SPEAKER: Rodney Lake
WHEN: 7:30pm Wednesday 22nd May 2013
WHERE: Bethlehem Community Church, 183 Moffat Rd, Bethlehem, Tauranga.
COST: Free – so bring a friend!
In this live presentation Rodney introduces the idea of Apologetics and makes a case for why it matters in our Christian walk. He makes both a scriptural and cultural defence for the use of apologetics in the Church today and looks at its outward-facing purpose (its role in evangelism) and its inward-facing purpose (its role in strengthening personal faith) and discusses the spiritual discipline of critical thinking.
He finishes up by looking at some of the reasons why our Christian youth are walking away from their faith – and the crucial role apologetics plays in preventing this disturbing trend in the Christian walk of our young people.
We will also be launching the Thinking Matters 2012 Speaking Tour DVD set and have special pricing on the night. These DVD’s contain the best 8 presentations given by popular US apologists Brett Kunkle, Jay Watts and Amy Hall as recorded last year while on tour in New Zealand. These are excellent introductory presentations – and well worth showing at home groups or used in your personal study. The four disks include:
The DVD’s are available at this special launch event for just $15 each, or you can get all four for $40 (cash and cheque only please). This is a very good price for such outstanding material so don’t miss out!
If you can’t make it to the event – these Speaking Tour DVD’s will be made available for purchase online shortly.
Radio New Zealand host Kim Hill recently discussed New Atheism, faith, falsification, and much more with professor of mathematics and philosopher of science John Lennox. It’s an excellent interview.
If you haven’t already checked out Lennox’s new website, make sure you do.
In a previous post on abortion on my own blog, a reader named Matthew Lee raised the issue of how many pro-abortion advocates bring up the death penalty. By doing so, they hope to show that Christians are inconsistent in saying we should never take human life.
Now, in one sense I think this is a non-issue. The objection doesn’t really get off the ground for at least two reasons:
So this objection doesn’t do anything to shift the burden of proof away from the person arguing for abortion. But still, the death penalty is a pretty important topic, so Christians should have an answer to that. Click here to see how I address the question →
Earlier this year, I ran an apologetics course for beginners. By popular demand, I will be running this again for the next school term, beginning on May 7. There are no course fees. Your only expense is the course textbook.
All are welcome, even those who are skeptical about Christianity. Each lesson can be understood on its own, so feel free to come to any night that interests you. Of course, to get the full benefit of the course and see the cumulative case for Christianity properly developed, I’d recommend attending all.
Holy War in the Bible: Christian Morality and an Old Testament Problem comes out next month. Edited by Heath A Thomas, Jeremy Evans, and Paul Copan, the book offers a constructive response to the issue of divine judgment and religious violence by drawing upon biblical, ethical, philosophical and theological insights. We’re excited to see the collection of essays also includes a chapter co-written by New Zealand theologian and philosopher Matthew Flannagan (you can read his chapter online here).
The challenge of a seemingly genocidal God who commands ruthless warfare has bewildered Bible readers for generations. The theme of divine war is not limited to the Old Testament historical books, however. It is also prevalent in the prophets and wisdom literature as well. Still it doesn’t stop. The New Testament book of Revelation, too, is full of such imagery. Our questions multiply.
These controversial yet theologically vital issues call for thorough interpretation, especially given a long history of misinterpretation and misappropriaton of these texts. This book does more, however. A range of expert contributors engage in a multidisciplinary approach that considers the issue from a variety of perspectives: biblical, ethical, philosophical and theological.
While the writers recognize that such a difficult and delicate topic cannot be resolved in a simplistic manner, the different threads of this book weave together a satisfying tapestry. Ultimately we find in the overarching biblical narrative a picture of divine redemption that shows the place of divine war in the salvific movement of God.
We are excited to be hosting Dr Glenn Peoples in a couple of locations around the upper North Island this month. We’ll be posting more details about the full tour soon but for now here’s some info on an Auckland conference he’ll be speaking at.
