Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
What is less understandable and hard to remain sympathetic about is when mature, long-time supposed Christians denegrate the Bible. This I have an extremely hard time understanding, and especially when these folks are in leadership, faculty or the pastorate. Unfortunately, they can be found around us more than we think.
Inspiration and Infallability
The Canon of God is pure, free from error, and preserved for our instruction and edification. Many will say the Bible is inspired by God, but the do not have in mind the same idea as the traditional belief found in the Doctrine of Inspiration, whereby God-breathed and directed the transmission of His very own words by the power of the Holy spirit, by appointed men at various times in various places.
Typically, the modern version of "inspired" or "inspiration" refers to something much more compatible with the new age movement, rather than the sovereign will of God. The infallability of the Bible is also a doctrine rejected and assaulted by many who are at best inadequately informed. By attempting to compare the text of the Holy Scriptures to other ancient writings, these false teachers have ignored the tens of thousands of manuscripts that testify to the accuracy of the work of the Jewish Scribes and Massorites. They also ignore traditional Christian scholarship, in favor of post-modern philosophy. continued...
Saturday, April 25, 2009
If Adam, Eve, Eden, the Flood, Moses, the Prophets, Jesus, Pentecost, and the Apostles are eliminated from the Bible, our doctrines are essentially worthless. These Biblical historical narratives have become favorite targets of attack for theological heresy and secular humanists. Thus, historical apologetics can help us provide strong answers against objections, doubts and attacks.
Since the enlightenment, critics have attempted to use historical and archaeological developments to spread propaganda to attack and discredit the Bible. Historical and archaeological attacks reached a peak in the last half of the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth century. However, since the historical sciences have provided a vast amount of evidence in support of the Bible and the Christian faith, we now witness and experience new attacks include diminishing of teaching the conventional historical sciences in public schools and colleges. Today, young people are virtually ignorant of the vast studies that link and support the Bible and history, archeology, prophecies, and linguistics,
Archaeological developments have a direct bearing on the Bible, because the historical narratives in the Bible are all two thousand years old or older. Archeological studies began without distinction between Biblical and secular categories, but as the immense growth and importance of archeological discoveries grew in lands where history took place, two schools of study developed. Along with the separate studies, secular studies and heretical theologians increasingly sought to attack the reliability of the historical accounts in the Bible.
One chief area within the field of Biblical archeology has developed societies, journals, and schools committed to the investigating and correlating secular and biblical archeology, Often, the correlation is not all that complicated, and merely requires realistic and fair scholarship. One example is with the chronologies given in the books of Kings and Chronicles. Rationalists have tried to point to apparent contractions in their attacks, but have been refuted since the middle of the twentieth century by the simple understanding that Israel and Judah used at least five different kinds of calendar dating, which would produce different values in different cultures. Powerful computers and algorithms have enabled researchers to solve “the riddle” and eliminate the calendar conflict in Kings and Chronicles. Historical apologists would have knowledge of topics like this and are able to help remove doubts or barriers in understanding the scriptures.
Accurate dating techniques help discover the age of an archeological find and helps in reconstructing history. One possible way this is accomplished is by associating artifacts with a known kingdom or historical timeframe. Another method, known as comparative dating, finds the approximate date by comparing things such as pottery, metals, building materials, etc, with similar items of a known date. The third type is Scientific Dating, which includes radiocarbon dating, which can accurately work to identify many artifacts.
The ways in which chronologies are constructed vary from culture to culture. Archeology therefore provides meaningful insights into the culture, customs, and manners of various peoples in various times. Understanding the presuppositions and methodologies of the people and the culture is pivotal to our conclusions about historical and chronology archeology. Our studies are aided greatly by work in other areas, such as legal, historical apologetics.
Legal apologetics deals with the investigation of whether or not a certain thing has taken place, much like a court case, where a large portion of time is dedicated to reconstructing a coherent story from all the witness testimonies and cross-examinations. This method of legal and historical reconstruction applies to the Bible, especially with the historical narratives, which bear witness to one another. This type of proof also highlights an important and often overlooked factor in the field of investigating the truth. Truth is much broader than physical or scientific proof and in the legal sense, proof demonstrates that an even has probably taken place beyond a doubt and that the reconstructed event is the best explanation of the data available.
