Posture of the Scientific Apologist

This is an excellent ReBlog of my friend and fellow RTB Community Scholar Dr. Stephen Chua. When you engage with colleagues and other “genuine questioners” consider Dr. Chua’s excellent advice:

Posture of the Answerer

The first thing to note is our posture toward the questioner, which includes our attitude/tone/demeanor/choice of words. We must be:

  1. Nonjudgmental (not “holier than thou”)
  2. Nonadversarial (not “us vs. them”)
  3. Prepared and compassionate

People don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care. Winning their hearts, with gentleness and respect, should take precedence over winning an argument (1 Peter 3:15).

Process of the Answer

After demonstrating the proper posture, the process of systematically presenting the gospel could entail the following (3E model):

  1. Empathize – Walk with them; don’t talk against them (1 Corinthians 9:22b-23).
  2. Educate – Lay out the pertinent evidence succinctly (2 Corinthians 10:5).
  3. Evangelize – End the discussion with a clear presentation of the gospel (1 Timothy 2:3b-4).

Read his whole post…

The A4A Podcast Page

Welcome to the Apologetics4All Podcast Page where you can quickly access all of DW’s audio content.

There are two main themes to the content so far: 1. audio versions of my blog posts where I expand upon the content of the posts and 2. a podcast blog of my trip to Israel in January 2020.

Travels in Israel

My daughter Katy and I traveled to Israel together in January of 2020. We recorded our experiences along the way and created this podcast channel. We hope you enjoy these travel dispatches as much as we enjoyed making them.

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Listen now

Here’s the spotify link to the podcast.

Here’s the apple podcast link.

Here’s the Google link to the podcast.

The Audio Blog

  • Who is DW?
  • What I believe and why

Thanksgiving means GIVING Thanks

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At this time of year it is always good to ask:

To whom are you GIVING thanks?

Our society is turning all language INWARD to the ISOLATION of the individual.

  • People don’t meditate on something external like Scripture. They feel mindful. They practice mindfulness.
  • People don’t dialog with each other. They feel offended. They take offense.

And in line with our current holiday week,

  • People don’t GIVE thanks. They feel thankful. They practice thankfulness.

But this is an opportunity to ask them if they know the cook who cooked up this awesome feast of our universe with all its beautiful, breathtaking, and life-giving GIFTS.

A great feast requires a great cook! You know the cook. Introduce your friends and family to the cook. It’s always a special thing to meet the cook in a restaurant, and it is even more special to meet the cook of the universe.

happy-tg

A Sin of Omission?

Is ingratitude a sin?

The ungrateful are often (always?) focused on self. They are curved inward in all their thinking. This curving inward is an ancient description of the “S-word” SIN.

“Martin Luther is credited with concretizing the term “homo incurvatus in se”, humanity curved in upon itself. In reality, the roots of the term extend back to Augustine, Bishop of Hippo. While the two men were separated by over a millennium, their descriptions of sin still give us an excellent metaphor for understanding sin today.” Read more…

Being passively “thankful” is dangerously close to “incurvatus in se“. It eliminates any “other” and makes the conscience warm and fuzzy by stoking the feels.

However, if you are thankful, you are thankful for things you RECEIVED, which implies a GIVER.

Wait! you say. I’m thankful for my own mind, my own resourcefulness, and my own ability to work hard for what I have.

Of course you can be thankful for these things. But your mind, your mental health, and the food and structures that allow you to work are still gifts.

18 Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. 19 Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil–this is the gift of God. [Ecclesiastes 5:18-19 ESV]

Do not curve your thanks upon yourself to result in generic thankfulness. Give your thanks to God – the Great Gift Giver!

17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights… [James 1:17 ESV]

Come discuss this and other topics related to a rational defense of the Christian truth claims, every Monday night while school is in session at SHSU at 6:30 to 8 PM in CFS 123.

Apologetics and Conversion

You can’t argue someone into the Kingdom!

Wait… really? I personally know dozens of people who experienced “arguments that brought them into” the kingdom of God.

I think I know the source of the objection, though. As a Lutheran, I affirm the statements and explanations in Luther’s Small Catechism. The objection to “arguing someone into” the kingdom is most clearly addressed in the Third Article of the Apostles Creed.

