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Readings for Upcoming Course on Apologetics

October 4, 2014

Apologetics01In response to several inquiries about the upcoming course on Apologetics, planned for the Free Seminary program at Cornerstone Baptist Church starting in January 2015, I am posting this Schedule of Reading Assignments. This is not the entire syllabus, but it does include all of the reading assignments that participants will read prior to each class. You can start reading now if you like!
Required Textbook and Readings: Doug Powell, Holman QuickSource Guide to Christian Apologetics (Nashville, TN: Holman Reference, 2006). ISBN: 080549460X; ISBN-13: 9780805494600 / 978-0-8054-9460-0 (Referred to as the Holman text). Can be ordered from the Book Rack bookstore at Cornerstone Baptist Church for less than is often found online.

  • Other readings, in the form of weekly assigned readings from online scholarly journals and from apologetics websites are also required for this course (fourth column, below).
  • The Bible will also be used extensively in this course, so please plan to bring your Bible to class.
  • Plan to come to class prepared by: having read the assigned readings, having made notes of questions or concerns (with page numbers referencing the specific material about which you have a question), and having absorbed carefully the overall content of the readings (i.e., read with pencil/pen in hand).
Schedule of Reading Assignments
Class Date Question on the Table Holman Text Reading Prior to Class Other Reading(s) Prior to Class (Click on Link)
01/13/2015 Is the “Good News” Good, or, News? None. None.
01/20/2015 What (Good) is Apologetics? Chapter 1, What is Apologetics? Frame, “No News Is Good News,”
01/27/2015 How do I Learn to Give a Defense of the Faith? Chapter 14, Methodology Coulter, “Introduction”
02/03/2015 Does the Universe “Prove” God’s Existence? Chapter 2, The Cosmological Argument SEP, “Cosmological Argument”
02/10/2015 Does Intelligent Design “Prove” God’s Existence? Chapter 3, The Design Argument Gebhard, “Intelligent Design”
02/17/2015 Does Morality “Prove” God’s Existence? Chapter 4, The Moral Argument Copan, “Moral Argument”
02/24/2015 Aren’t All Religions Essentially the Same? Chapter 5, Which God Exists? Farinaccio (Through page 54)
03/03/2015 Isn’t the New Testament a corrupted, unreliable text? Chapters 6 & 7: Origin and Reliability of the N.T. Butt, “That Which We’ve Seen”
03/10/2015 Isn’t the Old Testament a corrupted, unreliable text? Chapter 8: Origin and Reliability of the O.T. Brantley, “Dead Sea Scrolls”
03/17/2015 Doesn’t Science Disprove Miracles? Chapter 9: Do Miracles Happen? Montgomery, “Science …”
03/24/2015 Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead? Chapter 11: The Resurrection Habermas, “Case for Resurrection”
03/31/2015 Was Jesus Really God? Chapter 12: Did Jesus Claim to be God? Miller, “Jesus’ Claims to Deity”
04/07/2015 Doesn’t the Existence of Evil Disprove God? Chapter 13: How could God Allow Evil? Howard-Snyder, “Evil/Suffering”
04/14/2015 Divine Genocide: Isn’t the Old Testament God a Moral Monster? Farinaccio (Page 57 to End)
Jones, “We Don’t Hate Sin So We Don’t Understand”

So, What Do You Expect from a Person Who Is Not (Yet) a Follower of Christ?

