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These are Presuppositional apologetics’ links gathered from the Web between November 15th-21st, 2014.

Enjoy!

1.) Rebutting Bill Nye’s Evolutionary Oath

2.) Does the Bible teach that a woman has to marry her rapist?

3.) Free on PDF! Redeeming Philosophy: A God-Centered Approach to the Big Questions by Vern Poythress

4.) A Denied Christian Newspaper Article

5.) The Circularity of Evolutionary Trees

6.) Apologetics for the Average Christian: Asking Good Questions

7.) Reformed Forum Show: Redeeming Philosophy

8.) Proofs, Persuasion and the Truth Problem

Last Installment: Mid-November 2014 Presuppositional Apologetics’ Links

apologetics2 In our September blog’s series “Mission, Culture and being Biblical” we gave special attention to the danger of the Insider Movement in which their philosophy of missions were evaluated biblically and logically.  In particular, we noted that the Insider’s Movement’s method of doing missions suffer from the defect of having an unbiblical theology of other religion, an unbiblical view of culture and an unbiblical theology of the church.  Here we also want to focus on the Insider Movement’s faulty view of apologetics and while the movement is not monolithic and not everyone will necessarily share the same view of apologetics, we will focus more narrowly on the teaching of a key leader of the movement name John Travis.  What he has to say strongly resonate with those in the Insider Movement.  We will examine Travis’ view of apologetics as part of his missionary approach towards Muslims found in his essay titled “Must all Muslims Leave ‘Islam’ to Follow Jesus?”  This essay is from the fourth edition of Perspectives on the World Christian Movement : A Reader.  At the least I hope that this post can encourage those within the Insider movement to think more along the lines of what Scripture has to say about apologetics. In writing about the need for an apologetics to deal with an Muslim region called Islampur, John Travis writes,

Concerning the high regard for the Qur’an among Islampur believers, an apologetic response concerning the Qur’an must be developed whereby the truth in it can be affirmed (especially for purposes of a bridge for witness) yet is is not put on equal (or superior!) status to the Injil.  Fortunately, until such an apologetic is developed the Islampur believers are regularly reading the Injil rather than the Qur’an” (669).

I am glad that Travis finds it fortunate that these “believers” are regularly reading the Injil (New Testament Gospel).  But I find his reaction to the Islampur’s believers’ high view of the Qur’an as problematic.   He wants Christian apologists to develop an apologetic that affirms that Qur’an.

First off, why focus on “affirming” the Qur’an when these believers are already regularly reading the Gospels in the New Testament rather than the Qur’an?  Isn’t the goal to go to the Bible (Old and New Testament) since it is God’s Word?

Second,  isn’t also backwards to go back to the Qur’an even according to Travis’ own beliefs if these believers are already reading the NT and he himself believes the Qur’an is not equal nor superior to the Gospel?  Why try to promote third rate products so to speak when you can give someone something that is first class?

Third, is the goal of Christian apologetics really to defend another religion’s Scripture?

Fourth, he assumes that an apologetic must be developed to use the Qur’an as a bridge for witness; but Travis never mention or interact with the content of the Qur’an since this is important when we discuss whether the Qur’an can be used as a bridge in the first place.  Does the Qur’an explicitly teaches a theology that is antithethical to Christianity and the Bible?  This would seriously limit the Qur’an as a witnessing bridge towards Christianity if it is a bridge that is with holes and weaknesses.

Fifth, there are many resources on Christian apologetics on Islam, most of it refuting it and also handling Islamic objection towards Christianity.  In fact, the apologetics’ endeavor with Islam has been going on for hundreds of years.  I wished Travis would have shared what he thinks of the apologetics Christians have given over many generations rather than be silent on it and then merely assert that he wished an apologetic would be developed to affirm the Qur’an.  I think it is appropriate to ask why we must affirm the Qur’an in the first when the overwhelming majority of Christian apologetics does not, or at least explain why he thinks many of his fellow Christians are wrong in their approach given that his view is that of a minority.

Sixth, it might be that Travis does not see the place for “negative” apologetics, in which one refute other worldviews and other religion’s Scripture.  I do think Scripture does give a place and role for “negative” apologetics.

We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, (2 Corinthians 10:5)

In Islam, the Qur’an is raised up above against the Old and New Testament (which is the source of knowledge of God).  2 Corinthians 10:5 demand that we destroy it (intellectual and biblical refutation).  

For more on what we have written in the past on how to witness and engage in apologetics with Islam check out the index to our series.

Should You Believe in God

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

This booklet is a part of the “Christian Answers to Hard Questions” series that is put out by P&R Publishing and written by the faculty of Westminster Theological Seminary.  In this booklet Westminster Theological Seminary’s professor of apologetics K. Scott Oliphint tackles the question “Should you believe in God?’ and answers with the affirmative.  I was looking forward to the booklet because I wanted to see how would Oliphint summarize his answer to such an important question in a brief and hopefully profound way.  Often when Presuppositionalists talk about God’s existence it is no brief matter!  As I was reading this it reminded me of Cornelius Van Til’s famous booklet, Why I Believe in God, with its conversational tone, anticipating objections and also its content.  Like Van Til, Oliphint addressed the problem of neutrality and “conditioning” of beliefs from one’s upbringing and environment.  Unlike Van Til however, Oliphint’s upbringing was not in an orthodox Christian setting but a religion that teaches works righteousness.  But like Van Til, Oliphint also shows how God is the “All Conditioner” saves us from brute determinism that render everything meaningless and unintelligible.  I appreciated that Oliphint dealt with the question of whether truth is knowable in the beginning of the book and also how he summarizes the Gospel early in the conversation and in the end.  Besides the issue of neutrality Oliphint also tackles the nonbelievers’ assumption of the normalcy of man’s mind and naturalism.  Like Van Til, Oliphint sees that unless one presupposes the God of the Bible, one will eventually find everything meaningless and absurd.  What I like about the book is that it shows in summary what an application of Presuppositional apologetics looks like.  But I would also as a criticism of both Oliphint’s and Van Til’s booklet is that for such a controversial question it is hard to summarize everything in one little booklet.  I remember reading Van Til’s booklet many times and not seeing it—it was only after I read the booklet with Greg Bahnsen’s footnotes and commentaries did I get what Van Til was doing.  Nevertheless, I do recommend the book.

I just posted a few minutes ago but this is too good not to share right now!

Redeeming Philosophy A God-Centered Approach to the Big Questions

Dr. Vern Poythress of Westminster Theological Seminary has just had his book Redeeming Philosophy published just a few weeks ago last month.  Apparently he has made this book available for free online as a PDF!

You can download the file if you click HERE.

Here’s the book’s description from the publisher’s website:

Who am I? Why am I here? Where do I find meaning?

Life is full of big questions. The study of philosophy seeks to answer such questions. In his latest book, prolific author Vern Poythress investigates the foundations and limitations of Western philosophy, sketching a distinctly Christian approach to answering basic questions about the nature of humanity, the existence of God, the search for meaning, and the basis for morality.

For Christians eager to engage with the timeless philosophical issues that have perplexed men and women for millennia, this is the place to begin.

Here is the table of content:

Table of Contents

Part 1: Basic Issues in Exploring Big Questions

  1. The Big Questions about Life
  2. The Bible as a Resource
  3. Opposite Approaches to Philosophy

Part 2: Metaphysics: What Is There?

  1. Inadequate Philosophies
  2. Christian Metaphysics

Part 3: Perspectives

  1. Introducing Perspectives
  2. Multiperspectivalism
  3. Perspectives on God
  4. Perspectives on the World
  5. Perspectives through Language
  6. Implications for Theology

Part 4: Examples of Metaphysical Analysis

  1. Metaphysics of an Apple
  2. Metaphysics of Walking
  3. Metaphysics of a Bookmark
  4. Perspectives in Combination

Part 5: Other Subdivisions of Philosophy

  1. Ethics
  2. Epistemology
  3. The Soul, the Mind, and Psychology
  4. Logic
  5. Aesthetics
  6. Specialized Branches of Philosophy

Part 6: Interacting with Defective Philosophies

  1. The Challenge of Philosophies
  2. Immanuel Kant
  3. Edmund Husserl
  4. Analytic Philosophy

Appendix A: Cosmonomic Philosophy
Appendix B: Perspectives on the Trinity
Appendix C: The Structure of a Bookmark

 

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One Christian apologist and theologian that I really got to read more this year has been John Frame.  His writing has been tremendously helpful and has the rare combination of being intellectually stimulating, biblically faithful and I would even say quite devotional.  Beyond the apologetics’ value of John Frame presenting a coherent Christian worldview in which he shows the inter-relationship and inter-dependence of Christian doctrines, I find that Frame’s writing engages my mind, will and emotions to love God and God’s truth more.

If you didn’t know already, every morning on Mondays through Saturdays we post quotes from John Frame on our Facebook page and our Twitter.  We plan to do this for the remainder of 2014 and going into 2015.

An example of Frame’s spirituality that seeps into his discussion about apologetics and theology is a passage in The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God that talks about doctrinal controversy and the relationship to spiritual immaturity in which he discusses the importance of Christians to grow in holiness and make progress in sanctification.  I appreciated that Frame did talk about this in the context of a book that talks about Christian theory of knowledge!  The Christian must not separate academic theological endeavors from one’s progress in being more like Christ!

Here is the quote:

Many doctrinal misunderstandings in the church are doubtless due to this spiritual-ethical immaturity.  We need to pay more attention to this fact when we get into theological disputes.  Sometimes, we through arguments back and forth, over and over again, desperately trying to convince one another.  But often there is in one of the disputers–or both!–the kind of spiritual immaturity that prevents clear perception.  We all know how it works in practice.  Lacking sufficient love for one another, we seek to interpret the other person’s views in the worst possible sense.  (we forget the tremendous importance of love–even as an epistemological concept; cf. 1 Cor. 8:1-3; 1 Tim. 1:5ff; 1 John 2:4f.; 3:18f.; 4:7ff.).  Lacking sufficient humility, too, we overestimate the extent of our own knowledge.  In such a csae, with one or more immature debaters, it may be best not to seek immediate agreement in our controversy”

(John Frame, The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, 155)

Of course this does not mean that all doctrinal debate is the result of all parties being theologically immature but if we really believe what the Bible says about our sinfulness, we ought to be ready to search our motives, and re-check if any of the above is true.

Knowing this truth has made me more slower in responding to online debate and also see the importance of not just only reading up on theological and apologetics’ controversy but also the importance of resources on sanctification and godliness.

Note: I realized that over the years I’ve blogged a lot on Presuppositional apologetics but I have just discovered that somehow I have never posted my review of Greg Bahnsen’s Classic book titled Always Ready!  Here’s my review, written several years ago.

Bahnsen Always Ready

 

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

It seems as if most of Bahnsen’s books were published after his death than during his own lifetime. Bahnsen’s Always Ready is one of those works, published after his death that was based largely on various essays which he wrote concerning Presuppositional apologetics. Some have commented that this work is rather disorganized or repetitive. If this is so, the fault of the book being disorganized can be attributed to the fact mentioned earlier that the materials originally were not meant as a book. However, in my estimation, the editor Randy Booth did a good job organizing the various chapters in the book in a clear, logical order. It also does not strike me as unnecessarily repetitive either. Rather, Always Ready is a work that is still on top of my list of recommended resources to those who want a good introduction to Van Tillian’s apologetics.

In much of Bahnsen’s other works and lectures, he always begin any discussion about apologetics by refuting religious neutrality. This motif portray the heavy influence Christian apologist Cornelius Van Til has on Bahnsen’s apologetics, and this theme of religious neutrality is valuable in apologetics, which Bahnsen explained in the first section of the book: Neutrality robs the believer and it is a philosophical impossibility (not to mention it’s unethical character!). This point might seem repetitive, but it is a fundamental point in understanding and appreciating the coherence of Presuppositional Apologetics.

Many have observed Bahnsen’s ability to debate, and have seen or heard how he has tackled head-on unbelievers in various venues. This work gives us some of the content of what was going on in the mind of this notable apologist, whom John Frame even believed was the best debater for Presuppositionalism. For the astute and willing student, Bahnsen provides the tools in this book to be equipped in their own apologetics to interact meaningfully and biblically with nonbelievers. As someone who’s life goal was to “take it to the streets” in applying apologetics rather than just discussing theory, Bahnsen’s insight has also been tested in real debate situation. For instance, his chapter on the problem of evil will illuminate readers as to why he took the approach he did concerning the problem of evil in his famous debate with atheist Gordon Stein. His discussion of the problem of miracle and religious language towards the end of the work are also valuable in the apologist’s arsenal, especially for those who take it seriously to be “always ready,” even with the more philosophically sophisticated unbeliever. The book also gives the reader a summary of various logical fallacies to look out for which unbeliever typically make, regardless of their range of intellectual ability.  Bahnsen’s strength in many of his debates have been his quickness to identify fallacious reasoning, here in this book one can see what these fallacies are for the readers to be conscious of. In my personal life, working hard in applying the lessons found in this book has resulted in some level of fruitfulness in exposing the folly of unbelief.

The longest chapter happens to be the last chapter, where Bahnsen discusses Acts 17 as it relates to apologetics. His work on Acts 17 was better in clarity and exegesis than his mentor Van Til did in his pamphlet “Paul at Athens.”  From my survey of apologetics literature, every school of apologetics has their take on Acts 17, but Bahnsen has given us by far the best apologist’s exegetical treatment of the passage.

Counseling

Here is the first part that that I would like to provide to our readers.  This material is what I used when I was counseling someone in the past that struggled with depression.  It is not exhaustive, but I hope that it will be helpful in some small measure.

HEART ON THE TABLE

Goal:

  • To take every thought captive to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5).
  • To be complete in Christ (Col. 1:28)
  • To trust and obey (Rom. 12:14-21)
  • To mortify idols in your heart (Col. 3:5-11)
  • To worship the Lord with holy joy (Jeremiah 15:16)

Before we even start, I believe that it is imperative that prayer is the necessarily step to be taken first. Prayer is a gift from God that He grants to us. As a gift from God, it should be used with great joy. As you eat food with great joy because it sustains life, so too should prayer be utilized with great joy because it sustains our spiritual lifeline. But before one takes a step into the holy of holies via prayer, one must be careful praying before a holy God. A holy mentality is much needed when it comes to fighting sin. Please read Psalm 51 to see David’s example of having a holy mentality in conjunction with prayer when it comes to fighting sin. The setting of Psalm 51 takes place after David committed adultery and murdered Bathsheba’s husband.

In lieu of having a holy mentality when praying to God, we need to understand that prayer is not only important because it is our spiritual lifeline, but our Lord and Savior expects us to pray. And since He is our Lord and Savior—that is enough for us to take seriously. Here are a couple of phrases from a couple of verses where Jesus expects us to pray: Matt. 6:5, “When you pray…”; Matt. 6:6, “But you, when you pray…”; Matt. 6:7, “And when you are praying…”; Matt. 6:9, “Pray, then, in this way…”; Lk. 11:9, “So I say to you, ask…; seek…; knock…” Lk 18:1, “Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray….” Other verses in the Bible that is very clear concerning prayer is Col. 4:2 and 1 Thess. 5:17. Col. 4:2 says, “Devote yourselves to prayer…”; and 1 Thess. 5:17 says, “Pray without ceasing….”

Genuine prayers allow one to take every thought captive, be complete in Christ, to learn how to better trust and obey, mortify idols, and to express our joy to the Lord.

PART 1: Hear God’s Word concerning your sin.

Introduction:

In 2 Timothy 4:1-2, Paul instructs young Timothy to preach the Word. It is evident that when the Word is preached, there is a hearer. Hearing the Word of God was a crucial element in Old Testament and New Testament times, and is crucial now. God’s word helps us better understand God and His will for us.

Please listen to two sermons during this week and write down any notes that convicted you. You will need a journal. Since God has gifted the church with teachers and pastors, it is important to learn from them. For the first sermon, please listen to Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ sermon called, “Mind; Heart and Will.” Here is the link: http://www.mljtrust.org/sermons/mind-heart-and-will/

For the second sermon, please listen to Pastor Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ sermon called, “That One Sin.” Here is the link: http://www.mljtrust.org/sermons/that-one-sin/

Action:

  • Please summarize each sermon in your own words. You do not have to write an essay. A paragraph per sermon would be great.
  • What truths from the sermons impacted you (please provide a paragraph for each sermon)?
  • After reading Hebrews 5:11-14, please describe what time of listener you were during your episode of depression. Were you a bored listener or a joyful listener? If you were either a bored listener or joyful listener, please explain why.
  • In lieu of Hebrews 5:11-14, were you a milk drinker or solid food eater during the time of your episode of depression?
  • When you had depression (blues), did you wanted to remain as a milk drinker or solid food eater? Please explain why.

Reflection:

  • Please list down the specific sins that you need to put to death in your current life.
  • Please provide the biblical steps that you want to begin now in order to battle sin effectively.
  • Please list down how you are going to subdue depression when it becomes difficult.
  • Are you willing to take the necessary steps to put depression to death in your life after hearing God’s message about sin? Why or why not? Please explain.
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