Archive for the ‘Apologetics’ Category

Impact 360 has produced a new video titled “What Good Is Christianity?” It explores the question “Has Christianity been good for the world? Learn the truth about what the historical record really says.”  It can be viewed here:

 

It is part of the Explore Worldview online series training that Impact 360 provides which the first session is free online with a total of eight sessions.

Other free resources for going deeper include:

An video interview with Sean McDowell on tolerance: What is tolerance anyways and should Christians embrace it?

Alan Shlemon on “Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God”: Determine whether Muslims and Christians worship the same God!

A podcast with John Stonestreet on “How to engage our culture with hope!”

And some book resources:How the West Won: The Neglected Story of the Triumph of Modernity by Rodney Stark and How Christianity Changed the World by Alvin J. Schmidt

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Posts from this site on the contribution of Christianity

The Triumph of Christianity

Missionary Myths and the Roots of Democracy

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Dr. Craig’s Reasonable Faith has produced two new animated videos along with his pervious videos on the existence of god (Cosmological, Moral, Fine-Tuning, Contingency, and Ontological).  These two videos deal with the problem of evil: both the logical version and probabilistic version. As always, great quality and solid content.  Definitely worth checking out:

 

 

 

Here are some articles and other resources dealing with the problem of evil:

The Problem of Evil” by William Lane Craig | Reasonablefaith.org

God and the Problem of Evil: Five Views ed. by Chad Meister and James K. Dew Jr. (IVP Academic, 2017)

God, Freedom, and Evil by Alvin Plantinga (Eerdman’s 1989)

Here are some other videos on the problem of evil:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I posted earlier how archaeology has confirmed over 50 real people from the bible.  It was one of the most popular articles published by Biblical Archaeology Review by Lawrence Mykytiuk, associate professor of library science and the history librarian at Purdue University holding a Ph.D. in Hebrew and Semitic Studies and is the author of the book Identifying Biblical Persons in Northwest Semitic Inscriptions of 1200–539 B.C.E. (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2004).  He has followed up that article with “New Testament Political Figures Confirmed.”  Mykytiuk starts by exclaiming, “For a collection of writings usually seen as religious, the New Testament mentions a surprising number of political figures, in connection with court trials, dates of important events and even political murders.” He plans to do a follow up article on nonpolitical figures in the New Testament whose existence is confirmed outside its page.  The list of political figures include:

  • Augustus
  • Tiberius
  • Nero
  • Herod the Great
  • Herod of Antipas
  • Pontius Pilate

Seventeen other political figures are listed with the dates they ruled, mention of them in the New Testament, a sample of evidence in historical writings, and evidence in inscriptions.  He also discusses “almost real people” (that is figures that are not certain but are reasonable) and people not clearly documented outside the New Testament. Mykytiuk has also written on confirmation of Jesus outside of the New Testament. Here is a partial screen shot of the current article on political figures in the New Testament:

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He concludes his article in the magazine stating that “All 23 of the political figures discussed in this article are clearly identifiable in sources outside the New Testament, confirming this facet of its historical reliability.”

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Post about other biblical archaeological discoveries from this blog include:

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!

Bethsaida

53 People in the Old Testament Confirmed Archaeologically

Possible birthplace of three of Jesus’ disciples has been discovered: Bethsaida.  The apostles Peter, Andrew and Philip are mentioned in John 1:44 with the city of Bethsaida.  Here is a quick video of the discovery:

 

The National Geographic article titled “The Real Story Behind the ‘House of Jesus’ Apostles’ Discovery” states that:

The “lost home of Jesus’ apostles” has just been found, according to a recent Israeli newspaper report. Yet while the actual discovery is not nearly as sensational as many headlines suggest, the new results are adding very interesting fuel to an ongoing debate about the location of one of the most important cities in the New Testament.

While this discovery is not definitive, it will push the discussion about the location of the the ancient city of Bethsaida.  The discovery was found on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilea as pictured below:

bethsaida

Two of Jesus miracles: 1. Healing the blind man  (Mark 8:22) and 2. Miraculously feeding of the 5,000 multitude with five loaves and two fish  (Luke 9:16).

Another video on Bethsaida.

