What is Apologetics?

Apologetics may be simply defined as the defense of the Christian faith. The word “apologetics” derives from the Greek word apologia, which was originally used as a speech of defense or an answer given in reply. In ancient Athens it referred to a defense made in the courtroom as part of the normal judicial procedure. After the accusation, the defendant was allowed to refute the charges with a defense or reply (apologia). The word appears 17 times in noun or verb form in the New Testament, and both the noun (apologia) and verb form (apologeomai) can be translated “defense” or “vindication” in every case.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Peter Hitchens Remembers His Brother Christopher

In Memoriam, my courageous brother Christopher, 1949-2011
By Peter Hitchens
16 December 2011 (7:40 PM)

How odd it is to hear of your own brother’s death on an early morning radio bulletin. How odd it is for a private loss to be a public event.

I wouldn’t normally dream of writing about such a thing here, and I doubt if many people would expect me to. It is made even odder by the fact that I am a minor celebrity myself. And that the, ah, complex relationship between me and my brother has been public property. 

I have this morning turned down three invitations to talk on the radio about my brother. I had a powerful feeling that it would be wrong to do so, not immediately explicable but strong enough to persuade me to say a polite ‘no thank you’. continue reading here

See also WorldNet Daily's article today "Christopher Hitchens, God's Favorite Atheist?," written by Art Moore who comments on the those on the Christian side who knew Christopher personally sharing their thoughts about their encounters in debates and dialogues with Christopher.  


I don't agree with his worldview.  At the same time, I am not one who is not rejoicing in the loss of this man was hostile toward the Christian worldview and message.   I also enjoyed watching him struggle with those who debated and continued to pray for his redemption as the Lord brought me remembrance to pray for him.  As I heard him speak, read his writing, or watched a debate with him against one of God's ambassadors, I continually wondered what will it take for him to come to faith, and how he could reject the truth given by faithful the witnesses and defenders of the faith; folks like Bill Craig, Doug Wilson, Frank Turek, Dinesh D'Sousa, along with the others.   He grew up in the Anglican Church hearing Bible verses as a kid.  He heard the message from so many, given with gentleness and respect.  All I know and truly believe is that God will be just, and will not compromise His justice in meting out Christopher's eternal destiny.  Sola Deo Gloria.


Friday, December 16, 2011

The Passing of One of the "Four Horsemen"

Back in April of this year, I posted a blog on Christopher Hitchens' defiance of God and the afterlife in the face of death.  We have just received the news from some in our apologetics community that Christopher has passed.  Even though Christopher was an ardent defender of the "new atheism" we are saddened by his passing, and can only hope that his physician treating him for his esophageal cancer was able to share why he believed in the truth of the Christian faith.  He will be missed even by those of us on the side of  believing faith. 

Our prayers go out to the family and those who are today mourning the loss of Christopher Hitchens (
13 April 1949 – 15 December 2011).  The following is the article from Reuters bringing the news.

(Reuters) - British-born journalist and atheist intellectual Christopher Hitchens, who made the United States his home and backed the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, died on Thursday at the age of 62.

Hitchens died in Houston of pneumonia, a complication of cancer of the esophagus, Vanity Fair magazine said.

"Christopher Hitchens - the incomparable critic, masterful rhetorician, fiery wit, and fearless bon vivant - died today at the age of 62," Vanity Fair said.

A heavy smoker and drinker, Hitchens cut short a book tour for his memoir "Hitch 22" last year to undergo chemotherapy after being diagnosed with cancer.

As a journalist, war correspondent and literary critic, Hitchens carved out a reputation for barbed repartee, scathing critiques of public figures and a fierce intelligence.

In his 2007 book "God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything," Hitchens took on major religions with his trenchant atheism. He argued that religion was the source of all tyranny and that many of the world's evils have been done in the name of religion.  See the rest of the article here

Read:  "Christopher Hitchens STILL Defiant in the Face of Death" (April 25, 2011)

NPR:   Writer Christopher Hitchens Dies at 62
NY Times:   Polemicist Who Slashed All, Free, With Wit. . .

Other reflections from Christians, especially those involved in Christian apologetics:

Thursday, December 15, 2011

"Destroy Christianity": Richard Dawkins' amazing claim in the New Statesman

by Rev. George Pitcher
from Mail Online Blog, George Pitcher's Blog
December 14, 2011

[Editor's Note:  If Richard thinks that he is going to succeed in eradicating Christianity, he either has not read history, or he is ignoring history.  I don't think we have to worry about "Richey" snubbing out Christianity.  I mean after all, Nero, Trajan, and even Voltaire tried to kill Christians (Nero, Trajan and Domitian) and Voltaire said that he was going to rid the Bible of the face of the earth.  
      Let's see, Christianity expands under intense persecution, and America has not seen what out brothers and sisters overseas are experiencing, at least not yet.  There is a French Bible Society and printing press to publish Bibles in Voltaire's former house.  Um, I don't think we need to worry about anything so long as we study, defend, and then lovingly and graciously and firmly present the truth claim of the Christian faith.  Enjoy and engage the article.  -- RL]

My old friend, Professor Richard Dawkins, is guest editor of the Christmas double issue of the New Statesman. And he makes a very decent fist of it. His is a light touch to the magazine; a column on Islamism here, a piece by Rabbi Jonathan Romain on faith schools there. Prof. Dawkins himself pens a leader column as an open letter to David Cameron. It's rather rambling and seems to forget from time to time that it's addressing the Prime Minister, as the good Professor describes, I think, how he loves carols and secularism equally.

