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Archive for March, 2013

Two weeks ago I wrote about a problematic statement agnostic Bart Ehrman made in his recent book Did Jesus Exist?.  While I appreciate the main thrust of Ehrman’s work, which argues for the historical existence of Jesus, there are nevertheless logical problems such as the one we shall examine  below.

did-JESUS-exist-book

Here I want to focus specifically on his misrepresentation of the fundamentalists/conservative Christians’ position on inspiration and the Bible, and how Ehrman ends up contradicting himself when he criticizes the fundamentalists/conservative position on the Bible’s historicity/factuality.

Bart Ehrman stated that there

are certain agnostics and atheists who claim that since, say, the Gospels are part of Christian sacred scripture, they have less value than other books for establishing historical information.  As odd as it might seem, the nonbelievers who argue this are making common cause with the fundamentalists who also argue it.  Both groups treat the Gospels as nonhistorical, the fundamentalists because the Gospels are inspired and the atheists (those who hold this view) because the Gospels are accepted by some people as sacred scripture and so are not historical.” (Page 72; Emphasis not in the original)

Note what is stated in bold.  Ehrman here is asserting that the fundamentalists’ understanding of the Gospel means:

Inspiration=nonhistorical

Ehrman really said this and it’s not just a quotation out of context.  Earlier in the previous page Erhman writes:

Sometimes the Gospels of the New Testament are separated from all other pieces of historical evidence and given a different kind of treatment because they happen to be found in the Bible, the collection of books that Christians gathered together and declared sacred scriptures.  The Gospels are treated in this way by two fundamentally opposed camps of readers, and my contention is that both of them are completely wrong.  However else the Gospels are used–for example, in communities of faith–they can and must be considered historical sources of information.” (Page 71;  Emphasis not in the original)

Here the two camps refer to the same polarizing groups of Christian fundamentalists and secularized skeptics mentioned on page 72.  Ehrman is going against the fundamentalists because he thinks the fundamentalists’ view of inspiration means the Bible is taken as nonhistorical.  Readers who are fundamentalists/conservatives or even familiar with the works of fundamentalists will no doubt find Ehrman’s claims rather strange.

Point 1: Ehrman should have footnoted and cited some example of fundamentalists who ” treat the Gospels as nonhistorical,” “because the Gospels are inspired.”  As a Reformed Conservative Evangelical, I am not familiar with any fundamentalists who holds to Ehrman’s claim that the Bible’s inspiration means it is nonhistorical.

Point 1a: The demand here in point 1 that Ehrman should provide some kind of citation for his claim is reasonable.  The burden of proof is on him to demonstrate a claim which he even acknowledge is counter-intuitive: “As odd as it might seem, the nonbelievers who argue this are making common cause with the fundamentalists who also argue it” (Page 72; emphasis not in the original).

Point 1b: Again, the demand that Ehrman should have provided a reference to support his description of fundamentalists’ view of inspiration is reasonable.  Throughout the book Bart Ehrman does a really good job documenting and footnoting the position of the Jesus mythicists he is refuting, even when he considers them “nonscholars.”  On page 132 Ehrman himself acknowledges that the fundamentalists camps does have capable scholars. If he is able and willing to footnote and cite the nonscholars he opposes, how much more so then, should he be able to document and give references to fundamentalist scholars and their view of inspiration that he is rejecting.

Point 2: A survey of fundamentalists’ literature would reveal that their doctrine of inspiration presupposes the Bible to be historical rather than nonhistorical in it’s truth claims.  A good case in point can be demonstrated by citing The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, a key document expounding a conservative bibliology.

Point 2a: “Being wholly and verbally God-given, Scripture is without error or fault in all its teaching, no less in what it states about God’s acts in creation, about the events of world history, and about its own literary origins under God, than in its witness to God’s saving grace in individual lives.” (The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, Summary Statement 4; emphasis is not in the original).

Point 2b: “We deny that Biblical infallibility and inerrancy are limited to spiritual, religious, or redemptive themes, exclusive of assertions in the fields of history and science. We further deny that scientific hypotheses about earth history may properly be used to overturn the teaching of Scripture on creation and the flood.” (The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, Article XII).

Point 2c: “When Adam fell, the Creator did not abandon mankind to final judgement, but promised salvation and began to reveal Himself as Redeemer in a sequence of historical events centering on Abraham’s family and culminating in the life, death, resurrection, present heavenly ministry and promised return of Jesus Christ.” (The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, Explanation A; emphasis is not in the original).

Point 2d: “No hermeneutic, therefore, of which the historical Christ is not the focal point is acceptable.” (The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, Explanation B; emphasis is not in the original).

Point 2e: The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy is concern with history, since the word history appears a total of 12 times throughout the document.

Point 3: Oddly enough elsewhere throughout the book Ehrman’s criticism of fundamentalists’ view of the Bible contradicts his claims that fundamentalists does not take the Bible to be historical.  In fact, whether explicitly or implicitly presupposed, Ehrman’s other criticisms of fundamentalists is that they take the Bible in it’s entirety to be historical rather than nonhistorical.  It’s as if Ehrman’s criticism of fundamentalists’ view of the Bible is Schizophrenic.

Point 3a:  After Ehrman claim that fundamentalists ” treat the Gospels as nonhistorical” on page 72, he then contradicts this understanding of what fundamentalist believes about the Bible just two pages later when he wrote: “Once it is conceded that the Gospels can and should be treated as historical sources, no different from other historical sources infused with their authors’ biases, it starts to become clear why historians have almost universally agreed that whatever else one might say about him, Jesus of Nazareth lived in first-century Palestine and was crucified by the prefect of Judea.  It is not because ‘the Gospels say so’ and that it therefore must be true (the view, of course, of fundamentalist Christians)” (Page 74; emphasis not in original).

Point 3b: If fundamentalism did not subscribe to the historicity of the Bible which includes the Gospels, how could he have said the following: “But in a historical and worldwide perspective, highly conservative Protestant Christianity, whether fundamentalism or hard-core evangelicalism, is a minority voice.  It is the voice that says that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, with no contradictions, discrepancies or mistakes of any kind.  I simply don’t think this is true” (Bart Ehrman, Did Jesus Exists?, 36; emphasis not in original)?

Point 3c: As mentioned in Point 1b, Ehrman acknowledges that scholars who are fundamentalists exists in the area of historical Jesus studies and Pauline studies.  In the chapter arguing that Paul’s epistles contain historical content concerning the historicity of Jesus, Ehrman notes the scholarly consensus about the contribution of the Apostle Paul’s writing to the study of the historicity of Jesus:  “I personally know scores of scholars who have spent twenty, thirty, forty, or more years of their lives working to understand Paul.  Some of these are fundamentalists, some are theologically moderate Christians, some are extremely liberal Christians, and some are agnostics and atheists.  Not one of them, to my knowledge, thinks that Paul did not believe there was a historical Jesus” (Bart Ehrman, Did Jesus Exists?, 132; emphasis not in original).  Yet if Ehrman is correct that the fundamentalists’ doctrine of inspiration means that Scripture (including the Pauline epistles) are nonhistorical in character, how can they participate in the consensus with other scholars that the Apostle Paul believe in the historical Jesus?

Point 3d: There are more examples one can cite in Ehrman’s book and the corpus of his work of his criticism that fundamentalists believes in the literal and total historicity of the Bible.

Conclusion

Ehrman’s criticism that the fundamentalists’ doctrine of inspiration makes them view the Gospels as nonhistorical suffer from the problem of (1) not being proven by Ehrman, being asserted despite the absent of evidence, (2) is contrary to the evidence found in fundamentalists’ literature and (3) contradicts Ehrman’s own criticism of fundamentalists’ view of inspiration for assuming the Bible to be thoroughly true and historical.  In essence, his misrepresentation of the fundamentalists’ view of inspiration and historicity of the Bible is unfounded and irrational.

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Greek

This 90 page book, written by Constantine R. Campbell was a light and enjoyable book for anyone who aspires to learn Greek. I think that beginning Greek students, graduates of the Greek language, teachers, and preachers, will find this book edifying and enjoyable.   After reading this book, I am going to recommend this to some people in my church who just started learning the Koine Greek.  I hope that it will be an invaluable tool for them during their Greek endeavor.

This book will help them learn the Greek vocabulary, paradigms, grammar, syntax–to name but a few, better.  If I could give you one summary about this book so that you could remember at least one thing for the future long-haul, it would be this: “Maintain your Greek now because it will save you pain in the long run.”  This book has good strategies; and will provide an effective battle plan against this temptation: “I will stop learning Greek because it is too hard.”

On another note, invaluable insights of this book can be found in these ten main points which are broken down into 10 different chapters: “Read Every Day, Burn Your Interlinear, Use Software Tools Wisely, Make Vocabulary Your Friend, Practice Your Parsing, Read Fast, Read Slow, Use Your Senses, Get Your Greek Back, Putting It All Together.”  Since there are some great quotes concerning those points I mentioned above, I will gather some excerpts.  Let’s start with the first chapter: “Read Every Day.”

Read Every Day:

  • “Reading reminds, refreshes, and reinforces.”
  • “Long ago I learned a trick that can help the pastor–on four or five days a week spend ten to fifteen minutes in the Greek text just reading.  Open up your Greek New Testament, have a translation to its side and a lexicon to consult, use a parsing guide for words you can’t parse, and just read the text itself.”
  • “Learning Greek vocabulary, practicing paradigms, and other such things have their place, and I’ll discuss them later in this book.  But they are no substitute for reading Greek, and for busy people who can only afford to do one thing related to Greek each day, it must be this.  There are several reasons for this.
    • First, reading Greek is our goal.  It’s why we’ve learned Greek in the first place: to read and understand the Greek New Testament.  There’s nothing like practicing to achieve your goal.
    • Second, reading Greek brings all the other skills into play: vocabulary, grammar, and syntax are all required for reading, and the reading reminds, refreshes, and reinforces all those things.
    • Third, there is no substitute for getting the vibe of Greek besides reading it.”
  • “…begin with ‘easy’ Greek, like John’s gospel.  The vocabulary is limited and the syntax is straightforward (while the theology is profound!).  This will help your confidence and get you into the swing of things.”
  • Summary: “Reading Greek is not only effective for maintaining and developing your Greek skills; it can also be done regularly without a huge time commitment.”

Burn Your Interlinear: Here in this chapter, the author says to burn your interlinear because it is a tool of the devil.  That statement itself will light up questions all over your mind.  Why does he urge one to burn it?  This is his answer:

  • “A tool of the devil?  I’m kidding, of course–interlinears have their place.  If you don’t know much Greek, and have no intention of getting good at it, then an interlinear can be useful to check a word here or there and see what Greek word underlies an English translation.  But if you want to keep your Greek, if you want to read the Greek New Testament, then take your interlinear outside, douse it with gasoline, and light a match.”

It may sound like an extreme suggestion from the author, but he does make a good point.  More of his explanation can be found in chapter 2

  • Summary: “Reading Greek=good.  Interlinear=bad.  Bicep curls=ouch!”

Use Software Tools Wisely: The author does not cast anathemas to individuals who use Bible softwares; nor is he against its use, but he does exhort one to not abuse it.  The author does mention that during his doctorate program, the aid of BibleWorks helped him.  Without it, he would have taken ten years to finish the program.

  • “Bible software can be a blessing or a curse–it’s up to you.”
  • Here are some tips he gives in order for one to keep his or her Greek rather than to kill one:
    • “When you are doing your ten to thirty minutes per day of Greek reading (see chapter  1), do not  have an English translation open to the screen.  Make sure you can see only the Greek (all the software programs enable this).  Feel free to check an English translation once you’ve done some reading (perhaps after each verse, or after a paragraph), but don’t look at it while you’re trying to read the Greek.  In this way, you’ll be replicating the experience of reading a (paper) Greek New Testament, though the advantages of the software are still close to hand.”
  • Summary: “If you’re disciplined, go ahead and use software for your Greek reading.  But if you can’t be trusted not to cheat, then close your laptop and get out a paper Greek New Testament.  If you can find one.”

Make Vocabulary Your Friend:

  • “Clearly one of the hardest elements of keeping your Greek is vocabulary.  Even if you remember your paradigms and recall the syntax, without knowing what the words mean, it is all for nought!  Not only is vocabulary easily forgotten, there are many words that only appear once or twice in the New Testament.  All of this means that vocabulary acquisition and retention can become a major hurdle for keeping your Greek.”
    • What the author said above is in accordance with my experience.  I found Greek challenging during some of the Greek quizzes, because there were moments where I was not saturated with some of the vocabulary words.
  • Some tips the author provides in order to retain the vocabulary words is to have a memory hook, make the words fun to remember, pronounce each word, listen to the vocabs, write out the vocabs, try translating the vocabs from English to Greek; and make Greek a passionate, long-term pursuit.
  • Summary: “By making words your friends, you will take a lot of the frustration out of reading Greek, and instead you’ll enjoy more quality time with buddies!”

