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Thinking Matters Equip

A practical training bulletin sent four times per year for free

Our new Thinking Matters Equip is posted out for free to those who want to be better equipped to engage culture with the truth of Jesus Christ.

Key Points:

  • Each issue will focus on a specific topic or area of Christian apologetics and worldview.
  • A main editorial will be written by top international apologist – such as Greg Koukl from Stand to Reason.
  • It will include small-group discussion questions so it can be a resource for small groups.
  • It will include recommended further study: Books, DVDs, websites, blogs and YouTube clips.
  • We will publish a matching blog post on our website so you can discuss the content online.
  • We will include announcements about coming events and other ministry news.

Best of all – this is our gift to you!  Sorry – available only in New Zealand.

 

Jesus the Game Changer – DVD Series now available

We are excited to announce a partnership with Olive Tree Media to bring you Jesus the Game Changera 10 part documentary series on how the life and teaching of Jesus changed the world and why it matters.

Jesus the Game ChangerJesus Christ has made an indelible mark on human history and He continues to do so through His followers. Yet many people do not realise that the values western democracies are built on originate in the life and teaching of Jesus – including:

  • The equality of all
  • Servant leadership
  • Care for the poor and marginalised
  • Dignity of women and children
  • Education
  • And others…

In this small-group DVD series, host Karl Faase travels to the US, UK, Australia, Singapore and India interviewing over 30 authors, speakers and modern-day game changers on these topics and more to examine in depth the impact Jesus has had on western culture.  Guests include top thinkers and cultural commentators; Eric Metaxas, Christine Caine, John Ortberg, Rodney Stark, Rico Tice, Mary Jo Sharp and many others.

WATCH TRAILER

SHINE TV SCREENING

Thinking Matters is proudly sponsoring a screening of this series on Shine TV on Tuesdays at 8pm – starting Tuesday 6th September 2016.

After each week’s episode we will publish a blog post on our site where you can discuss the episode with others.  Visit www.ThinkingMatters.org.nz/GameChanger for the latest post during the screening.

PURCHASE NOW

We are selling copies of the full series on DVD on our online store.  Click here to purchase.

Note stock will be arriving on the 6th September when the Shine TV screening starts – so your order will not be shipped until then.

Contingency argument

Leibniz’ Contingency Argument

Reasonable Faith have an excellent video regarding the Contingency Argument. This explains why God is necessary for the universe to exist without presupposing a beginning to the universe.

We live in an amazing universe.

Have you ever wondered why it exists?

Why does anything at all exists?

Gottfried Leibniz wrote, “The first question which should rightly be asked is: Why is there something rather than nothing?”

He came to the conclusion that the explanation is found in God.

Enjoy!

Karl Faase

New Video Series on How Jesus Changed the World with Karl Faase

Olive Tree Media have released a trailer for a new DVD series about how the life and teaching of Jesus changed the world and why it matters. Hosted by Karl Faase, the 10 episode series includes interviews with notable Christian academics such as Miroslav Volf and Rodney Stark. The series comes out in July.

Karl Faase is the Senior Pastor of Gymea Baptist Church and CEO of Olive Tree Media, an Australian-based media organisation which produces DVD and television series for Christian media and church use.

stars

Thinking matters – What’s in a Worldview?

Welcome to the third instalment of my series – Thinking matters. If you are a newcomer to this ongoing conversation, I recommend reading here and here to catch up. Moving right along to the next reason why thinking matters. If we do not think seriously about what we believe and why we believe it, we are left with a hollow worldview. Before we delve deeper, let’s define some terms.

What is a worldview?

I searched far and wide for a good definition but alas. So, here is my best shot at what encompasses a worldview –

Worldview: the framework of presuppositions, ideas and beliefs through which an individual or group interprets reality.

To put it simply, a worldview is the personalised lens through which you see and understand the world around you. From this definition, we pick up on one really important aspect of worldview – everyone has one. Whether you are a sleek and smooth investment banker, or a member of an unreached Amazonian tribe, you interpret the world and everything you see in it through the lens of your own presuppositions.

