Archive for November, 2012

Wow this period has been an influx of many materials online dealing with Presuppositional apologetics!


1.) Jehovah’s Witnesses: A Presuppositional Critique part I–Mike Robinson critiques the Watch Tower.

2.) Van Til vs. Hicks— Ben Holloway critiques the Pluralist John Hicks.

3.) A Review of Clifford McManis’ Biblical Apologetics (2012)— A review of this recent Presuppositional book by another Presuppositionalist.

4.) 788! – Retractions in the scientific literature from fraud & errors in research— Mike Robinson’s observation of an article that reveal over 788 retraction in scientific journals since 2000, concerning worldviews and “science.”  Mike provide a link to this excellent 2010 Journal article that you might consider bookmarking!

5.) What the Rest of the Bible Says About Genesis— Message by Dr. Pipa of Greenville Presbyterian seminary.

6.)A Christian Epistemology of Testimony–Excellent article by Chris Bolt on Presuppositionalism and the self-testimony of the Scriptures.

7.) The Failure of “Aprobogetic” Methodology— On “neutral” non-Presuppositional apologetics.

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Note: This is part of my review of books for my lists of 2012 recommended Christian worldview and apologetics gift books recommendation.

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Excellent book on a Christian worldview when it comes to viewing movies, and probably the best book of its kind. It stresses that Christians must bring the Word of God to bear concerning what they are seeing. The best question that a Christian can ask in evaluating any film is what does it say about the nature of man. Does the movie promote an anthropology that is contrary to that of Scripture or does it confirm it? The author makes the point that even if what it teaches about man is contrary to what our systematic theology tells us about man, yet it still speaks truth–that man would try to supress the truth of God in righteousness. I love how he brings Romans 1 to bear in the topic of evaluating culture, in which film is an artifact of culture. The point he makes about Romans 1 goes beyond just movie watching but an analysis of other aspects and creative outflow of society in general. After an opening chapter on discernment and how to interrogate a movie which lays the ground work for the rest of the book, the author Grant Horner launches into analysis of several kinds of genre of films. If you have ever had an English literature class in which the professor is able to open your eyes and see a book you are reading at a deeper level of things you never noticed previously, you would enjoy experiencing the same epiphanies with this part of the book (it does help that Horner is an English professor at The Master’s College). His chapter on comedy discusses about the Christian view of irony–and how irony is the result of a fallen world in which the world is not the way it ought to be. Prior to this book I never thought about irony in these terms before. Horner does the same kind of analysis with scary movies as well, with a great discussion of how scary movies in light of Romans 1 is our way of managing fear that we can control–and how that helps us cope with our suppression that God is frightening for sinners. Scary movies then is our way out in order to release the valve so to speak. The author also devote a chapter on romance and most interestingly film noir. The author does not take you down a path of smut but was able to point out illustrations of Christian principles as well, and movies with bad ideology that viewers might not readily pick up. His last chapter on man and meaning of life and memory is a fitting end, in which he argues that man is trying to suppress the knowledge of God by also suppressing the memory of that suppression. As I said earlier I believe this is the best book of it’s kind. It’s filled with many observations of movies and also biblical discernment. I thoroughly recommend this book to everyone.

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The Canon of the New Testament in Church History: The Term Canon, Lesson 1

The Canon of the New Testament in Church History: Circulation of the Canonical Writings, Lesson 2

The Canon of the New Testament in Church History : The Early Circulation of the Writings, Lesson 3

The Canon of the New Testament in Church History: The Science of Paleography, Lesson 4

The Canon of the New Testament in Church History: The Collection of the Canoncial NT Writings, Lesson 5

The Canon of the New Testament in Church History: The Views of the Early Church Fathers Regarding the Bible, Lesson 6, Conclusion

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Two years ago we posted, “Christmas wish list in Presuppositional Christian Apologetics” followed by last year’s “Christmas Gift Book Lists on Christian Worldview and Apologetics Discipleship 2011.”  I still recommend those books as great Christmas gift books for Christians to grow in their discipleship of having a solid worldview and apologetics so what follows here are other books I would add to this list!

