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Truth and Reality week 2

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved, Sin, Sunday School, Trinity on August 31, 2009 at 3:25 am

Truth and Reality 

Stuart McAllister

F o u n d a t i o n s o f

APOLOGETICS

23

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Mind Your Head…………………………………………..4

A Note To Facilitators……………………………..6

Truth and Reality

Stuart McAllister

………………………………………………………9 Answer Guide……………………………………………… 29

4

MIND YOUR HEAD

In Oxford, England, where this curriculum was filmed, signs with the warning “Mind Your Head” are a common sight. Buildings so old that they would be tourist attractions in the United States are commonly used as office space, retail stores, and apartments because they are so plentiful. The low hung, sometimes sagging, door frames are a hazard for the taller among us, hence the warning.

Those of us living in the globalized world of the twenty-first century often need to heed this warning in its figurative sense. We pay too little attention to what goes into our minds and often don’t have any way to filter good ideas from the bad. Though we may recognize the truth when we see it, we struggle to articulate and defend that truth to others.

Ravi Zacharias has often said, “What I believe in my heart must make sense in my mind.” We hope that this curriculum will help you “mind your head” by making sense of what you believe in your heart. We also hope that you won’t be content with a mere intellectual apprehension of the Christian faith, but that you will let the promises of the Christian faith transform your heart, affecting every aspect of your life.

5 6 A NOTE TO FACILITATORS

Facilitators

Thank you for your willingness to lead others through this Foundations of Apologetics study. We hope that you will take the material we’ve made available and adapt it to the needs of your group in whatever way you find it most helpful. Below you will find some suggestions to help you get the most out of this study guide.

Each session includes four major elements.

I. Laying the GroundwoRK

This is the video portion of the study accompanied by a note-taking guide. The bulk of the content is presented in “Laying the Groundwork.” The rest of the study aims to unpack and apply the information that has been presented in this section. After introductory comments, announcements, and opening prayer, simply play the DVD, alerting the participants that they may use the note-taking guide if they find it helpful. Some participants may prefer to take their own notes rather than fill in the guide. Other participants may follow the note-taking guide religiously, perhaps even getting frustrated if they miss one of the answers. For this reason, we’ve provided in the facilitator’s guide the answers to the fill-in-the-blank section, and you should feel free to make the answers available to participants.

II. Testing the Footing

This section provides questions designed to make sure the content is understood and to allow students to begin to articulate the ideas in their own words. If you are working with participants who have never encountered these ideas before, this section will be especially important. Keep in mind that these are meant to be comprehension questions rather than discussion questions, and you needn’t spend the majority of your time on this section. You may also want to consider using these questions for a review at the beginning of the next session. Answers to “Testing the Footing” questions are provided in the facilitator’s guide.

7 III. Digging Deeper

This section offers questions that consider material beyond what is presented in the video, including Bible passages, additional quotes, or other issues related to the subject matter. These are open-ended questions without set answers; thus you will not find answers in the facilitator’s guide. Remember that the goal of this section is to have a thought-provoking discussion. If you depart from the questions but have a relevant, stimulating discussion, you should consider the session a success!

IV. Building on the Foundation

This final section provides application questions designed to encourage participants to personalize the material they’ve encountered. Some members of your group will be more comfortable sharing their personal experiences than others. We encourage you to pray for your group, asking God to make it an atmosphere where people feel safe to share their fears and expectations.

This section includes a prayer guide. You can either use this prayer portion in your group, or encourage the participants to pray through it on their own.

This section also includes resource suggestions for further study.

As you progress through the study, try to gauge how each participant is doing, paying special attention to any who may be discouraged because they find the material difficult. Try to encourage them that they don’t need to grasp every concept to come away with helpful applications.

V. Stepping Stones of Apologetics

This section allows you to tackle some of the main points of the content rather than the entire lecture. Stepping Stones offers short DVD segments for a group to watch and discuss in a lesser amount of time and is therefore ideal for a Sunday school or small group setting. Each teaching clip is enhanced by a handful of questions for thought and discussion in section five of this study guide.

We hope that leading others through this study will be an enjoyable experience. May God be with you.

8 9

TRUTH AND REALITY

Stuart McAllister

This lecture will address the questions of whether we can know anything, and if so, how. It will define what we mean by truth, and how we should evaluate truth claims.

Volume

Upon completion of this session you should be able to accomplish the following:

General Outcome:

Recognize and effectively communicate the relationship between truth and reality

Specific Outcomes:

Describe the word “truth” according to Scripture and be able to articulate why people need truth

Define a “worldview” and name the four common elements in the structure of all belief systems

Know the influence worldviews have on society

Apply the “Tests for Truth” when defending Christianity and examining conflicting worldviews

Laying the Groundwork

Video Session Introduction: Truth and Reality

“We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth.” Colossians 1:3-6 (NASB)

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and

10 invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.” Colossians 1:15-20 (NASB)

C. S. Lewis: “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see .” PostModernism:

Widespread philosophical movement that followed the modern era; rejecting Enlightenment ideals, it devalues rational knowledge and dismisses the premise that truth can be objectively known. Michel Foucault:

French philosopher who lived from 1926-1984; well-known as a postmodernist and post-structuralist Ludwig Feuerbach:

A German philosopher and anthropologist who lived from 1804-1872; in his book The Essence of Christianity, he made the case that God is nothing more than the outward projection of man’s inward nature.11

1. Meme: Word invented by Richard Dawkins to describe an idea that is transmitted from one generation to the next; an idea that is contagious in the way that a virus is contagious.

