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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

From Facebook

Your chapter on Evil in Christian Apologetics is philosophically sound and engaging while also pastorally rich and comforting! Thanks for the labor of love that went into this.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Two Quotes from Chapter 17 of Christian Apologetics

Naturalism and Truth

Patricia Churchland: "Boiled down to essentials, a nervous system enables the organism to succeed in…feeding, fleeing, fighting, and reproducing. The principle chore of nervous systems is to get the body parts where they should be in order that the organism may survive. . . . Improvements in sensorimotor control confer an evolutionary advantage: a fancier style of representing [the world] is advantageous so long as it is geared to the organism's way of life and enhances the organism's chances of survival. Truth, whatever that is, definitely takes the hindmost." [1]

Charles Darwin: With me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?” [2]



[1] Patricia Churchland, “Epistemology in an Age of Neuroscience,” Journal of Philosophy 84 (1987), pp. 548-549; emphasis in the original.

[2] Charles Darwin to W. Graham, July 3, 1881, in The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, ed. Francis Darwin (1897; reprint, Boston: Elibron, 2005), 1:285.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

–II Timothy 1:6-7, NIV

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Truth counts forever. See chapters five through seven in Christian Apologetics.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Outline for My Talk at Saddleback Church, Nov. 27

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy, Denver Seminary

Putting Truth to Work: the Biblical View of Truth

Truth is so obscure in these days, and lies so well established, that unless we love the truth, we shall never know it.—Blaise Pascal Pensées.

I. Truth in Christian Witness: Apologetics

A. Jesus is Truth Incarnate and an apologist (John 14:1-6). See Douglas Groothuis, On Jesus, chapter 3.

B. His followers must know the truth and make it known (John 8:31-32;

1 Peter 3:15; Matthew 28:18-20).

Christian worldview: creation/fall/redemption/consummation. Christian Apologetics, chapters 2-3.

II. Truth and Today’s Culture

A. Knowing our culture, for example,

“From Issachar, men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do”—Chronicles 12:32 (see also 1 John 2:15-17).

B. Two types of unbelief

1. Postmodernism (Richard Rorty): Truth is socially constructed and variable (relativism or non-realism)

2. Philosophical materialism (Richard Dawkins): Truth is what materialistic science describes (realism); there is no supernatural realm, e.g., God, the soul, spirits, the afterlife

III. The Christian View of Truth: the Nature of Truth

A. A true statement is one that reflects or matches reality (realism or the correspondence view of truth). See Christian Apologetics, chapter 5; Groothuis, Truth Decay, chapter 4.

“And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith”—1 Corinthians 15:14.

B. Truth is objective; not merely subjective

Truth-claims stake out portions of reality through words: “Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:5-11).

C. Truth is antithetical, either/or

"He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters—Matthew 12:30.

D. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth (John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13). Depend on the Spirit to give us an intelligent and virtuous witness (Acts 1:8).

IV. Against the Postmodern View of Truth

A. Postmodernism often refutes itself: claims truth is not objective, but then claims to be the objective account of truth: “There is no objective truth.”

a. If this statement is true objectively, then it is false. It is, therefore, self-refuting, self-stultifying as an objective truth claim.

b. If the statement is true subjectively, then there no reason to hold the postmodern view of truth as the claim applies to everything as objective, universal claim.

2. Counterexamples against postmodernism showing universal, objective truths:

a. Laws of logic: identity (A=A); noncontradiction (A is not non-A).

b. Objective moral goodness or evil: Mother Theresa or Osama bin Laden; sadistic torture or famine relief; murder or love

B. Challenge postmodernists to pursue the truth and put off laziness: truth counts forever (Luke 9:25). See Christian Apologetics, chapters 6-7.

V. Against Scientific Naturalism

A. If the brain is not designed for truth, and if organisms can survive and reproduce without consciousness or rationality, there is no reason to think our material brains know the truth. Charles Darwin. See Christian Apologetics, chapter 18.

1. We were designed to know God and the world; there is a fit between our being and our knowing of the world (Genesis 1:26-28; Psalm 8).

2. Laws of logic are not physical, but universally and absolutely true ideas (that is, immaterial things).

B. Morality is more than instinct and social conditioning (materialism): values are immaterial truth beyond mere matter. See Christian Apologetics, chapter 15.

