Thursday, September 03, 2009

No Apologies!

You are an “average” Christian. Perhaps you are not a philosopher, scientist, theologian, pastor, or lawyer. But you try to stay informed about the Faith, and you know that Christianity, if it is true at all, must be true for all. Its truth pervades every area of life. The Christian story, as it is recorded in Scripture, runs from Genesis through Revelation. It is a continuous account that tells of the creation of all things by God, the creation of humankind, the problem of sin, the promise of redemption and its accomplishment, and the consummation of creation at the end of time. But the story doesn’t end there. Christians through the centuries have lived out the Gospel and its implications from the time Christ established His church. Millions of lives have been transformed by the power of the Gospel (Romans 1:16-17. All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version).

But not all share this conviction. So when you tune in the television, visit your bookstore, or surf the net, you become aware of a highly organised, literate, and sophisticated attack against your faith. You may feel overwhelmed by the seemingly endless barrage of arguments, reasons, and evidences against the beliefs you have held since coming to know Christ. The onslaught is methodical, thorough, and relentless. Many of the charges against faith come from well educated sources. As North American culture turns from a traditionally Christian worldview to a decidedly pagan one, you find that your beliefs are increasingly at odds with your neighbours, co-workers, and even family members.

Welcome to the world of apologetics. “Apologetics” as a discipline of theology means “to make a defence” or, to “give an answer.” It sounds like our English word, “apologise,” because it is the origin of that term. It is important, however, not to think that when we engage in apologetics that we are “apologising” for anything. Words change meaning over time, and when we speak of apologetics we use it in its older sense, “to defend the faith.” Since the beginning of the church, God has used apologetics to answer critics of the faith, and to encourage believers. Many of our brothers and sisters abroad have had to defend their faith for many years. Today Western Christians are on the defence too.

In 1 Peter 3:15, we read, “. . . but in your hearts honour Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” This verse has much to teach us about apologetics: First, it is written to all Christians in general—the task of apologetics is not only a job for specialists, but for all believers. Second, it tells us what the apologist must first accept as fact: Christ is Lord. Third, apologetics requires preparation. Fourth, it tells us that we have hope and that we will be asked why (if no one is asking we need to be asking, “why not?”). Fifth, it also tells us of our attitude toward those who ask: we must show gentleness and respect.

How then, do you answer these: “Isn’t the Bible full of errors?” “People don’t come back from the dead, so I can’t believe in the resurrection.” “Hasn’t science disproved creation and all the miracles of the Bible?” “Isn’t it bigoted to say that Jesus is the only way to be saved? What about other sincere believers of other faiths?” “That’s fine if the Bible is true for you, but it isn’t true for me.” “Wasn’t Jesus simply a good teacher?” You have probably of heard these and many others.

First, remember that Christ is Lord. We don’t believe that the Gospel might be true, or that God may exist. The Christian affirms that the Bible is true whether or not others believe it to be so. God is God of the facts. Unbelief does not change reality.

Second, the Christian must know what the Bible teaches. Much opposition to the Bible is against matters that are not even in Scripture. Stay with the facts, which is to say, “Stay with the Bible.” I heard once that when bank tellers are taught to identify counterfeit currency, most of their training is to identify the true currency. Just as the techniques of counterfeiters constantly changes, so do forms of misinterpretation, misapplication, and misrepresentation of the Bible and Christianity. It is better be become so well acquainted with the Bible that error is plainly evident, than to become an expert in a cult or philosophy that will be gone tomorrow.

Third, is there a question you can’t answer? Certainly! Does the entire Faith collapse because you don’t know an answer? Certainly not! “I don’t know, but I shall try to find out for you” is always a good answer. Consider this: after 2000 years of opposition to the Gospel, it is very unlikely that you will encounter an impossible question.

Fourth, know the usual questions (such as the examples above), and prepare answers to them. There are scores of books available which can help you formulate answers, whether they deal directly with the Bible, or with philosophical doubt, science, etc. As a good starting point, I recommend Josh McDowell’s Evidence That Demands a Verdict (Nashville: Nelson, 1999). The point is, you must give an answer. It is up to you to prepare.

As he faces the task of defending the Faith, the Christian may feel inundated by the varieties of unbelief. We now face the “new” atheism, scientism, political correctness, world religions, cults, the culture wars, neo-Gnosticism, new ancient texts that purport to tell the “real” story of Jesus, theological liberalism, denials of Christ’s atonement, and the “prosperity gospel,” to name a few. Still, God is God and His Word stands. The Christian must determine to know Scripture, and to learn how to answer those who oppose it.

In the West, it seems that Christianity is being singled out for criticism and disdain. While others may offer historical, sociological, or political reasons for this disapproval, the real answer is found in Scripture: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth (Romans 1:18),” and “as it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God’” (Romans 3:10, 11). Christianity is rejected because it is true! The doubting began in the garden, when Satan asked Eve, “Did God actually say . . . ?” (Genesis 3:1)

We are charged with the responsibility of passing the Faith on to the next generation. This will happen only when it is a lived experience and its truth understood by the believer.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Logos Bible Giveaway!

Logos software is giving away some very nice Bibles.

Logos Bible Software is celebrating the launch of their new online Bible by giving away 72 ultra-premium print Bibles at a rate of 12 per month for six months. The Bible giveaway is being held at and you can get up to five different entries each month! After you enter, be sure to check out Logos and see how it can revolutionize your Bible study.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

On Worship, by D. A. Carson

"If the heart of sinfulness is self-centredness, the heart of all biblical religion is God-centredness: in short, it is worship. in our fallenness we constrict all there is to our petty horizons. I think of all relationships in terms of their impact on me; my daydreams circle around my own life and circumstances; my goals and hopes invariably turn on my place in the universe. Such profound self-centredness may result in wild cruelty that the world thinks of as social pathology, or it may result in religious cant; it may issue in war and racism as masses of little people who want to be first exploit and harm others who want the same thing but may lack the means, and it may issue in piety and discipline full of self-satisfaction and fervour. Still the demon SELF marches on. The sign that self is broken is true worship: God becomes the centre, the focus of delight, the joyfully acknowledged King, the Creator, the Redeemer. In this sense, none but the transformed can truly worship — and they too discover how much more transformation is still needed. Thus all worship becomes an eschatological sign, a marker of what will be in the new heaven and the new earth, the home of righteousness, when the children of God have been ‘glorified’ (Rom. 8:30), and God is all in all. In anticipation of that day, and ‘in view of God’s mercy’, we offer our bodies ‘as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God’, for this is our ‘spiritual worship’ (Rom. 12:1)"

D.A. Carson, Worship : Adoration and Action, electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Published on behalf of World Evangelical Fellowship by Baker Book House, 2000, c1993). 13.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Ark of the Covenant Revealed!

Those who know me best know that I have little patience for eschatological fads: premillenial-dispensationalism a la Schofield (from Darby) who has brought us the majority report regarding the end of the world. Left Behind, Late Great Planet Earth, etc., all take our minds away from the ministry of Christ here, were we must be faithful, and transport us to a neverland of false hope and expectations.

It makes Christians look stupid, naive, and gullible.

One question I have for End-Times junkies is this: Is our passion for the end of the world based upon our perception that Christianity is doing poorly in our locale? Christianity is indeed being further marginalised culturally and politically in what was once terra firma for Christians: North America and Europe. But it is doing quite well elsewhere, and it is a pitiful arrogance that leads us to think that because things are not as they were, we are at the end of time.

The Gospel is doing well. The harvest is not finished. Our world is shaken, but it is not the end of the world.

Now, after this introduction, I recommend this article. Let us suppose that the Ark of the Covenant is known and revealed. In light of Christ, the New Testament, especially the Gospels, Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews, how can this matter at all?

Sad thing is, it will matter much to the likes of Grant Jeffrey and other pop media stars in the Christian galaxy.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

It's all bad, but it's not all bad.

Someone is probably thinking that, "Scott needs to cheer up a little and not write/post so much negative stuff." If you're such a person, I beat you to it--but not for simply the reason of cheer. I have, for the past few years, been reading writings of the English Puritans (mainly the 16th & 17th centuries). Now these people get a lot of bad press, so before you take a shot at me for caring what they think, make sure you know enough about them to converse about them.

Their concern for the Glory of God is amazing, and they are not the witch-hunters or anti-intellectuals that they are made out to be.

But something more important, and more cheerful: They knew their times were evil, horrible, and completely set against the Gospel. They really were persecuted, and even when they weren't being hounded from town to town by Roman Catholics or Anglicans, they knew that the times were evil.

But they had hope. They knew that the Gospel was of God, and He is greater than their circumstances. In their time they wrote of contentment, hope, joy, patience, encouragement--all while wisely and truthfully assessing the world in which they lived. They simply did not trust humankind, but trusted God. This trust was the source of their contentment.

Someone commented that "Christianity loves a crumbling empire." Perhaps. Whether we love it or not, these are times to thrive. That's cheering.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Spiritual Abuse and "Shepherding"

This really strikes a chord--I knew people in the '70's who were really messed up by this kind of thinking. With the radical subjectivism and anti-Biblical stance of some within the modern Charismatic movement, this is a real danger. Read the article here.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Rethinking Youth Ministry

RE: "Youth Survey: Teens Lose Faith in Droves" in MacLeans

I think it's time to rethink youth ministry (if you are already doing so, this note may be irrelevant to you). After reading what Bibby has to say, I think that things here in Canada may not be improved much in the near future. I've also been reading Philip Jenkins on Histories of Lost Christianities, which is also very unsettling.

Someone once said that most who convert to Christianity do so around the age of 15 (I don't know if that is only in modern times, or if that is over the whole history of the church, nor how we would know that). If that is the case, why is Youth Ministry so often handed to young men and women who are only a few years older? Is it not time for older Christians to drop the "retirement attitude" ("I did youth when my kids were young") and get on with converting the next lost generation?

Has there been any objective research showing the success of the Youth Ministry industry (schools, curriculums, media and conferences) over the past few decades? Anecdotal evidence would suggest that Youth Ministry, as practised by a majority of churches, is a failure for the most part (I realise that there may be other reasons for the decline in membership, but this variable needs to be taken into consideration). Ten years ago the rage here was "Youth Driven Ministry" which was basically needs based. But does anyone know what they need?

"It's a sin to bore a kid with Jesus!" Perhaps, but it definitely a sin to be bored by Jesus. Boredom won't help youth find Jesus, but is anyone considering why they are bored, or whether our methods of reaching youth is part of the problem?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

My First Seniors Discount

This is the story of my first senior's discount. I am 53. I don't look a day over 52, I'm sure.

Today I wanted some adequate coffee, so I stopped by McDonald's before my appointment.

"One large coffee, please."

"Uh, are you 50-ish?"

"Yes, and then some."


"Do I get a discount for that?"

"Yes! 51 cents instead of $1.25"

"Great. I bet you are uncomfortable asking people their age."

"Yes, especially people without much hair. And I wouldn't want anyone thinking I was 50"

"No, I would have said at least 58."

(Okay, that last line is a fib; but a darn good one.)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Apologetics Reading List

Some Suggested Readings
Below are some suggesting books—it is incomplete and there are many more out there!

Brown, C. Miracles and the Critical Mind.
Frame, J. M. Apologetics to the Glory of God: An Introduction.
Holmes, A. All Truth is God's Truth.
Schaeffer, F. Escape from Reason.
Schaeffer, F. He Is There and He Is Not Silent.
Schaeffer, F. How Should We Then Live? The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture .
Schaeffer, F. The God Who is There. Van Til, C. The Defence of the Faith.

Apologetic Methods
Bahnsen, G. Van Til's Apologetic.
Boa, Ken and Bowen, R. Faith Has Its Reasons
Geisler, Norman. The Apologetics of Jesus: A Caring Approach to Dealing with Doubters

Geisler, Norman. I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist.
McGrath, A. E. Dawkins God: Genes, Memes, and the Meaning of Life.
McGrath, A. E. Intellectuals Don't Need God (And Other Modern Myths).

Bible Difficulties
Archer, G. Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties.
Carson, D. A. Love in Hard Places.
Carson, D. A. The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God.
Lewis, C. S. The Problem of Pain.
McDowell, J. Answers to Tough Questions.

Chapman, C. Christianity on Trial.
Chapman, C. The Case for Christianity.
McDowell, J. More than a Carpenter.
Zacharias, R. Can Man Live Without God?
Zacharias, R. Jesus Among Other Gods.

Emergent Church and Post-modern Culture
Carson, D. A. Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church.
Carson, D. A. The Gagging of God.
Groothuis, D. R. Defending Christianity Against the Challenges of Postmodernism .
Horton, M. Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church.

McDowell, J. Evidence that Demands a Verdict

General Apologetics
Chesterton, G. K. Orthodoxy.
Geisler, N. Christian Apologetics.
Geisler, N. Baker Encyclopaedia of Christian Apologetics.
Keller, T. The Reason for God.
Kreeft, P. Handbook of Christian Apologetics.
Lewis, C. S. (2007). Christian Reflections. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
Lewis, C. S. (2006). God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics. Grand Rapids: Baker Books.
Lewis, C. S. Miracles.
Little, P. E. Know Why You Believe.
Martin, W. R. The Kingdom of the Cults.

History and Assumptions
Carroll, Vincent and Shiflett, David. (2002). Christianity on Trial: Arguments Against Anti-Religious Bigotry. San Francisco: Encounter Books.
Sampson, P. J. (2001). 6 Modern Myths About Christianity and Western Civilization. Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press.

Internet Sources
Kenneth Boa and Rob Bowman, Faith Has Its Reasons
J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism
Many free Christian books may be downloaded at

“Must Have”
Lewis, C. S. Mere Christianity
Strobel, L. The Case for a Creator.
Strobel, L. The Case for Christ.
Sire, J. W. The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalogue.

Science and Evolution
Philip E. Johnson. The Wedge of Truth: Splitting the Foundation of Naturalism.
Philip E. Johnson. Darwin On Trial
Philip E. Johnson. Defeating Darwin by Opening Minds