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:

Common Questions About Trying To Do An Apologetics Ministry On A Major College Campus

In 2004, I started going to the Ohio State University and engaging students for the truth claims of Christianity. I did hundreds of surveys with students and certainly begin to see some of the objections people had to the Christian faith. Around 2006 I moved away from the survey approach and started using a variety of approaches to reach out to the students here. Anyway, it was 2009 when myself along with some OSU students planted a Ratio Christi chapter on the campus. This was done out of the necessity for a stronger apologetics presence on the campus. Since we planted the chapter, we have had some very well-known speakers come such as William Lane Craig, Frank Turek, Bart Ehrman and Michael Brown, Michael Licona, and Paul Nelson. We have also had some student debates with the skeptic group on the campus. Anyway, I wanted to go ahead and share some of the trends and objections that I have seen on the campus over the last several years. Keep in mind that Ohio State is a very large campus (60,000) students. So what is it like to try to do an apologetics ministry on a major college campus? Here are some common questions that I tend to get asked:

#1: What kind of objections do you tend to hear on a large college campus?

You can see some of the ones we have heard as well as some resources to answer them.

#2:  Do college students know what apologetics is?

Some do while others have no idea what apologetics is. I can recall several times being out on the campus sharing my faith with our table talking to students about the Gospel and our apologetics ministry at the campus. More than one student has said “So what is apologetics?”  So in many cases we are always explaining the role of apologetics.  Once I ask students if they ever heard any tough objections to their faith on the campus or in the classroom, the light bulb goes off.  We educate and exhort people to learn to articulate and defend their faith. I have a clip from a ways back here where I am talking to a student about the need for apologetics campus.

#3: What About  the Challenge of Post Modernism and Emergent Church?

We have experienced some challenges with postmodernism on the campus. I also see alot of pragmatism, mysticism, etc. But in reality, I experience more postmodernism is in the church itself.  Just read the list of some of the objections here. Are these objections more modern or post modern? One post modern Christian told me that it seems like all our ministry wants to do is win arguments and debate with people. Of course I explained that this isn’t the case. Another extreme Emergent Church Christian once emailed me after I had Frank Turek come to the campus to do his I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist presentation.  He said “Do us a favor and please don’t bring these kinds of speakers to the campus. We don’t want them here.”

Granted, the campus has almost 60,000 students. And we had good turnouts for the Turek event. I told the student I was happy to see he thinks he speaks for 60,000 students.

#4: How Do you know what  speakers to bring to the campus?

This can be a challenge. First, we have to think about what speakers are a good match for the campus. Is the speaker a good speaker? Do they connect with students? Are they difficult to understand? Are they really an authority on a particular topic? What will be a title for an event that will grab people’s attention? What is the cost o the speaker? Let me give an example. I brought William Lane Craig to the campus a few years back. He did a lecture on seven reasons for the existence of God. Some students said it was great. Others said it was too much information. Others said he was over their heads.  The next year I brought in Frank Turek.  Many students enjoyed Frank. Of course, the atheists didn’t like him. But that is no shock! The other challenge to brining a speaker to the campus is that we have to work hard at promoting an event. This includes flyers, social media, word of mouth, etc. I recall one time when I was out promoting the Turek event on campus. A student walked up to me and said they were offended by the title ( I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist).

#5: Do you see results from this kind of ministry?

That depends on what you mean by results. We exist to strengthen the faith of Christians and help others see there are Christians that do care about the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of what we believe. We also want to Christians confident in their witness to others. We have some testimonies here.

Feel free to watch some our speakers from the events we have had here:

Frank Turek, author of I Don’t Have Enough Faith To An Athesist ’s Exchange with Jewish Atheist on the Hell Question

Michael Licona lecturing on the Resurrection of Jesus

Michael Brown lecturing on whether Jesus is the Jewish Messiah

Does The Bible Provide an Adequate Answer to Suffering? Dr. Michael Brown vs Dr. Bart Ehrman

William Lane Craig answering questions at our Ohio State Event

Paul Nelson lecturing on whether we can detect design in the natural sciences

Four Things Not To Say To A Grieving Christian

There is no doubt that this world is filled with pain, misery, and suffering. I have seen plenty of Christians suffer for various reasons (e.g., health issues, family, other circumstances). I have also watched Christians who try to empathize or counsel other Christians in the midst of the suffering.  Keep in mind that I applaud the motivation and desire for Christians that want to comfort and help he Christian in pain. So these tips are meant to be a form of constructive criticism. In my opinion, here are four things that Christians need to stop saying:

#1: “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”- Isa. 55: 9

This translates as “God’s ways are not our ways.” Yep, I hear this one quite a bit. My thoughts on this: Don’t say this to a grieving Christian.  It really doesn’t help at all.  It translates as we should ask God why we are experiencing suffering because His ways are beyond our understanding.