VI. Take Biblical Truth to the Streets!

A. Understand the biblical view of truth (realism) and what is true (creation/fall/redemption/consummation) as opposed to postmodernism and scientific naturalism.

B. Therefore, defend Christian truth with competence, confidence, courage, compassion, and creativity (2 Tim. 1:7). There is much at stake (Matthew 25:46).

Sources: Douglas Groothuis, Christian Apologetics A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith (InterVarsity Press, 2011); Truth Decay: Defending Christianity Against the Challenges of Postmodernism (InterVarsity Press, 2000); On Jesus (Wadsworth, 2003).

Doug Groothuis at Saddleback

I will be giving the last lecture in this series of lectures on apologetics at Saddleback Church. My title is "Putting Truth to Work: The Biblical View of Truth." I will post my outline shortly.

Friday, November 18, 2011

What does our age of constant diversion, distraction, and dissipation lack? It lacks meaningful discipline: self-denial for a cause greater than the self. But this alone gives meaning and truth to the self, which is otherwise derelict in its own finite absorption

"Roots and Fruits" on Line

A write up and the audio of my talk, "Roots and Fruits: Intellectual Influences on my Christian Calling" is now available on line.

My Book at the Evangelical Philosophical Society

Just wanted to let you know that Craig Hazen give your book Christian Apologetics a very good endorsement in the opening comments here at the Evangelical Philosophical Society conference in Berkeley last night. He had one at the podium and showed it to everyone, spoke about the comprehensiveness and size and then gave it away. About 1000 people are here. Unfortunately I didn't see any for sale here at the booths. Heath Cardie

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D., Doug.Groothuis@denverseminary.edu

Denver Seminary

How to Spot a Cult

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.—Colossians 2:8.

I. Discerning Truth from Error

A. Christ, the church, and the truth

1. Jesus is Truth Incarnate (John 14:1-6)

2. The church is the pillar and foundation of the truth

3. The truth about God, salvation, ethics, and history is found in the Bible (2 Timothy 3:15-16; 2 Peter 1:20-21)

B. The challenge of theological error

1. The wide road to destruction (Matthew 7:14-14)

2. Paul’s farewell address to the Ephesian elders (Acts 20:20-28)

3. Being rooted in the truth (1 John 4:1-6)

II. What is a Cult?

A. Historically: groups that split off from an established religious body

Christian cults: significant deviations from Christian orthodoxy

B. Scaling the language barrier (Walter Martin)

Cults use Christian vocabulary without using our dictionary (the Bible’s meaning of these terms)

C. Theologically: teachings deny key orthodox beliefs about God and salvation

1. Source of authority: the Bible alone (sola scriptura) or the Bible plus another source?

a. Mormonism: Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, Doctrines and Covenants

b. Jehovah’s Witnesses: Watchtower Society pronouncements

c. Christian Science: Science and Health with a Key to the Scriptures

d. Other Mind science groups: Unity, Religious Science

2. Understanding of human nature

a. Cults always demote God and promote humans (Walter Martin), thus denying the need for the Cross of Christ

b. Cults deny total depravity and original sin (Mark 7:21-23; Romans 3:9-20)

3. Redefining the person and work of Jesus Christ

a. Cults diminish the work of Christ for our salvation (Galatians 1:6-11)

b. Deny his deity (John 1; Colossians 2:9)

c. Deny his full atonement for sins (Romans 5:1-8)

d. Deny his physical resurrection from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-8)

4. Cults deny the gospel of Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:6-11; 2 Corinthians 11:14)

a. The gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-8; John 3:16-17; Romans 5:1-5; Ephesians 2:8-9)

b. Faith plus good works or mystical experience

Mormons: We do all we can—and God makes up the rest

c. Salvation is found only in Christ (Acts 4:12) and received only by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9)

III. Reaching Those in Cults

A. Know what you believe and why you believe it (Romans 12:1-2)

B. Be prepared for spiritual warfare (Acts 13:1-12; Ephesians 6:10-19; 1 Peter 5:8-9)

C. Be filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8)

D. Treat the cultist as a human being needing salvation, not on object for evangelism

E. Discern the cultists beliefs and gently challenge them with biblical truth and apologetics (1 Peter 3:15; Jude 3; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

Resources

Books

Walter Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults. Several editions.

