Faith & Self Defense

Building Confidence Through Evidence

Archive for the tag “Christianity”

Developing An Apologetic That Works

Three questions I hear often are:

  1. What martial arts style do you teach?
  2. What church do you attend?
  3. What apologetics method do you use?

I know that when people ask those questions they are usually prepared to make a decision about me and what I do based on a judgment grounded in a presupposition. They already believe a particular martial art is the best martial art. They already believe one church denomination is the best denomination. They already believe one apologetic method is the best method. Their interest is often less about learning from me than discovering whether I can learn from them.

The question I don’t hear, but wish I did, is “does it work?” Does the martial art style I teach work in real life? Does the denominational church I attend work in real life? Does the apologetics method I use work in real life?

If a martial art is fun to learn but doesn’t work in a real-life physical situation, you might want to question whether it’s the right self defense to study since your physical life may depend on it some day.

If a denominational church is fun to attend but doesn’t work in a real-life spiritual situation, you might want to question whether it’s the right denomination to attend since your spiritual life may depend on it some day.

If an apologetic method is fun to study but doesn’t work in a real-life worldview situation, you might want to question whether it’s the right apologetic method to use since the spiritual lives of other people may very well depend on it some day.

If you’re interested in martial art styles that work, please visit our Grace Martial Arts Blog. If you’re interested in denominational churches that work, I would point you to a four-part series titled A Prophet’s Perspective About Preachers. If you’re interested in developing an apologetics method that works for you, please continue reading.

Read more…

Advertisements

Book Set Review: The Lightfoot Legacy

J.B. Lightfoot was one of the first names I heard as a young Christian studying about the Greek text of the New Testament. His name came up again and again as an expert in both the Greek language and commentary on the New Testament from the original Koine Greek. Some of Lightfoot’s best-known writings were about the Apostle Paul’s Epistles and the Apostolic Fathers.

InterVarsity Press (IVP Academic) has published an exciting set of three books based on hundreds of pages of unpublished commentaries by Lightfoot. The title of the three volume set is The Lightfoot Legacy (IVP Academic, 2016), edited by Ben Witherington III and Todd D. Still.

Read more…

A Reading Plan for Christian Apologists – Part 3.19

We are looking at Christian apologists of the 3rd century. In our last study, we looked at Hippolytus of Rome, who is probably best known for writing ten books that refuted heresies of the early part of the 3rd century.

The Egyptian city of Alexandria was an early center of Christianity. Church historian Eusebius of Caesarea, who lived during the 3rd and 4th centuries, wrote that John Mark (who wrote the Gospel of Mark) preached the Gospel in Egypt and established churches in Alexandria during the 1st century (Ecclesiastic History,  Book II, Chapter 16).

Three prominent Christian apologists in Alexandria during the 3rd century were ClementAmmonius  and Origen. We will look at some of their writings to learn more about what heresies they and other Egyptian Christians faced at that time.

Read more…

Book Review: How to Read and Understand the Biblical Prophets

How To Read and Understand the Biblical Prophets (Crossway, 2017) by Peter J. Gentry is an excellent book for any Christian who wants to understand the Old Testament prophets. I first encountered the prophets during an investigation into the reliability of the Old Testament. After becoming a Christian, I returned to the prophets and have enjoyed them through the years. As Hebrews reminds us – “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets …” (Hebrews 1:1). That’s an amazing statement and well worth remembering as we read the prophetic writings.

Peter J. Gentry (PhD, University of Toronto) is professor of Old Testament interpretation at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and director of the Hexapla Institute. He served on the faculties of Toronto Baptist Seminary and Bible College, University of Toronto, Heritage Theological Seminar, and Tyndale Theological Seminary. In addition to writing How To Read and Understand the Biblical Prophets, Dr. Gentry has also written Kingdom through Covenant: A Biblical-Theological Understanding of the Covenants (Crossway, 2012, with co-author Steven Wellum) and Kingdom through Covenant: A Biblical-Theological Understanding of the Covenants (Crossway, 2015, with co-author Steven Wellum).

Read more…

A Reading Plan for Christian Apologists – Part 3.18

You will find many lineages in the Bible (also called genealogies). Genesis chapters 4, 5, 10 and 11 are examples. The first several chapters of 1 Chronicles contain one of the most extensive lineages in the Bible. Matthew 1 and Luke 3 contain the all-important genealogies of Jesus Christ. Lineage is apparently important to God.

Some of the Christian leaders of the 2nd Century AD were mentored by men who knew the Apostles of Christ. Those include Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch and Polycarp of Smyrna. Others in the 2nd century were mentored by men who knew the men who were Apostles of Christ. One of the best known was Irenaeus,

The direct lineage to the teaching of the Apostles of Christ widened by the time Christianity got to the 3rd century. The persecution of the Church by the government of Rome and the many heresies swirling in and around the Church made for a challenging time for Christian apologists. In this next section about A Reading Plan for Christian Apologists we will look at some of the leading apologists of the 3rd century and what they wrote that might help us in our 21st century apologetics ministries.

As we have mentioned before, we can trust the writings of the Old and New Testament, but who we can trust after that will be more difficult to determine. The key, I believe, is in how closely the writer stays to the biblical text. That means we as Christian apologists must know the Scriptures well – very well. How else can we compare the writings of men to the Word of God? Though we can learn a great deal about early Christianity and the apologists who fought many battles in the name of Christ, we must not lose sight of the Authority of God’s Word when discerning truth and error.

Read more…

Book Review: Know Why, What and Who You Believe

I usually review new or recent books in this ongoing series recommending writings for Christian apologists to read. However, it’s also good to remember some of the good apologetics books from the 19th and 20th centuries that are still in print and available for purchase. Some of the older books might use the term “evangelistic” to describe their purpose. That’s not surprising since apologetics is a tool of evangelism and making disciples.

InterVarsity Press (IVP) has done a good thing by keeping the writings of Paul Little available for people to purchase. Know Why You Believe and Know What You Believe were first published by Scripture Press Publications, Inc. (1967 & 1970) and were based on Little’s ministry to students on college campuses. I remember them from my early years as a Christian. Vision House published Know Who You Believe under the original title of Faith Is For People in 1976.  IVP published revised editions of the books – with the latest revisions dating from 2008. The first two books contain a section on Study Questions at the back that you may find helpful for getting the most out of every chapter.

Paul Little and his wife, Marie, worked for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship for 25 years. Little was also associate professor of evangelism at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School until his death in an auto accident in 1975.

Read more…

A Reading Plan for Christian Apologists – Part 3.17

We recently completed looking at some of the leading Christian apologists of the 2nd century AD. We move now to apologists of the 3rd century.

The early Christians lived  during the Roman Empire. We read about the impact of the Roman government on Jesus Christ, His apostles and other disciples throughout the writings of the New Testament.  As Christianity spread across the world from the 1st through 3rd centuries, followers of Christ faced the challenges of paganism and a government that became increasingly oppositional to Christianity.

Read more…

Book Review: Conversion – How God Creates A People

Conversion: How God Creates A People by Michael Lawrence (Crossway, 2017) is part of the 9Marks: Building Healthy Churches series from Crossway. Lawrence, who is the lead pastor of Hinson Baptist Church in Portland, Oregon, has a PhD in Church History from Cambridge University and MDiv from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He also authored Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church (Crossway, 2010).

Dr. Lawrence started his book with Scripture, which I always appreciate because all of our thoughts should begin with God’s Word. Here’s what he chose to use –

“Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Pet. 2:10)

Read more…

A Reading Plan for Christian Apologists – Part 3.16

We’ve been looking at 2nd century Christian apologists for several months and after this post will move into the 3rd century. There are several more apologists to mention. Even though we don’t know as much about them as we do other Christians of that era, each played an important role in the early years of the Church.

Read more…

Book Review: IVP Academic’s Little Books

Many of the books I read and review are “large” books with hundreds of pages. This series of books is not one of them, but it doesn’t mean there’s not a lot of great material worth reading and sharing.

The title is IVP Academic’s Little Books and currently has four books in the series: A Little Book for New Theologians (2012), A Little Book for New Scientists (2016), A Little Book for New Philosophers (2016), and A Little Book For New New Bible Scholars (2017).

“These are books to put in the hands of beginning students. Take them to a high point to catch a view of the horizons beyond. Orient them to true north. Empower their imaginations. And kindle the virtues they will need to prosper in the field.” (Publisher)

I’ll begin by reviewing the newest addition to the Little Books set, then share some information about other books in the series.

Read more…

Book Review: Why Are There Differences in the Gospels?

The full title of this wonderful book is Why Are There Differences in the Gospels?: What We Can Learn from Ancient Biography (Oxford University Press, 2017). The author, Dr. Michael Licona, is Associate Professor of Theology at Houston Baptist University and president of Risen Jesus. Lee Strobel interviewed Licona for his book “The Case for the Real Jesus” and video “The Case for Christ.”

Dr. Licona is the author of several books including The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach (IVP Academic, 2010) and Paul Meets Muhammad (Baker, 2006). He is also co-author with Gary Habermas of the award-winning book The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus (Kregel, 2004) and co-editor with William Dembski of Evidence for God: 50 Arguments for Faith from the Bible, History, Philosophy, and Science (Baker, 2010). Licona is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society, the Institute for Biblical Research, and the Society of Biblical Literature. He is also a well-known speaker and debater and has appeared on dozens of radio and television programs.

Read more…

A Reading Plan for Christian Apologists – Part 3.14

“For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.” Acts 20:29-30

“But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.” 2 Peter 2:1

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” 1 John 4:1

The Apostles of Jesus Christ warned Christians in the 1st century AD that false teachers would come at them from both inside and outside the Church. They would secretly bring in destructive heresies and draw away the disciples after themselves. Those were prophetic words because it happened in the 1st century and continues today in the 21st century.

We are currently looking in this series at some of the Christian apologists from the early centuries of Church history to see how they addressed attacks on Christians and Christianity.

Read more…

Book Review: Inductive Bible Study

The full title of the book is Inductive Bible Study: Observation, Interpretation, and Application through the Lenses of History, Literature, and Theology (B&H Academic, 2016).

My first thought on seeing this title in the B&H Academic catalog was to ask “why?” Why do we need another book about how to study the Bible inductively?

I asked the question because of a book about inductive Bible Study I used in Bible college more than 40 years ago – Methodical Bible Study: A New Approach to Hermeneutics by Robert Traina (Asbury Theological Seminary, 1952). Though written 65 years ago, I couldn’t imagine the need for another book about how to study the Bible inductively. I have used the lessons learned in Dr. Traina’s book for more than four decades, so why something new?

While that may seem a strange way to begin a book review, I had to smile when I read the beginning of the Author’s Preface to their book on Inductive Bible Study. The authors asked the same question I did and gave a good reason to consider their new book.

Read more…

Book Review: Reformation Theology

The full title of this new book is Reformation Theology: A Systematic Summary (Crossway, 2017). Its publication is certainly timely as we approach the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation this October (October 31, 2017).

I understand Michael Horton’s concern about the upcoming anniversary –

“Frankly, I’m a bit ambivalent about this anniversary. If it is another occasion for liberals to hail Luther’s “Here I stand!” as the harbinger of modern autonomy, or for conservatives to celebrate Protestant values, or for confessionalists to rewatch the Luther movie and dredge up polemical grudges, then it will be at best a colossal waste of time. If, on the other hand, it is an occasion to allow God’s Word once again to break into our self-enclosed circles with a word of radical judgment and radical grace, then it will be a happy anniversary indeed.” Prologue, p 34

Read more…

A Reading Plan for Christian Apologists – Part 3.12

We are currently looking at the writings of some of the leading Christian apologists of the 2nd Century.  If you are reading this from your living room, office, porch, breezeway or other comfortable location, let’s remember that many early apologists wrote from prison or on their way to martyrdom. Defending the faith has never been about being comfortable. It’s about being comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Read more…

A Reading Plan for Christian Apologists – Part 3.11

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

But He answered and said, ‘It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” 

Before we continue looking at the writings of early Christian apologists, I’d like to share something important for us to remember as we read post-Scriptural Christian writings.

Read more…

A Reading Plan for Christian Apologists – Part 3.10

We are looking at the writings of Christian apologists from the 2nd Century AD. Some were disciples of disciples of Christ’s Apostles. Irenaeus of Lyons was a disciple of Polycarp, who was a disciple of the Apostle John. One of Irenaeus’ best known writings is the multi-book series, Against Heresies.

Irenaeus called out heretics by name in Against Heresies. They claimed to be Christians and teachers of the Gospel, but Irenaeus demonstrated with both Scripture and logic that they were not true to the Gospel of Christ.

Do you think that’s a good idea for Christians to do today? Should we name names? Why or why not? Let’s see what we can learn from one of the leading Christian apologists of the 2nd century as we ask God for wisdom in how to address modern heretics and their heresies.

Read more…

A Reading Plan for Christian Apologists – Part 3.9

We began this special series about A Reading Plan for Christian Apologists several months ago with these words –

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.

We are currently looking at the Apostolic Fathers in the 2nd, 3rd and early 4th centuries and how they fought many important battles for orthodox Christianity as passed to them from Jesus Christ through His Apostles and the disciples of the Apostles. The writings of these brave men are important for modern Christian apologists to read because the battles they fought are similar to what we fight today.

Irenaeus of Lyons was a disciple of Polycarp, who was a disciple of the Apostle John. Irenaeus was a leading Christian apologist during the 2nd Century AD. We learn much about prominent heresies of the 2nd century from reading his multi-book series, Against Heresies.

Read more…

A Reading Plan for Christian Apologists – Part 3.8

The men who followed the Apostolic Fathers in the 2nd, 3rd and early 4th centuries fought many important battles for orthodox Christianity as passed to them from Jesus Christ through the apostles and the apostolic fathers. The writings of these brave men are important for modern Christian apologists to read because the battles they fought are similar to what we fight today. Plus, we can learn from the deep devotion they presented in both their lives and ministries.

In our last study we began looking at what Irenaeus of Lyons is known best for – his multi-book series, Against Heresies. We now turn to Book II.

Read more…

Arguments for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ – Part 9

In our last post we heard from Dr. John Lennox, Professor of Mathematics (emeritus) at the University of Oxford and Fellow in Mathematics and the Philosophy of Science at Green Templeton College, Oxford. Dr. Lennox is also an Associate Fellow of the Said Business School, Oxford University, and teaches for the Oxford Strategic Leadership Programme. He is an Adjunct Lecturer at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University, and at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics, as well as being a Senior Fellow of the Trinity Forum.

In this post we will hear from Ravi Zacharias and members of his RZIM team. Ravi Zacharias is Founder and President of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM). Zacharias is one of the best-known Christian apologists in the world today and has written or edited more than 25 books. Some of his RZIM team members include John Lennox, Abdu Murray, Stuart McAllister, Vince Vitale, Os Guinness, Michael Ramsden, Amy Orr-Ewing, and John Njoroge.

Read more…

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: