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Archive for the ‘Apologetics’ Category

shoot-yourself-in-the-head

I know it has been over a week since Twitter exploded with Hindus going against Christians praying evangelistically for Nepal in light of the recent earthquake.  They have been going around labeling Christians with the hashtags “#Soulvultures.”  I can’t help but to notice how some of the Hindus Twitter arguments against Christianity are self-refuting; that is, they come up with arguments that go against Hinduism itself.  It’s like they are bringing a revolver to a gunfight; only that it’s a revolver that aims at their own head.  I’m doing them a favor by telling them not to use it.

An example of such arguments is when a Hindu gives a “Where was Jesus (or God)” form of argument.  Note this Tweet from a self-professed Krishna lover from Thiruchirapalli, India:

look at how these r Ridiculing Nepal Quake!Where was Jesus during Sandy?!

Of course the reference to Sandy is Hurricane Sandy.  Here’s another example of another Tweet from a Hindu from Bangalore:

wherewas their Jesus hiding when such earthquake struck in South America? Indonesia? In a bunker? Morons

And a final example:

Where was Jesus, what he was doing when Haiti Earthquake happened? Ohh i just forget they practice Voodoo not Christianity. Fair!

I mentioned the above (all can be googled) to show that I’m not making it up, but the “Where was Jesus” argument was continuously thrown at us on Twitter during the week of Hindu harassment.  Unfortunately, Twitter with their word limitation does limit a full meaningful response especially if one wants to move beyond soundbites.  Hence, I am writing out my observation here as a post.  Readers must remember to read this post as a sort of “internal critique” in which I am applying back the Hindus’ own rhethoric and religious doctrines to themselves.

1.) It is fascinating to wonder if any of the Hindus realized that the same “Where was Jesus” argument can be turned around back to the myriads of gods and goddesses of Hinduism.  It doesn’t take a Christian to make this observation; even an honest Hindu should see that this form of argument can be applied to Hinduism.  Where was the Hindu deity Krishna?  Vishnu?  Etc.

2.) For a Hindu who uses this type of argument the question of where were the Hindu gods is even more relevant in light of the fact that Hindus on Twitter kept on referring to Nepal as “Hindu land.”  Where are the Hindu gods and goddesses in their own self-professing Hindu land?

3.) One approach of getting the Hindus gods and goddesses “off the hook” can be gleam from exploring Hinduism’s view on suffering and Karma.  But I think this creates more problems than it solved for those who are going to condemn Christians as #Soulvultures.  Over at Patheos religion library on Hinduism there is a page on suffering and the problem of evil.  The following excerpt is relevant to my observation:

The key to understanding the existence of suffering and evil in Hinduism is the central concept of karma. Karma is at once the simplest of concepts and the most complex. The word itself simply means “action,” and originally referred to the sacrificial action that was at the center of the Vedic world. Karma gradually took on the meaning of both action and the effect of action.

According to this worldview, there is no such thing as evil. There are “bad” people, who are bad because they have done or continue to do bad things; bad events happen as a result of karma as well

(Source)

Note what I have in bold.  How can a Hindus whine on Twitter against Christians who pray evangelistically because a Christian believes there is a need to share the Gospel of grace of Jesus Christ to sinners when a Hindu himself understand that bad things such as the earthquake is the result of the earthquake victim’s own karma?

4.) The same source also goes on to tell us the following:

here is another way of understanding things that might appear evil that focuses not on humans but on the gods. Sometimes things happen that do not seem to be the result of any karmic activity: earthquakes, say, or tsunamis, or droughts. One way to understand such events, which of course can be quite catastrophic, is that they are the result of the play of the gods, or lila. Although the gods’ lila can be a profoundly positive source, such as the “play” of Krishna with which he combats demons, it can also be negative in the human realm. Ultimately, such divine play is mysterious. Humans cannot possibly understand why the gods do what they do, why they allow bad things to happen to good people. It is simply lila, mysterious.

(Source)

So the Earthquake might have happened as a result of the gods playing?

5.) In light of observation point number 4, we also note that Hindus appeal to mystery as to why some natural disasters happen.  This therefore is a self-defeater to the Hindu who object to the Christian’s appeal to mystery with the problem of suffering.

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dictionary apologetics

I am in the middle of John Frame’s latest book Selected Shorter Writings Volume Two.  I have benefited immensly from Dr. Frame’s insight especially in the area of apologetics and theology.  I think he’s able to apply Cornelius Van Til’s insight more broader than Van Til was able during his lifetime.  Lord willing I would be able to finish the book sometime next week and have a review up on here.  In the chapter on the problem of evil Frame said something that I found helpful.  Speaking of God, John Frame said

(more…)

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2015 Nabeel Debate Ally

Those of you who have visited our blogs in the past will not be strangers to Nabeel Qureshi.  He now works with Ravi Zacharias’ ministry.  It was a pleasure to read that he has finished his MD, have gone on to complete two master’s degree in religion and apologetics respectively and is currently working on a PhD in New Testament.  On April 8, 2015 at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, Nabeel Qureshi and Imam Dr. Shabir Ally debated the question, “What Is God Really Like: Tawhid or Trinity?”

Here is the three hours moderated debate:

Enjoy!

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Abner Chou

Pay attention to the name Abner Chou as I believe he will be more well known in the larger Evangelical world of Scholarship in the next few years.

Abner Chou is Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies at The Master’s College and Seminary. From what I understand he turned down his college acceptance to Princeton or some other Ivy League School to attend the Master’s College.  After the Master’s College he went on to the Master’s Seminary where he completed M.Div., Th.M., and Th.D.  This year he was a speaker for the Truth and Life Conference and was a seminar speaker for the Inerrancy Summit.  He is currently working on an exegetical commentary on the book of Lamentation for Logos’ Evangelical Exegetical Commentary.

Dr. Chou recently spoke at the Seminary’s Chapel from Acts 17 on the subject of the need for Christian Intellectual Engagement.

I’ve halfway through the video.  What is your thoughts on the message?

 

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Sproul Theology

Introduction

I was unable to attend RC Sproul’s session at the Inerrancy Summit.  After Sproul’s message there were several guys at the Conference that asked me what I thought about Sproul’s swipe against Presuppositional apologetics.

I finally got to see the video and if you want to see it yourself the video is below:

I thought it was ironic that Sproul spoke out against Presuppositional apologetics at the Inerrancy Summit in which many of the other speakers and audience subscribe to Presuppositionalism.

In what follows I can only give a quick response to Sproul’s objection found within the first eight minutes.  However, I think the brief summary written here does pose serious challenges to Sproul’s objections to Presuppositionalism.

 

Issue #1: Did Sproul accurately represent Presuppositional apologetics’ argument?

Sproul’s discussion of Presuppositionalism first identified two proponents of Presuppositionalism: Gordon Clark and Cornelius Van Til.  Keep this in mind as we want to see his description and criticism of Presuppositional apologetics being relevant to these two men rather than some random Internet keyboard warrior.

Sproul goes on to level his first charge against Presuppositional apologetics by giving what he claimed was the Presuppositionalist’s argument:

 

P1: The Bible is the Word of God

P2: The Bible claims to be the Word of God.

Conclusion: The Bible is the Word of God.

 

Then Sproul charged Presuppositionalists for being circular on the basis that the above is the Presuppositionalists argument.  However, did Gordon Clark and Van Til argue in this way?

Clark definitely wouldn’t have presented the above argument.  That’s because Clark’s apologetics is more axiomatic in his approach.  Note Clark stated “Our axiom shall be, God has spoken. More completely, God has spoken in the Bible. More precisely, what the Bible says, God has spoken.”[1]  In the same essay Clark also clarified how “axioms” cannot be proven: “But the axioms are never deduced. They are assumed without proof.”[2]  If something cannot be proven than by definition it can’t be “argued” for (moving from one premise to another), since it is merely assumed.  And assuming something is different than arguing for something.

If Sproul is talking about Van Til’s approach here it seems that Van Til is actually more complex than presented.  The closest I can see Van Til saying something approximating with what Sproul claim of how Presuppositionalist argues is with the following quote below:

To admit one’s own presuppositions and to point out the presuppositions of others is therefore to maintain that all reasoning is, in the nature of the case, circular reasoning. The starting-point, the method, and the conclusion are always involved in one another.”[3]

While admitting the role of presuppositions and worldviews makes things “circular” in one’s reasoning as in the sense of it being in one’ system of beliefs, Van Til elsewhere has also shared the kind of argumentation needed to get around this potential impasse:

The Christian apologist must place himself upon the position of his opponent, assuming the correctness of his method merely for argument’s sake, in order to show him that on such a position the “facts” are not facts and the “laws” are not laws. He must also ask the non-Christian to place himself upon the Christian position for argument’s sake in order that he may be shown that only upon such a basis do “facts” and “laws” appear intelligible.[4]

Note here that Van Til’s argument is not merely providing “The Bible claims to be the Word of God” as a second premise.  There is a lot more going on here.

 

Issue #2: Circular reasoning

We have noted above that Sproul did not do the best job representing the argument of the Presuppositionalist.  With this straw man argument Sproul also fault the Presuppositional apologist for committing circular reasoning.  Sproul notes that the Presuppositionalists are not bothered with this since they say all reasoning are circular.  He counters this by asserting “Circular reasoning invalidate any argument.” But if circular reasoning invalidate any argument, can Sproul give further argumentation proving that this is true?  And after he provides this argument can Sproul also provide additional supporting arguments which in turn be supported with additional round of arguments, etc?  If one truly believes circular reasoning invalidates every argument then Sproul would need to ground every premise with an argument to be rational and here Sproul would be caught in an infinite regress.  I would also encourage the readers to read this article that further address the issue: Is Circular Reasoning Always Fallacious?

 

Issue #3: Presuppositionalists commit a fallacy of equivocation?

Sproul also fault Presuppositionalists who argues “All arguments are circular” as commiting the fallacy of equivocation in that they change the definition of circularity within the discussion.  Sproul’s assertion raises several questions: Where did the Presuppositionalists changed the definition of circularity during the discussion?  If there is equivocation going on, what are the multiple different meanings of circularity being used by the Presuppositionalists?  Sproul is obligated to demonstrate that there really is the fallacy of equivocation being committed and not merely assert it.

Those who are more familiar with Presuppositional apologetics will note that Van Til does talk about vicious circularity and broader circularity but the Presuppositionalists are not using those two terms equivocally since they are not switch-referencing the term “circularity.”  Note also as well that just because Presuppositionalists sees different kinds of circularity that does not mean that the meaning of circuliarity itself is being changed.  Rather the distinction between vicious and non-vicious circularity are seen by presuppositionalists as two different subset of circularity BUT NOT as two different meanings of circularity.  I must note the obviously: Presuppositionalists wouldn’t want to equivocate the two kinds of circularity anyways lest they want to make all circularity equally fallacious (Sproul’s view, and a view which he acknoweldge is not that of the Presuppositionalists) or equally virtuous (which would make the endeavor of apologetics pointless if every circular argument is right).  Sproul’s charge of an equivocation fallacy is unfounded.

 

Issue #4: What about other religious Scriptures?

According to Sproul anyone could make such claim that their book is the book of God such as the Book of Mormon and the Quran.  He seems to be bringing this objection as a defeater to the Presuppositionalist’s commitment to the Bible as the Word of God in their apologetics.  This is where Sproul’s misrepresentation of the way Presuppositionalists argues brings obstacles to the discussion rather than help it.  If Presuppositionalists merely claim that the Bible claim to be the Word of God and therefore it is, then the defeaters with the example of other religious scripture might work.  However, the Presuppositionalists view of Clark and Van Til include the element of examining the other worldview and demonstrating how they are internally problematic.  In fact, one can adequately counter both Mormonism and Islam within a Presuppositionalists’ framework.  For an example on Mormonism see my review of Presuppositional Apologetics Examines Mormonism: How Van Til’s Apologetic Refutes Mormon Theology by Mike Robinson.  Concerning Islam see my outline WITNESSING TO MUSLIMS: THE QURANIC VIEW OF THE BIBLE.

 

Issue #5: What does Sproul believe is self-evidencing?

I want to turn the tables around.  As a presuppositionalist I am aware that everybody presupposes something in their belief system that is so foundational it is taken as self-evidencing.  Of course people disagree with what truths are self-evidencing.  Sproul hinted at what he thinks is self-evidencing:

“Obviously if it were God speaking and we heard his voice directly from his lips we won’t have to construct to have an argument to defend his infallibility or his inerrancy because we know that God is incapable of deceit and lying.”

Apparently sensation of the supernatural physically taken place is self-evidencing enough in Sproul’s view to establish that God did speak and that God is incapable of deceit and lies.  “Obviously.”  That’s Sproul’s own words.  Sproul brings this up in juxtaposition to his objection to the Presuppositionalists view that the Bible’s claim for itself is sufficiently self-evidencing.  So we see here that on the one hand the supernatural hearing of God speaking audibly is obviously self-evidencingly while the Bible claims as God’s Word is not as obviously self-evidencing.  Does the Scripture support Sproul’s perspective?

Jesus in Luke 16:31 tells a story in which Abraham tells someone how to weigh the evidential value between the miraculous with the Scriptures: “‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’”

[1] See more at: http://trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=50#sthash.73rgGFRo.dpuf

[2] Ibid.

[3]  Cornelius Van Til, Apologetics, Chapter 4.

[4] Van Til, Defense of the Faith, Third Edition, 100-101.

 

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10940617_643607402411245_2571388195284345912_n

These are links concerning Presuppositional apologetics gathered between February 8th-14th, 2015.

1.) Do You Believe? Powerful Evidence for the Claims of Jesus Christ

2.) Twenty Ways to Answer A Fool [12]

3.) How Do You Know the Scriptures are from God? One Testimony in the Early Church

4.) Collective Ethics – Morality by Consensus

5.) Speaking Assumes Morality

6.) Debating Dillahunty

7.) NO ONE IN HELL WILL REPENT

Missed the last round up?  Check out the re-blogged post from a friend

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james white south africa debate

Did the Earliest Followers of Jesus Believe in His Deity?  Christian apologist James White debates Muslim apologist Shabir Ally concerning this question at University of Pretoria, South Africa.  The debate took place on October 8, 2013 but has just been loaded up online two days ago.

Enjoy!

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