William L. Craig on Ben Shapiro Show

Ben Shapiro, the conservative commentator who is the darling of the Republican internet and who sells, among other things, insulated beverage cups with “leftist tears” emblazoned on the front, just released an outstanding Sunday special interview with William L. Craig.

Craig is a Christian philosopher, and is perhaps the most prolific and public face of intellectual Christian apologetics today. His theology seems to trend Wesleyan, he is not a fan of Reformed soteriology, and he isn’t keen to defend the doctrine of inerrancy. Nevertheless, he is a true Christian believer. More than that he’s a conservative Christian believer.

God has (and is) using Craig in a remarkable way in Christian academia and in presentations to students in the academy. In short, Craig is a brilliant ambassador for Christ in a context many of us don’t have access to. Perhaps his most accessible book for “normal” Christians is On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision.

In his interview with Shapiro, Craig discusses some common apologetic arguments for the existence of God, why he believes the Christian God is the God of the universe, and even provides his own salvation testimony. This is an excellent interview, and Craig does a wonderful job of representing Christ for a worldwide audience. I can’t recommend it highly enough:

Apologetics Resource – Mormons

I wanted to pass along some apologetics resources on Mormonism. The gentleman in the videos below is apologist James White, an elder in a Reformed Baptist church in Phoenix, AZ and Director of Alpha & Omega Ministries. He has a very wide-ranging apologetics ministry which has focused in recent years on Islam.

In addition to these videos, I would encourage you to grab a copy of his books on Mormonism, Letters to a Mormon Elder and Is the Mormon My Brother? You can view other video and audio products on Mormonism from his ministry here.

 

Biblical Illiteracy and Post-Modernism in Action

A while back, I dedicated an apologetics class to a very sad article entitled “Why I Raise My Children Without God.” The article was written by a young mother for CNN’s iReport back in January 2013. There is nothing “new” in her objections; indeed, there are really only two issues for the Christian to deal with in her entire letter;

(1)    She is Biblically illiterate and does not understand the God she is attacking; and

(2)    She has questions about how God could permit suffering

These objections should prove no big hurdle for the average Christian. The fact that they do speaks volumes about the state of Christianity. The article is linked above, and re-produced in total below. The discussion and response to her objections are in MP3 format below.

Before you start – I must re-emphasize something which is very important. Apologetics and theology go hand in hand; and we must approach this woman’s questions with a humble and contrite spirit. This is not about having cue-card responses down; Christians are called to love the Lord with all our heart, mind and strength (Deut 6:4). Apologetics is merely the practical outworking of this earnest desire to please God.

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When my son was around 3 years old, he used to ask me a lot of questions about heaven. Where is it? How do people walk without a body? How will I find you? You know the questions that kids ask.

For over a year, I lied to him and made up stories that I didn’t believe about heaven. Like most parents, I love my child so much that I didn’t want him to be scared. I wanted him to feel safe and loved and full of hope. But the trade-off was that I would have to make stuff up, and I would have to brainwash him into believing stories that didn’t make sense, stories that I didn’t believe either.

One day he would know this, and he would not trust my judgment. He would know that I built an elaborate tale—not unlike the one we tell children about Santa—to explain the inconsistent and illogical legend of God.

And so I thought it was only right to be honest with my children. I am a non-believer, and for years I’ve been on the fringe in my community. As a blogger, though, I’ve found that there are many other parents out there like me. We are creating the next generation of kids, and there is a wave of young agnostics, atheists, free thinkers and humanists rising up through the ranks who will, hopefully, lower our nation’s religious fever.

Here are a few of the reasons why I am raising my children without God.

God is a bad parent and role model.

If God is our father, then he is not a good parent. Good parents don’t allow their children to inflict harm on others. Good people don’t stand by and watch horrible acts committed against innocent men, women and children. They don’t condone violence and abuse. “He has given us free will,” you say? Our children have free will, but we still step in and guide them.

God is not logical.

How many times have you heard, “Why did God allow this to happen?” And this: “It’s not for us to understand.” Translate: We don’t understand, so we will not think about it or deal with the issue. Take for example the senseless tragedy in Newtown. Rather than address the problem of guns in America, we defer responsibility to God. He had a reason. He wanted more angels. Only he knows why. We write poems saying that we told God to leave our schools. Now he’s making us pay the price. If there is a good, all-knowing, all-powerful God who loves his children, does it make sense that he would allow murders, child abuse, wars, brutal beatings, torture and millions of heinous acts to be committed throughout the history of mankind? Doesn’t this go against everything Christ taught us in the New Testament?

The question we should be asking is this: “Why did we allow this to happen?” How can we fix this? No imaginary person is going to give us the answers or tell us why. Only we have the ability to be logical and to problem solve, and we should not abdicate these responsibilities to “God” just because a topic is tough or uncomfortable to address.

God is not fair.

If God is fair, then why does he answer the silly prayers of some while allowing other, serious requests, to go unanswered? I have known people who pray that they can find money to buy new furniture. (Answered.) I have known people who pray to God to help them win a soccer match. (Answered.) Why are the prayers of parents with dying children not answered?

If God is fair, then why are some babies born with heart defects, autism, missing limbs or conjoined to another baby? Clearly, all men are not created equally. Why is a good man beaten senseless on the street while an evil man finds great wealth taking advantage of others? This is not fair. A game maker who allows luck to rule mankind’s existence has not created a fair game.

God does not protect the innocent.

He does not keep our children safe. As a society, we stand up and speak for those who cannot. We protect our little ones as much as possible. When a child is kidnapped, we work together to find the child. We do not tolerate abuse and neglect. Why can’t God, with all his powers of omnipotence, protect the innocent?

God is not present.

He is not here. Telling our children to love a person they cannot see, smell, touch or hear does not make sense. It means that we teach children to love an image, an image that lives only in their imaginations. What we teach them, in effect, is to love an idea that we have created, one that is based in our fears and our hopes.

God Does Not Teach Children to Be Good

A child should make moral choices for the right reasons. Telling him that he must behave because God is watching means that his morality will be externally focused rather than internally structured. It’s like telling a child to behave or Santa won’t bring presents. When we take God out of the picture, we place responsibility of doing the right thing onto the shoulders of our children. No, they won’t go to heaven or rule their own planets when they die, but they can sleep better at night. They will make their family proud. They will feel better about who they are. They will be decent people.

God Teaches Narcissism

“God has a plan for you.” Telling kids there is a big guy in the sky who has a special path for them makes children narcissistic; it makes them think the world is at their disposal and that, no matter what happens, it doesn’t really matter because God is in control. That gives kids a sense of false security and creates selfishness. “No matter what I do, God loves me and forgives me. He knows my purpose. I am special.” The irony is that, while we tell this story to our kids, other children are abused and murdered, starved and neglected. All part of God’s plan, right?

When we raise kids without God, we tell them the truth—we are no more special than the next creature. We are just a very, very small part of a big, big machine–whether that machine is nature or society–the influence we have is minuscule. The realization of our insignificance gives us a true sense of humbleness.

I understand why people need God. I understand why people need heaven. It is terrifying to think that we are all alone in this universe, that one day we—along with the children we love so much—will cease to exist. The idea of God and an afterlife gives many of us structure, community and hope.

I do not want religion to go away. I only want religion to be kept at home or in church where it belongs. It’s a personal effect, like a toothbrush or a pair of shoes. It’s not something to be used or worn by strangers. I want my children to be free not to believe and to know that our schools and our government will make decisions based on what is logical, just and fair—not on what they believe an imaginary God wants.

Good Apologetics Debate

Below is a very fascinating debate between the late atheist Christopher Hitchens and Pastor Doug Wilson.

Hitchens was an unusually eloquent speaker for atheism, and his British accent lent him an air of authority we Americans simply can’t imitate! Hitchens was a brilliant man, well-read and intelligent. His knowledge of Scripture was meager and his arguments against Christianity were far less formidable than his rhetoric. If you can spare the time, this debate is well worth watching.

Intellectual and Moral Cowardice?

I purchased a copy of Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion the other day. I teach an apologetics class at my church, and I wanted to actually read what one of the so-called “Four Horseman of New Atheism” has to say on the matter. My wife was horrified when I opened the package and held the tome aloft – she accused me of enriching a Godless heretic who seems content to remain on a path leading inevitably to the fires of hell. I suppose she has a point, so I retreated to pragmaticism – how can I know what the man says unless I buy the book? My wife reluctantly agreed but was still suspicious, and ordered me to banish the text to a faraway bookshelf, far from the reaches of our children.

Reading the first few chapters, I stumbled across a disturbing passage written by a well-meaning but ill-informed Christian to Albert Einstein. The missive was a response to a paper Einstein wrote in 1940 about why he did not believe in God. Dawkins evidenced contempt and scorn for this little letter, and I must agree he is justified in doing so. Here it is;[1]

We respect your learning, Dr. Einstein; but there is one thing you do not seem to have learned: that God is a spirit and cannot be found through the telescope or microscope, no more than human thought or emotion can be found by analyzing the brain. As everyone knows, religion is based on Faith, not knowledge. Every thinking person, perhaps, is assailed at times with religious doubt. My own faith has wavered many a time. But I never told anyone of my spiritual aberrations for two reasons: (1) I feared that I might, by mere suggestion, disturb and damage the life and hopes of some fellow being; (2) because I agree with the writer who said, “There is a mean streak in anyone who will destroy another’s faith.” … I hope, Dr Einstein, that you were misquoted and that you will yet say something more pleasing to the vast number of the American people who delight to do you honor.

This is a sad, pitiful little letter. Dawkins observed, “every sentence drips with intellectual and moral cowardice.”[2] What struck me was the astounding Biblical illiteracy displayed by the writer. We often look back on the pre-1960s era as a better, more noble time – a time when Christian values flourished and God was worshipped in spirit and in truth. People knew their Bibles, preachers stood for the truth, and everything was simply grand! This illusion is shattered by this letter, which could have been penned by the average Christian today. Dawkins hit the nail right on the head – it literally oozes with intellectual and moral cowardice.

God is a spirit and cannot be found through the telescope or microscope, no more than human thought or emotion can be found by analyzing the brain.

What about the glories of God in general revelation? Has the writer never read Psalm 8, where David extolls the glory of God and marvels that He condescended to even notice man and care for him? Or has he ever contemplated David’s statement from Psalm 19:1; “the heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” Has the author never considered that all common blessings which God bestows on the just and unjust alike, this common grace, testifies to the glory of God? Christians can look round about them and see evidence for God everywhere; indeed, God’s common grace common to all testifies to both His existence and character (Acts 14:14-17).

Paul observed that his readers presumed “on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance,” (Rom 2:4). This statement is even more powerful because it directly follows his masterful exposition of man’s true state before God – all men are in willful rebellion and utterly without excuse (Rom 1:18-32). This principle is not confined to the New Testament; God’s humbling of King Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 4) over his refusal to give glory to God for Babylon’s successes is the most definitive example of common grace I’ve read in Scripture. Likewise, in Hosea, God equates Israel with an adultress who leaves her husband for the promise of trinkets and luxury in the arms of another lover. “And she did not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the wine, and the oil, and who lavished on her silver and gold, which they used for Baal,” (Hos 2:8).

The longsuffering and grace of God is truly impossible to fathom – and we haven’t even reached the Gospel yet! We’re just looking out at the world and making some random observations from Scripture on God’s goodness toward mankind in general!

“But wait,” the chorus cries, “you’re in ministry. It’s your job to know things like this!”

Wrong. Dead wrong. The man who penned this unfortunate letter typifies the average Christian from nearly 80 years ago. He is a window into the state of Biblical literacy during the halcyon days of Roosevelt, Churchill and The Maltese Falcon. I fear, however, that the average Christian in these days of Obama, Cameron and No Strings Attached lags far behind even this poor example.

I agree with the writer who said, “There is a mean streak in anyone who will destroy another’s faith

The watchword of Christian apologetics is 1 Pet 3:15b, “always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” This command is prefaced by a vital precondition that too many Christians hew off; perhaps considering it irrelevant, which itself is a rather damning testimony to serious Christianity. The preface is “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy,” (1 Pet 3:15a).

The letter writer, along with the seeming majority of contemporary Christian apologists, misses the point that there is one, single objective truth – God is real. In our quest for tolerance, too many well-meaning Christians embrace de facto religious pluralism out of a fear not to “offend anybody.” If Christ is truly sanctified in our hearts as Lord, the practical outworking of this sanctification is a willingness to stand in the gap and proclaim, “Jesus is the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Him.” That a man, 80 years ago, would display an unwillingness to “offend” someone by proclaiming God is real and all pretenders are false is sad. Things have not improved since then.

Dawkins is quite right to sneer contemptuously at this silly, sad dispatch from days gone by. It is intellectually and morally cowardly. However, how many Christians today would write a similar letter? How many believers are too unenlightened about their faith to fashion a response to a “God doesn’t exist” challenge? How many Christians are too timid or wary to take a stand for the Truth, however small and seemingly “insignificant” it may be?

The feeble recourse of referring all “deeper” questions to our Pastors seems noble, but is ultimately pitiful and betrays a startlingly dangerous spiritual apathy. Knowing our faith is the responsibility of every believer. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them,” (Eph 2:10). We were each individually redeemed for a purpose – a specific purpose. Part of our reasonable service is to sanctify Christ in our hearts so that we may be able to give an answer for the hope that is within us, wherever we may be in the world and whenever the opportunity arises. It is not simply the Pastor’s job to be Biblically literate – it is every Christian’s job.

God chose to allow sinful men and women like you and me to participate in His unfolding plan to redeem His creation; how seriously do we take this privilege?


[1] Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (New York, NY: Mariner, 2008), 38.

[2] Ibid.