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frank schaeffer

I have written on Franky Schaeffer in our blog before where we looked at the irrational things he has said in public.  He’s the son of the late Christian apologist and evangelist Francis Schaeffer.  Franky himself is an apostate has spent much time and energy attacking his father and the Evangelical faith of his father.

I just found out that his latest book is titled “WHY I AM AN ATHEIST WHO BELIEVES IN GOD.”  Most people would think, “Is that logically possible?”  Frank in a video recorded book discussion have said that he intentionally had a provocative title to make people think and:

Basically telling people that first of all labels are Nonsense.

He’s not the only one that says something like this.  I had flashback of hipster Emergents, old College hippie professors, etc., when I heard Franky say that.

What are Franks’ reasons for why he thinks labels are nonsense?  He’s explained:

“Because you may describe yourself one thing today but give it twenty years and you may well look at yourself as something else.  And we all change in our journey.”

And in his dribbling monologue he’s also talked about the need to embrace paradox rather than resolve everything.

I want to address this issue since it’s bigger than him and many people throw this or something similar out there during religious discussions.

1.) Whenever I hear someone say labels are categorically nonsense I always want to show them a picture of this:

food-labels

A picture is worth a thousand words.  Seriously, labels are nonsense?

2.) Secondly, Frank’s first reason for why labels are nonsense does not logically follow.  Just because people do change over time this does not necessarily mean labels are in of itself nonsense.  Sure, people twenty years from now may change in their views of themselves and what they believe but that doesn’t mean labels are in of itself are nonsense.  It just means one might change “labels” even if that label is something different than the previous label or those labels are different from the larger segment of the population.  Go change labels a hundred times that still doesn’t mean labels are nonsense!

3.)  Frank’s second reason for why labels are nonsense is equally problematic.  Just because there are paradoxes in life that one must embrace surely does not logically follow that labels are nonsense and ought to be categorically rejected. What about two paradoxical labels?  Should we embrace them (give his call to embrace paradox)?  Or should we reject them because they are labels?  We have here a rational/irrational tension.  Note here that Frank’s second reason is talking about a different subject (paradox) and not the issue at hand of why labels are nonsense.  A categorical fallacy.

4.) Paradoxes won’t exists if two or more objects are at minimum in a contrary tension (I don’t think paradoxes must necessarily be in actual contradictory relationship).  People often use shorthand terms to denote things, and when we identify paradoxes we are saying two or more things share a tension in their relationships.  Notice denoting things is an act of “labelling.”  Thus to talk about paradox one are already engage in the act of giving labels.

4.) As an example of point four, look at his own author-talk where Frank does the same thing.  His talk goes on about the problem of the label love and hate and yet he talks about “hating less” is an act of “love.”  Even for an anti-label guy like Frank, he’s incurably using labels.

5.) Someone might object that Frank does not refer to “labels” as the act of denoting, naming, defining something but rather sterotyping something.  But that does not seem to be case because as one seen in the quote above, Frank talks about how the labels we give ourselves changes.  I don’t think Frank is saying we are sterotyping ourselves ignorantly.  His talk in the beginning makes it pretty clear he does not like “Certainty Addicts” who wants him to define things.  Frank is against the very act of defining things.

6.) Concerning “labeling” as sterotyping people, isn’t ironic that Frank’s writing always engage in labeling others in that sense of the term?  Within that Huffington Post I linked, note how he labels pro-science advocates and fundamentalists: “Somewhere between the sterile, absolute, and empty formulas of reductionist, totalitarian science and the earnest, hostile, excessively certain make-believe of religious fundamentalism, there is a beautiful place.”

7.) By the way, rejecting a bad and negative label does not mean one should reject labeling in the first sense of the term.

8.) Per point five, since Frank is against the act of labeling in the sense of defining things, he’s destroyed in his own worldview the ability to communicate since words must mean something and not mean its opposite, etc.  But he doesn’t really believe that inside even though he claims it because he’s still communicating with words the words that undermine the intelligibility and meaningfulness of those words.  Franks’ father had a mentor who would have noted the folly and suppression of the truth in Frank’s apostate antinominian atheist worldview.

Frank’s rejection of labels is nonsense.

complaints-letter-structure

Earlier during the month I wrote a piece titled “.”  It proved to be a very popular post, generating thousands of hits and many comments.  I am thankful to you guys who shared it with others.  As people were sharing this post online I have also seen strange criticisms of the post.  These criticism are now what I want to address.

Here’s one comment on Facebook from someone named Yochanan Lilley that was originally directed towards someone who shared the article:

My friend this article could not miss the point more; the man who wrote it clearly does not understand philosophy, particularly concerning epistemology.

For everything he said in this article I would like to hear his argument for why the doctrine of inspiration is true of the Bible from a pressupositionalist position; can you give me the argument you think he would make which is not the argument Sproul used?

Response: First off, I think our friend Lilley has the burden of proof to demonstrate his claim that I’m philosophically and epistemologically ignorant.  Secondly, let’s hypothetically grant for the sake of the argument that I don’t understand philosophy and particularly epistemology.  He still faces the following four dilemmas:  (a) We must remember that he is merely asserting that and doesn’t give any actual substantive reason to support his claim that my lack of understanding of philosophy and epistemology has somehow made me deficient in my evaluation of Sproul’s objection towards Presuppositional apologetics.  (b) I also don’t know how much his criticism of my epistemological ignorance has any bearing to the immediate issue at hand since my original post was more about the obvious logical fallacies and problematic reasoning in Sproul’s objections to Presuppositionalism rather than it being some kind of sophisticated and technical epistemological counter-defeater that understandably require a deeper understanding of philosophy and epistemology.  (c) If our friend object that I must employ more advance epistemological and philosophical content in order for me to discuss about Presuppostionalism and RC Sproul’s objection, note that our friend failed to engage in the same fashion according to his own standard.  (d) Actually, for all our friend’s one liner about epistemology and philosophy, I think my post touches on those aspect more than his comment did.  Should we then apply his own sloppy line of reasoning to himself and then conclude that he is even more ignorant of philosophy and epistemology?

Secondly, our friend has also committed a red-herring fallacy.  Again my original article addressed the fallacies Sproul committed in his criticism of Presuppositional apologetics.  Our friend has not interacted with the fallacies we pointed out at all but merely dismissed it in another comment saying that there are much words but no substance to the charge.  But a mere waving of the hand doesn’t do anything; he has the burden to prove his claims that the fallacies I pointed out were not there in Sproul’s presentation.  Instead Lilley wants to talk about something else (whether Sproul’s argument and the Presuppositionalists argument will differ concerning Inerrancy).  The two topics are distinctly different.  There are some Presuppositionalists like John Frame who would probably be comfortable with Sproul’s positive case for the Bible while noting that being grounded with a Christian worldview would solidify the foundation that is necessary for Sproul’s endeavor with historical apologetics for the Bible to work in the first place.  Among such Presuppositionalists, asking whether the Presuppositionalists argument is different than Sproul’s argument for inerrancy isn’t an issue.  Moreover, let’s say for the sake of argument that Lilley is right, that the Presuppositionalists does use the Classical Apologist’s argument for Inerrancy.  That still does not remove the fallacies Sproul committed when he objected towards Presuppositionalism.  Nor does one have to be a Presuppositoinalist to see the fallacies and misrepresentation that Sproul committed against Presuppositionalism.  One can subscribe to the Evidentialist school of apologetics and still admit that Sproul’s objections against Presuppositionalism has problems.  Again, all this demonstrate that Lilley has committed a red-herring fallacy by not addressing the elephant in the room.


 

I want to look at another comment by James O’Brien:

This author’s complaint seems to be that Sproul did not engage in an elaborate critique of presuppositionalism, but then, that wasn’tSproul‘s purpose was it?

However this criticism commits a straw man fallacy.  My original post was not a complaint that Sproul didn’t engage in an elaborate critique of Presuppositionalism.  Rather the point of my original post was that Sproul’s critique wasn’t adequate in that Sproul mispresented Presuppositionalism, haven’t interacted with the Presuppositionalist’s answer concerning circular reasoning, was in error in charging the Presuppositionalists with the fallacy of Equivocation along with the errors of asserting that Presuppositionalism was inadequate to deal with Islam and Mormonism and finally some of Sproul’s objection to Presuppositionalism was also a self-defeater for his own apologetics’ methodology.  That’s quite different than complaining that Sproul should have had an elaborate critique of Presuppositionalism isn’t it?