Are faith and reason enemies? Should we take Christianity seriously in the world of ideas? Are there any good reasons to believe in the Christian God? Join us this April as we explore these questions and more with Christian philosopher and popular speaker Dr Glenn People. The conference will also include other incredible speakers such as Dr Chris Tucker (Auckland University), Dr Shawn Means (Auckland University), Sean du Toit (Alphacrucis College), Jacqui Lloyd (Laidlaw College), and theologian Dr Matthew Flannagan. If you’ve ever wanted to dig deeper into the evidence for Christianity or confront serious questions about God and the Bible, this conference is for you.
9-10am: SESSION 1: Glenn Peoples: Why does it matter?
10-11am Workshops Round 1:
-Chris Tucker: Why Does God allow Evil?
-Shawn Means: The Universe, Mathematics, and God
11-12pm SESSION 2: Glenn Peoples: Do we need God to be good?
12.30-1.30pm SESSION 3: Glenn Peoples: Can we have equality without God?
1.30-2.30pm Workshops Round 2:
-Sean du Toit: Can we trust the authenticity of the New Testament Letters?
-Matt Flannagan: How should we read difficult Old Testament Passages?
2.30-3.30pm SESSION 4: Q&A Panel with Glenn Peoples, Matt Flannagan, and Jacqui Lloyd
Dr Glenn Peoples is a graduate in theology (BD) from the Bible College of NZ (now Laidlaw College) and has a Masters degree (MTHeol) and a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Otago. For over ten years he has been writing and speaking on intellectual issues that Christians face, including the place of faith in the public square, justice and human rights, and the reasons for Christian belief. Glenn runs a popular podcast and blog, Say Hello to My Little Friend, and lives in Wellington with his wife Ruth and their four children.
Zachary Arden, in a guest post at the Kiwifruit Blog, discusses the role of evidence and faith:
Faith is primarily trust in God. Saving faith is not just correct doctrinal belief (for, as James notes, even the demons have this), but requires what I think of as ‘a volitional shift’ towards God. For a fallen human being to trust in God, the action of the Holy Spirit is required, and any knowledge of God requires His gracious self-revelation. The question at issue in discussing the role of evidence is not whether an act of God is required in order to bring about faith, but what means he may use. I contend that he ordinarily operates by ‘ordinary’ means, and that the use of rigorous evidential arguments for the rationality of Christian faith can play a part in this. So, what is evidence? I say it is any fact that, when believed, makes a proposition appear more likely to be true than it did prior to accepting the evidence. A wide range of facts can be considered evidence. In the case of the resurrection, we have testimonial evidence from eyewitnesses, which is corroborated by a host of archaeological and historical considerations, as well as by a broader context including earlier predictions of the event, weighty events leading up to it, and the purported consequences in the subsequent development of the Church. Assessing the context in which the resurrection occurred I think provides evidence for its reality as an event of spiritual significance rather than a mere statistical aberration or inexplicable exception to natural law.
Read the whole thing here.
The Christian faith seems increasingly at odds with those in the world around us. From the media, to skeptical teachers and unbelieving peers, the gospel seems irrelevant and out of date. How do we talk to others about God and the Bible? Can we really argue people into the kingdom of God? Or should we just focus on compassion and loving others? Next Thursday, Thinking Matters is hosting Christian theologian Dr Matt Flannagan to speak on these questions and more. Matt will examine the Biblical and practical evidence for defending Christianity and show why it is vital to knowing and communicating our faith in the 21st Century.
What: Why Defend Christianity? with Matt Flannagan
When: Thursday April 4, 7.30pm
Where: Auckland Chinese Presbyterian Church, 105 Vincent Street, CBD
Matt is a theologian and prominent New Zealand Christian commentator, debater, and blogger. He specialises in applied ethics and the interface between philosophy and theology. Currently, Matt works part-time as a teaching pastor and youth group leader for Takanini Church of Christ while he runs the popular blog MandM with his wife Madeleine.
There are two aspects of Christian defence. The first deals with content, offering specific responses to particular questions and challenges. The second deals with the techniques of using this information – tactics in defending the faith – and focuses on style, strategy and method.
