Brendan Malone

About Brendan

Brendan Malone is the Director of LifeNET NZ. He has been working full-time in pro-life, marriage, and family ministry for the last 14 years where he speaks at churches, universities, high schools, and conferences on bioethics and sexuality issues throughout New Zealand and Australia.  During that time he has delivered over 500 presentations, and spoken to more than 30,000 people. He is one of the founders of ACTIV8 Pro-Life Training Week – an annual philosophy, apologetics, and media/social-media training event for young adults which has been running for 10 years in New Zealand and over 7 years in Australia. He is married to Katie and they have five children. Brendan also has a background in communications and media training, and he regularly connects with people in the online space via his YouTube channel which has approximately 20,000 subscribers.

Talks and Presentations

Abortion and Human Rights

This presentation unpacks the pro-life arguments against abortion, as well as the serious logical flaws in the pro-choice ideas that are regularly used to try and give ethical justification for abortion. It also explains why the pro-life position is not an article of religious faith, but is instead a robust position based on the best available scientific evidence and human reasoning.

Euthanasia: We can live without it

This presentation explores the dangers of euthanasia and assisted suicide. It explains why legalising these acts creates a seismic and extremely harmful change for the medicine, ethics and wider society. It also robustly refutes the myth that legal safeguards can ever be employed to prevent serious harm to the vulnerable members of the community from euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Pornography and Human Dignity

With the advent of the Internet pornography has now become a serious social issue which now regularly attracts media attention. But what exactly is the problem with pornography, and is it really as harmful as some people are claiming?  This presentation will explore these and many other related questions, offering an in-depth explanation of the difference between objectification and love, the harms caused by pornography, an explanation of human dignity and the way that pornography conflicts with it, how pornography affects the brain, as well as practical tips for helping others to avoid or deal with a pornography habit.

Critically Engaging Our Entertainment Media

Have you ever stopped to consider how the media you consume is shaping your view of the world and your approach to important moral and social issues? In this presentation we will explore the powerful way in which media can shape our thoughts and beliefs and how to apply a critical mind to the content we are watching in order to avoid indoctrination. We will also discuss the negative impacts that excessive social media consumption can have on God’s design for human community, as well as talking about what authentic Christian art might look like if it hopes to be an effective voice in the midst of this unceasing avalanche of media content.

The Broken Community

This presentation explores the profound crisis of isolation and loneliness that now plagues the West. It explores the root causes of this serious problem, and why the Church must urgently become a place of authentic community in order to be effective at evangelising the culture from this point forward. This presentation also offers practical advice on how community can be safeguarded and restored in an age of personal disconnection and individualism.

The Courage to be Counterculture

This presentation explores some of the philosophical roots of the current ideological confusion and brokenness that plagues Western society, as well as equipping participants with the practical skills and the hope they need to effectively live out a life-giving counterculture of self-giving love.

Effective use of social media

This presentation explores the impact of social media and offers practical advice about how to use it effectively as a communications tool. It also offers important advice about some of the risks associated with social media engagement, and how they can be mitigated for more positive outcomes.

Practical media skills and interview techniques

This presentation offers a comprehensive understanding of how the mainstream media works, and how to communicate with excellence in that space. This presentation offers practical advice of how to write effective media releases, as well as important media interview skills and strategies.

Contact details:

Mobile: 021 054 0762

Email: brendan@lifenet.co.nz

Website: www.lifenet.co.nz

Guido Stark


About Guido

Guido has Bachelor’s degrees in Astrophysics, Mathematics and Theology and works for a leading global software company in Wellington. He is on the leadership team of the Thinking Matters group Reasoned Faith Wellington which runs regular apologetics training for local Christians.

He frequently discusses the origins of life, the nature of God, world religions and the meaning of life with those he meets. From hundreds of conversations with people from many walks of life and spiritual understandings, he has gained experience that can encourage you to confidently articulate what you believe and invite others to question their assumptions.


Talks & Presentations

The following presentations can be delivered as independent sessions, Sunday sermons, or as a combined workshop.

An Introduction to Apologetics

What is apologetics? This brief introduction will give you an overview of what apologetics is and a taste of some of the evidence available for our Christian faith. Including hints and tips for starting God-conversations and also covering common objections that may arise, you will be pointed towards a range of resources available to help you approach these conversations with greater confidence. 

Does God Exist?
Simple arguments for the existence of God and a road map for a conversation

Engaging in a conversation about the most fundamental questions of life and being able to follow through with a reasonable argument isn’t as hard as it sounds. This presentation will provide you with a road map for conversations about the deepest questions of life and will help you effectively articulate several straightforward arguments for why God exists.

Why Christianity?
Good reasons why it’s true

Have you ever been asked why you think Christianity is true? Discover a range of evidence for Christianity and learn to confidently demonstrate solid reasons for why Christianity is true. A fun and practical session that will leave you energised to share your faith.

Engaging Well With Arguments Against Christianity

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone and felt ill-equipped to respond to their challenges about Christianity? Do you fear being in those kinds of conversations? In this interactive session we’ll discuss lots of examples that will help you in everyday conversations or debates about the truth of Christianity. By using logic and reason to engage well and respond to common arguments used against Christianity, this session will help you feel more confident to successfully navigate God-conversations and ultimately lead people to truth. 

Religions of the World
Aren’t religions all the same?

As part of a multicultural society, we find ourselves living and working alongside people with different religious beliefs. We need to be increasingly skilled at understanding and navigating this difference respectfully. This overview will give you insight into the essential beliefs, practices and distinct features of Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. 

 

John Norsworthy

John Norsworthy


Thinking Matters Board Member


Tauranga



About

John has taught in secondary and primary schools, and in the tertiary sector, Bible colleges and teacher education for over 45 years and is a board member for Thinking Matters NZ.  He has served on curriculum committees and professional development in both the state and Christian sectors and served as secretary to the NZ Association for Christian Schools for twenty years. He has authored the books, Why Culture Matters, a Biblical approach to things cultural, Educating Our Children Faithfully, a history of the NZ Christian School movement, and Why Science Matters. He currently is an adjunct lecturer at Faith Bible College, NZ and is passionate about the influence of the biblical revelation on all areas of human life.

Talk Topics
  • Christian Education
  • Science


Contact John

Email:

Phone:

Eric George

Eric George

Eric George


Assistant Professor of Theology & Biblical Studies – World Wide Evangelical Seminary; Director of Maori & Pasifika – ThinkingMatters



About

Eric George is an indigenous academic, community leader and christian apologist based in Auckland, hailing from Polynesian (Samoan/Maori) and European (English/Italian) ancestry. Eric was given the Maori name ‘Ngahoro,’ from his mother’s side and is a blood relative descendent of the Maori sage and historian, Takaanui Tarakawa. He also holds a Samoan matai chiefly title ‘Pei’ (from the village of Neiafu, Alataua Sisifo, Savaii), from his father’s side.

With a background in comparative religion, theology, biblical studies and anthropology, he currently serves vocationally as extramural Assistant Professor of Theology & Biblical Studies with World Wide Evangelical Seminary. Eric has previously been a guest lecturer with Te Wananga o Aotearoa (Social Services) and is pursuing graduate and postgraduate studies in biblical studies and philosophy of religion through Bible University and Nations University.

As a leader in service to his communities, Eric is actively engaged in numerous Iwi committees and is the Vice-Chair of STMA (Samoa Tofia Mai Le Atua) Inc., an NGO focussing on humanitarian aid, education and economic initiatives to Samoa and the wider South Pacific Region.

Eric is an effective communicator and is passionate in presenting down-to-earth, accessible but powerful lectures concerning a wide range of topics, and is no stranger to using humour as a ‘vehicle’ to communicate ideas. Presentations of any length on such topics are available and can be adjusted to be delivered to youth or adults alike.

Topics:

Indigenous Peoples & Christianity/Indigenous Issues – “Christianity, a White Man’s Religion? Understanding the Misconceptions Faced When Engaging Indigenous People with the Gospel”, “Race, God and Colonisation”, “Colonisation and Christianity.”

Apologetics Training – “Critical Thinking”, “Introduction to Apologetics”, “Defending the Faith”, “Effective Evangelism”.

Comparative Religion – “The Truthfulness of the Christian Faith”, “How Do We Know Christianity is True?”, “Eastern Religions and Christianity,” “Indigenous Religious Systems and Christianity”.

General Apologetics – “Christianity and Science”, “Is the New Testament Reliable?”, “What Is Apologetics?”

And more……

 


Videos

Below are some videos of Eric speaking for The ‘Hope Project NZ’ and ‘The Israel Institute of New Zealand’ respectively:


‘Is Christianity for people who don’t believe in science?’



‘Is there really such a thing as truth?’



‘A Maori Samoan’s take on Zionism’ (video has over 300,000+ views on Facebook)



Contact Eric

Email:
ps.egeorge@gmail.com

Jason Knapp

Jason Knapp

Jason Knapp


National Youth Director, Thinking Matters


Auckland



About

Jason is the National Youth Director for Thinking Matters and is passionate about seeing young people equipped to navigate culture and persuasively share their faith with others. He is a student of Psychology and Philosophy, and is a dynamic communicator who speaks to students across the country at youth ministries, churches, and university campuses.

Talk Descriptions

If God is Good, Why is There Evil & Suffering?

Sooner or later we are confronted by the the reality of suffering and as a result many pose the question: if God is loving and all-powerful why is our world filled with heartache, disaster, and tragedy. Within this talk we explore this question, it’s implications, and the many answers that can be found when we look more deeply into this issue. You will find answers that are both intellectually compelling and emotionally satisfying.

Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality

According to the Biblical story every singe human being is born with inherent dignity and is designed to function as God intended. Yet, in modern society human dignity, value, and sexuality is under assault. Culture is rewriting the script and people are left more confused, broken, and off-track than ever.. In this talk you will learn about the underlying ideas driving much of this cultural change and learn how to respond to these issues both lovingly and truthfully.

The Truth About Freedom: How Limits Help Liberate Us

What does it truly mean to be free? Our answer to this question has huge implications on all areas of our life. With culture offering a vision of freedom that casts off all restraint many seek to find freedom in the pursuit of pleasure and gratification at all costs. However, upon closer investigation we see that this definition of freedom almost always leads to heartache, unfulfillment, and destruction. In this talk, you will discover how God’s vision of freedom is the most compelling of all – ultimately paving the way for us to live healthy and fulfilled lives.

The Intolerance of the New Tolerance

In today’s culture, tolerance is held up as a virtue. Yet, when someone disagrees with some of the common assumptions of culture there are branded with labels such as, hateful and intolerant. Interestingly, those who sound the siren song of tolerance are sometimes the most intolerant of all. In this presentation you will discover what it truly means to be tolerant and will be equipped with practical strategies for navigating this tricky area of culture with love, wisdom, and grace.

Breaking the Patterns of Porn Addiction

Pornography is more accessible, accepted, and aggressive than ever before. It is a HUGE problem facing all Christians, including Christian teens. Studies show that viewing porn affects how we view ourselves, other people, and God. It even physically alters the structure of the brain and hurts our ability to develop loving, lasting relationships. In this talk, I unpack scriptural, psychological, and practical strategies to escape the trap of pornography addiction.

Jason Knapp

Contact Jason

Email:
jason.knapp@thinkingmatters.org.nz

Phone:
0211147846

Todd Funk

Todd Funk

Todd Funk


National Director of Speaker Development



About

Unique, inspiring, helpful…awesome, have been words used by many in describing Todd’s presentations. Because Todd has somewhat of an eclectic mix of gifts, interests and experience, his delivery is quite unique…especially in the “apologetics world”.  He has a science background (BS. Biological Science University of California Irvine) and a love for knowledge and truth. Ten years as a public high school science teacher coupled with his years of experience doing youth camps, preaching and even weekly Bible-in-School programs has forged Todd into sought after communicator who knows how to engage diverse audiences.

In 2004, Todd, along with his wife Donna of 26 years and their two children, Alixx and Nikki, lay down the safety and security of their teaching careers and immigrated to New Zealand from the United States. In response to his obedience to fulfil God’s ministry call on his life, God has opened doors of opportunity for teaching, preaching and training throughout the USA, New Zealand, Ukraine, Australia, the Pacific Islands and beyond.

Todd‘s messages, teaching and ministry have powerfully impacted people of all ages on several continents. He has spoken for Thinking Matters at our Confident Christianity conferences and Unshaken Youth & Young Adult Conference and has been involved in men’s ministries and accountability groups for over 15 years.

Teaching Topics

Below are some apologetic topics I passionately share with Churches, youth groups and on University campuses:

Tolerance…the new definition

This gives the new “unofficial” definition and cultural attitude of tolerance and shows its inconstant and hypocritical self-defeat in regards to Christianity. It also encourages Christians in their response to the “new tolerance”.

10-15 minutes

“Loving God With all your mind”  

This message is a great encouragement for believers to obey what Jesus declared to be the greatest command. I explain WHAT it means to LGWM,  HOW we can practically LGWM,  and the WHY (the benefits to us, the church and the world) we should LWGM.  See message delivered at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcQE7EgNBGI

35 minutes

 
“U R W I S E” (six letter acrostic)

This teaching based on my own acrostic gives the top 6 best reasons as to why theism is more intellectually honest and tenable than atheism.  A great tool to have when someone asks “can you prove that God exists?”

  • U- The universe…that it exists and is highly ordered with laws etc.
  • R- Reason…that humans have the ability to think rationally
  • W- Wrong and right…that there is a universal moral code
  • I-Information…specifically that found in DNA
  • S- Science…not in opposition to theism but rather having its foundation on it.
  • E- Evil…can actually “prove” theism

Can be done in one 1-hour  session or more comfortably in 2 x  40 minute sessions.

10  Reasons Why We  Know The New Testament Is True

Statistics show that 75 +% of young adults walk away from the church and Jesus. One reason for this is due to the lack of evidence for their faith. I explain 10 reasons (all beginning with the letter “E” to aid memory) why the NT documents are accurate, reliable and trustworthy.

A 45 minute “lecture”

A Sure Foundation

For many Christians their faith, the reasons they are Christian and not another religion or an atheist, are based on SUBJECTIVE things such as: I was born into a Christian household; Jesus changed my life….stopped drugs, no longer depressed, gave me purpose; I feel his presence; I know by the Holy Spirit; He gives me peace; I’ve seen miracles.

But if these are the SOLE basis for our belief then two things are true… 1. That if these subjective feelings subside then our faith is in jeopardy and 2. We have ONLY subjective reasons to give for the hope that is within us.  In this teaching I give 5 OBJECTIVE evidences for the very keystone of our faith….the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

45 minutes – See me present it at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CA6tktkkP4

The Darwin Delusion

Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution has unquestionably had more impact on modern man than any other.  Unfortunately, to many, it has led to several logical, yet erroneous conclusions: there is no God, man has no eternal future, morality is what each man decides, and man has no intrinsic worth, value or transcendent purpose.

For some, the road to faith has been impeded by this malignant theory.  The genuine faith of some has been shaken by the myriad of so called “experts” who claim that evolution is an unquestionable FACT of science.
In response to this attack on faith and the reliability of the Bible, I have composed a 2-part series I call “The Darwin Delusion. In this presentation, I give a brief history of individuals who have been “contaminated” by this theory and also the horrific consequences wreaked on humanity as a result.  I then go on to humbly, yet compellingly, dismantle the theory from a scientific point of view (I have a BS in Biological Sciences from U.C. Irvine and taught sciences at the high school level for 10 years) but targeted at the “lay” level.

45 minutes each session

 
What if Jesus had never been born

Many atheists over the centuries have claimed that Christ and His church have been a blight to the world. For instance, the quote by Friedrich Nietzsche “Christianity remains to this day the greatest misfortune of humanity.”  We will have a look at just what the world might look like today without Christ and the influence of His church and discover how Christianity has been a huge blessing to the world in numerous, varied ways.

45 minutes

 

Evil, Pain and Suffering…what’s that all about God?

The number one reason people lose their faith or refuse to come to faith resides in this topic.  In this talk, I will dissect it the topic and try to make some sense of it and offer some “answers” for those pondering this crucial question.

45 minutes

 
The Testimony of the Heavens

Using some of the best images of the cosmos available, this multi-media rich presentation will inspire wonder and build faith in the God of creativity whose word is true. This is similar to the Louie Giglio “Indescribable” presentation but from a former astronomy teacher…with better images and explanations.

50 minutes

 
3 Reasons why people reject truth

In presenting the gospel to people it is of utmost importance to quickly determine which barrier to truth the non-believer is erecting (emotional, rational or volitional). Without recognizing these 3 factors and dealing with each appropriately, miscommunication, misunderstanding and frustration result.

10 minutes

 
3 kinds of “faith”

I describe each of the 3 types of faith:

  • Blind Faith- Believing in something WITHOUT any evidence.
  • Reasonable Faith- Believing in something BECAUSE of the evidence.
  • Unreasonable Faith- Believing in something IN SPITE of the evidence.

and use an analogy of jumping off a sea-side cliff.  I explain which type the atheist has…and which type we, as Christians, should have.

10 minutes

 
 A Good Argument
In this session I defend the premise that we are to “contend for the faith”. I explain what a valid (as defined by logic) argument looks like and point out types of invalid arguments. Lastly, I demonstrate the value and power of asking questions (Greg Koukl “Tactics”-style).
45 minutes

Todd Funk

Contact Todd

Email:
todd.funk@thinkingmatters.org.nz

Phone:
021 745 544


Talks

  • Loving God with All Your Mind
  • Tolerance – the new definition
  • URWISE
  • 10 Reasons Why We Know the New Testament is True
  • A Sure Foundation
  • The Darwin Delusion
  • Evil, Pain & Suffering…what’s that all about God?
  • The Testimony of the Heavens
  • 3 Reasons Why People Reject the Truth
  • 3 Kinds of “Faith”
  • A Good Argument

Bruce Fraser

Bruce Fraser

BruceFraser

Bruce Fraser

Kia Ora! I am a Software Architect, lay Pastor, husband, father and the Christchurch Regional Director for Thinking Matters. I’ve loved the opportunities this has given me to meet great people across Canterbury and New Zealand. I’m available to speak primarily in Christchurch, and elsewhere as needed.

I spent several years learning apologetics from good friends Mike Licona, Nabeel Qureshi, David Wood and Mary Jo Sharp, while living in the U. S. I learned much about the arguments and demeanour that best communicate the Great News of Jesus to those hostile to Christianity, presenting the truth of Jesus in a way that is gentle and respects their intellect.

I spent most of my life as a Software Engineer until a series of unexpected life events propelled me to leave the U. S. for missions work in Kenya. There I met and married my Kiwi wife Lee. A year later, we moved to New Zealand. We have two primary school boys who love maths and science. We’re passionate about seeing people love God and loving others well, inside and outside the church.



TALKS



For Churches

These talks have a more biblical basis and are received well in churches.

Why Thinking Matters

1 Peter 3:15 is a favourite verse of many who are passionate about sharing their faith. But verse 16 has much to say about how and when we share. As we examine the context of these verses, we discover that our whole lives are an apologetic for the Great News of Jesus.

Know Doubt

Doubting Thomas gets a bad reputation for saying what many of us would have in his place. Some Christians believe doubt is a sign of weak faith and should be avoided. However, many find doubt is a powerful catalyst to a strong, vibrant faith. We will look at the science of doubt and how Jesus responds to it.

So Easy Your Nana Can Do It

Many Christians think talking to people about Jesus is awkward or that they don’t know enough to communicate effectively. But the conversational approach that your Nana takes can provide some powerful openings. We will also examine how the apostle Paul used different approaches that suited each of the people groups he was trying to reach.

Did Jesus Really Claim To Be God?

Muslims and secular religious studies scholars tell us that Jesus never actually claimed to be God; that this was the creation of followers who later invented claims of Jesus’ deity. Since Jesus never said, “I am God,” who should we believe?

For Christian Audiences

These talks are primarily aimed at an audience that accepts Christianity as true.

Meh, Whatever?!

Is engaging Kiwi apathy in the too-hard basket? What would move someone toward an active interest in faith? What can we learn from psychology about speaking to people who have no interest in Christianity?

For General Audiences

These talks are suitable for mixed audiences that include atheists, agnostics, and people of other religions. They first present a strong case against the Christian view which helps those who don’t accept Christianity to be more open when the Christian view is presented. They respectfully address the case against and build a positive case for the Christian view.

Doubting Church

The church has given us the Crusades, the Inquisition and the Salem Witch Trials. It has also given us hospitals, universities, slavery abolition, and protection of rights for women and children. How can we reconcile these two difference faces of the church and come to peace with God’s plan for the church?

Has Science Buried God?

Are science and faith natural enemies? Does naturalism provide sufficient grounding for the success of science? Does the evidence from science point away from or towards a creator God? Can you be a scientist and a Christian?

The Fantastic Ferrari Factory

Where did this Universe come from? Some prominent scientists have argued that it is the product of a Universe generating factory and therefore God is not required. Is this a testable truth claim? We will investigate two of the most powerful evidences for God and see how science strongly points to the existence of God. We will also seek to understand how we can respect the scientists who make these claims while still rejecting their conclusions.

Does Life Have Meaning?

Is this life just a lucky accident? Do our lives have purpose or should we invent our own? Does having an answer to this question make any difference? What can we learn from philosophy, the arts, science and theology about this timeless question?

Is The New Testament Reliable?

Is the New Testament an unreliable translation of a translation of a translation, written by unknown authors, and full of contradictions as Bart Ehrman claims? If we don’t have the originals, how do we know that we have a faithful copy? Do contradictions mean that we should reject the contents of these 2000 year old manuscripts?

Jesus: Man or Myth?

C. S. Lewis famously said that Jesus was either a Liar, a Lunatic or Lord. But some people have opted for a forth option: Legend. Jesus never really existed, the stories of him were stolen from Pagan mystery religions. Was Jesus the first ‘dying and rising’ god? Nope. Orsiris, Horus, Dionysius and Mithras all bet him to it. Or did they?

Dead Men Don’t Come Back … Or Do They?

Did Jesus really rise from the dead? “Yes,” says the Christian. “It’s in the Bible, so it’s true.” The sceptic says, “Obviously not. People don’t rise from the dead. If that happened, we’d know about it.”

If someone doesn’t assume the Bible is true, is there evidence that could convince them Jesus rose from the dead?


Mark Powell

Mark Powell

Mark Powell


Former CEO, The Warehouse Group



About

Mark is a well known business person in New Zealand having formerly been CEO of the Warehouse Group, one of New Zealand’s largest companies. He is also a qualified pastor, with a bachelor’s degree in Applied Theology from Carey Theological College. He can speak on a range of apologetics topics having an MA in Christian Apologetics from Biola University in the USA. Mark speaks regularly in churches and conferences throughout New Zealand and he has designed and taught a credited course in Apologetics as part of the Theology Degree at Carey Theological College. He can engage with audiences from a variety of backgrounds and age and can tailor his presentation to suit. He is also very comfortable with two way question and answer dialogue.

Topics

  • General Apologetics
  • Reality and How We Know It
  • Wrestling with Difficult Issues
  • Science and Faith
  • Philosophical Naturalism and it’s Problems
  • Historical Evidence for the Resurrection
  • Ethics and Moral Principles
  • Postmodern Relativism and it’s Problems
  • The Problem of Evil

Mark Powell

Contact Mark

Email: mark@markpowell.co.nz

Talks

All talks are 40-45 minutes, however most can be adjusted to 30 minutes if necessary.


 

General Apologetics

Apologetics is often seen as an obscure, highly complex, highly intellectual topic, not for ordinary Christians! In this talk Mark will give an overview of just what apologetics is in simple terms, why it is so important and how we can all engage in apologetics.

“Why I believe in God” or alternative title: “Jesus: The Way the Truth and the Life”

This is a comprehensive overview of why Mark believes in the Christian view of God. This talk is 40 – 45 minutes and can not be reduced to 30 minutes. Mark approaches this talk in two ways. One is a straight forward and lays out why Mark believes in God the Father, Son & Holy Spirit. The option uses John 14:6 as a framework and includes Mark’s business background.

Reality and How We Know it

What is the nature of reality and how do we know it? What do you believe about reality and why do you believe that? This is essentially what apologetics is about. Mark will explain and contrast the three main views underpinning the beliefs of most New Zealander’s even if they don’t explicitly realise it; Classical Christianity, Philosophical Naturalism and Postmodern Relativism. Once you understand this you will be more equipped to understand not just what people believe buy why they believe it.

Science and Faith

Some people claim that the only way we can really know anything is through Science and that faith is just belief in spite of the evidence – just like believing in Santa Claus! Is this true? Mark explores the difference between ‘Science,’ which helps us know so much about the natural world and the worldview of  ‘Scientism,’ which claims that we can only know anything through science. He then shows how we can justifiably claim to know much more and that true faith is a trust based on that knowledge, not just blind faith.

Philosophical Naturalism and it’s Problems

This is similar to the talk on Science and Faith, but goes deeper into the philosophical underpinning for Scientism, which is more properly called ‘philosophical naturalism.’

Is the universe and life Just a Matter Of Chance or is There Evidence For Cause & Design?

One of the key claims of many atheists, such as Richard Dawkins, is that Science ha proven that ‘evolution’ is true and this proves that t here is no God! Mark explores whether this is true and how Christians can approach this topic, with confidence and humility.

Why Trust the Bible and How to Make Sense of It

Is the Bible God’s revelation to us of His nature, character, purposes and will as worked out through history and humanity or is it just an ancient story book? Also, how do we make sense of it? Is there a way of properly interpreting it and can we know with reasonable certainty what God is saying through it? Mark will share why we have good reason from philosophy, science, history, life and the human condition, to believe it is uniquely inspired and authoritative. He will then provide a simple approach to how we an interpret what it says.

Who Was Jesus and Why Follow Him?

Was Jesus just a good man, a wandering teacher? Did Jesus even exist? In this talk Mark will share the philosophical, scientific, historical, experiential and existential evidence that supports the traditional Christian view that Jesus was indeed God revealed, fully human and fully God. He is ‘the way, the truth and the life’ and as such the most important a choice we make in our life is how we respond that.

Historical Evidence for the Resurrection

The resurrection is central to Christian belief, but is it true? As the apostle Paul said, “If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” So what is the historical evidence to support the resurrection and what is the best explanation for that evidence? Mark will unpack this question ans show why we can confidently believe that Christ indeed was risen from the dead.

The Evidence That God Exists From Transcendence, Goodness, Beauty and Truth

When people think of apologetics they often think it’s all about the scientific and historic evidence to support the Christian worldview. However, this is too narrow a view of reality and truth. There is compelling evidence for the existence of God from the nature of beauty, moral principles and the deep intuitive apprehension we all have of something more, a transcendent perfection somehow beyond us but so close we can almost touch it! Mark will take you on a journey through these other, less explored, apologetic avenues.

Ethics and Moral Principles

Right and wrong, justice and injustice, fairness and unfairness, good and evil. What do we mean when we talk about such moral principles? Are we just describing social conventions and cultural assumptions or are we talking about something real, outside of ourselves, that can be discovered and known? Mark will unpack this in simple terms, explaining why the most coherent grounding for moral principles is int he nature  of God and that no other views provides a strong basis for moral obligation. Ultimately, the common and universal human belief in justice, fairness, and goodness points to the existence of God and strongly undermines atheism.

Postmodern Relativism and it’s Problems

What is postmodernism and what is relativism? Even if you don’t know what these terms mean once explained you will immediately recognise how these views are implicitly prevalent in our society. mark will unpack the meaning of these terms in simple language and show how they underpin so many of the arguments of those who challenge Christianity. Arguments and claims such as Christianity being ‘intolerant’ and that ‘you have no right to say …’ are based on underlying postmodern relativism. Your eyes will be opened in a way that you won’t be able to read the news anymore without seeing this worldview everywhere!

The Problem of Evil

Why would an all good, all powerful, all knowing God allow so much suffering and evil in this world. Surely the existence of such evil and suffering proves that God doesn’t exist! This is perhaps the most serious intellectual and existential challenge to believe in God. But this is not a question it no answers. Mark unpacks this deeply human issue with sensitivity and rigour, providing you not just with a defence, but actually showing how our recognition o the very existence of evil and suffering in fact powerful evidence that points to the existence of God.

Wrestling wit Difficult Issues

There are many difficult challenging issues in this world without simple black and white answers. How do we wrestle with them, where do we go for answers? Mark unpacks this with numerous examples, providing practical approaches to the challenges of life.

Answering ‘Gotcha’ Questions as a Christian – The Way Jesus Did

A ‘gotcha’ question is a question where the person asking it isn’t really interested in your answer, they are simply trying to catch you out, to get a simplistic black and white answer, so that outrage can ensue. Jesus was often asked questions such as, “Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar?” by the Pharisees of his time. Today Christians are asked the modern equivalents – I am sure you can think of some! How can such questions be responded to with truth and grace? Mark explores this challenging topic and looks to how Jesus responded as a guide to how we can also.

