Apologetics seldom works

This is a post that has some good tips on the limitation of apologetics. I can identity with many of the authors points- especially #4!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Make sure you read the entire post. Don’t judge it by the title. And please note the author is not speaking against apologetics.

Apologetics seldom works.

Notice that I italicized the word “works”. What I mean by “works” is that the answers given do not always eventually lead that person to faith in Jesus. Why? Because of the effects of sin on the unbelieving mind. Consider,

“. . . the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:7b-8 NASB)

But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14 NKJV)

For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” (Romans 1:21 NASB)

To read on, click here:

Why The Church Needs Apologetics: A Look at Critics, Seekers, and Doubters



Over the years I have spoken to several people from a variety of backgrounds about the Christian faith. When we started a Ratio Christi apologetics chapter on The Ohio State University in the Fall of 2009, I had been talking to college students about spiritual beliefs for several years. It was during my experience while doing campus outreach that I began to see the need for a stronger apologetics presence on the college campuses. Also, it should be noted that it was a debate between William Lane Craig and skeptic Robert Price in 1998 that really got me interested in apologetics.

Anyway, over the years I have taught classes, given sermons and written articles about the need for apologetics in the Church. Therefore, myself (along with other Christians who are passionate about apologetics), generally have to take some flack about apologetics. Even though apologetics is seen throughout the Bible, we are sometimes seen as exalting reason to a place that was never intended or we assume apologetics is the sole catalyst as someone’s conversion. I bring this all up because I am presently enjoying reading Introducing Apologetics: Cultivating Christian Commitment by James Taylor. Taylor lists three kinds of people who we will encounter when doing evangelism. If anything, if we do evangelism and encounter people in these categories, we should see why we need apologetics in the Church. Taylor says when dealing with people, many people may fall into various categories such as:

1. Critics: those with criticisms of the Christian faith who are not open to the possibility of its truth. Critics need to be answered to neutralize the effects of their criticisms on seekers and doubters.


2. Seekers: people who are open to our faith but are prevented from making a commitment primarily because of honest questions about the Christian claims.


3. Doubters: are Christians who find it difficult to believe one or more tenants of the Christian faith with complete confidence. Doubters need to be restored to full Christian conviction by giving them the tools to remove their doubts.

In own experience, I run into a lot of #1′s. Many of these people read a lot of the skeptic literature online or have decided to be a disciple of Richard Dawkins, Richard Carrier, or some other famous atheist. Or, they may say they used to be a Christian or a former Christian apologist and they now have a life calling to tell the entire world how bad Christianity is for the world. Now I don’t have the time to go into the complexities of why these people got to where they are. But my point is that there are a lot of critics and it is these critics that tend to be quite evangelistic.

I also see #2′s and maybe some #3′s. I have seen people who are truly open to the claims of the Christian faith but need some of their questions answered. There are testimonies of people that have come to Christ through apologetic works. Lee Strobel, William Lane Craig and other apologist can testify of many, many, people who have been impacted by their apologetic contributions.

As far as doubters, I am convinced there are doubters all over the Church. But since the Church is not equipped to handle many forms of doubt (whether it be factual, emotional, or psychological), Christians can end up suppressing their doubts or questions. This is unhealthy and can thwart a full commitment to the Christian faith. If anything, some basics of apologetics could help these people. I have run into several college students that had doubts all throughout their youth but never got a handle on it before college. This is one reason why they tend to become agnostics or atheists during their college experience.

What’s the Point?

The reality is that if any Christian wants do obey the commands of Jesus and make disciples (Matt. 28:19), they will encounter critics, seekers, and doubters. But my question is how can we expect any Christian to be prepared to engage critics, seekers, and doubters without some basic apologetic training? If this stirs your heart, then I suggest trying to start an apologetics ministry in your church. To see how you might go about it, see the clip here with William Lane Craig. God Bless!

