Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Obama, the Open Seat, and Abortion

President Obama will have an open seat tonight during the State of the Union address to represent those victims who have lost their lives to gun violence. Roughly 11,000 homicides were committed with guns in the U.S. during 2014. Everyone agrees these lives are tragic loses due to senseless acts of violence.

That same year, over 1,000,000 unborn human beings lost their lives through abortion. If we have one open seat to represent every 11,000 lives lost, we would need 90 open seats at the State of the Union to represent the lives of the unborn killed during 2014 alone. We would need 5,182 open seats to represent the 57,000,000 human beings who have been killed since Roe v. Wade in 1973. Unfortunately there are only 446 seats in the House chambers where the State of the Union is given.

A White House official said the president told supporters the open seat was for “the victims of gun violence who no longer have a voice—because they need the rest of us to speak for them” and the open seat should serve to “remind every single one of our representatives that it’s their responsibility to do something about this.”

What is sad and shameful is that the president condemns gun violence while supporting abortion violence. For it is just as true that open seats are needed for “the victims of abortion violence who no longer have a voice—because they need the rest of us to speak for them” and that these open seats should serve to “remind every single one of our representatives that it’s their responsibility to do something about this.”

The unborn need a voice. They need us to speak for them. True, our representatives do have a responsibility to do something. But these open seats for victims of abortion violence should not just remind every single one of our representatives. They should also remind you and me, because it is just as much our responsibility to do something about abortion.

So what can we do? We can graciously share the gospel, study more about abortion, pray, speak out on the issue, teach others, engage in conversation, vote, adopt, volunteer time at pregnancy centers, help pregnant women in need, start a student pro-life club on campus, offer healing and mercy to post-abortive women and men, and donate money to pro-life organizations.

We can all do something. Just do something.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Pro-Life and Pro-Capital Punishment

There is an alleged inconsistency that is sometimes raised between being pro-life and also pro-capital punishment. Here’s the question: “Is it inconsistent to be pro-life when it comes to the issue of abortion and yet also support capital punishment in certain situations?”

Answer: No.

Here are some important points to remember (see Francis Beckwith and his book Defending Life, pages 126-127, on this topic):

First, the alleged inconsistency of pro-life apologists who support capital punishment is often introduced as a red herring to distract from the main issue that must be addressed. Even IF pro-lifers were inconsistent on this point, that’s all it would prove: an inconsistency. And what follows from that? Not much. It has nothing to do with the one question that must be answered in the abortion debate: “What is the unborn?” As Beckwith notes, “inconsistent people can draw good conclusions” (Defending Life, 126). 

Applying Lincoln's Logic to the Abortion Debate

On December 6, 1865, the 13th amendment to the U.S. constitution was ratified and with it came the formal abolishment of slavery in this country. It states, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude…shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” This amendment was especially significant considering that just eight years prior in 1857 the Supreme Court ruled in Dred Scott v. Sandford that blacks were property and non-persons.

Even earlier than this, on July 1, 1854, Lincoln wrote this small fragment to address some of the popular arguments but forward by pro-slavery choice advocates who argued that whites should have the right to enslave blacks based on color, intellect, or interest:
“You say A is white and B is black.  It is color, then: the lighter having the right to enslave the darker? Take care. By this rule, you are to be a slave to the first man you meet, with a fairer skin than your own. You do not mean color exactly?—You mean the whites are intellectually the superiors of the blacks, and therefore, have the right to enslave them?  Take care again. By this rule, you are to be a slave to the first man you meet, with an intellect superior to your own. But, say you, it is a question of interest; and, if you can make it your interest, you have the right to enslave another. Very well. And if he can make it his interest, he has the right to enslave you.”
Read that again. The importance of Lincoln’s logic should not be overlooked. Lincoln realized that if you try to establish human rights or personhood by appealing to a set of arbitrary degreed properties which carry no moral weight or significance, properties such as color and intellect which none of us share equally, then you end up undermining human rights for everyone.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

So Gay Marriage Biblically Offends You? A Response to Whitney Kay Bacon, Part 1

In the weeks following the SCOTUS decision to legalize same-sex “marriage” across all 50 states of the U.S., a host of articles, blogs, and other media have been circulating the internet both defending and critiquing the judicial fiat which redefined marriage. Within the Christian community, the issue of whether or not homosexual behavior is consistent with biblical teaching has once again become a hot topic of conversation, though in recent years it has never been too far from the forefront. Indeed, American churches have been split over this issue and the Supreme Court decision promises to ensure this matter is not going to go away any time soon.