It's unlikely to cause the political stir that Dr Rowan Williams' contribution to the New Statesman generated last June. The Archbishop of Canterbury's edition was the biggest seller since the one that directly followed 9/11. I know, because I organised it. Still, Prof. Dawkins has a whole fortnight over Christmas to make up ground.

But the centrepiece of this Christmas edition is the main coup for the New Statesman - an interview by Prof. Dawkins with Christopher Hitchens, the great polymath who is suffering from terminal cancer. It's a fascinating read over three double-page spreads. Not least because Prof. Dawkins reveals a charming humility, allowing Hitchens to show his intellectual superiority at his own expense. Hitchens is thoughtful about CS Lewis and Christianity and rather leaves Prof. Dawkins floundering in his wake, occasionally interjecting little assents to show that he's stil there, as he struggles to keep up.

But one of these interjections is most revealing. About half-way through, the Prof gets this in edgeways: "Do you ever worry that if we win and, so to speak, destroy Christianity, that vacuum would be filled by Islam?"

So, "if we win...and destroy Christianity." True, there's a "so to speak" in there, but it doesn't do much. Try "If we win and, so to speak, kill all the Jews" as an alternative. Doesn't really work, does it? And Prof Dawkins can hardly claim that he was misquoted or taken out of context. He was editing the magazine, after all - there's even a picture of him doing so, pen poised masterfully over page proofs.

For all his claims that Christianity has been a brutal force throughout history, I'm sure Prof Dawkins' attitude, revealed here, isn't reciprocated. I don't recall Rowan Williams talking about "destroying atheism".

So it's good to know, at last, where Prof Dawkins really stands - and, incidentally, it's not where the gracious, generous-spirited and libertarian Hitchens stands. Hitchens hates totalitarianism. And it's totalitarians who have tried and failed throughout history to "destroy Christianity". Dawkins now sees that as a measure of winning. Good luck with that, Richard. And happy Christmas. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Muslim Students Stir Conflict, Gutless School Leads Prof to Resign

by Kaustuv Basu

[Editor's Note:  When Muslim students interrupt a class and challenge in a disrespectful manner, it is time to reconsider the benefits of the American university.  Professor Derengowski got no support from the school. Can you blame him for resigning?  I sure can't! -- RL]

Paul Derengowski had been teaching his world religions class as an adjunct at Tarrant County College in Fort Worth, Texas for three years without incident. All that changed in November, when two Muslim students decided to challenge the way he taught the Islam section of the course.

The students disrupted his class and then walked out Nov. 8. Derengowski, an adjunct professor, filed a report with campus police and later met with college administrators to suggest that the college suspend them with a failing grade as punishment for the disruption, which he said involved repeated in-your-face interruptions that scared the other students in the class. When administrators did not act on his recommendation, he resigned.

Derengowski said he was teaching only what had been approved by college administrators, but supporters of the students have suggested that the instructor may not be the most open-minded about Islam. They have noted that he runs a website called the Christian Apologetics Project, where he lists Islam as a cult along with Mormonism and Scientology. The two students are not talking to reporters.

The professor said he resigned, in part, because the college administration failed to follow the rules as described in the student handbook when it comes to those disrupting classes.

The problem started, he said, when he was teaching a section on the early life of the Prophet Muhammad. “I was quoting directly from the Koran and yet they objected to that,” Derengowski said. “It was an hour’s worth of disruption.”

He stressed that he did not bring his personal beliefs about Islam to the classroom.

The students were in his face, he said, preventing him from teaching his class. The two students also told him that his Ph.D. studies were not credible. Another point they made: He was only focusing on the negative issues in Islam.

Mustafaa Carroll, executive director of the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a civil rights organization for Muslims, said professors at public colleges and universities should have a religiously neutral agenda. “He does have every right [to his beliefs] but it is good to have ideals that are inclusive,” Carroll said.

He said public servants and educators hold a very special role in a multicultural, pluralistic society. “We need to be a cautious in a diverse group,” he said. “This professor also listed Islam as a cult -- a religion with 1.7 billion followers.”

A student who was part of the class this semester said Derengowski’s class was unbiased in her view. Ginger Ruiz said on the night of the disruption, the two students told the professor that he did not have the right to read from the Koran and that he should throw away his books. “The other students were afraid. All this was making them uncomfortable and nervous,” Ruiz said. “I feel that the professor has strong opinions, but he was not teaching from his opinions.”

Ruiz, who has filed a student grievance with the college to complain about how the administrators handled the incident, said the class has been reworked and there is no Islamic component to it. “I fault the TCC administration for how they handled this and because of it, a man is out of a job,” she said.

Ruiz said a section of Derengowski’s website was even listed on the syllabus -- so his views were not hidden from the college.

But when she was asked if she would feel offended by the professor’s opinion if she were a Muslim, she said: “I think I would. But I would take my complaints to the administrators and anyone else who listened. I would not have disrupted a class.”

The college did not return phone calls or e-mails Tuesday, but an official told The Fort Worth Star-Telegram that the college is investigating the incident.


Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2011/12/14/professor-resigns-after-muslim-students-disrupt-class#ixzz1gfAVqaJz
Inside Higher Ed 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Is it still wrong if another culture says it is right?

[Editor's Note:  Denyse O'Leary has hit the ball out of the park on this one.  During a few conversations with some folks, this article is one that needs attention for it very well could be a foreshadowing of what our culture will look like or is beginning to look like -- RL]

by Denyse O'Leary

Recently, a Canadian high school teacher broke the silence about where cultural relativism really leads.

Update: When we celebrate “diversity,” what exactly are we celebrating?

We are told that it means that everyone will accept people of other faiths and sexualities. But what can that mean when it is unpacked?

