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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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A Rational Defense of the Faith

J.P. MorelandJ.P. Moreland:

Regularly, the Prophets appealed to evidence to justify belief in the biblical God or in the divine authority of their inspired message: Fulfilled prophecy, the biblical fact of miracles, the inadequacy of finite pagan deities to be the cause of such a large, well-ordered universe compared to the God of the Bible, and so forth. They did not say, “God said it, that settles it, and you should believe it!” They gave a rational defense for their claims.

Transforming Culture

Chuck Colson:

If our culture is to be transformed, it will happen from the bottom up – from ordinary believers practicing apologetics over the backyard fence or around the barbecue grill.

Idling in Intellectual Neutral

William Lane Craig:

Moreover, it’s not just Christian scholars and pastors who need to be intellectually engaged with the issues. Christian laymen, too, need to be intellectually engaged. Our churches are filled with Christians who are idling in intellectual neutral. As Christians, their minds are going to waste. One result of this is an immature, superficial faith. People who simply ride the roller coaster of emotional experience are cheating themselves out of a deeper and richer Christian faith by neglecting the intellectual side of that faith. They know little of the riches of deep understanding of Christian truth, of the confidence inspired by the discovery that one’s faith is logical and fits the facts of experience, of the stability brought to one’s life by the conviction that one’s faith is objectively true.

“The Time for Playing Games is Past!”

William Lane Craig:

In high school and college Christian teenagers are intellectually assaulted with every manner of non-Christian worldview coupled with an overwhelming relativism. If parents are not intellectually engaged with their faith and do not have sound arguments for Christian theism and good answers to their children’s questions, then we are in real danger of losing our youth. It’s no longer enough to teach our children simply Bible stories; they need doctrine and apologetics. It’s hard to understand how people today can risk parenthood without having studied apologetics.

Unfortunately, our churches have also largely dropped the ball in this area. It’s insufficient for youth groups and Sunday school classes to focus on entertainment and simpering devotional thoughts. We’ve got to train our kids for war. We dare not send them out to public high school and university armed with rubber swords and plastic armor. The time for playing games is past.

What You Are Speaks Louder Than What You Say!

William Lane Craig:

More often than not, it is what you are rather than what you say that will bring an unbeliever to Christ. This, then, is the ultimate apologetic. For the ultimate apologetic is: your life.

The Intellectual Task for Christianity

Nancy Pearcey:

To be effective in equipping young people and professionals to face the challenges of a highly educated secular society, the church needs to redefine the mission of pastors and youth leaders to include training in apologetics and worldview … Pastors must once again provide intellectual leadership for their congregations, teaching apologetics from the pulpit. Every time a minister introduces a biblical teaching, he should also instruct the congregation in ways to defend it against the major objections they are likely to encounter. A religion that avoids the intellectual task and retreats to the therapeutic realm of personal relationships and feelings will not survive in today’s spiritual battlefield.

Apologetics

Alister McGrath:

Apologetics is not simply about reaching outside the church and helping people realize why Christianity makes so much sense. There are many people inside church congregations who are wrestling with apologetic questions; who come to faith but haven’t …had all of their questions answered. I think the pastor, the preacher, needs to realize if they want their people to be good and minister to the faith, apologists and evangelists, they’ve got to be equipped. They’ve got to be reassured about their faith. They’ve got to be helped to be able to explain it and defend it in the secular marketplace. Now maybe many pastors and preachers say, ‘You know, I couldn’t do this.’ In which case, you need to bring somebody in who can. But there’s a real need for the local church to see this kind of ministry as a priority in our present cultural situation.

Fear and Denial

According to R.C. Sproul:

“As the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, so the denial of God is the height of foolishness.” (Essential Truths of the Christian Faith)

The Counsel of God: “Why I Believe in God” – Part Nine

Even though he may be hard to read at times, Van Til has a masterful way with words. Van Til wrote, “The Reformed apologist throws down the gauntlet and challenges his opponent to a duel of life and death from the start. He does not first travel in the same direction and in the same automobile with the natural man for some distance in order then mildly to suggest to the driver that they ought perhaps to change their course somewhat and follow a road that goes at a different slant from the one they are on. The Reformed apologist knows that there is but one way to the truth and that the natural man is traveling it, but in the wrong direction.” (“The Defense of The Faith”) Let us continue now with this next to the last article:

It ought to be pretty plain now what sort of God I believe in. It is God, the All-Conditioner. It is the God who created all things, Who by His providence conditioned my youth, making me believe in Him, and who in my later life by His grace still makes me want to believe in Him. It is the God who also controlled your youth and so far has apparently not given you His grace that you might believe in Him.

You may reply to this: “Then what’s the use of arguing and reasoning with me?” Well, there is a great deal of use in it. You see, if you are really a creature of God, you are always accessible to Him. When Lazarus was in the tomb he was still accessible to Christ who called him back to life. It is this on which true preachers depend. The prodigal [son] thought he had clean escaped from the father’s influence. In reality the father controlled the “far country” to which the prodigal had gone. So it is in reasoning. True reasoning about God is such as stands upon God as upon the emplacement that alone gives meaning to any sort of human argument. And such reasoning, we have a right to expect, will be used of God to break down the one-horse chaise of human autonomy.

But now I see you want to go home. And I do not blame you; the last bus leaves at twelve. I should like to talk again another time. I invite you to come to dinner next Sunday. But I have pricked your bubble, so perhaps you will not come back. And yet perhaps you will. That depends upon the Father’s pleasure. Deep down in your heart you know very well that what I have said about you is true. You know there is no unity in your life. You want no God who by His counsel provides for the unity you need. Such a God, you say, would allow for nothing new. So you provide your own unity. But this unity must, by your own definition, not kill that which is wholly new. Therefore it must stand over against the wholly new and never touch it at all. Thus by your logic you talk about possibles and impossibles, but all this talk is in the air. By your own standards it can never have anything to do with reality. Your logic claims to deal with eternal and changeless matters; and your facts are wholly changing things; and “never the twain shall meet.” So you have made nonsense of your own experience. With the prodigal you are at the swine-trough, but it may be that, unlike the prodigal, you will refuse to return to the father’s house.

On the other hand by my belief in God I do have unity in my experience. Not of course the sort of unity that you want. Not a unity that is the result of my own autonomous determination of what is possible. But a unity that is higher than mine and prior to mine. On the basis of God’s counsel I can look for facts and find them without destroying them in advance. On the basis of God’s counsel I can be a good physicist, a good biologist, a good psychologist, or a good philosopher. In all these fields I use my powers of logical arrangement in order to see as much order in God’s universe as it may be given a creature to see. The unities, or systems that I make are true because [they are] genuine pointers toward the basic or original unity that is found in the counsel of God. (“Why I Believe in God”)

Continue reading the final words of this article later this afternoon. . . .

There Is No Philosophical Neutrality

Quoting Greg Bahnsen:

[T]he Christian and the unbeliever do not and cannot approach their differences with argumentative and or philosophical neutrality. Even though the Christian and non-Christian have the facts of the objective world in common, they have radically divergent interpretations of them. For the Christian, all facts are pre-interpreted by God, created by God and revelatory by God; they must be handled in such a way that glory is brought to God. But the non-Christian views these facts as meaningfully interpreted only by his own mind, as uncreated and free from God’s control, as ambiguous and contingent; he uses them to bring glory to man. Hence, the Christian and non-Christian have different interpretative schemes. (Bahnsen, Greg L. Presuppositional Apologetics: Stated and Defended. McDurmon, Joel (Ed.). Powder Springs, GA. American Vision; Covenant Media Press. 2008: Pg. 89-90)

The Autonomous Man

From the writings of Greg Bahnsen:

In actuality, [the] autonomous man is dull, stubborn, boorish, obstinate and stupid. He professes himself to be wise, but from the opening of his mouth it is clear that he is (in the biblical sense) “a fool”—his only wisdom would consist in keeping silent (Prov. 17:28). “The heart of fools proclaimeth foolishness” (Prov. 12:23), and the fool flaunts his folly (Prov. 13:16). He eats up folly unreflectingly (Prov. 15:14), pours it out (Prov. 15:2), and returns to it like a dog to his vomit (Prov. 26:11). He is so in love with his folly and so dedicated to its preservation that “It is better for a man to meet a bear robbed of her whelps, than a fool in his folly” (Prov. 17:12). The fool does not really want to find the truth; he only wants to be self-justified in his own imaginations. While he may feign objectivity, “A fool hath no delight in understanding, but only that his heart may reveal itself” (Prov. 18:2). He is committed to his own presuppositions and wishes to guard his autonomy. (Bahnsen, Greg. Always Ready: Direction For Defending the Faith)

What Is The Providence Of God?

B.H. Carroll

God administers all of creation; everything is subordinated to His Will. Yet, as much as this is a mystery to us, God’s Will is continuously and effectively, the all- comprehensive power that makes all events in the physical and moral universe fulfill the purpose for which He created it. B.H. Carroll (1843-1914) shares the following insights into the Providence of God:

If the foundations be destroyed what can the righteous do? (Psalm 11:3)

I do not understand this question to imply that the foundations can be destroyed, except in the fears of the righteous. But whenever, in the mind of a righteous person there is distrust as to the stability of the foundation of his hope, and then he may well say, “What can I do?” Just to the extent of our distrust of the foundations is the despondency with which we look upon the tangled and conflicting affairs of this life. All our heartiness in work, boldness in enterprise, endurance of affliction, persistence in effort, and courage in danger is measured by the degree of our faith in the stability of the foundations upon which the Christian religion stands.

If the issues of life are determined by fate or chance, there are no foundations. In the one case we become the effortless children of apathy upon whom no responsibility devolves, our only consolation being the Oriental proverb, “Kismet.” In the other case we become the devotees of ephemeral pleasure with no higher watchword than, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”

Hence my theme today: The Providence of God is the Christian’s foundation. Under these three – Fate, Chance and Divine Providence may be grouped all the theories and philosophies of life. There is no room for another classification. . . .

Objectively, this foundation [Providence] will be considered in this sermon as impregnable and indestructible. But subjectively, that is in the minds of God’s people, the foundation may oftentimes seem to shake. It is not affirmed that this timorous apprehension is the habitual state of mind of even the weakest of God’s people, but that even with the strongest and bravest, in exceptional emergencies, there may be temporary distrust. This distrust again is more in practice than in theory. . . .

What does the doctrine of Providence imply? It implies the being of God, that there is a God. It implies that this God possesses all of the requisite attributes of Deity; that is, omniscience, knowing all things; omnipotence, having all power; omnipresence, being everywhere; and holiness and love. It implies that such a God, having the attributes of omniscience and omnipotence and omnipresence and holiness and love, created the universe, brought into being everything that you see – what is above us, what is below us, ourselves. It implies that this intelligent and powerful and benevolent being brought into existence everything that is. In other words, that God created this universe with all its creatures.

This implication denies atheism by assuming the being of God. It denies polytheism, for but one being can possess the divine attributes. It denies materialism and pantheism by assuming God’s existence before matter and His creation of it. . . .

Providence is God’s continual oversight or government of the universe He created. To enlarge somewhat, the term, Providence, expresses the divine agency in the direction, control and issue of all the events in the physical and moral universe. All of them? Yes. Does He direct every event in the physical world? Every one. . . .

He directs every event in the physical world. I do not refer simply to the events that relate to the spheres in their magnitude and in their movements. I refer to the most infinitesimal detail, minutia that takes place in the whole physical world. He has just that kind of direction in the moral world, as it relates to human beings and angelic intelligences; that it is not only direction but control; that it is not only control, but that it governs the issue, the direction, the control, the issue or outcome of all events in the physical and in the moral universe.

In other words, having created the universe, He governs the universe. He did not make the world and wind it up like a clock and go to sleep and let it run itself. I mean that His direction and control and government of the issue apply to all forces that are in operation in the physical world, otherwise called laws of nature. They are nothing more than the expressions of the divine will.

The Arguments Against Atheism

Thomas Aquinas

There are a number of arguments against atheism which are worthy of consideration if you are witnessing to an atheist. The first is the teleological argument that says, “The universe exhibits overwhelming evidence of deliberate, intelligent, purposeful design, which implies an intelligent designer.” The fulfillment of Bible prophecy in history is another.

Then there is the cosmological argument. The premise of this argument is that every event in our universe necessarily has a cause. However, it is impossible that there should be an unending chain of causes going back. Therefore, there necessarily must be a cause distinct from the universe as we know it which is capable of causing all things and is itself uncaused.

Ontological arguments are arguments, for the conclusion that God exists, from premises which are supposed to derive from some source other than observation of the world — e.g., from reason alone. There are also historical arguments for the existence of God. For example, arguments stemming from historical accounts such as Christian historical apologetics are helpful. Christian legal apologetics and archaeological evidence such as Bible archaeology are also very useful.

We also find that there are experiential arguments for the existence of God. These arguments are based on personal experience and human intuition. Belief in the existence of God is a belief not based on inference from other beliefs but is rationally justified due to one’s circumstances of immediate experience of God. The presuppositional argument, however, does not use evidences in the traditional manner. By the traditional manner, it means using evidences as an appeal to the authority of the unbeliever’s autonomous reasoning. The problem is, of course, that the unbeliever cannot reason autonomously. Without God, there would be no possibility of reason. And so the reality of the matter is that every time the unbeliever attempts to reason, he is borrowing from the Christian worldview. That is, he is being inconsistent with his stated presuppositions. And that is the crucial point. Ultimately the intellectual conflict between believers and unbelievers is a matter of antithetical worldviews. The essence of the presuppositional argument is the attempt to show that the unbeliever’s worldview drives him to subjectivity, irrationalism, and moral anarchy. And so the presuppositional argument calls for the Christian and non-Christian to set side by side their two worldviews and do an internal examination of them both in order to determine whether or not they are consistent even within their own framework. Since God does exist, and since Christianity is true, then any worldview which denies these truths is false and can be demonstrated to be so.

Liberal Bigotry In The House Of God

From the writings of Charles H. Spurgeon:

Some animals make up for their natural weakness by their activity and audacity; they are typical of a certain order of men. Assumption goes a long way with many, and, when pretensions are vociferously made and incessantly intruded, they always secure a measure of belief. Men who affect to be of dignified rank, and superior family, and who, therefore, hold their heads high above the canaille, manage to secure a measure of homage from those who cannot see beneath the surface. There has by degrees risen up in this country a coterie, more than ordinarily pretentious, whose favorite cant is made up of such terms as these: “liberal views,” “men of high culture,” “persons of enlarged minds and cultivated intellects,” “bonds of dogmatism and the slavery of creeds,” “modern thought,” and so on. That these gentlemen are not so thoroughly educated as they fancy themselves to be, is clear from their incessant boasts of their culture; that they are not free, is shrewdly guessed from their loud brags of liberty; and that they are not liberal, but intolerant to the last degree, is evident, from their superciliousness towards those poor simpletons who abide by the old faith. Jews in old times called Gentiles dogs, and Mahometans cursed unbelievers roundly; but we question whether any men, in any age, have manifested such contempt of others as is constantly evidenced towards the orthodox by the modern school of “cultured intellects.” Let half a word of protest be uttered by a man who believes firmly in something, and holds by a defined doctrine, and the thunders of liberality bellow forth against the bigot. Steeped up to their very throats in that bigotry for liberality, which, of all others, is the most ferocious form of intolerance, they sneer with the contempt of affected learning at the idiots who contend for “a narrow Puritanism,” and express a patronizing hope that the benighted adherents of “a half-enlightened creed” may learn more of “that charity which thinketh no evil.” To contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints is to them an offense against the enlightenment of the nineteenth century; but, to vamp old, worn-out heresies, and pass them off for deep thinking, is to secure a high position among minds “emancipated from the fetters of traditional beliefs.”

