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Archive for April, 2009

Christian apologist James White will be debating Dan Barker tommorow (4/30/09) on the existence of God

James White has his last say before the debate here

An important element in Presupppositional Apologetic is the importance of bringing to the table that the other side is not as religious neutral as many often think

Here is a short article showing how Dan Barker is not one who is neutral and even if their is a rational demonstration of God’s existence, Barker will not believe nor submit to the Lordship of Yahweh:

http://teamtruth.com/articles/art_neutrality_barkerstudy.htm

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 Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

In the introduction to the work, Van Til himself specifically state that he wants to give an overview. This work captures a good summary of Van Til’s apologetic of the Reformed Biblical Christian faith, where the Gospel is an antithetical challenge to all other worldview. With broad strokes, he addresses the philosophy that has risen out of Roman Catholicism, Arminianism, and Modernism. This work, though it is dated in regards to some of the philosophers and thinkers he addressed (it is written in the 1950s), is still a worthwhile read especially for those who wish to understand how Van Til’s scheme of apologetics is applied by Van Til himself. He makes the observation of the rational v.s irrational dialectic of non-Christian worldviews, then makes the power argument of how the nonbeliever is inconsistent with this dialectical tension whenever they expound their beliefs and their rejection of Christianity. It is a great observation that Van Til makes, one that is useful when it comes to a Christian’s defense of the faith. There needs to be an updated work like this addressing the contemporary worldview trends today, a nice title being “The intellectual challenge of the Gospel Today

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In earlier post, I wrote on JOHN ROBBINS CHARGE: VAN TIL TEACHES FOLLOWERS NOT TO STATE THINGS CLEARLY? as an evaluation of a snippet from Robbins’ booklet titled Cornelius Van Til: The Man and the Myth.  While I have read the entire short booklet, in the business of ministry, work, a relationship and Seminary, I can only go slowly in trying to locate all the sources of Clark’s citation.  So today’s entry is narrowly focused on this one point:

JOHN ROBBINS CHARGE: A JOKE OR AN EVIDENCE OF VAN TIL’S CULT OF UNINTELLIGIBILITY?

One of John Robbins charge against Cornelius Van Til in his booklet, Cornelius Van Til: The Man and the Myth, is that “Van Til’s prose is frequently unintelligible.”[1] Under a subsection of his book titled “The Cult of unintelligibility”, Robbins found that “this very unintelligibility is transformed by Van Til’s perfervid disciples into a sign of great intelligence and profundity.”[2] What is Robbins’ evidence that Van Til’s disciple’s have a cultic adoration of his “unintelligibility”? Robbins quotes from Van Til: Defender of the Faith, an authorized biography of the life of Van Til written by William White. Here is Robbin’s quote from William White’s book, of a banquet at Westminister Seminary:

“…the master of ceremonies was presenting the good-natured Dutchman. ‘There is a controversy today as to who is the greatest intellect of this segment of the twentieth century,’ the m.c. said. ‘Probably most thinking people would vote for the learned Dr. Einstein. Not me. I wish to put forth as my candidate for the honor, Dr. Cornelius Van Til’ (Loud applause.) ‘My reason for doing so is this: Only eleven people in the world understood Albert Einstein…Nobody—but nobody in the world—understands Cornelius Van Til.”[3]

Robbins sees this as a great hint of how among Van Til’s followers there is a “tendency to assume that unintelligibility implies superior intelligence, learning, or profundity.”[4] The charge against the students of Van Til as being a “cult of unintelligibility” is serious, and there must be a closer evaluation of the quote Robbins cited as evidence before one accept such a serious a charge by Robbins.

When one goes to the original source which Robbins quoted, one see that the context of the quote was in a chapter about Cornelius Van Til and humor. Looking at the immediate context after the portion which Robbins cited, the next line in Williams book goes on to add: “And nobody in the banquet hall enjoyed the joke more than the subject.”[5] The immediate context before the quoted text further reveal that Robbins quoted a joking moment when it stated: “But a delightful dimension of Cornelius Van Til is his willingness to be put in stocks and pillory if it contributes to wholesome amusement.”[6]

One must have to ask themselves that for such a serious charge, Robbins would do better than to usher in a joking moment as evidence. What Robbins has done is certainly laughable, only it wasn’t a joke but a serious allegation.

