Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Busy Day

Posted by Paul

Today is quite an unusual day. Today I will have made two trips to the airport. The first, which I have just returned from, was to take my parents to the airport.

My parent's story is quite an amazing one. It started well over a year ago when my parents told us (my brother, myself, and my wife to be) that they had decided to adopt a little girl from China. Our first reaction, to be frank, was shock. But it did not take long for the shock to subside, and the excitement to take over. This leads us to today. I have just returned from taking my parents to the airport where they will hop on a flight to California where they will then leace for China. In just over two weeks they will be home, and we will have our new sister Grace Elyse Shirley. We will not be able to talk on the phone with Moma and Dad so we have started a blog to stay in contact. We would love for you to participate in this process with us, and I sure under the circumstance you will enjoy a "where I am now post."

My second trip to the airport will be this afternoon for myself. I will be heading out to California myself for the Shepherd's Conference. I am very excited, but at the same time I will miss my wife. In fact, for a very special reason I feel bad leaving her at home; she is pregnant! She is almost 8 weeks along, and we could not be more excited. After losing a baby last year we are happy that this pregnancy seems to be so strong. Last Wednesday we weny for our first sonogram. My child is about 1.5 inches long and has a strong heart beat. We went straight from there to kinkos. I made 12 blown up copies of the sonogram; I am not sure what I am going to do with them but I have them. What a gift it is from God to be respobsible for a life.

This is a very exciting time for our family, and we praise God for the gifts that He has given us. I am so thankful for a new sister, and a new child of my own. We are fervently praying that just as my parents are adopting Grace into the Shirley family that God will adopt both Grace and our child into His family.

Don't forget to keep up with
The Shirley's Adventure to Grace Elyse.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006


I wonder if this passed the desk of Ken Mehlman.

Scattered thoughts on James 2:24

James drives home the point of his first illustration of living faith by explaining God’s terms for salvation. Individuals are not justified by dead faith (faith alone that is without works). Here in this verse James answers the question raised in vs. 14, “can faith without works save?” The answer is no. Faith must be accompanied by works because of the very nature of faith. Abraham believed God’s promise of many descendants, and because of that belief he trusted God even when God asked him to sacrifice his only son. True faith will always make a difference in your life because of the nature of faith, and because of the presence of the Holy Spirit. There is no other way to be saved besides uniting yourself with Christ through faith. And when you unite yourself with the body of Christ you will receive his Spirit which will change the way you live. No one can be saved without becoming a new creature, and by the power of the Holy Spirit the new creation will produce such righteous works as repentance, submission, obedience, and love for God and fellow believers. The faith of the individual in vs. 14 is not real because it has not united him with Christ, and brought about a change in his life through the work of the Spirit. Acts 8:18-22 is the perfect example of someone who only had a shallow conviction of the truth with no true faith. This man saw the obvious truth that there was power in the Gospel, but he did not understand that power or how it worked. He tried to receive the power of the Gospel on his own terms instead of on God’s terms. Isn’t it ironic that he tried to pay money for something that God offers for free.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Abraham's Living Faith: James 2:20-23

James continues his discussion on faith by again pointing out that “Faith without works is useless” (vs. 20). In verse 18 James demanded that these people, who claimed that a profession without any works was enough to be saved, demonstrate their faith in some way. The problem was that they did not have genuine faith, and by demanding that they demonstrate their faith James proved that they did not really have faith. James pushes on in verse 20 and asks “since you were not able to demonstrate your faith can you at least recognize now that your faith is useless.” It is important to note that both pistij and evrgwn have the article making them the faith and works already mentioned. So, faith that is only a shallow conviction in the broad knowledge of God without a godly life is useless. avgh carries with it the idea of fruitlessness, or lack of production. In other words, “faith without works doesn’t work.” Matthew has some serious words for someone like this in Mt. 7:19. Unfortunately it is clear that these people with dead faith were not willing to admit that James was correct. This is why, through the use of a hypothetical man, he refers to them as foolish. Their inability to understand the truth was not due to an ambiguity to the truth, but rather a reluctance to accept the truth. They were not willing to be taught. What we will see in the verses to come is that the faith of James’ opponents grows even dimmer when compared to the living faith of Abraham, and Rahab.