Amongst the flurry of articles and blogs addressing this topic, of most interest to me have been those which attempt to defend the compatibility of homosexual behavior with Biblical teaching. This should be of interest to all Christians considering that for nearly 2,000 years the historical and consistent position of the Church has been that homosexual behavior is sinful and prohibited by Scripture. And prior to Christianity, this was also the historical position of the Jewish people which they based on the teachings of the Old Testament.

There is a reason of course that both Jews and Christians have been in agreement on this point, and it is not because of bigotry, intolerance, or hatred. It is because the univocal teaching of Scripture on homosexuality leads to this conclusion, and one must try very hard to deny or twist numerous verses addressing this topic in order to avoid their force. Unfortunately this is exactly what you see within the “gay Christian” movement. Given the clear teaching of Scripture and the historic position of the Church, I was shocked and dismayed to see the number of self-professing Christians who supported and celebrated this landmark decision of the Court.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Human Depravity: A Lost Christian Doctrine

If the case be such indeed, that all mankind are by nature in a state of total ruin,…then, doubtless, the great salvation by Christ stands in direct relation to this ruin, as the remedy to the disease.”
—Jonathan Edwards—


Author and conservative talk show host Dennis Prager stated, “No issue has a greater influence on determining your social and political views than whether you view human nature as basically good or not.”[1]

I think Prager is correct. But even more important and foundational than your social and political views, your view of human nature has important ramifications with regard to your theology. Perhaps second only to what you believe about God, no issue has greater influence on determining your theological views than whether you view human nature as basically good or not. It is no coincidence that theological liberals who deny doctrines such as original sin and human depravity also, more often than not, end up rejecting other scriptural teachings such as justification by grace through faith, the necessity and exclusivity of Jesus Christ for salvation, penal substitutionary atonement, the biblical doctrine of hell, or just simply scratch their head and wonder inquisitively when reading scriptural passages concerning God’s judgment on sin (e.g., the flood, destruction of the Canaanites, etc.). They ask themselves, “Why is God mad all the time?? I don’t get it!!

Much of modern secular sensibility seems attracted to the idea that human beings at their core are basically good. In his book What Americans Believe, George Barna of Barna Research Group found that 87% of non-Christians agreed with the statement “People are basically good.” But this belief in the inherent goodness of humankind isn’t peculiar to non-Christians. It has found its way into the Church as well. In that same study, Barna also found that 77% of self-described born-again Christians agreed with the statement. Perhaps most shocking, of those self-described born-again Christians who identify themselves as mainline Protestant, 90% agreed with the statement “People are basically good.”[2]

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Book Review: Cold-Case Christianity

Quick Facts:

Author: J. Warner Wallace
Publisher/Year: David C Cook, 2013
Pages: 288


In Cold-Case Christianity, J. Warner Wallace, a former atheist and seasoned cold-case homicide detective, takes his knowledge and expertise gleaned from years of law enforcement experience and applies important investigative principles in examining the historical reliability of the gospels. Wallace has been sharing his insights and wisdom for years through blogging, articles, and podcasts as creator of the PleaseConvinceMe.com website, and recently has joined with Stand to Reason as a speaker and contributor.

This book is not just another typical apologetic arguing for the trustworthiness of the New Testament. It is unique among its peers, tackling the subject from a perspective only a homicide cop could provide. Cold-case homicides are historical investigations, and it is his skill and perspective as an investigator that gives Wallace the essential talents and qualifications to examine the historical accuracy of the gospels:

Monday, March 4, 2013

Part 1: Introduction to CHIPS (second half)

This is the second part of the introduction to the CHIPS model of Christian case-making. Read the first part here.

All aspects of apologetics - every positive case and every objection -  essentially asks one or more of the following five questions: Is the Bible sufficiently…

1)      Comprehendible?  
“Is it something I can comprehend?”

2)      Historical?             
“Is it an accurate reflection of historical events?”

3)      Interpreted?           
“Is it a proper interpretation of what the author meant to say?”

