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Come Reason's Apologetics Notes blog will highlight various news stories or current events and seek to explore them from a thoughtful Christian perspective. Less formal and shorter than the www.comereason.org Web site articles, we hope to give readers points to reflect on concerning topics of the day.
Friday, December 30, 2011
My devotions today happened to include Psalm 20, in which Israel prayed to God and thanked Him for their fortunes, asked Him to respond to their troubles and reminded themselves of His power. "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God." I think this is a great psalm to reflect on as we close out one year and begin another. It also makes a great prayer for the New Year.
May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble!
May the name of the God of Jacob protect you!
May he send you help from the sanctuary
and give you support from Zion!
May he remember all your offerings
and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices! Selah
May he grant you your heart's desire
and fulfill all your plans!
May we shout for joy over your salvation,
and in the name of our God set up our banners!
May the LORD fulfill all your petitions!
Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed;
he will answer him from his holy heaven
with the saving might of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
They collapse and fall,
but we rise and stand upright.
O LORD, save the king!
May he answer us when we call.
The great encouragement of this is that we're given the answer to the people's petition in the very next Psalm--God heard David's cry and provided him with his heart's desire. May your year ahead hold the same promise and blessing!
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Recently, I saw an article by Jason Hiner entitled "Take my holiday challenge: Contribute $25 to 3 of these 10 worthy charities". I thought this was a great idea, and while Hiner lists ten charities that are doing great work and are worthy of support, he's writing for a secular audience and doesn't include any overtly faith-based organizations. Therefore, I decided to compile a list of ten ministries that are not well-known but are making a real difference in defending the Christian faith. Some of their leaders you may have heard of, but most of these are operating on shoestring budgets. A gift at this time of year would be a huge help as they obey the command to "contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints."
So look at the list below, choose three (or more if you desire) and meet the challenge of donating $25 to each. You will truly be a blessing to them and make a difference in the Kingdom.
- Reasonable Faith
Reasonable Faith is the nonprofit ministry of philosopher and theologian Dr.
William Lane Craig, who is simply one of the most active defenders of the
faith today. Craig's many debates against the most stalwart of atheists have
become legendary, so much so that after debating the recently deceased
Christopher Hitchens, an atheist web site
remarked "Craig spanked
Hitchens like a foolish child." Not content to rest only in the US,
Bill's traveled the world over, recently getting back from a very successful
tour of the UK where in the space of ten days he presented five debates and
at least eight more lectures and interviews to a largely secular public.
His clear thinking and scholastic ability are unmatched.
Support Reasonable Faith here
- JP Moreland/Eidos Christian Center
Another well-known figure in philosophy and Christian apologetics is Dr.
J.P. Moreland, who authored the phenomenal Philosophical Foundations of
a Christian Worldview (with Craig), Scaling the Secular City,
and many other popular books. However, most people don't know that Moreland,
as an in-demand speaker, also has his own nonprofit ministry, Eidos
Center. The main goal of the organization is to help support selected
speakers and authors who are doing great work in promoting the Christian
worldview. There are many churches and groups who may not be able to afford
a speaker the caliber of Moreland, but Eidos seeks to stand in that gap,
providing the funds necessary to get solid Christian thought into the minds
of the larger culture. JP's been a huge influence on me in my growth as an
apologist and his organization needs to be more recognized.
Support JP Moreland/Eidos Christian Center here.
- Stand to Reason's Brett Kunkle & Alan Shlemon
Stand to Reason is one of the flagship apologetics ministries in the
country. Led by Greg Koukl, the team there is always providing
top-notch teaching and material, whether on the radio, on the web, or
in person. While STR is pretty well known, less so is its powerful
student impact leader, Brett Kunkle and speaker Alan Shlemon. Kunkle
has been doing a remarkable job with junior high and high school students,
preparing them for the absolute war of worldviews they will face when
heading off to college. He is the originator of the Apologetics
Missions Trip concept; taking kids "in the field" to talk with atheists,
Mormons, and others hostile to Christianity. Shlemon has been cutting his own
path in focusing on cultural issues such as abortion, homosexual marriage,
and Islam. Both gentlemen do not get paid by STR, but must raise their own
support - so your gifts can mean quite a lot!
Support Brett Kunkle Support Alan Shlemon
- Mike Licona/Risen JesusMike Licona has
gained a rather elevated profile lately. In his monumental work,
The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach, Licona
delivers over 700 pages of support for the contention that the resurrection
of Christ is as strong a fact of ancient history as there ever can be.
However, because he also honestly included a few paragraphs that explain his
struggle with the best way to approach Matthew 27:52, he's been let go from
his previous ministry position and is now creating his own apologetics
nonprofit. Licona's scholarship is outstanding, with many talking about his
book replacing N.T. Wright's The Resurrection of the Son of God as
the new standard work on the topic. As a new organization, Licona really
needs your support.
Support Mike Licona/Risen Jesus
- Evangelical Philosophical Society
If all your favorite apologists could be considered superheroes in
battling worldviews, the Evangelical Philosophical Society would be the
Hall of Justice where they all congregate. The EPS has done a stellar
job putting out one of the top-ranked scholarly journals on the philosophy
of religion (Philosophia Christi) as well as the annual EPS Meeting
where scholars can meet and discuss the latest issues in the field of
apologetics. Beyond the academic arena, they host the annual EPS Apologetics
Conference, where each of the over 30 speakers present for free in order to
keep the costs down for the general public. The EPS basically covers
their costs with memberships and subscriptions, so any donations provide a
bit of a cushion to the great work they do.
Support the EPS
- Illustra Media
We live in a visual age and if you want to get your message across, you
will need to do so visually. Concepts such as the irreducible complexity of
the bacterial flagellum or the origin of life are especially difficult to
discuss without a model. Luckily, apologists have Illustra Media to
handle the tough task of making compelling DVDs on such intricate topics -
and they do so with beauty and finesse. Using computer animation along with
interviews from high-visibility personalities such as Lee Strobel and Dr.
Stephen Meyer, Illustra makes a compelling case for the Creator that is as
faith affirming as it is awe inspiring. All this even though the two
founders operate basically out of their house!
Support Illustra Media here
- International Society for Women in
I know a lot of people think that the geeky ideas of textual criticism or
the biological challenges to life's origin are not going to resonate with
women, but there is a definite need for female apologists, and the ISWA is
seeking to make that happen. When you think about it, who is the first
person to hear questions from kids about what their teachers just taught
them in school? It's going to be Mom, so Christian women better be
trained in how to understand and effectively answer these issues. Sarah
Ankenman has put together an organization seeking to speak the language of
52% of the population (that's ladies, friends) and provide insights that men
simply don't have. We need more of these!
Support ISWA here
- Mary Jo Sharp/Confident Christianity
Speaking of women in apologetics, Mary Jo Sharp has not only embraced her
calling, but she's running with full gusto. From conference speaker to
author to a couple of very stimulating debates against Islamic scholars, Mary Jo
and Confident Christianity are showing what an apologetics ministry with
focus and purpose can accomplish - even with a miniscule budget. Her clear
style resonates well with both students and women's groups. A donation here
could help Confident Christianity cover travel expenses so she can reach
even more people with a smart and winsome Christian faith.
Support Confident Christianity here
- Ratio Christi
Ratio Christi is a unique organization reaching out to college students.
Rather than creating a whole new ministry, they leverage existing Christian
clubs and study groups on college campuses and universities across the
country, and pair them up with a trained apologist who can help answer the
tough questions that students or their professors will invariably raise. The
idea of meeting people where they are is practical and I love the idea of
empowering apologists to come out of the study (or away from the computer
screen) and meet real students with real needs.
Support Ratio Christi here.
- Apologetics 315
Ever since Brian Auten got the itch to blog his apologetics homework back
around 2007, Apologetics 315 has been one of the top resource sites for
gathering and disseminating apologetics information. The weekly
apologist interviews along with the Top 16 Apologetics podcasts and the
growing list of apologetics ministries and materials put Brian at the
forefront of internet resources for both apologists and lay people. The site
doesn't yet have a donation function as it isn't a fully qualified
nonprofit, but you may want to contribute anyway.
Support Apologetics 315 here
Blessings to you this Christmas season and during the New Year. May we continue to take every thought captive for Christ.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Thanksgiving is here again and many in the United States will give thanks for their abundant blessings before sharing a family meal with loved ones. Television shows will air episodes where the main characters will inevitably state how they are thankful for good friends, family and their contentment. Others around the world may also be prompted to reflect on the provisions and protection that has been afforded them. If you are reading this post, you have been blessed with modern conveniences such as a computer and the ability to tap into the largest collection of knowledge in history.