Robbins’ faulty method to justify his charge can also be turned around against his beloved Christian philosopher Gordon H. Clark. I have no intention of attacking Gordon Clark, whom I have profited much spiritually and intellectually from, but only to reduce Robbin’s way of arguing to absurdity, and take it to a conclusion he does not desire, to show his ways for what it is. Will Robbins charge Clark’s prose as “frequently unintelligible” on the basis of what is revealed in the book Robbins has edited titled Gordon H. Clark Personal Recollection? Is there a “cult of unintelligibility” among the followers of Gordon Clark? (Remember I am reducing Robbins’ argument to absurdity here). What would Robbins do with this evidence coming from Deborah Kozlowski, who has this to say after taking Clark’s course on philosophy?

“He lectured from his book, Thales to Dewey, and asked numerous questions of his students. Most of us were too confused to give meaningful answer”[7]

“I found most of the issues baffling…”[8]

Yet Deborah Kozlowski herself sees Dr. Clark as profound and reveres him. Can it be that Clark’s mysterious unintelligibility and confusion in his lectures and his book has suddenly been transformed by his followers into something profound and intellectual (Robbins’ charge against Van Til’s followers)? Are other other Clarkians endorsing this outlook on Clark, when the pro-Clark flagship organization, The Trinity Foundation, have these words on print in a recollection of Clark? To think this cult of unintelligibility spread to John Robbins himself, who edited the Recollection!

Of course, the overall context matters when it comes to the source of the citation concerning Clark. So should the context of citations concerning Van Til. Robbins should have cited something that legitimately does justice to the context.


[1] John Robbins, Cornelius Van Til: The Man and the Myth, (Jefferson, Maryland: The Trinity Foundation), 4.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid, 4-5. Original quote is from William White Jr., Van Til: Defender of the Faith (Nashville, New York: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1979), 181-182.

[4] Robbins, Cornelius Van Til: The Man and the Myth, 5.

[5] William White Jr., Van Til: Defender of the Faith (Nashville, New York: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1979), 182.

[6] Ibid, 181.

[7] John Robbins, Gordon H. Clark: Personal Recollections (Jefferson, Maryland: The Trinity Foundation), 66.

[8] Ibid, 65-66.

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Ben Witherington’s blog series which he review Bart D. Ehrman’s “Jesus, Interrupted”

Part I covers pages 1-60

Part II covers pages 61-75

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Coda

J.P Holding’s tackling of Bart’s same book follows below:

HERE

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Purchase: Amazon

This is a work by the President of Southern Seminary, Al Mohler. Most people know him through his blog, where he writes on topics concerning our culture, society and secularism. This book is in the same vein, where he addresses various topics from the abortion debate, the legality of torture, “tolerance”, and public education. Some of the chapters address current event that is still fresh in the public memory, for instance the Tsunami in late 2004 and the unfolding of Katrina. He also reflects on the past, from the event in Hiroshima to the racism of the South. It is evident from the book that Al Mohler is a big reader, with his familiarity of liberal authors, idealogue, etc. I enjoyed his chapter on “soft v.s hard america”, and also the chapter on the weakening of the next generation. The approach Dr. Mohler takes in this book is for the general readership, and I hope that as time goes on Dr. Mohler will write more work with hard hitting insight refuting unbiblical worldview and also provide the blueprint of a Christian worldview in society. On a lighter note, I did appreciate Dr. Mohler autographing my copy during the Shepherd’s conference. Gives this book a bit more of a personal touch.

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In his book, “A History of Christianity In the United States And Canada”, Mark Noll gives his assessment of the impact of the early part of the 2oth Century’s “Modernism”:

“Modernism has had a long-lasting influence on the academic study of religion” (376)

In contrast to Modernism’s effect in the field of academia, Noll observes of “Modernism”  lesser impact in the pews:

“Modernism had less impact among the church-going population, although its promotion of the Social Gospel helped keep alive a concern for social reconciliation in the large Protestant denomination of the North” (376)

And then he gave this interesting point:

“Ironically, modernists may have had the greatest impact on their polar opposites, the fundamentalists, who were intensely preoccupied with the effort to refute modernist reinterpretations of the faith” (376)

I disagree.

Noll seems to miss “Modernism’s” greatest effect is the blurring of the gospel, and the hinderance of the gospel from being preached clearly.  “Modernism” is not a monolithic movement and its various theological shades which deny the essential core of the Gospel in academia would only cripple the cause of the gospel when it comes to training the leaders of the church.  Even if the gospel is not explicitly denied, the confusion would at least take away the centrality of the Cross.

This amounts to the training of preachers/leaders who are not clear when it comes to the gospel.

