(Podcast 11.2.18) Eleven Dimensions, Time, and the Transcendence of God

Source: (Podcast 11.2.18) Eleven Dimensions, Time, and the Transcendence of God

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(Podcast 10.26.18) Smallfoot, Stephen Hawkings, and Scientism: An Inconsistent Philosophy

Source: (Podcast 10.26.18) Smallfoot, Stephen Hawkings, and Scientism: An Inconsistent Philosophy

Do We Have Reasons to Believe in God’s Existence?

Source: Do We Have Reasons to Believe in God’s Existence?

By: Brian G. Chilton | October 23, 2018

Recently, news agencies filled the airwaves and the internet with the news of Stephen Hawking’s last book to be published and released posthumously. The book released on October 16, 2018 is entitled Brief Answers to the Big Questions. Hawking argues through a series of essays why he didn’t think that God existed, did not think it was possible for God to exist, and did not believe in an afterlife. He appeals to quantum mechanics and the bizarre behavior of quantum particles which seemingly appear to pop into existence from nothing to argue his case. However, it should be noted that quantum particles do not really pop into existence from nothing as philosophically understood to be “no-thing.” Rather, quantum particles derive from a quantum vacuum—a very physical thing with very physical properties and processes. Thus, while admittedly I am not a physicist nor a physicist’s son, Hawking’s claim is not honest with the scientific data.

This causes one to ask, do we have good reasons to believe in God’s existence? I would like to propose ten reasons why we can believe that he does. To be forthright, there are many, many more. These represent some of the more popular reasons to believe that there really is a God who transcends reality and a few that I think stand to reason by the very nature of the way the world works.

  1. Necessity of a First Cause (Cosmological Argument). Physicists Borde, Guth, and Vilenkin discovered a mathematical theorem which dictates that all physical universes, including the theoretical multiverse, must have a required starting point. There was a time when physics (even quantum physics), time, and matter did not exist. How did it come to be? Atheists will argue that it just is. However, the data seems to suggest that an eternal, metaphysical (beyond the physical realm), Mind brought everything to be. That Mind would need to be omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. That Mind is who we know to be God.
  2. Designed Creation (Teleological Argument). Hugh Ross has argued that there are over 180 cosmological constants in the universe so finely tuned that if they were to be changed by the nth degree, life and the universe itself would not exist. Even the theoretical multiverse would need to be designed to such a degree that it would require a designer. I believe wholeheartedly that physicists will eventually find design attributes and constants in the quantum realm if they haven’t already. Design argues for a Designer.
  3. Objective Morality (Moral Argument). Leaving the scientific realm for the philosophical and ethical, objective morality argues for an Objective Lawgiver. God is the best explanation for why objective morality exists. As Brian Manuel, a good friend of mine, said recently, “We can just know certain things to be right and wrong without even being taught.” He is absolutely right! People have an innate sense of morality. That comes from a Moral Lawgiver who we know to be God.
  4. Necessary Being (Ontological Argument). In the end, one only has two options. Either an eternal nothingness (meaning again, “no-thing,” not even quantum particles) brought forth something from absolute nothingness, or an eternal Being brought everything that exists into being. The latter makes far more sense and actually adheres more to the scientific method than the former.
  5. Explanation for Data (Information Argument). Why is there anything at all? Even though the quantum world is a strange place, it still behaves according to certain laws. Why are there quantum particles? Quantum fields? Why do physical processes and procedures exist? One explanation: God. For any data to exist, a programmer must exist. That Programmer must be God himself.
  6. Science and Mathematics. Ironically, the scientific method and mathematics appeal to God’s existence. Scientists hold that the universe operates according to certain laws on a regular basis. The ability to do science itself means that human beings have been given cognitive abilities to observe the universe and, interestingly, have been placed in a position where the universe is observable. One must inadvertently appeal to the divine to even do science and mathematics. To add to this point, the beauty one finds in nature would have no real aesthetic value unless God exists.
  7. Historicity of Jesus’s Resurrection. One of the most historically provable events of ancient history is Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection. Jesus’s resurrection is quite intriguing because he continuously appealed to God the Father to raise him from the dead. For Jesus to have risen from the dead indicates that the one whom he mentioned did what Jesus claimed he would do. The resurrection of Jesus points to a transcendent reality we call God.
  8. Miracles and Spiritual Encounters. Craig Keener wrote a two-volume work describing the many documented miracles in modern times. While God may not always perform a miracle in every circumstance, a good deal of evidence suggests that God has performed miracles throughout history. Added with the many spiritual encounters people have had with the divine provides an added case that God does indeed exist.
  9. Near-Death Experiences and Consciousness. This is a fascinating area of study. Gary Habermas has noted that there are over 100 medically confirmed cases of near-death experiences where people have died and reported events that happened on this side of eternity which could be corroborated by others. The events described along with experiences of meeting God and the feelings of peace add to the case for God’s existence. Most certainly near-death experiences prove that materialism is a dead philosophy.
  10. Purpose and Meaning. For anything to have purpose and meaning, God must exist. If Hawking is right in that the universe is all there is and there is nothing else, nothing, including his research, has any meaning or value. Meaning, value, and purpose are found only because God exists.

I could certainly list other reasons to believe in God’s existence. But these will suffice for now. Hawking was a man of great intellect. Yet, despite his great mental prowess, it is quite odd that he could never quite see the evidence for God. While he could see, he was quite blind. Hawking said that “religion is a fairy tale for those afraid of the dark.” I believe John Lennox provided a stronger claim by noting that “atheism is a fairy tale for those afraid of the light.”

 

Brian G. Chilton is the founder of BellatorChristi.com and is the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); and received certification in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Brian is currently enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Theology and Apologetics at Liberty University and is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and the Evangelical Philosophical Society. Brian has been in the ministry for over 15 years and serves as the Senior Pastor of Westfield Baptist Church in northwestern North Carolina.

 

© 2018. BellatorChristi.com.

The BGV Theorem: An Unexpected Asset for Christian Theism

Source: The BGV Theorem: An Unexpected Asset for Christian Theism

By: Brian G. Chilton | October 15, 2018

 

Turn on the Discovery Channel or the Science Channel and you may find interesting theories pertaining to how the universe came to be. Some propose that an eternal multiverse gave rise to our modern universe. Others will hold that eternal wiggling dimensions or planes collide to form universes. In 2003, three theoretical physicists discovered a theorem that dispelled the idea of an infinite regress of physical past eternal universes—infinite regress describes an eternal chain of past events. Arvind Borde, Alan Guth, and Alexander Vilenkin developed the theorem based on the well-established fact that anything traveling on a geodesic (shortest point between two points on a curvature) through space-time becomes what is known as redshifted (when light or electromagnetic radiation from an object is increased in wavelength, shifting to the red end of the spectrum, or moving away from the observer).[1] The physicists argue,

“Our argument shows that null and timelike geodesics are, in general, past-incomplete in inflationary models, whether or not energy conditions hold, provided only that the averaged expansion condition > 0 holds along these past-directed geodesics. This is a stronger conclusion than the one arrived at in previous work in that we have shown under reasonable assumptions that almost all causal geodesics, when extended to the past of an arbitrary point, reach the boundary of the inflating region of spacetime in a finite proper time (finite affine length, in the null case).”[2]

While the language is quite technical, the theorem provides three unintentional helps for the Christian theist.

 

  1. The BGV Theorem pinpoints the need for the beginning of our physical universe. First, the theorem agrees that our universe had a beginning. Ideas of an eternal, self-existing universe is growing quickly out of favor in the scientific community at least at this stage. Our universe, the laws of physics found in our universe, and time itself had a beginning at what scientists call the singularity.
  2. The BGV Theorem pinpoints the need for a beginning of all physical universe. The BGV theorem is especially helpful in noting that not only does our universe require a beginning point, but all physical universes require a singularity. Any physical universe including the theoretical multiverse must have an initial starting point. Thus, while it could be that a multiverse exists, a multiverse does not get around the need for a starting point which leads to the third point that needs to be considered.

 

  1. The BGV Theorem assists cosmological argumentation for God’s existence. The BGV theorem does not prove God’s existence. But, it does indicate the necessity for something beyond the scope of the physical world to account for the existence of any physical thing. Experimental particle physicist Michael Strauss argued,

“As an experimental physicist I tend to draw conclusions based on what is known observationally and experimentally rather than on conjecture or speculation. So what are the facts about the origin of our universe? The equations of general relativity suggest that the universe had an actual beginning of space, time, matter, and energy and the BGV theorem along with the expansion of the universe would require that this universe had an actual beginning of the expansion.  Other ideas about the origin of the universe like those proposed by Lawrence Krauss or Sean Carroll do not have real scientific evidence to back them up. They are conjecture.”[3]

 

Oddly, while Christian theists are accused of holding no evidence for their beliefs, Strauss seems to indicate that the exact opposite holds true. Cosmological arguments like the kalam are strengthened by the BGV theorem. With the BGV theorem and other mounting evidence supporting the claim, one holds good reasons for believing in a transcendent God who brought forth everything that exists into existence.

[1] Bruce L. Gordon and William A. Dembski, The Nature of Nature: Examining the Role of Naturalism in Science (Intercollegiate Studies Institute 2011), pg. 498.

[2] A. Borde, A. Guth and A. Vilenkin, Inflationary space-times are not past-complete, Physics Review 90 151301 (2003): 3.

[3] Michael Strauss, “The Significance of the BGV Theorem,” MichaelGStrauss.com (January 28, 2017) http://www.michaelgstrauss.com/2017/01/the-significance-of-bgv-theorem.html, retrieved October 15, 2018.

Brian G. Chilton is the founder of BellatorChristi.com and is the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); and received certification in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Brian is currently enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Theology and Apologetics at Liberty University and is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society. Brian has been in the ministry for over 15 years and serves as the Senior Pastor of Westfield Baptist Church in northwestern North Carolina.

 

© 2018. BellatorChristi.com.

The Link Between Church Attendance and Youth Retention

Source: The Link Between Church Attendance and Youth Retention

By: Wes McGarry | October 8, 2018

Barna conducted a study and found that 97 percent of Christian parents who engage in church have a strong desire to see their teens exhibit a strong faith that lasts into adulthood[1]. More specifically, 93 percent of parents state that they want their children to regularly attend worship services. Roughly 89 percent of parents believe the best way to accomplish this is to attend church together as a family.

One final statistic: 79 percent of teens felt comfortable raising questions, struggles, and doubts, particularly with their parents. In essence, teens are searching for spiritual guidance. The real question is, then, where are they getting it from? Parents need to be spiritually equipped to handle the issues and concerns that their teens are facing. This extends beyond a mere biological relationship. Spiritual mothers and fathers in the church also need to be prepared to address the concerns that are plaguing the Christian life.

Teens are going to look for an answer to the spiritual questions that they have. What is frightening is where they may be looking for the answers. The amazing part of it is though, the majority of parents seem to instinctively know how to handle the situation (at least 89 percent do). For real, last statistic this time: 61 percent of young people who attend church regularly never miss a beat in attendance as they grow into adulthood. The flipside is 78 percent of those who grew up outside of the church or had poor attendance never returned.[2] In summary, the more that children are exposed to church functions as a child, the more likely they are to attend through adulthood.

All of the above information is compiled in a way to demonstrate the importance of regular church attendance and to participate in church activities. This is in the form of Sunday morning worship, Wednesday evening Bible studies, discipleship opportunities, business meetings, mission trips/opportunities, and the list goes on. As parents (figurative or literal) and grandparents (figurative or literal) it is imperative to regularly attending church functions. The younger generation is watching. They know what is important and what is not important from those parental figures. No pressure, but the future of the church rest with those parental figures and their willingness to prioritize attendance. If teens do not see that importance displayed, the statistical likelihood of them falling away from the church is extremely high.

People are insanely busy. Children and teens are watching what the adults around them are doing and not doing. They are observing what they are prioritizing as important and unimportant. They see where people sacrifice and not sacrifice their resources. What is the younger generation seeing?

Wes McGarry serves as the Associate Pastor of Westfield Baptist Church. He received his BA in Christian Ministry from Piedmont International University where he doubled minored in Student Ministry and Pastoral Studies. He is currently in pursuit of an MA in Christian Studies from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Wes enjoys Star Wars, serving the local church, spending time with his family, and expressing a deep love to his Savior.