I'm glad to see a momentary repose where individuals recognize that we live in a time unlike an other in human history. Most in the western world don't worry about whether they will eat today; they are more concerned with more the opaque concerns of perhaps how they can afford the extravagances of Christmas. But I recognize that in the very concept of thanksgiving, there's a tacit recognition of giver and receiver. In other words, if you are thankful for your present advantages, you must be thankful to someone. It makes no sense to say that you are thankful, but that thanks is attributed to the laws of nature. Imagine being thankful to gravity for holding you to the earth. Similarly, it makes no sense to be thankful to luck, for luck is simply a word we use to talk about an arbitrary outcome. There's no motivation behind luck; it is by definition purposeless and blind. To be thankful for purposelessness is silly.
Giving thanks is in fact expressing the opposite of purposelessness—you are humbled by your advantages and acknowledge that someone provided the circumstances that allowed you to have such advantages. You are thankful that you were not merely left to the hard laws of nature and the fickle fate of purposelessness. That means that you must be thankful to a someone who has control over those aspects of your situation. You can be thankful to your employer for hiring you, since he or she controls who gets hired. But to be thankful for family, friends, and the blessings of the 21st century, that requires thanking a Someone who controls the very aspects of existence itself. By being thankful for such things, one must be thankful to God, for thanking anyone or anything else makes as much sense as thanking gravity or luck.
So, be thankful today. And if you're thankful, remember that it is in itself evidence for the existence of God, for only He can provide the reason for which we do give thanks.
Monday, October 31, 2011
Therefore I thought today fitting to have a little fun and teach a little history at the same time. Check out the questions below and see how many people, places and events you recognize. Look up some that you don't. You'll be the better for it!
1. When Christians have a discussion about Origen, they are:
- At Comic-Con debating the spelling for the name of the next Christian superhero.
- Fighting over how long ago the earth was created.
- Trying to discover who invented the first anti-pain dental gel.
- Discussing one of the early church fathers and martyrs, who fought against Gnosticism and had controversial views on the nature of Jesus' subordination and the pre-existence of souls.
- A card game Christians used to play to pass time in the catacombs.
- The scene of a battle where Constantine converted to Christianity and became sole emperor of Rome, thus allowing Christians to worship openly.
- A promising new dental apparatus.
- The route one would take to grandmother Milva's house.
- The heretical belief that Jesus is the first created being of God the Father.
- A love of all things Little Mermaid.
- The name given to the Joseph Smith doctrine that only white people can attain the highest heaven.
- The heretical belief that the Windows-based font is somehow preferred over Helvetica.
- The first Council which Christians were instructed to "be-a Nicea" to each other (said with an Italian accent.)
- A council held just so that The Da Vinci Code could later point to it and say "That's where people decided to choose which books would be included in the Bible" even though the canon was never discussed there.
- The meeting where the Fellowship of the Nine decided to travel to Mordor.
- The first ecumenical Council, held in 325 AD, to affirm the divinity of Christ and established the official creed of Christendom.
- His extreme weight, which earned him his surname.
- His strange penchant to only write in the eighth month of the year.
- Being one of the pivotal fathers of the early church who shaped not only the church, but all of Western thought after him. Among other things, he defined evil as a privation of good.
- His love of the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland, especially that scary part when ears are wiggling and bubbles are blowing.
- How the divine and human natures of Christ are combined into one person.
- Emergency Room nurses championing a cause of organized labor.
- A new coalition of nations led by Greece and Italy leveraging their financial troubles to make sure the European economy never grows again.
- A club of statisticians who record the number of ADHD children across the country.
- Part of the map showing "all roads lead to Rome." An intersection was later reconstructed in Sydney, Australia based on this model.
- A very popular hamburger chain during the Middle Ages.
- The instructions on proceeding through a four-way stop in downtown Los Angeles.
- Five arguments that serve as proof to the existence of God given the contingency of the observable world.
- Another name for fish food.
- The newest trend from Beverly Hills the Kardashians are selling.
- The assembly of the Holy Roman Empire where Martin Luther made his famous stand.
- A problem to be wary of when eating in third world restaurants.
- "Paperboy in the Fifth" – a tip he later passed on to Bugs Bunny.