August 16, 2014


  • What do we know about human nature generally?
    • What usually happens when the curses of Genesis 3:16-19 (especially the part about the need to work hard) are removed and we are enabled to “Maximally satisfy our considered desires”?
    • A “Thought Experiment:” What if Jesus HAD continued to feed and heal the crowds, HAD allowed them to make Him king … and HAD overthrown the Romans? Would the crowds have been satisfied (or would they have remained content)?
    • Why did the Jews of Jesus’ time “miss” the “suffering servant” role of the Messiah?
    • BACKGROUND: During the time of Jesus, every Jew was waiting for the Messiah.
      • In front of Adam and Eve, the Lord said the seed of a woman would crush the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15).
      • Job said he knew that his Redeemer lives, and that in the end He would stand upon the earth (Job 19:25).
      • Abraham was told all nations on the earth would be blessed through him (Genesis 12:3).
      • Judah was told the scepter will not depart from him (Genesis 49:10).
      • Balaam prophesied of a star rising out of Israel (Number 24:17)
      • Moses told Israel that God was going to raise up a prophet like him, whom God will use to call men to account (Deuteronomy 18:15-19).
      • God told David He would establish the throne of his kingdom forever (2 Samuel 7:16).
      • Isaiah prophecied of a virgin who will conceive and give birth to Immanuel, which means “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14).
      • Micah prophecied that a ruler from eternity would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).
      • David prophesied about the cross (Psalm 22).
      • Isaiah prophecied about the cross and the suffering servant (Isaiah 53).
      • Jesus’ geneology lined up with these Messianic expectations.
  • What do we know (from the Bible) about those who are not (yet) born-again?
    • Their spiritual incapacity (1 Corinthians 2:14)
    • Their spiritual/perceptual inability (John 3:3)
    • Their blindness/spiritual darkness (John 3:18-19; Ephesians 5:8)
    • Their nonrecognition of sin, judgment and eternity (Isaiah 28:15)
    • Their avoidance of these spiritual realities (e.g., Felix, Acts 24:24-25)
    • Their lack of spiritual knowledge (Colossians 3:10)
    • Their lack of motivation to seek God (Romans 3:11)
    • Their bondage to Satan (Ephesians 2:2)
    • Their genetic connection to Satan (John 8:43-44)
    • Their hardened heart (Ephesians 4:18)
    • Their intellectual futility (1 Corinthians 3:20-21)
    • Their lack of 3-way conviction by the Holy Spirit (John 16:7-11)
      • The gravity of sin (Acts 2:36-37)
      • The desperate need for Christ’s righteousness (Matthew 5:6; Colossians 3:11)
      • The inevitable judgment
  • Besides, some are simply not chosen/elect. (John 6: 37, 44)
  • So, if it’s that bad, why bother?
  • What is the role of:
    • You and me?
    • The Holy Spirit?
  • So, when it comes to our expectations when we witness/share the Gospel:
    • What should we NOT expect?
    • What SHOULD we expect?
    • How should this affect HOW we go about witnessing/sharing the Gospel?

SpiritualBlindness01Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto. Westminster Confession of Faith, 9:3.


Why did Jesus refuse to be a “rock star”?

August 2, 2014

KeepCalmStopSellingGospelStudy Outline

  • Pop Trivia: Who said that their rock group was more popular than Jesus?
  • Background: What is the Great Commission?
    • Matt. 28:18-20
    • Mark 16:15
    • Luke 24:48-49/Acts 1:8
    • John 20:21
  • How are the Great Commission and the Gospel related to each other?
  • Why isn’t the Gospel more “appealing” to nonbelievers?
  • What does John 6 tell us about what the crowds looking were for when Jesus was preaching?
    • The word on the street (6:1-2)
    • The most spectacular miracle (6:10-13)
    • Jesus escapes the crowd (6:14-15)
    • The hunt (6:22-25)
    • Jesus preaches the Gospel (6:26-29)
    • Jesus explains the Gospel and election I (6:30-40)
    • The crowd’s ad hominem insults (6:41-42)
    • Jesus explains the Gospel and election II (6:43-51)
    • Jesus explains the Gospel and election III (6:53-58)
    • Jesus explains the Gospel and election IV (6:61-65)
  • CBC Trivia: Who said “Jesus doesn’t say things for effect. He doesn’t say things for drama.”
  • Was Peter’s “minimal response” to all of this (6:68-60) a “sufficient” faith-response?
  • What, in the Old Testament, may have fueled the Jews’ expectation of an earthly revolutionary-king?
  • CBC Trivia: Who said “It is impossible apart from the grace of God to repent.”
  • Thought-provokers:
    • When Jesus preached and explained the Gospel, what were the “benefits” he emphasized?
    • How did Jesus “under-sell” the Gospel? theBeatles
    • How did Jesus react when is “pitch” was rejected?
      • Why?
  • Why did Jesus refuse to be a “rock star”? 
  • How does the concept of “election” affect our response to the Great Commission?
  • Next week: Why did Jesus say “Don’t tell anyone”?