Practice Your Parsing:

  • Unlike the Greek, the English translation of the Bible does not make a difference between the singular “you” and plural “you.”  If it fails to make the distinction, just imagine what are some of the implications entails for verb tenses.  As a result, practicing your parsing is critical.
  • “You don’t want to end of sort of recognizing verb forms, but not being able to spell out what they are–that’s a sign of unkeeping your Greek!

Paradigmn

Read Fast: Most people will tell you read slow so that you will be able to comprehend the material better.  This is not just for Greek, but for all reading in any language.  Reading slow is critical as many are aware, but so is reading fast.

  • “Reading quickly will also help you to ‘internalize’ the language in a way that slow and careful reading may not.  To internalize a langauage means that you no longer treat it as an abstract ‘code’ to be deciphered.  Rather, it becomes more like a song you know really well.”
  • Summary: “Read Greek quickly and dig the vibe, man.”
  • Try reading this verse quickly: Οὕτως γὰρ ἠγάπησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν κόσμον, ὥστε τὸν υἱὸν τὸν μονογενῆ ἔδωκεν, ἵνα πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων εἰς αὐτὸν μὴ ἀπόληται ἀλλ᾽ ἔχῃ ζωὴν αἰώνιον.

Read Slow: Reading fast is one good strategy, but so is reading slow.  According to the author, you will need to mix it up.

  • “The best Greek students are the ones who get the ‘vibe’ of the language and also have a strong grip on the vocabulary, grammar, and syntax.  The key way to reinforce and sharpen your grasp of the ‘details’ of Greek is to practice reading slowly.”
  • “Reading slowly with care can be rewarding, since it is through this kind of reading that we can find in the Greek text the sorts of things that many of us learned Greek for in the first place: little hidden nuances and exegetical insights that are conveyed by the Greek, but are so often lost in the English translation; the richer, deeper comprehension of the text; and appreciation of the structure of sentences.  Such insights don’t normally occur without slow and careful reading.”
  • Summary: Reading Greek slowly will not be easy at first, but overtime, your skills will increase if you practice this method.

Use Your Senses: In this chapter, the author mentions that Greek is not a language that you just merely see on a page, but it is a language that requires the use of your senses in the area of speaking and hearing if you want to maximize your learning.

  • “Speaking Greek out loud can be a useful way to internalize the language.  Hearing Greek spoken aloud causes us to process the information in a different way to reading, and therefore strengthens our overall comprehension.  This will be the case for most people, but especially for aural learners.”
  • Accents at times are a neglected area from students learning Greek.  Some will tell you it is not necessary or important to learn them, but here is what the author says, “Accents are often ignored by students, as we’re told that they’re not important for the meaning of the text.  But in pronunciation we need to stress one of the syllables of each word, so why not stress the syllable that is supposed to be stressed?”
  • Please visit this site if you want to hear the Greek being spoken: http://www.greeklatinaudio.com.  Have your Greek Bible with you when doing this exercise.
  • Try singling songs when trying to learn the Greek paradigms.
  • Another good exercise is to reproduce the Greek vocab and paradigms on paper.

Get Your Greek Back: “If you did it once, you can do it again.  And it will be easier this time.”

  • “Take heart!  It will come to you more quickly than it did the first time.  It’s easier to remember the Greek you’ve forgotten than it was to learn it in the first place. This is true for most learned skills; once you get back into the swing of things, your memory starts to access that old information more and more quickly.”
  • “Its a bit like muscle-training.  It hurts at first and can be quite a shock to the system.  There may not be any visible results right away.  But with perseverance, you will make progress, once step at a time…those muscles need to be strained in order to enhance their development.”

Putting it All Together:

  • In this chapter, the author summarizes what was said in the earlier chapters and provides examples of how he implements them in his daily life.

I hope this review was somewhat helpful.  What I can tell you is that knowing Greek is like watching HD television.  Greek will provide you discernment when reading commentaries.  You will not be at their mercy.  Greek will help you become more astute when you are interacting with journal articles.  Moreover, Greek will enhance your preaching and teaching skills, and will strengthen your relationship with the Lord. I hope that is enough to motivate you to pursue Greek.