In “Moments of startling clarity: Moral education programming in Ontario today,”* Stephen L. Anderson recounts what happened when he tried to show students what can happen to women in a culture with no tradition of treating women as if they were fellow human beings with men:

I was teaching my senior Philosophy class. We had just finished a unit on Metaphysics and were about to get into Ethics, the philosophy of how we make moral judgments. The school had also just had several social-justice-type assemblies—multiculturalism, women’s rights, anti-violence and gay acceptance. So there was no shortage of reference points from which to begin.

I decided to open by simply displaying, without comment, the photo of Bibi Aisha. Aisha was the Afghani teenager who was forced into an abusive marriage with a Taliban fighter, who abused her and kept her with his animals. When she attempted to flee, her family caught her, hacked off her nose and ears, and left her for dead in the mountains. After crawling to her grandfather’s house, she was saved by a nearby American hospital. I felt quite sure that my students, seeing the suffering of this poor girl of their own age, would have a clear ethical reaction, from which we could build toward more difficult cases.

The picture is horrific. Aisha’s beautiful eyes stare hauntingly back at you above the mangled hole that was once her nose. Some of my students could not even raise their eyes to look at it. I could see that many were experiencing deep emotions.

But I was not prepared for their reaction.

I had expected strong aversion; but that’s not what I got. Instead, they became confused. They seemed not to know what to think. They spoke timorously, afraid to make any moral judgment at all. They were unwilling to criticize any situation originating in a different culture.

They said, “Well, we might not like it, but maybe over there it’s okay.” One student said, “I don’t feel anything at all; I see lots of this kind of stuff .”

Another said (with no consciousness of self-contradiction), “It’s just wrong to judge other cultures.”

Anderson reflects,

While we may hope some are capable of bridging the gap between principled morality and this ethically vacuous relativism, it is evident that a good many are not. For them, the overriding message is “never judge, never criticize, never take a position.”

One reason might be this: For thousands of years, most thinkers assumed that virtue was something specific; it could be described, and could be distinguished from not-virtue (vice). Courage, for example, was a virtue—a cardinal virtue. Cowardice was a vice. One ought, they said, to aim for courage because it is intrinsically worthy, and avoid cowardice because it is intrinsically a disgrace. Those thinkers are—in the students’ terms—judgmental!

In recent decades, a new view has taken root. The new view is that courage and cowardice have no intrinsic reality. Neither does the classical virtue of justice or the vice of injustice. It all depends on how you feel about things, which in turn depends on your culture. That underlies the students’ inability to move from “I feel bad” to “This is wrong.”

One outcome has been the popular convention that all cultures are of equal value. If Afghan men see their treatment of women as just, then it must be so. We lack any legitimate basis for saying it isn’t. One common way of putting it is that our ancestors were bigoted imperialists who didn’t see the worth of other cultures.

How would a traditional philosopher respond to that? Well, if he believes that virtue and vice (right and wrong) exist in some sense, even as abstractions, he would likely say that most cultures excel in some virtues but not in others.

The Afghan culture, for example, excels in the virtue of courage; it produces many brave suicide bombers. But it falls behind in the virtue of justice, especially where women are concerned. The traditional philosopher would insist that this is an objective assessment, based on evidence, and that no one who makes it can properly be called a bigot.

A different culture may excel in justice, but fall behind in courage. That is a particularly unfortunate combination because people vaguely understand that when a woman is mutilated for running away from an abusive husband, a terrible wrong has been done. These students, after all, were not a Taliban mob, cheering the mutilators on. They do not speak up for fear of criticism for the one remaining sin—passing judgment. Again, from the traditional perspective, it is not bigotry to say that their cowardice is a vice. It is a vice.

The students could not go from their vague discomfort to a rational ethical conclusion because they have never learned traditional philosophy of ethics. Therefore, their objections have no force and, for all that they sense injustice, they will likely do very little good in the world. And the “accept everyone, accept everything” assemblies they attend unwittingly feed the problem: They learn to accept gay rights in North America and stoning gays in Afghanistan.

Theirs is an education to avoid at all costs.

___________________________________

*Education Forum (Fall, 2011); pp. 27–29. Education Forum is a publication of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation. Stephen Anderson is also a PhD candidate in the Philosophy of Education at the University of Western Ontario.

Denyse O’Leary is co-author of The Spiritual Brain.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Is the Mormon Church a Christian Church?

Whenever Mormon missionaries come knocking at your door, one of the first things you will hear, after they introduce themselves as Elder "So and So" and Elder "Such and Such", is that they will tell you that they are from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (a.k.a "Mormons" or "LDS").   Or you may be watching the political debates and hear all kinds of ad hoc rhetoric about politics and religion and someone mention Mitt Romney being a member of the Mormon Church.  You might even be watching FoxNews and seeing the Glen Beck program with him pontificating on the battle between Islam versus the West.  Christian (Baptist) universities like Liberty University have even had Beck as a commencement speaker.  Some think there is no difference between Romney and Beck's faith and biblical Christianity.


My desire for this article is not politically motivated.  Let me state for the record that NEITHER conservative politics NOR liberal politics; NEITHER Republican NOR Democrat, NOR Tea Party will restore America!  The restoration of this nation will only come, if the LORD wills, when the church stands up and defends and proclaims the gospel.  Only then, if the LORD wills, we will see a revival in this nation.  That being said my motivation is not political but apologetics minded in nature to assist in the exposing the ruse that the LDS Church is a "Christian church."  When you say Christian there are different connotations as to what that means, depending on who you or I are speaking to or what the talking head on the television is pontificating.    

