Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Is Christianity True? FREE eBook

 I found this on a blog that is very well established in its amount of content.  The writer is very consistent, and I haven't looked at the site enough to fully comment, so I won't.  But it looks good.  Check out: www.apologetics315.blogspot.com.

I've simply copied one of their blogs to this blog, because as Apologetics 315 said at the end, "Please share with friends."

Is Christianity True? FREE eBook

 In April 2010, Apologetics 315 produced an essay series on the topic Is Christianity True? This was a series of 23 essays contributed by various apologetics bloggers from across the web. See the table of contents here. A podcast was also created with audio each of each essay. Now, the ebook version is available for download. Download below:

Is Christianity True? eBook
[ Kindle Version | Mobi | ePub | PDF ]

Please share with friends.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Apologetics Significance #1

Some Christians question the usefulness or significance of studying the defense of the Christian faith, since as 1 Corinthians 2:13-14 teaches that, "This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned."  

Because of this apologetics should not center too much on convincing people to believe based on logical persuasion.  However, there is a clear mandate in scripture for apologetics.  For examples check out 1 Peter 3:15 and 
2 Corinthians 2:5 on your own.

At the end of an Apologetics test, I threw out a free question which was simply, "What is the most significant thing you've learned so far during this course?"

Here are two of the responses:

"It strengthened my own faith tremendously because it answered a lot of my doubts.  Also now if any of my friends or someone I meet has any doubts or questions, I can answer them and help strengthen their faith as well." 

"I think this lesson definitely strengthened my faith and ability to explain the reasons why I believe certain things.  The most significant thing I learned was about the time gaps.  I never realized that the Bible was written so closely to when the actual events happened."

Friday, August 27, 2010

Did the Resurrection Really Happen? #1

1 Corinthians 15:14 "If Christ was not raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your trust in God is useless."

Some people explain the empty tomb of Jesus by saying that Jesus never actually died, that he survived his ordeal on the cross to make it out of the tomb alive three days later.  This is commonly known as the swoon theory - do a search for it online and you can find more information about it.

But here is a short, powerful Youtube video that explains how it is not possible for the Swoon Theory to be correct.  It comes to you from trauma surgeon Dr. David Acuna.  

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Does God Exists Debate

The following is a trailer for a DVD called Does God Exist?  It is a debate between William Lane Craig and Christopher Hitchens.  The entire debate can be found on Youtube.

The following video is a summary of some of the arguments made by Hitchens in the debate.  There are some brief rebuttals to these arguments, and then a briefer closing that mentions Craig's arguments. 

Does God Exists? can be purchased online from Amazon.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

"Out of Nothing" or "Out of Something"

CA friend told me about someone I know who was confronted in the work place by a fellow co-worker who is a pantheist.  

Pantheists believe that all things are God. This idea has crept up all over the place in many forms and various ways.  To quote the end of Stairway to Heaven, "The truth will come to you at last, when all are one, and one is all." Or from the Eat, Pray, Love movie, "God is in you, and God is you.  God is in me, and God is me."  Or maybe the Force in Star Wars - we're all connected by the energy of the universe, which is divine.  Pantheists generally believe  that God is eternal and created the universe out of himself, which is how they come to the conclusion that all things are then divine and the universe, eternal. Most forms of pantheism spring from Hinduism, but not all pantheist are Hindus.  Anyways...

The pantheist approached the Christian and said in front of other co-workers, "So you believe that God created the world out of nothing."  The Christian responded, "Yes."  The pantheist then responded, "Wouldn't it make more sense that created the universe out of something," as he motioned with his hands  from his chest outward, clearly indicating that wouldn't it make more sense that God created the universe out of himself.  

It's interesting that the pantheist took this approach with the Christian, because Christians usually approach atheists who believe in evolution in this manner, by going all the way back to the beginning and asking where the primordial soup of the Big Bang came from - nothing?  Everyone knows that nothing comes from nothing.  Therefore, before the Bang, there must have been a God to create the stuff and send it into motion.   So the pantheist was taking the same approach and saying this same approach with the Christian - "Something out of nothing?" or "Something out of something?"  

The Christian responded, "Yea, I guess that makes more sense."  

I'm curious - how would you respond if you are a Christian and a pantheist approached you with this question in front of co-workers?  What are the different responses that we as Christians might provide?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Logic Apologetic #3

There is a difference between contrary statements and contradictory statements.

Contrary statements are statements that cannot both be true, but both can be false.

Contradictory statements are when either one statement is true or one statement is false. 

"All world religions are true" is contrary in relationship with "no world religions are true."  Both cannot be true, but both can be false.  Both can be false if "Some (or at least one) world religions are true."

Christianity's claim that Christianity is true and that no other religions are true is contradictory with the atheistic position that no world religions are true.

Understanding these two concepts, contrary, and contradictory, can be helpful when addressing the relationship of pluralism, atheism, and historic Christianity.

As before, the information in this apologetic is basically common sense.  However, I got the information from Kenneth Samples' book A World of Difference.  A list of his book can be found in the slide show below. 

Saturday, August 21, 2010

CPH's New Apologetics Book

In a book published by Concordia Publishing House (CPH) written to answer questions teens ask about life, the answer given to the question "How do I know the Bible is true?" is "You know the Bible is true because it says so".  Are you serious?  That's the answer in a CPH book?  Is that really the best Lutherans can come up with on this one?  Then the author of this book admitted that his answer isn't really proof, because "[p]eople say things that aren't true all the time."  However he says it doesn't matter in the case of the Bible, because God doesn't lie.  That's not a great answer, because Mulsims could say the same statement concerning the Koran.  The book I'm quoting from was published in 2006.

Things have certainly changed!  And for the better.  This year, CPH has published Life's Big Questions God's Big Answers by Brad Alles.  I've only skimmed it so far, but it's awesome.  CPH has come a far way from the previous book I've mentioned.  In fact, I think the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod has made some great recent improvements in apologetics.  I attended part of an Apologetics seminar this summer at Hepatha Lutheran church in Southern California that featured Kenneth Samples and J.P. Moreland.  I know a Lutheran church in Huntington Beach, CA, which is having an apologetic lecture given by guests speakers.  I know another Lutheran church which went through Case for Christ this summer.  Faith Lutheran in Oak Ridge, TN, is adding a year of apologetics to their confirmation curriculum.  Crean Lutheran High School in Irvine, CA, has their seniors go through a final theology class which consists of World Religions and Apologetics before graduating.  Hopefully, the study and focus of apologetics at these Lutheran churches and many others, along with the excellent addition of CPH's Life's Big Questions God's Big Answers is a sign that the Lutheran church is moving beyond, "becuase the Bible says it's true."

I know the "because it says so" answer is what I received when I was in high school from 1996-2000.  I'm glad that the material  being put out by CPH now has much better answers.   Seriously if you haven't read much apologetics or would like to have a good, concise apologetic book written by a Lutheran on some tough questions which are commonly asked, not just by high school students, but by adults too, then check out Brad Alles' book.

Some of the questions covered in it are: "Does Evolution Explain the World?", "Does Creation Explain the World?", "What is the Canon?", "What about Dinosaurs?", "Did Jesus really Exists?", and "What is Postmodernism and the New Tolerance?"

Friday, August 20, 2010

Logic Apologetic #2

Logic Apologetic - This type of defense takes a look at laws of logic and rules for good argumentation and applies these principles to defending the Christian faith.

Drawing once more from Kenneth Richard Samples' book A World of Difference, I want to share the "Law of Excluded Middle".  This law states that "A" either is "A" or "non-A".  This means something is or it is not.  In application this means a statement is either true or it is false. 

Again this works great when looking at religious pluralism, the belief or idea that all religions are equally valid and true.  Let's take Jesus' often quoted statement from John 14:6, "Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."  According to the "Law of Excluded Middle" this statement is either true or it is false.  Religious pluralism tries to take all religions and say they are true and valid.  When we use the "Law of Noncontradiction" which I used in Logic Apologetic #1, we can see that the claims applied to Christ in Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism can't all be true because they are contradictory.  

In John 14:6, Jesus is saying that all other ways are incorrect!  Since the center of all of Christian Scripture says that He can't be put into the same box as all the other gods, then he can't be.  Because of Jesus' exclusive claims, all religions cannot be true!  All religions except the exclusive ones (such as Christianity and Islam) can be true.  Or all religions can be false!  But let's be respectful of what the religions teach and use proper laws of logic and not say that all religions are true.  To legitimately say that all religions are true and equally valid must require the individual teachings of each religion to be distorted and striped of all that makes each religion unique and appealing in the first place. 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

What explains society's obsession with vampires?

Vampires are all over the place lately.  Twilight, True Blood, Vampire Diaries, and so many more series like these are followed obsessively.  I saw the following image on yahoo, and it made me think of the questions asked by the band, Godsmack, in their song, "Vampires."

Here are the lyrics to the Godsmack song, "Vampires":

"Few creatures of the night have captured our imagination like vampires...

What explains our enduring fascination with vampires?
What is it about the vampire myth that explains our interest?

Is it the overtones of sexual lust, power, control...
Or is it a fascination with the immortality of the undead?

And what dark and hidden parts of our psyche are aroused and captivated by the legends of the undead."

The Christian Broadcasting Network has an article entitled "A Christian Response to Vampire Obsession" by Hannah Goodwyn.  If you are interested in this topic, you might enjoy reading it.   

And by the way, did you know that the vampire writer, Anne Rice, is now a Christian author.  Check her out in the Christian Inspiration section of Barnes and Noble.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the current vampire obsession.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

More on Hollywood, Sex, and Infidelity

In yesterday's blog, I brought to attention something I learned about Sex and the City and Desperate Housewives; they're both produces by gay males.  From Charles Colson's Lies that go Unchallenged in Popular Culture I learned that he thinks these shows "misgivings about marriage and family life reflect the creators' own concerns."  What we are seeing the women characters do on screen is actually a depiction of a certain type of gay-male sexuality - which has always been known to be promiscuous.

With that in mind, let's take the step to think about all of Hollywood.  Who are the producers?  Who are the writers?  What do they believe?  How does it come accross on screen, and do we truly recognize what is being sold and how it affects us?

Colson poses some questions for a group approach on this issue: "How do you challenge and encourage others to grow in fidelity and integrity?  Do you have access to men's or women's support groups when you need them?  Would a person in your church who needed help have somewhere to go?"

He also gives some personal questions to consider on how we can influence culture: "How can you show that the positive results others see in your life are based on the hope you have in eternal life through Jesus Christ?"

Please, take some time and consider answers to these questions.  Post your thoughts as well.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Who are the producers? Does it make a difference?

My wife and I recently saw a play at a dinner/theater, which is produced by a Christian church.  Previously we had seen The Sound of Music, Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat, and Dancing in the Rain.  The first two of course had obvious Christian themes, especially the one about Joseph the Dreamer.  The play we just watched however, Anything Goes, had virtually no story, racy costumes, and sex joke, after sex joke.  Because we knew it was produced by a Christian church, this seemed shocking.  Who you are and what you believe does lead one to expect certain attributes in your life and work, and when those attributes are not present; something is wrong.

This teaching can be found in the Bible.  James 3:9-12 reads, "With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water."

This of course is a good mirror for myself, because I do not always live up to my calling, and certainly none of us do.  This brings me to praise God all the more for the mercy that he bestows upon all creation and for the grace he has made available through Jesus.

Now, think about the latest movies and television shows.  What messages do they contain?  What is their content?  And when we look at the producers, actors, actresses, writers, and directors, should we be surprised?  And what is the effect of these programs on society and us?

With this in mind, did you know that the producers of Sex and the City and Desperate Housewives were gay men?  Charles Colson writes that "It's altogether likely that the show's misgivings about marriage and family life reflect the creators' own concerns."  And he cites Lee Siegal as writing that Sex and the City is "an ingenious affirmation of a certain type of gay-male sexuality," which is notoriously promiscuous.  Siegel called the popular show, "the biggest hoax perpetrated on straight single women in the history of entertainment."  What we are seeing on screen as women having anonymous, random sex is actually a justification of the gay male producers view of sexuality.  Let's then ask how has this show has influenced heterosexual females?

Knowing the producers of Hollywood and knowing their beliefs, does it come as any surprise that the "entertainment" produced in America shows a poor light on marriage and presents monogamy as virtually impossible, and in fact something that is not desirable? 

What are your thoughts on these issues?

Monday, August 16, 2010

“If there is no God, then everything is permissible.”

I received the following quote today: 

"If there is not God, then everything is permissible." - Dostoevsky

This quote is based on the idea of objective morality, which seems to be a foreign concept to many people today.  Today,  more and more people are trying to take the stance that morals are subjective - right and wrong are now relative.  These morals are relative based on an individuals' culture, beliefs, upbringing, and society.  The problem with saying that morals are subjective is that such actions as murder, rape, theft, and lying cannot then be called "wrong."  Why?  Because in subjective morality, morals are simply in the eye of the beholder; there is not an objective standard by which to measure good and evil.  

The existence of God however, an eternal, all-powerful, perfect being, would serve as an objective standard to judge what is good and evil.  God is the object of morality.  With God, everything is not permissible.  There is an ultimate authority upon which certain actions, words, and deeds can be judged.

The following video shows these principles in conversation on the street:

Saturday, August 14, 2010

An Atheist Reads the Bible #1

"An Atheist Reads the Bible" is a series of animations posted on youtube.  Sometimes watching atheists' videos and reading atheists' books and blogs can be a good way to become aware of what the common objections to the Christian faith are.  The appropriate response to such objections is not to get angry, but to be calm and rational and to seek the truth.  

The vlogger of this series does a great job of showing the four accounts of the discovery of the empty tomb.  They appear to be completely different, so much so that they might be contradictory.  However, we should note that the differences only appear on the secondary level.  The core is the same for all four of the Gospel accounts.  Jesus was crucified by the Romans.  He was buried by Joseph of Aramathia.  He was put in a tomb.  The tomb was visited by a small group of women on Sunday morning.  They find the tomb empty.  They see visions of angels saying that Jesus is risen. 

The secondary details are different, yes, but the main points of the accounts are not contradictory and still must be accounted for; there still is a crucified man named Jesus and his tomb is empty!  

The following video features Dr. William Lane Craig speaking on these inconsistencies.  

Logic Apologetic #1

Logic Apologetic - This type of defense takes a look at laws of logic and rules for good argumentation and applies these principles to defending the Christian faith.

The Law of non-contradiction might be the most obvious law of logic.  It simply states that A cannot be both A and non-A at the same time in the same respect.  This means that a statement cannot be both true and false simultaneously and in the same way.  

This law in application means that two statements cannot contradict each other and both be true.  For example, I could say that a ball is completely black, and you could say that the ball is completely white.  One of us must be wrong. According to the law of non-contradiction the ball cannot be both A (black) and non-A (white) at the same time and in the same respect.  

Using this law of non-contradiction can prove to be helpful when addressing religious pluralism, the belief that all religions are equally valid and true.  

For instance, Christians say that Jesus is the Son of God. 
Muslims say that Jesus was not the Son of God, but a prophet. 

Jews would say that Jesus was just a man.  
Some Hindus might say that Jesus was an avatar (incarnation) of Vishnu, or that he was God, but God in the sense that all things are divine.  

These religions clearly contradict each other on the historical person of Jesus Christ.  Jesus cannot be A (God) and non-A (not God) at the same time in the same respect.   According to the law of non-Contradiction, religious pluralism commits a logical fallacy, either that it is an intolerant position which denies each religion of true teachings and uniqueness or it is an ignorant position only made by those who have not taken the time to study the world's religions. 

The following video shows this apologetic put into practice:

A world of Difference by Kenneth Richard Samples contains a chapter entitled Logic 101 and Christian Truth-Claims, which might prove as a helpful read if you want to know more on this subject.  

Friday, August 13, 2010

Origon of OC Apologist

A friend of mine, maybe more of an acquaintance because of our seldom contact, entered into a discussion with an atheist, defending his Christian faith.  The atheist was well impressed, but not persuaded to convert to the Christian faith.  He was impressed enough to tell some other friends of his at Berkley about my friend, and thus my friend got invited up to Berkley to discuss the Christian faith.  Upon meeting the atheists, or maybe they were agnostics, they greeted him as, "Oh, you're the OC Apologist!"  He got this title because he's from Orange County, California.

Later, I wanted to start an Apologetics website while I was living in China.  I had a job that would relocate me to Orange County, so I thought OC Apologist might be a good name to use for the site.  However, I didn't want to seem as if I was defending Orange County.  Instead, I like to think of OC as "On Christ."

I hope to post on this blog regularly and I pray that there will be many comments, sparking much discussion!