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Think Christianly

Think Christianly: July 2008

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Jonathan Morrow's Interview on Point of View Now Available

Hello everyone! Thanks for your interest in my interview regarding Welcome to College on Point of View with Kerby Anderson. I had a great time and I pray that it was an encouragement to parents and students alike!. If you would like to listen to the interview click here (I am on the second hour).

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Apologetics Study Bible

Every now and then you come across a resource that is outstanding. The Apologetics Study Bible is such a resource. The articles are written by first rate scholars. If you have wondered about it; its covered. Here are some features:

The Apologetics Study Bible will help today's Christian better understand, defend and proclaim their beliefs in this age of increasing moral and spiritual relativism. More than one-hundred key questions and articles placed throughout the volume about faith and science prompt a rewarding study experience at every reading.

Highlights of this new thinking person’s edition of God’s Word include the full text of the popular Holman CSB® translation, an introduction to each Bible book focusing on its inherent elements of apologetics, and profiles of historic Christian apologists from Justin Martyr to C.S. Lewis. Also featured are valuable contributions from a who’s-who of modern apologists such as Chuck Colson, Norm Geisler, Hank Hanegraaff, Josh McDowell, Albert Mohler, Ravi Zacharias, and many more.

• The best apologetics thinkers of our day in one resource
• The study Bible for customers asking the really hard questions about their faith
• No other study Bible has the depth of resources that address the hard questions of faith and life
• Serious help for Christians of all types
• Tears down the obstacles to belief
• Shows why the Bible is trustworthy
• Allows Christians to dig into false teachings to see why they’re false
• Will strengthen the church and give confidence to those who share their faith
• Will better equip church leaders

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Author of Welcome to College, Jonathan Morrow, on Point of View Monday July 28th at 3 pm EST

Hello everyone. I will be on Point of View with Kerby Anderson on Monday talking about Welcome to College: A Christ-follower's Guide for the Journey.

Here is the website:

I will post links to the interview later this week.


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Friday, July 25, 2008

Are Christians blinded by faith?

It has become commonplace to conceive of faith as a blind leap in the dark. It doesn’t matter what the facts are, just have faith. On this view, faith is either a substitute for or opposed to evidence. Let’s apply this approach to the resurrection of Jesus. If archaeologists discovered Jesus’ body in a grave somewhere , then a person’s faith would not be affected because the evidence never mattered in the first place. It was all about a blind act of the will. But, is this biblical faith? Paul thinks not:

"Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied."—1 Cor. 15:12-19

Paul calls this kind of faith “worthless” because biblical Christianity and history are intertwined. Or as apologist Craig Hazen summarizes, “Christian faith is not blind in the least; rather it is dependent upon a historical event that can be thoroughly investigated with eyes wide open.”

For more on this, see "blinded by faith?" in Welcome to College.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Reconciling Evil with Faith

Evil is problem - for all faiths, non-faiths (which by the way are faiths) and worldviews. So no one gets a pass. How do we as humans process this? Michael Novak has written a piece for USA today that brings some insight to this important and difficult question. It is worth a read...

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

If the evidence for Christianity is so strong, then why don't more people believe?

I think (and I am not alone in this) that there is strong evidence for God in general and biblical Christianity in particular. For me, the more I read and study, the more confidence I gain in the Christian view of the world. So if this is the case, that belief in the Christian God is not just rationally permissible, but reasonable and plausible as well, then why don't more people believe in God? If God is so powerful, why doesn't he just show up and put all questions and murmurings to rest?

That's a good question! Is there an equally good response?