For the record, the Mormon Church is NOT a Christian church, but a non-Christian cult that claims to be "the true Christian church."[1]   The Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 11:3-4, 13-15 and Galatians 1:8,9 tells us that there will be those who will appear Christian but they will not be truly biblically Christian.  

Now I know that there are folks who may be reading this, and they listen folks like Oprah, and the media pundits who know little to nothing about religious differences.  But they will most likely read this article and call it  or myself bigoted.  Let's all be reminded that such an accusatory charge boomerangs back to the one making the accusation.  Most folks making such an accusation also hold to the false notion of "religious pluralism", which states that all religions are equal or that they say the same thing or worship the same "God".  These charges show an ignorance on religions and to equivocate all religions being the same demonstrates that ignorance.  We can thank the institutions of higher learning for brainwashing such nonsense into the minds of those echoing the charge.  

To keep this article at a worthy scope, I am going to deal with just two of the doctrines that are cardinal to Biblical Christianity versus the religion of the Latter-Day Saints.  You might be a Mormon reading this and might be wanting to ask where I get my authority to speak on such things.  First off my credentials, though they mean little, are all in order.  The second thing is that I have been granted by Brigham Young himself who said, "I say to the whole world. . .Take up the Bible, compare the religion of the Latter-day Saints with, and see if it stands the test."[2]  Also there is another quote that I would like to remind folks of and that is another by Brigham, "Mormonism is true in every leading doctrine, or it is false as a system altogether."[3]  So, let's move forward shall we?

All this aside, I am just going to detail two doctrines that show the wide divide between biblical Christianity and the non-historical heretical teachings of the LDS Church.  Those doctrines are the historical doctrines of God and of Jesus Christ.  These are right at the heart of the issue for if you have a wrong view of God and Jesus Christ, you have the wrong God and the wrong Savior.

If you have the wrong God and wrong Savior, you have a wrong view of salvation (which will not be discussed in this posting).  Let's look and see first that Mormons have a different view of God from historical Christianity.

The Christian Church historically has believed and taught that there is one God who is Spirit, and a personal, eternal, infinite Creator of all that exists.  God is a necessary Being and by stating that He is also necessary for all other things to exist.  God has manifested His existence as a Trinity:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Deuteronomy. 6:4; Isaiah 43:10; 44:6-8; Matthew 28:19; John 4:24; 17:3). 

The Mormon church holds to a different view of God.  The god of Mormonism is an exalted man with a physical body of flesh and bones.   The founder of the Mormon church, Joseph Smith stated, "If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by his power, was to make himself visible-I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form"[4]   The biblical doctrine of the Trinity is denied with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost seen as three separate entities.  Smith states, "The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit.  Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us."[5] 

With these two diametrically opposed views of God, we that the God of the Bible is infinite, meaning without limitation in His attributes.  The Mormon view is a finite god, that was once a man as you and I and became a god through spiritual evolving into godhood.  Former LDS "Prophet" Lorenzo Snow once prophesied his couplet, “As man is God once was, as God is man may be.”   My question to any well meaning truth seeking member of the LDS church is this:  How can the finite man take on characteristics of an infinite God?   Truth is, one cannot.

The Mormon church also has a faulty view of Jesus Christ.  Earlier in this post, I referenced two passages that spoke of "a different Jesus."  The Mormon Church believes in a "different Jesus" that is not the same Jesus of the Bible.

The historical teaching of the Christian church has always been that Jesus was the virgin born God incarnate who existed in all time with the Father and the Holy Spirit in the eternal Trinity.  In His earthly life and ministry, Jesus was fully God and fully man, possessing two natures - human and divine (100% of both at the same time.) Jesus lived a sinless life and willingly died on the cross at Golgotha as a sacrifice for the sins of humanity.  (See John 1:1-18; 8:56-59; Philippians 2:5-11; Colossians 1:13-22 and Hebrews 1:3; 13:8).  

What do the Mormon missionaries, Glen Beck, and Mitt Romney believe about Jesus Christ? What does the Mormon church teach about Jesus?  To best give you the crux of the false view set forth by the LDS church, first off they teach that Jesus was the spiritual "first born" Son of Go in the pre-existence.  "Every person who was ever born on earth was our spirit brother or sister in heaven.   The first born to our heavenly parents was Jesus Christ, so he is literally our elder brother."[6]  So Jesus is our brother pro creatively speaking according to the Mormon Church?    Continue reading further. . . "And now, verily I say unto you, I was in the beginning with the Father and am the Firstborn."[7]

Jesus to the Mormons is also the "only begotten" physical offspring of God by procreation on earth.  This is a flat out attack on the historical doctrine of the virgin birth.  "Jesus is the only person on earth to be born of a mortal mother and an immortal father.  That is why he is called the Only Begotten Son"[8]  

As you can see there are some stark contrasts to Jesus' birth.  Even more so is the LDS view of Christ's work of atonement on the cross.  Mormons believe that Jesus' atonement (death and resurrection) provide immortality for all people regardless of their faith. "Christ thus overcame physical death.  Because of his atonement, everyone born on this earth will be resurrected. . . This condition will be called immortality.  All people who ever lived will be resurrected, 'both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both wicked and righteous'"[9]

So what about Adolf Hitler, Mao Tse Tung, Ghengis Khan, Josef Stalin et al?  They are part of the subset of all people who have ever lived.  They are going to be resurrected but it will not be to one of the three levels of heaven that the LDS embrace. (See Revelation 20:11-15)

What are we to make of those who say that Mitt, Glen and the friendly little missionaries knocking at your door, are all Christians?  Do they share the same views on the nature of God and of Jesus Christ as evangelical Christians?  No they do not.  You see, just because someone says they believe in Jesus, it does not mean that they worship the Jesus of the Bible.