 

I think we as Christians can try to read better those we disagree with.  I’m not immune to this.  This also does not mean we never fault someone’s writing and point out fallacies.  Rather it means we represent the other side carefully and also think clearly and logically if we are going to disagree.  It goes without saying that we ought to be respectful as well.

Crazy Busy Kevin DeYoung

Kevin DeYoung. Crazy Busy.  Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2013. 128 pp.

This book is relevant for everyone.  It is a neat little book on busyness by Pastor Kevin DeYoung.  I used this book in the context of discipleship with one of the members of our church.  I do recommend it for either personal reading or reading in a discipleship context.  In a world in which many people are so busy, this book approaches the subject spiritually.  It is both theological and practical.

I appreciated how early in the book DeYoung tells the reader that he’s not writing this book because he’s mastered the subject but rather he’s writing this for his own edification and that he’s “trying to figure things out.”  His humility and description of his problem is one that would make readers connect with the author.

In the second chapter of the book DeYoung goes over three dangers to avoid when it comes to busyness.  DeYoung reminds us that while there are books that talk about the physical risk of being overly busy, we must not forget the spiritual threat that busyness can be to our own faith.  We must not allow the busyness of work and life rob our hearts and joy while also examining to see if our busyness is a way of covering up the rots in our soul.

The bulk of the book goes over the seven diagnoses DeYoung identifies with the problem of busyness.  They are all very good but two stands out among them for me personally.  It was very edifying to read his discussion about how busyness can be a manifestation of pride.  Here DeYoung gives us what he calls the “Killer P’s” that are the many faces of pride such as the fact that we can be busy because we want to please people, get pats on our backs or desire for perfectionism, etc.  DeYoung poses to the reader a good question to test if our busy work is for God or for our pride: “Am I trying to do good or to make myself look good?”  I also appreciate DeYoung’s discussion about technology that strangles our soul.  It is wonderful to see DeYoung address this issue in a world of social media and smart phones.  He’s not doing this to show he’s hip and up to date since he talks about how fleeting technology is, given how fast things change but he’s addressing this pastorally.  I appreciated how in this chapter DeYoung not only talk about the obvious risk of addiction but also the threat of acedia which he describe as something like sloth but has the aspect of indifference and spiritual forgetfulness.  It is the condition where we are busy but not with something important but being busy with being busy, where are content to do things that are purposeless and shallow in the passing of time.

I appreciated how the book ends not with a call to not be busy—but rather DeYoung is realistic in that we cannot forsake all things in order to not be busy.  He does have a chapter titled “Embracing the Burdens of Busyness” and his final chapter was very appropriate in that he tells us that in the middle of all our task, there is one thing we must do even if it’s not man-centered pragmatic: we must make the time to be closer to Jesus.  Excellent!

I highly recommend this book.  There is a reason why it is the 2014 Christian Book of the Year.

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

tmai

Here is what one of the speakers, Mike Gendron, from the conference has to say about TMAI International Symposium,

You Can Now Listen to the Symposium on Biblical Inerrancy.  Over 700 pastors and church leaders, representing 73 nations, attended the 2015 International Symposium which took place in conjunction with The Shepherd’s Conference in March. There was such a buzz in the air as the speakers addressed biblical inerrancy in global missions. It was especially encouraging to see the speakers’ passion and The Master’s Academy International ministry partners’ commitment to this central doctrine. The audio presentations of John MacArthur, Paul Washer, James White, Mike Gendron, Mark Tatlock and the other 4 speakers can be heard here: Audios from TMAI International Symposium

I was privileged to attend this conference that took place one day before the Inerrancy Summit which was hosted by The Shepherds’ Conference.  To see different speakers and conference attendees from different parts of the globe was encouraging.  To speak to pastors and missionaries collaborating, magnified the importance of evangelism not just domestically, but globally.  There were also other ministries who came that serve churches here in the US and also around the world.  For example, ministries that specialized in book distribution to China, Mercy Ministries such as Children’s Hunger Fund, and other ministries such as evangelism to Muslims in the U.S. were here.  They both understood the Great Commission and serving the Lord together for His glory.  I encourage you to check out the audios and listen to them for your own edification.  Topics on contextualization, linguistics, Bible translation, etc., were discussed.  Also here are some notes from one of the speakers that I posted on our site a few weeks ago: God’s Written Revelation is necessarily an Inerrant Revelation

 

Heaven

Smith, Colin S. Heaven, How I Got Here: The Story of the Thief on the Cross. Fearn, Ross-shire: Christian Focus,     2015.

