Desiring Deep Conversations

Today’s article in the Stream struck a cord with me. I go to a couple of Apologetics conferences each year to connect with other Ratio Christi Directors and to sharpen the saw. And the most pleasing feature by far is the deep conversations I enjoy with the other attendees.

Tom Gilson writes…

It shouldn’t be this way. But the fact is, it’s a lonely world for the Christian thinker, the one who cares to think deeply and well about the faith.

I’ve just returned from a terrific week of fellowship at the annual Defend conference at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. It’s an apologetics conference, which means its purpose was to share and to study the many reasons for confidence in the Christian faith.

Speakers’ topics ranged from the resurrection to the problem of evil. But even though I was one of those speakers, the talks weren’t the real highlight of the week. It was the conversations instead.

Three nights in a row, my friend and team-teaching partner, Dr. Timothy McGrew, and I invited conferees for coffee and conversation. It was about 9 pm when we gathered each evening, but dozens came anyway — so many that we had to move over to a nearby dorm lounge. We stayed as long as the dorm rules allowed.

And one of the main topics of discussion was how refreshing it was to be able to have the kinds of conversations we were having there.

Read the rest of his post.

As for my congregation in Huntsville, I’m pleased that there is a Thursday morning men’s group. We enjoy fantastic discussion each week as we crawl through a book on the Christian faith or a book of the Bible.

But nothing has matched the tightly-focused fellowship I have had with my apologetics colleagues. They have stretched me to my intellectual limits in philosophy, physics, ethics, hermeneutics, theology, and on and on. And I love every minute!

Love to all,

Darren

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Good Criticism Takes Work

If you looked at this mess and said, “I don’t like Thomas Kinkade’s paintings” you would be revealing more about yourself than you would about Thomas Kinkade.
And yet, often critics look at the disordered bits of the Christian world view that they are vaguely familiar with, and proclaim “I don’t like Christianity”.

Again, they are unwittingly revealing more about themselves than about Christianity, because they have not done enough work to understand the thing that they are criticizing.

It take work to put together a puzzle. And it takes work to put together the pieces of someone else’s world view in your own mind. But it is critical to reserve judgment until you have understood the thing you are judging.

For puzzles, it’s easy. Look at the box.
For world views, read an apologetics book that puts the pieces together in a concise way in modern language.

I highly recommend J Warner Wallace’s Cold-Case Christianity or God’s Crime Scene or Greg Koukl’s The Story of Reality

Should Christians expect to know God’s will by means of feelings and intuitions?

This is the most popular topic I have ever presented on the college campus. Students typically flood the front area to ask questions afterward. The subjective, feelings-based, and mystical discernment model that has become the folklore of American Christianity is severely hurting the young adults I serve.
Thanks for posting on this topic, Wintery Knight.
-Darren

WINTERY KNIGHT

I have a key that will unlock a puzzling mystery I have a key that will unlock a puzzling mystery

There are two views on the topic of decision making and the will of God. The view you learn in the church is called “the traditional view”. I call this view the feelings/intuition view. This view that elevates feelings / intuitions to the level of divine communications from God. The more practical view is called “the wisdom view”. I call this view the battlefield commander view. I am a proponent of the wisdom / commander view.

Let’s learn about the two different views:

[The traditional view is] that God has a plan for our lives and that we receive guidance through methods such as “open and closed doors”, “feeling led” and “the still, small, voice”.

[The wisdom view] holds that God does not have an “individual will” for our lives, but rather that all of God’s will can be…

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Worship – within a larger context

The latest article by Rod Dreher is worth pondering. I hope you will take 15 to 30 minutes to soak it in. He is interviewed by a college student, and thus, he is forced to give a sketch of his last many years writing and wrestling with the biggest issues.

Since I have kicked the wasp nest of worship here and here, I thought I’d excerpt his thought-provoking words on worship as a teaser to the larger article. Please savor the whole thing one morning this Christmas season.

My interviewer told me that there’s a strong tendency among his Christian peers to dumb down Christian worship — to make it instantly accessible to anybody, without having to do any work. He said he struggles to understand the anti-intellectualism of all this, especially as it manifests itself among college students. What’s more, they act as if anti-intellectualism was an egalitarian virtue.

This, I responded, is exactly the wrong approach. It’s not that they ought to be making worship more complex and demanding, necessarily, but this stance assumes that we stand over worship asserting the right to mold it to fit our preferences. You end up with a ritual that worships yourself, not God, whether you mean for it to or not. Similarly, if you see the Christian tradition that way, as a repository from which you can pick and choose this or that thing, and make a bricolage of it, you may soon find that you have decorated a temple to yourself.

Powerful words. Read the whole enchilada… It’s worth it!

Love to you all!

Darren

Jesus Wouldn’t Argue. . .

Come, let us reason…
-DW

BEARDED DISCIPLE

Many times when I do apologetics or simply talk about it people tell me they think it is the wrong approach. To them argument, discussion, or some other seemingly confrontational approach to sharing the gospel is not what Jesus would do.

Those that appose an apologetic approach are often those who I may be arguing with, but more often than not it is a fellow Christian who believes a confrontational approach is unbiblical, unloving or even unchristlike.

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Healing words for a sick world

Sick of hearing about the sexual [mis]conduct of nearly every famous news anchor, politician, coach, actor, producer, etc?

Me too.

Rather than rant about it, why not step back and analyze it some? Here is an excellent article from Salvo Magazine on loving relationships. -DW

(Hat-tip to Wintery Knight.)

–Begin Excerpt–

Mastering Modern Love

How Chastity Orders Your Relationships & Liberates You for Love, by Terrell Clemmons

Chastity: So Out, It’s In

The second approach is one Dawn developed following her Christian conversion, when she completely rethought how to “do” unmarried life. This approach offers modern singles like Jordana something they desperately need but may not even know exists: a sound alternative paradigm for love and sex—a lifestyle she calls singular. “To be singular is to understand the meaning of chastity, and chastity by its very nature goes against the popular culture’s beliefs regarding sex and choice.” It’s “the new counterculture . . . so out, it’s in.”

Contrary to the pervasive bad press it’s gotten from libertines, chastity isn’t about “not having sex.” In fact, it’s about a lot more than just sex. Dawn defines it beautifully: “Chastity is the virtue that enables us to love fully and completely in every relationship, in the manner that is appropriate to the relationship.” Of course, this raises the question of what determines appropriateness, but from both a scriptural and natural law standpoint, this is an easy question to answer. Sexual expression is appropriate to the marriage relationship and inappropriate to all others. Whether or not it’s easy to follow is certainly another matter, and Dawn gives excellent counsel on that and other related matters, but the point here is that the categories are discrete and clearly discernible.

The Chaste Singular

More important, chaste living is grounded in something larger and more permanent than the individual. Whereas in modern singlehood, love is based on feelings, which are apt to change with the wind or even last night’s dinner, chaste love is defined by and grounded in God himself. Love of God—love for God and love from God—becomes the love that orders all other loves. “For each of those whom divine providence places in your life,” Dawn writes, “friends, family, the stranger on the street—you ask yourself, how can I love God through loving this person?”

Whereas the modern single is driven by an inner void that is desperately trying to get filled, the chaste singular looks to God himself to fill the void. Rather than trying to get love through the right match, the chaste singular receives love from God, the ultimate source, and then turns outward with love to give from an inner fullness.

Chaste love is respectful. It behaves with appropriate decorum, which requires forethought. What is the nature of this relationship? Why am I in it? Where is it headed? What are my intentions?

Read the whole article

On The Unreasonableness & Inconsistency of Atheism

Worth a look, especially because of the long quote of Richard Howe. I have enjoyed Richard’s talks every time I have seen one. He is an excellent teacher of philosophy. He is also VERY generous with his material. See the resources tab on his website: http://www.richardghowe.com/

James Bishop's Theological Rationalism

Screen Shot 2017-11-29 at 3.07.53 PM.png Image credit: Jeff Schechtman, 2015, Podcast: WhoWhatWhy

This is an article penned by the author of the blog site Thomistic Bent that is well worth the read. The author tackles an important epistemological question concerning the nature of evidence, what constitutes evidence, and how atheists fail to apply evidence consistently when they critique the beliefs and views held by non-atheists and those who believe in God. According to Thomistic Bent,

There is great post over at the Shadow To Light blog. You can find it here.  That post reminds me of a statement made by Richard Howe, where he said this:

“When I was debating this atheist, I asked him, ‘what would convince you there is a god?’ He said “If all the chairs in this room rose up, flew against the back wall, and spelled ‘I am here — God’ then I would believe there is a god.” I am…

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How does church appear to someone raised in a non-Christian home?

A tough read for some Pastors, I’m sure. This is shared in love and with a plea to take it to heart for the most important generation (the NEXT generation).
Students (and faculty and everyone else) need reasons. We need much more “Paul in Athens” in our churches. But notice, Paul was familiar with the Greek poets in addition to the Scripture. He was widely read and he interacted with the world in addition to the Synagogue. -DW

WINTERY KNIGHT

Church sucks, that's why men are bored there

My friend Wes posted an article about how communication is set up in the church, and why it’s not effective at equipping Christians to defend their worldview in hostile environments. The article describes what I encountered in church, after I was raised in a non-Christian home and become a Christian on my own by reading the New Testament. The view presented in the essay is how I viewed the church, and is probably how most outsiders view church. I think it explains why young people leave the church in droves once they move out of their parents’ houses.

The author writes:

On the Internet, one soon discovers that many respected church leaders are quite unable to deal directly with opposing viewpoints. In fact, many of them can’t even manage meaningful engagement with other voices. Their tweets may be entirely one-way conversations. They talk at their audiences. They can…

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Scientist, Neil Shenvi, on the Three Major Paradoxes of Atheism

A good distillation of 3 paradoxes that emerge from a materialist perspective.

James Bishop's Theological Rationalism

Screen Shot 2017-11-20 at 4.23.48 PM.png Photo by Brett Jordan

This is a phenomenal piece penned by apologist Neil Shenvi. We’ve met Shenvi before in an article on my bog explaining why he is a Christian. As stated there, Shenvi is currently a research scientist with Prof. Weitao Yang at Duke University in the Department of Chemistry. Shenvi attended Princeton University as an undergraduate, he then became a Christian while at Berkeley, CA. There he did his PhD in Theoretical Chemistry. His thesis focused on quantum computation, including topics in quantum random walks, cavity quantum electrodynamics, spin physics, and the N-representability problem. From 2005-2010 he did research into nonadiabatic dynamics, electron transfer, and surface science. He then moved down to Durham in 2010 to do research into nonadiabatic dynamics and electronic structure theory with professor Weitao Yang at Duke University. Hi is married to Christina Shenvi who also has a PhD in Chemistry from Berkeley…

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Welcome SHSU SSA Members

ssa-logo

I was pleased to accept an invitation to address the SHSU Secular Student Alliance at their Nov 16th meeting.

For the students who I met there, I created this landing page for you in the event that you come to my blog seeking more information about my remarks.

Since I am a full-time Chemistry professor and not a full-time blogger, my posts are few and far between. And they are not a comprehensive treatment of the Christian religion. Still, I think they are useful and encouraging or I would not have written them.

I welcome your questions about anything I have written, preferably personally. Let’s have lunch at the South Paw. I’ll buy the first one. OK?

My main remarks were on What I believe and why I believe it.

I talked about Christianity being the best description of reality – the way things REALLY are. No doubt this is a curious claim.

I discussed evidence outside of Christianity that corroborates the main points in the life of Jesus.

You may have incorrect thoughts about what the word ‘faith’ means within a Biblical framework. This series of posts at the Ratio Christi at SHSU blog should help you understand that there is No Such Thing as Blind Faith.

If I had to predict what tomorrow’s questions will be, I’d choose the following:

  1. The Problem of Evil and Suffering. (Video 1 and Video 2)
  2. Moral Issues
  3. Science Issues (The Big Bang and Fine Tuning)
  4. Philosophical Questions (Contingency and Ontology)
  5. Biblical Questions (What is the Bible? The Story in the Bible. Literary Styles in the Bible. The Bible as Meditation Literature. and The Use of Narrative Passages in the Bible.)
  6. Specific Questions about Biblical Passages (Go to the Bible Project to see an OVERVIEW OF EVERY BOOK OF THE BIBLE. Their work is masterful!)

None of this will matter if you are unable to entertain the idea that you might be wrong in your assumptions. Yes, that cuts both ways. I’m okay with that.

Are you?

God bless you for making it this far.

-DW