Category Archives: Apologetics/Worldview Question

Questions about Apologetics and Worldview: Why Should I Believe in God?

 

Belief in God is the most basic of all human considerations. Acknowledgement of one’s Creator is foundational to learning any more about Him. Without believing in God, it is impossible to please Him or even come to Him (Hebrews 11:6). People are surrounded with proof of God’s existence, and it is only through the hardening of sin that men reject that proof (Romans 1:18–23). It is foolish to disbelieve in God (Psalm 14:1).

There are two choices in life. First, we have the choice to trust in man’s limited reason. Man’s reason has produced various philosophies, the many world religions and “isms,” different cults, and other ideas and worldviews. A key characteristic of man’s reason is that it does not last, for man himself is not lasting. It is also limited by man’s finite knowledge; we are not as wise as we think we are (1 Corinthians 1:20). Man’s reason starts with himself and ends with himself. Man lives in Time’s box with no way out. Man is born, grows to maturity, makes his impact on the world, and eventually dies. That is it for him, naturally speaking. The choice to live by reason leaves one weighed in the balance and found wanting. If a person objectively thinks about such a lifestyle, it should cause him to consider the second choice.

The second choice we have is to accept God’s revelation in the Bible. To “lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). Of course, to accept that the Bible is from God, one must acknowledge God. Belief in the God of the Bible does not negate the use of reason; rather, it is when we seek God that He opens our eyes (Psalm 119:18), enlightens our understanding (Ephesians 1:18), and grants us wisdom (Proverbs 8).

Belief in God is bolstered by the evidence of God’s existence that is readily available. All creation bears silent witness to the fact of a Creator (Psalm 19:1–4). God’s book, the Bible, establishes its own validity and historical accuracy. For example, consider one Old Testament prophecy concerning Christ’s first coming. Micah 5:2 states that Christ would be born in Bethlehem of Judea. Micah gave his prophecy around 700 BC. Where was Christ born seven centuries later? He was born in Bethlehem of Judea, just as Micah had predicted (Luke 2:1–20; Matthew 2:1–12).

Peter Stoner, in Science Speaks (p. 100–107), has shown that coincidence in prophetic Scripture is ruled out by the science of probability. By using the laws of probability in reference to eight prophecies concerning Christ, Stoner found that the chance that any man would fulfill all eight prophecies is 1 in 10 to the 17th power. That would be 1 chance in 100,000,000,000,000,000. And that is only considering eight prophecies; Jesus fulfilled many more. There is no doubt that the Bible’s accuracy and reliability are substantiated by prophecy.

Reading the Bible, we discover that God is eternal, holy, personal, gracious, and loving. God has broken open Time’s box through the Incarnation of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. God’s loving action does not impinge on man’s reason but provides enlightenment for man’s reason so he can begin to understand that he needs forgiveness and eternal life through the Son of God.

Sure, one can reject the God of the Bible, and many do. Men can reject what Jesus Christ has done for them. To reject Christ is to reject God (John 10:30). What will it be for you? Will you live by man’s limited, faulty reason? Or will you acknowledge your Creator and accept God’s revelation in the Bible? “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones” (Proverbs 3:7–8).[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Apologetics and Worldview: What Evidence Is There of a Spiritual Realm?

 

The Bible teaches the existence of an immaterial, spiritual reality, unseen by human eyes. The physical reality is evident for all to see—although some doubt the existence of a material universe, too! The Bible says that the spiritual realm consists of both good—God and the holy angels—and evil—the devil and his demons. Demons are most likely fallen angels who rebelled against God and were thrown out of heaven (see Ezekiel 28:11–17; Isaiah 14:12–15; Revelation 12:7–9). The Bible also teaches that humans were created by God in His image, which means we have a spiritual component (Genesis 1:27). We are more than physical entities; we possess a soul/spirit destined for eternity. Even though the spiritual realm is invisible to the physical eye, we are connected to it, and what goes on in the spiritual realm directly affects our physical world.

In our culture, the most commonly accepted form of evidence for proving the existence of something is empirical evidence, which involves using the scientific method of observation and experimentation. Is there empirical evidence for a spiritual realm? It doesn’t take much research before one realizes there is “evidence” both for and against the existence of a spiritual realm. It comes down to which studies one wants to believe.