Thinking Matters Tauranga is running a 6 week couse that covers the second aspect, giving a variety of powerful tactics and specific strategies and methods for sound reasoning, clear thinking, and a gracious defence of the Christian worldview.
You will learn specific skills to help you:
This is based on the small group DVD curriculum by Greg Koukl from Stand to Reason that includes discussions, role play, memory tools, games, competitions, self-assessment quizzes, and recall exercises.
WHEN: Tuesdays – Starting the 9th of April
DURATION: 6 weeks
TIME: 7.30 – 9 pm
WHERE: Bethlehem Community Church, 183 Moffat Road, Bethlehem, Tauranga
COST: $10 (includes 110 page course manual).
RSVP: None – just turn up!
We also highly recommend Gregory Koukl’s book Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions (check out the online reviews here) as a supplementary course text book. Copies will be available during the course for $20 each (cash only) while stocks last.
Hope to see you there!
Paul Copan reviews Eric Seibert’s The Violence of Scripture: Overcoming the Old Testament’s Troubling Legacy:
“In OT prophetic fashion, Jesus regularly issues denouncements and threats of judgment. He routinely pronounces temporal judgment on Jerusalem, which would come at the hands of Rome in AD 70. He also assumes Sodom, Tyre, and Sidon had been divinely judged, which serves a springboard for condemning Bethsaida, Chorazin, and Capernaum in Matthew 11:21-24 (cf. Matt. 10:15). Notice these warnings of judgment immediately precede Jesus’ self-description as gentle and humble in heart (Matt. 11:28-30)! Jesus likewise takes for granted divine judgment in Noah’s day (Matt. 24:37-39). And in a symbolic act, an enraged Jesus makes a whip to drive out moneychangers from the temple (John 2:15). Does this act not have a touch of the kind of “violence” Seibert condemns? What of Jesus’ indictment of stumbling blocks who should have a millstone tied around their necks and be drowned (Matt. 18:6)? Christ also threatens the “wretched” vinegrowers (Israel’s leaders) with judgment (Matt. 21:41; Mark 12:9)—just as he does the Nicolaitans and “Jezebel” in Revelation (Rev. 2:16, 21-23). Unlike Seibert, Jesus clearly believes in the appropriateness of temporal divine punishment.
…[W]hat about the rest of the NT? Paul references severe temporal punishments on Israel as an example to us (1 Cor. 10)—some Israelites laid low, others destroyed by serpents, others by “the destroyer.” He acknowledges the judgment of sickness and even death because of the abuse of the Lord’s Table (1 Cor. 11:30). Stephen matter-of-factly mentions nations dispossessed by Joshua (Acts 7:11). Paul says Israel “overthrew” the seven nations of Canaan (Acts 13:19). The author of Hebrews speaks of the faith of those who “conquered kingdoms,” “became mighty in war,” and “put foreign armies to flight” (Heb. 11:33-34). He also commends Noah and Abraham for their faith (Heb. 11:7, 17)—the very settings of “virtuous violence” Seibert rejects. And what about the temporal judgments—and final judgment—on unbelievers mentioned throughout Revelation? Jesus and the NT writers don’t actually read the OT the way Seibert thinks they should. Contrary to the advice Seibert gives about reading carefully and critically, he himself glosses over clear pronouncements (or descriptions) of divine judgment by both Jesus and the NT authors. Seibert’s approach includes downplaying or even denying the historicity of numerous OT events as well as clear statements by Jesus because of their connection to divine wrath. He claims only a “few cases” are historical events essential to our faith (Disturbing Divine Behavior, 120).
However, imposing this non-violent grid on the words and actions of God/Jesus requires significant hermeneutical gymnastics—an approach that creates an interpretive straitjacket for Seibert. Unlike various other Christian pacifists, Seibert’s absolute pacifism requires him to dismiss or ignore Jesus’ own authoritative statements, vast tracts of Scripture pertaining to divine judgment (e.g., the prophetic books, Revelation), and sections of Scripture where force—even of a lethal nature—is warranted. These include God’s ordaining the minister of the state to bear the “sword” (Rom. 13:4) or Paul’s benefiting from military force when his life is under threat (Acts 23; cf. Luke 3:14). What about Peter who strikes down Ananias and Sapphira, who have lied to God (Acts 5)? What of Paul who blinds Elymas (Acts 13)? Seibert calls us to read the Scriptures discerningly, but his own hermeneutic promotes undiscerning selectivity that ignores the very stance of the NT and Jesus himself.
“Behold, the kindness and severity of God” (Rom. 11:22). Seibert emphasizes God’s kindness but, in Marcion-like fashion, denies God’s severity—essentially expunging many “divine judgment and wrath” texts from his “non-violent canon.” Even the chief OT text describing God as “compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Exod. 34:6) is immediately followed by these words: “But he will by no means leave the guilty unpunished” (Exod. 34:7; cf. Exod. 20:6). Moreover, the prophet Habakkuk pleads with God in light of pending judgment on Judah: “in wrath, remember mercy” (3:2). Seibert is right to remember divine mercy, but wrong to fail to acknowledge divine wrath. Despite his attempts to correct the church’s thinking about violence in Scripture, Seibert himself often does violence to Scripture in the process.”
Read the whole thing here.
John Dickson examines some of the historical claims about the gospels and the life of Jesus made by the New Atheists.
Dickson is the director of the Centre for Public Christianity and Senior Research Fellow of the Department of Ancient History at Macquarie University. You can check out more of CPX’s videos on their vimeo channel or on their website.
Christian apologist Sean McDowell and skeptic Michael Shermer discuss whether theism or atheism better explains morality and the universe. McDowell is a great communicator and the videos are a good introduction to the issues involved in the debate. The conversation was hosted by Cross Examination, a show produced by The Salvation Army to stimulate thinking and discussion.
The theme at the Ligonier National Conference conference this year was standing for the truth of God’s Word. At the conference, Ravi Zacharias gave a message on the resurrection, discussing it’s context, why it matters, and what it means for us today. You can listen or view the rest of the conference talks at Ligonier.org.
Michael J. Kruger (President and Professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina) has began a series to help believers better understand their New Testament and hopefully correct a pattern he has witnessed in recent times:
Almost every couple of years it happens. Usually it occurs around Christmas or Easter. And it is typically associated with a massive media blitz. I am referring to sensational claims, made by either scholars or laymen, that something definitively “new” has been discovered about the historical Jesus.
Examples of such claims abound in just the last number of years. The so-called Gospel of Jesus’ Wife was “discovered” last year and purportedly taught Jesus had a wife. The Gospel of Judas was all the talk in 2006, as were told that the traditional Gospels may have not given the whole story. And, of course, we all remember the Da Vinci Code phenomenon in 2003 and after.
Our modern culture loves “new” things. They don’t want to hear the same old stories again and again—particularly when it comes to religion. They want something fresh and exciting. They want something different. This fascination with the “new” is why people feel they must reinvent church (or Christianity) for each generation. People like to believe they have discovered something that no one has ever discovered before.
While this regular pattern of sensational claims about Jesus is quite well-documented, there is another pattern that is also well-documented, namely Christians being unprepared to respond. As each new claim about Jesus is made, most believers in the pew find themselves inadequately equipped to provide an answer. For whatever set of reasons, the church has not adequately taught its members about the origins and reliability of the Scriptures.
Here are the first four parts of his series (I’ll update the rest when they’re available):
His series is designed for a lay-level audience and is a great resource for conversations with skeptical friends. For more on the subject, check out his book: Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books (Crossway, 2012). Here is a short video of him responding to Bart Ehrman’s claims about the NT canon:
The full video archive of Dr William Lane Craig’s speaking engagements from the Reasonable Faith UK Tour has been posted on YouTube. Every debate, lecture, Q&A session, and conference discussion is online and presented in chronological order. That’s almost twenty hours of solid apologetic content.
View the playlist here.