Archive for May, 2017

We are in the midst of graduation season and some of us either have a graduate or know a graduate who is going to be headed off to college in just a couple of months.

How can we help prepare them to face some the challenges and opportunities that college offers.

Here is a list of the top apologetic books to buy for a recent graduate that would be helpful:

1. Welcome to College: A Christ-Follower’s Guide for the Journey, 2nd edition by Jonothan Morrow (Kregel Publishers, 2017)

welcome to college

Jonothan Morrow is the director of Impact360 which has a two-week Immersion worldview training and a Gap Year for college students. His book Welcome to College, newly published, is now in its second edition.  J. P. Moreland, professor of philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, states that “this is the book I’ve been waiting for the last forty years to give to college students.  It is the single best volume I have ever read for preparing students to follow Jesus and flourish as His disciples in college.”  Morrow covers issues ranging from ethics, apologetics, money management, and practical tips for navigating college.  Definitely worth giving a new (or even seasoned) college student.

 

 

 

2. On Guard for Students: A thinker’s Guide to the Christian Faith by William Lane Craig (Cook, 2015)

on guard for students

William Lane Craig (double doctorate), of Reasonable Faith, has been establishing RF Chapters all over the U. S. and the world with several on campuses.  This book takes you on an exploration of life’s deepest questions: why anything at all exists, the origin and fine-tuning of the universe, the nature of moral values and the reality of evil, the historical person of Jesus of Nazareth, the resurrection of Jesus.

 

 

 

 

3. A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today’s World by John Stonestreet and Brett Kunkle (Cook, 2017)

guide to culture

Another new book this year by John Stonestreet, president of the Chuck Colson Center, and Brett Kunkle, the Student Impact director ofStand to Reason Ministries.  They explore questions such as: What unseen undercurrents are shaping twenty-first-century youth culture? Why do so many kids struggle with identity? How do we talk to kids about same-sex marriage and transgenderism? How can leaders steer kids away from substance abuse and other addictions? How can we ground students in the biblical story and empower them to change the world?

 

 

 

4. How to Stay Christian in College by J. Budziszewski (TH1NK, 2014)

how to stay christian

J. Budziszewksi, professor of philosophy and politics at the University of Texas since 1981, blogs daily at The Underground Thomist.  In How to Stay Christian in College Budziszewski “discusses the foundations of the Christian faith and directly addresses different worldviews and myths that students may encounter at college. Filled with quotes, statistics, resources, stories, and encouragement, this book will equip students to conquer the dangers that lie ahead.” Budziszewski divides the book into three sections: worldviews, campus myths, and how to cope with social, religious, and classroom issues.

 

 

 

5.  I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist by Norman Geisler and Frank Turek (Crossway, 2004)

no faith to be an atheist

Turek and Geisler make apologetics accessible and practical in the complete introduction to the topic.  Frank Turek, who travels around the country giving presentations with the same title as the book on college campuses, is a dynamic presenter.  Starting with complete skepticism they build on the existence of truth, God’s existence, reliability of Bible, the divinity of Jesus, and his resurrection.  Includes great examples and stories to illustrate the points they make in the text.

 

 

 

 

There is a wealth of resources readily available to guide students and assist them during their college years.  Great graduation gift ideas.

 

 

 

 

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Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 8.32.51 PM.pngThe Tower of Babel is recorded in Genesis 11:1-9.  Critical scholars have traditionally viewed this story as mythical and not historical. There just seemed to not be enough corroborating evidence.

But, recently the Smithsonian Channel’s show titled Secrets aired its first episode of season four titled “The Tower of Babel” which seemingly supports the biblical record.

The episode focused on the Tower of Babel Stele (i.e., stone tablet) from the Schøyen Collection which is the private collection of Norwegian businessman Martin Schøyen. Joseph M. Holden, author of The Popular Handbook of Archaeology and the Biblestates that “according to most critical scholars, this event [i.e., the Tower of Babel] found in Scripture is mythical and certainly could not have taken place in Mesopotamia, where it is said to have occurred.  Originally, support for this notion was found in the fact that no extra-biblical Mesopotamian record existed that documented such an incredible event.” That is until, apparently, now:

 

On the website of the Schøyen Collection the commentary section on the Tower of Babel Stele states: “Here we have for the first time an illustration contemporary with Nebuchadnezzar II’s restoring and enlargement of the Tower of Babel, and with a caption making the identity absolutely sure. We also have the building plans, as well as a short account of the reconstruction process.”  Apparently the ziggurat in Bablyon was originally built during the time of Hammurabi (1792-1750 BC).

