Audio: Trent Dougherty on Faith and Reason in a Broken World

Last month, we had the privilege of hosting Christian Philosopher Trent Dougherty in Tauranga for two events on the problem of evil. Here is the audio from those talks:

[pk_icon_link icon=”download” icon_type=”dark”]Part 1: Faith & Reason in the face of Evil and Suffering[/pk_icon_link]

Does faith make sense given the horrendous evil we see in the world around us?  In this lecture, Trent offers guidelines for the integration of faith and reason and how to think about the problem of evil and suffering.

[pk_icon_link icon=”download” icon_type=”dark”]Part 2: Exposing Atheistic Naturalism’s Answer to Evil[/pk_icon_link]

Atheists claim that naturalism (the view that only matter, energy and time exist – with no God intervening from the outside) gives a better explanation of suffering in the world.  In this talk, Trent shows that naturalism’s attempt to answer the problem of evil and suffering backfires at every turn.

Special thanks to Rodney Lake for the audio and Brian Auten for helping us to host the files.

Trent Dougherty is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Baylor University.  He has a PhD in Philosophy of Religion, Epistemology and Probability Theory from the University of Rochester and an MA in Philosophy from the University of Missouri-Columbia.  He has published articles and book reviews in many journals including Religious Studies Review, Notre Dame Philosophical Review, Philosophia Christi and many others. He is also the editor of recently published book, Evidentialism and its Discontents.

[pk_empty_space height=”20″]

The Incompatibility of Anti-intellectualism and the Fullness of the Spirit

[pk_box width=”600″]”The fact that Jesus called the Holy Spirit ‘the Spirit of truth,’ and gave such a prominent place to his teaching ministry, is of great importance in the anti-intellectual cultures of the world. I do not hesitate to say that anti-intellectualism and the fullness of the Spirit are mutually incompatible, because the Spirit with whom we claim to be filled or desire to be filled is the Spirit of truth. In consequence where the Holy Spirit is free to work, truth matters.”[/pk_box]

John R. W. Stott in “Biblical Expositions” (The Anglican Communion and Scripture), page 27.

[Source: Joseph E. Gorra]

Kategoria Journal Now Online

The Gospel Coalition has teamed up with Matthias Media to freely host all 31 issues of the acclaimed Christian journal kategoria online. A quarterly journal produced by the Matthias Center for the Study of Modern Beliefs, kategoria was created to provide Christians with tools for critical thinking and research.

In Greek, kategoria literally means “speaking against” and was used by poets and historians of the ancient world to describe the activity of bringing a charge against another party. With essays and reviews on topics such as euthanasia, spirituality, deconstruction, utilitarianism, the kategoria journal sought not just to establish Christianity in the world of ideas but to critically assess and challenge secular thought, its philosophies and ideas.

You can find the full archive at

R.C. Sproul on the Holiness of God

R. C. Sproul’s 1985 book The Holiness of God is considered a modern classic on the topic of God’s character. Even today, Sproul’s thoughts on holiness contain important insights into a subject that can often seem distant and hard to comprehend. While no attribute of God can be neglected without cost, the Biblical portrait of God and redemptive history are seriously distorted when we deny or underestimate God’s holiness. As Sproul himself has highlighted:

[pk_box width=600]”Only once in sacred Scripture is an attribute of God elevated to the third degree. Only once is a characteristic of God mentioned three times in succession. The Bible says that God is holy, holy, holy. Not that He is merely holy, or even holy, holy. He is holy, holy, holy. The Bible never says that God is love, love, love; or mercy, mercy, mercy; or wrath, wrath, wrath; or justice, justice, justice. It does say that he is holy, holy, holy that the whole earth is full of His glory.”[/pk_box]

Ligonier Ministries have now made several of Sproul’s lecture series freely available, including his series on God’s holiness. I’d encourage you to watch it; the subject is not merely one for scholars or theologians but a matter of great importance to every person.

Read more

Understanding the Hard Sayings of the Bible

InterVarsity Press have added a helpful feature to their site: each day they are posting an entry from their book Hard Sayings of the Bible.

Check it out at

Video: A Godless Public Square – Do ‘Private’ Christian Beliefs Have a Place in Public Life?

The video from our recent panel discussion with Matt Flannagan, Glenn Peoples, and Madeleine Flannagan on religion in the public square is now available.

Here’s Part 1 of 11 (or you can watch the created playlist here):

[pk_youtube_custom_player width=”560″ height=”345″ align=”center” autoplay=”false” cover=”” video_id=”sfnCKFs9DWk”]

Special thanks to Stuart for recording, editing, and uploading the video.

The event took place at Auckland University and was co-sponsored by the Evangelical Union. Patt Brittenden moderated the discussion.

Read more

The Centrality of Joy

[pk_box width=”600″]”Man is more himself, man is more manlike, when joy is the fundamental thing in him, and grief the superficial. Melancholy should be an innocent interlude, a tender and fugitive frame of mind; praise should be the permanent pulsation of the soul. Pessimism is at best an emotional half-holiday; joy is the uproarious labour by which all things live. Yet, according to the apparent estate of man as seen by the pagan or the agnostic, this primary need of human nature can never be fulfilled. Joy ought to be expansive; but for the agnostic it must be contracted, it must cling to one corner of the world. Grief ought to be a concentration; but for the agnostic its desolation is spread through an unthinkable eternity. This is what I call being born upside down. The sceptic may truly be said to be topsy-turvy; for his feet are dancing upwards in idle ecstacies, while his brain is in the abyss. To the modern man the heavens are actually below the earth. The explanation is simple; he is standing on his head; which is a very weak pedestal to stand on. But when he has found his feet again he knows it. Christianity satisfies suddenly and perfectly man’s ancestral instinct for being the right way up; satisfies it supremely in this; that by its creed joy becomes something gigantic and sadness something special and small. The vault above us is not deaf because the universe is an idiot; the silence is not the heartless silence of an endless and aimless world. Rather the silence around us is a small and pitiful stillness like the prompt stillness in a sick-room. We are perhaps permitted tragedy as a sort of merciful comedy: because the frantic energy of divine things would knock us down like a drunken farce. We can take our own tears more lightly than we could take the tremendous levities of the angels. So we sit perhaps in a starry chamber of silence, while the laughter of the heavens is too loud for us to hear.”[/pk_box]

–G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (page 138).


Our Eternal Destiny: A Discussion about Universalism – Audio

Here is the audio from last month’s panel discussion between Joe Fleener and Bryan Winters on universalism and the Christian understanding of salvation:

[pk_icon_link icon=”download” icon_type=”dark”]Our Eternal Destiny: A Discussion about Universalism[/pk_icon_link] (please right click and save as)

The exchange took place at Bethlehem Community Church, Tauranga, with Bryan defending universalism and Joe defending the traditional Christian approach.

Special thanks to Rodney for organizing the audio. If you would like information on how to get a copy of the dvd, please contact him.

More about the speakers:

Bryan Winters has an Honours degree in Geography and Economics and has been a school teacher in New Zealand, West Africa and London. He now works in IT sales and consulting where he has worked in Australia, Singapore and New Zealand.

Joe Fleener holds a Masters of Divinity and has served as a fulltime Bible College lecturer in New Zealand in the areas of Old Testament, Church History, Apologetics, Christian Worldview and Ethics before entering his current role as Associate Pastor of Howick Baptist Church in Auckland. He blogs at the Kiwifruit Blog and you can follow him on twitter at @jfleener5.

An Inconsequential God

[pk_box width=”600″ align=”center”]”The fundamental problem in the evangelical world today is that God rests too inconsequentially upon the church. His truth is too distant, His grace is too ordinary, His judgment is too benign, His gospel is too easy, and His Christ is too common.”[/pk_box]

–David Wells, God in the Wasteland: The Reality of Truth in a World of Fading Dreams (page 30).

Sources for Nero and the Reliability of the Gospels

The following post has been written by Mark Keown, New Testament lecturer at Laidlaw College and author of What’s God Up To On Planet Earth?. He has kindly given us permission to reprint it here.

I have been doing some research on Nero looking for data that might help in the interpretation of Philippians, which I believe should be placed in Rome in the early 60’s when Nero was on fire. One interesting offshoot has been comparing the sources we have for Nero with those we have for the Gospels. The three main sources we have for Nero are Tacitus, Suetonius and Dio Cassius. The first, Tacitus or Publius/Gaius Cornelius Tacitus lived from AD 56-117. So he was born 2 years after Nero came to power and was 10 when Nero died. So he did not experience Nero first hand, although he might have seen him. He was a senator and historian, at one point Governor of Asia (AD 112/113). He was a part of the scene when Domitian was at his peak of despotic mania. He drew on earlier sources like Pliny the Elder which are lost. The work of most interest to study of Nero, Annals (Annales), was written sometime in the period AD 110-120, likely at the latter end of the decade. This is some 50-60 years after the event. We have only two incomplete manuscripts, one from AD 850, nearly 8 centuries after the event (Ch. 1-6), the other from the eleventh century (Ch. 11-16). We do not have the material on Nero’s childhood and youth, nor the final two years of his life.
Read more

Week in Reviews

Here are a few notable book reviews published in the last week or so. For more reading, check out the latest issue of Themelios, which has a nice collection of reviews.



  • [pk_image image=”” w=”100″ h=”150″ align=”left” image_style=””]
    Apologetics for the Twenty-First CenturyLouis Markos

    “As a survey, Markos’s book is quite useful; his biographical and topical structure allows him to address a host of issues while writing a coherent book. While it is not possible in a book of this size to attempt to cover each apologist and every argument in great detail, Markos offers his reader a commendably complete picture of the current apologetic landscape. Markos does, at times, appeal directly to the unbeliever to consider the arguments and evidence; in the main, however, his survey would be most useful to the beginning student of apologetics.” – M. P. Riley



  • [pk_image image=”” w=”100″ h=”150″ align=”left” image_style=””]
    Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical FaithDouglas Groothius

    “I would be comfortable saying this is the most comprehensive Evangelical apologetic work I have ever seen. It touches on every major issue in a balanced way.” – C. Michael Patton



