Thursday, March 31, 2011

Social Pluralism Vs. Metaphysical Pluralism

By now I'm guessing anyone who is reading this blog is involved enough with religious discussion and culture that you have seen the Coexist bumper stickers or the Tolerance bumper stickers. 

The current chapter we are covering in our high school apologetic book, Without a Doubt, is entitled, "Do All Religions Lead to God?" 

All religions lead to God.  Is that what people who have the Tolerance bumper sticker on the back of their car mean?  The idea that all religions are equally valid and true is metaphysical pluralism.  There is also social pluralism, which recognizes that there are drastic differences in religions, to such a degree that they do in fact contradict each other, and that they can't all be true, however, a social pluralist recognizes the need for freedom of expression and belief and tolerance of various religious beliefs for peace in society. 

Since it does say tolerance, or co-exists, depending on which sticker is being referenced, this sticker could in fact mean social pluralism and not metaphysical pluralism.  One student says he knows a family at his Christian church who has this on their car.  It's likely they're social pluralist since they are at a Christian church regularly.  He doesn't personally know the family, he's just seen the car in the lot.

I bring this up because this could be a great opener for conversation with someone who has a tolerance bumper sticker; "What does this mean to you?"  Depending on the response, a Christian reply would differ.

If the person views it as a call to social pluralism, then an appropriate response could be, "Oh cool.  I'm a Christian and I agree with you.  There is a definite need for tolerance of different religious and philosophical world views in society.  We need this tolerance in order to have meaningful discussions concerning faith.  However, it's good to note that religions have contradicting teachings and can't all be true.  Some people think this what your sticker means.  Did you know that?"  You can continue after some dialog to share examples of how they contradict and share how Christianity is the only free religion in that salvation is from God and not from human merit, or how Jesus is God in the flesh in Christianity and in other religions, such as Islam, he is just a prophet, or in Judaism, just a heretic that was crucified. 

If the person has a metaphysical pluralistic view of the world's religions, then you can ask more questions about why they think so and express your understanding for wanting this to be true, but kindly share how this can't be true based on the law of non-contradiction.  A Christian can then guide and show how they contradict each other while sharing who Christ is as revealed in the Bible, or even lead the person into social pluralism and not metaphysical pluralism. 

Either view of the tolerance bumper sticker leads to an opportunity to present who Jesus is and what he has done for mankind. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Questioning God - MP3 Messages

Rock Harbor is a church in Costa Mesa, CA.  Their teaching pastor used to be Mike Erre.  He is the author of several books.  The only one I have read all the way through is The Jesus of Suburbia.  I have also read parts of his book Death by Church

He is now at a church nearby Rock Harbor in Mission Viejo, CA. 

Questioning God is a message series which he gave at Rock Harbor several years ago.  It's a good intro to apologetics series.  I listened to all of these while riding my e-bike to work in Hangzhou, China. 

Hope you enjoy them. 

Questioning God Series - Click Here to Download!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Prescience #2 - Circumcision

In class yesterday, a student asked if a person needed to be circumcised to be a Christian.  I had to ask, "Is this a serious question, or did you just want to say circumcision?"  I had hoped that we had covered this when discussed what grace is and how one is justified in God's sight!  Oh well. 

So, we took a break from starting our new chapter on "The Means of Grace" and read Romans 4.  The question was answered and resolved.  We are credited as righteous in God's sight, not based on any merit of our own or any outward sign such as circumcision, but on faith in the declared promises of God (fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus Christ!). 

But this brought up another prescience issue within the Bible.  God's people were circumcised!  Today, in America at least, almost every male is circumcised regardless of a family's religious views, because it's more sanitary and hygienic than not being cut.  I'm not sure exactly when we came to this conclusion, but we have!  The Isralites likely didn't know this perk to circumcision when they followed God's command, but God sure did.  Another sign of prescience in the Bible. 

Sorry, no pictures for this post. 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Prescience #1 - Dietary Restrictions

As defined by William J. Cairney in Evidence for Faith prescience is "the occurrence, in Scripture, of accurate statements reflecting in-depth knowledge of scientific concepts far before mankind had laid the technological base for such things to be known."

Cairney points out of course that prescience in the Bible isn't an end in itself.  Such evidence only increases our knowledge of Scripture and appreciation for the God revealed in the Bible.

Cairney first focuses on the dietary laws in Exodus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.  The unclean animals in addition to not being eaten, weren't even supposed to be touched if it could avoided at all costs (Leviticus 11:24-28).  Pigs were on the top of the "unclean" list.  The downer to the Jews is that they were readily available to be eaten and were of course tasty and tender.  The upside is that pigs, or swine, "harbor several disease-producing microorganisms easily transmissible to man" (Cairney, p.132 of Evidence for Faith). Such micro-organisms are tapeworms.  Disseases such as Trichinosis, Erysipelas, and Typhoid are all caused by micro-organisms that pigs carry. Some of these diseases are contracted by eating under-cooked meat, but others can be contracted simply by touching an infected animal or carcass.

Other "unclean" animals are marine animals without fins or scales, usually bottom-feeders; they eat fecal matter to put it nicely.  Rodents were unclean - enough said.  But they would have been accessible and likely tender, but they're naturally carriers of some of the nastiest diseases man has ever faced.  Don't eat, don't touch, and surely you don't want to be bitten!

Better wash your hands!
Turtles and lizards were on the "naughty" list too.  Young kids who have these animals as pets sometimes get Salmonella!  Yay!  If they're taken from stagnant water or contaminated water, they're a source of diesease inducing micro-organisms.

Basically, all the "unclean" animals can lead to disease in handling and eating if not properly kept.  The clean animals were quite chill in this regards.

Cairney also shares how some of the laws for keeping and growing plants also spared one's self from disease-causing micro-organisms. 

Exodus15:26 is a promise from God that if they follow these dietary laws he won't bring diseases upon them. 

So how did Moses know this?  He didn't have a microscope!  Most of this knowledge was only gleaned in the past 100 years.  Was he that observant?  Did the Egyptians know that much?  Maybe some other advance culture brought the info in to Moses?  Aliens perhaps?  Or the God of the Bible who created all things and didn't need a microscope to know which animals carried micro-organisms which caused diseases told Moses which animals not to eat and which ones were cool to consume and handle. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Reasonable Faith in an Uncertain World

This is all copied from

Reasonable Faith in an Uncertain World 
Join us April 15-16 for our 2011 lecture series!
The Reasonable Faith Central Valley Chapter is proud to announce our 2011 lecture series, “Reasonable Faith in an Uncertain World,” with keynote speaker, Dr. William Lane Craig.
The full list of speakers for this year’s series is:
The series will take place April 15-16 at Monte Vista Chapel in Turlock, CA. (Coming from out of town? Check our lodging page for hotel recommendations.) Registration is just $10 and includes a copy of William Lane Craig’s newest book, “On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision.”

Register today

* Free copies of William Lane Craig’s newest book, “On Guard” are guaranteed to attendees who register or purchase tickets before the event. Online registration is paperless.

For more information, contact us at

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Stairway to Heaven has a hidden, Satanic message.

"Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin played backwards contains Satanic lyrics, words actually being sung to Satan.  Is this true or is it not true?  It can only be done with a record player.  I could be corrupted as a judge because I first watched videos that played the song backwards with lyrics of what you are supposed to hear if it's Satanic.  Interestingly enough, I've seen different versions of the lyrics and some of them are quite, quite different, but every time I have listened to it I do hear whatever is posted with the song.  Is this a case of the mind just synching up what's being heard with what is being read?

Here's a video with the song played backwards with no lyrics.  Watch it and see if you hear a Satanic message.  By the way, you might have to listen to the whole song, since some of the people who claim there is a hidden message don't have it matching with every line of the song being played forwards.  Let me know if you hear anything?

In closing, I think this song is actually pro-Christian and anti-Satan.  The song the way I interpret it is about a lady who has it all, beauty, riches, and fame, and she thinks that with her own abilities she can buy her salvation.  However, she finds that salvation can't be bought.  The store to do so is closed.  There's still time for everyone who is on her path to get on to the other path as the famous line in the song says.  But then again, who can tell with this song?  It could mean anything?  There's even a line about when all is one and one is all.  That certainly sounds like new-age mysticism.  Here is what I do know.  In Genesis 28 Jacob has a dream of a stairway that connects heaven and earth and in John 1:51 Jesus references this dream and essentially says, "I am the Stairway to Heaven."  When you look at Christianity and what the Bible teaches, it is the only religion which says the way to salvation can't be bought.  It's the only free religion in the world.  It's the only religion in which God has stepped down and has done it all for your salvation.  The Stairway has come down to us, and Jesus is that Stairway.  He is a Rock that doesn't roll. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick's Day

 I received this today from our high school's executive director, a retired Lutheran pastor. Sorry for the horrible spacing!  It's how it copies into my blog from the email I received.  I can fix it and make it look good, but as soon as I post it goes back to normal. 

May we, like Patrick, be winsome witnesses for Jesus!

