Having Conversations Full of Grace and Seasoned with Salt: Advice to the Christian Debater

In his letter to the Colossians, the Apostle Paul instructs his readers to “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person,” (Colossians 4:6). I have found this advice to be invaluable in the context of debate, an activity in which many of us in the apologetics community participate.

Recently, I have had the opportunity to be involved in a few radio debates. In such situations, it is so important to always exemplify an attitude of humility and graciousness. Too often, regrettably, I have seen people (believer and unbeliever alike) attempt to disparage people on the other side of the argument. For the Christian, I firmly believe that the purpose behind debating is not simply to win an argument. Let me say that again: The purpose of debating, for the believer, is not simply to win an argument. It is possible that one successfully win an argument while failing to win the audience or one’s interlocutor. There are souls on the line. A message of love should thus be clearly conveyed — through the words we speak, through our conduct and mannerisms, and through our devotion to the message of the cross. It is so easy to let our Christian apologetics be reduced to nothing more than an intellectual pursuit, or a way to bolster one’s own ego. But as the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:2,

If I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

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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…]

Answering Jewish Objections: “Jewish People Don’t Believe in a Suffering/Atoning Messiah”: Part One

Introduction

Over the years, I have had the chance to talk to several Jewish people about spiritual issues. A common Jewish objection that I continue to hear is that Jewish people don’t believe that a human can be sacrificed for sins. In other words, a human can’t atone for the sins of the Jewish people.

First, let me give some background to the idea of atonement in Judaism. For Jewish people Yom Kippur, which is also known as Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. When the Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D, the religious and social life changed forever for the Jewish people. The Jewish people no longer had a sacrificial system in the Temple. Therefore, the atonement structure was changed to repentance which entails prayer, fasting, and doing mitzvah (good deeds).

The Importance of Atonement

One of the  Bible’s central messages is atonement. Hence, God has provision for humankind to come back into harmonious relation with him is one of the central themes in Scripture. The Hebrew word called “Shalom” which means peace, completeness, can refer to either peace between two entities (especially between man and God) or peace between two countries. Why do we lack this wholeness? Sadly, sin causes us to be fragmented. The Hebrew verb ‘to atone’ (kaphar) means ‘cover.’ In other words, we need a covering for our sins. [Read more…]

Book Review: “The Resurrection of Jesus” by Mike Licona

cover_image.aspWhen it comes to the truth of Christianity, no subject is more important than the Resurrection. The entire Christian faith hinges on it, and without it our faith becomes pointless. The apologetic task of defending the Resurrection is tantamount to defending Christianity itself, or at least defending its most defining facet.

Thanks to the work of Josh McDowell, Gary Habermas, and many others, apologists have been well equipped thus far to defend the resurrection. By examining the resurrection in a different light,  Mike Licona and his new book “The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach” attempts to set a new path forward for contemporary apologists. Using the tools of the historian, Licona builds his own case for the resurrection that many apologists will be able to identify with, but with several twists of his own to make a unique case.

Lets start with the good of this book: Mike Licona is a scholar and a gentlemen in the truest sense. While he sharply critiques the works and positions of many people in this book, not once does he treat or speak of them in a less-than-respectful manner. He is humble and honest to admit the strengths of other positions, and he attempts to represent them well. Licona’s example in this book (and elsewhere) is a shining example of a Christ-like character in apologetics. [Read more…]

Does The Moral Argument Reify Subjective Morality?

http://filmandphilosophy.com/2013/03/07/platos-cave-and-the-cinema/

The prisoners in Plato’s parable of the cave reified the shadows. Does the moral argument do the same to subjective morality? Image source: http://filmandphilosophy.com/2013/03/07/platos-cave-and-the-cinema/

Matthew Lawrence wrote in this question and gave permission to blog it and my answer below:

Hello Christian Apologetics Alliance. I would like to first off say thank you for the resources that you’ve given to me. This has helped me boost my faith up greatly.

Also I was wondering if you can please help me with an objection to the moral argument. I was talking to a skeptic online about certain arguments that can help prove God’s existence. Another skeptic came in and accused the moral argument of being fallacious. The skeptic says that it “asserts necessarily subjective concepts (all concepts are subjective and relative by definition) are in fact real things, which is the reification fallacy.” 

Now I know something is fishy about his objection to the moral argument, but I can’t spot out where. Can you please help me?

Thank You Very Much!

~Matthew Lawrence.

________________

Here’s my answer:

1. If all concepts are merely subjective and none of them correspond to reality, and if all assertion relies on our ability to conceptualize, then all assertion is reification and nothing is actually (known to be) real. That is an extreme skepticism that fails to explain scientific progress. Ask him if he thinks there are any “real” conclusions that are reached without employing conceptualization, and without reifying in the process.

2. The divine command theory, if the commands are not grounded in God’s essential nature, does in fact commit the fallacy of reification. The commanding is the reifying.
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