A Review of “God and Time: Four Views”

Ganssle, Gregory E., ed. God & Time: Four Views. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2001. $24.00. 247 pages. Contributors: Paul Helm, Alan G. Padgett, William Lane Craig, and Nicholas Wolterstorff.

Of the issues in theology, God’s relationship to time has become one of the most complex. How does God relate to time? This question is coupled with two theories of time. A-theory (or the process theory) holds that time moves from one point to another in a unidirectional line. The B-theory of time (or the stasis theory) holds that time essentially stands still. B-theorists holds that the process of time is an allusion and time itself is rather static, or unmovable. I readily admit that I have had the book God & Time: Four Views on my shelf for quite some time and have anticipated the time when I could read it as this topic has become interesting to me. Recently, I was able to accomplish that task. Gregory Ganssle edits the book God & Time: Four Views. (Note: it is essential that the reader reads through Ganssle’s introduction. Ganssle provides a necessary background for the complex issues that lie ahead.) The book has four contributors, all holding different perspectives about how God relates to time.

 First, Paul Helm (J. I. Packer Professor of Theology at Regent College, Vancouver, B.C.) argues for the divine timeless eternity view. That is, God is absolutely timeless and exists beyond the scope of space-time. Helm holds a version of the B-theory of time, although it could be said that there is a combination of A-theory and B-theory in his viewpoint. While Helm offers one of the most traditional views (and perhaps most biblical), Helm seems to one one hand argue that the universe is co-eternal with God, while on the other hand holding that the universe is a special creation of God coming into existence at a particular point. Elements of Helm’s argument were quite persuasive. However, I was left somewhat confused and bewildered at his explanation. It seemed that Helm argued for a beginningless, beginning for all of creation as Helm did not seem to hold to creation ex nihilo, which is quite odd.

Next, Alan G. Padgett (Professor of Systematic Theology, Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN.) argues for the relative timelessness view. Padgett holds the A-theory of time. He argues that God is timeless and remains timeless despite creation. God, thus, operates in a sequence of events in eternity. Yet, God operates in time taking part of the sequential aspect of space-time. Overall, Padgett offered a compelling argument. I was left, however, unsatisfied with his argument of divine foreknowledge. Padgett argues that God knows the future. But since the future has not happened, it seemed that Padgett accepted some limitation in divine foreknowledge. (Note: I may have misunderstood Padgett in this regard.)

William Lane Craig (Research Professor, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, La Mirada, CA) holds what is called timelessness and omnitemporality view. William Lane Craig, one of the greatest Christian philosophers and apologists of our time, holds the view that God was timeless before creation began, but then became temporal (in time) when creation came into being. I was not surprised by Craig’s argument. I previously read Craig’s work Time and Eternity: Exploring God’s Relationship to Time. My major qualm with Craig’s view is that the theologian is left accepting divine immanence without transcendence. Christian theologians have accepted for the vast majority of church history the duality of God’s transcendence and immanence. In fact, theism tends to rest upon such understanding. God is not time. God is not creation. God is outside the realm of both. Plus, since God created time, this view seems to limit God by the scope of His creation, something problematic when it comes to divine omniscience and omnipotence. Therefore, while I greatly respect William Lane Craig and his work, I hold reservations with his views pertaining to God and time.

Finally, Nicholas Wolterstorff (Noah Porter Professor of Philosophy, Yale Divinity School, New Haven, CT) argues the unqualified divine temporality view. Wolterstorff holds that God has always been temporal, acting in time. While God is everlasting, God acts in a sequential mode. Creation takes part in that sequence of time. However, many physicists accept that time is a created thing, coming into being when the universe first started. Of all the views presented, I was least satisfied with Wolterstorff’s view.

I had waited for some time to read this book. Unfortunately, I was left largely dissatisfied. Some contributors were far better than others. It’s interesting that Thomas Aquinas was used to prove nearly all of the four viewpoints. From my reading of Aquinas, I feel he would accept Helm and Padgett’s viewpoints more than any other. Nevertheless, this reader was left wondering if there could not be a fifth view. It seems that one could posit a view where God is outside the scope of time and able to see all points of created space-time (like Helm’s argument), but operated in a sequential modus operandi (as found in Padgett’s viewpoint), and related to creation (as found in Craig and Wolterstorff’s cases). While some views seemed more reasonable than others, none seemed to capture the classic theological viewpoint that I had hoped for.