4)      Preserved?             
“Is it an adequate preservation of the original composition?”

5)      Significant?            
“Is it significant for my own life?”


How can we be so sure every case made in favor of Christianity and all challenges fall into these five categories? Could there be more? The way we can be confident in this is by familiarizing ourselves with the adventures of Christianity over the last 2,000 years. We know these five categories are sufficient because those are the only ones that have been raised. It’s certainly possible for a new critic to come up with a challenge never thought of before, but it’s not likely. As much as the “new atheists” trend gives it a fresh face, critics of Christianity are nothing new and neither are their arguments.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

How Every Objection Fits into Five Questions (Part 1: Introduction to CHIPS)

Of the countless challenges to biblical Christianity, all of them fit into one of five categories. While offered with a variety of different word combinations, every meaningful question essentially asks the same five things: Is the Bible sufficiently…

 1)      Comprehendible?  
“Is it something I can comprehend?”

2)      Historical?             
“Is it an accurate reflection of historical events?”

3)      Interpreted?           
“Is it a proper interpretation of what the author meant to say?”

4)      Preserved?             
“Is it an adequate preservation of the original composition?”

5)      Significant?            
“Is it significant for my own life?”

Fortunately there are good answers to these questions. A majority consensus of scholars - even skeptical ones – speak favorably of Christianity regarding all five areas.[1]

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Richard Dawkins: The Untutored Philosopher

Dawkins the Epistemologist

Richard Dawkins is often heralded as a brilliant scientist. Unfortunately he often resorts to shoddy philosophy. Several examples of Dawkins’ philosophical ineptness have been pointed out over the years, one of the more prominent being that his self-described “central argument” in The God Delusion is not even logically valid.[1] In a more recent book, The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True, Dawkins again leaves the realm of science (perhaps unwittingly) and tries his hand at philosophy. But regrettably the results don’t fare any better.

The very title of Dawkins’ book should cause us pause: The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True. Notice the subtitle of this book is philosophical in nature, i.e., How We Know is an epistemological question, not scientific. Epistemology is a branch of philosophy (not science) which deals with how knowledge is defined, what we know, and how we know it. It is an area of study Dawkins simply isn’t qualified to address, and this becomes painfully obvious as one continues reading. In chapter one, Dawkins summarizes his view of knowledge which functions as the epistemological foundation for the rest of his book:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Beautiful Death: New Insight on Death from the Perspective of Suffering

Can death be beautiful? It’s an odd thought. If some good can come from death greater than its consequences it could be considered beneficial. But beautiful? I was unexpectedly faced with this question after reading two recently published books detailing the lives of two men who suffered through horrendous evils of WWII. I learned that to approach this question requires us to know what death really means. We’ll look at four ways.

Definition #1:  Physical death is the end of suffering in this world

The deadliest man-caused event in the history of the world occurred on August 4th 1945 when the first atomic bomb deployed in combat ignited the sky over Hiroshima, a Japanese city of over 300,000 souls. The ensuing chaos makes the actual death count unclear, but it’s quite likely up to half the city perished from the blast. It's hard to rationalize this horror, especially when we fail to place it in the context of the incredible evil happening in Japan those years.

Useful insight of events leading up to the bomb can be found in the eye-opening book Unbroken:  A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand. It’s the story of Olympic runner and WWII veteran Louie Zamperini. As an upcoming world-class track star, he was expected to be first to break the 4 minute mile and was even personally congratulated by Adolf Hilter at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Soon after war erupted and he never broke that record.

Louie entered the Army as a B-24 bombardier in the Pacific Theater. Tragically, after a couple near-misses, Louie’s plane and entire crew finally went down at sea as many of them did. Surviving the crash, he endured 47 days at sea making him and his raft-mate the longest known survivors at sea. He spent his ordeal on a damaged raft with almost no food, water, shelter, or supplies. He was under constant threat from man-eating sharks, sun blisters, lice, infection, hallucination, starvation, dehydration, mental fatigue, and enemy aircraft. When Louie eventually found land it was in hostile territory and he was quickly captured by the Japanese. That’s when things really got bad.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Is Biblical Inerrancy Irrelevant?

