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Posts Tagged ‘apologetics’

Apologetics 101, Part 3: An Outline of the Historical Argument for Christianity

February 25th, 2013 2 comments

‘The view of all serious historians of antiquity of every kind, from committed evangelical Christians to hardcore atheists is that the oldest and best sources we have for knowing about the life of Jesus are the works of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John” – Bart Ehrman[1] In part 1 of this series we unpacked the question, “what is truth?” along with sound methods of establishing the rationality of various religious truth claims. In part 2, we established that the historical/legal method of empirical and evidential apologetics is the best means of arguing positively in defense of the Christian faith while   More…

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Keep the Merry…and the Myth

December 19th, 2012 11 comments

“Keep the Merry…Dump the Myth.” According to a recent Fox News article, that’s the message the New Jersey chapter of American Atheists being shared with visitors in Times Square this Christmas, er sorry, winter solstice celebration season. In recent years, various forms of atheist “evangelism” have become like Aunt Mable’s fruitcake: a regular scheduled holiday staple (my apologies to all fruit cake lovers and Aunt Mables out there). Not only that, the frequency of these messages have increased both in the size and scope with particular antagonism toward Christianity. According to Silverman, a private donor gave over 25k for the   More…

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The Great Pumpkin and Other Silly Arguments Against Christianity

October 12th, 2012 4 comments

Every year when All Hallows Eve comes around I look forward to It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.  Clever wit. Humor and fun-loving characters.  Nostalgia.  Charlie Brown has it all.  But it’s not all tricks and treats when it comes to this cartoon classic.  The Great Pumpkin also happens to be a great illustration for evaluating and making truth claims, something all world religions, and even atheists, make on a regular basis.  The Great Pumpkin has been used by some as an argument against Christianity.  It is entirely characteristic of character caricatures made to mock Christian faith while dismissing the actual truth claims.   More…

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Apologetics 101, Part 2: Method Prevents Madness

“Proper prior planning prevents piss poor performance” – British Army adage. This statement is equally true on the battlefield of Christian apologetics. In part 1 we began to answer the question, “what is truth?” And in order to answer that question it is vital to lay out a proper method for investigating religious truth claims. When it comes to empirical, scientific or legal-historical research, method must precede the conclusion. Assuming is always dangerous, especially when engaging in apologetics. In order to avoid circular reasoning and begging the question, arguments must follow sound logical methods. What are those methods? And how does   More…

Everyone Loves A Conspiracy: Jesus’ Wife and the Gnostic Gospels

September 19th, 2012 6 comments

I’m afraid the title of this post is a bit misleading. But then again, so are the titles of nearly all the media reports about the recent “Jesus-Wife-Manuscript”. So, if you came here to revel in the hysteria, you’ve come to the wrong place. There aren’t any secret manuscripts containing secret messages from unknown authors to unknown audiences from unknown sources and unknown dates. You won’t find the conspiracy you’re looking for here, just some clear thinking when it comes to understanding these Gnostic gospels and their hollow bomb shells. Spoiler alert; this one’s a dud too. Karen King says   More…

Apologetics 101, Part 1: Evaluating Truth Claims

September 19th, 2012 1 comment

What is truth? Which truth? Whose truth? Yours? Mine? This spiritual figure or that? His holy book or hers? Which religious claim to truth is the real one? Will the real religion please stand up?! While it is entirely possible that all the world’s religions are wrong, they can’t all be right; that would be most illogical. it But how do we go about evaluating which one out of the thousands of the world religions, if any, is true? And with that, we’re right back to the question of the day: What is truth? Long before Jack Nicholson or Pontius   More…

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Biblical Apologetics, Part 3

September 7th, 2012 2 comments

For Part 1 click here. For Part 2 click here. On more than one occasion, Luke records that the Gospel proclaimed by the apostles “turned the world upside down.” In Acts 17 it was Athens’s turn to be capsized. Jerusalem had come to Athens and sent one of her finest ambassadors, Paul. He brought a Word of peace as foolish as the cross but as living as the Giver of the message. In Athens the wisdom of the world collided with true Wisdom; the intellectual center of the pagan world met in dialog with the Center (and creator and sustainer   More…

