Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Apologetics 315: Top ten reading plan for complete beginners to Christian apologetics

Here are the items from the Apologetics 315 training plan for complete beginners:

1. The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel
All of Lee Strobel’s books are required reading for two reasons. First, they are good introductions to the subject and provide a good overview of the material from some of the best scholars in their fields. Second, the writing style is very accessible, taking you alongside a journalist in his investigation of the evidence for Christianity. In this particular title, Strobel focuses on the life and identity of Jesus.

2. The Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel
This book is just as readable as The Case for Christ, but this one delves into the evidence for the Creator. Another thing that makes this good reading for the beginner is this: whatever areas you find particularly interesting can be pursued further by reading the sources interviewed in the book.

3. The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel
In The Case for Faith, Strobel moves from making a positive case for Christ and a Creator to defending Christianity from some common criticisms and objections. This one deals with the hard faith questions such as the problem of pain and suffering and issues of doubt. Again, all three of the Lee Strobel books are a great starting point for the beginner.

4. Holman QuickSource Guide to Christian Apologetics by Doug Powell
Now it’s time for something different. This odd-shaped and colorful book (with more graphics than words) will introduce you to the wide landscape of apologetics by outlining, diagramming, and illustrating all of the key arguments for the existence of God, the reliability of the Bible, the beliefs of other world views, and common objections. This is very helpful in providing visual categories for the content you are taking in. If certain things you have read up till this point have been overly academic, then this book will give you a sort of pictorial overview. This is also useful as a “primer” on the key topics and helpful to establish a bird’s eye view. Illustrations of the ideas are also great for sharing with others what you have learned.

5. Love Your God With All Your Mind by J.P. Moreland
Ok, so you have taken in some of the key content and ideas that Strobel presents in the “Case for” series. But what does intellectual engagement look like? What does it look like to “love God with all your mind”? In this book you’ll be challenged to live a vibrant life of intellectual engagement with your faith. This is a classic book that every apologist should read, and that’s why it finds itself firmly in the foundational books recommended here.

6. Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions by Greg Koukl
Information without application results in stagnation when it comes to apologetics. That’s why it’s time for a good dose of Tactics, which will train you not only to use apologetic content in everyday life, but it will also train you to be a better, more critical thinker. This is another “must read” book, and mastering its contents early in your apologetic studies will put feet to your faith.

7. The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus by Mike Licona & Gary Habermas
The resurrection of Jesus is central to Christianity. This book equips you to understand and defend the resurrection from an historical perspective. Not only does the book have useful diagrams, summaries, and an accessible style, but it also comes with a CD-ROM with interactive software for teaching you the material. This is an essential book for the apologist.

8. Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists by Sean McDowell and Jonathan Morrow
Now it’s time to look at some of the most common objections that have come against Christianity since the rise of the new atheism. There’s no better book at dealing with these in a concise yet dense way, while providing additional reading suggestions and introducing some of the key apologists that deal with these questions. If you really want to master this material, consider taking part in the Read Along project for this book.

9. I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be An Atheist by Geisler & Turek
Geisler and Turek have authored a great apologetics book that also takes a step-by-step approach to showing that Christianity is true—and it’s filled with lots of information. This gives the growing beginner a ton of good content, while strengthening the framework of a cumulative case for Christianity. This book will help to grow your overall general apologetic knowledge as well.

10. On Guard by William Lane Craig
Finally, it’s time to dig deeper into some of the more philosophically rigorous arguments with William Lane Craig. On Guard is, in essence, a shorter, more concise and accessible distillation of his weightier apologetics book Reasonable FaithOn Guard has illustrations, argument maps, and sidebars which aim to make the material easier to grasp and engage with. This book will introduce the newer apologist to Craig’s time-tested arguments for the existence of God and the resurrection of Jesus. While it is still not light reading, this will serve the reader well before moving on to more advanced material. Highly recommended.

I love to give away books to people who want to learn apologetics (if I trust them not to give away my identity) and just last week I gave two people numbers 2, 4 and 8 last week. But all of these books are must reads. The ordering is good too! The only books I might add to this list is J. Warner Wallace’s “Cold Case Christianity”, which is a nice book for beginners on how to defend the gospels as historical sources. I would put that one in at #9  drop his #9 completely. His #8 “Is God Just a Human Invention?” is my favorite basic apologetics book for beginners, because it covers everything just a little bit in only one book. If I had to pick one out of that list, I’d pick that one.

