Here is Barry Horner, author of Future Israel, being interviewed.
Here is Barry Horner, author of Future Israel, being interviewed.
Over the years, I have asked people what comes to their mind when they hear the word “Gospel.” I have had some very interesting responses. Some say that when they hear the word “Gospel” it brings to mind a choir singing a song in a church, or a message/teaching of some kind. But overall, there seems to be great confusion about this issue.
In the New Testament, the “gospel” denotes the “good tidings” of the kingdom of God and of salvation through the Messiah, to be received by faith, on the basis of His expiatory death, His burial, resurrection, and ascension (Acts 15:7; 20:24; 1 Peter 4:17). I am well aware that the Gospel is presented in a variety of contexts in the Bible.
Two predominant people groups in the New Testament are Jews and Gentiles. Gentiles (I would of been one of them) were the ones who were pagan idol-worshippers (1 Cor.12:2), who were “uncircumcised,” “excluded from the commonwealth of Israel” (Eph 2:11-13), and “without hope.”
That is why it is significant to note that Paul, who was a very competent rabbi was trained at the rabbinic academy called the House of Hillel by ‘Gamaliel,’ (who was a key rabbinic leader) was presenting a Gospel that was opposed to pagan mythology. So let’s look at Paul (who wrote a good majority of the New Testament) and see if we can learn some tips in how he viewed the Gospel.
Romans 1: 1-7:
“Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints:Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
So we see that the Gospel is first and foremost a message about Jesus. Six things stand out:
1. In Jesus of Nazareth, specifically in the cross, the decisive victory has been won over all the powers of evil, including sin and death themselves.
2. In Jesus’ resurrection, a new age has dawned, inaugurating the long-awaited time when the prophecies would be fulfilled, when Israel’s exile would be over, and the whole world would be addressed by the one creator God.
3. The crucified and risen Jesus, was, all along Israel’s Messiah, her representative king:
Paul lays great emphasis on Jesus’ resurrection in other places in the NT. Through Jesus’ resurrection, He installed as Son of God (Rom. 1:4), as universal Lord (Rom. 14:9; Eph.1:20-21; Phi.2:9-11), and judge of the living and the dead (Acts 17:31).
In the New Testament, the Greek word for kingdom is “basileia,” which denotes “sovereignty,” “royal power,” and “dominion.” The references to the word “kingdom” can be seen in two classes: First, it is viewed as a present reality and involves suffering for those who enter into it (2 Thess 1:5). Second, the kingdom is futuristic and involves reward (Matt 25:34), as well as glory (Matt 13:43).
There is no kingdom without a king. In the New Testament, Jesus is the inaugurator of the Kingdom of God. The New Testament states that Jesus the Messiah, the “seed of David,” was sent by God to restore God’s kingship over mankind (Matt. 1:1; Acts 13:23; Rom. 1:3,4; Rev. 22:16). As seen in 2 Samuel 7:12-17, the immediate prophecy is partially fulfilled in David’s son Solomon. However, the word “forever” shows there are future descendants to come. God promised David that his “seed” would establish the kingdom. Therefore, the fulfillment reached its completion in the Messiah, both son of David and the one greater than David ( Psalm 110:1-4). As it says in Luke 1:32-33, “He shall be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and His kingdom will have no end.”
4. Jesus was therefore, also the Lord, the true king of the world, the one whose very knee must bow:
In the Roman Empire, pagans would have seen Caesar as their “Lord.” But for Paul there is a different “Lord” and his name is Jesus. Hence, the willingness to do call Jesus “Lord” is to place Jesus in a role attributed to God in Jewish expectation. For a Jewish person, when the title “Lord” (Heb. Adonai) was used in place of the divine name YHWH, this was the highest designation a Jewish person could use for deity.
5. The God of Israel is the one true God, and pagan deities are mere idols:
This sounds alot like 1 Corinthians 8: 5-6: “For though there are things that are called gods, whether in the heavens or on earth; as there are many gods and many lords; yet to us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we live through him.”
Here is a distinct echo of the Shema, a creed that every Jew would have memorized from a very early age. When we read Deuteronomy 6:4-9, which says, “Hear O Israel! The Lord our God is our God, the Lord is one,” Paul ends up doing something extremely significant in the history of Judaism.
If we look at the entire context of the passage in 1 Corinthians 8:5-6, according to Paul’s inspired understanding, Jesus receives the “name above all names,” the name God revealed as his own, the name of the Lord.
In giving a reformulation of the Shema, Paul still affirms the existence of the one God, but what is unique is that somehow this one God now includes the one Lord, Jesus the Messiah. Therefore, Paul’s understanding of this passage begets no indication of abandoning Jewish monotheism in place of paganism.
6. The God of Israel is now made known in and through Jesus himself. (1)
1. These six points were made in N.T Wright’s What Saint Paul Really Said: Was Paul of Tarsus the Real Founder of Christianity? (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Group, 1997), 60. I have added some of my own thoughts after each point as well.
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)
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!
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.
“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).
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
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.
Christians can go back and forth on this. But please remember we are called to Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem (Ps. 122:6).
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.”
• 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)
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).
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?
#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: