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Archive for the ‘Christianity’ Category

Unrelated author’s personal note: If you follow our blog, I want to give a personal update.  Much has transpired since I’ve been on vacation.  I think the Lord has changed me and my perspective in this unforseen event with our ministry while I was gone on vacation.  I think I have been challenged to grow deeper in Christ in a good way but much of it will never be told publicly.  Thank you all who have prayed for me online here this anonymous prayer request, in heaven you will know what was prayed for and that the Lord answered.

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I thought I take some break from some heavy stuff from my personal life to talk about another heavier topic: ISIS.

There are weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq; it’s called ISIS.

Coming from the US what people are posting of themselves that is trending right now in social media is the ice bucket challenge; meanwhile coming from the Middle East what people are posting of themselves that is trending right now in social media are graphic video of people kicking the bucket. Obama’s action against ISIS is a drop in the bucket and I think it has to do with his intent early in his presidency to end the war on terror being on his bucket list.

Somebody online has asked me in light of my rhetoric if that means i’m for a military operation involving massive ground troops.  Here’s my thoughts:

I propose a better plan than massive ground troops: I think a better plan is to hit this new Islamic State where it hurts; hit them logistically. I am sure you have heard the military maxim: “Amateurs study strategy ; experts study logistics” you can’t wage war unless you have capital to support your army; I don’t care if you are a die hard radical but you can’t establish any state without beans and bullets; even extremists will start having low morale. The resources that ISIS have to finance their army is stolen goods from their victims and oil that they sell in the black market.  Concerning captured assets, these can only last that long since it will be used up and then there is a need to continually expand and find more victims.  But expansion itself is costly and unpredictable.  The biggest stable source of funding the war is oil  But who do they sell it to? It has to be someone that can refine crude oil. Turkey? Saudi Arabia? Kuwait? Turkey want to expand their own brand of Isamic Neo-Ottoman empire vision and I doubt it’s them; Saudis and Kuwait has been supporting those against Assad and their are many Wahabi sympathizers if not Wahabis Sunnis themselves that share this particular ideologically. I submit we disable their ability to process oil by means of Naval blockade of the oil, and the use of air bombing and Special Operations Forces against oil assets in ISIS hands.

We need to stop our not so covert effort at equipping the Free Syrian Army as well since FSA are terrible fighters and their gear keep on falling into ISIS hands.  Just look at the uniforms, weapons and heavy vehicles ISIS has.

Hopefully Iran and Russia would continue to be opportunists and arm Assad in Syria and Iraq, both countries whom ISIS are fighting.  If these countries continue to arm both those countries it helps us not to give up more of our military hardware.   Don’t forget Iran has a strong motivation to expand in their region and be pro-Shiites (which ISIS is against) in Iraq and Sryia; Russia also has renewed their influence in the Slavic states and the Middle East (Russia is pro-Assad with a naval base in Syria and trainers right now fighting in Syria and they just recently entered the Iraqi scene by selling attack helicopters and having “trainers” on the ground in Iraq to teach and carry out actual Attack helicopter sorties).

The only thing we need to do is destroy the oil capability of ISIS selling oil and we will see the end of cash flow sustaining their Islamic State and we will see their ability to field an army dwindle (insurgents need to eat too, have weapons and ammo, maintain the wear and tear of fighting vehicles, etc). This weakened ISIS will become more like a loose network of thugs and terrorists than an Islamic that it is now.  Then Iraq, Syria and the Kurds (who have now sold their captured oil to their ironic historic enemy of Turkey which is how the Kurds fund their fighting) can then finally have the opportunity to reclaim territory the next few months from ISIS although I don’t think full control will be possible but at least it will become something more like Pakistan’s federally administered tribal areas areas for terrorists than an actual Islamic state that it is now.

What do you guys think?

