Apologetics

All Things Continue As They Were?

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There came to him some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, and they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, having a wife but no children, the man must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. Now there were seven brothers. The first took a wife, and died without children. And the second and the third took her, and likewise all seven left no children and died. Afterward the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had her as wife” (ESV, Luke 20:27-33).

In the Jewish world of Jesus’ day, the Sadducees were the most skeptical. Their understanding of the Old Testament focused on the “literal” or normal meaning of the words and prioritized the first five books as more authoritative then the rest of the Old Testament.

Their method of interpreting the Bible led them to “deny that there is a resurrection” (Luke 20:27, ESV) and reject angels and spirits (Acts 23:8). We are informed by the Pharisee and Jewish historian Josephus (c. 37-c. 100) that they rejected the “belief of the immortal duration of the soul, and the punishments and rewards in Hades,” and the sovereignty of God (The Wars of the Jews, 2.8.14).

In our day, we would identify Christians holding these views as liberal. The Sadducees were obviously skeptical of the more fantastic claims of the Bible, and they leaned heavily towards the materialism of Epicureanism (Acts 17:18). And in this tendency, they are similar to moderate evangelicals and liberal Christians. Their normal or “literal” is dependent on an understanding of God’s word and world that does not match God’s revelation. Read more about All Things Continue As They Were?

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Biblical Apologetics and Ministry Today

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From Paraklesis, a resource of Baptist Bible Seminary (Spring, 2013). Used by permission.

Apologetics is derived from the Greek noun apologia and verb apologeomai, which appear 18 times in the New Testament. In each instance, the terms emphasize the sense of defending or vindicating oneself and/or truth claims.

The New Testament authors repeatedly affirm the critical importance of defending or justifying the truthfulness of the Christian truth claims. For example, Paul commends the Philippian church for supporting him in the defense of the gospel (Phil 1:7, 16). Later, Paul defended himself against unjust allegations (1 Cor 9:3) and he defended his apostleship (2 Cor 12:19).

Toward the end of his ministry he wrote that at his first defense no one supported him though the Lord stood with him (2 Tim 4:16). When Paul appeared before the Roman authorities of Felix (Acts 24), Festus (Acts 25), and Agrippa (Acts 26), he presented a defense of himself and the Christian faith. Scripture writers repeatedly appealed to historical facts and logical arguments in presenting, explaining, and defending the truthfulness and veracity of the gospel.

However, this defense (or apologia) provided only justification for the truthfulness of the gospel which then was appropriated by faith. The gospel message was never reduced to a mere mental assent to facts. Read more about Biblical Apologetics and Ministry Today

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Christianity, No Fable

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CHAPTER V: CHRISTIANITY, NO FABLE

BY REV. THOMAS WHITELAW, M. A., D. D., KILMARNOCK, SCOTLAND

I. The first mark of the truthfulness of Christianity is to be found in

ITS SUPREME EXCELLENCE

as a Religious System. The unapproachable beauty and resistless charm of its conception, and the unique character of the means by which it seeks to carry out its aims, are not reconcilable with the notion of Fable.

If, however, notwithstanding, Christianity is a Fable, then it is the Divinest Fable ever clothed in human speech. Nothing like it can be found in the literature of the world. Paul only spoke the unvarnished truth when he declared that eye had not seen nor ear heard, neither had the mind of man conceived the things which God had revealed to men in the Gospel.

NOT OF HUMAN ORIGIN

1. The very conception of the Gospel as a scheme for rescuing a lost world from the guilt and power of Sin, for transforming men into servants of righteousness, followers of Christ, and children of God, each one resembling Himself and partaking of His nature, and for eventually lifting them up into a state of holy and blessed immortality like that in which He Himself dwells—that conception never took its rise in the brains of a human fable monger, and least of all in that of a crafty priest or political deceiver—no, not even in that of the best and most brilliantly endowed thinker, poet, prophet or philosopher that ever lived. Men do not write novels and compose fictions in order to redeem their fellows from guilt and

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The Testimony of Christian Experience

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CHAPTER IV: THE TESTIMONY OF CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE

BY PRESIDENT E. Y. MULLINS, D. D., LL. D., LOUISVILLE, KY., U. S. A.

Human experience is the one datum of all philosophy, and all science. The experience of the individual and of the race is the grist which is poured into all the scientific and philosophic mills. Hence Christian experience as a distinct form of human experience ought to receive more attention than it has ever received before.