I give this book three out of four stars. I think the book is an important work. One will find, though, that the book is not an easy read. Those who have not had exposure to philosophy and the God and time debate will struggle with this read. I would suggest reading up on the issues of God and time before engaging this work. Be sure to thoroughly read Ganssle’s introduction also as it will help immensely.

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Copyright, September 10, 2016. Brian Chilton.

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Review of “The Reason for God” by Dr. Tim Keller

Keller, Timothy. The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism. New York: Penguin, 2008. $16.99 (combination book with The Prodigal Son). 310 pages.

Faith in an age of skepticism is harder to come by than it was in previous times. Cynicism and snide Humean naturalism tend to disregard ideologies like those found in the Christian faith. However, Dr. Timothy Keller has found a way to combat such cynicism. Dr. Timothy Keller is the founding and senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in the heart of Manhattan, New York. People told Keller that an evangelical church in the heart of New York City would not make it. Those skeptics were wrong. Keller’s church has made and indelible imprint in the Great Apple as it has grown to more than 5,000 congregants.1 In his book The Reason for God, Keller demonstrates the winsome and sage teaching that has inspired countless individuals in Manhattan.

The Reason for God (henceforth RFG) seeks to “lay out pathway that many…Christians have taken through doubt, the second half of the book is a more positive exploration of the faith they are living out in the world.”2 Essentially, the book engages the doubts that are often given against the Christian faith and then defends the core essentials of the Christian faith. The book is divided into two sections with fourteen chapters overall.

Part One of RFG challenges the skeptics’ doubt. Chapter One examines the exclusivity of Christianity. Are Christians bigoted in claiming there is only one way to heaven? What about nations who have sought to outlaw religion? Chapter Two examines the issue of God and suffering. Why would a loving, powerful God allow for suffering to occur? Keller approaches the issue from the final redemption found in Christ. Chapter Three evaluates the skeptic’s claim that Christianity is binding and takes away a person’s freedom. Keller shows that a person has more freedom in the Christian life than outside it, because true love leads towards a loss of some independence.3 Chapter Four argues against the claim that Christianity is responsible for the injustices of the world, while sensitively acknowledging the past failures of the church. Chapter Five examines the issue of God sending people to hell. Keller argues that “hell is simply one’s freely chosen identity apart from God on a trajectory into infinity.”4 I was fascinated by Keller’s response seeing that he is reformed. Yet, I was certainly pleased with his answer to the conundrum. Chapter Six argues that science has not, and in fact will not, disprove Christianity, and shows that the skeptic’s problem with miracles is based more on a philosophical objection rather than a scientific one. Chapter Seven examines the issue of taking the Bible literally. Keller argues that a person can and should accept the claims of the Bible. Otherwise, a person possesses a kind of “Stepford God”5 form of theology.

Part Two provides reasons to accept Christianity. Chapter Eight provides reasons to accept God’s existence. Chapter Nine argues that a person has a knowledge of God already, whether they accept God or not. Chapter Ten examines the problem of sin and argues that a person’s identity can only be known in God. Chapter Eleven differentiates the gospel message from that of religion. Chapter Twelve explains the message of the cross. Chapter Thirteen defends the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection. Finally, Chapter Fourteen describes the final redemption anticipated in the Christian message as there will be a new heaven and a new earth. What are some of the strengths of the book?

RFG systematically dismantles Humean naturalism. Keller’s approach fairly engages skeptical claims made against Christianity. RFG provides a balanced approach, as well. Keller does not bombastically present the message of the gospel in a way that offends, unlike some. Rather, he is quite compassionate to the skeptic in his approach. Thus, the skeptically minded person will not be overly offended reading RFG. Keller’s approach is fascinating as it philosophically-based. While Keller’s text holds many strengths, RFG holds a few weaknesses, also.

Keller could have presented the case much stronger than he did for the existence of God. Keller tended to emphasize the inability to “prove” or “disprove” God’s existence more than giving a stronger cumulative case for God’s existence. Do not misunderstand me. Keller did an exceptional job demonstrating the reason to believe in God and in Christ. However, it would have been nice if he provided a stronger case, emphasizing the robust evidences promoting God’s existence. Here, Keller could have improved his case by giving scientific reasons to believe in God’s existence as you would find in other apologetic works. It is especially interesting that Keller does not focus on the objectivity of truth more than he does.

