Tag apologetics

Four things that help me make sense out of evil and suffering

A few thoughts about suffering and evil that help me personally

  • Suffering and evil is a reality we all face day in and day out. In this vlog, I share four things that I find helpful when I think about suffering and evil.
    • First, a helpful distinction. It is not only an intellectual problem.
    • Furthermore, who has to give a response to the problem of suffering and evil?
    • In addition, what is evil? why is there so much suffering in the world?
    • Finally, what is the Christian responds to suffering and evil?
  • What are your thoughts to these four things? leave a reply and I will be happy to respond.

You can watch the vlog here 

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Make room for thought: is faith unreasonable?

View the vlog here

MAKE ROOM FOR THOUGHT: Is faith unreasonable?

Students in Leiden here in The Netherlands run a week with talks about the meaning of life.

So they asked me to prepare a talk about the question of faith in relation to reason. My talk was under the general topic of MAKE ROOM FOR THOUGHT. Here then is a summary of my talk in 5 minutes.

We all have the same starting point: we believe something about reality. The real question then is: which view makes more sense? Would like to hear what you think. leave a comment or ask a question. Stay safe!

 

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Passionweek Leiden 2020

Make Room

Students in Leiden organized a “passionweek” (PW) in February 2020. I gave three of the lunch talks and Mark Pickett gave one lunch talk and the evening talks during this PW. Attendance during these meetings went from about 60 to more than 150 students for each meeting.

We had many good conversations after the talks and some students expressed their desire to meet again and talk further.

See in the flyer below the topics of the talks. If you want to know more about the talks and/or have a question then leave a comment and I will try to reply within a week.

Do you also want to organize a passionweek in your city? Then contact me or leave a comment. For more information about the PWs have a look here.

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Christian faith: It really makes sense

It really makes sense!

The author of “The Chronicles of Narnia,” C.S.Lewis, once said, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” His point is clear: the Christian faith illuminates the landscape of reality and helps us see it as it is. As the sun rises we can see the landscape; we can see things as they really are.

The Christian faith is a worldview that adequately explains reality as it is, both the universe “outside” of us and our experience “inside” of us. In other words, it is a coherent whole that makes sense of reality as we observe it and experience it as human beings. I would say that the Christian faith has the capacity to explain things as they really are much better than other worldviews. But how can we show that this is really the case? This brings us to the question of methodology.

A reliable method and a toolbox

Let us start with “hypotheses testing.” This is a good way to form and test a theory or a worldview. In our case, we want to test the Christian worldview and find out if it makes sense. More than this, if it makes better sense than other worldviews. Moreover, we want to use some reliable criteria that can test a worldview. Our toolbox contains the following tools: hypotheses testing, criteria to test a worldview, principles of logic, understanding of truth and knowledge, and the scientific method. For now, that’s enough.

Two ways that show that the Christian faith makes sense

We can show that the Christian faith makes sense in two different ways. One complements the other.

  1. By showing there are good arguments and evidence for the Christian faith. (We will mention some of these.)
  2. By showing that the Christian faith makes more sense than alternative views. We will use a case study and compare two worldviews, Atheism and Christianity. This is the Two Story Idea. Ultimate purpose and fulfilment.

Pointers and evidence for the Christian faith

These arguments are better understood as pointers for the existence of God. We don’t use them in a rigorous mathematical way. Rather, we use them as reasonable and good explanations of reality.

There are many such pointers for God’s existence. I’ll mention two of them that are also supported by recent scientific discoveries.

A universe fine-tuned for life

The fine-tuning of the universe is one of these pointers. The astonishing thing is that the universe is fine-tuned with an amazing amount of precision to make life possible on planet earth. There are three options to explain this discovery: chance, necessity, or design.

The following clip from “Reasonable Faith” presents the fine-tuning argument in just about 6 minutes and it is worthwhile to watch. You can watch here. This argument, as presented in this clip, is a strong pointer towards the existence of God. What it does not do is prove in a rigorous mathematical way that a theistic God exists. But it does give the best explanation possible, an explanation that resonates with what we read in the Bible. David, one of the authors of the Bible said three thousand years ago “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”

A universe that had a beginning

The Kalam cosmological argument is another pointer to the existence of a theistic God. The simple form of this argument goes like this. Everything that begins to exist has a cause. The universe began to exist. Therefore, the universe has a cause. The cause of the universe is God. The strength of this argument is that it is supported by both philosophical reasoning and the scientific discovery of the big-bang theory. This theory makes the point that there was a beginning of the universe. This short four-minute clip is a good presentation of this argument. You can watch it here.

Again, this is a strong pointer towards a theistic God. It is an explanation that makes sense, and that is the point here. It is reasonable and points to what another biblical author mentioned three and a half thousand years ago, that the universe had a beginning. The first line of the Bible says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

Reliable historical documents

Furthermore, there is good historical evidence that the Christian faith is true. There are reliable historical sources, such as the writings of the New Testament. It is generally accepted that these writings are some of the most reliable ancient documents that exist. The gospels, the four books that speak about Jesus’ life and teaching, are indisputably accepted as authentic historical documents. It is supported by the science of textual criticism, a science that investigates the authenticity of ancient documents.

Christianity compared to other worldviews

Finally, let us open our toolbox again and compare two worldviews. Let us take the question of “is a fulfilling life possible without ultimate purpose?” Read here a short post I wrote about theism and atheism in relation to the question of purpose and fulfilment in life.

Conclusion

Christianity makes sense! That was our main point in the beginning. It better explains the universe and the human experience. In this blog, I present a way, a method, to investigate the belief of the Christian faith. I did not come up with this approach but have embraced it because it is helpful. It is an example that can be used to further search and hopefully come to a meaningful conclusion. What is your worldview? And, does it make sense? Is it helping you to live a “life worth living” in good and not so good times? Does it explain things as they really are? Leave your thoughts and I will be happy to reply.

 

Notes

  • Mere Apologetics, Alister McGrath. The “two ways” I mentioned above are from McGrath’s book. His chapter on “Reasonableness of the Christian faith” is worthwhile to read the book.
  • Reasonable faith, Win Corduan
  • Christian Apologetics, Douglas Groothuis
  • Reasonable Faith Animated Videos
  • Psalm 19:1, Genesis 1:1.
  • Proofreading, Dan Truitt

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Christian Apologetics: what’s that?

Christian Apologetics

  • What is apologetics and why is it important?
  • Understanding the nature of faith
  • Know your audience

What is apologetics and why is it important?

Christian apologetics has to be done in the context of the Great Commission, Matthew 28. Christian apologetics requires thinking, yes. But, it is not to be done isolated from everyday reality. We believe that ideas, worldviews, and ideologies impact our lives, societies, and the world.

Christian apologetics has to be done for two main reasons.

First, it helps Christians better understand that their faith is reasonable, it makes sense. An “unexamined faith” is not worth believing, someone said. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. But always strive to find good answers. When the book “The DaVinci Code” was published, a few Christians were alarmed. But they got over it quickly. Why? Well, the book was of a certain genre, it was “fiction.” Moreover, the science of “textual criticism” was strong enough to defend the reliability of the New Testament. Furthermore, historically, things were not accurately presented.

Second, so we can help others understand what the Christian faith is all about. Christian apologetics deals with the whole of reality. It is a worldview. It claims, like all other worldviews, to explain what a “life worth living” is. Does your worldview help you face the good and not so good times? Is it liveable?

Christian apologetics tries to find what the real issue of rejecting faith is. Is it a myth? (maybe they reject a god we also would reject) a mood? There are different reasons why people may reject faith: Someone said that there are reasons of the mind, memory, culture, and the heart.

Aspects of Christian apologetics

Christian apologetics does three things.

It defends the Christian faith from objections. What are some of the objections to the Christian faith that you think hold people back from the Christian faith? It commends the richness of the Christian faith. It shows the beauty of our faith.

Christianity has the depth and the ability to explain reality as it is. The power of the Christian faith to explain reality is appealing to me personally.

It is our responsibility to translate our Christian faith in a way that helps people understand the message. We want to make sure that what we say is not misunderstood.

Understanding the nature of “faith”

Some people think that faith is taking a blind leap to the dark without any evidence or good reasons. So is faith unreasonable? Is faith a leap to the dark without any evidence? We have to understand the nature of faith in order to be able to answer these questions adequately. Is faith only for people that are ignorant and stupid? A student once told me that a lecturer told her that if she believes in God then she is stupid. I talked to a lecturer at Erasmus university a few years ago and he told me that faith is not reasonable.

Faith is a normal way of being human

Someone said that our convictions are formed in three different ways. Those that are formed through logical deduction and reasoning. Those that are formed by empirical observation. Thirdly, those that are formed by neither of the above two.

For instance, we hold different things as true without any absolute proof. Can you think of some convictions humans have that they hold as true and yet cannot justify either logically or scientifically by observation?

Human rights, for instance, is one of them. Or when we say that something is evil. Or any statement like “religion is evil,” as the New Atheists would say.

The real issue, therefore, is not whether you have “faith,” but what kind of faith do you have? That’s the real issue. Is your faith justified belief? Therefore, faith is not necessarily incompatible with reason. The Christian faith is reasonable and evidence-based.

Know your audience

It is important to understand the worldview of other people. We can understand what others believe only if we listen carefully and ask questions. Moreover, we have to be consistent with what we believe and live out our faith daily and in every situation. Only then will we be prepared to give a reason for our hope that is within us.

The apostle Peter says, “Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”

Christian apologetics is a very important part of our efforts to be a good witness of Jesus Christ.

 

Notes

– Mere Apologetics, Alister McGrath. Very good introduction book for Christian apologetics.

– Bible, NIV

– No Doubt About It, Win Corduan. This is a useful book, not easy to find though, that introduces the basic elements of Christian apologetics.

– Proofreading, Dan Truitt

 

 

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