Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Lee Strobel interviews Brian Auten (Apologetics 315) on the state of apologetics

Brian Auten of Apologetics 315

Brian Auten of Apologetics 315

From Bible Gateway, an interview by Lee Strobel featuring Brian Auten, webmaster of Apologetics 315.

Intro:

As creator of the best website for resources to defend Christianity, Brian Auten offers a unique perspective on the current apologetics scene—the good, the bad, and the hopeful.

Apologetics 315 features a terrific compilation of material for Christians to equip themselves to better define and defend the faith. It’s full of links to resources dealing with every imaginable area of apologetics. As a regular reader of the site, I became curious what its creator, Brian Auten, thinks about the current state of apologetics around the world—and he was willing to share his insights by answering a few questions.

Excerpt:

• What trends do you see in apologetics?

Consider books like The DaVinci Code, writings by agnostic professor Bart Ehrman, or the various publications of the so-called New Atheists. All these attacks on Christianity have generated a lot of buzz. However, each of these attacks has been met with a strong counter-response from scholars, theologians, and apologists. Christianity hasn’t been defeated. Instead, it has weathered storm after storm. In the meantime, the resources available that answer these challenges have increased dramatically. Over and over again, what has been intended to bring Christianity down has only served to strengthen it.

But the tendency is this: too many times Christians are only responding to the challenges. That seems to be the trend. Why are we not running to the battle? Instead of just reacting to the next challenge, I long for the day when more and more Christians would equip themselves with this vast armory of resources and use it to take the battle to the enemy’s camp, so to speak. Apologetic-savvy educators, scientists, public officials, businessmen, actors, novelists, movie-makers—all people with a heart of evangelism who are able to defend and contend for the faith in the public square could have an immense impact for the Gospel.

And more:

• You’re passionate about churches starting apologetics ministries. Are you seeing more of them doing this?

I want to see churches start their own apologetics ministries because it is our scriptural mandate to “always be prepared to give an answer.” Yet there often is very little preparation going on! When challenges to faith come, people struggle to find substantive answers. This may cause some believers to resort to a sort of “believe it anyway” mentality; for others it causes them to abandon the faith altogether.

Research by the Barna Group has shown that a majority of young people walk away from the faith around the time they go to college or university. They simply have not been equipped to deal with the secular challenges that come against their faith when they go to college. But what if they had been properly equipped to understand and answer these sorts of challenges? They would not only be able to stand up under the attacks, but they would also be able to share Christ with more confidence, knowing that they have good reasons undergirding their faith.

So I think it’s so crucial that our churches become training grounds where believers learn why they believe what they believe. Apologetics ministries and small group studies provide a venue for discipleship where people can work through the tough questions that they constantly face from the secular world. And what’s more, our faith is enriched to even deeper levels when we experience the joy of loving God with our minds.

Thankfully, I think we are seeing a rise in the number of churches that both see this need and are beginning to equip their congregations through apologetic teaching, small groups, conferences, and resources.

Read the whole thing. Tweet it, share it. Think about it!

There’s a great list of scholars and ministries in there as well. If you guys want to know what you should be reading to prepare your defense of theism and Christianity, leave a comment with your intended audience, and I will suggest some resources. I may even BUY YOU the resource, if you are a budding apologist who is conservative on economics and politics and foreign policy. Yes, I do that a lot on this blog – mailed out a dozen books this month already to people. Get to know me, I can help you to defend your faith.

Filed under: Mentoring, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I can’t believe my best friend is a Republican

This article is from the ultra-left-wing Salon.com. (H/T Mary)

Basically, it’s written by a crazy left-wing liberal Democrat woman, and she explains what she thinks about her conservative Republican friend, and why. I think that conservatives (and Christians) can learn a lot from this article. Aside from the obvious point about how conservatives should make friends with liberals, here are four points I want to emphasize. Point one: liberals respect study, intelligence and academic credentials. Point two: Liberals remember when conservatives treat them nicely. Point three: liberals think that you don’t believe what you say you believe unless they see you professing what you believe openly and confidently in front of liberals. Point four: talking to liberals intelligently and explaining why you believe what you believe with the authority of public square knowledge creates tolerance and respect for conservative ideas.

Point one:

In the beginning, it didn’t matter. We were more concerned with our own mutual war on body fat. And we soon found on the periphery of weight loss the other things we had in common: a love of books and science, a hatred of hysterics.

[...]She believes what she’s telling me, and she’s studied the issues. That might be what is so difficult: She has the same education as I have, and yet she has made different decisions, decisions that are so counter to what I believe. Decisions I find abhorrent.

[...]Janet’s willingness to associate with so many liberal friends — though I know she seeks refuge in chat rooms and magazines that share her beliefs — makes her a better and more interesting person. She has her beliefs challenged constantly. She is more well-read and educated in her politics than most of the liberals I know. Too many liberals I know are lazy, they have a belief system that consists of making fun of Glenn Beck and watching “The Daily Show.”

Point two:

Then I remember the things that don’t get discussed in our debates — how she held my hand through a recent surgical procedure, rubbing it and distracting me the way a mother would, how she calms my fears about parenting, how she has been a family to me in a town where I have none. How that right-wing, gun-loving, flag-wearing, union-busting Republican still thinks, after all this time, and with so much information to the contrary, that I can lose and keep off weight.

Point three:

Her daughters’ names are Liberty, Honor and Victory, the latter named at the time we invaded Iraq. (Her son’s name, inexplicably, is Bernard.) She owns a bust of Ronald Reagan and cried when he died, proving that she, perhaps alone with Nancy, had remembered that he was still alive. There is a bumper sticker on her very, very large SUV that says “REPEAL,” and I believe it refers to the healthcare bill.

Point four:

…I think having a Republican friend is making me a better liberal. We need friends who differ from us. It’s easy to watch Republican extremism and think, “Wow, they’re crazy.” But when someone is sitting face to face with us, when someone we admire and respect is telling us they believe differently, it is at this fine point that we find nuance, and we begin to understand exactly how we got to this point in history. We lose something critical when we surround ourselves with people who agree with us all the time. We lose out on the wisdom of seeing the other side.

I recommend you read the whole thing. It’s really encouraging to hear the liberal valuing the differences of her conservative friend, and recognizing how having sincere, intelligent people on the other side makes her more articulate and informed about the liberal views that she believes.

And when I tell you all to emphasize raising children who will be intelligent, effective and influential, this is why. Leftists respect intelligence and conviction. The reason why they try to suppress us is because they think we are stupid, that we don’t really have reasons for what we believe – but just inherited it from our parents. It’s up to us to study these issues and debate with skill when the opportunity arises.

Filed under: Mentoring, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

NY man arrested for defending home with firearm

From CBS News.

Excerpt:

George Grier said he had to use his rifle on Sunday night to stop what he thought was going to be an invasion of his Uniondale home by a gang he thought might have been the vicious “MS-13.” He said the whole deal happened as he was about to drive his cousin home.

“I went around and went into the house, ran upstairs and told my wife to call the police. I get the gun and I go outside and I come into the doorway and now, by this time, they are in the driveway, back here near the house. I tell them, you know, ‘Can you please leave?’ Grier said.

Grier said the five men dared him to use the gun; and that their shouts brought another larger group of gang members in front of his house.

“He starts threatening my family, my life. ‘Oh you’re dead. I’m gonna kill your family and your babies. You’re dead.’ So when he says that, 20 others guys come rushing around the corner. And so I fired four warning shots into the grass,” Grier said.

Grier was later arrested.

[...]Police determined Grier had the gun legally. He has no criminal record. And so he was not charged for the weapon.

Only the criminals can have guns, not the law-abiding people. Because criminals are victims of social inequalities, and the law-abiding people cause crime by having “more” than the criminals.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , ,

MUST-HEAR: Brian Auten explains why Christians ought to learn apologetics

A super 20-minute podcast from Apologetics 315.

The MP3 file is here. (20 minutes)

PDF Transcript here.

Topics:

  • what is the definition of apologetics?
  • what do you mean by defense? a testimony?
  • what is the goal of apologetics?
  • does apologetics create belief? should it?
  • what are offensive and defensive apologetics?
  • should Christians fear intellectual opposition to Christianity?
  • is apologetics good for believers?
  • does apologetics help you to be more confident when witnessing?
  • what was the role of apologetics in the Bible?
  • what was the role of apologetics in the early church?
  • was apologetics central or peripheral to Paul’s ministry?
  • does the Bible present Christianity as personal preference or public truth?
  • did Jesus appeal to objective evidence to get people to believe him?
  • is there a requirement for all Christians to make a defense of their faith?
  • should Christians care if non-believers have false beliefs about God?
  • does the Bible need to be defended? What does the Bible say about it?
  • Is an intellectual approach to evangelism antithetical to faith?

My posts on apologetics advocacy are here:

    These were all quite popular when they were originally posted, so it’s good to re-post them.

    Actual arguments and counter-arguments are here, if you want to know the basics. Debates and lectures are here to see how this gets used. Most Christians never even dream that their faith can be debated at Harvard or Columbia or Oxford!

    Christianity is a knowledge tradition. It’s not a feelings tradition.

    UPDATE: If you’re really good at apologetics, you can debate the top atheists in public, and say things like this:

    (The full debate is here)

    Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

    What can you learn by reading apologetics books?

    For beginning apologists, I wanted to recommend a series of 3 books designed to give you coverage of most of the issues. Each book is a collection of short chapters designed to introduce you to the various areas that are likely to come up in disputes.

    Here they are:

    1. “The Case for a Creator” by Lee Strobel
    2. “Passionate Conviction” edited by William Lane Craig and Paul Copan
    3. “Contending with Christianity’s Critics” edited by William Lane Craig and Paul Copan

    I just wanted to show you the table of contents so that you could get an idea about what you might learn by reading through these books.

    The Case for a Creator

    Here is the table of contents. (Watch the book’s DVD on YouTube)

    1. White-Coated Scientists Versus Black-Robed Preachers
    2. The Images of Evolution
    3. Doubts About Darwinism: An Interview with Jonathan Wells
    4. Where Science Meets Faith: An interview with Stephen C. Meyer
    5. The Evidence of Cosmology: Beginning with a Bang; An interview with William Lane Craig
    6. The Evidence of Physics: the Cosmos on a Razor’s Edge; An interview with Robin Collins
    7. The Evidence of Astronomy: The Privileged Planet; An interview with Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Wesley Richards
    8. The Evidence of Biochemistry: The Complexity of Molecular Machines; An Interview with Michael J. Behe
    9. The Evidence of Biological Information: The Challenge of DNA and the Origin of Life; An Interview with Stephen C. Meyer
    10. The Evidence of Consciousness: The Enigma of the Mind; An Interview with J.P. Moreland
    11. The Cumulative Case for a Creator

    Passionate Conviction

    Here is the table of contents. (Sample chapter in a PDF)

    PART 1 WHY APOLOGETICS?

    • In Intellectual Neutral by William Lane Craig
    • Living Smart by J. P. Moreland

    PART 2 GOD

    • Why Doesn’t God Make His Existence More Obvious to Us? by Michael J. Murray
    • Two Versions of the Cosmological Argument by R. Douglas Geivett
    • The Contemporary Argument for Design: An Overview by Jay W. Richards
    • A Moral Argument by Paul Copan

    PART 3 JESUS

    • Revisionist Views about Jesus by Charles L. Quarks
    • What Do We Know for Sure about Jesus’ Death? by Craig A. Evans
    • Jesus’ Resurrection and Christian Origins by N. T. Wright

    PART 4 COMPARATIVE RELIGIONS

    • Christianity in a World of Religions by Craig J. Hazen
    • The East Comes West (or Why Jesus instead of the Buddha?) by Harold Netland
    • Christ in the New Age by L. Russ Bush
    • Islam and Christianity by Emir Fethi Caner

    PART 5 POSTMODERNISM AND RELATIVISM

    • The Challenges of Postmodernism by J. P. Moreland
    • Is Morality Relative? by Francis J. Beckwith
    • Reflections on McLaren and the Emerging Church by R. Scott Smith

    PART 6 PRACTICAL APPLICATION

    • Dealing with Emotional Doubt by Gary R. Habermas
    • Apologetics for an Emerging Generation by Sean McDowell

    Contending with Christainity’s Critics

    Here is the table of contents. (Sample chapter in a PDF)

    PART 1 THE EXISTENCE OF GOD

    • Dawkins’s Delusion by William Lane Craig
    • At Home in the Multiverse? by James Daniel Sinclair
    • Confronting Naturalism: The Argument from Reason by Victor Reppert
    • Belief in God: A Trick of Our Brain? by Michael J. Murray
    • The Moral Poverty of Evolutionary Naturalism by Mark D. Linville
    • Dawkins’s Best Argument Against God’s Existence by Gregory E. Ganssle

    PART 2 THE JESUS OF HISTORY

    • Criteria for the Gospels’ Authenticity by Robert H. Stein
    • Jesus the Seer by Ben Witherington III
    • The Resurrection of Jesus Time Line by Gary R. Habermas
    • How Scholars Fabricate Jesus by Craig A. Evans
    • How Badly Did the Early Scribes Corrupt the New Testament? An Examination of Bart Ehrman’s Claims by Daniel B. Wallace
    • Who Did Jesus Think He Was? by Michael J. Wilkins

    PART 3 THE COHERENCE OF CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE

    • The Coherence of Theism by Charles Taliaferro and Elsa J. Marty
    • Is the Trinity a Logical Blunder? God as Three and One by Paul Copan
    • Did God Become a Jew? A Defense of the Incarnation by Paul Copan
    • Dostoyevsky, Woody Allen, and the Doctrine of Penal Substitution by Steve L. Porter
    • Hell: Getting What’s Good My Own Way by Stewart Goetz
    • What Does God Know? The Problems of Open Theism by David P. Hunt

    Before you can mount a detailed defense on any of these questions, it helps to be able to recognize them all!

    By the way, you can get a head start on the first one if you just connect to YouTube and watch the movies “Unlocking the Mystery of Life” and “The Privileged Planet”.

    Filed under: Mentoring, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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