Today more than ever it is important to nail down our biblical convictions and make sure they are truly biblical.  That also includes the cordial conversation with one who says they "believe in Jesus" or they "believe in God."  Friends, even the word "Christian" is thrown around in this culture as meaning anything but Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu or some other religion.  We have to understand that we say we are a Christian, it means that one has been redeemed by God and claims a vital personal relationship with the risen Jesus Christ.

So the next time you are in a cordial conversation, and it goes "spiritual" and someone tells you that they are a Christian, you might want to take a page from the detective Columbo and ask something like this:  "When you say you are a Christian, can you tell me what you mean when you use the word 'Christian'"?

If you would like more information about Mormonism, I have a side website that deals specifically with  the differences between historical biblical Christianity and the LDS church.  Even though it is needing some revision and updating, the links are still "live".  You can find it here.

Also after interacting with this article, you have some questions come to the forefront, please feel free to email them to rob@roblundberg.org.  I will be more than happy to respond to your question in a timely manner.

Notes
[1] Walter Martin's definition of a cult is where we are landing on this issue.  He states in his classic volume, The Kingdom of the Cults, "A cult, then, is a group of people polarized around someone's interpretation of the Bible and is characterized by major deviations from orthodox Christianity relative to the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith, particularly the fact that God became a man in Jesus Christ" (The Kingdom of the Cults, 12).

[2] Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Volume 16, 1873: 46.

[3] Brigham Young, Millennial Star, Volume 27, 1865: 675-76.

[4] Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 345.

[5] Doctrine and Covenants, 130:22.

[6] Gospel Principles, 11.

[7] Doctrine and Covenants, 93:21.  The Mormon church mixes the commits the equivocation fallacy with the word for being created (gennao) versus the word for being firstborn meaning pre-eminence (prototokos).

[8] Gospel Principles, 64.  The Prophet Isaiah wrote about Jesus' birth as being born of a virgin (Isa. 7:14) and sent forth from God (Isa. 9:6-7).  No where do we see any physical union between a god and the virgin Mary.

[9] Book of Mormon, Alma 11:44; Gospel Principles, 74, see also Gospel Principles 11, 17-19, and 71-77.

Rob Lundberg is the founder and the director of The Real Issue Apologetics Ministry, located in Fredericksburg, VA.  To contact Rob or this ministry for information or provide feedback to this essay you can call  540.424.2305 or email Stand4Truth.Net at stand4truthapologetics@gmail.com

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Women Need to Engage in Apologetics Too - Check out this video!

Understanding why one believes the Christian faith knows no language barriers, no educational barriers and no gender barriers.   One of the ministries on the cutting edge for women being involved in the task of Christian apologetics is the International Society of Women in Apologetics (ISWA).

ISWA is about encouraging women to be defenders of the faith and be about equipping their children and encouraging women to become involved in entering the field of Christian apologetics.  There are women   Check out this interview with Jeremiah Johnson.  


Interview with Sarah Ankenman from Christian Thinkers Society on Vimeo.


Can women do apologetics?  Yes.   Women can also connect with great resources like Sarah Ankenman, Mary Jo Sharp, Letitia Wong, Marcia Montenegro and others for ideas and equipping their children and others in defending their faith and the faith of others.   Apologetics is done all over the world.  Each apologist is an ambassador and even a missionary to the post Christian culture.  Check out the resources that are out there, and check out ISWA's website.

Stand4Truth.Net Apologetics Ministries endorses ISWA, Confident Christianity and those ministries led by strong women to equip believers in engaging the culture with the truth claims of the Christian faith.

Other ministries Stand4Truth.Net would like to recommend are as follows:

Confident Christianity ~ Mary Jo Sharp
Christian Answers for the New Age ~ Marcia Montenegro
Talitha Koumi Blog ~ Letitia Wong
Center for Women of Faith in Culture ~ Sarah Flashing
Tricia Talks Truth Apologetics Ministry ~ Tricia Scribner
Lighting the Way International ~ Dwayna Litz

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Kids Who Work Out Doubts More Likely to Keep Faith as Adults

by Karla Dial

2011-09-12-tsYouth pastors and parents alike are well aware that when their kids graduate from high school and go off to college, their faith comes under assault — in and out of the classroom.

But a three-year longitudinal study recently released by Fuller Theological Seminary shows that when it comes to keeping their Christian faith on campus, some factors are more critical than others.

“One of the most interesting findings from the pilot project was the importance of doubt in a student’s faith maturity,” noted Powell Kubiak, a graduate of the Marriage and Family Program at Fuller, who coauthored the study. “The more college students felt that they had the opportunity to express their doubt while they were in high school, the higher levels of faith maturity and spiritual maturity (they had in college).”

Across denominations, clergy estimate that between 65 and 94 percent of high school students quit attending church after they graduate. Christopher Fetters, student life pastor at Mountain Springs Church in Colorado Springs, said churches can learn a lot from that data.

“If all we’re doing is preaching at them and telling them what to believe, their faith doesn’t become their own,” he said. “To ask hard questions and be OK with their answers — to  let them say ‘we hate God,’ and not freak out — is important. Having small groups that are genuine and honest. Making sure our small group leaders are facilitators and not preachers.

“It all comes back to the Word of God and letting the Holy Spirit deal with them,” he continued. “If we try to be a consumer ministry and make it all about having fun, they’re going to miss it.”

Another aspect of the church dropout problem, Fetters said, has to do with the fact that students are generally compartmentalized at most churches.

“We make kids believe the Christian faith is all about them,” he explained. “Once you’re done with children’s church, you go to the middle-school program. Then you go to the high school program. Then you graduate, and if there’s not a gathering of people exactly your age, you say, ‘Forget it, I’m not going.’  “We need to change. What we’re doing isn’t working.”

