In his NDPR review (2018.06.06) of Klaas Kraay‘s Does God Matter? (Routledge, 2018), David Johnson (Yeshiva University) remarks that the chapter Paul Franks and I co-wrote for the volume (see here) is a “nice example of a carefully argued paper in which everything seems to work except the main point.” Well, that doesn’t sound very good. What seems to be the problem? Continue reading
Last week I witnessed one of the most bizarre things in the Christian-social-media-world (other than Christians dogmatically refusing to acknowledge President Trump’s various moral failures): Andy Stanley (yes, that Andy Stanley) has been deemed a “Marcionite.” Having listened to a decent number of his sermons over the years I found this hard to believe. After listening to the sermon in question, I’m now convinced that calling Stanley a Marcionite is so off the mark that it amounts to slander and so, these Christians should repent of it and ask his forgiveness.
The hot-takes on the sermon are numerous, and I don’t have the energy to address them all. Instead I hope to provide a counter to what seems to be the source of the comparisons to Marcion. That seems to have been an article at First Things by Wesley Hill called, “Andy Stanley’s Modern Marcionism.” (UPDATE: I’ve since learned that this post appeared the day before Hill’s, as did this tweet. So, while Hill may not have been the source of the charge against Stanley, given the prominence of First Things, it seems likely he played a substantial part in it becoming widespread.) Continue reading
When talking with nonbelievers about the truth of Christianity, itâ€™s important to help them see how the Christian worldview makes the most sense of the things they already believe are true. Essentially, this is employing the same strategy Jesus used when dealing with disagreement.
We can apply the same strategy in our own conversations with nonbelievers. When people confront us with objections to our belief in God, we should do what we can to answer those objections. But, we should also look for ways to demonstrate to them that the Christian worldview makes the most sense of other things they accept as true.
3:16 (a) God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that (b) whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
On his Dividing Line podcast of March 27, 2018, James White, Director of Alpha and Omega Ministries, suggested that my Calvinist renderings of the underlined expressions in 3:16 engender such “fundamental errors” that there was no need for him to examine (the details of) the actual dilemma I posed in “Calvinism’s Gospel Tautology.” Here I am indebted to my friend Guillaume Bignon and to James Gibson (hereafter, B&G) for having descended into those details (see here). I think they push the discussion forward admirably. Continue reading
When talking with nonbelievers about your Christian faith (or even when talking with current believers who are experiencing doubts about their faith), one of the most important chapters in all of Scripture to keep at the forefront of your mind is 1 Corinthians 15. In this one chapter, you can find two powerful reasons to believe that Christianity is true.
First, we see Paul’s emphasis on the importance of the Resurrection. He writes, “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14, ESV). Not only that, but if Christ hasn’t been raised, we Christians are “misrepresenting God” (verse 15) and we “are still in [our] sins” (verse 17). If the Resurrection did not occur, “we are of all people most to be pitied” (verse 19).
Paul is making an important point here that many overlook. According to Paul, the entirety of the Christian worldview hangs on the reality of Jesus’ resurrection. If Christ did not rise in the real world, we’ve all been wasting our time and deserve pity.
According to Paul, we can have all the faith in Christ we want, but if Jesus didn’t actually rise from the dead, that faith is in vain. So, if we don’t have good reasons to believe that Christ rose, we don’t have good reasons to be Christians. Fortunately, we do have such good reasons — very good reasons, in fact.
Given that many in our society are growing increasingly hostile to Christian beliefs, we must be thoughtful about how we go about responding to this trend.
In a previous article, I advocated for the claim that apologetics should play a vital role in helping push back against this hostility. Apologetic thinking may not be all that’s needed, but it should be one of the tools in our shed — and it needs to be a sharp one.
Jesus tells us to make disciples; that will, at minimum, involve making converts. If those far from Christ today are ever going to investigate the truth of the Christian worldview, apologetics can help show them why it is indeed worthy of serious consideration.
In “Calvinism’s Gospel Tautology,” I argued that there are two possible Calvinist renderings of Jesus’ words in John 3:16. The first puts these words in Jesus’ mouth: “whoever (of those who cannot believe) does believe: those persons won’t perish but have eternal life.” This dictum is no less pointless than it is absurd. To impute it to our Saviour is perfectly unseemly.
On the second reading, Jesus’ words to Nicodemus amount to a vacuous tautology: that the elect–i.e., those who (by definition) believe in Jesus and consequently have eternal life and won’t perish: these persons have eternal life and won’t perish. Well, of course. But there’s no more reason to come into the world to tell us that than there is for God the Son to become incarnate to break the news that bachelors are unmarried. As I said, if that’s what John 3:16 comes to, it isn’t good news. It can’t be; for it isn’t news at all.
On March 27, 2018, James White, Director of Alpha and Omega Ministries, devoted his entire Dividing Line podcast to reading and commenting on my post. In what follows, I make some brief observations about White’s questionable polemics. In a second post, I turn to more substantial matters. Shorn of the fallacious rhetoric (there’s no shortage of that), I think White has two minor points that merit a brief comment. Continue reading