Stay tune for the next couple of weeks on this blog as I add book reviews of these books.

1.) Lit!

Hands down the best book I read this year–think of it as a Christian theology of reading–that’s also practical and insightful.  I find that it can be an uphill battle to cultivate Christians to read deeply.  Discipleship of a believer’s in a Christian worldview would be hard to implement if someone’s not reading or do not actively understand how to read, so this book is pretty foundational for everything else that follows.  My review of it can be found here.

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

2.) Who Gets to narrate our world?

I like how this book takes “worldview” and understand it as a metanarrative.  I review this book here.

Purchase: Amazon

3.) The Grand Demonstration

Takes the “Ex Lex” approach to the problem of evil, though it does not come out and call it that.  I think this is the Christian solution to the problem of evil in light of the realities of Reformed Theology.  My recommendation and review of it can be found here.

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

4.) If there’s a God, Why are There Atheist?

In essence, a biblical theology of unbelief is presented in this work, my review of it can be found here.

Purchase: Amazon

5.) Hollywood Worldview

A good introduction to Christian worldview discernment when it comes to film.  My review found here.

Purchase: Amazon

6.) Meaning at the Movies

This was the best Christian film analysis book I’ve read thus far.  Review can be found here.

Purchase: Amazon

7.) Art and the Bible

A book consisting of two famous essay by Francis Schaeffer on a Christian view of art.

Purchase: Amazon

8.) Presuppositional Apologetics Examines Mormonism

A unique book that applies Presuppositional apologetics to the cult of Mormonism.  My review is available here.

Purchase: Amazon

9.) Life Beyond the Sun

The subtitle explains this well: An Introduction to Worldview & Philosophy Through the Lens of Ecclesiastes.  Review might be delayed as I just got myself this book for “Christmas.”

Purchase: Amazon

10.) Inerrancy and Worldview

Takes the defense of inerrancy at a whole new level of worldview analysis.

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

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The author Brian Godawa is a prolific Christian movie maker, reviewer, screen writer and author. If one would expect someone to have the situational background to write on a Christian worldview analysis of films, then Godawa would be it. Making this even better is the fact that Godawa has good theology driving his worldview. He’s also influenced by Van Til’s Presuppositional apologetics (another major plus!). I’ve been wanting to read this book for a long time and was glad that I was finally able to order it and sit down and read it. The book defends the idea that film in of itself is not sinful–and that is just the preface. Conscious of the fact that film consists of visual imagery, the dramatic and a story, the author demonstrates that Scripture uses or record people using imagery, the dramatic and stories properly. The rest of the book is divided into three parts, or more appropriately as Godawa calls it, “act.” In Act 1, Godawa focuses on story telling, which consists of three chapters. The first chapter is about the issue of sex, violence and profanity. This chapter is one that a Christian might want to read carefully and perhaps revisit even after a first reading of the book. It is something to chew on even if not every Christian will find themselves in agreement with the author. Chapter three focuses on movies with redemption which obviously is a big theological Christian motif since God has established the greatest act of redemption. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Act 2 of the book, which focuses on three worldviews that’s the undercurrent of many contemporary movies: existentialism, postmodernism and other worldviews, including Eastern mysticism. Act 3 focuses on movies protrayal of the spiritual with a chapter each on Jesus, Christianity, faith and spiritual warfare. What I like alot about this book is that many movies are brought up as examples of the worldviews subtle message in films. There are many insights, analysis and observations from various movies throughout the book. You will find yourself seeing movies you seen before in new light and also be curious about the story lines of other movies you have not seen before (and of course, some movies which I will not see as a result of this book’s analysis). All in all, these example should stir a Christian to be careful with discerning and watching movies with Godly wisdom–and while watching out for swearing, needless violence and sexual sins are important, we as believers must also watch out for the IDEAS that film impart to us. I highly recommend this book as a great introduction.

