Apologetics

Books About Islam and Muslims vs. the West

Posted on June 2, 2009. Filed under: Apologetics, Islam, The Walker Library |

The Walker Library Project

A Ministry of Mark12ministries

 

“Islam and Muslims vs. West”

 

Introduction: The Walker Library Project is an effort to catalogue the 6000+ volumes of the Walker Library so that they can be loaned out to students at SouthWestern Baptist Theological Seminary, homeschoolers, the members of Redeemer Church in Fort Worth and other special friends.

 

Although the long war between Islam and the West began in the 7th century (or, if you look at the Wars with Persia that Greece and, later, Rome waged it goes back to 499 BC) for most Americans the war seems to have started on September 11, 2001. But our country actually waged a war with Islam earlier in our history. In 1783 America was a new nation, the War for Independence from Britain was over, and the US merchant ships were free to sail. But the North African coast was full of Muslim Pirates and they preyed on all shipping of countries who did not pay tribute. By 1801 the young country grew tired of paying this tribute and began to fight back. The issue was finally settled by 1815 after two brief wars. If you want a better understanding of what we face today, you will need to read about the Barbary Pirates.

 

Any understanding of the modern or historical conflicts between Islam and the West must go into the differences in theology between Islam and Christianity. At its root, the modern day conflict is in fact a Religious War, whether the Politicians in the West want to acknowledge that or not. Our Muslim opponents know it and state it clearly; we really ought to listen to our enemies on this subject.

 

I am not the least interested in learning about Islam and Islamic culture so that we can have nice chats, peace talks or the like. Islam is out to take over the world through converting those they can, conquering, killing or enslaving those who don’t convert, or die trying. With Muslims it is not at all about competing fairly in the marketplace of ideas for the hearts and souls of men. Though the Bible and Christianity have never taught that it is right to spread the gospel by war and coercion, some Christians in the past,with political and military power, have. They were sinfully and dreadfully wrong to do so. Separation of Church and State is a must, but that doesn’t mean that our theology and ethics do not influence our political theory and practice. With Islam it is impossible to separate the mosque from the state; they are supposed to be united.

 

I am interested in learning about Islam and their history and culture for two main reasons: 1) to aid in sharing the gospel with muslims and 2) to awaken the West to the dangers of Islam so that we can defend Western Civilization from the East. This conflict between East and West, as I said earlier, goes all the way back to Greece vs. Persia, well, all the way back to Ishmael vs. Isaac really.

 

Here are the books on the subject from the Walker Library:

I.                   Introductory Works and Theology of Islam Compared with Christianity

 

Answering Islam by Norman Geisler and Abdul Saleeb. Baker Books: Grand Rapids, MI. 1993 (336pp.) Unfortunately I do not yet have the 2nd edition of this good book, written after 9/11.

Arabs In The Shadow of Israel: The Unfolding of God’s Prophetic Plan for Ishmael’s Line by Tony Maalouf. Kregel: Grand Rapids, MI 2003 (366pp.)

The Cross and the Crescent: Understanding the Muslim Mind and Heart by Phil Parshall. Tyndale House: Wheaton, Ill. 1989 (224pp.) 

The Dark Side of Islam by R.C. Sproul and Abdul Saleeb. Crossway Books: Wheaton, IL. 2003 (107pp.)

 Fast Facts on Islam by John Ankerberg and John Weldon. Harvest House: Eugene, OR. 2001 (159pp.)

Islam And Human Rights: Tradition and Politics, 3rd ed. by Ann Elizabeth Mayer. Westview Press: Boulder, CO 1999 (260pp.)

 Islam: Its Prophet, Peoples, Politics and Power by George W. Braswell, Jr. Broadman&Holman: Nashville, TN 1996 (338pp.)

 More Than a Prophet, an Insider’s Response to Muslim Beliefs About Jesus and Christianity, by Emir Fethi Caner and Ergun Mehmet Caner. Kregel: Grand Rapids, MI. 2003 (269pp.)

 The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (And the Crusades), by Robert Spencer. Regnery Publishing: Washington DC 2005 (270pp.)

 So What’s The Difference? A Look at 20 Worldviews, Faiths and Religions and How They Compare To Christianity, by Fritz Ridenour. Regal: Ventura, CA. 2001 (Chapter 5 “Islam”).

 The Sword of the Prophet, Islam: history, theology, impact on the world by Serge Trifkovic. Regina Orthodox Press: Boston, MA. 2002 (312pp.)

 Unveiling Islam, an Insider’s Look at Muslim Life and Beliefs, by Ergun Mehmet Caner and Emir Fethi Caner. Kregel: Grand Rapids, MI. 2002 (251pp.)

Why I Am Not A Muslim by Ibn Warraq. Prometheus Books: Amherst, New York, NY 2003 (402pp.) 

 

II.                Arab and Islamic History and Culture

     

A History of the Arab Peoples, by Albert Hourani. The Belknap Press: Cambridge, MA 1991 (551pp.)

 The Closed Circle: An Interpretation of the Arabs, by David Pryce-Jones. Ivan R. Dee: Chicago, IL 2002 (464pp.)

 The Middle East: A Brief History of the Last 2000 Years, by Bernard Lewis. Scribner: New York, NY 1995 (433pp.)

 The Muslim Discovery of Europe, by Bernard Lewis. WW Norton and Co: New York, NY 2002 (350pp.)

 The Truth About Muhammad Founder of the World’s Most Intolerant Religion, by Robert Spencer. Regnery Publishing: Washington DC 2006 (224pp.)

 

III.             Conflict Between Islam and the West

 

The Age of Sacred Terror, by Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon. Random House: New York, NY 2002 (490pp.)

The Battle for Christendom: The Council of Constance, The East-West Conflict, and the Dawn of Modern Europe by Frank Welsh. The Overlook Press: Woodstock, NY. 2008 (283pp.)

 The Blood of the Moon: Understanding the Historic Struggle Between Islam and Western Civilization, by George Grant. Thomas Nelson: Nashville, TN 2001 (207pp.)

 The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, by Samuel P. Huntington. Touchstone: New York, NY 1996 (367pp.) Although only chapters 5, 7, 9, and 10 deal with Islam extensively, the whole book is valuable for the subject.

 The Crisis of Islam, Holy War and Unholy Terror, by Bernard Lewis. The Modern Library: New York, NY 2003 (184pp.)

Defenders of the Faith: Charles V, Suleyman the Magnificent, and the Battle for Europe 1520-1536 by James Reston, Jr. The Penguin Press: New York, NY 2009 (407pp.)

The Enemy at the Gate: Habsburgs, Ottomans and the Battle for Europe, by Andrew Wheatcroft. Basic Books: New York, NY 2008 (339pp.)

 Religion of Peace? Islam’s War Against the World, by Gregory M. Davis. World Ahead Publishing: Los Angeles, CA 2006 (159pp.)

 The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success, Rodney Stark. Random House: New York, NY 2005 (281pp.)

 The West’s Last Chance: Will We Win the Clash of Civilizations? By Tony Blankley. Regnery: Washington DC 2005 (232pp.)

 What Went Wrong? The Clash Between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East, by Bernard Lewis. Perennial: New York, NY 2002 (186pp.)

 

 

IV.              The Crusades and Battle for Lepanto

 

1453 The Holy War for Constantinople and The Clash of Islam and The West, Roger Crowley. Hyperion: New York, NY 2005 (304pp.)

 A Concise History of the Crusades, Thomas F. Madden, a part of the series “Critical Issues in History”. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers: Oxford 1999 (247pp.)

 Confrontation at Lepanto: Christendom vs. Islam, by T.C.F. Hopkins. Tom Doherty Associates: New York, NY 2006 (208pp.)

 Crescent and Cross: The Battle of Lepanto 1571, by Hugh Bicheno. Cassell: London 2003 (350pp.)

 The Crusades, by Zoe’ Oldenbourg. Wiedenfeld & Nicolson: London 1966 (650pp.)

 The Crusades, A History, by Jonathon Riley-Smith. Yale University Press: New Haven CT 2005 (353pp.)

 Empires of the Sea: The Siege of Malta, the Battle of Lepanto, and the Contest for the Center of the World, by Roger Crowley. Random House: New York, NY 2008 (336pp.)

 The First Crusade, A New History: The Roots of Conflict Between Christianity and Islam, by Thomas Asbridge. Oxford University Press: Oxford 2004 (408pp.)

 God’s Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215, David Levering Lewis. WW Norton: New York, NY 2008 (473pp.)

God’s War: A New History of the Crusades by Christopher Tyerman. The Belknap Press of Harvard University: Cambridge, Mass. 2006 (1024pp.)

Saladin In His Time by P.H. Newby. Phoenix Press: London, 1983 (210pp.)

 Victory of the West: The Great Christian-Muslim Clash At The Battle of Lepanto, Niccolo’ Capponi. Da Capo Press: Essex 2006 (411pp.)

Warriors of God: Richard the Lionheart and Saladin in the Third Crusade by James Reston, Jr. Anchor Books: New York, 2001 (410pp.)

V.                 America and Islam

A.     War with the Barbary Pirates

A Rage for Glory: The Life of Commodore Stephen Decatur, USN, by James Tertius De Kay. Free Press: New York, NY 2004 (237pp.)

 The End of Barbary Terror: America’s 1815 War Against the Pirates of North Africa, by Frederick C. Leiner. Oxford University Press: Oxford, 2006 (239pp.)

 Jefferson’s War: America’s First War on Terror 1801-1805, Joseph Wheelan. Carroll & Graf Publishers: New York, NY 2003 (414pp.)

 The Pirate Coast: Thomas Jefferson, the First Marines, and the Secret Mission of 1805, by Richard Zacks. Hyperion: New York, NY 2005 (432pp.)

 Victory in Tripoli: How America’s War with the Barbary Pirates Established the U.S. Navy and Shaped a Nation, by Joshua E. London. John Wiley & Sons: Hoboken, NJ 2005 (276pp.)

Six Frigates: The Epic History of the Founding of the U.S. Navy by Ian W. Toll. WW Norton Company: New York, NY. 2006 (560pp.) 

 

B.     General

Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East 1776 to the Present, by Michael B. Oren. WW Norton & Company: New York, NY 2007 (778pp.)

Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That’s Conspiring to Islamize America by P.David Gaubatz and Paul Sperry. WorldNetDaily Books: Los Angeles, CA 2009 (422pp.) 

C.     The Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan 

Crusade: The Untold Story of the Persian Gulf War, Rick Atkinson. Houghton Mifflin Company: New York, NY 1993 (575pp.)

Fiasco: The American Military Adventure In Iraq, by Thomas E. Ricks. Penguin Books: New York, NY 2007 (492pp.)

 First In: An Insider’s Account of How the CIA Speaheaded the War on Terror in Afghanistan, by Gary C. Schroen. Ballantine Books: New York, NY 2005 (379pp.)

 The Gamble: General David Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006-2008, by Thomas E. Ricks. Penguin Press: New York, NY. 2009 (394pp.)

Into the Storm: A Study in Command by Tom Clancy and Gen. Fred Franks, Jr. GP Putnam’s Sons: New York, NY 1997 (551pp.)

It Doesn’t Take A Hero, General H. Norman Schwartzkopf. Bantam: New York, NY 1992 (530pp.)

 Licensed To Kill: Hired Guns In The War On Terror, by Robert young Pelton. Crown Publishers: New York, NY 2006 (358pp.)

Lightning in the Storm: The 101st Air Assault Division in the Gulf War by Thomas Taylor. Hippocrene Books: New York, NY 1994 (468pp.)

Not A Good Day to Die: The Untold Story of Operation Anaconda, Chaos and Courage in the Mountains of Afghanistan by Sean Naylor. Berkley Books: New York, NY 2005 (425pp.)

Storm Over Iraq: Air Power and the Gulf War by Richard P. Hallion. Smithsonian Institution Press: Washington, DC 1992 (383pp.)

Strike Eagle: Flying the F-15E in the Gulf War by William L. Smallwood. Brassey’s Inc.: Washington DS 1994 (218pp.)

VI.              Arab-Israeli Wars

 

No Victor, No Vanquished: The Yom Kippur War, Edgar O’Balance. Presidio Press: San Rafael, CA 1978 (370pp.)

The Arab-Israeli Wars by Chaim Herzog. Random House: New York, NY 1982 (441pp.)

Sinai Victory by S.L.A. Marshall. The Battery Press: Nashville, TN 1958 (280pp.)

 The Yom Kippur War by Peter Alan. Charles Scribner’s Sons: New York, 1982 (244pp.)

VII.           Ancient Antecedents: Persia vs. the West

 ***TO BE CONTINUED

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Is Faith in Jesus Just a Crutch for Weak People?

Posted on December 3, 2008. Filed under: Apologetics |

Redeemer Care Group 12-03-2008

Is Faith in Jesus Just a Crutch for Weak People?

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Did man invent religion in order to explain the mysteries of the physical universe which he could not yet understand and to bring comfort in the face of the many pointless tragedies of life? Is Christianity just a highly evolved crutch that has its roots in man’s primal fears? Does faith just make people feel better about their life situations?

These are some of the questions we will examine tonight in our Redeemer Care Group as we continue our study in RC Sproul’s book, Reason to Believe, Wednesday, December 3, 2008.

Has anyone ever been confronted by an unbeliever with these kinds of statements? Has anyone ever challenged your faith in Jesus by stating it was just a crutch? Or how about, “I don’t feel the need for religion?” Does what you feel subjectively alter what is reality? Many people believe that the realm of religion is totally subjective and absent any historically verifiable facts. Karl Marx, in his 1843 book, Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, he wrote, “Religion is the opiate of the people.” Is there in any way a sense that this statement could be right? Can religion be used by a powerful elite to keep the masses docile? Do people ever tend to use Jesus for their own ends in history or in the present?

One of the things that perplexes atheists is why religion is still around in the age of reason and science. So they seek ways to explain it away.

I.                   Religion Was Invented To Explain and Tame the Natural World

Sigmund Freud http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sigmund_Freud  believed that man, when confronted by the forces of nature, sought to explain them by personalizing them, attributing human qualities to them but in a super way so that gods were invented. To persuade the storm to abate you try to appease the god of the storm with sacrifices. Monotheism is just a more highly evolved religion and Christianity may be the most highly evolved form of monotheism.

II.                Religion Was Invented By the Rich and Powerful to help Control the Masses

The infamous Karl Marx looks at history and religion in economic terms. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Marx

He believed that the rich and powerful created religion to control the people. The ruling classes are a tiny minority yet they accumulate most of the wealth. How can the masses of people sit by and allow that to happen? They are infected with religion. Religion emphasizes obedience, a good work ethic, a servant’s heart, meekness, etc. What does the average worker get in this bargain? A promise of pie in the sky by and by. It lends spiritual dignity to the poor and downtrodden, making them feel better about their plight.

Certainly some religions have been used by powerful people in the past, or even today, to control people. And of course many people do come to religion out of some sense of emotional or physical need.

But just like there are some powerful reasons to make up religion, there are also powerful reasons to make up atheism and reject the God who is there and who is not silent. In the Catholic priest scandals of the 1990’s it came out that thousands of boys were molested by homosexual priests. As they grew up, many of these victims turned against God and the church and became atheists. In my own experience I have seen many people hurt and damaged by unchristian behavior in the churches that they have dropped out and have become practical atheists. Disillusionment is a frequent reason for becoming an atheist.

The atheist may have some serious guilt issues from real sins and crimes. It becomes psychologically helpful to tell yourself there is no God and no right or wrong, therefore you are really OK and whatever you did back then is justified. The atheist likely had a terrible relationship with his/her father and hate all male authority figures, including God. A person who is a hedonist, selfish and narcissistic may do away with God so as to indulge all his perversions, whims, sins and fancies.

III.             If There Is No God Why Is There Religion?

The various theories of how religion came to be offer no proof or falsification of theism, says Sproul (p.64) He continues, “If indeed there is no God then their theories of the origin of religion are plausible. But first it must be established that in fact there is no God. That man has the ability to invent religion is obvious. That he in fact did invent religion is not so obvious.”  There is a difference between showing man has the means and motive to invent religion, and showing evidence that he in fact did so. We can show that man invented some religions, Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Islam, but Christianity and Judaism are rooted in history. There is corroborative evidence.

Do you agree with Sproul’s statement on p.65 “It is both theoretically possible that there be a God with no one believing in Him and that there is no God while everyone believes He exists. The truth of reality is not determined by counting noses.” When I was a kid there was an evangelist in Oklahoma who came up with a bumper sticker, “God Said, I believe It, That Settles It!” In truth, however, it is settled whether I believe it or not!

Read Romans 1:18ff and you will see how man the atheist suppresses the truth about God. In our deepest memory we know there is a God, yet as hardened sinners, we hate Him and suppress that memory. We then manufacture gods in our own likeness and image; gods who will do what we desire.

IV.              Why Are We Afraid of God?

What is about God that terrifies us? His holiness, sovereignty (current controversy in the SBC) omnipresence, omniscience, omnipotent, immutability. Look at Isaiah 6:1-5 for his holiness.  Mark 4:36ff. Luke 5:8. Would man actually invent a God like is in the Bible?

Why were Adam and Eve ashamed of being naked after the sin? Jean Paul Sartre has written about God constantly looking at us, watching us.

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These are my notes from RC Sproul’s book, Reason to Believe, that we are using in our care group. I have only quoted him directly a few times, but this is his outline. I have changed a few things here and there.

 

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Does the Bible Contradict Itself?

Posted on November 25, 2008. Filed under: Apologetics |

Redeemer Church Central Care Group

A Study of RC Sproul’s Book: Reason to Believe

Chapter One “The Bible Contradicts Itself; It’s Just a Fairy Tale”

All religions appeal to some kind of an authority. Christians appeal to the Bible as their authority. The Bible is written thousands of years ago and has been the subject of a huge amount of critical study through the centuries and today, many have called its trustworthiness into doubt. Tonight we will deal with some of the common questions about the trustworthiness of the Bible.

I. Many people believe the Bible is like other ancient literature and is full of myths. Ancient myths are non-historical but may convey some moral lessons, but certainly not authoritative truth. There are 3 reasons many people assume the Bible is full of myths. 1) The Bible has many miracles all throughout and we live in an age that does not believe in the supernatural. Miracles must be myths. 2) There are similar stories in other ancient literature, like the flood account in the Epic of Gilgamesh, that are clearly myth, so the biblical accounts must also be myths. 3) Even in the stories of Jesus there are similar accounts in pagan stories.

1) The question of miracles. If people a priori rule out miracles as myths then this is a philosophical issue. Here the critic must prove their assumption by demonstrating we live in a closed universe where there is no God and no intervention by God in space and time. But, if there is an omnipotent God, then miracles cannot be ruled out. The materialist has a problem with “mind”. If the mind is only atoms behaving randomly in a biological process how can we have any truth, any justice, any beauty?