James begins with one of the greatest example of faith recorded in the Scriptures, the faith of Abraham. What James shows his readers is that Abraham believed that God is one, and his works proved it. James also provides his readers with a question to ponder: “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar?” In response to this question someone might say that James is teaching justification by works, however to hold this interpretation is to misunderstand James. Let me give you several reasons why I would say this. First, the word justify (dikaiow) in the NT can have several different meanings. It can mean to be declared righteous which is most commonly used by the apostle Paul. It can also mean to vindicate, prove right, or demonstrate. The second of these two meanings is less common in the NT, however there are examples of it.

Luke 7:35 (NASB95): “Yet wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”

1 Timothy 3:16 (NASB95): By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh Was vindicated in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Proclaimed among the nations, Believed on in the world, Taken up in glory.

It is best to view this second meaning as the meaning intended by James. To paraphrase James we could say “was not Abraham’s faith vindicated/demonstrated/proven when he offered Isaac his son on the alter?” This meaning fits best into the overall teaching of James; particularly within the context of this passage. Remember, just three verses back James demanded that these people demonstrate (or vindicate/prove) their faith and they were unable to do so. These people had abused the beliefs of Abraham to the point where they thought their empty confession of the shema could save them. It is only natural for James to show that Abraham’s faith was not just a mere profession but an extremely active principle. Abraham trusted God so much that he was willing to kill his own son to obey God (Genesis 22:1-22). Another reason to translate dikaiow as vindicate/demonstrate/prove is the chronology of events recorded in Genesis. If we were to take the view that Abraham was pronounced righteous by God on the basis of his works when he offered Isaac then we would have a pretty serious problem trying to harmonize this passage with Genesis. James states that Abraham was justified by what he did in offering up Isaac. Compare that with Romans 4:10-11 in which Paul states that Abraham was justified before he was circumcised. If we go back to Genesis we will actually see that Abraham was circumcised before he offered up Isaac (Genesis 17). The point is that the outward works demonstrated what James opponents were not able to demonstrate that Abraham had saving faith. Look back at Romans 4:10-11. The outward works in Abraham’s life were not the foundation of his justification they were a “sign” and a “seal” of his justification. As James puts it “his faith was working with his works.” Abraham’s faith was not just a saying-only faith, but a saying and doing faith. He heard God’s word and humbly received it (1:21). “As a result of the works, faith was perfected” in the life of Abraham. It was not as if Abraham had a defective faith that needed to be completed by works, but rather his works brought his faith to a point of maturity. This word translated “perfected” (evteleiwqh) is another tough word to translate because it can have several different meanings. When you have a word that can mean many different things it is always good to look at how the author uses them. Here is a list of the different ways that James uses this word:

James 1:4 (NASB95): And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

James 1:17 (NASB95): Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

James 1:25 (NASB95): But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but 1an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.

James 2:8 (NASB95): If, however, you are fulfilling the 1royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.

James 3:2 (NASB95): For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well.

There are a couple of different translations for this word including perfect, complete, and mature. If fact in John 19:30 this is word he used when He cried out “It is Finished.” So in the case of Abraham his faith was not only demonstrated by his works, but also brought to maturity by his works. Joseph Mayor put it this way, “as the tree is perfected by its fruits, so faith [is] by its works.” Further proof that works are the “seal” and “sign” of faith is found in vs. 23. By his good works Abraham fulfilled what the Scriptures said about him in Genesis 15:6. Going back to vs. 21 this is further proof that “justified” should be translated as vindicated/demonstrated/proven. In Genesis 15 Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness; in Genesis 22 Abraham was willing to offer Isaac on the alter and it proved that Abraham believed God. Therefore Genesis 22 proves what Genesis 15:6 said about Abraham to be true. The emphasis of James is on the amazing faith of Abraham, and what it enabled him to do. God made some amazing promises to Abraham about his descendants and in Genesis 15:6 Abraham believed in God and His promises. It was almost thirty years later, in Genesis 22, when Abraham’s faith was demonstrated when he was willing to offer up the fulfillment of God’s promise, Isaac, because God had commanded him to do so. Hebrews 11:17-19 gives us a glimpse into the thinking of Abraham. Here the writer of Hebrews tells us that “by faith Abraham…offered up Isaac” because “…he considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead…” Abraham had so much faith in God that he knew God would not take back his promise by taking away Isaac. As a result of Abraham’s faith cooperating with his works he was declared righteous by God, and he was called the friend of God. He endured through the trial and demonstrated his salvation (1:12). In John 15:14 Jesus said “You are my friends if you do what I command you.” Is there anyone, except for Christ himself, who better demonstrated his friendship with God? Abraham’s faith was the foundation of his justification, and his works were the vindication/demonstration/proof.” Through this cooperation of faith and works Abraham had peace with God. This is something that we all need, because if we don’t get right with God we will be at enmity with Him. If there is going to be peace then there has to be justification by faith alone. This is the way that God chosen to make salvation available, and it is the only way to open salvation up to very people group in the whole world. Anyone can have faith. As we will see in the next example of living faith it doesn’t matter who you are or what you do you can have faith. The only hindrance to faith is, pride. We must come to God on his terms.

An Update on Dr. Morris

Here is the latest update on Dr. Henry Morris from ICR:

"As of now, things are moving slowly in the rehab center. Dr. Morris is in good spirits and insists on doing as much work as ICR can provide him. He has very little control of his legs while standing, although in bed he can move, flex, and exercise them. He still has no sense of balance and gets nauseated when standing.

Thankfully, the treatment has shown less damage than at first thought and perhaps more improvement than usual in this short time. It seems your prayers are being answered! Dr. Morris has enjoyed all the visits and appreciates your concern. There is no radio or TV in the room, and he seems to like it that way. He mainly lies in bed and reflects on God’s goodness and occupies his time in prayer. He also has been witnessing to everyone who comes in, and has passed out Bibles to many of the staff."

You can read this update in its entirety at:
ICR Update

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Piper Recovering

Tuesday John Piper had surgery for prostate cancer. Here is the lastest update from Desiring God Ministries:

Update on Surgery February 14, 2006

1:30 p.m.: We got word that John Piper is out of surgery. His wife, Noël, reported that the procedure went “beautifully.” So praise God with us and continue to pray with us for John’s recovery. We will keep you updated.

11:30 a.m.: The doctors reported to Noel that John’s prostate has been removed successfully and things are going well from what they can tell. They are now beginning reconstruction. After that, Pastor John will have about a 1-hour recovery period before he is taken to his room where Noel will be able to see him.

Prayer: Please pray for the recovery period and the coming days of healing.

For more information on this story, as well as the latest updates go to desiringgod.org.

A Discourse on Faith: James 2:18-19 (Pt II)

Here in vs. 19 we find James’ response to those who have a shallow conviction with no expression of faith. The first thing that we see is that these individuals believed in the one true God. This is a direct reference to Deuteronomy 6:4. This was a very important confession. This passage is known as the “Shema” which is Hebrew for hear. This became the Jewish confession of faith, recited twice daily by the devout Jew. The purpose of these words was to give a declarative statement of the truth of monotheism in a polytheistic world. There is no doubt that James and his readers would have been very familiar with this passage. But as was the case in vs. 14 there is a verbal profession that never goes beyond words. It is interesting how James describes their belief. He does not say that they believe in (en) God, or (epi,) on God which are the normal preposition used in the NT. Instead, James says that they believed that (hoti) God was one. This was the problem, this individual believed in a creed but never had the distinctly Christian trust, and commitment (a commitment that would lead to obedience) in Christ. What this person believed was true, but it was not the “power of God unto salvation.” All that this person had was a shallow conviction about the common knowledge of God. “This common knowledge can no more connect a man with God that the sight of the sun can carry him up to heaven”

With a touch of sarcasm James commends a belief in the “shema.” The problem is that their belief in the one true God was no different than the belief that the demons have. The demons, particularly the devil, undoubtedly have a great degree of knowledge about God. As Jonathan Edwards put it “[the devil was] educated in the best divinity school in the universe, the heaven of heavens. He must…have such an extensive and accurate knowledge concerning the nature and attributes of God, as we, worms of the dust, in our present state, are not capable of. And he must have a far more extensive knowledge of the works of God, as of the work of creation in particular. For he was a spectator of the creation of the visible world.”

The Bible records many events for us in which the demons displayed a great knowledge of the character of God.

Mark 1:22-24 They were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, saying, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!”

Acts 16:16-17 It happened that as we were going to the place of prayer, a slave-girl having a spirit of divination met us, who was bringing her masters much profit by fortune-telling. Following after Paul and us, she kept crying out, saying, “These men are bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation.”

In both of these cases the demons involved were correct in the assessment of who Jesus was. Their belief was orthodox (correct) but their character was evil. The fruit of their belief was the fear of immanent judgment rather than repentance. What is ironic is that the people claiming to have faith believed the same thing that the demons did, the only difference was that they did have any reaction at all. At least the demons shuddered in fear! These people, just like the demons, believed the truth of Deuteronomy 6:4 but did not obey the command of Deuteronomy 6:5. They believed in the one true God but did not love him with all their heart and soul. Belief like this is useless! It is the same kind of belief that the demons have, and it is the same dead faith that James has been talking about.

The lesson that we should all learn from this passage is that for a person to believe the doctrines of Christianity merely from the force of arguments, as discerned only by speculation, is no evidence of grace. You cannot choose the terms that you are going to come to God on. God has made salvation available to us, but we must be willing to submit to Him. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that going to church, memorizing Scripture (remember the shema), and saying the right things are going to make you right with God. God has a plan, and that plan is that men can only come the Father through Christ Jesus His Son.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A Discourse on Faith: James 2:18-19 (Pt I)

This is a very difficult passage to dissect. There are quite a few interpretations on the specifics of this passage, however the main idea that James conveys is certain. A shallow conviction, recognition of certain facts that pertain to God, without submission is “of no profit.” In fact such a shallow conviction is exactly what James was talking about in verse 17. This shallow conviction is the same thing as dead faith. As we will see it is one thing to believe certain things about God, but it is something entirely different to be saved by “the power of God unto salvation.” One will change your life to result in holiness, and the other is nothing less than demonic.

Verse 18 is where the difficulty in this passage begins. The question is who is saying what? James only describes this individual as “someone” thus we are left to figure out who it is. The next question is does this someone agree with James or disagree with James? It really could go either way. This person could be saying something to the affect of: “This person has the gift of faith and I have the gift of works so it does not matter that the person with faith doesn’t have works.” There are a couple of problems with taking this position. First the pronouns do not seem to fit with this interpretation. Why would an opponent of James say “you have faith and I have works?” If it were someone opposing James’ position wouldn’t the pronouns be the opposite of what they are? The second problem with this interpretation is the context. If you will notice it is most likely that the quote of this someone includes all of verse 18. Why would an opponent of James demand that James show him his faith without works? The position that I am taking on this passage is that this someone who speaks up is a hypothetical person James uses to further his argument. This position has problems of its own, mainly the construction of the sentence. James begins the sentence with the word “but” (alla), and the question is why would James use such a strong adversative conjunction to transition into a thought that agrees with the previous thought? Despite this irregularity it seems best to me to view this someone as one who agrees with James (we will discuss this in further detail below). For now lets look at the person who claims to have faith alone. This person claims that your faith can stand alone before God, and that your life does not necessarily have to change at all. As long as you profess to believe in God you will be saved. This is the same person who had no compassion on his needy neighbor, and the also discriminated against the poor man in favor of the rich man. James has rightly accused this man’s faith of being dead when measured by its own claim, however he continues to hold that his profession will be enough.

The next individual is the “someone” that James introduces. More than likely this “someone” represents James himself, and his own position. James more than likely is speaking in this manner out of humility. He puts himself in the background by not claiming to be the perfect representative of faith, but by supposing another to be a good example instead. This “someone” represents an individual who agrees with what James has been teaching about faith. He is not saying that his works take the place of faith, but rather that they are the result of faith. We can take this position because of the context of the passage. Verse 17 teaches this view of faith and works, and so does the rest of verse 18. Clearly, from the context, James is not taking the position that works will gain him merit before God. Neither is James claiming faith to be deficient, but rather as he has already (and again will) pointed out that faith will find its expression in Christ-like actions. In fact, we will soon see that this “someone with work” also has faith.