St. Patrick    

        St. Patrick was born in Scotland and was kidnapped and sold in Ireland as a slave. He became

        fluent in the Irish language before making his escape to the continent. Eventually he was ordained
        as a deacon, then priest and finally as a bishop. Pope Celestine then sent him back to Ireland to
        preach the Gospel.  As a missionary, he spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ everywhere he traveled,
        most importantly leaving the saving Gospel in every place he visited.  His Christian witness left an
        impression because of the many places in Brittany, Cornwall, Wales, Scotland and Ireland that are
        named after him.

Patrick is most known the world over for having driven the snakes from Ireland.  It is true that today there
are no snakes in Ireland.  Two interesting stories and legends lie behind this fact.

First, snakes (Gen. 3:1‑15) are a symbol of the devil in the Bible.  Different tales tell of Patrick's standing
upon a hill, using a wooden staff to drive the serpents into the sea, banishing them forever from the shores
of Ireland. One legend says that one old serpent resisted, but the saint overcame it by cunning. He is said
to have made a box and invited the reptile to enter. The snake insisted the box was too small and the
discussion became very heated. Finally the snake entered the box to prove he was right, whereupon St
Patrick slammed the lid and cast the box into the sea.  Driving the snakes from Ireland was probably
symbolic of putting an end to pagan practices in that country. While not the first to bring Christianity to
Ireland, it was Patrick who encountered the Druids at Tara and abolished their pagan rites. He converted
the warrior chiefs and princes, baptizing them and thousands of their subjects in the Holy Wells which still
bear that name. According to tradition St. Patrick died in A.D. 493.

The second interesting thing to note about the absence of snakes in Ireland is related to the shamrock.
As in many old pagan religions serpent symbols were common, and possibly even worshiped.  The
Shamrock, at one time called the "Seamroy", symbolizes the cross and the Trinity. The well known legend
of the Shamrock connects it to St. Patrick and his teaching.  Preaching in the open air to crowds of people
‑‑ including children, he is said to have illustrated the existence of the Father‑Son‑and Holy Spirit by
plucking a shamrock from the grass growing at his feet and showing it to his congregation. The legend of
the shamrock is also connected with that snakes are never seen on trefoil (shamrocks) and that shamrocks
are a remedy against the stings of snakes and scorpions ‑‑ just as our Lord, in the fullness of His holiness
(Father, Son, Holy Spirit) will always ward of the devil and His ways AND that our Lord is the only
effective treatment against sin, death, and the devil.

 How much of this is 100% true?
I don't know.  Who cares?  It all sounds great if it is.
Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

RE: The Atheist Experience #654

0:15-0:20 - Christian says, "How do you know that God isn't real?"  Atheist says, "Have you demonstrated that he is?"  My response:  Why would I need to demonstrate who God is?  If God exists, he is more powerful and capable than me to demonstrate his own existence.  As a Christian, I look at the historical person of Jesus and conclude from his life, teachings, and actions that he is God.  If this I am correct, then I don't need to demonstrate that God is real, he has demonstrated that for us. Then I'd see where the conversation goes.

0:27:-1:01 - The Christian then begins to quote Romans 1:20, which says that humanity can tell that there is a God from what he has made.  In other words, the world reveals that there must be a creator.  Before he can even quote this verse, the atheist interrupts him, and asks. "Why are you even quoting the Bible?  It means nothing to me.  Why should I listen to the Bible?"  My response: I personally wouldn't have gone to quoting the Bible at this point in the conversation.  I think it would naturally bring up a brick wall.  I previously would have set the conversation up on the historical life of Jesus and examining his life, words, actions, death, and resurrection (for the atheist, "supposed" resurrection).  This instantly gets to the heart of Christianity!  Jesus Christ.  Going to Romans 1:20 only serves the purpose of showing that from observations in the world, there must be a god.  That doesn't tell us who that god is, which isn't as helpful as showing the atheist who God actually is, Jesus Christ.  And yes, I personally agree with the atheist, the Bible doesn't mean anything to him, so why quote it?  Especially if all you plan on showing from quoting is that there is a god who exists from what we can see, tell, hear, and touch a part from the Bible.

1:03-1:18 - The atheist says he's upset because Christians are calling in asserting that atheist don't believe in the existence of God and says that's not what their stance is.  My response:  No, that's what an atheist is.  A = against.  Against God.  No God.  There is not God.  Maybe they're actually agnostics and claim to not be able to know one way or the other, but as you can tell from their arguments to come, they are atheist and don't believe there is a God.

1:20-1:37 - The atheist asks again, "Why should I listen to the Bible?"  The Christian responds that it's true and he knows it is true because it is through faith!  The atheist then throws out, "Well, how do you know the Qur'an isn't true?"   My response: The Christian here is using a faulty argument.  His answer, although I believe can be very much true for himself, opens up a can of worms - if truth comes from an inner subjective knowing or feeling, then how can anyone be certain of what is true?  The Qur'an might as well be true, just as a Spider-Man comic book might be true! People do the same thing against the Bible though. Atheists use the same circular logic that the Christian caller in this video made.  Atheists say that miracles don't happen and God doesn't exist. Then they say that the Bible isn't a reliable historical document because it contains God and accounts of miracles.

1:45-2:05 - The atheists claim that the God of the Bible is based on the same God of the Qur'an.  My response: The Bible isn't based on the same God as the God of the Qur'an. Christianity teaches that God is a Trinity, three persons who all share in the same divine essence. Islam on the other hand teaches only the oneness of God and rejects the threeness of God as revealed in the Bible. Jesus claimed to be God, and Christians believe he is God. Islam says Jesus is not God, they reject that he ever made such claims, and teach that he is just a prophet.  Clearly, it's not based on the same God.

2:08-2:59 - The Chrstian changes the topic back to looking at the world and being able to deduct that there must be a God.  He says, "How did we all happen to be?  We can't just come from nothing."  The atheists then say they came from their parents.  The Christian then traces it back further to the universe.  The atheists move on to say that the sun came from gravity acting on particles.  My response: Where did the gravity come from?  Where did the particles come from?  Everything must come from something?  Where did the matter of the "Big Bang" come from?  How did it originate?  We came from our parents as you said?  Where did that matter come from?  What produced it?  Nothingness? 

3:00-3:13 - The atheist says, "We didn't have to be here at all.  Fortunately, the laws of the universe were such that physics prompted things to happen in such a way that we are the current state of life on this planet."  My response: Where did the laws come from?  Do laws appear naturally?  How could such laws have come into existence and remain constant if the universe and life as we know it happened based upon random chance acting in a, as you said, "fortunate" way for us to exist?  All the laws we have in our governments were created by lawmakers, and those lawmakers work to enforce and keep those laws.   Why would the laws of the universe be any different?  Wouldn't such laws indicate that there must have be lawmaker?   

3:25-4:18 - My response: Jesus was a historical person. His life and death and Christianity's claims that he rose from the dead can be investigated and evaluated just as any person, place, and event of ancient history can be investigated. This clearly means that Christianity can be tested.  It is demonstrable.  If it can be proven that Jesus did not rise from the dead, then Christianity is not true. How do we evaluate other historical claims about events, places, and people from ancient history?  Let's take that same criteria and apply it to Jesus of Nazareth.  After we do this, I think we can then decide if there God is real? 

Monday, March 7, 2011

May 21st 2011 - End of the World - Harold Camping

On Feb. 18th, I went to Los Angeles to see a Henry Rollins, Spoken Word show.  Walking after the show, I saw a giant billboard that declared that the end was coming on May 21st, 2011.  It looked very similar to the one below:

A week or so after seeing the billboard sign, I heard it talked about on a Christian radio program.  They said that the leader behind this group is Harold Camping, and they definitely placed his group as a cult.  From what they said on the air and from what I'm reading on-line, this is not the first time Camping has made an end of the world claim.  He was wrong then, and he'll likely be wrong this time too!  In addition to these far-fetched end of the world claims, which he somehow deducts from Scripture, he also teaches that the Holy Spirit has left the church and he encourages people to leave their churches because of this.  His group, I guess, according to Camping, has the Holy Spirit.

If you'd like to learn more about Harold Camping and his group and his end of the world claims check out the following websites:

In conclusion, May 21st, 2011, is supposed to be the rapture according to Camping.  Then on October 21st, 2011, it's supposed to be the end of the world.  If none of these comes true, which it won't, let's check to see the response of Harold Camping and his followers.  Will they admit they were wrong, or will they just pick another date a decade or so away?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

An American Antique Mall - Non-Christian Culture

Let's take a stroll through an American Antique Mall!  

San Juan Capistrano, California

Nice set of containers.

As to be expected, lots of country-style antiques.

Nothing, too out of the ordinary for an antique barn mall!
Of course, Santa and the Buddha hanging out is quite a juxtaposition.
And the Buddhist antiques just kept coming...


And then things get even more out there...

Antique Ouija Board
Oh, nice antique picture...

Not!!!  It's a hologram that changes as you walk past it.  Sort of spooked me at first.  I wasn't expecting to see this in the Antique Barn Mall right next to the historic San Juan Mission!  

Magic potions anyone...
Or some other creepy stuff.  It's like walking into the attic in the movie, The Goonies.

What's the point to me showing all of this?  At the downtown historic walking street of San Juan Capistrano, in an American, country-style, barn antique mall, there are Ouija boards, skeletons, magic potion ingredients, skeletons, loads of Buddhist trinkets, jewelry, and statues, as well as an entire section dedicated to old Playboy magazines.  We are definitely beyond being a "Christian" nation.  The culture of America is moving far from its Christian roots.  This is vital for us to know as Christians, because this means we need to change our methods of outreach and the way we interact in the community.  We're moving into a post-Christian culture as a whole.  We also need to be more on guard and knowledgeable of what is "out there" so we can better defend against it and also communicate with those who are a part of this non-Christian culture! 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Monty Python and The Swoon Theory

There are some strands of evidence for the resurrection of Christ which seem very compelling.  They are: the empty tomb, the post-crucifixion appearances of Christ, the transformation of the apostles, the conversion of Saul, the emergence of the early Christian church, and the switch from the last day of the week to the first day of the week for worship.

However, there are some natural explanations which have been hypothesized as alternative possibilities for the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  One of these natural explanations is the "Swoon Theory".  The "Swoon Theory" suggests that Jesus Christ didn't die on the cross!  He survived the crucifixion, which is how he was seen three days later by the disciples!

However, I think the following "Spamalot" video clip can help illustrate how this isn't very plausible.  In the clip, it shows a cart being pulled around town collecting those who have died from the Bubonic Plague.  Clearly, the guy pulling the cart can tell if someone is dead or not, and if they're not yet dead, they don't go on the cart.  The same applies with criminals on the cross!  The executioners can tell if they are dead or not!  And if they're not dead yet, they don't get off the cross, and they certainly don't get buried into tombs.

Now for Jesus of Nazareth, I don't expect, even if he wasn't quite not dead yet, he wouldn't have been able to dance around like the fellow in Spamalot.  He wouldn't have taken the flogging and the beating and the crucifixion and three days being buried without food and water to somehow roll away a giant rock by himself and parade around in such a state that people will go - "Dang, he rose from the dead and he can raise me from the dead too!" Even if he could do all those things, he'd need to see a doctor.  He wouldn't be fooling anyone!  What do you think?

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Special Edition)                        The Case for the Real Jesus: A Journalist Investigates Current Attacks on the Identity of Christ

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Religious Pluralism #2

Most people have likely seen the "Tolerance" bumper sticker where the word tolerance is spelled using religious symbols. What are the religious symbols that spell the word Tolerance? Religious tolerance is good, but it's good to remember that the teachings of the world's religions contradict each other. 

Watch the Prezi presentation below to learn what the religious symbols of the "Tolerance" bumper sticker are. To watch the Prezi hit the forward and back buttons to move through the presentation.  It will take a moment to load.  You can also, click on more, then click on fullscreen to view the presentation in that mode.  

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

"Double Tap" Rule and the Swoon Theory

There are some strands of evidence for the resurrection of Christ which seem very compelling.  They are: the empty tomb, the post-crucifixion appearances of Christ, the transformation of the apostles, the conversion of Saul, the emergence of the early Christian church, and the switch from the last day of the week to the first day of the week for worship.

However, there are some natural explanations which have been hypothesized as alternative possibilities for the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  One of these natural explanations is the "Swoon Theory".  The "Swoon Theory" suggests that Jesus Christ didn't die on the cross!  He survived the crucifixion, which is how he was seen three days later by the disciples!

In my high school apologetics class, we were discussing these natural explanations for the evidence we have and concerning the "Swoon Theory" a student made a reference to the movie, Zombieland.  The survivor of the zombie apocalypse pictured in Zombieland, survived by following a list of rules.  One of these rules is the "Double Tap" rule.  If you think a zombie is dead, shoot it again to be sure!  It's better to waste the ammo than to potentially become a zombie happy meal.

How does this relate to the "Swoon Theory"?

The Romans made sure someone was dead if they executed them!  In the Gospels' accounts of the crucifixion, the executioners did a "Double Tap" on Jesus.  He was dead, but to be sure they plunged a spear into his side, into his heart!  He was dead.  The "Swoon Theory" doesn't work.

Click to get a copy of Zombieland!
The Case for Easter: Journalist Investigates the Evidence for the Resurrection
A great read for Easter, which is coming up soon in April.