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Editor’s Note: I (“SlimJim”) am away in a family trip and this is a pre-scheduled post. cover50589-medium

This is the fascinating first hand account of an American Christian doctor doing work in Afghanistan who was kidnapped by the Taliban in 2012.  Dalip Joseph is an American of Indian descent (as in the country, not Native Americans) who has a heart for Afghanistan and made multiple trips there before he was kidnapped on December 5th, 2012.  A few days later Joseph was rescued in a daring raid by the US Navy SEALs.  Unfortunately the SEAL point man was killed during the operation.  What I found most interesting in the book is the authors’ description of the Taliban—the author does have some sympathy with some of his kidnappers and they even have discussion about America.  It is intriguing to see the human side of the lower level members of the Taliban.  Probably the most unusual part to the reader is the level of hospitality shown to Joseph by the Taliban, but this must be viewed in light of the fact that hospitality is built in within the Afghan culture.  Readers must make no mistake that the Taliban is an evil force out there when we are reminded in the book that one of the Taliban was nicknamed Butcher for the obvious reason for what he does to hostage while another Taliban was suppose to be the suicide bomber using the vehicle that Joseph was captured in.  The book was also personally enjoyable for me to read given his references to Southern California with places that I am familiar with; he’s a local guy!   As someone who is fascinated with reading the book for the military side of things, there’s also a remarkable account of when a Taliban commander giving a phone to Joseph to call a certain number to negotiate for money but it ended up being intercepted by the US and Joseph ended up talking to the US military who told him that they had eyes on him.  Talk about incredible (and frightening)!  The Taliban commander later asked him who did he talked to and Joseph told him he does not know—after all wasn’t the Taliban commander who gave him the number?  Fortunately the ordeal was for a few days and the SEALs came in to rescue him.  Because of the book’s discussion about the different guys and their personality, you get the sense that Joseph was sadden to see lives being killed—yet he understood that they went in to rescue him.  If you have ever read In the Presence of My Enemies of another Christian couple that parallel this hostage crisis with Islamic terrorist, you would like this book as well.  The book was such an interesting read that I read it all in one day.  The only concern I had with this book is the lack of the discussion about how does the Gospel applied to his situation.  There is no mention by the author to the Taliban that he was a Christian though he did say that he believed in the true God.  It hit me really hard thinking about how those Taliban next to him went to a Christ-less eternity.  Sobering actually.  With all the news of growing Jihadist movements and events in the Middle East with Christians, this is a timely account.  I recommend it.

NOTE: This book was provided to me free by Thomas Nelson—W Publishing 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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Editor’s Note: I (“SlimJim”) am away in a family trip and this is a pre-scheduled post.  It is written by our guest Russ M.  He is currently in the Marines.

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The purpose for writing this article is that of the issues of biblical versus unbiblical worldview. In some cases modern evangelicals have lost our identity. There is an identity crisis not realizing that our true identity is found in Christ and God’s word. We died with Christ 2,000 years ago and we also resurrected with Him that we now walk in the newness of life (Romans 6:4). As Paul stated, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…” (Galatians 2:20 NASB)

In light of our present world, the church of Jesus Christ has been relying on their own thoughts and ideas revolving around popular culture, that they seldom consider the words of Scripture. By failing to analyze common pop culture opinions without the accordance of Scripture we are vulnerable to the prince and powers of this world (Ephesians 2:2). Even the devil masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14 NASB), producing words of light that affects even Christians, because they do not guard their hearts with Scripture.

Though the war is won at the cross the battle still rages in the fight for souls. It is our responsibility. “Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

How do we watch with all diligence?

By examining it, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1 NASB).

Shell of God’s truth stuffed with the Devil’s lie.

 

1. “Christianity is not a religion, it’s a relationship.”

Is Christianity a religion?

If you mention the word, “religion” in any circumstance with popular culture, almost automatically there are negative connotations associated with that particular word; in the Western civilization the word, “religion” has become a curse word. Words that associated with “religion” are as follows; narrow mindedness, blind faith, dogmatic, fundies, just to name a few.

But in laymen’s terms religion can be defined as, “man’s attempt to reach God”, like the ladder of Babel theology, which God cursed in Genesis 11. It is true that Christianity is not a religion because Christians are not attempting to reach God. Also, Christianity is God not attempting to reach man, but God purposefully saving specific men and women through the God-man Jesus Christ. While it is noted that Christianity is not a religion, is actually biblical.

 

Is Christianity a relationship?

The latter of the statement, “…it’s a relationship” is too generally stated. When our cultural thinks about a relationship they think about earthly relationships with feel-good sensations. Our culture relates a relationship with a father/mother parenting their children, they think about their best earthly friend on the planet, or some might even fantasize in creating an ideal relationship with a god to their likening; quoting words like, “Jesus is my homie.” With this broad terminology of relationship and the combination of not rooting our theology can be disastrous and can lead many astray worshipping a god of their imagination.