The Secrets episode on the Smithsonian Channel states that there is “some very compelling evidence the Tower of Babel was real.”  Professor Andrew R. George, featured in the episode and the professor of Babylonian history at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, states that “This is a very strong piece of evidence that the tower of Babel story was inspired by this real building.”

Related Articles on The Tower of Babel Stele:

Evidence for Bible’s Tower of Babel Discovered” | The Christian Post May 9, 2017

Ancient Babylonian Tablet Provides Compelling Evidence that the Tower of Babel DID Exist” | Ancient Origins May 8, 2017

Smithsonian Channel Spotlights Stone Tablet Believed to Confirm Biblical Tower of Babel” | Christian News Network May 7, 2017

Tower of Babel Discovered? Ancient Tablet Describes Mesopotamian Structure Built By ‘Multitudes’ ” | Breaking Israel News May 8, 2017

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Post about other biblical archaeological discoveries from this blog include:

50 People in the Old Testament Confirmed Archaeologically

History Has Gone to the Toilets-The Ancient Latrine of Lachish

Virtual Unwrapping of Levitical Scroll

City of Geza

Philistine Cemetery

Ancient Shopping List Provides Evidence of When Bible Was Written

Hezekiah Bulla

12th Dead Sea Scroll Cave Found!

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2017-05-08 at 10.39.41 AMA couple of months ago I did a string of post on trends in apologetics.  One of the trends is Children’s Apologetics (other trends included Urban Apologetics, Cultural Apologetics, and Women’s Apologetics).  Just over a year ago, Hillary Ferrer started the blog and podcast called Mama Bear Apologetics.  The opening page tag line explains succinctly the purpose of their blogs/podcasts: “Mess with our kids . . . and we will demolish your arguments.”

That tag line is not just for attention. They deliver it.  Recently, they have taken to task a series of articles posted at Patheos.com under the blog title Unfundamentalist Parenting.  On April 12 of this year Anna Register, one of the contributors to Unfundamentalist Parenting and (according to the bio on the site) a children’s pastor working on her Master’s of Theological Studies at Vanderbilt, posted an article titled “The Trouble with Easter: How To (and not to) Talk to Kids About Easter.”  She listed several things she would NOT teach about Easter:

  • Jesus died for you/your sins
  • That God killed Jesus/wanted Jesus to die/intended for Jesus to die as the primary purpose of his life
  • Jesus died to save them from God’s judgement/hell
  • Coming back from the dead is something you can expect to happen.

She went on the reiterate that:

Stories don’t have to be factual to speak truth. And it’s okay to question a literal resurrection – questions are how we learn. And there is always truth to be found in curiosity, even if the answers don’t turn out to be what you thought they’d be. 

Ask: “Do you know of a story like a myth or fable that teaches a great lesson but isn’t filled with facts? How might the Easter story work the same way and what do you think we can learn from it?”

Well, the article “The Trouble with Easter” obviously troubled those at Mama Bear Apologetics.  They responded with a blog post and a podcast both titled “Is the Progressive Gospel a Gospel at All? (i.e. Why you need to know what your children’s pastor is teaching).”  It is well worth the read and listen.  The blog post is a point for point rebuttal of the claims in “The Trouble with Easter.”

