Answering the Question – “Why Should I Trust The Bible?”

*#7 In the Series: Knowing What & Why You Believe – November 2, 2020 – Pastor David Craig 

USING THE ACRONYM: “H.I.S. L.A.W.S”

(Acronym adapted from Pastor Bob Sears)

HarmonyThough written over 1600 years by 40 plus authors on 3 different continents and in 3 different languages about scores of controversial subjects, the Bible’s teachings are supernaturally harmonious from cover to cover.
ImpactCountless millions of people from diverse cultures all over the world have had their personal lives changed forever for the good and found spiritual meaning in life from the message of the Bible.
SeersThe Old and New Testament prophets (“seers”) spoke dozens of general and specific predictions which have been historically fulfilled. Among the most significant are Isaiah 53 (O.T) and Matthew 24 (N.T).
LongevityIn spite of repeated attempts throughout history both to destroy and discredit the Bible, it still exists in virtually its original form and is still revered and circulated more widely than any other book on earth.
AccuracyThe Bible’s detailed record of historical data has been repeatedly shown (by other writings and archeological discoveries) to be accurate to an exact degree. This testifies to its writers’ reliability.
WritersThe biblical writers obviously meant their readers to accept their writings as a message from God (e.g.: O.T.: the repeated instances of “Thus says the LORD…” N.T.: 1 Th. 2:13; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:20-21).
Son of GodJesus, reported to be the authoritative Son of God by the biblical writers, plainly taught the full inspiration of both the Old and New Testaments (e.g.: O.T.: Matthew 5:17-18. N.T.: John 14:23-26, and 16:13).

The Case for the Infallibility of the Bible

(R.C. Sproul, Reason to Believe, pp. 30-31)

The case for the infallibility of Scripture proceeds along both deductive and inductive lines. It moves from the premise of general trustworthiness to the conclusion of infallibility. The reasoning proceeds as follows:

Premise A: The Bible is basically a reliable and trustworthy document.

Premise B: On the basis of this reliable document we have sufficient evidence to believe confidently that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

Premise C: Jesus being the Son of God is an infallible authority.

Premise D: Jesus teaches that the Bible is more than a generally trustworthy; it is the very Word of God.

Premise E: The Word, in that it comes from God, is utterly trustworthy because God is utterly trustworthy.

Conclusion: On the basis of the infallible authority of Jesus, the church believes the Bible to be utterly trustworthy, i.e, infallible.

Helpful Resources:

Ankerberg, John & John Weldon. The Reliability of the Bible.

Blomberg, Craig L. Can We Still Believe The Bible?

Cowan, Steven B. and Terry L. Wilder. In Defense of The Bible.

Jones, Timothy Paul. Why Should I Trust the Bible?

Lutzer, Erwin W. Seven Reasons You Can Trust The Bible.

McDowell, Josh. Is The Bible True Really?

Answering the Question – “Does God Exist?” – Part 2

*Series: Knowing What & Why You Believe – October 26, 2020 – Pastor David Craig 

(Notes Adapted from Dr. William Lane Craig)

REVIEW FROM SESSION 5 – DOES GOD EXIST – PART 1:

3 Reasons Why God’s Existence Makes A Difference

  • Reason 1: Life is Ultimately Meaningless Without God
  • Reason 2: Without God We Live Without Hope
  • Reason 3: If God Exists, You Can Know His Love Personally

Does God exist? Here are 5 Good Reasons to Believe That God Exists:

  1. God makes sense of the origin of the universe.
  2. God makes sense of the fine-tuning of the universe for intelligent life.
  3. God makes sense of objective moral values in the world.
  4. God makes sense of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
  5. God can be immediately known and experienced.

(3) GOD MAKES SENSE OF OBJECTIVE MORAL VALUES 

IN THE WORLD.

  • Does God exist? If God does not exist, then objective moral values do not exist. To say that there are objective moral values is to say that something is right or wrong independently of whether anybody believes it to be so.
  • It is to say, for example, that Nazi anti-Semitism was morally wrong, even though the Nazis who carried out the Holocaust thought that it was good; and it would still be wrong even if the Nazis had won World War II and succeeded in exterminating or brainwashing everybody who disagreed with them. And the claim is that in the absence of God, moral values are not objective in this sense.
  • Many theists and atheists alike concur on this point. For example, the late J. L. Mackie of Oxford University, one of the most influential atheists of our time, admitted: “If . . . there are . . . objective values, they make the existence of a God more probable than it would have been without them. Thus, we have a defensible argument from morality to the existence of a God” (J. L. Mackie, The Miracle of Theism [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982], pp. 115-16). But in order to avoid God’s existence, Mackie therefore denied that objective moral values exist. He wrote, “It is easy to explain this moral sense as a natural product of biological and social evolution . . . .” (Ibid., pp. 117-18).
  • Michael Ruse, a philosopher of science, agrees. He explains, Morality is a biological adaptation no less than are hands and feet and teeth. Considered as a rationally justifiable set of claims about an objective something, ethics is illusory. I appreciate that when somebody says “love thy neighbor as thyself,” they think they are referring above and beyond themselves. Nevertheless, such reference is truly without foundation. Morality is just an aid to survival and reproduction . . . And any deeper meaning is illusory (Michael Ruse, “Evolutionary Theory and Christian Ethics,” in The Darwinian Paradigm [London: Routledge, 1989], pp. 262-269).
  • Friedrich Nietzsche, the great 19th century atheist who proclaimed the death of God, understood that the death of God meant the destruction of all meaning and value in life. I think that Friedrich Nietzsche was right.
  • But we must be very careful here. The question here is not: “must we believe in God in order to live moral lives?” I’m not claiming that we must. Nor is the question: “Can we recognize objective moral values without believing in God?” I think that we can.
  • Rather the question is: “If God does not exist, do objective moral values exist?” Like Mackie and Ruse, I don’t see any reason to think that in the absence of God, human morality is objective. After all, if there is no God, then what’s so special about human beings? They’re just accidental by-products of nature which have evolved relatively recently on an infinitesimal speck of dust lost somewhere in a hostile and mindless universe and which are doomed to perish individually and collectively in a relatively short time.
  • On the atheistic view, some action, say, rape, may not be socially advantageous and so in the course of evolution has become taboo; but that does absolutely nothing to prove that rape is really wrong. On the atheistic view, apart from the social consequences, there’s nothing really wrong with your raping someone. Thus, without God there is no absolute right and wrong which imposes itself on our conscience.
  • But the problem is that objective values do exist, and deep down we all know it. There’s no more reason to deny the objective reality of moral values than the objective reality of the physical world.
  • The reasoning of Ruse at best proves only that our subjective perception of objective moral values has evolved. But if moral values are gradually discovered, not invented, then our gradual and fallible apprehension of the moral realm no more undermines the objective reality of that realm than our gradual, fallible perception of the physical world undermines the objectivity of that realm. Most of us think that we do apprehend objective values. As Ruse himself confesses, “The man who says that it is morally acceptable to rape little children is just as mistaken as the man who says, 2+2=5” (Michael Ruse, Darwinism Defended [London: Addison-Wesley, 1982], p. 275).
  • Actions like rape, torture, and child abuse aren’t just socially unacceptable behavior—they’re moral abominations. Some things are really wrong. Similarly love, equality, and self-sacrifice are really good. But if objective values cannot exist without God, and objective values do exist, then it follows logically and inescapably that God exists.

We can summarize this argument as follows:

  1. If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist.
  2. Objective moral values do exist.
  3. Therefore, God exists.

(4) GOD MAKES SENSE OF THE HISTORICAL FACTS CONCERNING THE LIFE, DEATH, AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS.

  • The historical person Jesus of Nazareth was a remarkable individual. New Testament critics have reached something of a consensus that the historical Jesus came on the scene with an unprecedented sense of divine authority, the authority to stand and speak in God’s place. That’s why the Jewish leadership instigated his crucifixion for the charge of blasphemy. He claimed that in himself the Kingdom of God had come, and as visible demonstrations of this fact he carried out a ministry of miracles and exorcisms. But the supreme confirmation of his claim was his resurrection from the dead.
  • If Jesus did rise from the dead, then it would seem that we have a divine miracle on our hands and, thus, evidence for the existence of God. Now most people would probably think that the resurrection of Jesus is something you just accept on faith or not. But there are actually three established facts, recognized by the majority of New Testament historians today, which I believe are best explained by the resurrection of Jesus: His empty tomb, his post-mortem appearances and the origin of the disciples’ belief in his resurrection. Let’s look briefly at each one of these.

Fact #1: Jesus’ tomb was found empty by a group of his women followers on Sunday morning. According to Jacob Kremer, an Austrian scholar who has specialized in the study of the resurrection, “by far most scholars hold firmly to the reliability of the biblical statements about the empty tomb” (Jacob Kremer, Die Osterevangelien–Geschichten um Geschichte [Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibelwerk, 1977], pp. 49-50).  According to D. H. Van Daalen, it is extremely difficult to object to the empty tomb on historical grounds; those who deny it do so on the basis of theological or philosophical assumptions.

Fact #2: On separate occasions different individuals and groups saw appearances of Jesus alive after his death. According to Gerd Ludemann, a prominent German New Testament critic, “It may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus’ death in which Jesus appeared to them as the risen Christ” (Gerd Ludemann, What Really Happened to Jesus?, trans. John Bowden [Louisville, Kent.: Westminster John Knox Press, 1995], p. 8). These appearances were witnessed not only by believers, but also by unbelievers, skeptics, and even enemies.

