Friday, January 20, 2017

Article: Is Jesus Simply a Retelling of the Horus Myth? by J. Warner Wallace

A common claim skeptics make is that Jesus is a "copycat" savior. One of the claimed dying and rising saviors they claim Christians copied is Horus.

The main problem with these types of claims, as Dr. William Lane Craig recently pointed out in his dialogues with Dr. Lawrence Krauss in Australia, is that they are 100 years out of date!  But they are alive and well on the internet.

In this featured article, Christian case maker J. Warner Wallace demonstrates that Jesus is not a retelling of the Horus myth.  He also offers some excellent resources to explore this topic more in-depth.

You can check it out here.

Ah, but what about Mithras?  See here.

Courage and Godspeed,

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Video: Pluralism- A Culture without Truth by Vince Vitale

Video Description:

We live in a post-truth society – that’s what The Economist claimed a few months ago. Truth has so often been abused that society is fleeing from truth and adopting a pluralism that assures us “All truths are equally valid.” Does that include the claim that all truths are not equally valid? That’s how quickly pluralism runs into incoherence. So, why does it persist; why is it growing? 

Vince Vitale talks more about this in his new book Jesus Among Secular Gods co-written with Ravi Zacharias.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Charles Malik on the Greatest Danger Confronting the Christian Church in America

"I must be frank with you: the greatest danger confronting American evangelical Christianity is the danger of anti-intellectualism.  The mind in its greatest and deepest riches is not cared for enough.  But intellectual nurture cannot take place apart from profound immersion for a period of years in the history of thought and the spirit.  People who are in a hurry to get out of the university and start earning money or serving the church or preaching the gospel have no idea of the infinite value of spending years of leisure conversing with the greatest minds and souls of the past, ripening and sharpening and enlarging their powers of thinking.  The result is that the arena of creative thinking is vacated and abdicated to the enemy.  Who among evangelicals can stand up to the great secular quoted as a normative source by the greatest secular authorities on history or philosophy or psychology or sociology or politics?  Does the evangelical mode of thinking have the slightest chance of becoming the dominant mode in the great universities of Europe and America that stamp our entire civilization with their spirit and ideas?  For the sake of greater effectiveness in witnessing to Jesus Christ, as well as for their own sakes, evangelicals cannot afford to keep on living on the periphery of responsible intellectual existence."1

Courage and Godspeed,

Related Posts

5 Theses on Anti-Intellectualism by Justin Taylor

How Does One Develop the Mind?

Video: Loving God with All Your Mind by J.P. Moreland

1. As quoted by J.P. Moreland and William Lane Craig in Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview, p. 1.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Is the Trinitarian Doctrine of God More Plausible Than the Unitarian Doctrine of God?

In his latest Q and A response, Dr. William Lane Craig responds to a reader who asks:

"Aren't the odds of a triune god beyond astronomical? To accept that there is an omnipotent, eternal being is difficult enough, but three separate beings that possess this nature? The term "mind boggling" doesn't even begin to describe the unlikelihood..."

Craig first responds by pointing out that just because something is "mind boggling," doesn't mean that it is improbable.  He points out that, "Quantum mechanics is mind-boggling, but that doesn’t imply that it is improbable as an account of the physical world. We live in a universe that is so mind-boggling as almost to defy comprehension!"

Most interestingly, he continues by arguing that it is more probable that God would not be just one person.  I had never heard this argument before.  He explains as follows:

"God is by definition the greatest conceivable being. As the greatest conceivable being, God must be perfect. Now a perfect being must be a loving being. For love is a moral perfection; it is better for a person to be loving rather than unloving. God therefore must be a perfectly loving being. Now it is of the very nature of love to give oneself away. Love reaches out to another person rather than centering wholly in oneself. So if God is perfectly loving by His very nature, He must be giving Himself in love to another. But who is that other? It cannot be any created person, since creation is a result of God’s free will, not a result of His nature. It belongs to God's very essence to love, but it does not belong to His essence to create. So we can imagine a possible world in which God is perfectly loving and yet no created persons exist. Moreover, contemporary cosmology makes it plausible that created persons have not always existed. But God is eternally loving. So created persons alone are insufficient to account for God's being perfectly loving. It therefore follows that the other to whom God’s love is necessarily directed must be internal to God Himself."

He continues:

"In other words, God is not a single, isolated person, as unitarian forms of theism like Islam hold; rather God is a plurality of persons, as the Christian doctrine of the Trinity affirms. On the unitarian view God is a person who does not give Himself away essentially in love for another; He is focused essentially only on Himself. Hence, He cannot be the most perfect being. But on the Christian view, God is a triad of persons in eternal, self-giving love relationships. Thus, since God is essentially loving, the doctrine of the Trinity is more plausible than any unitarian doctrine of God."

He finishes up by offering a few additional thoughts about the probability of a hypothesis, which can be read here.

So, what do you think of Dr. Craig argument?  Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!

Courage and Godspeed,

Related Posts

Is the Trinity a Problem or a Solution?

My Favorite Analogy of the Trinity

Video: The Trinity Explained (with Reason)

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Year of Hope

In the subject piece, Brian Fisher discusses Human Coalition's declaration that 2017 is the year of hope. He writes:

Hope is not frivolous or ill informed. It is not flippant. True hope is grounded in facts, observations, and assurances. It is grounded in belief—and not “belief” as it is commonly defined today. 

Our culture often defines belief as personal preference or opinion, such as, “I believe abortion is necessary to secure women’s rights,” or “I believe abortion doesn’t kill a person; it just removes a blob of tissue.” 

Both statements are wrong opinions based on fallacies. And yet our culture gives credence to such opinions because we use the catch phrase “I believe.” 

I like Holman’s definition, “Trustful expectation.” We expect hope to be fulfilled because we trust or believe in the reasons for our hope. And those reasons are rock solid.

He goes on to discuss Hebrews 10:23-25. This passage, says Fisher, is about hope, and he applies it to Human Coalition's mission.

Read the full post here.

Stand firm in Christ and stand firm for the preborn,

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Bad Argument and Biased Ideology

In National Geographic’s January 2017 issue “Gender Revolution”, Robin Marantz Henig authors an article titled “Rethinking Gender”. 

Andrew T. Walker and Denny Burk of The Witherspoon Institute offer a response to her story stating it is a “bad argument and biased ideology”. They offer four broader philosophical problems inherent within the transgender movement.

First, there is no substantive argument, only testimonies, and testimonies are not sufficient. It is based not on evidence, but on the ideology of expressive individualism which requires no moral argument or empirical justification for its claims.

Second, the fallacy of composition is committed by linking intersex conditions with transgenderism. Intersexuality and transgenderism are apples and oranges. The physiological experience of intersexuality is in a different category from the psychological constructs of gender dysphoria and transgenderism.

Third, “Brain Sex Theory” offers hypotheses which offer no scientific consensus on what actually causes transgenderism. The categories described in the article are based on theory, not fact.

Fourth: The coverage is filled with contradictory, incoherent claims. Henig counsels, “Understand that gender identity and sexual orientation cannot be changed, but the way people identify their gender identity and sexual orientation may change over time as they discover more about themselves.” Is gender identity immutable or can people change over time? The claim that transgender identities are equally as fixed and unchanging as sexual orientation is simply not supported by any kind of scientific consensus. Fact: about 80 percent of children who experience transgender feelings completely resolve their difficulties without any intervention after they reach puberty.

Why does National Geographic choose to “[celebrate] the mutilation of minor children with a full-page picture of a shirtless 17-year old girl who recently underwent a double mastectomy in order to “transition” to being a boy. Why do transgender ideologues consider it harmful to attempt to change such a child’s mind but consider it progress to display her bare, mutilated chest for a cover story? Why is it acceptable to surgically alter a child’s body to match his sense of self but bigoted to try to change his sense of self to match his body? If it is wrong to attempt to change a child’s gender identity (because it is fixed and meddling with it is harmful), then why is it morally acceptable to alter something as fixed as the reproductive anatomy of a minor?

You can also find Walt Heyer's articleA Nine Year Old Boy is Spreading a "Contagion of Mass Delusion", about National Geographic's cover photograph here.

Personally, I am witnessing more and more students in my school dealing with these issues while the truth is degenerated from under their feet. What do you think?

Don’t take my word for it, read the article, don’t wait for the movie.

Have a little hope on me, Roger

Friday, January 13, 2017

Free Resource- Who is Jesus? By Alistair Begg

This week, I came across a sermon series by Alister Begg of Truth for Life Ministries entitled "Who is Jesus?"  Along with the sermons, Pastor Begg also provides a free booklet.  It can be found here.  The booklet is divided into four sections:

Indirect Claims
Direct Claims
What Does It Mean?
What Does it Matter?

Here is an excerpt from the "What Does It Matter" section-

"This is why it matters. If, in this New Age world in which we live, the Christian church does not affirm and reaffirm the centrality, the priority, the necessity, and the fundamental orthodoxy of the incarnation of Jesus Christ, then Christianity in Western culture will dwindle to a legend. We will become totally marginalized, and we will become absolutely irrelevant. 
If you think this is an overstatement, then think of it this way: Doctors for years have told us we can live without our appendix. I still have mine, and I am planning on keeping it. It is very hard to get a Scotsman to give up very much that is as close to him as that, but I believe if you take it away, I’ll still be around. If you take away my heart, I will not still be around. So you had better be sure that what you are planning on taking away is something you can live without. 
Some argue that the incarnation is to Christianity what an appendix is to theologians. In other words, you can take it out and the body of Christianity will go on by itself. How do you answer that? By saying, “Let’s look at the evidence and see whether the incarnation is an appendix or a heart.”1

I believe this is a very good resource for believers to reinforce the importance of the Deity of Christ and for non-believers to see reasons why Christians hold to this doctrine.  

God Bless,

1- Who is Jesus booklet pg. 33

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Truth or Love, What's Your Choice?

Following Jimmy Kimmel's recent revelation about truth, I found this article enlightening.
We live in a post-truth society—that’s what The Economist claimed two months ago. Two weeks ago, Oxford English Dictionary chose “post-truth” as its Word of the Year. Go back a bit further, and having 11 percent of America believe that you are “honest and trustworthy” was good enough to have a 9 percent lead in the race to be the next President of the United States. But of course even the polls were post-true.
We are very confused about the truth: There’s the truth, and then there’s the naked truth. There’s the truth, and then there’s the gospel truth (though the Gospel is taken to be obviously false). There’s the honest truth, and then there’s the God’s honest truth (but that has nothing to do with God).
We stretch the truth and bend the truth and twist the truth. We bury the truth because the truth hurts. When we want some­thing to be false, we knock on wood. When we want something to be true, we cross our fingers. Which wooden cross are we trusting in?
Why do we have such a confused relationship with the truth? Fear. We are afraid of truth. Truth has so often been abused that experience has taught us the trajectory of truth—the trajectory of believing you are right and others are wrong—is from truth to disagreement to devaluing to intolerance to extremism to violence to terrorism.
And if that is the trajectory, then those committed to truth are in fact terrorists in the making. If that is the trajectory, then truth is an act of war, and an act of war leaves you with only two options: fight or flee.
Most of Western society is fleeing. Everything around us is structured to avoid disagreement about the truth: We spend most of our time on Facebook and Twitter where we can “like” and “retweet” but there is no option to “dislike.” Sports no longer teach us how to disagree. In professional sports, we replay every call to avoid disagreement. In youth sports, we don’t keep score and everyone gets a trophy.
When it comes to dating, we use online sites that “match” us with someone so similar in beliefs, background, and personality that as much disagreement as possible is avoided. We no longer meet people different from us at coffee shops because we go to drive-thru Starbucks. We no longer meet people while shopping because everything we could ever need or want is delivered to our door. Culturally, everything around us is set up to avoid disagreement.
The alternative to fleeing is fighting. I was walking around Oxford University a few months ago, and two guys walking just ahead of me were having a spirited conversation about how crazy they found certain Christian positions on ethical issues. One of them wondered out loud whether the only solution would be to shame Christians out of their positions.
His friend quickly responded, “Yeah, that’s what we should do! We should ridicule them mercilessly in the most insensitive ways we can think of.” That’s an exact quote. Then they both made a right turn and swiped their faculty cards to enter the University of Oxford Theoretical Physics building.
These were probably scholars at Oxford, a place that prides itself on intellectual freedom and the exchange of ideas, and ‘merciless, insensitive ridicule’ was the best they could come up with for resolving disagreement. I found myself wondering how many beliefs they hold in theoretical physics that one day will be considered ridiculous.
How does one get to this point? How does someone get to the point where ‘merciless ridicule’ seems like the best way forward?
I think it’s because you come to see Truth as more important than Love. If Truth is greater than Love, then you fight—then the end goal of Truth justifies whatever means necessary, whether the means of haughty academics or the means of ISIS. If truth is greater than love, then love is a temptation—a distraction threatening to avert our attention from what is truly important; then those who disagree with us are enemies, and warmth toward our enemies must be extinguished in favor of the cold, hard facts.
The alternative is that Love is greater than Truth. Then you flee. You flee from the dangers of Truth and adopt a pluralism that assures us “All truths are equally valid.” Does that include the claim that all truth claims are not equally valid? One college student recently told my colleague, Abdu Murray, that he doesn’t believe it is his place to disagree with anyone.
Abdu said, “Sure you do.”
The student said, “No I don’t”
Abdu said, “You just did.”
Philosophically, that’s how quickly pluralism runs into incoherence. But if truth starts you down a path that ends in extremism, violence, and terrorism, then philosophical incoherence might seem like a price worth paying.
Either Truth is greater than Love or Love is greater than Truth. Fight or flee. This is the cultural ultimatum we are living in. What’s your choice?
Maybe there’s another way. Jesus disagreed with us. His very coming was an act of disagreement with us—a statement that we require saving because our lives have disagreed so badly with what God intended for them.
But Jesus’s loving sacrifice for us was the very content of his disagreement; it was his very statement that we are sinners in need of a savior. God cut the link between disagreement and devaluing by making His communication of Truth one and the same as His communication of Love.
Not ‘Truth is greater than Love.’ Not ‘Love is greater than Truth.’ “God is love” (1John 4:8), and God is Truth (John 14:6). And therefore Love is Truth.
Only in Jesus does truth equal love, and therefore only Jesus can get us out of the cultural ultimatum we are stuck in: fight or flee. Every other worldview makes a choice between Love and Truth. Jesus refused to because in Him, and only in Him, Love and Truth are one and the same.
So the next time we have a choice between Love and Truth, let’s refuse to choose. Instead, let’s remember when the Truth—Jesus Himself—was stretched. Let’s remember when the Truth was twisted and bent, when the Truth was naked. Let’s remember when the Truth hurt, and when the Truth was buried.
Let us remember which wooden Cross we are trusting in. And let us remember that Love that is not Truth is not Love, and Truth that is not Love is not Truth.
Vince Vitale is director of the Zacharias Institute at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.
Published on January 11, 2017 in A Slice of Infinity.  “Our gift and invitation to you, that you might further examine your beliefs, your culture, and the unique message of Jesus Christ.”

To learn more about Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, go here.

To receive A Slice of Infinity in your daily email, go here.
Don't take my word for it, read the "Slice", don't wait for the movie.

Have a little hope on me, Roger

Common Objection #33- "Infinite Punishment in Hell for Finite Crimes is Unjust!"

I received a thoughtful text from a fellow Christian brother who was wrestling with some questions about hell.  The inquiry he made went something like this, "Why would God punish people for all eternity for a finite amount of sins?"  I thought this was a great question, and I offered him some thoughts of my own and some additional resources he could use to research the issue more thoroughly. I wanted to do the same here.

Before considering the duration of hell, let's make sure we are clear on what the nature of hell is. At the very mention of the word hell, some would conjure up images of Dante's Inferno or medieval ideas of torture.  Hell is not such a place.  As theologian R.C. Sproul explains:

"Almost all the biblical teaching about hell comes from the lips of Jesus. It is this doctrine, perhaps more than any other, that strains even the Christian’s loyalty to the teaching of Christ. Modern Christians have pushed the limits of minimizing hell in an effort to sidestep or soften Jesus’ own teaching. The Bible describes hell as a place of outer darkness, a lake of fire, a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth, a place of eternal separation from the blessings of God, a prison, a place of torment where the worm doesn’t turn or die. These graphic images of eternal punishment provoke the question, should we take these descriptions literally or are they merely symbols?

I suspect they are symbols, but I find no relief in that. We must not think of them as being merely symbols. It is probably that the sinner in hell would prefer a literal lake of fire as his eternal abode to the reality of hell represented in the lake of fire image. If these images are indeed symbols, then we must conclude that the reality is worse than the symbol suggests. The function of symbols is to point beyond themselves to a higher or more intense state of actuality than the symbol itself can contain. That Jesus used the most awful symbols imaginable to describe hell is no comfort to those who see them simply as symbols."1

Of course, the skeptic may ask, "How can God be so cruel?"  Sproul once again is instructive:

"No matter how we analyze the concept of hell it often sounds to us as a place of cruel and unusual punishment. If, however, we can take any comfort in the concept of hell, we can take it in the full assurance that there will be no cruelty there. It is impossible for God to be cruel. Cruelty involves inflicting a punishment that is more severe or harsh than the crime. Cruelty in this sense is unjust. God is incapable of inflicting an unjust punishment. The Judge of all the earth will surely do what is right. No innocent person will ever suffer at His hand."2

So we have good reason to conclude that the punishment experienced by the sinner in hell will be just, but that brings us back to our original question: Why would God punish people for all eternity for a finite amount of sins?

Let's consider a few possible responses.

1. The severity of the crime dictates the length of the punishment, not the time it took to commit the crime. A rape might take three minutes to commit, but the punishment should be certainly longer than three minutes.

2.  Crimes against the infinite, eternal Being are the most severe and may demand eternal punishment. Author J. Warner Wallace explains:

"’s important to remember the nature of the crime that eventually leads one to Hell. It’s not the fact you kicked your dog in 1992. It’s not the fact you had evil thoughts about your teacher in 1983. The crime that earns us a place in Hell is our rejection of the true, living, eternal God. The rejection of God’s forgiveness is not finite. People who reject Jesus have rejected Him completely. They have rejected Him as an ultimate, final mortal decision. God has the right (and obligation) to judge them with an appropriate punishment. To argue that God’s punishment does not fit our crime is to underestimate our crime."3

3. People continue to sin in hell (they are sinners); therefore, the punishment continues.  As one writer put it, "Unsaved people do not only sin for 70, 80, 90, or 100 years. They sin for eternity."4

God is not only merciful, but He is also a just Judge.  He cannot violate His own nature and let sin go unpunished.  However, because of God's mercy, He has made a way for us to spend eternity with Him by sending Jesus-the ultimate evidence of His love and mercy.

To see our other replies to common objections, go here.

Courage and Godspeed,

For Further Investigation

Why Would God Punish Finite, Temporal Crimes in an Eternal Hell? by J. Warner Wallace

More articles from Wallace can be found here.

Video: Is an Infinite Hell Unjust? by Brett Kunkle (Comical, but addresses the question)

An involved and more analytical reply by Glenn Miller can be found here.

Audio: If Sin is Finite, Why is Hell Eternal? by Alan Shlemon

How is an eternity in hell a just punishment for only a human lifetime of sin? by

You can find a transcript of a debate between philosopher William Lane Craig and Ray Bradley on the topic of hell here.