Faith & Self Defense

Building Confidence Through Evidence

Hope For America’s Youth – Ratio Christi Regions

We introduced you to Ratio Christi in the last part of this special series. We looked at its purpose and history in reaching high school and college students and faculty members with evidence for the truth of the Christian worldview.

Ratio Christi started on one campus in the United States in 2008 and now has about 170 chapters across the country plus scores of chapters in many other countries of the world. Serving the needs of all those chapters is a challenge and Ratio Christi has developed a unique way of meeting the challenge.

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Hope For America’s Youth – Ratio Christi

In the first part of this series about Hope For America’s Youth we presented the conflict – millions of young people are leaving churches during or after high school. In the second part of this series we shared the resolution – giving answers to questions about the hope we have as Christians through reasoning and persuasion.

There are many ministries doing wonderful work in this area of providing answers and reason to young people in high school and college. In this part of our series we will share about one of the best Christian organizations currently doing this vital work.

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Hope For America’s Youth – Answers

In the first part of this series about Hope For America’s Youth we presented the conflict – millions of young people are leaving churches during or after high school. The statistics are staggering and sobering. How could this happen? How could parents and church leaders invest 15-18 years teaching a child about Christianity only to see that child abandon the Christian worldview for another belief system (e.g. atheism, agnosticism, Buddhism)?

If Christianity is true and every other worldview is false (which it is), parents and church leaders are faced with the dilemma of how to deal with young people’s rejection of the truth. Suggestions?

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Hope For America’s Youth

  1. 70-75% of Christian young people leave the Church after high school
  2. One of the major reasons is intellectual skepticism
  3. Most Christian young people are not equipped to deal with the anti-Christian message from professors, fellow students and friends
  4. College professors are five times more likely to identify themselves as atheists than other members of the general public
  5. More than half of all college professors view students with Christian backgrounds unfavorably

I shared those statistics in an article several years ago. There are at least three ways of dealing with statistics – accept as true with concern about the outcome .. accept as true without concern about the outcome .. dismiss as false. I accepted the statistics as true based on three things: accuracy of statistical surveys methodology, decades of observing churches and youth groups in the United States, and personal experience. I accepted the statistics as true with concern about the outcome because I was one of those “church kids” who left the church. I quit attending church during high school and became an atheist during college.

I would like to first share the conflict, followed by the resolution. Read more…

Work-Walking in the New Year

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10

Christians often focus more on what they “get” than what they “give.” We get a lot from God. We are “saved” by grace through faith. That is not from ourselves. God gives it to us. We don’t work for it. We don’t deserve it. God gives it and we receive it.. Nobody can boast about being saved. God’s does it all and gets all the credit for doing it all. We are saved because of what Jesus Christ did on the Cross not because of anything we did, do or will do. Salvation is not based on our works. It’s all based on God’s grace.

What we often forget is the next verse – “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” God saves us with a specific purpose in mind – serving Him through good works. We are not saved “by” good works, since there’s no way a sinner can perform any works that are “good” in God’s view, but we are saved “for good works.”

So how does that work? Let’s look at “work-walking” in the New Year – keeping this important point in mind. Work-walking has nothing to do with being saved. Salvation is by grace through faith. Work-walking is about serving God after salvation.

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Remembering Christ at Christmas

Virgin Mary with Baby JesusThe birth of Jesus Christ is usually an afterthought during Christmas, if He is thought about at all. I think it’s been that way for a long time, but every year seems to get worse. Even the word “Christmas” has been replaced by the word “holiday” in much of the vocabulary of modern society.

So, what is a Christian to do at the end of each year as the world around them scurries to and fro to find the “perfect” gift for Christmas? We can rejoice and share with family and friends the Perfect Gift God has given to the world –

No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:13-17

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Convince Me There’s A God – Archaeology 35

Convince Me Theres A GodIn the last part of our series we saw that according to the Bible (Old Testament) King Solomon built the first Temple and the Babylonian Army destroyed it. We also know from the Old Testament that Zerubbabel built the second Temple. We learn from Jewish and other historical writings that the Hasmoneans refurbished the second Temple, King Herod expanded it, and the Roman Army destroyed it.

As I researched the Old Testament as an atheist to see if it was a credible historical document, I came across the writings of Esther, Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. They all refer to a time following the forced exile of Jews to Babylon. According to the Bible that forced exile began under Babylonian King Nebuchaddnezar in 605 BC (Daniel 1) and ended when Persian King Cyrus the Great allowed Jews to return to Judah in about 538 BC.

We have previously looked at evidence for Ezra, so let’s look next at archaeological evidence for Haggai and Zechariah.

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A Reading Plan for Christian Apologists – Part 3.2

As a quick review, the first part of a reading plan for Christian apologists is to read the Bible indepth, in context and often. That includes an understanding of the overarching truths of the Bible. The second part is to have at least a basic working knowledge of the original languages of the Bible (Hebrew, Aramaic, Koine Greek). The third part is to learn from the great apologetic voices of the early Church Fathers. Those Christians from the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th centuries fought many of the same battles we are fighting today. There is much we can learn from how they identified and addressed challenges to Christianity from both inside and outside the Church.

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A Reading Plan For Christian Apologists – Part 3.1

The first part of a reading plan for Christian apologists is to read the Bible indepth, in context and often. That includes an understanding of the overarching truths of the Bible. The second part is to have at least a basic working knowledge of the original languages of the Bible (Hebrew, Aramaic, Koine Greek). Being able to study the Bible in that atmosphere of the ancient texts will help you address many of the issues of concern to non-Christians.

As we wrote in the last part of our series, Christian apologists today have a great advantage because of the excellent apologists who have gone before us and fought many of the same battles we are fighting today. There is much we can learn from them, especially Jesus Christ and His Apostles.

We move next to the Church Fathers, beginning with the Apostolic Fathers.

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A Reading Plan For Christian Apologists – Part 3

The first part of a reading plan for Christian apologists is to read the Bible indepth, in context and often. That includes an understanding of the overarching truths of the Bible. The second part is to have at least a basic working knowledge of the original languages of the Bible (Hebrew, Aramaic, Koine Greek). Being able to study the Bible in that atmosphere of the ancient texts will help you address many of the issues of concern to non-Christians.

We move now to the next part of a reading plan for Christian apologists.

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Convince Me There’s A God – Archaeology 34

Temple Mount Archaeology

According to the Bible (Old Testament) King Solomon built the first Temple, the Babylonian Army destroyed it; Zerubbabel built the second Temple, the Hasmoneans refurbished the second Temple, King Herod expanded it, and the Roman Army destroyed it. Jesus Christ prophesied in the early part of the 1st century AD about the destruction of the Second Temple.

Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, ‘If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” Luke 19:41-44

About 40 years after Jesus spoke those words, the Roman General Titus (later became Emperor) led his soldiers to destroy Jerusalem and the Temple after a lengthy siege of the ancient city.

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A Reading Plan For Christian Apologists – Part 2

The first part of a reading plan for Christian apologists is to read the Bible indepth, in context and often. If you haven’t read the first part of the series, please read that along with this new part.

The original writings of the Bible were in three ancient languages: Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. Most of the Old Testament was written in Hebrew, but parts of Daniel and Ezra were written in Aramaic. All of the New Testament was written in Greek.

The Bible has been translated into hundreds of languages, including English, so why bother learning to read/study the Bible in the original languages? Aren’t translations good enough to learn everything God wants us to know about His Word?

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A Reading Plan for Christian Apologists – Part 1.1

The first and most important part of a reading plan for a Christian apologist is to have a powerful grasp on God’s Word – the Bible. We addressed that in Part 1 of this study and will continue to emphasize the importance of Christian apologists (and all Christians) being actively involved in regular Bible reading and study for the rest of our lives.

Before moving to Part 2 of the reading plan, I’d like to share personal thoughts about some of the “overarching” truths about God and the Bible I believe every Christian apologist should acknowledge. I’ve been involved in ministry for almost 45 years and am familiar with the fact that Christians disagree on many things. However, I believe Christians can and should agree on particular truths concerning God based on the clear teaching of the Bible.

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Book Review: Teaching Others To Defend Christianity

41WxlRjdEnL._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_Teaching Others To Defend Christianity: What Every Christian Should Know by Cathryn Buse (Crosslink Publishing, 2016) is one of the best new apologetics books I’ve read. Cathryn has a Master of Science in Engineering (summa cum laude) from the University of Alabama Huntsville and spent almost a decade working on military weapons systems, commercial rocket manufacturing, and NASA design programs. Cathryn loves science and Christian apologetics and that comes through strongly in her new book.

Cathryn Buse is the Founder of Defend The Faith Ministry and cares deeply about the challenges Christians face in society.

“The church can no longer neglect its responsibility to prepare the believer to navigate through all the competing ideas and philosophies the world offers. Schools, media, and society are peddling the idea that science trumps religion, that the Bible is out of date, and that all religions are equal. The church must begin educating and preparing its congregation to counter that kind of ideology.” Teaching Others To Defend Christianity, p. xi

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Convince Me There’s A God – Archaeology 33

Convince Me Theres A GodWe come now to the Post-Exile and Second Temple periods in the Old Testament history of Israel. Cyrus the Great of Persia decreed in about 538 BC that Jews could return to their homeland from Babylonian exile. That is the beginning of what is called the Post-Exilic period where Jews lived under the rule of the Persians. Cyrus ordered that the Jews rebuild the Jerusalem Temple. After delays because of opposition, the temple was completed about 516 BC during the reign of Darius I of Persia.

That’s a lot of history, so there should be at least “some” archaeological evidence for it. Right?

[I say “some” archaeological evidence because only a small number of archaeological sites have been discovered and excavated in the Middle East. Even the small number of sites that have been discovered and excavated have not been examined thoroughly and published.]

Let’s see what evidence was available when I was investigating the Old Testament texts in 1971.

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A Reading Plan for Christian Apologists – Part 1

Christian apologists must be thinkers. That means they must also be readers. Thinkers read. Readers think. The goal is to become a better thinker for the purpose of becoming a better truth communicator with both Christians and non-Christians. The goal is not to keep what you learn to yourself or amaze your friends with “feats” of knowledge. The goal has not changed since Jesus and His apostles told Christians what to do with the gifts the Lord gave them: 1. glorify God, 2. make disciples (teach them to obey Christ), and 3. equip the saints for their work of ministry for the edifying of the Body of Christ (to name a few).

Your passion for representing Jesus Christ to the world will drive what you read, how often you read, who you talk with, and what you tell them.

Here is the first part of a “Top Ten” list for reading based on what I’ve found most helpful through the years.

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Is “Progressive Christianity” Christian?

We receive many questions from readers at FaithandSelfDefense.com and a recent one was about “Progressive Christianity.” What is it? What do “progressive” Christians believe and practice? Are they right? Should all Christians embrace “progressive” Christianity? Let’s investigate.

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Convince Me There’s A God – Archaeology 32

Convince Me Theres A GodBefore we move to the next phase of Israel’s history, let’s review what was available from archaeology about Israel’s kings and other Iron Age II (1000 – 539 BC) notables mentioned in the Bible during the time I was investigating the historical reliability of the Old Testament 45 years ago (except where listed with asterisk **).

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Screwtape and Anton LaVey

Courtesy: Wikipedia

Courtesy: Wikipedia

Radio talk shows in the 1960s and 70s were much like TV talk shows today: it’s about ratings. I was both a radio talk show producer and host during that time and finding guests who would get listeners to both listen and call in was a big part of what we did every day.

One of the guests who could get a big audience to both listen and call was Anton LaVey, founder of the Church of Satan and author of The Satanic Bible.

Why do I bring him up now? Because of today’s date and something I read in C.S. Lewis’ famous Screwtape Letters.

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Book Review: The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist

Atheist Who Didnt ExistThe Atheist Who Didn’t Exist (or: the Dreadful Consequences of Bad Arguments) by Andy Bannister (Monarch Books, 2015) is one of the best apologetics books about atheism I’ve read in a long time. It is by far the most humorous (more about that in a minute).

Dr. Andy Bannister is the Canadian Director for RZIM (Ravi Zacharias International Ministries) and speaks and teaches in Canada, Europe, UK, the United States, and other countries around the world. He holds a PhD in Islamic Studies “and enjoys mountaineering, juggling, and cats (although not simultaneously).”

Dr. Bannister was involved in youth ministry before studying theology and philosophy (focusing especially on Islam). He worked with churches and organizations from his base in Oxford, England before moving to Canada. Dr. Bannister is also an Adjunct Research Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Islam and Other Faiths at Melbourne School of Theology. He is the author of An Oral-Formulaic Study of the Qur’an (Lexington Books, 2014), which reveals many of the ways the Qur’an was first composed.
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