2) Just because miracles may be possible does not prove every claim to a miracle is valid. We must look at the context and content of miracle stories and see if there is evidence. What is the tone of the account? The biblical miracles have a sobriety about them that is not found in the Gnostic gospels’ miracle accounts. The men of the Bible who perform miracles have a demonstrated godly character and are willing to die for their beliefs. 2Peter 1:16.

3) Parallel accounts of miracles in pagan literature can be looked as a validation of the basic story of the miracles. A comparison of biblical miracles with the pagan versions will also show the dramatic differences between them. Sproul writes (p.22) “At the heart of the difference between Greek mythology and biblical literature is a radically different view of the significance of history. For the Greeks there is no overt attempt to ground myth within the framework of history. Indeed, for the gods to become actually incarnate in the realm of space and time is utterly repugnant to the Greek mind. On the other hand that which is non-historical or anti-historical is relegated to the level of falsehood by the Hebrew. This radically opposing view of history is essential to understanding the Jewish-Greek antithesis with respect to the question of myth.”

II. Does the Bible Conflict with Science?

1) The conflict between Scripture and Science has likely done more to harm the credibility of the Bible today than anything else. From the Church’s condemnation of Galileo to the Scopes Monkey Trial the church is still feeling the embarrassment of wrongly interpreting scripture, not understanding science and allowing the secular media to run roughshod over the Church. Some argue that the Scriptures are in complete conflict with science.

2) How do we as Christians respond to these kinds of misunderstandings and allegations? We must readily acknowledge that the Church has been wrong in the past on some serious issues. But we must also then point out that the Bible nowhere teaches anything like the Earth being the center of the universe. The Bible uses phenomenological language to describe things like the sun rising, and this term is still used in secular science today. The biblical view of the spiritual realm including demons does not conflict with any scientific fact or natural law. The Bible is not a science textbook, however. But there are serious conflicts about the origin of man and the universe. But keep in mind that the scientist frequently strays into history and metaphysics when they try to talk authoritatively about origins. Sproul writes (p.24) “But the question of man’s origin can never be determined by the study of biology. The question of origin is a question of history. The biologist can describe how things could have happened, but can never tell us how they did happen.”

III. Is the Bible Filled with Contradictions?

1) People accept without question the charge that the Bible is filled with Contradictions, yet they don’t really understand what a contradiction is. Certainly the Bible has some passages that are very difficult and there are some discrepancies that remain unresolved. But are there any actual contradictions in the Bible? Such supposed Bible contradictions as the number of angels present at the tomb of Jesus on the day of the Resurrection are easily shown to be not contradictions. One Gospel author states that there were 2 angels at the tomb and another one states there was an angel, implying one but not necessarily only one. Sproul denies that the Bible is filled with contradictions and gives an anecdotal story of one of his students whom he challenged to find 50 contradictions over night, and failed utterly.

IV. Is the Bible Historically Accurate?

1) The historical investigation of the Bible has been so thorough and has discovered no significant historical problems that we have every reason to trust the Bible as being historically accurate and verifiable. The 20th century discoveries at Ugarit, Qumran and Ebla have confirmed much of the Old Testament while the work of William Ramsey has confirmed much of the gospels and Acts.

V. Why Is Some of the Bible so Offensive?

1) People today frequently reject the Bible because of its violence and the wrath of God. The Old Testament in particular is singled out and many people will say that they can believe in Jesus but not that angry, wrathful God of the Old Testament. And yet it is the cross of Christ that is the real stumbling stone of violence and there is an abundance of grace in the Old Testament. We fail to understand the violence of the OT because we take sin lightly today and do take the holiness of God seriously at all. Sproul writes (p.30), “If we are offended by the Bible, perhaps the fault is not in God but in our own corrupt and distorted sense of values. I wonder what would happen if we called a moratorium on our criticism of the Bible and allowed the Bible to criticize us!”

VI. Are the Scriptures Infallible?

1) It is one thing to agree that the Bible is generally historically accurate and is not myth and has no serious contradictions. But it is something else entirely to state that the Bible is inspired by God and is infallible and inerrant. Sproul walks us through a series of premises that lead to the conclusion that “On the basis of the infallible authority of Jesus Christ, the church believes the Bible to be utterly trustworthy, i.e. infallible.” (p.31). If we are persuaded that Christ is the sinless Son of God then we should take his view of the Bible seriously.

VII. Conclusion

This first chapter dealt with the questions concerning the Bible itself because the Bible is our beginning point, our authority. If we cannot have an agreement on our authority it is difficult to answer any of the other questions that the book brings out. When the world comes to us with questions we should never back down from claiming the Bible is accurate and authoritative. It is the Word of God.

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Crucial Question: Which Religion Is True?-or- Aren’t All Religions Equally True?

Posted on November 9, 2008. Filed under: Apologetics |

Crucial Question: Which Religion Is True?-or-Aren’t All Religions Equally True?

John 14:1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.

12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

Introduction:I saw a news story recently about a female Episcopal Priest in Seattle who had such close ties to muslims that she  considers herself to be practicing both religions. Her Bishop, another woman, is suspending her from the ministry until she can figure out which religion she is. There are so many things wrong in this story I hardly know where to begin…or end! It is so typically American to believe you can be both a muslim and a Christian. I actually worked with a guy about 20 years ago who was a MuslimBaptistCatholic… he prayed to Mecca a few times a day, wore a rosary and went to a Baptist Church some. This brings up the apologetics question I want to look at today: Which religion is really true? Are all religions true in their essence? As long as you are sincere, whatever your faith, won’t you get to heaven?

www.boston.com/news/local/rhode_island/articles/2007/07/06/episcopal_bishop_suspends_priest_who_is_also_muslim/

In our care group at Redeemer Church in Fort Worth, we are studying RC Sproul’s book, Reason To Believe. We are beginning chapter two this week, “All Religions Are Good. It Doesn’t Matter What You Believe.” This brief study will be built around Sproul’s writings here but I will bring some other material a well.

The fundamental idea I want to get across is this: what you believe about religion may make you feel better about yourself, but the hard rules of logic and the raw facts of history forbid you from saying things like, “All religions are true; it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are sincere.” This is a lie from the devil of hell and will send many to hell. The bottom line is that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation; all other ways are not only wrong, but bring eternal damnation.

I. Don’t Let Your Politics Determine Your Faith, rather, Let Your Faith Determine Your Politics

One of America’s national mottoes is “E Pluribus Unum”, out of many- one. Though many of the original colonies had an official, state religion and were not tolerant of other faiths, over time, and with the US Constitution and its Bill of Rights, religious liberty-tolerance- became the law of the land. America is pretty unique in this regard.

Historically many people came to America to get away from persecution because of their faith. This is not necessarily the same thing as coming here to practice religious liberty. The Pilgrims were Puritan separatists who had fled England for Holland to escape the persecution that was common under Queen Elizabeth and then King James for those who did not conform to the Church of England. After watching their children grow up in Holland and being drawn away by the temptations of another culture, they decided to immigrate to America. They established Plymouth Colony so that they could worship the way they believed. By the late 1620’s the persecution of the Puritans in England was so severe that plans began for more congregations to immigrate to the colonies and in 1630 the Great Migration began.

Boston and the rest Massachusetts Bay Colony were founded by the Puritan Congregationalists and they did not allow for much variation in religious belief. Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson were exiled as were several Quakers. Some Quakers were even tortured and executed for their beliefs. Protestant killing Protestant.

In the 16th century France and the Low Countries had fought bloody civil wars over religion and in the 17th century came the Thirty Year’s War, and again, religion was fought over. Further back in time and you have the Crusades, wars over religion. Forward in time to the 20th century and you get the Holacaust in Europe by the German Nazis against the Jews. Today in our time you have the jihad of the muslims against the Jews of Israel and against the infidels of the West, mainly the USA.

Historically and politically then, it appears that those who hold firmly to their religious beliefs have been the source of multiple problems, including wars. No wonder, then, that you get bestselling books today with titles like “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything” by Christopher Hitchens or “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins or “The End of Faith” by Sam Harris.

But a thorough scientist muct test his hypothesis and look at all the unknowns and evdence. Has atheism fared any better? Welllll, let’s see… The communist takeover of Russia resulted in the centrally planned genocide of millions in the Ukraine and elsewhere. The ancestor worshiping Japanese started a war with China and the US; has anyone ever heard of Nanking? The communist rule in China has killed tens of millions of its own people. Not a whole lot of freedom going on there the past 60 years or so. So the Atheists do not have any kind of a positive record they can fall back on. Oh yeah, the Age of Reason and the French Revolution that was to usher in a time of peace, that worked well  in the French Revolution, didn’t it? Isn’t that where Napoleon came from? Good times.

The point of this is that in America we seem to have allowed our politics to determine our religion. We practice tolerance, religious liberty and diversity, therefore all religions must be of equal merit, right? The idea current in America is that Tolerance is the highest virtue. Those who hold religious views too strongly are intolerant and therefore not tolerable. Wow. Thus you get people in the Baptist churches I have been in who think other world religions are ok. As long as you are sincere you too will go to heaven, because we all worship the same god. Sproul writes,(p.36) “Thus, when Christians or advocates of any religion make claims of exclusivity, their claims are often met with shock or anger a such a narrow-minded posture. To make exclusive religious claims is to fly in the face of national sentiment. It is like attacking baseball, hot dogs, motherhood, and apple pie…”

Sproul goes on to relate an embarrassing situation he faced in college when a professor challenged his faith in class in a very demeaning way. I can absolutely relate to that because the same thing happened to me my freshman year at OU, in English. The situation in today’s universities is far worse; schools today are not only intolerant of Christians, they will actively persecute and fail students who are vocal about their faith.

