Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Power of Apologetics


Let's talk apologetics!  Yay, my favorite subject.  Apologetics comes from the Greek word "apologia" meaning to give an answer.  And many have given answers, all the way back to the first few centuries of Christianity.  Of note, Justin Martyr who wrote in response to critics in ancient Rome.  If you ever get the chance read some of Justin Martyr's apologies.  I've been able to find them free online, Librivox has two of them I believe in free audio format.  

Justin Martyr wrote in response to Greeks and Romans who had a lot of interesting objections to Christianity.  They said Christianity was for the intellectually simple in society.  They didn't like a religion that used a cross as it's emblem.  They didn't like Christianity's view on marriage.  Come to think of it, the arguments against Christianity have hardly changed in over 1,900 years.  

To give an answer for the faith in my heart is a great relief in a culture declaring "God is dead!"  Not to mention the "tolerance" agenda, gay rights, and Christians being called "bigots."  Scary stuff.  Especially since I used to hold a lot of those same views.  I just didn't know any better.  Not to mention I was much more concerned with what was hip and popular, or hipster popular, than what the actual truth was.  There's parties to get to, you know?  

I digress.

When Paul the former Jewish terrorist turned radical follower of Jesus Christ spoke to the Jews in the synogagues he reasoned from the scriptures as to why Jesus Christ was and is in fact the Messiah.  They were God-believers, so he reasoned from the scriptures.  But when he spoke to the Gentiles (all non-jews in the world) like the Greeks and Romans, he provided defenses of the faith, interacting with the worldview of the people in those cultures.  
That's what we have to do in America today.  Fifty years ago that would not have been the case; the great majority fifty years ago could've probably been, for the most part, shown the gospel from the context of the pages of the Bible.  Not so anymore.  

People are eating up the lame arguments of the so called new atheists, and declaring their superiority over Christianity by welcoming in eastern mysticism, new age beliefs, and in general accepting naturalism (the view that everything has a material cause without any need for the immaterial).  In another way, evolution is rolled out as adequately describing reality.  Science.  In another way, LGBT rights is being rolled out as superior to the teaching of the Bible.  A certain intellectual elite are attempting to claim the moral high ground.

Of course we Christians know that what is popular is not necessarily true.  Or at least we should know that.  But I keep hearing about defections by Christian musicians (how surprising) and Christian denominations to the gay rights agenda.  Scary stuff.  When it's easy to speak the truth, sure, Christians stand up for the Bible.  What about when it's hard?  And you could lose your job over it?  When people around you are going to slander your name and label you a bigot?  Then it's more difficult.  But the intolerance of those telling us to be "tolerant" is just amazing.  Such hippocracy..

The new hate speech is entirely unreasonable and unacceptable.  And no I'm not talking about racism or sexism, I'm talking about the people using those words to silence those of different view points.  Those who hold to intelligent design as a scientific theory are told to keep their "religious beliefs" out of science, even though intelligent design models use the same scientific models used by Darwin in his theories.  Those who disagree with President Obama's policies are told to keep their "racist views" to themselves.  And a lot of the time that will work, it will get the opposition to shut up, because they're so afraid of being labeled such a terrible thing.  And I'm sure assuming Hillary Clinton runs for president in 2016, I will then be told to keep my "sexist views" to myself.  

This new hate speech is really the new "politically correct" terminology.  It straw man's the view of another so it will be dismissed.

A fascinating example is when in Germany, as the Nazi's were gaining power and Hitler was dismantling the former democracy... There were these people claiming Hitler had this crazy plan to start a world war and exterminate the Jews, and all of this nonsense.  It was then that Hitler coined the term "conspiracy theorist" calling those who suggested such nonsense "conspiracy theorists."  Then Hitler invaded Poland, later France, and World War II began.  Hitler successfully used slanderous terminology to discredit the opposition so he could move forward with his plan to conquer Europe.  And he did, at least temporarily.  

We have to be on watch as Christians.  We need Christians trained in the art of Apologetics to look at and interpret the culture of the West and explain the continuing relevance and desperate need for Jesus Christ in a fallen world!  The arguments are powerful, and we need to continously counter the hate speech of the masses in the USA who are now embracing open sexuality, authoritarian government, and atheism.  

Jesus Christ is just as important today as two thousand years ago.  As we watch the USA and a lot of the world slipping into incredible debt (over 17 trillion owed by USA), wars, income inequality, corruption, and depravity we must continue to show why the USA is great.  The USA was founded by Christian men, on the principle of a sovereign moral God.  As the west rejects that to pursue their own sexual appetites and prideful arrogance we must call out to them: These things are false and wrong!  Jesus Christ is real!  God is real!  And you can know him too!  

So here are some wonderful presentations, giving an answer for the things we believe in our hearts.  Enjoy and keep up the fight for the hearts and minds of this great nation, and the world at large!

1. Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, William Lane Craig.



2. Intelligent Design and it's Rejection by the Science Community, Stephen Meyer & Eric Metaxas


3. A Message to Pastors regarding the value of Apologetics in Youth Ministries, William Lane Craig


4. Apologetics for those who feel Christianity has failed them, Ravi Zacharias


Related Posts:
Philosophy, Science, Logic, and History: Presentations on the truth of Christianity from Multiple Disciplines 
Recipes for the Babylonian Captivity 
Objective Truth on a Spiritual Battlefield 
The Philosophy of Jesus Christ
Jesus: The God who Came
Why is Jesus the perfect example to follow?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Believing in the Miraculous: The Work of Jesus Christ on the Cross



John 6:29 (NLT) Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”

There is very little I can do to please God, but only to believe in Jesus Christ as my Lord and savior.

Rebirth.  New life.  His gifts are many.  Watching myself being sanctified is just icing on the cake.  But it's so important to understand the total completion of the work of Jesus Christ.  It's so important to abandon myself to God.  I've got to place utter trust in the work of Christ.  

I must believe in the miraculous.  I must believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead.  

Romans 10:9 (NIV) If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

It's just so simple.  Yet the alternative is so terrible, and so many can't seem to escape the illusion, the society, the modern mindset that can't seem to grapple with the simple message of the gospel.  

Many in the scientific field turn hard against the miraculous.  That's often the topic of apologetic work, 'are miracles possible?'  Why shouldn't they be?  Since everything that exists has a cause, the universe needs a cause, and that cause would have to be intelligent, omnipotent, and self-caused, thus God, thus what we humans consider the "miraculous" is not a big deal to God.  He created a universe from nothing, suddenly raising Jesus Christ from the dead doesn't seem like such a big deal!

1 John (MSG)  11-2 From the very first day, we were there, taking it all in—we heard it with our own ears, saw it with our own eyes, verified it with our own hands. The Word of Life appeared right before our eyes; we saw it happen! And now we’re telling you in most sober prose that what we witnessed was, incredibly, this: The infinite Life of God himself took shape before us.
3-4 We saw it, we heard it, and now we’re telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. Our motive for writing is simply this: We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy!

The joy is in personal contact with God himself.  I feel that joy sometimes, the incredible love of the Father interacting with my soul.  All thanks to Jesus Christ, and his atoning sacrifice.  He took the just punishment I deserved.  He stepped in for me.  And I can hardly understand the cost.  Terrifying enough that Jesus, God himself, was afraid of it.  The disconnection from God that I deserved, he received.  Incredible.  What love!   

So belief in Jesus Christ, his work on the cross, his defeat of death, his perfect life, is now mine.  His righteousness is gifted to me, so I can boldly speak to the Father of lights, the divine architect of the universe, space, time, reality itself.  My part is belief.  And I believe today, more so I place my trust there.  I trust Jesus Christ.  I trust God the Father.  And I know one day I will see my savior face to face.  That's a fact.  Until that day, praise him and trust him!  Amen.

 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Apologetics: Answering Atheism, Naturalism in the USA, and the Reliability of the Bible


Christian Apologetics is the reasonable defense of the Christian worldview.  Many would have you think that religious thought exists in a vacuum and runs absolutely contrary to reality.  That is not true.  It's not true.  

Christian apologetics is where a lot of the fire for my evangelistic spirit comes from.  Because people simply don't know, and no one is telling them.  The media is not telling them, the news is not telling them, the universities are not telling them, and the churches are absolutely not telling them the compelling reasons behind Christianity.  And only the Christian apologists stand alone, like noble knights of old, against the onslaught of lies, half-truths, and deceptions perpetrated in public schools, universities, the sciences, and the public square.  Naturalism is pushed in all those arenas, and Christian apologists stand to defend Christianity in a nation founded and lead forward by Christians.  And now in the last 80 years, Christianity is quietly evicted, while eastern mysticism is explored, and naturalism dominates the landscape.  