Everyone has relationship with the God of the universe. There are two relationships that God has with every individual on this Earth and is define in John 3:36

“He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (NASB)

The one who believes in Christ Jesus has eternal life, and the one who do not has wrath of God abiding in them. Earlier in the 3rd chapter of John we see the characteristics of eternal life, “unless one is born of water and the Spirit,” in (John 3:5) and is sandwiched with, “unless one is born again” in verse 3 and “You must be born again in verse 7. Being born again is not just saying I have a relationship with Christ, but demonstrating new desires of holiness, desires of witnessing to the lost, and desires of becoming more like the Christ of Scripture. Another question that must be asked is, “What is a Christian’s relationship with sin? Do they love to sin? Do they relish sin? Do they enjoy sin?” If they do say yes then they are still slaves to sin. “Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness” (NASB). Therefore, you can have a wrathful or eternal relationship; there is no grey area here.

It’s not justification through relationship? It’s Justification through faith in Christ trusting in the holy sacrifice. (Ephesians 2:8-9).

What kind of relationship should we have with the God of the universe?

“Christianity is not a religion; it’s more than a relationship. Christianity is about submitting to the lordship of Christ can conforming to His image daily. (Romans 12:1-2)”

 

2. “God loves the sinner, but He hates the sin.”

In my youth I recall this phrase being used in a Christian rap artist’s lyrics and in the preaching of the pulpit during an evangelistic crusade endeavoring to win the lost. But where do we get such theology? Do we get it from t-shirts? Do we get our theology from photographic memes? Or do we get our theology from the unadulterated truth found in Scripture?

Yes, God does love sinners (John 3:16). Yes Jesus came to seek and save that which is lost (Luke 19:10) Yes, Jesus is a friend of sinners (Mark 2:13-17). Yes all true, but the statement, “God loves the sinner, but He hates the sin.” is only half-true, and half-truths are nothing more than deadly lies.

But imagine if someone close to you were murdered in cold blood for no reason. Would it bring justice to say, “I love the murderer, but I hate the murder?” Does God really love the nouns, but hate the verbs? Does God love the thief, but hate the thievery? Does love the homosexual, but hate the homosexuality? Does God love the adulterer, but hates the adultery?

Yes, God does hate those actions, but He even hates those who commit does actions. Yes, God hates the sinner and the sin.

“There are six things which the LORD hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, A false witness who utters lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers.” (Proverbs 6:16-19 NASB)

When we look at these six things the LORD hates, they are all nouns, showcasing the body parts that connects to the sinner that commits the sins or verbs:  haughty (verb-sin) eyes (noun-sinner), lying (verb-sin) tongue (noun-sinner), hands (noun-sinner) that shed (verb-sin) innocent blood, heart (noun-sinner) that devises (verb-sin) wicked plans, feet (noun-sinner) that run rapidly to evil (verb-sin), and A false witness (noun-sinner) who utters lies (verb-sin)

 

Here are more verses that support God hating the sinners.

 

“The boastfull shall not stand before Your eyes; You hate all who do iniquity.” (Psalm 5:5)

 

“The LORD tests the righteous and the wicked, And the one who loves violence His soul hates.” (Psalm 11:5)

 

Still in unbelief? Does God punish sin in hell? Or Does God punish sinners in hell? The corresponding NT Greek word associated with hell is Gehenna, occurring 12 times in the NT Scripture, 11 out of the 12 came from Jesus own mouth. No sin is in hell, but only sinners weep and gnash (Luke 13:28), not sin.

 

There is no beating behind a bush around this, this timeless truth is uncomfortable yet when sinners are confronted with the gospel they will either cling more to the cross of Christ or continue to live an unrepented anti-God lifestyle.

 

We are naturally God-haters from the moment of conception, but once a sinner recognizes their exceedingly sinfulness, then they will see how amazing grace really is, because they were formerly wrath abiding citizens, but now are children of light, they will truly see the love of God, and they will abide in Christ through trails, tribulation, persecution, and even death.

 

We must not have an itching ear virus lecturing to our felt needs; bad theology runs rapid with the gross amount of false teachers. Let us go back to the word of God and sift any lumps of coals and be careful to examine the words that you hear in pop culture. Let us not be lax and test everything with the Scripture. “[The word of God is] more desirable than gold, yes than fine Gold; Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.” (Psalm 19:10 NASB)

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On August 11, 2014, Robin Williams was found hanging in his bedroom by his personal assistant in Tiburon, in Northern California.  He was pronounced dead by those who arrived at the scene.  Williams is considered a comedian icon who is praised as the king of comedy who knew how to make people laugh.  But a huge turn of events changed his life.  The king of comedy who tried to keep everyone happy later became a victim to the fiery darts of this nemesis: depression.  It’s a sharp blade that slowly cuts through the soul of a man.  If the man has no shield to protect him, this sharp blade will move deeper into the human soul in order to take captive the mind of man.  Please pray for the family during this difficult time.  May the Gospel of Christ makes its way to the family so they can taste the power of the Living Water.

