Archive for the ‘Apologetics’ Category

I came across this video through several different sources.  I found it interesting, since intellectual history has always been one of my major interests.


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Tim Keller’s 5 clues that point to the existence of God in his book The Reason for God:

Clue 1: The Mysterious Bang — Either God created the universe, or it “just happened” – and both require faith.

Clue 2: The Cosmic Welcome Mat — This clue is also called the anthropic principle (or fine-tuning argument), which recognizes that humans could not exist in any other universe than this one. If any of this universe’s constants were different, we would not be around to observe them.

Clue 3: The Regularity of Nature — Continued regularity is a matter of faith. There is nothing guaranteeing the universe will be here tomorrow, or that it will operate according to all the cycles we’ve been observing throughout the years, with all its laws.

Clue 4: The Clue of Beauty — “We may, therefore, be secular materialists who believe truth and justice, good and evil, are complete illusions. But in the presence of art or even great natural beauty, our hearts tell us another story. … regardless of the beliefs of our mind about the random meaninglessness of life, before the face of beauty we know better. … Isn’t it true that innate desires correspond to real objects that can satisfy them? … Doesn’t the unfulfillable longing evoked by beauty qualify as an innate desire? We have a longing for joy, love, and beauty that no amount or quality of food, sex, friendship, or success can satisfy. We want something that nothing in this world can fulfill,” (134-135).

Clue 5: We Trust Our Belief-Forming Faculties — The belief that all of our beliefs and values are naturally selected and not to be trusted—is not to be trusted. The fact that we do trust our belief-forming faculties is a clue to God.

This is an excerpt of the summary found in this post.


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This is part 3 of my notes and comments on Tim Keller’s talk on The Sufficiency of the Gospel in a Postmodern World.

Part 1 is here.

2. Gospel Realizing.


In Jonah 2:9 he says “Salvation is of the Lord.”  Some say this is the whole message of the Bible.  Didn’t Jonah know that?  Yes, but he did not fully grasp it.  We really haven’t begun to understand the gospel.  It is a life-long process. 

Religion is – I obey, therefore I am accepted.  The Gospel – I am accepted, therefore I obey.

The Gospel is scary because we are not in control.  There is nothing God cannot ask of you.

The self-worth of many ministers is tied to attendance.  If your self worth is tied to anything but God, you do not understand the gospel. 

We are like Coke machines- the money has gone in but the pennies have not dropped.  God has to pound us to get the pennies to drop.


From studying revival, he learned that revival is when the pennies drop for a whole group of people.  It is when the wonder of the gospel is understood, and lives become radiant.

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From The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard:

Two Harmful Myths

Unfortunately, a number of myths associated with this part of disciple training on behalf of Jesus are now dominant. One is the idea that questions about God as creator have recently been conclusively settled in the negative by the progress of “scientific knowledge,” and that nothing of significance can be known of God from examining the order of nature — or anything else there may be.

One hundred years ago, by contrast, the general assumption was that those questions had been settled in the positive: God was regarded as manifestly present in nature. These positive answers were routinely taught as knowledge in schools at all levels, and the few dissenters were heard. No doubt the dissenters often were not treated with dignity.

Now the pattern is almost exactly reversed. But just as the positive answers in earlier times were sometimes based more on readiness to believe then on accurate thinking — though there was really no need for that — so the negative “answers” that now dominate our culture are mainly based on a socially enforced readiness to disbelieve. And those negative answers, which find no God in nature, really do need help from social conditioning.

As I said earlier in a similar connection (chapter 3), absolutely nothing of substance has changed in the last century or more with regard to the basic issues about God, the world, and the human self. [Footnote 11*] In this type of book we can only state that the reasons for believing God is the creator, which were good reasons in other years still are good reasons, and in training the apprentices of Jesus we should present them thoroughly and carefully, updating them in any way appropriate.

To understand why the negative prejudice is so strong now, just reflect on how the entire system of human expertise, as represented by our many-tiered structure of certification and accreditation, has a tremendous vested interest in ruling God out of consideration. For, if it cannot do that, it is simply wrong about what it presents as knowledge and reality — of which God is no part. As we noted earlier, God currently forms no part of recognized human competence in any field of knowledge or practice.


*Chapter 9, Footnote 11: The technical discussion of “Intelligent Design” in nature is currently at a very exciting and intellectually profitable boil. See Michael J. Behe, Darwin’s Black Box (New York: The Free Press, 1996).

Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, pp. 330-1.

In footnote 8 in Chapter 9, Willard directs readers to his essay “Language, Being, God, and the Three Stages of Theistic Evidence,” in Does God Exist, edd. J. P. Moreland and Kai Nielsen, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1990, pp. 196-217.  This is now online, and I have provided the link.


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This is part 2 of my notes and comments on Tim Keller’s talk on The Sufficiency of the Gospel in a Postmodern World.

Part 1 is here.


