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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

Isn’t the Old Testament a corrupted, unreliable text?

March 10, 2015
  • Please Listen to the Wayne State Debate Prior to 3/31/2015
    • Archived at http://wayne.edu/live and on YouTube at http://tinyurl.com/l43qufj
      • Refer to Bruce Russell “God Debate” Handout as you listen and take notes
    • Last class in this course (April 7, 2014): The Problem of Evil (Introduced 3/31)
      • Final Exam (Take-Home) is due at 7 pm April 7.
  • Shortened Class on March 24: Visit with MCREST guests after class and help clean up.
  • Questions and Answers from Last Week’s Discussions and the Readings for This Evening
  • Quiz and Review of Quiz
  • Discussion: Holman text: Chapter 08: Is the Old Testament Reliable?
    • Existential Questions:
      • (How) Can I trust what I am reading in the Old Testament?
      • (Why) Should this book matter to me?
    • The Key Question: Is the Old Testament Reliable?
    • Garry K. Brantley, “The Dead Sea Scrolls and Biblical Integrity” http://tinyurl.com/ogddb94
  • Additional Comments:
    • Dead Sea Scrolls
    • The Silver Scroll Pendant
    • Transmission of the Old Testament
    • Four Tests of Canonicity of the Old Testament:
      • Does the New Testament attest to its authority?
      • Do extrabiblical Jewish writers affirm them?
      • Is the book consistent with other revelation?
      • Was it written by a prophet or someone of divine authority?
  • The Apocrypha
  • Introduction: Doesn’t Science Disprove Miracles? (Chapter 9)
    • Existential Questions:
      • Is God there?
      • Does God hear me?
    • Where do I look for the answers?
      • In the Bible?
      • Outside of the Bible?
  • What is a Miracle?
    • Does natural science disprove miracles?
    • Does our experience show that miracles cannot happen?
    • What is the purpose of miracles?
      • Credit to God
      • Authenticate claims
      • Benevolent
    • What about miracles that appear cruel?
    • What about miracles not done by God?
    • Conclusion
  • For Next Week:

Isn’t the New Testament a corrupted, unreliable text?

March 3, 2015
Apologetics Course Basic
  • Please Listen to the Wayne State Debate Prior to 3/31/2015
    • Archived at http://wayne.edu/live and on YouTube at http://tinyurl.com/l43qufj
      • Refer to Bruce Russell “God Debate” Handout as you listen and take notes
    • Last class in this course (April 7, 2014): The Problem of Evil (Introduced 3/31)
      • Final Exam (Take-Home) is due at 7 pm April 7.
  • Shortened Class on March 24: Visit with MCREST guests after class and help clean up.
  • Questions and Answers from Last Week’s Discussions and the Readings for This Evening
  • Quiz and Review of Quiz
  • Follow-Up Discussion: Chapter 6: Where did the New Testament Come From; and Chapter 7: Is the New Testament Reliable
    • Who Chose the Books and How Were They Chosen
    • Who Wrote the Books
    • Dating the Gospels
    • Dating Paul’s Writings
    • What about the Books that were Left Out?
    • Textual Criticism / Transmission
    • Manuscript Authority / Thousands of Errors?
    • Archaeological/Non-Christian Writings
  • Kyle Butt: “That Which We have Seen and Heard,” at http://tinyurl.com/o3gfm28
    • Discussion
  • Introduction: Isn’t the Old Testament a corrupted, unreliable text? (Chapter 8)
  • Existential Questions:
    • (How) Can I trust what I am reading in the Old Testament?
    • (Why) Should this book matter to me?
    • Is the story true? Is the depiction of God true?
    • Where do I Look for the Answers?
      • In the Bible?
      • Outside of the Bible?
  • The Key Question: Is the Old Testament Reliable?
    • Why pay attention to the Old Testament?
    • T A N A K H: Torah, Nevim, Ketuvim
      • Noted by Josephus
    • The Septuagint
    • The Talmudists
    • The Massoretes
    • Dead Sea Scrolls
  • Christ’s Teachings on the Old Testament
    • Matthew 5:17-18; 11:13; 12:39; 15:3-4; 22:31-32, 40; 24:15-16; 26:56
    • Mark 12:36; Luke 4:21; 11:49-51; 16:16-17, 31; 18:31; 24:44
  • For Next Week:
    • Read Holman text: Chapter 08: Is the Old Testament Reliable?
    • Garry K. Brantley, “The Dead Sea Scrolls and Biblical Integrity” http://tinyurl.com/ogddb94

Aren’t All Religions Essentially the Same?

