David Johnson’s NDPR Review

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

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Jesus’ Strategy for Dealing with Disagreement

When talking with nonbelievers about the truth of Christianity, it’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.
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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.

Finish reading this entry at Influence Magazine. ->

The Early Belief in Jesus’ Bodily Resurrection

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.

Finish reading this entry at Influence Magazine. ->

James White and John 3:16: Rhetoric and Red Herrings

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

What Is Apologetics, and Why Do We Need It?

Many in the Church today spend immense amounts of time and energy ensuring that our churches and ministries are “relevant” to today’s culture. In general, this is good, and we should encourage efforts to make connections and become more relatable.

However, there is one area that does not get enough attention, and if it doesn’t change, people will never take the truth and reality of the gospel seriously — no matter how relevant we may think we are.

Simply put, we need more emphasis on (1) demonstrating that the truth of Christianity is grounded in reality — and not simply our beliefs — and (2) providing compelling responses to those who raise objections to the Christian worldview.

Finish reading this entry at Influence Magazine. ->

The Clarke Files

Once described by Voltaire as a man “solely concerned with calculations and demonstrations—a veritable thinking machine,” Samuel Clarke (1675-1729) was widely regarded in the first half of the 18th century as the greatest English philosopher after the death of John Locke. Dr. Davis’ 4th year seminar “Clarke and His Critics” (Fall 2017) is an in-depth investigation of Clarke’s Christian-Newtonian-Rationalism and its outspoken critics.

You can read his first 9 discussion handouts online here. 1 more to come!

Continue reading

A Recent Calvinist Strawman

In his post “Why All Arminians are Calvinists,” Dr. Mark Jones represents the Arminian position on divine election (and foreknowledge) as follows:

In the Arminian scheme, God “sees” what would happen based on a conditional future and then chooses based on what he “sees” take place in a purely conditional world. In this scheme, God knows conditionals conditionally.

In sum, Arminianism introduces a separate category, in which the human decision becomes the causal factor that determines the event. It is a form of semi-pelagianism.

This view, he says, “bows to the god of human freedom and makes God the servant of humans.” Well, that certainly doesn’t sound like a good thing, and if true it would certainly be a strike against Arminianism. But is Mark correct? I don’t think so. Continue reading