RFG is an exceptional book. Keller provides insights for the Christian faith not found in other Christian works, especially the issue of identity and the philosophy of Soren Kirkegaard (see chapter 10). I highly recommend Keller’s book. Those who desire a deep scientific understanding of the faith may not be satisfied with RFG. However, those who seek a cumulative case for the Christian faith from a philosophical point-of-view will be greatly pleased with RFG. Individuals who have not been exposed to philosophy may find Keller’s book slightly more difficult to read than those who have. However, a lack of philosophical exposure should not hinder one’s overall understanding of RFG, it may only take a little longer to digest. Keller’s book is greatly accessible to general readers. I give the book five glowing stars.

© July 31, 2016. Brian Chilton.

Sources Cited

1 Timothy Keller, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism (New York: Penguin, 2008), xiv.

2 Ibid., xix.

3 Ibid., 50.

4 Ibid., 80.

5 Ibid., 118.

Review of Peter Kreeft’s “Socratic Logic”

Kreeft, Peter. Socratic Logic: A Logic Text Using Socratic Method, Platonic Questions, and Aristotelian Principles. 3.1 Edition. South Bend, IN: St. Augustine’s Press, 2014. $40.00. 399 pages.

Socratic Logic

Peter Kreeft provides an introductory textbook on the argumentative logic of Socrates in his book Socratic Logic. The 16 chapters of Kreeft’s book could be divided into three main sections: the First Act of the Mind–Understanding; the Second Act of the Mind–Judgment; and the Third Act of the Mind–Reasoning. These three sections are based upon the three main functions of any argument. First, one must define the terms to see whether they are clear or ambiguous. Then, one must evaluate the premises to determine whether they are true or false. Finally, one must test the argument to see whether the argument is valid or invalid.

The first section of Kreeft’s book helps the logician define the terms being presented in an argument. In other words, the terms are defined within the argument. A helpful section on material fallacies is given in chapter 3. Chapter 3 should be given great focus. The reader will find the listing of 40 material fallacies quite helpful. Personally, I found it quite fascinating how often these fallacies are used in popular media and politics.

The second section of Kreeft’s book demonstrates how premises are tested for their accuracy. The essence of truth and contradiction is given in this section of Kreeft’s book. For a person who is interested in logic–which it is assumed that the reader of this book would–great concentration will need to be given to the universal propositions (A, E) and particular propositions (I, O) given on page 146.

The third section of Socratic Logic focuses on the third test for logical accuracy which involves testing the argument for validity. By far, the third section is the longest and most difficult of all. Kreeft provides an array of various arguments from the more basic syllogism to the more difficult enthymemes and epicheiremas. Chapter 9 is especially good as Kreeft provides four ways to test the validity of any argument: Euler’s Circles, Aristotle’s Six Rules, “Barbara Celarent,” and Venn Diagrams. Because I am a visual person, I really enjoyed Euler’s Circles. However, I think Aristotle’s Six Rules are perhaps the best test as Kreeft argues on page 263.

Kreeft gives some helpful information in the latter chapters as it pertains to reading books in a logical fashion. Chapter 15 gives excellent information on how to write logically. Chapter 16 is perhaps the capstone of the book. Kreeft shows how logic applies to every part of a person’s life from theology to modern ethics.

Socratic Logic finds strength in its layout. Kreeft emphasizes the importance in knowing the three fundamentals of an argument: clarity of the terms, truthfulness of the premises, and the validity of the argument. The book is laid out according to these three fundamentals. This provides excellent structure and imprints the fundamentals upon the reader’s mind.

Another strength is the applicability of Kreeft’s book. While mathematical logic is extremely important, Socratic logic is applicable in everyday life. It seems as if there is an instantbologna detector found in this form of logic. As this reader read through Kreeft’s book, common examples of modern fallacies entered this reader’s mind. One will even find oneself evaluating posts on social media according to the principles learned in this book…something for which I had to apologize to one friend.

The greatest weakness of Kreeft’s book is its readability. If a person is looking for an easy read, this book is not for you.Socratic Logic is a book that must be slowly digested rather than quickly consumed. If one does not care about how much they learn, then it is supposed that a person could read through the book much quicker. But if one did not care to learn the information, then why read it in the first place?

I strongly recommend this book to anyone who desires to know the truth and how to test truth claims. Relativists will not like this book because Kreeft presents truth as it truly is: objectively known. This reader agrees with Kreeft’s definition, but relativists may not. Essentially, truth is calling something what it is. Truth, and the knowledge thereof, should be of utmost importance to all people.

I give this book 5 glowing stars!!!

Copyright, May 15, 2016. Brian Chilton.

Book Review of “How God Became Jesus”

 

Bird, Michael F., ed. How God Became Jesus: The Real Origins of Belief in Jesus’ Divine Nature. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2014. $16.99. 236 pages.

Michael Bird is joined by Craig A. Evans, Simon J. Gathercole, Charles E. Hill, and Chris Tilling to offer a rebuttal to Bart Ehrman’s work titled How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee. Ehrman, professor in NT studies at UNC-Chapel Hill and self-professed atheist leaning agnostic, argues that the early church did not accept an incarnational view of Jesus, but rather an exalted view of Jesus, much like an angel. In other words, Ehrman does not hold that the early church believed Jesus to be divine in nature, but rather a human being elevated to an angelic or god-like status. Ehrman also thinks that the church came to accept a divine view of Jesus over a messy course of events. Bird and his colleagues combat Ehrman’s thesis in the book How Jesus Became God.

Bird and company successfully and systematically decimate Ehrman’s thesis in in their book How God Became Jesus: The Real Origins of Belief in Jesus’ Divine Nature while acknowledging that Ehrman does bring some interesting points to the discussion. After an introduction to the issues in chapter 1, Bird illustrates the error that Ehrman makes as he attempts to paste Greco-Roman and Jewish mystic thoughts upon the early church. In chapter 2, Bird successfully proves that early Christianity is rooted in Jewish monotheism.

In chapter 3, Bird offers evidence that Jesus viewed himself as divine, demeriting Ehrman’s claim that Jesus’ divinity was imposed upon him by later followers. Bird uses the synoptic Gospels (particularly that agreed to have come from theoretical Q–believed to have been the earliest material in the Gospels) along with Johannine testimony to prove that Jesus accepted a divine title, even with the title “Son of Man.”

In chapter 4, the best chapter of the book and the most destructive of all to Ehrman’s thesis, Craig Evans spoils Ehrman’s view that Jesus was never buried. Ehrman holds that the Romans would never have allowed Jews to bury their dead after crucifixion. Evans offers outstanding and overwhelming evidence to prove that the Romans not only allowed burials after crucifixions, but that it was common for them to do so (especially around times of Jewish festivals) even to the families of the deceased. Evans shows that this was common practice up until the time of Emperor Caligula in AD 37 (4-7 years after Jesus’ crucifixion). Chapter 4 is worth the price of the book alone!

In chapter 5, Simon Gathercole demonstrates the error in Ehrman’s thesis by showing that Jesus’ exaltation refers to his intensification of authority rather than his being. Gathercole uses the Synoptic Gospels to illustrate this point.

In chapters 6 and 7, Chris Tilling shows the errors in Ehrman’s category of development from exaltation to incarnation all christologies. Tilling challenges Ehrman’s usage of Galatians 4:14 as an interpretive key as well as a piecemeal usage of other early NT texts.

In chapter 8 and 9, Charles Hill examines the views of early church father’s and argues, successfully, that orthodoxy did not stem from a process over time, but rather stemmed from proper understandings of the Christian Scriptures. While admitting that some Christian doctrines are paradoxical, it doesn’t mean that they are in error. Hill also opposes Ehrman’s understanding of the Ebionites, Moralists, and Tertullian’s beliefs and practices. Bird affords a summary in chapter 10.

I highly recommend this book to anyone ho has been challenged by Ehrman’s writings. “How God Became Jesus” is an excellent read for Christians and skeptics alike. Parts of this book are more challenging to read than others, but it is worth the time to invest. Due to the overwhelming nature of their rebuttal to Ehrman’s work, I give this book 5 stars!

how God became Jesus

Copyright, March 16, 2016. Brian Chilton.

My Top 5 Recommended Study Bibles

As a pastor and a student of the Word, people often ask me which study Bible is best. For those who may not know, a study Bible is a Bible that contains scholarly and/or popular notes at the bottom of the page. These notes serve as a commentary for the biblical text. Some of these notes may provide historical information that provides insight for the passage at hand. Other notes may give a cross-reference to other passages of Scripture. Even other notes may try to explain more difficult passages of Scripture.

But many people will ask, “Pastor, in your experience, which is the best study Bible?” Such a question is good and completely understandable due to the massive number of study Bibles on the market today. Therefore, I would like to present you with my personal top 5 list of recommended study Bibles. I may revise this list in a future article as more study Bibles are published. I gauge these study Bibles according to the quality of notes and articles provided along with the usefulness of the study Bible in question.

life application study bible

  1. Life Application Study Bible. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale. 2004. Avg. price $39.99.[1] 2448 pages.

The Life Application Study Bible comes in a wide array of translations. For those who love the NIV or the KJV, you will find this study Bible for your preferred translation. The Life Application Study Bible (LASB) offers a chart harmonizing the Gospels along with over 10,000 notes. The downside to this study Bible is that the LASB offers more of an application of the text rather than scholarly notes. Thus, if you are desiring a study Bible that serves as a devotional Bible, then the LASB will be for you. In contrast, if you are looking for a more scholarly treatment of the text, then you will want to consider some of the other study Bibles given in this article.

hcsb study bible

  1. HCSB Study Bible. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2010. Avg. Price: $49.99. 2100 pages.

The HCSB Study Bible is the recipient of the 2011 Christian Book Award Winner. And for good reason. The study Bible offers around 15,000 study notes, 315 word studies, 141 color photographs, 62 timelines, 59 maps, 24 articles, 16 illustrations, 15 charts, and even a one-year Bible reading plan. The notes are scholarly and well-written. The only problem is that this study Bible is written from a particular perspective within evangelicalism. It is a perspective that with which I am in great agreement. However, I do not feel that it offers a fair treatment on some issues, particularly issues pertaining to the age old debate surrounding divine sovereignty and human freedom. Also, I have a love-hate relationship with the HCSB text. The HCSB is very easy to read. The HCSB is a conservative translation as well. However (and it may be where I am too traditional), it is difficult for me to get accustomed to the number of times the HCSB uses the personal name Yahweh in the Old Testament. Most translations keep the tradition in translating the personal name of God to “LORD.” Regardless, if you can get past some of the nuances with the translation, the HCSB Study Bible may be for you.

apologetics study bible

  1. HCSB Apologetics Study Bible. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2012. Avg. Price:$39.99. 2048 pages.

The HCSB Apologetics Study Bible is a must have for anyone interested in apologetics. The Apologetics Study Bible offers 5 full-color maps, 11 charts, and a timeline of Christian apologists and their works. The downside to this study Bible is that it does not have many in-text notes. If you are looking for historical information pertaining to particular passages of Scripture, then you will need to look at other study Bibles in this list. However, this study Bible excels in its articles. The Apologetics Study Bible features 132 articles written by individuals such as the late Chuck Colson, Norman Geisler, Hank Hanegraaff, Josh McDowell, Albert Mohler, Ravi Zacharias, Lee Strobel, and 90 more contributors. The Apologetics Study Bible is one that the serious student, pastor, and layman alike will want on their shelves.

niv zondervan study bible

  1. NIV Zondervan Study Bible. Grand Rapids: MI: Zondervan, 2015. Avg. Price: $49.99. 2912 pages.

The newest study Bible on our list was released in August of 2015. This Bible is chock-full of information from some of the most notable scholars in our day. Drs. D. A. Carson (PhD, Cambridge University), Richard Hess (PhD, Hebrew Union College), Douglas J. Moo (PhD, University of St. Andrews), and Andrew David Naselli (PhD, Bob Jones University; PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) are among the top contributors to this work. The study Bible offers approximately 20,000 comprehensive verse-by-verse study notes; hundreds of color photographs, maps and charts; over 35,000 verse concordance; section introductions, over 60 scholarly contributors; dozens of full length articles; and to top it off—free digital access online for those who purchase the Bible. The only downside is that the NIV 2011 updated text has come under scrutiny since the update was released (something that I feel has been both unjustified and unfair).[2] However, the fact that conservative leaders such as Joni Eareckson Tada, Tim Keller, and R. Albert Mohler have added their endorsements to this study Bible should relieve any hesitations that one may possess. The study Bible is MASSIVE which indicates the voluminous contributions that the study Bible will hold for your personal study of the Scriptures. The NIV Zondervan Study Bible is a hot-contender for the number one spot.

esv study bible

  1. ESV Study Bible. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008. Avg. Price: $49.99. 2752 pages.

To say that the ESV Study Bible is the king of the mountain when it comes to study Bibles is an understatement. I have many friends in graduate school and teachers alike. I often hear praises from them concerning the value of the ESV Study Bible. It is also telling that one version of this study Bible was out of stock and waiting to be refilled on Amazon.com at the time this article was published. The ESV Study Bible provides 25,000 verse-by-verse notes, over 200 full-color maps, over 80,000 cross-references, over 200 charts, section summaries, book introductions, and a massive collection of articles in the back of the Bible. The study Bible was created by a diverse team of 95 leading scholars from 9 countries, 20 denominations, and 50 institutions of higher learning. The study Bible also holds the English Standard Version (ESV) text which has been praised for its accuracy and readability. Dr. Daniel Wallace (Greek expert and Executive Director of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts) even praised the ESV at a recent conference for its translational accuracy from the original biblical languages. For any serious student of the Bible, the ESV Study Bible is a must-have. I recommend it as the best study Bible up to the point that this article has been published.

 

© March 11, 2016. Brian Chilton.

[1] All prices given are for the hardcover editions. The list prices are also given. Bibles may vary from the price listed. Leather bound study Bibles will hold a higher cost, whereas softcover editions may be somewhat cheaper.

[2] The controversy stems over the NIV’s use of gender inclusive language where masculine pronouns are intended for both men and women. However, other translations such as the ESV, NLT, and HCSB all do the same. Contrary to the hype, the NIV does not change the divine pronouns. While the NIV does make some changes that I do not like (holding that John 3:16-21 is a teaching of John rather than a quote of Jesus, and italicizing the script of the two controversial passages in Mark 16:9ff and John 7:53-8:11), the NIV is a good translation. It may not be as literal as the ESV and NASB, but many find it to read easier than others listed.

Review of “Thinking About God”

Good Reads Rating: 4 stars (Personal 4.5 stars)

Ganssle, Gregory E. Thinking about God: First Steps in Philosophy. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2004. 187 pages. $15.98.

I first heard about Gregory E. Ganssle’s book on Greg Koukl’s podcast “Stand to Reason.” Ganssle offers an introductory treatment of the philosophical issues pertaining to God. Ganssle, in the first section, introduces some of the reasons one should engaged in philosophy when thinking about God. Chapters 2, 4, and 5 were especially good.

The second section provides reasons to believe in God’s existence. I must say that while Ganssle provides the most popular evidences for God’s existence, his treatment of the issues is mediocre at best. Ganssle was especially weak in the cosmological and design arguments for God, even leaving open some doors which have been demonstrated to have been closed by other apologists such as William Lane Craig. However, Ganssle provides an excellent treatment of the moral argument for God, as well as giving the four major beliefs pertaining to morality. (I feel this was the strongest area of the book.)

The third section discusses God and evil. Here again, Ganssle does an excellent job treating the issues of theodicy. While I am a compatibilist, Ganssle offers a compelling case for libertarian freedom.

The fourth section deals with God’s attributes. Ganssle again excels in this section, especially with his treatment of God and time, as well as revelation. For those interested in the issues of time, Ganssle’s treatment of the issue is worth the price of the book.

Ganssle’s book is especially good for those who want a beginner’s guide to theological philosophy. I would recommend that the book be used, however, as a launch pad for further inquiry. Stronger apologetic cases for God’s existence have been given in other works such as Reasonable Faith by William Lane Craig and New Proofs for the Existence of God by Robert Spitzer. I was also advise a deeper study of design by advocates of intelligent design. All-in-all, I would highly recommend Ganssle’s book. It serves its intended purpose as an introduction to theological philosophy. While I did not leave satisfied with his treatment of apologetic issues (which disallows me from providing a 5 star rating), Ganssle’s treatment of God’s attributes and God’s relationship to time inclines me to give a 4.5 stars. Since I cannot give half points, I will have to settle for 4 points out of 5.