Paul and Creation

The skeptical issue in our culture mostly enters into the religious dialogue in the following way: “In the case of God, who isn’t some physical object but a divine being, what kind of evidence should we expect to find? There is a tendency to forget that the Bible stresses that sin can dampen the the cognitive faculties that God has given us to find Him. Therefore, sin has damaging consequences on the knowing process (Is. 6:9-10; Zech. 7:11-12; Matt. 13:10-13). Christianity, Judaism, Islam, are all theistic faiths in contrast to pantheism (all is God), polytheism (many gods), and atheism (without God). In a classical apologetic argument, the cosmological (including both the horizontal and vertical cosmological argument) point to the theistic God of the Bible. Therefore, the God of the Bible is capable of giving a revelation to mankind through a specific medium. One of the most important themes of the Bible is that since God is free and personal, that he acts on behalf of those whom he loves, and that his actions includes already within history, a partial disclosure of his nature, attributes, and intensions. (1)

While God predominately revealed Himself to the Jewish people through specific actions in the course of human history, the Jewish people agree that the Torah was the pivotal moment of God’s supreme revelation to them. But what about the Gentile nations? After all, it is Israel that was given the Torah. The good news is God has also taken the initiative to reveal Himself to Gentiles through general or natural revelation. In the case of God, who isn’t some physical object but a divine, invisible being, we have to use induction. Induction is the method of drawing general conclusions from specific observations. For example, since we can’t observe gravity directly, we only observe its effects.

Romans 1:18-21

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known of God is revealed in them, for God revealed it to them. For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse. Because, knowing God, they didn’t glorify him as God, neither gave thanks, but became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless heart was darkened.” (Rom.1:18-21) In this passage, God’s knowledge is described as “eternal power and divine nature.” Paul lays out the basic principle of cause and effect. Paul says since God is the Designer (God is the cause), His “everlasting power and divinity” are obvious, “through the things that are made” (this is the effect).

Romans Ch1:18: The word “suppress,” means “to consciously dismiss in the mind,”to “hold down”, or to “hold back by force or to dismiss.” However, that which is “suppressed” is not destroyed. As much as humans try to suppress the truth of God’s existence, the human mind is still aware of their moral accountability to Him. In relation to this passage, Paul says God’s revelation says is not hidden or concealed. The reason this revelation is clear is because God shows it to him.

In other words, God makes knowledge of Himself available to man! The creation gives a cognitive knowledge of God’s existence but not saving knowledge. However, according to Romans 1:18-21, man is not left in ignorance about God.

Theologians, philosophers, and apologists have made significant comments in relation to Romans 1:18-21. Here are a few of them:

The revelation of God in nature is mediate, but it is so manifest and so clear that it does not necessitate a complex theoretical reasoning process that could be achieved only by a group of geniuses. If God’s general revelation is in fact “general,” in that it is plain enough for all to see clearly without complicated cosmological argumentation, then it may even be said to be self evident. The revelation is clear enough for an unskilled and illiterate person to perceive it. The memory of conscious knowledge of the trauma encounter with God’s revelation is not maintained in its lucid, threatening state, but is repressed. It is “put down or held in captivity” in the unconsciousness. That which is repressed is not destroyed. The memory remains though it may be buried in the subconscious realm. Knowledge of God is unacceptable, and as a result humans attempt to blot it out or at least camouflage it in such a way that its threatening character can be concealed or dulled. (Sproul, R.C, Gerstner, John and Arthur Lindsey. Classical Apologetics: A Rational Defense of the Christian Faith and a Critique of Presuppositional Apologetics. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing.1984, 46-59).

