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Making the Gospel Coherent for our PostModern Friends & Society

July 16, 2015

Detroit Pub Theology 7-16-2015

  • What/who is “Post-Modern”
    • Skepticism about the Reliability/Trustworthiness of Rationalism
    • Cynicism about Language, Perspective and Grand Narratives

 

  • What is “The Gospel”
    • As a Reasoned Argument
    • As a Grand Narrative

 

  • Traditional “Tract” Summary of the Gospel
    • Ontological Presumptions Embedded
    • Claims Made (Historical, Metaphysical, etc.)

  Traditional Bridge Illustration

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Apologetics-Informed Summary of the Gospel
    • Pre-Evangelism: Dealing with Presuppositions

Spalding Bridge Illustration

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Compare: John 4, Jesus & Samaritan Woman at the Well
    • Evidence of Spiritual/Existential Vacuum
    • Testimony: Personalizing the Narrative

 

  • Other Suggestions / Observations / Criticisms?

 

Apologetics: The Basics*

July 12, 2015

Giving_an_Account_for_the_HOPE_CBC_ABFs

Lesson Two – Apologetics: The Basics*

  • Aspects of Apologetics / Levels of Apologetics (Review)
    • Level One: Apologetics as Personal Testimony. Giving one’s personal testimony, and sharing the Gospel, as an explanation of the hope that is within the follower of Christ.
    • Level Two: Drawing from special revelation (i.e., the Bible) and general revelation (i.e., creation, see Romans 1:20) to explain what we can know about God, the Gospel, and redemption. This will be the primary emphasis of this series.
      • Apologetics as Proof by offering reasons for accepting the truth-claims of the Gospel and Christianity. E.g., 1 Corinthians 15:1-11.
      • Apologetics as Defense by offering rebuttals to objections made by skeptics, unbelievers and critics of Biblical truth-claims. Philippians 1:7, 16.
      • Apologetics as Offense by pointing to the fallacies, faulty logic and overall foolishness of non-Biblical and anti-Christian worldviews and belief systems. 2 Corinthians 10:5.
    • Level Three: “Digging deeper” so as to be able to humbly engage in rigorous and thoughtful discussions about such things as cosmology, teleology, the moral argument and the problem of evil.
  • Taking Into Account Differing Worldviews (Presuppositions)
    • A follower of Christ is an alien in this world. 1 Corinthians 1:18-22; 10:31. He or she:
    • A nonbeliever, on the other hand, does not have such fear of the Lord, and cannot see the Kingdom of God. John 3:3.
    • As a result of the radically different presuppositions of the biblical worldview, as compared to any and all other worldviews, there is no “neutral ground” in apologetics. In other words, we cannot and must not abandon our biblical, Christ-centered worldview and presuppositions even as we engage in intellectual, philosophical and scholarly discussions with nonbelievers.
  • Circular Argument?
    • This does not mean apologetics is impossible; it simply means that we cannot possibly arrive at a final and complete agreement about basic spiritual and philosophical presuppositions unless and until the Holy Spirit intervenes. Until that happens:
      • We should remember that nonbelievers do have, embedded in their hearts, some level of consciousness of God’s revelation. Romans 1:18-21.
      • We should faithfully rely on the work of the Holy Spirit, in conjunction with God’s Word, as we attempt to communicate with nonbelievers. 1 Corinthians 2:4-5; 2 Corinthians 3:15-18
      • We should not attempt to second-guess God’s timing; after all, God in His grace might choose to remind the nonbeliever of our words and our apologetic/evangelical discussions at some point in the future (e.g., at a future time of personal crisis or catastrophe).
      • We should learn to ask questions, find whatever common ground we can, and draw upon different apologetics approaches so that we can keep the discussion going (and going forward).
  • God’s Responsibility and Ours
    • God is the persuader-converter, but from time to time He works through our testimony.
    • The apologist seeks to combat the unbeliever’s false impressions and present to him the word as it really is. It is to this testimony that the Spirit also bears witness.
      • Sola Scriptura requires that in theology and in all other disciplines, the highest authority, the supreme standard, be Scripture and Scripture alone.
      • Natural revelation, rightly understood through the “spectacles of Scripture,” points to God; so, the obedient Christian apologist will show the unbeliever the various ways in which nature reveals God, without claiming neutrality and without allowing the use of non-Christian criteria of truth.
  • The Value of Apologetics: God may use apologetic reasoning to sweep aside rationalizations, arguments by which the nonbeliever resists conversion.
  • The Dangers of Apologetics
    • It is interesting that in 1 Peter 3, Peter does not urge apologists to be intelligent and knowledgeable (although such qualities are certainly helpful), but to lead consistently godly lives. Indeed, as teachers, apologists must be mindful of the warning aimed at teachers in James 3:1.
    • Ephesians 4:15 calls upon us to speak the truth in love.
      • Too often, the apologetic motive has led to doctrinal compromise.
        • Contributing to such failures arc other sins: misdirected love, underestimation of human sin (as if what the unbeliever needs is merely a better argument), ignorance of God’s revelation (especially of biblical presuppositionalism), and intellectual pride.
      • In addition, unfortunately, many contentious or quarrelsome people are attracted to the discipline of apologetics.
  • Conclusion