What does it then mean if a worldview is hollow? Just as you knock on someone’s head to ensure there is indeed something inside, a close examination of a hollow worldview will reverberate emptiness. Presuppositions can be groundless and therefore lead to a false conclusion or vice versa, with hopeful beginnings leading to absurd endings. Sometimes, the starting and finishing lines of a worldview can tickle the ears and appeal to our deepest human desires, but when challenged by the harsh realities of life, they fall like a house built on sand.

Hollow examples may include:

  • A naturalist is in awe at the wonder of the physical world in all of its intelligibility. The logical conclusion for worship is the Designer behind the design, but their naturalistic presuppositions closed the door on this option before the conversation even starts.
  • The spiritual type who turns his back on evil and suffering in an attempt to rid them of their power and influence. They are quickly found out in this painful world.
  • The nihilist, disillusioned by the excessive agony he sees around him, intellectually denies meaning or purpose in life, but struggles to practically live in a way consistent with his conclusion.

And probably the most common:

  • The average secularite who seeks to treat others as they wish to be treated while refusing to acknowledge the source of such universal truths.

If you have read my previous two articles, you will have heard me wax repeatedly on the tendency for Christians to have their minds and actions influenced by the dominant thought trains of the day. Regarding the development of worldview, this is no different.

The harm of a hollow worldview

In a standard marketplace, goods and services are purchased with cash and if the consumer is pleased, he or she will often recommend the product to others. This increases the influence of the retailer, enabling them to spread their product through larger client bases and make more money. In an analogous way, Christianity, like any other view of reality or belief system, is competing in a global marketplace of ideas. Interpretations of reality and the meaning of life are legion and the competition is often fierce. These products are not bought with physical or digital capital, but with our allegiance

Christians stand in the midst of a world with some heavy baggage. Open them up and you will find objections of various types – intellectual, emotional, moral. Today’s idea consumers simply walk past the Christian stall, oblivious to what it has to offer. Not just oblivious, but convinced that it has nothing to offer. By not thinking seriously about what we believe and how it makes sense of the world around us, we add more fuel on an already raging fire seeking to purify the world of the Christian voice.

Towards a Christian worldview

What is the solution? How do we develop a cohesive Christian worldview that is credible, answers people’s questions, and brings honour and glory to the name of Jesus? I am in no way in a position to give exhaustive answers to these questions, but can offer a few suggestions that I am convinced are part of getting back on track.

Philosopher Douglas Groothuis proposes 8 criteria to evaluate a worldview

  1. Able to answer life’s big questions
  2. Internal logical consistency
  3. Coherence
  4. Factual adequacy
  5. Existential viability (doesn’t shy away from our everyday experience)
  6. Intellectual and cultural fruitfulness
  7. Does not make radical ad hoc readjustment
  8. Simple is better than unnecessarily complex.

An entire article could (and probably should) be written on the importance of each of these criteria, but for now they provide a good starting point for exposing the flaws of today’s dominant worldviews, and demonstrating the power of the Christian alternative.

There is one more thing we can do to begin to see change – we can pray. The task before us is enormous and we simply will not see success if we rely solely on our own ability and inventions (including the criteria above). When it comes to articulating the jaw-dropping panorama that is the Christian worldview, we desperately need the God at its centre to help us.

Towards Belief Launched in New Zealand

Towards Belief

Karl FaaseThis high quality Australian produced resource has been launched in New Zealand and Thinking Matters is proud to partner with the producers – Olive Tree Media – to promote it throughout the country.

This ten-episode DVD series follows Australian pastor and host, Karl Faase as he travels the world and interviews over 30 leading authors and speakers about the top “belief blockers” of our time.  It is designed for both a wide audience and church groups, intending to attract both Christian and non-Christian viewers equally.

Contributors include John Lennox, Os Guinness, Richard Swinburne, Michael Ramsden, Amy Orr-Ewing and John Dickson – along with many others.

Topics

The ten half-hour episodes include the following topics:

  1. Suffering: Presents both an intellectual and personal response to the issues posed by the existence of suffering.
  2. The Bible: Looks at whether what the Bible contains is historically accurate and can be trusted.
  3. Supernatural: Explores belief in the supernatural and looks at a specific case where it seems that supernatural intervention is undeniable.
  4. Religious Violence: Explores whether Christianity, as a religious worldview, causes wars, atrocities and genocides. How does the Church respond to this charge?
  5. Exclusive Faith: Christianity’s claim that Jesus is the only way to God is viewed as arrogant, intolerant and a significant blocker to personal belief. In this episode, guests give plausible reasons for the Christian worldview.
  6. Church Abuse: Abuse scandals, particularly in relation to children, have rocked the Church, leaving it open to the charge of hypocrisy.
  7. Science & God: Eminent and experienced scientists explain how and why they can have scientific credentials from the world’s leading universities, as well as having a Christian faith.
  8. Homosexuality: In this episode we look at the Biblical view on homosexuality and what is the Christian response in the current social environment.
  9. The Church: There is a public perception that the Christian Church is dying. We talk with leaders who are seeing the Church grow and they give their perspective on the future of the Church.
  10. Towards Belief: In the end, there is still a step of faith to be taken. This episode looks back over the personal stories of some of the guests and seeks to clarify that choice.

For a more in-depth outline of each episode, drill down on each from this page.

Thinking Matters Involvement

This series will become a long term strategic resource for Thinking Matters as we seek to equip the New Zealand Church with accessible and high quality training to help us make a sincere and clear defence for the Christian worldview.

We envision the resource being used in several ways:

Community Outreach Events

We would like to see churches promoting screenings of the series throughout their communities – to see people becoming more open to the Gospel through them.

Do you want to run an event at your church for your community? Talk to us for help and advice with promotion.

Home Groups / Small Groups

We would like to see Church leadership and discipleship programs promote this resource within churches for use in home-groups and small-group discipleship.

Do you have a home-group who might be interested in viewing this? Talk to us for advice.

Curriculum Development & Christian Schools

We would like to see individual episodes being used as components in wider curriculum and training programs in apologetics and worldview subjects at theological colleges and Christian schools.

Are you associated with training, a tertiary institute or a Christian school?  Review individual episodes here for suitability of use within your curriculum.

Purchase

You can purchase the full set for $59.95 (free freight) from Life Resources in Christchurch, or rent or buy for download individual episodes directly from the Towards Belief website here.

The full DVD set also comes with an 80-page Discussion Guide – and key quotes for each episode can also be downloaded from here.

New Online Store for ID Resources: idFilms

A new online store has launched for those in New Zealand and Australia, aimed at providing a dedicated home for quality DVDs about Intelligent Design. idFilms was established to invigorate and expand the ID discussion by supporting those who are committed to investigating the origins of life and the universe.

The store already houses a great list of DVD titles (such as Metamorphosis, The Case for a Creator, and The Privileged Planet) that can be purchased individually or bought together as a set. With more titles on the way, the site looks to be a great place to find resources for individuals, home groups, or even local community events. If you’re interested in joining the conversation and exploring the evidence that certain features of the universe and living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, check out the website at http://www.intelligentdesignfilms.co.nz [pk_empty_space height=”10″]

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 http://thegospelcoalition.org/kategoria

Christian apologetics groups & individuals to follow on Twitter

If you’re on Twitter and you’re looking for more good apologetics tweets, check out Eye on Apologetics’ comprehensive list of the best of the best apologetics twits. Or whatever they’re called. Tweeters. Twitterers. Who can keep up? Crazy kids.

Human Flourishing and the Christian perspective on Work

The Christ on Campus Initiative is a project set up by the Gospel Coalition with the goal of reaching university students with the truth of Christianity. To do this, the Initiative is focused on releasing literature that addresses important intellectual and practical issues from a Christian perspective (previous articles have been on Christianity and Sexuality, Arguments for the existence of God, Religious Diversity and more).