Dr Matthew Flannagan

Dr Matthew Flannagan

Matthew Flannagan

Dr Matthew Flannagan

Dr Matthew Flannagan is a theologian with proficiency in contemporary analytic philosophy. He holds a PhD in Theology from the University of Otago, a Masters (with First Class Honours) and a Bachelors in Philosophy from the University of Waikato and a post-graduate diploma in secondary teaching from Bethlehem Tertiary Institute.

Matthew blogs on MandM – a Kiwi blog that addresses philosophy of religion, ethics, theology and social commentary.

Topics

Divine Command Meta-Ethics, Applied Ethics, Bio-Ethics, Old Testament Ethics, Philosophy of Religion, Philosophy of Law, Critical Thinking and Apologetics

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Rodney Lake

Rodney Lake

Rodney Lake

Rodney Lake

“There are good reasons to believe that God exists, and that Jesus was who he claimed to be. We want both Christian and unbeliever alike to wrestle with these reasons and ultimately be transformed by them.”

Tena koutou, I am the CEO of Thinking Matters NZ Foundation, a national Christian apologetics ministry that encourages Christians to know the reasons why we believe what we believe. As an itinerant speaker, I preach & teach at churches, youth groups and conferences in New Zealand, Australia and in the U.S. on the reasons why Christianity is true.

I teach staff, parents and youth at various Christian schools, am an adjunct apologetics lecturer at Faith Bible College and a visiting lecturer at Bethlehem Tertiary Institute and Carey Baptist College. I also teach ‘Introduction to Christianity’ courses to non-Christian parents at Bethlehem College and have served on the board of Bethlehem College Limited.

I’m passionate about seeing people loving and seeking God with all of their mind, developing a resilient faith that is supported with solid reasons to believe, and able to confidently and graciously share that faith with others.

Church Sermons

The following are Sunday sermons I’m available for:


Why Thinking Matters: the Importance of Apologetics in the Church

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 1 Peter 3:15-16

In this message, I give an introduction to apologetics and the growing need for Christians to be better prepared to give clear and gracious reasons for our faith. While sharing my testimony, I highlight the first great commandment and the need for us to seek God with our minds, as much as our heart, soul and strength.

The Power of a Question: Creating Conversations that Matter

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us. 2 Corinthians 5:20

Do conversations about your faith intimidate you? Do you let opportunities to share God’s love slip by with friends and family? In this message, I teach two simple questions which make conversations about God easy. Learn how to confidently and graciously present Christ in an attractively intelligent way, without having to know all the answers.

Watch this message on YouTube:


Answering Evil: If God is So Good, Why is There So Much Suffering?

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Romans 8:18

One of the most difficult questions, and one which we all wrestle with: Why is there so much evil and suffering in the world? Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? Why does He allow it to continue? In this sermon, I highlight four significant reasons God allows evil and suffering to continue – at least for a season. And I point to the ultimate source of comfort in times of trouble: Christ who suffered alongside us.

Worldviews in Conflict: The Cosmic Battle for Our Minds

…The reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth… John 18:37

In this message, I highlight the great war between the truth claims of God and the lies and deceptions of the world. I introduce the concept of ‘Worldview’ and contrast the two major worldviews in New Zealand today: Materialism/Naturalism (roughly 35% of the population) and Christianity (roughly 33% of the population) – showing that while the first is unliveable, the second gives profound answers to all the deepest questions of life.

Watch this message on YouTube:





Other Teaching Topics

The following messages I give to youth groups, Christian schools, at conferences and as professional development training for Church staff. I can deliver a single talk, or teach a series that builds a cumulative case for Christianity that includes a mix and match of any of the following:


The Scientific Evidence for the Existence of God

Everything that begins to exist has a cause – including the universe itself.  Is there any scientific or philosophical evidence for a creator as a cause of the Big Bang?  In this presentation, we examine the nature of the Big Bang and look at the evidence a divine supernatural cause was at work.  We’ll also examine how the original purpose of science as a way of understanding the natural world around us has become distorted, resulting in biased outcomes in scientific enquiry that unnecessarily exclude the possibility of God.

True for You, But Not for Me: Are Religious Truths True for Everyone?

In this talk, I examine the nature of truth and highlights two different kinds of claims: Universal Truth that is true for everyone, and Personal Truth based on your own preferences and personal beliefs. Then we examine religions claims about God and Jesus and ask: are such claims Universal or Personal; are they just true for me, or; is there something much deeper going on?

Is Jesus the Only Way? What About All the Other Religions in the World?

Jesus claimed to be the only way – but how can only one religion be true when there are so many beliefs out there?  What about those who are truly sincere in their religious beliefs – are they going to hell?  Isn’t it intolerant to think others are wrong?  Don’t all paths lead to God?  In this talk, we dismantle twelve of the most common claims we hear that suggest all religions are equally true – and show just how important the question of truth really is.

True for You But Not for Me. How Can There be Only One Way?

NOTE: This is a shorter combined version of the two above talks

Jesus Christ claimed to be the only way to God – yet we live in a society where multiculturalism, diversity and tolerance are highly esteemed and necessary for a peaceful civilisation. So, is it possible for one religion to be true?  Are there really many paths to God?  What does it mean to be tolerant of other religions?  In this presentation, we examine the difference between subjective and objective truth, while looking deeper at the nature of religious truth claims – in particular, the claim that Jesus is the only path.


A Misunderstood Theory: Understanding the limitations and implications of the theory of Evolution

In this talk, I outline the misconceptions about what evolution is and the power it has to create new organisms. I bring some clarity to a theory that is often wrongly used to explain things it’s not capable of explaining. I then highlight some of the problems in the theory of evolution and examine the very disturbing consequences that must be accepted if the theory is actually true.

What is Christianity? An introduction to the basic beliefs of the Christian Faith

This presentation is for those who want to learn about who Jesus Christ is and just what Christians’ believe.  We cover some of the central beliefs of the faith and why we believe them – including topics such as God, Jesus, Heaven, Hell, Sin & Salvation.  We finish by explaining what the Bible and the Church is and why we need them.  Come and learn the basics and ask your deepest questions about the Christian faith.

Why Thinking Matters to our Kids: A practical four-part strategy to get our kids engaging with worldview and apologetics

Why is apologetics so important in the discipleship of our kids?  Why are so many of our young Christians not sharing their faith with others – or even walking away altogether?  In this talk, I examine the role apologetics and worldview training has in preparing our kids for adulthood and presents a practical four-part strategy for getting them intellectually engaged in their faith and culture.  This talk is suitable for parents, youth leaders, Christian educators and homeschoolers.

Testimonials

Rodney Lake is one of those rare individuals who can communicate the core truths of the Gospel to a lost world in a thoughtful way while still being accessible and fun. He’s certain to be a hit for any church service or youth event. I recommend him highly.  Lenny Esposito, President – Come Reason Ministries

“Rodney addresses difficult issues capably, thoughtfully and sensitively. His ministry greatly serves both leaders and laity, providing precious clarity in an age of increasing confusion.” Steve Burgess, C3 Church – Pacific Region Director

“Rodney did a great job of removing the guilt and pressure that the word ‘evangelism’ evokes. He brought the Great Commission down to a practical level and made our calling to evangelism something that is accessible and actionable for every Christian.” Reuben Munn, Senior Pastor – Shore Community Church Auckland

Rodney did a wonderful job, and the feedback from our church was excellent. He spoke clearly, and illustrated his points well.  David Dishroon, Senior Pastor – Changepoint Church Tauranga

“Rodney brings clarity to the role and need of apologetics in the church today, grounded in a passion for the gospel. His ability to communicate to youth and adults is evident and a major plus. I fully endorse Rodney in his speaking and ministry.” Rev Reece Frith – St Paul’s, Katikati

Brilliant. Rodney was enthusiastic, very well informed and able to bring so much information to the class. Really got us thinking and helped us prepare answers for people who ask questions about God and Christianity.  Student (anonymous) – Faith Bible College

Rodney was articulate, interesting and very informative with excellent content and delivery. Very sensitively handled. Conference Feedback (anonymous) – Confident Christianity Conference

Rodney Speaking

References

Feel free to contact any of the following pastors & ministry leaders who have hosted me as a speaker at their church, school or ministry event – for a reference:

  • Ps David Dishroon – Changepoint Church, Tauranga
  • Ps Alan Hood – City Church, Tauranga
  • Dave Mann – Shining Lights Trust & The Hope Project
  • Des Short – Principal, Faith Bible College
  • Eoin Crosbie – Principal, Bethlehem College, Tauranga
  • Rev Simon McLeay – St Peters in the City, Tauranga
  • Rev Ian Pittendreigh – Bethlehem Community Church, Tauranga
  • Ps Sam Bayly – O2 Church, Tauranga
  • Rev Reece Frith – St Paul’s, Katikati

Other talks under development

The following talks will be available soon.  Please talk with me if any of these interest you and I can bring them forward and finish them off:

Doubting your Doubts: I once was found but now I’m lost
What happens when you question your faith? Are doubts healthy or should we suppress them and believe anyway? This talk is an encouragement to those who struggle to believe – showing you how to turn your doubts into curiosity for the things of God.
 
Can the Bible be trusted?  What is the Bible and where did it come from?
What is the Christian Bible?  Who wrote it and who decided what should be in it?  The Christian Scriptures have been used for several thousand years by Christians all over the world to inform and guide them in all matters of life.  But what evidence is there that these ancient writings are reliable, true and should be taken seriously?

Planned talks yet to be started:

Right and Wrong: What is moral relativism? Who gets to decide what’s right and wrong?

God among us: The historical evidence for the miraculous life and claims of Jesus.

Post-modernism: An empty philosophy according to the traditions of man.

The Intolerance of Tolerance: How our culture has distorted the concept of tolerance.


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