  • [pk_image image=”” w=”100″ h=”150″ align=”left” image_style=””]
    Is God a Moral Monster?: Making Sense of the Old Testament GodPaul Copan

    “…whether or not readers agree with Copan’s approach to each particular problem passage, his book is sure to educate and edify. Is God a Moral Monster? is an immensely valuable resource for anyone interested in Old Testament ethics or for those who seek informed responses to the new atheists’ objections concerning the topic. Copan is to be commended for this superb work.” – Jim Spiegel



  • [pk_image image=”” w=”100″ h=”150″ align=”left” image_style=””]
    If God, Why Evil?: A New Way To Think About the Question  – Norman Geisler

    If God, Why Evil? by Norm Geisler is a sharp, intellectual stab at the heart of one of Christianity’s most vexing questions (and yes, that question just happens to be the title). While the book is brief, Geisler brings all his apologetic weight to bear and the result is a pleasure to read.” – Jared Totten




  • [pk_image image=”” w=”100″ h=”150″ align=”left” image_style=””]
    Analytic Theology: New Essays in the Philosophy of TheologyEdited by Oliver D. Crisp and Michael C. Rea

    “Taken as a whole, this collection of essays accomplishes what its editors intended: it provides an impressive defense and showcase of theology in the analytic mode…It’s hard to deny that most systematic theologians would benefit enormously from a dose or two of analytic philosophy. Even so, good Christian theology needs more than analytical precision, clarity, deductive rigor, and so forth; it also requires an intimate knowledge of the source materials (primarily the scriptures), exegetical expertise, a command of historical theology, a dash of literary flair, and (I would argue) a measure of pastoral experience. Of course, such virtues almost never coincide in any one individual, but that’s precisely the point: analytic theologians and non-analytic theologians need each another.” – James Anderson

    [pk_empty_space height=”10″]

    “Crisp demonstrates that there is much to be gained from the discipline of analytic theology. While the discipline still remains to be tested, it appears, at least at this point, that there is more to gain from analytic theology than there is to lose. To clarify, analytic theology, with its emphasis on logical argumentation and theological precision and clarity, does not prevent one from the errors of heresy. At the end of the day, conclusions drawn by use of analytical reasoning must fit with the biblical witness. That said, analytic theology can be a tremendous resource in the hands of the theologian, allowing him to use logic and reason to better understand the loci of the Christian faith.” – Matthew Barrett




  • [pk_image image=”” w=”100″ h=”150″ align=”left” image_style=””]
    Seven Days that Divide the World: : The Beginning According to Genesis and ScienceJohn Lennox

    “…Seven Days that Divide the World by John Lennox is a good brief look at some of the key issues involved in evaluating views of the age of the earth and our interpretation of Genesis. The book is concise, clear, and charitable. Lennox doesn’t answer all the questions or explore all the details, but he does offer a good set of principles and insights to work with in considering one’s own view.” – Brian Auten




  • [pk_image image=”” w=”100″ h=”150″ align=”left” image_style=””]
    AthanasiusPeter Leithart

    “Leithart has here made a fine contribution to the field of Athanasian studies. I intend to list this book in the bibliography of my Ancient Church course at Westminster, for those students who want to press deeper into the issues of patristic theology and the importance of Trinitarianism. He has certainly set the bar high for subsequent volumes in this series.” – Carl Trueman



  • [pk_image image=”” w=”100″ h=”150″ align=”left” image_style=””]
    Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever LivedRob Bell

    “The book is poorly presented both in terms of its lack of clarity and its failure to acknowledge its sources. It models a use of Scripture that can only be described as lamentable, with numerous misquotations, selective references and distortions. As a result it proposes positions on Hell, the person of Christ, the cross, the scope of salvation and the requirement for repentance and faith that cannot be sustained by the whole testimony of the New Testament. All of this appears to arise from a questionable view of the authority of the Bible and a skewed understanding of God’s character that emphasises his love at the expense of his holiness, sovereignty and truth.” – Paul B. Coulter



  • [pk_image image=”” w=”100″ h=”150″ align=”left” image_style=””]
    Did the First Christians Worship Jesus?: The New Testament EvidenceJames D. G. Dunn

    “…based on these admissions alone the title question can be answered with an unqualified “Yes!” Jesus was worshipped by the first Christians by their praying to him and invoking his name in cultic settings, in singing hymns and offering thanksgiving to him, in prostrating themselves before him, etc. But again, Dunn’s real question concerns Jesus displacing God as the object of worship so every admission of the worship of Jesus is met with a “but.”…But worship as such isn’t a majority rules game. We don’t get to examine the data that says that Jesus receives worship in the same ways that God does and then conclude that Jesus did not receive worship because God receives more of it. And we can’t examine the data and conclude that because there’s no bait and switch, i.e., there’s no substitution of Jesus for God, that there’s no worship of Jesus at all or that it has to be qualified to the point where it’s treated as essentially nonexistent. And Dunn’s concerns about Jesus displacing God, no matter how valid, simply haven’t found proponents in the scholarly literature.” – Nick Norelli