This month, CCI have released a new 25 page article by Danielle Sallade on human flourishing. In the article, Sallade examines the practical aspects of what it means to live a life that might be correctly described as having flourished. Looking particularly at the lives of University students that she interacts with on a daily basis, she agrees with the philosopher, Blaise Pascal, who said that “the sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room”. Sallade argues that a “culture of busyness” inhibits our ability to live in right relationship with God, our environment, neighbors, and ourselves. She writes:

I am troubled by this change in students as they progress through their education, and I have wondered what causes it. I think a major reason behind the change is that college students are constantly thinking about how their education is tied to the job they will get or the graduate school they will apply to. Since they know they are competing for a finite number of jobs or graduate school positions, their focus becomes the competition to outperform everyone else or at least stay toward the top of the pool. Their education and extracurricular pursuits become more about résumé-building and standing out from classmates rather than on what they are learning and how they are enjoying their God-given gifts. The same is true for high school students competing for a finite number of college acceptance letters. This causes pressure, fear, and stress, which in turn causes students to overwork and overcommit.

With this as the environment, my colleagues and I have thought much about how to counsel our students to live out their faith in their unique role as students. What should they believe about the purpose of a college education? How should their faith as Christians affect how they should study? How they should manage their time? How they should rest? How might they flourish in the fast-paced, pressure-filled culture they inhabit?

In thinking through the answers to these questions, I have realized that the students’ drive to achieve and outperform others is directly tied to their understanding of the nature of work and their definition of success. Most are working with a worldly viewpoint as their foundation. But as sinners in a fallen world, the worldly viewpoint is flawed and has caused our society to lose a God-centered perspective about work and success. The Bible graciously provides an alternative way to live that is God-centered rather than self-centered. When lived out, the result is freedom from the competitive rat-race and freedom from fear.

Our self-centered rather than God-centered approach has at least three mistakes at its core: (1) We wrongly value certain types of work over others. (2) We place our identity in our work and seek justification through our work. (3) We work as if we were independent operators, solely responsible for our daily provision, forgetting that God is our ultimate provider. These three mistaken perspectives about work affect what people believe about college education, which in turn affects the culture on college campuses today.

You can read the whole article on the Gospel Coalition site or download the PDF here.

Here’s her full outline:

1. The Culture of Busyness

1.1. Value in All Types of Work
1.2. Value in All Types of Work—by Design
1.3. Value in All Types of Work—By Example

2. Identity in Work

2.1. Identity in Christ
2.2. Work That Flows Out of Identity in Christ

3. Depending on God in our Work

3.1. Sabbath
3.2. Focus on Faithfulness

4. Conclusion

Sallade is a graduate of  Princeton University and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and currently a staff member of Princeton Evangelical Fellowship.

(HT: Andy Naselli)

The stone has been rolled away

Resources for Easter

Easter is a time to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ and how God’s work in rescuing humanity through the cross and death of Jesus was powerfully and decisively vindicated. No other season in the Christian calender is as important or as crucial to the Gospel message as Easter. With the historical events of the death and resurrection, Christianity stands or falls.

With that in mind, here are a few resources that might be useful in our reflection and proclamation of the fantastic, life-changing truth of these events.

Books:

The Cross

Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross: Experiencing the Passion and Power of Easter Edited by Nancy Guthrie, Crossway, 2009.

Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus (RE: Lit) by D. A. Carson, Crossway Books, 2010.

Redemption Accomplished and Applied, John Murray, Eerdmans, 1955.

The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, by John Owen, Banner of Truth, 1959.

The Cross of Christ by John R.W. Stott, InterVarsity, 2006

The Truth of the Cross by R. C. Sproul, Reformation Trust Publishing, 2007.

The Resurrection

The Christ of the Empty Tomb by James Montgomery Boice, P & R Publishing,  2010.

The Resurrection of the Son of God by N. T. Wright, Augsburg Fortress Publishers, 2003.

Jesus’ Resurrection: Fact or Figment?: A Debate Between William Lane Craig and Gerd Ludemann edited by William Lane Craig, Ronald Tacelli, Paul Copan, and Gerd Ludemann InterVarsity Press, 2000.

Assessing the New Testament Evidence for the Historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus by William Lane Craig, Edwin Mellen Press, 1989.

The Resurrection, An Interdisciplinary Symposium on the Resurrection of Jesus edited by Stephen T. Davis, Daniel Kendall, and Gerald O’Collins, Oxford University Press, 1999.

Risen Indeed: Making Sense of the Resurrection by Stephen T. Davis, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1993.

The Son Rises: The Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus by William L. Craig, Wipf & Stock, 2000.

Raised with Christ: How the Resurrection Changes Everything by Adrian Warnock, Crossway Books (January 31, 2010)

Christopher Price & John Sabatino of CADRE (the Christian Colligation of Apologetics Debate Research & Evangelism) have helpfully posted a review of many of the above books on their site.

Online Articles and E-Books

Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die by John Piper (Free book made available by Desiring God Ministries)

This Joyful Eastertide: A Critical Review of The Empty Tomb by Steve Hays (Free online book by the bloggers at Triablogue)

The Argument from Miracles: A Cumulative Case for the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth by Timothy and Lydia McGrew (75 page pdf article)

Resurrection: God Saves by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshear (Free 24-page chapter from their new book, Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe)

He is Risen Indeed by Ben Witherington III (Reproduced from Witherington III’s New Testament History: A Narrative Account)

Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus by Shandon L. Guthrie

Can the resurrection narratives be harmonized? Articles by J.P. Holding and Glenn Miller

Articles by William Lane Craig:

Contemporary Scholarship and the Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ

The Bodily Resurrection of Jesus

The Disciples’ Inspection of the Empty Tomb

The Guard at the Tomb

The Historicity of the Empty Tomb of Jesus

Reply to Evan Fales: On the Empty Tomb of Jesus

Articles by Gary Habermas:

Explaining Away Jesus’ Resurrection: The Recent Revival of Hallucination Theories

Jesus’ Resurrection and Contemporay Criticism: An Apologetic: Part 1 and Part 2

The Late Twentieth-Century Resurgence of Naturalistic Responses to Jesus’ Resurrection

Experiences of the Risen Jesus: The Foundational Historical Issue in the Early Proclamation of the Resurrection

Audio

The Evidence for the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth – William Lane Craig

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ: Some Historical Considerations Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 –  Gary Habermas

Radical Effects of the Resurrection – John Piper

Christ’s Resurrection – Sinclair Ferguson

Jesus is Alive – Mark Dever

The Good News of the Resurrection – Alistair Begg

The Doctrine of the Resurrection Part 1 and Part 2 – Wayne Grudem (Systematic theology class)

Why Does Jesus’ Resurrection Matter? and Q & A at The Vertias Forum- N T Wright

Debates

William Lane Craig and Robert Cavin: Did Jesus Rise From The Dead? (1995)
William Lane Craig and Gerd Ludemann: Did Jesus Rise From The Dead? (1997)
William Lane Craig and Robert Price: Did Jesus of Nazareth Rise From The Dead? (1999)
William Lane Craig and Gerd Ludemann: Jesus’ Resurrection: Fact or Figment? (2002)
William Lane Craig and Hector Avalos: Did Jesus Rise From The Dead? (2004)
William Lane Craig and John Shelby Spong: Did Jesus Rise From The Dead? (2005)
William Lane Craig and Bart Ehrman: Is There Historical Evidence For The Resurrection Of Jesus? (2006) (Transcript also available)
William Lane Craig and James Crossley: Was Jesus Bodily Raised From The Dead? (2007)
William Lane Craig and Roy Hoover: Should We Believe that Jesus’ Resurrection is Historical? (2008)
Bart Ehrman and Michael Licona: Is the Resurrection of Christ Provable? (2008)
Gary R. Habermas and Arif Ahmed: Did Jesus Rise Bodily From the Dead? (2008) PART I PART II PART III PART IV PART V PART VI PART VII PART VIII PART IX
Gary Habermas and Kenneth Humphreys Resurrection – Religious Fiction or Historical Fact? (2008) PART I PART II PART III PART IV PART V PART VI

Are All Religions Created Equal?

In this presentation for the Veritas Forum, professor of philosophy at Denver Seminary Douglas Groothius argues that all religions make opposing objective truth claims about reality, and therefore cannot all be equally true.

Watch the video here.