Linguist study and investigation of the Bible also fall within the historical apologetics domain, as the ancient languages of Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic in which the scriptures were transmitted are no longer spoken today. While the groundwork for the revival Biblical language studies was done in the 18th and 19th centuries, an overwhelming flood of literary material from the ancient world surfaced in the 20th century. Some of the particular finds included: The Code of Hammurabi, hundreds of written clay tablets, thousands of Nuzi Tablets, 20,000 tablets at Mari, hundreds of Old Testament scrolls near the Dead Sea, 22,000 tablets and fragments near modern Syria, hundreds of scrolls in Egypt, and hundreds more examples from other Biblical lands. While many are not canonical tablets, they are written in the Biblical languages and allow scholars to study even more deeply and broadly.
Overall, linguistic studies help us on several levels including: to better understand the meaning of ancient texts and word meanings that are not in use from earlier periods; to evaluate the accuracy and authenticity of the manuscripts (textual criticism); and to correct errors made in the process of hand-copying over thousands of years. With the help of tens of thousands of manuscripts today, the originals can be reconstructed with significant confidence. Today there are more than 5,300 Greek manuscripts, over 10,000 Latin manuscripts, 9.300 other early manuscripts, more than 24,000 manuscripts of the New Testament (portions of which were produced within 20 years of Pentecost), and tens of thousands of Old Testament manuscripts produced before the time of Malachi. No other ancient book in the world has produced anything even close to this witness of reliability.
In addition, there are other important values found in this type of study of historical apologetics. In depth study of the transmission of Biblical texts sheds light on the accuracy of the Bible by showing the elaborate means by which the Canon has been produced, preserved, and transmitted. The proven consistency of the Hebrew and Greek texts remains a powerful proof for better appreciation of the reliability of the scriptures. Finally, since most of the prophecies recorded in the Bible have already taken place, historical studies help demonstrate how incredible it was for those who gave and received the original prophecy.
The life of Jesus and history:
The amount of material available to provide historical proof of the existence of Jesus Christ surpasses that of Plato, Aristotle, Alexander the Great and many other undisputed figures.
First and foremost, we find the detailed historical narratives found in the four gospels of the New Testament, especially within the synoptic gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke. However, as numerous questions continue to be raised against the historical record contained in the Bible, other sources can be called out to substantiate the historicity if Christ. Some of the authors and writings that have validated the work and life of Christ, both inside and outside Christian-friendly circles are: Flavius Josephus, Corenelius Tacitus, Lucian of Samosata, Suetonius, Plinius Secundus, Tertullian, Thallus, the Letter of Mara Bar-Serapion, Justin Martyr, the Jewish Talmuds
While these are only a small selection of the extra-biblical sources available that provide evidence, even from sources that were extremely hostile to Christianity, it seems that only those completely ignorant of history can continue to question the historicity of Jesus Christ.
In sum, history has turned out to be a great friend of the Bible and Legal and Historical apologetics have turned out to be very strong answers against all objections and attacks against the truth of the Bible’s historical narratives.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Perhaps the most pervasive type of attack encountered in the public domain today is from Secular Humanism, which is a non-theistic philosophy that promotes humanity as the measure of all things and sees man as the Supreme Being in our universe. Secular humanism also promotes materialism, by accepting only knowledge based on human reasoning and hard evidence, never on faith or that which is beyond human sensory perception. Their chief pre-suppositions include a belief that historical and scientific progress is in conflict with religion and that organized religion leads to de-culturization. Essentially, they are atheists who are appear to agree with certain Christian beliefs that emphasize such things as combating bigotry, hatred and discrimination, but in reality oppose the Bible, and Christian stances on conservative moral issues.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Every time I watch one of the cable news channels featuring the various pundits and “talking heads” who try to defend their own positions on contentious topics against a political opponent, I can’t help but notice how they all just seem to talk past each other. It’s as though they were from separate planets. Rather than engaging in true debate, each speaker holds a presupposition or bias that simply won’t allow him or her to see or hear the position of the other speaker.
Presuppositions are the foundation and starting point upon which entire belief systems are built and play a vital role in apologetics, polemics, hermeneutics, and theology. In reality, people are by nature primarily inclined to defend their biases, rather than to seek truth. Therefore, exposing the false presuppositions that underlie our opponents’ views is vital to changing the pace and direction of a debate. Merely refuting certain positions at the surface level usually results in a one sided, losing battle. By asking leading questions that uncover the beliefs that fuel their false biases, we expose false presuppositions and open the door to a new course of discussion.
A common and fairly easy way of exposing underlying presuppositions and redirecting the dialogue is by using the consistency test. When it comes to refuting and challenging the theory of evolution, for instance, we can start by applying the consistency test. Empirical observations from recent developments in the Theory of Probability, Information Sciences, Computer Technology, Thermodynamics and the study of biological mutations reach conclusions that are inconsistent with evolution’s reliance upon randomness and blind chance. The net result of randomness and chance is a decrease and a destruction of order, which is the opposite of what is presupposed by evolutionists. By addressing this inconsistency, we can begin to change the tone and pace of the battle.
Additionally, when investigators set out to identify a counterfeit, they take two approaches. First, they spend time thoroughly studying the original, true model. Then they study samples of the most common counterfeits to identify what is lacking or different so that particular traits or patterns can be recognized quickly and easily. Likewise, the best ways of being armed to uncover false presuppositions is to know thoroughly what our true foundational beliefs are and to study the major pre-suppositions of the prominent groups that we will encounter.
What are the pre-suppositions that we must unashamedly defend?
- Sola Scriptura (Bible Alone)
- Sola Gratia (Grace Alone)
- Sola Fide (Faith Alone)
- Solus Christus (Christ Alone)
- Soli Deo Gloria (To God Alone Be Glory)
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Are we called to "apologize" for God, the Bible, or our faith?
No, not in the way that our contemporary society thinks of an apology, but we are commanded in scripture to be prepared to give an account for the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3: 15).
When Christians take a wrong approach to the topic of apologetics, they often end up wishing to abandon the practice altogether. However, if the aim of our apologetic efforts is in line with the historical roots of “apologia,” which in the Greek means to make a defense, then we can focus our efforts on engaging in the true sense of the practice as it was set out and meant to be.
Some of the common misunderstandings that Christians have about apologetics should be recognized at the outset. Contrary to what many emerging and post-modern thinkers believe, apologetics is not “scientism.” We do not set out to provide total proof of everything contained in the scriptures by rational or scientific claims. However, we are able to provide sufficient evidence, rather than total proof. If scientists are honest, and most scholars will agree, total proof is not achievable, because of man’s finite and limited knowledge, perception, and capabilities. Instead, scholars do rely upon the basis of sufficient proof to make a case, and such is the burden of the apologist.
Another valid observation of the role of apologetics that should be acknowledged is that apologetics is not “treatment” for deliberate, ardent unbelief or willful disobedience. Many Christians who don’t practice apologetics will have affirmed this by their own experience, and thus dismiss future endeavors to engage in the practice. Unfortunately, this approach overlooks the reality of what making a defense of our faith and hope most accomplishes - which is to serve as a cure for sincere doubts of both believers and unbelievers. College students in academia and institutes of higher learning are bombarded with false claims and worldly philosophies that assault the foundations of the Christian faith, thus, an effective apologist will find overwhelming opportunities to defend the truths of God’s word and the Christian faith.
Additionally, a number of Christians in our contemporary society falsely confuse apologetics with polemics. This is a relatively recent development, as secular philosophy has infiltrated many of the foundational doctrines of our historic churches. Historically, the goal of polemics is to root out false teaching, false doctrines, and cults from our midst, rather than to defend against doubts and challenges that historically originate outside of the church proper. In either case, it is of the utmost importance that we remember the aim of our apologetics is never just to win a debate or out-maneuver the other person intellectually, but rather to help them to remove barriers and doubts that are obscuring their ability to see the Truth and grasp hold of the truths of Christianity.
Another common argument against the use of apologetics is without faith and the work of the Holy Spirit, no reasoned defense will be sufficient to win someone over. Remembering that apologetics is not scientism and that it is about addressing sincere doubts, we certainly do not want the Christian to think that they can debate anyone into the kingdom. Faith is the very starting-point of the Christian life, yet for the apologist, we know that faith can be shown to be consistent with truth and reason. We use the practice of apologetics not to create faith, but to aid in the beginning of faith to those who are seeking and the maintenance of faith for those who doubt. We fully depend upon the role played by the Holy Spirit in helping to communicate the apologetic message to all people. Furthermore, the recipients will not understand or accept any message without the aid of the Holy Spirit either. Therefore, while it is true that apologists do not seek to prove their point to a recipient beyond any shadow of a doubt, reason is certain involved and highly instrumental as an aid to the recipient’s faith.