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The Master's Seminary

 

Every year The Master’s Seminary has a Spring Semester Faculty Lecture Series that is meant to be an in-depth focus on a particular issue or doctrine.  This year’s focus is on the doctrine of the Trinity.  Here is the lists of the lectures and below it are the videos:

Trinitarianism & Creationism by Dr. Bryan Murphy (Old Testament Associate Professor)

Trinitarianism & Inspiration by Dr. William Barrick (Old Testament Professor)

Trinitarianism & Salvation/Sanctification by Dr. Andrew Snider (Associate Professor of Theology)

Trinitarianism & Eschatology by Dr. Michael Vlach (Associate Professor of Theology)

Trinitarianism & Church History by Professor Nathan Busenitz (Historical Theology)

The videos:

Enjoy!

 

 

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Toxic

Dear Pastor Edward Caballero,

First of all, we would like to thank you and express our appreciation for taking the time out of your busy schedule to do an interview with The Domain for Truth.  The topic that we would like to venture into is pornography.  We really believe that your pastoral experience and knowledge concerning this issue is invaluable.

As you are already aware, pornography is a great epidemic in the world; and is even penetrating the lives of God’s people.  As a pastor, it is our understanding that you have seen its effects via your surroundings, your discussions with others, and your counseling sessions with those who struggled with this monster.

Since this is an important topic, we believe that you will help shed some invaluable information and insights on this issue so that believers will understand that being set-apart/sanctified in Christ is an imperative for all Christians.  In order to do that, here are some questions below that we think will help contribute to the Christian community.

For those of you who do not know Pastor Caballero, he pastors a church in Southern, CA called Anaheim Community Church.  For more information, please visit the church’s website: http://www.anaheimcommunitychurch.org/

Now, without further interruption, let’s get back to our interview.

1) Is the word pornography composed of any Hebrew or Greek words in the Bible?

Our English word “pornography” comes from the Greek word porneia (also porne, porneuo, and pornos). In many New Testament passages, porneia is defined as fornication or immorality (other forms are defined as fornicator, harlot, whore, and whoremonger).

2) How would you define pornography and what does the Bible say about it?

One contemporary definition of pornography is..

1) writings, pictures, films, etc., designed to stimulate sexual excitement

2) the production of such material sometimes (informal) shortened to porn, porno

(Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003)

Most people, when hearing the word pornography, will think of sexually explicit and perverted material (video, print, photos, etc.). However, our view of pornography (as a nation) is constantly changing (with many now labeling pornography as many things other than perversion).

The Bible however, makes it very clear that pornography (immorality, fornication, and other perverse and immoral acts) is a sin and should be avoided at all costs.

Leviticus 20:14 – ‘If there is a man who marries a woman and her mother, it is immorality; both he and they shall be burned with fire, that there may be no immorality in your midst.”

1 Corinthians 5:1 – “It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife.”

1 Corinthians 6:18 – “Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.”

2 Corinthians 12:21 – “I am afraid that when I come again my God may humiliate me before you, and I may mourn over many of those who have sinned in the past and not repented of the impurity, immorality and sensuality which they have practiced.”

Galatians 5:19-21 – “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Ephesians 5:3 – “But do not let immorality or any impurity or greed even be named among you, as is proper among saints…”

Colossians 3:5-6 – “Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is on account of these things that the wrath of God will come…”

1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 – “For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God…”

Jude 1:7 – “Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example, in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.”

3) What causes one to pursue pornography?

I believe that at the root of all sin pride is found. When Satan rebelled against God, he did so because he wanted to be equal (if not, superior) to God. All sins are categorized in the Bible as falling into one of three “lusts” (1 John 2:16 – “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.”). Pornography is a prideful desire / action that is an expression / manifestation of the “lust of the eyes.”

When a person sees something that they desire (sinfully) and pursues that desire (by whatever means necessary) they are willfully demonstrating a prideful attitude (“I want that and nothing will convince me otherwise”). Pornography is no different. The pursuit of pornography is a prideful act of sin. Though pride is at the root of the pursuit of pornography, there are many other factors that will drive one to pursue pornographic material.

If a husband feels that he is not being satisfied by his wife (sexually, intimately), he may see pornography as a means of fulfilling his perceived void and feelings of disappointment. Likewise, a wife who does not feel fulfilled (loved, cherished, attractive) to and by her husband, may pursue pornography as a means of fulfillment. In both cases, the husband or wife lives out their desires (prideful) through pornography.

This example is not limited to married couples. Many single individuals have a sinful idea of what “love” is and should be and will use pornography as a way to experience those flawed and sinful desires. The vast majority of media outlets – movies, music, magazines, video games, etc. – promote sex (all forms of sex) as natural, fulfilling, an expression of self, and healthy. Any attempt to speak out against sexual impropriety (especially when using the Bible as a source of measure) is quickly viewed as archaic, oppressive, and phobic. It is no wonder that our nation as a whole has become so in love with perverted forms of “love.”

God made men and women both a spiritual and physical being. Included in the physical aspect of being human is a desire for a sexual / intimate relationship. Desiring sex is not in and of itself a sin. However, when Satan and this world system distort the plan that God has determined for a sexual relationship it then becomes sinful (when acted upon by individuals). This is a huge problem when struggling with the sin of pornography. Men and women naturally desire intimate physical relationships and the world is offering a buffet of sexual delicacies.

4) What are some of the effects of pornography that you see in the lives of Christians/counselees?

Many people that I have counseled in this area experience the same effects (guilt, anger, loneliness, marital strife, etc.). Some have even found themselves in legal trouble as they took their private sin and made it public. In our congregation alone, I have seen two marriages crumble because of immoral desires (not simply pornography). Not only does the sin destroy the marriage (spouse and children) but it makes a huge impact (negatively) on the congregation. When members of a local congregation submit to the sin of pornography, the body of Christ suffers.

As part of one united body of Christ, individual sin can quickly become a corporate dilemma. Those who are in ministry and are caught, exposed, and disciplined, will leave a gaping wound in the body. Feelings are hurt; responsibilities are shifted to others (making their already busy ministerial and personal lives even busier and more difficult). Not to mention seeing the ones that you love as brethren in Christ being torn apart because of their prideful desire to pursue sexual perversion.

In the attempt to finding fulfillment, the person who is entrenched in pornography finds the exact opposite. The craving is never fully satisfied; there is always a longing for more. What nicotine is to smokers, pornography is to the sexually perverse.

5) Could you describe a sample of an excellent battle-plan against pornography?

I believe that the Bible teaches that we as Christians are adequately equipped for our lives here on earth (sinful struggles included). Peter said it well, “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” (2 Peter 1:2-3).

For the person struggling with sin (pornography), I would suggest the following:

Prayer – This cannot be emphasized enough. Many see prayer as a last resort when it should be a first strike against sin (Luke 22:31-32 – “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”). Jesus prayed for His disciples (cf. John 17) knowing that they would be put to the test. We as Christians must pray for ourselves and others to win the war against sin (though Jesus is victorious over sin, death, and Satan, we as Christians are daily waging war on sin as we strive for our sanctification).

Bible – Read the Bible! It seems like a no-brainer but so many will neglect the Word of God and then scratch their heads and wonder why they are struggling with their physical and spiritual lives. (Psalm 119:9 – “How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Thy word.’). Study the Bible regularly. Focus on passages that address your specific areas of temptation. Focus on the Godhead and see why the Bible makes it very clear that man needs God more than God needs man. Develop a healthy diet of the Word and your spiritual vitality will increase.

Fellowship – One of the things that Christians who are struggling with sin will often do is to cut other off / become introverts. In an attempt to deal with their sin in a secret and individual manner, they actually cut off one of the resources that God has provided for the health of every individual member in the church. The New Testament is filled with what are known as “one anothers” (instructions to the church about how to minister to one another). Included in the one anothers are instructions to pray for, weep with, rejoice with, restore, counsel, and bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2 – “Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ.”). Those who neglect being around their brethren are on the way to failure (Hebrews 10:24-25 – “…and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.”). Those in sin need to be accountable to God and their brethren, when a person forsakes fellowship, there is no accountability.

The Holy Spirit – Many Christians have mixed views of the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian (from extreme Charismatics to extreme Cessationists). Unfortunately, a wrong view of the Holy Spirit will be a hindrance to one’s life as a Christian striving to grow in their spiritual walk. Many non-charismatic Christians have done a disservice to the Holy Spirit and themselves by minimizing the role of the Spirit in the life of a Christian. Make no mistake, no Christian can win a war with sin if they do not rely on the power and direction of the Holy Spirit. Paul said, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16). To walk by the Spirit is to pray (ask for strength and protection), study (the Word of God), and apply the truths of Scripture (James 1:22 – “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.’). Only those who rely on the Spirit to intercede for them in prayer and give them understanding and wisdom will successfully resist Satan’s sinful onslaught.

