all the signs point to this as the correct analysis… The canonical gospels were being read and quoted as carrying authority in the early and middle second century, whereas we do not even hear of the non-canonical ones until the middle of the end of that century.[11]


The impact of this simply cannot be overstated, and it is not lost on Erwin Lutzer.

If you had a choice, whose descriptions of Abraham Lincoln would you believe? Those of his contemporaries or those of people speculating about his private life or political philosophy one hundred and fifty years after his death – especially if these speculators were determined to put their own political theories into Lincoln’s mouth. [12]

The next post will conclude this series.

[1] James L. Garlow and Peter Jones. Cracking DaVinci’s Code: You’ve Read the Fiction, Now Read the Facts. (Colorado Springs, Colorado: Victor Books, 2004), 139-140.

[2] Komoszewski, et. al. 159.

[3] Blomberg, Gospels, 264-267.


[4] Komoszewski, et. al. 159; Erwin W. Lutzer, The DaVinci Deception: Credible Answers to the Questions Millions Are Asking About Jesus, the Bible, and the DaVinci Code(Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. 2004), 27; Lee Strobel, The Case for The Real Jesus: A Journalist Investigates Current Attacks on the Identity of Christ. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2007), 45-46; Bart D. Ehrman. , Truth and Fiction in the Da Vinci Code: A Historian Reveals What We Really Know About Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Constantine. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), 50, 55.


[5] N. T. Wright. Judas and the Gospel of Judas: Have We Missed the Truth About Christianity? (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2006), 78

[6] Richard Abanes. The Truth Behind the DaVinci Code: A Challenging Response to the Bestselling Novel. (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2004), 85 n. 22.

[7] Lutzer 27, 50.


[8] Blomberg Gospels 25-26, F. F. Bruce The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?, Fifth Edition (Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter Varsity Press, 1960), 12.

[9] Bruce Documents 12; McDowell Code 24.
[10] Geilser Systematic 474.
[11] Wright Gospel of Judas 76, 77.
[12] Lutzer 28.

4/17/2008

The Four Gospels as Reliable Testimony, Part 2: Do We Have Accurate Copies of the Gospels?

The New Testament gospels accurately reflect the original writings. We have several reasons to say this. First, even with the passage of almost 2,000 years, the words were preserved through history by multiple manuscripts. “Manuscripts” refer to hand-written copies of the gospels. That was the only way to do it in a world without the printing press or the computer. Many New Testament manuscripts were written on papyrus, a crude, fragile form of paper made from reeds that grew along lakeshores and riverbanks. [1]

Of course, hand copying was difficult work, and the scribes sometimes made mistakes. But this hand copying was a reliable process in the ancient world, and we have many reasons to trust this reliability. The original text can be reconstructed by comparing the individual manuscripts with each other. [2]

Thankfully, for the New Testament we have a wealth of manuscripts. In fact, we have over 5,600 manuscript copies of the New Testament available for comparison. We have fragments of individual books from as early as 125 A. D., within one or two generations of when the gospels were written. We have partial copies of books from as early as the 150s. We have complete copies of the entire New Testament from as early as 325. That is within 250 years of the original composition, and that is very close for a book from antiquity. [3]

How does this compare with other books for the ancient world? One example is the Gallic Wars by Caesar. We have only ten manuscript copies of this book, and the earliest one is dated over 1,000 years after the original composition. For Tacitus, an early historian, we have only 20 manuscripts, and the earliest one was written about 1,000 years after the original writings as well. Most historians accept that we have accurate copies of these books, so we should accept that we have accurate copies of the New Testament. [4]

Bruce Metzger compares the “New Testament with Homer’s Iliad.” He counts about 20,000 lines in the New Testament, and “of these only 40 are in doubt (i.e., about 400 words).” For comparison, “The Iliad possesses about 15,600 lines with 764 of them in question.” When we do the math, “Homer’s text is only 95 percent pure or accurate compared to over 99.5 percent accuracy for the New Testament manuscript copies.” The Mahabharata, “the national epic of India” is “some eight times the size of the Iliad, of which some 26,000 lines are in doubt.” Again, with the math, we have “roughly 10 percent textual corruption.” We can clearly see the superiority of the New Testament writings, and we can trust the gospels as a result. [5]

[1] Josh McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict. (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999), 17-19.

[2] Mark D. Roberts, Can We Trust the Gospels?: Investigating the Reliability of Matthew, mark, Luke, and John (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2007), 27-28.

[3] Josh McDowell, Evidence, 34-38.

[4] Ibid. 37-38.

[5] As quoted in Norman L. Geisler, Christian Apologetics. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker , 1976), 308. [words like publisher, book house, inc, etc., aren’t necessary.]

4/16/2008

The Four Gospels as Reliable Testimony, Part 1: How Were the Gospels Selected?

Dan Brown’s book, The Da Vinci Code has confused many people about the life of Christ and the reliability of the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Many other writings, internet posts, films and documentaries have added to the confusion. Sadly, these things have even confused some Christians. However, much of what is communicated about the Gospels contained in our Bibles is simply not true. Ditto the other ‘gospels’ offered as alternatives. This is the beginning of a series of posts that will give evidence for the Bible’s trustworthiness. We will find that the facts of Christ’s life and teachings can be know and relied upon.


The set of books that we have in our Bible is called the “canon.” This word comes “from the Greek, and it originally meant “a measuring rod” or, as we might say, “a ruler.”” It was the standard to see if something was straight. [1] Books were admitted into The New Testament canon based on:

Apostolic authority—their association with Christ’s Apostles or those close to them,

Antiquity—whether the book was written during the time of the apostles,

Orthodoxy—if the book’s teachings were in line with the teaching of the apostolic writings know by the people who learned from the Apostle's and the churches which the Apostles founded,

Catholicity—if the book was accepted by many churches from many different places. [2]

The church recognized books that were historically trustworthy. Eyewitness testimony of Christ’s life was guaranteed by the early church because of the way the cannon was recognized. The church required each gospel to be associated with an Apostle, and the Apostles were eyewitnesses to the events described. But what were the specific books recognized to be authoritative by the early church? In addition, were the four gospels recognized early?

A canon is the name given to a list of books believed to hold authority by the church. The Muratorian Canon, an early list of books that the church held as authoritative, was put together in 170 A. D. The Apostolic Canon and the Cheltenham Canon were listed in 300 and 360, respectfully. The Council of Hippo in 393 listed all 27 of the New Testament books, and the Council of Carthage in 410 listed all 27 as well. [3] A manuscript of the Muratorian Canon contains portions from all four gospels[4].

Several other types of writings show the church’s esteem of the gospel accounts. A gospel harmony is an attempt to place all of the sayings and events in the Gospels in chronological order, with accounts from each gospel of the same event side by side. A harmony was formed very early by “a Syrian Christian named Tatian.” It was put together in the late 100s. [5]

Many leaders in the early church also quoted Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The four gospels were cited by Polycarp (c. 110-150 A. D.), Justin Martyr (c. 150-155), Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-215), Tertullian (c. 150-220), and Origen (c. 184-254). Irenaeus listed them as authoritative as early as 130-202. [6]

F. F. Bruce is clear, “It is evident that by A. D. 180 the idea of the fourfold Gospel had become so axiomatic throughout Christendom that it could be referred to as an established fact as obvious and inevitable and natural as the four cardinal points of the compass (as we call them) or the four winds”[7].

[1] Bruce L. Shelley. Church History in Plain Language, Second Edition (Dallas, Texas: Word Publishing 1995) 58.

[2] F. F. Bruce. The Cannon of Scripture (Downer’s Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic, 1998) 254-262.No line between footnotes.

[3] Norman L. Geisler. Systematic Theology Volume One: Introduction / Bible (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House, 2002), 535-536.

[4] J. Ed Komoszewski and M. James Sawyer and Daniel B. Wallace. Reinventing Jesus: How Contemporary Skeptics Miss the Real Jesus and Mislead Popular Culture (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 2006) 127.

[5] Craig L. Blomberg. The Historical Reliability of the Gospels, 28.

[6] Norman L. Geisler, Systematic Theology, 538.