Evangelism v. “Selling” the Gospel: What’s the Difference, Anyway?

July 23, 2014



  • What are typical “selling” approaches used in business?
  • How are “selling” approaches and techniques often used by:
    • Churches
    • Individual Christians
  • What is “the Gospel”?
  • What is NOT “the Gospel”? (1)
    • The therapeutic gospel redefines the nature of the fall of mankind.
    • The judgmentless gospel denies the final judgment.
    • The moralistic gospel depicts Christ’s work as merely good advice.
    • The quietist gospel identifies good news as a message of personal experience.
    • The activist gospel unites the church around many things that are not the cross.
    • The churchless gospel–neglects the role of the church in the gospel message.
  • What is the Great Commission?
  • How are the Great Commission and the Gospel related to each other?
  • What is the difference between “selling” and evangelism?
  • What is the difference between evangelism and discipleship?
  • Summary: What’s wrong with “selling” the Gospel?
  • Upcoming Lessons in This Series:
    • Why did Jesus refuse to be a “Rock Star”?
    • Why did Jesus Tell People Not to Tell after Performing Miracles? (Parts 1 & 2)
    • Conversational Evangelism, Jesus-Style (Parts 1 & 2)
    • What is the Role of the Holy Spirit in Evangelism?
    • Conclusion: Toward Biblical Evangelism

1. Trevin Wax, Counterfeit Gospels: Rediscovering the Good News in a World of False Hope (Chicago: Moody, 2011), 14-15.

Love that isn’t Lame-love

April 6, 2014

Elect exiles living the hope22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24for”All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, 25but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.  1 Peter 1:22-25 ESV

  • A “theology” (more properly, anti-theology) of lame-love (examples): Lame preaching about love, lame hymns and songs about love, cliches and catch phrases.
  • The Vertical Perspective: Why a lame-love view of God is false and dangerous (Matthew 18:6; 2 Peter 2):
      • The Horizontal Perspective: Why is a lame-love view toward others false and dangerous (2 Timothy 4:3-4)?


Living the Hope … with Fear

March 22, 2014

Elect exiles living the hope17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you 21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. 1 Peter 1:17-21 ESV

Examples of a too-small god? 

From the JB Philips classic, Your God is Too Small (1952):

  • Resident Policeman
  • Parental Hangover
  • Grand Old Man
  • Meek-and-Mild
  • Absolute Perfection
  • Heavenly Bosom
  • God-in-a-Box
  • Managing Director
  • Second-hand God
  • Perennial Grievance
  • Pale Galilean

What does it mean to “Conduct yourself in (or with) fear” (1 Peter 1:17 ESV)?

  • If you pray to a Father who judges men by their actions without the slightest favouritism, then you should spend the time of your stay here on earth with reverent fear. PHILLIPS
  • And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear. KJV
  • Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. NIV
  • If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth. NASB

Four Key Words (1 Peter 1:13-21)

  • Sober: nēphō [G3525] sober in spirit, temperate, dispassionate, circumspect
  • Holy: hagios [G40] Set apart; pure; properly revered as having been set apart
  • Fear: phobos [G5401] fear, terror, and also, respect/respectfulness
  • Ransomed: lytroō [G3084] Redeemed by payment; liberated

Compare and match these words to: both Mark 12:30 and Luke 10:27

  • Heart
  • Soul/Spirit
  • Mind
  • Strength

Of these four, which is the most challenging? Which spiritual disciplines (prayer, confession, Bible study, fellowship with other Christians, worship, etc.) address most closely each of the these?

  • Heart
  • Soul/Spirit
  • Mind
  • Strength

Re-evangelizing ourselves:Re-evangelizing Ourselves


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