Monday, December 10, 2018

What is Christmas but the Incarnation; God into Human Flesh?


Do you have a favorite Bible story? Perhaps it is the birth of Jesus Christ; Luke 2:1-20 is often recited in Christian homes on Christmas Eve. However, this is not my favorite Bible story, but another Christmas passage is my favorite Bible story. My favorite Bible story is the prologue to The Gospel According to John. Did you know that John 1:1-18 is a Christmas story? It is indeed a Christmas story and a very strong Christmas story for three reasons:
  1. In the beginning the Word was both with God and the Word was God. (1:1-5)
  2. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. (1:6-14)
  3. The man Jesus Christ is the incarnate Word. (1:15-18)
To be a Christian means that you believe in the essential doctrines taught by the church and follow the teachings of Jesus Christ:
  1. God is Trinity: There is one God who exist simultaneously in three divine persons; the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
  2. Jesus is both fully God and fully man in one person.
  3. Jesus death on the cross was a sin sacrifice.
  4. Jesus bodily rose from the dead.
  5. There will be a bodily resurrection of all the dead at the judgment on the last day.
Every heresy throughout the history of the Christian church denies at least one of these essential doctrines. The second essential, that Jesus is fully God and fully man became an issue when Christianity became predominantly Graeco-Roman in its persons. The writers of the New Testament were Jewish, or in the case of Luke at least associated with Jews; therefore, the gospels were written from a Jewish worldview; and not a Graeco-Roman worldview. When someone asks, “Who is Jesus Christ?” If the question is asked from a Graeco-Roman worldview the answer that one would expect to hear has to do with his nature, but if the question is asked from a first century Jewish worldview the answer that one would expect to hear has to do with His function.1 Historical heresies that have to do with the person of Jesus Christ: Docetism,2 Arianism,3 and Nestorianism4 all sought unbiblical Graeco-Roman answers. However, the first century Jewish/Christian understanding had to do with his function; therefore, this is how we should understand the incarnation.

In John 10:31 the Jews pickup stones to stone Jesus because He made himself out to be God. Jesus did not say to them “I Am God,” but because he declared his function to be the same as the Father’s the Jews understood His statement to mean that He is God. (cf. Jn 10:33) When Phillip asked Jesus to show the disciples the Father, Jesus said: “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”

God is all-powerful, all-knowing and morally perfect. Man has limited-power, limited-knowledge and morally imperfect. It is our sin that separates us from God. Jesus came so that we may have life and have it abundantly. (Jn 10:10) Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ, (Jn 1:17) He has shown God to man (Jn 1:18) because eternal life is knowing God. (Jn 17:3)

What is Christmas but the Incarnation; God in human flesh? “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.” (Jn 1:18) This Christmas come to know God through the incarnation; the Word who was with God and was God became flesh and dwelt among us in the person of Jesus Christ the Son of God. (Cf. Jn 1:1-18)



1 Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, 3rd3d., (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013), 638.
2 Docetism: a belief the Jesus was a spirit and not a physical being like man.
3 Arianism: a belief that Jesus was man and not God.
4 Nestorianism: a belief that Jesus was two persons, one God and one man.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Plantinga, Alvin, Knowledge and Christian Belief. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2015.

Biographical Sketch of the Author

Alvin Plantinga is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. He has a Ph.D., from Yale University. His interest: epistemology, metaphysics, and philosophy of religion.  He has written several books on these subjects: Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion and Naturalism. New York Oxford University Press, 2011. Are Science and Religion Compatible? New York: Oxford University Press, 2003. Warranted Christian Belief. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.1

Summary of Contents

The main topic of this book is a question: Is Christian belief justifiable, reasonable and rational? He begins by professing that God is the all-powerful, all knowing, perfectly good creator of all. The argument ensues that if such a God exist he is beyond our minds to conceive. He then proceeds to say that many concede that there is such a thing as Christian belief but think that it is unjustified. He the divides the objectors into two groups: De facto objectors vs. De jure objectors.
The de facto objector claims that Christian belief is false or improbable. For example, “the problem of evil” is a de facto argument against God. The de jure objector says that belief in God is arrogant, unjustified and irrational. He then goes on to argue that the only promising candidate for a de jure objection is Freud’s claim that Christian belief does not have warrant for sufficient knowledge. By showing that the Christian faith does have sufficient knowledge all de jure objections fail.
He then presents what he calls the Aquinas/Calvin model to demonstrate that the Christian has sufficient knowledge about God and the gospel to warrant faith. He then deals with objections to this model. Then he spends the last three chapters of the book regarding possible defeaters of the Aquinas/Calvin model: Historical biblical criticism, religious pluralism and the problem of evil. He concludes that none of these are actually defeaters for Christian belief.