6) Could you describe a faulty battle-plan against pornography?

Yes – Ignore the above plan.

7) For those who are parents, when do you think is the best age to start warning their children about pornography/sexual immorality?

Keep them young and innocent as long as you can. As a father of four children (19, 17. 9 and 3), one of my concerns for them is their purity. As parents, my wife and I would not let our children watch many movies that their friends (in Christian schools I might add) were watching on a regular basis; R-rated movies that had explicit sexual, violent content. This world will do all it can to force them to “grow up” according to its standards, I don’t want to be part of that assault on my Children.

With that said, I think that a parent must exercise discretion when discussing certain issues with their children. It reminds me of the father who was driving his kinder son home from school. His son asked, “Dad, what is sex?” Needless to say, the boy’s father quickly became uncomfortable and wondered how he was going to best give his son “the talk.” After about a 45 minute explanation of the birds and the bees, the father looked into the mirror and saw his son with wide eyes and jaw dropped. “Why did you ask that question son?” said the father. The boy replied, “On my permission slip for next week’s field trip is says ‘sex, M or F.’” Talk about TMI.

Personally, I had a discussion with my boys (the two oldest) around fourth or fifth grade. They were already hearing about questionable things from friends and I wanted to make sure that we as parents set their foundation on Scripture before they were exposed to too much. I gave a very general explanation of men, women, sexuality and God’s plan. I think that I placed more emphasis on God’s plan than anything else. I wanted them to know that there was right and wrong when it came to sex and that there were no grey areas.

Every parent / family has to make this decision based on their child’s social and intellectual level. With that said, I sadly feel that we as parents in 2013 need to have this discussion with our children earlier than previous generations.

8) With the rise of technology and the constant advertisement of sexual context like never before, it is very easy for one’s eyes to wander on immoral content. It can be easily accessed with a click of a mouse or a push of a button on one’s cell phone. How can Christians deal with this problem? Are there any practical tips to deal with this problem?

Watchfulness – To say that pornography is everywhere is an understatement. In years past, people seeking sexual perversion had to travel to the dark side of town and find a seedy joint that is under constant surveillance by the local vice squad; no so today. With our advancements in technology, social embracing of all forms of perversions and the widespread display of unbiblical ideas of sexual relationships on just about every channel from Disney to HBO, is promoting immorality. For those who struggle with pornography, the mentality of watchfulness and pre-emptive strikes must be part of the daily battle. I know a brother in Christ who won’t go to the beach under certain circumstances because he does not want to fall into thoughts of lust; I applaud him for this extreme course of action. A visit to the local beach, seeing what women are wearing (or barely wearing) will justify his concern. A leisurely stroll through the mall can trigger thoughts of lust as there are larger than life posters of women in lingerie plastered along the walkways. Not to mention the ever-present danger of computers, smart-phones and tablets. Pornography is just a swipe of the screen away. Every person will have different situations that trigger their sinful desires. The person who is struggling with pornography must carefully and honestly identify what those “lust triggers” are and avoid them at all costs. If that means a password on a computer that someone else has to enter, so be it. If that mean installing Covenant Eyes on your iPhone and disabling Safari, do it. IMDB is a great tool. Movies are filled with sexual material; make it a practice to check the Parental Guide on IMDB for each movie that you want to see. If the movie has sexual content that will cause you to lust, don’t watch the movie. I can go on and on but hopefully you get the point. Satan is out there and he wants to see Christians fall into sin. Be alert and be ready to resist (1 Peter 5:8 – “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”).

9) Some Christians who overcome this sin, still face thoughts of condemnation from time to time. They feel like a grey cloud is casted upon them. How would you encourage them?

My encouragement to them would be to understand that their worth before God is not contingent upon their earthly successes or failures. Their standing (justification) before God is contingent upon the finished work of Jesus Christ. Christians who struggle with / overcome pornography are not loved more or less by God because of their victories or defeats. They are loved by God because God the Father loves Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ has made provision for all of His people. (Romans 8:1 – “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” and 2 Corinthians 5:21 – “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”)

Christians struggling with sin have, in Jesus, someone who knows what they are going through. They can stand before Him knowing that He has “walked in their shoes” and knows what is best for them to live victorious lives. (Hebrews 4:14-16 – “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.”)

