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Archive for March, 2013

Resurrection Sunday is almost over but our worship of our Resurrected Lord and Savior doesn’t end.

Had a good service today and reflected much on our Rock of Salvation.

I’ve been reflecting on this verse: “But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.” (John 19:34)

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Something about that imagery is so painful to picture.  He did all that for the sins of those who would trust in Him.

What a provision He has provided for us.

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As I slowly make my way through agnostic Bart Ehrman’s latest book, Did Jesus Exist?, I can’t help but to notice the logical fallacies.  For instance, about a week ago I posted on Bart Ehrman’s straw man and contradiction against the fundamentalists.  Three weeks ago I posted on his fallacy of a false dilemma.

Today’s post will focus on the fallacy of argument from silence.

Mime argument

Ehrman knows that an argument from silence is a fallacy.  That’s because he’s able to identify it as a fallacy when others commit it.  For instance, in talking about Rene Salm, who denies the historical existence of the town of Nazareth, Ehrman writes

The most recent critic to dispute the existence of Nazareth is Rene Salm, who has devoted an entire book to the question, called The Myth of Nazereth…Like so many mythicists before him, Salm emphasizes what scholars have long known: Nazareth is never mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, in the writings of Josephus, or in the Talmud.  It first shows up in the Gospels.  Salm is also impressed by the fact that the early generations of Christians did not seek out the place but rather ignored it and seem not to know where it was (this is actually hard to show; how would we know this about ‘every’ early Christian, unless all of them left us writings and told us everything they knew and did?).” (Page 193)

A Slam Dunk on Salm.  After all, silence only proves…silence. And don’t forget the difficulty of proving a universal negative.  Note how Ehrman calls out Salm that he does not know what every early Christian have done in their lives and therefore Salm can not establish his premise that no early Christians ever looked for Nazareth.

Does Ehrman commit the same fallacy?

Here’s an example of Bart Ehrman’s argument from silence in Did Jesus Exists? :

Before the Christian movement, there were no Jews who thought the messiah was going to suffer.” (Page 173; emphasis not in original)

No Jews?  To apply Ehrman’s own refutation quoted earlier against himself: “this is actually hard to show; how would we know…” “unless all of them left us writings and told us everything they knew and did?” (Page 193).

The same problem applies to the following:

According to Luke’s story, a tax was imposed on ‘all the world’ by Caesar Augustus, and everyone had to register for a census.  Since Joseph’s distant ancestor David was born in Bethlehem, that is where he had to register.  While he was there his betrothed, Mary, gave birth.  There is no way this can be historically correct.  There was no worldwide (or even empire-wide) census in the days of Augustus…” (Page 184; emphasis not in original)

And:

So too it is completely implausible that when Jesus was put on trial at the end of his life, Pilate offered to release one of his two chief prisoners  Barabbas or Jesus, as was allegedly his custom at Passover (see Mark 15:6-15).  We have no historical record of any such custom being carried out by Pilate or anyone else.” (Page 184)

Again, an argument from silence to prove a claim.  Ehrman should realize the difficulty of his position with the realities that he admitted earlier in the book that the Romans did not keep a detailed complete record of everything they did and that we should not interpret that to mean that something couldn’t have been historical if it’s cited elsewhere (see pages 44 through 46).  Keep in mind that an argument from silence here is further problematic when one consider the fact that the majority of the Roman imperial record did not survive the passage of time.

Can you spot other arguments from silence in Ehrman’s book?

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Here is a free ebook from Ligonier Ministries in regards to this Holy Week, Passion Week, where many Christians are celebrating Christ’s sacrifice.  The free ebook serves as a reminder of Christ’s sacrifice.

Cross

Please click on this link for the free ebook: The Truth of the Cross

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Good Friday and Easter (Resurrection Sunday) is around the corner.  I think this would be appropriate.

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Here is a four part audio series titled “The Scriptural Road of Emmaus” which covers Messianic Types and Prophecies found in the Old Testament:

Road to Emmaus: Sin, why we need a Savior

Messianic Type: Sacrificing Beloved Only Son

Messianic Prophecy: Psalm 22

Messianic Prophecy: Isaiah 53

The title of the series is playing on the account of the two disciples walking with Jesus on the road to Emmaus recorded in Luke 24 in which Jesus gives a study on the Old Testament predicting the Messiah.

Note: The last one is bi-lingual, it is preached in English but has another language that it’s being interpreted into.

As I have said previously in this blog, I believe Presuppositional apologetics’ stress on being biblical in approaching apologetics is a good thing; and like other Presuppostionalists I would agree that the Christian apologist must be Biblical in one’s worldview, epistemology and philosophy of evidence, etc.  But I would also say that it’s important for the Presuppositionalists to know their Bibles well enough in particular with their Old Testament: so that they can marshal Messianic Prophecies!  Afterall, Old Testament Messianic prophecies are the evidences that God has given directly in His Word pointing to and predicting the Messiah’s life and ministry that Jesus Christ has fulfilled.  It would be ironic for the apologist who stress so much about being Biblical to end up being weak in the Evidences that God’s direct special revelation has given.  That of course is not to downplay the importance of being conscious of the philosophy of evidence and presuppositions when dialoguing since these are not neutral (Presuppositionalists’ point) nor does that mean we should not master the actual details of the facts of Jesus’ life and ministry (often, the traditional Evidentialist’s big focus).  But if we believe it’s the hearing of God’s Word that produces faith then we best master it to expose His Word to those whom we are evangelizing and giving a defense towards.

Plus there is something about incorporating and studying Messianic prophecies that makes one’s apologetics doxological since it’s centered on Christ!

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Evangelism

My view of evangelism is rooted in the sovereignty of God.  I believe that the Lord is in control of man’s destiny.  He has chosen His people before the foundation of the world.  In other words, His decision of His elect in salvation is not depended upon man’s existence or decision.  This concept was a bit difficult in my early Christian walk when trying to reconcile the sovereignty of God when dealing with Evangelism because they are pair of truths that forms an apparent antinomy in biblical thinking (pg. 93).  Based on my understanding of Scripture concerning this topic of God’s sovereignty, Apostle Paul illustrates this apparent antinomy when Paul writes to the church of Ephesus (pg. 94).  For example, when writing to the church of Ephesus, Paul says in the first chapter that God has chosen him and other fellow believers before the foundation of the world (pg. 94).  This is a bit hard to grapple with for some people because what they see is that God reveals His plan for sinners in regards to His election, but He also tells us to evangelize the lost.  I agree with Packer.  Both aspects of God’s will in election and for evangelism are facts; and how they are related in the mind of God is incomprehensible to us (pg. 94).

Although God has decreed before the foundation of the world who are saved along with his desire for His people to evangelize the lost, does not in anyway, affect my duty to evangelize.  There are a couple of reasons why I say this.  As a believer, I order my life by the law of God.  Even though this topic is a bit incomprehensible at times, I am still responsible to obey God’s law concerning evangelism.  Whatever one believes concerning the sovereignty of God in salvation, does not in any way, affect the necessity of evangelism.  Evangelism is vital to God’s plan because He made it clear that humans cannot be saved outside of the Gospel (pg. 97).  Paul echoes the importance of the Gospel in the book of Romans, “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?  And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?”  In other words, salvation depends on faith, and faith comes by knowing the Gospel (pg. 97).  His election should not stop us from evangelizing because just as he ordained the “end,” He also ordained the “means” to the “end.”

It is clear that the sovereignty of God does not stop me from evangelizing—that is clear, but the sovereignty of God does affect me in a positive way.  There are a couple of reasons for that statement.  For example, the sovereignty of God in evangelism gives me hope of excellence in evangelism; makes me bold, makes me patient, and prayerful, because I know that God is in control.  Since He is in control, I will not fret when it comes to excellence in evangelism.  I know that the Lord has chosen His elect before the foundation of the world.  As a result, that should give me a reason to search for His elect.  They are out there in the world.  The harvest is full, but the laborers are few (Matthew 9:37).  Moreover, His sovereignty makes me bold because God is powerful.  He kills and makes alive.

The Bible points to Christ as the captain of our salvation.  As a result, His sovereignty makes one patient.  Since He knows who will be born-again, it is sinful and fruitless to try to manipulate people into the kingdom of God.  Having patience will keep us biblical in evangelism too.  Another reason that I have learned about the sovereignty of God is that it pushes me to pray fervently.  Prayer keeps me in total dependence on God rather than in my self.

For a deeper discussion on God’s sovereignty and evangelism, please see this video that SLIMJIM posted earlier:

 

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Politically Incorrect guide to Darwinism

Purchase: Amazon 

Though Intelligent Design is not my cup of tea when it comes to apologetics argument for the Christian faith nevertheless I read this book in order to stay abreast with contemporary non-Presuppositionalist’s apologetics. The beginning of the book defined the term evolution, Darwinism, Creationism and intelligent design which is helpful so that readers can be more precise in their own use of the term. This section made me realize that I need to ask those I’m interacting with to define what they mean when they use those terms instead of assuming I know what they mean or giving them a free pass for any potential misunderstanding or error. The book noted rightly that evolution as a definition is too broad if it only refer to change, since everyone believes in some kind of change or another over time. Most people mean Darwinism when they talk about evolution and Darwinism is defined as the descent of organism with biological modification into other species. From time to time I hear atheists complain that Christians invented the term “Darwinism” as a prejorative for evolution but this is simply not true: The book traces the term “Darwinism” being first used by Darwinists themselves. Similarly, the term micro and macro evolution was also not a Creationist invention since the term was first used by Darwinists. Half of the book was focused on the problems of Darwinism while the second half focused on intelligent design. Those familiar with the problems of evolution and it’s evidences will see them rehearsed in this book. The author also noted an interesting dilemma concerning Darwinists who assert that something scientific must be falsifiable and then say they dismiss intelligent design since it’s not falsifiable but then these same critics write in peer review journal articles that “refute” intelligent design; yet how could they refute it if it is not something falsifiable to begin with? As the saying goes, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. As a presuppositionalists reading this book, I can’t help but to see the scary documented stories of Darwinist’ campaign of misinformation and persecution of non-Darwinists confirms the point that true religious neutrality is an impossibility. These stories are down right frightening for those who want to pursue a career in academia and happen to have even the slightest reservation concerning Darwinism. There’s the quote from Paul Z. Myers who talked about bringing out brass knuckles against those expounding intelligent design, and the campaign to harass and oust the Smithsonian’s editor who agreed to publish an ID paper. Readers must not forget the assorted danger of government enforced Darwinism. The book was not heavy on the philosophical side but I was pleasantly surprised with the author’s familiarity with Thomas Khun’s discussion about scientific revolution which is the source of the author’s optimism about the future of Intelligent Design.

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Greg Bahnsen was a prolific Christian apologist who has made a tremendous contribution in popularizing Presuppositional Apologetics before his untimely death in 1995.  He is probably Cornelius Van Til’s best known disciple.  Here is an audio lecture on the topic of foreordination and human responsibility found on Youtube.

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