Tag Archives: Christian apologetics

Spiritual? Cut it out! Isn’t it time to get serious about Jesus?!

“If you live in me and what I say lives in you, then ask for anything you want, and it will be yours.” John 15: 7

Why do we study history? There is such great wisdom, people who’ve confronted the same issues we’re confronting today and have given us such deep thought. Dr Martin Luther wrote voluminously is his time. He has created such incredible wisdom, he really did conflate the left and right hand kingdoms (the left is the government/society, the right is the church) in that both are in God, and both need to be focused on God’s will and not man’s. He gave us so much guidance in how we should deal with trials, he spent a good deal of his life being a marked man by the Roman Catholic church which wanted Luther burned at the stake. He certainly knew how to deal with the trials in his life. He gave us so much on how we as Christians should see those who are lost in the world.

I refer you to Dr Luther in a particular writing on prayer. I would stipulate that many people who pray and who are not Christians, and what Dr Luther points out as the profound difference between the two types of people:

“This is a miserable world for unbelievers. They work so hard, yet accomplish nothing. They may even pray a lot, search all over and knock at the door. Yet nothing is gained, found, or achieved, for they’ve knocking on the wrong door. They do all this without any faith. That’s why they can’t really pray.”

“Prayer is the work of faith alone. No one, except a believer, can truly pray. Believers don’t pray on their own merits, but in the name of the Son of God, in whom they were baptized. They’re certain that their prayers please God because he commanded them to pray in the name of Christ and promised he would listen to them. But the others don’t know this. Instead, they pray in their own name and believe they can prepare themselves. They think they can read enough to make themselves worthy and smart enough to make prayer into an acceptable work. And when we ask them whether their prayers have been heard, they reply, ‘I prayed, but if my prayers were heard only God knows.’ If you don’t know what you are doing or whether God is listening, what kind of a prayer is that?”

“But Christians don’t approach prayer this way. We pray in response to God’s command and promise. We offer our prayers to God in the name of Christ, and we know that what we ask for will be given to us. We experience God’s help in all kinds of needy situations. And if relief doesn’t come soon, we still know that our prayers are pleasing to God. We know that God has answered us because he gives us the strength to endure.” ( Martin Luther quoted in “Through Faith Alone” Concordia Publishing House 1999 Jun 11 page)

I’ve seen many genuine Christians pray, and yes I understand we all know to where/whom, they are praying. But I would certainly encourage Christians to end all their prayers “In the Name of Jesus Christ, I pray, Amen”. Then there’s no doubt what you are doing, that our prayers are only in the Holy Spirit to our Lord Jesus Christ. Any other prayer just doesn’t matter, so why even pray it? I was asked to open sessions of county commissioners meeting. The only caveat was not to pray in Jesus’ name. I respectfully refused. Why would I do that? What’s the point? I’m a Christian pastor, there’s only one way I’m going to pray. I understand in today’s world of American Christianity (which is at best nominally “Christian”), we have accepted this civic sort of “To whom it may concern” prayer. Again what’s the point? I’m frankly a little afraid of what/who we’re praying to if not in Jesus’ Name. Which of the many idols we see in America are we actually offering prayer? Jesus tells His disciples in John 14:13 that we should pray in His Name. There’s only one, God Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and it is in the all powerful Name of Jesus Christ our Lord that I offer any prayer.

Apologetics, 1 Peter 3: 15

Christian apologetics has become a pretty hot area in the last few years. Seems to me that Christians are starting to get serious about their faith, especially Christian men. The Lutheran Hour Men’s Network that I was part of starting a few years ago and very  ably led by a layman Geoff Abendschoen, became very involved in group studies of Christian apologetics.