The best, and most prevalent, evidence available proving that there is a spiritual realm is testimonial evidence. We can look at the sheer number of religions around the world and the billions of people who focus their lives on the spiritual realm. Is it likely that so many people would report encounters with the spiritual and it not be real?

The best testimonial evidence for a spiritual realm is the Bible itself. Historians, both Christian and non-Christian, agree that the historical authenticity of the Bible is strong. Jesus claimed to be God’s Son, the One who came down from heaven. He made this fact quite clear: “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world” (John 8:23). The Bible recounts numerous encounters that people had with the spiritual realm. Jesus cast demons out of people regularly, healed the sick by speaking to them, miraculously fed thousands of people, and spoke with people who should be dead: Moses and Elijah (Matthew 17:1–3). These are all indicators that the spiritual realm is real.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Apologetics and Worldview: Should Christians Boycott Companies that Support Anti-christian Policies?

 

Some Christian organizations have declared boycotts of companies with anti-Christian policies. Starbucks, Amazon, Nike, and other corporations have been the target of such boycotts. Those calling for the boycotts want to get the attention of business executives and decision-makers to communicate the fact that Christians will not support an ungodly agenda. Many who are involved in boycotts are also trying to be good stewards of their money: “Why should I feed a company and help it stay in business,” they reason, “knowing that it is going to use some of my money to support an anti-Christian agenda?”

The Bible says nothing regarding boycotts. Of course, Scripture contains no direct command to boycott or not to boycott a business. However, at least two passages are relevant to the discussion. First, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 5:9–10 that, although we are “not to associate with sexually immoral people,” we are still part of the world and therefore cannot disassociate ourselves from all immoral people. To totally avoid all corruption, “you would need to go out of the world.”

Paul’s focus in 1 Corinthians 5 is the church. Christians should not partner (or even eat) with a person who claims to be a Christian yet lives contrary to Christ’s word. The only way to avoid contact with immoral people in this world is to leave the world. To apply this principle to the boycott issue, the only way to avoid businesses that support ungodly practices is to leave this world completely.

A second passage is Romans 14:5–12, which deals with doubtful issues, or “gray areas.” One principle here is that “each one should be fully convinced in his own mind” (verse 5). Whatever one does, he or she should do it “in honor of the Lord” (verse 6) and give thanks to God. “For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord” (verse 8). Believers are to follow their conscience in the gray areas, because “each of us will give an account of himself to God” (verse 12). If God’s Word has not clearly spoken on an issue, each believer has the freedom to seek God’s will and be fully convinced in his own mind.

This “matter of conscience” principle applies to many issues, including boycotting. Some Christians feel strongly about not supporting a business due to particular moral issues, and they are free to take their business elsewhere. Other Christians may be just as concerned about the moral issues yet not share the same conviction about boycotting. They are free to not join the boycott.

If one does join a boycott, there are other questions that should be answered: for example, how far should the boycott extend? What about subsidiaries of the parent company? Should vendors who sell to the boycotted company also be boycotted? How will the effectiveness of the boycott be gauged, or is that even a consideration? And what about Christians who are employed by the boycotted company?

Some Christians work politically, through the election process, to affect the important social and moral issues. Some work financially, through boycotts. Others work both ways. The important thing is to pray about the issues of the day and take a biblical, principled stand—and then do what one can.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Apologetics and Worldview: Why Are Christians Opposed to Marriage Equality?

 

“Marriage equality” is the latest catchphrase to be thrown into the gay marriage / same-sex marriage debate. The term “marriage equality” is an attempt to reframe the conversation and ascribe a certain level of irrationality to those who oppose same-sex marriage. To oppose the recognition of homosexual unions as marriages is one thing. But it is much more difficult to oppose “equality” in marriage rights. What American would deny equality? However, attaching a new label to the cause does not change the core issues in the debate. If “marriage equality” means “gay marriage,” Christians should be opposed to it.

Why are Christians opposed to marriage equality? The question itself is misleading. Not all Christians are opposed to marriage equality, gay marriage, or whatever else it is called. Many Christians support gay unions being legally recognized as marriages. Such Christians generally hold that sexual morality should not be legislated and that, in a free society, people should be able to marry whomever they want. Biblically speaking, this is a tragic mistake.