From every direction then, the pressure is on the Bible believing Christian to submit to the spirit of the age that says all religions are of equal value. Does your politics determine your faith, or is your faith determiing your politics?

II. The Exclusive Claims of Christ

First of all notice the sequence in which Sproul makes his argument. In ch.1 he makes a very reasoned argument to accept the Bible, not as myth, not with contradictions riddled throughout, but as a historically verifiable, sober record of events ending in the resurrection of Jesus. Once that is acknowledged you can move on to what the Bible claims, to doctrine. In this section we will look at the claims about Jesus.

 

In John 14 Jesus makes some very exclusive claims. These are propositional statements that are either True or False. If the statements are true, their opposites cannot also be true at the same time and in the same relationship.

1)      Jesus urges his disciples to “Believe in God;” no problem there, most people will go along with him there- “believe also in me.” Uh-oh, here we get into dangerous ground. It seems that Jesus is putting himself on the same level as God. He is distinguishing himself from God, but calling others to believe in him in the same way they believe in God.

2)      In my Father’s house are many rooms- here Jesus further identifies God while simultaneously distinguishing himself from God, by calling him his Father. In Jewish thought this would be outright heresy, blasphemy. To claim God as his Father links him too closely with God in their mind.

3)      I go to prepare a place for you- here again Jesus is claiming remarkable closeness to God- that he has the authority to go to heaven, his Father’s house, and prepare a place for his disciples. This is clearly language that they would understand as relating to a powerful kingly person (God) and his princely son (Jesus) who has the same authority as his Father.

4)      I will come again and take you to myself- he claims the ability to go to heaven and prepare a place for them, then promises to come back for them and take them to heaven with him. This is absolutely something that only God could do.

5)      Jesus makes a very strong and direct claim to being the exclusive way to the Father in vs. 6. the language is so strong it cannot be misunderstood. “I am the way (to the Father), and the truth (not “a” way or “a” truth but THE WAY and THE TRUTH) and the life (again, not “a” life but THE LIFE). Jesus here leaves no wiggle room for anyone. There are not many ways to the Father, there is only one way. There are not many truths, there is only one truth about God. There are not many alternative lifestyles, there is only way to live and that is the way of Christ.

6)      Jesus does not quit yet, he emphasizes it yet again with saying, “NO ONE comes to the Father except through me.” He leaves no exceptions. He does not make any exceptions possible.

7)      To further hammer home his point, in verse 9 he adds “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” You have to be very careful here, you must remember that he does distinguish himself from the Father but says that if you look at him, if you have seen Jesus, you have also seen the Father. He is saying if you want to know what the Father is like, look to the Son. Scripture elsewhere says the Father, God, is invisible.

8      In vs. 10 Jesus brings clarity to this by saying, “I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” So he is not claiming to be the Father, but a degree of closeness and unity that is beyond anything else we can imagine. This is some of the foundation for the doctrine of the Trinity. It is a claim to be divine, and not just a little bit divine. He is claiming to be God, but careful to distinguish himself from the Father. He never claims to be the Father, but he does claim to be God.

9)      In vs. 11 he challenges them to believe him on his word, but if not that, then on the basis of his many miracles, the works. Clearly then, a part of his claim to divinity rests upon his miraculous works. Take away the miracles of the Bible, and you get some empty claims.

 

The Bible is internally consistent and has no contradictions. That implies that the Bible’s case for the divinity of Christ is airtight. If you take the Bible seriously, then all other religions are excluded.

 

Look next at Acts 4:12 “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” When you look at the context you see that Peter is speaking about Jesus. Again, the claim is very exclusive- there is salvation in no one else! Jesus is not one among many, he is the only hope we have for salvation.

 

When you look at the uniqueness of Jesus, his virgin birth, his two natures (divine and human) and the claims from scripture about his dying as an atonement for our sin, and then the claims for the resurrection, you see that no other religious figure in history makes anywhere near the same claims. Jesus is either Lord, liar or a lunatic as CS Lewis and Josh McDowell say.

 

III. Don’t All Religions Have Essentially the Same Truth?

Why should God have only one way to worship him? One way to salvation? Isn’t that kind of narrow minded?

 

What many people did, beginning in the 1800’s, is to try to boil all religions down to their essence in an effort at unity. It came down to something like belief in the universal fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of men. Believe in some kind of god out there somewhere and be nice. Believe in a higher power and do what you want, just don’t hurt anybody else; be true to yourself. The higher power can be the Christian God, the muslim’s allah, the Jewish God, the earth mother goddess, the 300 million or so gods of Hinduism, whatever.

 

The big illustration that a lot of people use is this: all roads lead up the mountain, you just get to the top by different routes. Everybody worships the same God but in different ways. Since 9/11 in America we have seen our political leaders say things like that repeatedly in an effort at including good muslims. President Bush has been the first American President to go to a muslim mosque. He has made numerous statements that indicate he thinks the muslims worship the same god he does.

 

The Bahai’ faith basically states that all religions are the truth or have some of the truth, but Bhai’ is the final revelation. They try to bring all faiths together, but essentially claim theirs is the truth. But this claim that all faiths are equal, whether claimed by Bhai’ or by American liberals, is an ignorant, condescending claim that does not take the claims of each religion seriously.

 

Buddhism denies the existence of a personal God while Christianity claims that God is personal. Both cannot be true. Orthodox Judaism denies life after death and denies the divinity of Christ while Christianity and Islam claim there is life after death and Christianity claims Christ is the Son of God. Islam calls Christianity a polytheistic religion for believing in the Trinity, yet Christianity claims the 3 in oneness of God. Reducing all religions to some vague essence and claiming that they are all true is ignorant and absurd and violates the rules of logic and the historical claims of Christianity. Islam claims to have the authority of Allah to kill infidels (us) while Christianity claims to be told from God to love your enemies and do good to those who persecute you. Two radically different ethics are mutually exclusive. Both cannot be right.

 

The spirit of this age cries out for peace at any price, both in political and spiritual realms. “Can’t we all just get along” is a famous quote from a notorious crime situation in America in the 1990’s and “We shall have peace in our time” is a famous statement by an English politician just before the outbreak of World War 2. In Jer. 6 we read of the false prophets and priest saying, “peace, peace- when there is no peace”

 

Religions claim to deal with matters of ultimate concern. Their adherents take them seriously. Instead of blithely stating that all religions are true or share the same essence, we ought to seek serious dialog where the differences are stated clearly, but in a respectful manner.

 

IV. Is God Narrow Minded? Is He Too Strict?

People have lost the concept of a sovereign, holy God who not only has created the universe but rules it with justice. People object to this holy God and prefer to create a Santa Clause god of their own imaginings. They object to their being only one way to heaven. Matt. 7:13 -14 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”  Why is God’s gate narrow?

 

You can ask the question, “Why doesn’t God just save everybody?” But as you look around and see the news and read history you realize that there are some truly wicked, mean and evil people all over. Do you really think they deserve to be saved instead of judged? But when you look at the nice people whom you know and love, and look at yourself, don’t you see that no one is perfect, that all of us is not only flawed but that we each do things that are deliberately wrong, selfish, mean and wicked? When you see that all are indeed sinners, you can ask this question: “Why should God save anyone?”

 

Look at the story of man and God as told by the Bible. God created us in his image and likeness. Did he have to do that? No. God set the first man and woman in the beautiful and safe Garden of Eden. Did he have to do that? The first man and woman had no sin nature and only had one restriction- Don’t eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Yet what did they do? In the midst of all that abundance, they managed to disobey the one rule given them by the God who had provided for their every need and desire. The penalty for violating that one rule was death. Did God have that right? Certainly. But what did God do? He gave them mercy and grace.

 

God did not leave mankind in its sin, helpless and hopeless, he said that he would send a redeemer. He established a people who would be used to bring that hope of a redeemer to all men. Those people became enslaved and God delivered them from slavery and brought them, despite numerous rebellions, into the Promised Land. After providing them a Law code and a proper form of worship, the people rejected God time and again to serve false gods and idols. God sent prophets to them to warn them and bring them back time and again. But the people had a habit of ignoring or abusing and even killing the prophets God sent.

 

Finally god sent his only son, Jesus to reveal himself to his people and save them from their sins. The people rejected Jesus and crucified him. God’s people killed God on the cross. Deicide. Murder.

 

Yet God still gives us grace and offers us redemption, adoption and eternal salvation. Why should he do that? And we want to complain that he hasn’t done enough, that he has made the way too narrow and too hard? We do not deserve the one way of salvation God has given.

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Apologetics, Faith & Witnessing

Posted on October 28, 2008. Filed under: Apologetics |

Apologetics, Faith & Witnessing

Wed. 2-19-03 PM

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Introduction: We have been studying the difficult field of apologetics for some time now and I have called this study Witnessing Better. While I certainly have benefited from the study of this subject in Seminary and from the reading of many books on this subject, most of what I have taught you I have personally used in real conversations with normal lost people or Christians who had some serious questions. Although some of the proofs of God and defenses of the faith we have studied have been difficult, I think that the one we shall study tonight will make the most sense to you and that you have probably already used at some point in your life.

            Open your Bible to one of my favorite texts, John 14:6, 7 “Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.7 If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well.”

            Tonight we will study what is called the Fideist Approach to Apologetics, which means the approach of Faith. The other types of apologetics we have examined were the Classical- emphasizing reason, the Evidentialist- emphasizing evidence, the Reformed- emphasizing the authority of the Bible and now we look at the approach of faith, a personal faith in the person of Jesus Christ.