Six point approach to communicating the gospel in a post-modern society.

The first 3: 1. Gospel theologizing 2. Gospel realizing 3. Gospel urbanizing.

1. Gospel Theologizing

Jonah 1:1 The word of the Lord came to Jonah saying, “Go to Nineveh and preach.” Keller used to think that the gospel was the basics, and theology was the advanced stuff. Now he sees that all theology has to be an exposition of the gospel.

Clear and Present WordMark Thompson has a book called Clear and Present Word about the clarity of the Word in a postmodern setting. He comes up with a view of human language that is gospel-based. It is based on the trinity. The goal of God speaking is divine saving action. Human language is an imperfectly utilized gift from God. The whole purpose of language is gospel.

Every part of our theology has to be an exposition of the gospel.



We also have to bring theology to bear on the gospel. Keller has not seen a gospel presentation that really addresses postmodern people.

The older ones (four spiritual laws) were: God, sin, Christ, faith. They got across grace not works, but there was no story arc. Systematic theology but no biblical theology. As a result, they were individualistic and almost consumeristic. The idea of the Kingdom of God was not there. The lordship of Christ over all of life is not part of them. It does not follow on from them.


When you go to the emerging church, the post-liberal church, it is all about the kingdom. The redemption story is there. We had a world that we wanted, lost it, Christ has created a people, brought the kingdom. Now you need to be part of God’s kingdom program which is going to heal the world of injustice. Emphasis on corporate, not individual, but you lose the emphasis on grace v. works and substitutionary atonement. In the end it is kind of a liberal legalism.


We need to develop user-friendly gospel presentations that merge both so that people can grasp it rather quickly and easily. But there has to be a process.


Comments to follow.

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This is the first part of my notes and thoughts on Tim Keller’s message The Sufficiency of Christ and the Gospel in a Postmodern World.  Minute markers are in red. 

Tim Keller
The Sufficiency of Christ and the Gospel in a Postmodern World


Intro by John Piper


How do we do evangelism in a postmodern world?  The postmodern world presents a crisis to us.

Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones talks about Mark 9.  Jesus sees the disciples who could not cast out a demon.  In vv 28-29 the disciples ask, “Why couldn’t we cast it out?”  Answer:  “This kind only comes out by prayer.”

The demon is in too deep.  You are business as usual.  Your ordinary way of doing things won’t work.

The Doctor is allegorizing here.  The disciples are like the church.  The boy is like the contemporary world.

6:00  In earlier days people were apathetic.  They needed to be roused from their slumber and apathy.  The spirit of this age is different.

The western world is now a mission field.  It is a post-Christian mission field.  It is has been inoculated to Christian message.

Lesslie Newbigin says the same thing.  Most Americans feel that they already know about Christianity, and they think it is bad. 

What won’t work anymore is a campaign, a program, a gospel presentation.

9:00  A great book, The Barbarian Conversion, by Richard Fletcher.  Looks at 500 to 1500 AD in Europe.  Most of the countryside was pagan.  It took a long time for people to get the full Christian worldview.  But after 1500, most Europeans had a Christian worldview, and programs and campaigns worked.

Now we are back to the point at which the Christian worldview is no longer accepted.  Ordinary evangelism will not work.

There are still sections of America where there are people who are what Flannery O’Conner would call “Christ-haunted” people.  They are traditional in their values.  They just need to be roused.

14:00  Michael Wolf –  There is a fundamental schism in American life.  Urban-oriented, morally relativist, etc.  and the small town traditional,  etc.  Two nations.  There are fewer people who are Christ-haunted.

Certain evangelistic magic bullets have died on the vine.  Billy Graham crusades- no one thinks that’s the future.  Evangelism Explosion worked well then, but not now. 

16:40  1990’s used the seeker services.  Too early to say that’s over, but 20-somethings are turning away from the traditional church services.

Alpha courses are the new best format.  They are right for our time.  But even this is not enough anymore.

18:00  There is going to have to be a complete transformation of everything by the gospel.  The gospel has to recapture us, or nothing will work.  The demon is in too deep.

Now in a postmodern setting, our traditional evangelism is even less effective, because you have 3 problems:
1.  The truth problem – all truth claims are perceived as constraints and power plays.
2.  The guilt problem – not everyone has the sense that they need to be good.
3.  The meaning problem – there is a doubt that text and words can get meaning across.  Meanings are unstable.



My Comments:

Interesting that Lloyd-Jones allegorizes from Mark 9 instead of using a text that directly supports the points.  eg 1 Pet 3:15, or becoming all things to all men.

Not everyone has a postmodern worldview.  Many people have a jumbled mess of a worldview.  This is hitting on good points, but the approach has to be crafted to the woldview of the specific individual.  Also, we have to listen to people and understand them to know what approach is appropriate.

Guilt problem- many have no guilt problem (they feel lots of guilt), or they feel the church is the guilt problem.  We need to break down stereotypes of the church.


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