William Edgar and K. Scott Oliphint – An Introduction to the Thought of Alvin Plantinga

Meet Alvin Plantinga

Alvin Plantinga was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Raised in the Christian Reformed Church, he has theological roots in the Dutch Reformed tradition. As the son of a philosophy and psychology professor, Plantinga evidenced a knack for and interest in philosophy early on.1

Plantinga studied philosophy at Harvard, Calvin College, the University of Michigan, and Yale, earning his PhD from Yale in 1957. Throughout his prolific career, Plantinga spent the majority of his years teaching, first, at Calvin College for nineteen years, then, until his recent retirement, at Notre Dame University. It would not be an overstatement to say that virtually all matters metaphysical and epistemological must address much of Plantinga’s own work. His Nature of Necessity did much to further discussions of modality in metaphysics, and his most recent work in epistemology, the roots of which began early in his career, have stimulated a multitude of developments and critiques in philosophical and theological circles.

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Book Review – Forensic Faith

Believers are commanded in 1 Peter 3:15 to always be ready to “to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” Being able to provide such a defense requires the believer to have a functional understanding of the faith in which they have placed their hope. Part of this effort involves the practice of apologetics. Moreover, developing a good apologetic for the faith includes utilizing the vast amount of evidence available in support of the faith. Having valuable tools on hand which outline in a helpful manner this fount of evidence is also essential.

It can be argued that approaching the evidence for the validity of the faith from the perspective of an investigator is a tremendous method for not only exploring the truth, but also for ensuring all the relevant facts are explored thoroughly with little doubt left in the end as to what is true. It is this methodology which is employed by J. Warner Wallace in his latest book aptly titled Forensic Faith.

For those not familiar with Wallace’s previous works or his journey to faith in Jesus, he was a former atheist who spent a career as a cold-case homicide detective. This career developed in him a keen understanding of how to identify, review, and parse evidence, in particular in homicide cases where the evidential trail had become thin. This investigative background was part of his investigation of Christianity and which led to his embracing of the merits of the faith.

In this particular book, Wallace focuses on providing believers the needed skills to make a reasonable, thorough case based on the available evidence for Christianity. This is a tutorial of sorts, an investigative handbook replete with valuable information that will empower the believer to make a powerful defense and an air-tight case for the hope within them that would stand up to even the most potent cross-examination.
Where this book shines brightest is in its practicality. Scattered strategically throughout the book are vignettes called “Forensic Faith Profiles”, “Forensic Faith Assignments”, “Forensic Faith Challenge”, and “Forensic Faith Definition”. These provide the reader with nuggets of information to chew on if you will, informative tidbits that serve as beneficial road maps on the journey to understanding and employing one’s defense of the faith.

In this vein of practicality, also of note are the “Forensic Faith Practice” portions. Given this book is intended to serve as a training manual of sorts, including the opportunity for the reader to put into practice what they are learning is invaluable. It is after all one thing to simply read information and quite another to put what you have read into practice in a meaningful way. Wallace helps drive home the bounty of information he provides by giving the reader these practice sessions.

Forensic Faith by J. Warner Wallace is a book I highly recommend. In an age where we need more than ever to understand what we believe and more importantly, to be able to coherently and cogently declare the glorious message of the gospel, this book will serve as an excellent field manual for defending the faith.

I received this book for free from David C. Cook via Litfuse Publicity and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Trevin Wax – I Wish Christian Would Argue More

I wish Christians would argue more.

No, I’m not being sarcastic or saying this with an eye roll. I mean it.

I want Christians to argue more and fight less. To take it a step further, I’d even say that fighting less depends on our willingness to argue more and better.

Arguing in the Classic Sense

To be clear, I’m not using the word “argue” in the sense that the apostle Paul did, when he instructed the Philippian church to “do everything without grumbling and arguing” (Phil 2:15). I don’t say “argue” in the sense of being quarrelsome or irritable or “loving the fight” of aggressive words.

I use the word “argue” in its classic sense: the ability to make or counter an argument that depends on logic and reason. To meet one argument with another. To argue with someone, civilly and respectfully, toward the discovery of truth.

Arguing vs. Quarreling

In his autobiography, G. K. Chesterton remarked that the bad thing about a quarrel is that it spoils a good argument! He hated when bad feelings overshadowed the making and countering of good arguments.

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Greg Hall – Ready to Give an Answer

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Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence (1 Peter 3:15).