#2: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”- Romans 8:28

This translates as “God has a plan here.” I hear this one a lot as well. My thoughts: To the grieving Christian, they don’t see a plan here. The suffering doesn’t make sense and they don’t need to hear that!

#3: “I know you are suffering, but time will heal this issue”

This has to be one of the worst things you can say.  At the moment, the individual is suffering and they need to grieve. And they may need to grieve for a long time. So please don’t say that.

#4: “I understand what you’re going through.”

Well, I applaud the attempt to empathize here.  But the reality is that if you haven’t actually gone through what the one who is suffering is going through, then your really don’t understand what they are experiencing.

So what should we do?

In my opinion, the best thing to do is pray for the person and say “I am here to listen.”  That’s about it!!!!!!!!!!!

Six Signs That You May Be Ashamed of the Gospel

Golgotha

We are living in a day of religious pluralism and theological illiteracy. On a very general level many Christians have been told they need to share the Gospel with people. But why? What is it that motivates you to even engage the culture for the Christian faith? Or maybe you just don’t engage it all. Overseas, Christians are being persecuted and killed for their beliefs. So don’t take it for granted that we have the freedom to share what we believe with others. Before I talk about some possible reasons as to why we are ashamed of the Gospel, I will give one reasons as to why we should desire to give a verbal witness for our faith.

1. The Starting Point

If you don’t agree with the following syllogism, it makes it hard to want to share your faith: 1. The New Testament documents are historically reliable evidence. 2. The historical evidence of the New Testament shows that Jesus is God incarnate. This claim to divinity was proven by His miracles/His speaking authority, His actions, and His resurrection. 3. Therefore, there is reliable historical evidence that Jesus is God incarnate.

So if this syllogism is correct, it leads to the next syllogism:

The Command to Make Disciples: Matt 28:19

1. Whatever Jesus teaches is true. 2. Jesus taught that we are to “Go and make disciples of the nations” (Matt 28:19). 3. Therefore, Christians should desire to “Go and make disciples of the nations” (Matt 28:19).

This command does not mean we need to be sent to some far distant land to preach the Gospel. The command applies to every Christian no matter where they are located. God uses us wherever we are.

It is true that much of the Church has focused on the “go” part of this command. But we need to remember that The Great Commission is accomplished while we “go” about living our daily lives.

The context of Matt 28:19 is that in fulfillment of the Great Commission, we are to make disciples. We are to baptize new believers and we are to teach them. Unless there has been teaching and instruction about the commands of Jesus, there has not been any discipleship. So it is clear that people can’t enter into the process of discipleship without hearing about the Gospel.

Romans 1:16

“For  I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is  the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew  first and also to  the Greek. For in it  the righteousness of God is revealed  from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (ESV)

Grammatically, the entire verse is in the present tense. There are three verbs: unashamed, is and believes. All are in the present tense. So Paul was not ashamed of the Gospel. He knew it was for the Jew and the Greek. He also  knew the power of God was demonstrated in the message.

But now we need to ask ourselves whether we can make an application of this text. Do we as Christians actually believe the Gospel is Good News and are we ashamed or unashamed of the Gospel? Are there some visible signs as to whether we are ashamed or unashamed of the Gospel? Here are some signs that we might be ashamed of the Gospel.

#1: We are ashamed of the Gospel because we are worried about offending people

I was teaching a class on evangelism a few weeks back. One student said that one of the people they had witnessed to had been offended by the message. My response is the same as always: The Gospel is offensive. Paul commented about the challenge of proclaiming a dying Messiah to his fellow countrymen:

For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.” (1 Cor.1:21-22)

To summarize “The Kerygma” of the early Christian community:

1. The promises by God made in the Hebrew Bible/The Old Testament have now been revealed with the coming of Jesus the Messiah (Acts 2:30;3;19;24,10:43; 26:6-7;22).

2. Jesus was anointed by God at his baptism (Acts 10:38).

3. Jesus began his ministry at Galilee after his baptism (Acts 10:37).

4.Jesus conducted a beneficent ministry, doing good and performing mighty works by the power of God ( Acts 2:22; 10:38).