Richard Dawkins and the “New Atheists”: Belief in God has nothing to do with and should therefore be stopped. The Foundational Question

Has Jesus brought anything into ?

“There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.” John 1:9-10 (NASB)

“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’” For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.” John 1:14-18 (NASB)

A. What do we mean when we use the word truth?

“‘What is truth?’ someone will immediately ask. Let me answer straightforwardly. In the biblical view, truth is that which is ultimately, finally, and absolutely , or the ‘way it is’, and therefore is utterly trustworthy and dependable, being grounded and anchored in own reality and truthfulness. But, this stress on the personal foundation of truth is not—as in postmodernism—at the expense of the prepositional. Both accuracy and authenticity are important to truth.”

Os Guinness on truth: Richard Dawkins:

British biologist and outspoken atheist; author of The God Delusion.12 “If in our ordinary speech, telling the truth is ‘ ,’ we can say that a statement, or an idea, or a belief is true if what it is about is as it is in the statement. Belief in something doesn’t make it true; only makes a belief true.”

✧ Aristotle’s definition of truth:

“To say of what is that it is not, or of what is not that it is, is false, while to say of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not, is true; so that he who says of anything that it is, or that it is not, will say either what is true or what is false.”

✧ Truth, by nature, is

: • – it does not violate the basic laws of logic.

• – it does not depend upon any time, place, or conditions.

• – it exists independently of our minds; we do not create it.

• – it is the agreement of the mind with reality (coherence).

• – to deny its existence is to affirm it (we are bound by it).

• Unchanging – it is the firm standard by which truth claims are measured.

✧ Nicholas Wolterstorff on truth:

“If I believe of something that it is a duck, that is true of it if and only if it is a . And if that is indeed true of it, it is not true of it relative to some conceptual scheme. It is just true, period. Thoughts are true or false of things, period—not to something other.”

B. The role and influence of worldviews

• Four common elements in the structure of belief systems :

1. A about the world;

2. A basic diagnosis of the of human beings;

3. A diagnosis of what is with us;

4. An answer for putting it .

Your worldview is not what you ; your worldview is what you . 13 ✧ Stephen Covey: “We see the world not as it is but as .”

The Role and Influence of Worldviews

(continued)

“A worldview is a , a fundamental orientation of the heart, that can be expressed as a story or in a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true, or ) which we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic constitution of reality, and that provides the foundation on which we live and move and have our being.”

—A worldview is a total system.

—A worldview is a of reality.

James Sire on worldview: The Human Condition

What’s with humanity? The Bible’s answer: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” Romans 1:18-20 (NASB)

Immanuel Kant: Two things that “speak” from reality: Immanuel Kant:

German philosopher who lived from 1724-1804; one of the foremost thinkers of the Enlightenment.14 1. There’s a general of God out there.

2. Humans the truth that they know about God.

3. Humans the truth.

Reflecting on Truth and Reality

John 8:31-32 A. The Bible and Truth

In the Old Testament, there are two meanings of the word “truth”

i. The ; discernment of facts that may be ascertained to be true or false. Deuteronomy 17:4; I Kings 10:6

ii. The existential and moral; truth as the of a person.

The Hebrew word for “truth” can also be translated as .

In the New Testament, there are three broad meanings for truth:

i. , truthfulness, uprightness of character, (Romans 3:7; 15:8) of men. (II Corinthians 7:14; Ephesians 5:9)

ii. Truth in the absolute sense of that which is and as opposed to what is false or wanting. (Mark 5:33; Ephesians 4:25)

iii. The sense: something real as opposed to mere appearance or copy. (Hebrews 8:2, 4; John 6:32, 35)

Secular:

That which is not religious.

Platonic:

Refers to Plato’s teaching that the things we can see on earth are lesser forms or shadows of pure ideals which exist in a higher realm.

15 B. How do we know and how do we know that we know?

✧ Esther Meek on knowledge:

“Knowing is the responsible human struggle

— to rely on

— to focus on a coherent and

— to submit to its .”

In the Scriptures, knowledge is more than just assent to truth. It’s a . It is union and communion. C. Tests for Truth

A worldview should be

i. : A true worldview will not contradict itself.

ii. : A true worldview will fit the facts.

iii. : A true worldview will be livable

Truth and Reality in Daily Life

“Conduct yourselves with toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with , as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should to each person.” Colossians 4:5-6 (NASB)

We must begin with deep for people, not anger towards them. We must pray the prayer “Make eyes .”

Cognitive:

Intellectual or rational (as opposed to emotional).