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The Canon of the New Testament in Church History: The Collection of the Canoncial NT Writings, Lesson 5

Lesson 6  I have titled this section, The Views of the Early Church Fathers Regarding the BibleThis section will focus on the early church fathers view of the Bible.  They will provide us with insights of the origin and nature of the Bible. [1]

A.  Clement of Rome (A.D. 30-100) [2]

1)  The Origin of Scripture: The Words of God.

a)  Let us act accordingly to that which is written (for the Holy Spirit saith, “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom”) (Jer. 9:23) (First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians 13).

b)  For He Himself by the Holy Ghost thus addresses us: “Come, ye children, hearken unto me” (Ps. 34:11) (ibid., 22).

c)  Look carefully into the Scriptures, which are the true utterances of the Holy Spirit (ibid., 45).

B.  The Nature of Scripture: Infallible [2]

1)  Words From God

a)  But when you hear the utterances of the prophets spoken as it were personally, you must not suppose that they are spoken by the inspired men themselves but by the divine Word who moves them (First Apology 36).

b)  We must not suppose that the language proceeds from the men who are inspired, but from the divine Word which moves them.  Their work is to announce that which the Holy Spirit, descending upon them, purposes, through them, to teach those who wish to learn the true religion (ibid).

c)  To him [Moses] did God communicate that divine and prophetic gift…and then after him the rest of the prophets…These we assert to have been our teachers, who use nothing from their own human conception, but from the gift vouchsafed to them by God alone (Justin’s Hortatory Oration to the Greeks 8).

2)  Conveyed Through Humans

a)  For neither by nature nor by human conception is it possible for men to know the things so great and divine, but the gift which then descended from above upon the holy men who had no need of rhetorical art, nor of uttering anything in a contentious or quarrelsome manner, but to present themselves pure to the energy of the Divine Spirit, in order that the Divine plectrum itself, descending from heaven and using righteous men as an instrument like a harp or a lyre, might reveal to us a knowledge of things divine and heavenly.  Wherefore, as if with one mouth and one tongue, they have in succession and in harmony with one another taught us both concerning God, and the creation of the world, and the formation of man, and concerning the immorality of the human soul, and judgment which is to be after this life, and concerning all things which it is needful for us to know, and thus in divine times and places have afforded us the divine instruction (ibid., 8).

C.  The Nature of Scripture [3]

1)  Inspired in Written Form

          2)  Inspired in Spoken Form

D.  The Origin of Scripture from Irenaeus (Second Century)[4]

1)  The Words of God

a)  The Scriptures are indeed perfect, since they were spoken by the Word of God [Christ] and His Spirit (Against Heresies 2.28.2).

2)  Words From God

a)  I shall plainly set forth from these divine Scriptures proofs to [satisfy] all lovers of truth (ibid., 2.35.4).

E.  The Nature of Scripture from Irenaeus (Second Century)[5]

1)  The Foundation of Faith

a)  The Scriptures [are the] ground and pillar of our faith (ibid., 3.1.1).

2)  Infallible

a)  Let us revert to the Scriptural proof furnished by those apostles who did also write the Gospel…The writings of those apostles,…being the disciples of truth, are above all falsehood (ibid., 3.5.1).

b)  [Heretics] adduce an unspeakable number of apocryphal and spurious writings which they themselves have forged, to bewilder minds of foolish men, and of such as are ignorant of the Scriptures of truth (ibid., 1.20.1).

