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Archive for the ‘Apologetics’ Category


On Nightline, there was a Face Off regarding the reality of Satan.  Mark Driscoll was one of the participants.  Mark did a great job integrating the reality of the Evil One with a presentation of the gospel.  He offered hope in the midst of our personal and societal struggles.

And then there was Deepok Chopra gave a bunch of ying & yang psycho-babble (quoting Freud, but in line with Jung’s work) about how “healthy people don’t need the devil.”   Bishop Pearson forsakes his calling based on a false stereo-type.  Nice.  Another “bishop” denying the teaching of Scripture.  I guess we solve the problem of evil by just not thinking about it.

Both of argue against the belief in the devil on the basis of wars- religious wars.  just because some nuts believe you can drop the bomb on the devil to destroy him does not make this a reason to deny personal evil.  It is a Straw Man argument, fallacious to the core.  The devil is not material, can’t be bombed, shot or drugged out of existence.  Only Jesus destroys the work of the devil (Hebrews 2, I think), which Pearson forgot to mention when saying Jesus would not be pleased by all that bomb dropping.  I’m pretty sure Jesus isn’t pleased with those who think dropping bombs (or flying planes into sky scrappers) is the way to defeat The Great Satan.  Now, legitimate governments bearing the sword against those who pose a threat against those they are charged to protect (Romans 13) is another story.  But the ultimate solution is only Christ and Him crucified to destroy, among other things, the hate in our hearts and the evils that flow from that.

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I missed this catagory on Steve McCoy’s Big 5 Books list- Big 5 for Seekers.

The idea is what books would you give to someone who is seeking to understand Christianity, or address a question keeping them from Christ.  Here goes!

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.  It is a classic which is best for those skeptics with a more “modern” view of the world.

The Reason for God by Tim Keller.  The Mere Christianity for this generation.  Keller addresses many of the objections he hears in his ministry.  It interacts with contemporary and classic skeptics.  Love it.

Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller.  There is something to be said for humor lowering defenses.  Miller gives a good, winsome, broader understanding for the younger crowd.  He moves beyond seeing salvation of individuals without neglecting that.

Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller.  See above.  Miller talks about how we are all searching for redemption, somewhere, even if we don’t realize it.  Something about that imago dei thing.

The Prodigal God by Tim Keller.  I love the book, and think it would help many people make sense of the core message of the gospel.  Maybe I’m crazy.

Basic Christianity by John Stott.  Short and to the point.  I used to keep these as a give-away.

Knowing Christianity by J.I. Packer.  I haven’t read it, but knowing Packer it is solid.  This covers the basic doctrines of the faith.

I need to find more of these………

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I predict ...

I predict ...

Lack of funding.  They need another $2.8 million to complete the project.

It’s actually a funny interview– what with Steve Taylor and Donald Miller involved.  The target audience of the movie doesn’t have the money to invest.  And those who do have the money have never heard of the book.

I like this part:

Both men say they won’t invest any of their own money into the project.

“Writers don’t make much money anyway,” laughs Miller. “Like Obama says, it’s above my pay grade.”

Angst Personified

Angst Personified

Taylor took out a sizeable loan against his home to help make The Second Chance a few years ago, and says he’ll never do it again.

“I should have called that move The Second Mortgage,” he says. “I made a deal with my wife back then that we’d only use that strategy once.”

Miller and Taylor both say they’re sure the film will get made.

“I’m convinced it’s going to happen,” says Miller.

Asked if there was any chance the project will die, Taylor quipped, “Not unless I die first.” But when pressed for a timetable, he added, “Are you pre- or post-millennial?”

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The cycle of speeches between Job and his 3 friends has finished with Job’s final speech.  Their rather limited theological views couldn’t answer Job’s questions.  They ended up condemning Job.

There is one telling statement about Job in 32:1- “because he was righteous in his own eyes.”

Job shared their faulty theology.  Since he was certain he had not sinned, he thought he was suffering unjustly.  This book exists, in part, to let us know people suffer for a number of reasons, all under the soveriegnty of God.  It rebukes our presumption- but I get ahead of myself.