Former atheist J. Budziszewski:

I am not at present concerned to explore Paul’s general claim that those who deny the Creator are wicked but only his more particular claim that they are intellectually dishonest. Notice that he does not criticize nonbelievers because they do not know about God but ought to. Rather, he criticizes them because they do know about God but pretend to themselves that they don’t. According to his account, we are not ignorant of God’s reality at all. Rather, we “suppress” it; to translate differently, we “hold it down.” With all our strength we try not to know it, even though we can’t help knowing it; with one part of our minds we do know it, while with another we say, “I know no such thing.” From the biblical point of view, then, the reason it is so difficult to argue with an atheist—as I once was—is that he is not being honest with himself. He knows there is a God, but he tells himself that he doesn’t. How can a person explain how he reached new first principles? By what route could he have arrived at them? To what deeper considerations could he have appealed? If the biblical account is true, then it would seem that no one really arrives at new first principles; a person only seems to arrive at them. The atheist does not lack true first principles; they are in his knowledge already, though suppressed. The convert from atheism did not acquire them; rather, things he knew all along were unearthed. ( Geisler, N. L. and Paul K. Hoffman. Why I Am A Christian. Leading Thinkers Explain Why They Believe. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House. 2001, 49).

Alvin Plantinga

 Our original knowledge of God and his glory is muffled and impaired; it has been replaced (by virtue of sin) by stupidity, dullness, blindness, inability to perceive God or to perceive him in his handiwork. Our knowledge of his character and his love toward us can be smothered: it can be transformed into resentful thought that God is to be feared and mistrusted; we may see him as indifferent or even malignant. In the traditional taxonomy of seven deadly sins, this is sloth. Sloth is not simple laziness, like the inclination to lie down and watch television rather than go out and get exercise you need; it is, instead, a kind of spiritual deadness, blindness, imperceptiveness, acedia, torpor, a failure to be aware of God’s presence, love, requirements. (Plantinga, A. Warranted Christian Belief. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. 2000, 214-215).

1. Dulles, A.J. Models Of Revelation. Garden City, N.Y: Doubleday & Company, Inc. 1983, 13

A Look at John Piper’s View of Israel and How a Christian Should View the Israel/Palestinian Crisis


At the present time, there are hundreds of debates and ongoing discussions about the ongoing war in Israel. I grew up in a large Jewish community here in Columbus, Ohio. The mainline demolition that I was birthed in sat between two Orthodox Jewish synagogues. I attended countless Jewish holiday events, weddings, and numerous Bar Mitzvahs. My daily exposure to Jewish culture continued throughout my youth and into my college years At age 24, I had never before met Jewish people who believed in Jesus. I was invited by a friend to a messianic congregation led by a Jewish believer. For the first time, I heard the powerful and convicting message of salvation taught from the Book of Matthew. So here I was as a nominal Christian hearing the Gospel from a Jewish person who believed Jesus was the Messiah. I have also been in Jewish missions for a number of years. Since then I have done my best to educate myself as much as I can on the topic of Israel. I don’t claim to be an expert on the topic. Let’s start with a few issues:

#1: Christians Need to Know the History of the Conflict

Christians (and for that matter anyone else) are not supposed to be ignorant. You can watch Dennis Prager’s overview here. 

#2: What About Christian Zionists?

As Michael Rydlenick points out, there are three serious misconceptions about Zionism. He says:

First, it is erroneously alleged that Zionism is a colonial movement and not a national one. Zionism was never about colonizing. Colonialism refers to the oppression and exploitation of an indigenous population. Zionism is primarily a national liberation movement that contends that Jewish people, like any other people of any other nation are entitled to a homeland. As second misconception is that Zionism is imperialistic and seeks to conquer Arab territory. If that were true, the people would have never returned the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt in exchange for peace in 1979, or offered the return of the Golan Heights to Syria in exchange for a full peace agreement. A third error about Zionism is that it is racist and hateful of Arabs. The United Nations, led by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the Arab states, passed a resolution in 1975 (repealed in 1991) claiming Zionism is “a form of racism and racial discrimination.” Israel’s democracy society is evident in its one million Arab citizens who have more freedom than Arabs in any other Arab country. The Zionist state of Israel has been scrupulous in protecting the religious, civil, and political rights of all Christians and Muslims in the state. To identify Jewish self-determination exclusively as racist is in reality really anti-Semitic. American civil rights attorney Alan Dershowitz rebuked those in the international community who have termed Zionism racist, arguing “A world that closed doors to Jews who sought escape from Hitler’s ovens lacks moral standing to complain about Israel’s giving preference to Jews.-Understanding the Israel- Arab Conflict: What The Headlines Haven’t Told You, pgs 62-63.