I would also encourage them to aggressively continue to wage war against sin. It is easy to fall into the mentality of cheap grace (sinning at will because, after all, Jesus paid the price for my sins). I would remind them that though they are to do their best to resist sin, when they fall (and they will, we all will from time to time), Jesus is their Advocate. (1 John 2:1-2 – “My little children, I am writing these things to you that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins…”)

10) Do you any have concluding thoughts for Christians who are struggling with pornography/sexual immorality right now?

Don’t wait another day to begin to kill your sin. Don’t try to fight the battle on your own. Don’t neglect the Word of God, prayer, fellowship and the work of the Holy Spirit. And, fix your eyes on Jesus and run the race to win (Hebrews 12:1-2, – Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”)

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Appendix

For those of you interested in other resources related to the danger of lust, please see these links:

Sexual Detox

Secret Sex Wars

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Philippians James Boice

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

Good commentary on Philippians. I thoroughly enjoyed it and felt it was a good commentary to accompany my own personal devotional through Philippians. Insightful observations were given from the text, especially when Boice makes observations from Greek word studies, things that the general reading audience would not pick up themselves. Examples include his explanation about the Praetorian Guard are only in Rome, what citizenship meant to the Philippians who were loyal to the Roman Empire and also the Greek word for form in Philippians 2 refer to the inward true nature of something (thus form does not just mean “image” but that Jesus was truly God in essence). I appreciated this commentary a lot. The first 96 pages was devoted to the first chapter alone, though towards the end of the book Boice picked up the pace; I would have appreciated if he would have been able to give the same attention and care of slowly going through the text towards the last half of the book just as he did in the first half. I recommend this commentary for the expositor and the lay reader.

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flying house no foundation 1

I have not been recently able to keep abreast with Presuppositional apologetics links around the web due to important milestone events in my family’s life hence the delay in our regular installment of Presuppositional apologetics links.  Well, here are some links around the web that I noted.

Reference: God–Do Christians and non-Christians have a basis to refer to the same referent when they talk about “God”?

New Apologetics eBook – “Christianity Supreme—Defeating Non-Christian Worldviews”— Mike Robinson’s latest book!

What About the Heathen?–Very good article by Fred Butler examining the presuppositions of this common object and also evaluating this objection in light of a non-Christian worldview.

Original Sin and Depravity— This is one message from the Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary’s Spring Conference on Theology of Man that is up!

Christianity and Barthianism–Jared Oliphint on Van Til’s take on Karl Barth.

Profiles in apostasy–Steve Hays insightful thoughts.

Problems With Authority in Classical and Evidentialist Apologetics–The guys over at Choosing Hats have something to say about this.

Interview on Logic: A God-Centered Approach–An interview with Vern Poythress on his latest book!

Our Genes are Like ‘Ruthless Chicago Gangsters’— Gary DeMar on the problem of a materialistic worldview taken to it’s logical conclusion and it’s lack of ability to account for morality.

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Admont Benedictine Monastery Big photo

Do you struggle with Christian reading?  Reading is an important component in Christian discipleship–and not just for “devotional” flavor but the development of a Christian worldview and being equipped for apologetics, evangelism and Lordship of Christ in all spheres.  In light of this a Christian theology on reading is foundational for the Christian life of the mind and practice.  Here is a series by a Calvinistic Alliance Church on “A Christian Theology on Reading” covering the reading of Canonical and Non-canonical books.  A good Christian theology of reading is the basis to properly motivate Christians to pursue spiritual reading, how to get the most out of their reading and discernment when reading non-canonical books.

The syllablus is available in PDF if you click on the following: Christian theology of Reading Syllabus (Property of TCAC)

Here are the 9 part audio messages in MP3s for this series:

Session 1: Why Read the Bible (Pages 2-4 of Syllabus)

Session 2: Why Read Other Books Part 1 of 2 (Pages 5-6 of Syllabus)

Session 3: Why Read Other Books Part 2 of 2 (Pages 5-10 of Syllabus)

Session 4: Historical Theology Case Study: Strong Christians Read (Pages 11-15 of Syllabus)

Session 5: Selecting Biblical Passages to Read (Pages 16-18 of Syllabus)

Session 6:Discernment in Selecting Books Wisely (Pages 19-21 of Syllabus)

Session 7: Discernment in reading Non-Canonical Books (Pages 22-25 of Syllabus)

Session 8: Twenty Five Recommended Christian books for the Christian (Pages 25)

Session 9: Christian Discipline of Reading (Pages 26-28)

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