"...God has provided each of us with the opportunity to make an eternal choice to either accept him or reject him. And to ensure that our choice is truly free, he puts us in an environment that is filled with evidence for his existence, but without his direct presence--a presence so powerful that it could overwhelm our freedom and thus negate our ability to reject him. In other words, God has provided enough evidence in this life to convince anyone willing to believe, yet he has also left some ambiguity so as not to compel the unwilling. In this way, God gives us the opportunity to either love him or to reject him without violating our freedom. In fact, the purpose of this life is to make that choice freely and without coercion. For love, by definition, must be freely given, It cannot be coerced."--Frank Turek & Norman Geisler

For more, see their compelling book I don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The argument from disagreement is overrated (cf. moral relativism)

It is often claimed that since so many individuals and cultures disagree regarding moral issues, then the obvious conclusion is that there must be no objective moral values. But as Francis Beckwith points out, “relativism does not follow from disagreement.”[i] Simply because people disagree, doesn’t mean there is no fact of the matter. Suppose you run into a member of the “flat earth society,” and find yourself in a heated discussion about whether the earth is indeed flat. At the end of the debate, you still disagree. Does that mean that there is no objective fact of the matter concerning the earth? If anything, disagreement ought to motivate us to understand why we disagree; not giving up on the conversation all together.

[i] Francis J. Beckwith, "Why I Am Not a Moral Relativist," in Why I Am a Christian: Leading Thinkers Explain Why They Believe, ed. Norman L. Geisler and Paul K. Hoffman (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2001), 19.

Friday, July 18, 2008

What do teenagers think about God?

A very interesting question. There was a recent study published as Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers published by Oxford University Press. There was also a DVD - Soul Searching: A Movie About Teenagers and God - that has been released summarizing these findings. I watched the DVD yesterday and it was enlightening and honest. Those who work with youth, are parents of teenagers, or have children heading towards their teenager years would find this DVD interesting.

There are about 33 million teenagers in America. A third are deeply religious, a third are kind of religious, and a third are not religious at all. This study talks about each group and what impact how seriously teenagers take their spiritual lives has upon overall flourishing as people.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Improving our chances of finding the truth

Can we get better at finding the truth about reality (i.e., the world in which we live)? I think so. "One of the ways that we can increase the chances of forming true beliefs and arriving at knowledge is by pursuing intellectual virtues. An intellectual virtue is “a characteristic of a person who acts in a praiseworthy manner in the process of forming beliefs.”

For example, Beilby and Clark describe the intellectual virtues of honesty and courage: “Being intellectually honest means making a fair appraisal of the evidence at hand, dedicating effort to reach valid conclusions, admitting personal biases that affect beliefs, and seeking to reduce those biases. In an intellectual context, courage involves, among other things, being willing to take the minority position when the evidence points in that direction. It also means investigating personally held beliefs with rigor.” These do not happen by accident, they are the result of forming healthy intellectual habits over time."

This was taken from my book Welcome to College: A Christ-follower's Guide for the Journey, the chapter, "can we know anything at all?"

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Gospel According to Oprah?

Oprah, is in the news, Here is a clip about concerns people have. But notice the last line of the clip...Oprah believes in one God. Notice that Jesus Christ was not mentioned. 'One God' is very ambiguous and can mean a whole lot of things. Now Oprah is free to believe whatever she would like to (as everyone else is) and should not be condemned for that. but a fair question is whether what she takes Christianity to be is what the New Testament teaches. In my view, it isn't about being mean to Oprah or anyone else; but people don't create reality by believing certain things. There is a fact of the matter--wholly apart--from what we believe. If not, truth and falsity make no sense whatsoever. Bottom line, don't be mean to Oprah ;) but Think Christianly about the issues she raises and examine what are the core aspects of Christianity.

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Christianity and Islam: Compulsion in religion and the freedom to disbelieve

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Iranian Christian Convert Detained by Secret Police

In America, we enjoy something many in the world do not--religious freedom and tolerance (in the true sense). Iran on the other hand does not offer religious freedom. Take a minute and read this, especially the last paragraph. (for the entire article, read here). This article reminds us of many things, not the least of which is that conversion is costly--not something you just add to your day.

(article begins) A former Muslim who converted to Christianity is being held by Iran’s secret police on suspicion of “apostasy,” or leaving Islam, according to a report Wednesday.
Mahmood Matin, 52, has been held in a detention center in the southern city of Shiraz since his arrest on May 15, according to Compass Direct news. His wife, who visited him on June 24, said Matin did not know where he was being held until she told him, according to a source who requested to remain anonymous for security reasons.

Matin told his wife that authorities were pressing him to reveal what foreign church he was connected to. But that he told them he was not related to any church outside of Iran.

The imprisoned convert claims he is being treated well, but his wife believes otherwise. During their five-minute conversation, officials were listening in, the source noted.

Matin was originally arrested in May when he met with 13 other Muslim converts to Christianity in a park in Shiraz.

Under Iranian law, apostasy is a crime that can be punishable by death. The county’s parliament is reviewing this month a draft penal code that would make the death penalty mandatory for anyone found guilty of leaving Islam or who uses the Internet to encourage others to do so.

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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Is Christianity the only 'exclusive' religion?

Sometimes people claim that Christians are so intolerant because they believe that they are the only ones that can have a relationship with God--they are exclusive. And the implication is that 'all religions are basically the same.' This is an oft repeated slogan, but it is deeply flawed. Ravi Zacharias helpfully shows why:

“The truth is that all religions are not the same. All religions do not point to God. All religions do not say that all religions are the same. In fact, some religions do not even believe in God. At the heart of every religion is an uncompromising commitment to a particular way of defining who God is or is not. Buddhism, for example, was based on Buddha’s rejection of two of Hinduism’s fundamental doctrines. Islam rejects both Buddhism and Hinduism. So it does no good to put a halo on the notion of tolerance and act as if everything is equally true. In fact, even all-inclusive religions such as Bahaism end up being exclusivistic by excluding the exclusivists!”

"And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved."-Acts 4:12 (cf. John 14:6; 1 Tim. 2:5)

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

More thoughts on the Dead Sea Stone

It appears that there are quite a few gaps in the new Jesus stone. Read the latest here...

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Monday, July 7, 2008

Our first freedom as humans and Christians

Thinking Christianly exists to help us think better. It isn't about being a scholar or not. But everyone thinks, and thoughts deeply affect the shape of our lives. But often we don't cultivate our minds and ultimately leave a resource God has given us untapped. Dallas Willard shares a helpful insight in this regard from Renovation of the Heart:

"The ultimate freedom we have as human beings is the power to select what we will allow or require our minds to dwell upon."

How is your thought life? What do you find your mind dwells on the most often? What do you want to dwell on?

We will discuss this more in the days ahead. But perhaps take some time to read and reflect upon Romans 12:1-2.

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Friday, July 4, 2008

How Would God Vote? (a "blogalogue")

In case you haven't noticed, it is an election year. ;) Politics are in full swing; along with certain appeals to what the Bible does and doesn't say about politics. Opinions vary; my conviction is that we should vote according to a Christian worldview and for the public good (i.e., the flourishing of a society). But what does that mean, specifically?

Here is a blogalogue between two thinkers on various ends of the spectrum (the Christian spectrum). It is worth a read.

What do you think?

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Thursday, July 3, 2008

What if God didn't exist?

Would this make (ultimately) any difference? I think is what Dr. William Lane Craig shared on this question:

"If God does not exist, life is ultimately meaningless. If your life is doomed to end in death, then ultimately it does not matter how you live. In the end it makes no ultimate difference whether you existed or not. Sure, your life might have a relative significance in that you influenced others or affected the course of history. But ultimately mankind is doomed to perish in the heat death of the universe. Ultimately it makes no difference who you are or what you do. Your life is inconsequential."

"Thus, the contributions of the scientist to the advance of human knowledge, the research of the doctor to alleviate pain and suffering, the efforts of the diplomat to secure peace in the world, the sacrifices of good people everywhere to better the lot of the human race—ultimately all these come to nothing. Thus, if atheism is true, life is ultimately meaningless."

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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Is God Dead Yet?

Nope...God is alive and well (contrary to what many postmodernists might say). The cover article of this month's Christianity Today is "God is Not Dead" by Dr. William Lane Craig (of Talbot School of Theology and Reasonable Faith). In this article he talks about the fact that there are good arguments for the existence of God that are plausible, powerful, and sophisticated. This is due to the renaissance of Christian Philosophy. The rest of the article is good as well, pick up a copy today and be encouraged in your faith.

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