5 Threats Of Demanding Certainty To Change Your Beliefs

Introduction

With the continual exposure to scientific, historical, and philosophical evidence for God’s existence, I am continually reminded of just how strong the case for God is, in general, and the truth of Christianity specifically. Often times I wonder how someone can have enough faith to be an atheist. It is often claimed by skeptics of God’s existence, and specifically the intelligent design argument, that it is best to not conclude the necessity of a designer until all naturalistic possibilities have been exhausted. This seems to provide a safe, reasonable haven for the skeptic faced with the evidence. But is it really reasonable and thus, safe? What are the implications of this claim? I want to take a few minutes to examine the reasonableness of this escape route.

There exists three possible explanations for natural phenomena: chance, necessity, and design. If chance and necessity are eliminated, then there is no other option except design. The skeptic’s claim reacts to the design proponents’ attempts to rule out chance. As long as humanity does not reach omniscience and research continues, the appeal to what we do not yet know prevents us from being certain that the decision to remove chance from the table of options is correct. While this does seem to make sense, five threatening implications do come to mind that should make us question its reasonableness. [Read more…]

Apologists, Christian Bookstores, and “The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven”

qrhmhm1bh7hqxye4wtiyThis week was a bad week for fans of the book The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven.

Alex Malarkey, son of author Kevin Malarkey, issued a brief but brutal retraction of the events that took place in The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven, a book which has sold very well along with other books in the “heavenly tourism” genre. The publisher, Tyndale House, has agreed to take the book out of print, and Lifeway has begun returning the copies of the book back to the publisher (1). While this is a good step in the right direction, it’s the first step of many that needs to be taken in order to reverse an entire frame of mind, one that has had detrimental effects on apologists and their efforts within the Church. John MacArthur, in his book The Glory of Heaven, says this of the genre:

[Read more…]

Why Christian Discipleship Is Critical to Christian Survival

DiscipleshipJust before leaving the disciples, Jesus gathered them together and commissioned them with an important task. He told them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you…” (Matthew 28:18-20). Jesus understood the importance of discipleship (the process of making disciples). In fact, it was so important, He made sure it was His last directive to those who followed Him. What precisely is discipleship and why is it so important? Is it simply a matter of making converts? No, it’s much more. The process of making disciples is often misunderstood and neglected in the Church today, and as a result, we are in danger of losing our identity as Christians. Christian discipleship is critical to Christian survival.

Even secular dictionaries recognize discipleship as something more than simply creating “members” or “converts”. Dictionary.com describes a disciple as “a person who is a pupil or an adherent of the doctrines of another.” Webster’s online dictionary defines a disciple as “one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another.” At least one aspect of discipleship involves learning the doctrines of a particular system or teacher. This intellectual aspect of being a disciple is affirmed in the Bible. The Greek word used for “disciple” in the New Testament is “mathētḗs” and its root, “math-“, means the “mental effort needed to think something through“. Disciples are “learners”, “scholars” and followers of Christ who “learn the doctrines of Scripture and the lifestyle they require”. There is an important connection between doctrine and behavior. It’s not enough to simply follow Jesus’ moral teaching related to behavior, true disciples must understand the doctrines of Christianity. What does our worldview teach, theologically or philosophically? How are we to make a defense (1 Peter 3:15), hold fast the faithful word which is in accordance with this teaching (Titus 1:9), recognize a heresy when we see one (Titus 3:10), and guard the treasure which has been entrusted to us (2 Timothy 1:14)? Becoming a disciple means becoming a learner.

Sadly, many in the Church have neglected this important aspect of discipleship, and their hesitancy to celebrate the life of the mind continues to put the Church in great peril. History demonstrates the importance of discipleship and the life of the mind. In the early 19th Century, the lack of discipleship resulted in the rise of several heretical religious worldviews. From the 1790’s to the 1840’s the movement known as the “Second Great Awakening” spread through the young American nation. This Protestant movement was wildly successful in gaining converts, but not nearly as successful in discipling new believers. The Second Great Awakening was facilitated by a number of charismatic preachers (Charles Finney was perhaps the most famous). These preachers were excellent communicators and their camp-style revivals were designed to solicit responses from the people who heard them. These same preachers, however, were less than effective in establishing a discipleship process for the new Christian converts. In the wake of the revival meetings, new converts were left largely on their own; local churches were not ready to teach and mentor those who were now interested in learning the truth about Jesus. As a result, a number of groups emerged simultaneously: The Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons), The Evangelical Christian Church in Canada, The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the Seventh-day Adventist Church (from which Jehovah’s Witnesses eventually appeared), and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church were all the result of rapid growth followed by inadequate discipleship. [Read more…]

Identity Crisis: Should We Use the Term Apologetics?

skeptical guy pulling down sunglasses

Do you get blank stares when you mention apologetics? Should we drop the term and find another, like case-maker? Having tried apologetics as well as other terms, I think the problem is deeper. What can we do, and what might we learn from others who share a similar identity problem? [Read more…]

Articulating One’s Beliefs Can Be A Challenge

images-11Introduction.

Despite the fact of my not posting since the beginning of the month, I have not lost sight of the mission. Working with the people I work with, some of them being some of the most profane people that I have ever come across, I have not lost sight with how I am “wired” and the ministry mission. Even though where I am (on my job) during a good chunk of the week, I know the presence of the Lord and the conviction of His Holy Spirit, even while I “occupy Mordor” and pray for a change.

Thankfully I still do get to enjoy a day off during the week, and I am going to be protecting that day in the coming weeks for specific reasons, that I will not mention here. In spite of all the demands of my job, this week was a wonderful day off and allowed me to speak to a repair man for one of our appliances, and a handful of students at the Germanna campus.

What was the nature of these conversations? They were spiritual in nature, and I would like to share here some thoughts on what I learned about these conversations.

The Need for Articulating the Christian Faith

One of our appliances stopped working and we needed some outside assistance. Even though I was able to unstop a bathroom sink and our bathtub drain (thank you YouTube), I was not able to work this task.

The appliance repair company “rep” that came and assisted us is a Christian and attends a large local Baptist church regularly and adult Bible fellowship on a regular basis.  How did I know he was Christian?

Thankfully he shared that with my wife and me, by sharing the message on the back of his business card. When I asked him his understanding of his message, he started sharing with me a basic message of salvation and how Jesus died  for our sins on the cross. Of course I was happy to see him start there. However when I continued with him on his understanding at a deeper level, he started struggling. Why was there a struggle?

Allow me to share my concerns, as they are very similar ones that I am hearing in other conversations. [Read more…]