These three doctors of various disciplines walk through the facts on three key topics: Answering the objections of the new atheists, the Naturalistic framework and it's effect on the USA, and the reliability of the documents composing the Christian Bible.  Enjoy these video presentations on the truth of Christianity by some wonderful men of faith that stands the test of reason.

Dr. Ravi Zacharias answers the objections of prominent atheists.




Dr. JP Moreland discusses the dominance of the Naturalistic worldview in the USA and it's ramifications




Dr. Norman Geisler looks at the Bible and it's reliability.



Related Posts:
Can you see through the illusion?
 Philosophy, Science, Logic, and History: Presentations on the truth of Christianity from Multiple Disciplines
The USA and the Ancient Roman Empire 
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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Academic Paper: The Image of God

 
The Bible is true and correct when it says that all people are made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27 [ESV]). The image of God is a description by which the Bibles show how humanity is made in the likeness of God, in personality, in morality, in value, and in immortality (Elwell, 1984, p. 592). 

Though the image of God on man was distorted by the fall, it remained in tact and is restored when faith is placed in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ on the cross (Elwell, 1984, p. 593). If I claim to be a Christian, and I do, then that belief must be systemically applied to every part of my life (Prov. 3:6 [ESV]). 

My current occupation is as a Caseworker at the Salvation Army church and homeless shelter in my hometown. After graduation I will most likely continue my work at Salvation Army, and eventually take classes to become an officer in the army. I best live out Genesis 1:27 by coming along side hurting people and treating them with the dignity and respect they deserve as children of God made in the image of God (1 Pet. 2:10 [ESV]). Yet many of the people I work with are not children of God, so I invite them to know Jesus Christ. Since people are made in the image of God, they ought to know God. And I may be the only gospel these people hear. 1 John 3:17 (ESV) explains the concept of sharing and caring for those around us, it says: “But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?” 

 The language of the Bible is very clear when dealing with other human beings. Fellow humans are called brothers, sisters, and neighbors (Mark 12:31, Prov. 3:29, 1 John 3:15 [ESV]). Fellow members of the body of Christ are called family (Matt. 12:50 [ESV]). 

An important concept is that I love because God first loved me. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (ESV) well illustrates the passing of love from God to his followers and beyond; it says: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” People who are homeless, living on the street are greatly afflicted. I try to come along side them and offer them comfort in their afflictions. I do that by the grace of God, and because I am reminded how God comforted me in my afflictions in the past. No matter how low someone is, no matter what they've done, they do not “lose” the image of God which they were made in (Towns, 2008, p. 577). If I thought they were demons, or monsters or those destined for hell I would treat them as tax collectors, but I cannot say for certain where they are destined to end up, only God knows (Isa. 55:8 [ESV]). I only know that every human I meet is made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27 [ESV]). 

 If God deserves respect and love for who he is, it then follows that those created in his image should be treated with love and respect as well. An important part of living out the image of God doctrine is found in the showing of mercy. Luke 6:36 (ESV) says,”Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” The fall had it's terrible effects on man and the image of God in man, but the image remains and therefore as God the Father has shown mercy on man by sending Christ Jesus to redeem sinners, I must also show incredible mercy and even grace to those lost drug addicted, alcoholic, abused, abusive, and mentally unstable I meet in my life (Towns, 2008, p. 577). Or as Rivera (2013) said,”Jesus calls us to a self-sacrificing love that pushes us past our comfort zone into a world of risk and danger” (Rivera, 2013, p. 53). 

 If my Christian worldview is to be true, coherent and pervasive throughout all aspects of my life, it must go into my workplace, home life, nights out on the town, church life, and everywhere in between. Otherwise I'm living a life that will be systemically contradictory. To summarize, the doctrine of the image of God is best put into practice by going beyond myself, stepping out of my comfort zone, and helping those in need. But it also means treating all people in the world with dignity and respect, especially when it is difficult to do so. The doctrine of the image of God shows that humanity has great value, and it shows that every person is made for the purpose of being in relation to their creator, the one who made them (Ps. 100:3 [ESV]). The best way to live out the image of God doctrine in my chosen vocation is to humbly serve those I care for, treat them with dignity and respect, and love them as children of God, inviting them to know Jesus Christ the savior of all humanity (Phil. 2:1-11 [ESV]).






Bibliography


Elwell, Walter A.. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1984.

Rivera, Ted. The Heart of Love: Obeying God's Two Great Commandments. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2013.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version : the ESV Study Bible.. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Bibles, 2008.

Towns, Elmer L.. Theology for Today. Mason, Ohio: Cengage Learning, 2008.