 

 

 

[1] https://www.barna.com/research/parents-and-pastors-partners-in-gen-z-discipleship/

[2] https://www.barna.com/research/adults-who-attended-church-as-children-show-lifelong-effects/

Emotional Doubt and How to Combat It

Source: Emotional Doubt and How to Combat It

By: Brian G. Chilton | October 1, 2018

 

In a recent class at Liberty University, it was noted how 80% of a person’s doubts do not stem from intellectual problems with Christianity, but rather from emotional doubt. Emotional doubt is a problem for every person, but it seems to be a tougher concept for men to combat. The reason is because most men abstain from talking about their emotions. Many will suppress the emotional doubt and ignore it. However, such actions do not eliminate the doubt. Emotional doubt may address issues concerning the loss of a loved one, an unanswered prayer, or frustrations in life for which one blames God.

Interestingly, emotional doubt can be combated by a form of biblical cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Some may claim, “Hold up, Brian! You are talking that psychology mumbo-jumbo! What good is cognitive therapy?” Actually, cognitive behavioral therapy is quite a good practice. Paul argues the following:

“Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—dwell on these things” (Php. 4:6-8).[1]

The believer should focus on those things that build up one’s faith and not on worry and fears which cause anxiety. CBT does just that. Using CBT to combat emotional doubt is quite effective. CBT can also combat depression and anxiety. Biblical CBT follows three steps.

  1. Identify your lies. First, recognize the doubts and fears you tell yourself. You may say, “I am going to certainly fail this test even though I have studied hard for it. I am too dumb to pass it.” Realize that the statements do not correspond with reality. If you have studied hard for the test, then you have learned the information which will be on the test. You are certainly not too dumb to learn the material.
  2. Remove your lies by arguing against it and give reasons for your optimism. Second, argue against the lies you are telling yourself with a positive, encouraging case. You may tell yourself that if you fail the test that it would be the worst thing in the world. In this case, remind yourself that you have studied the material and have learned the material quite well. Even if the worst should happen and you fail the test, it is not the end of the world. As bad as it may be, it is not as bad as you’re making it out to be.
  3. Replace your lies with the truth of God’s word. Third and finally, replace your lies with the truth of God’s word. Realize that “I am able to do all things through him (Christ) who strengthens me” (Php. 4:13, brackets mine). Realize that “all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28). With these truths in mind, the doubts and anxieties begin to lose their grip.

            CBT is a biblical practice that all believers need to practice. For too long, we have allowed the devil to steal our joy and hope. Often, we are our own worst enemies as we feel to frightened to take a chance on something for playing the “what if” game. Stop letting fear and anxiety steal the thunder from the grace that God has given you. Always keep in mind that “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment” (2 Tim. 1:9).

 

 

Brian G. Chilton is the founder of BellatorChristi.com and is the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); and received certification in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Brian is currently enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Theology and Apologetics at Liberty University. Brian has been in the ministry for over 15 years and serves as a pastor in northwestern North Carolina.

 

© 2018. BellatorChristi.com.

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all quoted Scripture comes from the Christian Standard Bible (Nashville: Holman, 2017).

The Christian’s Response to Cultural Change (V. T. Clark)

Source: The Christian’s Response to Cultural Change (V. T. Clark)

By: V. T. Clark | September 24, 2018

Daniel was a young man when his world changed.

The world Daniel knew and grew up in changed to a world contrary to his culture and his faith. Christians today find themselves not immune to the shifting cultural changes of society. With this brings personal and communal challenges of what is the Christian response and role in culture. It becomes vital figuring out how to respond to culture with a stance in Apologetics, through actions reflecting Christ and standing firm in the faith.

One response could be disengagement. However, as Chuck Colson wrote in “How Now Shall We Live?” Christians should not shy away from culture, but be prepared to minister, serve, and share the Gospel. Disengagement from the culture is not a best response nor should it be a choice. Instead as Christians, what needs to be done is finding ways to engage and live within society as Daniel did, but without compromising Biblical values. This is a fine line to walk, but the reality is Christians must live and interact within the society and culture.

Although Daniel could have tried to escape with repercussions, he becomes an example of courage and steadfastness in a culture different from his own. When offered food considered defiling (Daniel 1:8-16), rather than compromise, Daniel relied on his faith in God. God’s response for Daniel’s faithfulness was favor not only in God’s eye, but through later circumstances the king’s so Daniel was given opportunities to display in words and actions, credit to God.