[7] Josh McDowell. The DaVinci Code: A Quest for Answers (Holiday, Florida: Green Key Books, 2006), 26

4/15/2008

Resurrection

LP Cruz at Extra Nos has a great short post here. Here’s part of it:

When I see the effects of my sin to myself and to others and I see their sin's effects on me, I do want to recall what we have...at the resurrection, sin will be no more. When life here is not the way it should be, it is amazing how the heart hopes and becomes eager for that day, when tears and sorrows he will wipe away. Sin is the cause of these sad days, I mean in the ultimate sense. But what a day will it be when it is no more...one day, it will be no more.

As a sinner saved by grace I can relate very clearly with the longing for the day when my sin nature will be eradicated, when sin in me will die its last death. I am in the process of undergoing God’s discipline for sin in my life. Discipline is not a bad thing (Hebrews 12:3-17). This is a time to help me grow. But oh for the day when sin will be no more.

4/11/2008

‘Foot-in-mouth Disease’ Strikes Some Smart People Sometimes

Colson’s Breakpoint Commentary is interesting today. Here’s a sample:

…Popular author and atheist, Richard Dawkins tells Ben Stein in [the movie Expelled] that there could have been a designer of life on earth, but it would
have had to have been “a higher intelligence” that had itself evolved “to a very high level . . . and seeded some form of life on this planet.” …. He really did say it -- striking admission, though it is.

The Christian and the Homosexual

About 1.2 million people in America identify themselves as homosexual (see here on the difficulties and assumptions for this estimation). Those in the Christian church have written much about the homosexual agenda. However, many of these writings do not show any evidence of an honest desire to show Christ’s love to those struggling with this form of sin (see and inciteful article here). I wanted to make a small effort at outreach, and I hope that the reader would hear me out.

I was raised in a small-town Southern-Baptist church. Was the church a little backward? Yes. Was the pastor a fundamentalist? Yes. Did he clearly preach the Bible’s main message? Yes, thank God. One part of the Bible he preached was the condemnation of homosexuality in Romans, Chapter 1.

I became a Christian because of a particular sermon on Romans 1:18-32. I heard the sermon when I was seven years old. There are many things in that passage that a seven-year-old in a small town in 1976 did not understand, but there was one thing I did understand. Among those who God gave up to, “vile passions” were people who were “disobedient to parents.” I can assure you that a seven-year-old can understand that. I knew I was condemned under the law. I knew I had no chance.

Most people just flat don’t read all of the passage from Romans 1. They don’t read about “covetousness, maliciousness … envy, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness … Backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things … Undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful…” I find my behaviors on that list very easily, and many of those most critical of homosexuals can find their favorite sins on that list as well.

But then the pastor turned over to Romans 3:21-31. He preached of a way out for me, a way to be delivered from the consequences of my sins. If I believed in Jesus then what He did on the cross would pay for my sins. God would not be mad at me anymore. I could be God’s friend because “a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.” It was so simple, even a seven-year-old could understand it. I have to remind myself of that simplicity each day because I sin often.

It is this forgiveness and freedom from guilt that the Bible offers to the homosexual. His sin is like all of our sins, deserving of punishment, but Christ died to purchase forgiveness and mercy for all of those who would repent of their sins and turn to Him.

I want to explain very clearly how much of a sinner I am. The only hope I have is Christ dying for me. I am just one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread. I am not so different, and I am certainly not superior.

I struggle with sins that in many ways are more socially unacceptable in our day than homosexuality. I have no promise of freedom from that struggle until I get to heaven, and I must repent each day for my sin. My performance gets better in many ways, but I am also more and more aware of where I fall short.

God offers the free gift of forgiveness and its resulting freedom from shame to those who trust Him. Christ’s death can save any who repents. There are resources in the Christian church to help someone who wants to change (see here), and I hope that this post has clearly announced that hope.

4/10/2008

China and the Olympics

Thanks to Cranach: The Blog of Veith for the link to the article here.

Here’s an excerpt from an article written by a Chinese who was willing to go to prison as a consequence of the article.

Please be aware that the Olympic Games will be held in a country where there are no elections, no freedom of religion, no independent courts, no independent trade unions; where demonstrations and strikes are prohibited; where torture and discrimination are supported by a sophisticated system of secret police; where the government encourages the violation of human rights and dignity, and is not willing to undertake any of its international obligations.

Please consider whether the Olympic Games should coexist with religious persecution[,] labor camps, modern slavery, identity discrimination, secret police and crimes against humanity.

As the Beijing Olympics slogan says, we live in "one world" with "one dream." We hope that one day the Chinese people will be able to share universal human rights, democracy and peace with people from all around the world. However, we can see that the Chinese government obviously is not yet prepared to honor its promise. As a matter of fact, the preparations for the Olympics have provided the perfect excuse for the Chinese government to restrict civil liberties and suppress human rights!

A certain former president whose Sunday School class I attended (see here) once boycotted the Olympics for less (see here). Do we have the moral courage to do it again?

4/09/2008

God in Relationship

Theology is a worthy pursuit because its goal is simply for the individual to know God. But concepts, theories, and abstractions do not excite or ultimately satisfy me. I must know the God who is alive, who is real, who relates to me in my life. – R. C. Sproul in The Character of God p. 16.

I love to think about abstract concepts. I spend much of my time inside my head pondering concepts and theories. I am comfortable there. It’s not that I am uninterested in the ‘real world;’ I find that the theoretical often has obvious implications for life in the real world. These implications seem to be more obvious to me that they are to others.

I can ponder God’s attributes, the concepts that define God’s being and essence, and I often do so. But the hard work of applying these concepts to my life is where I get the most benefit.

I find that God’s love for me helps me to cast all of my cares on Him. God’s justice leads me to turn to Christ for mercy. God’s wrath makes me run to Christ in faith and helps me to share the gospel with others who don’t know Him. God’s omniscience is a comfort because I know He cannot be surprised by any problem or difficulty I face. God’s omnipotence comforts me because I know that He can order all things for my good and conform me to Christ’s image through the circumstances of my life.

I do not understand how anyone can call theology impractical. It is the most practical set of concepts I can imagine.

4/05/2008

Classic Works of Apologetics

ACFAR, mentioned in the last post, also gives a link to a great apologetics resource on the web called Classic Works of Apologetics here. I will link to this site often in the future.

Some great books found through the links on this site:

Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis, the classic book on the moral argument for God’s existence

Biblical Inerrancy by John H. Gerstner, a straightforward case (could Gerstner give anything else but a straightforward case) for a Bible without error

"Greenleaf’s Harmony of the Gospel Accounts" based on work by Simeon Greenleaf, a great authority on legal evidences

The Bible and Modern Scholarship by Sir Fredrick Kenyon, a noted work by a famous archeologist

The site also includes topical links to:

Christians against slavery (wish I’d have been able to link to this a long time ago)

David Hume

Thomas Paine

Classic Works of Apologetics is well worth a surf. It shows that Christians have had good answers to skeptical questions for a long time.

Norma Normata

The ACFAR blog pointed me at an article by R. C. Sproul on the role of Scripture and creeds here. Sproul does a much better job of telling the truth than I did here.

4/04/2008

Our Dilemma

“…if you simply address the God-shaped blank that people think they’ve got, the God you end up with is the God shaped by the blank. The real God specializes in taking the blanks in people’s lives and pulling and tugging and turning them into a new shape.” – N. T. Wright as quoted in “Mere Mission” in Christianity Today, January 2007, Volume 51, Number 1, p. 38-41.

N. T. Wright is right about this one. Trends toward seeker-sensitive and seeker-sensible preaching stress meeting the non-Christian at the point of his “felt need.” The felt need is the thing that the non-Christian thinks is practical for his life. The felt need is useful advice to make his life easier.

The problem is that all too often the preacher ends up using the Bible’s moral requirements as practical advice for living. This is not entirely wrong-headed, but the preacher forgets that what he is preaching is God’s law. These are God’s requirements. Man’s duty. And it is a duty that we cannot fulfill (Matthew 5:48, Romans 7:21-25).

The moral duties would often be the right thing to teach if the good news of Christ’s gospel was preached right along with them. The news that, when we don’t follow the Bible’s advice, we have a substitute who followed all of the advice for us: Jesus Christ. We can trust Him, turn from our sins, and get credit for all He did. (Romans 3:21-31) We can be free from the guilt of our sin. We can begin to follow all of the good advice knowing that, even if we make mistakes along the way, we can be forgiven (Romans 4:1-8).

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