Elihu appears out of nowhere.  There is no prior indication that he was there.  And he isn’t mentioned at the end of the book either.  This has led some to speculate that Elihu is a later addition.  But the whole book is mysterious- suffering often doesn’t make sense.  So why should we expect the book to tie up all the loose ends.

Elihu’s contribution seems to be that suffering is a warning from God.  Job is being warned that he is in danger of departing from God.  He spends lots of time saying not much of anything.

Before we get to God’s response and the conclusion, I thought I should summarize the various reasons people suffer.  Some of those are found in this book, and some of them aren’t.  These are helpful to keep in mind when we suffer, and when people we counsel (formally or informally) are suffering.

  1. Our suffering is under the sovereignty of God.  This is the one consistent message of the book, and it is true.  Satan must seek God’s permission, and God held the Chaldeans and Sabeans at bay.
  2. Sometimes we suffer to test us.  This is why God permitted Job to suffer.  He knew Job would pass the test (as a result of sustaining grace), though Job didn’t always suffer well.
  3. (more…)

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Though I grew up in a nominally Catholic family, and went to Mass most Saturdays, I grew up affirming evolution.  Like most boys, I like dinosaurs and cavemen.  We had the Time Life series of books on science, and I spent lots of time reading about the theory of evolution (sadly I’ve engaged in debates with people whether it was a theory, a hypothesis etc. but I don’t care what you call as long as you don’t call it a fact).  In school we watched those videos about the moths in England near the factories and other stories of evolution within a species.  I had no reason to doubt that this was an accurate interpretation of the data and explanation for our existence on this planet.  In fact, I did not doubt it was true.

Off to Boston University (no, not Boston College the more famous Catholic institution down the street that we usually beat in hockey).  I was required to take a lab science.  I hate lab sciences.  I inevitably mess up the experiments.  But just prior to my sophomore year, a class caught my eye.  It was …. Bioastronomy and the Search for Extraterrestial Life.  It was a lab science, but one without experiments!  I was all over that class!

The premise of the course was that the only way to determine if the possibility there was life on other planets was to study how life supposedly came to exist on this planet.  As a result we studied astronomy and evolution to arrive at an equation to determine that possibility.

A liberal blog that decided to make fun of my in this matter among others, figured that the professor didn’t do a very good job.  I think the professor did a fine job communicating the material to the converted.  But something happened to me.  I began to see all the factors that were vital to the existence of life.  At the end of the class there was a 1 in 10 to the 26th power chance of there being life (or something like that).  That is 1 followed by 26 zeroes.  That seemed quite unlikely to me.

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This morning I was reading Colossians 4, and saw this:

2Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.  (NIV)

 

First, I was convicted by the encouragement to be thankful in prayer.  I’m (by both nature and nurture) a glass half-empty guy.  Paul wanted them to be thankful as they prayed.  They were to have eyes that saw the good around them, not just the sin & misery.   They were to look for grace & mercy that were already there and thank God for it.

Second, they were to pray that God would open doors for the message of the Gospel.  God is in control, and he must open doors for the Gospel.  I was reminded to pray for the 3 mission teams I know of that are heading out in the next few weeks to Russia, LA and MS.  I want God to open doors for the message.  As I preach this Sunday, I want him to open hearts since he’s opened a door to preach the message.

Third, he asked them to pray that he would speak it clearly.  God is sovereign, even in salvation, and he alone grants faith and repentance- even to unlikely people.  But Paul was responsible to speak clearly.  He recognized this- and we need to recognize this as well.  God’s sovereignty in salvation does not mean we can be lax in either looking for open doors or in how we speak when we have one.

But Paul also recognized that he needed grace from God to speak clearly.  He was dependent on God to fulfill his responsibility.

So, because of the gospel …….

  1. Are you watchful for evidence of grace & mercy, and expressing gratitude?
  2. Are you praying for open doors for the message?
  3. Are you praying that God would help you be clear when you have an opportunity to present the message of grace?

Sadly, all too often I’m not- but I want to be.  I am responsible to be- may God help me to fulfill my responsibility.

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Considering Blogogetics


I came across a new blog this evening- blogogetics.  It is an apologetics blog, covering a variety of topics.  Some of you may find it interesting.

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Finally I’ve had some more time to make progress in Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion.  He spends some time interacting with a Roman view of Scripture and then images.  While discussing Scripture, he also exposes the folly of the extreme anabaptist view that created problems during the Reformation.