Michael Polanyi:

Twentieth-century philosopher and scientist who developed a theory of “personal knowledge,” emphasizing the need for personal commitment in the pursuit of knowledge.

16 Testing the Footing

ComprehensionThese questions are meant to confirm that all participants have understood the concepts presented in the lecture and are able to articulate them. They can also be used as a review.

What is postmodernism? 17 ✦ What does it mean that truth is “discovered”?

✦ What does it mean to say that truth is “inescapable”?

✦ What is the biblical diagnosis of what is wrong with the human race?

✦ Many people are familiar with the promise, “The truth will set you free,” but are unfamiliar with the context of the promise. When Jesus actually makes this statement in John 8:31-32, what qualification does he put on it?

18 ✦ Describe the two understandings of truth that we find in the Old Testament.

✦ What do we mean when we say that the law of non-contradiction is self-evident?

✦ How do even those who deny absolute truth demonstrate the objectivity of truth through their use of medicines?

✦ How does Christianity’s central teaching on the material world show that all religions cannot be leading to the same goal when contrasted with Hinduism and Buddhism?

19 20 Digging Deeper

DiscussionIn Luke 11:23, Jesus makes the strong statement:

“He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters.” (NIV)

Consider this statement in light of the six criteria for truth presented in the lecture. Does Jesus’s claim serve as a good illustration of any of these criteria?

In John 8:31-32, Jesus tells a group of believing Jews:

“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (NIV)

What does Jesus’s statement reveal about the nature of truth?

G.K. Chesterton said, “Merely having an open mind is nothing. The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.” How does skepticism, when adopted as a worldview, miss the whole point of the pursuit of knowledge?

21 Philosopher Richard Rorty reportedly once said, “Truth is what our peers will let us get away with saying.” What do you think Rorty meant? How does this idea of truth fall apart when it is scrutinized?

Some Christians are fond of the slogan, “God said it; I believe it; that settles it!” Evaluate this mantra in light of the material presented in the lecture.

In 1 John 1:1, John writes:

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.” (NIV)

How is John appealing to factuality as a test for truth in this verse? What sort of evidence was he providing to his readers?

22 In Proverbs 1:7, we read

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

In his message, Stuart said that knowledge is more than just cognitive assent to truth. How might the fear of the Lord affect our knowledge of reality?

Coventry Patmore said, “One fool will deny more truth in half an hour than a wise man can prove in seven years.” Which is easier, to prove a claim or to cast doubt upon a claim? How does this affect us as we share the Christian faith?

Coventry Patmore:

(1823-1896) English poet and critic.

23 Psychologist D. Andrew Kille writes, “Psychologists of religion have long recognized the close connection between early childhood development and later religious images and behavior. In the earliest experiences of mother and care lie the roots of God images and emotionally charged attitudes and reactions to spirituality and religious thinking.” How would you respond to someone who claimed that your belief in God is the product of your own psychological need?

One criterion for a worldview is that it must be livable. Can you think of an example of a worldview that may not be livable?

24 BUILDING ON The Foundation

ApplicationHave the questions of whether we can know truth and how we can know it been something you’ve wrestled with? If so, what prompted you to start asking these questions?

Have you encountered people who do not believe in the existence of absolute truth? What sort of reasons do they give for their view?

How would you respond to someone who believes that reality is a construction of our own minds?

25 What are some areas in which everyone seems to live by the assumption that absolute truth exists, whether or not they are willing to acknowledge it?

Did anything you heard in this lecture change the way you think about truth and reality?

Why are discussions about truth and reality important for evangelism?

Have you had experiences that made you doubt the reality of God and the truth of the Christian faith?

26 Have you had an experience that confirmed for you the reality of God and the truth of the Christian faith?

Prayer

In 3 John 1:3, John writes,

Stuart recommended that we ask God to

“It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth.” (NIV) Spend some time praying that God would enable you to walk in the truth, and that He would reveal any areas of your life which have not been ruled by truth. “Make blind eyes see.” Spend some time thinking of someone you believe to be blinded to the truth, and ask God to open the eyes of their heart. You might first ask God to open your own eyes to blindness. Suggestions for further reading:

Longing to Know: The Philosophy of Knowledge for Ordinary People

by Esther Lightcap Meek (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos, 2003). Proper Confidence: Faith, Doubt, and Certainty in Christian Discipleship

by Lesslie Newbigin (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1995). The Limitations of Scientific Truth

by Nigel Brush (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2005). Whatever Happened to Truth?

by Andreas Kostenberger (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2005).27 28 29

Truth and reality

Stuart McAllister

Volume

Answer Guide

Laying the Groundwork

Video SessionIntroduction: Truth and Reality

everything

else

postmodern

world

true

step

outside

“We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth.” Colossians 1:3-6 (NASB)

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and

30 invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.” Colossians 1:15-20 (NASB)

C. S. Lewis: “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see .” PostModernism:

Widespread philosophical movement that followed the modern era; rejecting Enlightenment ideals, it devalues rational knowledge and dismisses the premise that truth can be objectively known.

violence

Michel Foucault:

French philosopher who lived from 1926-1984; well-known as a postmodernist and post-structuralist

Belief

in

God

Ludwig Feuerbach:

A German philosopher and anthropologist who lived from 1804-1872; in his book The Essence of Christianity, he made the case that God is nothing more than the outward projection of man’s inward nature. 31

1. Meme: Word invented by Richard Dawkins to describe an idea that is transmitted from one generation to the next; an idea that is contagious in the way that a virus is contagious.

Richard Dawkins and the “New Atheists”: Belief in God has nothing to do with and should therefore be stopped. The Foundational Question

Has Jesus brought anything into ?

reality

“There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.” John 1:9-10 (NASB)

“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’” For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.” John 1:14-18 (NASB)

A. What do we mean when we use the word truth?

“‘What is truth?’ someone will immediately ask. Let me answer straightforwardly. In the biblical view, truth is that which is ultimately, finally, and absolutely , or the ‘way it is’, and therefore is utterly trustworthy and dependable, being grounded and anchored in own reality and truthfulness. But, this stress on the personal foundation of truth is not—as in postmodernism—at the expense of the prepositional. Both accuracy and authenticity are important to truth.”

Os Guinness on truth: Richard Dawkins:

British biologist and outspoken atheist; author of The God Delusion.

reality

real

God’s

it

telling

is

it

like

truth

Noncontradictory

Absolute

Discovered

Descriptive

Inescapable

duck

relative

see

see

with

background

theory

nature

wrong

right

32 “If in our ordinary speech, telling the truth is ‘ ,’ we can say that a statement, or an idea, or a belief is true if what it is about is as it is in the statement. Belief in something doesn’t make it true; only makes a belief true.”

✧ Aristotle’s definition of truth:

“To say of what is that it is not, or of what is not that it is, is false, while to say of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not, is true; so that he who says of anything that it is, or that it is not, will say either what is true or what is false.”

✧ Truth, by nature, is

: • – it does not violate the basic laws of logic.

• – it does not depend upon any time, place, or conditions.

• – it exists independently of our minds; we do not create it.

• – it is the agreement of the mind with reality (coherence).

• – to deny its existence is to affirm it (we are bound by it).

• Unchanging – it is the firm standard by which truth claims are measured.

✧ Nicholas Wolterstorff on truth:

“If I believe of something that it is a duck, that is true of it if and only if it is a . And if that is indeed true of it, it is not true of it relative to some conceptual scheme. It is just true, period. Thoughts are true or false of things, period—not to something other.”

B. The role and influence of worldviews

• Four common elements in the structure of belief systems :

1. A about the world;

2. A basic diagnosis of the of human beings;

3. A diagnosis of what is with us;

4. An answer for putting it .

Your worldview is not what you ; your worldview is what you . 33 ✧ Stephen Covey: “We see the world not as it is but as .”

The Role and Influence of Worldviews

(continued)

“A worldview is a , a fundamental orientation of the heart, that can be expressed as a story or in a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true, or ) which we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic constitution of reality, and that provides the foundation on which we live and move and have our being.”

—A worldview is a total system.

—A worldview is a of reality.

James Sire on worldview: The Human Condition

we

are

commitment

entirely

false

explanatory

description

wrong

What’s with humanity? The Bible’s answer: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” Romans 1:18-20 (NASB)

Immanuel Kant: Two things that “speak” from reality: Immanuel Kant:

German philosopher who lived from 1724-1804; one of the foremost thinkers of the Enlightenment.

starry

heavens

law

moral

34 1. There’s a general of God out there.

2. Humans the truth that they know about God.

3. Humans the truth.

Reflecting on Truth and Reality

awareness

suppress

replace

free

specific

secular

sacred

John 8:31-32 A. The Bible and Truth

In the Old Testament, two meanings of the word “truth”

i. The ; discernment of facts that may be ascertained to be true or false. Deuteronomy 17:4; I Kings 10:6

ii. The existential and moral; truth as the of a person.

The Hebrew word for “truth” can also be translated as .

In the New Testament, there are three broad meanings for truth:

i. , truthfulness, uprightness of character, (Romans 3:7; 15:8) of men. (II Corinthians 7:14; Ephesians 5:9)

ii. Truth in the absolute sense of that which is and as opposed to what is false or wanting. (Mark 5:33; Ephesians 4:25)

iii. The sense: something real as opposed to mere appearance or copy. (Hebrews 8:2, 4; John 6:32, 35)

Secular:

That which is not religious.

intellectual

attribute

faithfulness

Dependability

real

complete

Platonic

Platonic:

Refers to Plato’s teaching that the things we can see on earth are lesser forms or shadows of pure ideals which exist in a higher realm.

35 B. How do we know and how do we know that we know?

✧ Esther Meek on knowledge:

“Knowing is the responsible human struggle

— to rely on

— to focus on a coherent and

— to submit to its .”