- Betting he can successfully complete his 12-step Gambler's Anonymous program before you.
- Believing pale colors would be more popular if they were applied in crayon form.
- All men must choose between belief in the Christian God or non-belief. If reason cannot with certainty prove the existence of God, one would be more reasonable to hold to Christianity since if true, one stands to gain infinite joy and there is no downside if false. However, non-belief holds no joy in its affirmation and the danger of infinite suffering if false.
- An area of upper and western New York in the early 1800's that had been the location of so many tent revivals it made Charles Finney remark there were was no "fuel" (unconverted people) left to "burn" (be saved). This area later became the starting point for many American heretical movements.
- Another name for the Roman province of Pompeii.
- A town of zealots that considers anyone sporting a comb-over an act worthy of the stake.
- A very popular dining area that houses both authentic Mexican and Indian restaurants.
- The Cardinals beat the Rangers in game seven of the World Series, thus allowing Catholics to gloat over Texas Protestants.
- Fringe did not air on Fox because there was a game seven of the World Series.
- The 1970's camp Christian film "A Thief in the Night" has not been released on HD DVD.
- The shattered expectations and falling away from the faith that many believing the teachings of William Miller felt when Jesus did not come back in 1845 as he had predicted. Miller's teachings later begat both the Seventh-Day Adventists and the Jehovah's Witnesses.
- It birthed the modern Pentecostal movement and its denominations.
- It started the retro-renewal craze where old town main streets are renovated into shopping malls and condos are sold for overinflated prices.
- It kicked off the seeker sensitive concept of churches offering "everything you would want from A to Z in the U.S.A!"
- It was the first service to use foghorns to wake up sleeping parishioners during the sermon.
Monday, October 17, 2011
Distinguishing the functions of butter knives and screwdrivers is a pretty basic task; one we use in making decisions daily. Should someone to run a hair dryer in the shower? Of course not! You can simply look at how these items are built to see their functions. Electric hair dryers will not function properly in water, it's simple and we consider it common sense.
Now, let's use this same grid when looking at homosexual unions. When it comes to intimacy, we can look and see that homosexual unions cannot function correctly. The parts simply are not there so that intimacy can be achieved and still have the couple's bodies fit as they were designed to fit. It's simply obvious that two male or two female bodies won't couple in the same way. Therefore, homosexuals are forced to find other ways to be intimate. Do heterosexuals practice some of these "techniques"? Yes, they do, but that's not my argument. Just like sometimes using a butter knife as a screwdriver, both heterosexual and homosexual couples can use alternative means to seek sexual fulfillment. However, homosexuals have one aspect of intimacy not available to them that is available to heterosexual couples. That's the natural coupling of bodies to fit in a way that they were designed to fit. This is a huge exception! To not have this aspect of intimacy available to any couple shows that no matter what way homosexuals seek physical intimacy, it won't be the way that nature intended their bodies to be used.
Because homosexuals cannot couple in a way nature intended, it follows that homosexual unions are not natural. Homosexual unions are like construction workers who only have butter knives in their tool belts. Without the tools to function properly, no one would hire such workers to work on his or her home. You would deem them incompetent. Worse, if your son or daughter's shop class instructed the students that butter knives were an acceptable substitute for screwdrivers, you would rightly complain to the principle that unsafe practices are passing as education, and probably pull your child out of shop until the situation changes.
Starting January 1st, though, California mandates that the state's elementary schools teach children, even first graders, that homosexuality is a legitimate way for couples to function. As this recent L.A. Times article shows, even liberal school who have upheld homosexuality as acceptable are having a hard time figuring out how to work such indoctrination into the classroom. This is simply outrageous. The danger inherent in promoting this line of thinking is far more dangerous than teaching wrong concepts in shop class. This puts the very fabric of our culture in the cross-hairs, and would affect all.
The Times article ends with one of the school staff commenting on just how they will implement the new teaching mandates. "'We're looking for places of natural fit. We're not going to shoehorn in something gratuitous just to make a point.'" And that's my point exactly. The bodies of homosexuals don't fit, the instruction won't fit and entire law doesn't fit. it is a gratuitous law that is shoehorned into teaching standards just to appease certain segment of the majority party's supporters. We are supposed to teach our kids that doing construction with butter knives is just another acceptable choice, no matter how many fingers you may lose. We should be outraged.
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