Manliness and moral courage are the attributes in which they consider themselves to excel, and they are constantly asserting that hundreds of ministers see with them, but dare not enunciate their views, and so continue to preach one thing and believe another. It may be so here and there, and the more is the cause for sorrow; but we are not sure of the statement, for the accusers themselves may, after all, fancy that they see in others what is really in themselves. The glass in their own houses should forbid their throwing stones. If they were straightforward themselves, they might call others to account; but, in too many cases, their own policy savors of the serpent in a very high degree. The charge could not be fairly brought against all, but it can be proven against many, that they have fought the battles of liberality, not with the broad sword of honest men, but with the cloak and dagger of assassins. They have occupied positions which could not be reconciled with their beliefs, and have clung to them with all the tenacity with which limpets adhere to rocks. Their testimony has, in some cases, been rendered evidently worthless, from the fact that with all their outcry against orthodoxy, they did their best to eat the bread of the orthodox, and would still have continued to profess, and yet to assail, orthodox opinions had they been permitted to do so. Whether this is honest is doubtful: that it is not manly is certain.

These gentlemen of culture have certainly adopted peculiar tactics. The misbelievers and unbelievers of former ages withdrew themselves from churches as soon as they found out they could not honestly endorse their fundamental articles; but these abide by the stuff, and great is their indignation at the creeds which render their position morally dubious. Churches have no right to believe anything; comprehensiveness is the only virtue of a denomination; precise definitions are a sin, and fundamental doctrines are a myth: this is the notion of “our foremost men.” For earnest people to band themselves together to propagate what they hold to be the very truth of God, is in their eyes the miserable endeavor of bigots to stem the torrent of modern thought; for zealous Christians to contribute of their substance for the erection of a house, in which only the truths most surely believed among them shall be inculcated, is a treason against liberality; while the attempt to secure our pulpits against downright error, is a mischievous piece of persecution to be resented by all “intellectual” men. (November, 1871 Sword and Trowel)

Little Green Christians And The Big Green Lie

From the desk of Barry Napier:

Thousands of ordinary people have fallen for the Big Green Lie. They know nothing of the real science behind environmentalism, and only repeat what Al Gore and Pals tell them. These greens are superficial; they are ignorant of the facts but follow the trend. If it wasn’t environmentalism it would be something else – maybe mushroom growing, or wearing bow ties

This is because the majority are sheep. That’s why the elite smirkingly refer to them as ‘the masses’ and why they are manipulated by propaganda. They do whatever is in fashion… and the latest fashion is to be green. No real reason, but it makes them accepted by their peers; simple group dynamics. It is also why, no matter how much counter-evidence they are presented with, they will ignore it – they prefer being one of the crowd rather than wise.

Am I trying to be superior? No, but I do know what I am talking about. (which is a fact, not arrogance) I am just stating truths about the human psyche. People will follow no matter what the outcome is. Make them feel they are part of something special and they’ll run ‘til they drop; they’ll carry banners in Copenhagen; they’ll scorn those who have proofs they are wrong; they’ll pay governments huge taxes; they’ll lower their heating and pay through the nose for energy. They just want to be accepted! Sad.

And this is what is happening in Christian circles. By that, I mean people who claim to be Christians, and who claim to believe the Bible. This is astonishing and very odd, because Christians are supposed to be honest and believers of truth. Yet, here they are, running fast to join the greens, despite the frauds, lies and deceptions.

Worse, they claim the Bible is green, and use it to batter other Christians into submission. In this way they become the religious arm of environmentalism, the Inquisitors. Which is weird, because hard-core environmentalism is out to get Christians! One of their deepest aims is to destroy Christianity (and Islam, or any religion with a transcendent ‘god’ or God)!

In other words, green Christians are committing suicide. They cannot bear being outside the mainstream of opinion, even when it destroys them. They run fast like frightened deer, into the nets of the catchers, quoting non-green passages from the Bible. Very odd indeed.

Continue reading. . . .

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