Monthly Archives: May 2014

William Lane Craig’s Defenders Series

William Lane Craig's Defenders Series

Dr. Craig teaches his Defenders class at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, Georgia Sundays at 11:15 a.m. (in the Fellowship Hall). If you’re in the Atlanta area treat yourself to some very fine teaching.

Last weekend Marion and I drove to Atlanta to visit our son and daughter-in-law. On the long drive down we listened to William Lane Craig’s podcasts, specifically his Defenders series.

Dr. Craig is one of the premier voices in contemporary Christianity and is quite likely the strongest debater to oppose atheists around the globe. Whether you agree with his views or not, he cannot be dismissed offhand. He has published scores of books, teaches in seminaries, is routinely interviewed in national and international media, and has debated many of the world’s most popular atheists. So it’s somewhat surprising that with all he has got going on he has made a sacrificial time commitment to teach a Sunday school class.

Marion and I popped over to Marietta to sit in on the class and were welcomed by everyone in attendance, particularly by Jan Craig, who is a vital part of her husband’s ministry. We had a warm discussion after the class about how Reasonable Faith functions. It really is remarkable how much they are able to accomplish. The time and financial demands are enormous, so please pray for them and their ministry.

Dr. Craig’s material, including the entire Defenders series, is available at ReasonableFaith.org. The audio files are loaded within a day or so of the class, and the videos are loaded about a month later. There is a large catalog already available online.

If you’ve tried listening to Dr. Craig’s podcasts before, you may have come across some very heady philosophy. After all, he is a professional philosopher. But these Sunday school classes are disentangled—aimed at a target audience of intelligent Bible students, not the academic intelligentsia.

Dr. Craig has been producing his current Defenders series since 2009. This series on Christian doctrine and apologetics has become an epic work. The material is quite refreshing. He presents both sides of opposing doctrinal views fairly and respectfully, without sidestepping his positions. Those of us who have studied under Dick Woodward will find Dr. Craig’s Defenders series to be the perfect complement to Dick’s Mini Bible College series. Dick used to say his goal was to, “Put the cookies on the bottom shelf,” and he was masterful at doing so. If you have studied the Mini Bible College, you might think of the Defenders series as graduate school.

Did I ever imagine I would be interested in Christian doctrine? Nope, never—not many people are, really. But the more I read and study, the more I realize how vitally important sound doctrine and theology are to biblical understanding. Dr. Craig’s Defenders series is not some esoteric exercise for eggheads and theologians, but a profound labor of love that puts the Christian faith within reach of those who are willing to study and think.

If we want to share the Christian faith we must first understand what that faith really is—and we have to be prepared to defend it. The apostle Peter exhorted us to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15). Doctrine and apologetics…a powerful combination.

 

HT: Jan and William Lane Craig


A Year of Biblical Doubting #2

In verse 23, a "Proverbs 31" woman is described as someone whose husband "is respected at the city gates". Here, blogger and author Rachel Held Evans praises her husband "Dan" at the Dayton, Tennesse welcome sign.

In verse 23, a “Proverbs 31” woman is described as someone whose husband “is respected at the city gates”. Here, blogger and author Rachel Held Evans praises her husband “Dan” at the Dayton, Tennessee welcome sign.

Perhaps I am not qualified to write  about this?   After all, I am a guy, and I have no clue what really goes on with women.  Just ask my wife. But the topic of “biblical womanhood” comes up from time to time, and it concerns all of us in the Body of Christ.

A. J. Jacobs wrote a New York Times best seller a few years ago, The Year of Living Biblically, about his humorous, tongue-in-cheek attempt to follow all of the Bible literally for one year. In like manner, Rachel Held Evans titled her second book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband “Master”. Here she recounts her story of spending an entire year trying to follow the Bible as literally as possible as a woman in every intricate detail. Along the way, she interviews other women who try to follow a particular pattern of “biblical womanhood”. What you do not find in the book generally winds up on her popular blog. We introduced Rachel Held Evans here on Veracity not too long ago. How well did her one year experiment go? What is Rachel Held Evans wanting to say?
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Alone Yet Not Alone, Limited Release

Alone Yet Not Alone is an independent Christian film being released in theaters on June 13, 2014 for a limited run.  Originally released in 2013, the film became controversial due to an Oscar nomination for best original song, sung by Joni Eareckson Tada, that was later rescinded.

Alone Yet Not Alone is based on a novel of the same name written by Tracy Leininger Craven. It is based on the true story about a pair of Craven’s ancestors, German immigrant girls who were captured at the Penn’s Creek Massacre of 1755 by Delaware native Americans during the French and Indian War.  Of the few reviews that I have found, one from the Dove Foundation was a  very positive complimentary review, while the other was very much less receptive,  like this second-hand one from a fairly disillusioned, former Christian reconstructionist home schooler.

The film was a fairly low-budget project, put together outside of Hollywood, which partly explains the very low exposure to theaters nationwide. A lot of great films never make it to the top of the popular culture radar because they lack the budget.  Part of the movie was filmed in Williamsburg, Virginia (check out the shot of Jamestown in the trailer below). Even if the film turns out to be less than spectacular for movie goers, I still think that it is important for Christians to support movies with Christian themes in movie theaters.  Otherwise, you are pretty much stuck with a lot of the relatively uninspiring entertainment we mostly have now. Movie theaters are coin-operated entities, so if the demand for good Christian films is high enough, it will encourage the production of more professional (larger budget), higher quality films with biblically-faithful themes.

If you are interested in supporting these type of Christian films, the best way to show your support and get the film release on June 13 at a theatre near you, you should consult sites like these to reserve tickets.


Why Doubt Can Be A Good Thing (An LDS Faith Example)

Plumb LineNot everyone struggles with doubt… and that in many ways can be a good thing.

But for people who think they have absolute certainty in their faith, it is very tempting to pounce on others who ask questions. All sorts of unintended consequences can then happen. For folks who go on and ask questions anyway, there are times where it can get them into trouble. Just ask Rachel Held Evans.

Sadly, the problem is, if left unchecked, doubt can lead people down a road that takes them to places far away from faith in the God of the Bible.   As Martyn Lloyd-Jones put it, the problem with the human condition is not simply that humankind is sick. The problem is that we are in rebellion against God. Unfortunately, runaway doubt leaves us with no one but ourselves to look to, and it merely imprisons us in our own rebellion.

This being the case, it is understandable why so many Christians wish to discourage doubt completely. Just have faith. Just have faith. But I would contend that this is wrong-headed. Sometimes doubt can be a good thing, too.  Just ask “Doubting Thomas” (John 20:24-29).

Here is what I mean: Thomas doubted the resurrection of Jesus, but the Lord did not immediately rebuke him. Instead, He invited Thomas to put his finger into the nailed scarred hands. The resurrected Jesus had a real, physical body. He was not some spirit without a body. The Bible preserves this story for us as further evidence for the truth of Christ’s bodily resurrection.

However, sometimes faith can be presented in a way that looks good at first, looks solid, but upon closer examination, it is built on the wrong foundation. There are more than a few of  us humans who do recognize our rebellion from God, and so we run to God in the arms of faith. But the “faith” we cling to with such certainty is itself confused, the terminology gets all muddled, and the knowledge of truth suffers. We think we are being obedient, but that obedience fails to measure up to the plumb line of God’s Word.

Indeed, doubt can easily misdirect us. But a misdirected faith can also take us in the wrong direction.  If our faith is not firmly planted in the truth, we can easily persuade ourselves that what we believe is true is consistent with the Jesus of the Bible, when in fact, we are only confused as to the object of our faith. Here is a good recent example of what I am talking about.

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Bobby Conway: Contending for the Faith

Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.
Jude 3, NIV84

Clarke has been sharing quite a bit lately, through posts and comments, about religious pluralism and related topics. (Incidentally, one of my all-time favorite posts by Clarke is this one on particularism and the wideness of God’s mercy.)

Religious pluralism is a difficult and tattered topic. There are lots of recent bestsellers stirring up great controversies, but the song remains the same. There is no end to the number of writers who want to reinvent Jesus and conform Christianity to some type of “fair for all people” standard.

But do we really have that liberty? Would that liberty even make sense?

The Apostle John recorded in John 13:35 that the world will know we are His disciples if we love one another—so why can’t that be the bottom line on the Christian faith?  We should just love each other and everything will work out. You know, love wins. But…there are stern and passionate condemnations throughout the New Testament about not giving away the Gospel and the importance of contending for the faith that was entrusted to us. It all depends upon how we understand ‘love’.

This issue hits close to home for me. A friend from church recently told me how impressed he is with Rob Bell. While I can understand on a secular basis how Rob Bell’s teaching (‘doctrine’) appeals to a wide audience, given the plumb lines of Scripture it seems to me an insidious theological cancer. Our understanding of God is like a 20-year-old Oldsmobile? Really?! This is not a debate between creationists about how to interpret science and the Bible to determine the age of the earth. Nor is it a debate about Calvinism vs. Arminianism, nor whether baptism is a sacrament or an ordinance. It’s much more important than those questions. Why?

Here’s an excellent piece of on-topic teaching from Dr. Bobby Conway that lays out why it is so important to understand the Doctrine of Hell. It’s also a powerful example of why doctrine and theology matter.


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