In the Scriptures, knowledge is more than just assent to truth. It’s a . It is union and communion. C. Tests for Truth

A worldview should be

i. : A true worldview will not contradict itself.

ii. : A true worldview will fit the facts.

iii. : A true worldview will be livable

Truth and Reality in Daily Life

cognitive

participation

clues

pattern

reality

“Conduct yourselves with toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with , as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should to each person.” Colossians 4:5-6 (NASB)

We must begin with deep for people, not anger towards them. We must pray the prayer “Make eyes .”

Cognitive:

Intellectual or rational (as opposed to emotional).

consistent

Logically

Factual

Viable

Michael Polanyi:

Twentieth-century philosopher and scientist who developed a theory of “personal knowledge,” emphasizing the need for personal commitment in the pursuit of knowledge.

wisdom

grace

respond

compassion

blind

see

36 Testing the Footing

ComprehensionThese questions are meant to confirm that all participants have understood the concepts presented in the lecture and are able to articulate them. They can also be used as a review.

What is postmodernism? A worldview that sees truth as subjective and reality as a construction that we cannot step outside of.

Just because we have a desire for something does not mean that that thing does not exist. We desire food and water; this does not mean they are figments of our imagination.

God’s own reality and truthfulness.

37

✦ What does it mean to say that truth is “inescapable”?

✦ What is the biblical diagnosis of what is wrong with the human race?

✦ Many people are familiar with the promise, “The truth will set you free,” but are unfamiliar with the context of the promise. When Jesus actually makes this statement in John 8:31-32, what qualification does he put on it?

What does it mean that truth is “discovered”? It exists independently of our minds; we discover truth rather than inventing it.

When you deny it, you end up affirming it by denying it! That is, you are making a “truth claim” when you state that there is no such thing as truth.

Although humans recognize the reality of God, they suppress this knowledge and find replacements to worship (Romans 1).

He told his listeners that if they hold to his teaching, then the truth would set them free. He had a very specific truth (the gospel) in mind.

38

✦ What do we mean when we say that the law of non-contradiction is self-evident?

✦ How do even those who deny absolute truth demonstrate the objectivity of truth through their use of medicines?

✦ How does Christianity’s central teaching on the material world show that all religions cannot be leading to the same goal when contrasted with Hinduism and Buddhism?

Describe the two understandings of truth that we find in the Old Testament. The first type of truth is intellectual or cognitive knowledge. The second type is the attribute of a person, as in the “truthfulness” of God.

If you try to deny it, you end up affirming it. That is, by suggesting that it either is or is not, you affirm the law of non-contradiction.

Medicine is dedicated to healing. But not all medicines are equally safe. Some are poison. It would not be wise to swallow the contents of a bottle indiscriminately simply because the label bore the word ‘medicine’. In the same way, not every truth claim actually leads us to God.

Hinduism and Buddhism see the material world as an evil thing to be escaped. Christianity teaches that God actually entered the material world, being incarnated as a man. The end goal of Buddhism is to escape the material world, while the end goal of Christianity is to have a resurrected body. The Law of Non-contradiction teaches that the material world cannot be both good and evil in the same respect.

39 40 STEPPING STONES OF APOLOGETICS

Stepping Stone 1: “What is reality?”

1. Have the questions of whether we can know truth and how we can know it been something you’ve wrestled with? If so, what prompted you to start asking these questions?

2. Stuart explains that the human problem of knowing and understanding reality and truth is a constant battle for many people. Have you had experiences that made you doubt the reality of God and the truth of the Christian faith?

Stepping Stone 2: “What is truth?”

1. Knowing the definition of truth that Stuart gives, how do you explain the correlation between truth and reality to:

a. An atheist

b. A person who believes reality is a construction of their own mind and may differ from person to person

c. A person who does not believe truth is knowable

Stepping Stone 3: “Unconscious Worldview”

1. A worldview is what you see reality with. It must be livable and correlate to truth. Can you think of an example of a worldview that may not be livable?

41 Stepping Stone 4: “Awareness of God”

1. Stuart mentioned three stages people progress through as they determine their answers to truth and reality. These are:

a. Awareness of God

b. Suppression of the truth

c. Replacing the truth

Have you encountered people who are at one of the three stages? What reasons do they give for their views?

2. How do we respond from a Christian perspective of truth and reality to these reasons?

Stepping Stone 5: “Truth is Substantial”

1. Have you had an experience that confirmed for you the reality of God and the truth of the Christian faith?

2. List a few effective ways we can communicate the confidence we have in knowing the truth.

Stepping Stone 6: “Worldview Requirements”

1. Consider the major worldviews in our society today. Apply the Tests for Truth to these worldviews and compare them to Christianity.

42 Stepping Stone 7: “Romans 9”

1. In John 8:31-32, Jesus tells a group of believing Jews:

“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

What does Jesus’s statement reveal about the nature of truth and his heart towards those who are seeking truth?

43 44 Asia-Pacific

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✦ How might you respond to the charge that God is merely a projection springing from your own needs or desires?

✦ According to Os Guinness, what is a biblical view of truth anchored in?

— the truth will set you

— this is a very truth, not truth in general

A Christian view of reality does not build a wall between the and the . We must recognize the “wholeness” of reality.

• the ” above”

• the within

✦ Stanley Grenz: Two foundational assumptions in the .”

1. Postmoderns view all explanations of reality as constructions that are useful but not objectively .

2. Postmoderns deny that we have the ability to our constructions of reality.

✦ Michel Foucault: The act of knowing is always an act of .

✦ The Modern Legacy (Feuerbach, Marx, Freud): is a projection of repressed or sublimated needs or desires.

✦ How might you respond to the charge that God is merely a projection springing from your own needs or desires?

✦ According to Os Guinness, what is a biblical view of truth anchored in?

— the truth will set you

— this is a very truth, not truth in general

A Christian view of reality does not build a wall between the and the . We must recognize the “wholeness” of reality.

• the ” above”

• the within

✦ Stanley Grenz: Two foundational assumptions in the .”

1. Postmoderns view all explanations of reality as constructions that are useful but not objectively .

2. Postmoderns deny that we have the ability to our constructions of reality.

✦ Michel Foucault: The act of knowing is always an act of .

✦ The Modern Legacy (Feuerbach, Marx, Freud): is a projection of repressed or sublimated needs or desires.

Recap from first Aplogetics Course

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved, Sin, Trinity on August 16, 2009 at 7:27 pm

This is the place to air it out! The Defenders meet here and we discuss the weeks lessson and answer questions. So without waiting for much fanfare here we

In 2 Corinthians 12:10, God says to Paul:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”(ESV)

Do you think that this statement undermines the command that we should be prepared to give a reason for the hope that we have? Why or why not?

In Colossians 4:6, we are commanded:

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (NIV)

What could Paul mean by saying our conversation should be seasoned with salt?

Francis Schaeffer described apologetics as providing “honest answers to honest questions.” Have you ever been tempted to provide a less-than-honest answer to a question about the Christian faith? Why do you think this temptation arises?

Michael Murray has described a certain type of evangelism this way:

“The sledgehammer apologist thinks that apologetic arguments deliver the intellectual equivalent of knockout punches by making it impossible for the unbeliever to rationally continue in their unbelief.”

Is this the kind of defense you want to make? Why or why not?

Christians who share their faith are sometimes accused of proselytism. What do you think is the difference between the kind of evangelism Peter is recommending and the kind that would be seen as proselytism? Is there a difference?

In John 8:45-46, Jesus says to the Pharisees:

“But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?”

Why do you think Jesus asked this question? Why do you think the Pharisees rejected his message?

In 2 Corinthians 4:7, Paul writes

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”

Is this verse relevant to sharing and defending the Christian faith? What perspective does it give us on evangelism?

Leonard Ravenhill tells the story of Charlie Peace, an infamous British criminal who, when the gospel was presented to him said, “Sir, if I believed what you and the church of God say that you believe, even if England were covered with broken glass from coast to coast, I would walk over it, if need be, on hands and knees, and think it worth while living, just to save one soul from an eternal hell like that!” Do you feel this sort of urgency about the gospel? Do you think this sense of urgency is common?

 

21 Television host Larry King has noted that the best talkers are curious: “They ask ‘Why?’ and they want to know more about what you are telling them.” Has your experience confirmed this? Do you ever find yourself asking questions even though you are not truly curious about the answers?

How might Christians respond to questions about high-profile religious leaders who have fallen into immorality? Are such incidents necessarily disastrous to our witness?

BUILDING ON The Foundation Application

Before you became a Christian, what were your conversations with Christians like? What sorts of conversations made you more or less open to the gospel?

Can you remember a conversation you’ve had with a non-Christian about the Christian faith that you would consider a good, purposeful conversation? What do you think made it a good conversation?

Other than working through this series, what sorts of things could you do in order to “be prepared” when someone asks you to defend your faith?23

One of the pre-conditions Michael listed for defending the faith is making sure the lordship of Christ is a settled fact in your life. What spiritual obstacles might be standing in the way of wholehearted obedience to the command to give a reason for your hope? (Feel free to keep the answer to this question private or discuss it with your group leader later.)

Just as the people who ask us questions may do it with the wrong motives, what are some wrong motives we might have for defending the faith?

How would you respond to someone who says that Christians are brainwashed?24

How might you respond to a person who showed no interest in Christianity?

Is sharing your faith hard for you? Why or why not?

Prayer

Spend some time meditating on Ephesians 2:3-5 and use it as the basis of a prayer of thanksgiving for your own salvation:

“All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” (NIV)

In Matthew 9:37-38 Jesus commanded his disciples:

“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (NIV)

In obedience to Christ’s command, pray that he would send workers into his harvest field.25

Suggestions for further reading:

Come Let Us Reason: An Introduction to Logical Thinking by Norman Geisler (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1990).

Is Your Church Ready? edited by Ravi Zacharias and Norman Geisler (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003).

The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000).

Questioning Evangelism by Randy Newman (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2004).

The Carnal Christian?

