Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Theological Basis for Apologetics

Theology is not beyond anyone. An example, General Motors used to run an intstitute, which would train people to become automotive engineers. People could receive, bachelor's master's and doctorate degrees. They produce well trained people for the automotive industry. However, one does not need to attend GM institute to learn to drive a car, or even become a mechanic. One can learn these things, and learn these things well without attending a prestigous school. If you can attend such a school, great, but do not attend the school thinking that is the only way you can learn to drive and work on cars. It is every believer's birthright to study theology. You are required to pay attention when studying theology as your eternal destiny depends on your theology. The more you study theology, the easier it becomes and the more interesting it becomes. One cannot simply escape studying theology. Anyone who studies the Bible and formulates an opinion, whether objective or biased, will ultimately be grounded in some sort of theology. There are many christians that say "Let's not worry about words, let's just love Jesus." Every church has a tendency to focus on small matters and forget about the larger matters. This idea that we should not worry about words dismisses the Bible, and what Christ taught. All we are left with, is our own idea of what it means to love Jesus. We should love the Christ of the Bible, not the Christ of our own imaginations. Theology is not irrelevant even though people may dismiss it as such and any opinion if it has a theological basis.


The study of how we can know. Our system of thought must answer that question. There are two related questions that must be answered: How can we know, and the second, what is the basis for moral behavior? Presently, the public school system is expected to teach values rather than provide an education. There are many problems with expecting this from a school system. But we must ask, if they are going to teach values, what values are they going to teach? What values are essential? Many people will say that tolerance is one value that must be taught as it is the greatest virtue. But it is not the greatest virtue. G.K. Chesterton once said "tolerance is a virtue of a man without convictions." Tolerance of evil is not a virtue at all. Only when men are intolerant of evil, can we put evil behind us. So tolerance cannot be the ultimate virtue. Tolerance of good, is simply pointless. Nobody is going to go out of their way to declare that they are tolerant of universally good things. The only things we can be tolerant about morally neutral things like cultural differences, customs, languages etc. This brings us to another related question: How can we know what moral neutrality looks like if we are going to be tolerant of it? Christians can know what this may look like because we have the written word and the Spirit of God dwelling in us to guide us, but how can non-christians know what is morally neutral?

There are some systems of thought that non-christians hold to that we will look at. The first one is called Naturalism, or Materialism. This system says that matter is the ultimate reality, that all things are produced from some pre-existing material. According to this thought, matter can be predetermined by mathematics and science. It is also known as Ontological Reductionism, the idea that everything is predetermined by mathematics. However, the phenomona of information is an unpredictable factor that Materialism cannot account for and thus, the whole philosophy goes down the drain.

Barna research did a poll among Christian churches to see the varying differences groups of Christians have on a biblical world view. A biblical world view is defined as absolute truth existing and the standard of such truth is determined by the Bible, and a firm belief in six specific views.
They are: 1. Jesus lived a sinless life
2.God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the universe and still rules it today.
3.Salvation is a gift from God and cannot be earned
4.Satan is real
5.A christian has a responsibility to share their faith in Christ with other people
6. The Bible is accurate in all its teachings.
Southern Baptists, the largest evangelical denomination, only 29 percent of the pastors hold to a biblical world view. 51 percent of independent bible church pastors hold to a biblical world view. 13 percent of the average nondenominational church members hold to a biblical world view and 9 percent of born again believers hold to these teachings. Professing christians do not hold to sound views mainly because christians do not know how they can know the truth, due to a lack of proper understanding of scripture.

The first source of knowledge is observation. The second source of knowledge is instruction. The third source of knowledge is reason. However, each of these sources of knowledge is faulty. We can think we know something and be terribly wrong. Someone can be wrong in their instruction as well. Even reasoning is faulty; we think we have figured out the laws of physics, math, and chemistry, and we are still wrong more often than we are right. This becomes a huge problem in the area of religion. And so, if God exists, then He must give us a fourth source of knowledge. The fourth source is revelation, through the Bible. The first three sources are considered general revelation that all men have, and the fourth source is called special revealtion. General revelation is not sufficient to show the way of salvation- only special revelation through God's word can suffice that role. While general revelation is not as strong as special revelation, scripture itself points to proofs that general revelation is in itself, enough to believe in God. Consider Romans 1:18-20: "For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because the thing which may be known of God is clearly revealed unto them, for God revealed it to them. For the unseen things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being realized by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, for them to be without excuse." Let us look at one of the arguments for the existence of God based on general revelation.

The Cosmological Argument

The argument stated with motion as a variation: "It is certain . . . that . . . some things are in motion. Now whatever is moved is moved by another, for nothing can be moved except it is in potentiality to that towards which it is moved. . . . If that by which it is moved be itself moved, then this also must needs be moved by another, and that by another again. But this cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover. . . . Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, moved by no other; and this everyone understands to be God." - Thomas Aquinas  
Two of the criticisms skeptics take to this line of argument is why there cannot be an infinite series of motion, and why must it stop with God? There are two possible types of series of motion one could be talking about. Aquinas himself would admit that an infinite series of motions would in theory, be possible. One person came from another person, and that person came from another person ad infinitum. This is considered a horizontal series of motion, and could theoretically go on forever. But there is a vertical series of motion that does not go on forever. Once a person is an adult and independent of their parents, they continue to be dependent on things that are essential to life such as water, air and other things. My existence is dependent on water for example. I can get water from my kitchen faucet and where did that water come from? A river, perhaps, or a resovoir. Where did it come from before there? The sky? And from there? Ultimately, it came from God, the creator.

Now, I said earlier that it would be theoretically possible for a horizontal series of motion to be infinite, but even in this scenario, it is not. An infinite series of numbers exists in the mind, but with humans and life in general, there had to be a first couple from which all other humans descended. Not only that, but atheists and skeptics make the error of assuming that all things must be created, which is not true. The Cosmological argument does not say that all things must have a designer behind it, but all created things must by necessity have a creator. The God of the Bible is not only the creator of all things, but is by definition, uncreated and self-existing.

1. The Christian Faith by Dallas Roark. (Broadman Press Edition, 1967)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Hebrews 1:5-7

Hebrews 1:5-7
"For unto which of the angels said he at any time, 'Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee?' And again, 'I will be to him a Father and he shall be to me a Son?' And again, when he bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith, 'And let all the angels of God worship him.' Of the angels he saith, 'Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.'"

This series of verses in the first chapter of Hebrews references the Old testament several times. In order to understand these verses, it is best to look at each OT reference (in its own context) and see how the author of this epistle is using it here to uphold the deity and supremacy of Christ. The author starts out asking his reader the rhetorical question: "For unto which of the angels said He at any time 'Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee?'" This is only the first part of verse five, the verse goes on as the author asks a second question, but we will pause here and look at the Old Testament reference he utilizes. The phrase "Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee" appears in Psalm 2:7, the context is found in vv. 6-8: "Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth." (Psalm 2:6-8 bold emphasis mine). This psalm is a messianic Psalm declaring the sovereign rule of the Lord in spite of the world's rejection of Him. Verses 6-8 show the Lord receiving all the earth for His inheritance, not just Israel, but the gentile nations too. Christ's sonship is on full display as God the Father Himself says "Thou art my Son..." So we return to Hebrews. The author quoting Psalm 2:7 asks which of the angels did God ever say that they were His Son. Not one of the angels could ever say that they were the Son of God. Jesus Christ is God's Son, not by adoption, but His begotten Son, the only begotten of the Father.

The second Old Testament verse that is referenced here in verse five is 2 Samuel 7:14: "I will be his Father and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men." The surrounding context of this verse is the foundation of the Davidic covenant. The Lord has promised King David that the throne of his kingdom would be established forever, that David's seed would be set up and there would always be someone from the line of David ruling from Jerusalem. The phrase that the apostle emphasizes here in Hebrews is the first part, "I will be his Father and he shall be my son." This is where the Lord is referring to both Solomon and Christ, the rest of the verse obviously does not apply to Christ.

In verse six, the apostle quotes a verse out of Deuteronomy 32:43 but not out of the original Hebrew manuscripts; the author of Hebrews quotes out of the Septuagint, which reads: "Rejoice, ye heavens, with him, and let all the angels of God worship him; rejoice ye Gentiles, with his people, and let all the sons of God strengthen themselves in him; for he will avenge the blood of his sons, and he will render vengeance, and recompense justice to his enemies, and will reward them that hate him; and the Lord shall purge the land of his people." The original Hebrew is quite different but the apostle reckoned the LXX to be scripture and so he quoted it thus. It's interesting to compare the LXX translation of this verse with an Hebrew-based English version such as the KJV. The KJV translates Deut. 32:43 as: "Rejoice O ye nations, with his people: for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land, and to his people." It's amazing how the Holy Spirit uses the Septuagint in the New Testament, and I am thankful that God used the LXX translation of Deut. 32:43 instead of the standard Hebrew.