This someone goes on. His demand is that those who claim to have faith alone demonstrate their faith in some way. They would have probably responded by saying that faith, not works, was their gift. Remember, they have already made the claim that they had faith without works (vs. 14), so now they must find some way to show their faith without works. In demanding that they make their faith visible without works James was demanding the impossible in order to prove that their faith did not exist. The question that James raises in the minds of his readers is: is there any way to demonstrate faith without works? The answer is no. Faith cannot be demonstrated apart from action. Faith is an attitude of the inner man, and it can only be seen when it influences the actions of the person who posses it. If I were to say that I posses an unbelievable ability to play the piano, then how would I prove that to you? I would have to demonstrate my ability by playing the piano for you. The same thing is true about faith. If I cannot make my faith visible then do I really have it? The design of James in all of this was to expose the foolish boasting of those who imagined that they had faith when their lives showed that they were unbelievers. Basically his point was that you cannot demonstrate your faith to me because you have nothing to demonstrate.

The “someone” with works is ready and willing to meet his own challenge. He is able to demonstrate his faith. Earlier we said that this person was someone who agreed with James, rather than someone who claimed to have works apart from faith. If indeed this is a continuation of the “someone’s” quote then this proves that he is a proponent of James; for in this verse he says that he has faith. This person can start with his works and point to them as a proof for something beyond his works. The good works are not the salvation of this someone. The good works are the good fruit that is produced by a living faith. This fruit is the very nature and purpose of faith. Look at what Scripture teaches about faith:

1 Corinthians 13:2b …and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

Galatians 5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.

Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

God’s word makes it very clear that our faith is not a work, but rather our faith results in good works. We did not have the ability to please God before we were called into his family, but now we are Christ’s workmanship re-created for his glory. In everything that this “someone” does, faith is the main ingredient. Just as a motor produces power because an electrical current flows into it, so a Christian produces good deeds because true faith empowers him. James’ opponents probably would have answered with a simple profession of faith, but as we will see that was not enough to convince James.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Every Thought Captive

Today I will continue to outline the major ideas from the Pratt book "Every Thought Captive." Really all that I am posting are my own personal thoughts cultivated by reading this book.


In the model for biblical apologetics the Christian apologist should first admit his faith in God’s Word, and dependence upon it as revealed truth. Secondly he should actually use the Bible to defend his faith. In addition to this he can use external evidences, and personal experiences to present the truth of the Christian world view within the context of a biblical perspective. When showing the non-Christian his foolishness it is important first to show them that they are not neutral, but instead have rejected God to depend on their own autonomous reasoning. Pointing out the circular and biased reasoning of the non-Christian will be the goal of the Christian apologist no matter what the subject. The non-Christian always reasons based on his biases against God, and his faith in his own reasoning ability.

The method of biblical apologetics, presented by Pratt in Every Thought Captive, is aimed at destroying the speculations which are raised against the knowledge of God, and taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. It would be unchristian to think that an apologist could accomplish this task apart from Scripture. The evidences, and arguments that a Christian apologist presents must be rooted in Scripture. Therefore key to biblical apologetics is to depend upon the presuppositions of Scripture, and point out the inferior presuppositions that the non-Christian thinker holds to. Other apologetic methods try to show that it is possible by means of reason to come the conclusion of the Christian God from a neutral perspective. However this fails in two ways. It fails to recognize the noetic effect that sin has had on the reasoning of men, and fails to recognize that there is no neutral perspective by which to reason things out. Not to mention, that makes human reasoning the judge of Scripture. Instead of relying on the faulty reasoning of man the Christian apologist should rely on God’s written and inspired word. The only way to be completely Christian in your method of apologetics is to depend on Scripture. If the Christian apologist does not depend on Scripture, God’s revelation of Himself, he is depending on his own independent reasoning just as the non-Christian would choose to do. It is important that the Christian apologist does not depend upon human reason to defend his faith. This is unbiblical, and as the post-modern era gains strength, reasoning will be of little use for the non-Christian thinker. Biblical apologetics is the only way to wholly depend upon God. And dependence upon God is the only way to destroy the speculations which are raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Our New Sister

Today I spent my posting allotment on my new sister.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Tuesday Sports Short: Poison Ivy

After a long hiatus Tuesday Sports Shorts are back.

The Cubs have a long and storied history, unfortunately for Cubs fans most of the stories are like this one.

Lou Novikoff, the mad Russian, played outfield for the Cubs from 1941 to 1944. Lou had only one problem playing for the Cubs, let me explain. Any time a fly ball was hit over his head in Wrigley Field Novikoff would back up only so far then stop. It did not matter how far the ball went he would only back up to a certain point, and then stop. Many times the ball sailed over Novikoff’s head hit the wall, and caromed past him back towards the infield.

Finally frustrated Cubs manager Charlie Grimm asked Novikoff why he constantly gave up on balls that seemed catchable. Novikoff’s went on to explain that he had a fear of vines (Which is a pretty big problem when playing in Wrigley!).

Grimm did everything he could to show Novikoff that there was nothing to fear. Grimm even ate part of the vine to show that it wasn’t poisonous. Despite Grimm’s efforts Novikoff never was able to overcome his fear, and many catchable fly balls fell into the ivy.

*I wonder if Manny Ramirez has ever thought of something like this?*

Monday, February 06, 2006

Every Thought Captive

Today I will continue to outline the major ideas from the Pratt book "Every Though Captive." As was mentioned Friday this is not just a great book for teenagers, but for al ages. Really all that I am posting are my own personal thoughts cultivated by reading this book.


There are two opposing world views that exist in the world, a non-Christian and a Christian. In order to build a biblical apologetic one must recognize the difference between the two. There is no such thing as neutrality, or common ground, between the Christian world view and the non-Christian world view. The foundation for the non-Christian world view is the concept of human independence, while the foundation for the Christian world view is the concept of total human dependence upon God. Because both Christians and non-Christians share the same world, are created in the image of God, and have the offer of salvation through Christ there can be some dialogue, however the fundamental difference still remain. Ultimately the Christian apologist must faithfully depend on the Holy Spirit to soften the heart of the non-Christian and bring about faith in their lives. In order to accomplish this task the Christian apologist must live a consistently Christian life. One’s arguments will not affect someone unless their life also reflects those arguments. The Christian apologist must also be careful in his approach with non-Christians. There must be a certain amount of gentleness and reverence when challenging one holding a differing position. However, the Christian apologist must always lead the conversation in a way that Christ, and the need to accept Him, is discussed. In order to accomplish this it is necessary to follow the correct procedure by: depending wholly on Scripture, having complete faith in Christianity, remembering man’s dependence on God, and finally giving proper attention to the effects of sin.

There is some value in the methods of popular apologetics, however these methods have resulted in great failures because of an unbiblical view of human reason. The process of many of these popular apologists is to verify the claims of Christianity with human reasoning. This procedure creates a method that makes independent human reasoning the ultimate authority over God, and His revealed truth. Because this method completely denies man’s dependence upon God the Christian apologist should seek to build his defense upon the foundation of God’s Word. Based on the principles of Proverbs 26:4-5 the Christian apologist should justify what he believes by presenting the truths of Scripture, and by demonstrating the foolishness of the non-Christian worldview. Evidence from the external world, and personal experience both have their role in biblical apologetics, however one must look first to Scripture to defend Christianity. Great caution must be taken when using external evidences. External evidences must be viewed in light of Scripture instead of independent human reasoning. Personal experience can be an effective tool, particularly when conversing with a post-modern thinker, however this dialogue must lead back to the Gospel. In addition to presenting truth in his defense the Christian apologist should also highlight the foolishness of the non-Christian. Instead of thinking in the same manner as the non-Christian for the sake of argument the Christian apologist should point out the foolishness of non-Christian thinking. It is important to show the non-Christian thinker that he is reasoning circularly based on his own independent reasoning. In this too it is important that conversation eventually leads to the Gospel. For ultimately only the regenerate man saved by Christ can accept the truth of a Christian world view.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Every Thought Captive

In working with youth I have found that one of the greatest resources for me, and for them is the book Every Thought Captive: A Study Manual for the Defense of Christian Truth written by Richard L. Pratt, Jr. Pratt wrote ETC while doing his grad work at Westminster Seminary. The purpose of the book is to give a proper explanation of presuppositional apologetic in popular language (for those of you who have tried to make any head-way in Van Till you will appreciate this). In fact, Pratt wrote this book with highschoolers in mind! Do not be fooled though, this is a valuable read for all ages. In a series of post over the next few days I would like to outline the basic ideas of the book for you.