Critical Evaluation

First, let me say that I really enjoyed reading this book because its logic affirms the conversation that the Lord Jesus Christ had with the Pharisee Nicodemus and the writings of the apostle Paul. I am not saying that Alvin Plantinga is on par with the wisdom of the apostle Paul or what he has written is inspired writing; however, the logic that he uses in this book and the way he explains it in a modern context images the way the apostle Paul wrote to the Romans in their first century Jewish-Gentile church context. He spends the majority of the book arguing that the Christian faith is warranted and the logical argument that he gives is cohesive with the word of God. 
De facto arguments simply say that there is no proof of God; there are however, several natural arguments for the existence of God: cosmological, contingency and ontological to name a few. But the main focus of this book is regarding the de jure argument that Christian belief lacks warrant. The de jure argument doesn’t argue that your belief is false like the de facto argument but says that your belief is unwarranted because it is without knowledge. Is this a valid argument?
In this book Plantinga argues that Christian belief does have warrant because it is a belief that has knowledge. He makes this argument based on a claim made jointly by Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin. Aquinas and Calvin both agree that there is a natural knowledge of God. Calvin takes this further saying that it is a sense like our physical senses: smell, taste, hearing, seeing and feeling. Calvin calls this: “sensus divinitatis” sense of divinity. This sense of divinity has been suppressed in man because of sin; therefore, a new birth is needed. He also says that man has an affective disorder. Man was created in the image of God with an intellect and a will. Sin is a turning of the human will away from God which affects our minds. Therefore, sin is an affective disorder of the human will.
Here is a summary of the Aquinas/Calvin model proposed by Alvin Plantinga:
We humans have fallen into sin, a grievous condition from which we cannot extricate ourselves. Jesus Christ, both a human being and the divine Son of God, made atonement for our sin by way of his suffering and death, thus making it possible for us to stand in the right relationship to God. The Bible is (among other things) a written communication from God to us human beings, proclaiming this good news. Because of our fallen condition, however, we need more than this information: we also need a change of heart. This is provided by the internal instigation of the Holy Spirit; he both enables us to see the truth of the great things of the gospel and turns our affections in the right direction. 
From this argument it stands to reason that the Christian belief has warrant. I know it to be true because what Dr. Plantinga describes in this model actually happened to me. I know that the gospel is true because I have been given a change of heart by the internal instigation of the Holy Spirit. Formally my sense of divinity was clouded by my desire for sin. I now see the truth of the great things of the gospel because my affections have turned towards God although I am still tempted by sin. 
One thing that Plantinga does not address is the level of knowledge that the Christian has. The apostle Paul said, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.” (1 Cor 13:12, NASB) I have knowledge of God and the gospel because my affection has changed but sin keeps me from seeing clearly and having full knowledge; nevertheless, my faith is not without knowledge. The caveat that I can see to this model is with regard to the de jure objector; he is not going to except these things unless he has a change of heart by the internal instigation of the Holy Spirit especially if his worldview is modern.



1 University of Notre Dame. 2018. “Alvin Plantinga // Department of Philosophy // University of Notre Dame.” Department of Philosophy. Accessed December 6. https://philosophy.nd.edu/people/emeritus/alvin-plantinga/. 

Monday, December 3, 2018

English Bible Translations


One summer, when in grade school, my mother put me in a vacation Bible School at a United Methodist Church in Garland, Texas. Later, as a 6th grader, we went on a weekend retreat to Tyler State park for what was called confirmation. The following Sunday we were all (6th graders) formerly made members of the church. I personally had no idea what that meant. As part of our confirmation we were all given copies of the Good News Bible (GNB). This translation was completed by the American Bible Society in 1976. It is intended to express the meaning of the original text in conversational English and is said to be a good translation for those who read/speak English as a second language.1

When I was older, as a birthday present from my father he gave me an NIV Study Bible (New International Version). It was large; therefore, I felt big when carrying it to church. This translation sought to be a halfway ground between British English and American English. This translation also tries to express the meaning of the original text in a more functional approach.As far as the study Bible is concerned Duvall and Hays say that this has to do with marketing and has nothing to do with translation.3

In May of 2003 I began following the Lord and committed to reading his word every day. I went to lifeway and got two English translations by recommendation. I got a copy of the New Living Translation (NLT) for my personal devotion and a copy of the New King James Bible (NKJV). The NKJV was used by our head pastor of the Baptist Church we were attending. The NLT is a thought-for thought translation from 1996.The New King JamesVersion tries to update the English language of the King James Version using modern English.The KJV and NKJV used a different underlying Greek text than the other translations in use today. The KJV was translated using the Textus Receptus. Other English translations use the Electic Greek text. The Electic text is comprised of a greater number and older manuscripts than the Textus Receptus. Textual critics used those older and more numerous manuscripts to come up with a better Greek text.6

Since April of 2012 I have been using the New American Standard Bible (NASB) during personal devotion and study. The NASB is the translation that our pastor preaches from. Also, when I began seminary in March of 2015 I was told to use either the English Standard Version (ESV) or NASB for my classes. Both of these translations adhere closely to the original text in form and word using the Electic Greek text but from a different group of translators.

A Few Things to Consider:

    • Autographs: the original documents of the Scripture. 
    • Textual Criticism: the technical discipline that compares the various copies of a biblical text in an effort to determine what was most likely the original text.
    • Bible translation: involves moving the meaning of a text in one language (source language) to another language (receptor language).
    • English Bibles Before the KJV 1611: Wycliffe Bible, William Tyndall’s New Testament, Coverdale Bible, Great Bible, Geneva Bible, Bishop’s Bible. The KJV was translated in 1611 and was revised several times until 1769. The 1769 version is what you will find in print today.
    • Two Main Problems with the KJV: 1) The translators used an inferior Greek text from what we have available today. 2) Many of its words and phrases are archaic or obsolete for English speakers today.
    • Approaches to Bible Translation: 1) The formal approach tries to stay as close as possible to the structure and words of the original text. 2) The functional approach tries to express the meaning of the original text in today’s language.7
    • See Translation Spectrum:
    Conclusion:

    Pick a translation based on need. When I was a child the Good News Translation was probably a good one to give to me. As a new follower of Jesus Christ, it was probably better that I read a thought for thought translation like the New Living Translation but as a mature believer seeking to journey deeper into God’s Word, a more functional translation is recommended. There you have it, Bible translations in a nutshell.


    1 J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays, Journey Into God’s Word(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008), 77.
    2 Ibid,77.
    3 Ibid, 75.
    4 Ibid.
    5 Ibid, 76.
    6 Ibid, 75-76.
    7 J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays, Grasping God’s word: A Hands-On Approach to Reading, Interpreting, and Applying the Bible(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012), 23-38.
    8 J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays, Journey Into God’s Word(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008), 80.

    Sunday, November 18, 2018

    Naughty or Nice List

    A friend recently wrote, “EVERYBODY'S ON THE NAUGHTY LIST....CHANGE MY MIND!” Is he correct? Is everybody on the naughty list? A little ground work before answering.

    What Naughty List?

    Was my friend referring to the naughty list from the children’s Christmas song Santa Claus is Coming to Town? Take a look at the first two stanzas of that song.

    "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town"

    Oh! You better watch out
    You better not cry
    You better not pout I'm telling you why
    Santa Claus is coming to town

    He's making a list
    Checking it twice
    Gonna find out who's naughty or nice
    Santa Claus is coming to town
    In the second stanza Santa Clause is making a list, checking it twice, gonna find out who’s naughty or nice. This implies two list; a naughty list and a nice list. My friend is an evangelist; therefore, indirectly referring to God’s naughty list using words from this familiar Christmas song. Let us then answer my friends question with the knowledge that he is speaking in regard to God.  

    Judgment at the Throne of God

    Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Rv 20:11-15, NASB)
    This passage is referring to the last day when all the dead rise and face Jesus Christ in judgement. There are books, but the book that you want your name written in is the book of life because if your name is not written in the book of life you will be cast into the lake of fire. The passage following this one speaks of the new heaven and new earth (God and man together) which will be the eternal home of everyone whose name is written in the book of life. (cf. Rv 20-21)
    Essentially what we have here is a naughty list and a nice list; therefore, my friend is wrong, there are people whose names are not on the naughty list. Their names are on the nice list (book of life) and have been written there from the foundation of the earth. (cf. Rv 17:8) 
    Is your name written in the book of life? Jesus promised eternal life to all who believe in him? (cf. Jn 6:47) He calls those who believe in him his sheep and he said of them, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (Jn 10:27-30, NASB)
    Everybody deserves to be on the naughty lost; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, but some are justified. These are justified as a gift (they do not deserve it), by the grace of God alone (they did not earn it), through faith alone, in the person and works of Jesus Christ alone. (Rom 3:23-26) Throughout Jesus ministry he would look at people and say, “Follow Me!”

    Friday, November 16, 2018

    The Problem of Suffering and Evil

    As a Critical Care Registered Nurse I see a great deal of suffering. I admit that some of this suffering appears to be purposeless. In the face of human suffering people tend to doubt God. The book of Job gives an answer for Job's suffering, but Job himself is not given an answer. We the readers get to look in on a scene in heaven that Job is not privy too, God has good reason for allowing Job to suffer but Job is never given the reason, only that he should trust the wisdom of God. We Christians believe that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-love; God created everything, and suffering and evil exist.
    Should we blame God for our suffering? 
    I used to have a dog who would run through the house and crash into things hurting himself. If I was standing there, he would act as though I had done the harm. If I reached out to console him, he would run away yelping. It seems to me that blaming God for our suffering is a lot like my dog’s reaction in his suffering. Most people’s problem of suffering and evil is emotional; and therefore, not intellectual. Like my dog who blamed me for hurting himself, we humans blame God for our suffering. Allowed to fester, this blaming can lead to hatred. If God is all knowing, all powerful and all good why won’t he do anything about my suffering, or the suffering of others and end all the evil in the world? Once this blaming becomes hatred men attempt to kill God. The opponent argues that if God is all-powerful and all-knowing he should have been able to create a world without suffering or evil, and if he is all-love he would have wanted to; therefore, since suffering and evil exist, the God of the Bible does not exist. 
    Could they be correct?
    The premise of the argument makes two assumptions:

    1. Being all-powerful means that God can do anything.
    2. Human happiness is the purpose of life.
    First, God is all-powerful, but he cannot do anything. God is truth; therefore, God cannot lie because this would contradict his nature. Second, nowhere does the Scripture teach that the purpose of human life is happiness. The Scriptures teach that the purpose of human life is to know God and be conformed to the image of his Son. Jesus said, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (Jn 17:3, NASB) And the apostle Paul wrote; “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” (Rom 8:28-30, NASB)
    Could God have a good reason for allowing suffering and evil?
    What if God made man in his image with the free will to choose right and wrong? God could not have created a world in which man had free will without the possibility of evil. God created the heavens and the earth and all that they contain; lastly, he created man and woman in his image with the free will to choose to follow him or not follow him. They chose to do as they pleased; human suffering and death are the result of that decision. (cf. Gn 1-3) The remainder of the Scriptures, Genesis 4:1 – Revelation 22:21 is a story of redemption; God drawing a people to himself by the Spirit, redeeming them by the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ through faith, and using the sufferings of this present day to conform us into the image of his Son. I do not have all the answers (I am not all-knowing), but I do know that the Scriptures testify that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-love. God is good and he is sovereign even in the face of human suffering and evil. The Scriptures are replete, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)

    Wednesday, November 7, 2018

    Is There Meaning to Life?


    Friedrich Nietzsche was a 19th century German Philosopher and writer born on October 15, 1844 in Rocken, Prussia, east Germany today. His writings fall into three categories: early years, middle years and mature years. In his mature writings he was preoccupied with the origin and function of human values. “Nihilism” was a term that he used to describe the degradation of human values once theological foundations are removed. Nietzsche believed that when theological foundations for human morality are removed a pervasive since of purposelessness and meaningless would ingulf the human mind. In Nietzsche’s mind “God is dead,” because he understood that without God there are no objective moral values; therefore, life is meaningless and purposeless. Nietzsche collapsed in the street of Turin, Italy in 1889 into total mental darkness and remained in that condition unto death 11 years later.1

    Blaise Pascal said that Christianity teaches two truths: There is a God that man is capable of knowing, but man’s sin nature makes man unsuitable for a relationship with God.2 Without a relationship with your creator life has no meaning or purpose. Without God everything that you do has no meaning, value or purpose. There is no value in your existence because one day you will be gone without a trace. This is all that Atheism has to offer. Jesus Christ promised eternal life to all who believe in him; he died for our sins then rose bodily from the dead.

    Nietzsche was an unbeliever who understood what a universe without God meant; no moral values or duties because life has no meaning or purpose. I happen to agree with Nietzsche because “if God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.”3 However, objective moral values and duties do exist and cannot be explained away by naturalistic evolution. Objective moral values and duties are not instincts, they are based in knowledge. Do you want a life that has value, meaning and purpose? Or do you want Nihilism?

    Without God there is no moral anchor, yet the fact remains that all people know what we ought to do and what we ought not do even if we do not fully comply; it is our flesh, Satan and the world that lead us to temptation. Nietzsche is correct to assert that if God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist. However, when we observe those around us and search the deepest recesses of our hearts we all know that objective moral values and duties do exist. We all know that certain things are right and certain things are wrong. Since objective moral values and duties do exist then God exists.4

    The meaning of life is to know God. The Westminster Shorter Catechism says, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” God is all powerful, all knowing and morally perfect; therefore, he cannot allow anyone morally unperfected into his presence. Man is sinful; therefore, man is separated from God. 

    Jesus Christ is the answer to our sin problem. Jesus lived a righteous life pleasing to God, God said of him, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to him.” (Mt 17:5b) Jesus promised eternal life to all who would ever come to believe in him, then he willing died in our place. The Bible says, that he was handed over because of our transgression, and was raised because of our justification. (Rom 4:25) What you must do is repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, persevere in the faith and overcome the world.


    1 The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, Volume 24, 15th ed., s. v. “Nietzsche.”, 936-937.
    2 William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith, 3rded., (Wheaton: Crossway, 2008), 66.
    3 Ibid, 172.
    4 Ibid.

    Monday, November 5, 2018

    The Evidence for God


    I watched a video in which Dr. William Lane Craig gave a lecture at Imperial College in London, England. The lecture occurred sometime between October 17th-26thof 2011 when he was touring England. The lecture is called The Evidence for God.

    Synopsis

    After being introduced by a student, Dr. Craig begins with a premise; “Is the material world all there is?” Dr. Craig then stated that he will give seven aspects of the world that testify for God. The first is the Contingence Argument in which he asks, “Why does anything exist at all?” He then states that everything that exists has an explanation; they either exists by their own nature or have an external cause. The universe exists; therefore, it has an explanation which must be greater than the universe itself. This argues for a transcendent mind. Second, the Cosmological Argument: Whatever begins to exist has a cause, the universe began to exist; therefore, the universe has a cause. The cause must be causeless, timeless, changeless, immaterial and personal. Third, the Teleological Argument: The universe is fine tuned to a degree that is incomprehensible. This fine-tuning is necessary for intelligent life. He states that there are but three explanations: necessity, chance, and design. He states that the most plausible of these three are design. Fourth, the Moral Argument: If God does not exist, then objective moral values do not exist; objective moral values do exist; therefore, God exist. Fifth, the Ontological Argument: God is the maximally greatest possible being. It is possible that a maximally great being exist; if it is possible that a maximally great being exists, then a maximally great being exists in some possible world; if a maximally great being exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world; therefore, a maximally great being exists; therefore, God exist. Sixth, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ: He gives three facts for Christ resurrection, then gives a hypothesis. If Christ rose from the dead, God raised him from the dead; therefore, since Christ is risen, God exist. Seventh, The Immediate Experience of God: Beliefs that are grounded do not need argument; the Scriptures are appropriately grounded; therefore, it is rational to believe that God exist.