Depression is has played a prominent role in many of my counseling sessions.  I have seen the bad and ugly side of it.  The only hope I believe is the Great Physician who prescribes the right medicine to those who are willing to schedule an appointment of Him.  If you are in the Valley of Vision, come to the Lord because He will comfort you.  No one can comfort and bring hope to the soul like the Great Physician.  He knows the human heart and human nature.

The most experienced psychologist or observer of human nature knows infinitely less of the human heart than the simplest Christian who lives beneath the Cross of Jesus. The greatest psychological insight, ability, and experience cannot grasp this one thing: what sin is. Worldly wisdom knows what distress and weakness and failure are, but it does not know the godlessness of man. And so it also does not know that man is destroyed only by his sin and can be healed only by forgiveness. Only the Christian knows this. In the presence of a psychiatrist I can only be a sick man; in the presence of a Christian brother I can dare to be a sinner. The psychiatrist must first search my heart and yet he never plumbs its ultimate depth. The Christian brother knows when I come to him: here is a sinner like myself, a godless man who wants to confess and yearns for God’s forgiveness. The psychiatrist views me as if there were no God. The brother views me as I am before the judging and merciful God in the Cross of Jesus Christ.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community

A relevant prayer concerning this heavy melancholy is vividly described in this prayer from one of the puritan prayers from the The VALLEY OF VISION: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotionals.  This prayer touches the core of the spiritually depressed man and women.

THE VALLEY OF VISION

LORD, HIGH and HOLY, MEEK and LOWLY,
Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,
     where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights;
     hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold thy glory.
Let me learn by paradox
     that the way down is the way up,
     that to be low is to be high,
     that the broken heart is the healed heart,
     that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
     that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
     that to have nothing is to possess all,
     that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
     that to give is to receive,
     that the valley is the place of vision.
Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells,
     and the deeper the wells the brighter thy stars shine;
Let me find thy light in my darkness,
          thy life in my death,
          thy joy in my sorrow,
          thy grace in my sin,
          thy riches in my poverty
          thy glory in my valley.

Ancient prayers concerning this problem is also documented in the Bible.  See Psalm 119:25-32.  Real emotions from a man’s soul that is an melancholy state is here documented for us too see.  I remember preaching a message from this passage and it was comforting to me.  Please watch how the psalmist responds:

Daleth.

25 My soul cleaves to the dust;
Revive me according to Your word.
26 I have told of my ways, and You have answered me;
Teach me Your statutes.
27 Make me understand the way of Your precepts,
So I will meditate on Your wonders.
28 My soul weeps because of grief;
Strengthen me according to Your word.
29 Remove the false way from me,
And graciously grant me Your law.
30 I have chosen the faithful way;
I have placed Your ordinances before me.
31 I cling to Your testimonies;
O Lord, do not put me to shame!
32 I shall run the way of Your commandments,
For You will enlarge my heart.” 

The psalmist understood that the only help, the life vest for His soul as it is drowning in the sea of melancholy, is the transcendent Word of God.

Here are some other helpful sermons from the once bonafide and renown doctor who later became a preacher because he wanted to operate on the inner man: Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones.  He produced many sermons from his series on Spiritual Depression that I encourage you to listen if you or someone you know is experiencing depression.  The Doctor deals with this problem boldly, truthfully, and lovingly.  I have listened to more than four of his messages from this series and they have been phenomenal expositions.  May it help you as it has been of great value and help to me.

Spiritual Depression

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We have been told to be discerning in terms of what types of secular music to not assimilate into our minds if it is degrading, anti-Christ, and vulgar, to name a few.  But what about the call to be discerning concerning the Christian music world?  If you have not seen some of the news feeds, more and more disclosures of secret sins and a myriad of false teachings are coming out from the Christian music world–from people who claim to be followers of Christ.  Much of what these people say falls in harmony with human autonomy rather than Sola Scriptura.  Their beliefs are unorthodox. Here is a list below for your discernment when you encounter them:

Does worship matter anymore?  Does the holiness of God bring about any concern to these singers and to the church? Many who called them out on their sin and false teaching are labeled as haters, homophobic, unloving, Pharisees, and many other unbiblical slanderous names.  These individuals who are condoning abominable sexual lifestyles and false teachings have no business whatsoever by singing in churches or concerts that will bring about detrimental effects to the church.  It is an assault and insult against God. 

The church must not be lukewarm with it comes to biblical integrity.  Yes we are to approach them in love, but we must also be fearless defenders of the truth during times like these.  Apostasies and false teachings are spreading like wildfire, while some in the church are more infatuated with their type of music that feels good to the soul.  The enemy is attacking in many forms.  He truly is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.  He will use the world, professing Christians, and the idolatry of sentimentalism to extinguish our efforts.

Many of these professing believers want to promote change in order to bring about the utopia that the LGBT, humanistic, or the charlatan communities want, but they will never ever change God’s Word and His perspective towards truth.

Many of these poor souls who tolerate this lifestyle have missed the whole mark.  The Gospel did not come so that sin or false teaching can be tolerated.  One of the reasons why the Gospel came was to bring about obedience and change in one’s life.  They are more concern about their money instead of about being in a right relationship with the Lord and to His Word.  According to Vicky Beeching, although some of the royalties have diminished, she states that some royalties still come in because of the songs that are sung in many of the mega churches.  Hmm, I wonder what mega churches those are and I wonder if they are aware about her public acceptance of a gay life.  Do they know about her lifestyle?  If so, how are they biblically handling the situation (2 Corinthians 5:11, “But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler– not even to eat with such a one”).  Beloved, even as believers, we will give an account to God when we die in terms of whether we were faithful to His Word or not (1 Cor. 3:11-15; James 3:1-9; Romans 14:12).  And what better way to apply it during this time.

Beloved, we must be more discerning during these times.  We must not only worship with our heart, but we must also worship with our head.  Worshiping with our head is a fundamental and focal importance in the Christian life.  Romans 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”  Christ also expects us as the church to be discerning of spirits and teachings: Philippians 1:8-10; Hebrews 5:13-14; Galatians 1:6-10.

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Editor’s Note: I (“SlimJim”) am away in a family trip and this is a pre-scheduled post.  It is written by our guest Ben Holloway who is a brother in Christ that is working on a PhD with Dr. Greg Welty .

Ben Holloway

The key to good apologetic strategy is knowing where to begin and where to end a debate. It requires getting at the heart of an objection and knowing what one is going to argue for in response.

The best way to find the heart of an objection is to watch out for key words or phrases. Whereas traditional apologetic methods rely on answering questions directly, presuppositional methods emphasize an indirect method, asking what would have to be the case to make the objection intelligible.

For example, take the question, “why should I believe the Bible is true?” A traditional response would be to give evidence for the trustworthiness of the documents making up the Bible. Presuppositionalists take a different tack. The issue is truth, not whether or not the Bible is true, but what would have to be the case in order for anyone to know any truth or for there to be such a thing as truth.

Knowing the key idea leads to developing a conclusion or a goal to one’s argument.

In the case in question the presuppositionalist should aim for an argument from truth to God. She might respond by arguing, “because if the Bible was not true, there would be no way to know if anything was true.” This is only the conclusion to the argument and would involve several steps to get to it, but it helps to know what one is going to argue for.

This method works as long as one spots the assumption behind the question and is able to show how such an assumption is only possible because Christianity is true.

Take another common and slightly more postmodern objection: “Christianity is a particular community’s interpretation of reality, but it is not necessarily true.” It is tempting to respond by showing that Christianity is true, but the objection is not concerned with truth (at least not in the correspondence sense). The objection focuses on the ability of human beings to interpret experience within particular linguistic communities. Consequently, the presuppositionalist may argue something like: “the interpretation of reality by communities using language is only possible because Christianity is true. Language did not emerge in human confrontation with events, but pre-existed in the intra-trinitarian language game of God. If it did not then there would be no meaning to language.” Again, there are multiple steps required to reach this conclusion, but the key is to be clear in one’s aim.

Another common objection relies on a moral assumption: “Christians have carried out many evil actions in history.” A common presuppositional response to this is: “Actions could only be judged as good or evil if Christianity is true. Human moral judgement relies on an absolute moral judgement determined by the nature of God.” It is crucial to note what that response presupposes. The objection refers to an observable event–an “evil action”–but the response refers to a conceptual framework by which one is able to asses actions. The action of kicking a soccer ball and the action of kicking a person is the same action, but what one needs in order to judge one action to be evil and the other to be good is a moral concept. Presuppositionalists do well when they show how the two are connected, in this case by the ability to judge actions according to moral concepts. Moral concepts would only arise if there is a prior standard by which human beings can discern between good and evil. And such a prior standard requires a moral judgement that is binding from God who is Holy and sets the standard of moral law.

Many objections that unbelievers have are related to what we can know from the Bible. Consequently, when asked what grounds one has for belief it is legitimate to cite one’s source. Consider the question, “what makes you think that Jesus is the only way to heaven?” This objection does not require one to show, philosophically, why it is rational for there to be only one way to heaven or to show empirically that Jesus rose from the dead thus verifying his claim to uniqueness. Rather, it requires an explanation of one’s source or grounds for believing that Jesus is the only way to heaven. In short, because the Bible tells me so. To argue that there is sufficient warrant for a belief provided by scripture is a legitimate line of response. However, one should be prepared to answer the follow up objection–“What makes you think that the Bible is true?”–to which one might respond giving the answer I gave at the top of the post.

Sometimes the word one is looking for is hidden or implied. For example, an unbeliever might suggest, “given the preponderance of evil in our world the likelihood that God exists is small.” The issue at hand is related to empirical evidence. “Likelihood” is a probability statement related to something we can observe. Therefore, one might reply that the human ability to observe, analyse and draw conclusions from empirical evidence is only possible because God exists and Christianity is true. The human ability to observe, analyze and draw conclusions relies on the predictability and intelligibility of the world and the matching human ability to assess probability and “likelihood” of the existence of certain objects. In this case the existence of a sovereign and omniscient God is the necessary condition for such a situation.

Often apologetic debate can be stifled by an objection that contains multiple starting points. In this case it is always best to seek to find out what underlying objection one’s interlocutor is wanting an answer to. Consider the objection, “aren’t all religions the same?” The objection sounds like it requires the refutation, “no, there is one true religion and many false religions.” However, it is unclear as to how one defends this answer. I have found that a conversation with someone committed to religious pluralism is difficult because there are so many lines of objection. Take the standard Hickean thesis: There are many different religions. Most people are equally rational and living in the same world. Therefore, all or most religions are equally warranted. Hick’s argument relies on several assumptions, each requiring a different response. Is the objection about justice? (It is not fair that God chooses some and not others). Is the objection about culture? (religion is a cultural product and no one chooses into which culture one is born). Many pluralist objections are rooted in epistemological skepticism. Their basic objection is that no one really knows what religion is true. Each of these objections starts with a separate (if related) assumption and it is worth exploring what is most important to one’s interlocutor.

Many apologetic debates get derailed by an inattention to what the heart of an objection is and an unclear goal in response. Perhaps you might light to practice your strategy with more common objections to the Christian faith. Try a search for “common objections to Christianity” and try to identify the key idea behind the objection and work out what you want to argue for. Then think through how you would get there.

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SLIMJIM and myself (EvangelZ) were talking about a post written by Joe Carter from TGC concerning this topic: FACTCHECKER: IS ISIS BEHEADING CHILDREN IN IRAQ? If you have read it, you probably have seen many comments from others. We read it and analyzed it ourselves. We would also like to hear what you have to say.  Please feel free to chime in friends.

As Christians we are all about truth. What you are saying about getting our facts right and being careful about websites that have inaccurate facts is true, Joe Carter.  We admire that motive because it is biblical.  However, one thing that is disappointing that I would like to accentuate for our readers is your criteria for evidence.  By defending your position concerning  a criteria that necessitates the need for journalists and Western news agencies to witness the systematic beheading of children in order for it to be factual is a bit of a stretch if not absurd. The criteria that you seem to propagate, I am afraid, is a western perspective that is concocted in your article.  Do the testimonies of those who are not part of major news outlets or Western news agencies, count?  I am just asking for the sake of clarity.  Have you given thought to the possibility that many journalists here would be afraid because they may lose their head if they were to report consistently the massacres such as the beheading of children in the red zone  (I think VICE has the most success in getting access without being killed)?  Moreover, it almost feels like wrestling a 500 pound Grizzly Bear in order to pressure some of these  major news outlets to post the graphic images of what is going on in Iraq and at Syria.  The world needs to see the Satanic and demonic activities done by this death cult towards Christians, while many in America seem to be more infatuated with the death of celebrities who make us laugh   Moreover, have others given the thought that many journalists in the Western news agencies have been wrong too and are not the cream of the crop when it comes to presenting  facts?  Do people understand that we must be discerning by taking into account all news outlets whether big or small and especially those who have boots in the hot zone?  In other words, let’s somewhat try to follow this motto: innocent until proven guilty.  Or in another way, give people, especially during this time, the benefit of the doubt instead of casting a cloud of doubt.   Non-professional journalistic testimonies and non-Western news agencies can hold water too. Perhaps there are many testimonies from non-professional journalists and non-Western news agencies that have witnessed atrocities in the past and in the present that were correct and are correct. Perhaps some of the readers here can assist me by doing some historical digging.

Given the fact that there is a killing spree, it does not appear to be wise nor judicious in my opinion to be nitpicking and by creating a milieu that will potentially cause the reader to cast doubt on whether Andrew White’s comments of whether the kid he baptized was cut in half by a sword or through other means.  Beloved, ISIS is cruel, brutal, and a sadistic Islamic terrorist and death cult organization that wants to take over the U.S. They will murder you, rape your women, hang your husbands in the public square and commit other malicious atrocities. If that time comes, may God provide us the grace to persevere so that the Gospel can be propagated boldy here and abroad.  ISIS/ISIL have posted up videos displaying their carnage in a myriad of forms, which I don’t think Joe would reject.   Go see it on YouTube. You don’t need a myriad of ivory tower news outlets to tell you.  I encourage many of you to view it for yourself  if you have the stomach for it. They are perhaps the new Nazis of this generation (probably worse than the Nazis when it comes to the public display of carnage) and will only get stronger overtime.  We must pray, trust in the Lord, and also take action by spreading a clear and a concrete awareness to the public so that a nation like us that have been blessed by God in many ways since our country’s beginnings can intervene in some measure to save these people.  As a result, view the carnage by ISIS/ISIL to amass evidence and facts; not for entertainment, but view them by unmasking evil and by helping spread the awareness of what is happening to our loved ones abroad.  However, I think the implications of this post by TGC may reverse and decrease that momentum of getting people off their ivory towers and couch.  On another note, I think we should lean more towards the testimony from these people such as Andrew White, Mark Arabo, and others who seem to have closer ties to the Christian genocide and the genocide of other minorities. Whether you trust their source or not, I don’t think we are in the business to be tampering with their integrity because we have no proof either that their testimonies are counterfactual.  So to be one sided in a post is to cast doubt upon the testimonies that will only prevent people from focusing on the bigger issue.  And the bigger issue is that many people are dying and need help ASAP!

This situation with the article from TGC would seem to parallel the scenario in which somebody wrote a letter to challenge  an editor of a small and diminutive news agency or other smaller news outlets near the area of the Holocaust, questioning whether there were gas chambers with shower heads that were used as instruments of death in the Auschwitz death camp.  It was true, but not according to many in the West during WWII and to the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/4510922.stm).  The Big Elephant in the room was that the Holocaust was taking place!  It seems somewhat trivial when we consider that the bigger picture of Christian speech during this disastrous condition ought to be balanced with wisdom, truth, and edification.  With the possibility of  a vast amount of people potentially to be exterminated at Sinjar Mountain, the post by TGC does not come across as being edifying to the Christians and the other minorities at Iraq.   As much as I admire your love for truth, Brother Joe, I don’t think that this article was balanced or nuanced.  It seemed to be overly critical and lacked the combination of wisdom, truth, and edification. I say this graciously.  We have nothing against you or TGC.   But I think TGC made an extensive mistake by presenting the post in the manner it transpired. Those who are less discerning readers than yourself after reading TGC’s post will probably channel their energy and effort in being more focused on the veracity of facts and nitpicking to the smallest degree (not that I am opposed to facts in any way as long as it is balanced, truthful, and edifying to the soul and building up the cause of Christ) rather than channeling their energy towards the poor souls that have their necks resting on the sharp edges of a blade.  Grace and peace.  I hope that TGC can write another post concerning this topic in a better manner and from a better angle.

Hebrews 11:32-12:3, “And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; 36 and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment.37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated 38 (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.  39 And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.

1Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (NASB).

Hebrews 13:3, “Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body.”

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