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Posts Tagged ‘Apologetics’


Many years ago, C.S. Lewis was not the only prominent Christian to do a series of radio addresses. J. Gresham Machen gave a series of addresses on the person of Jesus in 1935. These are collected in The Person of Jesus: Radio Addresses on the Deity of the Savior.

When he gave these, he had already resigned from Princeton Seminary to form Westminster Theological Seminary in 1929. Having set up an independent missions board, Machen was battling in the church courts. In 1936 he would be suspended and found the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. He would fall ill and pass away on January 1, 1937. As a result, these are among the last public words from Machen whose most important works had already been written.

In the course of the addresses, Machen lays out the objections of liberal theology and secularism to the deity of Christ, and positively puts forth the case for Jesus as the second person of the Trinity. Machen was at the forefront of the struggle against liberalism as evidenced by his books Christianity and Liberalism, and The Virgin Birth of Christ. He lays out all of this in a very simple, understandable manner. In other words, he doesn’t come across as an academic, but one addressing the common man that they may believe. This was his goal, that people would believe that Jesus was God the Son and Savior.

While interacting with liberal views, you’d think such a man might sound bitter, but he doesn’t. He succinctly addresses their presuppositions, and brings us back to Scripture to show that the Jesus of liberalism is a fiction.

There are seven addresses presented here. The first is on the Triune God, explaining briefly the biblical doctrine of the Trinity. He covers a lot of ground in a short time, including God’s communicable and incommunicable attributes. He does recognize mystery in that finite man can’t comprehend the infinite God, but that we can understand what God reveals to us. For him, the OT assumes the Trinity while it is taught in the NT. He gives a few of the places we look to in order to understand where we find this doctrine.

He then moves to the deity of Christ. The problem he addresses is the differing understanding of this phrase. People have different definitions so you may think you are in agreement when in reality you aren’t. His personal and denominational history does arise here as men with a liberal understanding of this phrase entered the ministry and subverted congregations and denominations. We must have a biblical understanding of God to understand what it means that Jesus is God.

He continues with whether or not the Bible teaches the deity of Jesus. In discussing the meaning of Messiah, he brings the audience to Daniel 7 to show that the Son of Man is a representative of the people but not also a supernatural figure. He connects Malachi’s coming of the Lord with the angel’s words to Zachariah about John the Baptizer. He precedes Jesus who is Jehovah coming to His people.

Machen then turns to the Sermon on the Mount to address another way people try to avoid the divinity of Christ to focus on a great teacher. He shows how the sermon both assumes the deity of Jesus, and reveals this authority. Jesus has authority as law giver and judge of humanity. He isn’t just a rabbi. He pronounces blessings on those who obey Him and curses on those who don’t.

In What Jesus Says About Himself, Machen brings us back to Daniel 7 to understand the Son of Man sayings of Jesus. This covers some similar ground as the previous chapter. It focuses on the more explicit sayings.

The last two chapters focus on miracles. The first focuses on miracles in general and the second on the resurrection. Miracles are often a stumbling block for people. If we removed them, like Thomas Jefferson did, “It would be far easier to believe, but then, you see, it would not be worth believing.” We don’t need another teacher; we need a Savior. Machen then spends some time on the subject of David Friedrich Strauss’ book Life of Jesus as an attempt to find the “real” Jesus. Strauss argued against finding rational explanations for accounts of miracles, as liberals had been doing. He asserted they were myths, pure and simple. Now skepticism about the whole Bible emerges. How can you find the real Jesus? How can you find the source to sort this out? We can’t escape a supernatural Jesus. If we follow Bultmann we get to a Jesus we can’t believe in, a phantom of sorts.

The greatest miracle is the resurrection of Jesus. Without this none of the others really matter. While the resurrection is often debated, what is not debated is the effect on the disciples. They changed from people hiding for their lives. to people who spread Christ’s message around the world often as the expense of their lives. It spread peacefully, not at the edge of the sword like some other religions. What changed these men and woman?

The only coherent answer is what the New Testament claims, that Jesus rose from the dead. He also mentions some of the ways the reality of the resurrection is denied, like the “vision theory”: they all had a similar vision of Jesus. Machen notes that this “means that the Christian church is founded upon a pathological experience of certain persons in the first century of our era”. He also brings up the “spiritual resurrection” theory. But Christianity is based on an event, recorded in Scripture with eyewitnesses who could be questioned at the time of its writing.

“What we are trying to establish is not the resurrection of any ordinary man, not the resurrection of a man who is to us a mere x or y, not the resurrection of a man about whom we know nothing, but the resurrection of Jesus. … It is unlikely that any ordinary man should rise; but it is unlikely that this man should not rise; it may be said of this man that it was impossible that he should be holden of death.”

These addresses by Machen are a handy apologetic tool for people wondering who Jesus really is. It is not technical, but for the average person. It does not presuppose much knowledge of the Bible. It is brief, not overly complex, and to the point.

“The direct evidence for the resurrection must be taken together with the total picture of Jesus in the Gospels, and then that must be taken in connection with the evidence for the existence of God and the tremendous of man which is caused by sin.”

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Tim Keller’s latest book, Walking with God through Pain and Suffering didn’t quite begin as I anticipated. I’m not sure why I had the anticipations I had, particularly since I’ve read most of his books.

Tim doesn’t just write for the choir. He anticipates that non-Christians will read his books (what a wonderful thing!). As a result, this book begins with examining how past societies have handled pain and suffering, and why our particular society (speaking of the Western world) has struggled to deal with pain and suffering. In other words, he starts with a good does of apologetics.

His point is that secularization has diminished our capacity to deal with pain and suffering (okay, PaS). In the past, societies were influenced by their religious (and philosophical) views and looked at PaS in context with them. What they experienced, they believed, had a point though they differed on what that point actually was.

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The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism by Tim Keller is a great book.  It was critically acclaimed, and I found the book very helpful (aside from his openness to evolution).

It makes a great give away book.   But they have just released a new way to use the book.  They now have a DVD in which Keller interacts with people about their doubts and objections.  These are not “man on the street” confrontations.  Instead, they sit together and talk through the issues, modeling for us how to actually do this work of apologetics.

The publishers have also released a study guide to help people work through  the material (sample pages).  This helps churches to utilize the material in small groups or Sunday School, to better equip people to interact with the skeptics around them.

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It finally happened today- the kids woke up at 7 am MST.  We had a busy day ahead of us.  We needed to get the kids alittle something to tide them over to the brunch at the church.  You know kids can’t really wait when they are hungry.  So we went down and had “first breakfast”- a bowl of cereal.  I went retro with Corn Pops while they had the Special K with berries.  Then I took the stir-crazy mob of 2 on a walk to the local golf course.  They love looking at the cacti.  I also pulled a super ball out of a palm tree and they spent 5 minutes tossing it into the netting by one of the holes.  Gotta love kids!

We then headed to the brunch to meet more members of the congregation.  It was a good time.  I enjoyed some yummy salad and hash browns, and the first time I’ve had Quiche in about 20 years.  The kids then went outside while CavWife and I interacted with people.  I enjoyed talking with a World Harvest missionary from London who is home on furlough.  Then (as CavWife says) I held court, talking with a bunch of guys about R.C. Sproul, Cornelius Van Til, apologetics, the Marrow Controversy and a variety of other subjects they brought up.  Before we knew it it was after noon and time to head back.

The kids were tired from running around, but we knew they would need something to tide them over until dinner since second breakfast was at 10.  We picked up some popcorn chicken at KFC, ate and put those nubbers down to sleep.  I took a nap too.

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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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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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