When students are part of intergenerational ministry, such as congregational worship and mission trips, they are about 75 percent more likely to remain in church after they graduate, Fetters said.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

A national study of AWANA alumni shows statistical evidence for teaching kids the Bible in early childhood.


ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED RESOURCES:   Apologetics for a New Generation: A Biblical and Culturally Relevant Approach to Talking About God / The Case for Christ Student Edition / The Case for Christ for Kids

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Three Faces of Evil and A Christian Response


by Rob Lundberg





Introduction

One of the most popular objections for the existence of God coming from skeptics is the problem of evil.   The objection sounds something like this:  “How can there be a ‘God’ when there is all this evil in the world?  Where was God when 9/11 happened, the tsunamis wiped a whole coastline of Japan, and when tornadoes devastate a community?  On this tenth anniversary of 9/11, I want to answer this objection, as we reflect back to an event that shook our nation.  Having listened to and read the new atheists over the last few years, I am convinced that this event of terrorism is a catalyst to boosting their campaigns, in writing and speaking tours.
It is on this anniversary of 9/11 that my brothers and sisters in the task of apologetics are taking the time to write responses as to the problem of evil which will provide a prompting to faith rather than skepticism.  My task in this endeavor is toward addressing the “Three Faces of Evil and a Christian Response.”
As we trudge through this objection I am going to first provide a brief yet succinct definition of “evil”.  Then I plan to show how evil (active) and suffering (passive) show their ugly heads in the form of three “faces.”  Lastly, I will provide a Christian response to the problem of evil with hopes of showing why it is most reasonable to believe that God exists, and He has intervened even when we do not understand all there is to this objection but have to rely on faith after knowing all there can be known.
How Does One Define Evil?
If you were to ask the average person on the street (or in the church), how they define “evil”, one might hear answers stemming in the forms of events like acts of terrorism, natural disasters like tsunamis, hurricanes, or whatever natural forms they can think of.  Others might put a face or a person to their definition like, Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Josef Stalin or any of the personalities who remind us of atrocious acts of evil.  The new atheists like Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris (and those who follow these individuals) will say, “religion”.  But these “definitions” are not really definitions but just mere examples rooted in one’s approach to explaining “evil.”       
I am convinced that no matter who you talk to, the approach to defining the problem of evil will be encased in one’s worldview. One popular approach to coming to understanding the problem of evil is found in a three step argument known as a syllogism that goes something like this:  (1) God created all things; (2) Evil is a thing; (3) Therefore God created evil.   
If this approach were true, and I am happy to say that it is not, then Christianity has been rocked off of its moorings.  Why is this syllogism fallacious?  Because “evil” is not a “thing” in the sense of it being created “thing.”  In fact, evil did not need to be created thus we need to look at it from  a different direction.
The direction I will take in this comes from Saint Augustine.  It was Augustine who asked the question: Do we have any convincing evidence that a good God exists?  If we have independent evidence(s) that lead us to the conclusion that God does exist and that God is good, then God would be incapable of doing something outside of his very nature, like creating evil.  Thus evil has to get its definition from another source.
In looking at it from Augustine’s viewpoint, we find him offering evidence through natural theology which I will demonstrate on how the three “faces” of evil show themselves.  So allow me to work out the definition of evil from this perspective. It moves as follows:
Oh, right, I have mentioned this word “God”.  Before I move further, I probably ought to give a quick definition of what I mean by God?  God is the only being in existence who is the uncaused Cause, is absolutely moral, transcendent, infinite, and personal.  So in order to get to our definition of evil, believing that God exists and is ultimately good, we can deduce the following: (1) We know that God, being good, cannot create evil, so all things that God created are indeed good. (2) We also know that evil is not good.  (3) So if evil is not good, then evil can be defined as the absence of good.
More could be said about the approaches to defining evil, but the scope of this essay causes me to leave this point right here so that we can move on to the faces with which evil presents itself.
II.  Evil’s Three Faces
Evil shows its ugly head from three (3) different faces.  Where does evil come from?  Christians believe that prior to man’s falling into sin (Genesis 3), evil had not existed in the three faces this section will discuss.  It was a misuse of God given freedom that has its origins starting with the fall of Satan.  Lucifer (Satan) fell (Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28) and later tempted the man and the woman in the Garden of Eden.  We do not know all the historical facts of when, but the record from Scripture being reliable gives us this foundation.  It is at the fall of man in Genesis 3 that we see from Scripture, evil falling upon the world. It was not until the moment when the man and the woman, using their God given freedom, chose to disobey God.  The result was evil coming into the world through three ugly faces.  I now move to a summarization of them for you. 
A.  Face Number One:  Our Mortal Bodies. 
The first face of evil I would like to present is the evil that inflicts our mortal bodies. From the time that we are born until the time we die, and those times in between, we are afflicted with injuries, and illness.  We think of the horrible disease of cancer, along with other terminal illnesses.  Some of us are immune from some of these but in the long run we are all breaking down to the point where we will one day encounter the grave.  
These bodies have a spirit in them which drives our desires, and our passions. They house our soulishness,  (our minds, our wills, and emotions) from the time we are born.  We might fall on black ice and break a leg.  We might participate in a sport activity like softball, hit the ball a ways, and round first base, and blow out an Achilles tendon while running to second base.  
These bodies as they get older every day will continue to  experience the phenomenon of irreversibility of the aging process.  We need to admit that these mortal “power packs”, known as our bodies are breaking down.  Some of us have cavities in our teeth, others need eyeglasses or hearing aides, and as we age we have achy aging muscles. Why is this?  Because we are competing with the law of entropy by decaying, breaking down, and moving toward a time when these bodies of ours will no longer work.
This is the first face of evil that we cannot do anything about. The humanist will say, you are born, you live, and then you die; and that is all there is.  But is that all there is?  Though this is an inescapable fact of life, the last part of this essay will give a response to the problem of evil pointing to an answer to the fact that this is not all there is.  
There is a second face of evil rearing its ugly head, and that face is seen in the natural world.
B.  Face Number Two:  The Natural World
We not only experience a form of evil from our mortal bodies, experiencing illness, and ultimately death, but there is a second face to evil in a form coming out of the natural world.  You see, death and disease are not the only things that seek to overtake these power packs we call our bodies.  We also experience an evil that comes from the phenomenon of the natural world.  
Not too long ago, here in Virginia where I live, we experienced an earthquake that registered 5.9 on the Richter scale.  Later in that week we had the potential of experiencing the wrath of Hurricane Irene.  However we did not experience the full brunt of Irene, but only had tropical storms that were formidable in their own right.  There were those who felt the greater impact of that hurricane losing property; with some even losing their homes and a few lost their lives.
We think of other parts of the world where there have been greater force hurricanes leaving wreckage.  We think of the recent tsunamis in Japan that were the aftermath of underwater earthquakes and have devastated a whole coastline and shut down parts of the Japanese auto industry for a handful of months.
These are things that we cannot escape.  This too is one of many results from the fall of man that we read about in the third chapter of Genesis 3.  But there is a final form of evil that we cannot ignore. In fact, it is this third face that is forced upon many in our world.  This face I refer to as the form of evil that comes from our fellow human beings.
C.  Face Number Three:  Our Fellow Human Beings
There is an ironic twist to writing this essay.  As I write this, I happen to be watching the conversation of a particular thread when all of a sudden I notice a Facebook ad promoting tee shirts from an atheist merchant.  Being rather curious, I click on it and notice one ad showing a tee shirt with the following statement: “Science flies you to the moon.  Religion flies you into buildings.”  How providential of an illustration as I will explain momentarily.
In this section we are looking at evil coming from our fellow human beings.  We think of the atrocities over the last century, some yes, done under the banner of religion, but heinous actions were committed coming out of the realm of skepticism, yes even atheism.  
The following chart shows the amount of loss of life just in the last century under a banner of “unbelief”:

