Posts Tagged ‘gospel’

Why Christians Should Learn Philosophy

// July 27th, 2013 // No Comments » // Apologetics

I’ve learned a lot of apologetics over the years and love everything I learn. One area that I would like to study to better equip myself for tackling the odd logic of our day is Philosophy. How many times have you shared the Gospel with someone and they say this, “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist,” and wonder how they could ever get such a conclusion?

There’s nothing new under the sun, really. This is actually a direct quote from the 1900’s by the German nihilist philosopher Friedrish Nietzche, which I’ve just read quoted in a letter from Dr. R.C. Sproul of Ligonier Ministries. It’s simply relativism. R.C. Sproul said about this quote, “Few people today understand that their relativism can be traced directly to the influence of Nietzsche and philosophers like him. Such is the power of ideas. The ideas developed in the [ivory towers] of academia inevitably find their way to the street and shape the commitments of the common man.” What I think that R.C. Sproul is saying is that Nietzche’s quote is pure relativism, a certain defined philosophy that’s crept into prominence in the pop-culture of our day that previous pop-culture was not dominated by.

If you’re like me the very first verse that you think about whenever you hear the word Philosophy is, “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” Colossians 2:8.

For months when I was first saved this verse made me keep from learning about Philosophy at all. I saw it as dangerous. This is the only verse where the word “Philosophy” appears in the New Testament, though we find Paul mentioning philosophies elsewhere (such as Acts 17:18 mentioning Epicurean and Stoic Philosophers, and that John was written contra to a lot of the gnostic teachings of 1st century, from what I remember). But what the verse is saying is to don’t let anyone deceive you using philosophy. It means don’t let anyone use philosophy against you. It’s not saying that philosophy is bad. I think we can say that it’s useful to learn in order to be able to spot when others are misusing/abusing philosophy.

John MacArthur in his study bible says, “[The words takes you captive] is the term for robbery. False teachers ar esuccessful in getting people to believe lies, rob them of truth, salvation and blessing. ‘Philosophy and empty deceit’ …the word [philosophy] referred to more than merely the academic discipline, but desccribed any theory about God, the world, or the meaning of life. Those embracing the Colossian heresy used it to describe the suppoed higher knowledge they claimed to have attained. Paul, however, equates the false teachers’ philosophy with ’empty deceit’; that is, with worthless deception… Far from being advanced, profound knowledge, the false teachers’ beliefs were simplistic and immature like all the rest of the speculations, ideologies, philosophies, and psychologies the fallen satanic and human system invents.” Verses 9 and 10 of Colossians 2 then focus on how the believer is complete in Christ, and that they don’t need some spurrious, secretive knowledge that’s being kept from them as the Colossian Heresy may have spoken about.

I think we can use philosophy as a tool to introduce Biblical truth — to be able to discuss a vain, worldly system of thinking in light of what the Holy Spirit inspired written Word has to say, to keep philosophy philosophy and the truths of the Word the truth — to sort it all out and make things less confusing for this world.

This is moreover what R.C. Sproul had to say about relativism:

“In the discipline of philosophy, we study the fundamental thoughts and commitments that shape one’s view of the world. Many people today look down on the study of past thinkers as useless or, at best, impractical. As Christians, we can’t afford to think like that — the stakes are too high. A working knowledge of philosophy is actually one of the most useful and practical tools for evangelism and apologetics.

If we know our audience’s fundamental thoughts and commitments, we can meet people where they are with the gospel and show how Christianity alone can fully account for truth, ethics, and beauty. Understanding the ideas of the great philosophers equips us to give an intellectually compelling answer for our Christian hope.

…You may not know this, but my Philosophy 101 class in college convinced me of the importance of philosophy for defending the faith and helped launch my career as an apologst. In order for us to continue helping the church to equip believers as apologists who can defend the faith wherever”

I think that Philosophy is important because it gets you to study history and the thoughts that they had during particular time-periods, and we as Christians can learn how to reply to those historical thoughts with biblical truth, which is where philosophy becomes useful. (Because as one old addage states, when we don’t learn history we usually repeat it.)

There’s one book on my bookshelf which I haven’t read and wished that I had the time to read. It’s called Logic and Contemporary Rhetoric: The Use of Reason in Everyday Life, written by a non-Christian, but the information is important to our day. I wish that there was an equivalent to this book that Christians can pick up and read and learn how to even better listen to the objections of our day to the gospel and begin to form reasoned replies. I actually own Greg Koukl’s Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions but haven’t read it yet. Maybe that’s such a book. Maybe one day when I don’t have so many deadlines and exam-dates I can read it. lol

 

Isaac

Note: R.C. Sproul is actually offering a series called The Consequences of Ideas: An Overview of Philosophy when you donate any amount to their ministry. I recognize how important that is. So, I’m ordering it (for future review when the time’s given to me to go over it, of course). The offer expires I think at the end of September.

Scutum Fidei – Update to a Popular Symbolic Graphic

// June 28th, 2013 // 1 Comment » // Apologetics, Theology

There’s a popular graphic that I used in my writings on the doctrine of the Trinity that illustrated the Trinity very clearly. What it illustrates is perfect: it illustrates the teaching of the biblical, historical Trinity without it getting confused with common unbilblical heresies or anti-Christological variants (such as Unitarianism, Modalism, Eutychianism, Nestorianism, Oneness, etc.). The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit can each be called GOD; But, the Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Father, the Father is not the Holy Spirit, and so on. In other words, each individual Person is and can each be called God (and is God), but each Person remains distinct. (Theological Note: This is never to be thought of as an icon or image of God Himself (which would be a graven image) but an illustration of the teaching of the Trinity itself and how we understand it.)

The Original Graphic

File:Shield-Trinity-Scutum-Fidei-English.svg

It’s called the Scutum Fidei, or “Shield of the Trinity,” and its history in ecclesiastical iconography dates back to as early as the 12th century. This popular image that marks such an important and pivotal Christian teaching essential to salvation. has made its way onto the Wikipedia page for the Doctrine of the Trinity and is recopied, re-tweeted, and placed as a status widespread among social networks. I wanted to update this image without reducing its simplicity. The font as you can see has serifs, but I wanted to update the font to something that is a bit more aesthetically pleasing to further the already large distribution of the graphic.

Here’s another representation of the Scutum Fidei that I’ve found (on the right):

This image is great, but I think that the more simplistic version of the image is more popular and more widely spread throughout the internet. So, I set out to recreate this popular graphic, another goal being to make it a vector image that anyone can download here and modify to suit their needs for their church’s website or blog.

Brief History of the Scutum Fidei

Source: Wikipedia -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shield_of_the_TrinityShown here is the earliest verified version of the Scutum Fidei, originally written in Latin in early the 1200’s AD. It was meant to be an illustrated summary of the 6th century Athenasian Creed. Its name came from a version of it with the likeness of a ‘shield,’ though it was never used on a shield. It gained great widespread exposure in the mid-13th century, climaxing in the 15th and 16th centuries, until the 17th century when it declined in use…until closer to our day in the 19th century.

Today you can see this popular image poping up all over the internet and believers begin to study the Christian faith and understand once again the essential teachings of the Bible.

Image Source: Wikipedia

 

Recreating a Popular Graphic

Here I detail my attempt to provide an update to the popular graphic that’s being passed around the internet in our day.

Tutorial-1-2

So how did I do this? I did this in Xara X1, a British piece of software and a very overwhelmingly underestimated graphics program that I’ve been using for over 10 years now. Stylistically, it’s a vector-based graphics program that can be used to create very complex or very simple graphics very quickly. The program itself uses very little memory. It can be used in combination with Adobe Photoshop and other industry standards to create stunning, clean results. The graphics it creates are highly scalable, allowing shapes and images to be resized easily, and the program offers tools and features that in my experience other graphics programs haven’t implemented yet.

Step 1: I first tried to create the basic outline of the graphic and see what I could do with it. After conceptualizing my wireframe I decided to start over and create an equilateral triangle (with the QuickShape Tool which draws polygons) as the base in order to set the circles at equal distance at the nodes of the triangle.

Step 2: I then used the Rectangle Tool to draw the connecting lines to each circle, rotating some, and filling the center with transparency to eye the distances and make connections at each node. This was used also to create the “Is” lines.

Step 3: I then filled in the transparency with white once I could judge the proportions were correct to create the solid image.

