Faith-Defend like a Boss: Contra Fry

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Contra Fry: How to effectively defend faith in God {against atheist rants}

Let’s be real: traveling across the landscape of unbelief can be dispiriting.

Apologetics Road TripIt takes endurance to listen to anti-God rants and poor logic; it takes patience to sift through the tangle of assertion, assumption and accusation.

{Sigh.}

Anyone who’s tried to have a reasonable discussion about Christianity knows this painfully well: fielding the same questions over and over can get old fast. Especially when no one is listening. {Why won’t they see??}

bagpipesI have something today that might help: if you’re feeling a bit jaded or you’re discouraged that a lie “gets halfway round the world before the truth can put its shoes on” (as Spurgeon said back in a pre-internet age, even) – I found this refreshing defense of the faith by Scottish apologist, David Robertson.

He’s not at all impressed with the angry atheist rantings of Stephen Fry’s viral video. My spirit was greatly cheered by Robertson’s unapologetic apologetics – I hope yours will be, too.


Robertson is doing more than taking on the latest challenge to faith: he’s modeling how you and I can do it effectively, too. He speaks with the authority of an ambassador who knows he has the full backing of the King of the Cosmos.

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It’s clear from his steady and sober tone that he knows he has a critical message to bring from a holy God to all humans on planet earth. {So do we.} Robertson demonstrates, calmly and confidently, how to deploy the sword of truth to dissect one lie after another. He goes after the faulty logic, ignoring the emotion and rhetoric.

Admittedly, he uses rhetoric of his own – I’d say it’s part of being a skilled apologist – but he still shows concern for the soul of the man who is so proud of his hostility towards the God who made him.


Now, if we could only have pause/play buttons for real time debates…


 


Check out David Robertson’s website and his gotta-have-them-all books here.


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Learn Genesis in 5 minutes!

“The Bible: a profound and very beautiful book…” – Tim Mackie 

Apologetics Road Trip

but it’s also:
– a very looong book
– often confusing
– and just intimidating overall

Today’s Road Trip Discovery, The Bible Project, is here to help.


Premium, free, and accessible
The Bible Project is ambitious: the whole Bible broken down into 5-minute animated videos. Exactly the kind of resource we’re on the road to find: premium, 100% free, and engagingly accessible!

An antidote to Bible illiteracy?
Don’t know about you, but I think that if more people knew what the Bible actually said, they would find answers to a lot of their faith questions. We live in a time of extreme Bible illiteracy – and any resources that can turn that around are worth getting excited about.

Talented team
Speaking of which – I’m excited to introduce you today to Tim Mackie, and the rest of the highly qualified, talented creatives of The Bible Project team, Jon CollinsGerry Breshears and (just joined) Jason Brubaker. See the quality of their work for yourself in this animated walk-through of Genesis 1 to 11:


I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did – can’t wait to see the rest of the series! Well, actually – let’s not wait: here’s one more. This one gives an overview of the whole Bible, a walk through of the Messiah from Genesis to Revelation:


Is the Bible really that big of a deal?
In today’s Biblically illiterate world, people not only don’t know the content, but they generally don’t know how the human race came to have the Bible, or its unsurpassed role in history. The Bible makes some extraordinary claims – the most amazing of which is that it claims to be alive!


Bronze Age script? World’s Best-selling Book?
Before we get back on the road (or sneak off to watch more of The Bible Project’s animations), there’s time for just one fact that might suggest there’s something special about the Bible. On its own, it doesn’t prove all that much, but it can’t just be swept aside either. Here it is:

“Although it’s impossible to obtain exact figures, there is little doubt that the Bible is the world’s best-selling and most widely distributed book.”- The Guinness Book of Records.  Some years ago, Russell Ash’s Top 10 of Everything List said that 6 Billion Bibles had been printed – at least six times more than the book in the #2 spot.

Unsurprisingly, skeptics have disputed these numbers or said, “So what?” No time to debate them today, but, down the road, we’ll revisit the issue. I’ll do my best to find the very best answers to questions about the Bible and its unmatched position in human history and in the hearts of millions.