For Christians, Daniel’s responses to his world is an example of the Christian response to modern day culture. While Daniel did not have a say in where he lived, he did have a choice in how he would respond to society and culture. Likewise, so do Christians and one form at a believer’s use is in the form of apologetics. Mary Jo Sharp writes in, “Living in Truth” apologetics is, “making a case for belief in the Christian God, which includes answering objections to belief in God.” This echoes 1 Peter 3:15 of being prepared like Daniel to give reason and why to belief in God. For those unfamiliar with apologetics, there are bible studies geared toward teaching believers not only how to share their belief, but even how to defend their belief. Daniel use every opportunity to credit God and use those moments to be a testament in his faith in God.

Paul, in the book of Acts, interacted with diverse groups of people in a form of apologetics where though the message of the Gospel stayed the same, he considered how he interacted with society and the culture. There are many ways to handle the encounters without changing the message. Tim Muehlhoff argues the greatest skills for Christian is not in debating but recognizing and affirming God’s truth through conversations with people and how Christians engage others in their daily lives. The challenge is engaging in culture while not being part of culture. (John 17:13-19) Obviously Daniel was facing more extreme situations where he had little if any say in his life. However, like Daniel, he showed the struggles for us as Christians, being under pressure to conform to society and culture without compromising values and belief.

Those who follow Christ are called to shed light on the Gospel to the world. (John 17:15). There is the reality though not to be too influenced by the world. (James 1:27; 1 Corinthians 7:31; Romans 12:2; 1 John 2:15). One solution is suggested by Dr. Jim Eckman for believers to evaluate how they speak the language of Christianity in a relativistic world. This also brings the need to do heart checks and determine if one’s faith and even actions line up with Christ. A favorite quote from Francis Schaeffer is:

“We are not excused from speaking, just because the culture and society no longer rest as much as they once did in on Christian thinking. Moreover, Christians do not need to be in the majority to influence society.”

Daniel was one man, but he held fast to God and by obedience he followed God. The same can be said for modern Christian engaging others in an increasingly secular world. Reality, this can make casual conversations and daily interactions sometimes a complex manner. The concept of what is truth is becoming more convoluted and with it changing definitions of even what is tolerance. Christians are supposed to be counter-cultured. John Lennox saw post-modernism having within itself a self-contradiction of “no absolute truth” while the Christian finds themselves sharing truth seen through the eyes of God.

When looking at how Daniel handle his response to a changing society and culture, what is found is a core commitment to God. While the Christian finds themselves immerse in day to day engagement with people in real life or even on social media there is a point of conflict when the two worlds meet. Apologetics calls for sharing the truth of God’s world which is a contrast to a pluralistic world where sometimes the prevailing idea is “live and let live.” For the Christian, this is not biblical, and laced with grey areas of morality not founded on biblical truth.

Apologetics is about finding common ground to be able to engage in conversations where the message of the Gospel can be interlaced in conversation. It is easy to react to a post-modern society without grace or think culture is useless, but Theodore Turneau countered like Paul, use culture in a way to connect with non-believers without compromising the message. Disengagement from society and even culture will not help discussions. Disengaging can be detrimental or even argued contrary to the “Great Commission” (Matthew 28:19-20). Every day brings with it new challenges to those who follow and believe in Christ. The challenge then lies in the Christian understanding more what is their role in society and culture and how to engage in the community in a way which reflects Christ.

Notes

Charles W. Colson.”How now shall we live?” Journal of Markets & Morality, vol. 5, no. 1, 2002, p. 287+.

Dr. Jim Eckman. “Culture and the Christian: Separate, Identify or Transform? – Issues In Perspective.” Issues In Perspective. 31 Dec. 2011. https://graceuniversity.edu/iip/2011/12/11-12-31-1/.

James A. Patterson.  “Cultural Pessimism In Modern Evangelical Thought: Francis Schaeffer, Carl Henry, And Charles Colson,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 49, no. 4 (December 2006): 813.

Mary Jo Sharp. Living in Truth: Confident Conversation in a Conflicted Culture by Mary Jo Sharp (September 26, 2015).