 

Articles:

The Real Story Behind the ‘House of Jesus’ Apostles’ Discovery” by Kristin Romey National Geographic | August 7, 2017

The Lost City of Jesus’ Apostles Has Just Been Found, Archaeologists Say” by Noa Shpigel and Ruth Schuster Haaretz | August 8, 2017

Is this unearthed fishing village the birthplace of three of Jesus’ apostles?” by Michele Chabin Religious News Service August 7, 2017

Archaeological Discovery: Home of 3 of Jesus’ Disciples Possibly Found” by  Michael Gryboski ChristianPost | August 7, 2017

 

 

 

1. Alisa ChildersScreen Shot 2017-08-09 at 1.35.20 PM

I recently came across a podcast that was posted on an apologetics facebook group.  It was by Alisa Childers.  Some might remember her with ZOEgirl, an American Christian teen pop and pop rock band formed in 1999. The group comprised Chrissy Conway-Katina, Alisa Childers and Kristin Swinford-Schweain.  On her website she describes “a period of profound doubt about my faith in my early thirties. I felt as though I had been tossed in a stormy ocean of uncertainty with no life jacket or lifeboat in sight. I didn’t know where to find answers to my questions, or if answers existed at all. Did I have to accept it all on some kind of blind faith? This is my journey from unreasoned doubt into vibrant, intellectually informed faith.”

She posted an excellent article titled “5 Signs Your Church Might be Heading Toward Progressive Christianity.”  It is definitely worth the read.  The signs include: a low view of the bible, feelings emphasized over facts, essential Christian beliefs are re-interpreted, historic terms are redefined, and the gospel shifts from sin and redemption to social justice.  For each point she includes comments you might hear making this blog post extremely practical and useful.

Because of her post she was “invited to come on the Bad Christian Podcast to talk about my article, 5 Signs Your Church Might be Heading Toward Progressive Christianity. As progressive-leaning Christians, the guys did not agree with my article but invited me on the show to discuss my views anyway. Even though we disagree on a lot of things, they were gracious and I think we had a fruitful conversation.”  I listened to the podcast and she rocked it (get what I did there, because she is a recording artist).  You can listen to the podcast here.

2. Mama Bear Apologetics Podcast

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Mama Bear Apologetics, which I have blogged about before, did a podcast on why you need to understand progressive Christianity.  Hillary Ferrer, the Mama Bear, interviews Alisa Childers on this podcast.  Mama Bear Apologetics tag line is “Mess with our kids . . . and we will demolish your arguments.”

Both Alisa Childers and Mama Bear Apologetics are great resources available online.  I highly recommend them.

3. Christian Mom Thoughts

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Natasha Crain, who I have also blogged about before, wrote an article early this summer on progressive Christianity as well: “Progressive Christianity is as Much of a Threat to Your Kids’ Faith as Atheism.”  Natasha Crain is the author of the book Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side: 40 Conversations to Help Them Build a Lasting Faith which is for parents and helps them “empower their children to respond well to the hard questions that threaten their faith. It’s no secret that children of all ages are being exposed to negative criticism of Christianity as they spend time at school, with friends, or online.”  She has a new book coming out this fall titled Talking with Your Kids about God: 30 Conversations Every Christian Parent Must Have.

 

APOLSTUDYBIBLESTUDENTSMy previous posts in the Updated CSB Apologetics Study Bible for Students included my article on the problem of evil and the Crusades. Today’s post includes my article about the objection that religious beliefs are merely reflections of where one was raised.

The Apologetics Study Bible for Students provides answers to many of these perplexing questions from the Crusades, religious plurality, and the problem of evil along with many other resources and features helpful for any student or adult.

Here is the article:

“Don’t Religious Beliefs Just Reflect Where One Was Raised?”:

Are religious beliefs just a reflection of where one was raised? It’s hard not to notice that people who grow up in India almost always become Hindus and people raised in Saudi Arabia usually become Muslims. Likewise, most Christians accept Christianity because their parents were Christians. Since a person’s religious beliefs most often reflect the dominant religious beliefs of the region in which they were born, many people conclude that all religions are just cultural expressions. In this view, religious beliefs are not the result of reason, evidence, or the movement of God in a person’s life. Rather, religion is just a product of the way you were raised. There are two significant problems with this theory.

First, the origin of a belief does not determine whether or not it’s true. Each truth claim (and hence, each religion) must be weighed independently of questions about its origin. We examine how it matches up to things like history, logic, and data from science. If the belief stands up to examination, it does not matter how you came to hold it. For instance, what if a lunatic told you how to get to New York City? The man believes many wrong things about himself and the world, but if his directions succeed in getting you to the “Big Apple,” you can be sure that his belief about the route to New York was correct. It does not matter that he is certifiably crazy. Your belief originated with a crazy man, yet the crazy man knew the truth.

