One of the most frustrating experiences is trying to talk to someone about God that is apathetic concerning His existence. They are not interested in your arguments or your experience. They are not interested in the topic, or claim it has no relevance to their life. How do you advance the conversation when confronted with a game-stopping attitude like apathy? I don’t think there is any one tactic for stirring someone out of their apathy (it will differ from person to person), but here are some probing questions that may help: (more…)
January 12, 2015
December 18, 2014
Postmodern Christians who dismiss the veracity of propositional truth like to cite John 14:26 where Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” “Jesus is the truth,” they say, “not doctrinal statements. Jesus is the only truth that matters.”
This way of interpreting Jesus’ statement presumes that Jesus is saying He is identical to the truth, such that to speak of the truth is to speak of Jesus. Linguists call this the “is of identity.” An example of this use of “is” would be the statement, “Barack Obama is the president of the United States.” There is an identity relationship between the man Barack Obama and the office of the president of the United States. Clearly that’s not the kind of “is” Jesus is referring to. When Jesus says he is the truth, he is not making an identity statement such that “Jesus = the truth,” otherwise, “to say that ‘2+2=4’ is true is to say that ‘2+2=4’ is Jesus. In other words, Jesus is claiming to be a mathematical statement.”
June 23, 2014
April 23, 2014
I’ve noticed that many nonbelievers (and even believers) misunderstand what constitutes a “God of the gaps” argument. They tend to think one is guilty of a God of the gaps argument if they offer God as an explanation for some X rather than some natural phenomenon. The problem with this definition is that it presumes the only valid explanation is a naturalistic explanation. God is ruled out as a valid explanation for anything a priori, so anyone who offers God as an explanation for X is thought to do so merely because they are ignorant of the proper naturalistic explanation. This begs the question in favor of naturalism and against theism. One could only conclude that every effect has a naturalistic explanation, and that God is not a valid explanation, if one has first demonstrated that God does not exist. So long as it is even possible that God exists, then it is possible that God may be the cause of X, and thus explain X.
What makes an argument a God of the gaps type of argument is when God is invoked to explain X simply because we do not know what else can explain X. In other words, God is used to plug a gap in our knowledge of naturalistic explanations: “I don’t know how to explain X, so God must have done X.” This is not at all the same as arguing that God is the best explanation of X, based on what we know regarding X and the explanatory options available to us. Here, God is being invoked to explain what we know, not what we don’t know.
March 26, 2014
If what’s being taught in church goes over your head, it’s either the fault of the speaker or our own. If the speaker is not communicating complicated concepts in ways that are understandable to the uninitiated, then shame on him. But if he has done his due diligence to make it as understandable as possible, but we give up on the message simply because it is unfamiliar to us, then shame on us.
The solution to the problem of things going over our head may not be for the messenger to dumb down the message, but for us to do our due diligence to raise our heads higher. Let’s raise the bar intellectually. Discipleship requires that we move on from milk to solid meat. We cannot rehearse our spiritual ABCs year after year and think we’ll ever grown in the Lord. We need to challenge ourselves theologically and intellectually to become better disciples of Jesus. So raise your heads high, and so far as it is within your power, do not let another message go over your head.
March 25, 2014
Like spilled milk, it only takes a few seconds to spew utter nonsense from one’s mouth. Clean up, however, takes much more time.
In a sound bite culture like ours, most people don’t have the patience or interest to listen to the evidence and follow the logic of a rebuttal, and thus nonsense passes for common sense.
March 21, 2014
Most discussions of religion entail foregone conclusions in search of anything resembling justification. The goal of the participants is not to discover truth, but to leave the conversation with the same beliefs they came with. We can do better. Our beliefs should be properly justified – not just asserted based on what we would like to be true – and our desire for truth must outweigh our desire to be right.