The Bible and you
What about you? What’s your relationship to the Bible – is it a book you love or do you find it strange, difficult or dry? I’d love to hear from you if you can recommend resources that showcase the uniqueness of the Bible. And please let me know what questions the Road Trip should find answers for, either for yourself or people you know!


“A man can’t be always defending the truth; there must be a time to feed on it.”
– C.S. Lewis


Pray with me:
Father, thank you for giving the world this amazing, precious treasure. Thank you for taking the time to tell us about yourself, about how you made the world and what’s going to happen to it. Thank you for explaining to us why it is the way it is – and how to live in in. Thank you for preserving these ancient words to give us hope and life. Thank you, most of all, for showing us in its pages the secret of eternal life and the way to heaven. And thank you for writing so many times that you love us.

We pray for the people who’ve given their lives to guard and distribute the Bible, and for the people around the world today who risk their lives just to read it or teach it. We pray for that special group of men and women who are racing against time to translate the Scriptures into the heart language of people groups and tribes still waiting for the Good News. And, Father, for ourselves, we pray that you’d help us to desire the pure milk of your Word so that we can grow, and then the bread and meat of your Word so that we can become mature. We ask in the name of your Son, Jesus, the Living Word who was with You in the beginning. Amen.


Thanks for visiting! If this is your first time, the About & Welcome page will quickly bring you up to speed; search & navigation tips are here, and the Trip Log  is a hyperlinked list of all the posts from Day One. To send me a message, use this Quick Contact box (or from the top menu bar). Feel free to leave a reply; comments are welcome (but filtered to keep out spammers and trolls).

“God is Love”: a uniquely Christian Idea

Where does the Idea of a Loving God come from?heart

@apoloJTXroad #7

Not everybody believes in God, but, according to Tim Keller, most people agree that if there is a God, he’s a god of love.

But, – where does this idea come from?


[Tim Keller pastors a church of sophisticated urban professionals in Manhattan, and he wrote the NY Times bestsellers, The Reason for God and Prodigal God.]

In an archived sermon on Psalm 107, Keller examines 3 possible sources for the concept of a loving God:

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1. the idea comes from history, from ancient times
2. the idea is common to all religions
3. the idea is drawn from observations of Nature


Spoiler alert: none of these proposed sources prove to be correct:

1. In ancient times, “gods” were seen to be fearful, capricious beings
2. In all religions but one, the idea of a benevolent deity with whom ordinary people can have a personal, loving relationship is absurd, unheard of, even sacrilegious
3. Nature is not all beauty and love – close observation. in fact, reveals disturbing, even horrific aspects


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We know “God is love” by Revelation
So, if the original idea of a loving God is not found in human history, world religions, or the natural world – how has it come into human consciousness? wsnaccad-moses-and-the-burning-bush-chibi-versionIt turns out that the answer is “by revelation.”

As Psalm 107 explains, God has revealed his love to us by his deeds and his words about his own character.  These are written revelations in a collection of 66 books, collectively known as The Bible.


“God is love” must be understood in context
Keller explains in his Psalm 107 apologetic that God’s love only makes sense inside the framework of Creation, Fall, Redemption. For an explanation of how that works, access this talk in his extensive, free sermon archive.


God and his love are complex
Keller’s last main point is that God is a complex character in the literary sense. He is at once Father, King, Lover, and Friend. Of course such a being is impossible to fit into our minds, so we tend to reshape him into a more manageable “god.” HolyCommunion

But this caricature doesn’t exist – and if we waste time looking for it, we will never encounter the true God of Love. We will remain alone and untransformed.

{In your deep heart}, are you looking for a loving God?
If, deep down, you’re looking for a loving God, Keller points out, as kindly as he can, “You can’t find [him] by communing with your own heart or with nature.”


Oxytocin & Survival of the Fittest
A short post-script: naturalistic Evolution, having no room for God, and eager to offer a biological basis for human love, says it (love) is the product of chemicals and the instinct to preserve the species.

{Sigh.}
Try the Bible. It really does make a lot more sense.


 

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Which belief system is true? Simple tests you can use right now.

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Shopping for a Belief System? Here’s help to know which religion is true.

apoloJTXroad STOP#4

We’re off to visit RZIM.org – hop in, if you like!

Founded by Ravi Zacharias, RZIM’s one of the very best places to find out how Christianity stacks up against other religions.

Got questions? Ravi has answers!
Ravi Zacharias’ resume’s off the charts – and he’s spent 42 years traveling the globe answering people’s questions about God and belief. But the thing that impresses me most about him is that, after all this time, he is still patiently answering the same questions over and over. (See the end of this post for how to do the same: answer your skeptical friends without shutting them down.)


Repeat after me: “Origin, Meaning, Morality, Destiny.”

origin, meaning, …

Inside RZIM, you’ll almost certainly hear those four words. They’re shorthand for the four fundamental questions that everyone asks:

Where did I come from?
What is life’s meaning?
How do I define right from wrong?
What happens to me when I die?

“Most Coherent” wins!
Ravi teaches that we can evaluate any belief system based on how it answers life’s (four) basic questions. What we’re looking for is something professional philosophers call “coherence.”

The basic idea is that the belief system which most effectively reconciles all the facts (is coherent) is most likely to be true. Seems reasonable…

There are three tests a religion or philosophy must pass to get a “coherent worldview” rating; if it fails any of the tests, it goes on the junk pile while we look for a belief system that’s worth something.

 

The 3 belief system tests:

Test #1: Is it logically consistent?
Or does it contradict itself, saying something is both “true” and “not true?” or that two opposite things are both true? (See below for an example of a belief system that fails this test.)

Test #2: Is it empirically adequate?
Does it line up with reality? Can it be verified or somehow tested?

Test #3: Is it existentially relevant?
Is it practical and relevant to real life, not just some abstract idea?

Here’s one of my favorite examples of how to expose a logical inconsistency in a belief system. It’s vintage Ravi:

“When a person says there’s too much evil in this world, they’re assuming there’s such a thing as “good.” When they assume there’s such a thing as good, they must assume there’s such a thing as a moral law on the basis of which to differentiate between good and evil. But when they posit such a thing as a moral law, they must posit a moral lawgiver, but that’s whom the skeptic is often trying to disprove and not prove, because if there’s no moral lawgiver, there’s no moral law. If there’s no moral law, there is no good. If there is no good, there is no evil. What becomes of the question?” (See more of this transcribed CBN.com interview with Ravi here.)


“Correspondence (to reality)”: another way to win the Worldview wars

One thing I should mention on our way out today is that there is a criterion other than “coherence” that trained philosophers use to test worldviews – the test of “correspondence.” We don’t have time to go into that today (I see you yawning already, so maybe next time) – the short version is that Christianity wins “best correspondence to reality,” too.


Well, now it’s really getting late, but let’s check one last thing: does Ravi have any advice for dealing with the skeptics in our neighborhoods?

How to talk to Angry Young Skeptics, Awkward World Leaders & even American Senators
Ravi was born in India; he’s an international expert on comparative religions, cults, and philosophy, and can talk comfortably to almost anyone. It doesn’t matter if he’s addressing the UN Prayer Breakfast, US senators, Oxford and Cambridge academics, controversial world leaders, or the latest angry young skeptic on an Ivy League campus. He just knows how to listen, show respect, and explain the truth logically. (See below for some of his tips on how to do this.)

“With gentleness and respect…”
Even when Ravi’s answering the most hostile skeptics, he exemplifies the Apologist’s ideal of always being prepared to give an answer for the Christian hope that is in him, and always treating people with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15).

 How to answer Tough Questions from Tough Customers
If you ask him, Ravi will say, “when offering an answer, it is not the question we are addressing, but the questioner.“

Effective Apologetics, RZIM-style is not just about how to address ideas, but ”how to engage people, understand their beliefs, and facilitate fruitful dialogue that points to the person of Christ.

I definitely want to be able to do all that – we’ll have to come back soon!

(See more about Ravi on his official website or at this wiki, or listen to him on his radio broadcasts, Just Thinking and Let My People Think.)


Thanks for visiting! If this is your first time, the About & Welcome page will quickly bring you up to speed; search & navigation tips are here, and the Trip Log  is a hyperlinked list of all the posts from Day One. To send me a message, use this Quick Contact box (or from the top menu bar). Feel free to leave a reply; comments are welcome (but filtered to keep out spammers and trolls).