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

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, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

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

On wargames, history and heroes: “this story shall the good man teach his son”

Memoir '44: Pegasus Bridge setup

Memoir ’44: Pegasus Bridge setup

Last night, I played through the Pegasus Bridge scenario from the Memoir ’44 wargame with Dina a few times. We actually played the online version of the game, using Steam. She was very gracious to play a wargame with me, which I don’t think is necessarily the first thing on most women’s lists of things to do on a Thursday night! I appreciated her agreeing to learn how to play and then playing with me several times. I think that Christians need to plan and execute more “together” activities like that – activities that involve interaction, co-operation, communication and engagement. We try to avoid doing things where we are both spectators. Playing wargames is not the only thing we do – we also do Bible study and cooking lessons (for me), for example.

Anyway, the point of this post is to express the deeper meaning behind playing wargames. I think that it is important to recognize and celebrate those who have demonstrated good character, whether it be now, or in the past. I think that it is important for us to search out the best role models ourselves, so that they will influence the way we act in our own lives. The second world war was a clear example of good versus evil. Anyone on the Allied side who demonstrated bravery and courage should be celebrated for safeguarding the security, liberty and prosperity that we enjoy today. In the case of Pegasus bridge, the hero is Major John Howard of the British paratroops.

Here is a quick re-cap of his exploits that day from the New York Times:

Maj. John Howard, the commander of glider-borne British infantrymen who seized the strategically vital Pegasus Bridge in the first battle of the D-Day invasion of Normandy, died Wednesday in a hospital in Surrey, England. He was 86 and had lived in Burford, near Oxford.

Under cover of night on June 6, 1944, six gliders carrying 181 officers and men of the Second Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry landed on the eastern flank of a 60-mile invasion front on the northern coast of France. The regiment had a heritage going back to the battles of Bunker Hill and New Orleans, to Waterloo and to World War I. Now its soldiers were in the vanguard of the invasion of Hitler’s Europe.

Major Howard’s D Company was ordered to seize two bridges, one over the Caen Canal and the other spanning the parallel Orne River. If the Germans held on to those bridges, panzer units could move across them in a counterattack isolating 10,000 British paratroopers jumping behind the British invasion beach known as Sword, where infantry forces would arrive at daybreak. And Major Howard’s men sought to strike swiftly to prevent the Germans from blowing up the bridges if they were overwhelmed; the British needed those bridges to resupply their airborne units.

British Halifax bombers towed the gliders over the English Channel, then cut them loose.

Major Howard’s lead glider landed at 12:16 A.M., only 50 yards from the Caen Canal bridge, but the glider’s nose collapsed on impact, knocking everybody aboard unconscious for a few seconds. The soldiers quickly emerged, and over the next five minutes the men directly under Major Howard killed the surprised German defenders.

The nearby Orne River bridge was captured by other troops in Major Howard’s unit, and soon the words ”Ham and Jam,” signifying mission accomplished, were radioed to the airborne.

Two British soldiers were killed and 14 wounded in the operation.

Over the next 12 hours, British paratroopers and commandos reinforced Major Howard’s men, and British forces were able to move toward the city of Caen, their flank having been protected by the capture of the bridges.

On July 16, Major Howard received the Distinguished Service Order, Britain’s second-highest award for valor. On the 10th anniversary of D-Day, he received the Croix de Guerre Avec Palme from the French Government, which had renamed the Caen Canal span Pegasus Bridge, for the flying horse symbolizing the British airborne. The road crossing the bridge was later renamed Esplanade Major John Howard.

Why is this important? Well, it’s important to think on the things that are excellent. There are so many things in the culture that are not excellent that we are confronted with every day. We have to make it our business to do things together where goodness is celebrated. Especially when manly virtues like courage are celebrated. We don’t do that much anymore. And I think there’s a connection between wargames and Christian apologetics that we need to deliberately encourage.

Here’s an excellent passage from Shakespeare’s “Henry V” that makes the point:

This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say, ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian:’
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say, ‘These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.’
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words,
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remembered.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be rememberèd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England, now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day. (4.3.43)

This is from the famous speech in which King Henry charges his men to fight well before the famous Battle of Agincourt.

You can read more about the history of the British Airborne division and Pegasus bridge. The famous historian of the second world war Stephen E. Ambrose also wrote a history of the Pegasus bridge battle, called “Pegasus Bridge: June 6, 1944“. You won’t find many military historians better than Stephen E. Ambrose!

You might be surprised how many men are interested in military history and wargames, precisely because men instinctively look up to men like John Howard who embody qualities like bravery and courage. We have a dearth of moral character in this society. And we don’t do much to teach young men about manly virtues, even in the church. I think that it is important for us to think of creative ways for us to present good character to our young men. Young women should also learn about good character, because they must separate out the good men from the bad when they are courting.

Thanks to Dina for helping me to edit this post!

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