HBO’s True Detective: Touching the Darkness

“Matthew Coniglio’s Georgia home held a trove of child pornography, more than 50,000 images and videos stored true-detective-poster-540x390on laptops, external hard drives and thumb drives. Among the stash, hidden in a bedside table turned around to conceal the doors, authorities made an even more horrifying discovery: 56 8-millimeter cassette tapes they say show him raping and molesting girls. All were unconscious, apparently drugged, FBI Special Agent William Kirkconnell, who viewed the tapes, told The Associated Press. Some were so incapacitated they were snoring. The camera was always turned off before they awoke.”  - “Stash of child porn belonging to alleged Georgia pedophile reveals more victims,” New York Daily News

I read this two days after I finished watching Season One of the immensely popular True Detective (it broke HBO’s previous rating record, and HBO GO crashed when when too many users logged in to use the streaming service). If you’ve seen the show, this news story sounds eerily familiar. There are monsters among us. It’s not a pleasant thought. If you are looking for a fictional story to help you come to grips with that kind of horror in the world around us, True Detective will do just that. [Read more...]

Book Review– Inerrancy and Worldview

Inerrancy and Worldview The past few years have seen the rise of inerrancy—an issue that many thought was resolved come to the forefront of current theological debate, once again. Inerrancy is an important theological truth that while not directly tied to the Gospel itself nevertheless affects how one will ultimately understand issues directly related to the Gospel such as redemption, sin, justification among a host of other issues.  For this reason, the issue of inerrancy while not “of first importance” certainty ranks way up there on the priority of Christian doctrine. [Read more...]

Why Does Opposition to Apologetics Come From Mostly Within the Church?

Apologetics is a branch of Christian theology that helps give reasons for the truthfulness of the Christian faith/worldview. The word “Apologia” means “to give reasons, make a legal defense” (Acts 26:2; 2 Tim. 4:16; 1 Pet 3:15). The apostles approach to spreading the message of the Gospel is characterized by such terms as “apologeomai/apologia” which means “to give reasons, make a legal defense” (Acts 26:2; 2 Tim. 4:16; 1 Pet 3:15); “dialegomai” which means “to reason, speak boldly” (Acts 17:2; 17; 18:4; 19:8), “peíthō” which means to persuade, argue persuasively” (Acts 18:4; 19:8), and “bebaioō ” which means “to confirm, establish,” (Phil 1:7; Heb. 2:3). [1]

Over the years, I have the privilege to collaborate with many others who are involved in the apologetic endeavor. One thing is for sure: Most of the opposition to apologetics comes from within the Church itself. But why is this? After all, though Jesus didn’t run around calling Himself an apologist, he did offer reasons and evidence for His Messiahship. As I just said, Paul and the apostles did apologetics on several occasions. I have written about more about here. Recently, I sent an email out to several ministry leaders about the need for apologetics in the local congregation.  Keep in mind, the list had about 100 people on it. I did get one response which led to a radio interviewRobin Schumacher discusses a story about his friend who sent a similar letter to ministry leaders.

So having said all this, let me offer some reasons as to why there is so much opposition in the Church itself:

Ignorance about apologetics in the Bible: I have taught on many occasions where we see apologetics in the Bible. In many cases, Christians have never read the Bible apologetically.

Seminaries: Sure, pastors and ministry leaders are taught to exegete the text. That’s important. But in the end, they probably go to a seminary that doesn’t even offer a class on apologetics. This makes no sense. So they end up doing a lot to equip the people to know and study the Bible correctly. But is it not true that most if not all of our churches start with a set of presuppositions that a fairly large part of our culture rejects?  We can keep training pastors how to exegete the text. But what good does it do to train people to exegete the Bible when the average person doesn’t think that there is a God who can provide a written revelation about his plans and purposes for humanity? Furthermore, how do we know the Bible is the correct revelation? What about other religious texts? I write more on that here.  

The Impact of Postmodernism and Emergent Church: Space precludes me from going deeper on this topic. Paul Copan has two concise articles on the topic here and here. But I run across many false dichotomies in the Church such as the following:

  • The Orthodoxy/Orthopraxy divide: This plays out in the following sayings: “We spend too much time on orthodoxy (right belief). Hence, what really matters is our orthopraxy (right practice).” This is a false dichotomy. After all, it is true a Christian needs to be loving, caring, and feed the poor and show good works. But can’t a Mormon, a Jew, or a Buddhist display good works as well? Sorry but the truth question can’t be left behind.
  • Propositional Truth vs Personal Truth:  The saying goes like this: “Truth is in a person (i.e., Jesus), and is not based on a set of propositions.” Once again, there doesn’t need to be a dichotomy here. Personal and propositional revelation work together! Hence, this gets really old.

