Archive for the ‘Apologetics’ Category

Toucan bird I read a piece on the BBC News website today titled “Space is the final frontier for evolution, study claims” and I thought I’d point something out here. I do not really intend to open up the “evolution vs. intelligent design vs. young earth creationism” debates, I just want to show the blindly circular logic that goes on at times. The study is from a group of PhD students at the University of Bristol in my homeland, England, and they claim that the old survival of the fittest is not the best explanation or catalyst for evolution. Instead, lifeforms need some room to grow.

 Evolution, they say, happens “when animals move into empty areas of living space, not occupied by other animals.” And then they give this awesome example:

“For example, when birds evolved the ability to fly, that opened up a vast range of new possibilities not available to other animals. Suddenly the skies were quite literally the limit, triggering a new evolutionary burst.”

So maybe I’m misreading this, or maybe the author of the article for the BBC is misrepresenting the study, but the following seem to be true of the above statement:

a) Birds could not fly at some point.

b) Birds needed to move into the freedom and space of the skies in order to evolve.

c) Birds evolved to be able to fly into the skies so that they could evolve.

So what were they doing? Using a slingshot for extended periods of the day to spend enough time in the air that their bodies, or their offspring, would catch on and evolve wings so that they could fly up their and evolve some more? Or did they merely use a positive mental attitude and imagine they were up there where the air is rare and will themselves to grow wings?

I know I am biased because I cannot accept evolution as valid for two reasons. Firstly, I believe the Bible says God made distinct kinds of things, and not one kind of thing that happened to morph into other kinds. Secondly, evolution as a theory has no evidential grounds, only posturing and speculation. And really weird, illogical claims in university research studies.

I finally read Animal Farm recently.  I had read 1984 about 15 years ago and enjoyed it, but had never followed it up with Orwell’s other famous work.  I was struck by the way that both novels end it such a bleak place, with the terrible system triumphing over any resistance.  In his introduction to a volume that combines these two novels, Christopher Hitchens writes that 1984 “makes an almost conscious attempt to destroy the very concept of hope” (x).  That’s a pretty good way of putting it.

Hitchens’ description got me thinking.  Orwell seems to have rejected Christianity (from what I can tell, especially the part of this article that I could access), and Hitchens is famous for his antitheism.  Yet one of the great sources of hope, at least in the latter years of communist Eastern Europe, was the Christian faith (especially Catholicism, from my understanding).  Pope John Paul II and the Solidarity movement were critical in the defeat of Polish communism and Vaclav Havel in Czechoslovakia has been noted for his faith.  You can also click here for a video about activities at a Lutheran church in Leipzig (East Germany) in the 1980s.

So the belief in Christ that Orwell and Hitchens rejected turned out to be an important part of defeating the tyranny that they despised.

You may have heard that Christopher Hitchens has cancer.  I hope very much and pray that he will put aside his fierce opposition to God and see that in Christ, he does have true hope.

Sovereign Grace Fellowship of Nampa has a radio program aired on 94.1FM The Voice in the greater Boise region every Sunday afternoon from 2:30-3pm. It is called Redemption Radio and features stimulating discussion on the Bible, Theology, Apologetics, and the Church.

You can subscribe to the podcast here.

You can check out the new blog here.

I watched Larry King Live on Friday night and was pretty disappointed with just about everything I was hearing, even from “Evangelicals” Ted Haggard and Bob Botsford. Here’s a summary of what disappointed me:

  1. Jen Knapp – She is obviously still conflicted from her body language. It was unclear if she actually viewed her behavior as sinful, but justified within a framework of “we’re all sinners” or if she actually thought her lifestyle was commendable within a Biblical framework. She sounded unsure about Scriptural warrant as she repeatedly said that the Bible was written in Greek and subject to various interpretations. She didn’t make a case for her lifestyle from Scripture other than to say that there are some who understand the text in a way that would permit homosexual behavior. I was also disappointed with the privatization of the faith in her references, “My faith”, “My journey”, etc.
  2. Larry King – He was obviously bent on viewing her lifestyle as something that she is inclined towards. He even reasoned that if God is all-powerful, then our inclinations must be consistent with His will. Bob Botsford had a great opportunity to respond to this faulty epistemology, but he failed to connect with this soft toss (more on that later). King was picking and choosing from the Judeo-Christian worldview to validate certain actions, while condemning others…yet another opportunity for Botsford to respond too.
  3. Ted Haggard – He kept reaffirming that God is love and the Bible is all about having a personal relationship with Jesus. He even said that since Knapp and Botsford are on their separate journeys, and that they are equally saved by grace, they should not be criticizing one another. With Haggard also privatizing the faith, he was essentially an unwitting ally to Knapp in the conversation. This over-privatizing of the faith explains why Haggard felt that he was mishandled by his church’s board and the Foursquare denomination when his own mis-discretions became public. He apparently thought that church discipline was “unloving” and incompatible with love towards those in sin. If Ted Haggard thought he was “saved” during his escapades, then he must feel himself in a bind to denunciate Jen Knapp’s actions so long as she professes to be a Christian. He is making a category error in the role of Church discipline in connection with assurance of salvation. His ecclesiology seems pretty whack, doesn’t even sound like he would discipline Jen Knapp. Weird stuff.
  4. Bob Botsford – He is an Evangelical pastor who had a Bible with him, but seemed very uncomfortable to be there and very ill-prepared in the apologetics of pulling down strongholds. He is a learned man, based on his website, but seems as if he has never been trained in epistemology and critiquing post-modern thought and moral relativity. It is great to quote the Bible over and over again, but at some point you need to be able to show the inconsistency and foolishness of the opposition by denying them many of their presuppositions that guide their thoughts and questions. He failed to do that. He should have asked Jen Knapp and Larry King if they have any sexual ethics and what such is based on. He should have asked them if they supported pedophiles, incestuous intercourse, bestiality, and rape. If they said no to any of those scenarios, they should have been asked to give a defense for what authority their denunciations are based on. They would have been revealed as inconsistent and morally bankrupt, as the real hypocrites in the discussion. He had so many opportunities to challenge the uncertain exegesis of Jen Knapp, the selective epistemology of Larry King, and the doubletalk of Ted Haggard, but failed. I was screaming for Al Mohler, Greg Koukl, or even John MacArthur to show up on set and make a respectable defense of the Evangelical faith, but such was not the case.

In closing, this was painful to watch. I do pray for Jen Knapp and have many of her songs on my Ipod. The only plus I take from the show was that she was very conflicted within and she was hardly honest when she said that she is happier than she has ever been. That is absolutely not true. I pray that she would turn in repentance before she is totally given over by God to her obstinate heart.

My Commute With a Mormon

Posted: April 12, 2010 by Greg Burkheimer in Apologetics, Christ & Culture, Christology

I have recently had the opportunity to discuss spiritual matters while carpooling to work with a co-worker who is Mormon. We do not always carpool but from time to time her normal ride is not available. At some time during our commute, the conversation usually turns to spiritual things. We have discussed matters such as, “where is God in natural disasters?”, “why do some not believe in a God?”, and the seriousness of sin. Our conversations have taken a turn where we now tend to discuss particular aspects of our faith. She has talked to me about how other “Christians” have mistreated her. She has also given me her testimony about how she came to be Mormon and why she believes Mormonism is true. She has even invited me to come to church with her and to watch the 108th General conference which was recently on TV. So, how should I respond? I do know some things about the teachings of the Mormon Church. Do I play dumb? Just tell her I am happy with my own religion and move on? Or, do I have a responsibility? Do I confront her with teachings of her church that go against what the Bible teaches? Where should I start? The following are some things I have found helpful.  I hope this will be an ongoing post as our conversations continue.


“Who Can Change the Leopard’s Spots?” – Phillip W. Mansfield.

I enjoyed this read. Thought you might too.

What a mighty God we serve…

Al-Qaeda and Anarchism

Posted: January 5, 2010 by Scott Kistler in Apologetics, Missional Thought, Politics

In the introduction to The Modern Middle East: A History (my new textbook for Middle Eastern history this coming semester), James Gelvin argues that al-Qaeda differs from other Islamist groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Taliban in that it does not have a political program other than rejecting the two most important characteristics of the modern world: the global economy and the system of nation-states.  State-based Islamist groups, he argues,  tend to fight for their program in one country and do not propose a different world economic system.  For example, the Taliban engaged in a failed quest to have their government represented in the United Nations.  Islamist movements like Hamas and Hezbollah not only have military wings but also political parties and social services.  Their charitable functions have helped them to gain popularity as Middle Eastern governments’ services have declined.

Al-Qaeda, in Gelvin’s rendering, is more focused on resistance to these global trends and waging jihad than on specific political program.  Gelvin places al-Qaeda in the stream of anarchist groups that have emerged in response to globalization in the last few decades, like the anarchists among the WTO protesters.  He argues that three factors have led to the re-emergence of anarchism:

  • The feared loss of economic and cultural independence by nation-states in the age of neoliberal free trade ideas, the IMF and WTO, and the global influence of American and, more broadly, Western culture.
  • The decline of welfare states under the strains of these economic changes, including the neoliberal ideas that cut back welfare state spending.  This had the effect of making some people angry that the government could not fulfill its perceived duties to its citizens.
  • The fear that the United States, after the fall of the USSR, would have unfettered global power.

At the least, this explanation is a provocative way of thinking about al-Qaeda.  I’m interested to see how it holds up over the course of the book.  I don’t think that he’s saying that there are no connections between the different Islamist groups, but rather that al-Qaeda has a very different nature than other Islamist groups.  My main question for now is how Gelvin will explain al-Qaeda’s desire to reconstitute the caliphate of the 700s.