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Archive | Apologetics

The fairness of God?

Two men live radically different lives. One is morally good, reasonably honest, seeks to help those around him—an all-round nice guy. The other is a rogue: utterly depraved, vilely immoral, with a string of convictions, and a litany of broken people and promises trailing behind him.

On his death-bed the second man asks God for forgiveness. The first sees no great need. According to Jesus, one man gets Heaven, the other Hell. The repentant degenerate finds forgiveness; the other man finds judgment.

It doesn’t seem fair. How can God be a God of justice if that’s the case?

How you frame the story defines how right the answer feels. Ask any parent or teacher. How often have you asked a child what happened, and you hear a story that makes you think that they have been unbearably hard done by, yet when you take a step back and see the event without spin, in its wider context, it all makes sense. We are exceedingly skilled at telling a story in a way that highlights our best endeavours—yet is often only half the story.

Let me frame the story of the two men differently. Two men are both given their lives by God. One man […]

The Antidote To Evolution

Over recent weeks I’ve been preaching, for the second time, through the opening verses of the Book of Genesis. Last Lord’s Day I delivered my first sermon on the first day. In my second point, I was defending the Mosaic account from the error of the ‘Framework Hypothesis.’ In doing so, for the very first time, I felt with intense force, both the folly and falsehood of adopting such an erroneous position (attractive though it may seem for those who want to dodge the bullet of the creation-science debate).

There surely is little doubt, like most dangerous half-truths, that Moses presents the material of the original Creation in a highly structured, schematized way. Yet, on his part, that neither implies the unhistorical nature of the account, or that the details of each day, or the times the bible allots to them, do not correspond precisely to the truth or order of the facts. In reality, quite the opposite is the case: the Holy Spirit, through Moses, has important lessons to teach us, in the material contained in Genesis 1, about the nature and character of God, and the methods by which He has worked and still works.

Planned Order

Chief among these is […]

An Assortment of Audio!

It’s been a good week in the world of podcasting.  Lots of juicy episodes and discussions.

Here are a few that just might interest you:

Policing is Racially Biased – Intelligence Squared Debates.  Listen in as four qualified people debate the question of discrimination in police activity.
Should Christians Embrace or Reject Theistic Evolution? – Unbelievable.  This is a very instructive debate.  Listen carefully to Mr. Alexander’s (the theistic evolutionist) theological rationale for suffering and evil.  It is truly incredible- which is to say incredibly weak.
An Evening with Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris (part one and two).  I believe that it is vitally important to hear and understand what the New Atheists are saying.  They continue to shape the minds of many Americans, especially the younger generation.  If we are not familiar with their way of thinking, we will not be prepared to intelligently engage it.

Some Recent Resources on Roman Catholicism

A few things that have recently come across my radar:

John 6 For Roman Catholics, James White.  Dr. White walks through John 6 slowly, demonstrating Rome’s over reading of the text.
Why I’m not Catholic, Steve Hays: A concise summation of some of the problems one ought to have with Roman Catholicism.
Debates with Roman Catholics, James White: Speaking of James White, he has spent a great deal of time debating and interacting with Roman Catholic apologists.  For a taste, check out his debate page.  Keep your eye out for White’s next debate on “Can Christians Lose Their Salvation?” with RC apologist Trent Horn.  That is scheduled for tomorrow.

Assurance for Seekers – A Gentle Refresher

Until recently, I had missed the contextual power of Isaiah 55:10-11. Commentator Alec Motyer helped me see the wonder of these verses in a new way. They promise:

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it (ESV).

I had thought of them as primarily a comfort for those who are speaking the gospel; and they are. Often, Christians use this text to encourage a brother who with great trepidation spoke to a non-Christian or in some difficult circumstance. His words may not have been eloquent, but God’s word was spoken, and we take comfort in knowing that they have power. That is not a wrong application, but the context presses us to an higher purpose and even better use for these great promises.

These words of comfort were given to those who were straying and should have been […]

Gospel Beauty Beyond Syllogisms

The Christian life is the life of a forgiven sinner. Read it again. The Christian life is the life of a forgiven sinner.

There is something refreshing about the simplicity of a statement such as this. Christianity is a religion for sinners. Should we not give him praise for this reality? The Lord Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)

I wonder how often we lose focus on this glorious truth? In our discussions with unbelievers and those who would describe themselves as “seekers” (yes, I know Romans 3:11), we ought to help direct their thinking along these lines as they ask us questions about what it means to be a Christian.

Several weeks ago, I was invited to UCLA to speak at class filled with medievalists and early modern English historians. These post-graduate students were studying the religious writings of England during the Reformation and early Puritan era. I was invited to give a pastoral perspective on the theology of the era and […]

Countering the Happiness Project

The Indian state of Madhya Pradesh is to create a new government ministry—the country’s first ministry of happiness. It will be dedicated to “putting a smile on every face”. It also aims to track their smiling citizens’ growth in happiness.

The state’s chief minister, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, said, “The state will be made responsible for happiness and tolerance of its citizens and will rope in psychologists to counsel people on how to be always happy.”

The reason this caught my eye was that I was preparing to preach this Sabbath on “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted”—so happiness had been uppermost in my contemplations this week. I had also been listening to a lecture Carl Trueman gave at our Shaftesbury Square congregation—and he unpacked a further level of significance to the quest for happiness.

Without being overdramatic I believe the pursuit of happiness (or The Great Happiness Project) lies at the root of many of society’s problems—both personal and social. Obviously I have no problem with happiness—I’m all for it—but the pursuit of it is the problem.

Trueman quotes American sociologist Philip Rieff who set out four stages of Western civilization:

‘Political Man’ of classical civilisation—man defined by the city and […]

A Brief Reflection on Apologetics and Epistemology

(This is a follow-up to my post which can be found here)

When confronted with evidence supporting the notion of intelligent design, as demonstrated through the finely-tuned nature of the universe, atheist, Peter Millican, appealed chiefly to two different lines of thinking in order to escape the force of the argument: The possibility of a multiverse and the discovery of a new theory or law of nature that would resolve the tension through a more naturalistic explanation.

Allow me to bullet some thoughts:

Answering Jihad

Every time another Islamic terrorist blows up something or someone, political and media leaders speculate as to the root causes of jihad. What possesses people to sacrifice themselves for the sake of killing others? Former Muslim, Nabeel Qureshi, whose 2014 autobiography Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity describes his journey from committed apologist for Islam to born again Christian, has written helpfully this week in USA Today about the root causes of the radicalization of young Muslims.

Do Muslims and Christians Worship the Same God? A Brief Reflection

Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God?

It seems to me that when the relationship between Islam and Christianity is engaged on this level, theologians of a more liberal bent are provided a delicious opportunity to flatten the antithesis between Christ and Allah.

The question so framed allows for subtleties in metaphysics to rise to the fore.  “Isn’t there only one, real God?” they ask, finger raised.  “And if there is only one, real God, then it follows that worship must be directed, even if somewhat confused, to this one, real God.  Thus, it should be plain, dear friend, that we are worshiping the same God.”

Well, it isn’t all that plain.  But that isn’t the point.  The problem here is the desire to build upon perceived ambiguities so as to construct a viewpoint that downplays key differences between Islam and Christianity.

Those of a more liberal mindset don’t want hard edges.  They want Muslims to go to heaven as Muslims.  This, it seems to me, is the impetus behind the question.

So let’s not start there.  Let’s ask other, more relevant questions; the kind of questions that readily dispel ambiguities:

Did Mohammad communicate to humanity revelations from God?  No.

Is Mohammad […]