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Archive for the ‘Apologetics’ Category

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Here are the round ups of Presuppositional apologetics’ links from October 22nd-31st, 2014.

1.) The Value of Systematic Theology for Defending the Faith

2.) Bubble-wrapped atheism

3.) “Undeniable Evidence: Divine Creation and The Impossibility of Godless Evolution” Aims to Defeat Bill Nye’s “Undeniable”

4.) Gabriel Fluhrer review of “What’s Your Worldview?”

5.) Dissertation on PDF: “The Self-Attestation of Scripture as the Proper Ground for Systematic Theology”

Last installment of Presuppositional Apologetics’ links Round Up

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southern seminary

A doctrine of Scripture that has been under-utilized in apologetics has been the historic belief in the self-attestation of Scripture.  There is a Doctoral Dissertation on the topic: “The Self-Attestation of Scripture as the Proper Ground for Systematic Theology” by Matthew Scott Wireman.  Dr. Wiseman completed this thesis in 2012 through Southern Seminary, best known with its president Al Mohler.

Southern Seminary and Dr. Wireman has made the dissertation available as a PDF.  You can download it by clicking HERE.

Here is the description of the dissertation broken down by chapters:

This dissertation examines the Protestant doctrine of Scripture’s self-witness of divine authority. Chapter 1 examines the current evangelical milieu. The doctrine has become nearly obsolete in the discussion of systematic theology. Consequentially, wherein lies authority has been greatly misunderstood in Protestant circles.

Chapter 2 surveys the doctrine through the history of the church. Particular note is made of Augustine, John Calvin, John Owen, and Herman Bavinck. This chapter evinces the near consensus of the church that the authority for the Church is found preeminently in the Scriptures.

Chapter 3 summarizes post-conservative, Stanley J. Grenz and John R. Franke, attempts to ground theology in Scripture plus culture and tradition. This chapter does not offer a critique as much as it aims to represent post-conservatives in their own words.

Chapter 4 looks at how the Old Testament viewed itself–particularly through the ministries of Moses and the prophets. YHWH chose representatives who would speak to the covenant community and write down the stipulations and history of YHWH’s relationship with Israel for posterity.

Chapter 5 looks at the New Testament, which follows the paradigm instituted by the Old Testament. In the person and work of Jesus Christ, God’s promises find their fulfillment, which foments his commissioning of the Twelve Apostles to be his spokesmen.

Chapter 6 ties together the threads that cohere in the two testaments of Scripture. It makes explicit the claims of Scripture that God is a se, he communicates with his creation, he uses spokesmen, and his written Word is its own witness for its authority.

Chapter 7 defines the doctrine of Scripture’s self-witness and applies it to tradition, culture, and the task of apologetics. The chapter explicates the thesis of the dissertation that Scripture’s self-witness must be the ground of systematic theology.

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GO TO PART 24

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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

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theodicy van til

This is an unpublished “book” by the famed Reformed apologist Cornelius Van Til that was put together by Monergism.com!

AVAILABLE IN EPUB, MOBI AND .PDF FORMATS

Here’s the website description:

In treating of Evil in relation to Theodicy it is quite impossible to leave out of consideration metaphysics and epistemology. The views of sin will vary as the conceptions of God and man vary. If we view God as infinite, eternal, and immutable in His being, intelligence, and will, and man his organic creation, if we accept the supernatural, grant the need of special revelation, accept the fact of special revelation and the fall of man, we must needs also come to the Biblical view of sin with redemption and restoration. If on the other hand we deny these premises, we must begin with man and experience as we find them, and construct our own views as to the nature of God and man and therefore also of sin, and we come to a fundamentally different theory of Theodicy.

We have accordingly two main theories of evil and two kinds of theodicy. The one is the product of a system of thought that bows before the authority of supernatural revelation and studies the phenomena of experience in the light of the Scriptures. The other is the product of the philosopher who also views the phenomena of experience but feels that it devolves upon him as a rational creature to give an account of things to himself, and that he is able to do so. This may lead him to skepticism or phenomenalism but he will not seek aid from supernatural revelation. “The philosopher as philosopher and irrespectively of his attitude toward the Christian faith, approaches a question as if there were no truth which claimed to be revealed. For him the plan of the world may or may not have been divinely disclosed to man; it awaits discovery or interpretation through the exercise of reason.”

Here’s the table of content:

Part 1—Philosophy

Introduction

Epistemological Basis

Greek Philosophy—Plato

Aristotle

Stoicism And Epicureanism

Philo

Plotinus

Modern Philosophy

Descartes

Spinoza

Locke And Empiricism

Berkeley And Hume

Leibniz

Kant

Hegel

F. R. Tennant

Conclusion

Part 2—Theological

Augustine

Augustine

Mediaeval Scholasticism And Mysticism

Calvin And The Reformation

Lutheranism

Arminianism

Schleiermacher And Müller

Neo-Calvinism

Bavinck

God Is His Own Theodicy

Bibliography

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Can I Really Trust the Bible Cooper

 
You can order “Can I really trust the Bible?” over at Amazon

This is a book that is part of the Questions Christians Ask Series. Previously I have only read one work in this series, “Is God Anti-Gay?” and I thought it was the best compassionate and biblical work I have seen addressing those who have same sex attraction. This book on whether one can trust the Bible is also very good. Over five chapters the author Barry Cooper answers three important questions: (1) Does the Bible claim to be God’s Word? (2) Does the Bible seem to be God’s Word? (3) and does the Bible prove to be God’s Word? Cooper devotes two chapters to the first question, two more chapters to the second question and one chapter to the third question.
One thing I really like about the book is how the author is conscious of nonbelievers and young believers in the faith that would be reading his book. For instance, I appreciate Cooper explaining what verses are and the history of the Bible being divided into chapters and verses. There are helpful small excursuses throughout the book answering questions such as “What’s inside the Bible?” and “Aren’t some of the stories from Jesus’ life just legends and later additions?”
I also think that Cooper does a great job packing this small book with many illustrations that are helpful in supporting his explanation. For instance, in explaining why he begins with the question of what does the Bible claims about itself he gives the illustration of two individuals on vacation talking about the identity of someone they just saw and how it would not make be rational if these two individuals only engage in speculation but never bother to ask the person at all. Likewise it would also be unwise to speculate on what is the characteristic and identity of the Bible if we never look at the Bible’s own claim of itself. In considering the remarkable unity in the flow of redemptive history, Cooper gave this short illustration: “What if multiple authors had each written a single page of this little book you’re holding? What if each author wrote in different genres, in different centuries and in different countries, with no ‘master plan’ for them to consult? What is the likelihood that it would make any sense at all?” (38). Concerning multiple Bible versions, Cooper also made this point: “Jus because there are 15 different English translations of Dante’s Divine Comedy, it doesn’t mean we can’t know what Dante meant” (56). Another good one: “The person who never wants the Bible to be hard is like the person who goes to the gym and never want to sweat” (74).
In reviewing this book I must also state my bias as someone who subscribe to Presuppositional apologetics. I am somewhat weary of works by naïve evidentialists who does not give much room for God’s Word to be self-evidencing and who up share evidences without conscious consideration of one’s philosophy of evidence. I was glad that this is not one of those works. I was surprised to see the author in several instances quote from John Frame (a plus!). In particular I was impressed with how Cooper dealt with the objection that an argument for the Bible as God’s Word is circular: Cooper would ask a question that would reveal the interlocutor’s own circular authority and Cooper also noted the nature of any ultimate authority would begin with itself or otherwise if it appeal to another authority, than that new authority is the ultimate authority. It is good to see a book of this size be conscious of the issue of ultimate authority!
In terms of constructive criticism, I wished Cooper could have gone through more Messianic prophecies that was fulfilled in Scripture. Cooper did mention Isaiah 53 and Micah 5:2. But I think Cooper accomplished a lot in 81 pages.
I highly recommend this book.
NOTE: I received this book for free from the publisher The Good Book Company through Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for my honest opinion. The thoughts and words are my own and I was under no obligation to provide a favorable review.

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Doctrine of Christian Life John Frame

Note: You can purchase this work at a discounted price over at Westminster Bookstore by clicking HERE.

A massive volume on the important subject of Christian ethics by one of the most sophisticated Biblicist today.  This volume by Dr. John Frame in his theology of Lordship series was a wonderful read and was intellectually stimulating and doxological—what I expect from John Frame’s work and something I hope to be able to emulate in my own teaching ministry.  This work is different than most Christian text book on ethics in that it applies John Frame’s Triperspectivalism (looking at things with the consciousness of the normative, situational and existential perspective) and a robust Reformed and Biblical theology to the area of Christian ethics and living.  I also think Frame’s Van Tillian side is also a big a plus since I appreciate how the beginning of the book John Frame goes about refuting non-Christian philosophy, religion and worldview that are competitors against the Christian worldview of ethics.  This section is excellent and can be a small book that is worth buying alone.  Frame also wasn’t just into refutation but a positive presentation of the Christian position on ethics as well.  In fact the bulk of the book was his exposition on the ten commandments and he did a good job of showing how other parts of the Scripture illuminates the Decalogue with more specific application or nuances.  Even if one might not agree with Frame in the particular, he nevertheless will provide great food for thought and challenge the reader to think more biblically and rigorously on ethical matters.

Frame was able to strike my interests and simulated my thought throughout the thousand page book which I think is quite a feat.  In what follows I can only share some of the highlights:

  • Frame had a good discussion in the book about the danger of exclusively preaching redemptive-history especially without the intention of application. If one reads his collection of shorter works, Frame expands on this concern he has.
  • The chapter on motive and virtue was saturated with the Gospel and how it motivates a believer’s sanctification; this same chapter also had a good discussion trying to reconcile imprecatory prayers with loving one’s enemy with Frame noting the distinction between wanting God to pour out His wrath while we not doing this ourselves.
  • Another highlight in the book was John Frame’s discussion about racial equalities. I think what he has to say is probably the closest position to mine that I have seen in print.  In particular, I find it helpful his discussion of various ways people use the term “racism.”  I also liked his discussion about race within the context of the church such as his quote: “Churches do not have to seek a quota of every ethnic or national group in their vicinity.  But they must welcome everyone” (John Frame, Doctrine of Christian Life, 674).
  • The discussion on war is a good one; Frame is conscious of what the Scripture say and does not say and he brings this to bear in his observation and criticism of Just War theory. As a Marine myself, I have had some questions about various aspect of Just War theory that seems problematic such as what is proportional force, etc.  I appreciate Frame saying that Just War Theory isn’t so much a theory as it is a series of good questions we must ask concerning war.
  • I really appreciate the section of the book on culture. He does a good job working towards a theological definition of culture and from there explain the various model of the relationship between Christ and culture along with his criticism of each respective views’ strength and weaknesses.  Frame’s discussion about culture also led to the topic of Christians and film; he gives some good principles of what to ask when one watches movies as a Christian and also a defense that movies are not wrong in of itself.
  • For anyone who has read Frame before, there are many points he makes that makes one think not only with the doctrine or position at hand, but also the theological method that is driving Frame as well. I feel Frame is great to read to think about theological method more consciously.
  • In terms of the appendix, I really appreciated Frame’s review of RJ Rushdoony’s book, The Institute of Biblical Law. I thought Frame did a good job of noting Rushdoony’s contribution to Christian study of the law while also being critical in a helpful way that can help push the Christian Reconstructionist movement forward.  His review noted some good problems in Rushdoony’s book while Frame was also able to address Theonomy’s critics that they must not knee-jerk emotionally reject God’s Law out of hand just because we don’t like it, because afterall it was at one time God’s Law.

With the positive I must add a few constructive criticism of the book but I hope this is not misconstrued to mean that I thought Frame did a poor job.  On the contrary, I think it speaks to the quality of the book that my criticisms are few for such a lengthy book:

  • The book is weaker theologically concerning eschatology and especially the millennial positions. Frame doesn’t get into much of eschatology although I think its worth pursuing by others more systematically the relationship between eschatology and Christian ethics.
  • The book gave a short treatment on the topic of spiritual growth and I wished he talked more about sanctification but for such a lengthy book that already covered so many areas one can’t really fault John Frame.
  • A lot of the appendixes were book reviews of works in the 1980s or earlier. Since the book was published in 2008, I thought it would have been nice to see reviews of books that are more recent in publication.

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