 

I. Your Personal Testimony

            In John 4 we have the story of the woman at the well. After their lengthy conversation, in v.28f “the woman went back to the town and said to the people, Come see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” This sinful woman who had experienced so much sin and sorrow, divorce and disappointment, who was scorned and virtually friendless and was living with a man not her husband, had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ that changed her completely. Revival broke out in that town. Look at v.39ff “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed with them for two days. And because of his words many more became believers.”

            Was this woman a theologian? Was she a gifted speaker? Did she have all the classical arguments for the existence of God down pat? What did she do? She had met Jesus, she had a personal experience with Christ and she told others about Him. God blessed!

            The fideist approach emphasizes your personal experience with Jesus over all the other arguments for God and faith and the Bible. If you are saved, if you have been born again you have a testimony that you can share. Your testimony about the grace of God and the person of Jesus cannot be taken from you; it cannot be denied or refuted by anyone. The Holy Spirit cannot be denied by a skeptic and He cannot be beaten out of you by those who would oppress you.

            I do need to caution you however that this is a very subjective approach and it can certainly be abused. A person can give a personal testimony of how Mohammed or Buddha or Hare Krishna has changed their life. The great Beatles’ song My Sweet Lord by George Harrison was not written about Jesus, rather it was about Krishna. Anyone can claim anything as personal experience and use it as an authoritative excuse to believe in whatever.

            My Sweet Lord

            Mm My Lord

            Mm My Lord

I really want to see you, really want to be with you,

Really want to see you Lord, but it takes so long, my Lord

Chorus

I really want to know you, Really want to go with you

Really want to show you Lord, that it won’t take long, my Lord (hallelujah)

 

(skip a few lines)

 

Hm, my Lord (hare krishna)

my, my, my lord (hare krishna)

Oh hm, my sweet lord (krishna)

oh uuh uh (hare hare)

 

II. The Power of God’s Grace

            The fideist approach understands the doctrines of total depravity and God’s amazing grace. We realize that we are sinners and that our sin affects our minds so that the rational arguments cannot penetrate our sin hardened souls. Eph 4:17ff. Christianity is the only true religion because it alone stresses our fallenness and inability. Christianity is true because it admits religion itself is not enough, we require a relationship with Jesus.

            The only thing that can penetrate our sin is the grace of God as He gives us the faith to believe. Faith is taking a radical leap towards Jesus. When someone asks “Why should I believe in God?” we respond with “Get to know Jesus and you will see.” Faith is living your life in relationship to Jesus; it is not mere head knowledge. We witness with our lives as well as our words, we are to imitate Jesus and to be Jesus to others.

            Paul’s encounter with Jesus in Acts 9.

 

III. Pascal’s Wager

One interesting way of witnessing with this approach is known as Pascal’s wager. A 17th century catholic scholar Blaise Pascal was also a brilliant mathematician. He said, if you cast you faith in God and there is no God you have lost nothing. If you cast your faith in God and there is a God you gain everything.

 

IV. How to Witness

            Write out your personal testimony.

            (1) My life before Christ

            (2) How I came to know Christ

            (3) The gospel

            (4) My life after getting to know Christ

            You need a short version (2 min. or less) and a longer version of about 5 min.

            Urge those to whom you are witnessing to read the gospels and meet Jesus for themselves.

            ****************************************

These are my brief notes from the last in a series I taught my little church about 9 years ago. The series on apologetics was not well received there. Today, at our new church, the care group I am assisting with is studying apologetics and responding very positively.

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Essential Truths: Reformed Apologetics

Posted on October 18, 2008. Filed under: Apologetics |

Essential Truths: Reformed Apologetics

Wednesday, 2-12-03

 

Introduction: We have been studying Apologetics, which means making a defense of the faith, or, as I have also called it, witnessing better. Our key verse has been 1Peter 3:15“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”

            We have looked at classical apologetics that uses rational proofs such as the cosmological and ontological arguments and the moral argument. We have looked at the teleological argument and the evidentialist approach. With the evidentialist approach we looked closely at the biblical prophecies about Christ and the miracle stories, especially the resurrection. Now tonight we examine the Reformed Method of Apologetics called by the fancy name Presuppositionalism. Now that was a mouthful but let me tell you that this form of apologetics is where probably most of you in this room are most comfortable.

            What I have been doing is building one step at a time, beginning with the least used form, adding to it the next strongest form, and now adding what may be the most used form of apologetics except for the last one that we will study next. In other words, I don’t think many of you will remember let alone use the ontological argument; some of you may use the evidence for the resurrection, but tonight’s form I really think you will appreciate. That said, there are still some difficult ideas here that will require some serious thought. The bottom line with the Reformed Method is that there are only two foundations for all the various philosophies out there: Man is the center of the universe and the ultimate measure or the God of the Bible is the center of the universe and he is the ultimate measuring rod. The Reformed method focuses on Revelation, God has revealed himself to us in Scripture and with his Son and we must conform our thoughts to his thoughts. **Isaiah55:6-12**The Reformed method of apologetics is very authoritarian as well as being authoritative: We believe there is a God because the Bible tells me so, just like the song, Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Now do you see where I am going with this?

 

I. The Other Approaches Are Good but Not Enough!

            Many of the reformed apologists (reformed means Calvinistic) do not like the other approaches at all, but I think that is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Augustine used some of the rationalistic approaches and Calvin himself used the teleological approach to an extent. Frankly I think a lot of professors get territorial over their pet theories. The Classical and Evidentialist positions have their uses, especially when we are answering the questions of those who ask us about our hope as our key verse states.

            But tonight we will focus on another key verse: 1Cor.2:14 “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.”

            What this verse means for apologetics is that you cannot argue a person into the kingdom of God because he is not going to understand spiritual truth. You can present to him the logic of the cosmological argument, that simply says there has to be an infinite cause for our finite universe, but he will not trust in God based on that alone. You can use the watchmaker argument but it will not convince him. Why? Romans 3:11 “there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God…v.18 There is no fear of God before their eyes…23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…Eph.2:1″you were dead in your transgressions and sins…**4:17ff**.

            The natural man is fallen and this means that even our minds are affected by sin so that even if we are confronted with all the arguments for the existence of God and the truthfulness of scripture and the resurrection of Christ, we will not believe on our own. Sin has so corrupted us that we will disbelieve all the huge amount of evidence. We are so morally fallen that we do not want to believe the arguments and the evidence.

            This is why Jesus, in John 3** stresses our need for being born from above. We cannot birth ourselves and unless we are born of the Spirit we will never see the Kingdom of God. We will remain foreigners to God until He sends his Holy Spirit to regenerate our hearts. Like Ezek.37 we are just a valley of dry bones. Spiritually dead men are absolutely incapable of deciding to accept the evidence on their own apart from the influence of the Holy Spirit.

            Now let me tell you that this strong view of the fallenness of man, this idea of original sin is the minority view in evangelical circles today. The old fashioned name for this is Total Depravity and is one of the key doctrines of Calvinism.

            Much of the church views man as being the final authority, saying that man can respond to the gospel if we argue strong enough or entertain him enough or tell enough tear jerking stories and give a compelling psychologically based invitation. Now all of these things are good in themselves if we don’t trust in our techniques alone. But sadly many, even in the churches, have a worldly mindset that makes man the measure of all things.

 

II. The Reformed Apologetic

            Reformed Apologetics is to present biblical truth, biblical Christianity and show or refute the false positions of the worldviews that are not biblical. The beginning point is our faith in Christ and we reason from that perspective. The lost person begins with reason or experience, both of which are grounded in self and sin. The reformed apologist boldly claims that the Christian worldview is the only reasonable and livable worldview that is consistent. Thus, Christianity is true and all other opposing systems are false.

            Look at 2Cor.10:5**. Reformed apologetics takes an aggressive approach to our fallen culture and actively seeks to take over every area for the glory of Christ. We try to show that unbelieving thought is, at the very foundation, irrational. I saw a bumper sticker once that makes the point: Hell is forever- it’s insane to sin.

            Reformed apologists insist on the necessity of presupposing the divine inspiration of scripture and its inerrancy.

 

II. Practical Application

            When lost people ask the question about why bad things happen to good people, we Christians can respond by saying that we know that God is control, he is all wise and that he has a purpose for everything. Romans8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” To the lost man, things happen by chance but we know that God loves us and is working to include us in his plans for his glory and for our benefit. We can find purpose even in suffering due to evil that has unjustly been done to us or in those accidental things like a car wreck or illness. To the lost man, things just happen, life is ultimately pointless.

            The lost person will sometimes respond with “How can you believe in a God who would let evil happen? Either God is not all powerful or he is not all loving if he continues to allow evil to exist. Therefore, there is no God because evil does exist.”

            We can respond with the Reformed apologetic to this criticism in several ways. 1) If you want God to stamp out all evil right now, what about the evil that is in you? Or is it just other people’s evil you want God to stamp out. Rom.3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”

2) God is going to take care of the problem of evil at the last judgment but he has also allowed his own Son, Jesus, to be a victim of evil, in that Jesus was betrayed for money by a close friend, his trial was an unjust sham, even the Roman governor declared Jesus to be innocent, Jesus suffered and died as an innocent, even sinless man. But the scriptures claim that it is by Jesus’ death that we have salvation. 1Peter3:18 “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.” God took what is evil from our viewpoint and turned it into good.

3) By using the term “evil” the lost man actually proves that there is a God, for evil is either something personal and subjective, that is, what I dislike, or it is an objective fact that lies outside of us. If we are merely animals that evolved and there is no God then there can be no such thing as true evil. For evil to exist there must be an objective standard of right and wrong that is above and beyond us. We believe that God determines what is right and good from what is wrong and bad. Relativism makes man the final decision maker in what is right and wrong and that if everyone votes to kill all the Jews in Germany then that is right for them. If there is no God, then everything is permitted wrote Dostoevsky.

Conclusion: The Reformed method of Apologetics emphasizes the use of scripture as the final authority. When we witness or answer the questions of the lost people we should always!! Refer to the Scriptures! The Holy Spirit is the one in charge of saving people, not you. The Holy Spirit uses scripture to bring conviction upon the lost.

            The other arguments for the existence of God are useful, and should not be thrown out, but they are in a supporting role for the main thing which is the Word of God.

            Next week we will look at the role of your personal experience and testimony in apologetics and witnessing as our final method.

           

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The Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus from the Dead

Posted on September 25, 2008. Filed under: Apologetics |

The Resurrection of Jesus from the dead is one of best attested facts in ancient history and is the best proof that Jesus is the Christ and that salvation lies in Him alone. Here are the notes from a lesson I taught my church in 2002 about using the evidence for the Resurrection as a means of proving Jesus is who he claims to be.

Essential Truths- Apologetics

The Evidence for the Resurrection

Wednesday 11-13-02 PM

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Outline:

Intro.

I. The Core Facts about the Resurrection

II. The Other Explanations for the Facts

III. The Resurrected Lord

_____________________________________________________________

Introduction: In studying essential truths of the Christian Faith we have been examining Apologetics, which we can also call “witnessing better”. Here we are learning that there are some answers to the tough questions we are likely to encounter as we witness. Much of what we have discussed in this study has been quite difficult, but almost all of it is based on my real life experiences in witnessing. Tonight we will look at something that most of you are very familiar with, the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

            What we shall attempt to do is find the basic core facts about the resurrection from the Scriptures and examine these core facts as evidence. Then we shall look at what other possible explanations there may be for the facts other than the resurrection. Finally we shall look at the implications if Jesus of Nazareth was in fact raised from the dead.

            It is my belief that Christianity stands or falls on the fact of the literal, bodily resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth which proves that he is Lord of lords and King of kings and we should therefore follow, serve, love and worship him with our heart, soul, mind and strength.

 

I. The Core Facts about the Death and Resurrection of Jesus

            1. Jesus was tried by the Jewish Sanhedrin. Matt.26:57-68; Mk.14:53-65; Lk.22:66-71; Jn.18:12-24. Jesus was condemned by the Jews.

            2. Jesus was tried by the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate.Matt.27:11-31 who had him flogged and crucified. Mk.15:1-20. Lk.23:1-25. Jn.18:28-19:16.

            3. Jesus was executed on a cross and died. Matt.27:32-50. Mk.15:21-41.

Lk. 23:26-49. Jn.19:16-37.

            4. After Jesus’ death, his body was pierced by a spear to ensure he was dead. Jn.19:33-37. (Zech 12:10).

            5. Many people witnessed his death. Matt.27:55-56. Mk.15:40-41. Lk.23:48-49. John19:25-27.

            6. The Roman Officer in Charge, the Centurion, was called before Pilate to testify to the death of Jesus Mk.15:42-45.

            7. A wealthy member of the Jewish Council, Joseph of Arimathea, took Jesus’ body and buried him in his own carved out tomb.Matt.27:57-60. Mk.15:42-46. Lk.23:50. Jn.19:38-42** (with Nicodemus! We think that the apostle John knew some of the council members because he states that he knew the high priest in John18:15).

            8. The women followers of Jesus saw where Jesus was buried. Matt27:61. Mk.15:47. Lk.23:55-56.*

            9. A Roman guard force was tasked with guarding the tomb in case of the disciples trying to steal his body. Matt.27:62-66.

            10. Jesus was in the grave for parts of three days (from Friday afternoon to early Sunday morning).

            11. Though Jesus had prophesied to his disciples that he was to rise again on the third day, they were not exhibiting any hope for this. They were dispirited and in hiding. Matt.28:1, 17. Mk.16:1-3, 9-11*, 13*14*. Lk.24:1-11**, 12, 13-17-27, 31, 36-37. John 20:1-2**, 10-16*, 19*, 24-25.

            12. The Roman guards witnessed part of the resurrection and were terrified, then bribed to lie about what happened. Matt.28:2-4, 11-15.

            13. The women were the first witnesses of the resurrected Jesus. Matt.28:9-10. John 20:14-18.

            14. The resurrection was accompanied by an angelic appearance, the supernatural. Matt.28:1-7. Mk.16:5-7. Lk.24:4-7. Jn.20:11-13.

            15. The grave clothes were still in the tomb.Lk.24:12. john20:5-7.

            16. The Apostles and disciples witnessed the resurrected Jesus, including up to 500 at one time. 1Cor.15:3-8.

            17. Jesus ate real food and was touched physically by the witnesses. Matt.28:9. Lk24:38-43. john20:20, 27, ; 21:13f. Acts1:1-4;

            18. The first Christians proclaimed publicly in Jerusalem that Jesus had raised from the dead.Acts2:22-41. If it were not true thousands of people would not have converted, the Sanhedrin would have been able to prove it false right away. The early believers did not set up a shrine at his grave.Acts3:11-20,

            19. The first Christians, who personally knew all the facts of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection were willing to give up everything, including their lives, on this issue of the resurrection/salvation. Acts4:1-4-12-20; 5:17-*40*; 6:8-7:60 Stoning of Stephen. Acts 12:1-3.

            20. The conversion of Saul of Tarsus in Acts 9.

            21. The change in worship patterns from the Sabbath to the First Day of the week. 1Cor 16:2.

 

II. The Other Explanations for the Facts

            1. The resurrection stories are legend and myth. The most common excuse today. However, the NT documents are the most authenticated, prolific and most numerous of all ancient mss. The proven early dates of the gospels and Pauline epistles does not allow for the lengthy time it takes for myth to develop. The radical change in the lives of the disciples and early church despite severe persecution points to fact not myth.

            2. The swoon theory- Jesus did not really die, he merely fainted and the cool grave revived him. He was able to push away the heavy stone and sneak past the Roman guards and convince his disciples that he was risen and glorified. Then he would have to fake the ascension.

            3. The stolen body theory. See Matt.27:11-15. The scared disciples would have to sneak past the Roman guards and then propagate a lie that they knew was a lie and give their lives for a lie.

            4. The wrong tomb theory. The women knew where the tomb was, the guards knew where the tomb was, the Rulers failed to produce the body.

            5. The spiritual resurrection only. You have to do violence to the whole NT to interpret it this way. It is only a feel good, anti-supernatural stance that carries on the forms of Christianity without the substance. Classic liberalism.

 

III. The Resurrected Lord

            Liar, lunatic, legend or Lord of lords! If the resurrection holds water then all the rest of scripture is true. Believe in only one miracle, the resurrection, and all else falls into place.

 

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Apologetics- The Evidentialist Approach

Posted on September 16, 2008. Filed under: Apologetics |

Tuesday, September 16, 2008– Here is the next installment of my Essential Truths series on Apologetics I taught my church back in ’02. These are just notes and if you are looking for more info about Apologetcs I would urge you to check my blog roll under RC Sproul, Monergism, CARM, Alpha Omega, Frank Turek, and some others.

Essential Truths: Apologetics-

The Evidentialist Approach

Wed. 10-30-02/11-96-02 PM

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Wed. 10-23-02 Apologetics: Evidentialism- scientific evidence, Jesus evidence in history. Inductive empirical methods.Teleological argument.

1Peter 3:15 “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”

Outline:

Intro.

I. The Teleological Argument from Classical to Evidentialist.Psalm19;Rom1:19.

II. The Use of Evidence in the Bible- Prophecies and Miracles

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Introduction: We have begun a study of Essential Truths which is formally called Systematic Theology. First we looked at the doctrine of the Word, studying what we believe about the Bible. Then we looked at Our Need to Know God. Now we are looking at Apologetics which is a study of the defense of our faith, attempting to provide answers to the difficult questions about our faith. The specific question we have dealt with mainly is how can we believe that the God of the Bible is real? Can we prove there is a God or can we at least find some substantial evidence for God’s existence?

Our first method to examine was called the Classical method that deals with rational/philosophical proofs that we called the Cosmological, Ontological and Moral arguments. Tonight we shall examine the teleological argument for God which is a bridge between the Classical and Evidentialist methods of Apologetics and then we will look at the evidence for the existence of God. The Classical proofs are good, though perhaps difficult to grasp, but the Evidentialist view builds upon those rationalistic proofs with lots of cold, hard facts that are demonstrable. I really think you will like some of this stuff more than the other stuff we have looked at.

I. The Teleological Argument from Classical to Evidentialist.Psalm19; Rom1:19.

The Teleological Argument was made famous by William Paley in the late 1700’s with his watchmaker analogy. If you are walking on a deserted beach and discover a watch you realize that it did not occur by accident, it had a designer. Geisler states it this way: 1) All designs imply a designer; 2) There is great design in the universe; 3) Therefore, there must have been a Great Designer of the universe. “A thousand monkeys sitting at typewriters for millions of years would never produce Hamlet. But Shakespeare did it on the first try. The more complex the design, the greater the intelligence required to produce it” (p.31).

We can look at a crystal, like a quartz crystal or a snowflake, and see beauty and specificity, but they are not complex and convey very little information. We understand how and why crystals form in nature. But crystals are not living, when we look at things that are living, the amount of information they contain is enormous, they are both specified and complex. A single cell organism contains more information than the Webster’s dictionary. To say that the single celled organism arose by a series of accidents is to say that Webster’s dictionary came together after a series of explosions in a print shop.

Psalm 19 and Rom.1: 19 point us toward the teleological argument.

II. The Use of Evidence in the Bible- Prophecies and Miracles

The Bible itself uses much evidence to confirm its message to the people of that day. Let’s examine how the Bible uses evidentialism.

In Exodus 3 last week I showed how God reveals His Holy Name YHWH to Moses and how that name relates to the Ontological and Cosmological arguments. Moses has other objections to God’s plan and so God provides some other proofs for Moses to take with him. What are they? Look at Ex4:1-9. But notice that Moses still objects- hence, even with evidence people are hesitant to believe. In Ex6 the people were discouraged and did not listen to Moses’ doctrine as he revealed God’s name to them. In Ex7 Aaron throws down the staff and it becomes a snake but the miracle is copied by Pharaoh’s magicians. Miracles can be copied or faked! It then took 10 plagues, culminating in the death of the first born to convince everyone of God’s existence and authority. In the Bible Miracles are used to prove the message is authentic and authoritative.

Look at the Lord’s own challenge to other gods in Isaiah 41:21-23; 44:7, 8. “The God of the Bible is calling for a rigorous test which involves the objective prediction of future events in human history….Logically, we can reverse this challenge to other god’s and ask if the God of the Bible can predict the future himself. If he can, and if no other religion can substantiate a similar claim, then we have an objective, historically testable verification that the God of the Bible alone exists” (Boa, p.206).

The Bible predicts the descendents of Abraham will be enslaved, delivered, rebel and fall into idolatry, be chastised yet later returned to their land. The Bible predicts the rise and fall of the Persians, Greeks and Romans with the Messiah coming toward the end of the second temple (515bc-AD 70). There are prophecies about the birth of Christ, what kind of Messiah he will be, his death and resurrection. See Ps. 22.Read Blanchard p.408ff.

Now let’s look at Jesus’ use of miracles. John6:2, 14f, 26; 20:24ff Mk2:1-12.

Jesus prophesied his own death: Mk.8:31; 9:31; 10:33; 14:8, 28.

What is a miracle? Beckwith writes, “A miracle is a divine intervention which occurs contrary to the regular course of nature within a significant historical-religious context.” (Quoted by Boa p.214) Boa then writes, “That is, a miracle is (a) scientifically inexplicable, (b) religiously significant, and (c) supernaturally caused.” Beckwith writes again, “Miracles are not just purposeless and bizarre scientific oddities, but occur in such a way that purpose is attached to them by virtue of when and why they occur.”

Geisler (p.43) “Evangelical theology is built on the supernatural. Christ’s virgin birth, His miracle filled ministry, his physical resurrection from the dead, and his bodily ascension into heaven are only some of the numerous miracles essential to biblical Christianity. So much is the supernatural a precondition of orthodox theology that without it historical Christianity would collapse.1Cor.15:12-20.”

The Bible provides us with 3 purposes for miracles: (1)to glorify the nature of God John2:11. (2)To accredit certain persons as the spokespersons for God Acts 2:22. (3) To provide evidence for belief in God John6:2.

Miracles: Mark2:1-12; 2:23-3:6. Luke5:1-11. John6:2-26. 20:24ff.

Prophecies: Mk 8:31; 9:31; 10:33; 14:8, 28.

III. The Three Types of Evidence- Legal, Historical and Scientific

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Monday, 11-24-2008– Here is an article by Dinesh D’Souza that relates:

townhall.com/Columnists/DineshDSouza/2008/11/24/when_science_points_to_god?page=full&comments=true

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Classical Apologetics, part 2: Can You Prove the Existence of God?

Posted on September 9, 2008. Filed under: Apologetics |

Tuesday, September 9, 2008– Here are the notes from another Wednesday night study from about 6 years ago. Notice the “apologetic tone” in the introduction to this lesson on Apologetics! I was catching some serious grief from some of the older members over these lessons! (see my articles in the Worship Wars section…)

 

Essential Truths: Apologetics- The Classical Method

Can You Prove the Existence of God?

Wednesday 10-23-02 PM

 

 

Wed. 10-16-02 Apologetics: Classical Apologetics- Proving God’s Existence with the ontological, cosmological, teleological, and moral arguments. Deductive, rational test.

 

Read 1Peter3:15 “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”

 

Introduction: We are going through some very difficult material for a little while here on Wed. nights in preparation for studying the doctrine of God. This current study is called Apologetics which is the science of defending the Faith and answering the challenges of other world religions, skeptics and atheists. We can call apologetics the art of learning to witness better.

            Last week we got into some pretty deep sneakers with examining the Classical method of Apologetics and the Cosmological Argument for the existence of God. I am well aware that some of you may have thought it just so much philosophical nonsense and really wish I would preach something else! But others did prosper from it and told me as much and I have actually used some of those things in real live witnessing encounters with people who asked some challenging questions. These things are difficult but very useful. To those who may find these things hard to grasp, I ask you to be patient, hold on, and in a few weeks we will be in something that is better for you.

            Tonight we will try to look at two other arguments for the existence of God from the Classical perspective: the ontological argument and the moral argument.

            We discussed last time the idea that since we live in a particular time we can be assured that time itself had a beginning, there cannot have been an infinite number of years before us or else we would never arrive at this year. This implies a beginning for time and the universe. Since something cannot cause itself to exist because it would have to exist before it existed which is a contradiction, there must be something outside of time and the universe that is itself uncaused and eternal, that caused everything else to be. That uncaused Cause is God. Since everything we see, including each other, is contingent, that is- not necessary, we can conclude that there must be something that is Necessary for all other things to exist. In order for anything to be, something must Be because it is and not because it has been created.

            Exodus3:14 “God also said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.” The sacred and holy name of God YHWH. The very name is the Hebrew for “to be” or “being”. The very name of God points us to this argument for God and leads us into the next argument for God, the ontological argument.

            Look also at **Rev.1:8**; Isa. 44:6; 46:10; 48:12-13.Psalm 90:2;

 

I. The Ontological Argument

            This hard name comes from the Grk. “ontos” meaning being. 1 : a branch of metaphysics concerned with the nature and relations of being. It means existence, existing, being alive; the study of what it means to exist or be; the essence of being. This is the hardest of the arguments for God’s existence for me to grasp but it is also quite short and simple.

            Dr. Kenneth Boa writes, (p.117) “1) The existence of a necessary Being must be either a necessary existence, or an impossible existence, or a possible but not necessary existence.

            2) But the existence of a necessary Being is not an impossible existence because (so far as we can see) there is nothing contradictory about this concept.

            3) Nor is the existence of a necessary Being a possible but not necessary existence, since this would be a self-contradictory claim.

            4) Therefore, the existence of a necessary Being is a necessary existence.

            5) Therefore, a Necessary Being necessarily exists.

            John8:58-59**

 

II. The Moral Argument

            Rom.2:12-15** The secularists, humanists and scientific materialists believe that man is a cosmic accident and has evolved from the apes, ultimately from a single celled animal accidentally formed in the primeval soup as a result of blind chance. Man is just another animal, though the highest animal. They argue that our sense of morals, truth, beauty and justice, our emotions of love, kindness and compassion are social constructs that we have developed and they do not represent anything real or objective.

            Currently in our post-modern education system that stresses feelings and subjective opinion, it is not unusual to hear in college classes that the holocaust in Nazi Germany that killed appx. 6 million Jews may have been all right for the Germans. Their truth of racial purity was true and valid for them. It is common among historians and anthropologists to say that the Aztec culture was marvelous and wonderful and it was totally wrong for Spain to invade and conquer the Indians. While I will grant you that Spain behaved badly and the conquistadores were deplorable, I will also say that the Aztec culture was one of the most gruesome, bloodthirsty and depraved cultures ever to exist, ranking up there with Hitler’s Germany and Stalinist Russia for the Aztecs engaged in human sacrifices on such a grand scale and in such a cruel manner that it makes the Bosnian/Serb civil war atrocities look mild in comparison. European culture, despite its many failures, is hugely more virtuous than the Aztec culture.

            The Aztecs were not the only depraved and wicked culture in Native America. But however depraved the Indians were, they still did have many points of virtue and strong morals within their tribes. Every people group in the world has a sense of morals and virtue. As depraved as sinful man is in every culture, every man has a conscience, has an inner sense of right and wrong. Every culture has some system of morals, justice and art forms that reflect truth and beauty.

            Dr. Ken Boa writes, (p.116f) “The moral argument relates to the universality of moral experience and holds that unless there is a God, there is no ultimate basis for moral law….there is a built in concept of normative conduct, a universal sense of ‘ought’ and ‘should’….The real thrust of this argument lies in the fact that when people express approval or criticism of the actions of other, they are behaving as if theism were true, that is, as if there are such things as absolute rights and absolute wrongs. Classical apologists typically argue that one would have to assume this position in order to criticize it as wrong.”

            In other words, we as Christians say there are some things that we ought always to do and some other things that we ought never to do; there is a right and wrong that is objective and outside of us. The secularists would respond that it is wrong (immoral) to impose your belief in objective truth on others. Right there and then the secularist relies on something being true and good in order to criticize us for believing in things that are good and true.

