Posts Tagged With: Apologetics

Where is God?

 “Since Evil and Suffering exist, a Loving God cannot.”

After watching God’s Not Dead and doing a post about it, I’ve refocused on my personal study of Apologetics.  I recently picked up The Case for Faith by Atheist turned Christian, Lee Strobel.  The subtitle reads “A Journalist Investigates the toughest Objections to Christianity”  The table of contents is lain out with what are considered the eight strongest arguments against God.  The first chapter and the chapter I’m on is “Since Evil and Suffering exist, a Loving God cannot.”

The Problem of Evil

Greek Philosophers debated this thousands of years ago, and is the primary reason Charles Templeton, contemporary of Billy Graham and fellow evangelist, abandoned the Christian faith, and spend the rest of his life writing and speaking against Theism.  Strobel tells his own stories of travelling as a journalist, seeing starving families in his home town of Chicago, while he lived in comfort in is townhouse, and seeing abandoned and diseased boy while travelling in India.  Why? Where is God?  Those are legitimate questions.  When you look at all the pain in this world it’s heartbreaking, but sadly we then go back to cute cat videos on Youtube to ease our empathy, forgetting about those whom God has seemingly forgotten.

Why Doesn’t God do Anything?

Why doesn’t he?  Why don’t we do anything? I’m not writing today about defending God against “the problem of evil” argument.  There are plenty of well written responses; Lee Strobel being one, Ravi Zacharias being another.  You either find the Christian response reasonable or you don’t.  I write today because we, as followers of Jesus Christ, are supposed to be his hands and his feet (1 Corinthians 12), Christ’s ambassadors to this world.

Templeton said that the moment he gave up belief in a loving God, was when he saw a picture of an African woman, holding her dead son in her arms.  The reason was drought.  A drought had devastated that region.  Templeton’s thought was simple, “Rain! All you had to do was send rain!”  I don’t care how strong your faith is, that shakes it.

You may consider this a “cop-out” answer but I believe that God created this world to run like a clock.  Sin fundamentally broke this clock.  This is where, hurricanes, earthquakes, droughts, and all types of disasters come from.  It’s not necessarily God’s wrath smiting a godless New Orleans (As some have said about Katrina), but rather God’s continued judgement against a world full of sin.  You see, in scripture you have almost a paradox between God’s grace and God’s wrath.  In God’s love and grace, Jesus Christ absorbed God’s wrath on the cross.  So when you hear people say “God is Love” you must also remember “God is Wrath.”   An uncomfortable and unpopular concept, but that doesn’t make it any less true.

Human Responsibility

Now, it’s easy for me to sit in my nice office in front of a laptop and say this, but I’m going to do it anyway.  Why didn’t Templeton with all of his influence that he had as one of the leading evangelicals in the world, use his influence to bring relief to those suffering in Africa?  Isn’t that the Christian thing to Do?  The Bible says from the beginning Mankind was given primary authority and responsibility to govern this world. Think about it, how is the Gospel spread?  Through people sharing?  Why didn’t Jesus just appear to everyone after his resurrection?  Because this is our world, God expects us to play a part in fixing it.  If we are “God’s Children” and he is our father it makes since.  You can pick up your child’s room for them, fix their mistakes while they play video games, or you can teach them how to do these things and help them.  I think this is part of why God doesn’t just automatically fix every evil, how else would we learn?

So next time you or I are presented with the evil of human suffering, instead of “asking where is God?” Why don’t we ask ourselves “How should I as a follower of Jesus bring about healing?”  Didn’t Jesus come to save, heal, and restore?  If he is our example shouldn’t we do the same?  Maybe God wants to use us to fix the evil in the this world.

Personally, I’m selfish.  I lack compassion.  Our recent Sunday School lesson was over generosity.  To begin this lesson everyone was given a piece of paper and told “You’ve just been given 1 Million dollars, what would you do?”  I listed several things, nothing frivolous (Pay off debt, buy a car with less than 150,000 miles on it, etc). Nowhere on my list was giving money away to help people.  The truth is if most of us were given 1 Million dollars we could give every dime of it away to those in real need, and never miss a meal, never lack shelter, never lack clothing, never lack anything.

So in the light of human suffering
Where is God?
Where are you?
Where am I?
Categories: Apologetics, Theology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

God’s Not Dead – My Take

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Right off the bat, let me just say that this is one of the better “Christian” movies I’ve seen.  It had a great story line and had a clear message.  Unlike some other films in this genre it presented Christ and the Gospel clearly without sounding forced and preachy.

Let’s get a few things out of the way.

I’ve taken philosophy classes, read both atheistic and theistic philosophy but spend most of my time in the study of Theology.  Philosophy literally means: Philo (Love) sophy (wisdom). Theology means: Theos (God) logy (study of), “the study of God.”  I’m a Christian and I’m a Pastor, so I believe Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. (Proverbs 9:10 ESV).”  So for me Theology is the highest form of philosophy.  Now you know my bias.

Next I will concede that a college freshman would not be able to debate an experienced college professor.  The level of experience and knowledge on the subject just makes this impractical.  As a side note I enjoyed “debating” my philosophy professor in college, he also was my Theology professor.  Let’s just say he’d heard all of my brilliant arguments for years and knew how to put me in my place.

Also, while possible, I doubt that any College professor would coerce a student into signing a paper denying the existence of a God, or a “debate” being set up in this format.  Do some Atheistic philosophy professors attack Christianity and theism in the classroom?  Yes they do, some border on militant, some are militant against Christianity.  There are even documented cases of this hostility.  You can click here to view some legal cases involving religious liberty on college campuses.  The plot of this movie was chosen because it made a better, faster, and more exciting story.  All movies do this so get over it.  (Tom Bombidil anyone?!)

Let’s Get Down to Business

Believing in God doesn’t make you an idiotic redneck who is scared of learning anything.  Not believing in God doesn’t make you stupid either. Although, “the fool says in his heart, ‘there is no God'” – Psalm 14:1 (sorry, I couldn’t resist).  I’ve met very smart people with “alphabet soup” behind their names from prestigious universities, are tenured scientists, and devout Christians.  I’ve also met some fairly ignorant people who are also devout Christians.  And I can say the same for Atheists.  I think we’d get a lot further in our conversations if both theists and atheists would stop stereotyping each other as idiots.  Maybe this is just my bias, but it often feels theists are more often portrayed as the idiots and atheists are the “intellectuals.”

In the movie, Professor Radison says, “most of the most devoted atheists were once Christians.”  I wonder why?  Maybe it’s just that our culture has been primarily influenced by the Judeo-Christian worldview.  But I’ve never heard of a former Muslim who is a militant atheist, or a former Hindu who is a militant atheist.  That’s something to think about.  Radison then tells the student, Josh Weaton, about losing his mother to cancer when he was 12.

If you are an Atheist and are reading this, I would honestly like to know your story on how you became an Atheist.  Please share in the comments.

I’m a Christian, so obviously we disagree.  I ask for your story not to tear you down or have a debate that leads to name calling.  I’m curious.  From my bias and experience, most of the Atheists I’ve met became Atheists because of some trauma or tragedy.  That has little to do with “scientific proofs” and more to do with emotion than “facts.” What happened?  This movie paints a picture that Atheists, especially those who are “former Christians” are actually so angry at God, or hurt from some past trauma that they decide that God simply cannot exist.  I find that an interesting concept.  There seems to be a correlation, so is this true for you?

For the Christians, you can have all the clever arguments in the world for the existence of God and the truth of Christianity and still be a complete Jerk.

I enjoy the mental exercise of defending Christianity.  This is called Apologetics in the Christian world.  Apologetics is not apologizing for you beliefs, but goes to the Greek root which means “to give a defense.” I enjoy science, and like learning.  For me it’s very important to know not only what I believe, but why I believe it.  But as the Apostle Paul says “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-2 ESV).”  Christians should be defined by love.  I don’t believe that people are “won over” to Christianity by clever arguments for the existence of God, I think they are won over by love, compassion, and forgiveness.  The Holy Spirit brings about change and salvation in a person’s life, not you not me, we are just called to bear witness.

