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Think Christianly

Think Christianly: April 2008

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Nick's Powerful Testimony

A good friend emailed me this link today to one of the most powerful stories of grace and God's presence in a person's life I have ever seen or heard. The video is about 13 minutes long, but well worth the time spent for the encouragement and perspective it will bring. Praise God.

Nick's Testimony - Video

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Prayer for Thinking Christianly

Thinking Christianly is not a one time decision. It is a way of life or a habit to be cultivated. There are a lot of verses that we could look at (e.g., Romans 12:1-2), but I just want to point to a prayer that you and I can pray that will help us to grow in our ability to Think Christianly. It comes from Psalm 27:11.
"Teach me how to live, O Lord, lead me along the right path..." (NLT)

The great thing about this verse is that it puts us in a posture to learn and grow. We don't know how to live...really. Life is complicated. We need God to show us. This is the first step in thinking Christianly. And though it seems like a small step; it is absolutely essential. Try praying this prayer to God each day this week and see what happens.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Welcome to College to be featured at

Hey everyone! I Just wanted to announce that will be posting excerpts from my chapter on "discovering the will of God." You can check it out at part two will be posted on Monday the 28th.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Eternal Kind of Life Now

It is easy to get fixated on big issues like Expelled fall out and politics (both very important for Christ followers to engage and have significant impact on a Christian worldview). But today, I wanted to take a deep breath and go a different direction.

"And this is the way to have eternal life--to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth." - John 17:3 (NLT)

Eternal Life. It is not something that happens when you die (though that is a part of the picture). It is in the here and now. And it is about knowing Jesus Christ and God the father by means of the Spirit. As I struggle and journey through this life, I need to remember this. This is where life is found. And we learn how to live life by being an apprentice of Jesus. One of my favorite writers and thinkers is Dallas Willard. In The Divine Conspiracy, he puts it like this:

"To counteract this [i.e., gospel of sin management or just going to heaven when I die] we must develop a straightforward presentation, in word and life, of the reality of life now under God's rule. through reliance upon the word and person of Jesus. In this way we can naturally become his students and apprentices. We can learn from him how to live our lives as he would live them if he were we. We can enter this eternal kind of life now."

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Keeping up with the latest on the fall out from Expelled

Want to learn more about the fall out from Expelled and the Neo-Darwinian Evolution / Intelligent Design controversy? Add these websites to your list:

Evolution News & Views

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Monday, April 21, 2008

The Numbers Are in for Expelled: $3.2 million

You can just feel the heat from the Internet reviews of Expelled. ;) The New York Times review completely missed the point and reads as if it were written without even seeing the film. That said, how did Ben Stein's Expelled do on opening weekend? It finished 9th in the box office this weekend bringing in 3.2 million and opening in 1052 theatres.

Other interesting thoughts from the uncommon decent blog here on Expelled.

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed Reviews...

OK, just got back from seeing Expelled, Ben Stein's new movie about academic freedom and the power of ideas. It was an outstanding film. As one who follows this debate in more of the academic settings, I was curious to see how Ben would hold an audience in this documentary. Not to worry, it is an emotionally powerful narrative with wit and the connection of ideas. Well done. I will write more later, but reviews are already showing up and it is obvious that some people completely missed the point. One of my former professors, Darrell Bock has written a nice response to some of these reviews and is worth reading because these issues are sure to come up in the days ahead. Take a minute and read it. More to come soon...if you haven't seen the film; go see it!

Also, download this pdf document and give it a read to help you understand intelligent design and the basis for the argument made in Expelled.

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Obama and Clinton on Abortion and "Potential Life"

Recently I mentioned the forum on faith and politics that took place for the democratic candidates. Here is a summary on their views. Their responses sadden me and show a lack of understanding of the issues.

