Faith & Self Defense

Building Confidence Through Evidence

Archive for the tag “Jesus Christ”

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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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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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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Film Review: Mining For God

Mining for God CoverMining For God (A Search for Ancient Truth in a Modern World) is an excellent documentary about Christianity in the United States. As filmmaker Brandon McGuire points out, even though the U.S. has been called a ‘Christian’ nation and 70% of adults in the U.S. identify themselves as Christians, many of them are not sure what being Christian really means.

That’s where the story begins.

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Book Review: Rediscovering Jesus

Rediscovering Jesus“Rediscovering Jesus: An Introduction to Biblical, Religious and Cultural Perspectives on Christ” (IVP Academic, 2015) will get you thinking seriously about how both Christians and non-Christians view Jesus Christ.

The authors (David B. Capes, Rodney Reeves and E. Randolph Richards) present a variety of views about Jesus from both biblical and non-biblical perspectives. They include the views of several individuals and groups including each of the Gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John), the Apostle Paul, the Gnostics, Muslims, Mormons, Liberals, Jesus Seminar, and Americans.  Which one is right? Which view answers this question best: “Who is your Jesus?”

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Street Epistemologists – On Guard Final

Street EpistemologyWe come now to the final chapter in our special Faith and Self Defense series Street Epistemologists – On Guard.

Street epistemologists are atheists who try to ‘talk people out of their faith.’ Peter Boghossian in his book A Manual for Creating Atheists described street epistemologists as ‘people equipped with an array of dialectical and clinical tools who actively go into the streets, the prisons, the bars, the churches, the schools, and the community–into any and every place the faith reside–and help them abandon their faith and embrace reason.’ (A Manual for Creating Atheists, Peter Boghossian, Pitchstone Publishing, 2013) That’s the reason we recommend Christians be ‘on guard’ and prepare their children and teens to talk with street epistemologists.

We’ve looked at the Five Steps of Faith Defense that come from the world of Self Defense:

Step One is to Be Aware.

Step Two is Beware.

Step Three is Be Prepared.

Step Four is Be Ready.

Step Five is Be Quick.

Now it’s time to put everything we’ve learned into action.

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16 Really Tough Questions – Sean McDowell

Apo_eBlstSB_SeanVideo_1B&H Publishing Group is doing something special for young people of all ages this summer. They’re offering 16 apologetics videos by Sean McDowell covering topics from ‘Is it okay to have doubts?’ to ‘Why does God allow evil?’ to ‘Why would a good God send people to hell?’ and ‘What makes Christianity unique.’

McDowell is the General Editor of The Apologetics Study Bible for Students and lays out a great case for Christianity in this special 16-week video study series. You’ll find Sean McDowell’s newest video at www.apologeticsbible.com each week. The current topic this week is ‘Does the Bible demean women?’.

We use The Apologetics Study Bible for Students in high school and college ministries and highly recommend it to students and adults who work with them.

B&H is giving people the opportunity to win a free Bible, a mini Apologetic Library or a free trip for two to hear from some of the world’s best Christian apologists at the National Conference on Christian Apologetics in Charlotte, NC this October. You can enter the Confident Faith Sweepstakes by clicking here.

Faith and Self Defense is excited to help get the word out about this great series of videos by Sean McDowell and hope you will share this with young people in your family, neighborhood and church.

Faith&SelfDefense

Street Epistemologists – On Guard 11

Street EpistemologyWe’re getting close to the end of this series about the 5 Steps of Faith Defense, so let’s quickly review what we’ve learned so far.

First, an understanding of why the need for ‘faith defense.’

“Street Epistemology is a vision and a strategy for the next generation of atheists, skeptics, humanists, philosophers, and activists … Enter the Street Epistemologist: an articulate, clear, helpful voice with an unremitting desire to help people overcome their faith and to create a better world–a world that uses intelligence, reason, rationality, thoughtfulness, ingenuity, sincerity, science, and kindness to build the future; not a world built on faith, delusion, pretending, religion, fear, pseudoscience, superstition, or a certainty achieved by keeping people in a stupor that makes them pawns of unseen forces because they’re terrified.” A Manual for Creating Atheists, Peter Boghossian, Chapter 1, pg. 22, Pitchstone Publishing, 2013

Peter Boghossian and many atheists who agree with him are part of a growing number of street epistemologists committed to talking people ‘out’ of their belief in God. As Boghossian told fellow atheist Sam Harris – “My primary goal was to give readers the tools to talk people out of faith and into reason.” (Sam Harris Blog)

The problem with that statement is the atheist belief that ‘faith’ is based on something other than ‘reason.’ Christianity, for example, is based on evidence and a reasonable belief in the power of that evidence. Atheists don’t agree with that statement, but their disagreement doesn’t make the statement less true. Any statement that is true is true no matter who doesn’t believe it is true. That is the power of logic and reason.

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Street Epistemologists – On Guard 10

Street EpistemologyIn the last part of our series we presented ‘7 Steps for Preparation’ so our children would ‘Be Prepared’ to defend the truth claims of Christianity:

  1. Prayer
  2. Telling our children the truth
  3. Being open to our children’s questions
  4. Keeping watch over our children
  5. Teaching our children how to be wise in this world
  6. Helping our children understand the power of relationships
  7. Loving our kids no matter what.

Now we move to the Fourth Step in Faith Defense – ‘Be Ready.’