The word apologetics, apologist, not someone who’s worried about past failings. You’re not saying you’re sorry about something. It is from the Greek word ἀπολογία apologia. To defend: “Christian apologetics (Greek: ἀπολογία, “verbal defence, speech in defence”) is a branch of Christian theology that aims to present historical, reasoned, and evidential bases for Christianity, defending it against objections.” (Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_apologetics) In his epistle Peter writes ”

1 Peter 3: 15; “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,”

Peter uses the word  ἀπολογία in his epistle. We have to have a good reason why we believe what we believe. We have to be able to understand it well enough in order to articulate it to someone who is either a non-Christian (and they are a lot more common today, I was one). Or to defend against those who are actively antagonistic towards the Christian faith. I will stipulate that it usually doesn’t work against those who are antagonistic. Frankly they are very set in their belief, they are not interested in changing their beliefs and if anything, have chosen to oppose your Christian belief. They are not interested in other points of view and really never make critical examinations or understanding of their own points of view. I know Christians are often accused of that mind set, but I’ve seen it a lot more in secularists. They really don’t have a good understanding of theology, of philosophy, of science, etc, and they really don’t care. “It’s all about what I can see, touch, quantify and everything else is fantasy…” Something to that effect. Well, there’s a whole lot in the world that we know is there, but we really can’t explain it. Try explaining electricity or gravity to start with.

When I was in seminary (Concordia Seminary, St Louis, Mo, Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod), apologetics was actively discouraged. I certainly understand why, being a Christian is based in faith, the faith that God gives us to believe. We don’t need to have a hard and fast reason. God gives us the faith we need, one of the “solas”, Sola Fide, by faith alone. God gives it to us and we aren’t going to talk someone else into faith through apologetics.

Yes, I get it, and we should never expect that analysis of history, philosophy, theology etc, will make us Christians, it won’t, only the Holy Spirit will. However, we still have Peter’s urging and there are still people out there weak in their faith and knowledgeable clergy and lay people have a responsibility to articulate their faith. Interestingly, the LC-MS’s Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR), has published a report buttressing the need for apologetics. The CTCR’s concern is particularly in the area of “scientism”, this is a belief system that has arisen in the last few decades where “believers”, the “faithful”, trust entirely in whatever they can quantify in science. Needless to say this is a stand that is very tenuous. Science certainly doesn’t have the answer to everything, in fact, many times, scientific answers aggravate a situation. Look at medical science, it has made incredible strides, but, first, we are all going to die. Second, remember the last time you heard a television ad for a medication? Wanna stay healthy? Stay away from taking medications. The world is in desperate need of hope and promise and Jesus gave that 2,000 years ago and based on His resurrection, I know what my ultimate reality will be, the New World of the resurrection.

As I said apologetics was kind of discouraged when I was in seminary (for the record that was actually this century, I graduated in 2010). The CTCR, came out with its report in 2015 saying:

“There is something of a renaissance of apologetics both inside and outside the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS), and this is a great opportunity to forge alliances between theologians, scientists, philosophers, and professional apologists in our church for the sake of defending the faith. While the Word of God has its own authority independent of reason, scientific apologetics can play an important role in creating the intellectual and cultural space that allows the Gospel a fair hearing. To be sure, reason cannot produce faith. But it can clear away misconceptions and refute erroneous worldviews that lead people to reject the Christian claim out of hand. Christian scientists and philosophers can help here by marshaling evidence that this is a created world and that human beings are a special part of it. This task has become more important because of the rise of the New Atheism, which seeks to use materialistic science to discredit revealed religion.”

“This report will provide guidance and encouragement to a number of constituencies who seek to combat scientism (italics mine) and recover the sense of science as a vocation which glorifies God and provides beneficial services to the neighbor. These constituencies include:

  1. Students, teachers and investigators in the sciences;
  2. Pastors and other church workers who minister to those involved in the sciences n regular congregations and in campus ministry.
  3. Administrators and teachers at Christian high schools and universities who would like input to help them think through the hard task of integrating the Christian faith with science education;
  4. Non-scientific Christian laity whose faith is being attacked as an unscientific relic of the past.

(In Christ All Things Hold Together The Intersection of Science and Christian Theology A Report of the Commission on Theology and Church Relations The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod February 2015 p 12)

It kind of stuns me to talk to a lay-person who is telling me how Christians are just talking myths and it’s all about science, and the person obviously has no understanding of genuine science. Most genuine scientists today will agree that there has to have been some kind of Intelligent Design of the universe, down to the very basics of the universe. Take the cell, DNA. There is no way that either could have come about accidentally. Anyone who tells you otherwise is making it up. In fact most genuine scientists will stipulate that DNA is an incredibly sophisticated code. If there’s a code, then there has to be a Coder. The same can be said in terms of our environment on earth, our position in the solar system, even the galaxy. Yet people who have no idea of any of these concepts will look me in the faith and tell me Christianity is just myth. Jesus is the most studied man in the entire history of mankind, there is no doubt that He lived and no reason to discard what the Bible says He did. If you did that you would have to reject the entire all of antiquity. Jesus has been studied more than anyone, if you can’t accept His life and what He did, you can’t accept anything prior to modern history (14th century, give or take). Frankly I just don’t have enough faith to be an atheist, or believe in Scientism, (sounds a little too close to Scientology for me).

God created an incredible universe, the only way that creation could have come about is by a Creator. To believe in anything else is to either be in complete denial, or simply ignorant of the facts. We have way too many people today who create their own reality and deny, well, reality! Our society today has become not just less intellectual, but if anything anti-intellectual, mostly brought about by those who presume to be intellectual and are simply not. The lack of critical thinking in today’s society is stunning. Deny Christianity? Sure, and for no good reason. Believe what you see on the Internet or CNN? Sure, because that’s based on science. I had a person tell me once that Einstein proved that everything is relative, his theory of relativity. There’s a lot of people reading this right now who will say “sure, that’s right”. His theory of relativity was about how light travels, how time slows down the closer we travel to the speed of light. Nothing about how your belief system is just as valid as another. Sorry, as I said, I can’t have scientific knowledge and believe that there’s no Creator. That’s a psychotic mindset.

Based on this, we Christians do need to become much more sophisticated in all the basic subjects. We need to be much more critical in our thinking and ready to assert that. We are in the midst of an ignorant and lazy society that expects us to believe non-sense and reject Christ. That’s ridiculous and we have a duty, 1 Peter 3:15 to defend the faith, present it to those around us, especially those who are weak in the faith and might fall from salvation believing the world’s ignorance.

Equality by Friedrich Nietzsche he didn’t believe there was, Jesus does!

This is being written on December 23, when cyber-space is filled with all kinds of Christmas greetings. So if you really don’t want to deal with anything else you may want to avoid this blog. However, you may want a little break from the Christmas stuff, you might find this interesting.

“Equality is a lie concocted by inferior people who arrange themselves in herds to overpower those who are naturally superior to them. The morality of ‘equal rights’ is a herd morality, and because it opposes the cultivation of superior individuals, it leads to the corruption of the human species” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Hmmmm, interesting, this is from the one who is practically the inspiration for the egalitarianism of today. The humanist, “progressive”, secular – “God is Dead”-movement, etc, this is actually what the “progressive” humanist leaders of today truly believe. They look at you and lie about how equal everyone is, they are lying. Their education comes in faux areas like “feminist literature”, they thing they know something because they know who Nietzsche is, but because of their very shallow learning and experience, they really don’t go any deeper into the subject.

Having said that, in stark contrast and in the Christmas spirit, we remember Luke 2: 10, the angel is speaking to the humble shepherds, out in the fields alone, not equal to anyone, the lowest on the rungs of the social scale: “But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good new of great joy that will be for all the people.” In terms of human history, this is the first time that this idea was ever uttered. That something was for “all the people”, no less that God was for all the people. While there was a slip – back in human history making Jesus more for some people and less for others. None the less, for those who teach and preach Jesus, we know that in God the Father’s eyes, we are completely equal, equally sunk in our sins, in our lives, our accomplishments. The secular, the humanist, believes that there are those who are our superiors, and we need to heed them. Christians may not be the best at it, but we know that now and in the future judgment, we will all be equal in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Real Sciencetists who were also very real Christians

Great Scientists (left to right): Kirby, Pasteur, Newton, Carver, Maxwell, Kepler, Boyle, Bell
The greatest scientists—the ones most responsible for great discoveries—were creationists.
These include Kepler, Newton, Boyle, Bell, Kirby, Maxwell, Pasteur and Carver, among many others. Their numerous discoveries include physical astronomy, calculus, chemistry, electrodynamics, vaccination, and immunization.

They believed that, as scientists, they were “thinking God’s thoughts after Him,” learning to understand and control the laws and processes of nature for God’s glory and man’s good. They believed and practiced science in the same way that modern creationist scientists do.

Johann Kepler
Isaac Newton

Robert Boyle
Charles Bell

William Kirby
James Clerk Maxwell

Louis Pasteur
George Washington Carver

These men believed in the inspiration and authority of the Bible, as well as in the deity and saving work of Jesus Christ. They believed that God had supernaturally created all things, each with its own complex structure for its own unique purpose. More…

Free Creation News Publication Interested in more information about creation, evolution, and intelligent design? Want to know the latest take on scientific discoveries and how they affect our understanding of the Bible? Does science help us interpret the Bible or should the Bible remain the interpreter of science?

Keep up with these and other issues in ICR’s [Institute for Creation Research] monthly Acts & Facts magazine, a free, full-color periodical that deals with science from a biblical perspective. Included with your subscription is the devotional Days of Praise.
Johann Kepler
Physical Astronomy and Celestrial Mechanics
Johann Kepler is best known for discovering the three mathematical laws of planetary motion, dubbed “Kepler’s Laws,” that established the discipline of celestial mechanics. He revolutionized scientific thought by applying physics (then considered a branch of natural philosophy) to astronomy (then seen as a branch of mathematics).

Kepler defended Nicolaus Copernicus’ theory of heliocentrism and sought to reconcile it with Scripture. His Protestant beliefs won him little favor with the Catholic church, and the Lutheran church shunned him for his Calvinist sympathies. He was forced to relocate more than once to avoid persecution, as well as to escape political dangers from ongoing wars.

But Kepler stayed true to his faith, and his scientific discoveries earned him acclaim, legitimized the discoveries of his contemporary Galileo, and influenced generations of scientists that followed him.

“…and thou my soul, praise the Lord thy Creator, as long as I shall be: for out of Him and through Him and in Him are all things….To Him be praise, honour, and glory, world without end. Amen.”—J. Kepler, Harmonies of the World, 137.

These men believed in the inspiration and authority of the Bible, as well as in the deity and saving work of Jesus Christ. They believed that God had supernaturally created all things, each with its own complex structure for its own unique purpose. More…

Free Creation News Publication Interested in more information about creation, evolution, and intelligent design? Want to know the latest take on scientific discoveries and how they affect our understanding of the Bible? Does science help us interpret the Bible or should the Bible remain the interpreter of science?

Isaac Newton
Calculus and Dynamics
As a young scientist and mathematician, Sir Isaac Newton invented the generalized binomial theorem and began developing the mathematical theory that would later become calculus.

While working as a Cambridge professor, Newton’s work in optics earned him recognition by the Royal Society. And his 1687 work, The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, is considered today the single greatest work in the history of science. In it he described universal gravitation and the three laws of motion, derived from Kepler’s Laws.

His work at the Royal Mint earned him knighthood in 1705, and he was elected to the French Académie des Sciences, as well as serving as President of the Royal Society in 1703. But he was also a serious student of the Bible and published several theological works. After he died in 1727, he was interred in Westminster Abbey.

“Gravity explains the motions of the planets, but it cannot explain who set the planets in motion. God governs all things and knows all that is or can be done.”—I. Newton

Robert Boyle
Chemistry and Gas Dynamics
Robert Boyle conducted scientific research into air pressure, mechanics, and chemistry—which he believed should no longer be a subordinate study of alchemy and medicine. He criticized traditional alchemists and laid the foundation for the atomic theory of matter in The Sceptical Chymist, the cornerstone work for modern chemistry. During his travels, he visited Florence, Italy, and studied with the aging Galileo Galilei. He co-founded the prestigious Royal Society in 1663.

He was also a serious student of the Bible, learning the languages of Hebrew, Cyriac, and Chaldee so that he could read the text firsthand. He promoted Christianity in the East by financially supporting missionaries and Bible translation. Upon his death in 1691, he endowed a series of lectures in his will designed to defend Christianity. The “Boyle Lectures” are held annually to this day in London, a legacy of this remarkable man of God.

“The last service that, I hope…is to induce men to pay their admiration, their praises, and their thanks, directly to God himself; who is the true and only creator of the sun, moon, earth, and those other creatures, that men call the works of nature.”—R. Boyle, 1725, The Philosophical Works of the Honourable Robert Boyle Esq: Abridged, Methodized, and Disposed Under the General Heads of Physics, Statics, Pneumatics, Natural History, Chymistry, and Medicine, 149.

Charles Bell
Anatomy and Surgery
Charles Bell had particular interest in the nervous system, and he published Idea of a New Anatomy of the Brain in 1811, now considered the “Magna Carta of neurology.” Several discoveries are named for him, including Bell’s Nerve, Bell’s Palsy/Paralysis, Bell’s Phenomenon, and Bell’s Spasm.

His scientific endeavors convinced him of the existence and necessity of the Creator. Studying the human body, he realized how dependent people are on involuntary physical processes, and he saw close-minded reliance on reason as not only ignorant, but “worse than ingratitude.”

He was familiar with uniformitarianism, which influenced the development of Darwinism, and Bell thought science should be allowed to follow the evidence—even if it leads to a supernatural origin.

“When man thus perceives, that in respect to all these vital operations he is more helpless than the infant, and that his boasted reason can neither give them order nor protection, is not his insensibility to the Giver of these secret endowments worse than ingratitude?”—C. Bell, 1852, The Fourth Bridgewater Treatise on the Power, Wisdom, and Goodness of God as Manifested in the Creation: The Hand; Its Mechanism and Vital Endowments as Evincing Design, 14

William Kirby
Entomology
William Kirby and fellow British entomologist William Spence authored the four-volume An Introduction to Entomology: or Elements of the Natural History of Insects, considered the foundational work in the field of entomology.

With Spence, Kirby helped found the Entomological Society of London in 1833, to which he was appointed Honorary President for life. His vision of an Ipswitch natural history museum was realized in 1847, and he served as its president until his death in 1850.

“In no part of creation are the POWER, WISDOM, and GOODNESS of its beneficent and almighty Author more signally conspicuous than in the various animals that inhabit and enliven our globe.”—W. Kirby, 1835, The Seventh Bridgewater Treatise on the Power, Wisdom, and Goodness of God as Manifested in the Creation: The History, Habits and Instinct of Animals, Vol. 1, i.

James Clerk Maxwell
Electrodynamics and Statistical Thermodynamics
James Clerk Maxwell worked extensively with translating electromagnetic equations and the principles of color combinations. He was elected to the Royal Society in 1861 and published multiple papers on electromagnetism, heat, and physics.

Maxwell is held in high regard to this day in the scientific community, but few know or acknowledge his strong Christian roots or his faith in the authority of God’s Word. Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of the Species (1859) was published during Maxwell’s lifetime. Maxwell wasn’t convinced evolution was a viable theory, and he wasn’t afraid to speak on the matter.

“The consciousness of the presence of God is the only guarantee of true self-knowledge. Everything else is mere fiction, fancy portraiture—done to please one’s friends or self, or to exhibit one’s moral discrimination at the expense of character.”—J. C. Maxwell, 1858, A letter to the Rev. L. Campbell.
Robert Boyle
Louis Pasteur
Microbiology, Bacteriology, Biogenesis Law, Pasteurization, Vaccination And Immunization
Little was known about preventative medicine in the days of Louis Pasteur. Today, we owe all the discoveries in the fields of microbiology and immunology to his work. He shares the title of “father of germ theory and bacteriology” with German physician Robert Koch. He was a devout Catholic and was famously “regarded as conforming with the biblical account of the creation.”

At the time, Darwin’s theory of abiogenesis (or the idea that life was generated from non-life) reigned, but Pasteur’s systematic and exhaustive experiments disproved it, opening the way for germ theory. He had a rigorous approach to experimentation and wouldn’t make any claims until he had re-tested his hypothesis several times.

Two of his main contributions to science and medicine are the anthrax and rabies vaccines. His work set the foundation for some of the most important advances in our modern world. Pasteur was an experimentalist of the highest order, and his science was undoubtedly fueled by his faith.

“I see everywhere the inevitable expression of the Infinite in the world; through it the supernatural is at the bottom of every heart.”—L. Pasteur

George Washington Carver
Modern Agriculture
George Washington Carver revolutionized agricultural science with his cultivation of soil-enriching crops, such as peanuts and soybeans, to revive earth that had been depleted of nutrients from cotton farming. He discovered over 100 uses for the sweet potato and 300 uses for the peanut. He was offered many honors and substantial wealth from patents, but he chose not to patent his discoveries because it would take too much time and benefit too few.

Frugal in finance and humble in character, Carver was undoubtedly a deeply devoted Christian. He attributed inspiration of his work to God, and his studies of nature convinced him of the existence and benevolence of the Creator.

“If I know the answer, you can have it for the price of a postage stamp. The Lord charges nothing for knowledge, and I will charge you the same.”—G. W. Carver

Video of “Chain of Custody” of the Bible and “Did Jesus claim to be God” from J Warner Wallce, Cold Case Christianity website

Chain of Custody video J Warner Wallace – Cold Case Christianity

Did Jesus Claim to Be God? (Cold-Case Christianity Broadcast #10)

Online home to J. Warner Wallace, author of Cold Case Christianity and Christian apologist.

http://coldcasechristianity.com/2014/did-jesus-claim-to-be- . . .

I do not claim to be an expert in any areas of theology/Christianity. I have a Master’s of Divinity Degree and so I am considered to be professionally qualified as a Pastor and as much as possible an authority on Lutheran Doctrine and pastoral practice. Point is, there are people out there who have become very expert in different aspects of Christianity and one of those is J Warner Wallace. Pastor Wallace was a cold-case police detective in the Los Angeles Police Department who looks at the history and authenticity of Christianity and puts it under scrutiny as a detective, particularly a cold-case detective. A cold-case detective almost never has any physical evidence and therefore has to build a case on a lot of different aspects of the case, which is presented in court to prosecute the suspect.

As a detective Pastor Wallace is also very familiar with the “chain of custody”. As a Federal Police Officer in the Coast Guard I was also very well trained in the “chain of custody”. Any evidence recovered from a suspected crime scene has to be handled with utmost security in order to assure that lawyers, judges, etc, have complete confidence that this evidence hasn’t been tampered with in any way. If there is any serious question as to the chain of custody important evidence can be excluded from a trial, obviously the effect of that could destroy a case. Wallace applies those same parameters to test the “chain of custody” of the Bible and he shows that there is very little doubt that the chain of custody has been faithfully maintained dating back, in the case under discussion, to the Apostle John. The first link is to that video, you can paste that link into your browser to see the video on the “Cold Case Christianity” website.

The other link is to Pastor Wallace’s podcast which raises the issue whether Jesus actually claimed to be God. This is an issue that Bible opponents love to raise, did Jesus come straight out and say “Hi, I’m God.”? Well he did, too often we try to put everything in our own context, 21st century Americans, and when we don’t see that in other times and places we dismiss the claim. Jesus made it very clear to His 1st century Jewish listeners that He was very much God and they understood Him very clearly. Listen as Pastor Wallace explains how Jesus made it very clear who He was.

I do want to make it clear, that as Christian disciples we are not made Christian disciples by the evidence. We are brought to faith in Jesus by the Holy Spirit, we don’t want to make our Christian faith a test of physical evidence. By the same token when we leave questions unanswered to people who are obviously antagonistic to the faith, we raise questions in others as to the authenticity of the Christian faith. Often I’ve found myself acting more as an “apologist” a defender of the faith, not for the benefit of the person who is challenging what I’m teaching, but the benefit of the weaker brother or sister whose faith might be undermined because of an antagonist. Our faith is in Christ, He is the One who leads and guides us, the Lord of our lives. We do not need the physical evidence, but often we are challenged by a hostile world and we want to: “but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you;” (1 Pet 3:15 ESV) I would really encourage you to check out Pastor Wallace’s website, he has a lot of great blogs, podcasts and videos on many fascinating aspects of “…the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3 ESV)