Category Archives: Apologetics

Home Library/Office Tour

I wanted to do this for a while. I had some time today. One day I’ll get a good camera and give this thing some real production value.

B”H

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Do Christians and Jews Worship the Same God?

Earlier today on Twitter Mike Aubrey offered a friendly pushback to my post about Christians and Muslims worshipping the same God. I’ve just learned that a gentleman named Gavin on a blog called Otagosh has offered the same pushback. Basically, they’ve both responded that if Christians and Muslims don’t worship the same God then neither do Christians and Jews.

My response is to ask, which Jews? I have zero qualms about saying that Jews who have rejected Jesus as Messiah and deny the Trinity don’t worship the same God as Christians. But not all Jews fall into this group. Christianity was originally a Jewish movement. It’s founder is a Jew. It’s earliest adherents were Jews. It’s Scriptures were written by Jews.

But the early Jews who accepted Jesus as Messiah and wrote about the unique relationship shared between Father, Son, and Spirit were opposed by other Jews. An anti-Jesus Jewish movement grew in the same soil as this pro-Jesus Jewish movement. Both movements grew alongside one another and one became Christianity while the other retained the moniker of Judaism.

My point is, there are Messianic Jews, Jews for Jesus, Jewish Christians, and a host of other Jews who do indeed worship the same God that the Gentiles who have been grafted into Israel’s covenant worship. The Church is the “one new man” composed of Jew and Gentile alike, united in its worship of the one true God. But then there are plenty of Jews who don’t worship this God and we shouldn’t be afraid to say so.

On the flip side, I’m not familiar with any Muslims for Jesus or Muslim Christians. A denial of basic Christian tenets is foundational to their belief and worship of Allah. Their Scriptures say quite plainly that they don’t worship the Son or even believe him to be Son. Ours says that a denial of Jesus as Son is a denial of his Father as well, hence, I stand by my original answer to the question and add a qualified answer when switching the terms.

B”H

The Woman was First?

A coworker of mine has taken to saying that the African woman is God. He’s entitled to his opinion, wrong as it may be, but he keeps repeating that the Abrahamic religions have fabricated a story based on patriarchy. It seems that because they didn’t value women and wanted to keep them oppressed that they invented the story of the first man and the helpmeet that was taken from his side.

My coworker says that anyone with common sense knows that everything had to come from a woman because we all have mothers and no man has ever harbored life within him. My response, based on my limited understanding of the reproductive physiology of humans, is that the man possesses both an X and a Y chromosome while the woman possesses two X chromosomes. Hence the gender of a child is determined by the father because the father possesses both chromosomes.

So wouldn’t common sense tell us that a story like that of the first man (let’s call him Adam) and the woman (let’s call her Eve) taken from his side isn’t all that unlikely. And let’s assume for the sake of argument that this is simply a tale, a myth intended to convey a general idea rather than a specific story about two historical people. Wouldn’t common sense tell us that such a mythical account still makes sense on the basis that the first man had both genders within him the whole time?

Makes sense to me and I’m pretty common.

B”H

Beware of Overnight Experts

A coworker has recently become enamored with Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam. I blame myself. My cousin had been urging me for weeks to watch an interview that Farrakhan did with Jamal Bryant on the Word Network. I finally put it on at work and it caught my coworker’s attention. Since then it’s been nothing but Farrakhan on YouTube for him. The problem is that he has uncritically accepted without examination most everything that Farrakhan says about anything. My cousin is the same way. In fact, it’s exactly like talking to my cousin. Same script, verbatim.

I’ve tried to talk to my coworker where I can but he’s not ready to hear anyone but Farrakhan right now. Yesterday, for example, he assaulted us with a shotgun argument in which he talked about everything from how King James, who ruled the world, rewrote the Bible, to how Christianity is the white man’s religion and was used to control slaves, to how Islam was the original religion, to how the Qur’an has never been changed, to how black people invented science and math (none of which is true, for the record). There was much more in between but this was what I could remember being spit out at me in something like 30 seconds. I tried to focus on one thing at a time but I kept getting talked over. So I just ignored it. I know that now is not the time for him to hear me.

But I did tell him that I’m worried that he’s become an expert very quickly. He told me that he’s always known this stuff but has just ignored it. Nonsense I say, nonsense! There’s a reason that the Nation of Islam targets “the black man in America,” and that’s because many of them feel alienated, disenfranchised, oppressed, and maltreated. And in many cases that’s unfortunately true. The NOI gives them the outlet to feel justified in their anger. The same can’t be said of the black folks around the world that haven’t shared similar experiences. And I say this to say that my coworker is angry and has found a voice for this anger. He hasn’t studied what is being said, he’s just accepted it on face value.

Now me, on the other hand… I’ve been exposed to the Nation of Islam since I was 10 years old. From 16 to 21 I devoted a lot of time and energy into its teachings. I read Farrakhan’s speeches and watched VHS tapes of him before there was a YouTube to watch them on. Same with Malcolm X. I’ve read Elijah Muhammed’s books. I once had an entire filing cabinet full of Final Call newspapers. I’ve known NOI members for years. The point is that I’m not new to this. There was a time when I believed this stuff to be true. And then God saved me and I devoted a couple more years to studying this stuff from a critical perspective. So it’s not revelatory to me. I’ve been there and done that. I have the answers to his arguments but nothing I say will be received.