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Street Epistemologists – On Guard 8

Street EpistemologyIn our last post in this series about street epistemologists, we looked at the Second Step in Faith Defense. We introduced the idea of a ‘complete’ model of biblical preaching which includes ‘warning’ and ‘teaching’ every man ‘in all wisdom.’ The purpose of this complete model of biblical preaching is that we ‘may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.’

“Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” Colossians 1:28

The word ‘warning’ is a translation of the Greek word noutheteo, which means ‘to put in mind, warn, admonish, exhort.’ The word ‘teaching’ is a translation of the Greek word didaskontes, which means ‘teach, direct, give instruction, admonish.’ The word ‘perfect’ is a translation of the Greek word teleion, which means ‘mature, having reached its end, finished, complete in all its parts, full grown, of full age.’

Let’s expand our view of Paul’s warning to the Colossian Christians to see how it can help parents and church leaders deal with the many challenges our children face today.

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Book Review: Brian Morley’s ‘Mapping Apologetics’

Mapping Apologetics Cover ImageI want to begin this book review by saying ‘BUY IT!’ Okay, now to the review.

First, let’s meet the author: Dr. Brian K. Morley is professor of philosophy and apologetics at the Master’s College in Santa Clarita, California. He has been a member of the Evangelical Theological Society, the Evangelical Philosophical Society, and the Society of Christian Philosophers. He is also the author of God in the Shadows: Evil in God’s World.

Dr. Morley’s new book is titled Mapping Apologetics: Comparing Contemporary Approaches (IVP Academic, 2015). He focuses on how people decide what to believe and poses the question this way: ‘How do we answer life’s most important question–the one on which everything else in life depends?” The subject of Morley’s book is the “foundational question of apologetics, the matter of proof.”

I strongly recommend that anyone interested in the “defense of the gospel” (Philippians 1:17) purchase this book and here’s why.

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Book Review: N.T. Wright’s ‘The Challenge of Jesus’

I sometimes agree with N.T. Wright and often disagree with him. He has the kind of mind that challenges one’s thinking, even when you think you ‘know’ he’s wrong about something.

As I do with any of N.T. Wright’s books or articles, I go in with eyes and ears wide open. Dr. Wright is a brilliant academician. He has taught at Cambridge, McGill, Oxford and Harvard universities, and is currently research professor of New Testament and early Christianity at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. He was at one time Bishop of Durham, Canon Theologian of Westminster Abbey, and Dean of Lichfield Cathedral. Wright is a prolific author of more than 30 books and travels the world speaking at major conferences. However, the question with any of his writings is not about his brilliance or his active schedule, but his accuracy. Is Dr. Wright right? Maybe he is or maybe he isn’t, but one thing we can count on with any of his writings is that we will find both our minds and hearts challenged by his.

That leads us to the ‘newest’ book by N.T. Wright – “The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is” – released earlier this month. I qualify calling this Wright’s ‘newest’ book because it is an updated version of a book he wrote in 1999 (InterVarsity Press). So, is there any benefit to reading a 15-year-old book with an updated introduction to the new edition? I think there is.

Challenge of Jesus #3696

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Life of an Apologist – On Being Despised

Christian apologists cannot get around the fact that they are defending supernaturalism. That’s a defining difference between Christianity and humanism/naturalism. It makes Christianity different, and with that difference, those who preach it are often despised.

Life of an ApologistChristian apologists should not be surprised that many people despise them for preaching this supernatural ‘good news.’ Jesus told His apostles (who were the earliest apologists) that the world would hate them because they belonged to Him and preached His message.

If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father. But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.'” John 15:18-25

Before we walk away from defending the supernatural Gospel because we will be hated and despised by many people, let’s put Jesus’ teaching in the proper context. There is something special awaiting anyone who is willing to defend the supernatural Gospel.

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Evangelistic Apologetics – The Church Under Attack (Part 27)

Church Apologetics“The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” Revelation 20:10

It’s sometimes helpful to remember why we start things. We get so deep into a project that we can forget why we’re doing what we’re doing.

As I began to write this post I thought about why I started this series a year ago. Here’s how I explained it then:

“Some pastors I’ve talked with through the years about emphasizing apologetics in their church (especially with children, teens and young adults) either chuckle, roll their eyes or get upset with me at some point in our discussion. They tell me that apologetics should not take the place of evangelism. It’s unfortunate they see apologetics that way because biblical apologetics is evangelistic – thus the name of this series of studies.”

After writing this series for a year, let me strengthen that statement a bit by saying that the discipline of apologetics MUST have evangelism, the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the salvation of eternal souls, at the center of its purpose. Anything less than that misses the primary message of the Bible – Redemption.

We are currently answering seven questions about the spiritual battle Christians find themselves fighting every day and have answered questions 1 and 2:

  1. Why has God placed ‘you’ in this spiritual battle?
  2. What’s at stake in this spiritual battle?

We’ll now look at question 3 – Are you really involved in fighting this spiritual battle?

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Leaving the Faith – Really?

Question MarkWhat’s up with so many people ‘leaving the faith’? Why are they doing it?

First, we need to define two terms:

What does it mean to ‘leave’ something or someone?

What does it mean to leave ‘the faith?’

I understand walking away from a weak belief in something, but ‘leaving the faith?’ That’s hard to fathom for several reasons.

 

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