TACTICS

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Copyright 2009

Gregory Koukl

I thought learning more biblical facts will help me to be better equipped to answer my critics — I was wrong.  Koukl provides believers will practical tactics to help defend and share our faith.  I have used some of his methods, and it has really helped so far.  It is an easy read but the tactics will take time to master.  It takes practice.  This book will benefit all Christians, but it is especially helpful for those who work and play around scholars and/or study among those in the science field.  Koukl provides a framework for argument, and most importantly, he flooded his book with practical examples.  A must read for students and young adults.  Read it and let me know what you think.

 

Brian (D.O.C.)

Beware the Grid: Some Thoughts on Intellectual Blind Spots

Wow, it’s been over two months since my last post. Just the other day I was thinking it had only been a few weeks…

I’d like to comment on a post by a pastor and apologist I highly respect named James R. White of Alpha and Omega ministries. I don’t always agree with him, but I appreciate his ministry and apologetic work, particularly in the area of theological debate.

On the Reformed Baptist Fellowship website he published a post entitledWhy I Am So Thankful to be a Reformed Baptist” .  Now, there’s nothing wrong with being thankful to be a part of your church, association, or denomination.  I have no problem with that on the surface of it.  In the post he mentions the following reasons for being so thankful:

1.  He gets to meet and minister with some of the best preachers and teachers he knows of.

2.  He has the honor and privilege of ministering in sister churches all across the landscape, and is encouraged by the spirit of unity and faith.

3.  But the main reason he cites as being thankful for being a Reformed Baptist is the work the Lord has called him to in apologetics, that is, in providing a reasoned defense of the faith to those who are skeptical of it or who outright oppose it.

He then goes on to list several false religions and cults, such as Islam, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Oneness Pentacostalism, etc. and how he has defended Christian orthodoxy with regard to the Trinity, the inspiration and authority of the Bible, the Crucifixion, the person and work of Christ, all because of the consistency of “our faith”.  All well and good, except….such Christian orthodoxy is not the product of a small sliver of Baptist churches who designate themselves to be “reformed”.  In fact, I daresay all of these doctrinal truths were ironed out long before independent Particular or Reformed Baptist churches came to the fore, or the 1689 2nd London Baptist COF was written.

Therefore, shouldn’t the title of the post simply be “Why I Am So Thankful to be a Christian”?  I don’t see what being a Reformed Baptist has to do with this, do you?

But then Dr. White brings his post to a conclusion by stating the following:

“So the next time you eye the big fancy church down the road on your way to your Reformed Baptist church, consider this:  the value of the consistency of divine truth, the treasure of having a firm foundation upon which to live a God-honoring life, is truly priceless.”

Did you note how he went from cults and false religions to the “big fancy church” down the street?  How are these connected?  Isn’t the big fancy church down the street a Christian congregation of blood-bought sinners redeemed by grace, just like the small Reformed Baptist church?  Does such a church not have the body of truth Dr. White has been so thankful to defend against its opponents?  This kind of statement is indicative of a certain mindset among some RB churches and brethren that needs to be repented of.  A cloak of suspicion need not be cast upon other churches or ministries, nor does the Reformed Baptist need to be held up as the one with a corner on the truth.

I don’t mean to malign Dr. White’s motives, I’m sure he was attempting to encourage his brothers and sisters in Christ who serve the Lord in RB churches.  I simply want to point out how an unhealthy mindset can take advantage of intellectual blind spots.  Keep defending the faith, Dr. White, only do so as a thankful Christian!

C.M. Granger

Adam–The Man Who Wasn’t There

Adam Continuing to interact with Denis Lamoureux’s contribution to Zondervan’s Four Views on the Historical Adam, Professor Lamoureux informs us that his pastoral concern is that young men and women know there is a Christian view of origins that accepts evolution and recognizes that our faith does not rest on the existence of Adam (pg. 38). He asserts that our faith is based only on Jesus Christ, His sacrifice on the Cross, and His bodily resurrection from the dead.

Firstly, the biblical narrative is organically woven together. You can’t uproot one doctrine and expect that it won’t affect another. This kind of compartmentalization of Scripture separates what God has joined together. It disassembles the connections.

It’s analogous to a novel in which character development, theme, and plot are said to be of little importance. It’s only the climax that really matters. However, it’s the back story that sets up the climax. They’re tied together. Adam is the fountainhead of the human race and his fall into sin necessitates the incarnation, the crucifixion, the atonement, and the resurrection if salvation is to come to a broken world.

Secondly, if Jesus Himself was wrong about there being a historical Adam how do we know He wasn’t wrong about other matters, like His own person, work, and mission? How do we discern when Jesus is fallible and when He’s infallible? What’s the criteria? When modern scientific consensus disagrees with Him? Modern scientific consensus doesn’t take into account the supernatural, nor should it. The creation of man transcends naturalism.

Thirdly, why does Dr. Lamoureux insist upon the historical necessity of Jesus’ death and resurrection, but deny the existence of Adam and original sin? What makes one more of a historical necessity than the other? Of course, as Professor Lamoureux states, “our faith is based only on Jesus”, but Jesus Himself asserts the historicity of Adam. If the author is to be consistent, he should hold the position that Jesus didn’t really exist either. His life, like the account of Adam, was a little story God told ancient man to communicate spiritual truths. Yet, our author insists, Jesus did and said what is recorded in the Gospels. He will have to explain how doing so is not arbitrary.

We’ll look at his work further in our next post.

C.M. Granger

The Curious Case of the First Man

historical adam You may be familiar with the Counterpoints series published by Zondervan. Some editions are more useful than others, but they’re worth having if just to get a better understanding of various and opposing viewpoints on an array of theological topics.

I wish to interact with Denis Lamoureux’s contribution in “Four Views on the Historical Adam”. He holds to an evolutionary creation view, which is the belief that “the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit created the universe and life, including humans, through an ordained, sustained, and intelligent design-reflecting natural process.” This view also denies the existence of a historical Adam. I’m not going to deal with his contribution to the book in its entirety in this post, but hope to in the days (well, in my case, probably weeks) ahead.

One must begin by asking why Dr. Lamoureux, with a Christian worldview, presupposes naturalism when it comes to human origins? Creation itself is not natural, it’s supernatural by definition. Yet the author asserts that, “similar to the way that the Lord used embryological mechanics to create each of us in our mother’s womb, He also employed evolutionary processes to create humanity.” (pg. 37) I would like to ask Dr. Lamoureux why the God who created the heavens and the earth is constrained to create mankind through an evolutionary process? Whatever one thinks about whether God revealed scientific facts in the Bible thousands of years before their discovery by modern science, He did reveal in the text of Scripture that He created man directly, personally, and supernaturally.

So how does Dr. Lamoureux deal with this thorny problem? By concluding that modern science reveals the Old Testament to be a divine accommodation to an ancient and ignorant people. God didn’t really create man directly, personally, or supernaturally. No, since ancient man could not understand modern science, God (as it were) told him a little story he could grasp. Now, I absolutely believe that God accommodates His revelation in such a way as to condescend to our understanding. However, this is not the kind of divine accommodation Lamoureux is talking about. This is, in my view, a wholesale undermining of the text. Was God only communicating with an ancient people when the opening chapters of Genesis were written down? Is it not divine revelation to a modern people as well? We’re just scientifically sophisticated enough to know that God really meant the opposite of what He said? Perhaps, in a later age, we will discover that God really meant what He said in the first place.

II.

In the introduction, Professor Lamoureux asserts that the central conclusion of a previous book he penned on this subject is that Adam never existed, and this fact has no impact whatsoever on the foundational beliefs of Christianity.” (pg. 38) I find this a curious statement in light of the historical nature of the Christian faith. Why is it necessary for the life, crucifixion, and resurrection of Christ to be historical, but not the life and death of Adam to be so? If God has revealed an intimate historical and theological (not to mention organic) connection between the first man and the Son of Man in Scripture, why is it that Dr. Lamoureux dismisses it so easily?

The foundational belief he has in view is the fallen nature of mankind. He posits that this spiritual truth can be separated from any historical context. All we need to know, in the end, is that we are fallen, sinful human beings in need of redemption. There is no “original sin”, accept perhaps incidentally. This, in fact, illustrates something Lamoureux likes to assert frequently—that the Bible is a book which communicates spiritual truths divorced from historical or scientific truths. How does he know this? The spiritual truth squares nicely with his Christian worldview, the rest doesn’t square with his naturalism.

We’ll explore this further in our next installment.

BONUS: Happened to come across this review of Professor Lamoureux’s full length book I Love Jesus and I Accept Evolution by Dr. James Anderson. Enjoy!

C.M. Granger

Do we need a Priest?

A Roman Catholic asked me recently, “If there are no priest in your church, then who stands before God to clear you from your sins? Don’t you need a priest?” I was surprised by the question.   Most people, no matter what their religious beliefs, are not very reflective.   She obviously thought about this deeply.

I had very little time to answer; yet I wanted to provide a biblical answer.

The book of Hebrews is written to Jewish believers who wanted to return to the Old Testament sacrificial system. They wanted a priest they could see and touch. The Old and New Testament makes it clear that all men need a person who would stand before God and represent them with a sacrifice. In Chapter seven of Hebrews, the apostle compares The Levitical priesthood to Jesus. The Levitical priest became a priest on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent (Hebrews 7:16). There were many in number, and they offered up sacrifices all the time.

Jesus, on the other hand, was made a priest with an oath: “You are a priest forever” (Psalm 110:4). The Levitical priests coiuld not continue in office because of death, but Jesus hold His priesthood permanently. The Last thing about Jesus as a priest, was that He was holy, innocent, unstained, and separated from sinners (7:26). Jesus had no need to offer sacrifices for Himself first and then the people. The law appointed men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath appointed The Son who has been made perfect forever (Hebrews 7:28).

Yes, I do need a priest, and Jesus Christ represents me before the Father. God appointed Him with an oath and He entered once for all into the holy place, thus securing eternal redemption.

I wish this was answer, but all I said was, “Jesus Christ is my High priest, and He died once for me and lives forever to pray for me.” I pray that she thinks deeply about that!

 

Brian L. Spivey

Apologist Nathan Betts Coming to Saratoga Springs, NY

Nathan BettsSorry for the late announcement, but if you’re going to be in Saratoga this Friday, January 17 make plans to attend a presentation by Nathan Betts from Ravi Zacharias Ministries International.  For more details visit Capital District Youth for Christ’s web site here.

The topic will be Truth, More than Just an Idea.

…..and it’s free

Hope you can make it.

C.M. Granger