The exchange doesn’t end there.  Cindy Brandt, the founding contributor at Unfundamentalist Parenting, followed up on May 5 with an article titled “Why Your Children do NOT Need Apologetics.”  Mrs. Brandt essentially states that apologetics transfers parental fear, confines faith to doctrine, and burdens children with the task of defending God.Screen Shot 2017-05-08 at 10.45.20 AM.png

Mama Bear Apologetics responds with a piece entitled “Why Your Children Do Need Apologetics: Correcting Misconceptions.”  A taste of their article:

. . . when I went back and reread the article on why we shouldn’t teach our kids apologetics, the faults that I wanted to apologize for didn’t match with the author’s complaints. Her main concern seems to be (ironically) a fear of passing on fear and rigid doctrine to kids.  In fact, most of her concerns seem to stem from misconceptions of apologetics, not bad experiences with apologists. I am more than willing to apologize for the areas where misguided apologists have hurt our cause. However, I don’t think I can apologize for someone not understanding what we do. All I can do for that is correct the misconceptions, and hope for better mutual understanding.

Some of the key points Mama Bear Apologetics enumerates include:

  • Apologetics is not based on a “proof-text” of 1 Peter 3:15
  • There are healthy and unhealthy kinds of fearApologetics, responsibly handled, frees a child to think well. It doesn’t coerce them into a boxed set of doctrines
  • Apologetics is not about us defending God because “He needs it.” It is about making our faith “more sure and more convinced.”
  • Apologetics is about having a firm foundation, NOT determining a prefabricated house of faith

It is definitely worth the read.  Looks like some good things are happening over at Mama Bear Apologetics.  Along with the founder Hillary Ferrer, who has a master’s degree in biology and is pursing a master’s degree in apologetics from Biola, Mama Bear Apologetics includes Rebekah Valerius, who is studying for her masters in apologetics from Houston Baptist University, and Cathryn Buse, is the author of Teaching Others to Defend Christianity and holds a bachelors and masters in engineering.

I have definitely subscribed to their podcast as well as placed their site in my favorites list.

faith defined (incorrectly)

There are many misunderstandings on what “faith” actually is.  For example, Richard Dawkins states that, “Faith is the belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.”  Peter Boghossian, Portland State University philosopher and author of A Manuel for Creating Atheists, describes faith as “pretending to know what you don’t know.”  Even popular culture depicts faith as a blind leap into belief with Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade scene showing Jones stepping blindly into the abyss to be caught by an invisible bridge:

 

All of these descriptions and definitions of faith are wrong.  They are not biblical or found in the bible.  Here is the correct understanding of the concept of faith:

Screen Shot 2017-05-05 at 9.30.15 AM.png

William Lane Craig of Biola University and Houston Baptist University answers the questions “how should we define faith?” at the 2014 Unbelievable? Conference in England in this short video:

 

Alan Shlemon of Stand to Reason answers the question: “Is Faith Blind?” A taste of the article:

The Greek word for faith, pistis, is derived from the verb pisteuo, which means “to convince by argument.” Hebrews 11:1 explains that faith is “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Some translations replace “conviction” with “evidence.” Faith, then, is being convinced that the things we can’t see (e.g. God, heaven, the resurrection, etc.) are real.

The word “faith” is so often misunderstood that I avoid using it in most conversations. I use a different word in its place: trust. This better characterizes the Bible’s use of faith, but is free of the misleading baggage.

Biblical faith, then, is not blind, but functions the same way as trust.

Greg Ganssle, former lecturer Yale University and senior fellow of the Rivendell Institute at Yale and current professor of philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, explains the relationship of faith to reason in this video:

 

Just look at my menu above title “Is Christianity True?” and I cover the reasons and evidence of why we believe God exists, that Jesus is God, that the Bible is historically reliable, and the evidence for the resurrection.

J. P. Moreland, in his great book Love God With All Your Mindexplains how theologians have understood the biblical concept of faith throughout the history of the church:

Throughout church history, theologians have expressed three different aspects of biblical faith: notitia (knowledge), fiducia (trust), and assensus (assent). Notitia refers to the data or doctrinal content of the Christian faith. Assensus denotes the assent of the intellect to the truth of the content of Christian teaching. Note that each of these aspects of faith requires a careful exercise of reason, both in understanding what the teachings of Christianity are and in judging their truthfulness. In this way, reason is indispensable for the third aspect of faith — fiducia — which captures the personal application or trust involved in faith, an act that primarily involves the will but includes the affection and intellect too.

So, non-believers AND, more importantly, believers need to stop defining faith as believing without evidence.  Faith and reason are not opposed.