Archive for the ‘Apologetics’ Category

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/3b9/40655761/files/2014/12/img_0350.jpg Image courtesy of Joel Snape through a CC Generic License. No alterations have been made to this image.

If you came to Christianity thinking you’re going to have your best life now, or that it can help you quit all of your bad habits, or that you can have a victoriously vanquishing of all enemies-foreign or domestic, or that Christianity is a self-help religion to lift yourself by your own bootstraps, you might want to try another religion.

You see, Christianity was born in weakness. We are fixing to celebrate that weakness on Dec. 25. The Incarnation expresses to us the supreme weakness of God taking on flesh, and being born the weakest of creatures-a baby human being. A poor baby human being. A poor homeless human being. A poor, homeless, dangerously-sought after human being. Even a helpless fawn can stand within an hour of its birth, albeit he’s a bit wobbly. It takes humans a couple of years to get it right.

Again, our most celebrated alternate holiday begins with a day called Good Friday, which is another name for a horrible, humiliating, gruesome execution. Sure, it ends in Resurrection, but without the gruesome Death, there would be no Resurrection.

The beginning of the Church is no better. It begins with 120 scared, praying renegades of a religious sect with a crucified leader. They break out in languages never learned, and are accused of being drunkards.

The only way they grow is to be dispersed by persecution. They are constantly under threat of extermination by the religious leaders and the government.

We seem to grow best under extreme duress, to the point of bloodshed. In fact, one ancient Christian devotee dared say that the blood of the saints is the seed of the church.

Oh, you say, “but doesn’t the Bible say He won’t give us more than we can handle? Doesn’t he promise us prosperity, victory, and healing?”

If the suffering of Christians throughout history, and the experience of Christians we can see right now at home and abroad mean anything…then no, there is no blanket statement, magic pill, mystical incantation, or silver bullet to get you out of this life as a believer without suffering, loss, persecution, and death. We’re called Christians for goodness’ sake. That means we follow in Christ’s footsteps, for crying-out-loud.

The real gift of victory comes at our death. Our most celebrated sacraments point to it. Baptism is celebrating and anticipating death and resurrection. We ain’t gettin’ a holy bath there, you know. We get spiritual sustenance by feeding on the body and blood of our crucified Savior in the Lord’s Supper. Even the most militant memorialist believes there’s something important in the bread and wine. It’s also anticipating a certain banquet we will share with our wounded God after our death, or at least after our change from mortality to immortality at His Coming. Even that is sort of a death. The body we are born with is to be transformed into an eternal one, suited for the endless future. Sort of a “take you earth suit off and put on this eternity suit” kind of thing.

If your looking for victory, and the suppression of your enemies, try Islam. I hear they’re pretty militant about world domination. Plus they have the whole 70 virgin thing, so…

The Buddhists and Hindus offer self-help techniques reported to be effective, if you don’t mind chanting endlessly, and giving up hamburgers.

But if you want to know why things are the way they are…if you know you ain’t got it in you to live right, or even well…if you’re looking for forgiveness from your inner sense of horrible guilt to a holy God you can’t see but know is there because you actually opened your eyes and looked at the world, then Christianity is for you.

Sure, we have our own brands of self-help-victorious living-enemy vanquishing-ignoring reality and burying your head in the sand while naming it and claiming it-religion, but they’re just cheap knock-offs of the same thing.

The real Christianity is harder than you think, easier than you think, smarter than you think, simpler than you think, closer to reality than you think, and weaker than you think.

Sick people need doctors, and honey, we is deathly ill.

Your not gonna get out of this life alive, so start making plans, and join the rest of us crazy people who believe there’s purpose in suffering, strength in weakness, and life in death.

Life is going to be the death of you.

Simul iustus et peccator,

Eric

image

3. You mischaracterize the nature of faith.

I heard it over and over again growing up in my church, and I see other Christians say it all the time today: Just have faith. The predictable context is usually a difficult conversation about Christianity or the nature of God – for example, after a tragedy in the news. Unfortunately, “just have faith” is often the catch-all response Christians use when we can’t answer difficult questions. To be sure, we don’t have all the answers, and we should be honest with our kids about what the Bible does and does not tell us. But, oh, how dangerous it is for kids to believe that the primary answer to most difficult Christian questions is “just have faith.” Those three words, too carelessly tossed about, can leave a permanent impression on your kids that Christianity can’t answer tough questions and that blind faith is the answer…”

– Natasha Crain, via http://christianmomthoughts.com/6-ways-you-may-be-raising-your-kids-with-an-oversimplified-faith/

It’s very true that we over-simplify Christianity. It’s a good thing I’m a stubborn guy, because when I went to a “Christian” college, they tried every way they could to undermine my faith. Thankfully, I had immersed myself in the Scriptures as a teenager (while everyone else was partying and messing around). That was time well spent. I had a keen thirst for truth…not just pat answers…but solid truth. Even though I was hindered by Word-of-Faith theology, I had taught myself the fundamentals of logic. I had investigated my own questions- which turned out to be many people’s questions.

Our kids are bombarded daily by an acrid secularistic worldview. I’m not fully convinced that the earth or the universe is as old as scientists tell us, but I’m open to old-earth creationism. Science has missed it badly before, and they could be wrong now. I have confidence that real science will not contradict the author of nature’s book.