When I was a graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh, I attended classes with a number of Islamic students, most of whom were from the nation of Saudi Arabia. They were very good students, highly motivated, very devoted to one another, and especially zealous for their Islamic beliefs. At the graduate level, students are continually making presentations of one kind or another. It was always striking to me that along with the presentation, the Islamic students invariably talked about their religion.

For instance, if a student was giving a presentation on some kind of educational policy in his country, he would likely begin like this: “Before I speak of the educational policies of my nation, it is first important for me to talk about the tenets of Islam with you. The reason is, you cannot understand the educational policy of my country without understanding Islam. They go together.” And so the student had a captive audience, and they always, courageously and forthrightly, told us first about the basic tenets of Islamic religion.

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Michael Boling – Why Apologetics is Applicable to all of Life and a Calling for all Believers

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1 Peter 3:15 – “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect”

Apologetics is a term that unfortunately seems to be equated as something someone else is responsible for doing. Many believe the bulk of the responsibility for doing apologetics rests upon the shoulders of scholars, pastors, or those called to making the debate circuit.

Is apologetics really for everyone? Are we all called to be prepared to present a defense to anyone or is that job strictly for those with academic training? Is apologetics something necessary for the average lay person? Is it valuable and needed as a parent raising children? Is it useful in the workplace? Is it applicable for a husband and wife? Or again, is apologetics just something we expect someone with seminary training to do on our behalf so we can be told what to think about what it is we are to believe? The answer lies in understanding to whom Peter is speaking in 1 Peter 3:15.

Peter begins this chapter by addressing husbands and wives. He then shifts in verse 8 to addressing “all of you” and yes all of you includes all of us. The context of “all of you” (or again in our case all of us) continues with Peter noting the reality we will suffer for the sake of righteousness. It is within that context of enduring suffering for the sake of righteousness that we are commanded to always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks for the hope that is in us, ensuring we do so with all manner of gentleness and respect.

What is noticeably missing is any indication by Peter that giving a defense was the sole duty of the leaders of the local or larger body of believers. All of you truly means just that – all of you. Every single one of us is to be prepared to give this defense of the hope within us. What is this hope? It is the hope found in the message of the gospel, namely the promise of restoration and redemption with our Creator.

This hope is applicable to all of life. Thus, apologetics is not just a tool to be used by scholars when discussing the details of some million dollar theological term. Apologetics is not only something we read about in a book or write about in a blog for those who feel the “calling” to that particular field of study. Apologetics impacts all of life. We are always to be prepared to give a defense regardless of the situation.

Think about the impact apologetics should have in our lives. Let’s start with parenting. Deuteronomy 6:7 declares parents must “teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” What parents are to teach diligently to their children is the ways of God found in Scripture. That command cannot be followed without parents being able to give a defense for the hope that is within them. Teaching diligently the ways of God is a command parents must follow at all times and at all places.

Peter notes in 1 Peter 3 that husbands are to “treat your wives with consideration as a delicate vessel, and with honor as fellow heirs of the gracious gift of life so that your prayers will not be hindered.” It is impossible for a husband to know what that looks like without an understanding of love and prayer as outlined in Scripture. This requires an apologetic for love and prayer. Wives are to submit to their husbands. What is submission in this context? The answer to that important question comes from developing a biblical apologetic on submission.

This same thought process can be applied to any area of life. We are called to be a people who are intimately familiar with the truth of Scripture. There is no opt-out clause when it comes to all believers being apologists. Certainly, there are those called to be professional apologists, people especially skilled at matters of theology. But we are all called to be apologists. To use an example, there are skilled doctors and physicians, but that does not mean as a parent, we do not address with our children the daily matters of health and the reasons why they are important.

It is high time we all answer the command to be apologists and to apply the truth of Scripture to all areas of life. This is the work of the apologist, something we are all called by God to do as believers. The time is very urgent for this calling and command to become a reality in the lives of God’s people.

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Simon Turpin – Where Does Religion Come From?

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Encountering World Religions: Acts 17:16–34

If we want to share the gospel with those of other religions, it is important to know what the Bible says about this. Paul’s speech to the Areopagus in Acts 17:16–34 is the classic text for sharing the gospel with those from different religious backgrounds. In order to engage with his audience in Acts 17, Paul uses the biblical meta-narrative of the Creation-Fall, redemption, and consummation.

Where Does Religion Come From?

Before looking at Acts 17, it is important to understand the origin of religion; in order to know the meaning of anything, we have to understand its origin. The origin of religion began in the Garden of Eden when God clearly revealed himself to Adam. However, Adam and Eve rejected that revelation and chose to believe a falsehood about Him. In this act of disobedience, they chose to follow Satan’s worldview over God’s worldview (Genesis 3:4–5). They created the first human religion, rejecting God’s perfect and true religion.