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved, Sin, Trinity on August 6, 2009 at 4:21 am

(Psa 103:8-10 HCSB)  The LORD is compassionate and gracious; slow to anger and full of faithful love. He will not always accuse us or be angry forever. He has not dealt with us as our sins deserve or repaid us according to our offenses.

 

What Should We Think of the Carnal Christian?

 Introduction

Quotes from Ernest C. Reisinger

Many who regularly occupy church pews, fill church rolls, and are intellectually acquainted with the facts of the gospel never strike one blow for Christ. They seem to be at peace with his enemies. They have no quarrel with sin and, apart from a few sentimental expressions about Christ, there is no biblical evidence that they have experienced anything of the power of the gospel in their lives. Yet in spite of the evidence against them, they consider themselves to be just what their teachers teach them — that they are “Carnal Christians.” And as carnal Christians they believe they will go to heaven, though perhaps not first-class, and with few rewards.

That something is seriously wrong in lives which reveal such features will readily be admitted by most readers of these pages; no argument is needed to prove it. But the most serious aspect of this situation is too often not recognized at all. The chief mistake is not the carelessness of these church-goers, it is the error of their teachers who, by preaching the theory of “the carnal Christian,” have led them to believe that there are three groups of men, — the unconverted man, the “carnal Christian” and the “spiritual Christian.”

 Some of the fundamental questions which need to be faced are these:

 Are we sanctified passively, that is, “by faith” only, without obedience to the law of God and Christ? If sanctification is passive — a view represented by the slogan “Let go and let God” — then how do we understand such apostolic statements as “I fight,” “I run,” “I keep under my body,” “let us cleanse ourselves,” “let us labour,” “let us lay aside every weight”? Surely these statements do not express a passive condition, nor do they indicate that by one single act we may possess the experience of “victory” and thus become spiritual and mature Christians.

 Rom 6:22  But now, since you have been liberated from sin and become enslaved to God, you have your fruit, which results in sanctification–and the end is eternal life!

 2Co 7:1  Therefore dear friends, since we have such promises, we should wash ourselves clean from every impurity of the flesh and spirit, making our sanctification complete in the fear of God.

 1Th 4:3  For this is God’s will, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality,

Rom 6:19  I am using a human analogy because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you offered the parts of yourselves as slaves to moral impurity, and to greater and greater lawlessness, so now offer them as slaves to righteousness, which results in sanctification.

  Have we accepted this as a fact in our thinking? Are we willing to subscribe the idea there are 3 classes of Christians? Maybe this is the seed of doubt that plagues a great many people in the church today. It seems a matter of course we have many who vacillate in the walk between assurance and doubt concerning their membership into God’s family. Faith does not have its basis in feelings but provides wonderful moments of ecstasy when we affirm our salvation in the Son of God. We tend to make allowances for pet sins and wonder why we don’t have the power of the Holy Spirit working in us. Do we seek after emotional ecstatic experiences as a substitute for real repentance and confession of our sinful self.

 Does an appeal to the so-called “carnal Christian” to become a “spiritual Christian” minimize the real conversion experience by magnifying a supposed second experience, by whatever name it may be called — “higher life,” “deeper life,” “Spirit-filled life,” “triumphant living,” “receiving Christ as Lord, and not merely as Saviour,” and so on? The words we read in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new,” do not refer to a second experience but rather to what happens when any real conversion occurs.

 Mat 23:25  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence!

 Rom 6:6  For we know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that sin’s dominion over the body may be abolished, so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin,

 Rom 7:22  For in my inner self I joyfully agree with God’s law.

 (2Ti 3:2-5 HCSB)  For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the form of religion but denying its power. Avoid these people!

 How many sermons have been preached too the “carnal Christian” while the lost person is being prodded by the unction of the Holy Spirit waiting for the Gospel of Salvation to be preached? Many churches today are powerless and shallow because we spend so much time providing for the “carnal” the real benefactors of grace are slowly disappearing. The church is supposed to be salt and light to a dying and lost world. It seems the discussions in modern evangelical circles concerns our methods, music, and worship focus on being comfortable. Maybe we spend too much time tiptoeing through the tither’s instead prostrating ourselves on the alter in prayer and confession. The Pastor and staff are supposed to be equipping the believers for their mission and preparing the faithful to storm the gates of hell.

 (Mat 28:18-20 HCSB)  Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

 (Mat 16:18 ESV)  And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

 Has the “spiritual Christian” finished growing in grace? If not, what is he to be called as he continues to grow in grace? Do we need to make yet another class whose members are the “super-spiritual Christians”? 4. Who is to decide who the carnal Christians are, and exactly what standard is to be used in determining this? Do the ‘spiritual Christians’ decide who the “carnal Christians” are? Does a church or preacher decide where the line is to be drawn that divides the two classes or categories? Since all Christians have sin remaining in them, and since they sin every day, what degree of sin or what particular sins classify a person as a “carnal Christian”?

 Do not all Christians sometimes act like natural men in some area of their lives?

 Do not the inward sins, such as envy, malice, covetousness, lasciviousness (which includes immorality on the mental level) demonstrate carnality as much as do the outward and visible manifestations of certain other sins?

 In Romans 8:1-9 there is a division stated, but it is not between carnal and spiritual Christians. It is a division between those who walk after the flesh (the unregenerate) and those who walk after the Spirit (they that are Christ’s). There is no third category.

(Rom 8:1-9 HCSB)  Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus, because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. What the law could not do since it was limited by the flesh, God did. He condemned sin in the flesh by sending His own Son in flesh like ours under sin’s domain, and as a sin offering, in order that the law’s requirement would be accomplished in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those whose lives are according to the flesh think about the things of the flesh, but those whose lives are according to the Spirit, about the things of the Spirit. For the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set of the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit itself to God’s law, for it is unable to do so. Those whose lives are in the flesh are unable to please God. You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God lives in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.

 Again, in Galatians 5:17-24 we have only two classes or categories — those that do the works of the flesh and those that are led by the Spirit. There is no third or fourth class or group.

 (Gal 5:17-24 HCSB)  For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar, about which I tell you in advance–as I told you before–that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

 The Christian’s progress in growth is not constant and undisturbed. There are many hills and valleys in the process of sanctification; and there are many stumblings, falls and crooked steps in the process of growth in grace.

 There are examples in the Bible of grievous falls and carnality in the lives of true believers. Thus we have the warnings and the promises of temporal judgment and of chastisement by our heavenly Father.

 These truths are all acknowledged and are not the point of this present discussion. The question we have to consider is: Does the Bible divide men into three categories? This is the issue at the heart of the “carnal Christian” teaching.

 Whatever else sinners may receive when they are savingly called by the gospel, they must come into the primary blessings of the new covenant, namely, the forgiveness of sins and a new heart.

Well, what is the forgiveness of sins? It is an essential part of the justification of a man before God. And what is a new heart? It is nothing less than sanctification begun. But the “carnal Christian” teaching appeals to those who are supposed to be justified, as though a new heart and life are optional. Sanctification is spoken of as though it can be subsequent to the forgiveness of sins and so people are led to believe that they are justified even though they are not being sanctified!

The truth is that we have no reason to believe that Christ’s blood covers our sins in the record of heaven if the Spirit has not changed our hearts on earth. These two great blessings are joined together in the one covenant. The working of the Spirit and the cleansing of Christ’s blood are inseparably joined in the application of God’s salvation. Hence the teaching which calls for an act of submission or surrender (or whatever else it may be called) subsequent to conversion in order that the convert may live the spiritual life, cuts the living nerve of the new covenant. It separates what God has joined together. We see in the writing of Ezekiel we are given a new heart and new spirit.

 (Eze 36:24-27 HCSB)  “For I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries, and will bring you into your own land. I will also sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. I will cleanse you from all your impurities and all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will place My Spirit within you and cause you to follow My statutes and carefully observe My ordinances.

 (Heb 10:15-17 HCSB)  The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. For after He had said: This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws on their hearts, and I will write them on their minds, He adds: I will never again remember their sins and their lawless acts.

 The third major error is that this teaching does not distinguish between true, saving belief and the spurious belief which is mentioned in the following Scriptures: “Many believed in his name … But Jesus did not commit himself to them” John 2:23,24. “Many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him” John 12:42,43. “These have no root, which for a while believe” Luke 8:13. Simon Magus “believed” and was baptized but his heart was “not right in the sight of God” Acts 8:12-22. In other words, it was “belief” without a changed heart and because this was Simon’s condition Peter says he would perish unless he came to true repentance: he was “in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity” (vs. 23). And the evidence that Simon Magus was indeed unsaved can be seen in his prayer. He, like all unregenerate people, was only concerned with the consequence of sin and made no request to be pardoned and cleansed from the impurity of sin. “Pray ye,” he says to Peter, “to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.” Like the so-called “carnal Christian” he wanted Jesus as a kind of hell-insurance policy but he did not ask for deliverance from sin!

 In all these scriptural instances men “believed”; they had “faith”, but it was not saving faith. And all “carnal Christians” profess their faith but it is not always saving faith.

 Charles Haddon Spurgeon warned his students: “If the professed convert distinctly and deliberately declares that he knows the Lord’s will but does not mean to attend to it, you are not to pamper his presumption, but it is your duty to assure him that he is not saved. Do not suppose that the Gospel is magnified or God glorified by going to the worldlings and telling them that they may be saved at this moment by simply accepting Christ as their Saviour, while they are wedded to their idols, and their hearts are still in love with sin. If I do so I tell them a lie, pervert the Gospel, insult Christ, and turn the grace of God into lasciviousness.”

It is vital in this connection to notice how the apostles preached the lordship of Christ. The word “Saviour” occurs only twice in the Acts of the Apostles (5:31; 13:23), on the other hand the title “Lord” is mentioned 92 times, “Lord Jesus” 13 times, and “The Lord Jesus Christ” 6 times in the same book!

 The gospel is: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.”

In Uncategorized on August 5, 2009 at 10:40 pm

Arab Festival 2009: Responses to Sharia in the US

Response to Arab Fest in Michigan

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