This page has moved to a new address.

Think Christianly

Think Christianly: March 2011

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Is belief in Christianity like believing in Leprechauns?

Evolutionary biologist and atheist Jerry Coyne thinks so. "In the end, science is no more compatible with religion than with other superstitions, such as leprechauns." He's not done. In a USA today op ed piece he goes on to say:

"Religion in America is on the defensive. Atheist books such as The God Delusion and The End of Faith have, by exposing the dangers of faith and the lack of evidence for the God of Abraham, become best-sellers. Science nibbles at religion from the other end, relentlessly consuming divine explanations and replacing them with material ones. Evolution took a huge bite a while back, and recent work on the brain has shown no evidence for souls, spirits, or any part of our personality or behavior distinct from the lump of jelly in our head. We now know that the universe did not require a creator. Science is even studying the origin of morality. So religious claims retreat into the ever-shrinking gaps not yet filled by science. And, although to be an atheist in America is still to be an outcast, America's fastest-growing brand of belief is non-belief." (MORE)

And that's just the opening paragraph. There's plenty more....

You would be hard pressed to find an article that more clearly illustrates why Sean McDowell and I wrote - Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists. These issues and questions are not going away. And if you know a young person in high school or college, they are facing a steady diet of this kind of thinking these days. Are they ready? More often than not, they are not ready. (Just take a look at the excellent post by fellow point blogger Brett Kunkle and watch this video). More importantly…Are you ready?

This is why apologetics—training in defending the Christian faith—is not optional. It’s essential! Unfortunately students are often just told to be good and love Jesus and then churches send them off into the world to find their way. We must do better. We need to do at least 3 things with our students in high school:

Teach them what Christians believe. (understanding and content)
Teach them why Christianity is true. (evidence and reason)
Teach them why it matters. (implications and integration)

Again, this is not optional. We are commanded in Scripture to "set apart Christ as Lord” and to “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." (1 Pet. 3:15)

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Does New Scientific Evidence About the Origin of Life Put an End to Darwinian Evolution?

"How did life begin? Where did the first cell come from? Questions that have plagued scientists for centuries remain unanswered today, but recent scientific discoveries are leading modern scientists to explore the theory of intelligent design as a better explanation for the complexity of life and the universe."

Great post and video series by author of Signature in the Cell Stephen Meyer.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Theological Conversation Worth Having: A Response to Brian McLaren by Al Mohler

"We are talking about two rival understandings of the Gospel here — two very different understandings of theology, Gospel, Bible, doctrine, and the totality of the Christian faith. Both sides in this controversy understand what is at stake."

Read the rest of Dr. Mohler's response to Brian McLaren

Theology matters. Be bold. Think Christianly...

"Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people" - Jude 3

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

What Rob Bell Should Have Said In His MSNBC Interview (video)

It saddened me to watch Rob Bell in this interview for several reasons. First, Bell is a creative and articulate person who was given a platform to speak into our culture in the midst of tragedy and quite frankly dropped the ball. This was a cultural moment and he balked. In a recent article in Outreach magazine, Pastor Dan Kimball said "I am more and more convinced that we need to be theologians in our culture today." That is what we need to be about.

Second, he was theologically irresponsible. It was hard to find much that was distinctively Christian in the interview. Again, I don't say this to beat up Rob Bell. This should serve as a reminder for all of us to "be always ready to give an answer for the hope we have" (1 Peter 3:15)

Finally, Bell exerts considerable influence with the emerging generation (18-30 year olds). Many will follow Bell because he is charismatic and creative. But in this case, he is not stewarding the truth well (James 3:1).

When asked to address the problem of evil and suffering, Bell simply dodges the question. What he should have said was something like this: Christians are called to pray for and serve those in need. The prophet Jeremiah reminds us that part of what it means to know God is to care for poor and needy (22:15-16). Our hearts break for the people of Japan.

We all ask the question where is God in the midst of this tragedy in Japan? This is where Christianity brings hope of an all powerful God who did not remain quarantined from our pain and tears. God was the exact same place during this event he was as he watched his son Jesus die an unjust death. It appeared that evil won. “Experience cannot be allowed to have the final word," reminds Alister McGrath, "it must be judged and shown up as deceptive and misleading. The theology of the cross draws our attention to the sheer unreliability of experience as a guide to the presence and activity of God. God is active and present in His world, quite independently of whether we experience Him as being so. Experience declared that God was absent from Calvary, only to have its verdict humiliatingly overturned on the third day.”

So even if we don’t know why these things happen, we know it is not because God does not care—that can’t be the reason. We know this because of the Cross. What we cling to in these moments is summed up well by Os Guinness, “we know why we trust the God who knows why.”

Bell also punts to speculation regarding final judgement and the importance of responding to God in this life when the Bible is clear on the matter:

"And just as it is appointed for people to die once—and after this, judgment—so also the Messiah, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him."--Hebrews 9:27-28

Let us pray for boldness and compassion to love this world well. And let us remember the world is watching to see what we say and what we do.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Monday, March 14, 2011

Jonathan Morrow - God and the Problem of Evil (video) Part One

There are few questions that gnaw at the soul quite like this one—If God is so good, then why is there so much evil and suffering in the world?

The problem of evil confronts us both intellectually and emotionally. In this short video, I begin addressing some of the intellectual questions we all ask: What is evil? Did God create evil? Is evil only a problem for Christians or is it everyone's problem? I have written more on the problem of evil and suffering here and here.​

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Jonathan Morrow -- "How can the academy best serve the church?" (video)

"This question simply isn’t considered often enough. The unfortunate truth is that the academy’s role in the local church is easily forgotten or misconstrued by all involved. But as disciples of Christ, and as passionate academics, it’s a fundamental question for us to reflect on." - Zondervan Publishers

At the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society in Atlanta, Zondervan interviewed me on that question. Here was my response. For more about this series and my forthcoming book with Zondervan, click here.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, March 7, 2011

More thoughts on preaching the simple Gospel

Is apologetics, philosophy, and worldview training really necessary? After all, shouldn't we just preach the simple gospel and leave all that “intellectual stuff” to the academics? Nancy Pearcey offers good insight here that I agree with:

"The ultimate goal is to preach the gospel. But the gospel is not simple to those whose background prevents them from understanding it. Today's global secular culture has erected a maze of mental barriers against even considering the biblical message" (Saving Leonardo, 15).

Recently I spoke at our church on Is Jesus the Only Way to God? There are few statements that are more politically incorrect than that one. But Jesus did not shy away from making culturally unpopular statements, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Among other things, Christianity teaches the exclusivity and uniqueness of Jesus (cf. Acts 4:12; 1 Tim. 2:5).

But according to a Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life study (2009) based on interviews with 35,000 adults and out of a sample size of 9472 Evangelicals, a startling 57% of Evangelical adults agreed with the statement “many religions can lead to eternal life.” That is not good soil for the Gospel to take root in!

There are many observations to make here, but I want to highlight just one. When Christians say that Jesus is the only way to God, what our culture hears is “We think Butterfinger is the best candy bar and consumers of all other candy bars are going to hell.” And that would be a ridiculous claim. Many think Christians are imposing our particular religious preferences on others.

But that is not why Jesus is the only way to God. As my friend Brett Kunkle has pointed out, Jesus offers both the diagnosis and the cure. Jesus is the only way because he is the only medicine that can cure the spiritual disease that is killing us...sin (John 8:24). That is the claim and it’s either true or false.

The simple Gospel is getting lost in translation because of the background beliefs people have today about faith, God, religion, and morality—these are no longer considered objects of knowledge in our culture. Now more than ever, we must help people see that faith is reasonable, Christianity is a knowledge tradition, and that belief in God is not religious wishful thinking (2 Cor. 10:3-5). Christianity can be investigated with eyes wide open (Luke 1:1-4). So boldly proclaim the simple Gospel but also do the hard work necessary so that others can understand what Jesus is actually claiming.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, March 3, 2011

How Precious Are the Words of God - The New Testament Comes to the Kimyal Tribe of Papua, Indonesia for the First Time

Truly amazing. Watch this video and join the celebration!

"How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!" - Ps. 139:17

"All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal." - Ps. 119:160

Labels: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

How Naturalism is Affecting Culture by J.P. Moreland (video)

Worldviews matter and ideas have consequences. J.P. Moreland is one of my heroes and mentors and makes some critical observations about our culture and how we can speak the message of Christianity into it. If you are a pastor or Christian leader and would like to study under J.P. Moreland and other top notch faculty (like Garry DeWeese and Scott Rae), then you may be interested in Talbot School of Theology's new Doctor of Ministry Program in Engaging Mind and Culture. I am currently doing this program and it is outstanding, click here for more.

Labels: , , , , ,