Archive for the ‘Apologetics’ Category

I read this some time ago and thought it was great.  I meant to bring it to your attention, and then Steph and I had a baby and I forgot.  Sounds reasonable enough right?  So, below is an excerpt from Iain’s excellent article.  I hope you’ll click through and read the whole thing.

Saint Anthony apparently lost his keys at one point in time.  He prayed and the Lord revealed to him where they were.  Saint Joseph had trouble selling their house in Nazareth until he stood on his head in his front yard and it sold automatically.  Today, if you lose your keys or can’t sell your house, there is a saint whom you can invoke to solve your dilemma.  Never mind that the powers these saints have incurred have little or nothing to do with their actual history!  In much the same fashion, one of my favorite saints (I’m using the term now in a Protestant sense) is often invoked quite inappropriately.  It’s ironic that one of the sharpest Christian minds of the 20th Century is so often evoked to justify fuzzy theological, biblical or moral thinking.  I’m speaking of C.S. Lewis.

When Lewis was 16 years old, he came under the tutelage of W.T. Kirkpatrick, or ‘The Great Knock’ as he was affectionately known.  Lewis tells of his first acquaintance with The Great Knock.  After a long train ride, Lewis commented that the countryside was not as rugged as he had expected it.  The Great Knock immediately began to question him on what he considered ‘rugged’ and what rational grounding he had for expecting the countryside to be more rugged here than elsewhere.  For three years, Lewis’ mind was shaped under this unflagging rationalist.  It is no surprise that the man’s mind was razor-sharp when it came to logical thinking.  Even still, I have heard Lewis quoted to justify lax thinking in terms of redemption, hell, the authority of the Scriptures, and any number of indispensable Christian doctrines!  I think Lewis himself would be aghast at how frequently his fans invoke his name to dismiss intense theological reasoning.

click here to read the whole thing

Who is this Jesus?

Posted: December 20, 2010 by doulos tou Theou in Apologetics, Christianity

“And so he was lifted up upon a tree and an inscription was attached indicating who was being killed. Who was it? It is a grievous thing to tell, but a most fearful thing to refrain from telling. But listen, as you tremble before him on whose account the earth trembled!
He who hung the earth in place is hanged.
He who fixed the heavens in place is fixed in place.
He who made all things fast is made fast on a tree.
The Sovereign is insulted.
God is murdered.
The King of Israel is destroyed by an Israelite hand.
This is the One who made the heavens and the earth, and formed mankind in the beginning,
The One proclaimed by the Law and the Prophets,
The One enfleshed in a virgin,
The One hanged on a tree,
The One buried in the earth,
The One raised from the dead and who went up into the heights of heaven,
The One sitting at the right hand of the Father,
The One having all authority to judge and save,
Through Whom the Father made the things which exist from the beginning of time.
This One is “the Alpha and the Omega,”
This One is “the beginning and the end”
The beginning indescribable and the end incomprehensible.
This One is the Christ.
This One is the King.
This One is Jesus.
This One is the Leader.
This One is the Lord.
This One is the One who rose from the dead.
This One is the One sitting on the right hand of the Father.
He bears the Father and is borne by the Father.
“To him be the glory and the power forever. Amen.”

-Melito of Sarvis, ( translated by Dr. James White in his book,”The Forgotten Trinity”

Election is best understood in hindsight

Posted: November 15, 2010 by doulos tou Theou in Apologetics, Christian Theology, Christianity

Bible teacher Donald Grey Barnhouse often used an illustration to help people make sense of election. He asked them to imagine a cross like the one on which Jesus died, only so large that it had a door in it. Over the door were these words from Revelation: ‘Whosoever will may come.’ These words represent the free and universal offer of the gospel. By God’s grace, the message of salvation is for everyone. Every man, woman and child who will come to the cross is invited to believe in Jesus Christ and enter eternal life. One the other side of the door a happy surprise awaits the one who believes and enters. For from the inside, anyone glancing back can see these words from Ephesians written above the door: ‘Chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world.’ Election is best understood in hindsight, for it is only after coming to Christ that one can know whether one has been chosen in Christ. Those who make a decision for Christ find that God made a decision for them in eternity past.   – Phil Ryken

A friend from Charleston has begun an interesting new community to discuss pressing issues regarding acknowledged or unacknowledged approaches to reality.  Check out there website by following the links below.

Marginal Conversations (MC) is a community building group that encourages reflection about our working theories about reality through conversations in community. MC cultivates continuing conversations at  “third places” , or informal meeting places outside of home and work where people spend much of their spare time and form close community ties. Examples of third places include coffee shops, pubs, smoking shops, places of worship and community centers. Third place regulars can participate in continuing conversations with each other that grow in depth over time (thus the “conversations” in “Marginal Conversations”). But what are “marginal” conversations, and how can they build community?

Think of the margins of a page in a book. When we read a page of text, we’re paying attention to the words, not the blank margins surrounding the text. The margins don’t get a lot of attention, but it would be difficult to read if the margins weren’t keeping the text in alignment. The text is justified against the margins in a way that gives it order and makes it readable. Everybody has a working picture or theory of how the world works that serves as their “text.” The “margins” in our lives are the assumptions that frame our theories and hold them up. Just as we don’t pay attention to the margins of the page when we’re reading the text, we rarely pay attention to our background assumptions about how the world works as we rely on them to interpret our experience. We look through our marginal theories at the world.

Go on over and pay them a visit here

One of the big battles facing the future of Christianity in the West is presenting a Gospel message that meets the harsh and legitimate critiques of a culture that has grown up in a shallow, and if we’re honest, a stupid evangelicalism.  Tim Keller, particularly in the video below, is a helpful model for how Christians can compassionately and intelligently bear witness to the Gospel in our current context.  The whole video (at 94 min!) is worth your time.  It is certainly of more benefit than the latest Desperate Housewives!

The conclusion to L. Goppelt’s examination of the Gospel writers eschaton from

” Theology of the New Testament” [2 vols; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981-82] 2.305

” The Gospel of John emphasized more emphatically than any other document of the New Testament that in Jesus’ ministry the eschaton was present; whoever believed has already passed from death to life! Whoever did not believe was already condemned! This apologetic antithesis did not aim at a perfectionistic decision, but at the faith that found in Jesus everything that was called the salvation of God: ‘ I am the way, the truth, and the life’ Jn 14.6″

This topic is of particular interest to me as more and more of the people at Trinity begin to pick up serious works of theology and report back the tremendous blessing that their theological studies have brought them.  In the words of one person, “Studying theology helps me know God better and I find the better I know him the more I love him.”

Everyone has warned me not to tell you what I am going to tell you in this last book. They all say `the ordinary reader does not want Theology; give him plain practical religion’. I have rejected their advice. I do not think the ordinary reader is such a fool. Theology means ‘the science of God,’ and I think any man who wants to think about God at all would like to have the clearest and most accurate ideas about Him which are available. You are not children: why should you be treated like children?

In a way I quite understand why some people are put off by Theology. I remember once when I had been giving a talk to the R.A.F., an old, hard-bitten officer got up and said, `I’ve no use for all that stuff. But, mind you, I’m a religious man too. I know there’s a God. I’ve felt Him out alone in the desert at night: the tremendous mystery. And that’s just why I don’t believe all your neat little dogmas and formulas about Him. To anyone who’s met the real thing they all seem so petty and pedantic and unreal !’

Now in a sense I quite agreed with that man. I think he had probably had a real experience of God in the desert. And when he turned from that experience to the Christian creeds, I think he really was turning from something real to something less real. In the same way, if a man has once looked at the Atlantic from the beach, and then goes and looks at a map of the Atlantic, he also will be turning from something real to something less real: turning from real waves to a bit of coloured paper. But here comes the point. The map is admittedly only coloured paper, but there are two things you have to remember about it. In the first place, it is based on what hundreds and thousands of people have found out by sailing the real Atlantic. In that way it has behind it masses of experience just as real as the one you could have from the beach; only, while yours would be a single glimpse, the map fits all those different experiences together. In the second place, if you want to go anywhere, the map is absolutely necessary. As long as you are content with walks on the beach, your own glimpses are far more fun than looking at a map. But the map is going to be more use than walks on the beach if you want to get to America.

Now, Theology is like the map. Merely learning and thinking about the Christian doctrines, if you stop there, is less real and less exciting than the sort of thing my friend got in the desert. Doctrines are not God: they are only a kind of map. But that map is based on the experience of hundreds of people who really were in touch with God-experiences compared with which any thrills or pious feelings you and I are likely to get on our own are very elementary and very confused. And secondly, if you want to get any further, you must use the map. You see, what happened to that man in the desert may have been real, and was certainly exciting, but nothing comes of it. It leads nowhere. There is nothing to do about it. In fact, that is just why a vague religion-all about feeling God in nature, and so on-is so attractive. It is all thrills and no work; like watching the waves from the beach. But you will not get to Newfoundland by studying the Atlantic that way, and you will not get eternal life by simply feeling the presence of God in flowers or music. Neither will you get anywhere by looking at maps without going to sea. Nor will you be very safe if you go to sea without a map.

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (Macmillan 1977) pg 135-135