February 24, 2015
Apologetics Course Basic
  • Please Listen to the Wayne State Debate Prior to 3/31/2015
  • Shortened Class on March 24: Visit with MCREST guests after class.
  • Questions and Answers from Last Week’s Discussions and the Readings for This Evening
  • Quiz and Review of Quiz
  • Follow-Up Discussion: Chapter 5: Which God Exists?
    • The Elephant and the Blind Men
    • The Glass Slipper
    • Atheism (including Buddhism) /
    • Agnosticism / Pantheism / Panentheism / Finite Godism
    • Polytheism (including Hinduism and Mormonism) / Deism
    • Monotheism
    • Particularism (Coherent, Evidence-receptive, Parallels Morality + Science)
    • Conclusion
  • Booklet: Joseph R. Farinaccio, Faith with Reason: Why Christianity is True, http://tinyurl.com/kgkg2e2
    • Discussion
  • Introduction: Isn’t the New Testament a corrupted, unreliable text??
    • Origin (Chapter 6)
    • Textual Criticism (Chapter 7)
  • Existential Questions:
    • (How) Can I trust what I am reading in the New Testament?
    • (Why) Should this book matter to me?
    • Is the story true? Is the depiction of God true? Is there a Kingdom of Heaven?
    • Where do I Look for the Answers?
      • In the Bible?
      • Outside of the Bible?
  • The Key Question: Are the claims of the New Testament true?
  • Who chose the books and how were they chosen?
    • Four Categories: Spurious, Widely Accepted, Canonical, Heretical (Eusebius)
    • Councils of Carthage and Hippo
  • Textual Criticism
    • Transmission
    • Manuscript Authority
    • Thousands of Errors
      • Unintentional Variances
      • Intentional Variances
    • Archaeology
    • Non-Christian Writings (Extra-Biblical)
  • Claim of Inspiration
  • For Next Week:
    • Read Holman text:
      • Chapter 06: Where did the New Testament Come From?
      • Chapter 07: Is the New Testament Reliable?
    • Kyle Butt, “That Which We Have Seen and Heard,” http://tinyurl.com/o3gfm28

Debate: If evil exists, is it unreasonable to believe that God doesn’t?

February 11, 2015

debateflyer2

So much ‪#‎Evil‬ in the world. Does God even exist? Looking forward to moderating this debate at ‪#‎WayneState‬ on Feb. 18
http://t.co/vFcakqD8Pb

Via Twitter @RC_WSU_MI

Does Intelligent Design “Prove” God’s Existence?

February 8, 2015

Apologetics Course BasicUnit 5 Handout: “Does Intelligent Design ‘Prove’ God’s Existence?”

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

2.        Quiz and Review of Quiz

3.        Follow-Up Discussion: Chapter 3: Does God Exist? The Design Argument
a.        The Watchmaker
b.        The Argument
c.        The History
d.        Different Flavors of the Argument
e.        Fine-Tuning as Design
f.        Information as Design
g.        Complexity as Design
h.        Tactical Note
i.        Conclusion

4.        Article: David D. Gebhard, “An Overview of Intelligent Design,” http://tinyurl.com/n3lv2rf
a.        Discussion

5.        Redux: Second Law of Thermodynamics (Increasing entropy or unavailable energy)

6.        Introduction: The Moral Argument
a.        Existential Questions: Am I Good? (What Good am I?) Am I a Good Person? What if I am Not a Good Person?
i.        Why do I Doubt my Goodness? Why do I Care? Why does Anybody Care?

7.        Moral Principles (“Values”) are Metaphysical
a.        And yet all humans seem to have a built-in sense of right and wrong.
b.        Compare: Romans 2:14-15

8.        C.S. Lewis’ Argument
a.        Everyone knows, and so believes, that there are objective moral truths.
b.        Objective moral laws are very peculiar in that they are quite unlike Laws of Nature and “natural” facts.
c.        The hypothesis that there is an intelligence behind, or beyond, the natural facts that implants the knowledge of right and wrong in us and serves as the foundation for good judgments and the best explanation of objective moral facts.
d.        Conclusion: The existence and nature of objective moral facts supports the existence of an intelligence behind them serving as their basis and foundation.

9.        Moral Absolutes: Objective, Eternal and Universal
a.        Christian Moral Absolutism:
i.        Absolute standards against which moral questions are evaluated;
ii.       Certain actions are considered inherently right or wrong;
iii.      Opposed to philosophical and moral relativism (i.e., the view that all truths are relative to social, cultural, historical constructs, paradigms, or preferences);
iv.      The infinite-personal God is the source of moral absolutism;
v.        Moral laws are discoverable and knowable regardless of time, place, or context.
b.        Objections
i.        Morality is cultural
ii.       Morality is relative
iii.      The presence of Evil disproves a moral God
iv.      Morality either is arbitrarily imposed by God or is outside of Him
v.        The Is/Ought Objection

10.      Atheist Explanation for Morals
a.        Social Contract (Compare atrocities of Hitler, ISIS, etc.)
b.        Herd Instinct (Are herds, or instincts, always right or deserving of survival?)
c.        Psychological (“Value” judgments regarding others’ behavior; Ought/ought-not persists)
d.        Ethical Framework (Sufficient rational ethical theory … developed by elite ethicists?)
e.        Categorical Imperative (But can “immoral” principles be applied unversally?)
f.        Happiness (Is greatest happiness of greatest number necessarily moral?)
g.        Emergent Property (But is there evidence that morality is emerging from the physical world?)
h.        Part of Reality (Moral Realism)

11.      Compare: The Christian Position: Moral principles (“ought”) are necessarily personal, universal, available for critique of behavior, and readily accessed by actors.

12.      Biblical Articulation: Leviticus 19:2; 1 Samuel 2:2; Isaiah 5:16; Zephaniah 3:5; Psalm 19:7, 9; 2 Corinthians 7:1
a.        So what: Romans 3:23; 6:23; 10:9

13.      Quick Review:
a.        What does the cosmological argument tell us of God?
b.        Taken together, what do the teleological and moral arguments tell us of God?

14.      Conclusion: Colossians 2:8; 4:5-6

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