My bare disagreement with these views is enough to deny anything I say as true. His newfound expertise trumps my years of exposure and study because I’ve boughten into the white man’s “made up religion” while he’s come to the “knowledge of self.” So my task over the coming weeks isn’t going to be to argue and debate with him—he’s not ready—but to provide good information to my other coworkers who are exposed to his newfound views. I don’t claim expertise in anything, but I’m confident in the time I’ve spent on these subjects, and when it’s all said and done I’m really just interested in God being glorified through what I say and do, so my prayer is that however it goes I’ll be able to maintain my composure and speak the truth in love.

B”H

An Observation

I received an email the other day from a young man who was thinking about starting a blog and one of the things he asked me was whether or not I could recommend anyone dealing specifically with the arguments of Biblical Unitarians (i.e., Socinians). Unfortunately, no one these days really pays them much mind, which in turn means that no one is really addressing their arguments. On the one hand I get it; they’re a very small faction that you’re likely to encounter only on the internet. On the other hand, there are people who have written books challenging the claims of Oneness Pentecostals and Jehovah’s Witnesses, so it would be nice to have something else to add to the mix.

I noted that if he wanted anything substantial he’d have to go back to 17th century English theologians like Edward Stillingfleet, John Edwards, and William Sherlock. I also noted how none of them was without fault because they all suffered from the same basic shortcoming with regard to operating according to their opponents’ rationalism. The Socinians of their day denied the Trinity because it didn’t make sense and so these theologians argued (sometimes quite exhaustively) that it did make sense. The problem was that they tried to make sense of the doctrine according to the canons of their opponents and in turn veered off toward one heresy or another.

This, of course, is something that James Anderson notes in his Paradox in Christian Theology. The desire to make sense of the doctrine of the Trinity is laudable (it’s also doable, but it must be done from a biblical perspective, with Scripture as the ultimate authority; not various philosophies), but make too much sense and you end up with heresy. It’s also no coincidence that Anderson ended up being the one modern author I recommended on the topic as I think his defense of paradox is quite helpful in dealing with the rationalistic objections of Socinians.

But I’ve said all this to say that from my observation modern theolgoians and apologists just don’t seem to really care about Socinianism. Why this is I couldn’t say, but it is nonetheless. It would be nice if the next generation of apologists who specialize in the doctrine of the Trinity would take more notice of Socinianism. It would save interested readers the trouble of having to sift through verbose 17th century English authors!

B”H

Morning Reflections

Creation Debate

So I watched a little more than half the debate last night between Ken Ham and Bill Nye. I wasn’t impressed by anything other than the venue. The decorators at the Creation Museum did an awesome job. Really slick design (no pun intended)!

As far as the debate went, Ham spoke about worldviews, presuppositions, and the authority of Scripture, which was all good and should have been spoken about. The problem is that he didn’t take it far enough. Instead he focused on this dichotomy between “historical science” and “observational science,” saying that we can’t observe the past so there’s an element of faith in everyone’s idea of origins, even the evolutionist’s. Nye pointed out that astronomers observe the past all the time.

Twitter was ablaze with Ham haters and folks fawning all over Nye, but Nye wasn’t very impressive either, if I’m being honest. He kept speaking about “those of us on the outside” as if the folks who believe that everything came into being through something other than God are in the know while everyone who believes in creation are simpletons. It was condescending to say the least. He also employed a few unfunny jokes in his presentations. Folks on Twitter thought that no one laughed because the crowd was full of hostile creationists. Did they ever consider that the jokes bombed because they just weren’t funny?

In the end, if I had to give one of them the advantage based on what I saw, I’d give it to Nye. He kept bringing up pieces of evidence that he believes support his position. Ham kept referring to science PhDs who believed in creation and his historical/observational dichotomy while dancing around Nye’s arguments. I think Ham’s debates are better when he’s debating fellow believers because then the text of Scripture, which both debaters hold to be authoritative, can be engaged with more depth and seriousness.

Freezing Rain

It’s raining outside and it’s cold. That means the rain is freezing. Great. Should make for an excruciatingly slow commute. God, why must you continue to punish the people of New Jersey with this weather? Why?!!

Procrastination

I’ve got quite a few posts in my draft folder that I’d like to finish up. One is a review of William Hasker’s Metaphysics and the Tri-Personal God that is nearly complete. I’m going to have to go back and reread the conclusion of the book so that I can put the finishing touches on it, but Lord willing, I’ll get it done today! Pray for me! In addition to that, I began a series 6 months (!) ago in which I responded to recent reviews of Chris Tilling’s monograph Paul’s Divine Christology. The first 3 posts were in response to Matthew Novenson’s review in the Expository Times. I plan to continue the series (soon I hope!) with a look at Nijay K. Gupta’s review in The Journal for the Study of Paul and His Letters.

B”H

An Apologetic of Love

Related to my last post, James Spinti sent me a link to a recent post by Robin Parry in which Robin expresses some concerns about the Dangers of Apologetics. The thing that stood out to me most in the post was the comment that:

The key apologetic for Christianity — far more important than knowing the right answers to hard questions — is love. Communities of faith that embody the kindness of God in cruciform ‘works of love’ are deeply attractive and are themselves evidence (not proof) of the truth of the gospel.

But do give the entire post a read.

B”H