Answering Objections about the Problem of Evil & Suffering (Part 2)

Read Part 1.

The Problem Stated

Those who see an irreconcilable conflict between an all-powerful, all-loving God and evil and suffering in the world do so with several arguments. Some ask the thought-provoking question, “Couldn’t God have made a world in which evil and suffering don’t exist?” This is a troubling question, because the answer is certainly, “Yes.” As we will see later, this doesn’t mean that God is unjust, but this question does have a strong emotional impact.

Others argue, “I would never hurt my children needlessly, so why does God? If God is not even better than me, why should I worship Him?” This is an argument by analogy. By comparing human parenting to the Creator God’s relation to the world, these people use a well-known experience to evaluate a deeply spiritual and philosophical problem. Certainly, a parent-child relationship ought to be marked by gentleness, kindness, and protection from harm. If God cannot even live up to basic human expectations, how can He be worshiped? Read more about Answering Objections about the Problem of Evil & Suffering (Part 2)

Answering Objections about the Problem of Evil & Suffering (Part 1)

One of the most difficult objections to the Christian faith to answer is the question of how there can be a good, loving, powerful God when there is so much evil and suffering in the world. The challenge with this objection is that unbelievers borrow Christian views of the brokenness of the world and deep, human depravity, while simultaneously rejecting the God who tells us how those things came to be and acted so that these two things would be overcome. The sense of justice and desire for mercy and restoration that so many unbelievers long for shows that intuitively we know the world is not as it should be. Only Christianity can provide an answer for these deep questions that keep so many from believing.

In Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novel, The Brothers Karamazov, Ivan is asking his brother Alyosha how he can believe in a good God when he has seen and heard of so much suffering in 19th century Russia. The description of human suffering is realistic and should cause us grief just to read it. Read more about Answering Objections about the Problem of Evil & Suffering (Part 1)

Review: Allen Ross on the Psalms (Vol.3)

Image of A Commentary on the Psalms: 90-150 (Kregel Exegetical Library)
by Allen Ross
Kregel Academic 2016
Hardcover 1024

Finally we have the third and final volume of the Kregel Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Psalms by Allen P. Ross, Professor of Divinity at Beeson Divinity School. This one covers Psalms 90 through 150 and brings the complete set to three thousand pages. The first two volumes were outstanding. I have found that I turn to them first for exegetical and even homiletical material (alongside VanGemeren in the EBC).

Although this review is on Volume 3, I want to say something about the other volumes. Ross’s introduction in Volume 1 is a very helpful orientation to the Psalter, its forms, its themes, and its theology. As with his outstanding book on worship, Recalling the Hope of Glory, he concerns himself in these books with the Divine-human encounter. Take a look, for instance at Ross’s comments on Psalm 8 and Psalm 23 in the first volume, and Psalm 42 in the second, and see how Ross brings you into the context of the human author. The author is a Bible conservative. He is not interested in winning friends in the critical academy, although he is a first rate Old Testament scholar. Read more about Review: Allen Ross on the Psalms (Vol.3)

IFCA International Statement on Biblical vs. Same-Sex Marriage

From Voice magazine, July/August 2016. Used by permission.

We Rejoice in the Proclamation of the Truth

The members and churches of the IFCA International maintain their historical commitment to God’s Word, the Bible as the final and supreme authority in all matters of faith and practice. Morality is a matter of bibli­cal definition, not subject to any cultural, social or political redefinition. Morality, when left to popular opinion, will drift from generation to generation, but biblical truth remains constant and absolute.

The Biblical teaching on issues of human sexuality and marriage is the final word regardless of what any human individual or human institutions, organizations or groups might con­tend. There is no authority that can supersede, countermand or preclude the teaching of the Word of God. Read more about IFCA International Statement on Biblical vs. Same-Sex Marriage

And Now for the News

From Dispensational Publishing House; used by permission.

What is your view of the news media? If you are like most people, your answer does not exude confidence.

According to Gallup:

Four in 10 Americans say they have “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of trust and confidence in the mass media to report the news fully, accurately and fairly. This ties the historical lows on this measure set in 2014 and 2012. Prior to 2004, slight majorities of Americans said they trusted the mass media, such as newspapers, TV and radio. (Rebecca Riffkin, “Americans’ Trust in Media Remains at Historical Low”)

I spent 14 years working for a major news organization in the state of Wisconsin as a newspaper reporter and editor. I appreciate so many things that I gained from that experience, apart from which I would be lacking in a number of valuable areas. I do not claim to have seen it all—or really to have any secrets to share that you have not already figured out if you, like me, are a connoisseur of media (or, to put it in the vernacular, a news junkie). I do, however, have a few observations about the current state of the news media—and, especially, how we as Bible-believing Christians should consume media—that I think are worth sharing. Here they are, in no particular order: Read more about And Now for the News

The Textually-Based Locus of Meaning

From Dispensational Publishing House; used by permission. Read the series so far.

Dispensationalism & the Literal Interpretation of the Bible, Part 6

To review very briefly, there are four essential principles we must keep in mind if we are going to have a proper understanding of literal interpretation. The first three are the univocal nature of language, the jurisdiction of authorial intent, and the unitary authorship of Scripture. The final element for literal interpretation is the textually-based locus of meaning. We began studying that topic in the previous installment of this series, and pick up with it here. Read more about The Textually-Based Locus of Meaning

Finding a Balanced Approach to Choosing Literature for Children

As Christians who endeavor to apply biblical principles to every facet of life, I think we sometimes err greatly when it comes to choosing literature on page and screen for our children:

  1. We view every instance of sinful behavior as an objectionable element and dismiss the entire story on that basis.
  2. We Christianize the characters, themes, and plot lines to “redeem” the story, regardless of authorial intent.
  3. We assume “classic literature” means “wholesome literature.”
  4. We leave teaching literature to the “experts.”

None of these approaches are accurate or useful. They represent faulty methods of literary criticism—permissivism, exclusivism, pragmatism, naïveté, and the postmodernist tendency to declare everything relative. Worst of all, they represent a lost opportunity to parent. Read more about Finding a Balanced Approach to Choosing Literature for Children

When Followers Don’t Follow: The Art of Persuasion

Though many of us don’t think of ourselves as leaders, we all find ourselves in situations where we’re responsible to some extent for “getting other people to do things” (or stop doing things). In that sense, we’re all leaders occasionally.

Previously, I introduced three primary tools leaders have at their disposal (coercion, persuasion, and influence), overviewed how the three differ, and explored some ways we tend to use one of them—coercion—badly (with self-defeating consequences).

Paul’s letter to Philemon draws our attention to the second tool—persuasion—and even a brief look reveals a great deal about what persuasion is, how it works, and why we should try to get better at it. Read more about When Followers Don’t Follow: The Art of Persuasion