The Bible is abundantly clear that homosexuality is an unnatural sin (Leviticus 18:22; Romans 1:26–27; 1 Corinthians 6:9). The Bible presents marriage as God’s invention, and God has defined it as a covenant between a man and a woman for a lifetime (Genesis 2:24; 1 Corinthians 7:2–16; Ephesians 5:23–33). Biblically speaking, a homosexual union is not a marriage. It does not matter if the government legislates a new definition of marriage. It does not matter if society is overwhelmingly in favor of same-sex marriage. A homosexual union always has been, and always will be, a perversion of God’s creation.

In modern societies that are increasingly secular and non-Christian, the marriage equality debate is eventually going to be won by the gay rights movement. Barring national repentance and a revival of the Christian faith, gay unions are going to be officially recognized as valid marriages, with all the rights and privileges pertaining thereto. But, whatever society does, it cannot change the fact that followers of Christ are to align with, and submit to, His Word. And His Word unequivocally declares that marriage is between one man and one woman. As Christians, we accept the fact that we live in a secular and ungodly nation, but we esteem the unchanging Word of God over society’s modulating mores. “Let God be true, and every human being a liar” (Romans 3:4).

Christians do not need to fight against homosexual couples being granted civil unions and the governmental benefits such unions provide. Tax breaks, inheritance rights, hospital visitation rights, etc., are not addressed in the Bible. But, when it comes to the definition of marriage, Christians should stand firm. God created marriage. No human being has the right or authority to redefine it. No matter what governments and societies sanction, homosexual unions will never truly have equality with heterosexual marriages.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Apologetics and Worldview: Is It Possible to Be Christian and Pro-choice at the Same Time?

 

Abortion has been a hotly debated topic in American culture for the past forty years. Proponents on both sides wave statistics and viewpoints that many sincerely believe to be the only right way. For the sake of clarity, let’s define the terms “pro-choice” and “pro-life.” For the purposes of this article, “pro-choice” will be defined as “the belief that a woman should have the legal right to abort her unborn child at any point in the pregnancy.” Pro-choice advocates believe abortion is a personal decision and should not be limited by the government or anyone else. “Pro-life” will be defined as “the belief that every human life is sacred and no one, including the mother, has the right to end an innocent life.” Pro-life advocates hold the view that life from the moment of conception should be protected.

So, should a Christian be pro-choice or pro-life? A Christian, according to the Bible, is someone who has accepted God’s offer of forgiveness through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Salvation is a gift of God through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ (John 3:16–18; Ephesians 2:8–9; Acts 16:31; Romans 10:9). What we believe about other things is a matter of growth, not of salvation. However, 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” When we give our lives to Christ, He begins to change us: our way of thinking and our way of behaving (see Isaiah 55:7). Our bodies become the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19). Our minds are renewed through the truth of God’s Word (Romans 12:1–2). Our attitudes, perspectives, and behaviors gradually change to be more like those of Christ (Romans 8:29; Galatians 5:22).

This transformation doesn’t happen overnight. Many Christians are still what the apostle Paul called “carnal” (1 Corinthians 3:1–3; Romans 8:6). Carnal Christians trust in Jesus for salvation, but they still think, act, and react like the world. Often, they are new to the faith or simply have not allowed the Holy Spirit free access to every area of their hearts. They are trying to live the Christian life in their own strength, while still being heavily influenced by the world’s way of thinking. The carnal mind has not been fully renewed by the Word of God and still seeks compromise with the world (James 4:4). Carnal Christians allow the persuasive viewpoints of the ungodly to sway their opinions on many things, including abortion. Spiritual growth requires us to shed our old ways of thinking as we become more like Christ. We begin to see things the way God does, and the closer to Him we become, the less we agree with the world’s system (Psalm 1:1–2). If a person continually refuses to allow the Word of God to transform his thinking, chances are great that he is not really a Christian (Romans 8:14).