The authority of Scripture comes from its origin in God.  Often some will say that the Church confers authority on the Scriptures by its recognition of them as God’s Word.  But Scripture is authentic and authoritative even if we don’t recognize it as such.  The issue is whether or not we will submit to God as He has spoken in the Scriptures.

“… the testimony of the Spirit is more excellent than all reason.  For as God alone is a fit witness of himself in His Word, so also the Word will not find acceptance in men’s hearts before it is sealed by the inward testimony of the Spirit.  The same Spirit, therefore, who has spoken through the mouths of the prophets must penetrate into our hearts to persuade us that they faithfully proclaimed what had been divinely commanded.” (I, VII, 4)

God spoke through the prophets by the Spirit.  The same Spirit must work in our hearts that we accept those words as God’s.  Bare reason is insufficient due to our fall into sin.  God must illumine us (2 Cor. 2-4).  So the Spirit speaks and authenticates God’s Word.

The authority of God’s human messengers, the prophets, was strengthened by the miracles they performed.  Here we see the idea of miracles as authentication of God’s true messengers.  This idea is behind the Reformed view of cessation of the gifts.  Not all Reformed people affirm this view, nor does Calvin go there.  But the roots of Warfield and Gaffin’s views are here.  Fulfilled prophecy is another basis for affirming the authenticity and authority of Scripture.  These are things the Spirit will illumine for us as we read that we might believe that Scripture has divine origins and is authoritative.

But what captures my attention is Calvin’s joining Word and Spirit.  This emphasis is lost in our day and age.  On the one hand there are those who think that bare reason is sufficient to understand Scripture.  On the other there are those who think that the Spirit thinks apart from Scripture.  Calvin argued that we only rightly understand Scripture through the work of the Spirit, and that the Spirit speaks thru the Scriptures.

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In Book I, chapter III of The Institutes of the Christian Religion Calvin begins to discuss the knowledge of God.  In this chapter he says that knowledge of God was naturally implanted in the minds of people.  This would be a result of our being made in the image of God.  Since we are made to reflect Him, we know He exists and something of His glory.  God put it there when He made us.

On an interesting note, Calvin uses many ancient philosphers to make some of his points- both positively and negatively.  He uses the philosophers, like Cicero, to show how people think.  This is no different from what Tim Keller does in The Reason for God.  No group of people is documented to be a society of atheists.  Is this because all cultures got a memo to socially construct a ‘god’, or because God has made us religious by nature and we must worship something?  Though some seek to flee from the notion of a God, they still show signs of His existence like guilt, shame, ethics etc.

In chapter IV Calvin asserts that this knowledge is smothered or corrupted.  This is essentially Romans 1, people choose the lie over the truth just as Adam and Eve did.  We suppress the true knowledge of God through our own unrighteousness whether we are trying to do that or not.

Some people consciously turn away from God.  Others inadvertintly do this because they fashion a god according to their own imagination.  They create idols according to their own whimsy instead of submitting their minds and hearts to God’s revelation of Himself in Jesus and Scripture.

Scripture does point us someplace beside itself to gain knowledge of God.  In chapter V Calvin discusses how knowledge of God is found in creation and providence.  Psalm 19 is one of the places pointing us to the heavens, which declare the glories of God.  Romans 1 tells us that creation reveals His invisible qualities.  The process, Calvin is in favor of scientific inquiry to understand God’s creation.  Christians should not be afraid of science or not engage in science.  Rather we should engage in science, though with different presuppositions than non-Christian scientists.  As we gain true knowledge of creation, we gain true knowledge of the Creator.

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Sunday afternoon I sat on the back porch to continue reading The Reason for God while enjoying a rainstorm.  The chapter, Religion and the Gospel, that I read first is probably one of the best chapters of a book I have read in some time.  No, he didn’t say anything new, but the way he expressed it was fresh.  It didn’t hurt that he illustrated all this with The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (which I’ve been wanting to read for some time) and Les Miserables (one of my favorite stories, the musical excepted).

The Christian gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me.  This leads to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time.  It undermines both swattering and sniveling.  I cannot feel superior to anyone, and yet I have nothing to prove to anyone.

This is the existential reality that should be produced as we more fully grasp the objective reality of justification by faith alone in Christ alone.  I am humbled because it has nothing to do with any merit on my part, quite the opposite actually.  But it also frees me from the game of “one up-manship” that frequently gets played out.  We no longer have to validate our existence and prove ourselves.  We become free from the clamoring of our flesh (sinful nature) which wants to be validated and glorifed, to prove its worth and superiority over other people.

His grace both humbles me more deeply than religion can (since I am too flawed to every save myself through my own effort), yet is also affirms me more powerfully than religion can (since I can be absolutely certain of God’s unconditional acceptance).

It is only grace that frees us from the slavery of self that lurks even in the middle of morality and religion.  Grace is only a threat to that illusion that we are free, autonomous selves, living life as we choose.

The Christian message is that we are saved not by our record, but by Christ’s record.

Keller explained biblical and theological concepts in everyday language.  He did not use the language of theology.  He never said “justification” and yet he proclaimed and explained it.  He never said “substitution” or “imputation” and yet proclaimed and explained them.  He is not speaking to “us”, the church so much as those who are not in the church, or who are trapped in religion without realizing it.

These are the things we need to preach to ourselves everyday that we might be both humbled and lifted up.  We are humbled because we continue to wander from God and cannot save ourselves from the slightest sin.  We are lifted up because Christ is more than able to save us and restore us.  We need not fall into despair but look to a Great Savior of big sinners.

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I began reading Martyn Lloyd-Jones on John 2 this afternoon.  He begins by discussing who Jesus is, and the function of miracles.  Since there can often be lots of misunderstanding, I thought I’d put down some of what the Doctor said, while I listen to the Doctor on-line.

First, the word John uses is “sign”.  “Our Lord changes the water into wine as a sign of his glory.”  Later, Lloyd-Jones reasserts that “miracles are attestations of his person and of his Godhead.”  This indicates the purpose of the sign, to reveal who Jesus is and showing that He speaks as God’s spokesman.  This is why the Apostles were able to perform miracles.  Jesus continued His ministry (Acts 1:1) from His seat at the right hand of the Father (Acts 1:2) through the Apostles empowered by the Spirit (Acts 1:8).

Second, he defines a miracle as “a supernatural action.  It is an action which is above nature.  It does not break the laws of nature but acts in a realm above.”  It is common to think of miracles as “violating the laws of nature.”  Here Lloyd-Jones disagrees.  God is not breaking laws, even laws He created.  It is an act above (super) nature.

What does Lloyd-Jones mean by this?  He gives what I think are 2 slightly different answers.  1. “What is a miracle?  Well, it is when everything happens more quickly; it is the whole process speeded up.”   He immediately continues that thought what something that sounds different to my feeble mind.  2. “God, who has normally been acting through the laws of which he has put into nature, suddenly acts independently of them and works directly instead of indirectly.”  Furthermore, “He normally chooses to act in an ordinary, orderly manner, but when it pleases him, he may give some manifestation of his glory and power in an unusual and exceptional manner.”

The first seems more to do with an acceleration of the normal processes.  The second has to do with God working immediately, or directly, rather than through the normal means he has established.  A miracle is God working apart from ordinary means to manifest his glory and for the good of his people.  “Wait a minute!” you say.  “Where did you get that last bit?”  Oh, the context of this miracle of turning water into wine and every other miracle we find in Scripture.  God is revealing some of his glory and bestowing good to his people.

Yesterday I was reading The Reason for God by Keller (who often refers to the Doctor) and came across something I’d heard him say in a sermon and wanted to go back to.

“Miracles are hard to believe in, and they should be.”  Miracles defy us precisely because they are supernatural and our sinful hearts are so resistent to faith.  Keller points to their purpose: “They lead not simply to cognitive belief, but to worship, to awe and wonder.  Jesus’ miracles in particular were never magic tricks, designed only to impress and coerce.”  He brings the aspect of glory back into the picture, in order that we might fall to our knees in worship.  The goal is that we would receive the messenger, and the message which would cause us to worship.

Back to Keller: “You never see him say something like: ‘See that tree over there?  Watch me make it burst into flames!’  Instead, he used miraculous power to heal the sick, feed the hungry, and raise the dead.  Why?  We modern people think of miralces as the suspension of the natural order, but Jesus meant them to be the restoration of the natural order.  … Jesus has come to redeem what is wrong and heal the world where it is broken.  His miracles are not just proofs that he has power but also wonderful foretastes of what he is going to do with that power.  Jesus’ miracles are not just a challenge to our minds, but a promise to our hearts, that the world we all want is coming.”

Keller puts miracles into a redemptive-historical context.  They are foretastes of the restored creation that benefit us NOW.  They are an intrusion of the eschaton into the present.  Jesus produces worship in people through these appetizers of glory and restoration.  An over-realized eschatology expects miracles at every moment, forgetting that the fulness of the restoration is Not Yet- to be received and experienced at the end of time.  The prosperity gospel is part over-realized eschatology and part enculturation to consumerism & materialism (being seduced by the harlot of Babylon).  An under-realized eschatology would say that God does not give any such glimpses of the ultimate restoration of creation.  Most Christians live somewhere in between these positions.  Some of us are fairly skeptical, and some of us demand that God intervene directly in our affairs as we wish.

But as Lloyd-Jones continued in John 2, he reminds us that Jesus gently rebuked Mary.  He was not at her beck & call to perform tricks.  Rather, Jesus was sent by God the Father to do his will.  Jesus will perform miracles when it is appropriate to reveal his glory and do good to his people.  We are to trust him to do what is good and right, rather than trying to manipulate him into accomplishing our will.

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I have been making my way through The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism by Tim Keller since Saturday.  I’m only through part 1 in which he looks at the objections commonly raised against Christianity.  Keller utilizes a kindly Van Tillian approach.  Greg Bahnsen, for instance, would often use a scorched-earth, win at all costs, type of approach that made many Christians rejoice, but left unbelievers feeling totally minimized and victimized.  Keller models a kind hearted manner, one which is willing to acknowledge where those he disagrees with have a valid point.  He also models a method of gently showing them their own “defeater beliefs”, beliefs that are just as unproveable as those they criticize (self-defeating) or that borrow intellectual or moral capital from Christianity (or at least theism).

The chapters are relatively brief, but have plenty of footnotes.  One interesting thing he often does is bring in the ideas of other unbelievers to undermine the ideas of the most scathing skeptics.  Keller’s goal is always engagement to lovingly persuade.  He wants people to examine their own beliefs (especially their presuppositions) and see if they measure up the criteria of proof they demand of ours.  His goal is not to pummel people into submission.

Toward the end of the section a light bulb went on.  I felt like saying, “Steve, you fool.”  Tim Keller talks about a Stepford God who will never say anything that upsets your intellectual or moral applecart.  It is built on an idea found earlier:

“For sake of argument, let’s imagine that Christianity is not the product of any one culture but is actually the transcultural truth of God.  If that were the case we would expect that it would contradict and offend every human culture at some point, because human cultures are ever-changing and imperfect.  If Christianity were the truth it would have to be offending and correcting our thinking at some place.”

In thinking about culture and Christianity before, I noticed that our cultural discomfort points to the cultural idols.  What I mean is that when a Christian is uncomfortable with an aspect of culture if often points to an idol of that culture.  For instance, I am uncomfortable with sexual immorality (I pretty much endorsed it before becoming a Christian), and it points to how our culture has made an idol or savior of sexual immorality.  Freedom is said to be found in freedom of sexual expression.

In talking to someone about Christianity, their discomfort with a particular biblical teaching (or their misunderstanding of it) reveals their idols (this was the lightbulb moment).  God is not a Stepford God, affirming all their progressive and civilized notions.  Rather, He insults them and they are truly offended.  Rather than face the fact that they might have wrong notions, they argue that the Bible is wrong, misguide, archaic and out-dated.  John Frame, in his more technical Apologetics to the Glory of God, calls this the flight from accountabilty.

These flights from accountability show where that person is seeking life.  For example, some people really find complementarianism (male headship) offensive and somehow demeaning to woman (when used to abuse and dehumanize women it is evil).   They have revealed that they seek life in the modern notion of ‘equality’ not just of essence but of function.  So when God talks about authority figures, which impinges on our functional equality, they become angry.

We should not do battle on that particular issue, but deal with what Keller calls the “deep end of the pool”.  We are not trying to convert them to a particular belief of Christianity, but to Christ Himself.  Should they be so converted, they may begin to realize that they have been enslaved to falsehood.  But we can contextualize our discussion by affirming the fact that God made men & women together in His image.  Both have dignity!  We have met them halfway as far as truth is concerned.  Now let’s look at the Creator and how He seeks to restore what we have destroyed by our rebellion.

Tim Keller consistently models this approach.  More Christians need to read this book, perhaps we might more consistently ensure that the Cross is the offense they find, not a peripheral view or how we try to whack them over the heads as verbal opponents.  And if we cannot do that (yes, we are sinners) perhaps offering them the book would be helpful.

Update: Joshua Harris also liked the Stepford God idea.

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My copy of Keller’s The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism. Yes, I am a bit behind on new books. This happens when you don’t have a book allowance anymore. I had to pick up some resources to do some pre-marital counseling and decided to pick it up.   WTS Books has a reader’s guide available on PDF.  I am looking forward to spending some time learning from someone with far more experience than me in this area (among others).

I have to travel out of town for business next weekend. Flight time should give me some time to read good chunks of it. So I hope to have some thoughts about it when I get home.
I also need to go buy a notebook/journal. I want a place to put down my thoughts on ministry & more. I want to make some of my responses to things like Keller’s work on contextualization, gospel incarnation & communication, and thoughts from various sermons & sermon lectures. I have these ideas stuck on post-it notes in my office. Not quite the most efficient way. And I don’t want it on computer. I have too much on computer and would like to spend LESS time on the computer. It is too easy for me to feed my spirit of procrastination on the computer. A handy notebook could go with me anywhere to get those brilliant and not-so-brilliant thoughts down.

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Redeemer has made sermons in conjunction with Tim’s upcoming book, The Reason for God, available for free.  Steve McCoy, the Reformissionary, has all the links so just visit his site.  This should be some great stuff to help us communicate to an increasingly non-Christian society.

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Finished up Pierced for Our Transgressions: Rediscovering the Glory of Penal Substitution by Jeffery, Ovey & Sach today.  Between being sick and adopting, I went slowly.

I covered the first main section of the book in a previous post.  The rest of the book focused on the objections that are being raised to penal substitution (Jesus suffered God’s wrath in our place).  It spelled them out, including various variations on a theme, and then responded to them.  Some were very easy to respond to- all you do is essentially point to the biblical data in an earlier chapter to show they objection has no merit in fact.  Some show gross misunderstandings or they are only concerned with setting up strawmen.  Some were much more difficult.  Here is some of the main objections, and answers.

Penal Substition is not the only model of the atonement.  I can’t ever remember reading a book that said it was.  The atonement is far more rich, and has many aspects (like a diamond in A.A. Hodges’ words).  But penal substitution is essential to any biblical and meaningful explanation of the atonement.

 Penal substitution diminishes the significane of Jesus’ life and resurrection.  Jesus entire life was part of his atoning work.  His perfect obedience was essential to his saving work.  His resurrection is also essential to his saving work, not just an add on.  It declares that he is the Son of God, and we were raised up in union with him.  He now enjoys the power of everlasting life so he lives forever to intercede for us.  Apart from his substitionary death, he could not rise as the firstfruit of the recreation.

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I’m looking forward to Tim Keller’s new book, and so are all the PCA & SBC guys who make an idol of him (just a joke flowing from a previous post). 

Here is a short, early review from Publishers Weekly:

“In this apologia for Christian faith, Keller mines material from literary classics, philosophy, anthropology and a multitude of other disciplines to make an intellectually compelling case for God. Written for skeptics and the believers who love them, the book draws on the author’s encounters as founding pastor of New York’s booming Redeemer Presbyterian Church. One of Keller’s most provocative arguments is that “all doubts, however skeptical and cynical they may seem, are really a set of alternate beliefs.” Drawing on sources as diverse as 19th-century author Robert Louis Stevenson and contemporary New Testament theologian N.T. Wright, Keller attempts to deconstruct everyone he finds in his way, from the evolutionary psychologist Richard Dawkins to popular author Dan Brown. The first, shorter part of the book looks at popular arguments against God’s existence, while the second builds on general arguments for God to culminate in a sharp focus on the redemptive work of God in Christ. Keller’s condensed summaries of arguments for and against theism make the scope of the book overwhelming at times. Nonetheless, it should serve both as testimony to the author’s encyclopedic learning and as a compelling overview of the current debate on faith for those who doubt and for those who want to reevaluate what they believe, and why. (Feb. 14)”

