Would-be and Wouldn’t-be Apologists

What do one million dollars look like? Well, that depends.

If you want to see a million dollars in $100 bills, I am afraid it is not all that impressive, fitting into an oversized briefcase. If you wanted to see a million in $20 bills, it is a bit less underwhelming. At least it would be something that could qualify as an actual pile of money.

However, if you wanted to see a million dollars in $1 bills, now that actually looks like a lot of money. At Chicago’s Federal Reserve Bank Money Museum, a rotating “cube of cash” is on display. One million $1 bills fill a 64 cubit foot case and weights over a ton. As a single stack, it would reach nearly four hundred feet in height.

What does Christian apologetics look like? Well, that depends. Continue reading “Would-be and Wouldn’t-be Apologists”

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How Could a Righteous God Allow Bad People into Heaven?

I had honestly never thought about it before. So the first time I was confronted with this question, I was dumbfounded. I had thought through why God would send people to Hell, but this is the other side of the coin.

This question resonates with me. I get it. According to the Bible God offers forgiveness—and therefore salvation, and therefore Heaven—to the worst people. Terrible people. I get a lump in my throat to think of it. How could God forgive them? Pick the worst sin you would dare imagine. For one moment, try to entertain the thought of the very possibility of that person finding forgiveness from God and getting to spend eternity in Heaven. Outrageous!

I believe that the longing behind this question is justified. We want to see justice come to the serial killer, the child molester, and the rapist. We want them to get what is coming to them, to feel the pain they caused. We want no loopholes, no way out. Yet, isn’t that what God offers?

We deal in terms of what people deserve, and there are monsters in this world who deserve no mercy, no forgiveness, and certainly no Heaven.

However, the topic of what people deserve is a much broader topic than we like to admit. We point the question to extreme wrongdoing, as if to differentiate between our “not so bad” wrongdoing. We focus on God dealing with extreme evil in the world, and ignore the “nobody’s perfect” evil in our lives.

But, here’s the thing…

If nobody is perfect, then everybody is guilty.

So, the question really seems to be that if God is righteous, how can he forgive anyone? Continue reading “How Could a Righteous God Allow Bad People into Heaven?”

How Could a Loving God Send Good People to Hell?

The problem of Hell is one of the most frequently asked questions about God, and one of the hardest to answer.

As with most questions about God, there is a lot behind this question. How do we reconcile the Biblical descriptions of Hell with a God who does not just show love, but as the Bible says is love? How could Jesus show so much compassion for people, and yet talk so explicitly about eternal weeping and gnashing of teeth?

What is behind this question differs from person to person. Some people would word their question better by asking, “Why would God send a person who sinned for a few years to hell for all eternity?” Some would ask, “Why would God not just forgive everyone so no one would have to be punished?”

Whatever emphasis resonates, the basic question remains the same. Why would a loving God send good people to Hell?”

Here’s the thing…

When we take our time to clarify what we mean in what we are asking, the answer reveals itself.

When we clarify certain things about God, we see that God’s love and judgment are complementary, not contradictory. When we clarify certain things about ourselves, we see that God’s justice is exactly that, justice. When we clarify certain things about Hell, we see that the solution for it is not the eradication of it; it is salvation from it. Continue reading “How Could a Loving God Send Good People to Hell?”

5 Ways to Disciple Your Kids this Summer

Being a Christian parent and parenting Christianly are two different things. The Bible is replete with stories of notably faithful people who have notoriously unfaithful children. So, what does it mean to parent Christianly? That is, what is the Biblical pattern in parenting?

More books have been written to answer that question than any mom or dad could read in a lifetime. They range from the practical to the theoretical, from the philosophical to the psychological. And yet, with each curveball our kids throw at us, it seems like another one needs to be written.

Whatever the approach, a book on parenting Christianly is only as good as it is Biblical, and the more Biblical it is the more there seems to be a dominant theme:

Christian parenting means discipleship.

Chap Bettis makes the case this way in his book The Disciple-Making Parent:

What method did Jesus use to develop his disciples? For three years, he lived with them, taught them, trained them, tested them, and quizzed them. They matured by observing his life, his preaching, and his miracles. After his resurrection, it was time for them to go and do the same. Does that not sound like the job of a parent? He has given us little ones. We live together and learn together so that one day, they too will go out from us as humble, lifelong learners and followers of the risen Jewish rabbi, Jesus of Nazareth.

On top of whatever is involved in raising a child into an adult, for Christian parents, there is the added eternal weight of raising them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:1-4)

Throughout the Bible, we see this intentional development of children has always been God’s intended pattern.

In Deuteronomy 6:4-6 God expresses the foundational doxology of his relationship with his people. He commands his words to be instilled in their hearts. The very next verse, God with the type of “thou shalt” insistence that only God can claim, he commands:

And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. (Deuteronomy 6:7)

The goal of Christian parenting is to produce followers of Christ. We are disciples making disciples. We say to our biological children what Paul said to his spiritual children, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)

So, here’s the thing…

What about this summer? For many, summer is a great opportunity to spend more time with family than other busier seasons of life. We Christian parents ought to capitalize on that time. Here are some suggestions on how to do so. Continue reading “5 Ways to Disciple Your Kids this Summer”

Why: A Short History

Asking why is a habit that is near and dear to all our hearts. It’s one of those things that is simply a part of being human.

At every age level, we ask why.

My six-year-old son, like every six-year-old, asks why about everything just out of sheer curiosity. It never gets old…to him.

I’ve noticed the teenagers I teach ask why about everything. However, it is out of a genuine concern for understanding and with a pure commitment to respect for authority. (They also often ask me why I’m so sarcastic.)

We adults look at teenagers and ask why. Just why?

By the way, teenagers need not resent that statement. Every adult has had that moment where they looked back in time at themselves. We remember something we said, something we wore, something we did, or something we did to our hair, and we ask ourselves why.

Many why questions we have in life are much more imperative in nature. These are the questions about who we are as people, what we ought to believe, how we ought to live. Perhaps the most important questions we will ever ask concern our identity as Christians.

But, here’s the thing…

It is precisely those questions of eternal importance which we so often avoid. We hear a why brought to conversations about our beliefs and we fall back, not willing to see where those conversations may lead.

The Bible, however, exposes this as more than a bad habit. It is disobedience of the most dangerous sort. We are commanded to “be ready always to give an answer” to every why. Continue reading “Why: A Short History”

Both Sides of Every Story

open book apologetics worldviews

As quotable as C.S. Lewis is, my favorite quote of his has to be the following:

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.

As was his style, in this one statement he says so much. The Christian worldview is not without its evidence. However, multitudes of skeptics over the centuries, to include Lewis, have been convinced, not only by the truth they see in Christianity but also by the truth that it enables them to see.

Ultimately Ultimate

We can categorize worldviews at the most general level by their concept of ultimate reality. They may be defined by how they answer questions about the nature of being, namely “What is there?”—what philosophers call ontology—and “Where did it come from?”—what philosophers call cosmology. Based on their answers to answers to these questions, every worldview essentially falls under one of three categories: naturalism, pantheism, or theism.

There are worldviews that affirm ultimate reality as ultimately physical. That is to say, “there is nothing more to the mental, biological and social realms than arrangements of physical entities.”[1] These worldviews are often grouped in the category of naturalism.

There are worldviews that affirm ultimate reality as ultimately spiritual. That is to say, there is only “a single spiritual entity, of which the physical world must be understood as a partial manifestation.”[2] These worldviews are often grouped in the category of pantheism.

Finally, there are worldviews that affirm ultimate reality as ultimately “owed to one supreme Being, who is distinct from Creation.”[3] That is to say, there is “a dualistic relation between God and the world,”[4] typically asserting that God is both transcendent, existing outside of and being sovereign over the physical universe, as well as immanent, existing inside of and being involved with the physical universe.

These descriptions are massively oversimplified by necessity. Each category includes a long list of specific philosophies and religions, many of which have precious little in common with others in the same category. Some seem to be more viable options than others. Some have many more adherents than others. However, the one thing that unites them is their view of reality, what is ultimately ultimate.

The question we have now is, which one is ultimately right? Continue reading “Both Sides of Every Story”