Gordon Lewis, Confronting the Cults (P&R Publishing).

Robert Bowman, Orthodoxy and Heresy (Baker, 1992).

Ron Rhodes, The Challenge of Cults and New Religions (Zondervan, 2001).

Francis Schaeffer, True Spirituality (Tyndale) A classic on living the Christian life biblically. I have read this many times.

Magazine: The Christian Research Journal. See www.equip.org

I am speaking on "How to Spot a Cult" for Logos Central Chapel tonight at 7:00 at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Denver, CO.

Groothuis on the Radio

I will be on Crosswalk with Gino Geraci Friday from 4:00-5:00 on KRKS-FM (Denver) to discuss Christian Apologetics.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A New Review from Amazon

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars An enlightening and enriching academic read!, November 17, 2011
This review is from: Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith (Hardcover)
I have always been interested in the subject of apologetics and this has been the perfect book for me. The author has taken some rather difficult arguments and boiled them down so that the average person can lay hold of them. It is an academic work, but is extremely far from being dry. Many strictly academic books that I have read in the past have bored me to tears and put me in a coma. This book is a great read for not only the lay person interested in apologetics but also for pastors or church leaders wanting more education or a brush up on their apologetics. I am a stay at home, home schooling mother of three, and I can read this book on the playground while my children play or in bed at night before I sleep. It is actually enjoyable to read. Also, if you are someone who is interested in the existence of God, or the Christian faith, I think this would be the perfect book for you. The arguments are explained thoroughly and the author doesn't leave any loose ends untied. The author is fair to both sides of the arguments. So buy it, and read it, and enjoy it!! It pairs nicely with a good cup of coffee, or a nice glass of red wine.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Doug Groothuis at Saddleback

I will be speaking on the topic of "Putting Truth to Work" at Saddleback Church on November 27 at 5:00 PM. This talk will address many of the topics in Christian Apologetics.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Duke and Apologetics

In an interview, Duke Ellington said that "my first job is to listen." This should be true in apologetics as well as in jazz. We must listen to the questions, concerns, and misunderstandings of those to whom we present a defense of Christianity as true, rational, and pertinent to life.

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry---James 1:19.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Steve Jobs, Jesus, and the Problem of Evil

In the best-selling biography Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson recounts an event when a thirteen- year-old Steve Jobs is distressed by a photograph in a 1968 Life Magazine of a pair of starving children in Biafra. He then went to his Lutheran pastor, holds up one finger and asks, "Did God know I would hold up this finger before I did?" The Pastor said, "Yes, God knows everything." Then Jobs produced the Life cover photo and asks, "Well, does God know about this and what's going to happen to those children?" The Pastor replied, "Steve, I know you don't understand, but yes, God know about this."

Issacson reports that "Jobs announced that he didn't want to have anything to do with worshiping such a God, and he never went back to church." Instead, Jobs pursued Buddhism, gurus, and hallucinogenic drug use instead (pages 14-15). This is yet another tragic encounter with the problem of evil. Jobs later told Issacson that "The juice goes out of Christianity when it becomes too based on faith rather than on living like Jesus of seeing world as Jesus saw it (p. 15).

The most reliable records of Jesus life are the Four Gospels of The New Testament (see chapter 19 of Christian Apologetics). In them, we find Jesus affirming the existence of one, all-powerful God, as well as the existence of all manner of evil. That is how Jesus saw the world. But, unlike the Buddha, Jesus did not counsel his followers to detach from the world of suffering by ceasing to crave satisfaction. He rather said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be satisfied." It is inescapable that those who so hunger will also suffer: "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted," Jesus also affirmed. (For more on Jesus's teachings, see chapter 20 of Christian Apologetics.)

The evils of this groaning world did not detract Jesus from his mission to "seek and to save the lost" (Luke 19:10). It was this wounded and aching world that sent Jesus to a bloody and horrible death on a Roman Cross, in order that humanity and deity might be reconciled and hope restored to an erring planet. As Pascal said: "The Incarnation shows man the greatness of his wretchedness through the greatness of the remedy required" (Pensees, 352/526).