Finally, some believers will claim that since the only thing that can increase faith or aid in changing someone’s heart or mind is the Bible, therefore, apologetics is not effective or an essential activity in which Christians ought to engage. Yet, to a true apologist, a high view of the Bible is not incorrect, nor is it anything on which a true apologist would need to compromise. In fact, one of the central roles in apologetics is to point to and provide sound evidences of the unusual character of the Bible in matters of unity, accuracy, consistency, redemptive-historicity and life-changing power. While the rest must be left to the Holy Spirit to work upon the inquirer, the work of the apologist is to play a very supportive role in helping other to accept in faith the Bible as God's infallible word
In summary, I will offer an example of how an apologist and a non-apologist approached a question which is often regarded as a general, but difficult question. “How do I defend that God commanded the destruction of the Canaanites by the Israelites?” The non-apologist response was that “the Canaanites were destroyed because they were an abomination unto God, for the scripture says: “For every abominable thing that the LORD hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods” (Deut 12:31).”
The non-apologist assumes the recipient has prior faith in the Word of God as absolute and infallible and also pre-supposes the recipient’s knowledge of basic doctrines. Some would consider such a response begging the question. Of course, the apologist would respond quite differently.
The prime target in defending against such a difficult question is “barrier removal.” Proclamation is not to be minimized, but done by addressing doubts and barriers first and foremost. What are the possible barriers? That God would approve of the destruction of a whole nation of people? That God would command it? That the Israelites carried it out?
Typically, with a question like this, much of it is culturally and contextually based. In western society, and particularly in this country, Christians would never accept the command to destroy a Muslim or Hindu nation strictly because it was full of creatures guilty of abominable acts committed to idols. So, the question many times becomes why was it somehow okay, according to the Bible, somewhere, and at sometime in the past? And how can you believe the Bible is true, but not be okay with putting entire nations of people to death for their idolatry? This is the pivotal opportunity to accomplish both barrier removal and proclamation.
The apologist will defend the Bible’s unity, accuracy, consistency, redemptive-historicity and life-changing power by making a case that is based on the resurrected Christ and His kingdom. Some key points an apologist would make that would lead cleanly to an evangelistic path would be to show them how:
· it was necessary to preserve the physical line of the Promised Messiah,
· this event was a temporary requirement at a unique time in redemptive history,
· Jesus came to establish a “kingdom not of this world,”
· His servants to do not fight with physical weapons or against flesh and blood, but against spiritual strongholds with spiritual weapons,
· and we now come in he name of the crucified and risen Christ who came to give life that we might have it abundantly and who said from the cross: “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.”
For more info on this particular questions go to: http://media.sermonaudio.com/mediapdf/111206123250.pdf
- Today's Slice: Giving Forgiveness by Margaret Manning
- The Dawn Treader asks: Why do you think people find it so difficult to truly forgive one another?
- Who Do You Need to Forgive? at Chuck's blog "Preparation for Worship"
One common theme that runs throughout is the idea of the bondage that holds our hearts and minds captive when we hold onto unforgiveness, both against those of the household of God and even those who do not yet know Christ. It impedes our worship and makes it hard, if not impossible to be light and salt - to share and live the Gospel. Count me convicted. But even more than that - count me as convinced and willing to ask God to change my hard heart toward those bitter strongholds that strangle my joy, peace, and effectiveness. And thanks for the reminder -- a life of reconciliation is a journey! Grace and peace, in Christ's name.
Monday, April 20, 2009
"Narcissism is just the user interface for nihilism, of course, and with artfully kitschy services like Twitter we're allowed to both indulge our self-absorption and distance ourselves from it by acknowledging, with a coy digital wink, its essential emptiness. I love me! Just kidding!"
"The great paradox of "social networking" is that it uses narcissism as the glue for "community." Being online means being alone, and being in an online community means being alone together. The community is purely symbolic, a pixellated simulation conjured up by software to feed the modern self's bottomless hunger.
Hunger for what?" click here to find out >>>
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Two Great Books for Ever Growing, Ever Green
by Deb Welch
Two of the most indispensible Christians books on persevering and growing in faith that I find myself reading, re-reading and recommending regularly to friends are:
Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones and Holiness by Grace: Delighting in the Joy That Is Our Strength by Bryan Chapell.
One is a perfect antidote for the fruit-deprived, battle-weary believer and the other is soul-nourishing, preventative medicine for the roots of our faith found only in the finished work of Christ. Both are treasured resources that I return to over and over for life-giving refreshment.
Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure
Originally written as a collection of the good Dr. Lloyd-Jones’s topical sermon series on breaking free of a downcast soul, Spiritual Depression is less about what our current culture calls depression and more about the real struggles that we all go through at different seasons of life to grasp hold of the light and joy found in the truth in God’s Word. Each chapter is a self-contained diagnosis and treatment for key symptoms with which we can sometimes find ourselves wrestling, including fear of failure, lack of faith, unforgiveness, guilt, emotions, and bitterness, just to name a few. While Lloyd-Jones’s writing style can be somewhat difficult at times, his counsel is timeless and unmatched. This book provides the classic treatise on rest for the weary and spiritually embattled Christian. I would give it the highest recommendations and suggest that every Christian read it and retain a copy on their bookshelf as a go-to reference.
Holiness by Grace: Delighting in the Joy That Is Our Strength
In Holiness by Grace, Bryan Chapell displays the beauty and majesty of God’s grace and mercy with a passion and a style that will increase the reader’s desire to be more like Christ. Chapell connects our liberation in Christ with our growth in Christ in a way that is often missed when we focus too much on a single aspect. Instead of giving us a set of purpose-driven directives or a presumption of grace that leads to a license to do as we please, Chapell declares that we were delivered already through the Cross of Christ and that our growth in obeying Him is actually the outward manifestation of that which He is already working within us by the power of the Holy Spirit. So filled with theological meat is this book that it is best to take it one chapter at a time or even just a few pages at a time. Chapell hits that amazing sweet spot of showing us that we don’t need to live defeated lives because of the sin that we still experience and that by the cross of Christ and His grace alone, we can now live as new creations to His glory.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Saturday, April 11, 2009
"In Roman times, this certificate was a list of crimes committed against the state that required "payment," much like an indictment in our legal system today. The Romans gave Jesus a certificate of debt when He was sentenced to die; it was nailed to the cross: 'Jesus the Nazarene, the King of the Jews' (John 19:19). When the crimes were paid for, the certificate was canceled and was stamped with the word tetelestai, meaning 'paid in full.'
Paul says that Jesus 'canceled out' (paid) our certificate of debt (Col. 2 v14).
Jesus' last words, His victory cry on the cross was, 'It is finished!', literally in Greek was "tetelestai!" "He said, 'It is finished!' And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.' (John 19:30). 'Paid in full.' What was finished? His work of redemption paying for our certificates of debt against God."
Friday, April 10, 2009
- Spend more time trying to taste what is sweet--Christ. I.e. worship.
- Fight sin (as you fight it, you'll discover how strong and horrible it is).
- Pray: ask God to increase your sense of its bitterness; ask God for more brokenness.
- Meditate on the outcome of sin and particular sins.
- Avail yourself of the public teaching of the word.
- Avail yourself of the testimonies of other Christians concerning the ruinous nature of sin in their lives.
- Help other fight sin--own and feel their struggles with them.
- Spend more time with non-Christians and consider their hopes and hurts.
- Read the daily news.
- Have at least a passing awareness of your own culture and how the fall has manifested itself in your context (through media, legislation, etc.)
- Confess your own sins daily.
- For pastors: Plan and execute corporate prayers of confession.
- For pastors: Make sure at least some of Sunday's music is of the minor key variety, i.e. confesses and grieves sin. For example: Ah, Holy Jesus.
- Spend time caring for the poor, needy, and victims of injustice.
- Spend time reading and meditating on the Old Testament--both individual passages as well as the storyline of the whole thing.
- Watch this video. Or don't (I couldn't watch it).
- Meditate often on what this video, like a shadow, points toward.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
The Sluggard's Farm
The Broken Fence
Frost and Thaw
The Corn of Wheat Dying to Bring Forth Fruit
Ploughing the Rock
The Parable of the Sower
The Principal Wheat
Spring in the Heart
What the Farm Labourers Can Do and What They Cannot Do
The Sheep Before the Shearers
In the Hay-Field
The Joy of Harvest
Mealtime in the Cornfields
The Loaded Waggon
Wheat in the Barn
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Matt Chandler - Jesus Wants the Rose
The Church's Neglected Resource: Women Equipping Women ht: Breakpoint
Quote: "“I’m praying for Titus pastors . . . men who take to heart Paul’s exhortation to Titus regarding the serious equipping of older women to train and equip the younger women. My passion, my concern, is that we get so distracted debating the limits or lack thereof of women in ministry that we miss almost completely the clear command and immense job God has entrusted to us."
Does God hear and answer the prayers of the lost? A more nuanced approach that is scriptural, ref: "There are certainly indications in Scripture that God sometimes not only hears the prayers of unbelievers but responds to them." - R.C. Sproul, "Now That's a Good Question," pg. 212.
Escaping Anonymity by Tim Challies @ Table Talk