Contradictions Don’t Coexist

Thanks to Issues Etc. and Table Talk Radio we are far more aware of “bumper sticker theology” than we used to be. Religious positions are a dime a dozen, as are the cheap, never-gonna-scrape-that-off-your-bumper stickers you see on the road these days. Even John Lennon’s famous line has made it to fender fad fame: “Imagine no religion.” Yes, even this is a religious proposition. If you were to make a game of it – call it bumper sticker bingo – chances are the one that comes up most often is this: coexist. I see it all the time here in the   More…

Biblical Apologetics, Part 2

I was by now too experienced in my literary criticism to regard the Gospels as myths.  They had not the mythical taste…if ever a myth had become fact, had been incarnated, it would be just like this.  And nothing else in all literature was just like this.  Myths were like it in one way.  Histories were like it in another.  But nothing was simply like it.  And no person was like the Person it depicted; as real, as recognizable, through all that depth of time…yet so numinous, a light from beyond the world, a god.  But if a god –   More…

Toward an Apologetic of Mercy, Part 2

Click here for part 1 of Toward an Apologetic of Mercy Our secular, materialistic society (the zeitgeist) is remarkably similar to that of Roman paganism.  Today the tendency is to live within and for one’s self.  Just look at the top-selling books at your local Barnes and Noble, even the Christian shelves are stocked with titles such as, “Your Best Life Now.”  This is nothing other than a new monasticism.  Rather than retreating into the monastery where imaginary good works were accomplished in order to improve one’s own spiritual edification and salvation, Christians today retreat to an umbilical monastery and care for themselves   More…

Toward an Apologetic of Mercy, Part 1

Apologia and Diakonia.  Two Biblical Greek words that seem to have nothing in common with each other.  And yet, they have increasingly become a part of Christian vocabulary, and for good reason.  Apologia, loosely defined, is defending the faith, apologetics.  Diakonia (or mercy), broadly speaking, is the Church’s work of mercy in body and soul. When it comes to apologetics, many of the arguments and debates are familiar: How can a loving God allow pain and suffering?  Did Jesus of Nazareth really rise from the dead?  Are the New Testament Documents historically reliable? And so forth. These questions come from   More…

A Primer on the Problem of Evil

One of the more frequent objections to Christianity is the problem of evil. Typically it’s phrased the following way: “If a good and loving God exists, why is does evil exist (i.e. the Holocaust and the terror attacks of September 11, 2011), why is there wide-spread suffering in the world (i.e. AIDS in Africa, Avian flu in Asia) and why does God allow natural disasters (i.e. hurricanes, tsunamis and earthquakes) to happen?”  Most people draw several conclusions from this dilemma, better known as theodicy: 1)      Either God is not good because if He was He would surely not allow evil   More…

Biblical Apologetics, Part 1

Logical, philosophically reasonable arguments can – and indeed, must – be used in the defense of the Christian faith. But are Christians able to claim Biblical precedent for apologetics? Is it right for Christians to understand that Holy Writ teaches and uses(widely) apologetics as opposed to something merely read into the text? And does a Lutheran apologetic entail more (but certainly not less) than arguments and intellectual understanding? Yes, unequivocally.  Biblical examples of apologetics are numerous, not to mention prescriptive and descriptive. The list below is a first step towards an annotated collection of Biblical apologetics’ passages. This is why, when it comes   More…

Steadfast ELS — Confess and Defend

The 95th annual convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS) is fast upon us. It will begin with “Synod Sunday” services and a picnic (our conventions are like a big family reunion) on the Bethany Lutheran College campus on June 17 (ELS conventions always begin on Father’s Day) and will continue through Thursday, June 21. At last year’s convention, the ELS adopted the vision statement, “In the next five years we will learn to engage others more faithfully with Jesus” (Synod Report, p. 113, goal 7). This statement is often abbreviated in the four-word phrase “engage others with Jesus,” just   More…

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Seismic Apologetics

Matthew 27:45-54 45 Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” 47 Some of those who stood there, when they heard that, said, “This Man is calling for Elijah!” 48 Immediately one of them ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink. 49 The rest said, “Let Him   More…