About the Author

V. T. Clark is a graduate student via Houston Baptist University Online graduate program. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Christian Ministry with a minor in Biblical Studies from Liberty University. She’s currently part of HBU Chapter of Ratio Christi at Houston Baptist University, as well as writer for By Grace, In Faith. V. T. Clark is a member of CAA: Christian Apologetics Alliance and a member of the Evangelical Theological Society. Married to a Combat Marine Veteran, she is dedicated to apologetics, theology, and biblical studies.

 

Disclaimer: The views of guest columnists are their own and may not reflect those of Bellator Christi Ministries or its affiliates.

Theologies that John Chapter One Combats

Source: Theologies that John Chapter One Combats

Theologies that John Chapter One Combats

By: Brian G. Chilton | September 10, 2018

 

The Gospel of John has been one of my favorite Gospels since I first started studying the Bible. The Gospel of John is theologically rich as well as historically accurate. One of the important sections of John’s Gospel is found in its opening chapter. John says,

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were created through him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness, and yet the darkness did not overcome it . . . He was in the world, and the world was created though him, and yet the world did not recognize him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, he gave them the right to be the children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born, not of natural descent, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:1-5, 10-14a).[1]

 

The best evidence suggests that John the apostle wrote these words. John bar Zebedee is confirmed as the author both by internal and external evidence (especially by Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen, Polycarp, Clement of Alexandria, and later Eusebius).

John also confirms an additional segment of information in his first letter. He writes, “This one is the antichrist: the one who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; he who confesses the Son has the Father as well” (1 John 2:22-23). That is to say, the truth is that Jesus is the Word as described in John chapter 1. If one denies this truth, then one denies a core fundamental of the faith.

Such information is important to know because John chapter 1 combats three modern forms of theology that must be eschewed by the believer who seeks to accept the truth of God’s word. These three false modern doctrines will be described in this article. Note, however, that I realize that there are many good people in the groups I will discuss. Their problem is theological and not necessarily moral. Good people can hold to bad theology.

John 1 Combats Jehovah Witness/Arian Theology. The Jehovah Witness movement was started by one Charles Taze Russell. Their theology is not that original in scope as they borrow from an ancient heresy known as Arianism. Arius of Alexandria (256-336 AD) was a presbyter who formulated the idea that Jesus was not really God, but rather an archangel. Jesus was the first created being according to Arian theology. Arianism was successfully combated by Athanasius of Alexandria (296-373 AD) who stood for the orthodox Christian view that Jesus was God come in the flesh. Athanasius’s victory was not without cost. He was exiled at least three times until it was finally resolved that Athanasius’s view corresponded with biblical truth.

Unfortunately, in today’s fragmented ecclesiastical structure, there is not as much church authority to combat false doctrines such as Arianism. For that reason, Charles Taze Russell’s theology was able to succeed. He developed a very similar doctrine as Arius’s and formulated the Jehovah Witness movement. Yet, John 1 stands opposed to any claim that Jesus was merely an angel. Jesus was God (Jn. 1:1) and not a mere angelic entity. Thus, the Jehovah Witness doctrine finds itself falling short from biblical orthodoxy just as Arius’s view did.

 

John 1 Combats Mormon Theology. Joseph Smith was born in Sharon, Vermont on December 23, 1805. Smith claimed to have seen an angel by the name of Moroni who supposedly gave Smith a newer testament called the Book of Mormon which describes how the risen Jesus purportedly visited a group of Native Americans known as the Nephites. According to Mormon theology, Jesus was the first spirit-child originating from the Heavenly Father and the Heavenly Mother. However, John 1 greatly combats that idea. Jesus is presented as being co-eternal with the Father. Thus, Jesus was not the first spirit-child. Rather, Jesus was God who existed since from before the beginning of all creation and who came in flesh “and dwelt among us” (Jn. 1:14a).

 

John 1 Combats New Age Theology. New Age theology holds that each person is his/her own god. Ironically, it seems that false doctrines deescalate the person of Jesus and elevate the human being, whereas orthodoxy elevates the persona of Jesus and deescalates humanity. Nevertheless, John 1 teaches that “all things were created through [Jesus], and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created” (Jn. 1:3). Thus, if “all things” (Gk. panta) really means “all things,” then human beings cannot claim to be any form of god much less their own.

 

Each Christian must test truth each doctrine they come across philosophically and theologically by God’s word. While we need to remember that we must love each person with whom we come into contact, we cannot accept false doctrines. Stay true to God’s word and the theological power found within its pages. Leave everything else by the wayside.