5. The Messiah was crucified according to the plan of God (Acts 2:23).

6. He was raised from the dead and appeared to his disciples (Acts 2:24; 31-32; 3:15-26;10:40-41;17:31;26:23).

7. Jesus was exalted and given the name “Lord” (Acts 2:25-29;33-36;3:13;10:36).

8. He gave the Holy Spirit to form the new community of God (Acts 1:8;2;14-18;33,38-39;10:44-47).

9. He will come again for judgment and the restoration of all things (Acts 3:20-21;10:42; 17:31).

10. All who hear the message should repent and be baptized because of the finished work of Jesus (Acts 2:21;38;3:19;10:43, 17-48; 17:30, 26:20).

You could always make people less offended and preach a false Gospel such as “Jesus will meet all your needs.” In other words, Jesus is a buddy. But if you do this, you will have to answer to God for giving people the false Gospel. So always remember the power is in the message. And it will offend because the Holy Spirit does convict people of the truthfulness of the message.

#2: We are ashamed of the Gospel because we are a man pleaser rather than a God pleaser

This happens  to all of us. In a day of political correctness Christians are more worried about what their peers think than what God thinks. In the end  we will answer to God with what we did with the Gospel. We are stewards of the message.

#3: We are ashamed of the Gospel because we are afraid we can’t answer objections

In this case, that’s why we have apologetics. There are plenty of resources that can help the Christian to be confident in what they believe.

#4: We are ashamed of the Gospel because we don’t take the Lordship of Jesus seriously

This is a hot topic.   As far as Lordship, I think the new believer needs to know about this early on. To make Jesus as Lord of one’s life is a lifelong process. It is a call to daily surrender. It certainly means we are under NEW MANAGEMENT. We are called to yield our time, bodies, goals and gifts to His Lordship. Is it easy? No, not at all. I struggle with this quite a bit. But we do have a Helper to give us the grace to do it (hint: study the ministry of the Holy Spirit). So in other words, we say ‘”Lord Jesus, have your way with me. I am relying on the work of the Holy Spirit to yield myself to you on a daily basis.”

There is no doubt that  in a world that wants instant results, self- sacrifice is tough sell. Part of the problem is that churches preach a Gospel that promises that Jesus will fix all our problems. And when things get tough, many people bail out. A long-term commitment to our Lord which involves self-denial (Luke 9:23) is hard to swallow for those that have been told The American Dream is the way of happiness.

#5: We are ashamed of the Gospel because we don’t really believe the Gospel is true

In this case perhaps we need to preach the Gospel to ourselves on a daily basis. Do we really believe it is Good News?

#6: We are ashamed of the Gospel because we don’t even know what the Gospel actually is!

You may say this is impossible. But there have been a slew of books questioning “What is the Gospel?” I have written elsewhere that the Gospel is presented in a variety of contexts.  Please don’t be a 20 year old Christian and not know what the Gospel is.

Those are some of the checkpoints I have come up with. Feel free to think of some more.

A must-read series of posts on cosmic fine-tuning

Here is Wintery Knight’s summary of a series of posts on the fine tuning argument.

By Wintery Knight

There are four posts in the series, so far. I think Allen might be done, so I’m going to link to all four and snip something I like from each one.

The first post is on whether the fine-tuning is real, and whether a multiverse explains the fine-tuning so that there is no need for a cosmic Designer.

I just have to choose this quote from the atheist Stephen Hawking on the fine-tuning:

The remarkable fact is that the values of these numbers [i.e. the constants of physics] seem to have been very finely adjusted to make possible the development of life. For example, if the electric charge of the electron had been only slightly different, stars would have been unable to burn hydrogen and helium, or else they would not have exploded. It seems clear that there are relatively few ranges of values for the numbers [i.e. the constants of nature] that would allow for development of any form of intelligent life.

And from Luke Barnes, who I’ve mentioned before on this blog:

In my years of researching this topic, I’m amazed at how few scientists who have studied the fine-tuning details disagree with this core claim that the subset of life-permitting physics is a tiny fraction among possibilities. Since Luke Barnes is a top researcher on this topic, consider his input on the level of acceptance of the fine-tuning claim: “I’ve published a review of the scientific literature, 200+ papers, and I can only think of a handful that oppose this conclusion, and piles and piles that support it.[3]

And on the multiverse as a way to escape the fine-tuning:

The key issue though is that for the multiverse to be an adequate explanation for the fine-tuning it requires the conjunction of several hypotheses for which we lack any empirical evidence:

 

  1. A universe-generating mechanism that generates a plethora of universes
  2. That this mechanism doesn’t itself require fine-tuning
  3. The many-worlds interpretation of quantum physics
  4. The ability to widely vary constants in those universes. If you think that it’s a foregone conclusion that String Theory/M-Theory[8] will come to the rescue in this area, you should watch this video clip by Oxford physicist Roger Penrose where he exclaims that “it’s not even a theory … it’s a collection of hopes”.

To read on, click here: