Faith & Self Defense

Building Confidence Through Evidence

Archive for the tag “Christianity”

A Reading Plan for Christian Apologists – Part 3.5

The men who followed the Apostolic Fathers in the 2nd, 3rd and early 4th centuries fought many important battles for the orthodox Christianity 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 the apologetic ministry of Justin Martyr. Justin was born about 100 AD and died a martyr about 65 years later. Two of Justin’s best-known writings are the Apologies (Defenses). He addressed his First Apology to Emperor Antoninus Pius, the emperor’s sons, and the Roman Senate. Justin argued that Christianity had been grossly misrepresented and that it should be treated as a legal religion. He also argued that Christianity was not a threat to the Roman Empire.

We turn now to Justin’s Second Apology which he addressed to the Roman Senate for the purpose of exposing what was really behind persecution of Christians under Urbicus and the irrationality of the allegations being leveled against Christ’s followers.

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A Reading Plan for Christian Apologists – Part 3.4

We have looked most recently at the “Apostolic Fathers” in our series. They include men like Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, and Polycarp of Smyrna – disciples of the apostles of Jesus Christ. They were born during the 1st century and served as bishops and apologists.

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 the apostles through 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.

We’ll begin with Justin Martyr, Irenaeus of Lyons, Tertullian, and Clement of Alexandria.

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A Reading Plan for Christian Apologists – Part 3.3

Apostolic Fathers

Some of the best known of the ancient apologists are the “Apostolic fathers.” They were disciples of the apostles. They lived during the 1st and 2nd centuries AD and their apologetic ministries had a powerful influence on the early Christian Church. They included Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, and Polycarp of Symrna (some scholars include Papias of Hierapolis in the group). We’ve learned about Clement of Rome and Ignatius of Antioch in previous studies. We move now to Polycarp of Symrna.

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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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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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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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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

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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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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Book Review: Grand Central Question

Grand Central StationGrand Central Question: Answering the Critical Concerns of the Major Worldviews by Abdu Murray (IVP Books, 2014) is a great read for all Christians who are sharing or want to share the Gospel of Christ with people in their community.

Abdu Murray is North American Director with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. Grand Central Question is his second book. His first was Apocalypse Later: Why the Gospel of Peace Must Trump the Politics of Prophecy in the Middle East (Kregel Academic & Professional, 2009).

Murray holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Michigan and earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School. He was named several times in Best Lawyers in America and Michigan Super Lawyer. Murray is the Scholar in Residence of Christian Thought and Apologetics at the Josh McDowell Institute of Oklahoma Wesleyan University. He is also a former Muslim.

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Christianity — “Exclusive” or “Inclusive”?

Jesus told His disciples –

Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know. Thomas said to Him, ‘Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:1-6″

That sounds exclusive.

The Apostle Paul wrote Christians –

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:11-14 (NIV)

That sounds inclusive.

So is Christianity exclusive or inclusive?

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Book Review: Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side

51kasmTazTL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_“Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side: 40 Conversations To Help Them Build A Lasting Faith” by Natasha Crain (Harvest house Publishers, 2016) is a book I’ve been highly anticipating for the past year.

Natasha is founder of the very popular Christian Mom Thoughts website, the Christian Parenting Blog, and the Apologetics for Parents Facebook group.

Natasha is a wife and mother who left her corporate job to make a difference in the lives of families. Her new book (available March 1, 2016) is a great step in doing just that.

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Book Review: Developing A Biblical Worldview

Biblical Worldview Book Image“Developing A Biblical Worldview: Seeing Things God’s Way” by Dr. C. Fred Smith (B&H Publishing, 2015) is an excellent book for any Christian interested in making disciples and defending Christianity.

Everyone has a “view of the world” that affects their perspective on life and guides the choices they make every day.

“… most people within any particular subculture, or demographic group, have a shared worldview that enhances the quality of community life and facilitates communication between group members. Our own worldview is affected by the perspectives that we see and hear.” (Introduction to Developing A Biblical Worldview, p 1)

Christians also have a worldview and it’s based on the Bible, God’s revelation of Himself.

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Beware of ‘Eastern Lightning’

 

Eastern Lightning Church of the Almight GodHave you heard of Eastern Lightning? If not, hang on because it’s quite a story.

Eastern Lightning is also known as the Church of the Almighty God, Church of the True God, Church of the Everlasting Fountain, and Real God and it’s a growing *cult in mainland China, Hong Kong, Korea, Laos, Vietnam, Australia, Europe, Canada and the United States.

*Cult – “a small religious group that is not part of a larger and more accepted religion and that has beliefs regarded by many people as extreme or dangerous” (Merriam-Webster)

Even though Eastern Lightning is believed by some to have more than a million members in mainland China, it is small in comparison with China’s population of about 1.4 billion people. (Some estimates are less than 100,000 adherents in China)

EL (as it is sometimes referred) is a relatively new cult and uses deception, sex and violence to grow bigger and flex its muscles on the back of a middle-aged Chinese woman that church members believe is the ‘Almighty God’ on earth.

The purpose for this post is simply this – be warned.

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Book Review: Truth in a Culture of Doubt

TruthInCultureDoubt_cover.indd“Truth in a Culture of Doubt: Engaging Skeptical Challenges to the Bible” (B&H Publishing, 2014) is an excellent rebuttal to celebrity skeptic Bart Ehrman.

Ehrman is Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has written several books that question the deity of Jesus Christ and the truthfulness of the Bible, including “How Jesus Became God,” “Did Jesus Exist?,” “Jesus Interrupted,” “God’s Problem,” and “Forged.” Ehrman is planning to release a new book in March 2016 titled “Jesus Before the Gospels: How the Earliest Christians Remembered, Changed, and Invented Their Stories of the Savior.”

Ehrman has a large following within the atheist/agnostic/skeptic communities who are using his arguments in their attacks on the Bible and Christianity. Let’s meet the authors of “Truth in a Culture of Doubt” and see what they recommend for answering Ehrman and his followers.

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