(HT: Reformissionary)

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Occasionally I will hear someone say something fairly misguided about presuppositional apologetics.  Most of us, as Christians, hear the ‘proofs’ for the existence of God (the teleological argument, argument from design, the ontological argument of Anselm, etc.).  They make sense to us and we usually embrace them.

But then people hear the presuppositional apologetics de-emphasizes them and the break-down in communication starts.  Actually, most Classical Apologists act as if Van Til utterly rejected such natural revelation arguments.  I haven’t read everything he’s written, so I won’t speak for him.  But both John Frame and Richard Pratt, in their books on presuppositional apologetics, include and affirm (with disclaimers) the various ‘proofs’ for the existence of God.  So, if anyone tells you that presuppositionalism denies the use of the ‘proofs’ for God’s existence, you can gently tell them, “You are mistaken.”  What are the problems?

1. Most people don’t read proponants of other positions, just critiques of other positions.  Most dispensational premillenial books arguing against Amillenialism do NOT quote amillenial authors, but other dispensational authors.  That seems a tad unethical.  And I suspect most people who take umbrage with presup apologetics haven’t read either Every Thought Captive or Apologetics to the Glory of God.  Obviously some have and you may be one of those people.  btw- as a former student and employee of the senior Sproul, I have read his book on the matter.

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I must confess that I have not finished Herman Hoeksema’s book The Clark-Van Til Controversy, because it was giving me a headache.  Part of the problem with this Trinity Foundation book is that it is a compilation of editorials HH did in The Standard Bearer.  HH sees much of the Christian Reformed Church controversy of 1924 in this 1940’s issue in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.  I fear his baggage blinds him.

A disclaimer: at RTS Orlando I studied under a number of men who went to Westminster and could be called Van-Tillian (Pratt, Kidd, & Glodo).  It was a unique time there since R.C. Sproul, a classical apologist was on the faculty, as we also had the late Dr. Nash teaching us philosophy and apologetics.  Dr. Nash was a rationalist (unapologetically) and greatly influenced by Clark.  Let’s just say it was interesting.  But Nash’s big Clark-Van Til story indicated to me that Nash either didn’t read, didn’t understand or refused to accept what Van Til wrote on these matters.  The apocryphal story was his complete refutation of Van Til.  But I digress.

The issue revolved primarily around the continuity and distinctions between God’s knowledge and our knowledge.  Hoeksema seeks to defend Clark and seems to overlook some very important pieces of the puzzle.

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Chapter 4 of Piper’s book God is the Gospel focuses on 2 Corinthians 4-6, part of a great passage that weaves themes from creation (Genesis 1) and redemption (the Exodus) to help us understand how it is we have come to behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus.

“In the dark and troubled heart of unbelief, God does what he did in the dark and unformed creation at the beginning of our world.”

Re-creation begins!  Eyes blinded by the Evil One now see because God has shined light into their hearts.  Finally we see glory, rather than all the substitutes the world, flesh and devil have to offer us.

“The supreme value of the glory of Christ revealed in the gospel is what makes Satan so furious with the gospel. … He is mainly interested in making Christ look bad.  He hates Christ.  And he hates the glory of Christ.”

“The kind of seeing that Satan cancels (vs. 4) and God creates (vs. 6) is more like spiritual tasting than rational testing.”

Too often we can be like Paul’s Corinthian opponents- relying on reason & logic rather than revelation (oops, the classical vs. presuppositional apologetics debate).  Our faith is not illogical or irrational.  But fallen sinners are- at least when it comes to Jesus.  So our appeals to reason and logic are essentially useless (see 1 Cor. 2:1-5).  This humbles us (at least it does me), making conversion the result of the Spirit’s work, not my profound rhetoric.

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