I think the study of Apologetics is more for believers than for non-believers.  Faith is a fickle thing, look at the life of Peter, he had enough faith in Jesus to walk on water with him, if only for a moment.  Then he denied even knowing Jesus, after all he had seen all Jesus’s miracles.  I’ve seen and experienced Jesus do powerful things, I’ve even devoted my life to teaching others about Jesus Christ, but there are times when my faith is weak.  Apologetics, studying all the evidence for God, and seeing his Majesty as Creator and King of this universe builds up my faith.

I share this verse with my youth often: “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,”(1 Peter 3:15 ESV).  There are three things that I like to point out in this verse.  The first is that Jesus is Lord.  Jesus is the ruler of our lives as his disciples and as Christians.  Second, we need to be prepared to share our faith and hope in Jesus.  This means knowing what we believe as Christians and why.  This involves sharing the Gospel, and the field of Apologetics.  The Greek root for apologetics is the word translated “to make a defense” in this verse. The third thing to notice, is the emphasis on both gentleness and respect.  If we’re not going to be respectful and loving to people we have no business calling ourselves Christians.  There is a big difference in speaking the truth of scripture and disagreeing with someone’s chosen beliefs and lifestyle, and being hateful, belittling, and unloving.

Jesus came to save you from your sin

To the Atheist reading this, to the agnostic, to the whatever you are.  I believe that there is a God that created this entire universe. I believe that He created mankind in his image and likeness.  I believe that God gave mankind freewill to obey him or disobey him, and that we chose disobedience (ie sin).  I believe that sin has broken this world, sin is the root cause for death and all the evils that are in this world.  I believe that God is just and will punish sin.  I believe that God is loving and merciful and offered up his only Son, Jesus Christ to die on a Cross in your place and my place to pay the price for our sin.  I believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, and is alive and is ready and able to forgive our sin, and give us a new life if we ask him.  I believe that no matter how screwed up you think you are, the power of Jesus can save you, all you have to do is ask him.  This is what I believe

GOD’S NOT DEAD

[It’s 1:40am, I don’t feel like proof reading this, I’ll fix any typos tomorrow. Forgive me]

Categories: Apologetics, Theology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

TXT: A Three Part Series On The Bible

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TXT is a 3-part video series over the Bible from Lifechurch.tv. It answers three main questions;  1) Where does the Bible Come from? 2) Is the Bible Trustworthy? and 3) How do you study the Bible?  This week we will finish up part 3; Studying the Bible.

I use a lot of resources from Lifechurch.tv, they are the church behind youversion which is the most popular Bible app for Smartphones.  A love their philosophy of “we make the highest quality resources we can and give it away for free.”  This helps me because my church doesn’t have the money to buy the latest, greatest stuff from the major Christian publishers.

A Lot of people have questions about the Bible:  “Where did it come from?” “Who wrote it?” “How did it get translated into English?”  “Why does it matter?” “Is it really God’s Word?” “Has it been preserved accurately?” and I’m sure there are many others.  There are entire courses in Seminaries and Bible Colleges that answer these questions (I know I took them at UMHB).  Obviously a three week study with 10-minute video segments cannot answer every single question you may have.  They are, however, very well researched and accurate about the three main questions they do set out to answer.

Here are the videos:

These are the first two weeks, for the third lesson (How to study the Bible?), I am working something up just for my youth.  Also, I was unable to find the third video segment on youtube, but I didn’t look to hard.

Many people have doubts about the Christian message.  That’s fair enough, I do to. I do not advocate “blind faith”I do not believe that God calls us to that, I believe we are called to a “reasonable faith.” A faith that can be questioned and tested.  The more I dig in and study the legitimacy of the Christian message the more certain I become of the hope I place in Jesus Christ.  I pray that if you have objections and/or questions about the Christian message that you would do your own research with an open mind.

Categories: Apologetics, General | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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