THE THIRD ARTICLE

(Sanctification)

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

What does this mean?

I believe that I cannot by my own thinking or choosing believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to him.

But the Holy Spirit has called me by the gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. In the same way he calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith.

In this Christian Church he daily and fully forgives all sins to me and all believers.

On the Last Day he will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ. This is most certainly true.

How do I see the role of apologetics in relation to this clear helplessness to choose Christ?

Simple. What do you think the Holy Spirit is doing when he CALLS and ENLIGHTENS.

A person in the fallen state cannot overcome their prejudices, personal biases, and suspicions of new information without EXTERNAL help. As this person hears arguments for God’s existence, the reliability of the scriptures, etc, they need the spirit’s help to even consider the views that are contrary to their own positions on those topics.

For more on this topic, I hand you off to my friend, Philosopher and Theologian Ken Samples at Reasons to Believe. Here is the first part of a 4 part series on the role of Apologetics in Conversion.

In historic Christianity the field of apologetics (a reasoned defense of the faith) is considered a branch of theology. Apologetics often has a close connection to evangelism (communication of the gospel message) by attempting to remove intellectual obstacles that may stand in the way of a person embracing faith (conversion).

In this four-part series we’ll take a look at how apologetics can directly impact conversion by examining the historical case of Augustine of Hippo (354–430). St. Augustine had one of the most famous conversions to Christianity in history, and various apologetic elements facilitated his coming to faith. Read more…

50-year-old Professor Bought Jesus is King…Why!?!

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This won’t take long.

  1. I like emotion-filled music. (Faure Requiem, Luther’s Hymns, Jazz, Salsa, and anything else that reflects the Good, the True, and the Beautiful)
  2. I listened to it on YouTube, and I liked it, especially Water and Jesus is Lord.
  3. So I bought it. I recognize the volume of Kanye West’s megaphone will proclaim “Jesus is King” to the whole world. But more importantly, his megaphone reaches places in my own country that my voice simply won’t be heard. I want his numbers to go as high as they can to turn that volume up to 11. So I did my part.

God bless the preaching of His word.

Screenshot_20191031-191734_Amazon Music

I’ve been blessed by it, too. I am encouraged by anyone who speaks the truth from God’s Word.

Even if I take this walk alone
I bow down to the King upon the throne
My life is His, I’m no longer my own
I pray to God that He’ll strengthen my hand
[Closed on Sundays]

 

Every time I look up, I see God’s faithfulness
And it shows just how much He is miraculous
I can’t keep it to myself, I can’t sit here and be still
Everybody, I will tell ’til the whole world is healed
King of Kings, Lord of Lords, all the things He has in store
From the rich to the poor, all are welcome through the door
You won’t ever be the same when you call on Jesus’ name
Listen to the words I’m sayin’, Jesus saved me, now I’m sane
And I know, I know God is the force that picked me up
I know Christ is the fountain that filled my cup
[God Is]

 

Every knee shall bow
Every tongue confess
Jesus is Lord
[Jesus is Lord]

 

9 Therefore God has highly exalted him [Jesus] and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. [Philippians 2:9-11 ESV]

 

6 But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?'” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?'” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” [Romans 10:6-11 ESV]

 

3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit. [1 Corinthians 12:3 ESV]

Suicide: An Unpardonable Sin for Christians?

In loving memory of my Uncle Larry and Cousin Kristie.
Thank you Ken.

Reflections

Throughout my professional career as both a college professor and a Christian scholar I have been asked thousands of questions. However, whenever I’m asked about suicide it always strikes an emotional chord deep within me. A close member of my familydied by suicide more than 40 years ago when I was just a teenager.My wife also lost a member of her family in the same tragic way.

In thispost I’ll makefour points about the tragedy of suicide.My central focus will be on the question of whether God forgives this act.

  1. The Serious Nature of Suicide

To intentionally take one’s life is indeed a sin of great magnitude. Why? Because suicide is self-murder. And what makes murder such a horrific act is not just the stealing of innocent life, but also the fact that all human beings are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26–27). Therefore, murder constitutes…

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Five Greek Words and Apologetics Persuasion

If you see a trend in my reblogs, congratulations. I’m sure it is obvious that I value Ken Samples perspective and writing.