If God is perfectly good and thoroughly powerful, he will not waste the sufferings of the world. He will bring a greater good out of them not otherwise possible. This may sound theoretical, but God himself put flesh to that reality through the Incarnation: "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). That Word taught only truth, offered only love and justice, and was put to death for no legal reason. On his Cross, he forgave his accusers and finally said, "It is finished." He was buried, dead as dead could be. The universe waited...until he rose from the dead in three days time--never to die again.

At a young age, Steve Jobs faced the severity and seeming absurdity of evil. In so doing, he rejected the only answer to the suffering: Christ Jesus. Let us rather affirm with the Apostle Paul:

55O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

56The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.

57But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.--1 Corinthians 15:55-58, King James Version.

(For more on the problem of evil, see chapter 25 of Christian Apologetics.)




Friday, November 11, 2011

Self-promotion?

Some may wonder why an author is promoting his own book so much. We are often suspicious of "self-promoters." Let me explain what I am doing and why.

1. The purpose of this blog is not bragging on myself, but rather promoting a work I believe in for the sake of advancing the Kingdom and Mission of God. That is why I spent over eight years writing it.

2. Further, given the rise of the Internet, the old ways of promotion are no longer adequate: adds in magazine, radio interviews, and so on. Much of the interest in books is generated on line, and the author is often the only one available to do this. That is why I started this blog and why I promote the book on my social media.

3. Whatever good one finds in my book, I attribute to God's grace and faithfulness. I did not make up the Christian faith, not can I can credit for the rational defense of it. It is all of grace.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Ways to Further the Ministry

Christian thinkers need to get out the word about the truth, rationality, and pertinence of Christianity. You can help me do this in several ways.

1. Become a Facebook friend to keep up with my talks, essays, views, etc. Warning: you will get a heavy dose of Groothuis views on just about everything: politics, culture, jazz, philosophy, apologetics, dogs, etc.

2. Follow me on Twitter for the same reason: @DougGroothuis.

3. Check my blogs: The Constructive Curmudgeon and Christian Apologetics (dedicated to my book of the same title).

4. If you think Christian Apologetics helps further the mission of God, you can support the book in several ways.

a. Review it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or your blog, Facebook, and so on. “Like” it on Amazon.
b. If you are an aspiring author, review it for an academic publication or magazine.
c. Purchase a copy for your pastor, local library, or church library.
d. Teach from it in an adult education class or make it the book for a book discussion. Yes, this will take some time.
e. Recommend the book to opinion-shapers in the church and the larger culture.

5. Let me know how I might help you engage in apologetics and evangelism. I can speak to campus groups, churches, and in other public forums on all manner of apologetics and moral topics. I am happy to meet one-on-one or in small groups with unbelievers who have questions about Christianity.

6. I have a number of audio and video messages on line in various places, such as YouTube. Take advantage of these and let your friends know about them.

May it be done for the glory of God and the advancement of his Kingdom,

Doug Groothuis

A Second Printing

My publisher, InterVarsity Press, tells me that they will soon run a second printing of Christian Apologetics. I am now preparing a list of minor corrections for that new printing.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

You are cordially invited to the first session of the Christian Thought Colloquium 2011-12.

Our own Dr. Douglas Groothuis will present on “Roots and Fruits: The Intellectual Influences That Shaped my Christian Calling.”

The colloquium will be held on Tuesday, November 15 at noon.

The venue will be classroom 115.

After Doug’s presentation for about 40 minutes, we will have a Q&A session for 5-10 minutes.

