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Think Christianly

Think Christianly: April 2009

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Why They Don't Get It: Helping Students Understand Worldview By John Stonestreet

John Stonestreet has written a very helpful article on youth today. He is the the Executive Director of Summit Ministries (which in my opinion is the finest worldview camp for high school students in America). If you have a high school student or are a youth pastor you owe it them to check this summer opportunity out.

(excerpt from article) "The battle of ideas is often the battle over definitions. Asking students, “What do you mean by that?” has never been more crucial. Assuming that we share definitions, or that traditional definitions will go unquestioned, with the emerging generation is a mistake with significant consequences. Among the more crucial words needing careful definition include God, human, truth, faith, Gospel, Kingdom, evil, tolerance, male, female, pro-life, justice, marriage, family, freedom, rights, responsibility, and the good life."

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Article: "As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God"

I came across an interesting article in the Times Online. Worth a read - As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Americans not losing their religion, but changing it often

I came across this CNN article, Americans not losing their religion, but changing it often, and it was interesting reading.

A few observations:

1 - "I began to see there were some things I wasn't able to get on board with fully. I don't like the traditional Episcopalian focus on the afterlife."

Notice the criteria for this change; not I investigated or studied the Bible and came to a different conclusion, but rather..."I didn't like it." as if it was Butter Pecan ice cream vs. Mocha Almond Fudge. Truth is not a flavor of ice cream. But many people treat religion like it is.

2 - "More than four in 10 American adults are no longer members of the religion they were brought up in, while about one in 10 changed religion, then went back to the one they left, the study found. Just under five in 10 -- 47 percent -- have never changed faith."

Change is not necessarily bad of course, but the reasons are what is important here. And if it is simply people being too busy and drifiting or not liking something...those aren't good foundations to build a worldview and way of life on.

Christianity works becasue it is true; it is not true because it works.

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Son of Man Evidence for Jesus' Divinity

An important passage describes Jesus’ trial before the Jewish leadership (Mark 14:60-64). They asked him point blank, “are you Messiah, the Son of the blessed one?” Jesus response is powerful: “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Now there is a lot here. But the most important point is this, Jesus is quoting Daniel 7:13-14 and refers to himself as the “Son of Man.” If you go back and read the Daniel passage you will see that the Son of Man is in the presence of the Ancient of Days (God himself) and is given authority by him (cf. Ps 110).

The Jewish leadership, who knew the Hebrew Scriptures well, got the message loud and clear responding that this was blasphemy and that Jesus deserved to die for claiming to be God (Mark 14:63-64). People don’t get crucified for spouting off moral platitudes or loving everybody (though Jesus certainly loved people and was not promoting immorality). Something more is needed. No one denies that Jesus died by roman crucifixion. So why was he crucified?

This passage is your answer. The Jewish leadership clearly understood who Jesus claimed to be—God—and they had him crucified because of it. The early church did not turn Jesus into a God 400 years later at a church council as many today are saying. Jesus was so clear on this point, that it got him crucified.

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Does Jesus Change Lives? (Cardboard Testimonies Video)

Does Jesus change lives? Watch and see...


And he can change yours today if you will let him.

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Having Helpful Spiritual Conversations

I came across an excellent piece of advice in Greg Koukl's excellent new book, Tactics: A Game-Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions

"Always make it a goal to keep your conversations cordial. Sometimes that will not be possible. If a principled, charitable expression of your ideas makes someone mad, there's little you can do about it. Jesus' teaching made some people furious. Just make sure it's your ideas that offend and not you, that your beliefs cause the dispute and not your behavior."

A good word.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Kathy Ireland on Huckaby Show Artfully Discusses the Pro-life Position Regarding the Unborn

Want to learn how to make a powerful case for the unborn without appealing to the Bible? Take 7 minutes and watch Kathy Ireland. Well done. She models how to put this moral discussion back on the table without appealing to "personal faith."

To watch this impressive clip, click here.

We certainly need to be pro-all-of-life, but when it comes to the defending the unborn; it is not popular. But we need to be prepared to offer this kind of logic in an easy to understand, non-judgmental, gracious manner.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The New Testament and the Sanctity of Life

What does the New Testament Teach about the sanctity of life? David Gushee writes a helpful and short article for the Center of Bioethics and Human Dignity.

Here is an excerpt:

"I want to suggest that the New Testament affirms the immeasurable value of human life in four primary ways: (1) its depiction of Jesus’ kingdom ministry, (2) the theological implications of the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, (3) the impact of Jesus Christ on the human condition, especially in the lives of those who are his followers, and (4) its depiction of the expansive reach and inclusive ethos of early Christian communities. "

Read the whole article

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Dave Ramsey - Town Hall of Hope

This is a free event this Thursday night...check it out and see if it is in your area. Everyone needs good input on money and finances.

Click here for details...

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Do we have to know everything before we can believe in God?

I spoke to our church this weekend about questions, doubts, and faith. I wanted to share two quotes that I found helpful.

First, “Faith does not feed on thin air but on facts. Its instinct is to root itself in truth, to earth itself in reality, and this distinguishes faith from fantasy, the object of faith from the figment of the imagination.”—Os Guinness

There is a lot of confusion about faith today. But from a Christian perspective, I think Os hits the nail on the head. Faith is rooted in reality. A better synonym would be trust or confidence. Faith is not wishful thinking, it is grounded in experience and evidence.

Second, “There is no way to God that bypasses the call to let go {i.e., to choose to trust Him}. You may have many intellectual doubts, and it is really important to be honest about those, to talk about them and study. However, thinking and studying alone never remove the need to choose. The question of faith is never just an intellectual decision”—John Ortberg

As humans, we all have limitations. We have limitations in energy, time, and yes…knowledge. We all experience doubts at one time or another simply because we cannot know everything about everything. That is equally true of the skeptic and believer. But there comes a time when you have to choose. Everyone ultimately trusts in something or someone--themselves, a friend, a book, a professor, or God. And we all do so--without every question answered. We do our best to have sufficient evidence, but at the end of the day we either commit to the person of Jesus and his way of life or choose another path. Yes, there will be questions along the way, but that is why it is a journey of faith and understanding.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

How Much Brain Do I Need To Be Human?

“How much brain do you need to be human?” Or to put it more generally: “What kinds of capacities are necessary for one to be considered a person?” Underlying the former question is another criterion for personhood, that of consciousness/sentience. With the neurologically impaired, the question we are really asking is: “Can someone be a person without being conscious or sentient?” The question of brain activity then is related to how much brain activity is necessary to sustain consciousness/sentience, and is actually secondary to the more basic criterion of consciousness/sentience." for more....

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Bart Ehrman on The Colbert Report (Bible Contradictions?)

If you would like to know what is shaping the undercurrents of belief in our society - follow the comedians. My personal favorite is the Colbert Report. Colbert's satire is very perceptive and informed.

On Good Friday Colbert had Bart Ehrman on the Report regarding his latest book - Jesus Interrupted - which makes all sorts of claims about biblical contradictions and that Jesus never claimed to be God etc.

Watch and enjoy..."Bart Ehrman explains why the Bible is a big fat lie and Stephen is an idiot for believing it. (06:30)" Colbert actually poses some interesting questions to Ehrman...even in the humor. More about the substance of the claims below.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Bart Ehrman
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorNASA Name Contest

For NT Scholar Ben Witherington's review of the book, see part 1 and part 2. Also Darrell Bock's Review. (BTW - Ben was trained by the same person Ehrman was).