The whole article is worth your time.

simul iustus et peccaries,

Eric

IMG_0030.JPG Image titled Dirt Bath, courtesy of The U.S. Army through a CC Generic 2.0 License. No alterations have been made to this image.

2CO 10:4-6 ESV

4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.
5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,
6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

“What are the satanic strongholds that spiritually imprison people, the strongholds that we seek to destroy? Arguments and opinions. Where is the battle raging? Where our thoughts are.

And arguments are not merely strongholds, they are weapons of mass destruction. Adam and Eve (and all of us with them) fell because of an argument. They believed the serpent’s argument and stopped believing God.

That is the deadly essence of sin: not believing God. To not believe God is to ally with Satan, whom Jesus said is “a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth… for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).” – Jon Bloom, via http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/where-satan-will-attack-you-today

IMG_0004.JPGScience Fish Image courtesy of Steve Rainwater through a CC Generic License. No alteration have been made to this image.

““Science” thus becomes a religion: we believe this to be True, and if you don’t, you’re wrong. No, we can’t prove this is True; we simply believe it’s True. It might be a mom telling us vaccines cause autism, hyperactivity and bullying, or it might be a guy on tv telling us that there is not God, but there is Science. And Science is always right.”
– Elise Hilton, via http://blog.acton.org/archives/72707-science-use-word-doesnt-mean-think-means.html

It’s always humorous to read or listen to hardcore antitheists attempt to beat theism into submission to a godless universe.

There’s only one problem: science will never be able to prove or disprove the existence of God. Why is that? Because science is about engineering incrementally, and not about really smart people searching for truth. It’s about repeating experiments over-and-over until you’re pretty sure it’s a reliable theory. How ya goin’ to do that with God? That’s right…you can’t.

Science has given us many wonderful insights into how our world works, but it can never answer the ultimate questions of origins, purpose, meaning, beauty, goodness, ethics, or ultimate destinations.

It takes a “fundamental epistemic humility, and humility is the hardest thing to wring out of the bombastic animals we are.”

But for most people, science means super-smart people telling you what to believe as truth.

“And it’s this view of science that many people hold until this day. Which is a problem. Because it’s backwards. Science means “Here’s an idea of how things work. Let’s test that idea. A lot. The outcome of those tests will tell us if that idea is true or not.” Instead, we have people who think science means, “This idea is True. Smart people believe it’s True. I think it’s True. Evidence not-withstanding, this is True.””

I’m not impressed. Truth (and God) is the domain of religion and philosophy, not science. Remember that.

simul iustus et peccator,

Eric

IMG_1397.JPGThe First Council of Nicea from the public domain

“Early Christians recognized the authority contained in these writings already; they did not arbitrarily pick which ones would become authoritative for the Church. The early Christians were very careful and thoughtful about which books would get the label ‘Scripture’ alongside the Old Testament. It is simply a fact of history that by the end of the 2nd century (before Constantine), the four Gospels, Acts, and the letters of Paul are already recognized as authoritative and being used that way in house churches. Now some discussion about a handful of books continued on through the centuries between the Eastern and Western churches. But, while there was no universal declaration concerning the final list, it is safe to say that the canon was effectively closed by the time of the Council of Carthage in 397 A.D.”

– See more at: http://www.thinkchristianly.org/who-chose-the-books-of-the-bible-and-why/#sthash.iQwoKOve.dpuf

Most of our New Testament was accepted as Scripture long before the Council of Nicea.

simul iustus et peccator,

Eric

20140624-065011-24611023.jpgPhoto by Ryan Holloway, used through a CC Attribution 2.0 License

“The truth is that every believer already, whether they realize it or not, does apologetics. The question now becomes, do they want to continue to do it poorly or do they want to do it well? We all get questioned or challenged about our faith, whether it is a direct challenge or an indirect one. We can respond by saying, “I just believe” or “That’s just the mystery of God,” but when we do we are essentially telling the one challenging and questioning us that their inquiry is not worth our time or our energy.”
—Rob Lundberg (from, Why Do Christians Need Apologetics?)

via http://www.thepoachedegg.net/the-poached-egg/2014/03/apologetics-training-is-no-longer-an-option-12-quotes.html?utm_content=buffer8ecc6&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer?)

simul iustus et peccator,

Eric Adams

20140624-062026-22826185.jpgPhoto by James Thompson through a CC Attribution 2.0 License

“Before I can call upon Christ as my Savior, I have to understand that I need a savior. I have to understand that I am a sinner. I have to have some understanding of what sin is.I have to understand that God exists. I have to understand that I am estranged from that God, and that I am exposed to that God’s judgment. I don’t reach out for a savior unless I am first convinced that I need a savior. All of that is pre-evangelism. It is involved in the data or the information that a person has to process with his mind before he can either respond to it in faith or reject it in unbelief.”
—R.C. Sproul (From, Defending Your Faith)

via http://www.thepoachedegg.net/the-poached-egg/2014/03/apologetics-training-is-no-longer-an-option-12-quotes.html?utm_content=buffer8ecc6&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

The Reformers thought of saving faith as being composed of three characteristics:

1) notitia- brute facts of Christ’s saving work
2) assensus- acknowledging these brute facts
3) fiducia-trust in Christ’s saving work

The work of pre-evangelism falls under notitia. Make no mistake, however. If people do not have the knowledge of Christ, or their own need for Him, or have their immediate questions answered, there will be no assensus or fiducia.

simul iustus et peccator,

Eric Adams