John Stott (1921-2011)

John R. W. Stott went to be with the Lord early this morning (3:15 PM London time, 2:15 AM New Zealand time). Stott was one of the most influential evangelicals of the last century, leading an evangelical resurgence in England and shaping the faith of Christians worldwide through his writing and preaching.

The news was announced on the the website of All Souls Langham Place, the church where he served as reactor and curate. President of John Stott Ministries, Benjamin Homan, said that Stott’s family and close friends were at his bedside reading Scripture and listening to Handel’s Messiah when he passed away. Stott was aged 90.

Read more

image_03

Ask TM: Practical advice for persuading others in conversation?

We often get questions about theology and apologetics sent to us by readers and we thought it would be helpful if we shared some of our answers to those questions on the blog. If you’ve got a question that you’d like us to address here, send it to thinknz@gmail.com along with your full name, city, and country.

This week, one of our readers from Tauranga, New Zealand, asks what practical advice we can offer for sharing the truth of Christianity with others.

Read more

image_05

Byran Bruce’s “Jesus: The Cold Case”

Mark Keown and Glenn Peoples have written comprehensive reviews of Bryan Bruce’s TV documentary Jesus: The Cold Case.

In summary, it is an unbalanced pseudo-investigation, which relies not on evidence but the unsupported speculations of liberal and biased so-called authority figures.

Glenn’s review is particularly damning. He concludes:

What’s worse is the knowledge of the way that wide eye, impressed viewers will see this. Here’s a person who’s willing to ask “hard questions.” What a breath of fresh air! Never mind that it’s the same stale air that has been circulating on sceptical websites and religious studies departments for years. Look, he’s got scholars backing him up! Never mind any of the published responses to those scholars, Bruce can rest easy in the knowledge that his audience won’t even have read them.

Woody Allen and Billy Graham Talk Religion, Morality, and Sex

It’s hard to imagine a more fascinating encounter. Two men, from worlds that couldn’t be further apart, met together on national television in front of a live audience. One, a New York comedian and playwright who, in many ways, represented a culture of nihilism, instant gratification, and neurotic self-focus. The other, a revivalist evangelical preacher born on a dairy farm in North Carolina.

[pk_youtube_custom_player width=”690″ height=”315″ align=”none” autoplay=”false” cover=”A_9D3CrAghU” video_id=””]

Decades later, Woody Allen would later reflect on their meeting in 1969:

“Years ago I was on television with Billy Graham and I was taking this position, this bleak outlook position and Billy Graham was saying to me that even if I was right and he was wrong, and there was no meaning to life and it was a bleak experience and there was no god and no afterlife or no hope or anything, he would still have a better life than me, because he believed differently and even if he was 100 percent wrong, our lives would both be completed and I would have had a miserable life wallowing in a bleak outlook and he would have had a wonderful life, confident that there was more.”

[via Denny Burk]

 

John Hare in Auckland

British classicist, ethicist, and Professor of Philosophical Theology at Yale Divinity School, John Hare will be participating at several public events next week (along with the God and Ethics panel on Tuesday). Hare is a widely acclaimed philosopher, best known for developing an account of the need for God’s assistance in meeting the demands of objective morality. If you’re looking for a discussion on religion and morality with a bit more intellectual bite, I’d encourage you to go along.

Here are the details:

Read more

Common Misconceptions About the Cosmological Argument

Edward Feser:

1. The argument does NOT rest on the premise that “Everything has a cause.”
2. “What caused God?” is not a serious objection to the argument.
3. “Why assume that the universe had a beginning?” is not a serious objection to the argument.
4. “No one has given any reason to think that the First Cause is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good, etc.” is not a serious objection to the argument.
5. “The argument doesn’t prove that Christianity is true” is not a serious objection to the argument.
6. “Science has shown such-and-such” is not a serious objection to (most versions of) the argument.
7. The argument is not a “God of the gaps” argument.
8. Hume and Kant did not have the last word on the argument.  Neither has anyone else.
9. What “most philosophers” think about the argument is irrelevant.

Read the full post here.

[HT: Wintery Knight]

New Book: Reformed Epistemology and the Problem of Religious Diversity

An individual confronted with the vast diversity of religious beliefs and practices in the world has four possible ways of making sense of this situation. The first is naturalism, the position that all religious beliefs are merely the product of human projection and therefore false. The second is pluralism, the idea that there is a single ultimate religious reality and all religious traditions are actually different ways of experiencing or interpreting this reality. The third option is inclusivism, the position that there is one religion that offers the most effective path to salvation, but others outside this religion can somehow be saved or liberated. The final option is exclusivism, the idea that one religion is exclusively true and the doctrines of other religions are false when they conflict with this religion.

For the Christian, believing anything less than exclusivism would seem to contradict the clear teaching of Christ. Yet, today, this position is not popular. To endorse one religion over others is considered arbitrary, irrational, unjustified, even oppressive and imperialistic.

In a new book released last month, Joseph Kim seeks to defend Christian exclusivism against these charges. Reformed Epistemology and the Problem of Religious Diversity interacts with Alvin Plantinga’s proper function account of warrant and shows why mutually exclusive religious beliefs do not serve as defeaters for Christian belief. Kim, a former lecturer in philosophy and business ethics at the University of California and Arizona State University, argues that the Christian exclusivist need not give up her Christian belief when faced with the problem of religious diversity even when she is unable to give an argument for the truth of Christian belief to those that disagree.

For those looking for a solid defense of Christian belief and a good introduction to the central issues that connect contemporary epistemology and the philosophy of religion, this looks like a book to seriously consider.

Below are the table of contents and some of the endorsements:

Read more

Should Christians Still Give Out Tracts?

Given the recent legal controversy over Christians passing out tracts at events, Christianity Today asks a group of pastors and evangelists if tracts, flyers, and street evangelism are still effective ways of bringing people to Christ.

I found Bob Roberts’ answer to contain the most common sense:

“Yes, if it isn’t distracting from the event. Yes, if it is done with respect to the person and culture that they come from, being sensitive to the differences. Yes, if it’s done with kindness to the person you are attempting to share with, passing out a lot of smiles. Yes, if you respect their wish not to listen to you. Yes, if you approach it as humbly, gently, and broken over the eternal destinies of people. No, if you are loud, arrogant, and aggressive in the way you come across. No, if you don’t genuinely love the people you are sharing with. No, if you haven’t bothered trying to understand their point of view and aren’t willing to listen to them. No, if you are not practically serving them in some way to show the love of Jesus. No, if all you want to do is preach.”

Read the other opinions here.