Government Leader
Total Loss of Lives
Josef Stalin
42,672,000
Chiang Kai-shek
10,214,000
Mao Tse Tung
37,828,000
Vladimir Lenin 
4,017,000
Pol Pot
2,397,00
Hideki Tojo
3,990,000
Adolf Hitler 
20,946,000
Looking at this chart from R. J. Rummel’s work “Death by Government” I am not so convinced that religion is totally guilty of the countless lives that have been lost over the past century.  Of course we think of 9/11 and the fact that the terrorist action against the United States was an act of religious war (‘jihad”).  We see that religion has had its place in committing heinous actions; but let’s not just blame religion!  Remember that Nietzsche predicted that the twentieth century was going to be the bloodiest century to date.  Look at Rummel’s chart again and tell me he was wrong.
If we are totally honest, we could look at the actions of the Nazi death camps and see the loss of over 12,000,000 lives in the ovens that were orchestrated in the academic halls of nihilistic scientists.  How could reasonable “sane” commit such heinous evil?  Why?  
Just cast the religious and philosophical language aside and check out the news on the internet.  This morning I read a local news story that reported a twenty year old male shooting someone in the back of the head at point blank range.  The reason for his killing his victim was over a spilled bag of sunflower seeds.  Are we kidding ourselves?  A spilled bag of sunflower seeds earned a point blank shot to the back of the head?  Why?
What is all this telling us?  What it is telling us is that there is something more than religion that is responsible for the evil that we see from one human being against another.   
 You see, I don’t think religion is the total culprit as much as it is the worldview of the one who is committing, or ordering an evil act.  It is the one embracing a bankrupt worldview who is the culprit.  The atheist or the anti-theist who says “religion kills” is committing the same fallacy as an anti-gun rights activist who says “guns kill.”  
Guns by themselves do not kill people.  You have to have a person puling the trigger.  Religion, good or bad, does not kill as long as the worldview is sound.  It is only when the teachings of a bankrupt religious or philosophical worldview are put into action that we see evil committed by one human against another human manifesting itself.  This was evident with the razing of the Twin Towers on September 11th  of 2001.  I also think about the actions this past July by the terrorist action upon a girls school in Norway; even the shooter at Virginia Tech a few years ago.  Each of these sets of terrorists had a worldview, a bankrupt religious or philosophical worldview.  It was the actions from a bankrupt worldview that were manifested on those days. 
Is there any response to this problem of evil?  Where can we run to in order to find an answer?  Let me finish up this essay with a response to this question.
III.  Christian Response
To sum where we have been, in the first section, I gave a brief definition of evil as the absence of good.  In the second section, I shared briefly three faces or sources from which evil shows its ugly face.  We looked at evil from the natural world, our mortal bodies, and finally the evil that comes from fellow human beings.  All of us have or will experience each of these to some varying degree.  We may come face to face or we may see them from a distance, or both.
Allow me now to move to the Christian response to the problem of evil. The first face (natural evil) does not really prompt us to ask the question as much as the remaining two.  Why do we suffer from terminal illness?  Why does man commit such heinous actions?  Why did God allow the earthquake or the tsunami?  
Who is asking the question?   Each of these questions imply a moral framework that is naturally wired to our souls.  Whether you believe that God exists or not, we cannot escape asking this “moral question” in varying ways.  I believe that only the Christian can ask this question legitimately because of the Christian worldview provides a solid foundation for a response.  Allow me to explain.  
The world views of the Eastern religions cannot answer this problem.  If you were to take a look at the ideas behind the problem of evil, it is seen as either non-real or it is one’s karma being played out.  The Buddhist will tell you and I that they are deeply concerned with overcoming suffering but they must deny that suffering is real.  The Hindu has no concept of rebellion against a holy God, or against his fellow man. The Hindu views this as ignorance of the unity with Brahman and a violation of one’s social duty (dharma) are humanity’s problems.  But calling it ignorance or calling evil non real does not solve the problem when one is suffering. It only sweeps it under the rug until it re-emerges and shows up as a vicious circle.
The Islamic worldview is fatalistic when evil manifests itself.  Evil is often explained as the will of Allah.  There is this concept of ‘shirk’ speaking about those who violate the “laws of Islam” or commit sin against the religion or ‘Allah’, but that’s as far as it goes.  
What about the skeptics?  What about the atheists who try to say that God does not exist because of all the evil in the world.  This too is a problem.  
If one were to “follow the path or reasoning of the unbeliever, we would find some fascinating contradictions.  The main one, I see, is that if the atheist lived out the baseness of his or her worldview, they would have to conclude that there is nothing wrong with rape or torturing human beings.  They have to admit that there is nothing morally wrong with the loss of millions over the last century at the hands of Hitler, Stalin and others  Therefore it is my contention, the atheist cannot ask the questions on the problem of evil without smuggling in terms from a moral Lawgiver.
Where is the solace amid those times of suffering for one embracing any of these religions? Where does the comfort come from?    I am convinced that one must look to the Christian worldview for the answer to these questions.
The Christian points to the paradox of the cross of Christ.  It is at the cross of Christ on Golgotha where the problem of evil has its answer.  For in the cross, we see love, justice, evil and forgiveness all coalescing at one point in human history.   
At the cross you have an act of evil upon an innocent man.  That evil act was death by the horrible means of crucifixion.  This was not the death of a misguided martyr but an act of justice for our sin.  This was not an act of suicide by a lunatic but an act of love to pay the penalty for the evil within our own hearts.  In Paul’s letter to the Christians in Rome, we read,
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners [transgressors against a moral Lawgiver], Christ died for us. (5:8; bracketed remark is mine)
It was in the sacrifice of Christ that we see God’s justice being carried out upon Christ so that we might have peace.  Again we read the Apostle Paul in His letter to the believers in Rome (5:1)
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”
An act of evil turned around into a work that would justify, forgive, and show the love of a God who recreates man truly free to worship Him, or in his spiritual deadness reject Him .  This is why I say along with my mentors in the task of apologetics, God made evil possible by creating man free; and it is that free man who makes that third face of evil actual by misusing his God-granted freedom to commit acts of evil not only against his fellow man, but also against a holy, righteous, loving and just God.
None of the religions, as great as they are (quantitatively) can solve the problem of evil.  If any of them could come up with a better solution to solve the problem of evil and the evil within our own hearts, God would have to apologize for putting HIs Son to death on the cross.  Thankfully we will not see this happening any time soon.