Step 4: The last step was to add the font. I chose Franklin Gothic Book since it is sans serif but still retains the look and feel of a serif-styled font. The spacing of each letter of the font is slender/slim, and it compliments the circular element within the design very well. I left the “Is”s slightly larger than the “Is Not”s Lastly, I added a border in the background.

All in all, I think it turned out greatly and I’m satisfied with the results. This is the finished product:

 

Trinity Graphic sans Border

Without Circular Border

Trinity Graphic

With Circular Border

Trinity Graphic Alpha sans Border

With Alpha Transparency

Here are the images with and without the circular border in the background. Now to give visitors and passersby free creative reign…

Distribution

Feel free (moreover, encouraged) to distribute this image is widely as you would like and to use it creatively wherever necessary. Attribution or credit to this page on this site is optional. Also, feel free to download and use the vector graphic in other formats the same way.

Download the Vectors

Right-click and choose ‘Save As’ for the following vectors:

[1] Scutum Fidei:
.ai, .gif, .jpg, .png, .tif [300 dpi], .tif [200 dpi], .xar

[2] Scutum Fidei without Border:
.ai, .gif, .jpg, .png, .tif [300 dpi], .tif [200 dpi], .xar

[3] Scutum Fidei with Alpha Transparency:
.png

[4] Scutum Fidei with Alpha Transparency without Border:
.png

[5] Working File (Used to create the overall graphic, with steps saved):
.xar

Other formats can be made available upon request.
Isaac

 

Bill Nye the Science Guy’s Faulty Presupposition

// May 14th, 2012 // No Comments » // Hermeneutics & Biblical Interpretation, Popular Issues

There’s an article on Bill Nye the Science Guy’s critique of Genesis 1:16 at a community college lecture series. He quoted the text and explained how the “lesser light,” assumed to be the moon, referred to in the passage was a reflector of the sun’s light rather than a “light.” This article appears in “Think Exist”: an atheist website that requires you to donate a dollar to them before registering an account to make a comment on an article (I found out because I tried). Bill Nye was off, and here’s why.

Link: http://www.thinkatheist.com/profiles/blogs/bill-nye-bood-in-texas-for

Interesting article, but the problem with people that find issues with the Bible is that they don’t take the time to form a right hermeneutic in order to interpret the text. A Hermeneutic is a correct literary interpretation based of a particular text based on its given genre, its historical background, and its grammatical background. There are certain contexts that must be considered when interpreting a text.

It’s a fact that the gentleman that wrote “The God Delusion,” Richard Dawkins, actually knows very little about theology at all besides his limited exposure to Christianity through a Roman Catholic upbringing (which is not exposure Biblical Christianity), yet feels he has the authority (and audacity) to write a book critiquing theology. Just being an expert in a certain field does not make one an expert in other fields. Authorities are authorities, but their words are still subject to scrutiny, and this is the case with Bill.

Here’s the correct interpretation. The primary purpose of Genesis is NOT expository but declarative. Its intention is not to give an exposition of how things works but simply to declare and state an obvious fact.

If the Bible would say, “the sky is Blue,” Bill Nye might say, “Well, it’s not really blue, it’s actually the particles of dust in the air catching light and reflecting the specific frequency of what the rods and cones of the eye in the retina would cause us to perceive as blue, and other animals perceive it differently.” But, that does not detract away from the specific fact that the Bible has an audience of readers who would look up at the sky and see the color blue! It doesn’t matter HOW it works, it’s simply making a declarative statement.

You have to remember that the priorities of God in the Bible are different than man’s: The Bible spends but 31 simple verses declaring creation and yet 7 whole chapters on the engineering specifications of the construction of the Mosaic Tabernacle for worship because God esteems we understand holiness when approaching Him for worship even more so than understanding creation and how it works. God’s priorities are different.

Now, knowing that Genesis 1 is primarily declarative, let’s re-read Bill Nye’s quoted text:
Genesis 1:16, “God made two great lights — the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars.”

There’s no conflict with the science behind how it works if you simply step outside and understand that the moon, regardless of the mechanism of whether it reflects light or shines its own light (the mechanism), can be observed as luminescent to observers. It’s simply declarative: the moon shines as a light. Saying that the moon is a light is sort of like saying the sky is blue — no matter the mechanism, it’s simply a declarative, observable truth.

Therefore, the text holds together quite firmly. The problem is not with the passage in Genesis but with the presuppositions that the reader carries into his or her interpretation that cause him to perceive the text differently than what was originally intended. Scripture has but one clear meaning, which is easily skewed if you approach it with all kinds of hostility and expectations of finding issues. But, correct interpretation and scholarly investigation will always prove the validity of the scriptures. The text is not inaccurate at all when properly interpreted.

It’s also interesting to note that the passage never identifies the greater and lesser lights as the sun and moon.

Also, if you think critically, the article ridicules the people of faith for having a sense of discernment. I think it’s obvious that what they were angry about was the fact that he stopped to critique the Bible, not that they didn’t believe the science behind the moon’s luminescence, which is common knowledge.

To paraphrase Charles Spurgeon, “Defend the Bible? I would as soon defend a lion! Unchain it and it will defend itself.”

Order & Complexity – Another Proof of God’s Existence

// May 4th, 2012 // No Comments » // Apologetics, Interesting

“The Word of God is like a lion. You don’t have to defend a lion. All you have to do is let the lion loose, and the lion will defend itself.” – Charles Spurgeon

There’s an awesome video of a debate at UGA that just exemplified this quote. It’s so interesting to reason with the atheists of our day with issues of morality, the existence of God, and philosophical ideas that have their resolution in the Bible. Just look at the reaction of this group towards the end of the video after reasoning through their conclusions.

Todd: “My position is that an eternally existing Being created everything out of nothing.”
Atheist: “Is that somehow better than the Universe creating itself out of nothing?”
Todd: “Nothing can’t create anything out of anything.”
Atheist: “But God can create something out of nothing.”
Todd: “That’s because he has the power to do it.”
Atheist: “Why can’t the Universe be the initial cause?”
Todd: “Because there is no universe. It’s nothing.”
Atheist: [Pause]
Todd: “Nothing is nothing.”
Atheist: [Pause]

Then, for the rest of the video, the guy turns into an Agonistic and says, ‘fair enough, but we can’t understand it…’

Terrence

// April 20th, 2012 // No Comments » // Uncategorized

Today is 4-20-2012. When I was in high school (centuries ago) a certain colloquial, notorious holiday fell upon this date every year among my teenage peers. Students would skip class to indulge in drug use, actually. I won’t forget a gentleman namd Terrence I met one day in Tampa during my undergrad days, years later, who approached me asking for some cash. I had no cash, but I had the Gospel message of salvation through Jesus Christ. So, we had a conversation. After a while he told me that he was addicted to a certain drug. He said he would spend all of his money on it and it robbed him of every cent he had. He went on to exclaim how he tried and tried not to turn to drugs but the pull of addiction on his heart was so very strong. He would go days and weeks and then fall into it again. One day a Christian witnessed to him and felt like he should give Terrence money. They went to an ATM and he drained it of every cent he had and gave it to Terrence. It was unwise, because Terrence took it to buy drugs. That day instead of giving him some transient, momentary monetary compensation I gave him the much more valuable Gospel message. I told him that through God’s saving power on his heart by faith in Jesus he can also be free from his drug addiction.

He asked me for a ride and at that point I was comfortable enough with him to give one. He wanted to go to the Salvation Army to spend the night. Along the way we talked. We parked, and I then showed him in the Bible exactly where it says that drug-use is a sin. He said “Really?! Wow!” It wasn’t as if he didn’t know it was wrong, it was that for the first time he was experiencing conviction of sin — the knowledge that God is going to hold him accountable for his drug use. It was so heavy on his mind. As he thought about his drug addiction, and the scripture we read, he was brought to such great tears. They were streaming down his face and he started sobbing like a child. He was so, so moved by the weight of his sins that he cried real Crocodile tears. It was clear it was not acting. He was truly convicted by his sin. I comforted him and hugged him that day, and dropped him off.

I have no idea where Terrence is today, but the most valuable thing that I could give him was a knowledge of the realities of the atrociousness of his sin in the sight of a God who will judge him, and the truthfulness of a Savior who is so merciful to shed His own blood to spare him from that judgement. I hope he found an affection in his heart that was greater than his addiction — faith in Christ.