Pro-choice advocates state that the Bible does not address abortion, so the decision should be the individual’s. While it is true that the term “abortion” does not appear in the Bible, the principles about the value of life are there. In Exodus 21:22–23, God wrote into His Law protection for the unborn. If a pregnant woman was injured, causing her to lose her child, then the one who caused the injury was to be executed: “a life for a life.” The phrase “life for a life” says a lot. God considers the life of the unborn just as valuable as that of a grown man.

God said to Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you” (Jeremiah 1:5). It was God who created him for a specific purpose. Psalm 139:13–16 gives us the clearest picture of God’s viewpoint on the unborn. David writes, “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.… My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret.… Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.”

The Bible is clear that all human life is created by God for His purpose and His pleasure (Colossians 1:16), and a Christian who truly wants to know the heart of God must align his or her viewpoint with God’s. When we start justifying evil according to our understanding, we dilute the truth of God’s Word. When we rename adultery an “affair,” homosexuality an “alternative lifestyle,” and murder of the unborn a “choice,” we are headed for serious trouble. We cannot redefine what it means to follow Christ. Jesus said we must first “deny ourselves” (Matthew 16:24; Luke 9:23). Part of denying ourselves is letting go of comfortable lies the world has fed us. We have to let go of our own understanding and allow God to change us (Proverbs 3:5–6).

Some pro-choice advocates argue that they are not pro-abortion. They say they hate abortion, but support a woman’s right to choose. This makes as much sense as saying that you personally hate rape, but support a man’s right to commit it. The rhetoric sounds nice—the mention of “choice” makes it more appealing—but underneath is a direct conflict with God’s viewpoint in Scripture.

Pro-choice advocates often state that their position is “compassionate” and that pro-lifers don’t care about the woman or her child. This argument is a red herring. Whether pro-lifers “care” or not is irrelevant, just as it is irrelevant whether those opposed to robbery “care” about the banks being robbed. Robbery is against God’s moral law. So is abortion. And that’s the issue.

The Bible is clear: since God is the Creator of human life, only He can determine who lives or dies. And every person who claims the name of Christ has the obligation to make certain his or her views line up with His Word. Is it possible for a born-again Christian to be pro-choice? Yes. Is it likely that such a person will remain pro-choice? Not if he or she is allowing God’s Word to transform and renew his or her mind (Romans 12:2).[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Apologetics and Worldview: Should a Christian Be Opposed to Globalization?

 

Globalization is “the act extending an influence to all parts of the world.” It involves the emergence of a single world market or deregulation resulting in internationalization. At first blush, globalization doesn’t seem all that bad. Globalization seems to hold an answer to the world’s financial troubles, among other things. However, prayerful consideration and research reveals disturbing historical precedence.

The historical form of globalization is military conquest. The Assyrian Empire is an apt example. From the late 25th or early 24th century BC to 605 BC, the Assyrians controlled vast swaths of Babylonia, Egypt and the Holy Land. While technologically advanced for their time, the Assyrians were also brutal warriors who murdered, tortured and enslaved their enemies. The Assyrians were globalists in that they were bent on world conquest. God used the Assyrians to punish and exile the ten northern tribes of Israel for the wicked things Israel did to provoke the Lord to anger (2 Kings 17).

Probably the most well-known example of historical globalization is the attempted construction of the Tower of Babel in the 21st century BC. Rather than filling the earth as God commanded (Genesis 9:1), mankind rebelled, deciding to centralize in one city and not be scattered over the earth (Genesis 11:4). This construction effort was spearheaded by Noah’s great-grandson, King Nimrod (whose name means “rebel”). God, in response, confused their languages, thus forcing the people to group together by dialect and settle elsewhere (Genesis 11:8–9).

All the empires presented in a dream to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia represent other attempts to institute one-world government (Daniel 2). Daniel’s prophetic interpretation of the king’s dream is summarized our article, What is the meaning of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Daniel 2? It is notable that Nebuchadnezzar envisioned a fifth and final world empire, which is yet to come.

This final empire will be a true global government, ruled by the man known as the Antichrist, also called the beast and the lawless one (Revelation 13:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:8). He will have “authority over every tribe, people, language and nation,” and he, along with the False Prophet, will force all people to take his mark. This future global leader will control all financial transactions (Revelation 13:17) and all religious observance (Revelation 13:8). Refusal to worship the Antichrist means death; acquiescence means eternal punishment from God (Revelation 13:15; 14:9–11).

The Bible, therefore, shows that any time man attempts “globalization” it is ruled by wicked, ungodly empires. We should oppose globalization to the extent that we understand that it is implemented by Satan, currently the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4). It is interesting to note that man’s (and Satan’s) final attempt at globalization will include a resurgence of “Babylon,” which started the globalization effort so long ago (see Revelation 18).

Of course, we also know that the “whole world is a prisoner of sin” (Galatians 3:22) and that believers are to “hate evil” (Psalm 97:10). We must shine the light of righteousness into the darkness where we find it, via the gospel message (Matthew 5:16; cf. John 8:12). It is appropriate to rebuke wickedness, and there is much of that to be found in Satan’s version of globalization. However, 1 Peter 2:13 does tell us to “submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men,” and Jesus Himself warned us to “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s” (Matthew 22:21), so it is required that we keep our opposition within the constraints of the law of the land.

God has a plan for globalization under the headship of the King and Redeemer, Jesus Christ (see Revelation 19–20). Evidently, there will still be individual nations under Christ’s rule (Zechariah 2:10–11). The Kingdom will be a time of righteousness and true justice (Isaiah 11:3–5).

How peaceful and joyful the days of Christ’s Kingdom will be! Isaiah 12:3–4 describes for us, “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. In that day you will say: ‘Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted.’ ”[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Apologetics and Worldview: Why Are Christians Always Arguing?

 

Scripture is clear that God hates discord and fighting among His children (2 Corinthians 12:20; Galatians 5:15; James 3:14, 4:1–3). Philippians 2:3–4 says, “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” If every believer lived by that rule, arguing would virtually disappear. Any parent frowns upon bickering between siblings, and God is a Father who also frowns on it. However, there are three key words in this question that deserve attention: Christians, always, and arguing.

First, the term Christians has been badly misused in recent years. Anyone who celebrates Christmas or who attends church occasionally can claim to be a “Christian.” However, according to Jesus, “Not everyone who calls me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of my Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). Much of the fighting and ugliness we hear about is between people who might go by the name of “Christian” but who are not true followers of Christ. Selfish ambition, pride, and greed can rule within a church full of unbelievers just as in the rest of the world. There are whole denominations that are so far from the truth detailed in the Bible that they can hardly be classified as Christian (see Revelation 3:17–18). So, we should keep in mind that much of the arguing is between unsaved people posing as believers.

Second, the term always is a bit misleading. If we weed out those who are not truly born again and look only at the relationships among the real disciples of Christ, there is much to celebrate. Thousands of charitable organizations have been created by Christians working together in harmony. They are not “always” arguing. Most Spirit-filled churches have a large core of solid Christians who unselfishly use their time, talents, and money to serve their church and community without bickering. The media are quick to showcase anything negative within the church but are strangely silent about the thousands of praiseworthy deeds done every day by Christians working together in love.

The church of Jesus Christ is a family. Those who have placed their faith in Christ are allowing His Spirit to transform them and have been adopted into the family of God (Ephesians 1:5; Romans 8:15). And, as with any family, there are disagreements. There are personality clashes, differing opinions, and ideas that won’t work together. When each is convinced that his or her way is the only right way, the clash can be permanent. However, differences of opinion do not always produce negative results. Even the apostles had disagreements. In Acts 15:36–41, we read of Paul and Barnabas having such a sharp contention that they split up, chose new ministry partners, and went separate ways. The result was that even more churches were planted and God’s message was spread to more people. Paul and Barnabas eventually reconciled and continued together to spread the gospel.

The third term, arguing, also needs to be addressed. A discussion between sharply contrasting viewpoints is not necessarily an argument. The deity of Christ, salvation through faith, and the need for repentance are not negotiable. But some secondary issues in God’s Word leave room for differences of opinion. Some common disagreements pertain to end-times prophecy, gifts of the Spirit, baptism, and church organization. While there is only one accurate interpretation of everything in the Bible, a human being’s ability to discern that one interpretation can be faulty. Two godly men can see the same issue differently. Most church denominations arose out of these contrasting interpretations. But those denominations are not necessarily embroiled in an “argument” with each other.