Faith vs Reason:  The majority of the culture thinks the word “faith” is something that is just a private and subjective belief that is not grounded in any kind of knowledge.  The problem is that this is the way many Christians define faith as well. My question is the following: How many pastors and ministry leaders teach on  what the Bible teaches about faith? We could use a lot more sermons/teachings on this topic. When I ask my fellow Christians why they think Christianity is true, the average response I get is “It is true because I have faith.” So if this is the case, what would you say if a Muslim or Mormon said they know Islam or Mormonism is true because they have faith? I guess that makes Islam or Mormonism true! Case closed! To read more on this, see our post called Why So Many People Misunderstand the Word “Faith”

Christians Being Spoon Fed By Their Pastors: Many Christians won’t take the initiative to learn anything unless their pastor tells them to. This is tragic and shows the problem with the clergy/laity divide. See the article Laypeople and the Mission of God, part 1 — Killing the Clergy-Laity Caste System. I was recently asked by a Christian how to get an apologetics programs started in their Church. They were shocked to learn how many resources are out there.

Christians are not sharing their faith: I think this is one of the largest obstacles to apologetics in the Church. I recently taught a class on religious pluralism. I asked people to raise their hand as to how many times they have been asked “How can you say Jesus is the only way to God?” Out of 40 people, two people raised their hand. I was baffled by this one. I assumed everyone had heard this objection. Hence, if people aren’t sharing the Gospel, they aren’t getting challenged!

Let me close by saying this: We are here to help. I know myself and others love the people of God and desire to see our fellow brethren equipped to engage the culture around us. I am not saying apologetics is all that matters. It is ONE BRICK in our foundation. I hope ministry leaders will see the need for this brick in the local congregation.  If you are looking for a basic resource as to how to get apologetics into your church, see here: Sources: 1. Garrett J. Deweese, Doing Philosophy as a Christian (Downers Grove, ILL: IVP Publishers, 2012), 78-79. Note: This post first appeared on the ThinkApologetics Blog

Creatures Point to Christ

Death always seems to be a negative or morbid subject. Whatever connotation it may have, the only thing significant about it is that it is real – i.e., we are going to die one day. As Blaise Pascal put it into words: “When I consider the short duration of my life, swallowed up in the eternity before and after, the little space which I fill. . .  I am frightened, and shocked at being here” (Livingston 2006, 134). Philosophers have given special attention to this reality and have articulated it in such a way that, in fact, from them we can gain insight. 

Socrates said that philosophy is for the dead. Particularly in the Phaedo he says, “For I deem that the true disciple of philosophy is likely to be misunderstood by other men; they do not perceive that he is ever pursuing death and dying” (Wartenberg 2008, 101).  Death is what separates the soul from the body according to Socrates, and hence, the disembodied soul is then able to pursue “real” knowledge,” and so, the philosopher in his pursuit of wisdom and knowledge should not be afraid of death.  [Read more...]

Days of Future Past: Do Our Choices Matter?

“So many battles waged over the years… and yet, none like this. Are we destined to destroy each other, or can we change each other and unite? Is the future truly set?” – Charles Xavier

X-Men: Days of Future Past is a story about free will and human nature. It’s many other things as well – an excellently craftedofficial-poster-x-men-days-of-future-past-2014-movie-wallpapers-1024x640 movie, an equal rights parable, a commentary on human atrocities, a discussion starter about evolution – but the latest installment in this thought-provoking franchise is perhaps the most cerebral of them all.

As he considers the carnage of the Mutant/Human war, Xavier wonders, “Are we destined to destroy each other? Or can we change who we are?” The Mutants have found a way to jump a few days into the past and avoid small catastrophes, but changing single events cannot alter the larger arc of stubbornly insistent history. All seems lost; both the characters and the conflict are succumbing to the chaos. Bryan Singer noted in an interview:

“[Days of Future Past] confronts the notions of hope and second chances. It’s characters that are lost trying to find themselves. In X-Men one and two, the characters had come into their own and knew who they were. In this one, they’re all lost. And they’re trying to keep it together.”

[Read more...]