A Christian Response to Richard Dawkins' Atheism (Part 1)

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With today’s fascination for “coming out” as something, many have decided to “come out” as atheists all over the world. Atheism is a phenomenon that surrounds us whether we realize it or not. We all likely have classmates, neighbors, or co-workers who are atheists. This situation should remind us that having atheists in our life means having people in our life, who also claim to be atheists.

Recently, I saw a woman shock her former church by announcing online: “I am an Atheist.” For her and her former church, the challenge of atheism is not just a philosophical challenge. It is a personal one. Atheism is a challenge to men and women, many of whom are young, and some of whom may even read these words.

The following apologia is my response to a particular version of modern atheism, the one recently popularized by English scientist, Richard Dawkins. In his massive polemic against God, The God Delusion (2006), Dawkins filled 374 pages with denunciations of “the pernicious delusion” of God. Dawkins summarized his claims in a much shorter piece published with the release of his book. My response to Dawkins will be based on his shorter article: “Why There Almost Certainly Is No God.” Read more about A Christian Response to Richard Dawkins' Atheism (Part 1)

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Aphorisms for Thinking about Separation: Command, Intent and Application

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Please, consider reading the preceding article before delving into this one. While I’ve tried to make each stand alone, they are linked together.

Aphorism 1: The debate among Bible believing Christians about separation is fundamentally about the how to apply the passages in the Bible commanding separation.

Aphorism 2: All applications of the commands of Scripture are based on a particular context outside the Bible. Therefore unless the context is identical to what was intended by the Bible, an application cannot be as normative as Scripture itself.

Allow me to share an explicit command of Scripture, repeated five times in the New Testament which is patently ignored at least in literal obedience by almost all churches in the United States: “Greet one another with the kiss of love” (ESV, 1 Peter 5:14; cf. 1 Thess. 5:26, 2 Cor. 13:12, 1 Cor. 16:20, Rom. 16:16). Read more about Aphorisms for Thinking about Separation: Command, Intent and Application

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"Engaging the Culture"

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“Engaging the culture” has become one of the biggest buzz phrases in American Christianity today. The idea of seeking new and better ways to connect with unbelievers so that we can more easily give them the gospel is currently enjoying immense popularity. But what if as a result Christians in America have become more interested in engaging the culture than evangelizing it?

Take Lecrae for example. Christianity’s most famous rapper has recently made waves with his new stand on producing music. Ignoring for our purposes the debate over Christian rap, I think it his new philosophy models much of what is common thinking among Christians today. Lecrae has changed his lyrics from being explicit gospel presentations to a more subtle message of Christianity in his music. As one blog put it:

Rather than preach to his listeners, Lecrae aims to form a common ground. He will not share the gospel in every song, but he’ll address issues which relate to everyone. This allows him to reach a broader audience with the gospel when he feels God give him the green light. Even when Lecrae is writing about non-religious cultural issues, he’s still doing so with a Christian worldview.

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Book Review - Pilgrim Theology

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Image of Pilgrim Theology: Core Doctrines for Christian Disciples
by Michael S. Horton
Zondervan 2013
Hardcover 512

Michael Horton has done a masterful job in providing a systematic theology written for the common man. Pilgrim Theology (the abbreviated version of his larger systematic theology, The Christian Faith), is a thorough, but not tedious explanation of the basic doctrines of Christianity. Horton presents these doctrines in simple terminology and in concise wording. He gives “just enough” information without exhausting the subject matter or his readers. Where technical terms are used there is either an immediate explanation or one is included in a helpful glossary located in the back of the book.

Description

Pilgrim Theology covers the major topics you’d expect in a book about theology: Christology, soteriology, eschatology, and more in only 450 pages. While that isn’t necessarily a short read, it isn’t nearly as daunting as the 1000+ pages in the larger, original volume. Wasting no words, Horton still manages to give a fairly comprehensive overview of each doctrine he addresses. Read more about Book Review - Pilgrim Theology

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Faith and Reason in Christian Perspective: Jesus on Faith and Reason

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Read the series so far.

Christians are not immune from thinking independently of God. We do it when we think we can circumvent clear passages which we would rather say something other than what they say.

We can see this in two episodes in the life of our Lord.

In the first, Jesus warns the disciples to “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Matt. 16:6). The narrative then says the disciples “reasoned among themselves, saying, ‘It is because we have taken no bread.’” This brought forth a rebuke from Jesus:

O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves … do you not understand … How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? – but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (Matt. 16:8-11)

Then the narrative tells us that “they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

Clearly the reasoning of the disciples was faulty and brought forth a righteously indignant response from Jesus. They were reasoning this way because faith was not guiding their reason. Notice that Jesus does not explain His meaning to them in verse 11, but simply repeats the warning of verse 6. That was because there was sufficient information in what He said to them for them to gain the right understanding—provided they let faith guide their reason!

The other example is in Mark’s Gospel. In Mark 4:35-41 we have the record of Jesus’ stilling of the wind and the sea. It starts out with Jesus’ statement of intent:

Let us cross over to the other side.

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Faith and Reason in Christian Perspective: The Curse of Autonomy

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Read the series so far.

In this article on the roles of faith and reason I want to turn to examine some biblical passages which, I think, really help us to understand why reason must be driven by faith. The first of these comes from the Garden of Eden.

Autonomy: our default position in the use of reason

Although we do not have a protracted narrative of all that went on between the serpent and Eve, we do have everything necessary for us to learn what God wants us to learn. The culmination of the devil’s temptation of the woman was in the words, “your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Gen. 3:5). Of course this was a lie. No one could know good and evil like God without being God. But the promise of “being like God” was what did it. Read more about Faith and Reason in Christian Perspective: The Curse of Autonomy

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Aphorisms for Thinking about Separation: Setting the Stage

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Some time ago I had a long talk and walk with an older, godly, academic separatist about the history of separatism. By separatist, I mean someone who separates not only from apostasy but also separates from those who do not separate from apostasy. (I am being vague on the timing and details as the conversation was a friendly courtesy to me.)

About an hour or so into our talk, I played my rhetorical trump card—the original word for Pharisee means separatist. It cut him deep. And for first time we moved from theory to life. I looked into the eyes of a godly, thoughtful man and recognized the truth of what he next said with tears welling up in his eyes, “I am not trying to be a Pharisee; I am just trying to serve Jesus.”

I backpedalled a bit and tried to draw out the sting of my words. We recovered the emotional balance of the conversation and moved on. Yet the Holy Spirit has used the conversation and the moment of deeply hurting a servant of my Lord as a helpful reminder to speak and write carefully on this issue. Read more about Aphorisms for Thinking about Separation: Setting the Stage

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Postmodernism 10 - Theological Declarations

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From Sunesis. Posted with permission. Read the series.

Because there are no absolutes in postmodern religion, identifying a specific theology for the movement is essentially impossible. So rather than try to develop a comprehensive theology, here are some statements from emerging church leaders that might help at least give us an idea of where they are and where they might be heading.

God

“God can’t ever really be an object to be studied.”—Brian McLaren, A New Kind of Christian

“I am not sure I believe in God exclusively as a person anymore either…. I now incorporate a pantheistic view, which basically means that God is ‘in all,’ alongside my creedal view of God as Father, Son, and Spirit.”—Spencer Burke, A Heretic’s Guide to Eternity

“The Christian faith is mysterious to the core. It is about things and beings that ultimately can’t be put into words. Language fails. And if we do definitively put God into words, we have at that very moment made God something God is not.”—Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis Read more about Postmodernism 10 - Theological Declarations

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