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Spong vs White

With all that is going on in the news with the direction of our society, this debate between Christian apologist James White and liberal Episcopalian Bishop John Shelby Spong would be important.  Both men debated on the topic “Is Homosexuality Compatible with Christianity?” in Orlando, FL back in November 2006.  The video of this debate has been made available online for free in its entirety less than a week ago.

Here’s the video:

Enjoy!

Ego Trip Harrison

Purchase: Amazon

This book is an excellent evaluation of today’s social understanding of ego and self-esteem.  It is a popular assumption in our society that the root of many problems is the lack of confidence people have.  According to this line of thinking what people need to solve their problems then is a boost of their self-esteem; thus, to increase and maintain people’s self-esteem have become the social gospel of the hour, or as the author put it, it is the  “social vaccine” with many promises (76).  But how does this square with reality?  This book argues that although it seems counter-intuitive the effect of the self-esteem movement has been more hurtful rather than helpful.

In the beginning the book gives a good survey of the historical origin and development of the self-esteem movement.  The author traces much of the incipient form of this self-esteem boosterism back to Freud although the first to coin the term “self-esteem” was the American philosopher William James.  The book also discussed how the gospel of self-esteem became popular during the “Cambrian era of self-esteem” of the 1960s (44).  The book also have a chapter describing the self-esteem movement’s agenda of passing their ideology to children when they are young and another chapter on how these ideas have even entered into the church and how detrimental it is spiritually.

After surveying the origin of the movement the book then cover the issue of whether or not “boosterism” works in chapter five.  I love the many statistics and studies that the author presents in proving his point that boosterism hasn’t delivered as promised.  The author argues that there are no hard evidences that boosting people’s self-esteem solves the major social and psychological problems that it was suppose to solve; but the author goes further to marshal data showing how the promotion of self-esteem has caused more harm than good.  Phony boost will lead to more disappointment and more problems.  I would say the author working through the data and various studies in research journals is worth buying the book.

Some of the survey of the relevant studies reveal the following:

  • There is not strong positive correlation between one’s self-esteem and educational attainment and that those with low and high self-esteem try just as hard in education (98).
  • According to another study risky teenage sexual behavior had very weak link with self-esteem per se; instead the link appears to be connected with factors such as background of a broken home or a lower IQ (74).
  • In one study, there are two groups of students, one who were praised for their effort and the other praised for being intrinsically gifted; and the group that was praised for effort when required to anonymously report their final scored were more prone to lie (101).
  • One example of how that is no correlation with one’s view of oneself and actual performance is a study that demonstrate how the lowest scoring group of people completing a task had the highest “better than average” biased rating of their performance compared to others (127).

The second half of the book was more theological in its content.  I admit that I was surprised at how biblical the second half of the book was.  Here the author offered a biblical antidote to the contemporary self-esteem movement.  The author also tells us a story in which he counseled someone where he noted the irony that he was more concerned about repentance and confession than the counselee’s pastor who was more concern with psychobabble.  I was also glad to find the author’s familiarity of good biblical resources as evident from the footnote.   I definitely recommend this book.

NOTE: This book was provided to me free by Zondervan Academic and Net Galley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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Here are Presuppositional apologetics’ links between October 15-21st, 2014.

Which links edified you?

1.) Twenty Ways to Answer A Fool [8]

2.) The Fabrications of Scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson

3.) The Darwinian Bourne Legacy

4.) Your Character Is Just As Important to Your Apologetics As Your Logic

5.) Toward a Few Conclusory Thoughts on “Evil and the Vindication of Divine Goodness”

6.) If Evolution is True, then Truth Doesn’t Matter [An Excerpt]

7.) K. Scott Oliphint Teaches Covenantal Apologetics for Logos Mobile Ed

Last installment: Mid-October 2014 Presuppositional Apologetics’ Links Round Up

GO TO PART 24

ambulance-man-1

Point:  When we evangelize it is important to make the point that the listener have sinned against a Holy God.  Even during an apologetic dialogue, a Christian apologist must not forget this; instead he or she must press the point that one who goes against God is rebelling against Him and is trying to run away from God with the very resources that God has given to help man; this sin is even more grievous in light of God’s goodness, help and mercy towards unbelievers (what in theology we call God’s common grace).  How can we further drive this point home?

Picture: On the news a few days ago there was this headline: “Man steals L.A. Fire Department ambulance sent to help him” with this story:

A man being treated by paramedics stole a Los Angeles Fire Department ambulance and led police on a chase that ended in a traffic collision, sending two women to the hospital Sunday night.

Paramedics responded to a medical call in the 200 block of North San Pedro street in downtown L.A. about 6:30 p.m., and then the man drove off in the ambulance, according to the LAFD’s Katherine Main.

The paramedics were not in the ambulance at the time, Main said.

A fire engine also responding to the original call reported the stolen ambulance, Los Angeles police said.

Officers then began a pursuit that ended when the ambulance crashed into a vehicle at the intersection of Beverly Boulevard and  Union Avenue about 7:15,  according to Sgt. Gia Rueda of the LAPD.

Two women in the car were taken to a hospital with minor injuries, Rueda said.

The suspect, whose name was not released, was taken into custody at the Rampart Station.

Here is a story of the suspecttaking advantage of what was meant to be help for the suspect.  Then there is the added irony of the man getting an accident after the chase–only to have the paramedics again help him and put him in another ambulence.  That’s like man’s sinful attempt to run away from Him by hijacking God’s resources as a means of running away from Him–but we inevitably crash and even then with our self-destructiveness we can’t fully avoid God.

POSSIBLE SCENARIO FOR EMPLOYING THIS ILLUSTRATION DURING APOLOGETIC EVANGELISM

<Much apologetic dialogue takes place; now discussion is winding down>

CHRISTIAN: We have touched on a lot of philosophy and worldview issues.  I don’t want you to miss my thesis that you are in sin and that your sin is even evident in our intellectual discussion because you are trying to use intellectual resources that God has provided to help us as His creatures to be resources for you to try to escape God.

OPPONENT: What do you mean?  You are putting moralistic tones to this intellectually stimulating discussion.

CHRISTIAN: Let me explain perhaps by ways of a story of how I see it within my worldview.  Have you heard of this story: <Insert New story>.

OPPONENT: Wow!

CHRISTIAN: Here’s the image of the actual guy after the accident.  Do you see any irony in the picture?

OPPONENT: Yes!  The paramedics that he wronged are now the ones he have to rely on to help him after the attempted getaway.

CHRISTIAN: Exactly!  I love this picture because despite his attempt to get away from the paramedics, he ends up facing the paramedics anyways–and still needed their help and he’s back to square one.  In the same way, when someone tries to use God’s resources that was meant to help us such as the laws of logic, morality, etc., as a means of trying to run away from God, we end up colliding with God’s reality and yet we still rely on Him afterwards despite our rebellion.  This man is more like us than we realize!

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This is a lecture series by Professor Brian Rickett on the topic of Presuppositional apologetics for the Forty-Fourth Annual William N. Paschal Memorial Bible Lectures held on October 14 and October 16, 2014 that was hosted by the Baptist Missionary Association (BMA) Theological Seminary.  Rickett is a capable teacher specializing in the Old Testament and also Presuppositional apologetics.

The messages have just been made available over at Sermon Audio.  You can download the lectures of this four part series below:

1.) Apologetics and the Contemporary Setting

2.) Biblical/Historical Justification for Apologetics

3.) Worldview and the Apologetics Tool Box

4.) Presuppositional Praxis: Applied Apologetics

A light-hearted post today.

You know you are a Calvinist when you see the letter “A” and “W” together and it remind you of several good things from the Lord…

A W pinkA.W. Pink

A_W_Tozer

A.W. Tozer

And also of God’s common grace:

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A&W Root Beer

And of course, you can’t spell “Awesome” without A and W.

Announcement: In the past we have shared various resources on Christians and reading including “Christian Theology on Reading Series with Audio Mp3s and PDF available for free.”  For the next four Sundays we will post reviews of non-Christian books where we first evaluate the book and have a closing section titled: “What’s in it for the Christian?”

The Hour of Peril

Available on Amazon

I borrowed this book because I have never heard of any attempt to assassinate Abraham Lincoln back in 1861 during his trip to Washington to be inaugurated in as president of the United States before the Civil War.  Of course we know that any attempt to murder Lincoln in 1861 was unsuccessful.  The book has a good start and even gave the background to the detective Alan Pinkerton, the famous Private investigator that eventually helped coined the phrase “private eye.”    The author wrote in a dramatic fashion and told the story like a thriller.  Perhaps the novel-like suspense eventually hurt the book since towards the middle of the book I started wondering whether there was really any attempt to murder Lincoln and by the end of the book I was totally disappointed.  For a book that was sold as a secret plot to murder Lincoln, there was in the end nothing really concrete of a conspiracy of an immediate threat that was unearth to murder Lincoln beyond rumors, drunken men talking, secret agents listening in to people in bars and brothels and some nutcases getting together filled with self-importance.  Essentially the book was about Pinkerton and others who were worried and eventually convinced Abraham Lincoln to secretly sneak into Washington DC rather than enter through Baltimore and Maryland publicly, which at that time had many pro-Confederate sympathizer.  I would say this book and the event was totally disappointing.  The only action you will get is when Pinkerton punched a Congressman when he escorted Lincoln off the railroad station because he was paranoid and didn’t know whom the Congressman was.  I thought that captured pretty accurately the paranoia of Pinkerton and what to me is Pinkerton and the author’s misjudgment.  In the end, the plotters whom Pinkerton’s men spied upon weren’t even arrested and went back to normal life without being questioned or detained which made me wonder how much of a threat there really was in the first place when proper authorities didn’t even take action.

What’s in it for the Christian:  Hindsight is always 20/20 but the people in 1861 didn’t know that Abraham Lincoln’s fate would not end in 1861.  It should remind us that as Christians we cannot know and control the future as James 4:13-14 teaches: “ Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” 14 [g]Yet you do not know[h]what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.”  God is in control of history and many conspiracies by men don’t go according to plan because mankind can’t control everything.  This should comfort us.  We must be reminded of the greatest conspiracy to come in which the nations conspire against the Son of God and yet “He who sits in the heavens laughs, The Lord scoffs at them” (Psalm 2:4).

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