Can You Say Shibboleth?

Can You Say Shibboleth? Did you know that 42,000 people were once killed because they couldn’t say this word (shibboleth) correctly? (Judges 12:1-7) While that may be interesting trivia, what in the world does it have to do with anything? Well, it seems to me that in our age, we have our own little shibboleths. We met a fellow not long ago at a farm supply store. He came over to us and started asking us questions about our religion. The questions usually follow a typical pattern: are you Amish? Mennonite? Quaker? Mormon? Catholic? Apostolic? Dutch? We informed him that we were Christians and, while he was intrigued, he seemed a bit skeptical. He informed us that he and his family were homeschoolers who had just moved to the area and were looking for “like-minded fellowship.” He asked to meet us at our home sometime, insisting that he wanted to know “where we stood on the Bible.” We invited him on a particular night and he and his wife arrived, without their children. Though we offered food and drink, he said he didn’t know if he or his family could share a meal with us since he didn’t know where we stood on the Bible. He proceeded to pull out a list of over thirty questions related to various doctrinal issues, and began to grill me on my “Biblical correctness.” While I hate this kind of thing with a passion, I decided to try, for the sake of a possible relationship, to answer his questions and hopefully get a chance to learn more about his family. One by one his questions were fired with a honed skill that I could tell had been developed over many events just like this one. His wife sat quietly, not saying anything and not looking at anything in particular except, perhaps, a general section of the floor. In between being interrogated I managed to learn that “because he has such a passion for the Word” he had effectively cut his family off from virtually every relationship they had. “Apostasy is running rampant in the Church today, and we won’t stand for it!” he declared. His wife still didn’t look up or change her expression. I made it to about question seven (after having been given a temporary pass on a couple because the verses I used to defend my beliefs were unfamiliar to him, and he needed a chance to study up to refute them), before I...

Apologetics Begins at Home

Apologetics Begins at Home This week, I received a letter on my pillow from my 13-yr-old daughter. It was full of questions that she wanted me to help her understand. I am grateful that I have the kind of relationship with my children that they seek me out as their primary source of information when they are struggling with issues in life. Much of my life is dedicated to teaching and equipping the Body of Christ to study and defend God’s word. However, I am reminded that my first and primary mission field is always my own family. Here is a list of some of questions going through my daughter’s mind: Why did God make emotions? What did God do before He made everything? Would the world be any different if I had never been born? How old is the earth? When were angels made? If Mary is Jesus’ mother, was she God’s wife? Do I have to be baptized to be a Christian? Did all the people before Jesus go to hell? How is God a king and servant at the same time? What does God look like? Did God marry Adam and Eve? Do people sin after they are Christians? How does God want me to treat people I don’t understand? What does, “carnal,” mean? How do I become holy, pure and perfect? (Things the Bible commands.) What does it mean to hide God’s word in my heart? What will I do in Heaven? How can I help all the people in the whole world? God is love. If I love someone, is it God’s love? People hate God, but they also love too. How? What does “circumcise your heart” mean? How are we “in the world, but not of it”? Do babies go to Heaven when they die? How can God be Grace and Justice at the same time? Aren’t they opposites? How does God love and hate at the same time? (Aren’t the opposites?) What are angels like? Why did God make life? These are serious and important questions. You will either answer these questions adequately for your own children, or they will make their decisions about them from other sources. Nothing is more important in your list of things to do than teaching your own children the truth. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15, ESV) If you don’t...

God’s Not Dead

In the movie, God’s Not Dead, college freshman Josh Harper has his sights set on a future law degree. In order to acquire the necessary credits to achieve his academic goals. Harper signs up for a Philosophy class that is taught by a professor who is notoriously hostile to Christianity. The professor offers an assignment to his class asking them each to affirm the statement, “God is dead,” so that they can move on with their future coursework without being burdened with pesky notions of theism (belief in God) creeping into their future discussions. This causes a test for Harper. Does he go along with the assignment (and the rest of the class) just to get a good grade and pass the class, or does he end up attempting to defend his Christian views against a hostile professor and non-supportive classmates? He chooses the latter. His grade ends up being determined by what the class (not the professor) decides about the merits of his arguments. He faces conflict from his girlfriend who wants him to just do what it takes to get his grade and not rock the boat. It is a real ethical dilemma for Harper. On the storytelling, on thing I enjoyed about this film is how all of the main characters (10 or so) were all intricately connected to each other relationally, even though they weren’t necessarily aware of it. There was, in some cases, one degree of separation for each person, but their lives were all rather intertwined in a very cool labyrinth. I thought it demonstrated well how our lives effect people even indirectly, through a kind of ripple effect, and the choices we make will impact people we have not even met. Regarding the Apologetics of the film, it is proposed by Harper that both he, and the professor, begin with certain presuppositions and assumptions, and that neither can ultimately prove or disprove the existence of God. So he says they need to look to the evidence. At this point, the viewer assumes that the main approach will be Evidentialist Apologetics. It is not. Harper utilizes Classical Apologetics, with the Cosmological and Moral Arguments for the existence of God being primary. It is unrealistic to think that a typical college class will contain all of the elements reflected in this film (a rabid atheist who rails against Christianity, a class that is completely skeptical of Christianity,  a student who can hold his own...

How to Answer the Fool – Sye Ten Bruggencate

How should you answer a fool? Should you answer him at all? “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.” (Proverbs 26-4-5, ESV) So which is it, should you answer a fool according to his folly, or shouldn’t you? Is this a contradiction in the Bible? Remember that the Law of Non-Contradiction asserts that two opposing statements cannot both be true AT THE SAME TIME and IN THE SAME SENSE. The key to understanding this verse is to realize that this passage is using the same statement twice, but in two totally difference senses (or meanings).” The fool needs to be shown the foolishness of his argument, but you don’t need to use a foolish argument (or method) to reach him. There are three primary approaches to Christian apologetics: Presuppositional Apologetics Classical Apologetics Evidential Apologetics The main branch of Presuppositional Approach to Apologetics was largely formulated by Cornelius Van Til. His student, Greg Bahnsen (Francis Schaeffer, John Frame and R.J. Rushdoony were other students of Van Til) picked up the baton and brought Presuppositional Apologetics into the 1980’s and 1990’s as a force to be reckoned with. Bahnsen died young in 1995, and in the new millennium, a lot of younger Christians have never heard of the Presuppositional Approach. Well, enter Canadian apologist, Sye Ten Bruggencate. The one thing this guy will not often be accused of is being timid! He has produced, through American Vision in Atlanta, a fast-paced video that distills the teachings of Van Til (who was REALLY hard to understand), and Bahnsen, into terms that the average Joe American can understand. His argument is that the skeptic DOESN’T need more evidence. He argues from Romans 1 that the skeptic already has all the information he needs to know there is a God. His problem is not an intellectual problem. His problem is a rebellion problem. He doesn’t WANT to acknowledge God or submit to Him. This is a radically different approach than one that assumes that the skeptic just hasn’t been given adequate evidence. If you are interested in Evangelism and/or Christian Apologetics, I am going to encourage you to watch this video. How To Answer The Fool – Trailer from Crown Rights on Vimeo. This video includes a section with Eric Hovind of Creation Today and an endorsement from Jason Lisle of the Institute for Creation...

Three Approaches to Apologetics (Evidentialist, Classical and Presuppositional)

I was recently a guest on a podcast hosted by Michael Boehm of www.youthapologeticstraining.com discussing the three main approaches toward Christian Apologetics. You can read an article synopsis of Evidentialist, Classical and Presuppositional Apologetics here, and get links to all of the podcasts: http://youthapologeticstraining.com/three-types-apologetics/ Israel Wayne is an Author and Conference Speaker. He is the Director of Family Renewal,...

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