Second, the skeptical view described above says your surroundings determine your beliefs, and yet this theory cannot explain religious conversions in which a person chooses against their upbringing. Every day all across the world, many thousands of people convert from one religious belief to another. If religious beliefs merely reflect where one was raised, this would not happen. The reality of religious conversion shows that religious beliefs are more than the result of upbringing. People change their religion because they come to question their inherited religious beliefs, examine the beliefs of other religions, and thus choose to reject their cultural influences and upbringing and the beliefs that come with them. The most impressive historical example of this is the spread of Christianity. The Christian faith began as a tiny group of Jews huddled in Jerusalem, but then spread all across the world, traversing many cultures and languages, as people examined the case for Christianity and came to believe it was true.

In conclusion, where you were raised does have an obvious impact on your religious beliefs, but evidence proves that this can be overcome when people reconsider their beliefs in light of evidence and argumentation. While most people’s religious beliefs reflect where they were raised, they still have the freedom and responsibility to consider the evidence and claims of their religion. Christianity excels when people take the time to seriously explore

In 2008 Broadman & Holman first released the Apologetics Study Bible.  Two years later they produced the Apologetics Study Bible for Students selling well over 100,000 copies. Features of this Study Bible included:

APOLSTUDYBIBLESTUDENTS

 “Twisted Scriptures” explanations, “Bones & Dirt” archaeology meets apologetics, “Tactics” against common anti-Christian arguments, and“Personal Stories” of how God has worked in real lives.  It did so well they are releasing a new updated edition.  I had the honor of writing three articles for the first release and they are rolling them over in the new updated edition.  They are:

1. “Why Does God Allow Evil?”

2. What About the Crusades?”

3. “Don’t Religious Beliefs Just Reflect Where One Was Raised?”

I guess you can say I wrote the Bible (just kidding), but I am releasing my articles for the next several weeks for preview.  If you know of any students, this would be an excellent resource for them.  The new edition includes updates such as:

  1. Articles have been updated.
  2. Authors went through each of their articles and improved them substantially.
  3. 12 new articles on “hot” topics like tattoos, euthanasia, transgenderism, Islamic Jihad, religious freedom, singleness, race, and more.
  4. Each of the special features (Bones & Dirt, Tactics, Twisted Scriptures, Stories, and Fast Facts) have been expanded with 5-10 more articles.

Here is the first article I wrote for the Apologetics Study Bible for Students (they apparently gave me the hard questions):

“Why Does God Allow Evil?”

“In December 2, 2015, a mass shooting by two terrorists killed fourteen people in California’s Inland Regional Center. Years earlier, in 2012, a gunman forced his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut: he shot twenty first graders and six adults.

From shootings like these to natural disasters that level communities, we regularly hear about or even experience the effects of sin and evil in the world. This leads many to ask, “If God can prevent such massacres and destruction, why doesn’t he?” That people routinely ask this question implies the widely held conviction that an all-powerful and all-good God would choose to destroy all evil. How could he possibly allow evil to exist?

Many suppose that the existence of evil disproves God’s existence. But the human ability to recognize evil is actually a good reason to believe in a Creator. If there was no God, there would be no objective, universal standard by which to measure good and evil. Since, however, all humans agree that the two are distinct, there must be an independent, eternal standard by which we ground moral convictions.

Nonetheless, some philosophers claim that the existence of evil is logically incompatible with the existence of the all-good, all-powerful God described in Scripture. If God exists, the theory goes, evil cannot. If evil exists, God cannot. God and evil, like square circles, are logically contradictory and thus cannot coexist. But few philosophers think this argument successful. In fact, even philosophically-informed atheists acknowledge the weakness of this view. After all, it is logically possible that God, though all-powerful and all-knowing, has a good reason for allowing evil to exist. For instance, evil’s presence ensures the preservation of human free will. If we have genuine freedom, then we have the possibility of choosing to do evil rather than good. God is certainly powerful enough to prevent us from doing evil, but he would be taking away our free will by doing so. He cannot force us to always choose the good, because being made to choose the good would mean that we are not free.

There are other reasons God could allow evil to occur. For instance, coping with the effects of evil in the world often contributes to the development of virtues such as empathy, patience, and trust in Jesus as Savior. Without the ability to choose and exercise free will or the opportunity to develop virtue, our lives would be shallow and without love; we could not truly love one another or love God. We would essentially be robots lacking the ability to have a relationship with God, and loving relationship with us is the very thing God desires.

Though it is reasonable for God and evil to coexist, some say the presence of so much evil makes it difficult to believe in God. However, this is a subjective judgment. How much evil is too much? Who but God can say? We are all troubled by evil, but God has dealt evil a fatal blow through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

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.

 

 

 

 

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.