Paul addresses this in Romans 14. He warns believers to welcome those new to the faith who may have convictions that differ from those of the seasoned saint. Verse 5 says, “One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.” In other words, there are some issues that are not weighty matters, and we need to practice grace in accepting the sincerely held convictions of other believers. Doing so consistently would eliminate much of the arguing that taints the reputation of the body of Christ. We must study God’s Word and express what we believe it teaches (2 Timothy 2:15), but we must do so with humility and love, giving grace to other believers who see things differently (1 Corinthians 13:1–2).

Ultimately, we all answer to our Father for how we treat each other (Matthew 12:36). Every child of God should remember that our Father places far more importance on our showing love than He does on our being “right” on every issue (1 John 4:20–21).[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Apologetics and Worldview: Why Are Christians so Judgmental?

 

One of the most widespread arguments against Christians is that they are “judgmental” or “always imposing their views on others.” Often, this criticism comes in response to Christians who speak out against behaviors and lifestyles that God judges as “sin” and has declared to be an outrage to Him (see Proverbs 16:1). We live in a society where “everyone [does] what [is] right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25)—where people insist that there are no moral absolutes, that each man should decide for himself what is right or wrong, and that we should “tolerate” (meaning “celebrate”) sinful activities. Those who take seriously the biblical warnings against sin and dare speak out against evil are written off as religious fanatics, and all Christians are, ironically, judged as being “judgmental.”

The Scripture that is used the most to support the idea that Christians should not judge is Matthew 7:1, where Jesus says to His disciples, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” It’s one verse that many unbelievers can quote. Another popular saying, taken from John 8:7, is “He that is without sin, let him cast the first stone.” But when we read these verses in their immediate contexts, it becomes glaringly obvious that Jesus is not warning against every kind of judging but against hypocritical, self-righteous judging (see Matthew 7:1–5; John 8:1–11). In other words, a man should refrain from pronouncing judgment on those who commit the very sin in which he engages, for “with the judgment [we] pronounce [we] will be judged” (Matthew 7:2). This exhortation is similar to the point made by the apostle Paul when he asks, “Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God?” (Romans 2:3). These verses are a warning against hypocrisy and, at the same time, an exhortation to right living.

However, hypocritical judging is the only kind of judging the Bible says that Christians should avoid. The Christian must “judge” or discern between good and evil (Hebrews 5:14)! We must make spiritual evaluations of the words and behavior of others, not to find fault, but to effectively guard our hearts against error and sin (1 Corinthians 2:14–15; Proverbs 4:23). In fact, immediately after Jesus warned His disciples against hypocritical judgment, He says, “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs” (Matthew 7:6). How is the Christian supposed to know who the “dogs” and the “pigs” are unless he or she exercises discernment? Furthermore, Jesus warns His disciples just a few verses later, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15–16). This admonition is given not only with regard to “false prophets” but also concerning anyone who comes in the name of Christ but who, by his actions, denies Christ (Titus 1:16; cf. Matthew 3:8).

According to Jesus, this kind of judgment is considered “right judgment” (John 7:24) and is strongly encouraged. We are to be “as wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16), and wisdom demands that we be discerning (Proverbs 10:13). And when we have discerned rightly, we are to speak the truth, with love being the motivating factor (Ephesians 4:15). Love requires that we gently confront those in error with the truth about their sin with the hope of bringing them to repentance and faith (Galatians 6:1). “Whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death” (James 5:20). The true Christian speaks the truth—not merely what he believes to be the truth, but the truth as plainly revealed in God’s Word. The truth, especially the truth about good and evil, exists independently from what we feel or think (Isaiah 5:20–21).

Those who reject or are offended by the truth simply prove the power of God’s Word to convict the heart of man; for “the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Apologetics and Worldview: How Should a Christian View the Civil Rights Movement?

 

In summary, what the Bible teaches about the civil rights movement is this: it should never have been necessary. Beginning with the kidnapping and chattel slavery of millions, on through the hateful attitudes that prevented neighbors from using the same drinking fountain, the attitudes and actions that led to a culture where the civil rights movement became necessary were all categorically unbiblical. Christianity and civil rights should go hand in hand. Discrimination based on race or skin color has no place in the Christian worldview.

To begin with, the practice of slavery that introduced millions of Africans to the American South was completely unscriptural and un-Christian. Exodus 21:16 says, “He who kidnaps a man, whether he sells him or he is found in his possession, shall surely be put to death.” Several thousand years later, Paul equated kidnapping with lawlessness and rebellion against God’s order (1 Timothy 1:8–10). The New Testament admonitions for slaves to be submissive to their masters does not justify the actions of traders, slave owners, or the government and society that procured and treated slaves in ways directly contrary to Scripture.

After the slaves in America were emancipated, ungodly attitudes and actions toward them continued. There is nothing scriptural about racial prejudice (Galatians 3:28), unfair business practices (Proverbs 20:10), forced segregation within the Christian body (Galatians 3:29), or murder (Exodus 20:13). But human sin continued to shape an abusive society for a hundred years after the slaves were freed.

The goal of the civil rights movement was good and biblical—ensure fair rights and equal treatment for all. Any action that worked against this goal, therefore, has to be considered unbiblical. The Bible not only forbids favor for specific people groups, it forbids unfair treatment of anyone (James 2:1–7).

Thanks to the non-violent policies of many of the civil rights leaders, much of the work toward civil rights was biblical. Free speech is granted to all Americans, and reminding a government and a culture of their constitutional and spiritual responsibilities is good and right. The tremendous effort and patience of civil rights activists to work within local and national legal systems is a great example of positively changing a God-given authority from within. The Freedom Riders, activists who rode buses to challenge states’ segregation laws, were also lawful because the previous year the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled in Boynton v. Virginia that racial segregation on public transportation violated the Interstate Commerce Act. Their endurance through physical attacks and prison is a classic example of 1 Peter 2:20 in action.

At the core of “civil rights” is the God-ordained value of each individual. Every person is made in the image of God. When nations recognize civil rights, they recognize the equality of all mankind. The civil rights movement in twentieth-century America can, for the most part, be considered a good example of encouraging a nation to embody more biblical standards.[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Apologetics and Worldview: What Is the Definition of Evil?

 

A dictionary definition of evil is “morally reprehensible, sinful, wicked.” The definition of evil in the Bible falls into two categories: evil against one another (murder, theft, adultery) and evil against God (unbelief, idolatry, blasphemy). From the prohibition against eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:9), to the destruction of Babylon the Great, the embodiment of evil to come (Revelation 18:2), the Bible speaks of evil.

For many centuries Christians have struggled with both the existence and the nature of evil. Most people would acknowledge that evil is real and has always had devastating effects on our world. From the sexual abuse of children to the horrific terrorist attacks on 9/11, evil continues to rear its ugly head in our own time. Many people are left wondering what exactly is evil and why does it exist.

The existence of evil has been used as a weapon by opponents of theism-and Christian theism in particular-for some time. The so called “problem of evil” has been the subject of various arguments by atheists in an attempt to demonstrate that a God who is good simply cannot exist. By implying that God must be the creator of evil, God’s holy character has been called into question. There have been many arguments used to indict God as the cause of evil. Here is one of them:

1) God is the creator of everything that exists.
2) Evil exists.
3) Therefore, God is the creator of evil.

The logic of this syllogism is sound. The conclusion follows logically from the premises. But does this syllogism demonstrate that God is the creator of evil? The problem with this argument is its second premise, that evil is something. For evil is not a thing; it is a lack or privation of a good thing that God made. As Christian philosopher J.P. Moreland has noted, “Evil is a lack of goodness. It is goodness spoiled. You can have good without evil, but you cannot have evil without good.”

Goodness has existed as an attribute of God from all eternity. While God is perfectly holy and just, He is also perfectly good. Just as God has always existed, so too has goodness as it is a facet of God’s holy character. The same cannot be said for evil. Evil came into being with the rebellion of Satan and subsequently entered the physical universe with the fall of Adam. As Christian apologist Greg Koukl has said, “Human freedom was used in such a way as to diminish goodness in the world, and that diminution, that lack of goodness, that is what we call evil.” When God created Adam, He created him good, and He also created him free.

