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Archive for July, 2013

Is God anti-gay

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

MY REVIEW:

So much ink has been spilled concerning the topic of homosexuality, both for and against, and you might ask, “Why another book?”  What makes this one different?  I would say if one has to read only one book on this subject from a Christian perspective this would be it since the beauty of this book is its balance, simplicity, brevity, clarity, honesty and the author pastoral heart.

Right off the bat, the book opens up with a personal introduction from the author’s own life—and his struggle with homosexual desires at a young age.  Immediately I realized that this book isn’t just ABOUT homosexuals but also TO any possible homosexual readers.  That’s an important angle!  This book is gospel centered and not just a special condemnation of homosexuals.  For instance, he writes on page 8, “God’s message for gay people is the same as his message for everyone.  Repent and believe.”  Readers will discover that Sam Allberry makes an important distinction between “homosexuals” and those with same sex attractions (what he calls SSA for short).  I agree with Allberry’s rationale: He does not wish to ground his whole identity in his sexual struggle.  Having counsel people as a pastor myself, I see this is a crucial point for Christians to understand, that no matter what sexual sins one struggle with, a believer must ground their identity in Christ and that relationship and union with Christ is now what defines them rather than their pet sin.  What amazed me was how Allberry was able cover this within the first few pages into the book.

Allberry’s work is not just a collection of biblical proof texts that homosexuality is a sin though he does have a chapter on the Bible’s view of homosexuality. While a biblical view of homosexuality is foundational to the discussion, given that the book is written in mind for those who struggle with SSA and also the Church, Allberry moves beyond the thesis that homosexuality is a sin.  He has a practical and biblical perspective for those who choose to be single as a way of being obedient to Jesus.  There’s a chapter on the Church’s responsibility to those with SSA within the church and another chapter on the church’s relationship to homosexuals in the world.  He does not get into the political realm but focuses on witnessing and loving homosexuals to the Cross.

The format of the book was helpful in reinforcing the content of the book: I enjoyed the side bars throughout the book raising various questions of practical concern and objections.  Allberry provides a good answer to the objection of why can’t faithful homosexuals be married on pages 39-40.  I also appreciate the use of bold font to capture important points or terms throughout the book.  Allberry also had some good illustrations to communicate the point he is trying to make.

I recommend Pastors, believers struggling with SSA and all believers to get the book.

Rating: 5 stars of 5.

NOTE: This book is provided to me free by The Good Book Company and Cross-Focused Reviews without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

AUTHOR’S INTERVIEW

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Finally got around to finishing the Unbelievable show on Presuppositional apologetics with the dialogue between Presuppositionalist K. Scott Oliphint and apologist Kurt Jaros.

There’s already a lot of responses from Presuppositionalists to Kurt’s objection so there’s no need for me to beat a dead horse.

Instead I want to give my thoughts concerning Oliphint’s presentation.

Before I do so, I want to say that I am not trying to sound like a Back Row Baptist, or an Armchair Quarterback: You know, the type of guy who turns out to be a pesky, hyper-critical guy who watches a boxing match and have everything bad to say about everyone’s ability and talk all big putting down others yet the same guy couldn’t even fight.  I also realize the limitations of a radio debate that restricted Oliphint: you can’t be in control of the time to unpack everything you want to say, you don’t know and can’t control the host and his desire for the direction of the conversation, etc.  So with that I must begin with my appreciation and admiration of Dr. Oliphint for articulating to a broader audience Presuppositional apologetics (what he prefer to call Covenantal apologetics).  I wish the following would encourage all of us who are Presuppositional (myself included) to better communicate what we believe and our method.

There were times listening to the debate that I felt the two were talking pass each other; other times I felt Oliphint could have pressed Jaros more.  The following are in no particular order:

1.) When Jaros dismissed Oliphint’s Reformed interpretation of Romans 1 (that all unbelievers suppress the truth) it might have been helpful for Oliphint to press Jaros with the question:  “Can you provide an exegetical justification (that is, from the text itself) that ‘only some nonbelievers’ suppress the truth and some non-believers don’t suppress the truth at all?”

2.) It might appear to be rather annoying, but I think there’s a place to respond to the charge that Presuppositionalists are circular with the question “How do you know that?” to any truth claims given by Jaros.  That way you show that eventually one gets to a bed rock point where one says “Just because it’s true,” or something to that effect and show how everyone has axiomatic starting point that control everything else we believe, even if someone else think it’s “circular.”

3.) It might be helpful to ask Jaros how much Presuppositionalists he might have read and more specifically authors and titles.  I wonder if this might explain Jaros’ misrepresentation of Presuppositionalism.

4.) I think Dr. Oliphint could have employed the Presuppositionalists theme of the impossibility of neutrality throughout different points in the conversation to his favor, and in particular why Presuppositionalist begin with the truth of the Christian worldview at the outset of a debate!

5.) There was a moment in the discussion when Jaros mentioned that Presuppositionalists have to “borrow” from the other school of apologetics.  I loved how Jaros used a VanTillian motif against Oliphint!  Oliphint could have turned that around and talked about the very tools other school of apologetics employ such as historical argumentation, application of the laws of logic, etc actually require Christianity to be true in order for them to be intelligible.  Presuppositionalists sees the very methods of proving things are themselves “evidence” for God.  Non-Presuppositionalists then uses the very tools that Presuppositionalists argue transcendentally for God which also makes those tools meaningful and intelligible; thus, if we were to play the “borrowing” game, Non-Presuppositionalists must “borrow” from Presuppositionalism.  Wouldn’t it be nice to call this the Transcendental Argument for Presuppositionalism (TAP)?

6.) Several times Jaros made a point to say that nonbelievers do reason.  Presuppositionalists do believe nonbelievers can reason, but they would contend that nonbelievers can’t account for reason, and the nature of reasoning.  Oliphint could have made the observation of Jaros’ double standard of allowing nonbelievers to just presuppose reasoning “works” within their unbelieving worldview while critical of Presuppositionalists who believe reasoning “works” only within the Christian worldview.

Perhaps Oliphint did those things that I mentioned and I missed it in my listening; or perhaps there were other things that one might add that Oliphint could have done.  Still I’m grateful the debate.

Any thoughts?

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logic poythress

Nearly 20 years ago Vern Poythress wrote an important essay published by the Westminster Theological Journal titled REFORMING ONTOLOGY AND LOGIC IN THE LIGHT OF THE TRINITY: AN APPLICATION OF VAN TIL’S IDEA OF ANALOGY.

This year Crossway published a 700 page book by Poythress on a Christian view of logic!

This past weekend, Poythress has made it available for free on their website.

You can access it as a PDF download by clicking HERE.

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The Man Jesus Christ Bruce Ware

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

Appreciated Bruce Ware’s work which got me thinking about the humanity of Jesus Christ more deeply than before. I have always been more amazed at the deity of Jesus Christ more than His humanity until about a year ago when I started realized how much the book of Hebrews has to say about the implication of Jesus’ humanity. The book is an excellent treatment of the topic. I’m convinced by Ware’s argument in chapter two that much of Jesus’ life and ministry was Christ’s humanity empowered by the Holy Spirit rather than Jesus invoking or utilizing His Divinity. Of course there are exception such as Jesus’ ability to forgive sin, which only God can do. It was moving to read this book and see the humility of Jesus, who though in being very nature God became incarnate as a man and had to increase in wisdom and even grow in his faith just like everybody else. Chapter four powerfully demonstrated that Jesus also needed to grow in His humanity spiritually to be ready to face the cross for our sins. The chapter on Jesus’ temptation was worth buying the book alone: entering into the classic debate about Jesus impeccability, Ware argues that there is a distinction between Jesus “could not sin” versus Jesus “did not sin.” He gives a wonderful illustration of a swimmer who could not drown because his friends were in a boat behind him while the reason why he did not drown was really because he did the work of swimming! The book also had a chapter focusing on why Jesus had to be a man, that is a response to some egalitarians and Evangelical feminists who see Jesus’ masculinity is accidental to Him being the Messiah. Overall, an excellent book to read. I appreciated how each chapter ended with an application section and questions for discussion. I was worshiping God as I read the book!

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Saved without a Doubt

 Purchase: Amazon

I appreciated this book by John MacArthur on the topic of the Christian assurance of salvation. This book is biblical, pastoral and practical; it will certainly help the believer understand the Gospel better and applying it to the subject of assurance. The book is divided into three parts: After establishing the biblical warrant for the Reformed doctrine of the perseverance of the Saints, part two feature 11 tests on whether or not one is a believer according to 1 John followed by part three that ties the loose ends: Dealing with doubt, adding virtue which thereby adds more assurance of one’s salvation and biblical encouragement to persevere. I particularly enjoy chapter 7, “Adding Virtue upon Virtue” which is an exposition of 2 Peter 1, with MacArthur’s insight into the Greek terms and what it means. MacArthur does a masterful job of encouraging the believer with the reality of what God has done and promise to do. I recommend it to every believer whether they are struggling with whether or saved or whether they are already assured.

