Thursday, March 22, 2018
For many persons, it is often difficult to see how the core tenets of Christianity fit together. Christian belief is grounded in the Bible, but how is one to make sense of the biblical data as a whole? This book attempts to answer this question by understanding Christianity as the Story of reality.
Greg Koukl defends the idea that Christianity is the Story of reality, resonating deep within each person that it touches, and he begins by first defining what Christianity is.
Koukl believes that we should understand religion as Jesus did—from the outside—not merely subjective, but as an objective account of the way things are. In this sense, Christianity is a picture of reality informing beliefs, and is also a worldview among other competing worldviews. A worldview here is understood simply as a story of the way the world really is. One worldview may cohere internally and correspond with external reality better than another.
Just as the best stories have the greatest explanatory power, so the best worldviews have the greatest internal coherence and correspondence with reality. A helpful analogy that Koukl uses is that of a puzzle. The right pieces are needed, and they all must fit in order for the puzzle to come together. A true worldview, then, is one in which all the pieces fit—an accuracy producing confidence. But why is that many persons have trouble fitting the pieces of the worldview puzzle together? Put simply, they are not referencing the picture on the puzzle box; they lack a guide.
Koukl posits that worldviews must answer four major questions: Where did we come from? What is our problem? What is the solution? And how will things end for us? Answers to these questions are important pieces to the worldview puzzle. Christianity’s answers come under creation, fall, redemption, and restoration, which can also be thought of as the beginning, conflict, resolution, and falling action of a story.
Here’s the plotline for Christianity: In the beginning, God created everything, including his most important creation, man, but man severed his relationship with God, and God was to restore it by coming as a man himself, Jesus, and his work at the cross repairs man’s relationship with God. Now, how people respond to Jesus determines what happens to them at history’s final event, the resurrection. This is the ‘picture on the puzzle box.’
The Story begins with God who is an infinite and perfect Being and the focal point of the whole Story. Since he made all things, everything belongs to him—even us. But unlike mere objects, human beings occupy a special place in relation to God. He is like a father from whom we’ve strayed, and we can only find rest in him. As creator, he is distinct from creation. Like a sovereign king, he has control over all creation as his kingdom.
Here, Koukl interacts with two common objections: ‘Who created God?’ and the problem of miracles. He believes that neither poses a significant threat to belief in God, as God is uncaused, and God’s bringing the universe into existence implies that God is really powerful and smart. Hence, lesser miracles, such as healing the sick or parting the waters, are of no difficulty for Him.
He also addresses two concepts that challenge the Christian view of God: Matter-ism and Mind-ism. The former is the belief that matter is all that exits, and the latter is the belief that mind is all that exists. The main issue that Koukl finds with both is that that there could be no account for what is wrong with the world on either view of reality.
The second part of the Story centers upon man, who in many respects is much like the rest of creation, but is also imbued with a certain beauty and dignity that distinguishes him. This distinguishing factor, Koukl posits as being the soul. Moreover, man has certain obligations, and these are grounded in man’s innate dignity. But why is man this way? The answer that the Bible provides is that man was created in God’s image. He is valuable, worth protecting, and created for friendship with God.
However, mankind is also broken. Most people intuitively sense this, and many explanations have been put forward to explain why. Koukl distinguishes between explanations which are quantitative (poverty, education, etc.) and qualitative. We are qualitatively broken because we are guilty of sinning against the One who made us. The Bible gives the reason for this in the fall of Adam and Eve, wherein evil entered the world, kindling God’s wrath. This sets up the next part of the Story. We need forgiveness so that all things could be set right again.
The next part of the Story focuses on the person and work of Jesus Christ. Koukl first responds to the ‘recycled redeemer’ hypothesis, which is the idea that Jesus was a copy of other mythical figures, such as Osiris or Mithras. In all, Koukl believes that the historicity of Jesus is vindicated when the earliest records of the various myths are taken into consideration.
Next, Koukl explores two central questions: Who was Jesus and what did he come to do? Put simply, Jesus was (and is) the God-man who came to be a sacrifice for sins; his purpose was to ransom and rescue lost sinners. But how was he to accomplish this?
The entirety of Jesus’ life led up to one unique event—the crucifixion. Everything proceeded according to God’s foreordained plan, with the purpose of accomplishing a divine transaction. The guilt of sin and punishment of God’s wrath intended for sinners would be transferred to the sinless Son of God at the cross, and his goodness would be transferred to sinners.
Koukl also considers here how evidence is related to faith in Christ, and how trust is needed in addition to knowledge and assent. The proposition ‘Jesus saves’ brings together reason and truth, and also faith and fact. More than just experience, salvation through Christ must be grounded in reality if it is to have any effect or meaning. Moreover, real trust in what Christ accomplished implies repentance, or turning, from a self-centered life to one centered upon Christ.
Lastly, Koukl emphasizes the resurrection and final judgement as God’s solution to the problem of evil. He hones in on four facts about the resurrection of Jesus, which are accepted by a majority of scholars, that are best explained if in fact Jesus was truly raised from the dead.
The resurrection of Jesus has tremendous implications. If Jesus was truly raised, then there surely will be a resurrection of all persons at the end of time and a final judgement. This is where God will perfectly execute his justice, in sending the unrepentant to an eternity apart from himself, and his mercy, in reuniting and restoring those who have placed their trust in Jesus. In the end, all things will be set right, although it is often difficult for us to imagine what this will look like as we wait for the conclusion of the Story.
Greg Koukl has done an excellent job of parsing out the Christian worldview in a way that is easy to understand. Thinking of Christianity as a Story of reality is indeed useful, not only in understanding how the major ideas of the Bible fit together, but also in how it all corresponds with the world as people experience it.
If you’d like to purchase The Story of Reality and support Apologetics315 at the same time, you can click on this link.
Saturday, March 17, 2018
- NIV, Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, eBook: Bringing to Life the Ancient World of Scripture – Keener & Walton – $2.99
- Renewing the Christian Mind: Essays, Interviews, and Talks by Dallas Willard – $1.99
- Can a Smart Person Believe in God? by Michael Guillen $1.99
- The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion by N. T. Wright – $1.99
- Did Jesus Rise From the Dead? William Lane Craig $1.99
- Holman QuickSource Guide to Christian Apologetics $2.99
- 60 People Who Shaped the Church: Learning from Sinners, Saints, Rogues, and Heroes $1.99
- God Makes Sense by Justin Brierley (Video)
- How Accurate Are New Testament Manuscripts? One Night Movie Event
- Believing Impossible Things: Convergent Origins of Functional Junk DNA Sequences by Fazale Rana
- Why Does God Allow Evil by Clay Jones (Video)
- If God is GOOD Why Does He Allow EVIL? Debate question with Ravi Zacharias (Video)
- What is the Most Recent Manuscript Count for the New Testament? by Sean McDowell
- The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most important event in history by Tyler O’Neil
- What is God made of? Cold Case Christianity interview (Video)
- Nabeel Qureshi debates on iTunes (Podcast)
- Ex-Atheist Lee Strobel Breaks Down 4 Reasons Why Jesus’ Death and Resurrection Are Absolute FACT
- Who Am I that You Are Mindful? – Tim Barnett (Video)
- Michael Medved and historian Richard Weikart discuss The Death of Humanity (Video)
- Human Value and the Image of God by Truth Matters (Video)
- What Sets Christianity Apart from Other Religions? William Lane Craig (Video)
Friday, March 16, 2018
It is an old saying that the best way to honor a philosopher, especially one who is no longer with us, is to take his arguments seriously. The present book attempts to do just that. It aims to give C.S. Lewis due respect by subjecting his most famous arguments to charitable yet critical examination, and to do so in a way that is accessible to general readers.
The book consists of five sections, each being a debate between two authors about an argument derived from Lewis’s writings: the arguments from desire and reason, the moral argument, the Trilemma, and Lewis’s thoughts on the problem of evil.
The first section concerns the argument from desire. In various places, Lewis hints at an argument from desire for the existence of God or heaven. In Mere Christianity, for instance, he wrote that “if I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” He thought there was in fact a desire which no worldly thing could satisfy. He called it Joy, and described it as a deep longing for transcendent reality that is evoked by various worldly things, but is not a desire for any of them because none can satisfy it. Lewis distinguished Joy from other, more familiar desires in two ways. First, the experience of Joy is itself a delight, something genuinely good and “more desirable than any other [worldly] satisfaction,” even when its satisfaction is absent. Second, the nature of its object is not fully revealed in the experience, though we often wrongly think that we know what the object is.
Although he had interesting things to say about the phenomenology of Joy, Lewis never stated the argument in full detail. Peter Williams explains and defends five possible versions thereof, and Greg Bassham argues that each version fails. This debate hinges on many questions, including the nature of Joy as a desire, the difference between natural and artificial desires, whether certain desires entail that possible satisfactions exist, and whether theism is the best explanation of our experience of Joy. (more…)
Thursday, March 15, 2018
Help promote the importance of knowing your why and raise the awareness of apologetics on Apologetics Day 2018, which is today, by making this image your profile image on Facebook or other social media sites.
What else can you do to help? Provide an example of apologetics by posting an article or other apologetics material that has helped you in your faith and understanding with the #apologeticsday hashtag. Perhaps share the link of our site Apologetics315.com on your news feed or another apologetics site that you enjoy.
*image courtesy of Ashley Papania and Tim Arndt (Apologetics315’s Book Review Team Leader).
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
Form of political philosophy traceable to G. W. F. *Hegel. Communitarianism rejects the liberal view that takes individual rights to be the foundation of society, putting in its place a view that sees individuals as constituted by the groups of which they are a part. Communitarians are therefore concerned to foster strong communities and social institutions, believing that these social institutions can have rights and obligations in themselves and also that they can create rights and obligations for individuals.
Evans, C. Stephen, Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002).
Monday, March 12, 2018
Read from one of the current leading philosophers and apologists today in Paul Copan’s book, “That’s Just Your Interpretation.” From the summary on Amazon, “This book provides incisive answers to slogans related to truth and reality; theism, pantheism/Eastern religion, and naturalism; and doctrinal issues such as the incarnation and truth of Scripture. Each of the twenty-two chapters provides succinct answers and summary points for countering the arguments.”
Paul Copan is a Christian theologian, analytic philosopher, apologist, and author. He is currently a professor at the Palm Beach Atlantic University and holds the endowed Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics.
Saturday, March 10, 2018
- Intellectuals Don’t Need God and Other Modern Myths: Building Bridges to Faith Through Apologetics by Alister E. McGrath $2.99
- The Philosophy of History: Naturalism and Religion by James Stroud $1.99
- Understanding the Culture: A Survey of Social Engagement by Jeff Meyers $2.39
- A Biblical History of Israel, Second Edition by Tremper Longman III – $3.99
- When Is It Right to Die?: A Comforting and Surprising Look at Death and Dying by Joni Eareckson Tada – $1.99
- The Scriptures Testify about Me: Jesus and the Gospel in the Old Testament (Gospel Coalition) by D.A. Carson – $2.99
- Follow Me by David Platt, (Free)
- True for you but not for me – Andy Bannister (Video)
- Has Science Ever Caused You to Doubt Your Faith? Reasons to Believe (Video)
- Does Christianity Encourage Blind Faith? Reasons to Believe (Video)
- The Isaiah Seal and Other Prophet Seals – Museum of the Bible (Video)
- Did Jesus Really Rise? – Tim Barnett (Video)
- The Inerrancy of Scripture: What It Is and Why It Matters (Video)
- What about those who have never heard? (Podcast)
- Critiquing Theistic Evolution by Dr. Stephen Meyer (Podcast)
- The argument from consciousness and reason by David McGrew
- The Minimal Facts of the Resurrection by Cross Examined
- Ancient mosaic describing Jesus Christ as ‘God’ to be unveiled in Israel
- Relaunch of ApologeticsGuy website – subscribe to blog and get free journal article, Did the historical Jesus claim to be divine?
- The Top 3 Apologetics Books Christian Philosophers Say You Should Read
Thursday, March 08, 2018
Alvin Plantinga is held by many to be the greatest living Christian philosopher, and has made immense contributions to various areas of philosophy, including logic, epistemology, and the philosophy of religion. One of his most popular works is God, Freedom, and Evil, which, unlike many of his more scholarly works, is simplified for the layperson’s reading. Plantinga states that the goal of this book is not to try and prove that God exists; rather, it attempts to show that belief in God’s existence is rational.
To do so, Plantinga divides his book into two halves. The first half is dedicated to examining and refuting the most popular argument against the existence of God, namely the problem of evil and suffering in the world. The second half is dedicated to defending an argument for the existence of God that relies on reason alone, called the Ontological argument
Part I: The Problem of Evil
Plantinga presents the logical problem of evil as set out by the famous philosopher J.L. Mackie. Mackie stated that the following three propositions cannot all be true at the same time:
- God is all-powerful.
- God is all-good.
- Evil exists.
Plantinga explicates Mackie’s argument in the most charitable way possible. Mackie’s claim seems to be that an all-good God cannot tolerate evil in the world that He created, while an all-powerful God can eliminate evil in the world that He created if He wishes to do so. Thus, if an all-good and all-powerful God exists, He will eliminate all evil in the world that He created. Yet, evil still exists in the world. Hence, all of these three statements cannot be true at the same time. But since we cannot deny the existence of evil in the world, we will have to deny either God’s being all-powerful or all-good. Such a denial would result in a God that is no longer the God of classical theism. Mackie concludes that since evil exists in the world, an all-powerful and all-loving God cannot exist.
In order to refute this argument, Plantinga says, one must be able to give a sufficient reason why an all-powerful and all-good God would permit evil to exist in the world He created. He points out that theologians throughout history have attempted to give a ‘theodicy’ or a proposed reason for why God permits evil. Plantinga, however, does not want to provide a theodicy, for a theodicy makes a conclusive claim about what God’s reason for permitting evil is. Rather, Plantinga merely provides a defense, which is a possible reason in which an all-powerful and all-good God finds it perfectly reasonable to allow evil, thus proving that there is at least one possible scenario in which the three propositions that Mackie claims are contradictory are actually consistent with one another. Plantinga labels his defense the Free Will Defense. (more…)
Monday, March 05, 2018
Attend this Defenders regional meeting in Hartford, CT on April 14th! Come learn how to both share and defend your faith in a winsome manner. Hear about how the apostle Paul integrated apologetics with sharing the Gospel and learn how to utilize the internet for evangelism. Ted Wright (founder of Epic Archaeology), Kurt Jaros (Executive Director of Defenders Media, Director of Apologetics315, & host of the Veracity Hill podcast), and others will be teaching you how to be prepared to give an answer for the hope within, and doing so with gentleness and respect. Go to thedefendersconference.com to register and learn more.
Apologetics315 is a sponsor of this event, so we’d love to see you there!
(Click on the below image to print from home.)