Thursday Roundup (12/1/16)

As I mentioned last week, I’m teaching “Are the Gospels Trustworthy?” on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday of next week from 7:30 – 8:30pm EST. If you’re interested, you’ll want to register now for free. And if you know anyone else who might be interested, be sure to tell them about it!

This week’s video answers a surprisingly common objection from unbelievers: How can God answer prayers if different Christians pray for opposing things? The Answers for Ambassadors podcast wraps up Chapter 3 of The God Delusion, considering Pascal’s Wager and the religious preferences of scientists. And the links of the week discuss the importance of mercy ministry, how Christianity changes our perspective on death, the ethics of homosexuality, idolatry of youth athletics, and more!

(If you receive these posts by email and aren’t seeing the video and podcast, just click the “Thursday Roundup” title to view the original post on my site.)

“Every practice and every game is an opportunity to lead our children. Often, as parents, we think we have fulfilled our duty by simply attending our children’s games and cheering. Not so! We are called to so much more. Informed by the gospel, we are called to lead our children wisely. Before the game, this [means] preparing them to keep biblical priorities in mind while they play. After the game, this [means] celebrating their expressions of godly character more than we celebrate their skill for the final score. Every moment our children spend in sports is a teaching moment.”
~ C.J. Mahaney

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Beyond Historical Apologetics: Reasons for Trusting the Bible

Bible

In 1970, archaeologists discovered a collection of scrolls from the ancient Jewish community of Ein Gedi dating back to the first few centuries AD. Radiocarbon dating and handwriting analysis suggest that the manuscripts were written only a short time after the famous Dead Sea scrolls, making the fragments among the earliest examples of biblical text ever discovered. Unfortunately, a fire had turned the archaeological treasures into charcoal, leaving them illegible until this year, when scientists used sophisticated new techniques to scan and digitally “unroll” the scorched fragments to reveal what had been written inside.

What researchers uncovered were 35 lines of Hebrew from the beginning of Leviticus, offering a small window into the Scriptures of 1,700 years ago. And, remarkably, that snapshot from only a few hundred years after Christ was discovered to be identical with the medieval Masoretic Text from which modern translations of the Old Testament are derived. Not for the first time, a triumph of modern archaeology backed up the Christian conviction that God has supernaturally curated his Word, preserving it across the centuries from distortion and error.

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Thursday Roundup (11/17/16)

A brief programming note: I’m going to be teaching a free three-evening online seminar in early December on reasons for trusting the Gospel accounts. We’ll look at whether the Gospels bear the marks of accurate history, how we have a clear picture of what the original manuscripts said, and why the early church chose the 27 books that make up our New Testament canon. Click here for more information or to register. If you think friends might be interested, I would greatly appreciate if you shared the link!

Today’s video takes a careful look at a perennial favorite question of skeptics: If God is all-powerful, can he create a rock too heavy for him to lift? The Answers for Ambassadors podcast continues my examination of Dawkins’ arguments that we cannot trust the Gospel accounts, and the links of the week range from joy to missions to, of course, Donald Trump.

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“He therefore is the devout man who lives no longer to his own will, or the way and spirit of the world, but to the sole will of God, who considers God in everything, who serves God in everything, who makes all the parts of his common life parts of piety by doing everything in the name of God and under such rules as are conformable to His glory.”
~ William Law

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Thanks for Nothing

Praying woman

I spent the latter part of last week down with one of those nasty bugs which herald the changing of the seasons, so I decided to revisit an old post rather than writing a new article for today. I first published this piece almost exactly five years ago. –DV

It’s almost Thanksgiving, so you’ve probably been thinking more than usual about the things you have to be thankful for. Most of our lists will have roughly the same shape: gratitude for life and salvation, for friends and family, for work and leisure time, for troubles lifted and prayers answered. We’ll laugh and nod as we consider all the good that we and others have received, and we’ll feel a bit guilty for failing to be as grateful as we ought during the rest of the year when we don’t have a national holiday to help us remember, so we’ll resolve to be more aware of our blessings in the coming year. Even if some troubles weren’t lifted and some prayers went unanswered, we’ll try to focus on the good and give thanks for what we’ve been given. Yet in all this thanksgiving, we may well forget to give thanks for nothing.

Nothing is a gift we’ve all received at one time or another. It came to John the Baptist after he was arrested by Herod. The one about whom Jesus said, “among those born of women there is no one greater” lay in prison for months, stolen from his wilderness of river and desert to decay in a hole in the ground. He sent to the Messiah, the one of whom he’d prophesied, the one whom he’d baptized, and his only answer was “blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.” Nothing.