Fact #3: The original disciples suddenly came to believe in the resurrection of Jesus despite having every predisposition to the contrary. Think of the situation the disciples faced following Jesus’ crucifixion:

1. Their leader was dead, and Jewish Messianic expectations included no idea of a Messiah who, instead of triumphing over Israel’s enemies, would be shamefully executed by them as a criminal.

2. Jewish beliefs about the afterlife precluded anyone’s rising from the dead to glory and immortality before the general resurrection of the dead at the end of the world.

  • Nevertheless, the original disciples suddenly came to believe so strongly that God had raised Jesus from the dead that they were willing to die for the truth of that belief. Luke Johnson, a New Testament scholar at Emory University, states, “Some sort of powerful, transformative experience is required to generate the sort of movement earliest Christianity was” (Luke Timothy Johnson, The Real Jesus [San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1996], p. 136). N. T. Wright, an eminent British scholar, concludes, “That is why, as an historian, I cannot explain the rise of early Christianity unless Jesus rose again, leaving an empty tomb behind him” (N. T. Wright, “The New Unimproved Jesus,” Christianity Today [September 13, 1993], p. 26).
  • Attempts to explain away these three great facts—like the disciples stole the body or Jesus wasn’t really dead—have been universally rejected by contemporary scholarship. The simple fact is that there just is no plausible, naturalistic explanation of these facts. Therefore, it seems to me, the Christian is amply justified in believing that Jesus rose from the dead and was who he claimed to be. But that entails that God exists.

We can summarize this argument as follows:

  1. There are three established facts concerning the fate of Jesus of Nazareth: the discovery of his empty tomb, his post-mortem appearances, and the origin of his disciples’ belief in his resurrection.
  2. The hypothesis “God raised Jesus from the dead” is the best explanation of these facts.
  3. The hypothesis “God raised Jesus from the dead” entails that the God revealed by Jesus of Nazareth exists.
  4. Therefore, the God revealed by Jesus of Nazareth exists.

(5) GOD CAN BE IMMEDIATELY KNOWN AND EXPERIENCED.

  • This isn’t really an argument for God’s existence; rather it’s the claim that you can know God exists wholly apart from arguments simply by immediately experiencing him. This was the way people in the Bible knew God, as professor John Hick explains:
  • God was known to them as a dynamic will interacting with their own wills, a sheer given reality, as inescapably to be reckoned with as a destructive storm and life-giving sunshine . . . They did not think of God as an inferred entity but as an experienced reality. To them God was not . . . an idea adopted by the mind, but an experiential reality which gave significance to their lives (John Hick, “Introduction,” in The Existence of God, ed. with an Introduction by John Hick, Problems of Philosophy Series [New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1964], pp. 13-14).
  • Philosophers call beliefs like this “properly basic beliefs.” They aren’t based on some other beliefs; rather they are part of the foundation of a person’s system of beliefs. Other properly basic beliefs would be the belief in the reality of the past, the existence of the external world, and the presence of other minds like your own.
  • When you think about it, none of these beliefs can be proved. How could you prove that the world was not created five minutes ago with built-in appearances of age like food in our stomachs from the breakfasts we never really ate and memory traces in our brains of events we never really experienced?
  • How could you prove that you are not a brain in a vat of chemicals being stimulated with electrodes by some mad scientist to believe that you are here listening to this lecture? How could you prove that other people are not really androids who exhibit all the external behavior of persons with minds, when in reality they are soulless, robot-like entities?
  • Although these sorts of beliefs are basic for us, that doesn’t mean that they’re arbitrary. Rather they are grounded in the sense that they’re formed in the context of certain experiences. In the experiential context of seeing and feeling and hearing things, I naturally form the belief that there are certain physical objects which I am sensing.
  • Thus, my basic beliefs are not arbitrary, but appropriately grounded in experience. There may be no way to prove such beliefs, and yet it is perfectly rational to hold them. You’d have to be crazy to think that the world was created five minutes ago or to believe that you are a brain in a vat! Such beliefs are thus not merely basic, but properly basic. In the same way, belief in God is for those who seek Him a properly basic belief grounded in our experience of God.

We can summarize this consideration as follows:

  1. Beliefs which are appropriately grounded may be rationally accepted as basic beliefs not grounded on argument.
  2. Belief that the biblical God exists is appropriately grounded.
  3. Therefore, belief that the biblical God exists may be rationally accepted as a basic belief not grounded on argument.

Now if this is right, then there’s a danger that arguments for the existence of God could actually distract one’s attention from God Himself. If you’re sincerely seeking God, God will make His existence evident to you. The Bible says, “draw near to God and he will draw near to you” (James 4.8). We mustn’t so concentrate on the proofs that we fail to hear the inner voice of God speaking to our heart. For those who listen, God becomes an immediate reality in their lives.

We’ve seen five good reasons to think that God exists:

  1. God makes sense of the origin of the universe.
  2. God makes sense of the fine-tuning of the universe for intelligent life.
  3. God makes sense of objective moral values in the world.
  4. God makes sense of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
  5. God can be immediately known and experienced.

These are only a part of the evidence for God’s existence. Alvin Plantinga, one of the world’s leading philosophers, has laid out two dozen or so arguments for God’s existence. (Alvin Plantinga, “Two Dozen [or so] Theistic Arguments,” Lecture presented at the 33rd Annual Philosophy Conference, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois, October 23-25, 1986 – Now compiled in the book: Jerry L. Walls and Trent Dougherty, eds. Two Dozen (OR SO) Arguments For God [The Plantinga Project]. New York: Oxford University Press, 2018). Together these constitute a powerful cumulative case for the existence of God. THEISM is the more reasonable to believe than Atheism.

*You can subscribe to Valley Baptist Church San Rafael on YouTube to hear the Apologetics lectures from the series: Knowing What and Why You Believe, as well as Pastor David Craig’s sermons on the book of Daniel in the Series: Going Against the Flow of Culture.

Resources On Apologetics From Dr. William Lane Craig

Dr. William Lane Craig’s website: www.reasonablefaith.org

Cowan, Steven, and Stanley N. Gundry, eds. Five Views On Apologetics. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000. (W.L. Craig presents the case for the Classical View).

Craig, William Lane, and Joseph E. Gorra. A Reasonable Response: Answers To Tough Questions On God, Christianity, And The Bible. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2013.

Craig, William Lane. Does God Exist? Pine Mountain, GA: Impact 360 Institute, 2014.

Craig, William Lane, & Meister, Chad. God Is Great, God is Good: Why Believing in God is Reasonable and Responsible. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2009.

Craig, William Lane and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong,. God? A Debate Between A Christian And An Atheist. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

_______. Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008.

_______. On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2010.

Answering the Question – “Does God Exist?” – Part 1

*Series: Knowing What & Why You Believe – October 19, 2020 – Pastor David Craig 

(Notes Adapted from Dr. William Lane Craig)

Does God exist? Here are 5 Good Reasons to Believe That God Exists:

  1. God makes sense of the origin of the universe.
  2. God makes sense of the fine-tuning of the universe for intelligent life.
  3. God makes sense of objective moral values in the world.
  4. God makes sense of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
  5. God can be immediately known and experienced.
  • C. S. Lewis once remarked that God is not the sort of thing one can be moderately interested in. If God does not exist, there’s no reason to be interested in God at all. On the other hand, if God does exist, then this is of uttermost importance.

3 Reasons Why God’s Existence Makes A Difference

Reason 1: Life is Ultimately Meaningless Without God

  • If God does not exist, life is ultimately meaningless. If your life is doomed to end in death, then ultimately it does not matter how you live. In the end it makes no ultimate difference whether you existed or not. Your life might have a relative significance in that you influenced others or affected the course of history. But ultimately mankind is doomed to perish in the heat death of the universe. Ultimately it makes no difference who you are or what you do. Your life is inconsequential.
  • Thus, the contributions of the scientist to the advance of human knowledge, the research of the doctor to alleviate pain and suffering, the efforts of the diplomat to secure peace in the world, the sacrifices of good people everywhere to better the lot of the human race—ultimately all these come to nothing. Thus, if atheism is true, life is ultimately meaningless.

Reason 2: Without God We Live Without Hope

  • If God does not exist, then we must ultimately live without hope. If there is no God, then there is ultimately no hope for deliverance from the shortcomings of our finite existence. For example, there is no hope for deliverance from evil. Although many people ask how God could create a world involving so much evil, by far most of the suffering in the world is due to man’s own inhumanity to man. The horror of two world wars during the last century effectively destroyed the 19th century’s naive optimism about human progress. If God does not exist, then we are locked without hope in a world filled with gratuitous and unredeemed suffering, and there is no hope for deliverance from evil. If there is no God, there is no hope of deliverance from aging, disease, and death. Although it may be hard for you as who are younger to contemplate, the sober fact is that unless you die young, someday you—you yourself—will be an old man or an old woman, fighting a losing battle with aging, struggling against the inevitable advance of deterioration, disease, perhaps senility. And finally and inevitably you will die. There is no afterlife beyond the grave. Atheism is thus a philosophy without hope.

Reason 3: If God Exists, You Can Know His Love Personally

On the other hand, if God does exist, then not only is there meaning and hope, but there is also the possibility of coming to know God and His love personally. That the infinite God should love you and want to be your personal friend! This would be the highest status a human being could enjoy! Clearly, if God exists, it makes not only a tremendous difference for mankind in general, but it could make a life-changing difference for you as well.

Now admittedly none of this shows that God exists. But it does show that it makes a tremendous difference whether God exists. Therefore, even if the evidence for and against the existence of God were absolutely equal, the rational thing to do, I think, is to believe in Him. That is to say, it seems to me positively irrational when the evidence is equal to prefer death, futility, and despair over hope, meaningfulness and happiness.

5 GOOD REASONS TO BELIEVE THAT GOD EXISTS:

(1) GOD MAKES SENSE OF THE ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE

  • Have you ever asked yourself where the universe came from? Why everything exists instead of just nothing? Typically atheists have said the universe is just eternal, and that’s all. But surely this is unreasonable. Just think about it for a minute. If the universe never had a beginning, that means that the number of past events in the history of the universe is infinite. But mathematicians recognize that the existence of an actually infinite number of things leads to self-contradictions.
  • For example, what is infinity minus infinity? Well, mathematically, you get self-contradictory answers. This shows that infinity is just an idea in your mind, not something that exists in reality. David Hilbert, perhaps the greatest mathematician of the twentieth century, states, the infinite is nowhere to be found in reality. It neither exists in nature nor provides a legitimate basis for rational thought. The role that remains for the infinite to play is solely that of an idea (David Hilbert, “On the Infinite,” in Philosophy of Mathematics, ed. with an Introduction by Paul Benacerraf and Hillary Putnam [Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1964], pp. 139, 141).
  • But that entails that since past events are not just ideas, but are real, the number of past events must be finite. Therefore, the series of past events can’t go back forever; rather the universe must have begun to exist. This conclusion has been confirmed by remarkable discoveries in astronomy and astrophysics.
  • In one of the most startling developments of modern science, we now have pretty strong evidence that the universe is not eternal in the past but had an absolute beginning about 13.8 billion years ago in a cataclysmic event known as the Big Bang. What makes the Big Bang so startling is that it represents the origin of the universe from literally nothing. For all matter and energy, even physical space and time themselves, came into being at the Big Bang.
  • As the physicist P. C. W. Davies explains, “the coming into being of the universe, as discussed in modern science . . . is not just a matter of imposing some sort of organization . . . upon a previous incoherent state, but literally the coming-into-being of all physical things from nothing” (ABC Science Online, “The Big Questions: In the Beginning,” Interview of Paul Davies by Philp Adams, http://aca.mq.edu.au/pdavies.html.).
  • Of course, alternative theories have been crafted over the years to try to avoid this absolute beginning, but none of these theories has commended itself to the scientific community as more plausible than the Big Bang theory. In fact, in 2003 Arvind Borde, Alan Guth, and Alexander Vilenkin were able to prove that any universe which is, on average, in a state of cosmic expansion cannot be eternal in the past but must have an absolute beginning. Vilenkin pulls no punches:
  • “It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape, they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning” (Alex Vilenkin, Many Words in One: The Search for Other Universes [New York: Hill and Wang, 2006], p. 176).
  • That problem was nicely captured by Anthony Kenny of Oxford University. He writes, “A proponent of the Big Bang theory, at least if he is an atheist, must believe that the universe came from nothing and by nothing” (Anthony Kenny, The Five Ways: St. Thomas Aquinas’ Proofs of God’s Existence [New York: Schocken Books, 1969], p. 66).
  • But surely that doesn’t make sense! Out of nothing, nothing comes. So why does the universe exist instead of just nothing? Where did it come from? There must have been a cause which brought the universe into being.

We can summarize our argument thus far as follows:

  1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
  2. The universe began to exist.
  3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.
  • Given the truth of the two premises, the conclusion necessarily follows. From the very nature of the case, this cause must be an uncaused, changeless, timeless, and immaterial being which created the universe. It must be uncaused because we’ve seen that there cannot be an infinite regress of causes. It must be timeless and therefore changeless—at least without the universe—because it created time. Because it also created space, it must transcend space as well and be immaterial, not physical.
  • It must also be personal. For how else could a timeless cause give rise to a temporal effect like the universe? If the cause were a mechanically operating set of necessary and sufficient conditions, then the cause could never exist without the effect.
  • For example, the cause of water’s freezing is the temperature’s being below 0˚ Centigrade. If the temperature were below 0˚ from eternity past, then any water that was around would be frozen from eternity. It would be impossible for the water to begin to freeze just a finite time ago. So if the cause is permanently present, then the effect should be permanently present as well. The only way for the cause to be timeless and the effect to begin in time is for the cause to be a personal agent who freely chooses to create an effect in time without any prior determining conditions.
  • For example, a man sitting from eternity could freely will to stand up. Thus, we are brought, not merely to a transcendent cause of the universe, but to its personal Creator.
  • Isn’t it incredible that the big bang theory thus confirms what the Christian theist has always believed: that in the beginning God created the universe? Which makes more sense: that the Christian theist is right or that the universe popped into being uncaused out of nothing?

(2) GOD MAKES SENSE OF THE FINE-TUNING OF THE UNIVERSE 

FOR INTELLIGENT LIFE.

  • During the last 40 years or so, scientists have discovered that the existence of intelligent life depends upon a complex and delicate balance of initial conditions given in the Big Bang itself. Scientists once believed that whatever the initial conditions of the universe, eventually intelligent life might evolve. But we now know that our existence is balanced on a knife’s edge. The existence of intelligent life depends upon a conspiracy of initial conditions which must be fine-tuned to a degree that is literally incomprehensible and incalculable.

This fine-tuning is of two sorts:

First, when the laws of nature are expressed as mathematical equations, you find appearing in them certain constants, like the gravitational constant. These constants are not determined by the laws of nature. The laws of nature are consistent with a wide range of values for these constants.

Second, in addition to these constants there are certain arbitrary quantities which are just put in as initial conditions on which the laws of nature operate, for example, the amount of entropy or the balance between matter and anti-matter in the universe. Now all of these constants and quantities fall into an extraordinarily narrow range of life-permitting values. Were these constants or quantities to be altered by a hair’s breadth, the life-permitting balance would be destroyed and life would not exist.

  • For example, the physicist P. C. W. Davies has calculated that a change in the strength of gravity or of the atomic weak force by only one part in 10100 would have prevented a life-permitting universe. The cosmological constant which drives the inflation of the universe and is responsible for the recently discovered acceleration of the universe’s expansion is inexplicably fine-tuned to around one part in 10120.
  • Roger Penrose of Oxford University has calculated that the odds of the Big Bang’s low entropy condition existing by chance are on the order of one out of 10 10 (123). Penrose comments, “I cannot even recall seeing anything else in physics whose accuracy is known to approach, even remotely, a figure like one part in 1010 (123)” (Roger Penrose, “Time-Asymmetry and Quantum Gravity,” in Quantum Gravity 2, ed. C. J. Isham, R. Penrose, and D. W. Sciama [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981], p. 249).   And it’s not just each constant or quantity which must be exquisitely finely-tuned; their ratios to one another must be also finely-tuned. So improbability is multiplied by improbability by improbability until our minds are reeling in incomprehensible numbers. Now there are three possibilities for explaining the presence of this remarkable fine-tuning of the universe: physical necessity, chance, or design.
  • The first alternative holds that there is some unknown Theory of Everything (T.O.E.) which would explain the way the universe is. It had to be that way, and there was really no chance or little chance of the universe’s not being life-permitting.
  • By contrast, the second alternative states that the fine-tuning is due entirely to chance. It’s just an accident that the universe is life-permitting, and we’re the lucky beneficiaries. The third alternative rejects both of these accounts in favor of an intelligent Mind behind the cosmos, who designed the universe to permit life.

Which of these alternatives is the most plausible?

  • The first alternative seems extraordinarily implausible. There is just no physical reason why these constants and quantities should have the values they do. As Paul Davies states,
  • “Even if the laws of physics were unique, it doesn’t follow that the physical universe itself is unique. . . . the laws of physics must be augmented by cosmic initial conditions. . . . There is nothing in present ideas about ‘laws of initial conditions’ remotely to suggest that their consistency with the laws of physics would imply uniqueness. Far from it. . . . . . . it seems, then, that the physical universe does not have to be the way it is: it could have been otherwise” (Paul Davies, The Mind of God [New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992], p. 169).
  • For example, the most promising candidate for a T.O.E. to date, super-string theory or M-Theory, fails to predict uniquely our universe.
  • In fact, string theory allows a “cosmic landscape” of around 10500 different universes governed by the present laws of nature, so that it does nothing to render the observed values of the constants and quantities physically necessary.
  • So what about the second alternative, that the fine-tuning of the universe is due to chance?
  • The problem with this alternative is that the odds against the universe’s being life-permitting are so incomprehensibly great that they cannot be reasonably faced. Even though there will be a huge number of life-permitting universes lying within the cosmic landscape, nevertheless the number of life-permitting worlds will be unfathomably tiny compared to the entire landscape, so that the existence of a life-permitting universe is fantastically improbable.
  • Students or laymen who blithely assert, “It could have happened by chance!” simply have no conception of the fantastic precision of the fine-tuning requisite for life. They would never embrace such a hypothesis in any other area of their lives—for example, in order to explain how there came to be overnight a car in one’s driveway.
  • Some people have tried to escape this problem by claiming that we really shouldn’t be surprised at the finely-tuned conditions of the universe, for if the universe were not fine-tuned, then we wouldn’t be here to be surprised about it!
  • Given that we are here, we should expect the universe to be fine-tuned. But such reasoning is logically fallacious. We can show this by means of a parallel illustration. Imagine you’re traveling abroad and are arrested on trumped-up drug charges and dragged in front of a firing squad of 100 trained marksmen, all with rifles aimed at your heart, to be executed. You hear the command given: “Ready! Aim! Fire!” and you hear the deafening roar of the guns. And then you observe that you are still alive, that all of the 100 trained marksmen missed!

Now what would you conclude?

  • “Well, I guess I really shouldn’t be surprised that they all missed. After all, if they hadn’t all missed, then I wouldn’t be here to be surprised about it! Given that I am here, I should expect them all to miss.” Of course not!
  • You would immediately suspect that they all missed on purpose, that the whole thing was a set-up, engineered for some reason by someone. While you wouldn’t be surprised that you don’t observe that you are dead, you’d be very surprised, indeed, that you do observe that you are alive. In the same way, given the incredible improbability of the fine-tuning of the universe for intelligent life, it is reasonable to conclude that this is not due to chance, but to design.
  • In order to rescue the alternative of chance, its proponents have therefore been forced to adopt the hypothesis that there exists an infinite number of randomly ordered universes composing a sort of World Ensemble or multiverse of which our universe is but a part. Somewhere in this infinite World Ensemble finely-tuned universes will appear by chance alone, and we happen to be one such world.

There are, however, at least two major failings of the World Ensemble hypothesis:

First, there’s no evidence that such a World Ensemble exists. No one knows if there are other worlds. Moreover, recall that Borde, Guth, and Vilenkin proved that any universe in a state of continuous cosmic expansion cannot be infinite in the past. Their theorem applies to the multiverse, too. Therefore, since the past is finite, only a finite number of other worlds can have been generated by now, so that there’s no guarantee that a finely-tuned world will have appeared in the ensemble.

Second, if our universe is just a random member of an infinite World Ensemble, then it is overwhelmingly more probable that we should be observing a much different universe than what we in fact observe.

  • Roger Penrose has calculated that it is inconceivably more probable that our solar system should suddenly form by the random collision of particles than that a finely-tuned universe should exist. (Penrose calls it “utter chicken feed” by comparison in The Road to Reality [New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005], pp. 762-5.) So if our universe were just a random member of a World Ensemble, it is inconceivably more probable that we should be observing a universe no larger than our solar system.
  • Or again, if our universe were just a random member of a World Ensemble, then we ought to be observing highly extraordinary events, like horses’ popping into and out of existence by random collisions, or perpetual motion machines, since such things are vastly more probable than all of nature’s constants and quantities’ falling by chance into the virtually infinitesimal life-permitting range.
  • Observable universes like those are much more plenteous in the World Ensemble than worlds like ours and, therefore, ought to be observed by us. Since we do not have such observations, that fact strongly disconfirms the multiverse hypothesis. On atheism, at least, it is therefore highly probable that there is no World Ensemble.
  • So once again, the view that Christian theists have always held, that there is an intelligent designer of the universe, seems to make much more sense than the atheistic view that the universe just happens to be by chance fine-tuned to an incomprehensible precision for the existence of intelligent life.

We can summarize this second argument as follows:

  1. The fine-tuning of the universe is due to either physical necessity, chance, or design.
  2. It is not due to physical necessity or chance.
  3. Therefore, it is due to design.

*You can subscribe to Valley Baptist Church San Rafael on YouTube to hear the Apologetics lectures from the series: Knowing What and Why You Believe, as well as Pastor David Craig’s sermons on the book of Daniel in the Series: Going Against the Flow of Culture.

Resources On Apologetics From Dr. William Lane Craig

Dr. William Lane Craig’s website: www.reasonablefaith.org

Cowan, Steven, and Stanley N. Gundry, eds. Five Views On Apologetics. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000. (W.L. Craig presents the case for the Classical View).

Craig, William Lane, and Joseph E. Gorra. A Reasonable Response: Answers To Tough Questions On God, Christianity, And The Bible. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2013.

Craig, William Lane. Does God Exist? Pine Mountain, GA: Impact 360 Institute, 2014.

Craig, William Lane, & Meister, Chad. God Is Great, God is Good: Why Believing in God is Reasonable and Responsible. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2009.

Craig, William Lane and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong,. God? A Debate Between A Christian And An Atheist. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

_______. Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008.

_______. On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2010.

_______. The Son Rises: The Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus. Eugene, OR: Wipe and Stock Publishers, 2000.

Answering the Question – “Who Made God?”

*#4 in the Series: Knowing What & Why You Believe – October 12, 2020 – Pastor David Craig 

Introduction

  • Those of us who are parents have had a conversation with our young children that goes something like this: “Dad, who made me?” “God made you.” “Who made the sun and the moon?” God made the sun and the moon.” “Who made the animals?” “God made everything.” “Dad, who made God?”
  • To ask the question, “Who made God?” commits a category fallacy. It assumes that God is a contingent (dependent), caused entity. However, Philosophy and the Bible assert that by definition God is uncaused and eternally existent.
  • Asking the question, “Who made God?” is like asking, “How did Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata taste?” Or “Did you hear the color of that rose?” It just doesn’t fit. God wants made just like a song doesn’t taste, and you can’t hear the color of a rose.
  • This category fallacy was made by the famed atheist, Bertrand Russell, when he made the statement, “If everything must have a cause, then God must have a cause.” But its not true that everything has a cause. Only that which begins to exist must have a cause.
  • “The Second Law of Thermodynamics reveals that the universe must have a beginning since it is running out of useable energy. Therefore, the God who made the universe must be without a beginning. Why? Because the Law of Causality says that everything that has a beginning had a beginner. It is ridiculous to assert that nothing can make something but is entirely reasonable to assert that something (i.e., God) can make something out of nothing. Therefore, God is the uncaused (eternal), first (originator) cause (Creator) who created everything that exists.” ~ Norman L. Geisler, The Bible’s Answers To 100 Of Life’s Biggest Questions, p. 27).

The Aseity of God (God’s Independence and Self-Existence)

“With respect to the doctrine of God, his attribute of self-existence. God’s very nature is to exist; he is not and cannot be dependent on anything or anyone. This attribute underscores the Creator-creature distinction: whereas the Creator is completely independent, creatures are completely dependent, contingent on his will for their existence. Proof that God is self-sufficient is that he “made the world and everything in it” (Acts 17:24). Because he has life in himself (John 5:26), he is able to give ‘life and breath and everything’ to his creatures (Acts 17:25). Though independent, God has designed his people to glorify him.” ~TBCDOT, Gregg Allison

“A reference to the fact the basis of God’s life is within himself and is not caused by anything external.” ~ TCDOCT, Millard Erickson

“The view that God is entirely self-sufficient and not dependent on anything else (Lat. aseitas, “self-existence,” from a se “of itself” or “from himself”) ~ TWDOTT, Donald K. McKim

“The doctrine that God has life within himself and depends on nothing else for his existence. He is the living God, he gives to all and needs nothing (Jer. 2:13; John 5:26; Acts 17:24-25).” ACDOTT, Christopher W. Morgan and Robert A. Peterson

“God exists by his own power. He alone is self-existent. Aseity, meaning “self-existence,” is the characteristic that separates him from all other things. God is the only one who can say, ‘I am who I am’…The grand difference between a human being and a Supreme Being is precisely this: Apart from God I cannot exist; apart from me God does exist. God does not need me in order for him to be. I do need God in order for me to be. This is the difference between what we call a self-existent being and a dependent being…In him we have our being. It is because of his self-existence that we can exist at all. You and I exist in his power and by his power. We are because he is.~ R.C. Sproul, Enjoying God, pp. 29, 32, 39.

“God has of himself all that he has, while other things have nothing of themselves. And other things, having nothing of themselves. And other things, having nothing of themselves, have their only reality from him.” On the Fall of the Devil 1 (Anselm [1033-1109 A.D.] Major Works. 194).

“God is exclusively from Himself, not in the sense of being self-caused but being from eternity to eternity who He is, being not becoming. God is absolute being, the fullness of being, and therefore also eternally and absolutely independent in His existence, in His perfections, in all His works, the first and the last, the sole cause and final goal of all things. In this aseity of God, conceived not only as having being from Himself but also as the fullness of being, all other perfections are included.” ~ Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, vol. 2, p. 152

Some Ramifications of God’s Aseity

(1) God is not needy. He doesn’t need you and He doesn’t need me. In fact, He doesn’t need the world at all. It’s not as if He was bored, twiddling His thumbs, desperately lonely prior to creating the world. God is not dependent on the world for His happiness and self-fulfillment. Instead, He possess life in and of Himself. More precisely, He is the fullness of life in and of Himself. 

  • In view of God’s independence and self-sufficiency, perhaps we wonder, why He would care about us if He remains entirely without need? God created us not because He needed us but because He loved us. He loved simply because He chose to do so. We bank on Him, not Him on us!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love he predestined us for adoption to Himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to His purpose, which He set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth.” ~ Ephesians 1:3-10 

(2) God doesn’t need to be defended. He can defend Himself. He can move people and nations. He can shut down and raise up things and people. That’s why the Scriptures says, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, ‘says the Lord’ (Romans 12:19). God will one day execute complete justice on those who have rebelled against Him and not repented of their sin and put their trust in Christ.

(3) As the Creator of all things, God owns all things. “The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1).

(4) When we give something back to God, we give Him only what He has first given us. We are stewards of God’s land (Luke 12:42; 16:1-8; Titus 1:7)., accountable to use these blessings for His glory. Everything in creation remains his, even after He has given it to us, so even our own possessions are His.

(5) God owes us nothing. “Who has given to me, that I should repay Him? Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine.” ~Job 41:11

(6) We are totally dependent upon God for existence, sustenance, and where we will spend eternity.

“For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” ~ Romans 11:36

So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for “ ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “ ‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent, because He has fixed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom He has appointed; and of this He has given assurance to all by raising Him from the dead.” Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.” So Paul went out from their midst. But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them. ~ Acts 17:22-34

Jesus, “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” ~ Matthew 25:46

Jesus, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him…Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” ~ John 3:17, 36

Food For Thought: It’s a whole lot easier to believe that Something took nothing and made something than it is to believe that nothing took nothing and made something.

*You can subscribe to Valley Baptist Church San Rafael on YouTube to hear the Apologetics lectures from the series: Knowing What and Why You Believe, as well as Pastor David Craig’s sermons on the book of Daniel in the Series: Going Against the Flow of Culture.

Resources on God’s Aseity

  • Barrett, Matthew. None Greater: The Undomesticated Attributes of God. (Chapter 4, “Does God Depend On You?”). Grand Rapids: MI: Baker, 2019.
  • Conway, Bobby. Does God Exist? (Chapter 2, “Who Made God?”). Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2016
  • Copan, Paul. If God Made The Universe Who Made God? 180 Arguments For The Christian Faith. (Chapter 23, “If God Made the Universe, Who Made God?”). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2012.
  • Feinberg, John. No One Like Him: The Doctrine of God. (Chapter 6, “The Attributes of God”). Wheaton: IL: Crossway, 2001.
  • Frame, John. Systematic Theology. (Chapter 19, “God’s Attributes: The Self-Contained God). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2013.
  • Geisler, Norman L. & Jason Jimenez. The Bible’s Answers To 100 Of Life’s Biggest Questions. (Chapter 4, “Who Made God?).  Grand Rapids: MI: Baker, 2015.
  • Jones, Mark. God Is: A Devotional Guide to the Attributes of God. (Chapter 7, “God Is Independent”). Wheaton: IL: Crossway, 2017.
  • Kinson, John M. Who Made God? An Ex-Atheist Scientist Investigates. Kindle Ebook.
  • Sproul, R.C. Enjoying God. (Chapter 2, “Who Made You, God?”). Grand Rapids: MI: Baker, 2017.
  • Tozer, A.W. The Knowledge of the Holy. (Chapter 6: The Self-sufficiency of God”).
  • Wilkin, Jen. None Like Him. (Chapter 3: “Self-Existent”). Wheaton: IL: Crossway, 2017.

Handling the Objection – “There Is NO GOD!!!”

Series: Knowing What & Why You Believe – October 3, 2020 – Pastor David Craig 

Using the G.O.D. Acronym As Evidence for GOD

(Adapted from The Bible’s Answers to 100 of Life’s Toughest Questions by Norman L Geisler & Jason Jimenez)

(1) The G in G.O.D. is for GOODNESS

Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things.” ~ Romans 2:1-2

For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.” ~ Romans 2:12-16

  • Romans 2 teaches that there are OBJECTIVE MORAL LAWS about what is good that are universally binding on all of humanity and by which we are to abide.

The MORAL LAW ARGUMENT:

  1. A Moral Law implies a moral lawgiver.
  2. There is an objective moral law.
  3. Therefore, there is an objective moral law giver.
  • Moral laws not only describe certain behaviors but also prescribe what ought to be. We know in our hearts that we should do good and not bad because there is an objective moral law that governs all of humanity.
  • If there is no God, then there is no ultimate moral standard by which we can differentiate between what is right and wrong. Evidence demonstrates that moral laws are objective for all humans on the basis that God is the objective moral lawgiver.
  • We all know that we should do to others what we want them to do.

The Golden Rule: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” ~ Matthew 7:12

  • We all know that we should do to others what we want them to do to us. Thus, we know that stealing, rape, and murder are wrong because we do not anyone to do those things to us.

(2) The O in G.O.D. is for ORIGIN

  • There is overwhelming evidence that the universe had a beginning. In 1915, Albert Einstein developed the general theory of relativity. This theory is now almost universally accepted because of all the scientific evidence for it. Essentially, this theory holds that time, space, and matter all had a beginning point.
  • In the 1920’s Edwin Hubble discovered evidence of the expanding universe – demonstrating that the universe had a beginning. The argument for the origin of the universe can be stated in this manner:
  1. Everything that had a beginning has a cause.
  2. The universe had a beginning.
  3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.
  • Premise 1 is based on the Law of Causality, every effect must have a cause. Based on science and pure reason, we know that something cannot come from nothing.
  • Premise 2 identifies that the universe must have a cause greater than itself. This is evidence produced by an enormous S.U.R.G.E.

SECOND LAW OF THERMODYNAMICS: The universe is running out of useable energy. It’s like the unwinding of a clock.

UNIVERSE EXPANSION: The universe is is spreading from a begging point.

RADIATION ECHO: There are traces of afterglow from the expansion of the universe from the begging point.

GALAXY SEEDING: A great mass of energy has been discovered in outer space just as many scientists predicted.

EINSTEIN’S THEORY: This shows that the universe had a beginning and that time, space, and matter are all needed for everything to exist.

(3) The D in G.O.D. is for DESIGN

The Design Argument can be explained like this:

  1. Every complex design has a designer.
  2. The universe has a highly complex design.
  3. Therefore, the universe has a designer.
  • All reasonable persons infer a designer when comparing the presidential faces on Mount Rushmore to the grandeur of the Grand Canyon. Common observation shows that it took a designer to produce Mount Rushmore, while the Grand Canyon came about by the gradual succession of wind and erosion.

The Design of The Universe

  • One example of design is the very finely tuned constant of the universe: gravity. If the gravitational force were even slightly altered, the world could not sustain life.

The Design of the World – There are two essential reasons that only the earth in all of the universe is able to sustain life. Let’s look at two:

  1. The placement of the earth – The earth is uniquely placed in the Milky Way galaxy (between the Sagittarius and Perseus spiral arms) so as not to be threatened by hazardous conditions of giant molecule clouds or supernova explosions. Another amazing fact of the earth its its proximity to the moon. The size of the earth and the distance to the moon causes the earth’s axis to tilt perfectly at 23.5 degrees (allowing for annual seasons to occur).
  1. The condition of the earth – The earth’s atmosphere has the perfect amount of oxygen, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and hydrogen to be a habitable planet to survive and thrive. For example, oxygen comprises 21 percent of the atmosphere. If the amount were any higher, it would create massive fires; if it were any lower, life would  suffocate.

Thought To Ponder: Isn’t it ironic that so many people who pride themselves on being mindful believe that the universe is the product of mindlessness?

The Design of Human Life

  • The amount of genetic information contained in the human brain alone exceeds all the information in all the books in the Library of Congress. Therefore, common sense tells us that just as it takes a sculptor to sculpt a statue like Rodin’s “The Thinker,” we must assume it takes a Creator to create the amazing detail of human life.

Summary

  • We have looked at three good reasons to show that it is more likely that God exists than that He doesn’t exist.
  • We have used the acrostic: G.O.D. = Goodness; Origin; andDesign.
  • Something cannot come from nothing. If something exists now then something has always existed. Self-existence means that something has the power, within itself, of being. This power is eternal and presents no rational difficulty. Self-creation is irrational because for something to create itself it must be before it is.
  • The God of the Bible is self-existent and eternal. God created the world out of nothing.

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” ~ Genesis 1:1

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” ~ Romans 1:18-20

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” ~ Hebrews 11:1-3

“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is none who does good.” ~ Psalm 14:1

“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom also He created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of His power. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” ~ Hebrews 1:1-3

Resources from R.C. Sproul on Apologetics:

  • Classical Apologetics: A Rational Defense of the Christian Faith and a Critique of Presuppositional Apologetics (Co-authored with John Gerstner and Arthur Lindsley). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984.
  • Defending Your Faith: An Introduction To Apologetics. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020.
  • Does God Exist? Sanford, FL: Reformation Trust, 2019.
  • If There’s A God Why Are There Atheists? Why Atheists Believe in Unbelief. Orlando, FL: Ligonier Ministries and Christian Focus, 2018.
  • Not A Chance: God, Science, and the Revolt against Reason. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2014.
  • Reason to Believe: A Response To Common Objections To Christianity. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016.
  • The Consequences of Ideas: Understanding The Concepts That Shaped Our World. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2000.

How To DO Apologetics?

*#2 In the Series: Knowing What & Why You Believe – Pastor David Craig 

The Three Most Common Methods (Means or Ways) of Doing Apologetics

  1. CLASSICAL – Operates in a two or three-step process (philosophical, theistic, and evidential). Working from the vantage point of certain undeniable foundational principles, such as the laws of logic and self-existence, certain philosophical questions are addressed, such as truth, reality, meaning, and morality. Since belief in God as creator is essential for an individual to become a Christian (Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.”), the primary goal is to help the unbeliever understand reality untainted by any false assumptions. The second step offers evidence for the existence of God, usually in the form of traditional theistic arguments and empirical data such as manuscript and archaeological evidence. 

(Notes adapted from House and Holden, Charts of Apologetics And Christian Evidences, Chart 8)

  1. EVIDENTIAL-Defends and supports Christianity as factual by applying historical evidence, including archaeological, bibliographical, and experiential evidence as well as rational evidence (philosophical reasoning with no need for empirical support, as when showing logical contradictions in statements). Truth claims of Christianity are believed to be reasonable and highly probable, though most evidentipalists believe there are no indisputable historical facts. Evidentialists use a one-step approach that demonstrates both God’s existence and which variety of theism is true.
  1. PRESUPPOSITIONAL– The presuppositional approach starts by assuming Christian truth about God and Jesus Christ as revealed in Scripture and reasons from Christianity. The presuppositionalist apologetic to the unbeliever begins by reasoning “from” Christianity through special revelation (Bible). The presuppositionalist assumes the content revealed in Scripture to be true and encourages the unbeliever to do the same since these assumed biblical truths offer the only possible foundation and explanation for life and godliness—a framework on which to make sense of the world and God the way they actually exist. Due to the effects of sin, the unbeliever’s presuppositions are deemed irrational and inadequate to understand or explain the basis for religion, morals, communication, even beauty. In some instances presuppositionalists provide the tools for one to make sense of reality and show that Christianity offers the only foundation and framework on which to make sense of the world and God.

Criticisms of The Three Views:

(1) CLASSICAL – Overemphasis on reason appears to make an infinite God subject to logic and finite human reason, thus devaluing Christianity. God’s ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts higher than our thoughts therefore man should not try to intellectual comprehend Him (Isaiah 55:8-9).

The Classical Response to This Criticism: God is not subject to our logic or finite human reason; only man’s theories and propositions about Him need to be tested by the rules of thought. Though God’s ways and thoughts are beyond our finite reason, they are not contrary to reason (Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” ; 1 Timothy 6:20, “O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge.”

Primary Exponents of Classical Apologetics:

Augustine of Hippo (Aurelius Augustinus Hipponensis, 354 – 430 AD), also known as Saint Augustine, was a theologian, philosopher, and the bishop of Hippo Regius in Numidia, Roman North Africa. His writings influenced the development of Western philosophy and Western Christianity, and he is viewed as one of the most important Church Fathers of the Latin Church in the Patristic Period. His many important works include The City of God, On Christian Doctrine, and Confessions.

Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274) was an Italian Dominican friar, philosopher, Catholic priest, and Doctor of the Church. Major writings: On Being and Essence; The Principles of Nature; Summa contra gentiles; Summa theologiae.

C.S. Lewis (1898 – 1963) was a Irish writer and lay theologian. He held academic positions in English literature at both Oxford University (Magdalen College, 1925–1954) and Cambridge University (Magdalene College, 1954–1963). He is best known for his works of fiction, especially The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Space Trilogy, and for his non-fiction Christian apologetics, such as Mere Christianity, Miracles, and The Problem of Pain.

R.C. Sproul (February 13, 1939 – December 14, 2017) was an American Reformed theologian and ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church in America. He was the founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries (named for the Ligonier Valley just outside Pittsburgh, where the ministry started as a study center for college and seminary students) and could be heard daily on the Renewing Your Mind radio broadcast in the United States and internationally. Under Sproul’s direction, Ligonier Ministries produced the Ligonier Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, which would eventually grow into the 1978 Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, of which Sproul, alongside Norman Geisler, was one of the chief architects.Sproul has been described as “the greatest and most influential proponent of the recovery of Reformed theology in the last century.” Some of His Most Important writings are: *The Holiness of God; Chosen by God; Classical Apologetics; *Reason To Believe; *Defending Your Faith; Knowing Scripture; Essential Truths of the Christian Faith; Pleasing God; Enjoying God; Willing to Believe; The Work of Christ; Now, That’s A Good Question!; Faith Alone; Getting the Gospel Right; If There’s A God Why Are There Atheists?; The Glory of Christ; Not A Chance; God’s Love; The Consequences of Ideas; Does God Exist? ; What is Repentance?

Norman L. Geisler (1932 – 2019) was an American Christian systematic theologian and philosopher. He was the co-founder of two non-denominational evangelical seminaries (Veritas International University and Southern Evangelical Seminary). He held a Ph.D. in philosophy from Loyola University and made scholarly contributions to the subjects of classical Christian apologetics, systematic theology, the history of philosophy, philosophy of religion, Calvinism, Roman Catholicism, Biblical inerrancy, Bible difficulties, ethics, and more. He was the author, coauthor, or editor of over 90 booksand hundreds of articles. His most notable writings: *I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist; *Christian Apologetics; Christian Ethics; Apologetics in the New Age; The Big Book of Bible Difficulties; Introduction to Philosophy; Come Let Us Reason; Twelve Points That Show Christianity is True; Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics.

William Lane Craig(born August 23, 1949) is an American analytic philosopher[5] and Christian theologian, apologist, and author.He is Professor of Philosophy at Houston Baptist University and Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology (Biola University). His Notable Writings include: *Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics; The Kalām Cosmological Argument; *On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision; Hard Questions, Real Answers; The Son Rises: Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus; Time and Eternity: Exploring God’s Relationship to Time; Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview; Learning Logic.

J.P. Moreland (born March 9, 1948), is an American philosopher, theologian, and Christian apologist. He currently serves as a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology at Biola University in La Mirada, California. His Major Writings consist of: *Scaling the Secular City: A Defense of Christianity; Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview; The Soul: How We Know It’s Real and Why It Matters; Scientism and Secularism: Learning to Respond to a Dangerous Ideology; Beyond Death: Exploring the Evidence for Immortality; Body & Soul: Human Nature the Crisis in Ethics; The God Conversation: Using Stories and Illustrations to Explain Your Faith; Theistic Evolution: A Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Critique; Christianity and the Nature of Science; Consciousness and the Existence of God: A Theistic Argument; *Love Your God with All Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul; The God Question; Philosophy Made Slightly Less Difficult: A Beginner’s Guide to Life’s Big Questions; The Recalcitrant Imago Dei: Human Persons and the Failure of Naturalism; The Lost Virtue of Happiness: Discovering The Disciplines of The Good Life; In Search of a Confident Faith: Overcoming Barriers to Trusting in God; Kingdom Triangle: Recover the Christian Mind, Renovate the Soul, Restore the Spirit’s Power; Does God Exist? A Debate with Kai Nielsen.

Tim Keller (born September 23, 1950) is an American pastor, theologian, and Christian apologist. He is the Chairman and co-Founder of Redeemer City to City, which trains pastors for ministry in global cities. He is also the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, New York, and the author of The New York Times bestselling books *The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith (2008),Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God (2014),and *The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism (2008).The prequel for the latter is *Making Sense of GOD: An Invitation to the Skeptical (2016).

(2) EVIDENTIAL– Empirical evidences are interpreted through presuppositions and the framework of one’s worldview and therefore should be offered after the philosophical considerations have been addressed.

The Evidential Response to This Criticism: Evidence is not necessarily presented as self-evident conclusive verification; rather it gives good reason and high probability for one to conclude that the truths of Christianity are consistent with the facts. Many philosophical arguments, such as those offered to demonstrate God’s existence (e.g., cosmological and theological arguments) present premises which must be supported by empirical evidence.

Primary Exponents of Evidential Apologetics:

William Paley (1743 – 1805) was an English clergyman, Christian apologist, philosopher, and utilitarian. Major writings: Natural Theology; and *Evidences of Christianity.

Edward John Carnell (1919 – 1967) was a prominent Christian theologian and apologist, was an ordained Baptist pastor, and served as President of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. Major Writings: *An Introduction to Christian Apologetics; The Case For Biblical Christianity; The Case for Orthodox Theology; Christian Commitment: An Apologetic; A Philosophy of the Christian Religion.

John Warwick Montgomery (born October 18, 1931) is a lawyer, professor, Lutheran theologian, and author living in France. He was born in Warsaw, New York, United States. Since 2014, he has been Distinguished Research Professor of Philosophy at Concordia University, Wisconsin,and continues to work as a barrister specializing in religious freedom cases in international Human Rights law.Major Writings: Defending the Faith in a Messy World: A Christian Apologetics Primer; *Always Be Ready: A Primer on Defending the Christian Faith; *Faith Founded on Fact: Essays in Evidential Apologetics; History and Christianity; Evidence for Faith; How Do We Know There Is a God?; Christianity for the Tough Minded; Where Is History Going?

Josh McDowell (born August 17, 1939) is an evangelical apologist and evangelist.He is the author or co-author of over 150 books. His book Evidence That Demands a Verdict was ranked 13th in Christianity Today‘s list of most influential evangelical books published after World War II. Major Writings: *More Than a Carpenter; *Evidence That Demands a Verdict; God-Breathed: The Undeniable Power and Reliability of Scripture; The Unshakable Truth; Evidence for The Resurrection.

Lee Strobel (born January 25, 1952) is an American Christian author and a former investigative journalist (Legal Editor of the Chicago Tribune). He has written several books, including four which received ECPA Christian Book Awards (1994, 1999, 2001, 2005)and a series which addresses challenges to the veracity of Christianity.He also hosted a television program called Faith Under Fire on PAX TVand runs a video apologetics web site. Strobel has been interviewed on numerous national television programs, including ABC’s 20/20, Fox News, and CNN. Notable Writings: *The Case for Christ; *The Case for a Creator; The Case for Faith; The Case for Miracles; The Case for Grace; The Case for Hope; God’s Outrageous Claims; In Defense of Jesus.

J. Warner Wallace (born June 16, 1961) is an American homicide detective and Christian apologist. Wallace is a Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview and an Adjunct Professor of Apologetics at Biola University in La Mirada, California. He has authored several books, including *Cold-Case Christianity, *God’s Crime Scene, and *Forensic Faith, in which he applies principles of cold case homicide investigation to apologetic concerns such as the existence of God and the reliability of the Gospels. He has been featured as a cold case homicide expert on Fox 11 Los Angeles, truTV (formerly Court TV), and NBC.

(3) PRESUPPOSITIONAL– Presupposing the truth of Christian theism is arguing in a circle and lacks a basis to justify its assumptions as to why one should presuppose Christianity. The apostle Paul says that God’s existence and attributes can be “clearly seen” (Romans 1:18-20) since they have been “shown” to the unbelieving world through “the things that have been made” (nature). Therefore, the unbeliever’s problem is not one of not understanding the truth of God, but of suppression which leads to not receiving the truth.

The Presuppositional Response to This Criticism: The Presuppositional basis is not circular since its argument is transcendental, which demonstrates that proof is possible only because of God’s existence.

Primary Exponents of Presuppositional Apologetics: 

Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920) Abraham Kuijper, publicly known as Abraham Kuyper, was Prime Minister of the Netherlands between 1901 and 1905, an influential neo-Calvinist theologian and also a journalist. His most influential writings: Lectures on Calvinism; *Common Grace; Pro Rege; The Work of The Holy Spirit.

Herman Bavinck (Born in1854, Hoogeveen, Drenthe – July 1921, Amsterdam) was a Dutch Reformed theologian and churchman. He was a significant scholar in the Calvinist tradition, alongside Abraham Kuyper and B. B. Warfield. His most influential writings: Reformed Dogmatics (4 Volumes); *Christian Worldview; Reformed Ethics; Our Reasonable Faith; Saved By Grace.

Cornelius Van Til (May 3, 1895 – April 17, 1987)  was a Dutch-American Christian philosopher and Reformed theologian, who is credited as being the originator of modern presuppositional apologetics – a Professor for many years at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. His most influential writings: *Christian Apologetics; The Defense of the Faith; An Introduction to Systematic Theology; Christian Theistic Evidences; Common Grace And The Gospel; Why I Believe In God.

Gordon Clark (August 31, 1902 – April 9, 1985) was an American philosopher and Calvinist theologian. He was a leading figure associated with presuppositional apologetics and was chairman of the Philosophy Department at Butler University for 28 years.  His most influential writings: Logic; Predestination; God and Evil; An Introduction to Christian Philosophy; Religion, Reason, and Revelation; *Christian View of Men and Things; The Philosophy of Science and Belief in God.

Greg Bahnsen (September 17, 1948 – December 11, 1995) was an American Calvinist philosopher, apologist, and debater. He was a minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and a full-time Scholar in Residence for the Southern California Center for Christian Studies (SCCCS).   His most influential writings: *Always Ready: Directions for Defending the Faith; Presuppositional Apologetics: Stated and Defended; Van Til’s Apologetic.

John M. Frame (born April 8, 1939 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) is an American Christian philosopher and Calvinist theologian especially noted for his work in epistemology and presuppositional apologetics, systematic theology, and ethics. His most influential writings: *Apologetics: A Justification of Christian Belief; Christianity Considered: A Guide For Skeptics and SeekersCornelius Van Til: An Analysis of His Thought; Systematic Theology; The Doctrine of God; The Doctrine of the Christian Life; The Doctrine of the Word of God; The Doctrine of the Knowledge of GodA History of Western Philosophy and Theology; Theology in Three Dimensions; We Are All Philosophers; Nature’s Case for God; *No Other God; Salvation Belongs to the Lord.

RESOURCES COMPARING APOLOGETICS METHODOLOGY

Kenneth D. Boa and Robert M. Bowman Jr. Faith Has Its Reasons: Integrative Approaches to Defending the Christian Faith.  Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2005

Gordon R. Lewis. Testing Christianity’s Truth Claims: Approaches to Christian Apologetics. Chicago: Moody Press, 1977. (Unfortunately Out of Print)

Brian K. Morely. Mapping Apologetics: Comparing Contemporary Approaches. Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2015

Contributors: William Lane Craig (Classical), Gary R. Habermas (Evidentialist), John M. Frame (Presuppositional), Kelly James Clark (Reformed Epistemolgy), Paul D, Feinberg (Cumulative Case). Five Views of Apologetics. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

EVIDENTIAL VERSUS PRESUPPOSITIONAL APOLOGETICS

These two systems of apologetics are mutually exclusive approaches, whereas the other systems are complementary approaches, often borrowing from each other’s methodology. Evidentialism reasons for or to Christian truths; presuppositionalism reasons from Christian truths.


EVIDENTIALPRESUPPOSITIONAL
Nature of ManDepravity is total, it is extensive (to every part), but not rendering mankind’s faculties  unresponsive to GodDepravity is total, it is extensive (to every part), it is intensive (rendering every human faculty unresponsive to God
Image of GodDamaged in manDamaged in man
Spiritual DeathLikened to “sickness,” “blindness,” and “impurity”Likened to a corpse
Unregenerate MindAble to perceive spiritual truthUnable to perceive spiritual truth
Unregenerate WillAble to receive salvation only through the Holy SpiritAble to receive salvation only through the Holy Spirit
Nature of LogicApplies to all reality, finite and infiniteApplies only to finite reality; infinite reality is beyond logic
Apologetics and EvnagelismSees a distinctionSees no distinction
Purpose of ApologeticsTo present evidence to the unbeliever and to persuade through logical evidenceTo defend the Christian faith, while recognizing no common ground with the unbeliever
Value of Apologetics to the UnbelieverTo give evidence and reasons for faithNone
Value of Apologetics to the BelieverTo confirm in the faith and render faith credible to the unbelieverTo confirm in the faith

*Another Great Apologist who is hard to categorize would be Ravi Zacharias:

Ravi Zacharias (March 26, 1946 – May 19, 2020) was an Indian-born Canadian-American Christian apologist.Zacharias was the author of more than 30 books on Christianity,including *Can Man Live Without God?; Beyond Opinion; The End of Reason; The Real Face of Atheism; Deliver Us From Evil; Has Christianity Failed You?

*You can watch the Lecture by Pastor David Craig on YouTube and Subscribe to the Valley Baptist Baptist San Rafael Channel; there are also many sermons available as well. See you there!

What Is Apologetics?

*#1 in the Series: Knowing What & Why You Believe by Pastor David Craig 

“When I find something in my faith difficult to believe, it often helps to consider how the alternative is *more* difficult to believe.” ~ Gavin Ortlund

What Is Apologetics? (Some Definitions)

“The discipline that offers an apology, or defense, of Christianity. Apologetics (from Gk. apologia, ‘defense’) both defends the Christian faith from its detractors and clarifies misunderstandings of it. In the early church, the apologists wrote to Roman elders who were persecuting the church and argued the case that Christians should not be punished or killed, because they were doing nothing wrong. They also clarified misunderstandings such as charges that Christians were atheists, cannibals, and committers of incest. Apologetics deals with arguments for the existence of God, the reliability of Scripture, evidence for the resurrection, the problem of evil, and more.” ~ Greg R. Allison, The Compact Dictionary Of Theological Terms, Kindle Loc. 269

“Apologetics, in its most basic form, is the practice of offering an appeal and a defense for the Christian faith. In other words, apologetics, through word and deed, answers both why a person can believe (defense) and why a person should believe (appeal). The goal of apologetics is to clear away the debris of doubt and skepticism in order to make a path for the gospel to be heard.” ~ Joshua D. Chawtraw and Mark D. Allen, Apologetics At The Cross, p. 17.

“Apologetics is concerned with the defense of the Christian faith against charges of falsehood, inconsistency, or credulity.” ~ Steven B. Cowan, Five Views On Apologetics, p. 8.

“Apologetics has to do with defending, or making a case for, the truth of the Christian faith. It is an intellectual discipline that is usually said to serve at least two purposes: (1) to bolster the faith of Christian believers, and (2) to aid in the task of evangelism. Apologists seek to accomplish these goals in two distinct ways. One is by refuting objections to the Christian faith, such as the problem of evil or the charge that key Christian doctrines (e.g. the Trinity, incarnation, etc.) are incoherent. The apologetic task can be called negative or defensive apologetics. The second, perhaps complementary, way apologists fulfill their purpose is by offering positive reasons for Christian faith. The latter called positive or offensive apologetics, often takes the form of arguments for God’s existence or for the resurrection and deity of Christ but are by no means limited to these.”  ~ Steven B. Cowan, Five Views On Apologetics, p. 8.

“That branch of Christian theology that has as its aim the reasoned advocacy of the Christian faith. It includes both positive arguments for the truth of Christianity and rebuttals of criticisms leveled at it.” ~ Millard J. Erickson, The Concise Dictionary Of Christian Theology, p. 14

“Apologetics is the branch of theology that offers a rational defense for the truthfulness of the divine origin and authority of Christianity, In the classic sense of the word, ‘apologetics’ derives its meaning from the Greek word apologia, which means ‘defense.’ A judicial term, it describes the way a lawyer deliberately and rationally presents a verbal defense of a particular claim. Or, more precisely, apologetics is to ‘speak away’ (apo = away, from; logia = speech, word) the charge brought against an individual (Acts 25:16; 19:33; 22:1; 1 Corinthians 9:3; 2 Corinthians 7:11; 1 Peter 3:15; Philippians 1:7, 16; 2 Timothy 4:16).” ~ H. Wayne House & Joseph M. Holden, Charts of Apologetics and Christian Evidences

“(Gr. apologetikos, ‘suitable for defense’) The endeavor to provide a reasoned account of the grounds for believing in the Christian faith.” ~ Donald K. McKim, The Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms 

“Apologetics provides well-reasoned evidences that empower nonbelievers to choose Christianity rather than any other religion. Apologetics can be used to show the unbeliever that all the other options in the smorgasbord of world religions are not really options at all because they are false. Apologetics can remove mental roadblocks that prevent nonbelievers from responding to the gospel. Apologetics not only provides a defense for the faith but also provides security to Christians. Believers can be sure their faith is not a blind leap into a dark chasm, but rather an intelligent decision founded on fact. Apologetics does not replace faith; it grounds our faith…Apologetics demonstrates why we believe and what we believe.” ~ Ron Rhodes, 5-Minute Apologetics Today, p. 12.

“Christian apologetics is simply the presentation of a case for biblical truth, most notably the central truth of Jesus Christ as Son of God and Savior. But a richer, more relational and more humble definition must include the central concern of apologetics: Christian apologetics lays before the watching world such a winsome embodiment of the Christian faith that for any and all who are willing to observe there will be an intellectually and emotionally credible witness to its fundamental truth. The success of any given apologetic argument is not whether it wins converts but whether it is faithful to Jesus.” ~ James Sire, A Little Primer On Humble Apologetics, Kindle, Loc. 197)

Two Aspects of Apologetics

Within the task of defending the faith there emerge at least two distinct aspects. (1) The destructive or defensive aspect The destructive or defensive aspect seeks to “dismantle” or explain away arguments against Christianity.

“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” ~ 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

[Paul addressing overseers/elders/pastors in the church] “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach.” ~ Titus 1:9-11

(2) The creative or offensive aspect offers evidence and proofs to support arguments for the truthfulness of the Christian faith.

[Jesus’ appearing to the disciples after the resurrection and just before his ascension to heaven] “He presented himself to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.” ~ Acts 1:3

[Jesus’ appearing to the disciples after the resurrection] See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” ~ Luke 24;39

“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” ~ Romans 1:19-20

The Ancient Use of Apologetics

In secular society, the use of apologetics as a defense against the attack occurred as early as the 5th century BC when Socrates presented his own defense before an Athenian court, which was later chronicled by his student Greek philosopher Plato in The Apology. During the 1st century AD, Josephus offered an apologetic on the ancient origin of the Jewish religion in his Against Apion (AD 93-95). In the early years of the church, Justin Martyr (100-167) and Tertullian (155-235) are recognized as apologists through their writings—First Apology and Second Apology by Martyr and Apologeticum by Tertullian. Among  other apologists were Tatian, Athenagoras, and Theophilus. Their main task, as Christianity sought to gain acceptance as a legitimate religion within the Roman Empire, was to defend Christianity against attacks from within the Roman philosophical society and pagan religious culture. Irenaeus (AD 130-202) defended the faith (Against Heresies, AD 180) against Gnostic ideas that emanated from within the church.

The Biblical Use of Apologetics

The principal Scripture for describing and advocating apologetics is 1 Peter 3:15 which says, “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.”

A few examples from the Scriptures (there are many more):

  1. Elijah confronting the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18 in order to demonstrate Yahweh as the Most High God;
  2. God giving Moses evidence that God would speak through him in Exodus 4;
  3. Stephen giving a defense of the faith before his persecutors in Acts 7;
  4. Paul arguing for his faith before kings, magistrates, and philosophers in Acts 17 and 22;
  5. Paul and Barnabas gave evidence for God and said that idolatry was worthless in Acts 14:6-20;
  6. Jesus defending His claims and challenges of the Pharisees and Sadducees ( Matthew 22:34-46; John 5).

How About You?

What are five of the most important “Whats” you believe and “Why” do you believe them?

Examples:

What is the meaning of my life?

What is the essence of God?

What is the essence of humanity?

What are the reasons I believe what I believe about anything?

Why is there something rather than nothing?

Why I am I a Christian and not… (an atheist, mormon, muslim, etc.)

Why do I believe there is a God?

Why should anyone believe what I believe? 

Next Step:

Write down your top 5 What’s and Why’s and come up with an apologetic for each!

*You can subscribe to the Valley Baptist Church San Rafael Channel on YouTube to watch the lecture for this video as well as sermons from Dr. David P. Craig.

Book Review of Anxiety: Anatomy and Cure by Robert W. Kellemen

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Learning From The Apostle Paul in Overcoming Anxiety

Book Review by Dr. David P. Craig

This is a short and helpful booklet (43 pages) that helps you to understand and apply the Apostle Paul’s exhortation from Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” 

Some of the helpful gold nuggets Kellemen shares are as follows:

“in anxiety, we turn to self instead of turning to God. Anxiety is fear without faith. It is vigilance run amok. We scan the horizon constantly, fearfully, but without ever taking action or responsibility and without clinging to God.”

“in vigilance, we turn to God. Through faith, we face the reality of our neediness by trusting in the unseen reality of a God who cares and controls.”

“We experience the power of life and death in two gardens: the garden of Eden and the garden of Gethsemene. If we live by the power of the flesh, then we live a fear-based, self-centered life that follows the model of the first Adam. If we live by the power of the Spirit, then we live a faith-based, Christ-centered life that follows the model of the second Adam.”

“In anxiety, we choose a crippling focus on our circumstances. In worshipful prayer, we choose a healing focus on God’s character.” 

The greater part of this booklet is an examination, exhortation, evaluation, and application from Philippians 4. Kellemen gives a wonderful and practical exhortation based on the following seven insights: (1) Guard Your Relationship with God, Your Guard: Faith in Your Father; (2) Commit to Mature Relationships with God’s People: It Takes a Congregation; (3) Cling to Your Identity in Christ: Wholeness in Christ; (4) Put on the Mind of Christ: The Weapons of Your Warfare; (5) Practice What You Preach; Living and Loving with Courage; (6) Soothe Your Soul in Your Savior: Emotional Maturity 101; (7) Live Wisely in a Fallen World: Jars of Clay.

At the end of each brief exhortation Kellemen has several helpful questions to help you apply the Gospel in your daily life. I highly recommend this booklet – it’s brevity is a positive – especially if you want quick help in dealing with your anxieties from our all wise God.

Book Review of John Piper’s “Coronavirus and Christ”

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Jesus is Our Rock of Certainty At This Moment of History

Book Review by Dr. David Craig

I am so glad to have John Piper’s theologically sound and biblically based wisdom in the midst of grappling with the Coronavirus. In this short book Piper shares from personal storms he has gone through in his own life (cancer) and the storms that all humanity must endure when living in a fallen and sinful world. 

Part One: The God Who Reigns over coronavirus gives a theological and biblical foundation for going through suffering based on a robust examination of God and His attributes of Holiness, righteousness, wisdom, and sovereignty. His stated aim in this section is to “show why God in Christ is the Rock at this moment in history—in this pandemic of the coronavirus—and what it is like to stand on his mighty love.” He also repeats this statement in several of the chapters and substantiates every statement he makes like it with a plethora of scriptures and theological illustrations to back it up: “The same sovereignty that could stop the coronavirus, yet doesn’t, is the very sovereignty that sustains the soul in it.”

In Part Two Piper answers this question “What Is God Doing through the Coronavirus?” with the following six answers: (1) God is giving the world in the coronavirus outbreak, as in all other calamities, a physical picture of the moral horror and spiritual ugliness of God-belittling sin; (2) Some (not all) people will be infected with coronavirus as a specific judgment from God because of their sinful attitudes and actions; (3) The coronavirus is a God-given wake-up call to be ready for the second coming of Christ; (4)  The coronavirus is God’s thunderclap call for all of us to repent and realign our lives with the infinite worth of Christ; (5) The coronavirus is God’s call to his people to overcome self-pity and fear, and with courageous joy, to do good works of love that glorify God; (6) In the coronavirus God is loosening the roots of settled Christians, all over the world, to make them free for something new and radical and to send them with the gospel of Christ to the unreached peoples of the world.

Each answer is supported by Scripture, sound theology, and supplemented with various useful applications. Overall, Piper’s treatment is deep, concise, profound, and eminently helpful. I highly recommend his book as a very positive treatment of our biblical and theological response to the coronavirus. 

Book Review of The Essential Jonathan Edwards by Owen Strachan and Douglas A. Sweeney

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A Fantastic Introduction to the Works and Life of Jonathan Edwards

Reviewed by Dr. David P. Craig

I have wholeheartedly taken C.S. Lewis’ advice to read an ancient book for every modern book that I read. I find that of all the ancient theologians I enjoy reading Jonathan Edwards the most. However, it takes me a very long time to read his writings and I have to pick them up, and put them down, slowly, thoughtfully, and prayerfully. Honestly, he’s hard to read quickly, but well worth it if you are willing to patiently, thoughtfully, and prayerfully wade in.

Enter in “The Essential Edwards” by theologians Owen Strachan and Douglas A. Sweeney. They have done an absolutely fantastic job of breaking Edwards down for the modern reader. The five major sections in this book cover these five main topics: (1) Lover of God; (2) Beauty; (3) The Good Life; (4) True Christianity; and (5) Heaven and Hell. Each chapter includes excerpts from his journals, sermons, treatises, and miscellanies with brief explanations or commentary on his writings. They then close each chapter with practical ramifications of his work and life for today.

I think that anyone who wades into the water with Edwards in this book will want to go deeper. I liken it to snorkeling for the first time. You see amazing fish and want to go deeper to see more. This book will make you want to go deeper – to scuba dive – into the writings of Edwards and explore the deeper waters of this incredible theologian-pastor who will guide you into greater focus, intimacy, and passion for Jesus.

I personally want to thank Owen Strachan and Douglas A. Sweeney for this tremendous gift to the modern church. I am grateful for their efforts and hope that many will enter into the deeper waters of Edwards via this outstanding book by two practical theologians who love Edwards and his Lord.