Ben's brief response on a comment on his blog:

Actually Bart is dead wrong about early Christology, and I think he even knows it. Its pretty hard to miss Phil. 2.5-11, written before any Gospel probably. There it is said not only that Christ is "in very nature God" even before he takes on human form, but then on top of that Paul quotes and applies Isaiah to Christ after the ascension saying he has the name above all names, which very clearly in Isaiah is the name of God. The transfer of the LXX name for God 'kyrios' to Christ is clearly enough a statement about his divinity. In addition to which in Romans 9.5 Christ is called "God above all blessed forever".

Furthermore, the Synoptic Gospels most certainly do view Christ as divine. This is why he is portrayed as Immanuel for example in Matthew's Gospel, or as the human and also divine Son of Man of Daniel 7 fame who came from heaven to judge the world and will rule in a kingdom for ever (see Mk. 14.62).

Ehrman's retro arguments about such things don't even convince most liberal scholars these days, they just say that Paul was divinizing Jesus because they know he had an exalted view of Christ.

As for Colbert, he is a devout Catholic who teaches Sunday school, and is not much interested in making fun of any orthodox Christians.

Happy Easter,

BW3 (end of quote)

On the historical reliability of the Gospels, see Craig Blomberg's article. For a fuller treatment, see The Historical Reliability of the Gospels 2nd edition.

Here is an excerpt: "Why then are the Gospels not word-for-word alike? Why was more than one needed in the first place? Moreover, the verbatim similarities among the Synoptics are usually taken as a sign of literary dependence of one Gospel on another or two together on a common source. There are a whole host of reasons for these differences. Many have to do with what each author selected to include or leave out from a much larger body of information of which he was aware (John 21:25). Distinctive theological emphases, unique geographical outlines, and larger questions of literary subgenre account for many of these selections and omissions. But even where the Gospels include versions of the same event, verbatim parallelism usually remains interspersed with considerable freedom to paraphrase, abridge, expand, explain and stylize other portions of the accounts. All this was considered perfectly acceptable by the historiographical standards of the day and would not have been viewed in any as errant. But recent scholarship is also pointing out how the flexibility and patterns in oral storytelling would have accounted for many of the more incidental differences as Christian tradition initially passed these stories on by word of mouth."

On the Divinity of Jesus, see Putting Jesus in His Place.

(HT - Ben Witherington)

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Are people the problem or religion?

Is religion inherently dangerous? Oxford theologian Alister McGrath would argue, and I think rightly, that people are the problem; not religion per se.

“All ideals—divine, transcendent, human, or invented—are capable of being abused. That’s just the way human nature is. And that happens to religion as well. Belief in God can be abused, and we need to be very clear, in the first place, that abuse happens, and in the second, that we need to confront and oppose this. But abuse of an ideal does not negate its validity.”

This observation is important because it removes simplistic statements about religion being the root of all evil and violence in the world today. The issues are far more complex because human beings, who posses freedom of the will, are involved.

In the Craig-Hitchens debate, Hitchens kept appealing to the argument that religion is dangerous so God can't exist....but that doesn't follow. At most all that follows is that people can be dangerous when they believe deeply in something - money, politics, god, etc.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Does God Exist? - The Craig vs. Hitchens Debate

Tonight we are rebroadcasting the "Does God Exist" debate between William Lane Craig and Christopher Hitchens.

Here is the promo: "Witness one of the great debates of the new millennium. Devoted atheist, Christopher Hitchens, author of the bestselling God is Not Great, squares off with one of the most formidable debaters in the Christian world, Dr. William Lane Craig, on the topic: Does God Exist? Moderated by Hugh Hewitt and hosted by Craig Hazen at Biola University."

What I would like to know is what you thought? Those who attended tonight's debate or found this blog another way and watched the debate, what did you find compelling or not compelling? Where do you think the evidence points? (and more importantly why?)

Please feel free to leave your comments below and interact with each other. The only rule is to treat others with respect.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Here is a link for further input on this debate.

Resources to Explore the Question Further

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Hypothetical Conversation on the Who Made God Question

In light of a recent comment on the previous blog, I thought this conversation would be helpful for everyone so I included it as a new post...

(HT - from

After my recent post re Peter Kreeft’s thoughts on “Who made God?” I’ve seen that same question come up in several places during my random web wanderings. As I was thinking about this question today in the shower (where all great philosophical thought occurs) I imagined a conversation like the following … hopefully this isn’t too contrived and doesn’t caricature the two imagined persons involved too much:

Christian: The cosmological argument is strong evidence that God exists. If the universe was made, it needs a maker; if it was created, it needs a creator. That creator is God.

Skeptic: Ah, but this merely raises the question “Who made God?” which Richard Dawkins himself asks in The God Delusion.* It just pushes the question back one step further.

Christian: This seems to me to be a category error; it confuses the uncreated creator with His created creation. God doesn’t need a maker because God was never made; He was and is eternally existing.

Skeptic: That’s special pleading at best, hypocritical at worst. Why is it okay for God to be “eternal, uncreated” but not the universe?

Christian: Because we have good reasons, both philosophical and scientific, that the universe is not eternal, whereas no such reasons exist to believe that God is so. God is not subject to the same limitations of the material world He created. The cosmological argument proposes not that everything requires a cause, but whatever begins to exist requires a cause; if God did not begin to exist (since there is no reason to believe He did, unlike the universe) He requires no cause.

Skeptic: Even if we agree that the universe is not eternal, why must its cause be God? Why not some other explanation?

Christian: Whatever created both time and space must transcend both time and space. Also, there are numerous other attributes which can be discerned about whatever created the universe that imply a personal entity (that is, it possesses volition among other things). So the creator of the universe is an entity which is beyond time and space yet still possesses certain attributes and is personal. This sounds to me a lot like God.

* In The God Delusion Dawkins is attempting to apply the question as a defeater to the design argument (p.109), not the cosmological argument (which Dawkins shockingly dismisses in less than a page). I’ve personally heard it applied more often to the cosmological argument, at least in the realm of Internet banter. (end of section from

Also, evolution and natural selection do not help the atheist / materialist here because they must act on something...they have nothing to say--no explanatory power or scope--about the origin of time, space, matter, and energy. The universe is not had a beginning. So what is the best explanation of that beginning. Something popping into existence out of nothing??--the atheist position (and no, the hypothetical multi-verse doesn't help just backs the question up a step).

Moreover, as philosopher Paul Copan has put it, "the state prior to the big bang was literally nothing [i.e., not empty space and air]--which implies not even the potential for something--and nothing can begin to exist without a cause. To claim that something can come from literally nothing is metaphysical nonsense."

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Who Made God?

Philosopher Jay Richards does a good job addressing this common objection.

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Friday, April 3, 2009

One of the Earliest Christian Hymns About Jesus

Behold the Preeminence of Jesus Christ:

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

This hymn we find in Col 1:15-20 was sung by the first followers of Jesus; it predates the writing of the NT. What is clear from this and other passages is that Jesus was worshipped from the very beginning. The deity of Christ was not an invention or later accretion.

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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Adult Stem Cells the Answer? On Oprah? Yes....

There has been a lot of debate on the need for embryonic stem cells vs. adult stem cells. But the reality is, embryonic stem cells are treating "zero" diseases while adult stem cells are treating around 90.

But don't take my word for it....let the Oprah show confirm that for you (wow did I just say that???)

Watch this clip, it is 3:43

Adult stem cells provide real hope to those who struggle with Parkinson's disease. Watch the clip to learn why.

(HT - STR Blog)

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

No One Sees God...

I am reading No One Sees God: The Dark Night of Atheists and Believers and I came across a quote that I would like to share. He refers to it as his underlying thesis:

"...that unbelievers and believers need to learn a new habit of reasoned and mutually respectful conversation."


"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, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander."--1 Peter 3:15-16

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