This is another great topic. Enjoy!

Reflections

What role does persuasion play in communicating Christian truth to people?

To engage in Christian apologetics is to enter into the enterprise of personalpersuasion. When apologists defend the faith it is for the purpose of persuading people of the truth of historic Christianity.But what actually goes into making a good case of persuasion in general and for Christian apologetics in particular?

Rhetoricis the field of discourse aimed at persuasion. And persuasion is involved in many critical areas of life such as education, law, science, politics, and religion, including Christian efforts at evangelism and apologetics. However, too often people associate rhetoric with disingenuous attempts to sway people through slick manipulation—but abuse doesn’t rule out the proper use of rhetoric.

Five basic elements have come to be accepted as legitimate tools of persuasion. While these broad principles were first systematized by pre-Christian Greek philosophers, the modes of persuasion themselves…

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Three Goals in a Christian Apologetics Encounter

Ken and I are of exactly the same mind on this. I crave deeper conversations with people about the foundational issues that we build our lives upon. Read Ken’s blog post to see how he and I approach these deeper conversations.

Then contact me. Let’s have a conversation, especially if you are curious about science-faith issues.

Ken is a philosopher and theologian, so he would have much more insight into those issues. He’d love to have you comment on his blog.

Reflections

Recently someone asked me how you can know if you have had a successful apologetics encounter. My immediate answer was that defending the faith (Greek:apologia) is never easy and one must trust in God’s grace for the results. Ultimately, I believe thatonly God by his extraordinary grace can instill a desire for himself in a human being.

Yet I do think there are important goals to strive for in apologetics interactions. So whether it’s a television or radio interview, a formal debate, or a personal discussion with someone, I generally have three goals in mind when engaging in the enterprise of apologetics. If I can work toward accomplishing these goals, then I think my time of defending the faith has been well served.

3 Broad Goals of Christian Apologetics Interactions

First, I try to present clear, careful, and cogent arguments for my faith. Whetherpresenting arguments for God’s existence…

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Enduring Wisdom of St. Clive

A Reblog of Drew Rick-Miller’s Science in Congregations email…

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A few years ago, when the bestselling author and New York Times columnist David Brooks found himself undone by a recent divorce, he began to contemplate a move spiritually and it became public. According to The New Yorker, “He received, by his own estimation, three hundred gifts of spiritual books, ‘only one hundred of which were different copies of C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity.’”

Undoubtedly this was about ninety-nine copies too many, but the friends and acquaintances were on to something. Lewis remains a potent force for instigating conversion. (It worked for me as a first-year student at Berkeley.) I have heard in countless lectures about Christian thought leaders who read “St. Clive” (my nickname—his full name is Clive Staples Lewis) and his enduring influence. I would say, with pardonable overstatement (I hope), that just about every Christian academic I know has read Lewis and been changed.

Lewis, Collins, and Oberg

But let me limit that comment above to thought leaders in faith and science. Francis Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health, repeatedly cites Lewis as the reason he became a Christian in medical school at age 27. Alister McGrath has written several biographies of St. Clive and his enduring impact.

Continue reading

Five Ways Christianity Is Reasonable

This is an excellent and concise defense of the rationality of Christianity.

Reflections

Is the Christian faith a reasonable religion?

Some believers throughout church history have agreed with many nonbelievers in proclaiming that Christianity is not a reasonable religion. Nevertheless, a powerful theological-philosophical consensus within the history of the faith has argued that the historic Christian religion involves knowledge and is indeed compatible with reason. This historic agreement has often been expressed in the common statement: “faith seeking understanding.” Its most articulate and persuasive spokespersons through the centuries have been such distinguished Christian thinkers as Augustine, Anselm, and Thomas Aquinas.1Five Aspects of Christianity’s Reasonableness

Since the perception that the Christian faith is not a reasonable religion persists today, it is important to examine five ways that historic Christianity is reasonable.2

First, the Christian worldview offers a plausible explanation for affirming an objective source for knowledge, reason, and rationality. That basis is found in a personal and rational God. Infinitely wise…

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