Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Pastor’s Matt’s book of the year – and the rest of his astonishing reading list

Previously, I have been pretty critical of pastors being unwilling to connect the Bible to evidence outside the Bible. I have always maintained that the secret to getting people to act like Christians and evangelize effectively was that we needed to train Christians to understand how to relate what the Bible says to the way the world really works outside church doors. Whether it be the existence of God, the resurrection of Jesus, social issues, fiscal issues and foreign policy issues, my view has always been that pastors by and large were just not taking seriously their obligation to train their flocks to engage with non-Christians. I guess that I expected that most pastors would be more like Wayne Grudem, who is really good at connecting the Bible to knowledge outside the Bible. But in my experience, most pastors aren’t like that.

Look, I don’t even think it’s possible – in a secularized, postmodern, relativistic, naturalistic society like ours – to impact the world for Christ unless our faith is connected to knowledge from the real world. Christians today say that they believe the Bible, but can they really live it out if it’s just private preferences, and not objective knowledge? Many beliefs that conflict with Christianity are accepted by most people today as being beyond dispute. In order to evangelize today, I think that we have to support our beliefs with knowledge. And that means building a worldview from the ground up, with each block the result of a careful study of some area of knowledge. We have to put as much effort into our faith as we do into our education, our careers, our investments, our fitness and nutrition, etc. That’s the only way to be an authentic Christian in such a hostile environment.

OK, so with that said, let’s take a look at Pastor Matt’s exciting post.

He writes:

Hi, my name is Matt and I’m a book addict.  It is a sickness that leads people to such reckless behavior as reading on a couch for hours during sunny days, spending free time wondering the racks at Barnes & Noble and boring the heck out of people at parties when soft-hearted fools make the mistake of inviting a well-known “bibliophile.”  BUT my sickness may be your blessing because raging geeks like me can help you spend your money and time a little bit more wisely.

My favorite book of the year so far is Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels by Detective J. Warner Wallace (David C. Cook 2013).  Detective Wallace presents apologetics, the necessary but often dry discipline of defending the Christian faith, in a fresh and compelling manner.  He approaches the Gospels as a cold-case detective and illustrates his points with fascinating stories from his years working as an investigator.  It is a fun, well-written and helpful work that will embolden Christians to share their faith with others for decades to come.  You MUST pick-up a copy of this book.

So far so good. But this is where things get really weird. You see, Pastor Matt is really addicted to reading. He has read SIXTY-SEVEN books so far this year, and he has a bunch more in progress.

Now just check out a few of these books and ask yourself – what would the world be like if every pastor was like Pastor Matt?

Behold, the awesomeness of his book list:

1. Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions by Greg Koukl (Zondervan 2009).  A lot of budding apologists fill their head with knowledge but lack tact in conversing with non-believers–Koukl’s book can help. A must read.

2. Icons of Evolution by Jonathan Wells (Regnery 2002).  What unsupported claims do Darwinists hold to? Wells, a trained evolutionary biologists, points them out in this wonderful book.

4. On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision by William Lane Craig (David C. Cook 2010).  A good apologetics resource although I think Craig struggles to explain in lay terms his response to scientific objections to the faith.

6. True for You, but Not For Me: Answering Objections to the Christian Faith by Paul Copan (Bethany 2009).  A good but short guide to various objections. Recommended.

7. How Do You Know You’re Not Wrong? Responding to Objections that Leave Christians Speechless by Paul Copan (Baker 2005).  A good guide with more meat to it than True For You, But Not For Me. Recommended.

9-11. The Case for Christ (Zondervan 1998), The Case for Faith (Zondervan 2006) and The Case for a Creator (Zondervan 2004).  The Strobel’s trilogy serves as a wonderful introduction to apologetics.  Strobel is a former journalist who interviews experts on matters of faith and reports them with crisp prose.  Highly recommended.

12. The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos is Designed for Discovery by Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards (Regnery 2004). A wonderful book on the fine-tuning of the universe.  Highly recommended.

13. Seven Days that Divide the World by John Lennox (Zondervan 2011).  A great little book, which serves as a fine introduction to old earth creationism. Recommended.

15. The Reason for God by Tim Keller (Dutton 2009).  This is the 3rd time I have read through this work and it stands up as THE post-modern apologetic.  A must read.

16. Darwin on Trial: Deluxe Edition by Phillip Johnson (IVP 2010).  The best analysis and refutation of Darwinisn. A must read.

18. Good God: The Theistic Foundations of Morality by David Baggett and Jerry Walls (Oxford 2011).  A well argued but dense work for the moral argument for the existence of God. Highly recommended for those with a background in philosophy.

19. How We Got the Bible by Neil Lightfoot (Baker 2003). A readable history of how Bibles went from scrolls written by hand in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek to the plethora of translations we have today. Recommended.

21. The New International Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties by Gleason Archer, Jr. (Zondervan, 1982).  A helpful book dealing alleged discrepancies but a bit dated.

22. The Big Book of Difficulties by Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe (Baker, 1992).  Not as handy as Archer’s book but still well worth consulting.

23. The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Newness, 1905).  My son and I finished the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes last year and had a blast working through the sequel.

28. Is God A Moral Monster? by Paul Copan (Baker 2011).  A wonderful survey of the Old Testament with clear, concise answers. Highly recommended.

30. The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus by Gary Habermas and Michael Licona (Kregel 2004).  A very good overview of the arguments for the historicity of the resurrection. Recommended.

34. Reasonable Faith by William Lane Craig (Crossway 2008).  I have read through this book at least three times and am blessed every time. Highly recommended.

35. The Myth of Junk DNA by Jonathan Wells (Discovery Institute 2011).  Dr. Wells debunks a common objection to intelligent design.  Short but effective.

36. Darwin’s Black Box by Michael Behe (Free Press, 2006 ed.).  A classic that is often ridiculed by materialists but yet to be refuted!

37. Signature in the Cell by Stephen C. Meyer (HarperOne 2010 edition).  Another classic but a long and difficult read.

42. Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith by Douglas Groothuis (IVP 2011).  THE text-book for apologetics.  Don’t let the size of the book intimidate, it is readable yet truly comprehensive.  Amazing.

43. Holman QuickSource Guide to Christian Apologetics by Doug Powell (Holman 2006). The entries are short but still handy.  Recommended.

44. A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt (Vintage 1990 Edition).  A classic ode to following your conscience. Highly recommended.

45. The Resurrection of Jesus: A Dialogue between N.T. Wright and John Dominic Crossan by Robert Stewart, ed. (Fortress Press 2005).  An interesting but frustrating dialogue between two great New Testament scholars.

46. Holman Quick Source Guide to Understanding Creation by Mark Whorton and Hill Roberts (Holman 2008). The Holman Guides are always good to keep close even if they aren’t as extensive as say the Baker Encyclopedia of Apologetics.

48.  Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up? A Debate Between William Lane Craig and John Dominic Crossan Edited by Paul Copan (Baker Academic 1999).  A fine read but how one can peruse this and not be dazed and confused by Crossan’s positions is beyond me.

50. The Marketing of Evil by David Kupelian (WND 2005).  How did liberals win the PR war in re: to so-called “same-sex marriage” and the butchering of unborn children? Kupelian does a good job of outlining it.

51. Letters to a Young Progressive by Mike S. Adams (Regnery 2013).  Professor Adams has long been one of my favorite columnists and this book is a must read.  I highly recommend it.

52. A Conservative History of the American Left by Daniel J. Flynn (Crown 2008).  One of the few books in the last few years that I have read multiple times.  A must read.

54. The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World by Niall Ferguson (Penguin 2009).  A wonderful and readable economic history that is a must for any and all wanna be policy wonks and political junkies.

55. God & Man at Yale by William F. Buckley (Regnery 1986 ed.) A stunning indictment of Buckley’s alma mater, which envisioned the takeover of academia by the secular left.  A must.

56. Reagan’s War: The Epic Story of His Forty-Year Struggle and Final Triumph Over Communism by Peter Schweizer (Anchor 2004).   A compelling overview of one man’s determination to destroy the evil of Soviet communism.

I am currently re-reading The Apologetics Study Bible (B&H 2007), A Patriot’s History of the United States by Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen (Sentinel 2007), Intellectuals and Society (revised and expanded) by Thomas Sowell (Basic 2012), The Last Command by Timothy Zahn (Spectra 1994) Darwin’s Doubt by Stephen C. Meyer (HarperOne 2013) and Ameritopia: The Unmaking of America by Mark Levin (Threshold 2012).  So far, I recommend them all.

This man is the James Bond of church! Where the heck did he come from? Where do they even make pastors like this? I’ve been in the church and in campus groups for the last 20 years, and I haven’t met a single church leader who read books like this.

I really don’t know what to say about this list. I am just so blown away. Can anyone tell me why it is that there is only one Pastor Matt? What’s wrong with all the other pastors, or is it just that I haven’t heard about any of the good ones in my travels? Is your pastor like this? Does he mention ideas from these books in his preaching?

By the way, you can friend Matt on Facebook and follow him on Twitter. Recommended!

UPDATE: He’s written a new post explaining how he is able to read so many books.

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Brian Auten interviews Jim Wallace of Please Convince Me

I spotted this on Apologetics 315.

The MP3 file is here. (43 minutes)

Details from Brian’s post:

Today’s interview is with Jim Wallace of PleaseConvinceMe.com and host of the PleaseConvinceMe Podcast. As a cold case detective, Jim brings a unique perspective to his approach to apologetics and a very down-to-earth logical style. In this interview, Jim talks about his approach to the evidence (inference to the best explanation), Tactics and apologetics, debate vs. dialogue, pitfalls to apologists, and more.

Topics:

  • Jim’s background as an Catholic-raised atheist, and cold-case detective
  • Jim believed in the progress of science to answer all the unresolved questions
  • How did Jim become an atheist?
  • Why didn’t Jim respond to Christians witnessing to him without evidence?
  • What approach worked to start him thinking about becoming a Christian?
  • What did Jim do to grow as a Christian?
  • How did Jim’s police training help him to investigate Christianity?
  • What investigative approach is used in his police work?
  • Does “abductive reasoning” also work for investigating Christianity?
  • What sort of activities did Jim get involved in in his community?
  • How Jim’s experience as a youth pastor convinced him of the value of apologetics
  • How young people learn best by training for engagement with opponents
  • How Jim takes his youth on mission trips to UC Berkeley to engage the students
  • Is it possible to run an apologetics ministry part-time while keeping a day job?
  • Do you have to be an expert in order to have an apologetics ministry?
  • What books would Jim recommend to beginning apologists?
  • How the popular apologist can have an even bigger impact than the scholar
  • How the tactical approach is different for debates and conversations
  • Jim’s advice for Christians who are interested in learning apologetics
  • How Christian apologist need to make sure they remain humble and open-minded
  • How your audience determines how much you need to know from study

Jim’s reason for becoming an atheist, (his mother was excluded from the Catholic church after her divorce), is one I have heard before. Without saying anything about the Catholic church’s policy. I like the way he eventually came back to Christianity. No big emotional crisis, just taking a sober second look at the evidence by himself, and talking with his Christian friends. I’m impressed with the way he has such a productive ministry, as well.

Filed under: Podcasts, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Walter Williams explains why capitalism is moral in 5 minutes

Who is Walter Williams?

Dr. Walter E. Williams holds a B.A. in economics from California State University, Los Angeles, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in economics from UCLA. He has served on the faculty of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics, since 1980.

Williams was born into an African-American family. His family during childhood consisted of himself, his mother, and his sister. His father played no role in raising either child. He grew up in Philadelphia. The family initially lived in West Philadelphia, moving to North Philadelphia and the Richard Allen housing projects when Williams was ten. In 1959 he was drafted into the military, and served as a Private in the United States Army. Following his military service, he re-entered college as a far more motivated student.

While at UCLA, Thomas Sowell arrived on campus in 1969 as a visiting professor. Though he never took a class from Dr. Sowell, the two met and began a friendship that has lasted to this day.

Watch this 5-minute video where he explains why capitalism is more moral than socialism:

And here’s another 5-minute video where he explains the profit motive:

Now let’s consider another economist, Thomas Sowell:

Thomas Sowell (born June 30, 1930) is an American economist, social theorist, political philosopher, and author. A National Humanities Medal winner, he advocates laissez-faire economics and writes from a conservative and libertarian perspective. He is currently the Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He is considered a leading representative of the Chicago school of economics.

Sowell was born in North Carolina, but grew up in Harlem, New York. He dropped out of high school, and served in the United States Marine Corps during the Korean War. He received a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University in 1958 and a master’s degree from Columbia University in 1959. In 1968, he earned his doctorate degree in Economics from the University of Chicago.

Sowell has served on the faculties of several universities, including Cornell University and University of California, Los Angeles, and worked for think tanks such as the Urban Institute. Since 1980 he has worked at the Hoover Institution. He is the author of more than 30 books.

Here is a 33-minute interview with Thomas Sowell on basic economics:

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about Christians who focus on only one issue during elections, typically abortion. I consider this to be a weak and short-sighted approach. Even if the main goal you desire is to stop the murder of unborn babies, you would do well to consider your opponent and use every tool available to defeat them in elections. Our opponent on the abortion issue is the Democrat voter. A Democrat is a person who is liberal on social policy – who supports abortion and gay marriage. If you want to defeat the Democrat candidate in an election, then you need to appeal to as many voters as possible on as many issues as possible – not just on social policy. You need to defeat Democrat fiscal policy with arguments and evidence. You need to defeat Democrat foreign policy with arguments and evidence. If you engage every target using every argument and every piece of evidence, you will get more success and win the battle for public opinion.

Let’s face it. We are not going to win elections if we turn only to people who call themselves Christians and try to get them to vote pro-life. There are not enough Christians – and not every person who calls himself a Christians is one. Focusing only on Christians is not going to get the pro-life majority we are looking for. It may be easier to avoid confronting people outside of our church, but it won’t work. A much better idea is to use every argument against every person – Christian or not. And to be able to address objections on every issue – not just one social issue. If the voters don’t care about one issue, then you can argue on another issue. You must be all things to all people so that you can win some by knowing what to say when they ask you for reasons and evidence. Now where have I heard that before?

Here is a full audio course on economics from famous Christian philosopher Ron Nash which I recommend to those who have not yet learned to integrate their Christian faith with economics. His two favorite economists are Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell – he says so in the lectures. In fact, he actually quotes a lot of Walter Williams material from his public lectures on economics, and Thomas Sowell material from his books on economics.

Note: for those who want MP3s of the Thomas Sowell lecture I posted above, here they are:

These are low-quality so they could be smaller for downloading.

Filed under: Videos, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

An economist explains her ideas for teaching kids how to be responsible

Look at this great editorial from Fox News.

There are 7 rules in the article.

This one is obvious:

Rule 2: Economic Incentives — Offer Plenty of Jobs

Teach kids chores at an early age and pay them reasonable rates. For us, the seemingly endless loads of dishes — about three every day — became the main chore. Even small children can handle dishwasher take-out loads, at least if you first remove the sharp knives and use plastic glasses. And to them, it is a new learning experience.

Not tall enough? Just have a sturdy stepping stool and allow them to climb up on the counter to reach most shelves. If they still cannot reach safely, let them stack dishes neatly on the counter.

Seasonal outdoor job have included weeding (a great chore for anyone old enough to enjoy digging with a plastic shovel.) Explain why the root of the dandelion and plantain weed has to be dug up. Ten cents can be reasonable per weed, with extra bonus for big roots. Soon enough they learn not just biology but counting, too, as they see how much more they need in order to afford that toy at the store.

If you live near a town center, older children can be offered work running errands — buying a few items at the corner grocery store, picking up the Chinese food or taking a package to the post office.

But some are controversial:

Rule 5: Respect for Property Rights

The family provides basic family games that anybody can use — chess, Monopoly etc. Beyond that, games and toys are viewed as a luxury and can be accumulated by saving up and buying them or maybe receiving them as gifts one day. However, there naturally arises an asymmetry where the older ones possess much more than the younger ones.

Should the oldest be obligated to share with multiple little siblings, or should the younger ones have to wait until they have saved up to buy their own? Some people might argue that, out of fairness, the older child should share his ample possessions. But if he had to work hard, doing dishwasher loads etc. to buy himself the games, is it really so fair that his siblings would share in the fruits of his labor?

The solution? The budding entrepreneurs figured this one out by themselves: a fee for rental.

Parental monitoring might needed if siblings are a bit too young to understand exactly how much they are charged. The fee can be translated into something easy to comprehend, such as the equivalent of dishwasher loads or weeds pulled.

Actually, there are even more benefits to allowing the pay-to-play setup. Expecting a possible rental market with younger siblings, older ones figured they could recoup some of the purchase price for a new game, possibly even making a profit. That made them consider the tastes of their siblings — i.e. potential customers — when considering investing in new games.

And it went even beyond than that in creativity. Our oldest son even conjured up elaborate board games of his very own, with his younger siblings liking them enough to pay to play.

Property rights also mean you are free to sell off a game or toy to a sibling, as long as the buyer fully understands the consequences of the deal.

It made me feel a lot better about all my weird ideas about parenting. I can see how these rules would work to make children more responsible, but are they just too strict? It reminds me of the tiger mother article – about how Amy Chua parents her kids. I agreed with tiger mother, but I was in the minority of readers of this blog, if I recall correctly. Of course, her kids are all great successes now. Hmmmn.

 

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , ,

Douglas Groothuis’ 752-page Christian apologetics book is now under $22

Christian Apologetics

Christian Apologetics

Looking for a good textbook on apologetics that covers everything you need to know? Check out Dr. Groothuis’ book. It’s now under $22 on Amazon.

Here are the chapters:

Part I: Apologetic Preliminaries
1 Introduction: Hope, Despair and Knowing Reality
2 The Biblical Basis for Apologetics
3 Apologetic Method: Evaluating Worldviews
4 The Christian Worldview
5 Distortions of the Christian Worldview–or the God I Don’t Believe In
6 Truth Defined and Defended
7 Why Truth Matters Most: Searching for Truth in Postmodern Times
8 Faith, Risk and Rationality: The Prudential Incentives to Christian Faith

Part II: The Case for Christian Theism
9 In Defense of Theistic Arguments
10 The Ontological Argument
11 Cosmological Arguments: A Cause for the Cosmos
12 The Design Argument: Cosmic Fine-Tuning
13 Origins, Design and Darwinism
14 Evidence for Intelligent Design
15 The Moral Argument for God
16 The Argument from Religious Experience
17 The Uniqueness of Humanity: Consciousness and Cognition
18 Deposed Royalty: Pascal’s Anthropological Argument
19 Jesus of Nazareth: How Historians Can Know Him and Why It Matters by Craig L. Bloomberg
20 The Claims, Credentials and Achievements of Jesus Christ
21 Defending the Incarnation
22 The Resurrection of Jesus

Part III: Objections to Christian Theism
23 Religious Pluralism: Many Religions, One Truth
24 Apologetics and the Challenge of Islam
25 The Problem of Evil: Dead Ends and the Christian Answer
26 Conclusion: Take It to the Streets

Appendix 1 Hell on Trial
Appendix 2 Apologetic Issues in the Old Testament by Richard S. Hess

Here’s a review of the book by Michael D. Stark.

Introduction:

Contemporary Christians interested in apologetics can now turn to another text that is bound to become one of the most-used textbooks in apologetics. Douglas Groothuis’ Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for the Biblical Faith (InterVarsity, 2011) may have more breadth both in content and wisdom than any apologetics text to date. The subtitle is justified as the book, over 700 pages and 26 chapters long (not including two appendixes), presents the need for apologetics and explores the main philosophical arguments for the existence of God. Unlike other apologetics texts, Groothuis includes chapters examining truth in postmodern society, religious pluralism, and a tactful approach to dealing with Islam. Furthermore, biblical scholars (and Denver Seminary colleagues) Richard Hess and Craig Blomberg build on an already strong text by writing chapters on apologetics in the Old Testament (Appendix 2) and a historical approach to the person of Christ and the gospels, respectively.

Here’s a snip from the review:

The chapter on cosmological arguments is superb and only further qualifies Groothuis as a proficient thinker. This chapter without question is the chapter I learned the most from. Groothuis engages very difficult scientific and philosophical concepts and communicates them in a way that even the beginner will be able to grasp. Though there are many different versions of the cosmological argument, the chapter hones in on the kalam cosmological argument as put forth by William Lane Craig. The kalam argument is superior to other cosmological arguments in that it supposedly secures the theistic doctrine of ex nihilo if the arguments proves successful (note: a minor quibble of this chapter is that Groothuis purports that the Thomistic cosmological argument does not endorse ex nihilo. I believe this to be false). This specific chapter was sensational – however I was left disappointed that no time was given to addressing the cosmological argument posited by Aquinas. In some respects, the Thomistic cosmological argument is the simplest form for people new to apologetics. The Thomistic version does not get into the technical issues of the metaphysics of time and Big Bang cosmology that the kalam version uses, nor does it require knowledge of the principle of sufficient reason that the Leibnizian version necessitates. While the kalam and Leibnizian versions are logical and sound arguments, they may confusing to people new to apologetics. Because of this, beginners ought to take the time to read this chapter slowly and more than once because of the finer technical details.

Chapters 12-14 are devoted to the design argument and issues relating to it. Groothuis opposes macroevolution and thus goes to great extent to battle Darwinism. Those interested in the philosophy of science will be drawn to these chapters. The chapter focused on intelligent design relies heavily on the work of William Dembski and Michael Behe. These chapters serve as a valuable introduction for those new to discussion between Christian and naturalistic sciences.

Chapter 15 is perhaps the most successful chapter of the entire book as it deals with the moral argument. It is my belief that the moral argument is the most successful argument for the existence of God as it appeals to everyone, Christian, atheist, and non-Christian religious persons. Ethical theory may perhaps be the most widely debated philosophical topic throughout history and thus Groothuis could have taken many approaches when discussing the moral argument. The way he structured his chapter, however, is nearly flawless. Building off his chapter examining truth in the postmodern culture (chapter 7), Groothuis correlates the denial of objective truth to the ridding of objective moral value. He unmercifully attacks moral relativism and brilliantly shows its dangers. He states that cultural relativism reduces to individual relativism, which, in turn, ultimately rests on nihilism. The setup of this reductio ad absurdum points the reader to a moral system that does not reduce to nihilism. Thus, a worldview that embraces objective moral truths must be embraced. Groothuis makes the claim that the source of objective moral truths is found in the absolute Being – God. Groothuis puts for the notion that God is the source of all perfect moral code because he himself is incapable of an evil act as it would be a contradiction of God’s Being.

I think that the big advantage you get from Doug Groothuis is his worldview. He has the most fully-integrated worldview of any Christian scholar I know.

I bought one copy of Dr. Groothuis’ book, but I gave it away. So I got myself another one. It’s a must have. My favorite four apologetics books are this one, “Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview” by William Lane Craig and J.P. Moreland, Michael Licona’s “The Resurrection of Jesus” and Stephen C. Meyer’s “Signature in the Cell”. I think that if you add Wayne Grudem’s “Politics According to the Bible” to that list, then that’s a very practical set of tools.

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