However, in creating Adam free, God indirectly created the possibility of evil, while not creating evil itself. When Adam chose to disobey God, he made this possibility a reality. The same scenario had previously played out when Satan fell by failing to serve and obey God. So it turns out that evil is not a direct creation of God; rather, evil is the result of persons (both angelic and human) exercising their freedom wrongly.

While evil is certainly real, it is important to recognize that evil does not have existence in and of itself. Rather, it only exists as a privation (or a parasite) on the good. It exists in the same way that a wound exists on an arm or as rust exists on a car. The rust cannot exist on its own any more than cold can exist without the existence of heat or darkness can exist without the existence of light.

Despite the horrible effects of evil on our world, the Christian believer can take comfort in the words of the Lord Jesus Christ recorded for us in the Gospel of John, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). More importantly, we look forward with great anticipation to our home in heaven where the ultimate evil, death, will finally be destroyed along with the “mourning, crying and pain” which it inevitably produces (Revelation 21:4).[1]


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Apologetics and Worldview: What Is the Definition of Idealism?

 

In popular culture, an idealist is generally defined as “a person who sees the world as it could be rather than as it currently exists.” An idealist is full of hope, even to the point of impracticality; Don Quixote was an idealist. However, that definition has little to do with idealism as a philosophy. Idealism, for the purpose of this article, is the belief that reality is fundamentally a mental concept. In this worldview, everything knowable is composed of the mind or spirit. Various philosophers have taught idealism throughout history, including Plato.

The major biblical concern regarding idealism is the emphasis it places on the mind. According to idealism, the human mind is the sole authority and basis for all reality. There is no universe for our minds to discover; rather, our minds determine what is real. Awareness creates existence. This contradicts the opening words of Scripture: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). There was a reality before the human mind was there to be conscious of it.

A second biblical concern is that idealism downplays the importance of God’s revelation to humanity. If reality is what our mind creates, what role does God’s revealed Word play? Is the Bible simply the reality of someone’s mind in a past generation that helps shape the reality of our minds today? If so, then Scripture’s importance and impact are negligible.

Scripture is perfect and true. Psalm 18:30 teaches, “This God—his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.” Both God and His words are true. This is why Paul wrote that Scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16). God and His Word are real and distinct from the human mind; they are not constructs of the human intellect.

A third biblical concern is that idealism conflicts with God’s transcendence. If God is Creator of all, above all, and knows all, then reality is much more than our minds can comprehend or conceive. God exists, whether or not we are aware of Him. The idealist view that the human mind conceives reality puts a human limitation on truth and denies the fact of a supernatural God.

Ultimately, our reality is not based on what our mind produces but on what God has made. He has created us, sustains us, and gives us life and strength. “In him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Our goal is not to create our own reality, but to better understand the reality that God has made.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Apologetics and Worldview: What Is the Genetic Fallacy?

 

A genetic fallacy is an illogical argument for or against an idea based on the origin of the idea. An example is, “It will rain on Tuesday because my father said so.” The speaker’s father may be a good man and a good father, but it doesn’t necessarily translate that he knows for certain what the weather will be like some time in the future. Conversely, a negative example would be, “Easter is bad because it started as a pagan holiday.” While elements of Easter do, indeed, include pagan symbols such as rabbits and eggs, it’s certainly not a bad thing to set aside a day to corporately remember Jesus’ resurrection.

The genetic fallacy in regard to religion refers to the argument that a person’s faith is irrelevant because they most likely learned that faith from their parents. The argument claims that because the primary determinant of a person’s religion is exposure to that religion as a child, and not comprehensive, logical research, a person’s faith is immaterial and false.

The problem with an argument based on genetic fallacy is that the truth of a statement is in no way based on the origin of the concept. A philosophical or theological concept is true or it is not; it does not matter how a person came to believe the concept or who, in the past, held that concept to be true.

At the same time, the genetic fallacy in religion bears consideration because people should not blindly follow a religion merely because it is the religion of their parents. Each individual is responsible for his/her own beliefs and relationship with God. Although a faith learned in childhood is not necessarily false, it is also not necessarily true. Believers should always study the scriptures (Acts 17:11) and be able to give an account as to why they believe (1 Peter 3:15), apart from family tradition.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.