Again, a good resource on this issue is Francis Beckwith's Defending Life.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

On the importance of reason for the Christian faith

There are few more important or exciting movements afoot today than the Veritas Forum. Started by Kelly Monroe Kullberg, "Veritas Forums are university events that engage students and faculty in discussions about life's hardest questions and the relevance of Jesus Christ to all of life." It is important for Christians to see the importance of truth and reason to our faith. It is more than just reasonable and true, but certainly no less. Speaking at a Veritas forum at Yale, eminent New Testament Scholar N.T. Wright captures this sentiment:

"There is an increasing danger that reason will simply be ignored, and that arguments will become mere shouting matches where the loudest, or most acceptable, voice wins. Granted, the Christian knows that reason by itself is not enough. The Christian gospel highlights one who went to his death for a higher reason, the law of love. Nevertheless, the higher reason, sometimes called wisdom in the biblical tradition, offers rich, deep coherent answers to the ultimate questions, and we owe it to our contemporaries to wrestle afresh with the questions and articulate the answers in fresh ways, not least to rehabilitate wisdom within a culture that is fast making virtue of folly."

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Democratic rivals discuss God at faith forum

This blog exists to help us look to see where Christianity intersects with culture (i.e., everywhere). One of the most visible discussions of this occurs when presidents or presidential candidates get together to "talk God." So here is an article with some highlights. Look for how and on what basis they talk about God and religion. I will comment more in the days ahead. By the way, I will be commenting on Republican issues as well--but until a nominee is chosen, the Democrats are making all the headlines.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Courting the 'faith vote'

As the Pennsylvania Democratic primary draws near, Obama and Clinton are trying to solidify their positions as 'people of faith' (still not sure what that phrase means - since faith is only as good as the object in which it is placed) and court the moderates and conservatives who want some religious questions answered. Just thought I would point out an article that discusses issues of faith and politics as well as the forum they are going to have on faith. Keep an eye out for how the term faith is used in this discussion; also see how explicitly either make faith a personal and private, but not public issue (presumably not wanting to impose that on anyone). Click here for a link to the article.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Kingdom Triangle - Review

J.P. Moreland’s new book Kingdom Triangle (hereafter KT) offers a clarion call to the 21st century church. For at least the past decade, Christians have been lulled to sleep by a culture of self-help books and privatized beliefs. Far too many of us have been naturalized into believing that God doesn’t do anything miraculous or supernatural in our sophisticated age. And a good number of us have not been intentional about cultivating a dynamic relationship with Jesus Christ and attending to the important task of Spiritual Formation. Moreland’s book offers a passionate, sober, and biblical corrective to this lethargy.

The first section of KT seeks to analyze and assess where we are at as a culture. In a helpful analogy, Moreland discusses the difference between living in a “thin” world and a “thick” world. A “thin” world is one in which nothing ultimately matters (e.g., atheism would be a “thin” world). In this world, chemistry and physics exhaustively explain reality. On the other hand, if we live in a “thick” world, then objective morality exists (along with ultimate meaning, purpose, and value etc.). Christianity offers a “thick” world. In the next few chapters, Moreland highlights the inadequacies of postmodern and naturalistic worldviews. But he does not stop with analysis only. He prescribes a threefold remedy to counteract the prevailing winds of culture that are eroding the potency and vibrancy of Christians today. (1) Recover the Christian Mind (2) Renovate the Soul (3) Restore the Spirit’s Power. I will briefly summarize each of these in turn.

First of all, Moreland contends that knowledge is not the sole possession or province of the scientists in the white lab coats. While science yields important knowledge of our world, it is certainly not the only source of knowledge. Christians can and do possess knowledge of God, moral facts, and what a good life is (among other things). These are not private beliefs on the level of personal preference or pragmatism; rather they are bona fide instances of knowledge of reality—the way things really are. Not only is Christianity true, but it can be known to be true.
Next, we are reminded how easy it is to allow our hearts to grow cold and calloused. If we are not intentional about examining the health of our souls, then we can become emotionally detached over time and eventually discover we are devoid of the vitality that God desires us to experience in our relationship with Him. We also tend not to cultivate a healthy community of relationships. This part of the triangle invites us to take our daily journey from brokenness to Christlikeness seriously (i.e., Spiritual Formation).

