An Important Lesson from a Christian Academic

Vern Poythress
Vern Poythress (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was (awe) struck by the list of qualifications that belong to Dr Vern Poythress.

B.S. in Mathematics – California Institute of Technology
Ph.D. in Mathematics – Harvard University
M.Div. Westminster Theological Seminary
Th.M. in Apologetics – Westminster Theological Seminary
M.Litt. in New Testament – University of Cambridge
Th.D. in New Testament – University of Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch, South Africa

I hope Dr Poythress will forgive me but as impressive as that list is (and it is), there is ONE vitally important thing this teaches us. And I hope Christian academics will be in agreement.

The ONE main lesson it teaches is that rejecting the truth claims of the Christian faith has absolutely NOTHING to do with learning or intelligence – despite what Richard Dawkins (and others) may say. Not a single person rejects Christ because they have a superior intellect but because they are just like everyone else, sinners, rebelling against their Creator and God. They are just the same as those that rejected Christ when He was on earth ‘We will not have this man rule over us’ (Luke 19:14). But praise God, this man (Jesus) receives sinners (Luke 15:2)! The question is, who is this man? (Heb 1:3)

Let me put it another way. If you are rejecting Christ because you believe you have a superior intellect; seriously, you must be living in Trumpton.

A Bad Day for Free Speech

My off the cuff comments:

It’s funny thing to carry on as if nothing is happening, or has happened. Most will though, and simply carry on as if nothing has happened. But while we all (rightly) go about our daily business Free Speech & The Freedom of Religion has taken another battering. The ruling over Asher’s Bakery means the end of conscience. It’s clear from todays ruling that conscience, that most precious gift from God, must be aligned with another’s subjective view of how conscience is to be informed. As Christians we believe our conscience is to be informed primarily by a right application of the Word of God – The Bible. There can only be one, ultimately, objective source of ‘right & wrong’ of morality. In our day we are seeing the last vestiges of a ‘right’ means to inform the conscience being dismantled. While the Word of God and the Christian faith continues to be sidelined we ask what is the standard to be applied. It does appear to be the case, that where a conflict occurs between ‘rights’ it will in most cases automatically defer to the Anti-Christian position. But the reality is this; without an objective view of morality supplied by the Word of God the West collectively will slowly but surely itself be sidelined in favour of other civilisations. There is no ‘God-given’ ‘right’ to the West. It will eventually implode on itself. That doesn’t mean the West will disappear, or cease to be a strong economy or the place where many people will seek to find refuge. But it does mean morality will be defined ‘on the hoof’. The situation, or money, or power, or personality, or sexual orientation will decide on all moral cases. This is what must happen when the Bible is abandoned.

Victory for Christian registrar dismissed for refusing to conduct same-sex ‘marriages’ | Christian Concern

Victory for Christian registrar dismissed for refusing to conduct same-sex ‘marriages’ | Christian Concern.

Pro-lifers: the student censor’s favourite target | Abortion | Down with campus censorship! | Free speech | spiked

Pro-lifers: the student censor’s favourite target | Abortion | Down with campus censorship! | Free speech | spiked.

Good article as an example of (almost) how the ‘tolerant’ would like ‘Free Speech’ to be policed.

The idea of ‘Free Speech’ is very challenging as this quote from the article demonstrates:

‘if you take it seriously, you have to defend the free speech of precisely the people who drive you up the wall.’

The Day of our Death is Unknown

As part of my regular reading plan, this morning I read these words in Genesis 27:2 ‘Then he said, “Behold now, I am old. I do not know the day of my death“.

This truth was driven home powerfully when we heard last evening of the death of someone we knew and loved. Though not strictly speaking a family member, it nevertheless feels like it. Not an old man like Isaac that still had many years before him – he was in his early middle age. His wife had traveled to see her sick father and heard the tragic news while on the train back home. We are shocked, stunned & devastated by such sudden and tragic news.

Dear reader, the Christian faith is true and stands alone to declare the reality of Judgment & Salvation. Like aging Isaac I / we do not know the day of our death. Know only this ‘…it is appointed for men (and women)  to die once, but after this the judgment’. (Heb 9:27)

Also know this, ‘… the wages of sin is death…’ (Rom 3:23) and apart from Jesus alone, there is not a person that has ever lived who has not sinned and ‘earned’ their wages. Payment will come – either sooner or later – and at a time we will not expect!

But then know this, ‘the gift of God is eternal life, in Christ Jesus our Lord’. (Romans 3:23).

The message is clear then, Repent and believe the Gospel! For “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Romans 10:13) Don’t put it off though as Scripture also says ‘…Behold, now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation‘. (2 Cor 6:2)

I don’t say these things to scare you. And by the way, if you not have trusted in Christ, you should be scared. But to direct you to Jesus Christ, the ONLY Saviour, upon whom you must call.

1. Immortal honors rest on Jesus’ head;
My God, my portion, and my living bread;
In Him I live, upon Him cast my care;
He saves from death, destruction, and despair.

2. He is my refuge in each deep distress;
The Lord my strength and glorious righteousness;
Through floods and flames He leads me safely on,
And daily makes His sovereign goodness known.

3. My every need He richly will supply;
Nor will His mercy ever let me die;
In Him there dwells a treasure all divine,
And matchless grace has made that treasure mine.

4. O that my soul could love and praise Him more,
His beauties trace, His majesty adore;
Live near His heart, upon His bosom lean;
Obey His voice, and all His will esteem.

William Gadsby, 1773-1844

Cranmer: Theresa May seeks to outlaw Christian street preachers

Cranmer: Theresa May seeks to outlaw Christian street preachers.

I didn’t expect such a quick follow-up to yesterdays post about Free Speech & Religious Liberty. I was alerted to the latest move against Free Speech & Religious Liberty in our ever more Totalitarian country through listening to Janet Mefford. Interesting how our American friends see us.

The above link to Cranmer says it all. Some interesting comments as well.

Bonfire Night – A Celebration of Ignorance

Usually the week before (at least) and the week after Bonfire Night (or Guy Fawkes night) on the 5th November fireworks are going off throughout the evening. And last night proved that to be no exception. It was laughable in some ways. Here’s the scene if you can picture it. American friends might struggle to picture it though.

We are in Church, one of the members leads the Church in a time of public prayer. All the time he is praying (and right from the start of the service actually) there are loud explosions and a continuous loud crackling of fireworks going on all round the Church building. All through the singing and through the preaching there continues to be loud explosions.

What is Bonfire Night you may ask? Originally it was designated by Government (Parliament) to be a day of public thanksgiving.

The Observance of 5th November Act 1605 (3 Ja. I, c. 1) also known as the “Thanksgiving Act” was an Act of the Parliament of England passed in 1606 in the aftermath of the Gunpowder Plot.

Even though there might be some faint knowledge of the event – here’s how I read the significance: So here we are in a secular society that has all but forgotten God letting off fireworks that point back to an Act of Thanksgiving to the very God whose knowledge they seek to repress.

To be honest, back in my non-Christian days I was just as ignorant as those outside the Church last evening.

A Collect for 5th November, in Book of Common ...
A Collect for 5th November, in Book of Common Prayer published London 1689, referring to Gunpowder Plot and Arrival of William III (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the prayer on the right note the following prayer to God in giving thanks for the ‘Loving kindness to our Church and Nation, in the preservation of our Religion and Liberties’. Then later note further thankfulness to God that our ‘Holy Religion, which now again thou hast so wonderfully Rescued and Established a Blessing to us’.

What a contrast to our present day when for the State only the hypocritical husk of a true and lively religion remain. What a turn round from former days! The Christian Religion is under attack, of this there can be no doubt. But it is a double-edged sword because once Christian freedoms disappear it’s only a matter of time when other freedoms too will disappear. There’s a reason why so many freedom loving people want to live here – but that will change.

How the mighty have fallen! Here’s the opening paragraph to a prayer from 1606 upon the deliverance.

‘Forasmuch as almighty God hath in all ages showed his power and mercy in the miraculous and gracious deliverance of his church, and in the protection of religious kings and states, and that no nation of the earth hath been blessed with greater benefit than this kingdom now enjoyeth’.

It would be worth Prime Minister Cameron, his cabinet and government thinking on these things to discern how far we are removed from past glories and a reliance upon the grace of God to our Nation. The irony is that we as a Nation are just as reliant on the grace of God as we have ever been. But now it’s not openly confessed. Instead it is repressed.

These reflections I confess are based on one service in one Church on one evening. But I think the evening illustrates the chasm that is opening between the True Church of Jesus Christ and the sham of religiosity.

See my post from 2011.

A Clear and Present Danger: Religious Liberty, Marriage, and the Family in the Late Modern Age — An Address at Brigham Young University – AlbertMohler.com

A Clear and Present Danger: Religious Liberty, Marriage, and the Family in the Late Modern Age — An Address at Brigham Young University – AlbertMohler.com.

English: Al Mohler, President of Southern Bapt...
English: Al Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To anyone that believes in Religious Liberty, please read this address by Al Mohler.

‘An address delivered at Brigham Young University by Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary on Monday, October 21, 2013.’

A couple of taster paragraphs:

Heterosexuals did a very good job of undermining marriage before same-sex couples arrived with their demands. The marriage crisis is a moral crisis and it did not start with same-sex marriage, nor will it end there. The logic of same-sex marriage will not end with same-sex marriage. Once marriage can mean anything other than a heterosexual union, it can and must mean everything. It is just a matter of time.

This is what brings me to Brigham Young University today. I am not here because I believe we are going to heaven together. I do not believe that. I believe that salvation comes only to those who believe and trust only in Christ and in his substitutionary atonement for salvation. I believe in justification by faith alone, in Christ alone. I love and respect you as friends, and as friends we would speak only what we believe to be true, especially on matters of eternal significance. We inhabit separate and irreconcilable theological worlds, made clear with respect to the doctrine of the Trinity. And yet here I am, and gladly so. We will speak to one another of what we most sincerely believe to be true, precisely because we love and respect one another.

I do not believe that we are going to heaven together, but I do believe we may go to jail together. I do not mean to exaggerate, but we are living in the shadow of a great moral revolution that we commonly believe will have grave and devastating human consequences.

BBC News – Religious groups ‘preaching’ in schools, claims report

Here’s a news story (BBC Link below) to illustrate the bias existing in the UK. There is no such thing as ‘Neutrality’ – it’s a myth.

The National Secular Society (NSS) bemoans Christians going into schools but the default they conveniently neglect to mention is that Atheism is more often than not already assumed in the classroom. What they don’t like is their own view challenged. If they really were about ‘Equality’ then having Evangelical Christians going into schools to speak of their beliefs wouldn’t be a problem. And, there’s nothing to stop RE teachers inviting representatives of other faiths to present their beliefs. In fact, I would encourage it.

As regards Creationism – they can’t even explain how something can come from nothing (that’s no pre-existent matter). Christians do have an answer. They might not like it but they have to keep the faith of Atheism come what may. Mind you, the report will be a good attempt at getting something out of nothing!

BBC News – Religious groups ‘preaching’ in schools, claims report.

Brief Response to Paul Copan – Critique of Presuppositional Apologetics

I am not an expert in Apologetics. I am not a Philosopher. I am not a high-flying high-achieving Evangelical academic either. But I can see that Paul Copan has shown, or it seems to me he has shown, that he has not been listening to the same PA material that I’ve listened to. Below is Critique No1 from Paul and my brief response to it.

First, it engages in question-begging—assuming what one wants to prove.It begins with the assumption that God exists, and then concludes that God exists. Such reasoning would get you an “F” in any logic class worthy of the name! [Note: For a broader critique of Frame’s starting points, see Harold A. Netland, “Apologetics, Worldviews, and the Problem of Neutral Criteria,” Trinity Journal 12/1 (Spring 1991): 39-58.]

While we begin our worldview examination from somewhere, universal logical laws like the law of non-contradiction or excluded middle are inescapable for assessing and critiquing worldviews. In his debate with Henry, Hackett said that without some set of “neutral criteria” that are logically prior to consent or commitment to a particular worldview, “there is no way to show that one worldview perspective is more plausible than another” since both parties are “starting from totally different assumptions.” Indeed, the statements of Scripture themselves presuppose the validity of logical laws of non-contradiction and excluded middle; they also appeal to criteria beyond Scripture—the court of appeals of historical evidence for Jesus’ resurrection (1 Cor. 15:1-19)—things that were not done in a corner (Acts 26:26).

This is not good. And for the following reason. The article began with an Editors Note:

Editors’ Note: The Bible calls Christians to always be prepared to give an answer to those who ask for the reason of the hope within us (1 Peter 3:15). And so, from the very beginning of church history, Christians have publicly and privately labored to show the reasonableness of our faith against the objections of skeptics.

First off, does Paul really want me as a believer to start with the non-existence of God? Wouldn’t that be the same as expecting an atheist to start with the existence of God! This reminds me of an instance when the Mormons came knocking on my door: They asked me to pray for God to open my eyes to the truth (especially about Jesus Christ). I told them I could not do that. Because I already have the truth it would be an act of unbelief, even rebellion to ask God to show me something that He has plainly revealed to be true. Namely, Jesus is God or that He (God) exists. The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” Psalm 14:1.

Copan must have missed the Editors Note because if he had read it, and looked up the full text of 1 Peter 3:15 he would have seen how first of all we are to set apart Christ as Lord. This is the first thing we do as apologists and as Christians. But what Paul is suggesting here prevents us from doing that very thing. As Dr Oliphint has pointed out several times: Philosophy must be in service to Theology. If we first get the Theology right, in this case, God exists, the rest will follow. So we must go into any discussion already presupposing the Lordship of Jesus and that God has created all things. This must be especially when the Bible says quite plainly that regarding the creation God has made it plain.

If we do not do this then some other person or thing must be Lord instead of Jesus. What this is about is Ultimate Authority. So, we as Christians are not to enter a  discussion already presupposing the existence of God. Now I’m just a nobody in the Christian world but this seems completely wrong. I must admit to being quite surprised that Paul of The Gospel Coalition doesn’t want me to believe the Gospel or at least begin any discussion with that presupposition. Sorry Paul, I can’t do that.