Category Archives: Apologetics
Yesterday, we covered the first two items on God’s To Do list:
Today, let’s finish it up.
The third item on God’s to do list would, again, have a correct action item but an incorrect reason supplied. This is where the man-centric view comes very clear. God is not on his knees bidding us to come to him and trust him. The correct view is us on our knees, asking God’s forgiveness. Put another way, God’s not lucky to have me on his team; I’m lucky he wants me on his team.
So the crucifixion has nothing to do with winning our trust. Whenever we read of God making a promise in the Bible, he delivers (see Heb 11). Whenever something is contingent on human beings following some sort of rule or precept that God has established, we fail (see Exodus and Deuteronomy, 1 and 2 Kings or 1 and 2 Chronicles, most of the prophetic books deal with at least one failure, see the Sermon on the Mount for Jesus’ exposition on the condition of the heart vs. actions taken). And yet God remains faithful. God, therefore, is not the one who needs to earn our trust.
So what the heck was the crucifixion about?
Books have been written on that topic and I couldn’t possibly do it justice as part of a single blog post. But I will give the fastest possible summary:
- Start with Adam and Eve. When they sinned against God in the Garden of Eden, God made for them clothing of animal hide to cover their shame.
- Cain burned crops as a sacrifice to God, while Abel sacrificed a lamb. The acceptable sacrifice was the lamb.
- Abraham was instructed to sacrifice Isaac. He lied to his son, saying that “God himself would provide the lamb” (Gen 22:8). As it happened, God stayed Abraham’s hand and did provide a lamb. Remember that point.
- Leviticus and Deuteronomy provide a laundry list of what to sacrifice for what occasion.
So all through the Old Testament, the theme is that a sacrifice is required in order for God to forgive sins. Because, as we are reminded by the author of Hebrews, “… without the shedding of blood there can be no forgiveness” (9:22).
The entire sacrificial system of the Old Testament prefigured the crucifixion of Christ, and chapter 9 of the book of Hebrews draws the parallel of the High Priest of the Jews to the role Christ plays in the redemption of Christians. The conclusion?
For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. (Heb 10:1-4, emphasis added)
The blood of the animals is only a representation of the perfect, heavenly realities. These no longer need to be offered, because Christ “…by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified” (Heb 10:14).
The crucifixion wasn’t to earn the trust of humanity. It is to purify humanity, and specifically those that God elects to heaven, thereby giving us assurance to walk into the holy places of God by faith in Christ rather than the fleeting sacrifices of animals. God now says “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more” (Heb 10:17b).
That just leaves us with the final item on God’s to do list, which is “Lay low for the rest of time.” This is question-begging. What evidence does the author have that God has laid low? What insight has he into the outer workings of God that the rest of us aren’t privy to?
In a broader sense, God isn’t a trick pony. Skeptics of Christianity tend to point out that we don’t see much of God’s action in the world and then demand he do something to prove himself to them. Well, that won’t work.
Even when the Son of God dwelt among us, the Pharisees asked for more signs. And Jesus rebuffed them by saying they already knew what to look for; they just don’t know how to read it:
And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” So he left them and departed. (Mt 16:1-4)
We’ve already been given the Scriptures to work with, we’ve already been given human history to work with. Why ask for more signs and wonders than the one that has already come? Jesus says that “an evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign.” Maybe that describes us to a T and we don’t see it.
To wrap up, I think this represents a human-centered view of God and fails on every level to take the divine into consideration.
One day soon, I will get back to answering the 40 Questions for Christians. For now, let’s just do a quick meme that one of my atheist friends shared. I’ll tackle part of it today, and part of it tomorrow.
So what we have here is supposedly God’s to do list. Each has an actionable item and two of them supply a reason for the action. Three actions are correct, while one is question-begging. Neither reason is correct.
First, Appeal to Motive is a logical fallacy. However, it is relevant here because it is the bottom line reason this author gets so much wrong. The author has a man-centric viewpoint. God’s actions are meant to glorify himself, not win our approval. While that makes God sound like a selfish prick, remember that his actions are also rooted in a deep, abiding love for humanity in general, and his elect in particular. The writer of this meme pictures God as begging for our approval, while the correct picture is us begging for his forgiveness of our sins.
With that out of the way (1) is correct and needs no expounding.
The action item of (2) is absolutely correct. But no reason? To the text:
The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” (Gen 6:5-7)
The text goes on to say, “Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.” (Gen 6:11-12) Man is corrupt. All that he thinks about is evil. The earth is corrupt, violent. All flesh (men) is corrupted. So horrible is this corruption that God is grieved that he ever made humans, and decides that the one course of action is to simply destroy them. All except one man: Noah.
Think about this for a minute. The human race is compared to a single human several times throughout the Bible. So let’s go with that. If you have a gangrenous limb, and the only solution is amputation, wouldn’t you do that instead of succumbing to death? This is similar, but in reverse. God found it necessary to rid the earth of people so that the one righteous one could continue.
Whether you agree with the reason or not is immaterial. It’s just plain wrong to claim that there is no reason.
I have returned to blogging!
I’ve decided to answer the questions on this hub, written by Thomas Swan. Dr. Swan has a Ph.D in physics and a master’s degree in the cognitive science of religion. And his questions betray a very shallow understanding of Christianity. Let’s get to today’s batch. Read the rest of this entry
For my return after a year’s absence from blogging, I have decided to answer the questions posed by this hub to Christians. Thomas Swan has a Ph.D in cognitive science of religion as well as a masters degree in physics. So far, this list has been nothing but the usual atheist groupthink. This group starts off the same way — I even answer one question with biting sarcasm. The last two questions, however, are thoughtful and will offer some insight. Read the rest of this entry
After a one year absence from apologetics blogging, I have returned, inspired by this hub from Thomas Swan. Swan has a Ph.D in physics and a master’s degree in the cognitive science of religion. Sadly, these academic decorations do not give him the ability to generate better questions about religion than my 7 year old.
As infantile as the understanding of Why Won’t God Heal Amputees? and God is Imaginary websites’ understanding of prayer was, I think it was deeper and better-reasoned than Dr. Swan’s. So let’s get to the questions. Read the rest of this entry
Has it really been a year since I’ve written anything on this blog?
Wow. I always kept putting it on the back burner. “I’ll get back to it.” “Really. Soon. I will get back to it.” And I never did.
For better or for worse, I decided to return with a series inspired by this hub written by atheist writer Thomas Swan. Dr. Swan appears to have a Ph.D in physics and a master’s degree in the cognitive science of religion. In the hub, Dr. Swan asks Christians 40 questions based on “a decade of pondering religions and their followers.”
So, he’s spent ten years on this, and he has a master’s degree in cognitive science of religion. So the questions are good, right?
Nope. But he hopes they’re original, so there are at least some original ones, right? Again, no. Nothing Christians haven’t written about before. Therefore, I have decided to add my two cents to the mix.
I will tackle them in several separate posts, grouped the same way he did on his hub page. So let’s begin with the broad strokes: Christianity and world religions. Read the rest of this entry
Melissa Cain Travis pretty much hits the nail on the head with this piece. Excellent work!
I’m going to tell you what your job is NOT.
You are not a spoon-feeder. I have found that many folks, abrasive atheists/agnostics in particular, aren’t willing to undertake serious research on their own. They’re armed with a hundred pop-atheism talking points that have long been answered, which…
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This made me laugh out loud. I have debated several of the truly UNREASONABLE atheists. To be fair, many atheists are very reasonable. But for those that aren’t, this post is all about them and perfectly satirizes their arguments. Just epic.
This blog post will teach you how to talk people out of their faith. You’ll learn how to ridicule the faithful through mockery, because this kind of behavior will force them to value reason and rationality, cast doubt on their beliefs, and mistrust their faith. I call this activist approach to helping people overcome their faith, “Street Awesomeness”.
The goal of this blog post is to create a generation of Street Awesomes: people equipped with an array of dialectical and clinical tools who actively go into the streets, the prisons, the bars, the churches, the schools, the community, and ESPECIALLY THE INTERNET — into any and every place the faithful reside— and help them abandon their stupid religion and embrace atheism.
Enter the Street Awesome: an inarticulate, unclear, unhelpful voice with an unremitting desire to force people into overcome their faith and to create a better world— a world that…
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Part of the reason I didn’t write a review on the blog for Peter Boghossian’s A Manual for Creating Atheists is because I knew that my reaction was the same as most Christians who are informed in matters of faith and philosophy. Sure enough, Nick Peters wrote the exact review that I wanted to.
What do I think of Peter Boghossian’s book on creating atheists? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.
Boghossian’s book in the past month or so has been the subject of great conversation on the internet. Why is this the case? Is it because there’s a new argument in here? No. There’s nothing new. Is it because there’s a really powerful demonstration of atheism in here? No. That’s not here also. It’s because now, Boghossian claims to have a way to apply principles of critical thinking and train others in them so that they can become “street epistemologists” with the goal of deconverting others.
Unfortunately, what I’ve seen is that these epistemologists are thoroughly unequipped for the job, and it’s no surprise because the apple has not fallen far from the tree.
And yet at the same time, I found great confirmation for so much of what I’ve been saying…
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Dave, an atheist on Twitter, was arguing with Man-E, a Christian who blogs here. The subjects were many, but one thread had to do with inspiration. Dave poses this seemingly unanswerable question:
This is what we in the business call a “false dichotomy.” The reason? A serious misunderstanding of divine inspiration.
God is not a suit-and-tie executive and the 40+ authors of Scripture weren’t beleaguered secretaries trying to take dictation. It was, unfortunately, a little less precise.
It was more like God gave an author an idea, and left that author to write his own expression of that idea. So the essence of what the Scripture reports is perfect, but the method of that expression is fallible since it was man who committed it to writing.
To complicate matters, we have copies of copies of copies. While these have proven very reliable as we uncover older and older copies, some variants have creeped in and that hampers us. Further complicating it is the cultural gap that exists between the ancient Israelites of the second millennium BC or the early Christians of 2000 years ago, and the average 21st century citizen.
So what we have is that God is capable of creating a perfect Bible. However, the task of writing the law was given to man and the task of preserving and teaching the Word of the Lord also to man. The textual variants, the cultural gaps, and all of the other barriers to understanding that Word are man-made, but not insurmountable.
To overcome it, you either need to roll up your sleeves and study ancient culture and customs. Or crack open a good Bible commentary. I personally have a concise commentary and a Bible dictionary, both of which help me understand things in the Bible that aren’t immediately clear. There’s even an online Bible, the NET Bible, which helps with translating the ancient languages (in case that question ever pops up; but unless you blog on apologetics it rarely will).
If you’re not the solitary, bookworm type, there are people that have studied ancient culture and customs and own those resources I mentioned. They might even have better ones than I do! The Bible, in fact, mentions that not everyone is called to be a pastor or teacher (see 1 Cor 12, esp vv. 27-31) — and it is only through using all of our spiritual gifts as a body that we can grow and prosper.
To me, Dave is neither making an argument, nor a very good point within the context of a larger argument. All Dave is doing is whining that God expects him to work to understand things. And who wants that?
I think J.P. Holding is on to something here: