Tag Archives: apologetics

Christian Response to The God Delusion

Richard Dawkins Straw Man

Every Christian needs to be ready with a Christian Response to The God Delusion. Why? Richard Dawkins’ name is often invoked as the reason why Christianity has been debunked. In The God DelusionDawkins constructs an elaborate argument to put social pressure on people to become atheists. Yet his whole argument rests on a “straw man” version of Christianity that bears little resemblance to Christianity. If we are equipped with a Christian Response to The God Delusion, not only will our faith not flag, we may plant a seed that weakens an atheists antagonism to the gospel. That is, after all the heart of what apologetics ministry is.

Richard Dawkins Straw Man ChristianityToday’s posting features my debunking of Dawkins’ argument with liberal aid from Alister McGrath and Johanna Collicutt McGrath’s, The Dawkins DelusionI encourage you to read on. You, dear reader, will one day face the challenge that Dawkins has shown God is a megalomaniac, jealous, fanatic who is ridiculous to believe in. This post will equip you to answer that charge.

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An Apology for Ecumenism: Pax Nashotah

St. Mary's Chapel

Inside St. Mary’s Chapel

Ecumenism between the Anglican Church of North America and The Episcopal Church, when rancor abounds.

A firestorm has surrounded my beloved Nashotah House about the invitation of the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katherine Jefferts Schori. You may ask, so what? What does this invite have to do with apologetics or ecumenism…

Well, Bishop Schori is actively suing members of Nashotah’s Board of trustees, and several faculty lost their priest credentials in the Episcopal Church. She holds some questionable, if not outright heretical theology. So WHY invite her?

The idea was the brainchild of a few students, particularly Deacon Terry Starr, who was told by Schori not to go to Nashotah, because Nashotah taught hate. The invitation was issued to prove her wrong and model Christ’s love. At its heart it is ecumenism at its finest.

Yet the firestorm, and blowback arose because the internet began circulating that she was going to preach, and even celebrate Communion. That is FALSE!

To quote an article from VirtueOnline:

“The thought of her preaching at Nashotah is beyond reasonable, like inviting the fox into the hen house. Hence, two bishops have publically vocalized their disdain and have used their feet to distance themselves from the Wisconsin seminary. As the story continued to unfold, it was learned that in actuality the XXVI Presiding Bishop was not being invited to preach at The House because of her questionable theological stances, her lack luster preaching ability, or her embracing the hot button issues which have divided the church. Instead, after discernment with the Board of Trustees, the three inquiring students and select faculty members with soul searching prayer, Bishop Salmon determined that the prominent Wisconsin seminary could reach out to Katharine Jefferts Schori with the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ being presented in a graceful, non-judgmental loving manner thus graphically showing that her misconceptions and negative opinions about Nashotah House are unfounded. ”

To prove her misconceptions wrong…sounds like apologetics and ecumenism at its finest to me. Sadly, in the firestorm and upheaval, we lost our brother, Deacon Terry Star. He died of a heart attack. To read more about Deacon Starr go here.

I can only say what I believe. Spiritual warfare was ongoing. Ecumenism and apologetics are of God. When we cut off dialogue, we prevent healing.

For this reason I pray…

As I sit, in silent contemplation,

I pray to thee, heal thy nation.

Like branches, grafted on the tree are we.

Yet, trembling and bending, some are breaking free.

Help us now, before we dost prune,

to see thee in them, erst callously we not commune.

Thou art God, and thee alone,

Jesus for all, our cornerstone.

In fertile soil the tree is planted.

Aid our arguments, so that thou art not supplanted.

Faith, Hope and Love, I know these to be true.

For love of Christ, I will dialogue with you.

What do hot coffee lawsuits have to do with apologetics?

What does a “frivolous” lawsuit have to do with apologetics? As it turns out, a lot!

Stella Liebeck spilled 8 ounces of McDonald’s coffee on herself and awarded $2.9 million from a lawsuit. If you’re like me you remember this case well. It was on every talk show and news station, and even Seinfeld and Toby Keith made a joke about it…What a ridiculous, frivolous lawsuit…or was it?

I came across this video from Upworthy, that tells the other side of the case. The side no one heard was that this woman needed skin grafts to cover over burns from super-heated coffee. In the video, John Llewellyn, a Professor of Communication at Wake Forest University had this to say:

“Vey much like urban legends, It is a very compelling story, once everybody decides what is true about something, and the media has been sort of an echo chamber for it, then how do you deal with the fact that they might be wrong.”

This got me thinking about another thing people and the media get wrong: the idea that God is obsolete and Science can explain everything. If you’re like me you’ve heard this repeated, A LOT! But is it really true?

Science has made God obsolete and irrational…

Alister McGrath sets out to challenge this view in his book, Intellectuals Don’t Need God and Other Modern Myths. He states that the view of God as obsolete has itself become obsolete. It is a myth founded in rationalism, the idea that you can know everything by reason alone. Yet in our modern and very scientific day we still can’t prove the sun will rise tomorrow, we take it on faith, based on history.

Is faith in God, based on the history of the life of Jesus Christ really any different? The intellectual and media would say, Yes! Faith is irrational! But what if they’ve got it wrong? Just like we were all wrong about poor Stella Liebeck.

So in John Llewellyn’s words, “how do you deal with the fact that they might be wrong?” And the answer is…apologetics. Apologetics does not create faith. “The aim of apologetics is to create an intellectual and imaginative climate favorable to faith; it does not itself create that faith.”[1]


[1] McGrath, Alister E. (2010-12-21). Intellectuals Don’t Need God and Other Modern Myths: Building Bridges to Faith Through Apologetics (Kindle Locations 782-783). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

 

The Case for Presuppositionalism

Is presuppositionalism circular? Can you assume that Christianity is right? Can you argue the truth of the Bible from the Bible?  Is an apologist obligated to use the two step approach?

If you’re new to the realm of apologetics it is important to realize there are a variety of approaches. The approach I have favored is the two-step approach. The two step approach first establishes God’s existence. The moves to establish the truth and rationality of Christianity. My reason for favoring the two step approach over presuppositionalism  is simple. It is the approach that helped bring my skeptical family to faith.

Recently, however, I have been converted more towards presuppositionalism. A presuppositionalist begins with the assumption of God’s existence and argues from that perspective to show the validity of Christian theism.

This change was prompted in part by been reading Colin Brown’s, Philosophy & The Christian Faith. 

Philosophy and the Christian Faith Philosophy and the Christian Faith: A Historical Sketch from the Middle Ages to the Present DayColin Brown; InterVarsity Press 1980WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

Brown is not intentionally creating a presuppositionalist apologetic. Instead he sums up the traditional arguments for God throughout history. He then points out they all have flaws and are all capable of being refuted. A philosopher refuting an argument, however, does not refute the faith. The Christian faith does not depend on arguments for proof.[1] Modern skepticism tells us we must understand something in order to believe it. The problem with evidence is we are always going to want more time, or more compelling evidence to make up our minds. The evidence some find convincing will leave others totally unconvinced.

Brown sides firmly with presuppositionalism quoting  Anselm, who stated, “I believe so I may understand.”[2]

Brown offers us this logic for presuppositionalism, “Does it not make better sense of the world- and of our thought about it and our behavior in it- if we presuppose the biblical view of God as its author and sustainer?”[3]

If we accept Browns view that we should presuppose the truth of Christianity, the purpose of apologetic philosophy then is the explanation of the grounds for and the nature of the Christian faith, and that the investigation of these grounds strengthens and enriches the committed Christian’s faith.[4]

Brown, finally, offers an important critique of the two-step approach, If we first wait to establish objectively that God exists, will we ever get to the second step of presenting the truth and validity of Christianity?

For more information on  about what pressupositionalism is check out  http://carm.org/presuppositional-apologetics.
Christianity Today also has an excellent post that looks at the common objections to presupposing the existence of God in apologetics. You can find it here.
For another look about  why I think apologetics matter check out Apologetics in an Unapologetic World.


[1] Brown, 29.

[2] Anselm, Proslogion, i.

[3]  Brown, 30.

[4] Ibid., 29.

[5] Ibid., 47.

[6] Ibid., 48.

Apologetics in an Unapologetic World

One of the classes I’m taking this semester is about Christian apologetics. The course readings include author’s such as Dawkins. One of his assertions that stuck out at me is that we are all atheists in this world. Some of of us just have one more God that we don’t believe in than others.

On the whole I find Dawkins smug and repugnant, but he has a point. No one is arguing much these days for the Gods of the Greek pantheon. Is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacod going the way of Zeus? Are Dawkins and others just ahead of the curve in ousting this God that seems to not make sense in our scientific world. I would argue that no…they are not ahead of the curve, but are behind it.

Joseph Butler, an Anglican Bishop, wrote a fabulous book called “The Analogy of Religion.” His book is a fabulous piece of apologetic work that deconstructs the problems that many beginning in the Enlightenment began to have between ‘reason’ and ‘religion.’ Sadly his work is in 18th Century English, and largely inaccessible to the modern readers comprehension.

Apologetics seem more important than ever in a world where a Christian viewpoint is automatically deemed as biased and suspect, yet where have they gone? The last century was filled with great evangelists, but they had little impact on rational debate. Perhaps this century will be one in which apologetics again comes to the fore.

The recent debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham about creation received a lot of buzz. Yet it seems no one was convinced. Nobody won…The creationists still believe and their opponents still do not. So what would a meaningful and impactful Christian apologetic look like in today’s pluralistic world?