F.  The Nature of Scripture from Tertullian (ca. 160-225)[6]

1)  Authoritative

a)  In granting indulgence, he [Paul] alleges the advice of a prudent man; in enjoining continence, he affirms the advice of the Holy Spirit.  Follow the admonition which has divinity for its patron.  It is true that believers likewise no “have the Spirit of God;” but not all believers are apostles.  When, then, he who had called himself a “believer,” added thereafter that he “had the Spirit of God,” which no one would doubt even in the case of an (ordinary) believer; his reason for saying so was, that he might re-assert for himself apostolic dignity…Apostles have the Holy Spirit properly, who have Him fully, in the operations of prophecy…Thus he attached the Holy Spirit’s authority to that form [of advice] to which he willed us rather to attend; and forthwith it became not an advice of the Holy Spirit, but, in consideration of His majesty, at precept (On Exhortation to Chastity 4, italics his).

2)  Divine

a)  We are united….Divine Scripture has made us concorporate; the very letters are our glue (On Modesty 5).

3)  Harmoniouss

a)  From apostolic word descends the Church, All filled, to wash off filth, and vivify Dead fates.  The Gospel, four in number, one. (Reply to Marcion 2.70).

4)  Timeless

a)  No enunciation of the Holy Spirit ought to be [confined] to the subject immediately in hand merely, and not applied and carried out with a view to every occasion to which its application is useful (On the Apparel of Women 2.2, italics his).

Summary:  Many of the early church fathers and Christians who lived during a time where the Word of God was coming together, understood that the Words of God in Scripture were important and a resource of truth.  This truth brought meaning into one’s life because of the resurrecting power that the Word had.  It was supernatural because it contained the power of salvific knowledge, which leads to salvation.  As a result, may this material that you have learned, continue to motivate you in your walk with God.  May you be encouraged that you are able to have a Bible while many other people in the world do not.  This is a sign of God’s grace. May the knowledge that you have consumed, be preached to the lost and may the precious knowledge you have consumed, be given to those you are discipling.  Grace.

[1] Norman L. Geisler, How History Views the Bible: Decide for Yourself, (Grand Rapids, MI: The Zondervan Corporation, 1982), pp.23-24.
[2] Ibid., 23-24.

[3] Ibid., 24-25.

[4] Ibid., 25.

[5] Ibid., 25.

[6] Ibid., 26.

[7] Ibid., 26-27.

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I’ve enjoyed this at several different level so I will review this book from different perspective: Chinese history, historiography, lessons for the US current military involvement overseas and spiritually as a Christian.
In terms of Chinese history, this book is on a time period and events that few Americans know about let alone understand. Way before America was attacked on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, Japan has already been waging war and spreading its imperialism for decades. This book is about events of Japan’s invasion of China during the 1930s from the Shanghai area to Nanking, and it explores what mainstream history have not focus much on: the subject of the book being Chinese collaborators with the Japanese. If the saying is true that “history is written by those who win,” then the implication from this must also be true: mainstream’s popular historical narrative will often leave out details it would rather forget. It’s easy to see in pop cultural memory that the population of China “resisted” the Japanese throughout the Japanese occupation of China during World War Two, but that’s not always the case as this book accurately portray. In order to survive in an occupied China one has to acknowledge the political realities of Japanese control. Currently the history of the Japanese invasion of China is overshadowed by the great work, “The Rape of Nanking,” which documents extensively the incredible atrocity of the Japanese Army against Chinese civilians, and it’s easy to have the framework of the victimization of China overshadow the reality of what was happening on the ground during occupation that some was trying to survive by cooperating with the Japanese (that is not to deny the realities of victims and the heinous crimes that occurred). No doubt the book does not deny that reality of the Japanese atrocities and even provide more further details paralleling Iris Chang’s famous work. However, here in this work the author of “Collobration” advance the thesis that there were some elites in China that did cooperated with the Japanese during occupation and that they can’t be demonized into a one dimensional cardboard wicked “traitors.” It can get more complicated than that.
What I thoroughly enjoyed about this book is the consciousness of the author’s historiography. As I began reading the book, I wondered how the author was going about to write as objectively as possible a historical work concerning a subject that would not enjoy a lot of surviving data: Collaborators would have been seen as traitors after the Japanese left, and no doubt it would not help for the accurate preservation of any written record of their experiences not to mention the collaborators’ survival! This work was truly amazing in terms of the author’s fortune of working with primary sources of Japanese Imperial army’s record, the memoirs of Japanese pacification agents and Western observers in Shanghai. The author Timothy Brook does a good job of handling the primary sources with care while also bringing the readers into the conversation of how he weighed the evidences, acknowledging the biases of each source as he weaved the data to produce his narrative. Brook admit the data is far from complete and there are limitations to historical research of collaborators yet it’s amazing how much he can carefully extrapolate. I’ve enjoyed Brook’s discussion of collaboration in the greater context of collaboration studies of the European front in World War Two, noting how historiography of collaboration is so different from that of say occupied France with that of China under Japan, and also situational differences between the European front with that of China.
The consciousness upon the author to use the European occupation and collobration under Nazi control in World War 2 as a foil for the situation in occupied China lead me to think about collaboration and military occupation beyond just France and China. I can’t help it but to think about what lessons this book brings to the greater geo-political affairs of today, specifically with Iraq and Afghanistan. As I read this book I can’t help but to recall memories walking a patrol with a Civil Affairs Marine officer in Iraq in 2003 and hearing this young officer’s heavy burden as he explained that afternoon of the difficulties of geo-political realities, local politics, war craft and “nation-building.” As much as I do not like the term “occupation” to describe our military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, and though I think the Japanese control over China is qualitatively and morally different than the US efforts in the Middle East, nevertheless I think there are some lessons one can learn here from collaboration concerning contemporary doctrine of counter-insurgency and the “hearts and minds” component of military occupation today. I think this book is worth being put under the Marine Corps Commandant’s reading list. Timothy Brooks notes the difficult realities of how difficult it was for the Japanese to find quality collaborators (which he encouraged the readers not to load that term with negative moral connotation right away in the book, but reserving it to the end of the work). When the nationalists government in Nanking retreated as the Japanese army advance, the elites with the technical and beaucratic know-how of operating governments and infrastructures fled with the Nationalists army as well. There was no incentive for them to be the puppet of a Japanese regime. The Japanese attempt to establish “peace committees” were frustrating, with the difficulties of sorting out people the right people with legitimate political and community capital from those who were just opportunists. As always, distrust on the part of the Japanese military and not empowering the local Chinese government ended up hindering the Japanese instead. There’s a lesson here with the fact that any occupation if it’s going to successfully transfer to new indigenous civilian management won’t be easy and the occupying Army can easily make numerous mistakes with such a fragile mission. It is a worthy study and reflection with lessons applicable to the difficulty in Afghanistan.
The dimension of the book that I most appreciate however is the chapter that focuses on Westerners who were in Nanking that got involved to protect the Chinese as much as possible from the cruelty of the Japanese. These were heroic men and women who had the liberty to leave and not get involved and yet they remained on the scene to make a difference for the lives of the Chinese. As I read this chapter I can’t help but to wonder what it was that drove them to do what they do knowing the risks involved. Many of them were Christian missionaries. As a Christian myself, I appreciated the book’s documentation from missionary’s diaries, letters and records. Though I know it’s not the intention or direction of the book, I can’t help to see the connection that true Christian spirituality means that there is the Lordship of Christ in every sphere of life including the political. These men and women saw the travesty of what the Japanese can do to their fellow man and women, and they responded. From orphanage, women shelter, rice distribution center, writing to the Embassy and the military to see aide is provided and even the audacity and affront to the Japanese of establishing a safe zone that was to be free of Japanese soldiers, these men and women can be forgotten for what they have done. However, if there is a God and the theology of these men and women are true, then it follows that their action are not totally forgotten—they lived and did what they did knowing that there is a God who remember and will call men into account one day. The implication of that is not just the preaching of the Gospel (that Jesus died for sinners and raised on the Third Day as proof) but also doing what they can to help fellow man who is made in the image of God.

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