Adam’s disobedience had consequences for the rest of his descendants since it affected how they viewed God and creation.3 This can be seen at the event of the Tower of Babel, which was the beginning of the religious diversity we see in the world today (see Deuteronomy 32:8, 16–17, 21).4 At the Tower of Babel, monotheism devolved into polytheism, pantheism, and the worship of anything other than the one true, living God. When the people were dispersed at Babel, they would have taken with them a hybrid truth of the living God mixed with the twisting and distorting of the truth of that revelation about Him (Romans 1:18–32). Religion then is first of all a response to God’s revelation — it is either in faith or rebellion. It is either based on God’s Word or man’s word.

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Casey Lewis – Apologetics: A Reasonable Defense

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Ask most church goers what it means to do apologetics and you will most likely be met with blank stares, an explanation about how we are to apologize to others, or tales of boredom as they tried sitting through a lecture or trudging through a book full of philosophical arguments. While the study of apologetics can take you off into heady arguments, that’s not all apologetics is.

Be Ready Always

Apologetics simple means to offer a reasonable defense. At a minimum, that requires us to tell others what we believe and why we believe it.

As Christians we are called to do just that – offer a reasonable defense for our faith. Peter makes this clear when he says, “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” (1 Pet. 3:15–16).

The context in which Peter gave his command wasn’t peaceful. Christians were living in exile, experiencing ostracism for their faith and suffering persecution. Yet Peter tells them not to fear or cower, but to be ready to offer a reasonable defense for the hope within. Christians, then, in all walks of life, locales, and cultural climates must be ready to offer a defense of their faith.

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Mitch Stokes – 10 Things You Should Know about Apologetics

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1. Apologetics is as much for believers as it is for unbelievers.

Let’s roughly define apologetics as the use of arguments to remove doubt or unbelief (I’ll qualify this in the next point). The point here is that unbelief often comes from our own hearts and minds, despite the fact that we’re Christians. For my own part, apologetics has always been something I do as much for me as for others.

2. Apologetics can be used preemptively.

Here’s the qualifier I mentioned above: although we often use apologetic arguments to remove doubts, we can also use them to prevent doubts. Teaching apologetics to young believers can be a preemptive strike on unbelief.

This won’t prevent all doubting, but it can certainly mitigate it. This point is particularly important for parents. Notice that points (1) and (2) imply that apologetics is for absolutely everyone—Christians and non-Christians, doubters and non-doubters (i.e., not-currently-doubters).

3. There is a difference between knowing that Christianity is true and showing that it’s true.

Ultimately, we know that Christianity is true because the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to its truth (which should remind us to steep our apologetics in prayer).

That’s not to say that arguments can’t confirm or further support our Spirit-induced belief — or that arguments are never part of coming to faith—but the arguments we use on ourselves are sometimes different from the arguments we use to try to show someone else that Christianity is true.

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John Piper – 1 Peter 3:15–16: Should We Want to Shame Unbelievers?

When the world mocks and despises us for our faith, we often want to lash back. God has a better way of shaming those who abuse his followers. In this lab, John Piper discusses whether the Christian has a role to play in shaming the unbeliever.

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Nathan Busenitz – Speaking the Truth in Love

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We live in a world where people love to talk. Studies suggest that the average American adult speaks approximately 16,000 words per day. Multiply that by a lifespan of 70 years, for a total of nearly 409 million words, and suddenly Christ’s warning in Matthew 12:36 takes on new significance: “I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.”

Of course, actual vocalization is only part of how people communicate. The Internet, in particular, has given rise to many other ways in which to speak. A study in 2010 estimated that, worldwide, some 294 billion emails are sent every day. The birth of social media has added to that constant stream of communication. Consider that Facebook averages 55 million status updates daily, along with Twitter’s 340 million tweets, and you can begin to appreciate the magnitude of unending chatter that characterizes modern society.

The Internet did not exist when the Bible was written. But the biblical principles for Christian communication apply to online interactions just as they govern real-life interpersonal relationships and face-to-face conversations. Whether we are speaking in person, on the phone, in a letter, or online, Scripture provides us with God-honoring parameters for how we are to communicate with others.

One important passage in this regard is Ephesians 4:14–15, where the Apostle Paul tells his readers: “We are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.” Rather than succumbing to the sin-saturated thinking of the world around them, Paul’s readers are to reject falsehood and instead speak the truth to one another in love.

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