#3: John Piper

Recently, the Gospel Coalition had this article called on their site. In the article, it says:

Ten years ago John Piper, then pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, delivered a sermon from Romans 11:25–32 titled “Israel, Palestine, and the Middle East.” In it, he offered seven principles concerning the ever-contentious issue of “the Land”:

I will go ahead and give my thoughts on each of these points. Piper says:

1. God chose Israel from all the peoples of the world to be his own possession.

Response: I agree

2. The Land was part of the inheritance he promised to Abraham and his descendants forever.

Response: I agree

3. The promises made to Abraham, including the promise of the Land, will be inherited as an everlasting gift only by true, spiritual Israel, not disobedient, unbelieving Israel.

Response: I agree but that still doesn’t nullify the covenant. Hence, if most of Israel is in unbelief right now, that doesn’t mean they have no right to have no divine right to the land. I expand on this more as we read on.

4. Jesus Christ has come into the world as the Jewish Messiah, and his own people rejected him and broke covenant with their God.

Response: When Piper says his own people rejected him, this is quite vague.

He doesn’t really go into any detail about any of the covenants as he does in other points here. It is true that not all of Israel believed. There was a remnant who believed. One passage (even though Piper doesn’t mention it) that is misunderstood is the following:

“Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits”-Matthew 21:43. Some have said that this teaches God divorced and judged unfaithful Israel (who had murdered the Messiah) and married a faithful bride: His Church. However, a more careful reading shows that the “you” of Matt 21:43 is identified in Matt 21:45 not as Israel or the Jewish people but as ‘the chief priests and the Pharisees,”—the temple authorities who confronted Jesus in Matt 21:23-27. The “people” referred to in Matt 21:43 is not the church in contrast to to the Jewish people, but the new leadership group that will replace the old.

Furthermore, Craig Keener notes that “nation” here probably recalls Ex 19:6 and strict Jewish groups that characterized themselves as “righteous remnants” within Israel (e.g.,Qumran) could also view themselves as heirs of the biblical covenant community. In this period “ethnos” applies to guilds, associations, social classes or other groups or even orders of priests: urban Greeks used the term for rural Greeks, the LXX for Gentiles, and Greeks for non Greeks. Matthew implies not rejection of Israel but of dependence on any specific group membership, be it synagogue or church (The Gospel f Matthew: A Social Rhetorical Commentary), pgs,515, 516.

Also, in Rom. 9:1-5: Paul wishes he was cut off or accursed from the Messiah so that his countrymen would know the Messiah. Paul explicitly affirms that the “covenants,” “temple service,” and “promises” still belong to Israel. This is in the present tense.

Also, despite Israel’s unbelief in Jesus, “God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew” (Romans 11:2). Israel remains God’s beloved chosen people “on account of the patriarchs” (Rom. 11:28). Paul also says God’s gifts and callings to Israel are irrevocable (Rom 11:29). Also, in Romans 11, the“riches” Gentiles are experiencing now during the state of Israel’s “stumbling” will escalate with the “full number” of national Israel’s salvation (see Rom. 11:26). The 10 references to “Israel” in Romans 9-11 refer to ethnic/national Israel so the Israel who will be saved in Rom 11:26 must refer to ethnic/national Israel. Israel will experience a national restoration and salvation at some point in the future.There is no reason to think that “Israel” in Rom 9-11 is referring to “spiritual Israel” which is composed of Jews and Gentiles. The Church today is composed on believing Jews and believing Gentiles. Also, there is no use of “Israel” in the Gospels/Acts which does not refer to the Jewish people/nation, the Israel of the Jewish Scriptures. Israel will be grafted back in when the fullness of the Gentiles leads it to respond (Rom 11:11-12; 15, 30-32). Finally, as a Calvinist, does Piper think God can divorce Israel but not divorce his own children?  It seems inconsistent.

4. Therefore, the secular state of Israel today may not claim a present divine right to the Land, but they and we should seek a peaceful settlement not based on present divine rights, but on international principles of justice, mercy, and practical feasibility.

Response: Whether Piper sees Israel as having divine right to the land will depend on his exegesis. Obviously, there are good Christians who disagree here. Exegetically speaking, I do think Israel has a divine right to the land. If you want, see this series of lectures with Craig Evans, Darrell Bock and others about the land and Israel. In the end, I am not opposed to a two state solution. But as long as Hamas is in the picture, that seems like an impossibility.

5. By faith in Jesus Christ, the Jewish Messiah, Gentiles become heirs of the promise of Abraham, including the promise of the Land.

Response: Once again, this is an exegetical issue. I don’t see any basis that within the Abrahamic Covenant, Gentiles receive the material blessings. Gentiles certainly receive spiritual blessings, and ultimately these were fulfilled though the one specific “seed” of Abraham—the Messiah.

7. Finally, this inheritance of Christ’s people will happen at the Second Coming of Christ to establish his kingdom, not before; and till then, we Christians must not take up arms to claim our inheritance; but rather lay down our lives to share our inheritance with as many as we can.

Response: Overall, I have no disagreement here.

#3: What is the solution to the conflict in Israel? Blessed are the Shalom Makers!

As a follower of Jesus, I would hope that no matter if you are a Zionist or a zealous pro Palestinian Christian (e.g., the Gary Burge crowd), you know the only hope for this situation is the Prince of Peace. I think this an excellent paper on the issue of biblical reconciliation. It is called PROCLAIMING THE PRINCE OF PEACE:MISSIOLOGICAL IMPLICATIONS OF BIBLICAL RECONCILIATION by GALEN PETERSON. Here is an excerpt:

One of the names given to the Messiah prophetically in Isaiah 9:6 (MT 9:5) is “Prince of Peace.” The term affixes purpose regarding peace to the ministry of the Messiah and through His authority (John 4:34; 17:4; Rom 5:1). Jesus declared that the manner in which hebrings peace is distinct from that of humanity, saying in John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you; Mypeace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.” It follows that all aspects related to peace will be shaped by this distinction. This paper seeks to establish the parameters associated with one peace-related dichotomy, namely that of reconciliation, and will show that reconciliation exists both as the world gives and as given by Jesus, and has relevance in the Holy Land.

To read on, see here:

Christians can go back and forth on this. But please remember we are called to Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem (Ps. 122:6).


Blinded by Scientism by Edward Feser

This is a two part article written by Edward Feser for Public Discourse

By Edward Feser

The problem with scientism is that it is either self-defeating or trivially true. F.A. Hayek helps us to see why. The first article in a two-part series.

Scientism is the view that all real knowledge is scientific knowledge—that there is no rational, objective form of inquiry that is not a branch of science. There is at least a whiff of scientism in the thinking of those who dismiss ethical objections to cloning or embryonic stem cell research as inherently “anti-science.” There is considerably more than a whiff of it in the work of New Atheist writers like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, who allege that because religion has no scientific foundation (or so they claim) it “therefore” has no rational foundation at all. It is evident even in secular conservative writers like John Derbyshire and Heather MacDonald, whose criticisms of their religious fellow right-wingers are only slightly less condescending than those of Dawkins and co. Indeed, the culture at large seems beholden to an inchoate scientism—“faith” is often pitted against “science” (even by those friendly to the former) as if “science” were synonymous with “reason.”

Despite its adherents’ pose of rationality, scientism has a serious problem: it is either self-refuting or trivial. Take the first horn of this dilemma. The claim that scientism is true is not itself a scientific claim, not something that can be established using scientific methods. Indeed, that science is even a rational form of inquiry (let alone the only rational form of inquiry) is not something that can be established scientifically. For scientific inquiry itself rests on a number of philosophical assumptions: that there is an objective world external to the minds of scientists; that this world is governed by causal regularities; that the human intellect can uncover and accurately describe these regularities; and so forth. Since science presupposes these things, it cannot attempt to justify them without arguing in a circle. And if it cannot even establish that it is a reliable form of inquiry, it can hardly establish that it is the only reliable form. Both tasks would require “getting outside” science altogether and discovering from that extra-scientific vantage point that science conveys an accurate picture of reality—and in the case of scientism, that only science does so.

The rational investigation of the philosophical presuppositions of science has, naturally, traditionally been regarded as the province of philosophy. Nor is it these presuppositions alone that philosophy examines. There is also the question of how to interpret what science tells us about the world. For example, is the world fundamentally comprised of substances or events? What is it to be a “cause”? Is there only one kind? (Aristotle held that there are at least four.) What is the nature of the universals referred to in scientific laws—concepts like quark, electron, atom, and so on—and indeed in language in general? Do they exist over and above the particular things that instantiate them? Scientific findings can shed light on such metaphysical questions, but can never fully answer them. Yet if science must depend upon philosophy both to justify its presuppositions and to interpret its results, the falsity of scientism seems doubly assured. As the conservative philosopher John Kekes (himself a confirmed secularist like Derbyshire and MacDonald) concludes: “Hence philosophy, and not science, is a stronger candidate for being the very paradigm of rationality.”

To read on, click here:

Slavery in the Bible: 8 Resources

Who hasn’t heard all the objections about slavery in the Bible? Here are some resources that deal with this issue. Thank you Apologetics 315!

Why is slavery permitted in the Bible? (CARM)
Slavery in the Bible (All About Worldview)
• Does the Bible condone slavery?
  [also MP3] (Got Questions)
• Does the Bible Condone Slavery? (RZIM)
• What God says about slavery (PleaseConvinceMe)
• Some Initial Reflections on Slavery in the New Testament (Daniel Wallace)
• Slavery in Bible Times (PDF)
• The Bible, God, Genocide, Slavery, Misogyny, and Other Strange Stuff (Paul Copan)

A Prophet Like Moses: Jesus or Muhammad

This is a guest post by my friend Thomas Davis of Ratio Christi:

An Islamic claim that was made popular by Muslim apologist Ahmed Deedat is that Muhammad is the prophet like Moses that was predicted in Deuteronomy. The verse that Deedat references is, “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.” (Deut. 18:18). Deedat begins with the assumption that the only two criteria that Christians use to determine that Jesus is like Moses is that they are both Jews and prophets.i  He then attempts to show that Jesus is not like Moses, while Muhammad is like Moses. Deedat then argues that Muhammad should be counted among the brothers of the Hebrews and that Allah put the words of the Qur’an in the mouth of Muhammad.

Is Muhammad among the brothers of the Hebrews? To make this argument Deedat refers back to Genesis where Abraham has a son by Hagar named Ishmael. Abraham makes a covenant with God by circumcising Ishmael. Deedat references three verses to make this argument: “‘And Abram called his HIS SON’S, which Hagar bare, Ishmael’ (Genesis 16:15). ‘And Abraham took Ishmael HIS SON…’ (Genesis 17:23). ‘And Ishmael HIS SON was thirteen years old, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.’ (Genesis 17:25).”ii  Ishmael is the oldest son of Abraham, who was circumcised before Isaac was born. Muhammad is a descendant of Ishmael, and of Abraham. Therefore Muhammad is from among the brethren of the Hebrews.

The big obstacle that stands in the way of Deedat’s argument is the text of Genesis. He skips over certain verses while completely neglecting other passages. For instance:

When he had finished talking with him, God went up from Abraham. Then Abraham took Ishmael his son and all those born in his house or bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house, and he circumcised the flesh of their foreskins that very day, as God had said to him. Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. That very day Abraham and his son Ishmael were circumcised. And all the men of his house, those born in the house and those bought with money from a foreigner, were circumcised with him (Gen. 17:22-27).


To read on, click here: