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

Aside

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).

The Problem of Evil: Alvin Plantinga’s argument & Ravi Z’s thoughts

apoloJTXroad STOP#3

Meet The World’s Most Important Living Christian Philosopher
A quick trivia question before we arrive at today’s stop: Who is the world’s most important living Christian philosopher, named “America’s leading orthodox Protestant philosopher of God” by none other than TIME magazine?


“Alvin Plantinga!”
– you’re absolutely right! Well, I hate to admit it, but I didn’t know either. No matter – today, we’re going to see his philosophical brilliance in this animation of a brand new, original, and pretty clever answer to the age-old question, “How can there be a God with all the evil in the world?”

(You might want to turn your speakers down for this one; seems to be set a bit loud.)

No? Well, try this easier-to-digest argument
If you found that a bit difficult to follow or would have trouble reproducing it, try the distilled wisdom of Ravi Zacharias. He answers the same question in a very digestible way, explaining, basically, that automatons can’t “love” and that true love necessarily comes with the freedom to “not love.” He makes some other good points, like:

1. If we humans take a life, that’s tragic and we can’t restore it. But if God takes a life, he can restore it.
2. If there’s no eternity, the problem of evil remains unsolved…


A philosophical understanding of the problem of evil is one thing – but, thankfully, God has given us more than logic to deal with it. The world we live in seems to grow almost daily more evil, more cruel, and more violent. But God has equipped us to live in it as his agents, and he has given us amazingly powerful protection from and authority over evil in the form of something that does not always feel very powerful at all: the power of prayer.

Good Father,
We admit, first of all, that the evil in the world is not always “out there.” Sometimes, it’s in our own hearts, thoughts, and words. We also admit that, if we seem less evil than people we read about in the newspapers, it’s only your grace that has kept us from our full potential for doing wrong. We pray for all those suffering from the evil actions of people who’ve misused their freedom to do wrong. Please comfort and rescue them; be near to them in ways that nobody else can.

We pray for your protection for those who are most vulnerable, and for our brothers and sisters who are persecuted for being your followers. Dearest Father, give your children supernatural hope, peace, and joy to sustain them. We know that you can work all things for good; nevertheless, we are very time-bound and earth-bound. We thank you that you remember that and pity us. (Psalm 103:13)

Thank you, too, that you have done something about evil – first, that there will one day be ultimate justice for all the wrongs in the world. And, second, that in the lives of believers there will be mercy instead of justice because your son, Jesus, has paid the full price for all the times we have chosen evil instead of good.
We pray in the powerful name of Jesus, who came to earth to destroy the works of the devil. 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).

Bonus Post: Right & Wrong and God by CS Lewis

apoloJTXroad STOP#2B

Well, it’s time to get back on the road to track down more of the very best answers to questions about Christianity, Jesus, and the Bible, but if you want to linger a little longer, here’s another of those wonderful Youtube Doodles.

“Right and wrong” are just social conditioning…

This time, CS Lewis takes on objections to his Moral Law argument. He discusses the kinds of things you probably hear from your friends all the time: like “right and wrong” are just social conditioning or survival traits that evolved naturally. Lewis disagrees (and shows you how):

(If you didn’t catch the earlier post with Kingsley’s Doodle of the very first Mere Christianity radio broadcast during wartime England, you can find it at this link. (Thanks, Kalman! We’ll definitely be seeing you again.))

And then, don’t go just yet, because, here, just for fun, is an original recording of CS Lewis answering the objection, “How can God listen to a million prayers at once?

I found the video over at apologetics315 – which is definitely a place to visit soon!

Speaking of prayer, let’s do that right now:
Dear Father of Jesus, we’re so glad that you can hear a million prayers at once! We’re especially glad that you can hear our prayers. So, right now, we bring to you our thanks, our worries, our deep hurts and sorrows, our difficult decisions, our loneliness, and our questions. I pray for the friend reading this. I hope they know you as the best friend that ever was, and is. I pray that you would meet their needs. Thank you, Father – we know you have heard us. 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).

CS Lewis’ “Mere Christianity” – delightfully repackaged!

“It is a good rule after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between.” – CS Lewis

apoloJTXroad STOP#2


Well, my earlier post was about something new – so, today, let’s look at something old. Old, but still gold. 🙂 We’re stopping for a quick look at a true classic, the gold standard for a logical defense of Christianity: CS Lewis’ little book, Mere Christianity.


CS Lewis: Christianity is logical, reasonable
In our times, CS Lewis (1898 – 1963) is better known as the author of the Narnia series than as the writer of brilliant, faith-defending essays. But, arguably, essay writing was where his true genius lay. He used his Oxford-trained mind to take big ideas about God and faith and make them easy to understand; his simple but powerful arguments have convinced millions of people that Christianity is a very logical, reasonable faith. Many of these people, as Lewis himself, have then become true converts by opening up their lives to the God of the Christian faith; once they were blind, but Lewis’ words helped them see.

What is Mere Christianity about?
The book, published in 1952, grew out of a series of radio broadcasts that Lewis was asked to do from 1941 to 1943, during World War Two, at a time when the war was going badly for England and her allies. Not everyone was a fan of the show, but, for many people, the focus on the reality of God brought hope. In the words of Air Chief Marshal Sir Donald Hardman, “We needed, many of us, a key to the meaning of the universe. Lewis provided just that.”  


Mere Christianity – Animated!! (Art Geeks, you’ll love this!)
Here’s a creative and classy repackaging of the first of those broadcasts (complete with air raid sirens and marching Nazis) by New Zealand artist, Kalman Kingsley. I think you’ll enjoy this wonderful, whimsical animation that Kingsley has paired with an audio narration of Chapter One of M.C. The narration is a BBC recreation of the originals; if you want to listen to Lewis himself, go to this week’s bonus post to hear him answer the question, “How can there be a God – surely, it would be impossible to hear millions of people praying all at one time?”


“Own” it! Mere Christianity free study guide and free book downloads
 If you’re new to Mere Christianity, don’t worry too much if the logic comes at you a bit fast; just enjoy it.

Resources for mastering the actual content of the book are listed at the end of this post: there are tons of options: free and paid, print, digital, and audio versions, as well as study guides and Bible studies.

But, now, dim the lights; the video’s ready:

If you liked this free video (and want to see more!), drop by the artist’s YouTube channel.

Note: all CS Lewis’ works became public domain in 2014 in countries where copyright expires 50 years after the creator’s death. (Lewis died on Nov 22, 1963, the same day JFK was assassinated.)


Mind if I pray for you before we hit the road again?
Dear Father God, we thank you for giving CS Lewis to the human family. Thank you for the treasures he left behind – for the Narnia stories and for the words in his books that help us to think more clearly about things that really matter. We pray that you would raise up many more defenders of the faith who love you and, who, like Jesus himself, speak in ways that common people can hear gladly. I pray now for this reader whom you see – for each traveler on this road trip, that you would shower blessings on them, open the eyes of their hearts, and release their gifts to bless the world. Lord, these are difficult times, and we need every part of the Body to function well. We pray in the sweet name of Jesus, Amen.


Free Mere Christianity Study Guides:
1. Here’s a nice one from the CS Lewis Foundation.
2. And one here from the CS Lewis Institute that’s recommended for small group discussion.
3. And here is one blogger’s series entitled Mere Christianity: Simplified.

Free Mere Christianity pdf books:
1. E-book in pdf format from Church Leaders.com
2. The CS Lewis Reading room of Tyndale Seminary, California, is “designed to help make writings on and by C.S. Lewis available to those without easy access to a university library” and houses both print and audio versions of Mere Christianity.

Paid Versions
Included are ones that are affordable, nice to have on your bookshelf, or make great gifts
1. Print book
2. Kindle book
3. Audiobook
4. Bible study
5. One Year Daily Readings from CS Lewis

Free Mere Christianity audio
1. With outline, at Truth According to Scripture, a Christian outreach site maintained by Mesa Biblical Church, California.


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).

Resource Jackpot! One-Minute Arguments for Christianity!

Aside

A One-minute answer to the “Does God Exist?” question

apoloJTXroad STOP#1

apoloJTXroad STOP#1

Well, our very first stop on the internet highway and already our first premium, free, and accessible resource:

Bobby Conway’s YouTube Channel serving up “credible answers to curious questions” offers one-minute arguments for Christianity.


Even the most indifferent skeptic might be persuaded to watch these. They’re a bit longer than a minute, but close enough. There are 8 videos in this particular series; here, Conway’s guest takes on the “Does God Exist?” question. Obviously, a lot of the arguments would need slightly more explaining, but there’s enough to get you started.


As Alex Mac says, the best answer for Creation, Conscience, Scripture, Savior is “God.”


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).

Where can I find the Very Best Answers to Questions about Christianity, Jesus, and the Bible?

Apologetics Road Trip:
(n.) journey to track down the very best answers to questions about Christianity, Jesus, and the Bible.

Truth or Bust!!
Going wherever it takes!

Thanks for stopping by – ideally, you’ll find what you’re looking for, and more. I hope you already feel welcome and that you’ll introduce yourself sometime when you have a chance. Use the Quick Contact box to send a message, link, prayer request, or, even just say “Hi!”


[Skip to the Post Directory for a complete list of clickable blog topics, or go to the Welcome page for the short version of this post. Navigation tips are here.]

A collection of Tips, Tricks, Tools – resources you can use – now!
The plan is simple: keep track of the best, most useful apologetics resources & tools we discover (we being the community of genuine truth seekers and honest questioners. Angry skeptics can come too, so long as they either listen once in a while or buy the coffee and Snickers bars. Thanks.).

3D-Glasses-3-by-Merlin2525I’m thinking short videos, tips and tricks from the gurus, and simple explanations of the deeper stuff. And graphics. And art. Cool, 5-minute things you can show a friend without being weird.

The peeps I most hope to help are Perplexed Believers and their Not-yet-believing Friends:

#1: Perplexed, already-believing peeps. (If you’re sure of your faith but less sure about how to present it effectively in a short amount of time, read on…)
This blog’s probably mostly for Christians like me who are confident in their faith, know for sure they’re going to heaven and have a real, vital relationship with Jesus. But who are perplexed by the unbelief of their friends and, more often than not, stymied about how best to present the truths of Christianity in effective ways. My goal is to help outfit this particular tribe by tracking down premium, free, and accessible tools and resources.

Ugh! There are so many books and videos out there…
It’s true – there are tons of books, videos, training courses, podcasts and who knows what else on topics like evangelism and apologetics – but it’s hard to find the right tool, let alone know how to use it at the right time.“You can’t just say, “Here, read this book” all day long.”

CS Lewis? Isn’t there… well, not to be rude or anything, but…
The tides of culture have definitely turned against Christianity, and it’s not hard to argue that most rank and file Christians are just not that well prepared. Of course, there are the heavyweights – CS Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, Lee Strobel, Josh McDowell, Ravi Zacharias, Ken Ham… and they’re faithfully out there on the frontlines. Well, not Lewis, but Mere Christianity and Narnia still are. But is that all? Isn’t there anything newer, and, well, shorter? Or is Lewis still right about Apologetics being “where the line is thinnest?”

Enter the New Atheists – and the Hip Young Apologists
Happily, there is good news for you and the people you care about: in response to the dismaying challenges of the New Atheism, there has arisen the New Apologetics – an edgy brand of argument and counter-argument expertly deployed by a growing cadre of talented young minds.

In my haphazard search for answers over the past several years, I’ve come across a few of these newer ministries and resources, but others are just coming across my radar now.

Brian Auten of the apologetics mega-site, apologetics315, said a while ago that there is reason to be encouraged about the state of apologetics because of  the stream of new publications and the growing online presence. Similarly, veteran apologist, Lee Strobel, believes that we are on the cusp of a golden age of apologetics.

All of which is good news – I’ve been greatly cheered, myself, to find out firsthand that there is lots of really good stuff out there! The Apologetics Road Trip is on a mission to ferret out these treasures and bring them home to you. (!)

The very best answers for our times
Thus, our main goal: track down the best of the best out there, “out there” being on the highways, byways, and backwaters of the internet.

#2: The Landscape of Unbelief: what do real unbelievers really believe?
The second goal of the Apologetics Road Trip is to slow down and really listen to the people who, perplexingly, don’t believe Christianity is true. I want to find out more precisely what they believe and why.

It’s possible our road trip will wind around a whole lot as we survey this landscape of unbelief. We’ll be on the lookout for hitchhikers to engage in conversation – perhaps we’ll learn something from them. I definitely hope we’ll leave them somehow better off before we say good bye. Even if we “just” pray with and for them.

Real life road trips: Quest, Discovery, and Serendipity
I hope this virtual trip will be just as exciting as a real-life road trip – that we’ll get to meet a host of other travelers, have encounters that turn strangers into friends, come back changed, and make some difference in the world. I am so looking forward to this adventure of heart and mind and soul! Let’s go, already!

We’d genuinely love to hear from you
If you’re one of the honest souls out there looking for answers to questions about Christianity for yourself or for others, we’d love to hear from you, share part of your journey, and learn from you.

Let us know if you think we can help find a specific tool or answer (or if you have great answers to questions about Christianity, Jesus, and the Bible!); we’ll be on the lookout or spread the word.


Again, the Quick Contact box is probably the best way to do that. Or you can drop by our Facebook Fan page and leave a comment. Thanks!


Wait! One last thing: Mind if I pray for you before we head out?

Dear Jesus,
Thank you for the person who made it to the end of this post – the one you see right now and whose name you know intimately.

Thank you for this life you have given, the customized plans you have for each of us, and the deep love you offer.  I pray that you will supply daily bread, steadying guidance, and sweet assurance. I pray that the welcoming lights of Home would shine through even the darkest times and that, one day, we will meet in your beautiful Kingdom. And there have endless, glorious adventures. Thank you, Lord. A-MEN!