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This is a good list of free Creationist books online!

Scripture Thoughts

Following up on recent posts, here are links to several good online books concerning creation:

Available in PDF Format:

Creationism.org has a Books Section page with links to many books of varying lengths and topics.  From this list I recognize one book I bought around 1990 (It’s a Young World After All), and their link to the online text “After the Flood” (see my recent review).  The titles include some from the early 2000s back to the 1980s, as well as earlier 20th century and earlier public domain books.  Especially interesting titles here include the classic “The Biblical Flood and the Ice Epoch (1966)” by Donald W. Patten. and “In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood…

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religious neutrality

Religious Neutrality Defined: The idea that man can be without any beliefs or views that is for or against God, the Bible, etc.

Objective: We must realize that in regards to ‘facts’ and everywhere and everything that man approaches, he/she can not approach it without presuppositions or with a neutrality towards God.

CHRARACTERISTICS OF RELIGIOUS NEUTRALITY

There are traits and attitudes that have come up in regards to defending religious neutrality that encompasses one or more of these points:

(A) People might ask, “Do you really have to bring up the Bible when we are dealing with Geography[1], Psychology[2], Mathematics[3], Economics[4] or man’s relationship to the Earth[5]?”

 (B) There are people who appear to be sincerely ‘neutral’ towards the surrounding issues concerning God. Doesn’t this show that one can be religiously neutral? (See Romans 1:18-22)

 (C) God is not relevant at all in the Sphere of X and/or Y. (See below on Creation)

 (D) I am not taking any sides for or against a religion.

  1. THE BIBLE DOES NOT ALLOW FOR IT
    1. CREATION
      1. Everything in this world belongs to God
      2. “If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, [a] you are there.” (Psalms 139:8)
      3. “The LORD has established his throne in heaven,
      4.        and his kingdom rules over all.” (Psalms 103:19)
      5. SEE ALSO Psalms 19:1-4 and 1 Chronicles 29:11
    2. GOD AND CHRIST THE SOURCE OF WISDOM & KNOWLEDGE
      1. Christ the source of Wisdom and Knowledge: “Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.  I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.” (Col. 2:3-4)
      2. God the Source of Wisdom: “5If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5)
  2. THE EXCLUSIVENESS OF CHRISTIANITY
    1. “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
    2. “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.” (Matthew 12:30)
  3. NEUTRALITY IS UNETHICAL IN A CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW
    1. MAN’S PURPOSE IS TO GLORIFY GOD IN EVERYTHING:
      1. “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Col. 3:17)
      2. “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Chorinthians 10:31)
    2. MAN MUST SUBMIT TO WHAT GOD SAYS
      1. If not, then he is in rebellion against God and not submitting to Him.  He is therefore not neutral.
  4. RELIGIOUS NEUTRALITY IS PHILOSOPHICALLY IMPOSSIBLE ITSELF
    1. MAN CAN NOT BE PRESUPPOSITION FREE
      1. Those Premises and Propositions acknowledge Christianity or not.
      2. Sometimes it can be beliefs that we are not always conscious of.
    2. NEUTRALITY IS ANTI-THEISTIC
      1. When someone say He is neutral towards God’s existence or Christianity, he himself has anti-theistic or non-Christian assumption. It is not neutral.
      2. ANALOGY: When someone says they are neutral towards the Holocaust and when some Runaway Jews beg you for cover, your ‘neutrality’ position towards the Holocaust and non-action is still a position and action against the runaway Jews.
    3. NEUTRALITY ITSELF IS NOT NEUTRAL
      1. To argue for neutrality, is to argue for a position, and the more evidence and arguments you marshal, the more it is evident that Neutrality itself is a position.
      2. Yet, the very point of neutrality is no longer neutral.  It is something that is now debated and to assume it would be begging the question.

[1] See the article “Impossible Neutrality: An Analogy from Humanistic Geography” in Reformed Perspective Magazine at http://thirdmill.org/articles/jim_li/jim_li.impossibleneutrality.html.

[2] I recommend any book on this topic by Jay Adams.

[3] Poythress, Vern. “A Biblical View of Mathematics” in Foundation of Christian Scholarship: Essays in the Van Til Perspective. California: Ross House Books, 1979: Pages 159-188.

[4] North, Gary and DeMar, Gary.  Christian Reconstruction: What It is, What It Isn’t  Texas: Institute for Christian Economics, 1991

[5] Schaeffer, Francis A. Pollution and the Death of Man: The Christian View of Ecology. Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, 1970

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