Finally, Moreland reminds us that the Holy Spirit did not die with the last Apostle. And while we certainly don’t want to drift into a mindless and wild-eyed sensationalism, I think many of us have shied away from the supernatural because we are either afraid we will look weird to our culture or we have been so conditioned by naturalism that we don’t really (i.e., beyond lip service) believe in anything beyond the five senses. Moreover, stories of God’s power and deliverance remind us of the supernatural world in which we live and can embolden our Christian lives.

As I have read and reflected upon KT, I have been both challenged and encouraged. This is an important work which has something to say to all of us—regardless of our tradition or spiritual pedigree. I am grateful that J.P. Moreland took the time to integrate decades of ministry experience and study and then package it in an accessible format for the Christian community. If you have not yet read Kingdom Triangle, I encourage you to pick up a copy and read it carefully. While KT contains much that our “thin” world needs to hear, it just may be the timely catalyst you need for taking the next step in your journey with the Savior.

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Monday, April 7, 2008

Ben Stein's Expelled and What is Intelligent Design?

Confusion abounds concerning what Intelligent Design is and is not. And as Ben Stein's movie Expelled releases nationwide on April 18th, there will be much more. If you listen to the media, you will almost never hear them get this right (I am not trying to be mean, just honest). So, here is the definition of ID from proponents of it:
“The scientific theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection acting on random mutations.”

ID is not creationsim in sheep's clothing. Nor does it advocate Genesis or any other religious text be taught in the classroom as science. It is not a religious in nature, but does have religious implications. Who or what is the designer? ID does not say--that is not a scientific question. That is a question for philosophy of religion and theology to investigate (a great place to start is To Everyone an Answer: A Case for the Christian Worldview).

Expelled is a movie about freedom of speech and freedom of inquiry. And this is a conversation that needs to be had.

To help understand these issues further, see The Design Revolution: Answering the Toughest Questions About Intelligent Design by William A. Dembski

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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Is the Resurrection of Jesus Historically Plausible?

History and Christianity go hand in hand. You can't have one without the other (cf. 1 Cor 15). With that said, what makes a good historical explanation? Here is noted philosopher William Lane Craig with an answer (for the full article, click here):

In his book Justifying Historical Descriptions, historian C. B. McCullagh lists six tests which historians use in determining what is the best explanation for given historical facts. The hypothesis “God raised Jesus from the dead” passes all these tests:

1. It has great explanatory scope: it explains why the tomb was found empty, why the disciples saw post-mortem appearances of Jesus, and why the Christian faith came into being.
2. It has great explanatory power: it explains why the body of Jesus was gone, why people repeatedly saw Jesus alive despite his earlier public execution, and so forth.
3. It is plausible: given the historical context of Jesus’ own unparalleled life and claims, the resurrection serves as divine confirmation of those radical claims.
4. It is not ad hoc or contrived: it requires only one additional hypothesis: that God exists. And even that needn’t be an additional hypothesis if one already believes that God exists.
5. It is in accord with accepted beliefs. The hypothesis: “God raised Jesus from the dead” doesn’t in any way conflict with the accepted belief that people don’t rise naturally from the dead. The Christian accepts that belief as wholeheartedly as he accepts the hypothesis that God raised Jesus from the dead.
6. It far outstrips any of its rival hypotheses in meeting conditions (1)-(5). Down through history various alternative explanations of the facts have been offered, for example, the conspiracy hypothesis, the apparent death hypothesis, the hallucination hypothesis, and so forth. Such hypotheses have been almost universally rejected by contemporary scholarship. None of these naturalistic hypotheses succeeds in meeting the conditions as well as the resurrection hypothesis.

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