    Evaluation

    In this lecture Dr. Craig did a good job of summarizing seven apologetic arguments for the existence of God. The explanations that he gave were not simple but brief and to the point. This lecture was given mostly to undergraduate students in a classroom setting. I was able to understand the premises for each argument in the way that he presented them in this lecture; therefore, I believe that the lecture was a good one because the students should have been able to understand them.
    The lecture left me wondering if the arguments had an effect on the student’s worldview, specifically on their view of a Supreme being responsible for all that exist. One of the worries that I have had when focusing on natural theology was addressed by Dr. Craig in this lecture. I do believe that there is validity in arguing from natural theology for the existence of God, but I also believe that it is incomplete without personal experience. Therefore, I really appreciate Dr. Craig’s final argument which is not an argument for God’s existence at all but a claim that people know God apart from arguments. To that regard I would like to point out that though natural theology might cause one to know that there is a God; it is solely through special revelation found in Scripture alone, confirmed in our hearts and minds by the Holy Spirit that lead us to truly know the person of God.


    Tuesday, October 30, 2018

    The Human Heart

    Artwork by Bethany Peek
    I have seen the human heart with my own eyes. I have touched the human heart with my hands. I have monitored the hearts electrical system. I have visualized the heart’s pumping chambers and measured their function. I have visualized the hearts own vascular system called the coronary arteries which feed oxygenated blood to the heart muscle. I have taken part in procedures to replace heart valves, implant defibrillators, implant pacemakers, open blocked coronary arteries or bypass them.

    I have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and have been employed as a Registered Nurse for 21 years. I have spent all of that time in areas of nursing that specialize in caring for people with heart disease. I have received advance nursing certifications from The American Association of Critical Care Nurses as a Critical Care Registered Nurse and in Cardiovascular Surgery. I am certified by The American Heart Association in both Basic Life Support and Advance Cardiac Life Support. I say these things that you may understand how intimately I know the human heart. It is obvious to me that the human heart is fearfully and wonderfully made, and my soul knows it very well. (Ps 119:14)

    Darwin said, “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”1 The human heart is an irreducible complex system that I believe could not have been formed by numerous, successive slight modifications. “Michael Behe defines an irreducible complex system as a single system of several well-matched , interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning.”2

    The hearts electrical system tells the myocardium when to contract and in what sequence. The hearts valves open and close at specified times to force direction of flow. The four chambers are made by a septum. The myocardium is the motor of the heart and the coronary arteries are the gas line that fuel the motor. If any one of these things are removed the entire system stops functioning.  It would be impossible for the heart to have developed overtime because if one system where missing then it could not function and would never have come to be.
    Thomas Aquinas wrote: By his natural reason man is able to arrive at some knowledge of God. For seeing that natural things run their course according to a fixed order, and since there cannot be order without a cause of order, men, for the most part, perceive that there is one who orders the things that we see. But who or of what kind this cause of order may be, or whether there be but one, cannot be gathered from this general consideration.2
    The apostle Paul wrote that God is evident to man, but it is our sin that separates us from knowing God. (cf. Rom 1:18-32) Therefore, We can know that there is a God by looking at natural things, but we cannot know God except by special revelation. The Scriptures are God’s special revelation of himself and His Divine plan to man. If you do anything this week, take up the Scriptures and read that you may know Him.


    In Christ alone,
    Mike Peek


    ___________________________________
    1 Francis J. Beckwith, “Darwin, Design and the Public Schools” in To Everyone An Answer: A Case for the Christian Worldview, ed. Francis J. Beckwith, William Lane Craig and J. P. Moreland (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2004), 276.
    2 Ibid.
    3 William A. Dembski, “An InformationTheoretic Design Argument” in To Everyone An Answer: A Case for the Christian Worldview, ed. Francis J. Beckwith, William Lane Craig and J. P. Moreland (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2004), 79.

    Sunday, October 28, 2018

    Methods for Sharing the Gospel on College Campuses


    Introduction

    I watched a lecture by William Lane Craig of Reasonable Faith on methods for sharing the gospel on college campuses. On April 8th, 2016, Dr. William Lane Craig was invited to speak at the Meyer Lectures at St. Mary’s on the Lake Catholic seminary in Mundelein, north of Chicago. The tile of the video is “Methods for Sharing the Gospel on College Campuses: 2016 Meyer Lecture Series.”

    Synopsis

    After an introduction by Cardinal Meyer, Dr. Craig began his lecture by saying that Christian Philosophy shapes the culture so that ears remain open to hear the gospel. The two positive components of Christian Philosophy are natural theology and evidences. Dr. Craig said that natural theology seeks to prove the existence of God apart from Divine revelation and Christian evidences seek to provide warrant for believing that God revealed himself in the person of Jesus Christ.

    Dr. Craig says that what is needed in secular culture today is what C. S. Lewis called Mere Christianity. He explains that Mere Christianity is the basic central truths of the Christian faith. He did not say what those were in this lecture. He then dives into the ways in which Christian apologetics aides in the task of personal evangelism, particularly on college campuses. First, it makes Christians more confident in sharing their faith with others. Second, it makes Christians more effective in evangelism.

    After giving arguments for the effectiveness of Christian apologetics, Dr. Craig concludes by giving practical suggestions for using apologetics in personal evangelism, here are a few: Don’t allow the arguments to distract you from sharing the gospel. Be as simple as possible with your arguments. Have a list of arguments memorized. Never forget that our goal is to when people and not arguments.

    Evaluation

    In May of 2013, my first introduction into apologetics was given in a presentation on presuppositional apologetics in which evidential apologetics was spoken of negatively. I was trained to take part in evangelism at large sporting events that drew large crowds; therefore, I must admit that any evaluation that I have comes from that background.

    I was very surprised by some of the things that Dr. Craig said in this lecture. When I heard him speak of natural theology and evidences my guard went up because I was previously told that we should not allow God to be put on trial; therefore, we should not give evidences to the unbeliever thereby making him judge. As Dr. Craig began to talk about these things, especially the reason for giving them; namely that every person is precious to God and that the impact of a converted intellectual has a great influence on culture, my guard came down and I lessoned.

    I must say that the practical suggestions that Dr. Craig gave would be very helpful. First, one of the most helpful is to only use apologetic arguments after sharing the gospel. You may not have to give apologetic arguments at all. Second, having a list of arguments with their premises memorized is very helpful. The Kalam Cosmological Argument and Ontological Arguments are examples. Lastly, never forget that the goal is to win people and not arguments. Having been active in evangelism, I must say that these suggestions are very helpful. I will likely use them as I do personal evangelism going forward.


    Friday, October 26, 2018

    Reading Carefully Part 1


    Hermeneutics:
    Lesson 2
    Reading Carefully Part 1


    Introduction


    Today we will discuss reading sentences carefully. Next week will expand outwardly to paragraphs and discourses. I like how Duvall and Hays began this chapter by using figurative imagery. It interests me because using figurative imagery is often used by the biblical writers to get their point across to the reader. Figurative imagery employees our emotions. As a side note to this lesson on reading sentences carefully, two common types of Figurative imagery used in Scripture are: similes and metaphors.

    Many people have trouble distinguishing between simile and metaphor. A glance at their Latin and Greek roots offers a simple way of telling these two closely-related figures of speech apart. Simile comes from the Latin word similis (meaning “similar, like”), which seems fitting, since the comparison indicated by a simile will typically contain the words as or like. Metaphor, on the other hand, comes from the Greek word metapherein (“to transfer”), which is also fitting, since a metaphor is used in place of something. “My love is like a red, red rose” is a simile, and “love is a rose” is a metaphor.1

    Duvall and Hays began this chapter using the analogy of a young man reading a love letter. This tactic really worked on me because when Darlene and I became engaged to be married she was in Louisiana and I was at Ft. Knox in Kentucky. Then, in our second year of marriage we were separated again by a continent, and the Pacific Ocean for eight months; she was in Texas and I was in Korea. I read and re-read her letters in the way that Duvall and Hays describe. So, when they tell me that I should study over Scripture the way that I studied Darlene’s letters when I was in Korea, my emotions help me to understand what they mean.

    The first thing that we are to do in our journey into God’s word is to observe as many details about the text as possible. Duvall and Hays tell us to refrain from interpreting and applying the text during this stage. At this point we are asking, “What does the text say?” Not, “What does the text mean?”2


    Things to Look for in Sentences
    1. Repetition of words – Look for words and phrases that repeat.
    2. Contrasts – Look for ideas, individuals, and/or items contrasted with each other.
    3. Comparisons – Look for ideas, individuals, and/or items compared with each other.
    4. Lists – Whenever the text mentions more than two items, identify it as a list.
    5. Cause and Effect – Look for cause-and-effect relationships.
    6. Figure of Speech – Identify expressions that convey an image using words in a sense other than the normal literary sense.
    7. Conjunctions – Notice terms that join units: and, but, for, therefore. Note what they are connecting.
    8. Verbs – Note active, passive past, present, etc.
    9. Pronouns – Identify the antecedent for each pronoun.3
    Conclusion

    The first step in the interpretive journey is to make as many observations about the text as possible. This list of nine things that Duvall and Hays gave us to look for are not exhaustive, but they are a really good start to begin digging deeply into the word. Read the text several times and observe the details. When you do, write down the details that you have observed. Every sentence in the Bible is rich with details, some more than others; therefore, I encourage you to dig deeply into every sentence at the beginning of your study.4


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    1 Metaphor. Merriam-Webster. Accessed October 04, 2017. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/metaphor.
    2 J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays, Journey Into God’s Word(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008), 23.
    3 J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays, Grasping God’s word: A Hands-On Approach to Reading, Interpreting, and Applying the Bible(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012), 62-63.
    4 Ibid.
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    Sunday, October 21, 2018

    Do Not Fear the Unknown

    Our church recently underwent several changes based on the vision of her elders. When change comes: 2.5% of persons are innovators, this would be our elders. 13.5% of persons are early adopters, in other words they immediately embrace what the innovators envision. The majority, 64% of persons fear the unknown; ½ will lose those fears early and the other ½ once the changes bring positive results. However, my recent studies showed me that about 18% of persons have a predisposed attitude against change and do not see a need for change.

    My Church is Sylvania Church in Tyler, Texas. We are a Southern Baptist Church; therefore, previously when you came into one of our worship services from another Southern Baptist Church you knew what to expect with a few variations. However, on or about September 9, 2018, at the end of the service, our pastor announced that we would be changing the format of our worship service. There would no longer be announcements during the service, nor a break to shake hands with the other members of the congregation. He said that he and the elders have been discussing this for a long time. When he made this announcement, knowing a little bit about church history my mind went to a picture like this one.


    I have a confession to make, I was in the bottom ½ of the 64% who fear the unknown. We have now had about six or so services worshiping through songs of adoration, worshiping through confession, worshiping through songs of assurance, worshiping through scripture reading, worshiping through preaching of the word, worship through songs of thanksgiving and a benediction recited by the entire congregation. Though I was hesitant to embrace this model until I saw it in practice, I now confess that I love what the elders have done, and the gospel of the kingdom of God is the reason:
    1. Adoration: God is righteous and holy. He is morally perfect; and therefore, separate from everyone and everything that is not.
    2. Confession: No matter their people, nation or race all men and women are sinful. No one is able to approach God by his/her own efforts. We are all dead in our trespasses and sins.
    3. Assurance: Jesus Christ is the answer to our sin problem. Jesus lived a perfect and holy life. Jesus died as a substitute for our sins. He took upon himself our guilt and gave us his righteousness and holiness. Jesus rose from the dead on the third day. God has given Him all authority in heaven and on earth.
    4. Thanksgiving: This does not result in the salvation of every person, but solely those who repent of their sins and place their faith in Jesus Christ as savior; and therefore, follow Him as Lord.
    I love this new worship model at Sylvania Church in Tyler, Texas, because it causes me to focus on the righteousness and holiness of God. To reflect on our own inability and sinfulness. To look to Jesus Christ for what he has done in assurance and follow His commands in thanksgiving.
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    [1]Rodney A. Harrison, Jeffrey A. Klick, and Glenn A. Miller, Pastoral Helmsmanship: A Pastor’s Guide to Church Administration(U. S. A.: ICM Publishing 2014), 241-242.
    [2]M. David Sills, Reaching and Teaching: A Call to Great Commission Obedience (Chicagoe: Moody Publishers, 2010), 124.