This book which is 95 pages is packed with ancient Gospel truth, but done in a fresh imaginative and dramatic writing style that does not compromise the veracity and integrity of the Gospel.  The author skillfully brings together sound doctrine, powerful theological accounts of the cross, and  historical accuracy concerning the drama of this account concerning the thief and Jesus Christ.  Here imagination is used properly for the glory of God.

The book covers different scenes that are categorized this way: breakfast, hatred, faith, hope, love, darkness, agony, triumph, and safety.  The main protagonist is the thief at the cross.  His thoughts, feelings, and volition gushes forth from this book.  The account of the thief’s thoughts although imaginative, except for his few words as recorded in Scripture, are sound words that echo Gospel centered truths of how a sinner maybe saved.  I have never witnessed a book that has approach the thief’s account in this manner.

Besides the profound imaginative features, what I found refreshing are some of the precise and deep-seated truths of the Gospel that emphasize the grace of God, the holiness of God, the justice of God, the sinfulness of man, and the intense reminder that the gates of Hell and Heaven are only inches away from us.  I don’t want to give out too much details about this book.  I recommend buying it and reading it.  It is a great book for an unbeliever who needs the Gospel and for believers who need a profound and refresh way of explaining the Gospel to sinners who are in danger of judgment and in desperate need of forgiveness.

Thief at the cross, “I endured the pains of crucifixion, but I did not experience the agonies of hell.  Jesus endured them for me, so that I would never know what they are like.  The more I think about this, the more staggering it gets” (71).

NOTE: I received this book for free from the publisher Christian Focus Publications 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.

Purchase bookCFP or Amazon

 

Ecuador-Quito-Street-L

Posting these a little earlier than usual in light of Evangel’s scheduled book review tomorrow. These are links gathered between March 15th-20th, 2015.

1.) Apologetic Methodology in Dialogue

2.) Why You Should Believe in God and Reject Atheism part I

3.) “Protective strategies”

4.) APOLOGETICS AND YOUR KIDS (2) – THE PRICE OF TRUTH

5.) The Futility of Autonomy

6.) Irony and Illegitimate Standards

7.) Author Interview with John Frame

8.) Covenantal Apologetics: Defending The Faith and Beyond

 

Missed the last round up?  Check out the re-blogged post from a friend

 

RTS

About five months ago I shared on our blog a dissertation titled “The Self-Attestation of Scripture as the Proper Ground for Systematic Theology” that was completed at Southern Seminary.  Personally I find the self-attestation of Scripture to be a fascinating doctrine that has tremendous implications for how we do theology, counsel believers, evangelize non-believers and present an apologetics to those who ask for the reason for the hope that we have.

Today I want to share a thesis that was completed for a Masters of Arts that was completed over at Reformed Theological Seminary.  It is titled “The Self-Attesting Nature of the New Testament Canon” and written by John Gordon Duncan.  Duncan takes the approach of exploring how the self-attesting nature of Scripture has its contribution towards the canonicity discussion.  In his introduction he writes the following summary:

For the purposes of this paper, the canonization of the New Testament will be explored by examining the subject of criteria, including the early Fathers’ perception of scripture, inspiration, and apostolicity, with an emphasis on the self-authenticating nature of the New Testament. By taking a self-authenticating approach, such language as Eugene Ulrich uses when he talks of, “the historical development by which the oral and written literature…was handed on, revised, and transformed into the scriptures,”9 will be avoided. The scriptures were handed down. However, a revision or transformation from letter to scripture cannot be supported. Once that fact is established, this paper will offer a summary of the various lists and collections that led to the recognition in the late fourth century that the canon was closed.

For the PDF of this thesis click HERE.

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