*Drawn from Frame & Torres, Apologetics: A Justification of Christian Belief  (P&R Publishing, 2015), Chapter 1, “Apologetics: The Basics”

Meditate, Moan, Mutter and Muse

May 3, 2015
A Good Word

There are several different words in the original Hebrew and Greek that are translated “meditate.”  For those of us who are reading the Bible in English, it might be helpful to know which “meditate” we are reading.
For example, when we read in Joshua 1:8 about meditating on God’s Word “day and night,” the word hagah [H1897]
includes a sense of vocalizing, of musing out loud. Even a muttering or a moaning as we interact with His Word. Hagah is a word that invites you to read Scripture and to more or less vocalize what you are reading … and hear yourself doing so. It’s meditation, but it’s a vocalized meditation of God’s Word that resonates from the gut.
Another vocalized sense of meditation comes to us by way of the Hebrew word siyach [H7878], as used at Psalm 77:6. It also carries a sense of sounding out, but more from the head than from the heart or spirit. It is meditation with slightly more music than mutter. It is a bit more intellectual than intuitive.
There are also two Greek words in the New Testament that are translated “meditate” in English: meletaō [G3191] and promeletaō [G4304]. The former is translated at Acts 4:25 as “premeditate” in the KJV, “devise” in the NASB and “plot” in the ESV. The latter is translated at Luke 21:14 “meditate” in the ESV and KJV and “prepare beforehand” in the NASB. In both Greek words, there is a sense of premeditation, not just meditation.
All four biblical words (hagah, siyach in the Hebrew, and meletaō and promeletaō in the Greek) imply an active, alert and focused mental engagement. But not just active: directed. If you read the context of each of these words, we are directed as to how to focus our (active) minds. We are challenged not just to be thoughtful, but to be thoughtful about something in particular. Like, in the case of Joshua 1:8 meditating on God’s Word.
So when want to meditate on God’s word, engage. Engage the mind. Engage the vocal chords. Engage the ears. As our Pastor Keith has suggested, allow God’s word to “loop” through the mind, the voice, the ears … and the soul. Trusting the Holy Spirit to engage our soul as we do so. Reading God’s word is a conversation, a communication. Not, as in the case of some non-Biblical religious, spiritualist or similar exercises, an “emptying of the mind.”
Don’t empty. Engage. Even if this includes some muttering along the way.

Doesn’t Science Disprove Miracles?

March 17, 2015
Apologetics Course Basic

Unit 10 Handout: “Doesn’t Science Disprove Miracles?”

1.        Please Listen to the Wayne State Debate Prior to 3/31/2015

a.        Archived at http://wayne.edu/live and on YouTube at http://tinyurl.com/l43qufj

i.        Refer to Bruce Russell “God Debate” Handout as you listen and take notes

b.        Last class in this course (April 7, 2014): The Problem of Evil (Introduced 3/31)

i.        Final Exam (Take-Home) is due at 7 pm April 7.

2.        Shortened Class Today: Visit with MCREST guests after class and help clean up.

3.        Course Evaluation: Please complete and turn in to Jeff Mantei.

4.        Questions and Answers from Last Week’s Discussions and the Readings for This Evening

5.        Quiz and Review of Quiz

6.        Discussion: Holman text: Chapter 09: Do Miracles Happen?

a.        Existential Questions:

i.        Is God there?                      ii.       Does God hear me?

iii.      Does God interact with me?

iv.      Where do I Look for the Answers?

(1)      In the Bible?                       (2)      Outside of the Bible?

b.        What is a Miracle?

c.        Does natural science disprove miracles?

d.        Does our experience show that miracles cannot happen?

e.        What is the purpose of miracles?

i.        Credit to God;          ii.       Authenticate claims            iii.      Benevolent

f.        What about miracles that appear cruel?

g.        John Warwick Montgomery, “Science, Theology and the Miraculous,”

i.        http://tinyurl.com/pv4he9m, or

http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/1978/JASA12-78Montgomery.html

7.        Some Additional Considerations

a.        Miracles: Three Different Questions

i.        The Semantic Question: “What is a miracle?”

ii.       The Epistemic Question: “When should we believe in a miracle/miracles?”

iii.      The Apologetics Question: “Whether/when should the argument from miracles support religious belief/faith?”

b.        Testimony: The reliability of miracles and religious experiences

i.        Symptoms of Scientism in Christianity

ii.       Compare: The Possibility of Miracles

(1)      The miracle of the Gospel

(2)      The miracle of faith

iii.      The Data Supporting Miracles

(1)      Craig S. Keener, Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2011)

iv.      Religious experience, true conversion, and personal witness

8.        Introduction for Next Week: Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?

a.        1 Corinthians 15, versus other theories (swoon, twin, stolen body, hallucination, wrong tomb, alien, legend, Quran account, etc.)

9.        For Next Week:

a.        Read Holman text: Chapter 11: The Resurrection?

b.        Gary Habermas, “The Case for Christ’s Resurrection”, http://tinyurl.com/nyycu7g

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