Dr. Don Payne will serve as moderator.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

My review of part of Nigel Warburten's "A Little History of Philosophy" (on Amazon)

The author, a secularist, does not bother to treat philosophical arguments for God's existence seriously. For example, he lauds Bertrand Russell's attack on the cosmological argument (p. 185) when, in fact, Russell created a straw man. In "Why I am Not a Christian," Russell says that cosmological arguments all fail because they depend on this premise:

P1: Everything that exists has a cause
Or order to reach this conclusion along with one more premise:
P2: The universe exists.
-------------
C1: Therefore, the universe has a cause (God)
But Russell claims that C1 (God) would be subject to P1. God would require a cause for God's existence. If so, the argument fails.
This is absurd because I have never read a version of the cosmological argument (in 35 years of studying and teaching and writing about philosophy of religion) that used this argument premise. Of course, P1 will defeat a cosmological argument, but no one uses it!
For example, the kalam cosmological argument reasons this way:
P1: What every begins to exist, has a cause of its existence.
P2: The universe began to exist.
-----------
C1: Therefore, the universe has a cause (God).
Notice that the kalam's P1 differs radically from Russell's version: "Everything that exists has a cause." God, of course, did not (by definition) begin to exist, so is not subject requiring a beginning cause for God's existence. In order words, there is no reductio ad absurdum. Neither do the Thomistic or the Lebinizian cosmological arguments rely on Russell's manufactured premise.
One could go on about the cosmological argument (I devote 30 pages to it in my book, Christian Apologetics), but suffice to say that this book does not bother to critique the argument at its best, only at its worst.
That is a very bad sign indeed, but I find that many British secular philosophers are often dismissive of philosophical theism. Shame on them.
For much more on the cosmological argument, see chapter eleven of Christian Apologetics.

Endorsements

"Douglas Groothuis does Christian apologetics the way it needs to be done, situating apologetics within a Christian worldview and answering the troubling questions that people are actually asking--questions to which they need answers if faith is going to be a live option. His book draws on many years of teaching and writing about apologetics, distilling the most effective arguments in defense of the Christian faith." (William A. Dembski, author of The End of Christianity )

"Christian Apologetics is an outstanding book that I wholeheartedly endorse. It is one of the most thorough, insightful and well-written apologetics books I have read in a long time. Groothuis has the rare ability to write in a way that is understandable to the nonspecialist and yet rigorous enough to challenge the apologetic connoisseur. I wish every Christian would read this book carefully and then pass it on to a skeptic for discussion, interaction and dialogue." (Sean McDowell, author of Apologetics for a New Generation )

"Groothuis is a leading evangelical thinker and Christian Apologetics is a monumental result of decades of study and reflection. Breathtaking in scope, clear in style, this book is now the go-to text in the field. I know of nothing like it, and I enthusiastically recommend it to all who want to learn to give an answer for the hope that is within them." (J. P. Moreland, author of The God Question )

"Christian Apologetics is a full-scale defense of the Christian faith that is accessible, relevant and wise. This book not only reflects the work of a seasoned apologist; it is written with passion and conviction. I heartily recommend it!" (Paul Copan, Palm Beach Atlantic University )

The Spirit and Apologetics

Without the Holy Spirit's power, apologetics does no good. With the Holy Spirit's power, apologetics does much good. He is, after all, the Spirit of Truth. See chapter two of Christian Apologetics.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Thoughts on a Big Book

Walking through the Denver Seminary library yesterday, I spotted several study desks piled high with books, one of which was my Christian Apologetics. It made me ponder the meaning of it.

I invest my thought, prayer, and passion into a massive book, which nearly killed me (and my wife). The book now exists and is hurled into the world for evaluation. It will make some kind of mark on souls, on schools, on families. Words are potent things, as Jesus taught.

Words are potent, dynamic, even world-changing things. May these words of mine serve the Truth and bring souls to rectitude before eternal realities--despite the failures of their author.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Despite my disappointments, sins, and even despair, I take heart that Christianity is true, rational, and pertinent to all of life. Thirty-five years of study and life have borne this out. My written testimony is Christian Apologetics.

Douglas Groothuis Lecture at Denver Seminary

Professor Douglas Groothuis will be lecturing on "Roots and Fruits: The Intellectual Influences that Shaped my Christian Calling" at Denver Seminary in Classroom 115 at 12:00-12:50 PM on November 15, 2011. Among others, he will address the influences of Francis Schaeffer and Rebecca Merrill Groothuis on his life. The aim is to equip those who come to pursue their own calling with intellectual depth and seriousness.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Speaking on Apologetics

I am available to speak on any aspect of apologetics for your church, campus ministry, or other speaking venue. Simply contact me at DougGroothuis@gmail.com.