As Christians we should work to destroy the speculations which are raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. This is the overarching goal of Christian apologetics. Specifically, Christian apologetics pertains to the development and use of a defense for the Christian worldview. The proper foundation for such a task can only be the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. It is true that the Bible must be defended by Christian apologetics however, that does not mean that this defense should be built upon human reasoning. Because the Bible is the ultimate authority for faith and practice it must be the foundation upon which Christian apologetics are built. It would be foolish to emphasize the reasoning of man over the inspired Word of God.

If Christian apologetics are to be built upon the foundation of Scripture it is necessary for the Christian apologist to look at the biblical concept of creation first. One of the many differences between a Christian and non-Christian worldview is creation. For the Christian there is a difference between God the creator, and His creation. This perspective is absolutely necessary for the Christian apologist. When arguing for God one cannot forget who God is. God is completely Independent from man, and man is wholly dependent on God. God does not have any need that can be filled by His creation. Conversely, creation is dependent on the sustaining power that God now exhibits in His creation. Additionally man is dependent upon God for all knowledge, and morality. There is no truth apart from God, and apart from God there would be no distinction between good and evil.

The type of apologetic method that the Christian apologist chooses to use will depend greatly on his anthropology, and how he distinguishes creation from its Creator. The Bible looks at the history of mankind from three different perspectives: creation, fall, and redemption. Therefore, there are three different aspects of anthropology that have to be examined: the character of man before sin, the character of man in sin, and the character of man redeemed by Christ. Man is created in the image of God, and is distinct from the rest of creation. Man is able to reason, has a soul that will never be destroyed, and has been made to rule over the rest of creation. Before sin, Adam and Eve had a true knowledge and never overlooked their dependence upon God as creatures within God’s creation. However, Eve decided that dependence upon God was optional, and she did not need him for true knowledge, thus she ate of the fruit. Sin has so affected the human race that the human race has lost any thought of dependence upon God, and because of this all human reasoning has been corrupted. However, through the redemptive work of Christ one is able to turn away from the sinful human thought of independence from God, and know the God which all of creation depends on. Consequently the whole life of this believer in Christ becomes experiencing the change of regeneration, and being restored according to the original character which God created in His own image.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Six more weeks of 75 and sunny

This morning Punxsutawney Phil, one of only two groundhog weather men in the entire world, made his annual forecast. At 7:23 a.m. Phil came out of his burrow and saw his shadow; which means 6 more weeks of winter.

*Do you know which one of these weathermen is Phil?*

For those of you north of Yee-Haw junction (Which located in central Florida, and according to my Grandfather everyone north of this point is a Yankee.) I am sorry. What this means for us here in the sub-tropical central Florida climate is 6 more weeks of highs in the mid 70s and lows in the mid 50s. In all seriousnes I did need a jacket yesterday morning so I think I feel your pain up in Minn. Anyways, HAPPY GROUNDHOGS DAY!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


My first question was what the heck is sudoku? From then on out I was hooked. I guess you could say that it had me at hello. If you are anything like I was, at this point you may be wondering if I got myself into some eastern cult. Don't worry, sudoku is just a game (or possibly an obsession). Apparently sudoku is the latest puzzle craze. It is a numerical version of a crossword puzzle. If you are thinking about ckecking it out for the first time, BEWARE IT IS ADDICTIVE. I brought a couple of puzzles home the other day, and the only time that I have seen my wife since then is when she was printing up some new puzzles from the web.

Here is an example of an easy puzzle. The red numbers represent the numbers that you would begin the game with, and the gray numbers are the numbers that you must fill in. The goal is to get 1 thru 9 horizontally, vertically, and in the 3x3 square. Go try an easy one and see how you do. It may not be so easy the first time.