Developing an Apologetic Mind, Douglas Groothuis (S.S. Part 2)

This is a two-parter that is quite long, and technical. (It is the second part of a previous set [first, third].) You may also want a dictionary ready, this is a seminary level presentation. If you taken with this presentation[s] — knowledge of how we should better interact with our world and our culture comes through for those In His Service — ΙΗΣ.


Part 1

I. Six Enemies of Apologetic Engagement

A. If apologetics is biblical and logical, why does it flounder? Why so ignored in the church?
B. “Six enemies of apologetic engagement” (D. Groothuis article on syllabus hot link)

1. Indifference
2. Irrationalism
3. Ignorance
4. Cowardice
5. Arrogance and intellectual vanity
6. Superficial techniques or schlock apologetics

II. Jesus as a Philosopher and Apologist (D. Groothuis, On Jesus, Chapters 1, 3)

A. What is a philosopher?
B. Was Jesus a philosopher?
C. Did Jesus disparage rationality (Michael Martin)?
D. Jesus’ use of argument: our model intellectually

1. Escaping horns of dilemma (Matthew 22:15 — 22)
2. A fortiori arguments (John 7:14 — 24)
3. Jesus’ use of evidence (Matthew 11:1 — 11)
4. Reductio ad absurdum arguments (Matthew 22:41 — 46)
5. Jesus defended truth rationally; lived it out existentially

~ Had a well integrated worldview; didn’t duck rational arguments

III. Worldviews and Christian Faith

A. Three kinds of (or aspects of) faith (W. Corduan, No Doubt; see also J.P. Moreland, Love Your God With All Your Mind)

1. Saving faith: justification—either/or (Ephesians 2:8 — 9)
2. Growing faith: moral sanctification—incremental (Ephesians 2:10)
3. Knowing faith: epistemological sanctification (Colossians 2:2 — 3)

a. Relationship of faith and reason: not antithetical (Isaiah 1:18)
b. Reasoning in Scripture (Romans 12:1 — 2; Matthew 22:37 — 40)
c. Some texts used against reasoning: (1 Corinthians 1 — 2; Colossians 2:8; Isaiah 55:9)
d. Biblical value placed on knowledge outside Scripture (Amos 1 — 2; Daniel; Romans 1 — 2; Acts 17:16 — 34)

B. The nature of genuine Christian faith, subjective believing

1. Assent (fides): belief that “P” (essential gospel truths) is true (Romans 10:9 — 10)
2. Trust (fiducia): belief in “P” as true and trustworthy (Romans 10:11; John 1:12)
3. Disposition, orientation (action-producing): believe “P” is true and trustworthy, therefore act in a faithful way (Ephesians 2:10; James 2:14 — 26)

C. The unity of truth (Corduan) and a well-integrated worldview

1. “All truth is God’s truth”—general and special revelation (Psalm 19:1 — 11)
2. Know “P” through authority (but must identify a qualified authority)
3. Know “P” through argumentation, reasoning, evidence
4. No dichotomy of religious and secular truth: a unified, integrated, worldview
5. Developing a well-integrated worldview

a. What is a worldview and why is it important? (James Sire, chapter 1)
b. What is a Christian worldview? Touchstone proposition (William Halverson, A Concise Introduction to Philosophy)

~ The universe (originally good, now fallen, and awaiting its divine judgment and restoration) is created and sustained by the Triune God, who has revealed himself in nature, humanity, conscience, Scripture, and supremely through the Incarnation.


Part 2

IV. Truth Decay: Understanding the Problem (D. Groothuis Truth Decay, introduction, chapter one)

A. The importance of truth

1. Truth: desired and feared by mortals east of Eden
2. Truth and integrity
3. People of truth; truth in jeopardy
4. Screwtape’s ploy: remove the very category of truth from the mind

B. The seven acids of truth decay

1. The end of the enlightenment vision/project
2. A unified world view is impossible today because of our cosmopolitan, media-saturated environment
3. A unified world-view is impossible today because of the great diversity of religious viewpoints available
4. Postmodernity does not allow for a fixed sense of personal identity
5. Language is contingent on human beings and cannot communicate objective truth
6. Written texts have no objective, determinative meaning or truth value (deconstruction)
7. “Truth” is a function of power relationships, not an objective reality

V. The Eighth Acid of Truth Decay: Television (See D. Groothuis, Truth Decay, appendix)

A. Understanding the nature of television and how it contributes to truth decay “The medium is the message” (Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media)

1. Moving image trumps or humiliates the written and spoken word (Exodus 20:1 — 4; John 1:1)

a. Images are limited in their power to communicate truth: second commandment (Exodus 20). Jesus’ appearance is never described in the Gospels
b. Power of deception through image manipulation: my TV interview about channeling. Malcolm Muggerridge: “The camera always lies.” See his Christ and the Media
c. Prefabricated presentations: shrink events into sound bites and memorable images that may be false or misleading
d. Cannot watch the Bible on video. You must learn to master the written texts. Church librarian in Denver laments that parents check out “Christian videos” instead of books for children

2. Discontinuity, fragmentation: “a peek-a-boo world” (Neil Postman) (Luke 1:1 — 4)

a. No continuity, coherence, development of ideas: “And now this…”
b. Leads to intellectual impatience, recklessness, distraction
c. ADD/ADHD: a national problem. Medical warnings about TV and infants. Pediatrics, Vol. 113 No. 4 (April 2004)

~ Conclusions: Early television exposure is associated with attentional problem at age 7. Efforts to limit television viewing in early childhood may be warranted…”

d. Biblically, the primacy of a coherent, orderly view of reality (Luke 1:1 — 4)

3. Hypervelocities: video equivalent of caffeine (Psalm 46:10)—jump cuts, scene changes, special effects

a. Out of sync with God-given natures: pathology of velocity, plague of rapidity
b. Stimulation, agitation—not edification instruction (usually). Ken Burns programs are somewhat different, though
c. Decrease in attention spans: sermons, classes, conversations; but this may be challenged—through good preaching
d. Biblical importance of pacing, stillness. “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)

4. Entertainment orientation—amusement dominates all other values (2 Timothy 3:4)

a. The demand of all areas of life: religion, politics, news, education; amuse means “no thought.” “Laugh track is always running” (Jean Baudrillard, America)
b. Amusement is not appropriate for many things; loss of gravity, sobriety, rectitude; orienting our subjective response to the objective nature of what we experience
c. Biblically: don’t be a lover of pleasure rather than a lover of God (2 Timothy 3:4). Get serious.

B. Conclusion (more on this in “Christian Ethics and Modern Culture” class)

1. Engage in television fasting
2. Decrease drastically television watching
3. Replace with thoughtful reading

Resources for growth and discernment

1. Douglas Groothuis, Truth Decay (InterVarsity, 2000). The appendix addresses the nature and effects television in the context of postmodernism.
2. Os Guinness, Fit Bodies, Fat Minds (Baker Books, 1994). Excellent Christian critique of anti-intellectualism in the church, which addresses television and other truth-decaying agents.
3. Arthur Hunt, III, The Vanishing Word: The Veneration of Imagery in the Postmodern World (Crossway, 2003). Christian perspective on a pervasive but often ignored problem.
4. Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death (Penguin, 1985). The best secular critique of the nature and effects of television; it is more insightful than most Christian books.
5. Douglas and Rebecca Merrill Groothuis web page: www.ivpress.com/groothuis/doug

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