Professor Bowne has emphasized the fact that whatever your philosophy, your experience is the same. You may call things by any names you wish and it will not affect experience. Christian Science says that all is mind, that a cobble stone, for example, is simply an idea and not a real piece of matter. We will suppose that some one hurls it and it strikes your head and sends you off for relief. Then you have an experience in the realm of the ideal. You have an ideal stone, striking an ideal head, and raising an ideal bump and producing an ideal dizziness and pain, and requiring the application of an ideal liniment, which produces an ideal cure, and affords you an ideal satisfaction and peace of mind. But all this does not in the slightest degree alter the experience itself. And if you were going to rear a philosophic system on the principle deduced from sudden contact of cobble stones with human craniums, you would be compelled to take this concrete human experience to begin with.

JOHN JASPER PHILOSOPHY

Science and philosophy are beginning to recognize the evidential value of Christian experience though they are very

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The Problem of Genocide in the Old Testament

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Reprinted with permission from Baptist Bulletin Mar/Apr 2013. All rights reserved.

Troubling headlines

Recent incidents of genocide (the systematic killing of ethnic or religious groups) and ethnic cleansing (the forced deportation of ethnic or religious groups):

  • 1991 450,000 Palestinians expelled by Kuwait in retaliation for the PLO’s support of Saddam Hussein
  • 1993 170,000 Croatians and non-Serbs murdered or deported by Serbian rebels led by Slobodan Miloševic
  • 1999 800,000 Albanians flee their homes during the Kosovo War
  • 1994 As many as 1,000,000 Tutsi killed by Hutus in the Rwandan genocide
  • 2000 200,000 East Timorese killed or expelled from Indonesia after voting for independence in a 1999 referendum
  • 2003 450,000 from various black ethnic groups killed and another 2 million expelled from the Darfur region of Sudan
  • 2008 200,000 Karen and 120,000 other refugees displaced from their Burma (Myanmar) homes, fleeing to Thailand
  • 2012 400,000 people displaced in dispute between Bodos and Bengali-speaking Muslims of Assam, India

Problem: How should a believer respond to accusations about genocide in the Old Testament? Does the Bible encourage genocide for religious purposes? Read more about The Problem of Genocide in the Old Testament

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Intellectual and Moral Cowardice

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I purchased a copy of Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion* the other day. I teach an apologetics class at my church and wanted to actually read what one of the so-called “Four Horseman of New Atheism” had to say on the matter. My wife was horrified when I opened the package and held the tome aloft—she accused me of enriching a godless heretic who seems content to remain on a path leading inevitably to the fires of hell. I supposed she had a point, so I retreated to pragmaticism—how can I know what the man says unless I buy the book? My wife reluctantly agreed but was still suspicious, and ordered me to banish the text to a distant bookshelf, far from the reaches of our children.

Reading the first few chapters, I stumbled across a disturbing passage written by a well-meaning but ill-informed Christian to Albert Einstein. The missive was a response to a paper Einstein wrote in 1940 about why he did not believe in God. Dawkins evidenced contempt and scorn for this little letter, and I must agree he is justified in doing so. Here it is:

We respect your learning, Dr Einstein; but there is one thing you do not seem to have learned: that God is a spirit and cannot be found through the telescope or microscope, no more than human thought or emotion can be found by analyzing the brain. As everyone knows, religion is based on Faith, not knowledge. Every thinking person, perhaps, is assailed at times with religious doubt. My own faith has wavered many a time. But I never told anyone of my spiritual aberrations for two reasons: (1) I feared that I might, by mere suggestion, disturb and damage the life and hopes of some fellow being; (2) because I agree with the writer who said, “There is a mean streak in anyone who will destroy another’s faith.”…I hope, Dr Einstein, that you were misquoted and that you will yet say something more pleasing to the vast number of the American people who delight to do you honor. (38)

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Book Review - 7 Truths that Changed the World

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As a pastor of a church plant with many new Christians, I found 7 Truths that Changed the World by Kenneth Richard Samples, to be a great foundation for a sermon series on the simple foundational truths of Christianity. The author does a great job of taking very complex subjects and making them palatable for the common reader like me. The book is not overbearing with the amount of information, nor is it too weak in defending the truth. It is a perfect balance between the academic and practical.

The book is built around the seven truths, with a section devoted to each of them.  Samples articulates and defends the specific truth and also explains the positions of other prominent worldviews.   This review will focus on a brief summary of the author’s explanation and defense of each of the seven truths. Read more about Book Review - 7 Truths that Changed the World

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