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Thursday Roundup (11/10/16)

Today’s video engages with a popular atheist argument, considering whether God’s omnipotence is logically incompatible with omniscience. The Answers for Ambassadors podcast asks whether the Gospel authors wrote reliable history, and the links look at Trump’s victory, the debate over same-sex marriage, reasons to pray, and more.

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“The future is as bright as the promises of God.”
~ Adoniram Judson

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After the Election

"Make America Great Again" yard sign

Tomorrow, Americans will decide whether they want to install a crook or a fool as the leader of the most powerful nation in the world. It will be a dispiriting day to cap a shameful election season.

And then the next day will come, and we’ll have a crook or a fool as the leader of the most powerful nation in the world and you and I will still have our family and our church and our job and our little place in the world, and things will go along very much as they were.

Everyone swears that this election is the most important in our lifetime (as they swore in 2012, and 2008, and 2004, and 2000, and most elections since roughly 1800). The contrarian in me wants to agree with David Harsanyi that this is the least important election in our lifetime, but the truth most likely lies somewhere in between. As with the rest of life, we will know the election’s true import only in hindsight and only partially.

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Thursday Roundup

Today’s video is a companion to last week’s, taking another look at the Jehovah’s Witness view of Jesus as merely an exalted angel. I explain a second argument for the divinity of Christ, based on the New Testament assertion that he received worship. The Answers for Ambassadors podcast is the first of a few episodes which will consider Richard Dawkins’ arguments against the trustworthiness of the Bible, and the links of the week include an excellent response to Jen Hatmaker’s comments on LGBT relationships, a look at the historical illiteracy of American college students, thoughts on the age gap in evangelical support for Trump, and some helpful information about the conflict over the Dakota Access pipeline.

(If you receive these posts by email and aren’t seeing the video and podcast, just click the “Thursday Roundup” title to view the original post on my site.)

“We discover a striking proof of the Divine inspiration of the Scriptures. In the Bible human nature is painted in its true colors: the characters of its heroes are faithfully depicted, the sins of its most prominent personages are frankly recorded. It is human to err, but it is also human to conceal the blemishes of those we admire. Had the Bible been a human production, had it been written by uninspired historians, the defects of its leading characters would have been ignored, or if recorded at all, an attempt at extenuation would have been made.”
~ A.W. Pink

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‘The Least of These’

Homeless person asleep

When you think of doing “Kingdom work,” what comes to mind? If you are like most American Christians, you think of evangelism—going out to share the gospel with the lost and call them to Christ. It’s the work we train our children for, giving them apologetics books to read and sending them on short-term missions trips. And it is good, necessary work! But it is not the only Kingdom work.

I have always been struck by Jesus’ choice in the famous parable of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25. There are many different kinds of Christian traits which he could have chosen to characterize his followers, but as he describes the Judgment Day he says his sheep will be marked by their pattern of caring for the hungry and thirsty, of welcoming the strangers, of clothing the naked, of visiting the sick and imprisoned. That, Jesus says, is what defines his people.

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Thursday Roundup

Today’s video is a bit longer than usual because rescuing John 1:1 from mistranslation by the Watchtower Society requires some context and a dive into the original Greek, but I tried to keep it as interesting and useful as possible! The Answers for Ambassadors podcast talks about Richard Dawkins’ rebuttals to common arguments for God’s existence, while the links of the week look at ill-advised federal overtime rules, the effects of family instability on girls, how to teach your children to love church, and more.

(If you receive these posts by email and aren’t seeing the video and podcast, just click the “Thursday Roundup” title to view the original post on my site.)

“Canonical books [of the Bible]… cannot be lost. If they are lost, then they were never canonical books to begin with. So, even if we were to discover Paul’s lost letter in the desert sands today, we would not place it into the canon as the twenty-eighth book. Instead, we would simply recognize that God had not preserved this book to be a permanent foundation for the church.”
~ Michael J. Kruger, Canon Revisited

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Making Men

Father and son

The article is called “The Fear of Having a Son” and it is one of the saddest things I’ve ever read. Andrew Reiner, an English professor, begins by describing his response five years ago when a student asked him how he felt about having a son: “‘Terrifying,’ I blurted. ‘All I can think about is bullying.'”

He feared his son would be bullied, he explains, because “this boy’s going to be raised to feel and express his vulnerability. That’s a curse in this culture.” But in addition to fearing how his son would be received by a hostile culture, he also dreaded the appeal of that culture, worrying that his son would be drawn into the “alpha domination” and “tight-lipped John Wayne ethos” that form “the limiting script of traditional masculine norms.” Small wonder that raising a son felt like a terrifying journey.

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