And that is the most tragic effect of “Modernism” as one can see where the Mainline denomination is at today, with their spiritual and number decline.

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All the writers here at Veritas Domain have served in the military (two in the U.S, one overseas) and this entry concerns this topic: Veterans.

Here is the Homeland Security’s report that reference the possible Conservative Threats of disgruntled veterans being possibly ‘recruited’ by right wing violent extremists

Since this has went public, the head of the Department of Homeland Security has taken a lot of heat, and rightly so

What I find ironic is that the document begins by saying that “this product is one of a series of intelligence assessment…”, implying that there are data which is the foundation for the report’s conclusion

There must have been a committee or a group that actually put this report together, no doubt staffed with  some kind of ‘experts’

Imagine how much each one of these guys get paid, to put together this unclassified document, and the salary probably is up there in employing these “professionals” to produce the “intelligence” assessment.  I can’t help but to wonder how long did they take to research and write the report.  IT SHOULD BE EXPECTED that for the money involved behind this small report, it SHOULD BE done well: In other words, there should actual data in the document of the group’s finding.  High quality unclassified intelligence report have been put together before, such as the FBI’s finding on environmental terrorism which has a lot of data and empirical evidences, complete with proper source citations.

It is after, a “finding” by a bunch of paid “professionals” and not some conspiracy theorists sitting in some room typing up a report of hypotheticals.  Anyone can do that, and for less the cost too.

I like to know if they have data to substantiate the following conclusion, found on page seven:

The willingness of a small percentage of military personnel to join extremist groups during the 1990s because they were disgruntled, disillusioned, or suffering from the psychological effects of war is being replicated today.

Replicated today?  Who are these extremists groups? And what findings lead the report to state this?

The report asserted one of their evidence on page eight:

A prominent civil rights organization reported in 2006 that “large numbers of potentially violent neo-Nazis, skinheads, and other white supremacists are now learning the art of warfare in the [U.S.] armed forces.”

Your tax dollar is at work here, when the Department of Homeland Security’s intelligence is based upon an civil right’s group’s report and then it fails to properly provide the citation!  Undergrad education did not prepare them for the real world.

What is this unnamed civil rights organization that is prominent?  It is none other than the Southern Poverty Legal Center who’s reliability shows when it thinks of the American Legion as a hate group.

The report has now gotten the attention of those in the Senate, and Michelle Malkin reports that a few Senators have written to the head of Homeland Security.

April 16, 2009

The Honorable Janet Napolitano
Secretary
The Department of Homeland Security
310 7th street, S.W.
Washington, DC 20528-0150

VIA FASCMILLE

Dear Secretary Napolitano,

We write today concerning the release of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report titled “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment” prepared by the Extremism and Radicalization Branch, of the Homeland Environment Threat Analysis Division.

While we agree that we must fight extremists who are both foreign and domestic we are troubled by some of the statements your department included as fact in the report titled above, without listing any statistical data to back up such claims.

First, your report states that “Returning veterans possess combat skills and experience that are attractive to rightwing extremists…” without listing any data to support such a vile claim against our nation’s veterans.

Second, the report states that the millions of Americans who believe in the Second Amendment are a potential threat to our national security. Why? Do you have statistics to prove that law-abiding Americans who purchase a legal product are being recruited by so-called hate groups?

Thirdly, the report states that those that believe in issues such as pro-life legislation, limited government, and legal versus illegal immigration are potential terrorist threats. We can assure you that these beliefs are held by citizens of all races, party affiliation, male and female, and should not be listed as a factor in determining potential terror threats. A better word usage would be to describe them as practicing their First Amendment rights.

Also, you list those that bemoan the decline of U.S. stature and the loss of U.S. manufacturing capability to China and India as being potential rightwing extremists. We would suggest that the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs in the manufacturing industry to foreign countries are not potential terror threats, but rather honest Americans worried about feeding their families and earning a paycheck.

In closing, we support the mission of DHS in protecting our country from terror attacks and are proud of the many DHS employees who make this possible in conjunction with our state and local law enforcement. We ask that DHS not use this report as a basis to unfairly target millions of Americans because of their beliefs and the rights afforded to them in the Constitution. We also ask that you provide us with the data that support the unfair claims listed in the report titled above and to present us with the matrix system used in collecting and analyzing this data?

Finally, we look forward to your prompt reply and we offer our assistance to DHS in our shared effort to fight terrorism both home and abroad by using data that is accurate and independent of political persuasion.

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