 

Brian G. Chilton is the founder of BellatorChristi.com and is the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); and received certification in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Brian is currently enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Theology and Apologetics at Liberty University. Brian has been in the ministry for over 15 years and serves as a pastor in northwestern North Carolina.

 

© 2018. BellatorChristi.com.

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all quoted Scripture comes from the Christian Standard Bible (Nashville: Holman, 2017).

Determining the Apologetic Starting Point

Source: Determining the Apologetic Starting Point

By: Brian G. Chilton | August 28, 2018

I am fully immersed in a fantastic course describing apologetic methods. I have been engaged in apologetics since 2007. But, I never realized that there were so many various methodologies employed. One of the most off-putting of the methodologies that I have encountered has been one version of a method called presuppositional apologetics. Presuppositional apologetics (PA) holds that one should begin with the assumption that God exists and that the Bible is inspired as one evangelizes a person as opposed to more empirical methods such as classicalism (where one shows evidence for God’s existence and then shows evidence for the Bible’s reliability) or evidentialism (where one provides evidence for God’s existence by showing the evidence for the reliability of the Bible).

At first, I was appalled at the system. I was especially troubled at how some in the PA movement disregarded all empiricist methods. However, after talking with some who hold to the PA methodology, I can see some viability in its use while I readily admit that it is not my preferred method. In reality, all apologetic methodologies may hold a place in the apologist’s toolbelt as he or she seeks to reach different kinds of people in differing places in their lives. The starting point is, in many ways, based on three areas.

 

The Starting Point Depends on the Person’s Assumptions. What does the person assume to be true about God and the Bible? It may be important for the apologist to combat those assumptions before engaging with the evidence. PA can have an influence in this area if the person holds some belief in God. However, if a person goes the route of PA, I personally think Alvin Plantinga’s Reformed Epistemological model works better than the traditional form of PA as found in Cornelius Van Til’s model. Plantinga argues that belief in God is a warranted belief—that is, a belief that is so evident that one can accept the belief without substantial evidence. From there, he builds his apologetic defense for the faith.

Already, some of the readers will say to themselves, “Oh yeah! That makes sense.” Others will say, “Come on! Really?” Thus, this model will not work for some because some people need hardcore evidence to back up the claim that God exists. For those, empirical apologetic models would work best. Quite honestly, PA would not have worked with me when I had doubts about the Bible’s reliability.

 

The Starting Point Depends on the Person’s Behaviors. Many apologists have noted that a person’s doubts come not so much from intellectual problems, but from emotional issues. If a person’s doubts come from issues of theodicy (i.e., why a loving God would allow evil in the world), then the apologist must first deal with the emotional issues blocking a person’s acceptance of Christian truths. The justification of certain behavioral issues may cause a person to doubt. This will cause different starting points with different people.

 

The Starting Point Depends on the Person’s Commitment. Does a person commit oneself to historical methods and science? If so, why not share the historical and scientific evidences for the Christian faith? Why argue over the use of the scientific and historical methods if we can use the scientific and historical methods to show the reasons to believe in Christ? It is odd that a person would avoid empirical methodologies if it would have a positive impact on the listener.

 

The point of the article is simple. Use whatever apologetic methodology that would be most beneficial for the person being evangelized. If a person’s presuppositions are the problem, then use a version of PA. If a person wants to know the empirical reasons to believe in God, use the classical method. If a person wants to know whether there is evidence for the resurrection of Jesus or the reliability of the Bible, use the evidential method. If a person wants to see the overall evidence for Christianity, use the cumulative method (evaluating all the evidence for Christianity and building a case out of the overall evidence). Use the method that would best benefit the person being evangelized. Such is necessary, along with the Holy Spirit’s involvement, for the obstacles to be cleared which stands in their path to faith. So, how does one determine the best apologetic starting point? It is determined by the person being evangelized. But, all in all, I think empirical methods will be more useful than PA methods with most people in society.

 

Brian G. Chilton is the founder of BellatorChristi.com and is the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); and received certification in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Brian is currently enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Theology and Apologetics at Liberty University. Brian has been in the ministry for over 15 years and serves as a pastor in northwestern North Carolina.

 

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