Biblical inerrancy may be defined as follows: “when all the facts are known, the Scriptures in their original autographs and properly interpreted will be shown to be wholly true in everything that they affirm, whether that has to do with doctrine or morality or with the social, physical, or life sciences.”[1]

One important element of this definition is that inerrancy only applies to the original autographs. But since we no longer have the original autographs in our possession, the question that begs to be asked is, “Of what use or importance is biblical inerrancy then? Is biblical inerrancy even relevant?” Some liberal theologians conclude that inerrancy is altogether irrelevant. This, in turn, has negatively affected how many Christians view Scripture and the confidence they place in it.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Contradictory Catholic: Joe Biden on Abortion

Human life either begins at conception or it does not. If it does, then abortion takes the life of an innocent human being and we have prima facie evidence that abortion is morally wrong. One way to formulate the argument is as follows:

  1. It is morally wrong to take the life of an innocent human being without proper justification.
  2. Elective abortion takes the life of an innocent human being without proper justification.
  3. Therefore, elective abortion is morally wrong.
Toward the end of the vice presidential debate Thursday night, Vice President Biden and Congressman Ryan were asked to explain their view on abortion as Catholics. Here I want to look at Biden’s response line by line:

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Apathy, Atheism, and the Absurdity of Life Without God

Here is a truth I wish everyone would take the time to earnestly and honestly contemplate:

If God does not exist and there is no life after death, then there is no ultimate meaning, value, or purpose in life.

The question of God’s existence is the most important question we can seek to answer. If God does not exist and we do not survive the death of our bodies, life is ultimately absurd. J.P. Moreland provides an illustration which helps bring this truth home:

Suppose I invited you over to my house to play a game of Monopoly. When you arrive I announce that the game is going to be a bit different. Before us is the Monopoly board, a set of jacks, a coin, the television remote, and a refrigerator in the corner of the room. I grant you the first turn, and puzzlingly, inform you that you may do anything you want: fill the board with hotels, throw the coin in the air, toss a few jacks, fix a sandwich, or turn on the television. You respond by putting hotels all over the board and smugly sit back as I take my turn. I respond by dumping the board upside down and tossing the coin in the air. Somewhat annoyed, you right the board and replenish it with hotels. I turn on the television and dump the board over again.

Now it wouldn’t take too many cycles of this nonsense to recognize that it didn’t really matter what you did with your turn, and here’s why. There is no goal, no purpose to the game we are playing. Our successive turns form a series of one meaningless event after another. Why? Because if the game as a whole has no purpose, the individual moves within the game are pointless. Conversely, only a game’s actual purpose according to its inventor can give the individual moves significance.[1]

As Moreland articulates, if the game of Monopoly as a whole has no purpose, the individual moves within the game have no meaning or value. The only way your moves within the game of Monopoly have significance is if you discover the purpose of the game and you align yourself with that purpose.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Same-Sex Marriage: Equal Rights, Religion, and Bigotry

When it comes to controversial moral debates like same-sex marriage, trite sayings such as this one on the left are echoed quite often in a culture where the make-up man has become more important than the speech writer. It’s short, it’s rhetorically powerful, and it can be repeated, tweeted, and regurgitated faster than you can say “Anti-disestablishmentarianism.” Using only eighteen words, it gets the intended job done.

But often the truth of the matter takes a bit longer to unpack than can be offered in a thirty-second sound bite. A false assertion can be uttered in seconds, while offering a well thought out response which exposes the problem or mistaken assumption requires clear thinking, patience, energy, and time, virtues and luxuries many people either can’t afford or don’t want to.

The issue of same-sex marriage is a hot topic that is not going away anytime soon. Christian apologists need to be persistent in clarifying the issues, especially in the face of saucy slogans such as this.

So what’s wrong with this oft-repeated cliché?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Same-Sex Marriage: Anne Hathaway, Reason, and Rhetoric

Popular actress Anne Hathaway, who recently starred as Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises, received an award in 2008 from the Human Rights Campaign, an organization dedicated to the rights of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community. In her acceptance speech, Hathaway explained why she supports homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Read carefully the reasons she offers:

“In my household, being gay was, and is, no big deal. When my brother came out, we hugged him, said we loved him, and that was that…Just for the record, we don’t feel that there is actually anything alternative about our family values…I don’t consider myself just an ally to the LGBT community, I consider myself your family…if anyone, ever, tries to hurt you, I’m going to give them hell…There are people who have said that I’m being brave for being openly supportive of gay marriage, gay adoption, basically of gay rights. But with all due respect I humbly dissent. I’m not being brave. I’m being a decent human being. And I don’t think I should receive an award for that, or for merely stating what I believe to be true, that love is a human experience, not a political statement. However, I acknowledge that sadly we live in a world where not everybody feels the same. My family and I will help the good fight continue until that long awaited moment arrives, when our rights are equal and when the political limits on love have been smashed.”

Friday, August 3, 2012

Jesus on the Problem of Evil

In Luke 13:1-5 we have Jesus’ clearest teaching on the problem of evil:[1]

"Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish."

Not only is this Jesus’ clearest teaching on the problem of evil but we see Him addressing both moral and natural evil in His response. Notice that Jesus is first questioned regarding an example of what we would call moral evil: the murder of some Galileans by Pilate. In providing an answer, Jesus Himself introduces an example of natural evil: the falling of the tower of Siloam which killed eighteen.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Goodness Isn't the Issue. Badness Is.

“I’m basically a good person. My good deeds outweigh my bad.”

This is the most common answer I have heard from non-Christians in response to the question, “Why should God allow you into heaven?”
But this answer actually has its root in original sin.

After Adam and Eve rebelled against God, they experienced guilt and attempted to hide from Him. They also experienced shame, and so they attempted to cover themselves through their own effort. Once Adam and Eve became corrupt, they couldn’t produce anything better than themselves, i.e., all they could produce was corruption. Each one of us is born into this world as a little fallen Adam and Eve. And like Adam and Eve, fallen humankind today attempts to hide and cover from God. But rather than sew fig leaves together, one of the most prevalent ways we attempt to cover our moral shame and guilt is by appealing to our own moral “goodness.” That is, we point to our “basic human goodness” and “good deeds” in an attempt to justify ourselves before God. Often this even becomes a rationalization as to why we don’t need God, e.g., “Why do I need God? I’m living a good enough life on my own.”

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Upcoming Apologetics Series

First Baptist Church of Lakewood will be hosting an outstanding six-week apologetics series entitled Uncovering the Christian Faith.

The series will take place Wednesday nights from 6:30 to 8:00 pm, beginning the first week of September. The event is free! Childcare and kid's youth programs are also provided. Invite your friends and family members!

Lectures include:

September 5 - Arguments for the Existence of God, by Dr. J.P. Moreland

September 12 - The Historical Reliability of the New Testament, by Dr. Fred Sanders

September 19 - Introduction to Apologetics and the Resurrection of Jesus, by Dr. Craig Hazen

September 26 - The Case for Intelligent Design, by Dr. John Bloom

October 3 - Why God Allows Evil, by Dr. Clay Jones

October 10 - Christianity and the Challenge of World Religions, by Dr. Craig Hazen

Location: First Baptist Church of Lakewood
5336 Arbor Road
Long Beach, CA
Phone: (562) 420-1471

Visit First Baptist Church of Lakewood or Biola Apologetics Events for any additional information. Audio recordings of the lectures will also be made available.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Is the Apocrypha Scripture?

Roman Catholics and Protestants agree on many central doctrines of the Christian faith, including the Trinity, deity of Christ, and bodily resurrection of Jesus. But one important issue which separates Roman Catholics and Protestants is the extent of canonized Scripture. While both groups have the same 27 books in the New Testament, Roman Catholics have an additional seven books in their Old Testament (along with four additions to other OT books). These extra books and writings are referred to as the "Apocrypha" or "deuterocanonical" (second canon) books. They are as follows:

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Is America a Christian Nation?

This question may be more complicated than it first appears, for the answer depends entirely on what one means by “a Christian nation.” Wayne Grudem does an excellent job of breaking this question down into nine possible interpretations, along with their respective answers, in his book Politics According to the Bible.[1]

As Grudem explains, this question cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” Unfortunately, heated debate and frustration have often surrounded this issue. But the matter can be largely resolved if we simply take the time to define what we mean. This helps avoid misunderstanding and prevents disagreeing parties from talking past one another.

So is America a Christian nation? Let’s look at nine possible meanings of that question along with their specific answers.