Apologetics is the type of thing that can really strengthen anyone’s faith. Reading a good book or watching a debate on YouTube can be great for individual training. However, apologetics is also something that I have found can be dramatically enhanced through community interaction. [Read more...]
By Eric Chabot
Given that historians look to those who are contemporaries of the events, Paul is an important resource for what historians can know about Jesus of Nazareth. Furthermore, the earliest documents we have for the life of Jesus are Paul’s letters. Paul was a very competent rabbi who was trained at the rabbinic academy called the House of Hillel by ‘Gamaliel,’ a key rabbinic leader and member of the Sanhedrin. Both Christian and non-Christian scholars have come to have great respect Paul.
Allow me to list some of the basics every Christian should know about Paul:
1. Paul was educated
In this case, I have adapted much of this material from A Commentary on the Jewish Roots of Galatians (The Jewish Roots of the New Testament) by Joseph Shulam and Hilary Le Cornu. I have taken most of these points from their section called Paul: A Biography, pgs, 435-469.
1. Paul studied under the famous teacher Gamaliel (Acts 22: 3), the grandson of Hillel.
2. Hillel the Elder was nicknamed “the Babylonian” because he was descended from a family of Babylon.
3. Beit Hillel ended up having three successors, Rabban Gamaliel, the Elder being the first Sage esteemed with the honorific title of Rabban—“our master.”
4. The house of Hillel was unique in that it was an example of a family of who originated from the diaspora, with no priestly connections, which attained the position of hereditary leaders of the nation until, in the time of Rabbi Judah ha Nasi (170-200 C.E.), its members were officially recognized as by the Roman government as Patriarchs. [Read more...]
Working in apologetics is not something that should be done carelessly. While no one can claim to be the perfect apologist, it is important that as we approach these discussions, we come to the table with a strategy for engagement. I do not know if any of you are chess players like I am, but as I was thinking about the way that we help those around us understand the rationality of the Christian worldview, there are many lessons that we can learn from one of the most heavily analyzed board games in world history.
I think that there is first a comparison in regards to the structure of the game itself. As you know, every chess piece has a different function, but all of them can be used to make a checkmate. One of my favorite checkmates was one where I pinned my opponent with two pawns and the king. I think that this points towards the fact that everyone can and should be involved in apologetics. We might not have all of the ability of William Lane Craig or Ravi Zacharias, but we can still be used by God for His glory. God can use whatever pieces He wants to; He is very good at using even the most unlikely people to do great things. All of us should have a reason for the hope that we have.
Next, when you approach a chess match, you know what you want to do. I know that when I play, I have a preferred strategy, and I always open the game the same way. In apologetics, you will also probably have your area of strength. We might be drawn to different topics. You could be interested in the resurrection of Jesus Christ or the historicity of the Bible. It is important to have these areas that we have extensive knowledge in and are comfortable with on a more substantial level.
An important consequence of having a specialty is that we are all different. We can strengthen the field as a whole by being strong in different areas. Since it is hard for any individual to become an expert in everything, we can work together based upon our own interests and specialties. However, you can only do that if you have specialties to begin with. [Read more...]
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...]
I was listening to J. Warner Wallace’s podcast recently, and it’s one I encourage all of you to listen to. He talked about presenting talks on apologetics and how youth get enthused about it. I started pondering then why that might be, and I’d like to share a suspicion I have on the matter.
I have written much on how the ancient world was an honor/shame culture where we’re a more individualistic one, but that does not mean that we are totally devoid of any idea of shame. Social status is everything to many a teenager. This is why so many of them buy clothes they might not care for and get into fads that they wouldn’t care for otherwise. They want to fit in with their peers and not be embarrassed. [Read more...]