Rob Lundberg is the founder and the director of Stand4Truth.Net Apologetics Ministries, located in Fredericksburg, VA.  To contact Rob or this ministry for information or provide feedback to this essay you can call  540.424.2305 or email Stand4Truth.Net at stand4truthapologetics@gmail.com 


"Divine Commands Post 9/11" (M and M)
"The Problem of Evil:  Whose problem is it?  Is it a problem?" (Tilled Soil)
"The Need for Moral Choices and Consequences" (Possible Worlds)
"Ground Zero:  Why truth matters in preventing another 9/11-style attack"  (Wintery Knight)
"My 9/11 Memorial: Christianity Offers Authentic Hope In The Face Of Suffering" (Bringing Back the Tao)
Remembering 9-11:  Which revelation is true?  The need for evaluating religious claims" (Eric Chabot, Ratio Christi - Ohio State University)
"If God, Why Evil?" (In Defense of the Christian Faith)
"Unsung Lessons from 9/11:  'Moral Monsters' & Fear of Death" (Clay Jones)
"9/11 and Religious Pluralism" (Another Ascending Lark)
"The Tiptoes of Tolerance" (Valley Girl Apologist)
"9-11" (Deeper Waters)
"Do all roads (and flights) lead to God?" (Sarcastic Xtian)
"On September 11, 2001, harmless things became fearful" (J.W. Wartick - "Always Have a Reason")
"Remembering 9/11:  A Young Californian's Perspective" (Take Two Blog)
"The Two Ground Zeros" (Reasons for God)
"Suffering and the Cross of Christ" (Hieropraxis)
"America after 9 11:  Is Religion Evil?" (Apologetics Guy)
"Resources on the Problem of Evil" (Apologetics 315)
"Atheism, Evil, and Ultimate Justice" (Faithful Thinkers)
"9/11: 'Full Cognitive Meltdown" and its Fallout" (Thinking Christian)
"Where was God on 9/11?" (Cold and Lonely Truth)
"Christianity and 9/11:  Guilt by Association?" (Tom Gilson, The POINT)
"Did God Allow the Attacks on 9/11 for a 'Greater Good?'" (The Gospel According to Erik)
"Where was God on 9-11?" (Neil Mammen's Blog)
"From Ground Zero to Ten Years Later--September 11, 2001" (Sententia)
"9-11 Remembered" (Answering Muslims)

 "9-11, Jihad, and the Christian" (Talitha, Koum!)