           

Imagine John Lennon Imagine there’s no heaven It’s easy if you try No hell below us Above us only sky Imagine all the people Living for today… Imagine there’s no countries It isn’t hard to do Nothing to kill or die for And no religion too Imagine all the people Living life in peace… Imagine no possessions I wonder if you can No need for greed or hunger In a brotherhood of man Imagine all the people Sharing all the world… You may say I’m a dreamer But I’m not the only one I hope some day you’ll join us And the world will be as one

 

Even in the lyrics of one of John Lennon’s most famous songs, which is a very ungodly song, you see that he want us to imagine a world of “ought” and “should be”. The song promotes the idea of there being absolute truth, which ultimately depends on there being an Ultimate Lawgiver. The universal moral law is a prescription which must come from a prescriber.

            Even among thieves and murderers, criminals of the worst sort, if they are wronged by somebody, they have a sense of outrage that says you should not have done that to me! Man has an inner sense of justice that not only says things are right and wrong, but that punishment must be meted out to the violators. The doctrine of hell is reviled by most people but only because we all know we are sinners at heart and deserving of the wrath of God. Otherwise the doctrine of hell is the logical extension of our inner concept of justice.

            The secularists say that justice and morals are merely social conventions that society has developed over time. But there are other objective truths that are neither physical nor evolved. Math and logic are objectively true though not physical; they are not evolved or contrived by society. Every attempt in history to get rid of objective moral law has ultimately failed; it is inconsistent with human nature.

            Dr. Norman Geisler writes (p.37) “The main objection to an absolutely perfect Moral Lawgiver is the argument from evil in the world. No serious person can fail to recognize that all the murders, rapes, hatred, and cruelty make the world far short of being absolutely perfect. But if the world is imperfect, how can there be an absolutely perfect God? (CS) Lewis’s answer is simple and to the point: The only way the world could possibly be known to be imperfect is if there is an absolutely perfect standard by which it can be judged to be imperfect. Injustice makes sense only if there is a standard of justice by which something is known to be not just. And absolute justice is possible only if there is an absolute standard of justice…. Rather than disproving a morally perfect Being, then, the evil in the world presupposes an absolutely perfect standard.”

            Paul’s argument in Rom.7:14-24 also portrays the moral dilemma of man in that we have some knowledge of what we should do and even a desire to do it, but our flesh wars against us and we do what is evil, we do what we do not think is right or even what we don’t want to do, but we still do it. 

            It is this argument perhaps more than any other that the secularists hate because they desperately want to do away with the moral order of the universe so that they can do whatever they want.

 

 

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Apologetics- the Classical Method: Can You Prove the Existence of God?

Posted on August 26, 2008. Filed under: Apologetics |

Tuesday, August 26, 2008– Here are some more Wednesday night teaching notes from when I was a pastor. Our Wednesday night studies were a little bit difficult because I had a group of about 6-8 older folks who were not real interested but were quite faithful and a group of about 4-5 younger folk who were interested. I focused my Wed. night studies on what would most benefit the younger crowd. Perhaps that was the wrong choice, I still don’t know, but I thought that was the right thing to do. These Essential Truths studies are very brief, not at all well written, they are merely my notes. As a bi-vocational pastor Wednesday nights were very difficult to prepare for.

Essential Truths: Apologetics- The Classical Method

Can You Prove the Existence of God?

Wednesday 10-16-02

__________________________________________

 

Wed. 10-16-02 Apologetics: Classical Apologetics- Proving God’s Existence with the ontological, cosmological, and moral arguments. Deductive, rational test.

_____________________________________________________________
Introduction: Tonight we will briefly examine the Classical Cosmological argument for the existence of God. There are no two ways about it, this stuff is going to be difficult to most of you and will leave some of you wondering “what’s the point?!” A few of you will enjoy this and get something out of it. Not every sermon or lesson is going to be your personal favorite or even directed towards you. I ask you to be patient because those sermons that you may not like at all may be just exactly what somebody else needed to hear or could listen to and learn from. Keep in mind what we are doing: we are preparing for a study in Bible doctrines but we have to answer some questions first, such as Can we be sure there is a God? The goal is to build up our faith and provide answers to those who ask.

            Tonight’s lesson is practical, however, despite what some of it may sound like (philosophical gibberish). Most of what I will share with you tonight I have actually used in witnessing or in answering the questions of folks. A lot of what I will share tonight I learned way before I went to seminary; that means it is not specific for just ministers or preachers. Some of this stuff I remember from witnessing in high school and college. Therefore, what I am teaching tonight is useful for building up the faith of believers, answering the questions of those who ask for the reason for the hope that you have, and in witnessing to the lost.

           

I. The Cosmological Argument

            In classical apologetics we begin with the cosmological argument which can be argued from 2 different angles: the horizontal and the vertical where we look at the Beginner of the Universe and then the Sustainer  of the universe.

            First of all let us look at the horizontal argument where we see God as the Beginner or Creator of the Universe. A curious historical note about this argument, otherwise called the kalam argument which is Arabic for eternal, is that this comes to us from Islam. This is one of the rare times in which we can use something from another world religion positively.

            Here is a summary of the argument: 1) Everything that had a beginning had a cause. 2) The universe had a beginning. 3) Therefore, the universe had a Cause.

            We can say that the universe either had a beginning or it did not. If it had no beginning then the universe is eternal and we should see evidence of this. Guess what? All of science points us to the fact that the universe had a beginning. Science calls it the Big Bang. Gen.1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” At this point science and scripture support each other.

            When we look around us, everything we see is an effect of a prior cause. You once were not, but you were conceived by the physical processes of procreation. The buildings around us were constructed by workmen using substances that were prepared by other workers who received the raw materials from other workers. The wood came from trees which grew from seeds, drawing nutrients from the ground, water and sunshine, etc., etc. Science has detailed knowledge about how stars and planets and galaxies are and were formed. Everything you see had a prior cause.

            But, that process cannot go back indefinitely for infinity. You cannot have an infinite number of prior causes. That would be called an infinite regress. What does that mean and how does that help? If I asked you to start counting now and count to infinity, when would you be finished? You wouldn’t, you could never stop. Now turn that around and count to infinity in years going back in time. Would you be able to do that? No, again because it is an infinite number. What that means is that if the universe is inherently eternal and has an infinite number of years prior to this year it would be impossible to ever arrive at this present time because there are an infinite number of years prior to this year. You cannot go through an infinite number of years! Because there is a today, there is a 2002, there had to be a beginning to time itself. Einstein himself proved that as part of his theory of relativity, but he did not like the implications of that so he modified his theory. Other physicists later proved his modification wrong and he admitted that his modification was a mistake. You see Einstein did not relish the thought of there being a beginning because that directly implied a prior cause that is Itself uncaused and eternal, that would be God!

            Science has the 2d Law of Thermodynamics which supports this argument. Basically the universe is slowly moving toward dissipation and equilibrium of all its energy. The universe is winding down like a big clock. What is winding down could not be eternal. If you spray a can of air freshener in your living room and leave the can in there, the air freshener will quickly dissipate throughout the room fairly evenly; it will never re-enter the can under pressure so as to be used again.

            The universe is not stationary, it is expanding, and all the galaxies are growing further apart just like a big explosion or an expanding balloon. If you could replay the universe’s expansion in reverse you would see it contract into a tiny point called the point of singularity. Beyond that point science cannot go. But the scripture says, “In the beginning God created”. Prior to creation there would be nothing but God, the holy Trinity, no time, space or matter.

            The physicists and mathematicians, early in the twentieth century, predicted that if the big bang theory was correct, there would be a specific background glow of radiation at a certain specific wavelength that should be observable. When technology advanced with spaceflight and the capability to look for that radiation was developed, they found it everywhere, just as predicted.

            You will hear many scientists say that the universe is self caused and perhaps refer to quantum physics. Here the scientists stray into philosophy out of desperation and their argument fails. For in order for the universe to create itself it would have to exist prior to its own existence which violates the Law of Non-Contradiction which states that A cannot be both A and non-A at the same time and in the same relationship. The universe cannot exist and not exist at the same time. It cannot create itself.

            Another weak effort by godless scientists is to use the magical word “Chance”. The universe came into being by chance. Chance is not a causative agent, it is a mathematical term to describe probabilities and has not power to create or cause anything. This argument is used as a nice sounding smoke screen.

            Dr. Norm Geisler writes, “The cumulative philosophical and scientific evidence for an origin of the material universe provides a strong reason to conclude that there must have been a nonphysical originating cause of the physical universe.” Jesus told the woman at the well in John 4:24 “God is spirit”.

            The vertical cosmological argument comes at the problem from a different direction stressing that the present contingent existence of the universe demonstrates that there is a present neccessary Being causing it to exist. 1) Whatever exists but can/could not exist needs a cause for its existence. 2) Nothing cannot produce something. 3) Therefore, Something must necessarily exist as the ground for everything that does exist but does not have to exist or that can not exist. Further, 1) If Everything were contingent then it would be possible for nothing to exist. 2) But something does exist ‘To be or not to be, that is the question I ask of me’ -or- Why is there something instead of nothing? -or- I think, therefore I am. 3) Thus if some contingent being now exists, a Necessary Being must now exist.

            Another way of stating this goes like this: 1) Every part of the universe is right now dependent for its existence. 2) If every part of the universe is dependent then the whole, entire universe must be dependent upon something for its present existence. 3) Therefore the entire universe depends upon an independent something/Being beyond itself.

            **Look at Col.1:16-17. Here we touch on the doctrines of God’s immutability and omnipotence, and His Name Exodus 3:14.**

 

Conclusion: I hope I have not thoroughly confused you but I know the concepts are difficult. Next week we shall look at the Ontological and Moral arguments for God and confuse you some more!

 

 

 

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