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Archive for the ‘Christianity’ Category

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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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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In our series on “Missions, Culture and Being Biblical,” we have noted some of the problems with the missions method known as the Insider Movement.  We have pointed out their faulty theology of religion and faulty theology of culture.  Here we also want to focus on the Insider Movement’s faulty ecclesiology.  We will be examining two “case studies” that is found in the fourth edition of Perspectives on the World Christian Movement : A Reader.

Perspective on the Worldwide Christian Movement

These two articles are:

Lewis, Tim and Rebecca. 2009. “Planting Churches: Learning the Hardway” Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. Ralph D. Winter and Steven C. Hawthorne, eds., 690-693.

Guzman, Andres and Angelica. 2009. “Ourselves as Servants: Latin American Workers in the Middle East.” Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. Ralph D. Winter and Steven C. Hawthorne, eds., 700-702.

The reason why I want to focus on these case studies is because of the fact that it is one thing to see theoretical disucssions about how to do missions in missiological journals but it’s another thing to see reports of what is actually being done.  In the end, we don’t want merely “what works,” lest we fall into pragmatism but we must test all things and see if they are Scriptural.

I also picked the first article because Rebecca Lewis is one of the leaders of the Insider Movement.

Both articles are written by couples who work among Muslims.

After describing their missionary efforts, Andres and Angelica Guzman reported the fruit of their effort to reach Muslims in the Middle East:

Through all of this, several of our friends decided to become followers of Jesus.  Some (not encouraged by us) decided to follow him as Christians and some (through their own choice) decided to follow Jesus while remaining religiously Muslim.  Most decided to say outside established of religious institutions, simply calling themselves ‘believers.’ (Guzman, 701).

What is unfortunate to read here is that some of these “followers of Jesus” “decided to follow Jesus while remaining religiously Muslim.”  Even more discouraging is how both missionaries didn’t see any concern with this.  Sadly “most decided to stay outside established religious institutions, simply calling themselves ‘believers.'”  Is it alright as believers “to stay outside established of religious institutions” and just call themselves believers?

An important institution that God set up for true followers of Jesus Christ is the church.

In the first New Testament reference to the church, Jesus promised that the church will be something He will build and will last: “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it” (Matthew 16:18).

Every believer ought to be part of the church, which is also known as the body of Christ.  As Paul told the believers in 1 Corinthians,

  • “For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.” (1 Corinthians 12:12)
  • “Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:27)

Given that the church is something that Hades will not prevail over, and is something every believer ought to be a part of,  Andres and Angelica Guzman’s method and practices in the missions field fall short of Biblical standard.

The problem with the Insider Movement understanding of the church seem to go deeper than that when we read the report by Rebecca and Tim Lewis.  In writing about their missions effort they wrote:

A church was born within a natural community without creating a new group just for fellowship.  It reminded us of something Ralph Winter had said: ‘The ‘church’ (in the sense of being a committed community) is already there, they just don’t know Jesus yet!'” (Lewis, 693).

Both Tim and Rebecca ought to be commended for their strategic effort in reaching out to people in the context of their community.  However, when it comes to what the church is, their agreement with Ralph Winter is problematic.  First off, to see the church as merely a committed community is biblically unsatisfactory.  By definition, the church must be committed to it’s head Jesus Christ.  Church is not merely a community.  Secondly, the concept of “church” as a community that have yet to know Jesus is lacking in Biblical precedence.  Sure, there are God’s elect who have not come to faith yet but no where do we see the Bible describe them as already part of the church before their knowledge of Jesus Christ.

I believe if advocates of the Insider Movement would see more of what the Bible has to say about the church there might be less of this direction of believers still being able to retain their previous religion and attend their previous religious institution.

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Annise-Parker Did you hear what the first Lesbian mayor of Houston just did recently? Over at Fox News they are reporting this story:

The city of Houston has issued subpoenas demanding a group of pastors turn over any sermons dealing with homosexuality, gender identity or Annise Parker, the city’s first openly lesbian mayor. And those ministers who fail to comply could be held in contempt of court. “The city’s subpoena of sermons and other pastoral communications is both needless and unprecedented,” Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Christina Holcomb said in a statement. “The city council and its attorneys are engaging in an inquisition designed to stifle any critique of its actions.” ADF, a nationally-known law firm specializing in religious liberty cases, is representing five Houston pastors. They filed a motion in Harris County court to stop the subpoenas arguing they are “overbroad, unduly burdensome, harassing, and vexatious.” CLICK HERE TO JOIN TODD ON FACEBOOK FOR CONSERVATIVE CONVERSATION! “Political and social commentary is not a crime,” Holcomb said. “It is protected by the First Amendment.” The subpoenas are just the latest twist in an ongoing saga over the Houston’s new non-discrimination ordinance. The law, among other things, would allow men to use the ladies room and vice versa.  The city council approved the law in June. The Houston Chronicle reported opponents of the ordinance launched a petition drive that generated more than 50,000 signatures – far more than the 17,269 needed to put a referendum on the ballot. However, the city threw out the petition in August over alleged irregularities. After opponents of the bathroom bill filed a lawsuit the city’s attorneys responded by issuing the subpoenas against the pastors. The pastors were not part of the lawsuit. However, they were part of a coalition of some 400 Houston-area churches that opposed the ordinance. The churches represent a number of faith groups – from Southern Baptist to non-denominational. “City council members are supposed to be public servants, not ‘Big Brother’ overlords who will tolerate no dissent or challenge,” said ADF attorney Erik Stanley.  “This is designed to intimidate pastors.” Mayor Parker will not explain why she wants to inspect the sermons. I contacted City Hall for a comment and received a terse reply from the mayor’s director of communications. “We don’t comment on litigation,” said Janice Evans. However, ADF attorney Stanley suspects the mayor wants to publicly shame the ministers. He said he anticipates they will hold up their sermons for public scrutiny. In other words – the city is rummaging for evidence to “out” the pastors as anti-gay bigots.

We need to be praying. Praying for the pastors not to be intimidated.  Praying for God to curb this over-reach and political manuvering by the city.

UPDATE: On Twitter, we just “turned in” to the Mayor of houston our blog post concerning homosexuality and the Gospel: https://twitter.com/DomainforTruth/status/522454033932775424
Let’s all do it!

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93937f90-4da4-11e4-bc62-59ace697a417_common-ext-entryHere are the Presuppositional apologetics’ links gathered between October 8th-14th, 2014.

1.) Twenty Ways to Answer A Fool [7]

2.) Does the God of Christian Theism Exist? Justin Schieber v. Ignacio Reyes: A Van Tillian Evaluation

3.) Irrational skepticism forum: Steve Hays’ posts compilation

4.) Video: Apologetics’ Tactics In Light of Total Depravity

5.) Vern Poythress’ Why Philosophy Matters for Christians

Last week: Early October 2014 Presuppositional Apologetics Links Round up!

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10615550_575758019237170_1175529523489041358_nJeff Durbin of Apologia Radio (and Apologia Church) team up with Vocab Malone (Host of Backpack Radio) to debate two atheists on the question: Debate: Which makes more sense, Christianity or Atheism?

Apologia Church has just loaded this debate on their Youtube account.

You can watch the debate in the two Youtube videos below:

 

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strategy1

Christian apologetics and apologetics’ methodology must take into account the reality of Total Depravity.  Much more could be said beyond the video but this might be a place to start in terms of thinking about presenting evidence in light of one’s listeners’ presupposition and sin.

Can we say a Reformed apologist is a Reformed apologist if they are naively presenting evidence without being wise in how they go about presenting evidence?

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