Copyright March 3, 2016. Brian Chilton.

Lessons Learned from Nabeel Qureshi

During my break from classes, I took time to read the book Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi. Qureshi, a former Ahmadi Muslim from Pakistan, in his autobiography, recounts his incredible journey to his faith in Jesus Christ. Qureshi’s book is both emotionally stirring and intellectually stimulating. Qureshi’s acceptance of Christ did not stem from a fiery altar call. Rather, Qureshi’s journey to Christ was an arduous task bursting with anger, passion, and devotion. This book was one that an individual cannot simply lay to the side. Instead, the work compels the reader to finish the work. Qureshi’s book left me with several important thoughts that I had not adequately contemplated, but two impressions branded my soul.

1. The Importance of Christian Love

Something greatly disturbed me with Qureshi’s testimony. It was not the manner in how he came to faith. Rather, the most disturbing element of Qureshi’s testimony is that few Christians really tried to become friends with Qureshi. In fact, God used one man named David to befriend Qureshi and demonstrate Christ’s love to him. Qureshi writes that

“In my case, I knew of no Christian who truly cared about me, no one who had been part of my life through thick and thin. I had plenty of Christian acquaintances, and I’m sure they would have been my friends if I had become a Christian, but that kind of friendship is conditional. There were none that I knew who cared about me unconditionally. Since no Christian cared about me, I did not care about their message” (Qureshi, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, 121).

Qureshi’s statement hit me like a ton of bricks. Do we demonstrate conditional love towards those not of the Christian faith where we should demonstrate love of the unconditional kind? Do I? Qureshi notes on several occasions how relationships are central to evangelism. However, Qureshi’s point is not an isolated island, but rather grounded in the clear teachings of Scripture. The apostle John denotes that

“We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister” (1 John 4:19-21).

We cannot truly help others see the truth of God until we first demonstrate the love of God…unconditionally.

2. The High Price of Lordship

Why are many American Christians floundering in their faith? It could be due to the fact that many do not understand the vast importance of Christ’s lordship. Many have adopted the Americanized corpus of Christendom that claims that Christianity requires nothing more than a simple prayer and rewards one with bountiful treasures on earth. Such is a far cry from Jesus’ claim that one “cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24). Qureshi certainly understands the importance of surrendering to Christ’s lordship. Qureshi writes that “The cost for a Muslim to accept the gospel can be tremendous” (Qureshi, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, 251). Qureshi had good parents who loved him deeply and brought him to have a deep love for Islam. In fact, his mother Ammi reminded me of my own mother. Both possess a deep love for their children and for their religious traditions. Qureshi denoted that “I had to give up my life in order to receive His life. This was not some platitude or cliché. The gospel was calling me to die” (Qureshi, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, 278). To accept Christ, Qureshi had to come with the understanding that his acceptance of Christ could spell the end of his relationship with his parents and siblings.

Does one understand the importance of a person’s surrender to God? Do I? Are we not consumed with the thought that the world revolves around us? Should we not understand instead that the universe revolves around God? Qureshi came to this important revelation,

“While I was wallowing in self-pity, focused on myself, there was a whole world with literally billions of people who had no idea who God is, how amazing He is, and the wonders He had done for us. Those are the ones who are really suffering” (Qureshi, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, 283).

Qureshi had to give up everything to come to Christ. How many individuals sitting in any given pew each Sunday would do the same?

Nabeel Qureshi’s book Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus is a must-read. Qureshi’s testimony challenged me far more than I ever anticipated. In the end, if any person is to be found in Christ, that person must surrender to the lordship of Christ. If any person desires to bring people to faith in Christ, that person must learn the importance of unconditional love. Neither of these attributes is possible without the sovereign help from Almighty God. I am thankful that God demonstrated his love towards me in that “while [I was] still [a] sinner, Christ died for [me]” (Romans 5:8). To God be the glory!

Be sure to read the Nabeel Qureshi’s powerful autobiography Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus found at Amazon and your local bookstores.

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus

Bibliography

 All Scripture, unless otherwise noted, comes from the New International Version. Grand Rapids: Biblica, 2011.

Qureshi, Nabeel. Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2014.

Copyright March 2015. Brian Chilton.